# What are the consequences of an early a6 in the Sicilian?

Once I encountered an opponent who used a very early a6 in his Sicilian Opening.

``````[FEN ""]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 a6
``````

What could have been his objective with this move and how should I have have countered it?

• As a side-note: The moves 1.e4 a6 2.d4 b5 were played by Anthony Miles (as Black) beating the then-reigning world champion Anatoly Karpov with it in 1980(?!). These moves even got a name (Baker Defence) :)
– Ray
May 7, 2012 at 6:08
• One possibility is 3.d4 cxd4 4.c3 transposing to the Smith-Morra gambit. I believe Fischer played this once.
– bof
Nov 10, 2014 at 11:52
• On 3.d4 cd 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5! Black has good play. So you should choose 3.c3/3.c4. Sep 28, 2019 at 23:14

This is called the O'Kelly variation of the Sicilian.

If white plays normally (i.e. `3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3`), then black can eventually kick the d4 knight with `...e5` when the knight doesn't have any great squares. In this case, `2... a6` keeps the knight from moving to the natural b5 square (as in the Sveshnikov Sicilian). This will allow black to quickly play `...d5` with equality.

White's best plan is to play either `c3` or `c4` trying to prove that black's move `2... a6` is not a good developing move. When white plays `c3`, the natural plan is to follow up with `d4`, and then if black plays `...cxd4`, white will respond with `cxd4`, gaining a classical pawn center. When white plays `c4` instead, white's plan is to set up a Maroczy bind.

An unambitious plan for white would be to play into a closed Sicilian - in the closed Sicilian, black frequently plays a6-b5 in order to get counterplay on the queenside. Furthermore, in the closed Sicilian, tempi matter a lot less because the position will not change radically from one move to the next.

As I understand it, the purpose of `2... a6` is to keep a white piece (usually knight or bishop) off b5.

It seems premature, because white might not want to go there anyway (for some time). Meaning that it could easily become a wasted move.

As White, I would concentrate on king side development, knowing that b5 was "off limits," but not caring, because I have "better" things to do.

One disadvantage of a6 is that Black may want to play a5 later to try to "chase" a White knight on b3. But if he does so, he would have wasted a move with a6. As White, I might try to "transpose" into that variation so that Black has wasted a move.

The point of ...a6 is to control the square b5 where white can otherwise place a knight or bishop at some point. Another point is to prepare b7-b5 followed by Bc8-b7 and perhaps b5-b4 to chase a white Nc3. The move ...a6 appears in at least two variations, 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6; 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6. If you have ever been interested in the gambit 1.e4 c5 2.b4, then you can consider 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 a6 3.b4.

``````[FEN ""]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 a6 3.b4 cxb4 4.a3 bxa3 5.Bxa3
``````

a6 serves three purpose .

1. It is a waiting move in Sicilian as like Black waits for White's Plan .
2. It is the start of Q-Side Counter Play from black . As in Sicilian Black generally plays on the Center & Q-side .
3. Generally in Sicilian the Black Queen's favourite Square is c7 . You may see this move in Kan/Taimanov/Najdorf etc . When Black Plays a6 then it covers the b5 Square which prevents White's Knight to come to b5 and attack the c7 Queen which costs a Tempo to Black .