Sicilian Defense: Bowdler attack


The Bowdler attack is one of the most popular responses to the Sicilian defense by black. It starts by putting pressure on the f7 point, which in some variations can cause a lot of problems to black, who has to play carefully here.

However, this move is considered no good against the Sicilian defense, the Bowdler attack is a little dubious. But as with all the dubious openings, they have a certain level of ideas and is not like black has a way to win right away.

So there are chances for both sides, but the Bowdler attack is almost never seen at the top chess level. If you are a Sicilian player, you should really know how to answer the Bowdler attack and crush it right away.

The thing is, there is just one way to seize the fact that white is playing the Bowdler attack at the start. And it’s not anything definitive yet, so if you really study the Bowdler attack, you can get an advantage out of that.

But as always, there is the possibility of having your opponent play a different way. If you want to learn how to play and counter the Bowdler attack, just keep reading this post.

Bowdler attack mainlines

To enter the Bowdler attack we need to play the following moves: 1.e4 c5 2.Bc4 and this is considered a Bowdler attack. You can also play Nf3 or Nc3 first, and then Bc4 it would still lead to a Bowdler attack.

Black is going to play e6 in most of the cases, just to block the diagonal for the bishop and prepare a possible d5. The best way to play for black is to take advantage of the position of the bishop by playing b5 or d5.

The most regular moves for white here are:

  • Nf3
  • Qe2

Let’s first see the move Nf3. It’s said that normally when white plays like this are because he is used to the king’s pawn system. In this case, this is not the best move, because black can take the center right away with d5. For example:

And it’s clear that black is better in this position, there is also a more conservative way to play that still gives a little advantage:

This a different way to play, but still we threaten to play b5 or d5 in the future, which keeps the black position healthy and comfortable. This is why the move Nf3 normally won’t work.

Now, the move Qe2 is the way white can avoid that early d5 line with black, but that is not the end of the problems. Black still has b5 going on, for example:

And here black still holds the advantage, which is the direct approach but it is really effective.

Plans and ideas of the Bowdler attack

Sicilian Defense: Bowdler attack 2

It’s really simple the way you have to play the Bowdler attack, there is no great complication behind the game. As black, you will develop your game in the advance of the queenside pawns, like in any Sicilian.

But in this case, you need to find a way to seize the bad positioning of the c4 bishop with the advance of your queenside pawns. The best way to play against the Bowdler attack is to start the advance of the central pawns right away.

In most of the games, you play with the same idea, taking over the center with black, or throwing an attack on the queenside. Configure your pieces to have a positional advantage over your opponent in the center, and start squeezing.

If you are white, you should try to get as many forces as you can to the kingside, and put pressure. That’s what the move Bc4 is for in the first place, and you have to get a quick initiative to counter black’s reaction with d5 or b5.

The Bowdler attack is not necessarily a bad opening, but it does give black a lot of pleasant options to choose from. There are other Sicilian variations that will put black under more pressure and give you a better initial advantage.

Sample games of the Bowdler attack

You may also like:

The Brutal Sicilian Najdorf Variation

Crush Your Opponent with The Taimanov Sicilian!

Dragon Sicilian Defense Guide!

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