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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6? (Read 22498 times)
an ordinary chessplayer
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #47 - 11/20/23 at 16:53:13
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Some Najdorf players *do* play 2.Nc3 Nc6. Whether that is due to ignorance or enlightenment varies widely.

Gallagher (1994) Beating The Anti-Sicilians relates that he would "play the man": against De Firmian it was 2...d6 3.Nge2 Nf6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 a6, whereas against Hebden it was 2...Nc6 when Hebden "with a cheeky grin" would answer 3.Nf3 and 4.d4 -- "no Najdorf today".

As white I played the 2.Nc3/3.f4 Grand Prix a lot, and while the 2...d6 3.f4 version is "better" for white than the 2...Nc6 3.f4 version, fundamentally black is fine in either case. There are/were some top-level Najdorf practitioners who regularly play/played 2.Nc3 d6. Gelfand and MVL come to mind.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #46 - 11/19/23 at 05:29:50
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Hi to everybody - I'm new to this forum altogether and this will be my first post!

As far as I know, IM Sielecki (in his course on the Sveshnikov on the Chessable platform) says exactly that the Grand Prix Attack is more 'dangerous' against 2...d6 (after 1e4 c5 2.Nc3) but 'quite easy to deal with' for the 2...Nc6.

In fact, I play the Sveshnikov the last 3 years almost exclusively and probably have a decent score against the Closed and the GPA with Sielecki's lines (I'm about 2200 on LiChess).

About the Najdorf: it was a love in the past and I was playing the Brown Variation with some books by Polugaevsky (back in the 1990's - I used to be about 1900 in otb games) but today I'm trying to learn (on Chessable again) the Najdorf by GM Hoffmann and - of course - Giri and haven't yet gone through the Closed and GPA.

According to IM Sielecki's course, the main problem for White against the 2...Nc6 setups in the GPA with 3Bb5 is the 3...Nd4 jump (not allowing a doubled pawn on the c-file which would indeed be a strategical nightmare for black througout the game). Against the proper 'Closed' (with Nc3-g3 setups), Sielecki proposes ...Nc6 with a setup where Black usually will play ...d6 & ...e5 in order to get the Botvinnik center.
There aren't that much lines to learn for Black but it's indeed a quite different way to play than in the poisoned pawn variation or other lines (like the delayed poisoned pawn in the Najdorf proper).

So - all in all - I think that as Black one has to be flexible against the 2Nc3 setups not insisting in getting a Najdorf there. In the Open Sicilians, my main concern was the Rossolimo setups against which I do not enjoy playing (mostly because of a bad result in a critical otb game ... but that's another story).
  
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George Jempty
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #45 - 03/19/23 at 10:57:04
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MNb wrote on 03/18/23 at 17:45:43:
Good job mistaking your fantasy for the meaning of a question, GeorgeJ. This question doesn't imply that at all. As everybody else understood. That's why I'm the only one to answer you.


Alright, I've got more important things to do anyway, even chess-wise (seriously, check out what I'm about to post regarding the "anti-Alapin" gambit).  I should focus on the chess, even though I'm often clueless  Cheesy
  
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MNb
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #44 - 03/18/23 at 17:45:43
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Good job mistaking your fantasy for the meaning of a question, GeorgeJ. This question doesn't imply that at all. As everybody else understood. That's why I'm the only one to answer you.
  

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George Jempty
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #43 - 03/18/23 at 15:30:51
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Laramonet wrote on 03/26/20 at 13:41:42:
Gents,
    I'm new to the Najdorf and have consulted the Ftacnik Quality Chess book for his anti-Sicilian recommendations. With reference to the discussion above, he goes for 2..., d6.
One issue I've run into is that although he examines 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.f4, he doesn't appear to consider 2.f4 at all. Could this also be answered with 2..., d6, as an alternative to the often recommended 2..., d5 ?


There is a reason 2...d5 is the prescribed solution to 2.f4.  No need to always play ...d6 against all anti-Sicilians just because you play it against the Open Sicilian to reach your Najdorf.
  
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George Jempty
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #42 - 03/18/23 at 11:24:06
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Good job not understanding that the argument is implicit in the "question"
« Last Edit: 03/18/23 at 15:28:56 by George Jempty »  
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MNb
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #41 - 03/16/23 at 17:48:45
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Good job not understanding the difference between an argument and a question, GJ.
  

