Najdorf variant

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The basic position of the Najdorf variant after 5.… a7 – a6

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The Najdorf variant of the Sicilian Defense is one of the most complex and at the same time best-known openings in the game of chess .

It is classified in the ECO codes under the codes B90 to B99 and is created according to the trains:

1. e2-e4 c7-c5
2. Ng1-f3 d7-d6
3. d2-d4 c5xd4
4. Nf3xd4 Ng8-f6
5. Sb1-c3 a7-a6

From the Najdorf variant, depending on the chosen line, double-edged positions can arise in which White attacks the kingside and Black attacks the queenside. This applies, for example, to sequels with heterogeneous castling , in which white castles long and black castles short.

The Najdorf variant developed from the " classic Sicilian ". The move 5.… a6, which at first seems passive or even superfluous because it does not contribute anything to the development of the pieces, has the advantage that it is more flexible in Black's structure than 5.… Nc6. So the knight sometimes goes from b8 via d7 to c5 to press the e4-pawn. He also prepares possible black counterplay on the queenside and controls the b5 square, which is now neither accessible to the white knights nor to the bishop .

The black player is given active opportunities such as e7 – e5 and b7 – b5 through 5.… a6. With the move e7 – e6 Black can often turn into the Scheveningen variant .

Black often seeks a quick attack on the queenside with b7 – b5 – b4, which White wants to forestall with a pawn storm on the kingside (f2 – f4 – f5, g2 – g4 – g5 etc.). In some variations White sacrifices his c3-knight on d5 to open the e-file.

Another basic idea of ​​the Najdorf variant is actually the move e7 – e5 in order to avoid the narrow positions of the Scheveningen variant. 6. L c1-g5 and 6. L f1-c4 stop because of the weakening of the field d5 in strategic ways e7-e5.


Positions that are now referred to as the Najdorf Variation were initially achieved in games from the early 1930s by changing moves using lines from the Scheveningen Variation 5.… e7 – e6 , e.g. B. 6. Lc1-g5 a7-a6 .

The eponymous “discoverer” of the variant is the chess grandmaster Miguel Najdorf (1910–1997). He began playing the Sicilian Defense early in his career. In his game against Christian Poulsen at the 1939 Chess Olympiad in Buenos Aires, he brought the Najdorf variant onto the board in pure sequence for the first time in his career.

In the following years, the Najdorf variant was only able to establish itself slowly, it was only in the early 1950s that it gained more and more popularity. Initially only played by Pilnik , Petrosjan and Najdorf themselves, the Najdorf variant now gained more and more fans, including world-famous players such as Michail Tal and Bobby Fischer . At the beginning of the 80s , the variant experienced a second spring by Garry Kasparov , who saw it as his main weapon with the black stones. Today it is still one of the most popular replies to 1. e4, both at grandmaster and club player level.

Due to the large number of plays and variations, the Najdorf variant is one of the most feared and most complicated chess openings of all. Some variants are analyzed well beyond the 20th move .


6. Bc1 – g5, 6. Bc1 – e3 and 6. Bf1 – e2 are the most common lines.

  • 6. Bc1 – g5 e7 – e6 (After 6.… e7 – e5? 7. Bg5xf6 Qd8xf6 8. Nc3 – d5 Qf6 – d8 9. Nd4 – f5 White is better. 6.… Nb8 – d7, however, is an alternative, there this also avoids a double pawn on f6.) 7. f2 – f4 White now threatens both e4 – e5, which would currently win a piece, and f4 – f5.
    • The main line is another 7.… Bf8 – e7 8. Qd1 – f3 Qd8 – c7 (The Gothenburg variant 8.… h6 9. Bh4 g5 did not work.) 9. 0–0–0 Nb8 – d7.
      • Boris Spasski then played 10. Bf1 – d3 b7 – b5 11. Rh1 – e1. This happens on b5 – b4 Nc3 – d5. Eg 11.… Bc8 – b7 12. Qf3 – g3 b5 – b4 13. Nc3 – d5 e6xd5 14. e4xd5 or 14. e4 – e5 .
      • White often draws his kingside with 10. g2 – g4 b7 – b5 11. Bg5xf6 Nd7xf6 (g7xf6 happened in Cholmow - Bronstein, Kiev 1964 ) 12. g4 – g5 and f4 – f5.
    • A sharp system is the so-called pawn robbery variant 7.… Qd8 – b6.
    • 7.… b7 – b5 is the Polugajewski variant . The Polugajewski variant is one of three possible attempts to take the line-up Bb7, Nbd7 and Qc7 with a bishop on f8, whereby Black gains a tempo for his counterplay on the queenside. The others are 7.… Qd8 – c7, 7.… Nb8 – d7 ( Boris Gelfand liked to play).
  • With the 6th Bf1 – c4 predominantly played by Bobby Fischer , the game changes to the Sosin variant .
  • Occasionally Fischer played 6. h2 – h3 with the idea of ​​7. g2 – g4 and Bf1 – g2.
  • 6. f2 – f3 introduces the pattern Be3, Qd2, f3, g4 of the English attack , which is the most popular variant.
  • When the English attack is initiated via 6. Bc1 – e3, an immediate 6.… Nf6 – g4 can interfere. 6. Bc1 – e3 e7 – e6 7. g2 – g4 with the invitation to e6 – e5 8. Nd4 – f5 g7 – g6 9. g4 – g5 g6xf5 10. e4xf5 d7 – d5 11. Qd1 – f3 d5 – d4 12. 0–0–0 was called the Perenyi Gambit, or Hungarian Attack.
  • 6. Bf1 – e2 is a calm, positional continuation that Anatoly Karpov liked to play. Garri Kasparow often turned into the Scheveningen variant with e7 – e6 . 6.… e7 – e5 7. Nd4 – b3 Bf8 – e7 8. 0–0 0–0 is typical of the Najdorf variation.
  • 6. g2 – g3 is a calm, positional continuation in which White immediately brings his white-squared bishop to its large diagonal and thus gains center control .
  • 6. f2-f4
  • 6. a2-a4 (directed against b7-b5).