The Najdorf System

When first starting out on the Caissa highway this writer played the Najdorf exclusively against the move 1 e4. Like many others I played the most aggressive opening because it was played by Bobby Fischer.

Prior to the advent of the computer programs that are now at least two, maybe three levels above humans in playing ability, the Najdorf was analyzed to what we thought was ‘death’. It is possible that more theory has been written on the opening foisted upon the Chess world by Miquel Najdorf

than any other opening. Nowadays players throw any and everything at the Najdorf, even some moves at which we would have scoffed ‘back in the day’. The Najdorf is not really a defense but a ‘system’. Although it was a lifetime ago it seems like only yesterday the book with the green cover, The Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defence, by Svetozar Gligoric,
Grandes Enxadristas: A História de Svetozar Gligoric …

Yefim Geller,

Lubomir Kavalek,

and Boris Spassky,

was published by R.H.M.

That would have been in 1976, the year I won the Atlanta Chess Championship with an unbeaten 5-0 score. I devoured the book. At the time I was playing correspondence Chess and one of my opponents was a young Atlanta player who later became a National Master, Tom Friedel. After reading the book there was one line I particularly did not like. In the USCF postal tournament I was paired with Tom, and he stepped right into my wheelhouse, allowing me to play my beloved Najdorf. Unfortunately for me, Tom played the aforementioned line. There was a problem with another game in that section in that the player was using one of the new computer playing machines to produce his moves. I know this because former Georgia Chess Champion Mike Decker had the same machine and I asked him about my postal game. Sure ’nuff, the machine produced each and every one of the moves sent by my opponent, so I withdrew from the event and never played another postal game. Some time later a friend said he had been talking with Tom about our postal game and that Tom was perplexed, saying something about my being able to draw even though a pawn down. After learning why I had withdrawn Tom was no longer perplexed. Tom was a very strong player, no doubt stronger than me, and I seem to recall Tom winning the USCF postal tournament. Maybe one of you readers can recall, or do the research required to learn if my memory is correct. The fact is that after all these decades in which I have not played the Najdorf, I have played over more Najforf games than any games of any other opening. It really is true that you never forget your first love. It is also the reason I have been a BIG fan of the Frenchman known as simply “MVL.”

What makes the following game remarkable is that Fabi played the weak 15 a3 two rounds AFTER LDP played the much superior 15 Nd5 against MVL in the fourth round leading to a resounding victory for Leinier Dominguez Perez in only 33 moves! It is refreshing seeing a player with even a modicum of gray hair winning these days.

(GM) Fabiano Caruana (USA)

Carlsen-Caruana 3: Fabi squanders opening edge |

vs (GM) Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)

Côte d'Ivoire Rapid & Blitz: A three-point lead for Magnus ...

Grand Chess Tour Sinquefield Cup 2021 round 06

  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3 Be7 9. Qd2 O-O 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12. g5 Nh5 13. Kb1 Nb6 14. Na5 Rc8 15. a3 g6 16. h4 Ng3 17. Rg1 Nxf1 18. Rgxf1 Na4 19. Nxa4 bxa4 20. h5 Qc7 21. Rh1 Rfe8 22. Qh2 Bf8 23. c4 Re7 24. Bd2 Bxc4 25. Bb4 Rd7 26. f4 Bb5 27. hxg6 fxg6 28. f5 Rg7 29. f6 Rf7 30. Qd2 Qd7 31. Qd5 Be2 32. Rc1 Rxc1+ 33. Rxc1 h5 34. Nc4 Bxc4 35. Rxc4 h4 36. Rc2 h3 37. Ka2 Kh8 38. Rd2 Rh7 39. Bxd6 Qxd6 40. Qxd6 Bxd6 41. Rxd6 Kg8 42. Rd8+ Kf7 43. Rd7+ Kg8 44. Rd8+ Kf7 45. Rd7+ Kg8 46. Rd8+ ½-½

