I have been re-reading John Emms’ book Play The Najdorf: Scheveningen Style lately since I play a lot of those lines as Black and I’m a bit rusty since I’ve been playing the Scheveningen proper for some time.
Overall I really like the book, but I came across something that was very sloppy and makes me question the rest of the book.
So the idea is that in this position after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4
The main move here is 6…e6, and while the normal White response is 7.Bb3 there are sidelines, particularly 7.a4 which Black can avoid by switching up the move order with 6…b5, which if White then plays 7.Bb3 Black plays 7…e6 and the main position is reached but without White having the 7.a4 option.
So in the position after 6…b5 there is something else White can try other than transposing. They can play 7.Bd5
Now after 7…Nxd5 8.exd5 Bb7 9.a3 there apparently two main ideas here. The first involves Black sacking a pawn but gaining complete control over the center. The second involves the move 9…g6 and then after a series of moves this position is reached:
Here GM Emms uses the phrase “and Black went on to win in Bauer-Kempinski, Bundesliga 2000.”
In the other idea, the pawn sack one, it was easy to see how Black was better, but in this one I didn’t see it. One of the things that I have really been getting myself to do lately is to question things. After all, the information is at our fingertips. So why not look?
So I pulled up the game. After clicking through it a bit I turned on the engine. Stockfish 9 64 gives the position 0.00 at a depth of 30 for either 21.Rf3, or the game move of 21.Kd2.
Hmm…nothing there, so what about after the game moves of 21.Kd2 Kc7…what would the engine think then?
Well, as it turns out, here White misses a chance to get an edge. And certainly White is at least slightly better now. But instead White blunders horribly with 22.Ng5??
Now granted, this is a side note to a sideline, but still…the implication is that somehow Black is on his way to winning after move 20 in the game. Yet in truth Black made an inaccuracy in the next move of the game, which was followed by White making a critical blunder the move after.
So at the end of the day…trust, but verify.
Here is the entire game with my notes, most of which come from Stockfish.
Til Next Time,
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