6

I read a related but closed question here and I share a very similar feeling. I would love to play 1. e4 but I only feel comfortable when my opponent replies with 1. ... e5, or French, or Caro-Kann. I find 1. ... c5 too complicated and too risky for me as white.

Surely there is no way I can control what my opponent play but here is my thought: since I also like the English opening, when the game starts with 1. e4 c5, can I continue with 2. c4. aiming to reach the following position for white:

enter image description here

To me, this position is less risky and more solid for white than most lines in Sicillian. Is it a good idea to play 2. c4 after 1. e4 c5 if I am uncomfortable with Sicillian?

It seems that according to 365chess.com's statestics, 2. c4 is an unpopular move and the winning percentage for white is very low. So what's wrong with 2. c4 if I continue the game with the ideas of the English opening?

enter image description here

10

You can, but if you like most openings with 1.e4, it's probably not the most adequate choice for your "style" (the resulting position will be "slow" rather than a fast exchange of tactical blows. 2.c4 is a legitimate option, but here are a few alternatives you may want to consider:

  • Find some line in the Open Sicilian: this is the ideal, but requires a lot of work to be put in tournament practice. I'd definitely go for it when playing "just for fun". There are a lot of crazy middlegames resulting from this option and you'll also "learn a lot of chess" from them.

  • Play the Alapin with 2.c3. Still a solid, more positional option Probably more ambitious than 2.c4.

  • Play the wild Morra gambit! (2.d4 cxd4 3.c3) This would be my favourite way to go if not for the fact that that Black can transpose to the Alapin if they want to.

  • Play some f4-based scheme, like the Grand Prix (more aggressive) or the Closed Sicilian (more solid)

As a final consideration, there is nothing wrong with 2.c4. Don't blindly believe the Statistics. It could be that there is a player skill bias against 2.c4, or perhaps that players who opt for this line haven't often studied it deeply. Filtering for games at different ratings could dramatically impact the result. In my opinion, the main problem with 2.c4 is that Black can choose between a closed, symmetrical position with an eventual ...e5, or simply try to exploit the d4 square with ...g6, ...Bg7, ...Nc6-d4 and so on....

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  • 2
    Playing 1 e4 is only soft evidence for some "style" - there are lots of "slow" lines to choose after that move, too. +1 for the rest though. – Annatar May 5 at 6:55
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    A well rounded answer! A look into the Maroczy-Bind might be interesting as well, given OPs idea of c4. – Benjamin Raabe May 5 at 8:56
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It is not the most ambitious choice, but should be playable. It has been played by 2500 rated players. Basically by playing c4 you weaken your dark squares and black could try to take advantage of it by the following set up.

[FEN ""]

1.e4 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.g3 Bg7 5.Bg2 e6 6.Nge2 Nge7 7.d3 O-O

If you are fine with such position go for it. I wouldn't be too thrilled having that hole on d4. Also, black always has the option of playing d5 which I often find uncomfortable.

Two alternatives to avoid the sharp lines of the Sicilian:

  • go for a Maroczy bind by following up your c4 with d4 later on. This is a very stable position.
  • go for a Kings Indian Attack by playing 2. d3
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  • Thank you for your answer! Since 2. c4 is playable, what about the 28.6/26.5/44.9 percentage? To me, the statestics is basically saying white has already lost his first mover advantage. – Zuriel May 5 at 15:21
  • @Zuriel As David pointed out in his answer, you should be careful when assessing a line based on winning percentage. Also see chess.stackexchange.com/questions/16012/… – user1583209 May 5 at 15:53
  • And yes, I believe you give black an easy game. This is not necessarily bad, if you are weak in opening theory and think you are better at finding a plan in unknown territorry than your opponent. – user1583209 May 5 at 15:56
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There are lots of variants in the Sicilian that will fit into your game, just study them and find one you feel comfortable with. Sicilian is probably the most studied defense in chess, there's room for everyone

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Going for c4 is pretty risky, while playing White. You are inviting the opponent to come and have a go at you through your weak Black Squares.

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  • I thought English opening is a safer opening and after 2.c4, white has a similar position as the English opening. – Zuriel May 26 at 5:42
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To answer your question- Yes you can. It's perfectly sound. You end up transposing to a Botvinnik system in the English Opening at some point. This is fine, but it's very slow, very closed, and may not be what you want out of your openings if you play e4. As suggested, your good variation choices go as follows: 1. Some Open Sicilian line- If you dislike 1.. c5, this is probably not what you want to go for. There's a substantial amount of theory, but these will probably suit your playstyle best. Some people (like me) don't like them either and choose one of the other options 2. Closed Sicilian lines (2. Nc3). 3. King's Indian Attack setups (d3, Nf3, g3, bg2, 0-0, etc) 4. Rossolimo (1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 Bb5) and a way to deal with 2..d6 (Bb5+ is my recommendation here), and 2..g6 and 2.. e6. 5. Other "Anti-Sicilians" meant to avoid the Open.

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