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Chess - The Sicilian Defence

"il gioco siciliano" The Sicilian Defence Chess Move

Chess or ‘scacchi’ in Italian, in most minds conjures up images of Russian men in deep thought playing for hours on end banging away at stop clocks. It is seen as just a game to some where others believe in the importance of learning chess at school to develop the mind and problem solving abilities from a young age. The Italian island of Sicily is famous in the chess world for one of the named moves played in the game.

‘The Sicilian Defence’ is a particular type of opening to the game, an opening where the player defends from the start. It is not considered the best starting strategy by players and only used when one has an in-depth awareness of their opponents way of playing, for who’s skills they are well acquainted. Since the 1500’s various chess players have both loved and rejected this move in their game - "il gioco siciliano" ("The Sicilian Game") referred to an old Italian manuscript in which the name was popularised in the 1800’s. A move that allows for too many of the ‘pawns’ to be taken out of play and for the centre of the ‘command’ field to be exposed and readily given to ones opponent. Due to the change that this move bought to the game, the Sicilian Defence was not observed over 75 games played in the St. Petersburg Tournament in 1914. This renouncing of control over the players pieces didn’t last long whereby grandmasters like Garry Kasparov and Bobby Fischer relied on this tactical strategy making the Sicilian Defence becoming recognised as the defence that offered Black the most winning chances, using this throughout their winning careers.

The Sicilian Defence is the most popular defence against white’s opening 1.e4. There are many variations of this opening and they each are designed for specific types of players so time is needed to learn.

It is said that in the twentieth century the Sicilian has become the most played and most analysed opening at both the club and master levels, according to the authors of ‘Modern Chess Openings’ in the 1990’s. From the vey first move a psychological battle, tension and speed dominate the ‘fight’.

Grandmaster (GM) is a title awarded to chess players by the world chess organisation called FIDE. Apart from ‘World Champion’ Grandmaster is the highest title a chess player can attain.

The title of Grandmaster, along with the lesser FIDE titles of International Master (IM) and FIDE Master (FM), is open to all players regardless of gender. The majority of grandmasters are men, but a number of women have also earned the GM title. Since about 2000, most of the top 10 women have held the GM title. Just 37 of the more than 1,600 international chess grandmaster are women. The current top-rated female, Hou Yifan is ranked 89th in the world. She a Chinese chess grandmaster and four time Women's World Chess Champion. A chess prodigy, she is the youngest female player ever to qualify for the title of grandmaster and the youngest ever to win the Women's World Chess Championship.

Currently there are national and International tournaments being played acrid the globe, and some returning to face to cafe meetings, the European Senior Chess Championship on the island of Sardinia for example now from Step 25th to Oct 5th 2021.


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