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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6? (Read 4805 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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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #24 - 01/15/20 at 14:30:40
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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 'pragmatism' if laziness offends your sensibilities.   

Come on, think about, you know what I'm saying is true. 
« Last Edit: 01/15/20 at 20:43:43 by TopNotch »  

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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #23 - 01/15/20 at 11:51:36
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Jack Hughes wrote on 01/15/20 at 11:06:31:
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.

I'm not saying 2...Nc6 is superior, let alone objectively. When I wrote that 2.Nc3 Nc6 is more accurate than 2...d6 as far as the Closed Sicliian is concerned I only meant that assuming that White will play 3.g3 2...Nc6 offers Black some interesting extra options and robs White from one (namely 6.f4). But I perfectly understand Black still preferring 2.Nc3 d6. Heck, Tony Rotella in his Killer Sicilian tranposes from 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 to a line that often begins with 2.Nc3 d6 3.f4 and his antidote to the Closed Sicilian can also be arrived at via 2.Nc3 d6 3.g3.
But 2...Nc6 can make a difference with 2...d6, in contrast to a claim on the previous page (or the one before, I haven't checked).
  

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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #22 - 01/15/20 at 11:06:31
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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.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #21 - 01/14/20 at 19:50:18
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I'm not a big fan of either 3...e5 or 3...Nd4 against 3. Nge2: they seem to afford White greater chances of an advantage than 3. Nf3 e5. Transposing to the Sveshnikov with 3...Nf6 is one idea, though I would personally prefer offering a transposition to the Accelerated Dragon with 3...g6. This approach works just as well against 3. Nf3, is lower maintenance than the Sveshnikov, fits well with fianchetto plans against Closed Sicilian set-ups, and is considered at least as sound as all of Black's other tries (since White can no longer go for the Maroczy Bind).

After 2. Nc3 d6 I'm actually more annoyed about 3. f4 than 3. g3 or 3. d4. I don't want to commit to d6 so early when playing against the Grand Prix. It's true that 2. Nc3 Nc6 allows weird tries like 3. Bb5 and annoying move order tricks, but if I were a Najdorf player, I would rather do this homework than rigidly stick to 2...d6.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #20 - 01/14/20 at 12:12:40
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LordChaos21 wrote on 01/11/20 at 14:54:14:
I am new to this website so still don't know how to use a quote so sorry if this is a bit convoluted.

@RoleyPoley I didn't know Bb5 was such a big deal after Nc3 Nc6. But a quick glance seems to suggest Black is fine after Nd4?


Sorry, my fault, I had misread the post and thought you were talking about the position after 2. nf3 not Nc3.
  

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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #19 - 01/14/20 at 10:46:30
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After 3.Nge2, aside from 3...e5 avoiding transpositions to other Open Sicilians, I believe Kotronias recommended 3...Nd4!? in his GM Rep book. I have no idea how this is holding up, but it may be another interesting choice to look into.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #18 - 01/14/20 at 07:09:39
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I don't see why it should be laziness; i agree if you intend to, after say 1.e4-c5 2.Nc3-Nc6 3. Nf3 (or Nge2), to transpose to the Sveshnikov, then it is indeed a lot more work. But if you are willing to play the position after 3...e5, it's just one line, which is also easy to learn in my opinion.

As for the Closed Sicilian move order, the problem is when White is good with his move-orders. He can play 2.Nc3 against a Najdorf player. Say we play 2...d6, he goes for 3.d4 and I think White is supposed to have an edge here. A Najdorf player usually to my knowledge prefers 2...a6 (MVL for example has played this), but then White goes for 3.g3, and we are into a bad version of the Closed Sicilian (again, in my opinion).
So the only solution to this conundrum for a Najdorf player seems to be 2...Nc6.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #17 - 01/14/20 at 02:29:24
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LordChaos21 wrote on 01/10/20 at 16:35:50:
I was just wondering, why don't Najdorf players meet 2.Nc3 with Nc6? As far as I know, 2...Nc6 is supposed to be the best way to meet the Grand Prix Attack (3.f4), and it is also the most flexible against White playing with g3 for the Closed Sicilian. If White plays 3.Nf3 trying to steer the game into an unfavourable Open Sicilian, Black can play e5! which seems to be doing quite well. The biggest problem seemed to be 3.Nge2!?, but even this you can meet if you wish with e5, or play g6 which also seems to do well.

