Taimanov's Legacy

Table of Contents 
      1. Looking for an answer to the Grand Prix Attack as Black in the Sicilian, I came across a try which seemed to leave White nothing better than to transpose into a line of the Taimanov. Black equalised with some exotic-looking manoeuvres in Lein - Ivanovic [B23] Lone Pine, 1980
      2. Unzicker,W - Taimanov,M [B46] Wijk aan Zee, 1981
      3. Orlov - Taimanov,M [B46] St Petersburg, 1995
  1. [DIAGRAM]
      1. Kupreichik,V - Taimanov,M [B46] India, 1982
      2. 15...Rd8 16.g3 Ng6 17.b3 d6 18.Na4 Ne5 19.Bh5 g5 20.f3 Bb7 21.c4 d5 22.Nc5 1/2-1/2 Adorjan,A - Taimanov,M [B46] Budapest, 1982; 15...g5!?
      3. Furhoff,J - Taimanov,M [B46] Stockholm (3), 1994
      4. Mnatsakanian,E - Taimanov,M [B46] Erevan, 1986
      5. Topalov,V - Illescas Cordoba,M [B46] Alcobendas (3), 1994
      6. De Firmian,N - Zapata,A [B46] Tunis (12), 1985
      7. Leko,P (2605) - Lautier,J (2635) [B47] Dortmund (4), 1995
      8. DeFirmian,N - Wilder,M [B46] Estes Park (13), 1987
      9. Anand,V (2769) - Kasparov,G (2851) [B90] Chess@iceland Blitz Final Kopavogur ISL (4), 02.04.2000
      10. Diaz,J - Sion Castro,M [B48] Capablanca mem B (6), 1991
      11. Zagrebelny,S - Saltaev,M [B48] Moscow, 1995
      12. Leconte,J - Appleberry,M [B46] Paris Apsap Sept (4), 1993
      13. Karpov,A - Van der Wiel,J [B44] Tilburg (7), 1983
      14. Gallagher,J - Cramling,P [B44] Bern (3), 1991
      15. Meladze,F - Yudin,V [B44] corr Tch10-SU, 1994
      16. Berg,K - Eingorn,V [B44] London, 1989
      17. Klimov,S (2432) - Lindberg,B (2307) [B46] IM Salongernas Stockholm SWE (5), 09.06.1999
      18. Yemelin,V - Taimanov,M [B46] St Petersburg ch (6), 1997
      19. Petursson,M - Cramling,P [B46] Reykjavik (5), 1984
      20. Schneider Lars - Ake_Taimanov Mark [B46] Jurmala, 1978
      21. [7.Bg3 Be7! (e.g. 7...Nf6 8.Be2 Be7 9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.e5 Nd5 11.exd6 Bxd6 12.Ne4 Watson,W - Benjamin,J [B46] New York op (2), 1987/ 1-0 (33)) 8.Be2 e5! 9.Nb3 Nf6 10.Bh4 0-0 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.Bg4 Be6 13.Nd5 Nd4 14.Nxd4 Bxd5 15.exd5 exd4 16.0-0 Qa5 17.Bf3 Ivanovic,B-Romanishin,O/Lone Pine 1981/1/2-1/2 (53)]
      22. Chandler Murray - Andersson Ulf [B46] Naestved, 1985
      23. Bhend,E - Gallagher,J [B40] 1992
      24. Ricardi,P (2555) - Granda Zuniga,J (2600) [B30] Buenos Aires Najdorf (9), 1996

Introduction

I once read a comment in an old book that Samisch was the only master who had more than one opening system named after him (variations in the Nimzo- and King's Indian). I think that wasn't strictly true even then, but now there are many masters with opening namesakes. Pianist and Grandmaster Mark Taimanov has given to the chess world two prominent variations: in the Nimzo-Indian, the line 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 Nc6!? beloved of English master Michael Franklin, and in the Sicilian, the line 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 , usually followed by Taimanov's trademark ...Nge7

I thought both variations very odd when I first came across them: unnatural and awkward. But of course GM Taimanov sees a little deeper behind these moves than folks like me, so I've been following in his footsteps and trying to find out a bit more about what he saw in his line of the Sicilian.

My motive to do so now was curiosity, piqued by a few prompts in the last couple of years:

  1. Having a privileged trawl through some of Bob Lee's games, in which the Taimanov Sicilian featured strongly. (Bob approached 200 grade strength playing for Exeter in the 1970s, but his real forte was correspondence chess: read all about it!).
  2. Buying a copy of Nunn's Chess Openings , and, along with a thumbs-up to several other variations which I had always thought a bit duff theoretically, like the Stonewall Dutch, one line of the Sicilian that was doing well was the Taimanov Sicilian.

  3. Looking for an answer to the Grand Prix Attack as Black in the Sicilian, I came across a try which seemed to leave White nothing better than to transpose into a line of the Taimanov. Black equalised with some exotic-looking manoeuvres in Lein - Ivanovic [B23] Lone Pine, 1980
    1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 e6 4.Nf3 Nge7 5.d4 cxd4 6.Nxd4 Nxd4 7.Qxd4 a6 8.Qf2 b5 9.Bd3 Ng6 10.Be3 Bb7 11.Bd4 Qc7 12.0-0 f6 13.Bb6 Qc6 14.Be3 Rc8 15.a4 b4 16.Ne2 Bc5 ...0-1 (72)
  4. A growing dissatisfaction with the way I've been playing the Sicilian after 2. Nf3. I've played the Hyper-Accelerated Fianchetto for a lot of years (mixed in with some other stuff) but I think my interpretation of the variation has been a bit straightforward and it often leads to positions I find hard to play. So, I'd like to try something else, and I have devoted a bit of the summer break to researching the Taimanov.

Anyhow, here's some general thoughts on the Taimanov line.

What's in a name?

Taimanov himself generally refers to lines with an early ...Qc7 as the "(Improved) Paulsen" ( Sicilian Paulsen , Batsford 1984; Sicilian Defence Taimanov System , Batsford 1989, and Winning with the Sicilian , Batsford 1991), and this has been the most important at master level. So, Plaskett's introductory book on the line for Chess Press includes mostly games with ...Qc7. The strategy which is most characteristic of the line, and of which Taimanov was most keen to claim under his name, are the lines with ...Nge7.

Black can play his moves in many different orders, and, as so often in Modern openings, slide out into other variations entirely.

