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Hot Topic (More than 10 Replies) Najdorf: best winning try. Agree or disagree? (Read 1455 times)
GabrielGale
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Re: Najdorf: best winning try. Agree or disagree?
Reply #14 - 12/02/17 at 05:32:34
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@IsaVulpes, looks like you are correct and your memory is better than mine Smiley Smiley Sad
perhaps, objectively better would be to actually analyse the game stats ......
  

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IsaVulpes
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Re: Najdorf: best winning try. Agree or disagree?
Reply #13 - 12/02/17 at 03:03:07
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GabrielGale wrote on 12/02/17 at 02:57:37:
I have to also point out that Aronian has said something similar re a Black Defence to 1 e4, namely the Marshall Gambit in the Ruy Lopez, where I understand there are many drawing lines but Aronian plays it for a draw and a chance to win.

I remember his quote as something along the lines of "I play the Marshall if I am happy with a  draw, and the Berlin if I want to win"
Of course, what Aronian says and what Aronian actually thinks isn't necessarily the same thing Wink
  
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GabrielGale
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Re: Najdorf: best winning try. Agree or disagree?
Reply #12 - 12/02/17 at 02:57:37
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Speaking of the najdorf at the absolute top level, slightly surprised that no one has mentioned the current heir apparent to Fisher in the najdorf, namely MVL. He has played and willing to enter the labyrinth of the Najdorf at the absolute top level, and win. Of course, I do recognise that at the top level for most top players, having Black is draw in hand situation firstly. But MVL seems to think it is a draw and a chance for a win.
I have to also point out that Aronian has said something similar re a Black Defence to 1 e4, namely the Marshall Gambit in the Ruy Lopez, where I understand there are many drawing lines but Aronian plays it for a draw and a chance to win.
Perhaps that is a better approach than something like the Pirc or the Modern, where there is a chance to win but there is no draw in hand. Perhaps you disagree??
Lastly, I will say as already been pointed out zillions times, what is a draw and a win are vastly different affairs dependent on the level of play in the game. The above comments and observations are based on the very top play which is and are not the circumstances most of us find ourselves in.
I think Eric the Red's last sentence is very apposite. The current discernible trend dictated by the World Champion towards openings are more than equal, objectively speaking, is not for everyone. One's level of play in the three commonly accepted passes of play is very much a live issue: Winning in the opening but losing in the middle game manouevring and/or the technical proficiencies required in the endgame are also not desirable.
« Last Edit: 12/02/17 at 05:23:43 by GabrielGale »  

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ErictheRed
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Re: Najdorf: best winning try. Agree or disagree?
Reply #11 - 12/01/17 at 18:45:44
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It's counter-intuitive, but for many must-win situations you don't actually want incredibly sharp variations.  The problem with them is that there are many forcing lines, often leading to mass simplification.  Even if they don't lead to mass simplification or repetitions, if your opponent is booked up, you don't always have a lot of scope to outplay them.  If White reels off 20 moves of theory and Black is completely OK in the final position, well, that may be nice in theory, but not in a practical game.

Of course, a player's own strengths and weaknesses should be taken into account when choosing variations to play. 
« Last Edit: 12/02/17 at 14:49:25 by ErictheRed »  
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Re: Najdorf: best winning try. Agree or disagree?
Reply #10 - 12/01/17 at 13:55:20
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As I understand it, attempting a Najdorf in a 'must-win' is not always a good idea as it usually gets shut down by 3.Bb5+.

Caro Kann a decent must-win try. And how things have changed over the last 25 years to be able to say that...
  
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Re: Najdorf: best winning try. Agree or disagree?
Reply #9 - 11/30/17 at 18:29:40
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I believe the Najdorf's popularity is a lot because Fischer and Kasparov both played it.
Objectively, many defences can be chosen at the top to play for the win.
Korchnoi, Uhlmann played the French their whole career. Nakamura, Caruana, Short are not afraid to so from time to time.
Ding Liren plays 1...e5 with dynamic ideas. And Aronian used to be doing so.
  
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Re: Najdorf: best winning try. Agree or disagree?
Reply #8 - 11/30/17 at 03:03:40
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Thread reminds me of this game: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1848607
That "objectively best winning try" didn't really feel like it did him much good, did it Wink

First of all I think we need to determine whether this is about "Winning try against an opponent who tries for something", or "Winning try against an opponent who comes to the game only wanting a draw".
Those are very different scenarios - the former eg has no issue with stuff like forced perpetual variations, because White won't really go for those anyway.
Some black openings are *very solid*, but hard to create winning chances with, even if White is trying for a little bit - you get some kind of +== position where White wins one for every 9 draws, and Black never wins (5.Re1 Berlin?).
Those are obviously no good as a winning try, but the French? How often at the 'professional level' are you going to meet the Exchange (outside of "last round in a tournament" kind of scenarios)? 

