This article is a second in-depth article about typical sacrifices in the Sicilian, after the Rxc3 sacrifice in the Sicilian: the Nf5 sacrifice in the Sicilian !
The next articles to come are the Nd5 sacrifice in the Sicilian and the Bxe6 sacrifice in the Sicilian. They will be released soon.
Stjepan Tomić is a strong player and famous youtuber with his Hanging Pawns channel. His goal is to become a Grandmaster and to share his new Chess knowledge with the community.
I have chosen three examples of a successful Nf5 sacrifice. They all had different factors attributing to the power of the key knight move.
The final example is, in my opinion, the most instructive one, because it shows how hard it is to be precise even when you’re attacking. Black had several opportunities to take over the control of the game and even get a winning position!
When playing the Sicilian, or playing against it, knowing thematic sacrificial ideas is crucial. It is a very sharp opening in which, luckily, there are attacking themes we can remember. Learning Nf5 and getting familiar with the ideas behind the sacrifice will increase your precision and save you precious clock time. I hope the three examples help with that!
In the end, you will find two very hard exercises. Take your time. They have no “one solution”. Your task will be to delve deep into the position, assess it, understand it, and play well. You are not looking for the one correct move! Each exercise should take around an hour. Measure your time and, if necessary, take notes.
Efim Geller vs Miroslav Filip, Curacao Candidates (1962)
White now shows the true purpose of Nf5 – a swift kingside attack. Having a knight on f5 is considered a major advantage in many opening structures with kingside castling. It controls e7, h6 and g7, very tender squares around the king, and it’s often the decisive factor in the attack. Here Geller continues with the best possible move.
A very instructive game, in which White always had the initiative and the upper hand. Even if the game remained equal for the most part, White had a much easier game, and it was Black to prove that he had a draw in hand !
Isaac Lipnitsky vs Lev Aronin, USSR Championship (1950)
This game, like the previous one, involves a Sicilian Najdorf and a Scheveningen setup.
Black defended against the attack, but gave back and lost material, finally losing in an endgame. An instructive example in which Nf5 was in fact a pseudo-sacrifice which goal was to improve White’s positional advantage.