Najdorf English Attack, when will the final verdict be reached?

Dolphin27

The consensus seems to be that the English Attack (the set up with Be3 and f3) is now the best way for White to deal with the Najdorf, but the theory is still developing.

In the Openings According to Anand series, it's written that the future of the Najdorf and possibly of the entire Sicilian defense is currently hanging in the balance depending on what conclusions are ultimately reached about the English Attack.

Garry Kasparov in his Chessbase DVD on the Najdorf, didn't want to recommend specific variations for Black as the strongest moves, citing developing theory. Danny Gormally, in his very recent Chessbase DVD on the English Attack, says also that we have to invest work into this variation if we want to play it and recommends getting a hold of a correspondence chess database to see the latest games played in it.

When will the theory ever stop developing, as surely it must at some point, so that we can know the truth and make a decision whether to invest the work to play this or not?

I'd like to play the Open Sicilian, but I don't want to learn the English Attack if it's just going to end up like 6.Bg5.

vjekpleh

You can play Open Sicilian without playing English Attack.

There are many other perfectly fine 6th move options for white. 

Doggy_Style

I'd like to play the Open Sicilian, but I don't want to learn the English Attack if it's just going to end up like 6.Bg5.


Please explain this remark.


Bishop_g5

Look Dolphin, I play the open Sicilian two years now and my advise to you is to go and play all the variations. Don't hear what people say for thinks haven't prove. The English attack it's a totally different game when black respons with 6...e5 or 6...e6 and a different story when he plays 6...Ng4.

Now there are preferences for white side against the Najdorf when he want to play more tactical or more positional approach. It doesn't matter the variation but the line you will choose to proceed.

Don't expect to master the Najdorf in two or three years when it took decades to professionals.

Just go and play the Open Sicilian because this is the way to become a stronger player.

Dolphin27

Thanks for the advice everyone.

As for my 6.Bg5 remark, what I mean is that I just get a sense reading and listening to these guys, Kasparov, Anand, Shirov, Gormally, etc, that 6.Bg5 is the old move which computers have now found ways to deal with. In the past 6.Bg5 was popular and the English Attack (which Kasparov said made its debut in 1979) wasn't really taken seriously, but over the decades the roles have reversed. Now the English Attack seems to be what all the GMs think is best.

For example, Shirov says in his "My Best Games in the Sicilian Najdorf" that at the beginning of his career he always played 6.Bg5 and that was the most popular move back then. Then he switched to 1.d4 for a period of time, and then later returned to 1.e4, at which point he started playing mostly 6.Be3 and sometimes 6.Be2. He says the reason he doesn't play 6.Bg5 anymore is because of the line 6...e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 when he doesn't think White has enough compensation, while if 8.Nb3 is played then it's putting the knight to a more passive sqaure. He was also worried about some forced drawing lines after 8...Qxb2 and said he never wanted to play for a draw out of the opening. One gets the impression that apon returning to 1.e4 he took a look at how the theory had evolved in 6.Bg5 and didn't like what he saw, meanwhile 6.Be3 was started to look more promising.

Robert_New_Alekhine

6.h3 is quite interesting; the Adams attack.

Dolphin27

Well I know 6.h3 has been a favorite of GM Dzindzichashvili and he made a Roman's Lab DVD about it. 6.h3 is also recommended in that new Sicilian  Modernized book that just came out.

I'm still leaning towards the English Attack because for one thing I don't think we as White need to worry about getting "out-theoried", because the Sicilian player doesn't get their opening on the board very often.  I play the Sicilian, I'd say at least 60% of my games are some kind of anti-Sicilian. Then if they do use the Open-Sicilian the Najdorf player still has to have all these variations covered while we as White only need choose one. I don't particularly worry about Black knowing more theory but more about myself going to the effort to learn theory and finding out years from now the variation I studied has become obsolete. I also like how the English Attack formation can be used against various Sicilians too, like the Dragon and Taimanov, so as Kingscrusher put it "there's a cross-pollination of ideas".

Bittrsweet

One of the variations that i'm looking at is the 6 ...e6 line for black. It seems that one of the most common moves is 7 f3, but i'm not entirely sure why. As far as I can tell the e4 pawn doesn't need to be defended. I question it because one of the databases I was looking in said it wasn't so good, and because Stockfish 6 doesn't like it very much. Are GMs playing f3 because it's familiar from their 6 ...e5 lines? Or is there a good reason to play f3, perhaps one that manifests itself in the late game?

