The Maróczy Bind (pronounced [ˈmɒroːtsi]) is a pawn formation in chess, named after the Hungarian grandmaster Géza Maróczy and primarily, but not exclusively, played against the Sicilian Defence. It is characterized by white pawns on c4 and e4, with White's d-pawn having been exchanged for Black's c-pawn.
White's c- and e-pawns control the d5 square, making it difficult for Black to free his position with ...d5; Black often settles for the less active ...d6 instead. Black often employs a Hedgehog formation against the Bind.
|This article uses algebraic notation to describe chess moves.|
The first game known to feature the Maróczy Bind was Swiderski–Maróczy, Monte Carlo 1904. Oddly, no games are known where Maróczy played it as White. However, the 1906 March–April issue of the Wiener Schachzeitung reproduced from Magyar Sakklap Maróczy's annotations to the game Tarrasch–Marshall, Nuremberg (match) 1905 (which began 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.Nf3 a6 4.Nxd4 g6 5.Be2 Bg7 6.Nc3 Nc6). "On four consecutive moves (moves 3–6) Maróczy stressed the value of the move c4."
For several decades, it was generally considered tantamount to a positional blunder for Black to allow the Maróczy Bind. For example, Harry Golombek, in Capablanca's 100 Best Games of Chess (1947), gave a question mark to Black's fourth move in the line 1.e4 c5 2.Ne2 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6, a form of the Accelerated Dragon variation of the Sicilian Defence, stating that 4...Nf6 was "necessary" to make White block his c-pawn with 5.Nc3 and thus avoid the Bind. Golombek gave an exclamation point to 5.c4, establishing the Bind, explaining "This strong move gives White control of the centre and Black must grovel about to find a counter-attack." Reuben Fine, writing in 1948, also considered the Bind very strong for White.
Beginning in the 1950s, the Maróczy Bind became less feared as new methods were found for Black to combat it. The ninth edition of Modern Chess Openings (1957) stated that Black had "worked loose" from the strictures of the Bind. Larry Evans wrote in the tenth edition (1965) that in response to the Accelerated Dragon, the Maróczy Bind "was once considered a refutation but now has lost much of its punch. White retains an advantage in space but Black's position is fundamentally sound." That remains the prevailing view, but some recent writers still emphasize that Black must find active counterplay or else be "strangled". However, John Nunn and Joe Gallagher observe:
Although the Maroczy Bind is slightly passive for Black, players such as Larsen, Petursson and Velimirović have shown that by patiently waiting for a lapse of concentration from White this line can offer winning chances for Black. The theoretical opinion is that White should maintain a slight advantage, but no one should believe that this is a line in which White cannot lose.
Common opening lines
Common opening lines that reach a Maróczy Bind position include:
- The Accelerated Dragon variation of the Sicilian Defence: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6, followed by 5.c4. (See diagram.)
- The Taimanov Variation of the Sicilian: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6, followed by 5.Nb5 d6 6.c4.
- The Kan Variation of the Sicilian: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6, followed by 5.c4.
- The Petrosian Variation of the Queen's Indian Defence: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.a3 Ba6 5.Qc2 Bb7 6.Nc3 c5 7.e4 cxd4 8.Nxd4.
- The Classical Variation of the Nimzo-Indian Defence: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 c5 5.dxc5, later followed by e4.
- The Moscow Variation of the Sicilian: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7 Qxd7 5.c4, followed by d4 and ...cxd4.
- In the Hedgehog formation, the opponent (typically White) has a type of Maróczy Bind, for example: 1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 b6 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.Nc3 e6 6.0-0 a6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 d6 9.e4 Be7 10.b3 Nbd7.
- The Chekhover Variation of the Sicilian Defence: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Bb5 Bd7 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 7.c4.
- The Advance Variation of the Smith-Morra Gambit Declined: 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 d3 4.c4.
- Swiderski-Maróczy, Monte Carlo 1904. ChessGames.com. Retrieved on 2009-02-06.
- Edward Winter, Kings, Commoners and Knaves: Further Chess Explorations, Russell Enterprises, 1999, pp. 147-48. ISBN 1-888690-04-6.
- The fourth edition of Modern Chess Openings, published in 1925, is a typical example. The authors state that in the Sicilian Defence 2...Nc6 followed by ...g6 and ...Bg7 "is now seldom played, White being left with too great a control of the board by Maróczy's Attack". R. C. Griffith, J. H. White, and M. E. Goldstein, Modern Chess Openings (4th ed. 1925), Whitehead & Miller, p. 191.
- H. Golombek, Capablanca's 100 Best Games of Chess, David McKay, 1978, p. 154, ISBN 0-679-14044-1 (annotating Capablanca-Yates, Bad Kissingen 1928).
- Fine noted (converting his descriptive notation to algebraic notation) that 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 "allows the strong Maroczy bind 5.c4!" Reuben Fine, Practical Chess Openings, David McKay, 1948, p. 409. The one column of analysis he gave ended with a large advantage for White. Id., p. 428.
- Walter Korn and John W. Collins, Modern Chess Openings (9th ed. 1957), Pitman Publishing Corporation, p. 117.
- Larry Evans, Modern Chess Openings (10th ed. 1965), Pitman Publishing Corporation, p. 183.
- Nick de Firmian states that 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 "leads to a quieter, more positional type of game" than 5.Nc3, "yet Black will get strangled if he/she cannot find active play". Nick de Firmian, Modern Chess Openings (15th ed. 2008), Random House Puzzles & Games, p. 271. ISBN 978-0-8129-3682-7. Four of the six columns of analysis in MCO-15 end with an assessment of an advantage for White. Id. pp. 287-89.
- Similarly, Garry Kasparov and Raymond Keene state of the same position, "if White is up to the task Black suffers from his lack of space and may be slowly strangled". Garry Kasparov and Raymond Keene, Batsford Chess Openings 2, Collier Books, 1989, p. 285. ISBN 0-02-033991-7.
- John Nunn and Joe Gallagher, Beating the Sicilian 3, Henry Holt, 1995, p. 144. ISBN 0-8050-4227-X.