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Hello dear subscribers,
Okay, after last month's little dalliance with the Accelerated Dragon variants, we are back with a bang and six hardcore Yugoslav Attack games! Well, actually I say that, but in fact rather than just all well-trodden paths, there are some rather different looking encounters. Yes, truly a feast of offbeat variations, proving that there is still plenty of scope for innovation.

Download PGN of April '15 Dragon Sicilian games

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Yugoslav Attack 8 Bc4 [B75]

It's interesting why White keeps on playing 8 Bc4 despite never really following up with Qe2; typically the main justification behind favouring the king's bishop development over Qd2. However even more intriguing is that the quick Bc4-b3 often seems to provoke Black into coming up with some offbeat configuration. That appeared to be the case in in Rodriguez Lopez-Starostits although the position after 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Bc4 Bd7 9.Bb3 Na5 10.Qd2 h5 isn't actually new to the Latvian Grandmaster or even to us:

Play continued 11.0-0-0 Nxb3+ 12.cxb3 a5 13.Kb1 a4 which all seems very reasonable. Indeed this system seems to be fine for Black but of course it is only really possible against this less standard move order.

Yugoslav Attack 9 g4 Be6 10 h4 [B76]

I have to say that I really enjoyed the game Carlstedt - Yankelevic and it brought back fond memories of my tussles with the 9 g4 Yugoslav in the days where after 9...Be6, the now 'part of the furniture' 10 Nxe6 was barely considered. Although after 10 h4 it is 10...d5! that is the recommended treatment, here it was the 10...Ne5 planning ...Bc4 to ultimately secure that c4-square for the knight, that enabled me to reminisce:

As White has committed himself to h4 already, he doesn't have the early options that 0-0-0 instead would have offered him, but once it was played, he should at least have stuck to his guns.

All good stuff (i.e. for Black!).

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 Bd7 [B76]

Okay, I'm not going to deny that when selecting the games for this month's update I chose Ochsner - Blechzin because I was attracted to its pyrotechnics. Specifically we are talking the variation 9.0-0-0 Bd7 10.Kb1 Ne5 which English stalwarts Chris Duncan and Richard Pert have devoted so much time to. I definitely don't consider 11.h4 Rc8 12.Bh6 to be in any way critical:

and I remind the readers of the most satisfactory reply 12...Bxh6 13 Qxh6 Rxc3! 14 bxc3 Qc7 15 Qd2 d5!?.

However, in this game Black opts to sacrifice a different exchange via 12...Bh8 13.Bxf8 Kxf8, when with 14.h5 Nxh5 15.g4 Nxf3 the fun was just beginning!

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 Nxd4 [B76]

Of course, following 9.0-0-0 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1, everyone knows that 11...Qc7 followed by ...Rfc8 and then ...Qa5 (i.e. a move not directly available because of Nd5 tricks) is standard and generally attempts to deviate by Black have been battered. In a recent update though, I featured a game of Ben Finegold's where he played 11...Rc8:

Now, after 12 g4, he followed up with 12...Nd7 13.Bxg7 Kxg7. Ultimately he fared quite well after 14 h4 Qa5 but in Mihok - Szalanczy it looks as though White has come up with an improvement in 14 Nd5!?. This prevents the black queen from venturing out to a5 and the key is that after 14...Bxd5 15 exd5 Rc5, he simply trundles on with 16 h4 Nf6 17 g5! The point is that after 17...Nxd5 18 c4, the knight is lured away from the kingside leaving a distinct lack of defenders. This certainly looks challenging and unfortunately (i.e. from a Black point of view!) the ball is now back in the second player's court.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 [B76]

It's almost as though 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Bc4 Rd8 has been accepted as the main line now (a rarity for this month!) and the onus is definitely on White to try to prove some sort of advantage. Having already featured games with 16 Nc5, 16 Bb3, 16 h4 and 16 Rhe1, this time in Yeletsky - Abdyjapar it is the turn of 16 g3 that (though previously featured) to be fair is relatively new but has scored quite well in the few outings to date. White effectively guards his h2-pawn, whilst depriving Black access to the f4-square, but it does make a concession and the provocative response 16...Bh3!? takes immediate advantage of that. Black connects his rooks and with ...Nb6 a threat, White never comes close to getting the time to trap this bishop:

It's interesting to compare this middlegame with the typical ones we reach with those black isolated a- and c-pawns and in particular how White fares when he winds up with his bishop caught offside.

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4; ...Qa5 with Kb1 and h4 [B79]

Calm down, calm down...but yes it's one of the World's best deploying the supposedly defunct ...Qa5 variation! Effectively after 9 Bc4 Bd7 10 0-0-0 Qa5 11 Bb3 Rfc8 12 Kb1 Ne5 13 h4, reviving it through 13...h5 (as illustrated below):

Although we are far more familiar with 13...Nc4 and 13...b5, actually 13...h5 was featured in a main game on our site about 12 years ago although White's 14 g4?! was unsuccessful. In Naroditsky - Nakamura, White plays a more standard 14 Bg5 but then rather than respond with the 'Soltis' like 14...Rc5, the young American star gets straight to the point with 14...Rxc3!?. It's not the first time that we have seen strong players simply make a positional exchange sac for structural compensation but although I am unimpressed with his Super GM opponent's play, Nakamura's technique is simply wonderful. The caveat to this game is that it arrives through an odd move order and so we certainly can't conclude that Hikaru has the answers to all of the problems in the ...Qa5 line. Nevertheless, food for thought all the same!

That's all for now but I'll be back before you know it!

Cheers, Chris

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