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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6? (Read 3367 times)
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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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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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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #32 - 01/16/20 at 03:19:28
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Leon_Trotsky wrote on 01/16/20 at 00:45:46:
I would think that a Najdorf player would choose 2...a6 over both options.

The problem with 2... a6 is that it virtually loses a tempo in the event that white plays a Closed Sicilian, since black is very likely to play ...a5 in the future. When combined with an early ...d6 (which is necessary in order to avoid being move ordered into a Kan or Taimanov) this is enough to give white legitimate chances to fight for an advantage, as 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.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #31 - 01/16/20 at 03:08:31
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TopNotch wrote on 01/15/20 at 23:49:43:
Theory in sharp lines is always evolving, and even if you are armed with the recommendations given in Hovhannes Gabuzyan's recent Anti-Sicilian ChessMood Course, which offers the 2...d6 move-order since he is an avid Najdorf Player himself. Gabuzyan is a strong GM so his opinions and analysis should be respected, but I have watched the course and while it is excellent I would just say it could prove very costly to underestimate White's initiative in that form of the GPA in an OTB game, whether you remember the theory or not. 

It was not that long ago that another Najdorf devotee, GM Ftacnik also published a 2...d6  Sicilian Repertoire vs 2.Nc3 for Quality Chess, that Repertoire has not stood the test of time. Let that be a cautionary tale.

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree then. Of course I would agree with the literal meaning of the statement that it "could prove very costly to underestimate white's initiative", but that would be true of virtually any unsound line where white sacrifices material for the initiative! I would also make the counter-claim that underestimating black's strategic (and often material) advantages could prove very costly for white. Yes, white is the one with the initiative, but if you are the kind of person who thinks that playing with the initiative is inherently easier than defending against it then you probably aren't a Najdorf player in the first place. Of course in the computer age theory does develop faster in sharp lines than elsewhere but I would actually argue that in this case much of what you need to learn as black should be good for a lifetime, since a lot of the lines are popular simply because they are natural OTB improvisation and simply bad for white when put under the microscope. Perhaps there will be real developments in the lines with 5. Bb5+ or 7. d4, but it is hard to imagine these lines somehow requiring more maintenance than the lines with 3. Nf3 e5, 3. Nge2 e5/Nd4 and 3. Bb5 Nd4, the former of which is quite topical at even the highest level of play.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #30 - 01/16/20 at 00:45:46
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I would think that a Najdorf player would choose 2...a6 over both options.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #29 - 01/15/20 at 23:49:43
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Theory in sharp lines is always evolving, and even if you are armed with the recommendations given in Hovhannes Gabuzyan's recent Anti-Sicilian ChessMood Course, which offers the 2...d6 move-order since he is an avid Najdorf Player himself. Gabuzyan is a strong GM so his opinions and analysis should be respected, but I have watched the course and while it is excellent I would just say it could prove very costly to underestimate White's initiative in that form of the GPA in an OTB game, whether you remember the theory or not. 

It was not that long ago that another Najdorf devotee, GM Ftacnik also published a 2...d6  Sicilian Repertoire vs 2.Nc3 for Quality Chess, that Repertoire has not stood the test of time. Let that be a cautionary tale.
  

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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #28 - 01/15/20 at 23:16:55
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TopNotch wrote on 01/15/20 at 22:32:55:
Jack you make a nice intellectual argument, but in this case what happens at elite level or in correspondence play is very difficult to replicate for the mere mortal rank and file Najdorf player. Yes objectively the Grand-Prix Attack in both forms can be neutralised, but it is much more demanding for Black to accomplish after 2...d6 than after 2...Nc6 especially if you are not an elite player. I mentioned the Grand-Prix as one possible weakness of the 2...d6 move-order not to be exhaustive but merely as an example, of course there are other issues as well if White continues to play a waiting game with Nge2,g3,Bg2 for instance, keeping the option of entering an open sicilian depending on what black does. I am not saying these problems are insurmountable, I am saying that many Najdorf (forget the elite) Players are stubborn inflexible fellows (at least in my tournament experience) and will often try to force the game along typical Najdorf channels, due to laziness and find themselves in hot water.  The positions after 2...Nc6 are generally easier to handle, but of course you can't get a Najdorf anymore and for that reason 2.Nc3 will continue to be an annoying and effective Anti Najdorf Weapon.

