The Sicilian Najdorf – 6. Be2 – Bobby Fischer vs. Kasparov – Opocensky Variation (pt 3/5)


The Opocensky Variation of the Sicilian Najdorf with 6. Be2 remains one of the most commonly played lines for white against the Najdorf. In Fischer’s time in the 1950s and 1960s, more aggressive variations such as the Fischer-Sozin Attack, the 6. Bg5 Main Line, and the 6. f4 Amsterdam Variation were favored over the quieter Opocensky Variation with 6. Be2. However sufficient sources of counterplay were identified for black against the sharper continuations, and in the early 1970s Anatoly Karpov began to make his mark with some fantastic long-term positional ideas in the Opocensky Variation revolving around strategic dominance of the critical d5 square. In the 1980s and 1990s, Kasparov demonstrated that black could maintain excellent chances against the Opocensky Variation by achieving rapid activity on the queenside and center. As in many lines of the Sicilian Najdorf, black aims to take the initiative with the thematic …b5 and …d5 breaks. The Opocensky Variation is favored by players who enjoy a quieter positional struggle in place of the double-edged fireworks in more complicated lines in the Sicilian Najdorf (6. Bc4, 6. Bg5, etc..). A few of the most popular grandmasters to have employed the Opocensky Variation are Anatoly Karpov, Vasily Smyslov, Wolfgang Unzicker, Paul Keres, Viswanathan Anand, and the current #1 rated player in the world Magnus Carlsen.

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