If you instead play 2...d6 you have to deal with much tougher versions of the GPA and the Closed, and also the trendy and strong (imo) 3.d4 cd 4.Qd4 Nc6 5.Qd2. So why not just play 2...Nc6?


Laziness mostly, players don't like carrying around extra luggage in their head unless they absolutely have to. White also needs to be wary that in trying to move-order Najdorf players that he doesn't wind up tricking himself, especially if he is not a well rounded Open Sicilian guy. For example, I once tried to be clever against a Najy guy and went for 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 so far so good right, opening battle won. There followed 3.Nge2 Nf6! and suddenly I was stuck, it occured to me that I didn't really want to go into the Sveshnikov either, so no worries 4.g3 but then came 4...d5 5.exd5 Nd4!? 6.Bg2 Bg4 and somehow we have transposed into what looks like some line from the Scotch Three Knights  or Cozio defence to the Ruy, long story short Black equalised comfortably and put an end to my 3.Nge2 flirtation.

Conclusion, if you want to fight for an edge and go 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nge2 you need to be prepared to enter the Sveshnikov after 3...Nf6, which these days is considered even more reliable than the Najdorf. Curious to know what Tiviakov thinks about all this. 
  

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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #16 - 01/13/20 at 16:32:04
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I'm going to ignore most of your responses, not because I necessarily agree or disagree, but because my question to LordChaos21 has already been answered to my satisfaction. I will let this one response below be representative of my thinking on the other points you made.

MNb wrote on 01/13/20 at 07:44:44:
an ordinary chessplayer wrote on 01/13/20 at 05:06:46:
RE 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 e6.

I agree 6.Be3 is best, and then 6...d6 is best. What white has given up is minimal.

I wouldn't call giving up 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 Nc6 6.f4 minmal. My database contains 2000+ games that support my view. That includes six games of a famous 1968 Candidates match.


Hmmm. White hasn't exactly given up on that. 7.f4 is a move here, and should transpose back to those lines. What white has given up is lines with f2-f4 and not Bc1-e3. So, 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.f4 e6 7.Nf3 Nge7 8.O-O O-O and here 9.Be3 is most popular and what I have played when I have reached this position (I don't always play 6.f4). Now non-Be3 moves are 9.Rb1, 9.Bd2, 9.g4 and maybe some others I can't recall. It's precisely those that white has given up, which is why I wrote "minimal".
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #15 - 01/13/20 at 07:44:44
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an ordinary chessplayer wrote on 01/13/20 at 05:06:46:
RE 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 Rb8.

Geller gave 6.a4!? a6 7.f4 += in the first edition of ECO.

Practical results suggest otherwise.

an ordinary chessplayer wrote on 01/13/20 at 05:06:46:
I don't think 6.Be3 is an accurate move. Better are Spassky's 6.Nh3 and Lane's 6.f4.

Might be so, but Black in both cases can answer 6...b5,. which of course is a very common plan. In either case Black will only transpose to 2...d6 lines when it suits him/her. So my conclusion remains correct: 2...Nc6 3.g3 does not necessarily transpose to 2...d6 3.g3 but gives Black an important extra option that does very well in practice.

an ordinary chessplayer wrote on 01/13/20 at 05:06:46:
If white is keen to play Be3, it's probably better to play Ljubojevic's 4.d3 move order.

4...Rb8 5.Be3 b5 still looks interesting; again, Black doesn't need to play ...d6.
Were I White I would take your argument two steps further and begin with 2.d3. That avoids all the early b7-b5-b4 stuff. Of course Black can force White to play the KID (beginning with d5 3.Nd2), but that's more interesting than the Closed Sicilian after 2.Nc3 e6 3.g3 d5 anyway.

an ordinary chessplayer wrote on 01/13/20 at 05:06:46:
Anyway, in the game Burchardt - Levitina, Manila ol 1992, the continuation was 6.Be3 b5 7.Qd2 (Ravikumar analyzed 7.Bxc5 to advantage for black) 7...b4 8.Nd1 d6, transposing to a position black could have easily reached via 5...d6 and 6...Rb8. Did you have an improvement over Levitina's 8...d6?