It's generally agreed that the Taimanov starts with

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 or

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6

Nunn and co. include under Taimanov the lines

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 a6 and 6...Qc7

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 a6 and 6...Nge7

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nb5 d6 6. c4

 

The related Kan Sicilian (without ...Nc6) is the move order:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 , followed often by 5.Nc3 Qc7

The position reached after the first four moves of this move order is printed on a Chess Digest booklet entitled " Sicilian: Kann/Paulsen-Taimanov

So... the Kan is e6 and Qc7 without Nc6, Taimanov is e6/Nc6 without Qc7, and e6/Nc6/Qc7 is what Taimanov calls Improved Paulsen and almost everyone else calls Taimanov. (Nf6 and d6 at any stage will get you into a Scheveningen.)

What's the big idea?

+-----------------+
|r+b1kgn4|
|+p+p+p0p|
|p+n+p+.+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|.+.HP+.+|
|+.H.+.+.|
|P)P+.)P)|
|$.GQIB+R|
+-----------------+

If its possible to put this modern GM opening in a nutshell, it's that Black intends to develop the Queen's-side quickly, with moves like ...b5, ...Bb7, ...Rc8, ...Qc7 and so on. You sometimes see the complete mobilisation of the Black Queen's-side forces before a single King's-side piece is touched (Leko's favourite).

The Black d-Pawn is kept back on d7. This enables Black to make a more aggressive posting of the King's Bishop, on c5 or b4, for example, and can also allow the Black Queen on c7 more scope.

Black hopes that the hole on d6 will take too much time and effort for White to occupy with any effect. While Black is staking out some space on the Queen's-side, he does not want to make a target of the King's-side.

The King's Knight is kept away from f6 for the early moves, not encouraging Pawn prods like e4-e5 or g4-g5, and may even go to e7. From there, it may go on to g6, covering the King's-side, but the other cunning plan is for Black to 'unload' a Knight with ...Nc6xd4, and then ...Ne7-c6, gaining time to unravel. With such an exchange of pieces, Black's typical Sicilian cramp is less, and White has fewer prospects of attack.

+-----------------+
|r+b+.4k+|
|+.1.gp0p|
|p+n0p+.+|
|+p+.+.+.|
|.+.+P).+|
|+.H.GB+.|
|P)P+.!P)|
|+.+R+RI.|
+-----------------+

(Wittmann,W - Klinger,J AUT-ch (3), 1993 (0-1, 57))

Plaskett comments:

"This is almost exactly what Black aims for in this system: a standard Sicilian middle-game but where the reduction in material lessens the danger of White commencing a successful attack. (...) In this very standard position Black can face the future with total confidence."

This of course could have arisen from the Grand Prix line above.

Taimanov's line has been played for decades and remains important, having been played in its various forms by many top players, including champions Tal, Fischer and Karpov, occasionally Kasparov, and a host of others like Andersson, Benjamin, Bronstein, Christiansen, Larsen, Portisch, Ribli, Sokolov, Suetin and Timman. The old Paulsen formation has been played by just about everybody!

 

After what I'm calling the Paulsen/Taimanov move order:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 a6

White has a big choice: 6. Be2, 6. Be3, 6. Nxc6 , and 6. g3 are most often played, but you get 6. f4 6. Bf4 and 6. Bc4 occasionally.

Taimanov's system

6. Be2 Nge7

According to Plaskett, Bill Hartston once wrote, 'all true Taimanov players should be aiming to be playing ...Nge7' , although Soapy Jim in his own practice seems to prefer the Paulsen method with an early ...Qc7. In fact, most people do – the lines with ...Nge7 get only three rows in NCO, while ...Qc7 gets three pages!

It's still a rich position, not yet exhausted. White's main tries are: Nb3, O-O, Be3, f4 and Bf4, most of which are dismissed in NCO with the assessment "=". It's only "=" if you know what you're doing, though!

Let's see the Taimanov method in action. This is a game from his 1989 book for Batsford on the system, and the notes are based on his:


Unzicker,W - Taimanov,M [B46] Wijk aan Zee, 1981

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 Nge7 7.Be3 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 b5 9.0-0[DIAGRAM]

9.O-O-O and 9. a4 are alternatives

9...Nc6 10.Qd2

The White Queen must sometimes find a more awkward square, if Black 'unloads' before White has moved the Bc1

10...Be7

+-----------------+
|r+b1k+.4|
|+.+pgp0p|
|p+n+p+.+|
|+p+.+.+.|
|.+.+P+.+|
|+.H.G.+.|
|P)P!B)P)|
|$.+.+RI.|
+-----------------+

NCO gives here 11.Rad1 0-0 12.Bf4 f6 13.a4 bxa4 14.Nxa4 Ne5 15.Be3 Rb8 16.f4 Nf7 = Khalifman-Taimanov 1996

11.f4 Bb7 12.e5!? [12.Rad1] 12...Na5!? 13.Bd3 Rc8 14.Ne2 Nc4 15.Bxc4 Rxc4 16.Rad1 Qc8

[DIAGRAM] And still Black is not castled - in fact, castling here drops the d-Pawn. For all the pressure White has gathered against d7, Black's attack on c2 is the more important.

+-----------------+
|.+q+k+.4|
|+b+pgp0p|
|p+.+p+.+|
|+p+.).+.|
|.+r+.).+|
|+.+.G.+.|
|P)P!N+P)|
|+.+R+RI.|
+-----------------+

17.c3?! b4!

threat ...bxc3 18.Nxc3 Bb4

18.Rc1

[18.cxb4 Bxb4 19.Qd3 Be4]

18...0-0 19.b3 bxc3 20.Nxc3 Rc6 21.Na4 Ba3 22.Rxc6 Qxc6 23.Nb6 d6!? 24.exd6

[24.Nc4 Bb4]

24...Bxd6 25.Rc1 Qe4 26.Rc4 Qb1+ 27.Rc1 Qg6 28.Qc2 Be4 29.Qf2 Rd8!? 30.Rd1 Bc7 31.Rxd8+ Bxd8 32.Nc4 Bd5

[DIAGRAM] Black's Bishops rule.

+-----------------+
|.+.g.+k+|
|+.+.+p0p|
|p+.+p+q+|
|+.+b+.+.|
|.+N+.).+|
|+P+.G.+.|
|P+.+.!P)|
|+.+.+.I.|
+-----------------+

33.Nd2 h6 34.h3 a5 35.Nf3 Bc7 36.Nd4 Qb1+ 37.Kh2 g5!? 38.Nb5 Bxf4+ 39.Bxf4 gxf4 40.Nc3 Qf5 41.Nxd5 exd5 42.Qd4 Qe4 43.Qf6 d4! 44.Qxh6 Qe5! 45.Qh4  

[DIAGRAM] Black seems to have more Pawns! The thing is, more passed Pawns.

