Which Sicilian is Best for a French/Dutch Player?

Switching to the Siclian?

I don’t necessarily advise a player to switch to the Sicilian Defense from another opening, but I believe there is a branch of the Sicilian compatible for every style.

In response to my recent post Which Sicilian is Best for You?, Facebook user Benjamin Corcoran asked which Sicilian I would recommend for a French Defense and Dutch Defense player.

To me, this implies he plays 1…e6 in response to at least 1.e4 and 1.d4, and possibly other first moves as well. If my assumption is correct, it means he plays the Classical Dutch (…f5, …Nf6, …d6, …e6) or Stonewall Dutch (…f5, …Nf6, …e6, …d5, …c6), but not the Leningrad Dutch (…f5, …Nf6, …g6, …Bg7, …d6).

Let’s discuss.

What Does the French/Dutch Player Want?

Rich, counterattacking play!

The choice of the Dutch as d4-defense is revealing and makes me think this player favors lines like the Winawer, Classical, MacCutcheon, or Burn Variations in the French after 3.Nc3 — and not quiet passive lines such as the Rubinstein or Fort Knox.

In my years of playing the French, I never considered playing the Winawer or MacCutcheon in tournament play — it’s just not my style. The Classical and Fort Knox were my favorites. But how do you identify what to play?

I often say, without hyperbole, that Mastering the French with the Read and Play Method saved my chess career. You can read my review from 2006 at the Amazon link above.

So our French/Dutch player is looking for a fight, but not a mating race, and doesn’t normally fianchetto his bishop. He is also used to playing positions with closed or fixed centers.

No fianchettoes eliminates the Dragon and, thank goodness, the Accelerated Dragon. It would be a crime against chess to abandon the French just to play the lame Accelerated Dragon … but I digress.

At this moment, I decided to give up the French.

I consider the Najdorf to be the “universal” Sicilian.

I played the French from 1997 to 2007. One morning in late 2007 or early 2008 I woke up, sat in bed, and decided I was done with the French.

It really did happen just like that. I wanted to make a clean break, and that same morning decided to play the Najdorf! It is possible to do.

I realize not everyone wants to go this route!

On a related note, I’m unsure the Scheveningen is a good choice without going through the Najdorf because of the Keres Attack (as mentioned in the earlier post).

I believe the Sveshnikov is a completely different animal from the French/Dutch and would not recommend it to the player looking to make a seamless transition. Of course, it’s a worthy line!

The Kan is too restrained for a Dutch fan, and the Classical is not lively enough, either.

Therefore:

I would recommend a French/Dutch player to consider the Taimanov or Paulsen Variations if seriously thinking about switching to the Sicilian Defense.

What do you think? Leave a comment!

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