Poisoned Pawn

Why does black sacrifice the pawn in the sicilian poisoned pawn variation? What is the compensation for white? Should black accept the sacrifice?

Suffice to say that white sacrifices the pawn because retreating the knight to b3 gives black an easy game.

You'd better leave this variation alone.

Play is irrational, and there's a ton of theory, mostly computer-generated.

There was no shortage of theory on this line before computers ever became useful for opening analysis.  For several years it was the single most-played opening at the master level, and many strong players played both sides of it.  It's a crazy line, fun and challenging and never completely resolved, but consider it "advanced" and resist the temptation to delve into it.

8. a3 is a move I can see being fairly successful, especially in shorter time controls.

Pfren is right this is extremely difficult to play. Great !!

White would move 9.Rb1 I believe ? (9...Qa3 black)

If able to play perfectly & follow lot's of theory the games can end up drawn. But better to play this as black than white so Chris is accurate too.

Here are my recent attempts with '' poisoned-pawn '' :))

I've only played one game with it http://www.chess.com/echess/game.html?id=54226396

Scottrf wrote:

I've only played one game with it http://www.chess.com/echess/game.html?id=54226396

I wouldn't have resigned there !

( Need to have a word with Mcgrain hehe..)

The Poisoned Pawn Variation of the Sicilian Najdorf was very popular during the 1980's and 90's.  Because of this I found it necessary to memorize 400 subvariations of the Poisoned pawn, variations that are riddled with tactics, which today I know cold.

Theoretically the opening rule involved is the following:  Do not go pawn grabbing in the opening, especially not with your Q.  The whole Poisoned Pawn variation is centered around this argument.  White is intent on proving that Balck violated the "rule" and must pay the consequences for said violation.  Black, on the other hand, says prove it, come and get me.

Actually, Black in the Poisoned Pawn variation has chosen meets White's threat of e5 with an indirect defense ( threatening to do something worse to your opponent than he is threatening to do to you.)  So, instead he develops counterplay with indirect defense --- [keeping the initiative(the attack)]--- by attacking b2, against the threat.  From the 1950' - 80's and into the 90's White couldn't believe that Black could get away with such a bold smash-and-grab raid in clear violation of the "opening rule" of not going pawn grabbing in the opening, especially not with your Q.

Over the last 5 decades, White, despite very creative and very theoretical attempts to prove an advantage, Black's strong central pawn formation (what Nimzowitsch in his book, "My System" labels the "small but secure center" ) has proven itself more than adequate at keeping the Black King protected from White's 'killer instinct' pieces.

More than just White trying to prove that Black can't get away with violating the "opening rule" there is a deeper and much more basic question being debated in this opening.  It is the question of what chess opening theory is superior, the Classical Chess Opening Theory or the Hypermodern Chess Opening Theory.

In the opening, Black is employing the Hypermodern.  If you notice, Black has no pawns or pieces occupying any central squares.  That is the essence of the Hypermodern:  control the center with the power of your pawns and pieces.   In this way you do not ceate any targets for your opponent to attack.  By contrast White is employing the Classical:  control the center by occupying it with your pawns and pieces.  If you look at the position after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2, White's N is occupying the central square d4, and his pawn is occupying the central square e4.  There are many other factors in this position, but take phren's and Estragon's wise advice, stay away from the Poisoned Pawn variation, until you reach say a rating of USCF1800 OTB (over the board)

However, if you feel like playing around with the theme of violation of the opening rule:  Do not go pawn grabbing in the opening, especially not with your Q.  Take a look at another topic posted recently by timab.  Read the whole thing, every post, and you will get a good feel fo what is involved with the Poisoned pawn, in a much less complicated position.  Just click on the following:  http://www.chess.com/forum/view/game-analysis/interesting-game-please-help

9Rb1 isn't the only line. Think Spassky and Short have played 9Nb3 in world championship matches. Currently 9Rb1 Qa3 then 10e5 is the most debated line in top class play. In the sixties it looked like Fischer had solved all black's problems in that line. However in early 2007 white found some dangerous new ideas, and for awhile it looked possible poisioned pawn var refuted. Think today theory in 10e5 still changing rapidly. This has lead to 6Bg5 being more popular top-levels again.

Definitely line need to know many detailed variations. Playing by general principals unlikely to work.

There are also poisoned pawn substitutes- probably equally sharp, but with less theory to memorize (at least for the moment!).

6.Bg5 Nbd7!? (a very topical variation) 7.Bc4 Qb6!, or 7.f4 e5 8.Nf5 Qb6.

I am currently playing two correspondence games in that variation as Black at LSS. It's interesting, but requires good nerves and plenty of time to analyse- it's too sharp to be played casually.

Well, I dont play najdorf but the dragon with black. But with white maybe I should go for 6.Be3 to avoid this line all together?

John_Doe18 wrote:

Well, I dont play najdorf but the dragon with black. But with white maybe I should go for 6.Be3 to avoid this line all together?

6.Be3 also has bucketloads of theory.

but I have to learn these theories to become a good player

John_Doe18 wrote:

but I have to learn these theories to become a good player

No, you don't.

Study a simple system against the Najdorf- for example 6.g3 or 6.h3, and leave heavy theory alone.

Very recently Topalov lost a couple of games (in rapid games) against Vallejo following 6.h3 and 6.Qf3, both not so well respected moves.

pfren wrote:
John_Doe18 wrote:

Well, I dont play najdorf but the dragon with black. But with white maybe I should go for 6.Be3 to avoid this line all together?

6.Be3 also has bucketloads of theory.

@John_Doe18,

What phren failed to mention in his post about 6.Be3, is that after 6...e6 Black has transposed into the Najdorf/Scheveningen and White's anti-Scheveningen plans of attack have been reduced.  If White knows this there is nothing he can do about it.  If he doesn't he is in for a rude surprise.

AcivilizedGentleman wrote:

You're being silly. While the english attack has a waterfall of theory it hardly matters to a player of his level. IT still follows relatively natural schemes of development and the attacks can be based upon sound positional basis aswell (oh hi there topalov!)

In the end if you play logically in the english attack you're not going to instantly die to a random queen sacrafice like in the poisoned pawn might let you do.

I'd say the g3 system is just about as hard to play as the english attack for a random club player. Hell, the english attack might even be better since it allows some instant knockouts. I find it interesting that you'd recommend the scotch/italian against e5 and then go off recommending a fienchetto system instead of an open system vs sicilian

Oh, yeah. Enter 6.Be4 Ng4.

It's easy to play that following "natural schemes".