+-----------------+
|.+.+.+k+|
|+.+.+p+.|
|.+.+.+.+|
|0.+.1.+.|
|.+.0.0.!|
|+P+.+.+P|
|P+.+.+PI|
|+.+.+.+.|
+-----------------+

45...d3 46.Qd8+ Kg7 47.Qxd3 f3+ 48.Kg1 Qe1+ 49.Kh2 f2 50.Qg3+ Kf8 51.Qb8+ Ke7 52.Qc7+ Ke6 53.Qc4+ Ke5 0-1

See also the game with Mnatsakian below, with similar themes. Taimanov has shown the flexibility and resilience of this defence over decades of master play.

NCO gives the current verdict on alternative lines as:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 Nge7

7.f4 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Nc6 9.Qf2 d6 10.Be3 b5 11.0-0 Be7 12.Rad1 Qc7 =;

7.0-0 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Nc6 9.Qd3 Qc7 (9...Nb4? 10.Qg3! Nxc2 11.Bg5 f6 12.Bf4±) 10.Bg5 Bd6 11.Kh1 f6 12.Be3 (12.Bh4 Ne5 13.Qd2 Ng6 14.Bg3 Bxg3 15.hxg3 b5 =) 12...b5 13.f4 Be7 14.e5 0-0 =

I don't know how often you'll get to play these Classical lines: neither club nor master players currently prefer these slow Karpovian systems with 6.Be2 against the Sicilian.

Avoiding the unload

If Black has made the unnatural move ...Nge7 planning ...Ncxd4/...Nec6, can White take advantage of this? Perhaps by dodging the exchange with 7.Nb3 or 7. Nf3. Black must not sit by and get squashed, but must keep White off-balance.


Orlov - Taimanov,M [B46] St Petersburg, 1995

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 Nge7 7.Nb3 b5! 8.0-0 Ng6 9.f4 Be7 10.Be3 0-0 11.Bd3 Nb4! 12.Qh5 Nxd3 13.cxd3 f5! 14.Nd5 Bb7! 15.Nxe7+ Nxe7 16.Nc5 Bc6 17.Bd4 Qe8! 18.Qg5 Qf7 

[DIAGRAM]

...0-1 (61)

+-----------------+
|r+.+.4k+|
|+.+phq0p|
|p+b+p+.+|
|+pH.+p!.|
|.+.GP).+|
|+.+P+.+.|
|P).+.+P)|
|$.+.+RI.|
+-----------------+

NCO prefers

7...Ng6 8.0-0 Be7 9.Be3 0-0 10.f4 b5 11.Bd3 Nb4 12.Be2 =

Going for the jugular

i.e. the weak spot on d6. This can be strong plan and may give a pretty prospectless game for Black (White's statistics in this line are impressive), but Taimanov doesn't usually have much trouble holding the position, e.g.


Kupreichik,V - Taimanov,M [B46] India, 1982

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 Nge7 7.Bf4 Ng6 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.Bd6 Bxd6 10.Qxd6 Qe7 11.0-0-0 Qxd6 12.Rxd6 Ke7 13.Rhd1 Nf4 14.Bf3 Rb8 (threat ...Nd5) 15.R6d2

[DIAGRAM]

+-----------------+
|.4b+.+.4|
|+.+pip0p|
|p+p+p+.+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|.+.+Ph.+|
|+.H.+B+.|
|P)P$.)P)|
|+.IR+.+.|
+-----------------+

White undoubtedly has a plus here, but can he win?

15...e5


15...Rd8 16.g3 Ng6 17.b3 d6 18.Na4 Ne5 19.Bh5 g5 20.f3 Bb7 21.c4 d5 22.Nc5 1/2-1/2 Adorjan,A - Taimanov,M [B46] Budapest, 1982; 15...g5!?

16.g3 Ne6 17.Bg4 Nc5 18.a3 a5 19.f4 f6 20.fxe5 fxe5 21.Rf2 d6 22.Bxc8 Rhxc8 23.Rdf1 Rf8 1/2-1/2

Plaskett notes the interesting alternative...


Furhoff,J - Taimanov,M [B46] Stockholm (3), 1994

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 Nge7 7.Bf4 Ng6 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.Bd6 f6!? 10.0-0 Bxd6 11.Qxd6 Qe7 12.Rad1 Qxd6 13.Rxd6 Ke7 14.Rfd1 Rb8 1/2-1/2

[DIAGRAM]

+-----------------+
|.+r+.i.+|
|+.+R+.0p|
|.+p+p0n+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|N+.+P+.+|
|+.+.+.).|
|P+r+.).)|
|+.+R+.I.|
+-----------------+

...but goes on to say that he would avoid the whole line by sticking in 7...Nxd4.

The squeeze

6. g3

This is a good Grandmaster move, flexible and keeping the edge (5. g3 can be met by 5...d5!=). Taimanov gives a fine game in his Batsford books:


Mnatsakanian,E - Taimanov,M [B46] Erevan, 1986

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 a6 6.g3 Nge7

White has a lot of choice here: Nde2, f4, Be3, Nb3 and the simple Bg2.

7.Bg2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Nc6 9.Qd1 Be7 10.0-0 0-0 11.Be3 b5 12.f4 Bb7 13.Qe2

+-----------------+
|r+.1.4k+|
|+b+pgp0p|
|p+n+p+.+|
|+p+.+.+.|
|.+.+P).+|
|+.H.G.).|
|P)P+Q+B)|
|$.+.+RI.|
+-----------------+

Despite White's undynamic start the first impression is that White is doing well (more space, better development, pressure down the d-file and prospects on the King's-side). But Black is solid and has his own chances on the Queen's-side - chances he makes full use of! Black's play is typical and exemplary:

13...Rc8 14.Qf2?! Na5!? 15.Nd1

[15.Bb6 Qxb6!? (15...Qe8!) 16.Qxb6 Bc5+]

15...Nc4 16.Bd4 f6!

[DIAGRAM]

Black is playing a careful game, adeptly combining attack and defence.

+-----------------+
|.+r1.4k+|
|+b+pg.0p|
|p+.+p0.+|
|+p+.+.+.|
|.+nGP).+|
|+.+.+.).|
|P)P+.!B)|
|$.+N+RI.|
+-----------------+

17.c3 e5 18.Ba7 Qc7 19.Kh1 Bc6!?

[DIAGRAM]

+-----------------+
|.+r+.4k+|
|G.1pg.0p|
|p+b+.0.+|
|+p+.0.+.|
|.+n+P).+|
|+.).+.).|
|P).+.!B)|
|$.+N+R+K|
+-----------------+

20.Be3 Qb7!? 21.Qc2 d5!

