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I was chatting to our webmaster himself in Liverpool last month, where Tony was doing an excellent job seconding Gawain Jones, and he, like so many Najdorf players, was still pretty interested in how best to meet Ivanchuk's Bxe6 and Na4 plan. That is one of my main focusses this week, along with the Taimanov-Scheveningen hybrid 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 d6.

Download PGN of October '07 Open Sicilian games

Najdorf: 6 Be3 e5 7 Nf3

Back in February, Ivanchuk surprised both Topalov and the world with 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 e5 7 Nf3 Be7 8 Bc4 0-0 9 0-0 Bxe6 10 Bxe6 fxe6. His justification for this anti-positional idea was the concrete 11 Na4:

In D.Popovic-P.Popovic we examine a deep improvement on Topalov's play on move 16 from Petar Popovic after which I believe that Black should be able to hold without too many difficulties. However, if Black is hoping to keep some winning chances open then he needs something more dynamic than 11...Ng4: 11...Nfd7!? was an idea of mine while watching Ivanchuk-Topalov itself and its evolution is covered in Hamdouchi - Perez Candelario.

Najdorf: 6 Bc4

I very much enjoyed playing alongside the England-China match in the Open at Liverpool. However, one of my least pleasant memories was yet another painful defeat at the hands of Simon Williams. This time he followed in Nisipeanu's footsteps with 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bc4 e6 7 Bb3 b5 8 Bg5 Be7 9 Qf3 Qc7 10 0-0-0 Nbd7 11 Bxf6!? Nxf6 12 g4:

I now believe that Black should advance on the queenside without delay with 12...b4, although the 12...0-0 of Williams - Palliser wasn't so bad, just the inaccurate follow-up after which I was blown away in some style.

The Semi-Scheveningen

I'm not entirely sure how best to refer to 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 d6; a position which can arise via several move orders. It's technically-speaking a Taimanov, but Black is really seeking to reach the Scheveningen, having first sidestepped the Keres Attack:

One critical response is 6 g4!?; a move often recommended by theory, but never examined in great detail by it. Indeed this variation in which Black avoids ...Nf6, which would take play back into the Keres Attack proper, is extremely unexplored and also pretty interesting. We take a long in Goh Weiming-Zhou Weiqi.

White can also play in English Attack style with 6 Be3 when Black usually opts to take play back into a Scheveningen with 6...Nf6 and after 7 f3 is at a crossroads:

The immediate central break, 7...d5, requires Black to accept an IQP, but this may not be too bad for him as we'll see in the notes to Stellwagen - Ljubojevic. More common is to head for a race scenario with 7...Be7 8 Qd2 0-0 9 g4 a6 10 0-0-0 Nd7 and now we cover both the critical 11 h4 and the game's 11 Qg2 in Phillips - Spraggett.

Taimanov: 5...Qc7 6 Be3

I've very grateful to David Eggleston for kindly sending some notes to a critical game which he played in one of the key lines of the Taimanov, namely 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 Qc7 6 Be3 Nf6 7 Bd3 a6 8 0-0 Ne5 9 h3 Bc5. You won't find Eggleston - Vehi Bach on TWIC, but White's powerful novelty 10 Qe2 d6 11 f4 Ng6 12 Nb3 Bxe3+ 13 Qxe3 b5 14 Rad1! appears to call into question one of Delchev's main recommendations in The Safest Sicilian:

Kan: 5 Nc3 b5

Even in the flexible Kan theory is constantly evolving, especially in the sharp variation 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 a6 5 Nc3 b5!?. Black follows up with 6 Bd3 Qb6 7 Nf3 Nc6 8 0-0 d6 only to be hit by the powerful 9 a4! in Gormally - Ciuksyte:

Gormally goes on to gain a small edge and amazingly the two players follow a previous game until move 29! I believe that both were ignorant of this, but it just shows how theoretical modern chess is unfortunately becoming!

Finally, I must give special thanks to Malcolm Pein for kindly allowing me to reproduce and enlarge the annotations to both Williams-Palliser and Gormally-Ciuksyte which I initially did for CHESS Magazine.

Until next month, Richard


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