The Sicilian Defence is Black's most aggressive, ambitious and popular counter against 1 e4. Conventional wisdom used to hold that if Black Could survive the White attack he would probably win the end- game, on account of his superior central pawn structure. In contemporary chess, though, the systems employed by both sides are so violent that Black has almost as much chance of winning in the middlegame as White does. Indeed, it was Gary Kas- parov's smashing victory with the Sicilian in game 24 of his 1985 match with Karpov which catapulted him to becoming the youngest world champion and simul- taneously turned Karpov off playing 1 e4. Half a decade ago Karpov was a committed e4 player while Kasparov was a 1 d4 man. Now the wheel has turned full circle and in their most recent match Karpov played nothing but 1 d4 while Kasparov switched to 1 e4.
Legend has it that the Sicilian Defence acquired its name from analysis by the Silician priest Pietro Carrera. In 1617 he produced his book II Gioco degli Scacchi (the game of chess) which not only con- tained his comments on the defence 1 e4 c5 but also some alarming advice for anyone who wanted to play chess seriously: 'He must abstain some days from meat to clear his brain as also to let blood, he should take both purgatives and emetics to drive the humors from his body, and he must above all be sure to confess his sins and receive spiritual absolution just before • sitting down to play in order to counteract the demoniacal influence of magic spells.' Unfortunately, I was unaware of this advice when I assisted Korchnoi in his 1978 match in the Philippines. How useful Car- rera's method would have been in counter-
acting the demoniacal influence of Kar- pov's parapsychologist, the dreaded Dr. Zukhar.
Three books celebrate Carrera's more orthodox legacy, the Sicilian Defence, in modern tournament play. They are: Winning with the Sicilian by the Soviet Grandmaster Mark Taimanov, former Soviet champion and world championship candidate, published by Batsford at £12.95.
Sicilian Labyrinth Parts 1 and 2, both published by Pergamon Press and written by Lev Polugaevsky.
This week's game is taken from the Taimanov book.
Karpov — Taimanov: Leningrad 1977; Sicilidn Defence.
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 a6 5 c4 e5 This sort of thing, weakening the light squares in the centre, especially d5, seems destined for disaster against iKarpov. Nevertheless, Taima- nov, always an immense optimist, is convinced that his dark square counter-attack will be sufficient to maintain the balance. 6 Nb3 Nf6 7 Nc3 Bb4 8 13 0-0 9 Be3 d610 Rcl b6 11 Bd3 Bc5 A bold idea, sacrificing the bishop pair in the interests of cementing his dark square control. 12 Qd2 Be6 13 NxcS bxc5 14 0-0 Nd4 15 Nd5 Nd7 16 f4 In spite of Black's ingenuity White maintains a small initiative with this move. 16 . . . Rb8 17 f5 Bxd5 18 cxd5 Qb6 19 Rf2 f6 20 Rc4 But this is mistaken. The correct plan is 20 Khl followed by g4 which can be supported by Rgl and h4. In that case Black's queenside pressure would not really balance White's pros- pects of a direct attack against the black king. White's hunt after the isolated black 'a' pawn is considerably less appropriate. 20 . . . a5 21 Ra4 Ra8 22 Qe1 Raj Here Taimanov indicates that Black's best defence would have been the imaginative sacrificial idea 22 . . . Rfb8 23 b3 Qc7 24 Bd2 Rb4 and if White captures the rook with 25 Bxb4 then 25 . . . cxb4 leaves White's rook stranded. Taimanov calls this `a refutation of the entire plan of the siege of Black's `a' pawn as undertaken by Karpov.' 23 b3 Rfa8 24 Rb2 Qc7 25 Bd2 Karpov's strategy has reached its high point and now, with all Black's pieces tied down to the defence of a5 he really does threaten to squeeze Black off the board with a kingside pawn avalanche starting with g4. For this reason Taimanov decides to stir up trouble by sacrificing a pawn, in which ambition he is remarkably successful. 25 . . . Nb6 26 RxaS c4 27 Bfl If instead 27 bxc4 Rxa5 28 Bxa5 Qc5 29 Bxb6 Nf3+ 30 Khl Nxel 31 Bxc5 Nxd3 and Black wins. 27 . . . RxaS 28 Bxa5 Qc5 29 Bxb6 Qxb6 30 Khl cxb3 31 axb3 g6 32 fxg6 hxg6 33 b4 Kg7 34 b5 f5 Suddenly Black has a clear initiative for his lost pawn. 35 exf5 NxfS 36 Rb3 Qd4 37 b6 A blunder which permits Black's control of the dark squares to become the decisive factor. 37 Rbl was forced. 37 . . . Ral
Position after 38 . . . Ng3+
38 Rbl Ng3+ (Diagram) White resigns To quote Taimanov: 'One of the most memorable mo- ments of my entire chess career! I must confess that this spectacular finale to the contest against the then almost invincible champion of the world has hitherto been the highest object of my „creative pride. On 39 hxg3 (39 Qxg3 Rxbl wins easily) there would follow 39 . . . Ra8! with unavoidable mate. The black rook displays splendid energy, raking through all four corners of the board, speeding from al to a8 and then to h8 so as to overtake the white king on hl!'