Altibox: Nakamura tests Carlsen's idea against the Najdorf
Press conference Nakamura - Vachier Lagrave (Photo Lennart Ootes)

Altibox: Nakamura tests Carlsen's idea against the Najdorf

NM HanSchut

The Najdorf-opening is characterized by the opening moves: 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6

Position after 5... a6

In this position the moves 6.Be3, 6.Be2 or 6.Bg5 are most common and often lead to sharp play and deeply analyzed opening variants. The top players are looking for alternatives and recently moves like 6.Nb3, 6.a3 and 6.h4 have been tried. The purpose of white is not to come out of the opening with a big advantage, but to get an original position on the board where white may be better acquainted with the ideas behind the opening. Magnus Carlsen introduced a new idea in Shamkir 2018 that was further tested this week in the game between Nakamura and Vachier Lagrave in the Altibox Norway Chess Tournament.

Peter Heine Nielsen analyzed the game between Carlsen and Wojtaszek extensively in the latest issue of New In Chess 2018 (4). Nielsen writes that IM Ioannis Simeonidis emailed him the idea during Tata 2017 Chess Tournament. You can find the start of his analysis further down in this article.

Position after 4... Nc6


White usually continues here with 5.Bb5 followed by 5 ... Bd7 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 and now 7.Nc3 or 7.c4. The new idea is the set-up with Qd2-b3-Bb2 and 0-0-0 with an original position where the players have no help from extensive computer analysis. Wojtaszek started the game with Nf6 and e6. This week, Vachier Lagrave opted for a set-up with g6-Bg7 and Nf6.

Nakamura, Hikaru – Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Qxd4 Nc6 5. Qd2 g6 6. b3 Bg7 7. Bb2 Nf6 8. O-O-O O-O 9. Kb1 Qa5 10. Nge2  Exercise: how did black continue?

Position after 10.Nge2

Anand commented that this move "shocked and impressed" him. It is an unusual concept with the bishop on g7. If you are looking for a new weapon against the Najdorf then this idea will give you a fresh position where both players have to rely on their chess kills and less on their home analysis.


Peter Heine Nielsen in New In Chess Magazine 2018 - 4 (published May 30)

The most important games played with this variation can be found here:

Carlsen - Hungarian variation