I don't need to have any; I only claimed that as far as the Closed Sicilian is concerned 2...Nc6 is more accurate. I onlly need to point out that Black has more options. Black might consider 8...Qa5 iso 8...d6 or 7...Nd4 iso 7...b4. These suggestions are not necessarily better than the transposition. Again, Black will only transpose to 2...d6 3.g3 lines when it suits hm/her and that's always nice, especially because Black can figure this out in his/her study.

an ordinary chessplayer wrote on 01/13/20 at 05:06:46:
RE 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 e6.

I agree 6.Be3 is best, and then 6...d6 is best. What white has given up is minimal.

I wouldn't call giving up 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 Nc6 6.f4 minmal. My database contains 2000+ games that support my view. That includes six games of a famous 1968 Candidates match.
  

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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #14 - 01/13/20 at 05:06:46
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I wanted to look in my files to refresh my memory before replying.

MNb wrote on 01/11/20 at 09:54:29:
Fourty yeras ago Dutch IM Pauls Boersma gave 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 Rb8 6.Be3 b5. Indeed Black (!) scores almost 60%.
There is also 5.d3 e6 idea 6.f4 Nge7 7.Nf3 d5 (Black does even better), forcing White to play 6.Be3 of 7.Be3. After 2...d6 etc. White might postpone this. so 2...Nc6 definitely is more accurate, given the Closed Sicilian.


RE 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 Rb8.

I don't think 6.Be3 is an accurate move. Better are Spassky's 6.Nh3 and Lane's 6.f4. Also Geller gave 6.a4!? a6 7.f4 += in the first edition of ECO. If white is keen to play Be3, it's probably better to play Ljubojevic's 4.d3 move order. Anyway, in the game Burchardt - Levitina, Manila ol 1992, the continuation was 6.Be3 b5 7.Qd2 (Ravikumar analyzed 7.Bxc5 to advantage for black) 7...b4 8.Nd1 d6, transposing to a position black could have easily reached via 5...d6 and 6...Rb8. Did you have an improvement over Levitina's 8...d6?

RE 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 e6.

I agree 6.Be3 is best, and then 6...d6 is best. What white has given up is minimal. In my view black has given up even more, namely after 5...d6 (instead of 5...e6) 6.Be3, I believe 6...e5, 6...Rb8, and 6...Nf6 are all better moves than 6...e6.

LordChaos21 wrote on 01/11/20 at 14:54:14:
@ordinarychessplayer i think Black can if he wants delay d6 and instead play with a quick Rb8 and b5 which I like for Black. I don't know if it's better or not but it certainly scores pretty well. Generally I just think it is a bit more accurate. I consider Nc3 d6 d4 a much bigger problem.

For ...Rb8 see my reply to MNb. 2.Nc3 d6 3.d4 is certainly an option, but I was more interested in the g3-Closed as you specifically referred to in your original post.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #13 - 01/11/20 at 20:55:33
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By the way, in a recent match between two of Tiviakov's countrymen, GM Friso Nijboer sought to surprise FM Eelke de Boer (a young Najdorf player) with "something strange":  2. Nc3 d6 3. Nge2 Nf6 4. h3. 

(post-mortem with the players at about 3 hr 57 min)
https://www.twitch.tv/videos/527881424
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #12 - 01/11/20 at 20:25:14
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According to Tiviakov, in a very timely fashion, 2.Nc3 is a "Nightmare for the Najdorf".
https://shop.chessbase.com/en/products/tiviakov_nightmare_for_the_najdorf
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #11 - 01/11/20 at 17:46:47
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Incidentally 2...Nc6 3. Nge2 e5 came up here back in '17.
https://www.chesspub.com/cgi-bin/chess/YaBB.pl?num=1487015444/8#8
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #10 - 01/11/20 at 17:34:51
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3 Nge2 e5 4 Ng3 also one of the top engine lines for White, without too many games ...
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #9 - 01/11/20 at 17:20:32
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3 Nge2 e5 ... some 2500+ players have played it, you could definitely try it -- it seems like some more research would be needed to say if it is as reliable as 3 Nf3 e5 ... if that is important to you.

