1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 Possibly the most famous of all opening variations: Sicilian Defence, Najdorf, Poisoned Pawn variation, B97
8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.e5 Diagram This and 10.f5 are the main moves here. In the recent and well reviewed book "The Sicilian Najdorf 6.Bg5" Kevin Goh Wei Ming puts this move into historical perspective: "10.e5 was first played in the game Keres-Fuderer 1955 after which there were some spectactular wins with the white pieces. Then in the sixties, one Robert James Fischer came along and dampened White's spirits with three important victories with the black pieces. The line faded somewhat into oblivion until it re-exploded on to the the chess scene in 2007 when some fresh attacking ideas were found. For the next five years the variation became the hottest topic in practically all top events."
10...Nfd7?! Goh Wei Ming says this is a mistake which led to a brilliant White win in the Keres-Fuderer stem game! (see below) [10...dxe5 is the main line, a line which Goh Wei Ming illustrates with a brilliant correspondence game from our very own Michael Freeman! Apparently the incredible complexities of this variation make it a favourite correspondence battleground and well prepared over-the-board players take a keen interest in the top level correspondence games (and similarly engine games). In the following, quoted comments are from Goh Wei Ming's book 11.fxe5 Nfd7 12.Ne4 h6 13.Bh4 Qxa2 14.Rd1 Qd5 (14...Qb2 15.Qe3 Bc5 16.Be2 Qa3 17.c3 Nc6 18.0-0 Nxd4 19.Rxd4! Bxd4 20.Qxd4 0-0 21.Nf6+ Nxf6 22.Bxf6 Re8 23.Qg4 Qf8 "Black's position looks very suspicious, but still a direct breakthrough is lacking and the game eventually finished in a draw after more fireworks in M. Noble-T. Gildred correspondence 2009". Continuing the Kiwi connection!) 15.Qe3 Bc5!? "15...Bc5 scored well in its first few outings, but now appears to be relegated to the critical trashbin". (15...Qxe5 is apparently now the main move) 16.Nxe6 Bb4+ 17.c3 Qxe6 18.cxb4 0-0 19.Rd6 Goh Wei Ming believes this wins by force, not an evaluation that can be confirmed simply by computer 19...Qxe5 20.Bc4 Qh5 21.Bg3 Nc6 22.0-0 Nde5 23.Bxe5 Qxe5 24.Rd5 Diagram "It may not be obvious why White is winning in this position. He certainly has a lot of open lines to work with, but Black at least has exchanged some pieces and is only one move away from completing development. Again, concrete tactics are extremely important and here that one tempo proved enough for White to win the game." By now the computer can provide confirmation, although it is one of those position where it is initially enthusiastically excited by Black's material advantage, before changing its mind completely after a minute or two. The next phase of the game, including Black's desperate piece sacrifice on move 26, seems almost pre-ordained according to the computer. The position is wide open and seems to offer a lot of choice, but this is an illusion and almost all moves are essentially forced. Black has only moves to avoid immediate disaster and White has only moves to maintain his advantage. At the end of this phase White's advantage has transformed from 'more than sufficient compensation' to a small but winning endgame material plus. 24...Qb2 25.Nf6+ Kh8 26.Kh1 Diagram 26...Ne7 27.Qxe7 Be6 28.Rh5 Qc2 29.Bd5 Qd3 30.Rg1 Qg6 31.Bxe6 Diagram 31...fxe6 (A pretty line Goh Wei Ming attributes to Richard Palliser is 31...gxf6 32.Bf5 Qxh5 33.Qxf6+ Kg8 34.h4!! trapping the queen) 32.Nd7 Qxh5 33.Nxf8 Re8 34.Qd6 Qf5 35.Nd7 e5 36.Nc5 White has now overcome any difficulties associated with Black's piece sacrifice and wins on material 36...e4 37.Qd7 Qxd7 38.Nxd7 Rd8 39.Nc5 Rd4 40.Nxb7 Rxb4 41.Nc5 a5 42.Ra1 1-0 M Freeman -T Schmidt 2008]
11.Be2 Missing an opportunity to follow a great player in one of the classic line opening games [11.f5! Nxe5 12.fxe6 fxe6 13.Be2 Nbc6 14.Nxc6 bxc6 15.Ne4 d5 16.0-0 Qa4 17.Bh5+ Kd7 Diagram 18.Rxf8 1-0 Keres Fuderer 1955]
11...dxe5 12.fxe5 We have now transposed into a sideline usually reached by 10...dxe5 11.fxe5 Nfd7 12. Be2
12...Be7 A perfectly plausible novelty
13.Rb3 Qc5 14.Ne4 Bxg5 Diagram
15.Qxg5? Leading to an ending with a material advantage for Black [The computer likes 15.Nxg5 when it looks as if White's kingside attack is worth the pawn]
15...Qxe5 16.Qxe5 Nxe5 17.Nd6+ Ke7 18.Nxb7 Nbc6 19.Nxc6+ Nxc6 20.c3 Ne5 21.0-0 Ra7 22.Rfb1 Bd7 23.c4 Rc8 24.c5 Rc7 25.Rb6 Bc6 26.Nd6 Nd7 27.Bxa6 Nxb6 [not 27...Nxc5? 28.Nc8+ ]
28.cxb6 Kxd6 29.bxc7 Kxc7 30.Bc4 Diagram Black has neutralised all complications and should go on to win, but of course it is never easy against a skilful and determined opponent.
30...Kd6 31.Kf2 Bd5 32.Bxd5 exd5 Regular correspondent Russell Hosking of Henderson has pointed out to me that my fondness for quoting Tarrasch as the originator of the joke "All rook endings are drawn" is dubious since there is no evidence Tarrasch said any such thing, but it's still a good joke. (I just noticed Bob makes the same point in the same way in his report).
33.Rb2 Kc5 34.Ke3 d4+ 35.Kd3 Ra3+ 36.Kd2 Kd5 37.Ke2 Ke4 38.Kd2 f5 39.Ke1 g5 40.g3 f4 41.gxf4 gxf4 42.Rb7 Rxa2 43.Rxh7 Kf3 44.h4 Rh2 45.h5 Diagram
45...Rh1+? Now the game peters out to a draw [After 45...d3? 46.h6 d2+ 47.Kd1 there is no way to make progress since f2 isn't available to the Black king ...; ...which suggests doing it the other way 45...Ke3! 46.Re7+ Kd3 47.Rh7 f3 48.h6 f2+ 49.Kf1 Kd2! and this way around Black can advance his second pawn as well. It's much easier when Stockfish is pointing out the best moves]
46.Kd2 Kf2 47.h6 f3 48.Rh8 Rh2 49.h7 Kf1+ 50.Kd3 f2 51.Kxd4 Rh3 52.Kc4 Kg2 53.Rg8+ Kh2 54.Rf8 Rxh7 1/2-1/2