ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
This month we have something of a Najdorf special, taking into account all manner of developments in this most august of Sicilian lines. Take note especially that White has begun to hit back in the fashionable 6 Bg5 Nbd7!? variation.

Download PGN of June '11 Open Sicilian games

>> Previous Update >>

The Sozin [B86]

In the late nineties 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bc4 e6 7 0-0 was fairly fashionable, attempting to side-step the 7 Bb3 Nbd7 variation. The problem, however, is what White should do after 7...Be7:

White tries the creative 8 Re1 0-0 9 a3 b5 10 Ba2 Bb7 11 Re3 in Bauer - Navara, but his aggressive plan of Rh3 fails to convince in light of Black's model Scheveningen play.

The Najdorf: Minor Lines 6 a4 [B90]

Minor but not untopical might have made for a better if longer heading! After 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 Kamsky twice went for 6 a4 in his match with Topalov:

and it will be interesting to see whether his new idea of 6...Nc6 7 a5!? heralds a revival for this variation. We examine that while focussing mainly on their third matchgame, where 6...e5 7 Nf3 Be7 8 Bg5 Be6 9 Bxf6 Bxf6 10 Nd5 Nd7 11 Bc4 Rc8 seemed quite comfortable for Black.

6 h3 [B90]

Thus far in 2011 6 h3 has remained more topical than the more positional advance of the a-pawn, with Nepomniachtchi one leading adherent. After 6...e5 7 Nf3 (7 Nde2 h5!? continues to hold up quite well for Black) 7...Nbd7 8 a4 Qc7 9 Be3 Be7 Black has a decent-enough set-up from what I can see, and will complete his development with ...b6 and ...Bb7, or perhaps ...Nc5:

White lashed out with 10 g4 in Nepomniachtchi - Lastin, but this was likely too aggressive and Nepo soon found himself in serious trouble.

6 g3 e5 7 Nb3 [B91]

A couple of years ago 6 g3 e5 7 Nb3 was fairly topical, but Black appears to have found the answer in 7...Be7 8 Bg2 b5!?:

At first this may look a little suspicious, but after 9 a4 b4 10 Nd5 Nxd5 11 Qxd5 Ra7 12 Be3 Be6 White doesn't have anything especially dangerous, as we'll see in Mamedov - Le Quang Liem.

The English Attack [B90]

Grischuk's favourite 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 Ng4 7 Bg5 h6 8 Bh4 g5 9 Bg3 Bg7 has suffered a number of high-level reverses this year, but isn't actually in such bad health. One approach from White to avoid the nowadays-drawish main line (10 h3 Ne5 11 Nf5) is Shirov's 10 Be2 h5 11 Bxg4 hxg4 12 Nd5!?:

His idea was repeated in Malakhov - Wen Yang, where Black proved insufficiently prepared and quickly stumbled into a bad position.

The 6 Be2 Variation [B92]

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be2 e5 7 Nb3 Be7 8 Bg5 is a line which retains its adherents, although Black is just very solid in several lines after 8...Be6 9 Bxf6 Bxf6 10 Qd3 from what I can see:

He just mustn't repeat my overly-aggressive 10...Nc6 11 0-0-0 a5?, with the solid 10...0-0 11 Rd1 Be7 holding up much better in Kokarev - Areshchenko.

The 6 Bg5 Nbd7 Variation [B94]

This remains pretty fashionable and unsurprisingly rather critical. After 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bg5 Nbd7 White has begun to fight back and make some headway. 7 Qe2 has been fairly topical at grandmaster level, but Black should be OK here, as we'll see in the notes to Gharamian - Navara, which focusses on another critical line, 7 f4 Qc7 8 Qf3 h6 9 Bxf6! Nxf6 10 f5:

Navara suffers something of a painful defeat, but it's too early to say that White was definitely doing well after 10...Qc5 11 0-0-0 g5 12 e5!?.

In my view Black is more in need of an improvement in the line 7 Bc4 Qb6 8 Bb3 e6 9 Qd2 Be7 10 0-0-0 Nc5 11 f3 in view of Bezemer's analysis and improvement over a well-publicised game Shirov-Dominguez. His idea of h4-h5-h6 is just rather dangerous, as we'll see in Wang Yue-Zhou Jianchao where White prefers to offer the dangerous gambit 8 Qd2!? Qxb2 9 Rb1 Qa3 10 0-0 e6 and then goes in for 11 Bxe6!? fxe6 12 Nxe6 Qa5 13 f4 Kf7 14 e5!?:

I have my doubts that White's double-piece sacrifice is 100% sound, but his Tal-like play quickly reaps Tal-like dividends in the game.

Next month there should be more on 6 Bg5, including... a Polugaevsky!

Until then, Richard

>> Previous Update >>


Please feel free to share any of your thoughts with me, whatever they are, suggestions, criticisms (just the polite ones, please), etc. Drop me a line at the Open Sicilians Forum, or subscribers can write directly to