1.e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 (SF 14 @depth 53 and Komodo 13.02 @depth 45 plays the game move, but SF 050821 @depth 58 would play the move GM Ben Finegold says one should never play, 6 f3!) 6…e5 (SF 13 @depth 59 would play the move played in the game, but SF 050821 @depth 51 prefers 6…Ng4. Komodo 13.02 @depth 44 shows 6…e6. The CBDB shows white scoring 54% against each move, so flip a coin…err, roll ‘dem bones…) 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3 (Komodo 13.02 @depth 44 plays the game move, as does SF 050821 @depth 46; Komodo 14 @depth 46 would play 8 Be2, which has only scored 50% in 296 games. 8 f3 has scored 53% in 6013 games) 8….Be7 (SF 13 @depth 45 plays the game move, as does SF 050821 @depth 51; but SF 14 @depth 49 shows 8…h5, the move that has scored the best, holding white to only 47% in 1251 games. In 4002 games against 8…Be7 white has scored 54%) 9. Qd2 O-O (By far the most often played move (3272), but is it the best? but SF 14 @depth 55 plays the second most often played move of 9…Nbd7, but SF 060421 @depth 71 plays 9…h5, the move that in 521 games has scored the best for the Najdorf, holding white to even, Steven) 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12. g5 Nh5 13. Kb1 Nb6 14. Na5 Rc8 (SF 14 @depth 49 plays the game move, as does SF 050821 @depth 51, but here’s the deal…the CBDB shows the same program at the same depth also playing 14…Qc7. I don’t know about you but as for me I’m sticking with Stockfish!) 15. a3 (The most often played move in 26 games has been 15 Rg1, but it has scored an abysmal 38%. The move played in the game has scored 50% in only 7 games. The move that three different Stockfish programs rates best, 15 Nd5, has scored an outstanding 63%, albeit in only 4 games. I don’t know about you but the next time I arrive at this position that steed is leaping to d5!) 15…g6 16. h4 (SF 12 @depth 41 plays this move, but SF 050821 @depth 39 and SF 251220 @depth 67 plays 16 Rg1, which has been played in 7 games) 16…Ng3 (SF 310720 @depth 51 plays 16…Qc7)

(GM) Leinier Dominguez Perez (USA)

Ajedrecista cubano Leinier Domínguez se cuela en puesto 14 ...

vs (GM) Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)

Grand Chess Tour Sinquefield Cup 2021 round 04

  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3 Be7 9. Qd2 O-O 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12. g5 Nh5 13. Kb1 Nb6 14. Na5 Rc8 15. Nd5 Nxd5 16. exd5 Bxd5 17. Qxd5 Qxa5 18. c4 Nf4 19. Bxf4 exf4 20. h4 Qa4 21. Bd3 bxc4 22. Qe4 g6 23. Bc2 Qd7 24. h5 Qe6 25. hxg6 hxg6 26. Qxf4 Qe5 27. Qh4 Qg7 28. Rd2 Rc5 29. f4 f6 30. Rdh2 fxg5 31. Qe1 Bf6 32. Rh6 Qb7 33. Qe6+ 1-0

Levon Aronian (2772)

Levon Aronian switches to the USA |

vs Magnus Carlsen (2870)

Magnus Carlsen Net Worth - Biography, Life, Career and ...

