Sicilian Taimanov

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 is the Taimanov Sicillian. Black opens up the dark-squared bishop, not fearing the temporarily weak d6 square. Black’s plan is to eventually play d5 and free up the position.

The most popular move here is 5.Nc3. But white can also play 5.Nb5, and 5.Be3. We will look at various possible lines of this opening.

After 5…Qc7, we reach the main position of Taimanov Sicilian.

The English attack with 6.Be3

White can go 6.Be3 a6 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.0-0-0 with the typical plan of kingside attack with f3-g4.

The main difference here is that black’s dark squared bishop is open. So black can play 8…Bb4, attacking the e4 pawn.

The main line goes 9.f3 Ne5 10.Nb3 b5 and here white has a multi-purpose move 11.Qe1

White threatens Nxb5, attacking the b4 bishop and the queen on c7. White also wants to transfer his queen to g3.

The game can continue 11…Be7 12.f4 Ng6 13.e5 with an equal position.

Instead of 8…Bb4, black can also play 8…b5 9.f3 Be7 10.g4 0-0 11.g5 Nh5 12.Nce2

And now 12…Rd8, supporting the idea of going d5. A sample line can go 13. Ng3 Nxd4 14.Qxd4 Nf4 15.h4 Bb7 with a playable position.

White has a tricky move 14.Qb6 here, threatening the queen. Black can’t exchange queens because after 14…Qxb6 15.Bxb6, the rook on d8 is attacked and the d7 pawn would fall.

But 14…Qb8 is just fine for black. After 15.Kb1 d5 16.Bxf4 Qxf4 17.Qxb7 black has a beautiful move 17…Bc5!, threatening Qxg3, Qxf3 with a fork on rooks and a mysterious Qd6.

For example, after 18.Ne2 Qd6, white’s queen on b7 will be trapped!

White plays 6.Be2

White can play a more positional game after 6.Be2 a6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Be3 Bb4 9.Na4 with an idea to occupy b6 square.

After 9…Be7 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Nb6 Rb8 12.Nxc8 Qxc8 13.Bd4 c5 14.Be5 Rb6 15.Qd3 d6 16.Bc3 0-0 17.b3 we reach the position below.

White has managed to gain two bishops advantage but black’s position is very solid. Black can now prepare d5 break with Qc6 and fight for advantage also.

White plays 6.f4

6.f4 is an attempt to take initiative immediately by controlling the e5 square. For example 6…Nf6 can be met by 7.e5.

The most played line is 6…a6 7.Nxc6 Qxc6 8.Bd3 b5 9.Qe2 Bb7 10.Bd2 Bc5 11.0-0-0 with a dynamic game with attack on opposite wings.

White doesn’t have to go for this sharp line. Instead of 7.Nxc6, white can go 7.Be3 and go for a quiet approach.

White plays 6.Ndb5

Another tricky line to know is 6.Ndb5 Qb8 7.Be3 a6 and here white can play 8.Bb6

Black has to know the line 8…axb5 9.Nxb5 Bb4+ 10.c3 Ba5! is a good refutation. After 11.Nxc7+ Qxc7 12.Bxc7 Bxc7 black has three pieces for a queen.

White plays 5.Nb5

And finally, as an alternative to 5.Nc3, white also has 5.Nb5 d6 6.c4, maintaining the pressure on d5 square and holding black from creating the break.

After 6…Nd6 7.Nbc3 a6 8.Na3 Be7 9.Be2 0-0 10.0-0 b6 11.Be3 Bb7 12.Qb3 Nd7, white has a slight space advantage, but it is really hard to break black’s position.


Black can choose Taimanov Sicilian to avoid going into the main theory. Black can get a good position out of the opening to play and to defend. The key idea is to get the dark-squared bishop out and look for a d5 break whenever possible.

White, on the other hand, has various ways of conducting an attack which black must be prepared for.

Harikrishnan A

I am an International Fide Rated player with 10+ years of experience. Played many International Chess Tournaments and Commonwealth games.

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