Bishop_g5

7.f3 is a move to prevent Ng4. It's a classical move order in the English attack. 7.f3 8.Qd2 9.g4

Bittrsweet

Well, after 6 ...e6, black isn't threatening to play Ng4 anyway as his knight would be undefended and scooped up by the queen. Some other moves that the computer likes are Qf3, a3, a4, Bd3 and Bd2. Are any of these moves more accurate?

Bishop_g5

Yes you are right in this line Ng4 is not a option for black but white still need to play f3 to prepare g4 because this is the plan for the English attack, to create a pawn storm in blacks king side. After f3,Qd2,g4,0-0-0, the move g5 is a serious threat, h4-h5 is following were black needs to find counter and resources to hold the position. Don't try to find a better move, try to understand the plan.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=85PQhMg8Y3Y

D_for_DJ
Bg5 poison has new theory!! It's not a force draw!! Instead of going qd2 go qd3!!!
TwoMove

The OP has a very strange attitude because when theory on an opening is completely worked out, it is dead. In interesting openings there is an arms race with both white and black finding new ideas. If don't like theory there are plenty of choices on the sixth move. For a club strength player "best" on sixth move doesn't mean much. I actually play 6Be3 but play what are currently thought less critical lines later. For example, 6Be3 e5 7be2 transposing to lines more commonly seen after 6be2. The whole question is trying to create a problem where none really exists.

Bishop_g5

 I think Luke Mcshane doesnt agree with you. From a chess point of view how can you explain his behavior?

McShane: 6.Be3 

Nakamura: 6...Ng4 not with your terms Luke.

McShane: 7.Bc1 No way Hikaru

Nakamura: 7...Nf6 Ok Luke play something else...

McShane: 8.Be3 No Hikaru, you play something else...

Nakamura: 8...Ng4 What? I am playing black here, its your call.

McShane: 9.Bc1 Yeah! right!....and who cares if you are black?

 This is the new ideas?



pfren
Bishop_g5 wrote:
 This is the new ideas?

It doesn't harm for white to try 6.Be3, and after 6...Ng4! avoid 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Bg3 Bg7, where I believe Black is absolutely fine, and opt for 7.Bc1 Nf6 8.f3.

Here Black usually plays 8...e5 with an English attack proper after 9.Nb3,  but 8...Qb6 is interesting, and gaining in popularity. Especially Grischuk has played it many times.

Bishop_g5

Yes I played my self once 8...Qb6 in order to avoid the immediate 9.Be3. I understand blacks trick to avoid the usual English attack set up, I don't understand McShane as white to avoid 6...Ng4! Even with out the classical set up there is no indications that black has refuted white's chances to play for a win. The game remain sharp for both sides and if McShane wanted badly a draw there are a few lines were he could had trie to force a drawish position, unless he expected from Nakamura to deviate first?

With the way he did it, sounded like a statement : White's game after 6...Ng4 7.Bg5 does not worth the trouble.

Does it?

X_PLAYER_J_X

I have never faced the English Attack lol.

You really can not face it if you play 6...Ng4 lol.

Which the line is known as the Anti-English in some opening databases.

However, I still prefer calling it the Raging Dragon variation.

Laughing

pfren
Bishop_g5 wrote:

With the way he did it, sounded like a statement : White's game after 6...Ng4 7.Bg5 does not worth the trouble.

Does it?

It depends on your skill, level, and work. Black is fine, but he must have done quite a bit of homework. Here is one of the most critical variations:

18.Qe3! is a big improvement over 18.Qf2? which Naka played against Gelfand, and was smashed to pieces in brilliant fashion. A few days later, Saric also played 18.Qf2? against Greek GM Banikas, although he saw what Naka had missed, and deviated (but still lost the game).

21...f6! is my own novelty, when all that Black has played here in a few correspondence games is 21...Rfc8?

All those games ended in a draw, but in reality Black loses after that move!

I won't give the analysis here, try yourself... suffice to say that it is not so simple: engines claim the game is dead drawn even after wasting many kilowatts, but sometimes intuition is way better than the best engine.

TwoMove

McShane is over hundred points lower rated than Nakamura, so maybe wanted some easy rating points, who knows?

Bishop_g5

Thank you IM Pfren, that was insightful. Yes I bothered to take a look after 21...Rfc8 and I couldn't find something in the ending Rook vs Bishop which I believe is a draw but I have the impression that white may have something if he don't allow the forcing sequence to been played and interfere with something like 22.Rd4! were the simplifications complicate thinks.