The Sicilian defense is one of the strongest responses to White 1.e4, as well as one of the most common defenses played by chess masters if White makes the first move of the king’s pawn. The Najdorf variation in the Sicilian defense is one of Black's best opening options, which often leads to his victory.
What is a Sicilian chess defense?
Sicilian defense is called a chess debut, which begins with moves 1.e4 c5. She owes her name to her inventor - the Italian priest Pietro Carrera. Initially, this beginning of Black’s game was supposed to be weak, but after Louis Carlos applied it successfully against Alexander McDonell at the 1834 championship, it began to gain popularity. The Sicilian defense received its development in the second half of the 20th century.
Sicilian Defense Options
Due to its aggressive nature, the Sicilian defense is popular among chess players of all levels. In addition, parties using such a debut always unfold interestingly and have great flexibility.
Since defense offers various possibilities for developing an attack, both white and black, many famous chess players have developed several variants of its game. So, there are options in chess in the Sicilian defense:
- the dragon;
- Sveshnikov and others.
This article considers only the Najdorf variant and its features. For more complete familiarization, advanced chess players are recommended to read the book "Sicilian Defense. Variant of Naydorf", 1985, edited by V. Lepeshkin
The general essence of Sicilian defense
The Sicilian defense of the Najdorf variant has gained great popularity recently. This option is quite simple, but at the same time, Black's tactical opening. Chess players of all levels play it, from amateurs to masters of sports at world championships. Therefore, every person who is interested in chess should study the basic ideas of the Sicilian defense and the Najdorf variant in particular.
So, the game starts as follows: 1.e4 c5, that is, black does not respond symmetrically with e5, but they choose the tactic to shift the center of their attack by moving the pawn to c5. The general idea of this black move is exactly the same as White's move, that is, the desire to control the important field d4. However, due to the asymmetric position of Black, their game plan is different from that for White, who focused on the e4-e5 line. This beginning allows us to say that White has the advantage of an attack on the kingside and can develop it quickly enough. Black seeks to respond with a counterattack to the opponent, but already on the flank of the queen.
Continuation of the game
The following three moves in the Sicilian defense of Najdorf's variant for Black are as follows: 2.Kf3 d6 3.d4. That is, White develops the royal knight on the f3-square, thereby restraining Black’s counterattack on the d4-square. White’s idea is very clear, they try to exchange pawns on the next move on d4 and place their knight on this square. It should be noted that the white pawn on d4 is protected not only by the knight on f3, but also by the queen, however, taking the queen in the opening is not recommended, since this piece becomes vulnerable in the center of the board. The fact is that taking the queen to d4 instead of taking the knight leads to an attack by the black pawns of the white queen and, as a result, to the rapid development of Black's attack.
Black's pawn move on d6 is forced to avoid the e4-e5 threat, which leads to White’s winning of space. White's third move on d4 leads to the so-called open Sicilian defense, which can lay the foundation for quite complicated positions. Therefore, the theoretical knowledge of this position is extremely important, and having them, the chess player can learn to play this debut quite strongly.
Party development and the Najdorf variant
The next series of moves looks like this: cxd4 4.Kxd4 Kf6 5.Kc3 a6. The pawns c and d change, the white knights are centered, and the black knight develops on the f6 square. Black's move a6 is warning against White's white bishop on b5. In addition, this field is key to the attack of both developed white horses. The resulting position on the chessboard is key to the Sicilian defense of the Najdorf variant.
In this position, each side has its own plan:
- Black conceived the high-speed move e5 in order to win space and displace White's knight from d4.
- White's plan is a long castling and subsequent attack with pawns on the kingside.
From this position, having the advantage of the next move, White can implement his plan in various ways.
In this embodiment, the moves are as follows: 6.Ce3 e5 7.Kb3 Ce6 8.f3. It is the 6th move of white by the black bishop on e3 that is called the English attack. This attack in the Sicilian defense of the Najdorf variant entails castling on the opposite flanks of the opponents and attacking pawns on both sides of the board. White’s move of the pawn f3 is necessary in order to avoid the move of Black’s knight on g4 in order to exchange it for White’s strong black bishop.
Then White will have to withdraw the queen to the d2 square, make a long castling and advance his g and h pawns to the opponent's kingside. After the black king is well-pressed by pawns, the final blow should be delivered by the black white elephant, queen and rook.
As for the blacks, they also will not sit still. In the English attack in the Sicilian defense of Najdorf's version for Black it is recommended to play as follows: make a short castling, develop a black bishop on e6, place the knight on f6 or d7 and start a quick attack with pawns a and b on the queenside.
The position obtained is sharp enough, and any wrong move can decide the outcome of the battle. Here, theoretical knowledge, accurate calculation, intuition and experience of the players are crucial for the final result of the game. Note that this variation of the game is aggressive on the part of Black, therefore it is recommended to include it in the attacking repertoire of any chess player.
Weaver Warren Adams was a famous American theoretical chess player in the mid-20th century. He himself did not excel in world championships, but won many awards at national competitions in the United States. Adams is best known for his idea that the advantage of White’s first move prescribes victory in advance when the opponents play correctly.
Also, many chess players know the Adams attack in the Sicilian defense of the Najdorf variant. The essence of this attack is for White to move the pawn to 6.h3 in the sixth move in order to support the g-pawn and the subsequent development of the gh pawn attack on the kingside. It is this development of the game for whites in the Sicilian defense of the Najdorf variation that is recognized by most modern chess players as one of the strongest sequels.
Black should defend against the Adams attack as well as against the English attack: a horse, a rook and a white bishop should remain near the king. At the same time, Black does not forget about his counterattack with pawns a and b.