Fair enough. If one interprets the question as an empirical one about why Najdorf players would choose 2... d6 then it absolutely might be the case that laziness is a major reason. I don't really share your high opinion of the 2... d6 Grand Prix, and sincerely believe that knowledge of only concrete lines will be enough to give black the better practical chances at any level of play where people are studying openings. Of course if you do forget your lines you can be in trouble, but frankly I would struggle to contain my laughter if I heard a Najdorf player making such an argument! Especially at club level where people can expect to face the Grand Prix perhaps even more often than the sharpest Najdorf mainlines I really don't see why one would want to avoid playing and learning the 2... d6 Grand Prix lines.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #27 - 01/15/20 at 22:32:55
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Jack you make a nice intellectual argument, but in this case what happens at elite level or in correspondence play is very difficult to replicate for the mere mortal rank and file Najdorf player. Yes objectively the Grand-Prix Attack in both forms can be neutralised, but it is much more demanding for Black to accomplish after 2...d6 than after 2...Nc6 especially if you are not an elite player. I mentioned the Grand-Prix as one possible weakness of the 2...d6 move-order not to be exhaustive but merely as an example, of course there are other issues as well if White continues to play a waiting game with Nge2,g3,Bg2 for instance, keeping the option of entering an open sicilian depending on what black does. I am not saying these problems are insurmountable, I am saying that many Najdorf (forget the elite) Players are stubborn inflexible fellows (at least in my tournament experience) and will often try to force the game along typical Najdorf channels, due to laziness and find themselves in hot water.  The positions after 2...Nc6 are generally easier to handle, but of course you can't get a Najdorf anymore and for that reason 2.Nc3 will continue to be an annoying and effective Anti Najdorf Weapon.
  

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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #26 - 01/15/20 at 20:34:10
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TopNotch wrote on 01/15/20 at 14:30:40:
Jack Hughes wrote on 01/15/20 at 11:06:31:
In response to the idea that Najdorf players are simply choosing an inferior line in order to save their work load I would point out that it is not just club players doing this but also the very elite: looking at TWIC games from 2019 and 2020 where both players were rated above 2700 black has played 2... d6 in 16 of the 20 games to reach that position, and of the three games with 2... Nc6 one was with Grischuk (a Sveshnikov player) as black and the other two were blitz games. These statistics are of course greatly skewed by the fact that white players are unlikely to go for 2. Nc3 unless their opponent is a Najdorf player, but it is noteworthy that the Najdorf specialists (in particular MVL, Nepomniachtchi and Giri) all prefer 2... d6. Even in the 2019 ICCF archives, where strong players are likely to be more flexible in their openings than MVL or Nepo and where the practicalities of studying lines are a complete non-issue: if one includes only games where both players were above 2400 then 24 players have chosen 2... d6 with a score of 52.1% (-36 elo) compared to 52 who have chosen 2... Nc6 with a score of 50% (-36 elo).
Taking the analysis away from the abstract and into the concrete I'm also really not sure what basis there is for thinking that 2... Nc6 is the objectively superior move. True, it allows white a slightly improved version of the Closed and the Grand Prix but neither of those is improved enough to let white fight for an advantage. From a practical perspective I would even prefer to play 2... d6 against a known Grand Prix player, since this move is much more likely to provoke them into self-destructing with a line like 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 d6 3. f4 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bc4 Nc6 6. 0-0 e6 7. d3?! (Grischuk's 7. d4 is in my view the only playable option for white) Nge7 8. Qe1 0-0 9. f5  gxf5 when black is already seriously better - if you instead play 2... Nc6 and delay ...d6 then white is statistically more likely to play a much sounder approach with Bb5 instead of Bc4. All this is to say nothing of the line with 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Bb5, which is a spiritual cousin of the Grand Prix that is at least as promising for white as anything after 2... d6 3. f4, even if not promising enough to really fight for an advantage. Theoretically speaking the biggest downside of 2... d6 has to be 3. d4, but the idea that this is obviously more promising for white than 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Nf3 e5 or 3. Nge2 e5/Nd4 is somewhat mystifying to me. The idea certainly is not supported by any of my engines or by the opening choices of the world's elite in either OTB or correspondence chess.


