I have started to study the Sicilian defense (at a beginners level), and I came across a situation where I don't know how to proceed...

  1. e4 c5
  2. Nf3 d6
  3. d3

I know that it is probably not the best thing for white to do, but nevertheless, how does black continue? My fear is the white Knight coming to f7...

  • I don't know if you made a typo, but d3 is not the best thing for white to do. Mar 11, 2015 at 21:40

4 Answers 4


Put in the most simple way, white's classical goal with 1.e4 is to continue 2.d4, occupying the center.

Black plays the Sicilian so that he can, if white continues expanding in the center with d2-d4, exchange his c-pawn for white's d-pawn and gain a 2 vs 1 pawns in the center advantage. In the meantime he doesn't develop his pieces, so there's a disadvantage to that approach, but that's a basic idea of the Sicilian.

White has three fundamental ways to deal with the Sicilian: if he believes black's disadvantage in development is more important than the center pawns, he can go for d2-d4 (usually with Nf3 first), fast development and attack. This leads to exciting games and is the traditional most popular way to deal with the Sicilian.

Two, he can take the Sicilian seriously and still continue with his original idea by playing 2.c3. This 'cancels' 1...c5 because white will just take back on d4 if the pawns are exchanged.

Three, white can decide against d2-d4 for now and look for other ways. Usually this involves putting the pawn on d3 (because leaving it on d2 is awkward). Usually play is slow and both sides' pieces don't immediately touch each other in the opening moves, so a great variety of ways to continue are possible. Your line belongs here.

Combining 2.Nf3 and 3.d3 is a bit odd, in that white has already made some slight concessions -- he can't play with an early f2-f4, and the bishop is locked in -- while black hasn't had to do anything to achieve that. By itself that doesn't mean much, as there are still good ways to continue available, but he's made himself a bit predictable.

Most likely, white will put the bishop on g2 and castle short; this is called the King's Indian Attack, because it mirrors black's setup in the King's Indian Defence.

It's hard to give concrete lines (because so much is possible), but I'd place a pawn on e5 (3...e5 or 3...Nc6 and 4...e5) because it shuts down white's d3-d4 for the foreseeable future, f2-f4 is not possible, and an important plan for white is usually to play e4-e5, but you prevent that. Keep the option of playing your white squared bishop to g4 open.

The so-called 'Botvinnik setup' with pawns c5-d6-e5, Nc6, Ne7, and a bishop on g7 seems like an idea.




You will find lines for the Sicilian including explanations.

However I advise you to stick with the main line (which is the Classical Sicilian line, the Open Sicilian line is also one of the "main" lines. Use whichever you like since you're still learning)... The Sicilian might get too hard to play at a beginner stage if you play one of the other lines. But you have them right there if you are interested :)

Hope I helped

However as far as I know, there are no actual lines of the sicilian with d3 in such an early stage. It blocks the development of the white bishop and overall is played too early. (I could be wrong however, since I haven't finished my study of the sicilian, if there IS a line for it the others might have an answer)

As to HOW to continue in THAT particular line that you just said Nc6 for black is most likely the best move. It keeps control of vital squares in the center and your pawn structure is good.


The normal way for white to play the Sicilian is to push d4 early which after the exchange cxd4 will lead to very interesting open and tactical positions.

There is a large body of theory related to the Sicilian and in many lines not knowing this theory can be very risky for both sides.

A white player who is not very familiar with the Sicilian or who prefers more closed positions might very well play a King's Indian Attack (KIA) like setup with pawns on d3, e4, g3, knight on f3 and bishop on g2. The typical idea for white (if black castle's kingside) is to go for a pawn storm with f4, g4... This is very easy to play for white and fairly independent on what black does. So it does not require any knowledge of theory. Personally I do use this against some types of the Sicilians.

In my opinion, 3. d3 is a normal move, perhaps not the most demanding, but nothing wrong with it. Assuming white goes for a King's Indian Attack setup, black can chose for instance between:

  • a setup like in the dragon with fianchettoed bishop on g7, and perhaps a pawn storm on the queenside, as black you can use your control of the dark squares (d4, e5) where you might want to place a knight at some point.
  • pushing d5 (e.g. after playing e6), which threatens to open the center and often leads to simplification and equal positions in the KIA. Also this helps against potential pawn storms/kingside attacks. Since you already played 2. ... d6, you would lose a tempo playing d5, so it might be wise to postpone the move d5 for later and first continue with normal development, with, e.g. Nc6, Nf6, e6, Be7, 0-0,.... and only then think of d5

When you are a beginner it is good and important that you concentrate a good deal of Chess games of Fischer , Kasparov , Anand and many others .

Sicilian is a huge subject and mastery takes a lifetime to learn . There are many different variations and Patterns which requires a Strategic understanding . You must first classify differently and then choose which one would be the best for you .

Classifications below .

  1. Sicilian Najdorf

    1.a) Scheveningen 1.b) Sozin 1.c) English 1.d) Poison Pawn

Many more ......

  1. Sicilian Kan
  2. Sicilian Richter Rauzer
  3. Sicilian Dragon

There are many more which I cannot mention all . Important is you need to have an attitude where you can do brutal counterattack , exchange Sacrifice, understand the c-file play and gain initiative by giving by material .

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