[FEN ""]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nf3

(which is trendy at top level in 2017) I am wondering why Black doesn't play 7...Ng4. I only found a couple old games with 7...Ng4, and both ended in a draw.

  • 1
    I'm not a Sicillian player, but doesn't 7...Ng4 8. Nd5 Nxe3 9. Nxe3 trade down when black has a structural weakness (d5-hole)?
    – user1108
    Nov 7, 2017 at 21:42

2 Answers 2


6...Ng4 doesn't look good at all.

Tactical flaw:

Black is behind in development, so White should aim for direct play with 7.Bg5 and then:

  • 7...f6 8.Bc1 [8.Bh4] Be6 9.h3 Nh6 10.Bxh6 gh6 11.Nh4 [11.Be2] and Black has huge weaknesses on the light squares.

  • 7...Be7 8.Bxe7 Qxe7 9.Nd5 [9.Qd2, 9.Bc4] Qd8 10.Bc4 with a nice bind is probably the lesser evil for Black.

  • 7...Qb6 8.Qd2 [or 8.Bh4 Qxb2? 9.Nd5 and Black cannot block Nc7+] Qxb2 is too greedy: 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.Nd5 Qc5 11.h3, or 11.Be3 and 12.Nb6 winning material, or 11.Rb3 with a huge attack.

Strategic reason:

It the structure with a hole on d5, the fight for this white square is essential and probably more important than the bishop pair. White often plays Bg5xf6 in Boleslavsky, Najdorf and Svechnikov variations. Thus trading the knight for the Be3 is not a big achievement, especiallly at the cost of two tempi, even if White plays the simple 7.Qd2 Nxe3 8.Qxe3 Be6 9.0-0-0 or 9.Ng5.

  • Shabalov vs. Vitolinsh 1989 went 7...Be7 8.Bxe7 Qxe7 and ended ½-½ chesstempo.com/gamedb/game/1537016/ply/15 It seems White can't maintain a piece on d5.
    – Ywapom
    Nov 8, 2017 at 18:07
  • In that Latvian game, with just a cursory look, it's not obvious to me why Shabalov didn't grab a pawn with 12.h3 Nf6 13.Qxd6.
    – Evargalo
    Nov 8, 2017 at 18:48

If black wants to play Ng4 he could do this one move earlier (which is the normal way to do it), when after 6 .. Ng4, white has only two options to prevent his bishop from being exchanged:

  • 7 Bc1 which can lead to a repetition 7 ... Nf6 8. Be3 Ng4 ....


  • 7 Bg5 which is usually answered by 7... h6 8 Bh4 g5 9 Bg3 Bg7 and black gains a very nice bishop on g7 and some space on the kingside

Playing 7... Ng4 (after 6 ... e5 7 Nf3) could be answered by 8 Bg5 attacking the queen which was not possible before and also playing h6-g5 does not make sense anymore since the long diagonal is blocked. With the hole on d5 and the misplaced knight on g4, black's position

  • 1
    It seems that you posted the answer without completely finishing it. Nov 7, 2017 at 23:14
  • 3
    @PabloS.Ocal : So what? Are we really supposed to finish our
    – Evargalo
    Nov 8, 2017 at 8:46

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