Event: Tata Steel India Rapid
Site: Kolkata IND Date: 11/22/2019
Round: 3.3
ECO: B90 Sicilian, Najdorf
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Be3 Nbd7 9.g4 Be7 10.Qd2 O-O 11.O-O-O b5 12.g5 Nh5 13.Kb1 Nb6 14.Na5 Rc8 15.a3 g6 16.h4 Ng3 17.Rg1 Nxf1 18.Rgxf1 Na4 19.Nxa4 bxa4 20.h5 Qd7 21.Rh1 Rfe8 22.Qh2 Bf8 23.Bd2 Rc7 24.Bb4 Rb8 25.Rd3 Qb5 26.Rc3 Rbc8 27.Rxc7 Rxc7 28.Rd1 Rd7 29.Rd3 Be7 30.hxg6 fxg6 31.Qd2 Qb6 32.Qc1 Bd8 33.c4 Qf2 34.Nc6 Bxg5 35.Qxg5 Qf1+ 36.Kc2 Bxc4 37.Qe3 Bxd3+ 38.Qxd3 Qxd3+ 39.Kxd3 h5 40.Ke3 Kf7 41.Bc3 Ke6 42.Nb4 g5 43.Kf2 Rf7 44.Kg2 g4 45.fxg4 Rg7 46.Nd5 Rxg4+ 47.Kf3 Rg1 48.Kf2 Rg7 49.Kf3 h4 50.Be1 h3 51.Bg3 Rb7 52.Nb4 a5 53.Nd3 Rb3 54.Ke2 Kf6 55.Bh2 Kg5 56.Bg3 Kg4 57.Bh2 Rxd3 58.Kxd3 Kf3 59.Kd2 Kxe4 60.Ke2 d5 61.Bg3 d4 62.Bh2 Kd5 63.Kd2 e4 64.Ke2 Kc4 65.Be5 Kb3 66.Kd2 d3 67.Kd1 e3 68.Kc1 Kc4 0-1

The Ironman Gambit

The many regular readers from all over the world will know this is a continuation of my previous post. Newcomers may want to read it before reading this…
The Legendary Georgia Ironman finally made it to the board for the fourth round of the Atlanta Chess Championship. He amazed by winning the game versus the ‘Rock Star’ William Remick, who is a drummer in a heavy metal band. The amazing thing about the ‘Rock Star’ is that the arm he used was mangled in a wreck and he had to learn to use the other arm. The man with high energy has had some good results recently, but this was not one of them. Fortunately for the Ironman the game was short. Such was not the case for his last round game against one of the up and coming juniors, Shanmuka Meruga. The game lasted late into the night. By the time the Ironman returned I was two plus hours into the movie, “Django Unchained.” I ignored his knock upon my door. Sometime later he knocked again and I had to say, “I’m into something. Go away!” I could have stopped the movie, but did not because by that time there was absolutely no way I could stop watching and go back to it. As David Spinks would say, I HAD to watch it until the end, MAN! I was riveted for all three hours. It deserves all four stars. What can I say, it blew me away. I have now seen two movies staring Jamie Foxx, with “Colleratal” being the other, and both were fantastic. The latter ranks up there with Robert De Niro’s “Taxi Driver” as far as movies about cab drivers. Besides, from the way Tim looked, I figured he must have lost and it would be extremely difficult to go from what I had been watching for two plus hours to having to commiserate with Tim. Imagine my surprise to learn the man of iron had won the game, and with it $200! This after coming to play only the last day. What can I say, Tim continues to add to the Ironman legend.
I must admit, though, that the Ironman was showing some rust when I visited with him Sunday night, before he “fell-out.” He crashed out hard and looked like warmed over death Monday morning as we drove to the chess camp. Pragmatically speaking, the Ironman should have stayed home and rested Sunday, but that is no way to add to a legend.
I give the games for posterity:
[Event “2014 Atlanta Championship”]
[Date “2014.06.01”]
[Round 4]
[White “Remick, William”]
[Black “Brookshear, Tim”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “D00”]
[WhiteElo “1953”]
[BlackElo “2038”]

1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. Bf4 e6 4. Nc3 c5 5. dxc5 Bxc5 6.e3 a6 7. Bd3 Nc6 8. a3 O-O 9. g4 Re8 10. Ne5 d4 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Ne4 Nxe4 13. Bxe4 Bb7 14. Qf3 e5 15. Qh3 exf4 16. Qxh7+ Kf8 17. Qh8+ Ke7 18. Qxg7 Qd6 19. Qg5+ Kf8 20. Bh7 fxe3 21. O-O-O Re5 22. Bf5 e2 23. Rde1 d3 24. cxd3 Bxf2 25. Qh5 c5 26. Rxe2 Rxe2 27. Rd1 Be3+ 28. Kb1 Qd4 0-1
[Event “2014 Atlanta Championship”]
[Date “2014.06.01”]
[Round 5]
[White “Brookshear, Tim”]
[Black “Meruga, S.”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “D35”]
[WhiteElo “2038”]
[BlackElo “1902”]

