One popular attacking scheme for White is the Levenfish Attack (l.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6): 6.f4
White threatens e4-e5, which Black immediately prevents.
Diagram 108 shows a common position of the Levenfish Attack. White's attacking scheme is to play Qdl-el-h4 in conjunction with f4-f5 and Bcl-h6. Black has to come up with a reaction. If he plays 9...d5? 10.e5!, White will have a big advantage. Thus it is difficult for Black to make a meaningful counter in the center. Black can try to distract White's pieces from the Kingside by playing a line like 9...b6 lO.Qel Nb4 ll.Qh4 Nxd3 12.cxd3 Ba6. Practice has shown the position to be dynamically equal.
Dragon Variation (with Kingside Castling), Nottingham Variation
As an alternative to the Levenfish Attack, White can take a more restrained approach (l.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nffi 5.Nc3 g6):
6.Be2 Bg7 8.Nb3
White's last move distinguishes the Nottingham Variation. (See Diagram 109.) White's approach is to keep the d5-square firmly in his sights.
White intends to keep the center well patrolled by playing f2-f4 and Be2-f3. Black's space deficit encour-
Modern King Pawn Defenses ages him to trade pieces and a common line is: 9...Be6
This is possible now that White's d4-Knight has retreated.
Black's point is revealed; he is playing to put a piece on the c4-square: 11 ,f5 Bc4
This final position is known as the Byrne Variation. White has a slight advantage as he tries to stir up trouble on the Kingside.
Dragon Variation (with Queenside Castling), Yugoslav Attack
While castling Kingside by White can certainly bring about attacking schemes, the sharpest lines of the Dragon Variation occur when White castles Queenside (l.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6):
White quickly develops his Queenside pieces in order to make way for castling. 6...Bg 7
A painful trap would be 6...Ng4?? 7.Bb5+! Bd7 8.Qxg4.
White rules out a possible ...Nf6-g4, which would disrupt his development.
Diagram 110 shows a critical position in the Dragon Sicilian. White has prepared to castle long but he is concerned about a possible ...d6-d5 and decides to clamp down on the d5-square.
The battle lines have been drawn. With Kings on opposite wings, it is a given that both armies will go after the other's monarch. White usually plays for h2-h4-h5 in conjunction with Be3-h6 to weaken Black's King. Black usually plays for ...Nc6-e5-c4 to block the b3-Bishop and force trades. Black's counterplay is centered down the c-file. This position is known as the Yugoslav Attack and has provided a bounty of beautiful attacking games. The position is dynamically balanced.
Arguably the most complex Sicilian formation of all is the Najdorf Variation, which begins with a move of great cunning (l.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3):
Diagram 111 shows the starting position of the Najdorf Variation. As we've seen in the Scheveningen Variation and the Smith-Morra Gambit Accepted, the move ...a7~a6 is quite useful. Black controls the b5-square and makes the plan of ...b7-b5 and ...Bc8-b7 a possibility. Before going into the many approaches that White can try, the move 5...a6 deserves a reproach. The move does nothing to control the sweet center, which is a violation of our cherished principles. White is given free rein over play in the center. Despite the doubts raised, White's ability to get a grip on the position is quite elusive. At times the central pawn buffer can radically change. Black might play ...e7-e6 or ...e7-e5, requiring White to change his plans. The following is a short list of White's approaches:
■ 6.Bc4, 6.Be2, 6.g3, and 6.h3 are all based upon the
Modern King Pawn Defenses theme of developing White's fl-Bishop. The latter is a humorous echo of Black's "wasted" tempo on the Queenside. If Black wants to expand on the wing with ...b7-b5, White will expand on the Kingside with g2-g4 and Bfl-g2 for a position similar to a Keres Attack.
6.Bg5 and 6.Be3 lines are based upon the idea of clearing the Queenside quickly so that White can castle there.
6.a4 is a positional approach to the Queenside. White rules out ...b7-b5 and sometimes plays a4-a5 to clamp down on the b6-square.
6.f4 introduces the threat of e4-e5 and grabs a larger share of the center. After 6.. .e6 7.Qf3, White plays as in the Tal Variation of the Scheveningen.
All of these plans are so complex and varied that separate books have been written about them. In fact, many books have been written on variations further down the chain of moves! With apologies to my readers, I'll take a look only at the greatest test facing the Najdorf: 6.Bg5
Choosing the most dynamic move, White develops a piece and begins a hand-to-hand struggle with the f6-Knight. Black's position is under imme diate pressure. 6...e6
f6-Knight and prevents White bling the Kingside pawns. 7.f4
In another fine strengthening move, White introduces the threat of e4-e5 and f4-f5.
This position is literally the starting position for most Najdorf players. White's threat of e4-e5 must be addressed. I'll examine each of these moves that Black has played:
7...Qb6 (Poisoned Pawn Variation) 7...b5 (Polugaevsky Variation) 7...Be7 (the main line) 7...Nbd7
Although it's not that popular, this move makes sense. Black covers the e5-square and reinforces the f6-Knight. The drawback to this move is that the e6-pawn can be quickly attacked:
8.Bc4 b5 10.Nxe6 Qa5
This piece sacrifice is shown in Diagram 112. In theory, Black is supposed to be all right, but not too many players are anxious to play Black's position.
Our next line is an interesting offbeat idea (l.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4):
Black gets out of the pin, controls the c4-square, thereby preventing the type of sacrifice shown in Diagram 112, and invites White to double his Kingside pawns. Black's play is based on the trick:
Black is now able to offer an exchange of Queens. On his ninth move, White can build up pressure on the e6-square by:
9.f5 Nc6 10.Bc4 Nxd4
11 .Qxd4 Be7 12.0-0-0 Bd7 Diagram 113 shows the position, in which White has an advantage.
Modern King Pawn Defenses
Najdorf Variation, Poisoned Pawn Variation
One of Bobby Fischer's favorite defensive weapons was the Poisoned Pawn Variation of the Najdorf. It comes about after (l.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4): 7...Qb6
As shown in Diagram 114, Black has no respect for the principles that we have worked so hard to learn. The rascal! The commander of the Black pieces is truly a gangster. Not only is he not worried about protecting himself on the Kingside, he brings out his Queen in such a manner as to rob White of his b2-pawn! In principle, Black's play must be wrong. But both in theory and practice it is hard to prove it! If anyone finds a refutation to the Poisoned Pawn, please send a letter labeled "top secret" to my post office box. In the main line Poisoned Pawn, White jettisons his b2-pawn for quick development: 8.Qd2
White can also protect the b2-pawn by playing 8.Nb3, but after 8...Qe3+ 9.Qe2 Qxe2+ 10.Bxe2 Nbd7, White's advantage is slight.
8...Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.Bxf6gxf6 11.f5 Nc6 The position shown in Diagram 115, on the next page, has been a source of endless theoretical debate.