The Scheveningen Variation is based on a completely different philosophy from the Sicilian lines in which Black plays an early ...e5, such as for example the Sveshnikov Variation. Black advances his central pawns only to d6 and e6, with the intention of controlling the four important squares c5, d5, e5 and f5. He wants to complete his piece development behind this protective pawn wall, independently of White’s setup, with moves such as ...Be7, ...0-0, ...Qc7, ...a6, ...Nc6 and ...Bd7 and then to aim for counterplay. With as its basis this ultra-solid positional idea, the Scheveningen Variation has turned into one of the most popular and most important systems in the Sicilian, one which is in the repertoire of many of the top players.
The basic position of the Scheveningen Variation with the pawns on d6 and e6 can be reached after many different move orders – and actually the classical order with 2...d6 and 5...e6 is less usual nowadays, because White has at his disposal the venomous 6.g4, the Keres Attack. Before finishing his piece development, White sends his g-pawn forward to chase away the Nf6 and to gain space on the kingside. For that reason it is more common to see the Najdorf move order 2...d6 and 5...a6 and the characteristic move of the Scheveningen, ...e6, is not played till after 6.Be2. The Scheveningen System offers many options to both sides; the result is a strategically complex position which can lead to very interesting and combative games.