A very special Najdorf | ChessBase

The Polugaevsky variant

Petra Papp updates a very special Najdorf

The Polugaevsky variant in the Najdorf comes after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 b5against which I recommend the main line 8.e5! for White.

The first time 7…b5 was played in top level chess in 1957. Two years later, Lev Polugaevsky, the Soviet grand grandmaster who was one of the strongest players in the world from the early 1960s to the late 1980s, started to energize this variation, employing it successfully in his own practice and finding many interesting ideas (see Novopashin,A – Polugaevsky,L ½-½). After its games, 7…b5 became known as the Polugaevsky Variation.

Nowadays, the Polugaevsky variant is no longer fashionable at the highest level. Wassily Ivanchuk played there occasionally several years ago, later also Jeffery Xiong, but mainly in blitz games, while Gergely Aczel, a powerful Hungarian GM, took over 7…b5 Only recently. Thanks to the super powerful engines, the line is practically refuted, so if White is booked in theory, they will have a great advantage. Nevertheless, it is still dangerous, because white must know the precise moves.

From the diagram follows 8…dxe5 9.fxe5 Qc7. A central idea of ​​this line. The black queen comes out of the keel, generating a tactical threat to reclaim the piece after capture: 10.exf6 Qe5+ 11.Be2! Qxg5 12.0-0.

Until then, everything was forced. White has a more developed position, but converting this advantage is not easy. I will investigate Black’s A) 12…Qe5?! and B) 12…Ra7.

A) 12…Qe5?!

The second most popular move, but this is already a mistake. Black tries to pressure the knight on d4 with the threat of Bc5. However, in some lines, the black queen and king can come into the line of sight on the electronic file. 13.Kh1! It helps to remove the king from the weakened g1-a7 diagonal. 13…Bc5 14.fxg7! Qxg7 and now White has a nice attacking move: 15.Nf5!

(intention 15…exf5 16.Qd5) with an excellent position, see Crosa Coll,M – Coelho,L 1-0.

B) 12…Ra7

This marvelous movement is the key idea of ​​the Polugaevsky variation. Black brings his turn into the game via the 7th rank, offering quick defense and counterplay. Of course, this move was discovered by none other than Lev Polugaevsky himself. 13.Qd3! The strongest answer. White must control squares e4 and e3. Their next plan is to play Ne4 hitting Black’s queen. 13…Rd7 14.Ne4!.

14…Of5. This is the main move, Black puts pressure on the two knights in the middle. (There are 14…Qg6?! take the queen away from the queen. 15.Bf3! White protects the knight on e4, making his queen mobile. 15…Bb7 and now after the coin sacrifice 16.Qc3!! Bxe4 17.Rae1 !!

White won a creative attacking game at Szczepankiewicz,D – Gesicki,J 1-0).


Retreating the knight to f3 gains tempo. This is the critical position of the whole line. I will investigate the queen’s movements B1) 15…Qc7 and B2) 15…Qxb2.

B1) 15…Qc7 is quite solid, but it’s still easy for white to show a stable advantage: 16.Qe3! Qa7 17.Qxa7 Rxa7 18.Nfg5!.

Even after the queen exchange, White’s game remains very active. 18…g6 19.c4! Using the b5 hook to open the queenside is a common idea, see Pasti,A – Aczel,G 1/2.

B2) 15…Qxb2. Capture what is often considered a poisoned pawn. This should also give White a clear advantage, but White must already be very familiar with dynamic attacking moves. 16.Qe3! Bb7 17.Rab1!.

The queen on b2 is strong, so it is important to deflect her. This is another critical line of the Polugaevsky variant, with one final branch:

B21) 17…Qxc2 18.Nfg5!!.

A very powerful all-round move. The knight protects his colleague on e4 and simultaneously attacks Black’s vulnerable kingside. Now 18…Qc7 is the most natural, but after 19.Rbc1 Qe5 20.Bg4 !!

White has a lot of play.

And if black blocks the kingside with 18…g6?white can open the position with 19.Rbc1! Da4 and now 20.Nxe6 !!

winner – all these lines are checked in the game Negi,P – Hermansson,E 1-0.

B22) 17…Qxa2

After this capture, I think white has two equally good moves giving more than enough compensation for the sacrificed pawns: 18.Nfg5 and 18.Kh1. These two sequences are carefully examined in the game Abdumalik,Z – Kamalidenova,M 1-0.

Summary: 6.Bg5 is one of the sharpest moves against the Najdorf. The Polugaevsky Variation 7…b5 is objectively not recommendable for Black, but leads to sharp and difficult lines that can lead to surprise. White usually has to sacrifice material to attack the black king. I think the strongest way for black is 15…Qc7 followed by 16…Qa7 to swap queens, although this allows white to open the queenside with the standard c2- pawn breaks. c4 or a2-a4. A typical attack move for the first player is Nfg5!. From what I have analyzed in this article, if white knows all these precise moves and ideas, he will have a much better position on the opening exit! 🙂

You can find the full article with all games and analysis in the new ChessBase Magazine #207!