[DIAGRAM]

The Sicilian player's delight is a central break.

+-----------------+
|.+r+.4k+|
|+q+.g.0p|
|p+b+.0.+|
|+p+p0.+.|
|.+n+P).+|
|+.).G.).|
|P)Q+.+B)|
|$.+N+R+K|
+-----------------+

22.exd5 Bxd5 23.Bxd5+ Qxd5+ 24.Qg2 Rfd8

[DIAGRAM]

Black is on top.

+-----------------+
|.+r4.+k+|
|+.+.g.0p|
|p+.+.0.+|
|+p+q0.+.|
|.+n+.).+|
|+.).G.).|
|P).+.+Q)|
|$.+N+R+K|
+-----------------+

25.fxe5? Qxg2+ 26.Kxg2 Rxd1 0-1

Not all your games with the Taimanov will be so smooth!

More typical is restraint with Nb3 and a4, which, if Black doesn't organise any counterplay, can be very effective:


Topalov,V - Illescas Cordoba,M [B46] Alcobendas (3), 1994

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 a6 6.g3 Nge7 7.Nb3 d6 8.a4 Bd7 9.Bg2 Nc8 10.0-0 Be7 11.Qe2 0-0 12.Be3 Qc7 13.f4 Rb8?!

[DIAGRAM] Black is already on the slide.

+-----------------+
|.4n+.4k+|
|+p1bgp0p|
|p+n0p+.+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|P+.+P).+|
|+NH.G.).|
|.)P+Q+B)|
|$.+.+RI.|
+-----------------+

14.g4! Re8 15.g5 Nb4 16.Qf2 b5 17.axb5 axb5 18.f5 Nxc2 19.Qxc2 b4 20.g6 e5 21.Nc5 bxc3 22.Na6 Rxb2 23.Nxc7 Rxc2 24.Nxe8 Bxe8 25.f6 Rxg2+ 26.Kxg2 Bxf6 27.Ra8 Bd7 28.Rc1 1-0

Brutal. The GMs specialising in this line have often gone for Illescas' system, but 'chasing' the White Knight with ...Na5.


De Firmian,N - Zapata,A [B46] Tunis (12), 1985

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 6.g3 Nge7 7.Nb3! d6 (7...Na5!?) 8.Bg2 (8.a4!?) 8...Bd7 9.0-0 Nc8 10.a4 Be7 11.Qe2 0-0 12.Be3 Na5 13.Nxa5 Qxa5 14.Bd4 Bd8 15.Rfd1 Bc6

[DIAGRAM] (1-0, 58)

+-----------------+
|r+ng.4k+|
|+p+.+p0p|
|p+b0p+.+|
|1.+.+.+.|
|P+.GP+.+|
|+.H.+.).|
|.)P+Q)B)|
|$.+R+.I.|
+-----------------+

Taimanov gives this as "equal" (1989) or "comfortable" (1991), but gives the whole game in the back of the 1989 book, making it look like an absolute crush for White, Black being unable to organise any counterplay with his awkwardly placed pieces. Whatever the real verdict here, it's still a pretty passive line for Black, and I'd like to find an idea to brighten it up a little. Perhaps Black cannot really hope to equalise with ...Nge7 and must play the Paulsen move ...Qc7.


Leko,P (2605) - Lautier,J (2635) [B47] Dortmund (4), 1995

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.g3 a6 7.Bg2 Nf6 8.0-0 Bc5[DIAGRAM]

[8...Be7 9. Re1 Nxd4 10. E5!? (Motwani) 10...Nb4!? (Tal); 8...Nxd4 9. Qxd4 Bc5 is the old main line, as in a Fischer-Taimanov match game]

+-----------------+
|r+b+k+.4|
|+p1p+p0p|
|p+n+ph.+|
|+.g.+.+.|
|.+.HP+.+|
|+.H.+.).|
|P)P+.)B)|
|$.GQ+RI.|
+-----------------+

9.Nb3 Ba7 10.Bg5 Ne5 11.Qe2 d6 12.Kh1 h6 13.Bxf6 gxf6 14.f4 Nc4 15.f5 Ne3 16.Rf3 Nxg2 17.Kxg2 Bd7 18.fxe6 fxe6 19.Rxf6 h5[DIAGRAM]

with compensation (NCO)

20.Rd1 0-0-0 21.h4 Kb8 22.Nd4 Qc5 23.Nf3 Rhf8 24.Rxf8 Rxf8 1/2-1/2

+-----------------+
|r+.+k+.4|
|gp1b+.+.|
|p+.0p$.+|
|+.+.+.+p|
|.+.+P+.+|
|+NH.+.).|
|P)P+Q+K)|
|$.+.+.+.|
+-----------------+

After 6...Nge7, White often plays the 7.Nb3 seen above, so Plaskett has recommended 6...Nxd4 as played by Wilder, but after 7. Qxd4 Ne7 8. Bf4 Nc6 9. Qd2 White has organised his pieces better than usual. Still, it's a game.


DeFirmian,N - Wilder,M [B46] Estes Park (13), 1987

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 6.g3 Nxd4 7.Qxd4 Ne7 8.Bf4 Nc6 9.Qd2 b5 10.Bg2 Bb7 11.0-0 Na5 12.b3 Rc8 13.Ne2 Nc6 14.Rfd1 Be7 15.Rac1 f6 16.c4

[DIAGRAM]

16...Ne5

17.cxb5 Rxc1 18.Nxc1 axb5 19.Nd3 Nxd3 20.Qxd3 e5 21.Be3 Bc6 22.Bh3 Qc7 23.a4 bxa4 24.bxa4 Bxa4 25.Ra1 Qc6 26.Qd5 Rf8 27.Bxd7+ Qxd7 28.Qa8+ 1/2-1/2

+-----------------+
|.+r1k+.4|
|+b+pg.0p|
|p+.+p0.+|
|+p+.h.+.|
|.+P+PG.+|
|+P+.+.).|
|P+.!N)B)|
|+.$R+.I.|
+-----------------+

The English attack

Our Government is always going on about traditional British values, which I have always thought of as class prejudice and self-loathing. In chess terms, perhaps the distinctive British value is an aptitude for deceptively simple attacking opening systems.

I can think of several recent examples of home-grown openings that have gained a wide currency – the Penrose Benoni, the DERLD, the Grand Prix Attack, the Trompovsky, the 150 Attack in the Pirc, and the English Attack in the main line Sicilians. This was pioneered by top GMs Nunn and Short, and involves playing an attack with Be3 and Qd2, usually with f3. If you know the Yugoslav Attack against the Dragon, you'll know the White moves.

