10 May 2012

Time Enough for Taimanov

Even though I spend more and more of my chess time on chess960, like most players I still enjoy preparing traditional chess openings. For the last few years my focus has been on the Sicilian ...e6 openings. I wrote about it once in Will the Real Taimanov Please Stand Up, where I mentioned Taimanov's book 'Sicilian Defense: Taimanov System'. Since then I've discovered that he also wrote the bulk of the B4x chapter in both the first and second editions of ECO volume B, and that half of his book 'Winning with the Sicilian' also deals with ...e6 systems.

I've evolved to the Sicilian ...e6 complex because of its connection with the Scheveningen (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 or 2....d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6), which I've played for years, and the Najdorf (2...d6 & 5...a6, followed by ...e6 in many lines), which I've played for decades. The Paulsen/Taimanov ...e6 complex suits my style because it is less theoretical than the others -- some Najdorf theory goes to 30 moves -- meaning there is more scope for creativity, and because Black usually survives into an endgame where there is always hope of taking the full point. Along with the Taimanov references, I've collected three other books published in the 2000s that treat the system:-

  • 'The Taimanov Sicilian', by FM Graham Burgess (2000)
  • 'The Safest Sicilian: A Black Repertoire with 1.e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6' by GM Alexander Delchev & IM Semko Semkov (2006)
  • 'The Taimanov Sicilian' by IM James Rizzitano (2006)

While preparing this post, I spent some time looking for the relevant volume in Khalifman's series on the 'Opening for [blank] according to [blank]'. After some effort, I located it in volume 9 of the 'Opening for White according to Anand'. I might have overlooked an obvious resource, but it appears this series is not well documented anywhere. I'll come back to it in the future.

The introduction to Taimanov's 'Winning with the Sicilian' starts with the following excellent paragraph by the author.

One cannot just consider the role and significance of the opening stage of a game in the modern chess struggle in isolation. Experience has shown that the results of the opening battle, with one of the sides winning even a small positional or material advantage in the early stages, can be transformed by the pure technical equipment of the skilled chessplayer to be a determining influence on the whole course of subsequent events, carrying on into the middlegame, and at times, the endgame. Figuratively speaking, the opening is the seed, the shoots of which grow on every part of the chessboard and yield the harvest in complete dependence on the original groundwork.

I didn't transcribe that excerpt myself. I found it on a WordPress post titled My Friend The Sicilian, where you can read the rest yourself. The title of that post also happens to be the title of Taimanov's introduction, although you would never guess it from the page at etarn.com, where the entire excerpt is unattributed. Time enough to copy but no time to give the source?

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