Anand’s difficult struggle

4/15/2009 – It is no simple business for World Champion Anand whenever he has to appear on first board in the Bundesliga against a player who has 180 Elo points less, and when he, Anand, has Black. The pressure on him to win the game is naturally even greater. In his game against Solingen’s Daniel Stellwagen, he accomplished his task with a flourish. The variation which was up for discussion had already been treated by our authors Evgeny Postny and Igor Stohl in their articles in CBM 117. The move chosen by the young Dutch player, 13.Bb5, is called picturesque by one of them and spectacular by the other, but both of them had pointed out the forced draw after 13…hxg5. More ...

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But of course Anand chose the “the fighting alternative 13…axb5” (Stohl) and although he had been surprised by the variation, he soon had an advantage. However, the young Dutchman put up a stiff defence and in time trouble might even have achieved a winning position. Seen from that point of view, his choice of variation was perhaps not such a bad one. Postny and Stohl, however, considered above all in their articles the more ambitious 13.Bh4.

Game: Stellwagen,D - Anand,V 0-1

Further links:

Kasparov: How to play the Najdorf Vol. 1
King: Power Play 9 - major pieces vs. minor pieces
Anand: My career 1 und My career 2
CBM 117

A short description of the articles in the CBM 117 booklet:
contribution Stohl
contribution Postny

And here are the passages by Stohl and Postny dealing with the introduction and 13.Bb5:

by Igor Stohl

Recently there have been some interesting new games, which have ruffled the seemingly calm theoretical waters of the notorious Poisoned Pawn line of the Najdorf. However, to understand these developments in their proper context, a historical explanation of some length is required. This is because in this very concrete line even older games are relevant and necessary to grasp its underlying tactical content.

The queen sortie 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6!? began to appear in international practice more than 50 years ago. White's main initial reaction was the principled pawn sacrifice 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3, followed by the central break 10.e5!?. The idea is very natural, White tries to blast open the position to utilize his lead in development.

One of the first to take up Black's side was Alexander Tolush, former trainer of the future World Champion Boris Spassky and a grandmaster with a keen eye for tactical complications. He realized that in order to keep the position more closed, Black should at least partially open it with 10...dxe5 11.fxe5 Nfd7. In Tal,M - Tolush,A 1-0 another future legend reacted with 12.Ne4. This move and the whole brilliant attacking game are a good illustration of young Tal's style, once jokingly described as "he centralizes his pieces and then sacrifices them". Tal's idea, enriched with new content, will be the main topic of this survey.

Two years after his game with Tal, Tolush came to the rescue of his line with 12...h6!.

Although 12.Ne4 faded from the limelight, there has been some excitement in this line as well, when White after 12...h6 came up with the surprising and picturesque 13.Bb5!?.

However, Black came to terms even with this sortie. First of all, he can practically force a draw with 13...hxg5 14.Rb3 Qxa2 (here 14...axb5 15.Rxa3 Bxa3 16.Qxg5 is rather risky, see Quinteros,M - Browne,W ½-½ 15.Qc3 axb5 (maybe even 15...Nc6 16.Bxc6 bxc6 17.0-0 and now not 17...c5? from Sieiro Gonzalez,L - Vera,R 0-1, but 17...Nxe5!? as in Quinteros,M - Sunye Neto,J 1-0 deserves a closer look.) 16.Qxc8+ Ke7 17.0-0 Qa7 18.Rd3! Nxe5! and White should play 19.Nc5 (19.Rxf7+?! from Papp,G - Womacka,M ½-½ is insufficient) with a perpetual as in Shabalov,A - Areshchenko,A ½-½.

Apart from this, even the fighting alternative 13...axb5!? 14.Nxb5 hxg5 15.Nxa3 deserves attention, when both captures on a3 are playable and unclear. The relevant examples are Garbarino,R - Saldano Dayer,H ½-½, Platonov,I - Minic,D ½-½ and Vogelmann,P - Loeffler,W 0-1, and the latter game shows that Black can even strive for more than just equality.

by Evgeny Postny

The topic of the current article is the following variation: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.e5

The history of the Najdorf variation goes back to the middle of 20th century. The line with 6.Bg5 followed by the pawn sacrifice 8.Qd2 was the real test for black players. The most aggressive line 10.e5 enjoyed great popularity in the 50's-60's. However, Black managed to defend successfully mainly thanks to Bobby Fischer who dared to accept the challenge almost every time he faced the 6.Bg5 variation. He won several convincing games in the 60's. After that, the pawn sacrifice gradually lost its appeal and became a rather rare guest in top tournaments. It is easy to notice that during the last few decades the line 6.Bg5 was moved to the theoretical byways and was replaced by the English attack 6.Be3 and 7.f3.

However, just a few months ago, the interest in the Poisoned Pawn Variation was reawakened after two crushing wins by Teimour Radjabov, currently one of the world's top players. I was especially impressed by his win over Sergey Karjakin, who is well-known for his excellent opening preparation.

The move 10.e5 is a very logical decision, kicking away the defensive knight. White is trying to use his advantage in development to immediately blast open the position and attack the exposed black monarch. Concretely, this move opens the d-file and exposes the square d8 to potential mating threats. Also, after the black knight's retreat, the important e4 square is freed for the white knight to join the attack.

One has to note that the move 10.e5 is a committal one. If Black manages to complete his development in peace, he might just remain with extra material. That's why White's play has to be extremely precise and concrete.

10...dxe5 11.fxe5 Nfd7


This is the move that has become the matter of dispute nowadays. The main reply is 12...h6 (12...Qxa2 13.Rb3 - see Tal,M - Tolush,A 1-0, while 13.Rd1 h6 14.Bh4 can lead to the main line examined below).


A spectacular move. I can feel pity for the white players that this move leads to ... only a perpetual check, nearly by force. An examplary game is Shabalov,A - Areshchenko,A ½-½. Both White's or Black's attempts to avoid the perpetual check and play for a win do not work, as in the games Quinteros,M - Browne,W ½-½ and Papp,G - Womacka,M ½-½.

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