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Incredibly popular on the British weekend chess tournament circuit in the late eighties and early nineties due to some spectacular victories for White, the Grand Prix Attack is seen far less often these days as analysis has shown several ways for Black to achieve at least equality. It is played in response to the Sicilian Defense, and is a blatant attempt to generate a crude, but often effective, kingside attack directly from the opening. The opening moves are:

1.e4 c5
2.Nc3 (the alternative move order, 2.f4, allows Black to play 2...d5 which forces White to spend many moves trying to neutralize Black's initiative.)

With this move, White effectively renounces his usual strategy against the Sicilian Defense, which is to open up the center and aim for quick development, in favour of immediately gaining space on the kingside. The plan for development and attack is mechanical and straightforward - if Black plays the main lines with a bishop fianchetto on g7, White will continue with the following moves (usually, though not always, in this order): Nf3, Bc4, d3, o-o, Qe1, f5, Qh4, Bh6, Ng5 followed (he hopes) by a rapid checkmate. This strategy worked very well for the first few years of the Grand Prix Attack's popularity.

Unfortunately, while White is carrying out his plan, Black also has things to be doing, and the most effective and modern tactics involve controlling and opening up the center of the board, rather than grabbing material and passively allowing White's buildup:

4.Nf3 Bg7
5.Bc4 e6
6.f5!? (A pawn sacrifice which should not be accepted. If Black plays 6...exf5 now, then White simply plays 7.d3, letting Black have an extra pawn in return for guaranteeing that the center now cannot be opened up by Black's d7-d5 pawn push. A closed center allows White to attack on the kingside with impunity, and is worth at least a pawn.)
7.fxe6 fxe6
8.d3 d5!?

A complicated position is reached in which Black has as many chances as White due to the fluidity of the center and the possibilities of gaining space on the queenside by b7-b5. There are many lines possible in the Grand Prix Attack depending on the moves chosen by either player (for instance, White can play 5.Bb5 instead of 5.Bc4, or Black can play 7...dxe6 instead of 7...fxe6, each of which leads to a completely different kind of position). However, the opening has been waning in popularity as defensive ideas against White's plan become more well-known even at lower levels of chess tournament play.

One of the first books on the Grand Prix Attack was written by Grandmaster Julian Hodgson, one of its most successful exponents, but the authoritative work is generally agreed to be Gary Lane's The Grand Prix Attack. James Plaskett recently brought out a book called Sicilian Grand Prix Attack which, according to at least one reviewer, contributes little in the way of new analysis or ideas.


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