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Monday, August 31, 2015

The Backward d-Pawn in the Sicilian

     The above is a common P-formation in the Sicilian and the following game is a good example demonstrating its pros and cons. For the d-Pawn not to be a disadvantage two conditions must be met: 1-it must be protected in the most economical way possible and 2-black's pieces must exert effective control over the squares in front of the Pawn (d5). 
     Black plays ...e5 in order to control the d4 and f4 squares and prevent white from occupying d4. Black also has a solid center, prevents the advance e4-e5 and prepares ...Be7 and ...Be6. Black will also try to play ...d5 giving him an excellent game. 
     If white tries to prevent black from controlling d5 by playing his N to d5 then black will often exchange it forcing white to capture with Pe4xd5. In that case, white's K-side attacking chances are reduced. Finally, the move ...e5 considerably reduces white's K-side attacking chances and so gives black a better chances of carrying out Q-side operations. As a side note, this enhances black's operations on the c-file which are usually more effective than white's against the backward P on the d-file. 
     In this game David Bronstein gives us a good lesson on how to play this type of position as black. 
     By the way, this tournament was historically important for the Najdorf Sicilian because of what happened in the fourteenth round. Three Soviet players (Keres, Geller and Spassky) played three Argentine players (Najdorf, Panno and Pilnik). The Argentine team had prepared a sharp counter attack beginning with 9… g5!? in the 6.Bg5 variation of the Nadjorf. Geller in, his game versus Panno, found the refutation 11.Nxe6. Then Keres played it against Najdorf and then Spassky against Pilnik. The key move in the refutation (13. Bb5) was discovered by Keres and it was played by the other Soviet players all of whom won. 

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