The Rauzer Sicilian, during the mid 1990s, was perhaps only second to the Najdorf. Now the situation has changed. The Najdorf is still supreme. However the opening has lost nothing in complexity, just witness the problems Kramnik is having trying to adopt it. The Sveshnikov Sicilian has surpased the Rauzer in popularity, and is now all the rage. It, too, is very concrete and sharp. The Kan and Taimanov Sicilians remain popular as well. The Dragon has never really caught on (the more it is examnined, the more questionable the 9 0-0-0 line looks). So what happened to the Rauzer? It was very popular among the top players, with Kramnik, Anand, and Shirov playing it often (if one goes back and looks at Tal's games, one finds him playing it quite often in his time as well). I think Kramnik relied on it as his sharpest weapon against 1 e4, in "must win" situations. Well, the defense received a lot of attention, and was thus put under pressure. Kasparov did much to damage various lines. So, the top players moved on to other defenses. leaving the Rauzer battered, but still standing. Personally, I find much to recommend the Classical Sicilian. It is not as deep and subject to constant change as the Najdorf and Sveshnikov. It allows one to play either 2..d6 or Nc6 (Does one want to face the Moscow or Rossilimo?)It allows a very flexible response to various sixth moves by white. Do you want a Boleslavsky set-up? A schevennigen? or a dragon? the choice is yours. Do you want to face the Sozin attack with 6 Bc4 e6? or dodge it with 6..Qb6? All this is very nice, and gives a black player a wonderfully flexible game to work with. The key to the entire idea of playing the Classical Sicilian is the Richter-Rauzer Attack. Can Black find a viable position here in these masses of variations? That is the crux of the matter. Well, as a quick glance at this book will show, there is some saftey in the sheer size and scope of the Rauzer. White needs to cover a vast amount of material. As Black, one need only choose one line. If that proves troublesome, well, then one can try a different line, etc. The problem, in my opinion, is that the whole Rauzer Sicilian is very sharp. There is no "solid" Rauzer. It is all very dicey stuff. And a lot of it has been studied quite deeply. Myself, I have only really scratched the surface of the defense. So I must rely on gut instincts. My instinct tells me that it is playable, and, with some study, one should be able to hold one's own against a decent caliber of opposition. I think with two mid-level opponents, the Rauzer should give Black enough tactical counter-chances. There are some lines here where at Super-GM level it looks as if Black is busted, or groveling for a draw. But I think there is enough scope in the Rauzer to avoid most of these lines and steer into something else. In short, I recommend the Rauzer as a linchpin defense to 1 e4. This book is the best one out there on the subject. One would need to keep checking in New in Chess and Informator in order to keep up with things. In the last Wilk an Zee tournament, I noticed Timman play the Rauzer with black against Anand. Timman was blown away. But it was still an interesting sharp struggle, quite in character of the opening. I think this opening is a good one for tournament play, as it is well conceived for playing for a win. Now what to play against the c3 Sicilian? ahh..the trick there is simply to stay awake...good hunting.