Robert Ris' Fast and Furious: The Gothenburg Variation

by Robert Ris
12/31/2020 – In this week's show, well-known Dutch trainer Robert Ris takes a look at the Gothenburg Variation, which derives its name from the fact that three Soviet players (Keres, Spassky and Geller) played against three Argentinian players (Najdorf, Pilnik and Panno) and reached exactly the same variation of the Sicilian Najdorf at the Sweden city! | "Fast and Furious" is available on-demand with a ChessBase Premium Account. You can register a Premium account here.

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The Gothenburg Variation in the Najdorf

The 6th of September 1955 in Gothenburg will be remembered in chess history as the day when three Soviet players (Keres, Spassky and Geller) played against three Argentinian players (Najdorf, Pilnik and Panno) and reached exactly the same variation of the Sicilian Najdorf with 6.Bg5

After the moves 6...e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 h6 9.Bh4 g5 10.fxg5 Nfd7, Black didn't get the chance to gain a positional grip on the dark squares as in all three games White went for the spectacular double piece sacrifice 11.Nxe6 fxe6 12.Qh5 Kf8 13.Bb5!?. The Soviet players won their mini-match convincingly by a 3-0 score, but three years later Bobby Fischer improved Black's play with 13...Rh7! We will investigate the current state of this variation and show you some fascinating new ideas for both sides which have been discovered ever since!

Warming up exercise: This position was reached simultaneously in Spassky-Pilnik & Keres-Najdorf, Gothenburg 1955. How should White continue his attack?


You can move the pieces on the live diagram!

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Solution of the exercise


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Robert is an International Master who mostly spends his time training and coaching talented youngsters. On the PlayChess server The Fast and the Furious is a popular show where he explains sharp opening lines for a wider audience. He is also a well-known ChessBase author who produced numerous DVDs and regularly contributes to ChessBase Magazine as well. Since 2015 he is the organizer of the Dutch Rapid Championships in his home town Amstelveen.


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Nordlandia Nordlandia 1/2/2021 12:56
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Be7 8. Qf3
h6 9. Bh4 g5 10. fxg5 Nfd7 11. Nxe6 fxe6 12. Qh5+ Kf8 13. Bb5 Rh7 14. e5 is the latest novelty in the old main line.

After 14... Nxe5 15. O-O+ Kg8 16. g6 Bxh4 17. gxh7+ Kxh7 18. Bd3+ Kg7 19. Ne4 Nbc6
20. Nxd6 Qxd6 21. Qxh4 Qd4+ 22. Qxd4 Nxd4 *

The position is slightly more pleasant for white but holdable for black.