Double attack on the Taimanov Variation

by ChessBase
3/3/2022 – In the current ChessBase Magazine the Sicilian Taimanov Variation (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 a6) is taken to task from two sides at once. The super-modern 7.g4 came onto the board at the Tata Steel 2022 in the game Grandelius-Carlsen, we have already presented the Swede's analysis to you recently. There is also a complete opening article by IM Christian Braun on precisely this variation in CBM #206. A "dangerous weapon for White", because Black has development problems, whereas White can quickly castle long... The concept, which Jan Werle looks at in his opening video on the basis of a game by Alireza Firouzja, is completely different: after 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.Qd3 Nf6 9.Qg3 Qxg3 10.hxg3 White achieves a small but lasting positional advantage, which can be played comfortably. Take a look!

ChessBase Magazine 206 ChessBase Magazine 206

Tata Steel 2022: Duda, Giri, Erigaisi, Grandelius, Mamedyarov, Nielsen, Pragg and Shankland comment + videos by Rogozenco. "Special" on Levon Aronian. Opening videos by Werle, King and Marin. Plus 11 opening articles with new ideas for your repertoire!


Jan Werle: Taimanov Variation with 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.Qd3

Video excerpt from ChessBase Magazine #206

Total playing time in CBM #206: 25:26 minutes 

Sicilian Taimanov Variation with 7.g4!?

Christian Braun checks out a super-modern conept

In my article I would like to present a super modern line in the Sicilian Taimanov Variation. It is still unknown territory, with only few games having been yet played. The starting position arises after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 a6 7.g4!?.

This advance against Black's usual Taimanov move order is quite revolutionary. In 2021, some top grandmasters started employing it with success, currently it's total score is 61% (!) for White! The idea is to restrict Black's pieces on the kingside, and to launch a fast attack against the king. The further advance g4-g5 is on the agenda, especially after Black's ...Nf6 to support the freeing d7-d5. But often - when Black is able to get in d7-d5 - White goes e4-e5, transposing to a kind of French structure.

From the diagram, I will discuss the following continuations: A) 7...Nxd4, B) 7...h6, C) 7...Nge7, D) 7...Ne5, E) 7...Bb4, F) 7...d6 and G) 7...b5. I will show you how White should react in each case to take control over the position.

A) 7...Nxd4

This is not the best, because 8.Qxd4 allows White to centralise the queen, giving them the opportunity to quickly castle queenside. After 8...b5 9.0-0-0 Bb7

White follows up with a quick g4-g5, impeding Black's development on the kingside, while speeding up the attack against an eventual ...0-0 (like in Anand-Van Foreest, Zagreb 2021). In the top level encounter Nepomniachtchi,I - Caruana,F ½-½ the position became sharp very quickly. White got a slight edge, but the game ended in a draw.

B) 7...h6

Black tries to slow down g4-g5. In the game Giri,A - Nepomniachtchi,I 1-0, after 8.h4 Nf6 9.Nxc6 bxc6 Giri played the multifunctional move 10.Qf3, preparing 0-0-0 and covering White's Rh1 (thereby renewing the threat g5 hxg5/hxg5). After 10...d5 11.g5!

Black's centre became under pressure. White went on to castle long and simply had the safer king! A little throwback in history - this line is very similar to the 14th game of the world championship match 1985 in Moscow between Karpov and Kasparov!

C) 7...Nge7

Black plans to take on d4 and then bring the knight on e7 to c6, however, this costs him some time. After most continuations White can get control over the dark squares. In Bernadskiy,V - Martin Duque,J 1-0 he invaded with his queen on b6

blocking the mobilization of Black's queenside, above all the Bishop on c8. Some lines also see White starting a pawn storm on the kingside. Black has big problems developing his minor pieces.

D) 7...Ne5

Here Black's idea is to bring the knight to c4, but this helps White advance their pawns on the kingside - starting with 8.f4! In the game Mekhitarian,K - Vibbert,S 1-0 White managed to build up a strong attack against Black's king, which remained stuck in the centre. My suggested novelty here is 12.Kb1/15.g5!!,

sacrificing a piece for a very powerful attack along the e- and d-file.

