‘Back in the day’ I was known for playing The Najdorf. It was my main defense to the king pawn move because the opening was played by Bobby Fischer. With this in mind it will come as no surprise to learn I have been a fan of the Frenchman, MVL, aka Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, because he has been todaze leading exponent of The Najdorf. It was surprising to learn the “M” did not stand for “Miguel.”
For some time consideration has been given to imputing each opening move versus The Najdorf into the Stockfish program at lichess.com in order to learn how the program replies to each of the over two dozen different opening moves that have been attempted. ‘Back in the day’ it was de rigueur to reach the Najdorf by playing 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6. Stockfish differs when playing 3 Nc3, as can be seen below. The Stockfish program at lichess.com preferred 6 f3, so it was the first move put into the machine…
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Nc3 a6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. f3 e6 (The most often played move has been 6…e5, but the Fish prefers moving the pawn only one square) 7. a3
According to 365Chess.com a dozen different seventh moves have been played here, none of which is the move produced by Stockfish! This makes the seventh move a theoretical novelty, which can only be described as amazing…
7…Nc6 8. Be3 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxd5 exd5 11. Qd2 Bd6 12. O-O-O O-O 13. g4 Re8 14. Kb1 Qf6 15. g5 Qe5 16. Bf2 Qf4 17. Qxf4 Bxf4 18. h4 Be3 19. Re1 Nxd4 20. Rxe3 Rxe3 21. Bxe3 Nc6 22. Rh2 d4 23. Bf4 Bf5 24. b3 d3 25. cxd3 Nd4 26. Kb2 Be6 27. Rf2 Nxb3 28. Rc2 Nd4 29. Rc7 b5 30. h5 Bf5 31. Be3 Nxf3 32. h6 Rc8 33. Ra7 gxh6 34. gxh6 f6 35. Rxa6 Kf7 36. Ra7+ Ke6 37. d4 Kd5 38. Bxb5 Rc2+ 39. Kb3 Nxd4+ 40. Bxd4 Kxd4 41. a4 Rh2 42. Kb4 Rxh6 43. a5 Rh2 44. a6 Bc8 45. Rf7 Bxa6 46. Bxa6 Rb2+ 47. Ka3 Rb6 48. Bc8 h5 49. Ka4 Rc6 50. Bh3 Rc4+ 51. Kb5 Rc3 52. Bd7 Rf3 53. Kb6 f5 54. Rxf5 Rxf5 55. Bxf5 h4 and I called it a draw.
The Chessbase Database shows nary a game in which the move 7 a3 appears, which truly is amazing!
[…] “thinks” of the legendary Najdorf variation. Part one was published a few daze ago (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2023/02/23/a-seventh-move-novelty-in-the-najdorf/), with a focus on the move Stockfish considers best for white against the Najdorf system, 6 f3. […]
[…] top of the list of leading exponents of the venerable opening. See the post that began this series (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2023/02/23/a-seventh-move-novelty-in-the-najdorf/). As mentioned, this is an ongoing series of articles, so each one is put together individually. […]