Sicilian Kalashnikov Chess Opening

Chess Openings / By Andrew Hercules

The Sicilian Kalashnikov opens with: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5


In this opening, Black makes an immediate attack on the d4-knight, forcing it to leave its central post. The Kalashnikov is a very close relation to the Sveshnikov and sometimes it simply transposes.

Kalashnikov Mainline


Once again the knight must move to this threatening square if White is looking for an advantage. Both 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Nc3 Bb4 and 5.Nf5 Nf6 6.Nc3 d5 are fine for Black.


Preventing Nd6+. The sequence 5…a6 6.Nd6+ Bxd6 7.Qxd6 Qf6 is known as the Lowenthal Variation and is played from time to time. White can either exchange queens or play 8.Qd1, 8.Qa3 or 8 Qc7!?


Once again creating the Maroczy Bind and thus putting a stop to any …d6-d5 ideas.

The main alternative is 6 NIc3 and now after 6…a6 7.Na3 b5 8.Nd5 Nf6 9.Bg5 we have transposed to the 9 Nd5 variation of the Sveshnikov. If Black wants to keep an independent flavour he can try 8.Nge7 or 8…Nce7!?


There is a point of developing this bishop ahead of the g8-knight which will become apparent in a couple of moves.

7.N1c3 a6 8.Na3

As with the Sveshnikov, this knight is forced back to the miserable a3-square, but this time it will be easy to relocate it via c2.

8…Be6 9.Be2 Bg5!

The point of Black’s previous play. With this move he prepares to trade his ‘bad bishop’ for White’s ‘good bishop’, which is positionally very desirable.


Covering d4, which could become an outpost for Black’s c6-knight. The pawn grab 10.Bxg5 Qxg5 11.Qxd6?? leads to disaster after 11…Rd8 12.Qc5 Qd2+ 13.Kf1 Qxb2 and White can already resign.

TIP: Look long and hard before you grab a pawn.

10…Bxc1 11.Rxc1 Nf6 12.0-0 0-0

Strategies in the Kalashnikov

White can try to exert pressure on the d6-pawn with Qd2 and Rfd1, but this is usually countered by …Qb8! and …Rfd8. The black queen can then emerge via the a7-square, where it controls the long a7-g1 diagonal.

Black will sometimes look to break with …b7-b5, while both players must be on the lookout for possible Nd5 for White and …Nd4 for Black.

Theory: Not really. Play is quiet and of a positional nature. Plans are much more important here than any individual moves.

Statistics: The Kalashnikov is a very modern opening and so there is considerably less practical experience with it. I found just over 4,000 games in Mega Database, with White scoring 52%.

Andrew Hercules

Hercules Chess, launched in 2020, is a website that teaches you about chess. We started as a chess blog and became a chess training platform in early 2022.

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