Chess Opening Theory/1. e4/1...c5/2. Nf3/2...d6/3. d4/3...cxd4/4. Nxd4/4...Nf6/5. Nc3/5...a6/6. Be3/6...e5
|Najdorf Sicilian, English Attack|
Najdorf Sicilian, English Attack
Moves:1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e5
In recent years, the most popular way for white to combat the Najdorf Variation at master level has been 6.Be3. This is called the English Attack, after successful use in the 1980s by English GMs such as Nunn, Short, and Miles.
The idea is nothing new: it has been for over half a century the most popular plan of attack against the Dragon Sicilian. It seems a bit like caveman chess: pawn storm with f2-f3, g2-g4, h2-h4 and crack open the kingside while castling long. Such crude play would seem to be easy to punish, but the statistics have given White no reason to stop playing the system: out of 7,000 master-level games dating from 1956 to 2008, White won 39% (2697 games) and drew 29% (2027 games). This should be good for White, who can expect to win only about 36% of the time and draw only 28% when entering the Najdorf Sicilian.
Black's 6...e5 is the most popular, and the most unbalancing, response to 6.Be3. The pawn thrust drives off the well-placed White knight on d4 to a more passive square. Two active proponents of this idea are World Champion Anand and world #1 Carlsen. Although there is a hole on d5, Black is saying, basically, that it is irrelevant to the play on the wings, while White is saying that Black will be lost if d5 is occupied.
Besides the normal, routine 7.Nb3, White also has the less popular 7.Nf3 and the passive 7.Nde2, which gives Black a good game.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e5
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de Firmian, Nick. Modern Chess Openings, 15th Edition. New York, NY: Random House, 2008.