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Hikaru Nakamura vs Ian Nepomniachtchi
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow (2017), Moscow RUS, rd 6, May-18
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf. Poisoned Pawn Variation (B97)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
May-18-17  Marmot PFL: Nakamura rejects a few queen trade offers and beats Nepomniatchi yet again. 14...Kf8 seems intended to defend Be7 in case black would play Nd4 but other than that doesn't look too good.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: 13 h4 is only equal according to Stockfish, but it guarantees Nakamura has looked at it at home, and had a draw in hand once the bishop is taken.

Nepomniachtchi went wrong early with 14...Kf8, and his King was never totally safe.

May-18-17  Mudphudder: Well played Naka. If I were to summarize this game I'd say that Naka was chasing Nepo's king while Nepo was chasing Naka's queen.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: 14...h5 is the preferred move, but imagine finding that over the board when it looks like it gives away a pawn.

if 14...h5 15 Bxf6 Bxf6 16 Qxh5 Qe3+ 17 Kb1 Qxf4 recovering the pawn 18 Rdf1 Qe5 when Black has two bishops and is only slightly worse, if at all.

May-18-17  Nerwal: <14...Kf8 seems intended to defend Be7 in case black would play Nd4 but other than that doesn't look too good.>

Antoher idea of ♔f8 is that Black can think about taking on g5 and then defend with ♘g8, but in that position it doesn't look too good.

(Nunn mentions about Dvoirys vs Khalifman, 1997 that Svidler suggested the very same but this time sound 17... ♔f8 )

May-18-17  morfishine: So far, so book, until Naka threw the book at him



May-18-17  SirRuthless: I stand by the idea that most lines in the Najdorf are unsound for black at this level. This is the fifth or sixth time I can remember in just the last few months at the SGM level black has been utterly lost just a few moves after the novelty is introduced by black or white.
May-19-17  zanzibar: 12.Bd3 is new using <MillBase> as reference.

I wonder how the opening play goes after 13...Ng4, which seems to be Black's best after 13.h4!?

Black seems to get a strike in the center with 15...e5, supporting the knight on g4, or 15...d5. Even 15...h5 seems playable.

The knight gums up K-side play by White, and threatens to go to e3.

I think the Najdorf isn't quite refuted yet.

Premium Chessgames Member
  moronovich: <I think the Najdorf isn't quite refuted yet.> :)

But Larsen once told me that Najdorf did´nt understand chess !..

May-19-17  whiteshark: GM Robert Lee Hess has commentated this <classic attack>:
May-19-17  Marmot PFL: White's only win so far in Moscow vs the Sicilian (1W, 3B, 7D).
May-19-17  zanzibar: The Sicilian is often a walk on a narrow ledge on a cliff, especially for Black.

But I would venture that it still offers the best chances of getting a win as Black, or so I think (is this still CW?). At least Anand thought so at some point when going up against Carlsen.

But <CG> might know better than me...

Opening Explorer

It seems 1...h5 (the Inverse Kadas?) offers the best winning percentage against 1.e4.

* * * * *

Hess' video looks pretty good, and although he mentions 13...Ng4 as well (following Nepo's suggestion(?)), he neglects to mention the novelty of 12.Bd3 - which <CG> also agrees is new.

May-20-17  morfishine: Of course the Sicilian is perfectly playable at GM level. The point behind the Sicilian (besides seeking inbalances) is the numerous side lines that make it virtually impossible to know all lines.

This is ideal for the Black player who can be patient, biding his time, looking for the slightest opening or sub-par move by White.

The endless side lines also offers the industrious player the opportunity for home preparation

The Sicilian will never go away


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