Mikhail Golubev has played the Sicilian as Black and White for the whole of his chess career, specializing in the sharpest and most aggressive systems. Here he presents the whole undiluted truth – as best he sees it – about this most popular and cut-throat of openings.

The quality of the games is striking. Even the list of opponents in junior tournaments features Kramnik and Shirov, while more recent opponents include Ponomariov and Svidler. Ivanchuk’s extraordinary ideas crop up repeatedly. But we also see Golubev facing more ‘normal’ opposition, where as the higher-rated player the top priority was to create winning opportunities.

There is much to learn from Golubev’s honest ‘warts and all’ presentation. We see the process of discovery and experimentation, and develop a feel for the spirit of the Sicilian. There is a wealth of original analysis (all scrupulously computer-checked), novelties and strategic guidance. For Dragon, Sozin/Najdorf and Velimirović players in particular, this book is an absolute must-read, but Anti-Sicilian and Taimanov players are among those who must also watch out. All Sicilian lines are covered, with the exception of those that have never occurred in the more than 440 Sicilian games from Golubev’s professional career.

Mikhail Golubev is a grandmaster from Odessa, Ukraine. He is a noted expert in several opening systems, including the King’s Indian and the Dragon. His previous book for Gambit, Understanding the King’s Indian, has been praised for the quantity and quality of its original analysis, and for Golubev’s objectivity in identifying the critical lines.

Download a pdf file with a sample from the book.

“Absolutely fantastic. 240 pages full of explanations, concepts and principles illustrated with simplicity and a wealth of examples... not to be missed” – Soloscacchi

“The book Understanding the Sicilian was released by Gambit in 2017, published in English over 240 pages and contains 120 selected games of the author. At that time Nigel Short, English Grand Master, opined that ‘the Sicilian defence should not be learned but must be felt!’ Well, Golubev wants to give us something similar: a deeper understanding, and sense of real-life experience through his interesting commentaries and analysis.

Mihail’s chess career began in the nineties and, at that time, the Sicilian Defence enjoyed enormous popularity, due among other things to Gary Kasparov’s successes. The author has played 440 Sicilians (as Black) since 1990, and a strength of the book is that the games are very well organized. I consider it a great virtue for the book that there are lots of lost and drawn games, so Mikhail does not strive to paint a more positive image of his own achievements.

The analysis is objective and professional, and explains the grandmasters’ thoughts. We can understand what’s happening on the board – exactly what we cannot learn from a computer! I therefore recommend this book to Sicilian lovers” – GM Tibor Fogarasi, MAGYAR SAKKVILAG

“Definitely, Mikhail Golubev’s Understanding the Sicilian is a must if you want to improve your theory knowledge of this endless-road opening” – Yamil Duba, CAPTAIN CHESS

“The end result is a very worthy book from which the reader will undoubtedly learn a great deal simply by looking over the author’s shoulders as he engages in the Sicilian Defense” – Carsten Hansen, AMERICAN CHESS MAGAZINE

“Especially interesting for fans of the Dragon and of the Sozin/Fischer Attack” – Sean Marsh, CHESS MAGAZINE

“There are plenty of variations, but the prose is helpful and clear, and very honest. To sum up – no surprise here – I like the book and recommend it heartily to all Sicilian fans, whether they want to uphold it or crush it” – Dennis Monokroussos, THE CHESS MIND

“Scores very highly as a wide-ranging theoretical introduction to the Sicilian. All-in-all a very good book, 4 well-deserved stars” – Matthew Sadler, NEW IN CHESS

“Highly instructive... a MUST-have in the library of someone who is genuinely interested in learning the Sicilian” – David Nastasio, GEORGIA CHESS

“The chess genius from Odessa, Grandmaster Mikhail Golubev, provides the reader with latest developments in lines of the Dragon, Sozin, Najdorf, Velimirović/Fischer Attack, Taimanov, Kan Systems and more. Conclusion: buy this book before your opponent does!” – John Elburg, chessbooks.nl

“A rare blend of quality content, practical advice and efficient format” – Miguel Ararat, www.gainesvillechesstraining.com