Ravi Haria – The Modernized Anti-Sicilians – Volume 1 – Rossolimo Variation – ISBN 9789464201055– 520 pages.
The Sicilian Defence has historically been Black’s most popular weapon against 1.e4. Its prestige is grounded on a combative nature and fighting approach; Black isn’t just playing for equality, but rather seeks to acquire counter-attacking chances straight from the opening. In response, the prevalence of Anti-Sicilians (alternatives to 3.d4) propagated due to their value in reducing the effectiveness of Black’s counterplay. In this series, I aim to provide the foundation of a repertoire which seeks to retain the core values of Anti-Sicilians. Namely, I have consistently attempted to create endless practical difficulties for Black, whilst wisely waiting for the right moment to open the position and generate a dangerous initiative.
For too long, Anti-Sicilian rhetoric has centred on the logic of simplicity, geared towards reaching playable positions with easy plans while simultaneously avoiding depths of theory. The danger of this logic is the ease with which we can fall into the trap of inactivity; of mindlessly playing an opening without striving to trouble Black; of solely playing an Anti-Sicilian to avoid theory. In contrast, throughout the volumes I will advocate an active approach – with continuous underlying themes of achieving rapid development, dynamic piece play and dominant central control, with an important focus on denying Black the counterplay that he seeks when choosing the Sicilian Defence.
In nearly every system against the various Sicilians, I have provided the reader with multiple options to choose from. Modern-day openings are constantly changing, and the necessity of flexibility in preparation has never been more vital. Having the ability to play different systems against the same opening is also beneficial in increasing our enjoyment of chess. Moreover, each alternative varies in style, enabling us to directly target our opponent’s weaknesses – as well as concentrate on our own strengths. Obviously, I can’t promise that every line will ensure us an advantage. But by providing a wide variety of different options, we can consistently make life difficult for Black and continue to create new and interesting ideas.
Although every variation has been checked and inspired by a combination of Leela Zero and Stockfish, the emphasis has always been on choosing the most human lines. Readers may notice that the analysis is often extensive – I felt this was often necessary in justifying my suggestions. Nevertheless, the focus in these volumes should be inspiration by the various ideas, rather than memorisation of long lines. In tandem with textual explanations, my fundamental hope is for the reader to absorb the interconnected ideas between each variation. This will be extremely useful in responding to future developments in the Anti-Sicilian.