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I'm a Closed Sicilian player and I like the setup with Nc3/g3/Bg2/d3 a lot for White, since it cuts out having to learn tons of theory I'd have to know otherwise against the Open Sicilian. However, I noticed that it's kind of hard to avoid playing into the Taimanov Sicilian without accepting a worse position. Consider:

[FEN ""]
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6

In this position, if I go for my usual setup with 3.g3, then Black can already play 3...d5. After 4.dxe5 dxe5 White can choose between 5.d4 and 5.Bg2, but neither of these lines look appealing to me:

  • Even though 5.d4 results in an IQP position, Black gets a lot of activity and White's queen gets chased around.
  • After 5.Bg2, Black gets to grab a lot of space sooner or later by pushing d4.

So instead of 3.g3, I tried looking into 3.Nge2, which is the highest-scoring move in this position. Now if Black tries 3...d5, after 4.exd5 exd5 5.d4 it looks like a very comfortable IQP position for White. So you'd think we'd be able to go for 4.g3 on the next move without having to worry about 4...d5, right? However, after

[FEN ""]
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nge2 Nc6

I found out that 4.g3 can lead to a nasty-looking position for White if we try the aforementioned plan in response to d5. Here's the line given by Stockfish:

[FEN ""]
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nge2 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.exd5 exd5 6.d4 Bg4! 7.Bg2 Nxd4 8.h3 Bf3 9.Kf1

Somehow the engine says this is +0.2 for White, even though I'm down a pawn and deprived of castling rights...?

So should I be playing 4.g3 and potentially get into the above wacky line, or play 4.d4 and learn a bunch of Taimanov Sicilian theory?

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  • It seems to me like white should be able to regain the pawn somehow, and the deprivation of castling rights would only be a problem if the king is left in the center. In this case white's king seems to be able to find refuge on g2, so that shouldn't be much of an issue. While the dust hasn't settled in the final line you gvie, it seems like black is behind in development. So I'm not shocked that the computer slightly likes white. – Scounged Jul 14 at 0:39
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I managed to find a line that seems playable for White, although Black is definitely somewhat better here:

[FEN ""]
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nge2 Nc6 4.g3!? d5! 5.exd5 exd5 6.d4 Bg4! 7.Be3 Bf3 8.Rg1 c4 9.a3

Black plays 8...c4 because we are in fact threatening to capture on c5 (note that 9.dxc5 d4? would not win a piece), and we play 9.a3 to prevent Black's bishop from coming to b4 where it would be super annoying. After this we can slowly start to unravel with moves like Qd2, Bg2 etc. (However, note that we do not want to castle queenside since Black can come at us super fast with his pawns, so unfortunately our king will have to stay in the center.)

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