I've started to learn the Najdorf and a two-part questions:

  1. people mostly emphasise central control with sicilian defence, is this true for najdorf as well or are we more focused on attacking opponent's kingside?

  2. does najdorf mostly lead to endgames? If so, which pieces are most common? Eg: rook and pawn, knight and bishop

  • Your question is very broad and rather vague. There are about ten different White replies to the Najdorf. Bg5, Be3, Bc4, Be2, f3, f4, g3, g4, Rg1, a3, all seem to have enjoyed a vogue. Does one of these give you more trouble than the others? Almost the only thing common to all variations is that Black often plays ..e5. The move ..a6 was partly intended to facilitate this by preventing Nb5 in response. White knows this, and his play may aim to exploit a weakness on d5, or develop a rapid attack to exploit slow development. Somewhere in all of this try to find a more specific question.
    – Philip Roe
    Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 3:17

1 Answer 1


Najdorf is very focused on central control - like in most others sicilians your long term strategical goal is achieving e5 and d5, with subsuquent exchange of your d-pawn for white e-pawn. In this ideal scenario you keep one pawn in the centre (e5), while white has no pawns in the centre.

How white prevents this ideal scenario for you depends on concrete variation.

But lets start at the beginning. Entire point of 5. ... a6 is that 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5? fails due to 6. Bb5+. So 5. ... a6 prevents Bb5, thus preparing e5. Now white has multiple choices.

If white plays 6. Bg5 or 6. Bc4 he prevents e5 (first due to weakness of d5 - imagine if white was able to make the pin worse via Nd5!; second due to weakness of f7), so black has to concede and play 6. ... e6. His longterm idea is the same - when safe he will still play e5 and d5 in some order.

For practically all other white moves black has a choice between 6. ... e5 and transposing to Scheveningen with 6. ... e6. In the first case play revolves around d5 square - the main strategical question is: will white attain control of d5, preventing black central break d6-d5 and place a piece on this strong central outpost; or will black control d5, break with d6-d5 and attain central superiority? Attacking and counterattacking chances are centered on this question. White's kingside attack is unlikely to succed without sufficient control of d5 - vice versa, with sufficient control it's very dangerous.

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