In this article, I am going to provide you with an overview of the structures arising from the so-called Moscow Variation in Sicilian Defence (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+). In the database Moscow Variation against the Sicilian - Complete Repertoire against 2...d6 I examined the theoretical subtleties of this line.
Within the framework of the present article, I cover 6 structures which are typical for this variation. When dealing with a given structure I follow a simple logic:
This is a classical pawn structure from the so-called Maroczy Bind setup where Black has developed his bishop to g7. Of course, it very much depends what actual pieces are present on the board but still, we can draw some guidelines to follow. First, let's take a look what Black wants. Usually Black has two potential breakthroughs with the pawns:
1) either with or without the help of the a-pawn prepare the b7-b5 push. The idea is to eliminate the annoying bind White has put on Black and free some space, most often giving two open or semi-open files for Black rooks on b-file and c-file. If the b-pawn push is successfully executed, it will also make Black easier to prepare the d6-d5 To meet it, White has a few options. He can play a2-a4 not only with intentions to double take on b5 but also organize a passed pawn by playing cxb5, followed by a4-a5, which can be supported by b2-b4. At some occasions, White can freely allow the b7-b5 to be executed as after the exchange the pawn on b5 or a6 might become a weakness. If Black has positioned his rooks on a-file and b-file, White can meet b7-b5 with c4-c5 by trading the c-pawn for Black's d-pawn. This would undermine Black's strategy placing both rooks so far in the corner solely hoping to open some lines.
2) A very common idea for Black here is also aiming for a f7-f5 breakthrough. The idea is either to secure an outpost on e5 for a piece after the fxe4 and fxe4 or perhaps even f5-f4 or force White to play exf5 which can be met with gxf5, followed by e7-e5 and very typical for endgames maneuver Kg8-f7-e6, giving Black a little center. This idea most often works in the endgame phase, less in the middlegame. If White has both rooks still at the board, it makes sense to go for the exf5 plan and position both rooks at the e-file and d-file, potentially also bringing a knight to d5 and targeting the weak e7 pawn. White's typical plans vary on what pieces he has on the board, but I would always recommend keeping as many pieces as you can, especially the queen who can contribute to a successful kingside attack. The most common pawn push for White here is to prepare f3-f4 and either f4-f5 for a direct assault against the Black king, or the positional e4-e5, which allows White to organize a potential passed pawn at the queenside.