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I play the open sicilian with white (and either the Dragon or one of the 2... e6 Sicilians with black), and am getting consistently killed when I play against the Najdorf.
Hoping someone can suggest a line that is sound, but also something that is less theory intensive than the mainlines.
Sharp is fine, actually I prefer play that is somewhat aggressive to lines that are quieter and more solid. I suppose I'm looking for a pointer on where (and what) to start studying.
And the preference for a lesser theoretical line is not that I object to opening theory, its just that my other openings need work too (along with other aspects of my game), so I don't wish to spend too much time studying a system that I don't myself play (with black).
Any recommendations would be very welcome.
I'd say English Attack but I don't think what you play in the opening matters that much even if you get an advantage when you can't convert them into a win in the endgame or blunder them to a tactic. Just play the opening to survive and try to win in the middlegame and endgame. I would start with analyzing this game, you should have won pretty easily: http://www.chess.com/livechess/game.html?id=330111374
Yeah, the English Attack is uber-theoretical right now, but that's part of chess. I'd say go for it! Otherwise, maybe a Sozin would suit you.
I know. At my peak 8 years ago on FICS (when I was last actively playing), I was ~1600 in blitz and 1800 in standard. Then I stopped playing for 8 years, and just started again last month.
The rust is starting to come off, but very slowly my chess is completely on/off - I have games where I do play a decent again, and others where I win decisively with tactics; and then there's the other half, where I hang pieces, miss basic tactical shots, and blow won endings (I've lost 3 endgames so far where I was a pawn up and had the better position, and missed the win in another to have it end in a draw).
I'm not looking to study a line of the Najdorf in isolation - I work daily on tactics, strategy, and try and fit some endgame study in as well (my achilles heel as its the only aspect of the game that I really have to push myself to pay attention to).
This is also why I asked for a recommendation on a less theoretical Najdorf sideline: precisely because I don't spend much time studying openings and already know that now isn't the time to do so.
Look into 6.Be2.
In the Be2 Najdorf, both sides are castled kingside, play is quieter compared to the english attack. White often still goes for Black's king though. Focus on the pawn structure as well (either d6-e5 or d6-e6). Focus is more on plans than memorizing variations in the 6.Be2 Najdorf or Scheveningan.
edit:Uhoh! the spaghettio beat me to it!
Thanks for the recommendation on the Opocensky variation, its not one I was familiar with but after looking through some games to get a sense of the kinds of positions it leads to, it looks like a good fit for me.
As uhohspahettio mentioned, its sharp, flexible, and intuitive - exactly the kind of play I was hoping to be able to fill my opening void against the Najdorf with (I play against 1... c5 in about half my games with white, and of those the Najdorf is played by black at least a 1/3rd of the time - which has meant a lot of games where I've been opening completely in the dark and then getting quickly slaughtered).
Bg5! Check out my blog for examples :)
The book Experts VS the Sicilian covers it.
There's also an old and big book by Nunn devoted entirely to Bg5 VS the Najdorf. Sure, it's very dated, but it covers so many lines that you can easily pick a few unknown yet perfectly playable ones.
The best part of studying Najdorf is that you can find lots of instructive games no matter which variation you choose.
What I did was to learn the ideas in English Attack, learn some traps and just play hundreds of games. Now I play very similarly against almost all Sicilians and although I don't know most of the theoretical lines, I usually manage to find the mainline move pretty easily. This can buy you some time by covering all of the sicilian.
I think you can do the same with Opocensky variation but if you choose Sozin, you will probably need other setups for other variations like Kan where the bishop on c4 wouldn't do much work.
And Bg5 is just too much theory..
6.Be2 is a good and flexible choice.
Geller, Karpov, Dolmatov, Smirin and Carlsen are your models
If you want to learn the Najdorf, the Openchensky with 6 Be2 is the place to begin. Other moves are mostly aimed at inhibiting Black's ...e5, this line deals with it directly.
Pogonina won a nice game with it vs "Chess.com" in a Vote Chess match last year, that should be here somewhere.
But once you are into the Najdorf, it's pretty heavy in theoretical lines because it has been so popular so long and so many critical lines have been contested at the GM level - going back to the '60s, and it never went away.
I think white can mostly do okay with 6.Be3
Pretty sure Fischer's favorite move against the Najdorf was 6) Bc4, the idea being to get the light-square bishop on a good diagonal before black has a chance to play ...b5. I always play 6) Bc4 and find the bishop is very useful on this diagonal
Well in that line black CAN play b5 straight-up. Your bishop is forced to b3 & tricky game for white thereafter..
White normally voluntarily retreats his bishop to b3 on the following move and it's normally a very playable system.
hehe for black yes ! who has loads of fun targeting your white-bishop :))
"Any recommendations would be very welcome."
There is no hope for the white side of the Sicilian Defence, Najdorf Variation.
I suggest 1. P-K4 (also known as 1. e4) is a bad move because you might have to play against the Najdorf.
The Najdorf may be one of the tougher nuts to crack, but I will still stick with 1.e4. I could easily avoid the Najdorf altogether - if I wanted to - and still play 1.e4; it would just be a matter of playing an anti-Sicilian.
But I like both sides of the open Sicilian. Actually, I find it often leads to very sharp and unbalanced positions, which is where I'm happiest. And I believe that you don't rectify a difficulty against one variation you sometimes see, by jettisoning half of your entire opening repetoire to start from scratch.
Plus 1.e4 is the best fit for my style of play (or put another way, I can more easily and more often shape what follows into the kinds of games I enjoy). Other options, like 1.c4, 1.d4, or 1.Nf3, are just not my thing (though they are all perfectly sound and fine choices for those who prefer it).
The "book move" for black after 6) Bc4 (and the move I've nearly always encountered against the Najdorf) is 6) ...e6, after which white normally plays 7) Bb3
Cannot find many master games playing it recently & most of those there are were wins for black..
Theory doesn't recommend targeting the light-square bishop, and I've rarely come against it in practice agsinst strong players. The bishop is on a good diagonal and protected square and can always retreat to a2 after pawn to a3 if black gets overly ambitious early (before completing his development) and plays ...b4. Too many tempo are lost trying to target the bishop
Well post some of your successes with it & I'll consider it then..