Von Milos Perunovic
224 Seiten, gebunden, 1. Auflage 2023
I have been playing chess for more than 30 years and my main weapon against 1.e4 is almost always 1...c5. During my career, I tried playing many variations of the Sicilian Defense, such as the Najdorf, the Kalashnikov, the Scheveningen, the Classical Variation and my main weapon – the Taimanov Variation. Until recently, I had no experience with the Four Knights Variation with either side – all that I knew was that White can force a transposition into the Sveshnikov with 6.Kdb5 or create serious problems for Black with 6.Kxc6. In 2019, while I was preparing for the World Rapid and Blitz Championships, I began to analyze the Four Knights Variation. My starting belief was that this variation is extremely good only in rapid and blitz games – however, after a lot of hard work, I concluded that the variation is fully playable in classical games as well.
In the Four Knights Variation, Black develops his knights in a harmonious manner and pressures the important central squares e4 and d4. In comparison to the Classical Variation, where the d-pawn is on d6, in our variation the e-pawn is on e6 and this makes a considerable difference. Firstly, the dark-squared bishop can be developed on the b4 square from where it will create concrete threats against White’s center. Secondly, our d-pawn is flexible and if we manage to strike with ...d5, we will usually solve most of our problems. Another interesting thing that I noticed while studying the variation is that most of the pawn structures that arise are very different from those that arise in other variations of the Sicilian Defense. This means that Black needs to have a lot of knowledge and experience in the variation in order to play it successfully. However, luckily for us, White players find themselves in a similar situation – he has a narrow choice of variations that could pose any serious problems to Black’s position.
With the exception of the 6.Nxc6 and 6.Ndb5 variations, all other moves allow Black to create pleasant positions with simple moves such as ...Bb4 and ...d5. I noticed that many players opt for the 6.Ndb5 line hoping to transpose into the Sveshnikov – but this move order benefits Black as it avoids the critical 7.Nd5 move that is played after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Nd5! In this book, we will not deal with the Sveshnikov lines. Instead, we recommend that you try out 6...Bb4 and the modern 6...Bc5. The critical test of our variation is definitely 6.Nxc6. Because of this exchange, Black loses the control over the e5 square and White can use this to advance the e-pawn in order to weaken the d6 square. Similarly to the 6.Kdb5 variation, we also provided you with two options – 8...Bb7 with the idea to advance the c-pawn in order to open the long diagonal and 8...Qc7 with the idea to force White to advance the f-pawn to f4 since this permanently weakens the a7-g1 diagonal. We believe that the 8...Qc7 line leads to complex positions that give Black a lot of practical chances.
Today, the Four Knights Variation is found in the repertoire of many top grandmasters and the theory is constantly developing. This variation will suit ambitious and non-compromising players that want to outplay their opponents in complex battles. I also believe that young players should have this variation in their repertoire as it will greatly benefit their general understanding of chess. Dynamic and non-standard pawn structures enable young players to develop tactical skills and imagination. I hope this book serves as your reliable guide for many variations and I truly believe that it will have an immense effect on the current state of theory. To add to this, I also hope that it will inspire other players to investigate this variation as well!
GM Miloš Perunović