Playing the Najdorf

A Practical Repertoire

David Vigorito

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Quality Chess
544 pages

One thing all chess players agree on is that the Najdorf Sicilian is a good opening for Black. It’s no accident it was the primary weapon of Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov and today Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. 

While the Najdorf may have a great pedigree, it also has a reputation as being complicated and requiring tremendous theoretical knowledge. While there is no free lunch in chess, American International Master David Vigorito, in Playing the Najdorf: A Practical Repertoire, makes the case that learning this opening is not as daunting as it might seem. 

One-way Vigorito eases Black’s learning curve is by adopting a “pure” Najdorf approach whenever possible. This means setups with …e5 against 6.Be2, 6.Be3, 6.f4, 6.g3, 6.h3, 6.a4, 6.Bd3, 6.Rg1, 6.Qe2 and 6.a3. Only against 6.Bg5 and 6.Bc4 and a few sidelines like 6.Qf3, Qd3 and 6.Nb3, does Black hold back on advancing his e-pawn two squares.

Another way the author makes this book more accessible is by including a large amount of explanatory prose. This is a big book, well over 500 pages, which enables Vigorito to explain things without leaving out theoretically significant material. Despite the serious subject matter this book is very readable.

A careful study of Playing the Najdorf: A Practical Repertoire will reward both the experienced practitioner of this defense and newcomers from 1800 on up. This book will be especially useful for young players who have played 1.e4 e5 as Black and picked up the basic opening principles, and who are now looking to branch out and learn a good opening that can be a part of their repertoire for the rest of their career.