The risk is that you might wind up some tempos down ... for instance, the game below 6 of White's first 12 moves are knight moves going Ng1 to f3-d2-f1-e3-d5 and Nb1 to c3

In the Nge2 system maybe he's spending 4 instead of 6 ... Nb1 to c3-d5 and Ng1 to e2-c3

On the other hand, he brings a knight to d5 sooner if something like 1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Nge2 e5 4 Nd5 happens, so maybe that gives Black some options -- perhaps Black can skip Nf6-d7-b6 and just trade on d5 right away (winning some moves back), or maybe White even "loses" the extra tempi to play Nd5-e3 to keep the tension and avoid trades. 

[Event "Wch Rapid"]
[White "Zubov, Alexander"]
[Black "Le, Quang Liem"]
[Site "Moscow"]
[Round "6"]
[Annotator ""]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[Date "2019.12.27"]
[WhiteElo "2601"]
[BlackElo "2713"]
[PlyCount "71"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Bc4 Be7 5. d3 d6 6. Nd2 Nf6 7. Nf1 Bg4 8. f3 Be6 9. Ne3 0-0 10. a3 Nd7 11. 0-0 Bg5 12. Ned5 Nb6 13. Bxg5 Qxg5 14. Nxb6 axb6 15. Qc1 Qd8 16. f4 Bxc4 17. dxc4 f5 18. fxe5 fxe4 19. Qe3 Re8 20. Qxe4 Rxe5 21. Qg4 Nd4 22. Rf2 h5 23. Qg6 Qe8 24. Qxd6 Nxc2 25. Rc1 Ne3 26. Qxb6 Qd7 27. Nd5 Nxc4 28. Qb3 Rxd5 29. Qxc4 b5 30. Qf4 Re8 31. h3 c4 32. Rcf1 Kh7 33. a4 Rd4 34. Qf3 Re5 35. axb5 Rxb5 36. Kh1 1/2-1/2
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #8 - 01/11/20 at 17:00:13
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Yes, if a Najdorf player is happy with 3.Nf3 e5 as Black, then they can happily play 1.e5 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 without issue.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #7 - 01/11/20 at 14:54:14
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I am new to this website so still don't know how to use a quote so sorry if this is a bit convoluted.

@RoleyPoley I didn't know Bb5 was such a big deal after Nc3 Nc6. But a quick glance seems to suggest Black is fine after Nd4?

@ordinarychessplayer i think Black can if he wants delay d6 and instead play with a quick Rb8 and b5 which I like for Black. I don't know if it's better or not but it certainly scores pretty well. Generally I just think it is a bit more accurate. I consider Nc3 d6 d4 a much bigger problem.

@ErictheRed But if you are fine with playing the position after Nf3 (Nge2) e5, you can simply avoid this transpositions right?

As for 3 Nf3 e5, I am pretty fine with those positions. Carlsen likes to go for those and Black's results are also good.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #6 - 01/11/20 at 09:54:29
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an ordinary chessplayer wrote on 01/10/20 at 20:39:17:
I'm curious in what line of the Closed Sicilian you think white can do better versus 2...d6 as compared to 2...Nc6. I've played 3.g3 a lot as white, and as far as I know in the best lines for black, black plays both moves and they transpose into each other.

Fourty yeras ago Dutch IM Pauls Boersma gave 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 Rb8 6.Be3 b5. Indeed Black (!) scores almost 60%.
There is also 5.d3 e6 idea 6.f4 Nge7 7.Nf3 d5 (Black does even better), forcing White to play 6.Be3 of 7.Be3. After 2...d6 etc. White might postpone this. so 2...Nc6 definitely is more accurate, given the Closed Sicilian.
  

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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #5 - 01/11/20 at 05:49:37
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Hi.

