The Closed Sicilian is a variation of the Sicilian Defense in which white doesn’t open the center with an early d2-d4. Instead, white often fianchettos the light bishop and plans to slowly build up on the kingside.

A typical move order for the Closed Sicilian is 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3

Closed Sicilian


White’s e4-pawn, knight, and bishop on g2 will work together to control the central light squares and make it difficult for black to break in the center with …d5. The g2 bishop will also be a nice defender for the white king, when white begins pushing the kingside pawns!



Closed Sicilian: Queenside Expansion

In the Closed Sicilian, black has more space on the queenside, and white has more space on the kingside. Black will often seek to expand on the queenside or strike in the center before white’s attack crashes through.

A sample line begins with 3…g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. d3 d6 6. Be3 Rb8 7. Qd2 b5:

Queenside Expansion

So far, white has delayed the typical f2-f4 push, perhaps keeping black guessing about the potential for an early Be3-h6 idea, exchanging the dark bishops.

Very often, black adopts this fianchetto setup on the Closed Sicilian. The dark bishop is not only a great defender of the black king after black castles – it also bears down on the white queenside from across the board!

Play may continue 8. Nge2 b4 9. Nd1 (guarding b2) 9…Nd4 10. 0-0 e5

e5 Closed Sicilian

This is a bold grab for central space by black. Black argues that if white wants to delay playing f4 for too long, they might as well grab more central space themselves!

White has even played 11. Nc1!? in some games here, preparing to play c2-c3 when the knight on d4 cannot simply exchange itself off. It will have to retreat, and white will soon play f2-f4 (either with or without first playing Bh6) and begin kingside operations.

That said, black has a good chunk of space and adequate development. It’s anyone’s game!

Closed Sicilian: Early f4

After 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. d3 d6 6. f4:

early f4 closed sicilian

White expands on the kingside from the get-go, and black has to choose how to react.

6…e5 is possible, akin to our previous example. But black could also play 6…e6 and not challenge the center immediately.

Now after 7. Nf3 Nge7 8. 0-0 0-0 9. Be3 Nd4 10. e5, we reach the following position:

e5 closed sicilian

White often wants to break through with f4-f5 in the Closed Sicilian, but here the e4-e5 break is employed instead. White unleashes the g2 bishop on the long diagonal, and cuts off the g7 bishop.

It helps that 10…d5? 11. Nxd4 is not possible for black, as this knight is now missing the bishop’s support.

The game may proceed with 10…Nef5 11. Bf2 Nxf3+ 12. Qxf3 Nd4 13. Qd1 dxe5 14. fxe5 Bxe5. Black has won a pawn for the time being, but white will regain it with 15. Ne4 in conjunction with a possible c2-c3, if needed.

Despite the game starting out as a Closed Sicilian, the center has finally opened up! Both sides will have to be careful in the complications that result.

To Fianchetto or not to Fianchetto?

In general, when I think of the Closed Sicilian, I think of the lines we’ve been looking at with the bishop on g2.

There are other ways to play as white that involve refraining from opening up the center, but developing the light bishop on a “more active” square, such as c4 or b5. This is often played in conjunction with a quick f2-f4.

While the aim of this set-up may be similar, I would actually classify this opening as a Grand Prix Attack. See the linked article for a rundown of this opening and decide which option you like better!


The Closed Sicilian is a popular “anti-Sicilian” weapon of players who wish to avoid the main lines. The strategic ideas are easy to understand, but there’s still plenty of fight left in the game.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to sign up in the box below – I’ll send you a free “Move by Move Guide to Chess Thinking” and make sure you never miss new content.


Will you allow me to help you on your chess journey?

Enter your email address to sign up for free!