ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Hello everyone,
I am happy to introduce another update full of uncompromising battles. In fact, this time all the games were decisive! This month the Najdorf once again takes centre stage, in particular the sharp 6.Bg5.

Download PGN of June ’18 Open Sicilian games

>> Previous Update >>

Taimanov 5...a6 6.Be3 Nf6 7.a3 [B46]

The game Solodovnichenko, Y - Naiditsch, A saw White employing the relatively rare 7.a3, which led to this critical diagram position after 9.Qf3:

In my opinion, the real test of Yurij's new way of handling the position would be seen had Akradij played 9...0-0 10.0-0-0 Qc7, as the game's 9...e5 seems somewhat risky. Indeed, Black's position looked extremely dicey till move 17, when the impulsive 17.g4? drastically changed the route of the game. As a result, the higher-rated opponent managed to win by a direct attack.

Najdorf 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Qd2 Nbd7 9.0-0-0 [B90]

In the next game, Socko, B - Tomczak, J, the players entered the well-known theoretical position after 12...Be7:

Now, instead of the usual pawn sacrifice GM Socko went for the somewhat artificial 13.Rg1. Seemingly, 13...Ng4 is among Black's best responses, so had GM Tomczak player 16...Ndf6 the play would have been double-edged. Instead, the 'greedy' 16...Nxh2? led Black into a difficult situation. Bartosz also made a couple of mistakes, and at one point he could have found himself in an inferior endgame, but luckily for him, Jacek was the last to err in this game.

Najdorf 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f3 h5, 12.0-0-0 [B90]

One of the most complex and fashionable linesoccurred in Vidit, S - Korobov, A. The position after 15.Bd3 was previously covered on our site in Leko - Areschenko, and at this point Anton came up with the natural novelty 15...Rc8:

As the route of game proves, this way of handling the position seems rather slow, so after 16.Rhe1 0-0 17.h3 White managed to seize the initiative. The further interesting play was full of mutual mistakes, but the really critical moment came on move 30, when GM Korobov missed a golden opportunity to attack his opponent's king by means of 30...Bc3! and instead played 30...g5? In general, it was a well-deserved victory for the Indian Grandmaster.

Najdorf 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.Be3 Be6 9.Nd5 [B92]

Our next game, Zarubitski, V - Murzin, V, illustrates the strategic danger of Black's position in the Classical line with 6.Be2 very well. In fact, in the theoretical position after 12.g4:

Volodir made the natural move 12...Rc8?! and immediately got into an unpleasant situation. Even though Black's play can easily be improved, White's play in this game looks very consistent and impressive.

At the moment,it looks like only 12...Nb6 might offer Black adequate play in this line. Possibly 10...0-0 is more flexible.

Najdorf 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.f4 Qc7 [B94]

In the game, Zeng, C - Zhou Jianchao, White employed the very rare 8.g3:

This doesn't seem to pose Black any problems, but still, the surprise effect worked well in this game, and Black immediately went astray with 9...b5?!, so that after 10.e5 White's original opening idea was fully justified. Moreover, after committing 2 more mistakes GM Zhou Jianchao found himself in a hopeless situation at a very early stage of the game!

Despite such a convincing victory, 8.g3 doesn't seem very attractive.

Najdorf 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qe2 h6 8.Bh4 g6 9.f4 e5 10.fxe5 dxe5 11.0-0-0 Qc7 12.Nb3 [B94]

An interesting theoretical discussion took place in Wan Yunguo - Cheparinov, I. In the theoretical position after 13...Bg7 White tried the new and aggressive idea 14.Kb1 0-0 15.g4?!:

Had Ivan now played 15...b4! White's over-optimistic approach would be refuted, whereas his 15...Bb7?! enabled White to maintain the balance. In general, it was a very interesting encounter that was full of mutual mistakes, although at the end the Chinese Grandmaster didn't manage to withstand the pressure and lost.

Najdorf 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qe2 h6 8.Bh4 g6 9.f4 e5 10.fxe5 dxe5 11.0-0-0 Qc7 12.Nd5 [B94]

The same theoretical line was seen in Naiditsch, A - Hamdouchi, H. In the sharp theoretical position after 15...g5 Arkadij employed the fresh idea 16.Be1!?:

No doubt the real test of White's original innovation would be 16...f5!, while 16...Nc5? left Black undeveloped and invited serious trouble. Even though the further play of both opponents was far from perfect, it is still enjoyable to watch, and at the end the higher-rated player managed to win in nice style.

Regarding the opening, 16.Be1!? should definitely be tested more often, and Black might deviate by means of 15...f5!? or 15...Kf8!?

Najdorf 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Bc4 h6 [B94]

The last game, Nepomniatchi, I - Korobov, A, saw Black deviating from the main theoretical paths with 7...h6, which seems very risky:

The critical moment came on move 12, when after Ian's novelty 12.Kb1 Anton went astray with 12...Rb8?! and came under strong pressure. Despite some inaccuracies Ian was able to illustrate the strategic drawbacks of Black's setup and won the game after a complex struggle.

Even though 12...b5 is a clear improvement over Korobov's play, I still wouldn't recommend following in his footsteps as 8.Bxf6!? might be even more promising for White.

See you next month, Michael

>> Previous Update >>

Please feel free to share any of your thoughts at the Open Sicilians Forum, or subscribers can write directly to