Inspiring: ChessBase Magazine #176

by Johannes Fischer
3/16/2017 – How to find new ideas in the opening - to refresh your repertoire or to surprise your opponents? Browsing through the ChessBase Magazine might help. The tournament reports in which top grandmasters analyze their recent games or the regular columns about the middlegame, classical games, the endgame or tactics offer a wealth of training material but the opening surveys inspire to try new lines.

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For instance, the Janowski Variation in the Queen's Gambit Declined (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 a6!?), which poses White unexpected problems, 4.Qd3 as surprise weapon against French Winawer (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qd3!?) or Najdorf with 6.Nb3 (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Nb3!?). This move shows that even in an opening that has been as heavily analyzed as the Najdorf it is possible to find new ideas at an early stage of the game. But with 6.Nb3 White wants more than being original. The ChessBase Magazine booklet explains the tricky ideas behind the seemingly harmless knight retreat:

„6.Nb3 is actually a waiting move. White is hoping above all that Black will close the c8-h3 diagonal and in doing so allow a rapid g2-g4. The most often played move 6...e6 is thus met with 7.g4. It is a Keres Attack in which White has moved his knight away from d4. That is certainly not optimal but nevertheless Black has to fight for equality too.“

The booklet also deals with other moves Black might play, explaining in each case which strategy White will follow then. Finally, the booklet concludes: "On the one hand Black has several good replies after 6.Nb3, on the other hand he still cannot yet be certain of equality and really has to know what he is doing."

This one-page introduction to the line explains White's ideas briefly and to the point. And if you also take a look at the survey on the DVD you do have a weapon against the Najdorf which might surprise players who do not follow the latest theoretical trends regularly.

One of the first players who realized the potential of 6.Nb3 was Polish Grandmaster Mateusz Bartel, who used this move to beat strong players such as Markus Ragger, Vladislav Artemiev and Radoslaw Wojtaszek. Other grandmasters quickly followed suit. One of them was Sicilian expert Wei Yi who tried the line against Gao Rui in the Chinese League and won a fine and energetic game.


Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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