I want to learn a new opening in the Sicilian defense called the Keres variation. What is White's main plan here?

[FEN ""]

1. e4 c5 2. Ne2
  • Check out this website for more information: thechessworld.com/articles/openings/… Apr 18, 2021 at 22:35
  • 2
    Andy Soltis wrote a nice book about this called the *The Chameleon Sicilian" He makes the point, as do several posters here, that you can wait until Black indicates what sort of opening they would prefer, and then deny it to them. However, you yourself must be prepared to play in two different styles.
    – Philip Roe
    Feb 14 at 23:37

2 Answers 2


Disclaimer: there might be other ideas too.

I used to play this some time ago against sicilian. My idea was that I liked closed sicilian positions (2. Nc3) if black did not play the "main" setup against it (that is, 2. ... Nc6, 3. ... g6 etc). So with Ne2, I still could play the closed variation against, for example, 2. ... e6 and 3... d5, and after 2. ... a6, but if black replied 2. ... Nc6 I could play 3. d4 ( or 4. d4) and return back to the "open", more sound sicilian. What white gains is a little bit of flexibility, and a chance to confuse the opponent if black has an inconsistent repertoire. I knew one guy who played d6-a6 setup against open sicilian and e6-d5 against closed one, so Ne2 was very confusing against him.


I used to play this many years ago. I had a nice win against Chessmaster's "Fischer-Style" at 2 hours/40 moves time controls.

When I was playing this, the idea I was working on was a fairly simple one, to lock up the centre create a pawn attack on the kingside. The Knight on e2 was to facilitate that by not blocking the f pawn's movement. The pawns on e4 and c4 leave a hole at d4 which can be exploited by Black's Knight, but as that is covered by the Knight on e2, and an exchange there just further locks up the centre with a black pawn I was ok with that. Generally, I found I could create a pawn chain that walled off Black's pieces, which this game exemplifies, and that made it difficult for Black to bring their pieces to the defence of their King. I tended to find it was important to get the King off the a2-g1 diagonal as Black's Queen eventually ends up on b3 with an annoying potential for a discovered check. Basically, it was a fairly simple and standard idea, lock the centre, attack the Black King on the Kingside faster than Black can break through on the Queen side, when they can attack your King along the ranks. This was an approach I developed myself, and I'm sure that with best play Black can do better.

Oh, I should mention, the idea above was based upon the 1. e4 c5 2. Ne2 e5 line, which the CM seemed to favour. I found this was rare against other engines and human players, and 2. ... e6 was more common. In that case one can transpose to more open lines via 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 ... I liked Kere's 2. Ne2 partly because it provided me with experience with both open and closed lines.

[Event "Sicilian/Kere's Variation; 40 moves/2 hours"]
[Site "Home Game"]
[Date "1997ish"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Me"]
[Black "CM4000 Fisher-Style"]
[Result "1-0"]

[Fen ""]

1. e4 c5 2. Ne2 e5 3. c4 Nc6 4. g3 Nf6 5. Bg2 Be7 6. Nbc3 d6 7. O-O O-O 8. d3 Bg4 9. f3 Be6 10. h3 Qd7 11. Kh2 Qc7 12. Nd5 Bxd5 13. cxd5 Nb4 14. a3 Na6 15. f4 Qb6 16. f5 Rac8 17. g4 h6 18. Ng3 Nd7 19. Qe1 Rfd8 20. Nh5 Nc7 21. Qf2 Ne8 22. h4 Nef6 23. Nxf6+ Nxf6 24. Qg3 Nd7 25. g5 hxg5 26. hxg5 f6 27. g6 Nf8 28. Qh4 Qb5  29. Rf3 Qe8 30. Rh3 Qxg6 31. Qh8+ Kf7 32. fxg6+ Nxg6 33. Qh5 Ra8 34. Kg1 Rh8 35. Qg4 Rxh3 36. Bxh3 Nf8 37. Qh5+ Kg8 38. Be6+ Nxe6 39. dxe6 f5 40. Qf7+ Kh7 41. Qxe7 d5 42. exf5 e4 43. Bg5 Rf8 44. Qxf8 exd3 45. Kf2 a6 46. Rh1# 

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