Second, I'd think a decent way to look at the question would be to see what [the guy who wins the most games] likes to play.
There are some strong players who just try to kill off the game as Black for a safe draw, and get all their wins with the White pieces - but Magnus isn't one of them, and he still doesn't touch the Najdorf with a ten foot pole.
I don't feel like there are a lot of players in the world who can claim that Carlsen doesn't have "considerable winning chances" against them in a Breyer..
  
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Re: Najdorf: best winning try. Agree or disagree?
Reply #7 - 11/30/17 at 02:47:54
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ReneDescartes wrote on 11/30/17 at 02:03:14:
Stigma wrote on 11/29/17 at 22:07:02:
It could also be that even if it's the best winning try on average it's still not the best for Kramnik, if it's a poor fit for him stylistically.

I agree, but that further shows how empty in practice a claim is about very fine degrees of difference between the levels of objective quality (whatever that is) of major openings.

Indeed.

Concretely, the problem with playing the Najdorf in must-win games on top level is probably White going for some very safe and stable Anti-Sicilian like 3.Bb5+ or 5.f3 (as in the last rapid game of the Carlsen-Karjakin match). Or doing almost the opposite by preparing long lines in i.e. 6.Bg5 or the English Attack where Black must choose between being clearly worse and accepting forced draws or extremely drawish positions.

I'd still put the Najdorf on the top list of defences to 1.e4 that give winning chances, along with the Kan (though there 3.c3 is bugbear) and the Pirc/Modern. If White is interested in a real fight and playing for a win himself, they no doubt do. But strong White players who only need a draw will often find ways to "play for two results" no matter what Black tries.
  

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ReneDescartes
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Re: Najdorf: best winning try. Agree or disagree?
Reply #6 - 11/30/17 at 02:03:14
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Stigma wrote on 11/29/17 at 22:07:02:
ReneDescartes wrote on 11/29/17 at 21:31:48:
It can't possibly be true. Why did Kramnik not play it against Ivanchuk in a must-win deciding Candidates' game? So it's about preparation at that level. Then for what level is the claim true?

It could also be that even if it's the best winning try on average it's still not the best for Kramnik, if it's a poor fit for him stylistically.

I agree, but that further shows how empty in practice a claim is about very fine degrees of difference between the levels of objective quality (whatever that is) of major openings.
  
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Re: Najdorf: best winning try. Agree or disagree?
Reply #5 - 11/29/17 at 22:07:02
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ReneDescartes wrote on 11/29/17 at 21:31:48:
It can't possibly be true. Why did Kramnik not play it against Ivanchuk in a must-win deciding Candidates' game? So it's about preparation at that level. Then for what level is the claim true?

It could also be that even if it's the best winning try on average it's still not the best for Kramnik, if it's a poor fit for him stylistically.

He actually played sharp, counter-attacking defences like the Classical Sicilian and even the Leningrad Dutch in his youth. Not so much today. That Ivanchuk game was a Pirc where he got crushed if I recall correctly; I'm not sure how his results with the Pirc have been overall.
  

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Re: Najdorf: best winning try. Agree or disagree?
Reply #4 - 11/29/17 at 21:31:48
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It can't possibly be true. Why did Kramnik not play it against Ivanchuk in a must-win deciding Candidates' game? So it's about preparation at that level. Then for what level is the claim true?
  
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Re: Najdorf: best winning try. Agree or disagree?
Reply #3 - 11/29/17 at 17:40:01
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TN wrote on 11/29/17 at 15:24:56:
Imo 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 and 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5 Nd7 lead to pretty unbalanced positions, though I agree with you that 2.c3 Nf6 and 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5 Bd7 can become quite dry if White wants.


Well, in the first line White can aim for 6. Be2 e6 7. 0-0 Nc6 8. h3 Bh5 9. Be3 cd 10. Nxd4.
  
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Re: Najdorf: best winning try. Agree or disagree?
Reply #2 - 11/29/17 at 15:24:56
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bragesjo wrote on 11/29/17 at 13:57:52:
Well there are several very drawish anti sicilians one must be willing to face as well.
However the higher rating opponents have the higher is the chance to face open sicilians.
Najdorf has also tons of theory even on sidelines and d6 based sicilians also allows  both more and more dangerous anti sicilians than e6 based.