This is a bit of a theoretical minefield at the moment. You can play into one of the current main lines of the Scheveningen/ Najdorf, which Kasparov is currently handling comfortably as Black:


Anand,V (2769) - Kasparov,G (2851) [B90] Chess@iceland Blitz Final Kopavogur ISL (4), 02.04.2000

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 e6 7.Be3 b5 8.Qd2 Nbd7 9.g4 Nb6 10.a4 Nc4 11.Bxc4 bxc4 12.0-0 Bb7 13.g5 Nd7 14.f4 Nc5 15.Qg2 g6 16.Rad1 Qc7 17.Qg4 h6 18.f5

+-----------------+
|r+.+kg.4|
|+b1.+p+.|
|p+.0p+p0|
|+.h.+P).|
|P+pHP+Q+|
|+.H.G.+.|
|.)P+.+.)|
|+.+R+RI.|
+-----------------+

[DIAGRAM]

Black has held back on the King's-side, and avoided committing the King, so is well-placed to absorb this thematic break.

18...gxf5 19.exf5 e5 20.Ne6 fxe6 21.Qh5+ Kd8 22.f6 Qc6 23.Rd2 Kc7 24.g6 Rg8 25.g7 Bxg7 26.Qf7+ Qd7 27.Qxd7+ Nxd7 28.fxg7 Rxg7+ 29.Kf2 d5 0-1

But if you prefer something a little less topical? A strictly Taimanov interpretation allows plenty of extra scope for ideas. Let's see:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 Qc7 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.f3

[DIAGRAM] Plaskett notes 8...Ne5!?, 8...Bb4!?, 8...d5!?, 8...Nxd4 and even Fernand Gobet's 7...Nxd4 as workable replies making various uses of the Taimanov move-order. A more orthodox Taimanov strategy (with an early ...b5) is also playable:

+-----------------+
|r+b+kg.4|
|+p1p+p0p|
|p+n+ph.+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|.+.HP+.+|
|+.H.GP+.|
|P)P!.+P)|
|$.+.IB+R|
+-----------------+


Diaz,J - Sion Castro,M [B48] Capablanca mem B (6), 1991

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 a6 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.f3 b5 9.g4 Bb7 10.0-0-0 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 Bd6 12.g5 Bf4 13.Be3 Nh5 14.Ne2 Bxe3 15.Qxe3 Rc8 16.Rd2 Qc5 17.Nd4 Qe5 18.Ne2 Qc5

+-----------------+
|.+r+k+.4|
|+b+p+p0p|
|p+.+p+.+|
|+p1.+.)n|
|.+.+P+.+|
|+.+.!P+.|
|P)P$N+.)|
|+.I.+B+R|
+-----------------+

[DIAGRAM]

19.Qd3 d5 20.e5 d4 21.Nxd4 Qxe5 22.Nxe6 Qe1+ 23.Rd1 Qxe6 24.Qa3 Nf4 25.h4 Qe3+ 26.Kb1 Qc5 0-1

Theory in this line is still settling down, and while in practice most Taimanov players have played the familiar way, I might prefer the early ...Bb4 system.


Zagrebelny,S - Saltaev,M [B48] Moscow, 1995

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Qc7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.f3 a6 8.Qd2 Ne5 9.0-0-0 Bb4 10.Nb3 b5 11.Bd4 h6 12.a3

+-----------------+
|r+b+k+.4|
|+.1p+p0.|
|p+.+ph.0|
|+p+.h.+.|
|.g.GP+.+|
|)NH.+P+.|
|.)P!.+P)|
|+.IR+B+R|
+-----------------+

[DIAGRAM]

[Pribyl was successful with 12. Kb1 Nc4 against Christiansen]

12...Be7 13.Bxe5 Qxe5 14.f4 Qc7 15.e5 Ng4 16.Qe2 h5 17.Ne4 Bb7 18.h3 Nh6 19.g4 Qc4 20.Rd4 Qxe2 21.Bxe2 f5 22.exf6 gxf6 1/2-1/2

 

Can you play the pure Taimanov, 6. Be3 Nge7? Of course you can, and Taimanov has, but it's nothing like so popular a try, since Black knows that the Queen will have a good retreat square after 'unloading'. He gives:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 Nge7

[DIAGRAM]

+-----------------+
|r+b1kgn4|
|+p+p+p0p|
|p+n+p+.+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|.+.HP+.+|
|+.H.G.+.|
|P)P+.)P)|
|$.+QIB+R|
+-----------------+

[6...Nxd4 7.Qxd4 Ne7 8.f4 b5 9.0-0-0 Nc6 10.Qd2 Be7 11.Qf2 Bb7 12.g4 0-0 13.Bg2 Qc8 14.Bc5 Bxc5 15.Qxc5 Na5 16.Qxc8 Polgar,S-Taimanov,M/Foxtrot, London ENG 1996/0-1 (34)]

7.Nb3 b5 8.a3

[8.f4 d6 9.Bd3 Bb7 10.Qf3 Ng6 (10...Nc8) 11.0-0 (11.0-0-0 Rc8) 11...Be7 12.a4 b4 13.Ne2 0-0 14.a5 Bf6 15.Bb6 Qb8„ Ciocaltea-Taimanov 1974;

8.Bd3]

8...Ng6 9.f4 Be7 [9...Qc7 10.Qd2 Be7 11.g3 0-0 12.h4 b4 13.axb4 Bxb4 14.Bg2 Nge7 15.0-0 d5!?=+ Shamkovich-Taimanov 1967]

10.g3 d6 11.Qd2 Rb8 12.Bg2 Qc7 13.0-0 0-0 14.Rad1 b4... 1/2-1/2 (30)


Leconte,J - Appleberry,M [B46] Paris Apsap Sept (4), 1993

Whose afraid of the big bad Maroczy Bind?

The Maroczy bind, with White Pawns on e4 and c4, is a key test of any Sicilian line in which it can be applied. The immediate 5.c4 is a bit slow, and players in the days of Nimzovitch and Tarrasch showed that Black is well-placed to react to it with ...Nf6 and ...Bb4. But a preliminary 5.Nb5 is a significant strengthening of the strategy, forcing ...d6, stopping ...Bb4 and avoiding exchanges. It has been an occasional weapon of Karpov against a line he's played himself, and Karpov, as always, makes the line look like a smooth White win. He maintains the spatial edge, gradually pushing Black back and finally striking hard on the Queen's-side, after which Black's counterattack looks desperate.


