Marvelous Najdorf

Marvelous Najdorf

CM aln276
Feb 18, 2018, 7:01 PM |

1. e4 c5. 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6. 5. Nc3 a6

No doubt that Sicilian Najdorf gained its popularity due to Robert Fischer. He played only Sicilian (well, with very few deviations) and only Najdorf. There are some merits and demerits of such a strategy. That worked perfectly for Fischer himself as all of the variations were thoroughly analysed and memorised. Since Najdorf is quite a sharp variation, one needs to know it move by move. Otherwise, one unfortunate deviation may bring you to defeat very quickly. One more problem is that there is a huge number of attacks that White can choose from (6.Bc4, 6.Bg5, 6.f4, 6.Be2, 6.Be3, 6.g3, 6.h3 etc.) meaning that you have to know them all.

 When I just started playing chess I, as many others, copied Fischer ( Yet, I realised very quickly that this approach doesn't really help me. I played Najdorf against everybody and got to the lost position with most of the strong players. Why? The answer is simple. They were stronger at tactics and could feel sharp positions much better than myself (even in "my" variation, which frankly saying I didn't know well). I tried again and again "studying" and improving the play. However, the opponents were always finding the ways to surprise me. Being week at tactics I was losing one game after another.
Alright, the revelation has come and I included other defences into my repertoire. You won't believe how that stabilised my play. I realised: it is either you know and "polish" well the variation or you don't play that at all. This variation (Najdorf) can be employed by sharp players that like irrational positions to get their attacking chances. No wonder that this variation was regularly used by such players like Najdorf, Polugaevsky, Kasparov, Gelfand etc.

Now the time has come for me to face Najdorf as White. To my surprise Black had the same problem like myself at the young age. They knew how to play 7-10  moves and then came "the improvisation".

I will demonstrate that on a couple of examples.


Another example is of so called "Poisonous Pawn" Variation:

In both examples it is unclear why Black chose to play Najdorf if they didn't know the essential ideas of the opening.

Another thing to mention is not to believe people burying your variation alive and saying something like: "oh, this variation was refuted a long time ago" or "there is no more than a draw for White/Black here". Please bear in mind that chess theory evolves. Many variations had been "refuted" but then brought to life again (the same Najdorf or King's Indian for example). Polugaevsky while working on his System of 6.Bg5 b5 spent huge amount of time finding the ways of keeping live those lines. So it is up to you how to interpret the variations you play. Not often the new ideas can be refuted OTB.
To conclude, I am not saying not to play your sharp variations. Yet, if you do, develop some serious approach if you want to "defend your defence". Understanding the plans behind the opening schemes often bears new ideas that always give fruitful results and achievements..