ChessBase Magazine #207

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ChessBase Magazine Content #207 (May 2022)

Strong points

The ChessBase Magazine #207 homepage welcomes you with the highlights of the issue! Just click, replay the annotated games or watch the videos and enjoy!

FIDE Grand Prix 2022: Analysis by Andrey Esipenko, Anish Giri, Vidit Gujrathi, Grigoriy Oparin, Alexandr Predke, Sam Shankland, Wesley So and Nikita Vitiugov. Dorian Rogozenco presents two selected games of the winners, Hikaru Nakamura and Richard Rapport, in video format. Or jump straight into practice and play the Aronian-Keymer Grand Prix game “Move by Move” with Robert Ris! A complete repertoire against the Sicilian Variation Alapin? Markus Ragger presents his recommendations in his half-hour opening video. Not to be missed: The “Special” on Bent Larsen with 19 commented games as well as analyzes + video on the strategic qualities of the great Dane!

Special: My Favorite Bent Larsen Game

The authors of CBM analyze their favorite Bent Larsen games. An exclusive collection of 19 annotated games from 1956 to 1998 awaits you!

Top master games and reviews

FIDE Grand Prix 2022: The Grand Prix took place as a series of three tournaments from February 3 to April 4, the first and third of which were held in Berlin, the second in Belgrade. As big winners, Nakamura and Rapport qualified for the 2022 Candidates Tournament. In this issue Andrey Esipenko, Anish Giri, Vidit Gujrathi, Grigoriy Oparin, Alexandr Predke, Wesley So, Sam Shankland and Nikita Vitiugov comment on their best matches. And Dorian Rogozenco shows two games of Nakamura and Rapport in video format.

Airthings Masters 2022: Anish Giri comments on his narrow victories against Hans Niemann and Ding Liren

All in one

All you need to know about a specific line in a heavily annotated game – that’s the concept of “All in One”. Igor Stohl examines the h-pawn’s first advance against the Indian king’s Fianchetto: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.h4!? Bg7 4.Nc3. Tanmay Srinath tests the London System against King’s Indian: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 g6 3.e3 Bg7 4.Nf3 0-0 5.Be2 d6 6.h3.

Opening Videos

In the English game Four Knights, the move 4.e4 is very popular. Rustam Kasimdzhanov examines the sometimes very sharp complications after 4…Bc5 and shows new ideas in his analysis, especially for Black. Markus Ragger presents a full repertoire against the Alapin Variation with the sideline 3…Nf6. And Mihail Marin shows an opening idea by Bent Larsen in the Sicilian Dragon Variation, which is still playable today!

Rustam Kasimdzhanov: Four English Knights
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.e4 Bc5
Markus Ragger: Sicilian Alapin Variant
1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Nf6!?
Mihail Marin: Sicilian Dragon variant
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.Bc4 Qa5 10.0-0-0 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 Be6

New ideas for your repertoire

CBM #207 offers many new ideas and concepts for your next games with 11 opening articles:

Yago Santiago: Gambit Benko 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.e3
Spyridon Kapnisis: modern Benoni Fianchetto variant
Andrey Sumets: Caro-Kann Advance Variation 3…Bf5 4.h4 Qc7
Martin Lorenzini: Sicilian Alapin 6.Na3/8.Nb5
Petra Papp: Najdorf Polugaevsky Variation 7.f4 b5 8.e5
Tanmay Srinath: French Tarrasch 3…Be7 (Part II)
Krisztian Szabo: Philidor overthrown 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.g3
Robert Ris: Ruy Lopez 3…Bc5 (Part II) 4.c3
Lars Schandorff: Slave 4…dxc4 5.e4 b5 6.Be2 e6 7.a4!?
Alexey Kuzmin: Anti Gruenfeld 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nbd2
Sergei Grigoriants: Gruenfeld with 4.g3 and 7.Na3 c5

Topical aperture traps

“Misleading Security and New Perspectives” – Rainer Knaak takes a close look at 10 pitfalls of current tournament practice, three of which he also presents in video format.

Move by Move

Test your failures blow by blow with Robert Ris! The strategic brilliance of Levon Aronian against Vincent Keymer from the first FIDE Grand Prix is ​​on the program. Can you find the moves of the super grandmaster?

“Bent Larsen – a universal player”

Michael Marin shines a light on the strategic skills of the most important Danish grandmaster of all time. Incl. detailed video introduction (playing time: 34 minutes).

The classic

Aron Nimzowitsch described his game with the black pieces against Paul Johner at the Dresden Chess Club Anniversary Tournament in 1926 as “one of his finest blockade games”. Enjoy Dorian Rogozenco presentation!

Tactics: “Magnetic square h7!”

In by Oliver Reeh tactical contribution with 34 games, everything revolves around the attraction of the h7 square on the attacking white pieces. Incl. interactive video training!

Excelling in the Finals – “Finals Highlights by Bent Larsen” and more.

Karsten Muller provides extensive training material for the highest demands: Bent Larsen’s most beautiful finals as well as highlights from the first Grand Prix in Berlin 2022. The Hamburg finals expert opens both contributions with a detailed video introduction. Plus, he provides more in-depth analysis in “Readers Write”

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