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 c6 4. Nc3 e6 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bh4 Be7 8. e3 Bf5 9. Bd3 Ne4 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. O-O Nd7 12. Qc2 O-O 13. Nd2 Ndf6 14. Rae1 Rae8 15. f3 Nxd2 16. Qxd2 Bxd3 17. Qxd3 Qb4 18. Re2 Re719. a3 Qb6 20. b4 Rfe8 21. Rfe1 a6 22. Na4 Qc7 23. Nc5 Nd7 24. Nxd7 Qxd7 25. a4 g6 26. Kf2 f5 27. b5 cxb5 28. axb5 Qxb5 29. Qxb5 axb5 30. f4 g5 31. g3 gxf4 32. gxf4 Rc8 33. Rb1 Rg7 34. Rxb5 Rd7 35. Reb2 Rcc7 36. Kf3 Kg7 37. Rb6 Re7 38. Rg2+ Kh7 39. Rgg6 Rc3 40. Rxh6+ Kg7 41. Rhe6 Rxe6 42. Rxe6 b5 43. Rb6 Rb3 44. Rd6 b4 45. Rxd5 Kg6 46. h4 Rb1 47. h5+ Kf6 48. h6 b3 49. Rd6+ Kf7 50. h7 Kg7 51. Rd7+ Kh8 52. Rb7 b2 53. Kg2 Re1 54. Rxb2 Rxe3 55. Rd2 Re6 56. d5 Rd6 57. Kf3 Kxh7 58. Ke3 Kg7 59. Kd4 Kf6 60. Kc5 Ke7 61. Rh2 Rf6 62. Rh7+ Kd8 63. Kd4 Ra6 64. Ke5 Ra5 65. Ke6 Kc8 66. Rh8+ Kc7 67. d6+ 1-0
I would like to give more details about the ACC, but the tournament has yet to be rated. By way of explanation I can only tell you the tournament was a Thad Rogers production. I would have covered it, but decided against it after hearing the message left by Mr. Rogers on the Ironman’s cellphone in which he threatened to “Punch Mike in the face!” It seems Thad was none too pleased with the post I wrote about the new Atlanta Kings ( After giving me permission to print it he now claims that parts (Parts? What parts!) were “off the record.” Unfortunately I did not tape our conversation, but others did hear Thad give me permission to print. How was I too know under the table payments were being made in the USCL? From what Thad told me I understood it to be common knowledge the players were being paid by the poker money people. I will admit I have little knowledge of the league, and those who read this blog, and have read the BaconLOG, know why I have little interest in the USCL. There is, though, a recording of the threat made by Thad. I can only hope that in this case the threat is stronger than it’s execution!