I stand by my statement that in otb chess Laziness is a big determining factor. In Correspondence Chess there is probably nothing to choose between the two move-orders [1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 or 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6] since memory and extra workload is not a factor, in otb chess however if a Najdorf player can make 2...d6 work satisfactorily he will. It is well known though that the 2...d6 move-order offers Grand-Prix Attack players much more dangerous attacking options than after 2...Nc6, so why do it.... Laziness. I doubt you will find many Dragon players using the 2...d6 move-order, because why allow additional attacking options if you don't have to, I guess you could say laziness again or use a euphemism like 'pragmatic' if laziness offends your sensibilities.   

Come on, think about, you know what I'm saying is true. 

The thing is that I don't even agree with the bolded statement.  I sincerely believe that 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Bb5 is at least as promising for white as 2. Nc3 d6 3. f4 and this so-called Tiviakov Grand Prix is increasingly taking over from 3. f4 as a reply to 2... Nc6 amongst Grand Prix players: for examples of this see ChessMood's Anti-Sicilian course and Eric Rosen's YouTube video for Saint Louis Chess Club on the 2. Nc3 Sicilian. Of course black is fine there as well, but black objectively stands at least as well after 2... d6 3. f4, so even from an objective point of view I see no reason to prefer 2... Nc6 over 2... d6 against GPA players. Furthermore, and as I indicated in my previous post, the 2... d6 move order has the practical advantage of baiting white into dubious attacking lines with an early Bc4 - the line I gave there was literally produced by meeting white's most common moves on Lichess with the theoretically approved black replies, and white was already seriously worse by move 9!
Theoretically speaking 3. g3, 3. f4 and perhaps also 3. Bb5 are so non-threatening as to be a complete non-issue in choosing between 2... d6 and 2... Nc6. The real debate is whether 2... d6 3. d4 on the one hand or 2... Nc6 3. Nf3 e5 and 2... Nc6 3. Nge2 e5/Nd4 is more promising for white, and the choices of the world's top players indicate quite strongly that it is the latter. Perhaps stylistic preference is playing a role here, as a Najdorf player is much more likely to feel comfortable in the position arising after 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Qxd4 Nc6 5. Qd2 Nf6 6. b3 e6 7. Bb2 Be7 than the static positions arising after 3. Nf3 e5.
Of course there is a debate to be had about what counts as 'laziness' in opening preparation. Is 'laziness' the right word for a Marshall player who prefers the move order 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 Be7 6. Re1 b5 over 5... b5 6. Bb3 Be7 (allowing 7. d4 with no benefit for black) or a Classical French player who prefers 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 cxd4 over 6... cxd4 (allowing 7. Nb5, as played in an AlphaZero-Stockfish game, with no benefit for black)? The term wouldn't be entirely inappropriate, because the sole benefits of the established move orders is to cut down on white's options and therefore on black's study time. Personally I would prefer to use the term only when one is sacrificing something objectively in order to cut down on their theoretical workload. I would, for example, say that it is laziness which motivates me to allow the Nimzo-Indian instead of learning all the lines arising after 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3, even though I think the latter leads to a slightly larger advantage to white. In the case of our topic about meeting 2. Nc3 as a Najdorf player I really think that 2... d6 is just a better move.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #25 - 01/15/20 at 15:25:34
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TopNotch wrote on 01/15/20 at 14:30:40:
I stand by my statement that in otb chess Laziness is a big determining factor. In Correspondence Chess there is probably nothing to choose between the two move-orders [1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 or 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6] since memory and extra workload is not a factor, in otb chess however if a Najdorf player can make 2...d6 work satisfactorily he will. It is well known though that the 2...d6 move-order offers Grand-Prix Attack players much more dangerous attacking options than after 2...Nc6, so why do it.... Laziness. I doubt you will find many Dragon players using the 2...d6 move-order, because why allow additional attacking options if you don't have to, I guess you could say laziness again or use a euphemism like 'pragmatic' if laziness offends your sensibilities.   

Come on, think about, you know what I'm saying is true. 

I have no doubt laziness exists, on the other hand ...

I hesitate to accuse Najdorf players of laziness. Just think of 6.Bg5! Maybe they have done the following calculus: after 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3, the difference between the GPA 2...d6 vs 2...Nc6 is smaller than the difference between the open Sicilian 2...Nc6 vs 2...d6. Even if you disagree with their maths, that doesn't mean laziness.

As for Dragon players, after 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 they would be daft to play 2...d6 when white can still reach 9.O-O-O lines (not to mention defer Bc4-b3 in 9.Bc4 lines), vs 2...Nc6 when white can't do that. It's neither laziness nor pragmatism to exploit the opponent's move order, it's simple mini-maxing.
  
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