The Passive 2.c3 Sicilian Defense
The 2.c3 Sicilian has always been an opening I have had difficulty understanding. The moves are so passive for white and seem to permit black to equalize almost instantly. However, I have found that it is exactly this way of thinking that gets me into trouble.
This move, 2.c3, seems to contradict all opening rules: it blocks a natural square for the b1-knight, it doesn't develop a piece, thereby wasting time, and it doesn't attack any of the opponent's territory.
So why is it that players can be so successful with such an opening? Like many other subtle openings, black often becomes too aggressive in an effort to take advantage of white's passive moves. White holds back until black overextends just enough; then white strikes.
In this week's featured game, white obtains a clearly better middlegame when black falls behind in development as a result of his overextension. The intermezzo, 20.Nxc6, creates a very weak isolated c-pawn which black will require all his forces to defend. On move 27.Qc3, white has taken a clear lead in the game. The only drawback to his position is the somewhat insecure outpost e5.
As in many games of chess, the victor of this game is not the side who had the advantage in the middlegame. Inaccurate timing of the capture Rxc6 allowed black to respond actively and achieve an equal endgame. Inferior play in this stage proved costly for white.