Sicilian Kan ⎸Chess Openings

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The Kan Sicilian is one of the best and most versatile weapons against 1.e4 players. It often results in complicated hedgehog setups which require positional and srategical knowledge to master.

For the basics of the Sicilian Defense, main ideas and variations, watch this introductory video:

Sicilian Kan is one of the Sicilians in which black doesn’t play the move d6, such as the Najdorf or the Dragon. Instead of that e6 is played, which results in very much different positions.

The opening occurs after the following moves:

1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 e6
3. d4 cxd4
4. Nxd4 a6 – this move signifies the Kan Sicilian. Black can also go for 4…Nc6, the Paulsen, or some other variations.

After 4…a6, white can choose between three main responses:

5. Bd3 – The Modern Variation
5. Nc3 – The Knight Variation
5. c4 – The Maroczy Bind Variation

All three offer a slight opening edge to white, and all three are quite different. The Nc3 variation is perhaps the most solid for white, while c4 is the most active way to play. Forming a Maroczy Bind often cramps black’s position and leads to a space advantage.

Players whose games you should study: Fabiano Caruana, Vladimir Epishin, Sergei Rublevsky, Ilya Smirin, Vassily Ivanchuk


  1. Wow. Ever since I was a little kid I've thought that Caro-kan was some single guy, with kan being a title! Maybe like Gengis-khan (khan is usually pronounced "kan" in Finnish). And I guess I just never questioned it, even when I was old enough to realize he probably wasn't a khan. And now you tell me it's two different guys! Then again, I wasn't the smartest kid. It took me over 20 years to realize you have to pay attention to what your opponent is doing in the opening.

  2. For which lichess elo would you recomend the kan?

  3. Great Video stjepan, just wanted to say that there’s a sideline in the knight variation where black plays 5.b5 instead of 5. Qc7. it’s very easy for white to go wrong and many weaker players around my level (2100 lichess) tend to fall into worse positions!

  4. Hoi StejpanIn the Bd3 Bc5 Nc3 Be7 Qg4 g6 variation the advice to keep from playing Nf6 with the black pieces untill f4 is played is not there because of the pin on g5 as you mentiin, but because of Bh6 ! and the eventual Bg7 loosing the right to castle.Thanks again to shed a light in my book with your typical summarizing presentations. I at least learn to play the main moves !

  5. Excellent video and worth the wait. It's such a flexible opening especially against opponents who play by rote the English attack. I've also won blitz games by keeping the center closed and launching the h-pawn at whites kingside castle. Looking forward to the Kramnick variation for white video because I haven't encountered that yet.

  6. Nice one! Plz make at least few episodes on Schevingen system…d6,a6,e6….
    Thnx for ur valuable presentations.

  7. Nice video as always. Is it only me that thinks that it is the most intuitive way to respond to black's Sicilians? At least if you are not a gm. When black goes for the Kan, or the accelerated dragon or basically whenever he doesn't "force" a quick Nc3 then c4 ftw!! You gain space with natural moves, prevent a lot of black's ideas and no theoretical tricks. You just blunt your light square bishop for a little while.. well what to do.

  8. Great video like usual !

    Question: what happens here if instead of Qc7 black plays bishop b4 !

    To me you are in trouble because we will take that knight and capture the pawn. or if you play f3 then he still takes you knight and you have doubled pawns …

    Ps: It is like in the paulsen variation. I feel that a video is coming about that sicilian

  9. Nice video as usual! At my lower level, I have seen the Kan give black the "psychological advantage" in many many blitz-games: When white seems to get the center-control unchallenged against hedgehog-formation, lower rated white-players get overly confident. They often launch an unprepared attack or expansion, and get crushed because of it.

  10. Very compliments for the channel and all the videos that are there!
    Your effort and your job are stunning like your explanation that you give to all videos.
    Keep going and again…very compliments!

  11. Great video I will use these lines for sure thanks.

  12. It's pronounced ševeningen because Yasser says so and his wife is Dutch

  13. So many people play Bc4 against me and this is really good at countering that

  14. At 19:29, I don't see how black wins a pawn. Can't white defend the pinned knight with N(d)e2 (as at 20:15)? Am I missing something?

  15. Thank you, Stjepan, for your explanations about the main openings.

  16. Excellent video! Kan Sicilian is my primary opening and I think Maroczy Bind with 7.a3 is the most solid continuation! 7…Nxe4 seems to be a good option if your opponent is not expecting it, but actually white is better there in detailed analysis.

  17. Could you do a video concerning the Andersen variation of e6-Sicilian, that is like Kan but instead of a6 you play Nf6?

  18. Nice video! Which resources do you use to prepare these analyses?

  19. Thanks for this Stejpan. I am 63 now and used to use the Kan many years ago. I am past my best now and play to about 1570 ELO at the moment. I have changed to the Caro Khan or the Pirc against e4 more recently as the Kan was more difficult against players 1800 ELO upwards. An interest one against the Maroczy Bind is one for you to have a go at. An English IGM Chris Ward showed me a pawn sacrifice line against the Bind years ago. He said that you can still play b5. Apparently you are compensated for the loss of a pawn with a Benko type idea down the A and B file.

  20. I had once a 1900+ player actually playing Be3 and getting into some kind of problems , resolving it with Bd3 and Ne2 indeed. I at first though she was not concentrated, but seemingly she by default initiates the english attack which of course doesn´t work on the Kan. Thats also the reason I play the Kan, as I don´t like the kings side initiatives of white.I can deal with the hedgehog, anticipate on e5/f5 . What is a problem is the Maroczy bind and the queenside initiative, there is simply no plan for black. I will have to make some research, and dig into top grandmasters games and go and check what they´ll do.

  21. Question: I cant decide between the kan or Taimanov? What are pros and cons of them? which one is better?

  22. Wow…once again, some good stuff here! The Kan can be studied via ECO B41/42/43; some really top games are to be found played by none other than the great Mikhael Tal!!

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