The Najdorf: a form of modern art

The following is an appraisal of a highly regarded flexible Chess defence known as The Najdorf which offers immense counter attacking possibilities to chess players playing Black against White. Here are some thematic points from Black’s perspective.

Generally speaking this is a review of Black’s best options after White’s 7th move – it is assumed that Black has played thematically up to this point. Note that games are identified according to White’s 6th move.


A b5 pawn break is thematic for Black.


especially so when White plays positionally on g3, when Black seeks to place a Bishop on b7.


however, b5 is often ignored in a4 and Bd3 games. In Bd3 games Black plays the Sicilian Dragon, preferring Nc6, g6 and Bg7 to the usual Najdorf leitmotifs of e5 or e6 and Nd7.


Bg5 game: Castle Queenside or not at all. Play h6, Be7, Nxe4 if applicable.


f4 game: Nd7 and later Re1 for central pressure imperative.


g3 game: Nd7 and Bb7.


a4 games: Double bishops on e6 and e7. Plus Qc7 and Nc6.


Be2 game: Double Bishops. Castle Kingside only after White castles. Mirror o-o.


Bc4: Fischer’s favourite attack offers even more variations. For example,


Bc4 game: White plays 7. a3. Black responds with: Be7


Bc4 game: White plays 7. Bg5. Black responds with: Qa5


Bc4 game: White castles Kingside. Black responds likewise.


Bc4 game: White plays Qe2 or a3. Black plays Nd7.

Thoughts inspired by Julien Arizmendi and Javier Moreno’s Mastering The Najdorf.

Pictures inspired by Cornwall, England.


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