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George Jempty
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #40 - 03/16/23 at 15:42:25
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"Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?" That's a strawman argument if I've ever seen one  Wink
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #39 - 03/26/20 at 13:41:42
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Gents,
    I'm new to the Najdorf and have consulted the Ftacnik Quality Chess book for his anti-Sicilian recommendations. With reference to the discussion above, he goes for 2..., d6.
One issue I've run into is that although he examines 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.f4, he doesn't appear to consider 2.f4 at all. Could this also be answered with 2..., d6, as an alternative to the often recommended 2..., d5 ?
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #38 - 02/26/20 at 11:57:55
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I play the Najdorf and am going to start playing 2...Nc6 3.Nf3/Nge2 e5. I’d rather have my d-pawn still at home to get the optimal line against the Grand Prix Attack. I thinking 2...Nc6 makes the most sense. Carlsen plays the 3...e5 line and does quite well with it. Sure, Black no longer has the possibility of playing a Najdorf as he does after 2...d6 3.Nf3, but since the 2...Nc6/3...e5 line is fine, I think it makes sense to go with it. This is what Daniel King recommends in his Power Play course on the anti-Sicilians.
  
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Jack Hughes
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #37 - 01/21/20 at 10:03:17
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LordChaos21 wrote on 01/17/20 at 08:01:58:
@JackHughes I agree with you on most points there. But I do disagree with you about 2...d6 3.d4 being theoretically less critical than 2...Nc6 3.Nf3 e5. I won't mention Nge2, because even I myself am not sure anymore whether e5 or Nd4 is better against it.

So firstly in the d6 d4 line, I regard the variation 3...cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Qd2 g6!? to be best. It's played less often than Nf6, but scores much better and my engine likes it more. Following 6.b3 Bh6 7.f4, Black should equalize with Nf6. But yet the positions are very dangerous, and White scores quite well.

In the Nf3 Nc6 e5 line, Black has been doing pretty well, with Carlsen winning a bunch of games. And also not many top players play this, except Nepomniachtchi. But even he hasn't really had good opening results. The engine does give White a slight edge initially, but in practice it's just equal.

Actually it is largely because of popularity at the top level that I regard 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Nf3 to be more promising for white than 2. Nc3 d6 3. d4. In the TWIC archives there were 12 games between in the former position (11 via the 2. Nf3 move order) as opposed to only four for the latter. This disparity would likely be even greater if not for the facts that (i) the Najdorf is over twice as popular at top level as the Sveshnikov, so the 2. Nc3 d6 3. d4 line represents a smaller proportion of attempted Najdorfs by black and (ii) that the Rossolimo (i.e. the other main anti-Sveshnikov) is significantly more popular and generally considered more promising for white than the Moscow (i.e. the other main anti-Najdorf) and so for people wishing to avoid the Najdorf the 2. Nc3 d6 3. d4 line should have a head start over the 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Nf3 line. The other main factor supporting my view is, as you alluded to, is engine evaluations. A few years ago I would have found it easier to disagree with them if practice had mounted a strong enough counter-argument, but in the age of LC0 I am much more reluctant to do so: the fact that both AB and NN engines claim at least a normal opening advantage for white, in spite of their many stylistic differences, is much harder to explain if such an edge doesn't exist than it would be if such an edge did not exist.
Of course the main problem with my view, once again alluded to by you, is practical results. White has been doing terribly in the 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Nf3 e5 line! I could quote lots of different statistics filtering based on recency and rating, but in general remains that black has even been outscoring white. I'm not sure what to make of these statistics. My best guess that it's the kind of statistical anomaly that can occur with small sample sizes, in some cases possibly attributable to factors as arbitrary as the remarkable skill of Carlsen in particular within these structures. I suspect one explanation might be that black's play is simply easier in this structure, as I've heard lots of generic statements in commentaries on this line and games within it that "Black can easily play around the knight on d5 and has clear prospects on the kingside with a later ...f5 while white's plan is less clear" but I'm not buying it: very similar positions can arise in the Italian Game after 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Be7 5. 0-0 0-0 6. Re1 d6 7. a4 Na5 8. Ba2 c5 9. Na3 Nc6 and white has been doing very well here, and I haven't found anyone claiming when analysing these lines that these structures are somehow inherently easier for black.
In regards to your comments about the 3. d4 line I'm happy to defer to your judgement there. I really haven't done enough study to form a properly founded opinion. Given that MVL chose to play that way in his most recent outing in this line at Norway Blitz last year it would not be surprise me if you are correct.
Finally, in regards to the Colovic course I would not discount the possibility that he was motivated, at least in part, by a desire to give an Anti-Sicilian repertoire that all Sicilian players can adopt: the man's not an idiot, and he would definitely be well aware of the fact that doing so gives him access to a much larger potential market to sell his product to. Maybe I'm being too harsh on him, especially given his recommendation of the 3... Bd7 (instead of the more marketable 3... Nc6 where white has been doing well while repertoire books continue to advocate it), but it definitely would not surprise me if that was a major factor influencing his decision.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #36 - 01/17/20 at 08:01:58
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@JackHughes I agree with you on most points there. But I do disagree with you about 2...d6 3.d4 being theoretically less critical than 2...Nc6 3.Nf3 e5. I won't mention Nge2, because even I myself am not sure anymore whether e5 or Nd4 is better against it.

