An Example of a Priyome

I wrote a recent column on priyomes. This is a Russian concept for strategic positions that recur frequently. They include not just static structure (i.e., the positions of the pawns and pieces) but also the associated maneuvers to exploit that structure. Reader feedback asked for examples.

Below is a position from the 6.Be3 variation of the Najdorf (the Geller-Karpov) variation. The structure is common to many Sicilians. The black rook on c8 is menacing the white knight on c3. Playing the knight to b6 is a common Najdorf maneuver and white decides to prevent this with a5. The pawn move is not a blunder, but I judged it to be questionable because it ignores an important priyome. Black reacted aggressively with a very thematic exchange sacrifice on c3.

By sacrificing the rook for the knight, black wins the critical e-pawn and completely shatters the white queenside pawn structure.

The important lesson to learn is not just the structure – the rook staring down the half-open c-file at the white knight. It’s also exchange sacrifice coupled with Nxe4 that needs to be remembered. Black gets plenty of compensation for the exchange sacrifice.

Fritz Pro 14 gives black a very slight advantage. I prefer black’s chances in this position. I suspect this is the chess engine’s materialistic preference. Yes, white has a rook in exchange for a knight and a pawn, but white also has an isolated rook pawn and doubled c-pawns that are isolated. Then look at black’s pawn structure, which is very healthy. Add the centralized knight, and I feel black has more than just a slight advantage. In the game itself, Ian Nepomniachtchi won rather easily.

Glenn Mitchell