... this system is so popular. The answer will not surprise you. Sicilian is the best-scoring response to White's first move 1.e4. This is obvious because even from the first move Black is hoping for asymmetrical positions.
By asymmetrical positions I mean that pawns are not “looking” at each other. For example they are not like 1.e4-e5; not like a mirror. In Sicilian we can see different formations or pawns which give the background for chess tactics, attacks, and counterattacks.
In the light of that, in many lines, or almost to all of the lines, Black is playing not just for equality, but for the advantage. He would like to bring the full point home, to win 1 point of the victory; and in the most of the cases he manage to do it, so this system was and remain so popular.
In addition to that, every system has its pros and cons. So, Black is trying to go for the attack so early in the game and in the most of the cases he is behind in the development or his king is stacked in the center of the chess board. This means that in general, at the first moves, White will have more organized and centralized army comparing it to Black. Black is based his defense in the semi close character of the position and mainly on his e and d pawns.
Thus, if White manages to sacrifice a piece on f5, d5, e6, b5 and open the position, probably Black will be lost. In the other hand, Black would like to counterattack the center with b5, b4 and d5 in the future. In general this is the main concept of the Sicilian Defense.
In the diagram position we can see that Black have weakness on e-pawns, however White cannot use it immediately. Magnus found a really cool way to start an attack against his opponent’s Kingside, could you find the right plan?
Black have concentrated almost all of his pieces against the enemy kingside. How he should continue the game?
Usually on the Sicilian Defense White had mobilized better his pieces after the opening and Black’s king is sucked in the center of the chess board. If White manage to break open the position, probably with a sacrifice, then White can have a winning attack! This happened in this game, can you find the best continuation for White?
The same situation happened here. White sacrificed the exchange in order to have a powerful Bishop on d6. White found a cool blow to open the center; can you do the same?
Black manage to survive White’s wave of attack and not he has an opportunity to counterattack. There is only one good way to continue the game. Please try to play as Shirov; it’s Black’s turn.