Teimour Radjabov and the return of 10.e5

11/6/2006 – Once upon a time, when the world was young, the foes of the Najdorf Sicilian would play 6.Bg5, and when their opponents had the audacity to reply with the Poisoned Pawn, would go for the jugular with 10.e5. But over the years Black figured it all out and the line fell into desuetude. Now it is celebrating a comeback, as our Playchess lecturer Dennis Monokroussos shows. Don't miss it!

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

Once upon a time, when the world was young, the foes of the Najdorf Sicilian would play 6.Bg5, and when their opponents had the audacity to reply with the Poisoned Pawn, the intrepid White players would go for the jugular with 10.e5.

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

White enjoyed some dazzling successes, as in the tremendous game Tal-Tolush, USSR Ch. 1956. But as the years went on, Black figured it all out and the line fell into desuetude*. 10.e5 had its day, but by the mid to late 60s had been completely replaced by 10.f5 (and later by other approaches as well, especially 10.Be2, 10.Bxf6, 9.Nb3 and 8.Nb3).

Enter Teimour Radjabov. This young star from Azerbaijan has essayed the move twice this year, and not against just anyone, but first against Viswanathan Anand and then against Sergey Karjakin. In the first game, Anand committed a pair of natural-looking errors and resigned on move 16 (!), just two moves before mate (!!). It’s possible to chalk up such a failure to the line’s rarity and the fact that it was a blitz game, but that explanation won’t work for the Karjakin game, played several days ago in the final of the Cap d’Agde rapid tournament. With more time to prepare and to work things out over the board, Karjakin put up a much better fight. But Radjabov, who himself seemed to be improvising sooner than even the grandmaster kibitzers expected, manufactured an outstanding attack to win the game, the match and the tournament.

Lots to keep us learning and entertained on a Monday night – hope to see you then!

* desuetude, noun (pron. dis-wi-tood, di-syoo-i-tyood): a state of inactivity or disuse.

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Mondays at 9 p.m. EDT, which translates to 02:00h GMT, 03:00 Paris/Berlin, 13:00h Sydney (on Tuesday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.

You can find the exact times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. And you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos offline in the Chess Media System room of Playchess:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).


Dennis Monokroussos is 40, lives in South Bend, IN, and is an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.

He is fairly inactive as a player right now, spending most of his non-philosophy time being a husband and teaching chess. At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S., but quit for about eight years starting in his early 20s. His highest rating was 2434 USCF, but he has now fallen to the low-mid 2300s – "too much blitz, too little tournament chess", he says.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for seven years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.



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