Latest lines in the Najdorf Sicilian, by Grandmaster ALEX COLOVIC

By GM Alex Colovic / On / In Chess Theory

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Any repertoire is a living thing and it is important to follow the development of the variations and analysis, especially in the games of the leading players.

In this post, I’d like to provide an update on the lines of our Najdorf repertoire.

In the Positional Line with 6. Be2 there haven’t been any major developments that could jeopardise our conclusions.

The Najdorf Sicilian Simplified
The Najdorf Sicilian Simplified

In the Sozin the recent game Golubev-Bogdanovich followed the line with 8. Bg5 Nc5 9. 0-0 Be7 10. Re1 0-0 11. f4, but here Bogdanovich deviated with 11… Bd7 12. Qf3 Qb6 and after 13. Rad1 I cannot say that he was successful in solving his problems. I am still convinced that our proposed way to deal with this line is the best one.

In the English Attack, more players have started employing our approach of first developing and then pushing …h5 and I take this as a confirmation of quality!

Theory from Norway and Moscow

In the latest games played in July, Black scored two important victories: Paravyan beat Khanin and Vidit beat Inarkiev!

In the aggressive 6. Bg5, the major development is Vachier’s change from the improved Poisoned Pawn that we analyze. In the Norway Chess tournament he played the “pure” Poisoned Pawn against Caruana but ran into some extremely deep preparation and lost.

It is understandable for elite players to switch lines and openings – in spite of their deep preparation they still don’t want to be sitting ducks playing the same lines over and over again.

So these changes do not mean that there is a problem with the line, but it is rather an attempt at a little less predictability. An important game was played in the mainline, Kasimdzhanov-Abdusattorov, where Black immediately pushed …d5 (without the previous …Nc5) but he could have landed into trouble, hence indirectly proving that the line with …Nc5, as we analyzed, is still the way to go.

In the 6. f4 line there haven’t been many games played generally, as it is perhaps the least popular line against the Najdorf nowadays, so everything we have analyzed still stands.

The Fianchetto 6. g3 is still a popular option, but none of our lines have been challenged. The blitz game Andreikin-Wang Hao from May confirmed our textual comment on White’s 9th move in the 7. Nf3 line.

The Modern 6. h3 remains very popular and in the game, Vallejo-Andersen from April, Black obtained a good position with our line of quick …d5, even though he played somewhat differently later on.

In the Odds and Ends chapter, there are many moves, but not all of them have been played. One of the positional considerations in the 6. Nb3 line, i.e. that White should prevent Black from getting …b4 in was confirmed in the game Alekseenko-Sjugirov, played in July, where White played 8. a3, even before developing the bishop on g2.

The biggest developments here have been in the line 6 Bd3. Our suggested line against it successfully proved its worth in more than one game. In fact, in the rapid game Karjakin-Giri from the ongoing Grand Prix tournament in Riga, Giri introduced the new idea of 9… Bg4 (instead of the common 9…Be6) and got a good game out of the opening, even though he later lost.

In May, at the Moscow Grand Prix, Nepomniachtchi tested Wojtaszek in exactly our line, deviating with 14. Rc1, a move also played by Anand, but Wojtaszek showed the potential of Black’s position and equalised without major problems.

To conclude, our lines are healthy and are withstanding the test of time!

About GM Alex Colovic

GM Alex Colovic has been an International Grandmaster since 2013 and a Chess professional and coach for more than 20 years. GM Colovic has taken part in over 200 international chess tournaments and won dozens of them.GM Colovic is also an active team member participating in the English 4 Nations Chess League, in the French Top 12 and Spanish Segunda Division.Finally, to add to the impressive CV, GM Colovic has coached 3 champions of Catalunya in the U14 and U16 categories.Recently, GM Colovic finished with the best score on the Macedonian team at the Baku Olympiad with an impressive 7 out of 10.
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