Basically what the title suggests. Many of the responses to the c3 sicilian (1.e4 c5 2.c3) that I find online result in very drawish positions usually with queens off the board and very little dynamic play. I want lots of action and craziness while still being sound.

This is currently my favored variation (but this is still quite drawish and doesn't feel very 'Sicilian-y'): 1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Be2 cxd4 7.cxd4 e6 8.Nc3 Qa5 9.O-O Nc6.

Here are variations that I've tried:

  1. 1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 Nc6 6.Nf3 Nf6 (this goes on to be kinda passive for black and mostly boring).

  2. 1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5, which almost is awesome except it becomes really drawish after 4.Bc4 Nb6 5.Bb3 Nc6 6.Nf3 g6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Bf4 Bg7 9.O-O O-O 10.Re1 d5 11.exd6 exd6 12.Bg5 Bf6 13.Bxf6 Qxf6 14.Nxd4 d5 15.Na3 Nxd4 16.Qxd4 Qxd4 17.cxd4 Bd7 18.Nc2 Bc6.

Any ideas?

[fen ""]

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 (2...Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Bc4 Nb6 5.Bb3 Nc6 6.Nf3 g6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Bf4 Bg7 9.O-O O-O 10.Re1 d5 11.exd6 exd6 12.Bg5 Bf6 13.Bxf6 Qxf6 14.Nxd4 d5 15.Na3 Nxd4 16.Qxd4 Qxd4 17.cxd4 Bd7 18.Nc2 Bc6) 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 (4...cxd4 5.cxd4 Nc6 6.Nf3 Nf6) 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Be2 cxd4 7.cxd4 e6 8.Nc3 Qa5 9.O-O Nc6 
  • 1
    What is your level? In general, it's not possible to get "action and craziness" and equality against all white main line tries. Nov 15, 2013 at 13:08
  • I'm 1960-ish. It doesn't have to be 100% sound, but positions that go out of the opening straight into nearly drawn positions aren't very fun for me. Nov 15, 2013 at 21:36
  • Not a mirracle but is playable: d5 ed Qxd5 d4 Nc6 Nf3 Bf5. Possible continuation Be3 Nf6 Nbd2 cxd4 Bc4 dxe3 Bxd5 exd2+ Qxd2 0-0-0 -+
    – hoacin
    Dec 28, 2016 at 15:17

5 Answers 5


The line with Nf6 is actually pretty interesting. I think you overlooked the main line which is 6...c4, not 6...g6. For the record, the delayed d4 is the less popular variation. It leads to unbalanced play:

[fen ""]
1. e4 c5 2. c3 Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 4. Bc4 Nb6 5. Bb3 Nc6 6. Nf3 c4 7. Bc2 Qc7 8. Qe2 g5 9. e6 dxe6 10. Nxg5 Qe5 11. d4 cxd3 12. Bxd3 Qxe2+ 13. Bxe2 h6 14. Ne4 e5

There are of course other sidelines in this variation, with a major alternative being 9. h3 for white, but I encourage you to look into it some more.

  • do you happen to know of any lines without Queen trades? Nov 23, 2013 at 19:26
  • The c3 Sicilian will tend to lead to positions that can be drawish - it's mainly dependent on White's choice. If he doesn't go with the delayed d4 variation there won't be a queen trade. You should look into the opening theory yourself to find the line that you're most comfortable with.
    – Andrew Ng
    Nov 23, 2013 at 21:20
  • For black, I've tended to recommend 5. ...c4 immediately, waiting with the queen's knight, though I admit this will often transpose.
    – pgblu
    Jun 22, 2016 at 21:50

I play the Accelerated Dragon, which is kind of an universal response to 1.e4, and has the advantages of always being able to keep the positions into familiar territory for you: similar pawn structure, best squares for the pieces and many ideas are recurrent in different variations.