Imo 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 and 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5 Nd7 lead to pretty unbalanced positions, though I agree with you that 2.c3 Nf6 and 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5 Bd7 can become quite dry if White wants.
  

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Re: Najdorf: best winning try. Agree or disagree?
Reply #1 - 11/29/17 at 13:57:52
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Well there are several very drawish anti sicilians one must be willing to face as well.
However the higher rating opponents have the higher is the chance to face open sicilians.
Najdorf has also tons of theory even on sidelines and d6 based sicilians also allows  both more and more dangerous anti sicilians than e6 based.
  
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Najdorf: best winning try. Agree or disagree?
11/29/17 at 01:16:00
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Hello Everyone,

My apologies if this topic has already been discussed here.

While looking through a sample of the new Dismantling the Sicilian book, I noticed that the author boldly states that he considers the Najorf to be `the only repertoire foundation against 1.e4 that offers considerable winning chances at the professional level without accepting an objective disadvantage.`

This is not the first time I have seen this claim, and recall seeing it in various sources for Black as well -- which probably partially accounts for its popularity at all levels.

Thus, at top level, would you agree that it is the only real way to play for a win against 1.e4 without seriously compromising one`s position?

I will start the discussion by looking at other defences from my patzer point of view, while remembering that at my level, anything can be played for a win:

The other Sicilian which gives the best chances for equality, in my view, is the Sveshnikov, but unfortunately White has a lot of ways to try to play for a draw -- not necessarily a forced draw, but a lot of lines lead to massive exchanges and some heavy piece or opposite coloured bishops ending which can be hard for either side to win (and in my experience, where Black is usually the one who has to be a bit more careful, due to a worse pawn structure). Of the defences that I have played against 1.e4, the Sveshnikov seems to lead to the most drawish positions, even at my level, where opening theory is usually not followed so deeply.

As for the other sicilians, I cannot say so much as I have not really played/studied them from the Black side, and no longer play 1.e4. Though I guess we could look at it this way: the dragon involves a lot of risk taking and seems to get temporarily refuted every once in a while; the classical seems to be hard to equalize with against the Rauzer; the accelerated dragon runs into the bind, which can be hard to break down; against the Kan, White can also go for a Maroczy bind/hedgehog structure where if he does not over press, it can be hard for Black to get chances; and as for the Taimanov and Kalashnikov, I do not know what to say -- maybe they are good winning options...

The French would be a great choice, except that the exchange variation kills a lot of Black`s chances to create an imbalance and play for the win at top level. He can go for opposite side castling, but perhaps that is risky among top players...

The Caro-Kann seems like a good try, though perhaps in the Classical lines White can kind of play solidly, such as the line where he exchanges light squared bishops without h4/h5. I am not sure how much Black can really mix things up in these lines, and if he plays 4...Nf6 against the classical, I think he has good chances of being worse.

1...e5 does not seem like the best choice either because there are a lot of lines with early exchanges and relatively symmetrical pawn structures. Even against the Ruy Lopez alone I cannot think of a defense which really gives great winning chances without some sort of compromise.

As for other defences like the Pirc, Alekhine, Scandinavian, Modern, 1....b6, etc. they all seem to lead to imbalanced positions, but in each of them I feel that Black is making some sort of major compromise -- be it losing tempi, or giving White relative freedom to do as he likes in the centre. 

Coming back to the Najdorf, Black is able to fight for control of the centre early with ...e5 or ...e6, while maintaining an imbalanced position, and his only compromise seems to be relatively slow development (though as we know, in this case it is not so easy to punish). Endgames are often good as well, because of the 2:1 pawn centre. One could argue that it is not a good choice because of lines like the Poisoned Pawn, which have some forced drawing variations, but I would retort by saying that it is Black, rather than White, who chooses whether or not to enter such lines. Against White`s sharpest tries, there are many choices, and Black seems to be holding his own in most of them.

One could thus argue that it is White who chooses whether or not to enter the Open Sicilian in the first place, and can choose from a number of decent anti-sicilians instead. I would say that even against the c3 and Bb5 sicilians, Black has good winning chances, depending on the lines that he chooses, though perhaps that is just based on my own experience, rather than high level games, as I usually see Open Sicilians at that level, or White at least trying to play for a win.

So...What do you think? Would you agree with the above claim that among the 2700+ crowd, the Najdorf is the only way to play for a win against 1.e4 without being objectively worse?

I realize that my analysis here is rather general and abstract, so if you disagree, concrete variations are more than welcome. Also, please keep in mind that I am intending this post to be a theoretical discussion, and not a `what should I play against 1.e4` type of post, seeing as at my level (and for most players), any defence is a good winning choice.

Cheers!

  
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