Tuesday 10 February 2009

A tricky sacrifice against the Najdorf

While preparing for an online tournament I looked at a line in the Najdorf which may catch a few players unaware. White has been scoring well using the English attack against the Najdorf, so adventurous Black players sometimes choose to put the question to bishop on e3 with 6. ... Ng4. The book lines involve moving the bishop to g5 or c1 (offering a repetition after Nf6), but doing neither and instead playing 7.Bc4 invites a capture on e3. A couple of books I looked at then recommended 7. ... Nxe3 8.fxe3 e6 9.O-O Be7 However I've played at least one game where Rxf7 destroyed Black in a similar position (it was actually a BDG) and so I was suspicious of the recommendation. Turns out I had good reason as 10.Rxf7 looks to give White either an advantage or at worst a draw. And as Black has to play precisely to avoid getting mated, it may be a good practical line for White, especially against opponents who read the wrong sort of books!
As for my game, it turned out I was Black and decided not to invite the sacrifice, playing 9. ... Nc6.
Here is an example line where Black hasn't been mated but needs to work hard to hang on.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 Ng4 7.Bc4 Nxe3 8.fxe3 e6 9.0-0 Be7(D)
10.Rxf7 Kxf7 11.Qg4 Bf6 12.Nxe6 Bxe6 13.Qxe6+ Kg6 14.Qg4+ Kh6 15.Qh3+ Bh4 16.Rf1

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