The Sicilian Najdrof with 6.)Bb5
Sicilian Defence still comes out to be one of the boldest and most complex openings from the dark pieces. This is one of the most studied openings in chess history played by many top-level players like Kasparov, Kramnik, Anand, Fischer, Spassky and the list is endless. Out of these players, Bobby Fischer was one of the most sincere contributors to this opening. This was first played by Miguel Najdrof and hence was named the Sicilian Najdrof variation.
Enough of the history talks, let’s dive straight into the dense forest of calculations of Najdrof and see why this is called the Rolls Royce of the chess openings.
So the variation goes with the moves:
- e4 c5 2)Nf3 d6 3)d4 cxd4 4)Nd4 Nf6 5)Nc3 a6
In the above position back tries to curb the white's potential domination on the b5 square also preventing the nasty pin on b5. Black plans to fight back for the center with moves like e6 and d5 later in the opening.
The major variations to consider in this variation are Bg5, Be2, and Bc4.
This is one of the oldest variations in Najdrof. Let’s dig deeper into this line.
Here black has the option to reply with Nbd7 or e6.
Let’s see the Nbd7 line with a game between Spassky and Polugaevsky in 1961. This line is not so popular these days because of the better alternative e6 (the mainline)
The game goes like 6.)Bg5 Nbd7 7.)Bc4 Qa5 8.)Qd2 e6 9.)0–0–0
Here black goes with an idea of queenside play with bringing the king to safety at g8. Here white has an interesting idea of a sac at Bd5!? in order to attain some space in the center but this can be tackled by b5 which accelerates black’s play on the queenside.
The game follows as 9.)0–0–0 b5 10.)Bb3 Bb7
on Bb3 white can’t go with b4 because of the night sac with Nd5 providing white with a lot of space in the center with black’s king stuck in the center.
11.)Re1 Be7 12.)f4 Nc5 13.)e5 dxe5 14.)Bxf6 gxf6(plan to castle quennside).
This position gives white a significant edge and the result went in favor of Spassky. This line is not played much at the top level because of the dynamics and risk involved for black.
Now let’s look at the mainline which goes as follows:
here black plans to play more in the center look for the break at d5.
Let’s understand the dynamics of this position with the help of the amazing game between Bronstein and Najdrof. The game goes as follows:
This was an amazing novelty played by Bronstein which got very popular at the top level
8.)0–0–0 Qc7 9.)Qg3! b5
This main idea behind Qg3 is the plan to sac on b5 to stop blacks queenside play because now Ne5 won’t be effective moreover attacking the d6 pawn. Here black sacs it’s bishop for 3 passed pawns and black has no more queenside play of b5-b4 which is black’s major idea.
The game turned into the favor of Bronstein because of the amazing novelties.
One amazing response to these novelties was figured out by Kasparov in a game with Short. The game goes as follows:
7.)Qf3 h6 8.)Bxf6 Qxf6 9.)Qxf6 bxf6
Though black’s position looks a bit shabby it is quite solid and the king in the center will compensate after the exchange of pieces (stockfish (0.15)).
Not allowing g4.
11.)f5 Nc6 12.)Rd1 Bd7 13.)Bc4 Ke7 14.)Bb3 Bh6
Here, black’s plan is to go with Rg8 and h4. This is an amazing response to 8.)Bxf6. The game went to have a result of 0–1.
So an alternate to Bxf6 was spotted as Bh4. Let’s analyze this line with the game between Spassky and Petrosian.
The game goes like 8.)Bh4 Nbd7 9.)0–0–0 Ne5 10.)Qe2 g5 11.)Bg3 Bd7
Here black plans to play on the queenside with a quite dynamic play.
12.)h4 Rg8 13.)hxg5 hxg5 14.)Nf3 Qc7 15.)Qe3 Be7 16.)Be2 b5 17.)a3 Rb8
Here black has the initiative and a really solid position as the king on e8 is much safer than the white’s king on c8. But still, it’s a very bold line to play from black’s point of view.
Thus we can conclude that whenever Qf3 is played without a prior h4 h6 is a solid reply to the line.
So let’s dig deeper into the mainline from white 7.)f4
This move was first played as a novelty Guttenberg Interzonal by all the soviet players against the Argentinian and all the games went in the favor of the Soviet players. The games went:
7.)f4 Be7 8.)Qf3 h6 9.)Bh4 b4 all the Argentinian players played the move b4 as a novelty planning to maneuver the night to e5 from d5 leading to a quite solid position.
10.)fxg5 Nfd7 here all the soviet players moved the same move which was overlooked by the Argentinian players
11.)Ne6!! leading to the exploitation of black’s king in the center before allowing black control over the e5 square.
11.)Ne6 fxe6 12.)Qh5 Kf8 Here black is getting the control over the e5 square but this was tackled by all the soviet players with an amazing 13.)Bb5!! stopping immediate Ne5 because black can’t take the bishop because of Rf8 leading to black’s loss.
Later this line was revived by Fischer in his match against Gligiritch and he came up with an amazing solution to black’s problems. The game went as:
13.)Bb5 Rh7 the idea behind Rh7 is stopping the attack on the f7 square and white can only get 3 pawns for its knight and also loses the initiative leading to an equal position for black.
14.)Qg6 Rf7 15.)Qh6 Kg8 16.)Qg6 Rg7 17.)Qxe6 Kh8 18.)Bxd7 Nxd7 19.)0–0–0 Ne5 20.)Qd5 Bg4. The game went out to be a draw.
This is a quite bold and risky line for black as one small mistake can lead to disastrous positions for black.
Thus, another alternative to black is 7.)f4 Qb6 8.)Qd2 Nc6 9.)0–0–0 Qxd4 10.)Qxd4 Nxd4 11.)Rxd4 (=)
Ther are a lot more alternatives and variations to these lines leading to deep calculations and strategic position.
Thus, we can clearly see from the above examples that if we wish to play Najdrof we must be bold in our play and should be ready for sacs as Najdrof has a lot of strategic sacs and confusing positions.
Hope you like this study of this amazing line.