5

I have an opponent who is going into this as Black:

[FEN ""]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 a6 3.Nc3 d6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 e5 6.Nf5

He usually follows with 6...Bxf5 and after 7.exf5 Nf6 I play 8.g4 with a sharp game. I like the positions I get and score well; I am seeking objective assessments of this variation as I may be biased towards White.

  • This has transposed into a Najdorf Sicilian. – Dag Oskar Madsen Dec 3 '17 at 17:06
  • 2
    There is no Knight on f6, so I think it is too early to say it is a Najdorf. – Ywapom Dec 3 '17 at 17:42
  • Fair point. At least it transposes to 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Nc3 a6. – Dag Oskar Madsen Dec 3 '17 at 17:57
1

I believe White gets big advantage in the position you mentioned.

Black has weak light squares, passive bishop and backward development.

Furthermore, there is no obvious plan for creating counterplay because White will finish development first, thus he will be the first one to start attacking.

White does have doubled f-pawns, and f5 pawn is "shaky" but the hole on d5, firm grip on the light squares, space advantage, bishop pair and development advantage more than compensate for that.

White should aim for fianchettoing White's light squared bishop, and try to quickly finish development. I also like your suggested g4 to grab more space and claim more light squares. In the end, Black should simply collapse under pressure your light square domination and development advantage create.

One sample line illustrates just how difficult it is for Black:

[FEN "rn1qkbnr/1p3ppp/p2p4/4pP2/8/2N5/PPP2PPP/R1BQKB1R b KQkq - 0 1"]

1... Nf6 2. g4 Nc6 3. Bg2 h6 4. h4 Rc8 5. g5 hxg5 6. hxg5 Rxh1+ 7. Bxh1 Nd7 8. Be3 Qa5 9. Qd5 Qxd5 10. Bxd5 Nb4 11. O-O-O Nxd5 12. Nxd5

Engine suggested ...Nc6 as the strongest reply but I decided to stick with the fianchetto idea. After analyzing for a few moves, White emerged with an advantage.

[FEN "rn1qkbnr/1p3ppp/p2p4/4pP2/8/2N5/PPP2PPP/R1BQKB1R b KQkq - 0 1"]

1... Nc6 2. g3 Nge7 3. Bg5 d5 4. Qh5 Qd7 5. f6 Nf5 6. O-O-O g6 7. Qe2 d4 (7...Nfd4 8.Rxd4 Nxd4 9. Qxe5+ Ne6 10.Nxd5) 8. g4 h6 9. gxf5 hxg5 10. fxg6 fxg6 11. Ne4 O-O-O

White has development and space advantage, which is enough to create initiative. Light square domination and bishop pair bolster this advantage to the almost decisive one.

I have used engine in order to try and find best plan for Black to finish development and confront White's light square dominance, but as can be seen, White will always enjoy stable advantage.

Therefore I agree with your assessment and I do not think you are biased toward White's position. White does have a big, stable advantage in the position you mention.

Please note that I have performed brief analysis, maybe someone can offer detailed high quality analysis that finds even stronger plan for White. I also doubt that even the best play can equalize, or even save the position for Black in the long run.

| improve this answer | |
3

This is an unusual way of playing the Sicilian compared to the standard Najdorf. There is probably nothing seriously wrong with it (i.e. black is not lost immediately), but unless black has something in mind with these particular moves, I don't see the point of preferring this over the normal Najdorf.

In particular:

2. ... a6!?

This move is usually aimed at preventing a white knight or bishop from going to b5. However it seems a bit premature and gives white two options he does not get in standard Sicilians, namely (i) to go for a Maroczy bind with 3. c4 or (ii) to play 3. c3, with the idea to follow up with 4. d4 cxd4 5. cxd4. The move a6 is not useful in either of these variations. Also, I believe that your move, 3. Nc3, is not ambitious enough as there is no need to protect the pawn on e4 yet.

Some players might prefer to play a6 before d6 in order to avoid all those boring positions after 3. Bb5+.

5. ... e5?!

The move 5. ... Nf6 would lead to the standard Najdorf starting position (reached through an unusual move order) which I'd like to discuss now. It is true that e5 is a typical move for black in the Najdorf, however, it is only played in variations where Nf5 is not attractive for white. Specifically (in the Najdorf after 5. ... Nf6), after white's main replies 6. Be2/Be3/h3/f3/g3, black can play 6. ... e5, because if the knight jumps 7. Nf5, black has at least 7...d5 with a better position and in some of the variations in addition also the good options 7....Nxe4 or 7. ... Bxf5 8. exf5 d5.

On the other hand in the two other popular lines after 6. Bg5 or 6. Bc4, black usually does not want to let a knight jump to f5, because the "refutations" mentioned above don't work anymore. That's why in these two lines, black usually plays 6. ... e6.

Back to the position you are asking about. In my opinion you are perfectly right to reply to 5. ... e5 with 6. Nf5 because black does not have any of the "refutations" mentioned above available and will have a hard time to push d5. If black captures on f5 with the bishop the light squares in the center become even weaker. In the line you mention, after 6...Bxf5 7.exf5 Nf6 8.g4 , I very much prefer the white position.

| improve this answer | |
3

Black's move 5...e5 seems questionable to me. The move 6. Nf5!? is a little unusual but definitely playable. The only well-known player ever to have tried it was Jacek Bednarski, who used to obtain a draw in one of his games in the Polish national championship back in the 1960s. Bednarski is best known for losing game #55 in Bobby Fischer's "My 60 Memorable Games."

The move is a good line in a club setting because it is provocative and will take your opponent out of the book. It has good surprise value, and the resulting positions are not standard patterns which a player will be familar with, therefore, White will definitely have the edge in preparation.

In my opinion, Black is better off playing in a non-committal fashion with 6...Nf6 and aiming for g6 later.

After:

[FEN ""]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Nf5 Bxf5 7. exf5 Nf6 8.Bg5 Be7 9. Bxf6 Bxf6 10. Qd5 Qd7 11. g4 

White has a small but definite advantage.

| improve this answer | |
  • This is not the Najdorf, because black hasn't played Nf6 yet. See my answer for what difference this makes. – user1583209 Dec 3 '17 at 20:30
  • @user1583209 Yes, I guess that is true. I updated my answer. – Cecil De Vere Dec 3 '17 at 21:41

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