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|Learning from Vishy Anand: The d5 Square in the Sicilian|
|Written by WGM Raluca Sgîrcea, IM Renier Castellanos|
|Monday, 02 January 2017 00:37|
Chess is all about following patterns in certain structures. Each pawn structure has its own particularities and there are standard ideas and plans that we can apply regardless the opening we choose. In this article we are going to see some games played by Vishy Anand and his preference for the white side in the Najdorf structure (pawns on d6-e5 vs e4). Anand has been highly successful in this type of positions that can also arise from other openings, for example the Spanish.
Let’s start off with this recent example:
Anand, V – Jumbayev, R
Position after 8…Rc8
Black has developed his rook with tempo attacking the pawn on c4. You may wonder, what should white play? 9.Na3 or 9.Nd2 both seem to be reasonable moves to defend the c4 pawn and at the same time develop a piece. The main drawback of these moves is that neither a3 nor d2 are great squares for the b1 knight. On either square white would be miles away from the d5 square. And white chose a better option, he went straight with 9.Nc3! ignoring the threat.
Now after 9…Bxc4 10.Bxc4 Rxc4 white gains a tempo with Qd3 and castles queen-side quickly with a reasonable compensation for the pawn. The full control over the square d5 guarantees white a reasonable compensation for the pawn, plus he has possibilities for an attack on the kingside with g4-g5 and so on.
See the game here:
Such an approach can also be found in a classical game, although here it is not entirely correct as white missed a better, concrete winning move.
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Boleslavsky, I – Lisitsin,G
White has a very powerful move here, that is 15.Nc7! which basically leads to a winning position. However, white completely missed this move and went for 15.c4! (I give this move an exclamation mark because it allows us to further explore this structure) sacrificing a pawn.
After 15…Bxc4 the knight returns to c3 with tempo – 16.Nc3 followed by a trade on c4 and Bg5! eliminating the last defender of the d5 square. As a consequence of this mini-operation white obtained the d5 square to place his knight throughout the rest of the game. See more details here
Let’s continue with Anand now:
Anand’s success in the 6.h3 line against the Sicilian Najdorf has not pass unnoticed.
The former World Champion has tried several ideas in a topical line (6…e5 7.Nde2 h5), all with one common factor – the domination of the square d5 and the aim for a strong knight versus a passive bishop battle. In the London Classic in 2015 he managed to beat Topalov in this way after a long struggle.
See the position below:
Anand, V – Topalov, V
The position is more or less balanced. White dominates d5, although he can’t occupy this square yet because black has just enough defenders. Remember that the main idea is to obtain control of this square and occupy it with a piece, so any capture on d5 with a pawn would be against white’s intentions. It is interesting to see how Vishy went up to trade the bishop on e6 with 24.Rg1 with the idea of 25.Bg4.
Black didn’t react in the best way and soon fell into a passive position. Nevertheless, it wasn’t easy for Anand to win it. See details here:
This position arises from a topical variation in the Spanish Opening. Both sides have their own plans well marked. Black has to create counterplay along the C file and if possible achieve a rupture with d6-d5.
He could also push a6-a5 in order to soften up white’s queenside pawn structure on this wing. On the other hand, white’s plan is one and only – getting a piece on d5. At all cost white should get his knight to d5. The battle ahead is quite interesting and the way Anand achieved his goal is worth seeing:
It does not matter what opening you play the structures that can arise in a game of chess are all very well studied and as practice shows the “established” ideas can be passed from one game to another. The more plans you know and the more resources you have seen to execute them the better, as it will make it easier for your own practice.
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|Last Updated on Monday, 02 January 2017 13:33|