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Vladlen Yakovlevich Zurakhov vs Boris Spassky
USSR Championship (1956), Leningrad URS , rd 3, Jan-14
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation (B96)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-08-20  Petrosianic: This Najdorf line that Spassky plays is probably perfectly playable, but it just feels gratingly anti-positional, the way he keeps his KB and KR undeveloped so long, while opening up the center.

White's passed b and c pawns look dangerous, but there's no way he can advance them with all the majors on. Even keeping them back, White seems to get in a little trouble near the end. It looks nice when Black has to give up the exchange, but Black seems to actually be better, thanks to the open a file, and black squared Bishop.

If Spassky ever has anything, he loses it with 33...Qa2+. Two moves later, White sacks the exchange back with an easy draw.

But did Black have anything better? 33...Ra7 looks threatening. Black threatens to fork King and Rook at a time when he won't leave his own Rook unprotected if he takes on c4. White's going to have to give the exchange back anyway. 34. Rxg5+ fxg5.

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This looks really nice for Black. If 35. Qg2 f6, and White's f5 pawn is weak, but White can probably hold the major piece ending, but this is better than what Spassky played.

If Qg2 isn't good enough, maybe something like 35. f6+, sacking the weak pawn for open lines against the King. 35...Kxf6 36. Qf3+ Ke7 37. Re4 h4, and that doesn't look worth a pawn. White's Rook isn't well placed for offensive operations.

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Black may not be winning at the end, but at least this is the point of the line: to open up lines against White's queenside castled king and put pressure on him there. (Black seems happy to give up his a pawn on Move 23 to further this. And notice Black doesn't dare exchange Queens at Move 27, or those White pawns would roll). Apparently White isn't well placed enough to take advantage of Black's undeveloped kingside, but it's still ugly.

Jul-08-20  sakredkow: Thanks, @Petrosianic. That was a good lesson. I'm interested in these older Najdorf's with 6. Bg5 also.

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