So firstly in the d6 d4 line, I regard the variation 3...cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Qd2 g6!? to be best. It's played less often than Nf6, but scores much better and my engine likes it more. Following 6.b3 Bh6 7.f4, Black should equalize with Nf6. But yet the positions are very dangerous, and White scores quite well.

In the Nf3 Nc6 e5 line, Black has been doing pretty well, with Carlsen winning a bunch of games. And also not many top players play this, except Nepomniachtchi. But even he hasn't really had good opening results. The engine does give White a slight edge initially, but in practice it's just equal.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #35 - 01/16/20 at 12:41:03
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How timely: Alex Colovic just wrote a blog post about the issues he faced developing an anti-Sicilian repertoire for Najdorf players. He does indeed suggest 2.Nc3 Nc6. https://www.alexcolovic.com/2020/01/anti-sicilians/
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #34 - 01/16/20 at 05:34:20
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an ordinary chessplayer wrote on 01/16/20 at 04:13:00:
Jack Hughes wrote on 01/16/20 at 03:19:28:
... for example in the line 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 a6 3. Nge2 Nf6 4. g3 d6 5. Bg2. It's not a catastrpohe for black of course, but current consensus seems to be that it offers more of an advantage than 2. Nc3 d6 3. d4 and perhaps also more than 3. Nf3 e5 or 3. Nge2 e5/Nd4.

Serious question here: Where can I find this current consensus?

Once upon a time the consensus was summarized in theoretical manuals, one of the earliest was Bilguer, in my day it was Boleslavsky and Euwe, still later the ECOs.

Nowadays it's just databases of varying quality, or "repertoires" that are churned out at a dizzying pace. People quote statistics all out of context. I get the impression that opening choices are driven as much by fashion as they ever were. And yet, I still hear about a consensus.

I have played 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 a6 3.g3 many times as white, with excellent *practical* results. When black plays ...g7-g6, or when black plays ...e7-e6 plus ...d7-d5, then ...a7-a6 can indeed be a loss of tempo, although not always. But when black plays ...e7-e6 plus ...d7-d6, then ...a7-a6 is quite good. It's my *opinion* that black has rough equality there. That's why I want to know about this consensus saying it's good for white.

To be honest with you my reference to a 'current consensus' is just an inference based upon database statistics: given that white is asking at least some questions in the line with 2... d6 3. d4 I operate under the assumption that strongest OTB and ICCF Najdorf specialists will have their own files of analysis on 2... a6 and are basing their preference for 2... d6 on a belief g3 setups against 2... a6 are more promising for white than any independent options that white gets after 2... d6. If you disagree with that assumption and instead believe that there is some other explanation for the near absence of 2... a6 at high levels (like fashion) then of course my inference is unsound.

In terms of concrete lines I really haven't looked at it enough myself to give you much advice worth listening to. My best guess is that black players are afraid of white transposing back into an Open Sicilian with 7. d4 when black has been move ordered into a setup with ...e6 rather than the ...e5 setups that have been overwhelmingly preferred in recent years. (There I go speculating on consensus again!) This was the choice of both Levon Aronian and Le Quang Liem (both against Vincent Keymer) last year as well as the white player (Darko Feletar, rated 2416) in the only ICCF game where black played this way in the 2019 archives.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #33 - 01/16/20 at 04:13:00
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Jack Hughes wrote on 01/16/20 at 03:19:28:
... for example in the line 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 a6 3. Nge2 Nf6 4. g3 d6 5. Bg2. It's not a catastrpohe for black of course, but current consensus seems to be that it offers more of an advantage than 2. Nc3 d6 3. d4 and perhaps also more than 3. Nf3 e5 or 3. Nge2 e5/Nd4.

Serious question here: Where can I find this current consensus?

Once upon a time the consensus was summarized in theoretical manuals, one of the earliest was Bilguer, in my day it was Boleslavsky and Euwe, still later the ECOs.

Nowadays it's just databases of varying quality, or "repertoires" that are churned out at a dizzying pace. People quote statistics all out of context. I get the impression that opening choices are driven as much by fashion as they ever were. And yet, I still hear about a consensus.

I have played 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 a6 3.g3 many times as white, with excellent *practical* results. When black plays ...g7-g6, or when black plays ...e7-e6 plus ...d7-d5, then ...a7-a6 can indeed be a loss of tempo, although not always. But when black plays ...e7-e6 plus ...d7-d6, then ...a7-a6 is quite good. It's my *opinion* that black has rough equality there. That's why I want to know about this consensus saying it's good for white.
  
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