Karpov,A - Van der Wiel,J [B44] Tilburg (7), 1983

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nb5 d6 6.c4 Nf6 7.N1c3 a6 8.Na3 Be7 9.Be2 0-0 10.0-0 b6 11.Be3 Re8 12.Rc1 Bf8 13.Qb3 Nd7 14.Rfd1 Nc5 15.Qc2 Bb7 16.Qd2 Rc8 17.Nc2 Ne5 18.f3 Rc7

[DIAGRAM]

+-----------------+
|.+.1rgk+|
|+b4.+p0p|
|p0.0p+.+|
|+.h.h.+.|
|.+P+P+.+|
|+.H.GP+.|
|P)N!B+P)|
|+.$R+.I.|
+-----------------+

Karpov has made a good living out of such small advantages.

19.Bf2 Qb8 20.Nd4 Rec8 21.b3 Be7 22.Bf1 Kh8 23.Be3 Rg8 24.Bg5 Bf8 25.Nce2 h6 26.Be3 Qd8 27.Ng3 Qh4 28.Be2 g6 29.b4 Ncd7 30.Bf2 Qe7 31.f4 Nc6 32.Nf3 Nf6 33.Bxb6 Rd7 34.b5 Nb8 35.Bd3 Bg7 36.Qe2 Rc8 37.a4 Ba8 38.a5 Ne8 39.Qe3 Kh7 40.Be2 Nf6 41.h3 d5 42.cxd5 Rxc1 43.Qxc1 exd5 44.e5 Ne4 45.Nf1 Qb4 46.Qc8 Nc3 47.Rd2 Nxe2+ 48.Rxe2 d4 49.Qxb8 Bxf3 50.gxf3 d3 51.Rd2 Qxf4 52.Be3 Qxf3 53.bxa6 Rd5 54.Qb7 Bxe5 55.Rf2 Qe4 56.Rxf7+ Kg8 57.Qe7 1-0

Current thinking on the line is that it's not that good for White. The offside Knight on a3 is a significant cost and Black should be able to equalise in true Hedgehog style – White doesn't have that many obvious plans and Black should be able to keep them under control. Gallagher in Beating the Sicilian 3 tells a sad tale; after:


Gallagher,J - Cramling,P [B44] Bern (3), 1991

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nb5 d6 6.c4 Nf6 7.N1c3 a6 8.Na3 Be7 9.Be2 b6 10.Be3 Ne5! 11.f4 Ned7 12.Bf3 Bb7 13.0-0 0-0 14.Qe2

[DIAGRAM] White has a good plan here of playing his g-Pawn up from g2 to g4 and g5, squeezing the bind and getting some heat off the e-Pawn. But:

+-----------------+
|r+.1.4k+|
|+b+ngp0p|
|p0.0ph.+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|.+P+P).+|
|H.H.GB+.|
|P).+Q+P)|
|$.+.+RI.|
+-----------------+

14...h6! Now g4 is met by ...Nh7! and ...g5! when White must relinquish control of e5. 15.Rfd1 Qc7 16.Rac1 Rac8 17.Bf2 Rfe8 18.Rc2 Bf8 1/2-1/2

This is the idea Nunn, Gallagher and their collaborators recommend for Black in Nunn's Chess Openings . Now, better players than me are still playing this line for a win as White, but White is as likely to lose the plot as Black here, typically by over-reaching on the King's-side and getting blown up in the middle:


Meladze,F - Yudin,V [B44] corr Tch10-SU, 1994

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nb5 d6 6.c4 Nf6 7.N1c3 a6 8.Na3 b6 9.Be2 Bb7 10.f4 Be7 11.0-0 0-0 12.Be3 Nb8 13.Bf3 Nbd7 14.Qe2 Re8 15.g4 h6 16.Qg2 Nh7 17.Rac1 Rc8 18.Ne2 Nhf8 19.g5 hxg5 20.fxg5 Ne5 21.h4 Nfd7 22.Ng3[DIAGRAM]

+-----------------+
|.+r1r+k+|
|+b+ngp0.|
|p0.0p+.+|
|+.+.h.).|
|.+P+P+.)|
|H.+.GBH.|
|P).+.+Q+|
|+.$.+RI.|
+-----------------+

All finished over there? Right, now, as far as I remember, an attack on the wing is best met by play in the centre...

22...d5! 23.exd5 Bxa3 24.bxa3 Rxc4 25.Rxc4 Nxc4 26.dxe6 Rxe6 27.Bd4 Nde5 28.Bxe5 Bxf3 29.Qxf3 Nxe5 30.Qf4 Qe7 31.Qb4 Qc7 32.Nf5 Nc4 33.Qc3 Re5 − 34.Qf3?? Nd2 0-1

 

Lastly, the system with Nb5 and Bf4 is still played and may suffice for a typical White edge (NCO again). A twist noted by NCO is White's attempt to lean on the d-Pawn, but Black can let it go and seems to have sufficient compensation:


Berg,K - Eingorn,V [B44] London, 1989

1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 c5 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nb5 d6 6.Bf4 e5 7.Be3 a6 8.N5c3 Nf6 9.Bg5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.Nd2

[11.Nd5 Bg5 = NCO 12.Na3 Be6 1/2-1/2 Adorjan,A-Langeweg,K/Amsterdam 1971]

11...0-0 12.Nc4 b5[DIAGRAM]

[12...Be7 13. a4]

+-----------------+
|r+b1.4k+|
|+.+.+p0p|
|p+n0.g.+|
|+p+.0.+.|
|.+N+P+.+|
|+.H.+.+.|
|P)P+.)P)|
|$.+QIB+R|
+-----------------+

13.Nxd6

[13.Qxd6 Qxd6 14.Nxd6 Be6 15.Be2 Rab8 =~ Kasparov-Anand, Frankfurt 1998]

13...Be6 14.Nf5 Bxf5 15.Qxd8 Raxd8 16.exf5 e4 17.Nxe4 Rfe8 18.Bd3 Bxb2 with compensation NCO

19.Rb1 Bc3+ 20.Kf1 Bd4 21.g3 Ne7 22.g4 Nd5 23.Kg2 g6 24.Kf3 gxf5 25.gxf5 Nf6 26.Nxf6+ Bxf6 1/2-1/2

 

The non-Sicilian Sicilian

The line that Nunn and Gallagher actually recommended for White in Beating the Sicilian 3 was a formation which neither Black nor White will find familiar from elsewhere in the Sicilian, but which French players might find to their taste.

The idea is for White to play Nxc6, and after ...bxc6, play against Black's less flexible Pawn structure and maybe get in an attack on the King's-side. Black often plays ...d5, hence the link with the French. Fischer had a couple of important games with this structure: beating Petrosian with White in 1971, a classic BvN endgame, and holding the draw against Spassky in the decisive game of the 1972 match.

