There is hardly any opening which offers so many possibilities of avoiding the main lines as the Sicilian. The first place is certainly occupied by the solid and yet ambitious 2.c3. Just after in numbers comes 2.Nc3 – loved by theory wonks, but actually not a real challenge for Black. A few moves are very aggressive – 2.b4, 2.d4, 2.f4 – but the risk undergone by the player with White should not be underestimated. Other moves (2.Be2, 2.g3, 2.d3) can perhaps be summed up as follows: the opponent is to be tricked with cunning move orders so that he does not get on the board the positions he is used to. Something similar can also be said about the Anti-Najdorf weapon 2.Ne2 – except that after 2...Nc6 White does transpose to main lines with d2-d4, but no longer has to reckon with the Najdorf. Another knight move – 2.Na3 – even enjoys the privilege of having been played by Magnus Carlsen. There is the really venomous but nevertheless solid 2.b3, because on b2 the bishop will always be unpleasant for Black.
Finally even 2.c4 Nc6 3.f4!?
is a suprisingly popular continuation in the engine room. Our “2nd move Anti-Sicilian Powerbook” (based on more than 423 000 computer games and 85 000 games from Mega and correspondence chess) contains all of them and allows nice statistical evaluations which cast light on many a surprise.