Understanding Before Moving 3.2 – Sicilian Structures (Taimanov – Kan – Richter Rauzer)


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Herman Grooten

Understanding Before Moving 3.2 – Sicilian Structures (Taimanov – Kan – Richter Rauzer).

424 pages.

ISBN 9789464201109

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SKU: 9789464201109 Categorías: , Etiquetas: ,


The first volume dealt with the Najdorf and Scheveningen variations, and it is now time to pay attention
to three other extremely popular systems: the Taimanov, Kan and Richter-Rauzer variations. After
careful consideration within the Thinkers Publishing team, we decided that it made sense to group these
variations together. In particular, the first two are closely related and share the feature that, in both
cases, Black plays …e7-e6 and …a7-a6 at an early stage. They typically have the idea of retaining more
options for their king’s bishop by postponing …d7-d6 (or even omitting it entirely.) The bishop may go to
b4 or c5 in different lines.
The Richter-Rauzer is, in theory, just one of the possible developments from a Classical Sicilian. We have
already dealt with a few games that started with the Classical and where Black shortly played …e7-e6;
and 6.Bc4 (the Sozin variation) was rightly treated within the Scheveningen pages. However, it is clear
that White’s most popular counter, the Richter-Rauzer variation (6.Bg5) deserves separate attention.
While looking at the variation structure for the Kan and Taimanov and deciding on which model games
to use, I noticed a lot of possible transitions to the ‘Hedgehog’ structure. The key features are white
pawns on e4 and c4, and at least four black pawns on a6, b6, d6 and e6. This structure is ideally suited to
the task of playing for a win as Black, because of the very complicated middlegames that arise. (And one
often needs complicated middlegames to have a better chance of ‘converting’ a rating advantage!) The
‘Hedgehog’ is definitely a structure rather than a variation, but it has such a distinctive character of its
own that I chose to examine it first in chapter 2. This simplifies later discussion of the Taimanov and Kan
variations by removing the need to discuss every possible way of entering a Hedgehog structure.
A few further comments regarding the Hedgehog. This way of setting up the pieces simply on the back
two rows, with four ‘spikes’ directly in front, has been used by many strong players, including world
champions. (That is because it can also be used in various other openings, including the Symmetrical
English or Queen’s Indian.) As for myself, this setup has long been a favorite, and from my very first
acquaintance with the structure I was immediately mesmerized by the possibilities for rich strategic play.
It is fascinating to see how strong players manage to outwit their – sometimes equally esteemed –
opponents even while staying so far within their own territory. In that respect, a parallel may be drawn
with the famous “Catenaccio” style in which the Italian national football (soccer) team used to play.
Catenaccio is the Italian word for ‘chain’ and the style is associated with a well-organized defense, to
neutralize the attacks of the opponents before they get started. The moment the opponent finally tries to
get inside the fortifications, a counter-attack will come with impressive speed. Thus it is also with the
Hedgehog in chess. Black stays on the back few rows and White, who has more space, sometimes falls
into a trap. When the position suddenly opens, very often the small latent weaknesses in White’s camp
will prove to be his undoing. In this book I give a schematic representation of the plans developed both
sides have developed over the years, illustrated through model games. Very often, authors will say that
they ‘could write a whole book’ on one of their topics; in this case, the wealth of strategic play in the
Hedgehog prompted me to do just that. In ‘Key Concepts of Chess – The Hedgehog’, the first in a new
series (by the same publisher) you will find this fascinating beast examined in even greater detail, should
you be interested.

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