Against the Alapin (2.c3) Sicilian I suggest:

[fen ""]
1.e4 c5 2.c3 (2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 g6 4.cxd4 d5!) g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.cxd4 d5! {This position may also arise from the Smith-Morra gambit as shown above, so you are cutting off studying time! And it's completely sound.} 5.e5 (5.exd5 {This is the most challenging approach, but because of the position being not exactly the most played, advancing feels more natural.}  Nf6 6. Nc3 Nxd5 {Some theorists suggest that this is hurrying too much to get the pawn back, but if you don't take it now you may end up struggling to get it back.} 7. Bc4 Nb6 8. Bb3 Bg7 {This is a sample line where black has driven the game into his territory and achieved an imbalanced position. A draw would be the most likely outcome though}) (5. Nc3 {This is a tricky sideline that's not much played, but worth knowing at least a few moves deep.} dxe4 6. Bc4 Bg7 7. Qb3 e6) {This is probably the move you'll face the most, so I'll expand more on it.} Nc6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Bb5 Nh6 {The knight goes to f5.} 8. Nge2 O-O 9. O-O Nf5 {Notice how the e pawn is not yet moved, you don't want to lock your bishop in.}

The main idea behind this move order is that white's interesting possibilities are highly restricted compared to others. If he goes for the most challenging approach, he would have to commit to an isolated d pawn, which is not usually the taste of 1.e4 players. If not, the'll have to play an improved version for black of the French Defense or try some "one-move threat" lines.

You'll most likely face opponents that advance you on e5. The main idea for black is trying to put loads of pressure on the weak d4 pawn. Moves like Qb6 are always to be looked at, specially since it could potentially be a double attack against also b2. This is why white's bishop is developed to b5, to avoid the double attack and to allow exchanging an attacker on said pawn.

As said in the comments of the game, you don't want to play e6 just yet. On some positions where black achieves the d5 advance, the Bc8 simply doesn't play. Now, he has an alternative route and on some variations it even goes to e6 itself. This is why this position is, for black, much better than the ordinary French Defense position that it may "transpose" to.

This said, the main ideas of attacking on the queenside still hold, and an interesting move to know is a well-timed f6. This little pawn break allows the Bg7 bishop to come into play with devastating effect, as the d4 pawn normally cannot stand the pressure. Of course, such a move has to be always played carefully, but if e5 would be possible in the near future, to take under control the whole center, it is definitely a good idea to consider it.


If you like Dragon-like structures (or time is a big issue for you) and dynamic play, I encourage you to try this. The positions are essentially imbalanced, there is no queen trade in the near future and many tactical motifs typical from the Dragon are still playing an important role.


What about 1.e4 c5 2.c3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.cxd4 Bg7 5.Nf3 d5! personaly I'll try to play the Hyper Accelered Dragon (witch is the only way to make the Dragon viable for black I think) transposition would be 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.c3 Bg7 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 d5! The same position arise, why wouldn't it be good with the Alapin move order ? I think it's good for black, you may try it also, good luck.

  • I play a similar variation, but playing d5 rightaway and not allowing white to play c4 or any other binding move. I'll post it later. Oct 9, 2014 at 11:12

Something unusual, a bit crazy and probably incorrect... but defnitely worth a try, cuz it often works! Especially in blitz games. The variation I'm going to paste here is obviously after white has played badly, but a lot of people lose their minds when they face such a 'novelty'. When white plays correctly he gets some adventage obviously.

[fen ""]  
1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. d4 e5 5. dxe5 Qxd1 6. Kxd1 Nc6 7. f4 Bg4 8. Nf3 O-O-O 9. Kc2 Bf5 10. Kb3 c4 11. Kc4 Be6 12. Kb5 Rd5 13. Kc4 Na5#

Of course white blundered horribly with 9. Kc2 which is losing. Anyway, this move looks natural when you have c3 played and that's probably why people are losing as white here. Of course 6. f4 isn't neccessary, 6. Nf3 is also okay. I like this variation, it's not drawish*, which is what you asked for. You sacrifice a pawn for a development and the initiative. It's fun to play, try yourself! Hope you like it and share your results with us.

*drawish is for example 4. Nf3 - Nc6 5. d4 - e5 6. Ne5 Ne5 7. de5 Qe5


I should have mentioned: if white doesn't fall for that 'trap', you shouldn't try to take back that e5-pawn that brutally, but simply play f6 and recapture with your knight. It's like someone said "be quick or be dead".


4fter After e4 c5 d4 cxd c3 d5 exd5 Qxd5 cxd4 e5 White can Simply play Nc3 and has a Little advantage After Qxd4 Dxd4 Nb5 Na6

  • 1
    This is a variation of the Smith-Morra gambit, not the c3 Sicilian. Also, the OP is asking for a good variation for Black, not White.
    – Glorfindel
    Dec 28, 2016 at 16:16

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