E) 7...Bb4

Following 8.Nxc6 Black must trade their bishop with 8...Bxc3+ (after 8...bxc6, 8...dxc6 or 8...Qxc6 White has 9.Qd4! with a double attack against Bb4 and g7!), giving White good control over the dark squares. In Lorenzo de la Riva,L - Ayats Llobera,G 1-0 he even managed to plant his dark-squared bishop on d6

paralysing Black's development. Having full control over the d-file, White was much better.

F) 7...d6

This is the second most played move here. Developing the Bishop on c8 to d7 looks quite natural, but it is just too slow for Black! A big problem is the bad development on the kingside. White simply throws forward their pawns, threatening to open the position.

In the game Bjerre,J - Begnis,N 1-0 Black was forced to stay with his king in the middle. White made use of the open d-file and harmonious piece play, and Black ended up losing material.

G) 7...b5

Finally there is 7...b5, when after 8.Nxc6 Black has two recaptures.

G1) 8...dxc6

This just leaves White with much better development. After 9.Qf3! e5 10.h4 h6 the game Henriquez Villagra,C - Korobov,A 0-1 saw the very interesting 11.a4! (with the king still in the middle!)

to open the a-file for the rooks. In some lines White also gets control over the dark squares, enabling them to block Black's structure on the queenside.

G2) 8...Qxc6

This usually gives rise to two different types of position:

a) Black wins the e4 pawn, while White tries to make use of their advantage in development and the half-open files, or

b) Black at some point plays d7-d5, then White closes the centre with e4-e5 leading to a typical French Steinitz structure.

Both scenarios are scrutinized in detail in my annotations on the top game Motylev,A - Alekseenko,K ½-½.

Conclusion: 7.g4!? against the Sicilian Taimanov is a really dangerous weapon for White. The positions arising are difficult to handle for Black. The push g4-g5 (kicking away a Nf6, or stopping this development of the knight g8 altogether) is in the air. Black has problems to develop. His standard moves d7-d6 or d7-d5 can usually be met by either e4-e5 or g4-g5 respectively. What I also like about this setup is that White can castle queenside quite quickly and build harmonious play with their pieces.

I think the most challenging variation is G2) 7...b5 8.Nxc6 Qxc6 where Black wins the e4-pawn. In my opinion White has the easier play, and of course Black's king, standing in the middle of the board, is always in potential danger. I also like the French structures for White which can arise in this line after d7-d5/e4-e5.

All in all, we can say that this line is still unknown territory. This is certainly in White's favour because for them, finding moves is easier, something which can also be inferred from practical results. Let's play through the games, study the different type of positions and go for the attack against Black's Sicilian Taimanov - I wish you good luck and much success!

You can find the complete article with all games and analyses in the new ChessBase Magazine #206!

All opening articles in ChessBase Magazine #206

Hera: Reti Opening 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 d4 3.b4 g5
Schandorff: Caro-Kann Advance Variation 3.e5 Bf5 4.h4 h5 5.Bd3 Bxd3 6.Qxd3. Qa5+ 7.b4!?
Szabo: Sicilian Nimzowitsch Var. 3.e5 Nd5 (Part II)
Braun: Sicilian Taimanov Variation 7.g4!?
Kapnisis: Petroff 3.d4 Nxe4 4.Bd3 d5 5.Nxe5/6.Nc3
Ris: Ruy Lopez with 3...Bc5 (Part I) 4.0-0 Nd4
Lorenzini: Ruy Lopez Delayed Exchange 6.Bxc6
Postny: London System 5.Nbd2 Qb6 6.dxc5 Qxb2
Grigoriants: Slav 3.Nf3 dxc4 4.e3 Be6 5.Nbd2
Vogel: Gruenfeld 5.Bd2 c5!?
Zelbel: King's Indian recipes against 6.Be2 (Part II) 

ChessBase Magazine #206


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