I don't see many White endgames in this line these days in this line, what you get is an abundance of hacks:


Klimov,S (2432) - Lindberg,B (2307) [B46] IM Salongernas Stockholm SWE (5), 09.06.1999

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.0-0 Bd6 9.Re1 Ne7 10.Qh5

[10.Qg4 0-0 11.e5 f5 12.Qh4 Bc5 = Siero-Lebredo, 1983; 10.e5 Bc7 11.Qg4 Ng6]

10...e5 11.f4 d4 12.fxe5 Qa5 13.Rf1 Ng6 14.Nb5 Bb8[DIAGRAM]

+-----------------+
|rgb+k+.4|
|+.+.+p0p|
|p+p+.+n+|
|1N+.).+Q|
|.+.0P+.+|
|+.+B+.+.|
|P)P+.+P)|
|$.G.+RI.|
+-----------------+

15.e6 axb5 16.exf7+ Kf8 17.e5 Nxe5 18.Bh6 Qc7 19.Bxg7+ Kxg7 20.Qxh7+ 1-0

This line is one of the reasons Black players like to play 5...Qc7 , on, so they can recapture on c6 with the Queen ( 6. Ndb5!? Qb8! and ...a6 is not a problem for Black). But if you want to play 6...Nge7 , you've got to play 5...a6 , and if you waste another move with a Pawn by playing 5...a6 , White might decide to play 6. Nxc6 . (Plaskett says Kamsky once jumped the gun with 5.Nxc6 , and won.)

Now, this system is undoubtedly dangerous and has a very high percentage of White wins. But the theoretical verdict from NCO is quite consoling for Black, and the evergreen Taimanov shows us the way:


Yemelin,V - Taimanov,M [B46] St Petersburg ch (6), 1997

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.0-0 Nf6 9.Re1 (9. Qe2!?) 9...Be7 (9...Bb7!?, 9...Rb8!?) 10.e5 Nd7 11.Qg4 g6 12.Bh6 Rb8 13.Nd1!? Rb4 14.Qe2 Bg5 15.c3 Rb6=

[DIAGRAM] (1/2-1/2, 80)

+-----------------+
|.+b1k+.4|
|+.+n+p+p|
|p4p+p+pG|
|+.+p).g.|
|.+.+.+.+|
|+.)B+.+.|
|P).+Q)P)|
|$.+N$.I.|
+-----------------+

White is well-developed but Black has it all under control. Gambiting the b-Pawn at move 13 is only unclear: it's not obvious that White has compensation.

Overall, this is not a great line to play for a win with as Black but generally you should look forward to grinding points in the endgame as Black (in this, like so many other lines of the Sicilian).

Sundries

Taimanov is pretty dismissive of other systems tried against the Taimanov, but I would not be confident about refuting them if I had not seen them before: we examine 6. Bc4, 6. Bf4 , and 6. f4.


Petursson,M - Cramling,P [B46] Reykjavik (5), 1984

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 Qc7 7.Bb3

[7.0-0 Nf6 8.h3 (8.Be3 Ng4) 8...Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Bc5 10.Qd3 b5 11.Bb3 Bb7 12.Re1 d6 13.Be3 0-0 = Lutikov-Taimanov 1978]

7...Nf6 8.Be3 b5 9.Nxc6 dxc6 10.0-0 c5 11.e5 Nd7

+-----------------+
|r+b+kg.4|
|+.1n+p0p|
|p+.+p+.+|
|+p0.).+.|
|.+.+.+.+|
|+BH.G.+.|
|P)P+.)P)|
|$.+Q+RI.|
+-----------------+

[DIAGRAM]

White is tempted by a tactical trick, but it all falls apart.

12.Nd5 exd5 13.Qxd5 Nb6 14.Qf3 Bb7 15.Qg3 c4 16.e6 Qxg3 17.exf7+ Kd7 18.hxg3 0-1


Schneider Lars - Ake_Taimanov Mark [B46] Jurmala, 1978

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 6. Bf4 d6 7.Nf3

[7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.Bc4 Nf6 (8...d5!? 9.exd5 cxd5 10.Qf3 Nf6 11.0-0-0 Bb7 12.Rhe1 Be7 13.Bd3 0-0 14.Qh3 Rc8 = Lukin-Osnos 1984) 9.Qe2 d5 (9...e5 10.0-0-0 Qc7 11.Bg5 Be7 12.Qd3 Be6 13.Bxf6 gxf6 14.Rhe1!? MT) 10.0-0-0 Bb7 11.Bb3 Be7 12.exd5 cxd5 13.Ba4+ Nd7 14.Qg4ƒ 0-0 15.Bh6 Bf6 16.Bxd7 Qxd7 17.Rd3 Rac8 18.Re1 d4 19.Red1 Qc7 0-1 Van Der Wiel John T H-Polugaevsky Lev/It, Amsterdam (Netherlands) 1984]


[7.Bg3 Be7! (e.g. 7...Nf6 8.Be2 Be7 9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.e5 Nd5 11.exd6 Bxd6 12.Ne4 Watson,W - Benjamin,J [B46] New York op (2), 1987/ 1-0 (33)) 8.Be2 e5! 9.Nb3 Nf6 10.Bh4 0-0 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.Bg4 Be6 13.Nd5 Nd4 14.Nxd4 Bxd5 15.exd5 exd4 16.0-0 Qa5 17.Bf3 Ivanovic,B-Romanishin,O/Lone Pine 1981/1/2-1/2 (53)]

7...b5 8.Qd2 Ra7 9.0-0-0 Rd7 10.g4 Qa5 11.Kb1 Nf6 12.g5 b4

+-----------------+
|.+b+kg.4|
|+.+r+p0p|
|p+n0ph.+|
|1.+.+.).|
|.0.+PG.+|
|+.H.+N+.|
|P)P!.).)|
|+K+R+B+R|
+-----------------+

[DIAGRAM]

White has mad a heavy commitment to attack d6, but it has got nowhere: meanwhile, Black has good Queen's-side play.

