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The Most Flexible Sicilian: A Black Repertoire with 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 Paperback – 23 Apr 2014


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This book is a follow up of The Safest Sicilian. It offers a repertoire based on 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6. This time It covers both the Taimanov and the Kan. The pawn structures are almost identical so many ideas work in both variations. At the same time the different move order offers subtleties which may turn decisive for the outcome of the opening battle. Delchev believes that the Sicilian players should know the full range of set-ups after 2...e6. That would allow to choose the most unpleasant system against any particular opponent. For instance, if the White player is narrowly specialised in the English Attack, you may choose to delay ...Nc6. This approach effectively discourages White's set-up with Be3. It is also very good against the fans of an early f4 or the fianchetto with g3. The book is divided on several parts: playing against Be2; against f4; g3; the third rank set-up Be3+Bd3; the English Attack; the Hedgehog structures. There are separate chapters for the Taimanov move order with 4...Nc6, and for the Kan with 4...a6. Another section of the book deals with the anti-Sicilian variations 3.d3, 3.c3, 3.g3, 3.c4, 3.b4, 3.Nc3. Every part begins with a chapter named "Pros and Cons" which discuses the main ideas of the Taimanov and the Kan approaches and offers advice what to choose. The next chapters "Step by Step" present detailed theory. Finally a chapter "Complete Games" offers deep annotations to important games.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Masterful Work on The Taimanov/Kan Sicilian 22 Dec 2014
By Cybertal - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It might seem strange for an author to write another Sicilian book so quickly after publishing a well received tome - Delchev is also responsible for authoring The Safest Sicilian, published in 2008. However, the focus of these books is completely different - The Safest Sicilian focused on offering a pure Taimanov repetoire, while the focus of this review offers a very fluid and flexible repetoire choice between the Taimanov and Kan.

Delchev puts a heavy emphasis on comparing and contrasting Taimanov and Kan approaches vs. White's chosen structures. No matter which approach he recommends, he covers both options in an extremely thorough fashion. One of the hallmarks of Delchev's books is his deep analysis - The Safest Sicilian, The Safest Gruenfeld, and The Modern Reti are all distinguished by extremely piercing analysis of every option. The Most Flexible Sicilian continues in this excellent tradition. Delchev doesn't dodge high theory, especially in the Taimanov - he dives right into the lines and offers improvements in topical lines typically inhabited by 2700s. But he also doesn't avoid giving practical advice - for instance, against the Third Rank Setup, he proposes that if you're less comfortable with keeping up on high theory, then the Kan suggestion would prove more comfortable. He also proposes nearly revolutionary ideas against the Kan and Taimanov Maroczy setups - he very clearly demonstrates how the Hedgehog has been mishandled for quite some time! Even if you aren't a Sicilian player, these sections would be worth reading. Each section contains an introductory coverage, a detailed theoretical section, and a practical game section. Each of these sections is detailed, well analyzed and contain detailed verbal expositions

The suggestions themselves are of top notch quality. Delchev does a skillful job of suggesting both moves that lead to solid equality and moves that leave quite a bit of life in the position. One excellent example of this is his Taimanov coverage of the Fianchetto system. One system leads to solid Scheveningen style positions (albeit with ...h5-h4 included), another leads to very super aggressive pure Taimanov play with ...h5-h4 and thematic piece play on the dark squares. Both suggestions are intrinsically sound, but lead to completely different types of play. Delchev also gives a range of suggestions against various anti-Sicilians. These are of equally sterling quality, though tastes may differ with some of the suggestions. For instance, Delchev gives 1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. ed Qxd5 4. d5 Nf6 5. Nf3 e6 against the Alapin Sicilian. Is this bad? Of course not - but there are certainly lines that retain more winning chances for Black.

Delchev's writing is straightforward, instructive and occasionally humorous. For instance, about one move he writes, "This is a capital way to prevent d4. However, you risk being summoned by the arbiter for a booze control." It's somehow even funnier with the slightly awkward English!

This book is mandatory if you play the Taimanov or Kan. Repeat: mandatory. Delchev has added to and enhanced his sterling reputation as an author with this superb work.
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