Exploring the Taimanov Variation Part 1
June 1st 1971| Photo: Ken Oakes

Exploring the Taimanov Variation Part 1

NM scaryninja

The Taimanov Variation is a popular variation in the sicilian. While other variations are sharper with more theory, the Taimanov Variation is more calm and positional. It is a lot like the Kan Variation. The only difference, is that the knight is on c6 in the Taimanov, and the knight is on d7 in Kan.


                                                       Taimanov Variation starting position




                                                            Kan Starting Position

      Some Background Information about the Inventor

Mark Taimanov was the player who invented the Taimanov Variation. He invented 4 different variations. Taimanov was a WCC Candidate in 1953 and 1971. He was also a world concert pianist. In big tournaments, he represented USSR. His Peak Rating was 2600. 

Born: February 7th, 1926

Died: November 28th 2016

Mark Taimanov (7 February 1926 - 28 November 2016) | photo: Russian Chess Federation

Interestingly, Fischer and Taimanov played a game in the Taimanov Variation in their Candidate match. Taimanov was black of course. They went into the Bastrikov Line. (Which will be covered in Part 2). Fischer won and continued to beat him and the final score was 6-0 for Fischer!! The USSR was very mad at Taimanov and even took away his salary because he had embarassed them by losing to the USA Candidate so horribly. Fischer was very strong at that time though.


Q: Who is your favorite sicilian variation inventor? Ex. Taimanov, Najdorf, Kan, etc.

Plans in the Taimanov

A main plan is to always develop your queenside first. That means all of your pieces on the queenside. The Kingside has to wait a little longer in most cases. In some lines though, it's better to castle first. b5 is almost always played, not only to get more space, but to threaten b4 whenever white's knight is on c3, and to have more grip on the c4 square, where your knight can jump. 


Another plan is to just go into a Scheveningen. The Bishops go on b7 and e7, the Knight from c6 may go to e5, and the other knight goes on f6. 

Of course, there will always be a few IFs in the Taimanov. One is: a4 or c4. c4 stops b5 counterplay which gives black more space, the c4 square, and threatens b4. Then, you can play b6! Instead of b5. That will transpose into a hedgehog. The proper way to manever your knight from c6 is: Nc6, Ne5, Ned7. Another plan if he plays a4 is to play Nb4 where a3 is not possible thus a4 was already played.

Of course, that's only one possibility where the hedgehog can happen. And the position doesn't have to be exactly like that. I am just giving an example.

Ideas in the Hedgehog

One Idea is to maneuver your bishop from e7 to c7, usuing that diagonal with the queen on b8. Be7-D8-C7. That's where a d5 breakthrough will come in handy. h5-h4 also breaks down the pawn structure sometimes.


You can also push your dark squared bishop back to g7, if you need to. The Rook on f8 goes to e8, not on d8!! But, it's important to only do that if you need to, because the d6 pawn needs a lot of defence. It's a victim. 

Overall, the main idea in the hedgehog is to push d5, and start Pressuring in the centre. There are some side ideas and moves to prepare d5 too.


This is it for today! Tell me how the blog post was in the comments. Also, this is only part 1, so sorry if it was a little short. Part 2 and 3 will be longer. This was mainly a HUGE intro happy.png

Part 2 will probably be about the variations that you can play against while playing the Taimanov. We will also analyse a lot of games in the variations! Stay tuned, and see you soon!