Georgia Chess News

The big news with chess in the Great State of Georgia (do not think for a moment this means Georgia is perfect; how can it be with a Governor named “Nathan” but called “Raw” Deal by We The People?! The few times I have thought of the man has brought memories of The ambassadors of Western Swing, Asleep at the Wheel ) has been the unveiling of the new website, “Georgia Chess News” ( It is to replace the “award winning” Georgia Chess magazine, formerly a print magazine, if one can call a pamphlet, as were the last few issues according to several sources who scorned the thing. I missed the issues circling the drain, fortunately. “You have not missed a thing,” I heard from some who perused them. It has just appeared and new articles have been slow in coming , as acknowledged by one of the GCA board members, Frank Johnson. Frank said he is hopeful more content will be forthcoming, and in a more timely fashion. Good luck with that! The State Championship was held three weeks ago and I was recently asked about when the wrap-up may appear, though I know not why I would be asked such a question.
There was an election during the business meeting at the recent State Championship, held in a tent type structure at a hotel. Long time board member Steve Schneider, on and off the board for decades, did not even make an appearance and was defeated by the lovely chess mom, Laura Doman. Both her son, Josh, and daughter, Rachel play tournament chess. A picture of Rachel graces the home page of the Georgia Chess Association ( Laura is the 1st Member-at-large and the third woman now on the board of the GCA, none of whom are shown rated on the USCF website. In addition, Tricia Hill is shown on the website as the Online Editor. Georgia chess has never looked so good! If you wish to condemn me for being sexist, go ahead and do so because I stand guilty as charged! For years I have written about the changes taking place in chess. Chess is not changing; it has changed. After dealing with an all male board, none of whom could have been mistaken for Robert Redford, or any other “hunk” you can name, even the most die-hard cynic would have to agree the board is looking better. For an example of what I mean, click on this link and take a look at a picture I call, “Beauties and the Beast” ( The beauties are obvious. The beast is the Vice President of the GCA, Ben Johnson, who was unopposed in the election. I hung the moniker “beast” on him when his rating reached “666.” Unfortunately, his chess strength has yet to match his rating. The first time I met the man, at a chess gathering at a Barnes & Noble in Smyrna some years back, he, not knowing me from Adam, tried to argue over what constituted stalemate. How ironic this man is now pictured in an article entitled, “Tournament Director Training Sessions.” Ben also told me that evening, “I am in chess only for the money.”
These are some of the things that have so changed chess. When I first began playing rated chess back in 1970 there were few, if any, women involved with the game. Scholastic chess has changed that fact in a dramatic way. As for the men, it would have been unheard of for any man with a triple digit rating to even consider running for an elective chess office. Back then, as now among we grizzled veterans, a triple digit player had absolutely no credibility whatsoever. The men who administered chess were wily ol’ veterans who had been involved with the game of chess most, if not all, of their lives. Now members with a lowly triple-digit rating sit on the USCF board.
Most of the people involved with chess know little, if anything, about Twentieth-century chess. It is the job of we 20th century people to remind those coming behind us of those daze. After all, we “boomers” were going to change the world, or so sang Alvin Lee and Ten Years After ( Then old snuck up on us and we came to the realization that The Who had it right when they sang, “Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss,” in the song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (
My first road trip was with the strong Master Branko Vujakovic, an exchange student from Yugoslavia. We traveled to some city in eastern Georgia (memory fails) directed by an old codger named Robert Brand. In the first round he paired the highest rated player, Branko, with the second highest rated; number three with number four, etc. When some of the players objected, Mr. Brand said, “This is MY TOURNAMENT and I will pair it the way I want!” That was the end of the discussion and everyone took their seat. With that kind of memory, it is difficult for me to criticize the “next generation” too harshly. Maybe things were not better “back in the day.” It is possible that, like Carly Simon sang in her song, “Anticipation,” these are the good old days (
Gotta take a nap to get ready for the Thursday Night Throwdown at the North Dekalb Mall. The Legendary Georgia Ironman just came in informing me the room is cool with white paint on the walls, which bodes well for not only the TNT, but for the Atlanta Chess Championship starting tomorrow, Friday, night in the same room! Has it really been 38 years since I won the ACC? It seems like yesterday…
Here is a game played by Branko prior to coming to America. This is the last game of the four played and, granted, Karpov had won the first three. Still, how many players can say they drew with a future World Champion? Another thing to note about this game is that neither of the two countries who face off in this match now exist.
Branko Vujakovic v Anotoly Karpov
USSR v Yugoslavia Match 1968 game 4
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.0–0 Be7 7.e5 Ne4 8.Nxd4 0–0 9.Nf5 d5 10.Bxc6 bxc6 11.Nxe7+ Qxe7 12.Re1 Bf5 13.f3 Nc5 14.b3 Ne6 15.Ba3 c5 16.Nc3 c6 17.Qd2 Rfd8 18.Na4 Qa7 19.Qf2 c4 20.Nc5 Bxc2 21.Rac1 cxb3 22.axb3 Bg6 23.h3 Rab8 24.Rc3 1/2-1/2