Closed Sicilian – A Scholarly Study Guide

What is the Closed Sicilian?

The Sicilian Defense is broadly categorized into two types – The Open Sicilian and The Closed Sicilian. When White plays d4 early in the game, it is called the Open Sicilian. Usually, 80% of the Master Level Games Beginning with the Sicilian Defense branch into the Open Sicilian. When White does not play d4 early in the game, it is called the Closed Sicilian.

  1. e4 c5
  2. Nc3
Closed Sicilian Defense

Main Line

Here Black plays Nc6 on the second move. White’s response is usually g3, to fianchetto the White Bishop by placing it on the g2 square. Usually, White castles on the Queenside in the Sicilian Defense, but if Black tries to mirror g3 by playing g6, White can develop the kingside knight and castle Kingside.

The Closed Sicilian accommodates more space for White on the Queenside and Black on the Kingside. Black also fianchettos the dark square Bishop by placing it to g7 after White plays Bg2. This Bishop is a great defender for the Black King. White delays f4 in this line, while Black takes advantage of the delayed f4 by controlling the center. Black may even try to take central control by playing d6 or e5 on the third move. Here, White must support the e4 pawn by playing d3.

Here are the notations:

  1. e4 c5
  2. Nc3 Nc6
  3. g3 g6
  4. Bg2 Bg7
  5. d3 d6
  6. Be3 Rb8
  7. Qd2 b5
  8. Nge2 b4
  9. Nd1 Nd4
  10. 0-0 e5
Closed Sicilian Main LIne

Variation – 6.f4

In this variation, White castles Kingside and expands on the kingside with f4. White also gains a positional advantage by playing an aggressive move like e5. White could also play f5, but e5 blocks Black’s Bishop from controlling the diagonal and simultaneously opens the diagonal for White’s Bishop on g2.

  1. e4 c5
  2. Nc3 Nc6
  3. g3 g6
  4. Bg2 Bg7
  5. d3 d6
  6. f4 e6
  7. Nf3 Nge7
  8. 0-0 0-0
  9. Be3 Nd4
  10. e5
Closed Sicilian Variation 6.f4

Variation – 2..e5

Although White has played g3, White cannot fianchetto the Bishop by placing it on g2 because of the e5 pawn. Instead, White plays Bc4. After the first six moves, White is now threatening Nd6 and attacking the f7 square. If White plays d3, it opens the diagonal for the White Bishop place on c1, allowing white to play Ng5 to pressure the f7 pawn further.

  1. e4 c5
  2. Nc3 e5
  3. g3 g6
  4. Nf3 Nc6
  5. Bc4 Bg7
  6. Nb5.
Closed Sicilian Variation 2..e5

Variation – 3…Nf6

This is an uncommon line where White can gain an advantage. A simple e5 after Nf6 would force the Black Knight to go back to g8, giving White a tempo.

Variation – Grand Prix Attack

Here White plays f4 on the 3rd move and allows an early expansion of the Kingside.

Statistics

The following are the statistics gathered from https://old.chesstempo.com/gamedb/opening/2049:

Sr. No Result Rate
1 White Wins 37.19%
2 Black Wins 38.93%
3 Draws 23.88%

Famous Games Played

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