Dec 12, 2009

Sveshnikov 101: Multiple Names and Move Orders

The Sveshnikov is about 160 years old. Probably as much as any opening, it has undergone heavy theoretical revision since its first use. Lasker played it in a World Championship against Schlechter in 1910, and you'll hear it sometimes referred to as the Lasker Sicilian. Juri Pelikan then played it with heavy development 40 or so years later, and it was then sometimes called the Lasker-Pelikan. (Pelikan played a version with 9...d5, and we'll look it at it briefly below.) And then Evgeny Sveshnikov and others in Cheliabinsk, beginning in the 60s, turned it into a modern opening, and the name "Sveshnikov" ultimately stuck. There are two distinct move orders to get into the opening (see diagram), and because the two orders are of different lengths, you should know that books and articles on the Sveshnikov will standardize to the Lasker order (the shorter order). You should know the one-move longer Four Knights order (which is seldom played other than as an alternate route to the Sveshnikov), and understand that its prime purpose is avoiding certain of White's more rare 6th moves where the Knight goes other than to b5, and especially to avoid the positional response to the Sveshnikov by 7.Nd5.

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