13.Ne2 Nxe4 14.Qe3 d5 15.Nfd4 Nxd4 16.Nxd4 Bd6 17.Bxd6 Nxd6 18.Nxe6 fxe6 19.Qxe6+ Kd8 20.Rxd5 Qxd5 21.Qxd5 Nb5 22.Qf3 Bb7 23.Qg4 Bxh1 24.Bh3 Bc6 25.a3 bxa3 26.Qf4 Rb7 27.bxa3 Nc3+ 0-1


Chandler Murray - Andersson Ulf [B46] Naestved, 1985

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f4

This is quite an important line, but if Andersson's approach given below is adequate, then it may become less so! Having deprived the dark-squared Bishop of its best square on f4, White can no longer plan to rearrange with Bf4 and Qd2 if Black unloads. However, there is another rearrangement, of retreating the Queen to f2, out of the way of the Bishop – which is the Wittman-Klinger example used in the introduction. Also, this line is where we arrive from Lein-Ivanovic, having come across from the Grand Prix Attack.

6...Nxd4!? 7.Qxd4 b5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.a3 Rc8 10.Bd2 Nf6

+-----------------+
|.+r1kg.4|
|+b+p+p0p|
|p+.+ph.+|
|+p+.+.+.|
|.+.!P).+|
|).HB+.+.|
|.)PG.+P)|
|$.+.I.+R|
+-----------------+

[DIAGRAM]

Typical Sicilian: Black looks horribly underdeveloped, but White has no obvious way through.

11.b4 d5 12.e5 Ne4 13.Bxe4 dxe4 14.Qxd8+ Kxd8 15.0-0-0 Rc4 16.Be3+ Kc8 17.Kb2 Be7 18.a4 1/2-1/2

Move orders (1): how to get to move four

After 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 or 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 there is no requirement for White to play 3. d4 . There are several alternatives against each move, including 3. c4 and 3. c3; 2...e6 often prompts 3. d3 and 3.b3. There are arguments which suggest that, say, 3. b3 is better against 2...e6 than other second moves, although Joe Gallagher in Beating the Anti-Sicilians once played 2...e6 hoping to tempt the reply 3. b3...!


Bhend,E - Gallagher,J [B40] 1992

+-----------------+
|.+r1r+k+|
|+b+.gp0p|
|p0n+ph.+|
|+.+p+.+.|
|.).+P+.+|
|+.+P+N+.|
|.GPH.)P)|
|+R+Q$BI.|
+-----------------+

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.b3 b6 4.Bb2 Bb7 5.d3 d6 6.Be2 Nf6 7.0-0 Be7 8.Nbd2 Nc6 9.Re1 0-0 10.Bf1 Rc8 11.a3 a6 12.Rb1 Re8 13.b4 cxb4 14.axb4 d5! -/+[DIAGRAM]

15.e5 Nd7 16.d4 Nxb4 17.c3 Nc6 18.Bd3 Na5 19.Ra1 Nf8 20.Nf1 b5 21.Re2 Nc4 22.Bc1 a5 23.N3d2 b4 24.cxb4 axb4 25.Nb3 Qb6

26.Ne3 Ba6 27.Nc2 Ra8 28.Rb1 Reb8 29.f4 Na3 30.Rb2 Bxd3 31.Qxd3 Rc8 32.Be3 Rc3 33.Qd1 Nxc2 0-1

The Bb5 system against 2...Nc6 is a serious attempt to get positive play against the Sicilian, which must be treated with respect. A "Taimanov" solution might involve ...e6 and ...Nge7, as favoured by Krasenkow.


Ricardi,P (2555) - Granda Zuniga,J (2600) [B30] Buenos Aires Najdorf (9), 1996

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 e6 4.0-0 Nge7 5.c3 a6 6.Bxc6 Nxc6 7.d4 d5 8.exd5 Qxd5 9.Be3 c4

+-----------------+
|r+b+kg.4|
|+p+.+p0p|
|p+n+p+.+|
|+.+q+.+.|
|.+p).+.+|
|+.).GN+.|
|P).+.)P)|
|$N+Q+RI.|
+-----------------+

10.b3 Be7 11.bxc4 Qxc4 12.Nbd2 Qd3 13.c4 0-0 14.Rc1 b5 15.cxb5 Qxb5 16.Nc4 Bb7 17.Nb6 Rad8 18.Rb1 Nb4 19.a3 Qxb6 20.axb4 Be4 21.Rb3 Qb7 22.Qe2 Rd5 23.Rc1 Rb5 24.Nd2 Bd5 25.Rbc3 Bd6 26.Nb3 Bxg2 27.Nc5 Qa8 28.Qg4 Bf3 29.Qh3 Bd5 30.Bd2 Rxb4 31.Qh4 Bxc5 32.Rh3 Be4 33.dxc5 Rb1 34.Rxb1 Bxb1 35.Rg3 0-1

Also, there are "Anti-Sicilian" systems, some of which can be used to switch back into the main line Sicilian. So, the "Chamaeleon" system with 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 and 3. Nge2 can always be used to switch back with 4. d4 , and a lot of people use 2. Nc3 to put Black players off 2...d6 (after which they will play the f5 gambit from the Grand Prix Attack), while after 2...Nc6 will play 3. Nf3 and 4. d4 . I don't have very strong opinions about all this yet: Joe Gallagher was the key reference a while ago but is dating on the c3 Sicilian.

Move orders (2): just passing through?

Some folks have been using the Taimanov move-order to get to other Sicilians. Lev Polugaevsky is all over my database of Taimanov Sicilians, but always switched out early on. What's the point? Well, the most common reason is to play the Scheveningen without having to face the Keres Attack: so,

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 risks 6. g4!?

but

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 a6 6. Be2 d6 7. O-O Nf6

avoids all that. (Or it did until Karpov got fed up with Kasparov dodging the Keres, and played 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 d6 6.g4!? (Wch32-KK2 Moscow (14), 1985))

Black can even use it to get to positions of a Pelikan/Sveshnikov type:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Nb5 d6 7. Bf4 e5 8. Bg5

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nb5 d6 6.Bf4 e5 7.Be3 Nf6 8.N1c3 a6 9.Na3 b5

[The latter move order loses a tempo for White over the modern main Pelikan lines, although it was quite common at one point. Taimanov had it in his 1971 match with Fischer, but that was before Sveshnikov taught us all to play a quick ...a6 and ...b5.]

So this is the Taimanov: flexible, modern, not too fiercely theoretical, looking comfortable in most lines of NCO. I fancy giving it a try this season; I'll let you know how I get on.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

TAIMANOV Sicilian Paulsen (Batsford)

TAIMANOV, Winning with the Sicilian (Batsford)

TAIMANOV, Sicilian Defence: Taimanov System (Batsford)

NUNN & GALLAGHER, Beating the Sicilian 3 (Batsford)

PLASKETT, The Sicilian Taimanov (Chess Press)

NUNN et al., Nunn's Chess Openings (Batsford)

Chess Quotes

"All chess masters can play one game blindfolded."
— -- KOLTANOWSKI