I remember being a rising junior in Chicago and a Sicilian fanatic. In my arsenal were the Najdorf, Dragon and Sveshnikov. I walked around with a large amount of theory… in some cases reaching into the endgame. I also cherished a book called “Sacrifices in the Sicilian” and was influenced a great deal by sacrificial attacks with white and spectacular counterattacks with black.
I recall with joy the Lev Polugaevsky theme tournament in Bueno Aires in 1994 where all games began with 1.e4 c5! The tournament was won by GM Valery Salov, who would retire unexpectantly in 2000 leaving the world wondering how far he could have gone.
The tournament also included luminaries such as Viswanathan Anand (2nd place), Vassily Ivanchuk, Judit Polgar, Anatoly Karpov, Gata Kamsky, Alexei Shirov and Ljubomir Ljubojevic. All players lost at least one game and the games with exciting and cutting-edge. A beautiful book came out chronicling the event. It included a history of the Sicilian Defense as well as historic games featuring the dynamic defense.
One of my favorite games in that tournament was between Judit Polgar and Alexei Shirov. (see game). My chess life was forever changed when I saw Polgar’s 10…g5! This display and dynamism is why the Sicilian is such a dangerous weapon. I would later employ this same idea years later against Jamaican Master Geoffrey Byfield. (see game)
Polgar has been a Sicilian expert for decades and has had thrilling victories from both sides of the board. Rekindling this affection for the most vigorous black defense, a match was set up between Polgar and Gregory Kaidanov in Hilton Head, South Carolina by Jeff Smith. Smith is a board member on the Susan Polgar Foundation and agreed to host the event in an attractive tourist haven.
The game were as exciting as billed although many expected Polgar to run away in the four-game series. The match was drawn at 2-2 with white winning all the games. Of course the Sicilian did not fare well in this tournament, but it remains a fierce weapon in the hands of capable handlers.