I have been studying the Kalashnikov Sicilian:

  1. e4 c5
  2. Nf3 Nc6
  3. d4 cxd4
  4. Nxd4 e5 (signaling the Lowenthal variation)
  5. Nb5 d6 (d6 signals the Kalashnikov variation)

I have two books I have been studying that cover variations from this point forward. However, I spend a lot of time analyzing my openings and a line that comes up over and over again is

  1. Bg5!?

The book Neo-Sveshnikov by Silman "covers" this line with one brief note about it on the last two pages of the book. The other book I am studying "Sicilian Kalashnikov" by Jan Pinski, Jacob Aagaard which I really like does not cover this move AT ALL.

Can anyone recommend a resource for me to read about the Bg5 continuation of this line? I find it hard to believe that it can be used somewhat commonly in GM level games and not discussed in any opening books.


This has been one of my main two openings since it became popular in the 1980's again. With strong computers today, they say, and I agree with them, that black is virtually winning after the following line:

  [fen ""]

 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6 6.Bg5 Qxg5 7.Nc7+ Kd8 8.Nxa8 Nf6 {already -2.05 on Stockfish} 9. Nc3 Nd4! 10. h4 {best per four engines} (10. Qd2 Qxd2 11. Kxd2 b6) Qf4 11. g3 (11. Bd3 Be6 {and there is still nothing to stop the roundup of the Na8.}) Qf3 12. Qxf3 Nxf3 13. Kd1 {is given as best, and the Na8 soon falls.}

It is clear that black's development combined with his soon-to-be material advantage (Na8 falls), makes this winning for black, and there really isn't even much counterplay to make it interesting.

The problem earlier is that the Qg5 is very actively posted, e4 is weak, and the move Nc6-d4 is not only keeping the white queen from being active due to c2 being weak, but it blocks white from getting at many critical weak squares like d5, d6, and the d8 square where the black king is.

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While it's a somewhat dated source by this point, I'm certain that Neil McDonald's 1995 book Winning with the Kalashnikov covers this 6.Bg5 variation to some extent, and I'm nearly certain that he recommends taking it head on with

[fen ""]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6 6.Bg5 Qxg5 7.Nc7+ Kd8 8.Nxa8

I don't recall how much concrete analysis followed (it's been many years since I owned/saw the book). Moreover, I don't know if there's more or less coverage than what you mention from Silman's book; even though I've played the Kalashnikov with considerable frequency since the days of McDonald's book, for my purposes I've never needed to consult a newer source.

To that point, I'll say that my experience has differed from yours, in that I almost never face this 6.Bg5 line, despite plenty of personal Kalashnikov tournament games and countless blitz games, and indeed I've never faced it in tournament play. I think one reason for that might be that Black can sidestep any messiness if she so chooses, so that it's not that testing a try from White. In particular, my own (potentially flawed) sense is that Black could even comfortably go for the following:

[fen ""]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6 6.Bg5 Be7!? {This might look strange, as White can now force the black king to lose castling rights, but this comes along with an exchange of the dark-squared bishops that Black generally welcomes in this opening, and all things considered I think the black king can live comfortably.} 7.Bxe7 Kxe7  {This wouldn't be every black player's cup of tea, but if I'm right that this position is alright for Black, then the fact that this simple defusing of White's play is available would be a reason for 6.Bg5 to be infrequently played.} (7...Ngxe7? 8.Nxd6+)
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  • 1
    ♦ I really appreciate this response. I think the easiest response is 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e5 5. Nb5 d6 6. Bg5 Nf6 7. Bxf6 gxf6 8. N1c3 a6 9. Na3 b5 Then you're playing a fairly common line of the Sveshnikov variation – enikhelA Jun 18 '15 at 16:41
  • @enikhelA : as much as I love the Black side of the sveshnikov, if I am given the choice between a clearly winning position with 6...Qxg5 ! or transposition with 6...Nf6, I'll always choose the former. – Evargalo Oct 17 '19 at 12:27

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