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Sicilian Defense | Grand Prix Attack


Grand Prix Attack is one of the basic chess openings in Sicilian Defense. White can avoid the huge theoretical lines and by a very simple plan ...

... can create a very aggressive position against Black's Kingside. The plan is so simple, transfer the Queen from e1 to h4, that even a small child can use it with success! Is it sound interesting? Stay with me to explain the ideas in a better way. :D

Reasons to play the Grand Prix Attack

If you are looking for an aggressive reply to the Sicilian in order to avoid studying hundreds of lines of theory then please continuing read this guid on "How to Win the Sicilian Defense"!

White has very good control over the center of the board and this gives attacking chances. White by played f4 move has possibilities to launch kingside attack. Usually Black's king castle short side and White checkmate him uncountess times.

White's plan is very simple, Qe1 and Qh4. Even a little child can perform it successfully. If Black don't know exactly (!) how to play then they will lose very quickly.

It's an amazing system for Blitz games. Black cannot perform a fast attack so you can make quickly a lot of accurate and correct moves; without spending much time on the opening.

You'll have an aggressive position right from the beginning of the game and a lot of chances to win the game.

Grand Prix Attack or McDonnell Attack

After 1.e4 - c5 White can play the move 2.f4. This is the Grand Prix Attack or McDonnell Attack. It called "McDonnell Attack" because a 14th match game played in London in 1834 between Alexander McDonnell and Charles Louis Mahé de La Bourdonnais. Black won teh match but White played some really cool , aggressive, and interesting games; thus this system kept that name.

McDonnell vs De Labourdonnais || Match Labourdonnais-McDonnell (1)+15-6=4

McDonnell vs De Labourdonnais

McDonnell vs De Labourdonnais

McDonnell vs De Labourdonnais

Historical Review

The system popularized by English master back to 1970. The first games was a hybrid of France defense and Grand Prix attack as players try to close the center. However, White already played f4 and later he'd like to push forward on f5; opening lines and creating an attack. You can see an illustrative game below:

Lewis vs Wilson

Gain Popularity And Respect

The Grand Prix Attack gain a lot of popularity in 1980s when strong players start implement it regularly during their games and achieve cool victories. You can see below some examples:

Hodgson vs Degerman

Hebden vs Wells

Watson vs Lapan

How To Fight back?

The main strength of Grand Prix Attack is the two connected pawns on e4 and f4. These two pawns not only control the center, be aggressive on the kingside, be ready to shut down the fianchetto g7-bishop, but be ready to play f5 in the appropriate moment. So many problems with two little pawns...

Hence, Black's strategy is to split these pawns or force them move. Splitting and isolating them is an easy - understandable technique; after that we can attack them. Force them move means that they will leave holes, empty squares, around them and Black can occupy them by their pieces.

One of the best moves to fight back the Grand Prix Attack is d5. This was known from 1856; as you can see in the game below:

Cochrane vs Somacarana

However, the 8th World Chess Champion, Tal, played this gambit in an important game. Tal shows us some ways to play it and after that game it took the name “Tal's Gammbit”.

Hartston vs Tal

Hartston was one of the players who popularized this opening, so using his favorite line against a World Chess Champion was a big issue. Tal was in a hurry to get back his pawn and the game ended in a draw afterwards. However, the 10...Nc6 could give more than enough compensation to Black pieces. After Tal, many players start using this gambit damaging irreparably its reliability (!) as you can see in the following games.

Ivanchuk vs Giri

Genocchio vs Caruana

Grischuk vs Svidler

Modern Grand Prix Attack

Here you may wonder is Grand Prix any good after all? Indeed it is a very sound opening, a system that you should know how to play with White and Black pieces. The only think you have to do is to play 2.Nc3 in the second move; avoiding Tal's gambit (2...d5). This is the reason why people nowadays are going to Grand Prix Attack via this move order; 2.Nc3 and only then 3.f4.

The Main Ideas

This system is similar to the Closed Sicilian (g3, Bg2) but more aggressive because the light square Bishop develops on c4 or b5 creating potential problems to Black. White's idea is to control the center and with the help of the f-pawn to start a kingside attack.


The most aggressive system is Bc4 because this bishop is aiming to f7 square and with the combination of the advancement f4 to f5 White can create problems to that square.

Adly vs Moreby


The positional approach is Bb5 aiming to double Black's pawns on c6. Then the Bc8 will be extremely passive, Black will not be able to create any active counterattack on the center of the board, so White can continue his aggressive plan on the kingside undisturbed.

Kasparov vs Garrido Fernandez

Final Conclusions

Grand Prix Attack is a reliable system against Sicilian Defense. It is considering as an important anti-Sicilian system in which Black can lose quickly if they don't know what to do.

White's plan is simple and effective; transferring the Queen on h4.

Complete course on Grand Prix Attack

If you like to improve at chess and get a very strong opening against Sicilian Defense then you can own the lessons I prepared for you. I used my personal experience and I'm presenting many of my games with deep analysis in order to deeply understand this opening and having a lot of success on your games with White pieces against Sicilian.

Grand prix Large Software

The games as well the lines checked by super chess engines so you'll feel confidence and sure that these ideas will work on your favor. The level of the lessons are suitable for players with rating 1200 – 2000+.

Inside the lesson you can see my games as well as games from strong players. Thus, you'll going to learn this system by hard with both colors, White and Black. You can learn thought my personal stories and experience and I'll let you know how I manage to rise up my elo points from 1500 to 1900!

Grand Prix Attack

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Monday, 11 December 2023

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