Malcolm Pein on…Sicilian Scrutiny


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Malcolm Pein takes a look at the Sicilian Najdorf  in today’s Daily Telegraph chess column with an examination of the very rare 6.h4.

Malcolm Pein on…Sicilian Scrutiny

My database has about 200,000 games in the Sicilian Najdorf. On Thursday I looked at the unusual 6.Rg1, as players of the white pieces have cast the net ever wider to create new problems for Black.

The moves 6.Bg5, 6.Be2, 6.Be3 and 6.Bc4 have historically been by far the most popular. There is also 6.f3, 6.f4, 6.h3, enjoying a resurgence of late, 6.g3, 6.a4, 6.Bd3, 6.Rg1, 6.Nb3, 6.Qf3, 6.a3, 6.h4, 6.Qe2 and 6.Qd3, which Jorden van Foreest used to such effect at Wijk aan Zee. Van Foreest’s brother Lucas also tried 6.Bd2, which doubtless has its points, even if I cannot discern them. He scored scored 0/2, although it was against tough opposition.

Sicilian Scrutiny Najdorf


A great advertisement for another slightly off-the-wall counter, 6.h4.

S. Khanin – A. Tahay
Chigorin Memorial
St Petersburg 2018
Sicilian Najdorf

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.h4 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 (This bishop becomes a target. 7…Be7 looks better and if 8.f4 Nc6 9.Be2 b5 10.a3 Be6 11.f5 Bxb3 12.cxb3 d5 13.exd5 Nd4) 8.f4 Nbd7 (There is no obvious path to equality. If 8…g6 9.Be2 Nc6 10.g4 exf4 11.g5 f3 12.Bxf3 Nd7 13.Be3; 8…exf4 9.Bxf4 Nc6 10.Nd4 Qb6 11.Nxe6 fxe6 12.Qd3 Qxb2 13.Rb1 Qa3 14.Rxb7 Nd7 15.Rc7 Nce5 16.Qh3 Kd8 17.Bg5+! Kxc7?? 18.Nd5+) 9.f5! (Forcing a huge concession. White gets to control the white squares, and opens the a-file) 9…Bxb3 10.axb3 d5 (10…h5 11.Be2 was the best of a bad lot; After 10…b5 11.g4 b4 12.Nd5 Nxd5 13.Qxd5 White dominates the board and h2–h4 has come in very handy) 11.Nxd5 Nxe4? 12.Bc4 (12.Qf3! Ndc5 13.Bb5+! axb5 14.Rxa8 Qxa8 15.Nc7+) 12…Ng3? (12…Nef6 13.Qf3 Be7 14.Nxf6+ Nxf6 15.Qxb7 0–0 16.Bd2! Nh5 17.0–0–0!) 13.Bg5 Qc8 

Test Your Strength

S. Khanin – A. Tahay

It’s White to play and mate in five.

Black’s light-square weakness also proves fatal here.

J. M. Sprenger – T. Kantans
33rd ECC Open
Antalya 2017
Sicilian Najdorf

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.h3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Be3 Nc6 9.Qf3 Be7 10.0–0–0 0–0 11.g4 Rc8 12.g5 Nd7 13.h4 Nb4 14.Kb1 f5 15.Bh3 Bxb3 16.cxb3 Qa5 17.Qe2 d5 18.a3 d4 19.axb4 Bxb4 20.Na2 1–0

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

14.Nc7+! 1-0 In view of 14…Qxc7 15.Bxf7+! Kxf7 16.Qd5+ Ke8 17.Qe6+ Be7 18.Qxe7#.

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