The Najdorf Variation
What is the Najdorf Variation?
The Najdorf Variation is one of the mainlines in the Sicilian Defence.
It is used as black against 1.e4 (King Pawn Opening).
The starting position of the Najdorf Variation begins at move 5.
ECO code B90-99 Sicilian Defence, Najdorf Variation General
Today's article I have in store for you is going to be a little different than my normal ones!
I love to go step by step showing why each move is played in lines!
I like to give the reason behind the moves so to speak.
In this case, I have already done most of that in another article.
If you have not read the other article I wrote.
In the other article I talked about the idea's behind the moves from move 1 to 5.
However, I left off on black's 5th move!
In today's article I will be continuing were I left off.
The good news is today's article is going to be short!
Outline for this article
- I will share pictures and history on who made the Najdorf Variation
- I will talk about the idea behind the move 5...a6
- I will give the names and 6th moves to the top 10 lines which are played against the Najdorf.
Today article will be fun!
Who made the Najdorf Variation in the Sicilian Defence?
Look at that he is smiling in the picture.
It is as if he wanted us to talk about him today!
Miguel Najdorf was a Polish-Argentine Chess Grand Master.
Miguel Najdorf was born on April 15, 1910.
Miguel Najdorf sadly died on July 4, 1997.
Even though he is dead his spirit and contributions in chess live on!
Miguel Najdorf is responsible for one of the greatest lines in chess.
People have called the Sicilian Najdorf Variation the Cadillac of Chess Openings!
It strikes fear into the heart of chess players!
What is the move which strikes fear into the hearts of chess players?
The little pawn move a6!!!
Lets talk about the move 5...a6.
What does the move do?
Believe it or not the move a6 is a waiting move!
It is funny because I have had heated debates over people telling me I was crazy lol.
Yeah they disagreed with me until their face turned blue.
They didn't even stop agruing to even take a breathe.
It is actually very curious because the move a6 does have some functions, but many of them are not ment to be done right away!
The move a6 does help prepare a queen side expansion with the move b5.
The move a6 does help control the b5 square so white can't jump a piece to b5.
However, when you really think about it are these functions I am listing in green text going to happen next move? At like move 6 for example?
Well the truth is no!
For a long time no one could refute my statement that the move 5...a6 was a waiting move.
However, one day a person came close!
Some believe he even did refute my claim.
I always like telling this story because I think it helps people understand better.
The person who shared his view point to me was a International Master.
The IM brought to the table another view point no one ever did before.
Guess what he said?
The IM said "The move 5...a6 is a preparation move."
After the IM said the above statement I was thinking in my mind Oh gosh not another b5 queen side preparation conversation again lol.
I was like completely dreading it!
Than the funniest thing happen.
The IM said " The move is preparing e5."
Than came my response.
My face was exactly like that picture right there with same words.
Accurate representation of events right there!
Yep that is what the IM said.
Than the IM started to explain:
" At move 5 black would love to play the move e5 in this position for several different reasons".
I was like black does?
I never knew that!
No one ever told me black wanted to play the move 5...e5!
I never read it any where either!
This is a conspiracy. Why don't I know about this?
The IM is like yeah put it on your chess board.
"Now look at that position.
The move e5 is hitting the knight on d4 with tempo!
The move e5 is gaining center space!
and to top it off
The move e5 is helping to develop the bishop on f8. Now it has a chance to go to e7 so black can castle."
I was like you know I never thought about that.
That is a very good point!
Yeah black does want to play e5 here.
Than the IM said " Yes black wants to play e5. The problem is he can't play the move e5 yet."
I was like why can't he play e5 at move 5?
The IM said " Because of the deadly check".
I was like oooo that sounds bad.
Not any check but a deadly check!
The IM said "After white does the check no matter how black guards white will end up with some positional advantages."
I was like yeah that sounds bad.
Positional advantages? Oh man positional chess is hard. It can't be good.
I mean look at that position. This is the check the IM was talking about.
Guess where it is at?
On the b5 square were the a6 pawn defends can you believe that?
Now look at the problem:
Isn't that amazing?
Black wants to play e5.
However, black can't play it with out preparation.
Thus, the move 5...a6 helps defend the b5 square which will later allow black the chance to play the move e5.
This whole time I thought it was only a waiting move.
What was I thinking?
It is very complex!
The best metaphor I can give you would be like an executioner sharping his axe before delivering the killer blow!
When an executioner sharpens his axe he is waiting; however, he is not really waiting!
When he is done sharpening; Your done!
Well good for you!
I knew the metaphor would help.
The move a6 helps prepare the move e5 and 80% of the time black does follow through with the move e5.
The only time black doesn't follow through with the move e5 is if it is more beneficial to black to keep the pawn on e6 instead of e5.
Which brings us to white's 6th move!
The below set of moves are the top 10 moves played against the Najdorf as of 2016!
The moves 6.Bg5 and 6.Bc4 are the only 2 moves were it is not recommended for black to play the pawn push e5.
Usually Najdorf players will play another move at move 6 or they will follow with the pawn push e6 instead.
Against the other 8 moves black can be very flexible.
Black can follow through with the pawn push e5 if they chose too.
Black can play the pawn push e6.
The point to keep in mind is against 6.Bg5 and 6.Bc4 you do not want to play e5.
Against the other 8 responses you have options of both e5 and e6.
I would explain why. However, it would go way off the topic and outline of this article. To keep this article short we can save that discussion for another day lol.
Lastly to wrap up this article I promised to give you the line names.
6.Be3 = English Attack
6.Bg5 = Main Line
6.Be2 = Opocensky Variation
6.Bc4 = Fischer-Sozin Attack
6.f4 = Amsterdam Variation
6.g3 = Zagreb (Fianchetto Variation)
6.f3 = Unnamed
6.h3 = Adams Attack
6.a4 = Unnamed
6.Bd3 = Unnamed
For a min, I thought some people died off in the theory section of this article which is suppose to be so complicated!
Apparently it wasn't to bad.
We are still here and we are at move 6 now!
Which concludes this article.
As always thank you very much for reading.
Hope you enjoyed yourself.
Have a Happy Day