From that Philidor thread. Black to move.
How do you assess this position? White's much better, isn't he? Bad Bishop, hole on d5, backward d6, easy...
lichess.org/editor/2r1k2r/1p2bp2/p2p1npp/4p3/P3P3/2NR2P1/RPP2PNP/6K1 b k - 0 19
no not that easy black has dynamics like open c-file in his favour
@Sarg0n Is this the position from the book Chess For Zebras by GM Rowson where he had a funny Bishop on c3?
@Sarg0n Well, White's position looks good, but he has no target to speak of while Black can mount some pressure on the c-file and has a Bishop (although on defensive as of now).
I would be looking to bring the white knight to c4 supported by b3, but that would weaken c3 and c-file generally.
Black is slightly better in my opinion
In Chess for Zebras there is a similar topic. "Why is the Sicilian different?"
The above position is made up, is loosely based on some (GM) encounters of mine like:
It looks nice, but then I feel these Sicilian positions with backwards pawns on d6 often appear better for White than they actually are (in the way the main lines of the Sveshnikov look at first glance positionally awful for Black). The a2 rook looks out of place for a few moves and while d5 is a marvellous square its not clear what else White really has.
As Black - the two plans I am tempted by are (1) Nd7 rerouting to c5, followed by f5. (2) (a bit more ambitious) Play Kd7 with the intent of meeting Ne3 with Rxc3 followed by Nxe4. I am not sure whether this is sound but I feel that if Black gets to play f5 and d5 then, with the white Rook offside on a2, the strong Black pawn centre and open c-file may compensate for any notional material deficit.
Although White looks better here, it is not easy to consolidate the position. Black has several plans including Nd7-Nc5 like @piscatorox said. But the plan of Kd7 Rc3 Ne4 can be refuted easily by playing bc3! instead or Rc3 and suddenly the a2 Rook can use the b-file and Rc8 will be met by c4.
As White, I would play a5 to prevent any b5 breaks and then play Ne3-f3-Kf1 and bring the King in.
I believe that white is slightly better here, but not by much. The hole on d5 for the knight(s) and the backward pawn on d6 are clear targets to play for, though it will be somewhat annoying to get the rook on a2 back into play.
For black, I find the targets to be less clear. The pin on the knight on c3 isn’t that easily exploitable, and the activation of the bishop is problematic. I would indeed consider preparing for Rxc3 as mentioned above. I would not go for b5, as this would risk solving white’s problem of the a2 rook.
As for white’s next move, I would probably play f3 to shut down black’s Rxc3 idea, then followed by Ne3 in order to jump into d5
Black N is worst piece
Moving it fast to unblock B gives black more space
Should be best way to untangle and hold a draw from a human perspective
White is better. White plays f3 and b3, then Ne3-c4, push the pawn to a5, perhaps Nd5, double on the d file and advantage is secured already, a timely f3-f4 can even win if Black isn't careful. Black can't cause harm in the meantime (given that White is careful).
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