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A new year, and new beginnings. I am taking over from Fed for a while, which should give a slightly different aspect to this section.

Of course, by working on this section I hope to brush-up my Sicilian theory. As although I rarely play 1 e4 these days I am very partial to playing the Sicilian as black, and in particular the Classical and the Najdorf.

This may have something to do with the fact that I wrote the book Easy Guide to the Najdorf (I still play my recommendations from 5 years ago!) and the ChessBase CD The Classical Sicilian!

For my first update I am going to look exclusively at the Najdorf, and this for two reasons: firstly, for those who have a copy of my book and would like to see how my suggestions have fared over the years (pretty well!), and secondly, because it is very popular at the moment - almost half the Sicilians at the current Corus super-tournament were English Attacks!

I guess this is a bit like Eric's attempt to get the Trompovsky up-to-date, but don't worry, I promise to look at the other Sicilians as well next month!

Download PGN of January '05 Open Sicilian games

English Attack

Lets begin with a look at 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 Nf6 4 Nc3 cxd4 5 Nxd4 a6 6 Be3 e5 7 Nb3 Be6 8 Qd2 Nbd7 9 f3 b5 and now the critical line 10 a4 b4 11 Nd5 Bxd5 12 exd5 Nb6 13 Bxb6 Qxb6 14 a5 Qb7 15 Bc4:

I took a bit of flak from fellow writer John Watson in a review many years ago for recommending this, but I still think it is a great line for Black! In fact it has got even better since then because of Kasparov's move 15...g6!, see Murdzia, P - Kosten, A, and Karjakin, S - Naiditsch, A for the latest theory.

White is struggling here and Black has a plus score!

An important alternative is 6...e6, of course, and a few days ago Topalov sprang a big innovation on the World Champion, and crushed him in 20 moves! Have a look at Kramnik, V - Topalov, V to see the carnage!

To round off the English Attack section a look at Fed's preferred 6...Qb6 against 6 f3. Now, I would definitely play 6...e5 myself, especially as White can no longer play 7 Nf3, but kicking the knight from the centre is very popular at the highest levels.

However, you might be wondering why after looking at Grischuk, A - Ponomariov, R from a couple of days ago!

Other Najdorfs

Whilst I am aware that 6 Be3 (or 6 f3) are by far and away the most popular lines at the Super-GM level, at lower levels other moves are still very popular.

6 Bd3 is quite unusual, but not too bad as you can see from Dgebuadze, A - Wemmers, X where Black plays normal moves yet gets a lost position right out of the opening!

In The Easy Guide to the Najdorf I proposed answering Karpov's System (1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be2 e5 7 Nb3 Be7 8 0-0 0-0 9 Be3 Be6 10 Qd2 Nbd7 11 a4) with 11...Nc5!?:

Which is very similar to Gallagher's own system. Although this move hasn't been played that much it has done alright, see Kozakov, M - Guidarelli, L.

Whilst wandering around during the during the 4NCL matches last weekend I noticed that the most common move against the Najdorf seemed to be 6 f4:

Yet, when I looked at the Najdorf eBook, there was no mention of this variation at all!

The line I recommend against this in my book is 6...e5 7 Nf3 Nbd7 8 a4 Be7 9 Bd3 0-0 10 0-0 exf4 11 Kh1 Nc5 12 Bxf4 Bg4, aiming to bring the bishop to g6 via h5:

I still think that this is Black's best, see the analysis in Polzin, R - Acs, P.

When I was young the line that Black feared the most was 6 Bg5:

and although this has lost its number one status, it is still a move to take seriously. In my book I proposed that Black try the line 6...e6 7 f4 Nc6!? (on John Nunn's advice) and this still seems to be holding its own:

Sharp play occurs after both the 8 e5 h6 9 Bh4 g5!? of Guseinov,G - Soylu, and the 8 Nxc6 bxc6 9 e5 h6 10 Bh4 g5 11 fxg5 Nd5 12 Ne4 Qb6 of QUARK - DIEP:

Till next month, Tony K


Please feel free to share any of your thoughts with me, whatever they are, suggestions, criticisms (just the polite ones, please), etc. Drop me a line at the Open Sicilians Forum, or subscribers can write directly to