The Modernized Grivas Sicilian The Sicilian Defense is an opening that commences with the
moves 1.e4 c5. The Sicilian Defense is the most popular and best-scoring response to White’s first
move 1.e4. For example, 1.d4, is a statistically more successful opening for White because of the high
success rate of the Sicilian Defense against 1.e4.
New In Chess stated in its 2000 Yearbook that of the games in its database, White scored 56.1% in
296,200 games beginning 1.d4, but 54.1% in 349,855 games beginning 1.e4, mainly because the
Sicilian Defense held White to a 52.3% score in 145,996 games. 17% of all games between GMs and
25% of the games in the Chess Informant Database, begin with the Sicilian Defense Almost one
quarter of all games use the Sicilian Defense. Grandmaster John Nunn attributes the Sicilian
Defenses’ popularity to its combative nature since in many lines Black is playing not just for equality,
but for the advantage. The drawback is that White often obtains an early initiative thus Black has to
take care not to fall victim to a quick attack. Grandmaster Jonathan Rowson considered why the
Sicilian Defense is the most successful response to 1.e4, even though 1…c5, develops no pieces and
the pawn on c5 controls only d4 and b4.
The Modernized Grivas Sicilian
Today, most leading GMs include the Sicilian Defense in their opening repertoire. In 1990, the
authors of Modern Chess Openings (13th edition) noted that ‘in the twentieth century the Sicilian has
become the most played and most analyzed opening at both the club and master levels.’ In 1965, in
the 10th edition of that book, Grandmaster Larry Evans observed that: ‘The Sicilian is Black’s most
dynamic, asymmetrical reply to 1.P-K4. It produces the psychological and tension factors which
denote the best in modern play and gives notice of a fierce fight on the very first move.