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Information about the Sicilian defence
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Chessboard480.svg a8 black rookb8 black knightc8 black bishopd8 black queene8 black kingf8 black bishopg8 black knighth8 black rooka7 black pawnb7 black pawnd7 black pawne7 black pawnf7 black pawng7 black pawnh7 black pawnc5 black pawne4 white pawna2 white pawnb2 white pawnc2 white pawnd2 white pawnf2 white pawng2 white pawnh2 white pawna1 white rookb1 white knightc1 white bishopd1 white queene1 white kingf1 white bishopg1 white knighth1 white rook 8
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Moves 1.e4 c5
Origin Giulio Cesare Polerio, 1594
Named after Sicily
Parent King’s Pawn Game
The Sicilian Defence is a chess opening that begins with the following moves:
1. e4 c5
The Sicilian is the most popular and best-scoring response to White’s first move 1.e4. 1.d4 is a statistically more successful opening for White due to the high success rate of the Sicilian defence 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 due to the Sicilian, which held White to a 52.3% score in 145,996 games.
17% of all games between grandmasters, and 25% of the games in the Chess Informant database, begin with the Sicilian. Almost one quarter of all games use the Sicilian Defence.
Grandmaster John Nunn attributes the Sicilian Defence’s popularity to “its combative nature; in many lines Black is playing not just for equality, but for the advantage. The drawback is that White often obtains an early initiative, so Black has to take care not to fall victim to a quick attack.” Grandmaster Jonathan Rowson considered why the Sicilian 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. Rowson writes:
To my mind there is quite a straightforward explanation. In order to profit from the initiative granted by the first move, White has to make use of his opportunity to do something before Black has an equal number of opportunities of his own. However, to do this, he has to make ‘contact’ with the black position. The first point of contact usually comes in the form of a pawn exchange, which leads to the opening of the position. … So the thought behind 1…c5 is this: “OK, I’ll let you open the position, and develop your pieces aggressively, but at a price – you have to give me one of your center pawns.”
— Jonathan Rowson, Chess for Zebras: Thinking Differently About Black and White
The earliest recorded notes on the Sicilian Defence date back to the late 16th century by the Italian chess players Giulio Polerio and Gioachino Greco.
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