Usually, you do not hear a lot about the Kalashnikov variation of the Sicilian, but it is an interesting line and quite a great practical choice for Black. It was used by La Bourdonnais against McDonnell back in 1834 but was not really popular until recent years. The reason is that similar to the Sveshnikov, it allows White’s knight to jump to the central outpost on d5, which used to be considered bad to allow. But modern chess is more concrete and people realized that this drawback can be compensated by dynamic factors with the interest.
The ideas of the Kalashnikov are easy to grasp; it doesn’t require much memorization, allows dynamic play, and has a lot of other advantages as well. Let’s discuss them in more detail below: here are 10 reasons to add this option to your repertoire.
1. It is sound
You will be able to play the Kalashnikov regularly: it is a totally sound variation that is hard to get an advantage against.
2. Trusted by strong players
Magnus Carlsen, Teimour Radjabov, Daniil Dubov, and many other top players have been enjoying this variation for many years. It is also worth mentioning that legendary Evgeny Sveshnikov nowadays mostly prefers the Kalashnikov over the system named after him.
3. It gives a broad choice for Black
In the Kalashnikov, White’s main lines are 6.c4 and 6.N1c3. In both cases, Black has a broad choice of sub-lines. This is great because you will be able to vary your opening play and make it difficult to prepare for a game against you.
4. Less explored than the other Sicilians
This variation was not played as often as the Najdorf, the Dragon, or the Sveshnikov, and therefore there are still many new ideas to be found. This makes it more interesting to play and allows you to show some creativity.
5. Your king will be safe
The usual Sicilian scenario is a razor-sharp game with some crazy attacks and sacrifices, pawn storms, and races… You will not see it in the Kalashnikov. Both sides usually castle the same side, and this makes the game more solid and positional. Of course, both sides can try some active plans and ideas but overall Black’s king is always safe.
6. Less theory to learn
It is less researched than the other Sicilians and it makes it easier to learn. You don’t usually need to memorize much here and can even play relying mostly on ideas.
7. You will practice typical Sicilian pawn structures
Black puts their central pawns on e5 and d6, which quite the case in the Najdorf, the Sveshnikov, the Classical Sicilian, and some other lines. This means that the plans are going to be similar in all of the aforementioned variations, and the experience of playing one of them will help with the other ones.
8. Good addition to the Sveshnikov Sicilian
The Kalashnikov is like a little brother of the Sveshnikov variation. They are very similar in the spirit and sometimes can even transpose one into the other. In the future, it will be easy to study and understand the Sveshnikov after the Kalashnikov and vice versa.
9. Your opponents will not be well-prepared
People devote most of the time to studying how to meet the most played openings and variations. Against the Kalashnikov, they will most likely not be prepared at the same level and try to play similarly to what they do against the Sveshnikov. This usually is not dangerous for Black. Moreover, at the club level, most of the people do not even know how to meet the Sveshnikov. Hence, they will not have any patterns to follow.
10. It will teach you important strategic concepts
You will learn about outposts, good and bad bishops, dark-squared strategy, minority attack, pawn breaks, many other things that every chess player should know really well.
Start Winning with Kalashnikov Sicilian!
GM Misa Pap brought in his 10-hour video training on the Sicilian Kalashnikov – where he covers the main ideas behind Black’s setup, the positional opportunities, the dangers lurking behind, and helps you prepare a deep and thorough repertoire for those willing to play the line as Black.