Glenn Snow wrote on 01/10/20 at 22:05:50:
Kaufman's new repertoire book claims "a normal White edge", after 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 e5.
Glenn Snow wrote on 01/10/20 at 22:05:50:
White's advantage looked fairly small to me.

Both of you can be correct in today's world I think Smiley

Edit: I never found anything serious and thought black could equalise, although not by a big margin.
I will get the book now that I realise this anti is in there. Always interesting to try and bypass stuff.

Have a nice day!
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #4 - 01/11/20 at 02:50:27
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To answer the original question, Najdorf players don't usually play 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 because after 3.Nf3 (or 3.Nge2) there is no way to get a Najdorf if White continues 4.d4.  That's a too-simple way for White to be able to avoid Black's main defense, so Najdorf players usually prefer 2...d6.  The only way around it would be to play  1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 e5, as mentioned before.  Any other third move (3...d6, 3...e6, 3...g6, etc) would lead to a different Open Sicilian after 4.d4.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #3 - 01/10/20 at 22:05:50
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Kaufman's new repertoire book claims "a normal White edge", after 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 e5.  White's advantage looked fairly small to me.  I haven't put his variations on a computer yet.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #2 - 01/10/20 at 20:39:17
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LordChaos21 wrote on 01/10/20 at 16:35:50:
I was just wondering, why don't Najdorf players meet 2.Nc3 with Nc6? As far as I know, 2...Nc6 is supposed to be the best way to meet the Grand Prix Attack (3.f4), and it is also the most flexible against White playing with g3 for the Closed Sicilian. If White plays 3.Nf3 trying to steer the game into an unfavourable Open Sicilian, Black can play e5! which seems to be doing quite well. The biggest problem seemed to be 3.Nge2!?, but even this you can meet if you wish with e5, or play g6 which also seems to do well.

If you instead play 2...d6 you have to deal with much tougher versions of the GPA and the Closed, and also the trendy and strong (imo) 3.d4 cd 4.Qd4 Nc6 5.Qd2. So why not just play 2...Nc6?

I'm curious in what line of the Closed Sicilian you think white can do better versus 2...d6 as compared to 2...Nc6. I've played 3.g3 a lot as white, and as far as I know in the best lines for black, black plays both moves and they transpose into each other.
  
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Re: Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
Reply #1 - 01/10/20 at 17:15:48
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LordChaos21 wrote on 01/10/20 at 16:35:50:
I was just wondering, why don't Najdorf players meet 2.Nc3 with Nc6? As far as I know, 2...Nc6 is supposed to be the best way to meet the Grand Prix Attack (3.f4), and it is also the most flexible against White playing with g3 for the Closed Sicilian. If White plays 3.Nf3 trying to steer the game into an unfavourable Open Sicilian, Black can play e5! which seems to be doing quite well. The biggest problem seemed to be 3.Nge2!?, but even this you can meet if you wish with e5, or play g6 which also seems to do well.

If you instead play 2...d6 you have to deal with much tougher versions of the GPA and the Closed, and also the trendy and strong (imo) 3.d4 cd 4.Qd4 Nc6 5.Qd2. So why not just play 2...Nc6?


I would think 3 Bb5 is a much bigger concern against 2. Nc6 than the GP is against 2.d6 both because it is more frequently encountered, and secondly better by reputation?
  

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Why don't Najdorf players play 2.Nc3 Nc6?
01/10/20 at 16:35:50
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I was just wondering, why don't Najdorf players meet 2.Nc3 with Nc6? As far as I know, 2...Nc6 is supposed to be the best way to meet the Grand Prix Attack (3.f4), and it is also the most flexible against White playing with g3 for the Closed Sicilian. If White plays 3.Nf3 trying to steer the game into an unfavourable Open Sicilian, Black can play e5! which seems to be doing quite well. The biggest problem seemed to be 3.Nge2!?, but even this you can meet if you wish with e5, or play g6 which also seems to do well.

If you instead play 2...d6 you have to deal with much tougher versions of the GPA and the Closed, and also the trendy and strong (imo) 3.d4 cd 4.Qd4 Nc6 5.Qd2. So why not just play 2...Nc6?
  
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