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I've learned a bit of the Taimanov and have been playing it with some decent results, although I have not gotten very deep at all into it. Still, it bothers me that even though I've looked at a couple of different books and other resources if someone asks I cannot confidently state why I even play 2...e6. Its definitely nice to have a strong center with control of d5 and an exit for my dark-squared bishop. But this can come at the price of an e5 advance that is often possible and that I find somewhat uncomfortable. Are there other benefits to it that I'm not aware of, or was it originally just about avoiding existing 2...d6 theory?

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  • What does DWB mean? I assume this refers to your kings bishop.
    – user27863
    Jun 19 at 17:28
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    Since I know zilch about openings, here just a sum-up: These are all whole systems. Mainly there is just d6 (Dragon), d6+e6 (Scheveningen), d6+e5 (Najdorf), just e6 (Kan/Taimanov), and all have their pros and cons. You must learn which are the (much differing) piece and long-time plans for Black. Jun 20 at 9:15
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    what you're going to do with that pawn anyway? leave it on e7? play the dragon then. Push it all the way to e5? it will be Najdorf or Cheljabinsk. If you're not happy with either of them, the only remaining option is to play e6 sooner or later.
    – sleepy
    Jun 20 at 9:52
  • Hauk Reddmann these are not really systems, there are concrete reasons for the move orders, though some of the reasons are related to trends that are long past.
    – Jeremy
    Jun 20 at 11:59
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For starters, the e6 pawn controls d5 and f5.

(1) This is great for defensive purposes because a knight landing on d5 or f5 can often ruin black's game completely in the Sicilian. A great example of why we don't play e5 and allow a knight to land on the d5 square would be the Sveshnikov variation. With our pawn on e6, white must find another square (and corresponding plans) to utilize as his or her main focus.

[FEN ""] 
1.e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Nd5

(2) This is great for attacking purposes because getting in the d5 pawn break can either equalize the game immediately or even give black an advantage.

[FEN ""] 
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 {The Kan Sicilian, a sister variation to the Taimanov you say you play} 5. Be3?! Nf6 6. Nc3 Bb4! 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 d5!

Even if black is worried about the pawn structure changing with white playing e4-e5 after d5, then he is fine too if he plays Qc7 instead of O-O to cover the e5 square. Regardless of the exact move order, as soon as black gets in the d5 break, then it's black who is slightly better out of the opening, not white.

(3) Lastly, moving the e pawn as early as move 2 is smart simply because it means we are faster to castle kingside. Black has basically already committed to castling kingside by playing the Sicilian, so it makes sense to prepare to castle in that direction as quickly as possible. As we've seen, e6 is a flexible move that we are willing to make for many different reasons, so getting it out of the way immediately isn't giving away our cards of what specifics we'll be playing in the future.

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    Thank you, something about the way you said this really made it click for me! While I appreciate being able to get the dark squared bishop out soon I think its offset by the slow development of the g8 knight. We play Nc6 and Qc7 first to control e5 so in practice I don't think I castle faster than I do in the Najdorf.
    – Jeremy
    Jun 21 at 0:04
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    @Jeremy that's fair but also depends quite a bit on the specific variation. In most of the Bg5 lines of the Najdorf, black isn't castling kingside at all, let alone castling quickly. You get hit with too large of an attack and castling right into it is not so smart. In a lot of e6 sicilians, white doesn't go for an all out war on the kingside, so you're technically capable of castling kingside faster. Jun 21 at 1:39

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