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Hi everyone,
In the time period I had allocated for this month's update there weren't many super high level encounters but I'm sure that is a one off. Anyway all the same, one or two new ideas, some lessons to be learnt and some typical Dragon entertainment! Let's get ready to rumble...

Download PGN of April ’16 Dragon Sicilian games

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Accelerated Dragon 6 Nb3 Nf6 7 g4!? [B34]

I'm going to confess that the 'B34' roadmap had been earmarked as the 'Semi-Accelerated Dragon' where of course typically Black plays ...Nf6 before fianchettoing his king's bishop. Although ChessBase classifies this game and line as 'B34', the reality is of course that White wouldn't necessarily be in a hurry to retreat his knight from d4 unless it was under attack by the Dragon bishop. Hence why the odd offbeat line such as this also sneaks in under that classification.

Anyway in Velikanov - Canty, things start off as a Hyper-Accelerated Dragon through 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 and after a return to the standard Accelerated variant via 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6. White eschews the Maroczy Bind with 5.Nc3 and then after 5...Bg7 decides that he doesn't want to commit his bishop to e3 yet, hence favouring 6.Nb3. This isn't anything new to us here on Chess Publishing where we have previously discussed 6...Bxc3+ 7 bxc3 Nf6 8 Bd3 d5 as an alternative to heading into typical Classical lines. However, as it turns out it is White who doesn't want the standard Classical lines as after 6...Nf6, rather than develop either bishop, he stunned his opponent with 7.g4!?:

In the past we have investigated the more aggressive Classical line where White plays Be2, Be3, f4 and g4 (i.e. without castling) but this move order is certainly a first for us.

This aggressive thrust may come as a warning to the black king but played immediately also looks to establish a firm hold over the d5-square. I discuss alternatives but certainly thematic was 7...d5 8.exd5 Nb4. However, 9.Bb5+ threw a spanner in the works and as Black evidently didn't fancy 9...Kf8, we saw the fascinating 9...Bd7 10.g5 Ng4 11.Qxg4 Nxc2+ 12.Kd1. Check out the game and any White players out there seeking something different might discover an interesting weapon.

Classical Dragon With Re1 [B70]

Regular subscribers will be only too familiar with the Classical line in which White parks a rook on e1, retreats his bishop to f1 and plays a timely Nd5 with the hope of ultimately activating his rook against e7 after Black trades on d5. In recent times there have been refinements for White in delaying Bf1/possibly switching it to b5 but 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 Nc6 9.Nb3 a6 10.Bg5 b5 11.Bf1 was pretty standard until in Bochnickova - Bengherabi, Black deployed the new to the site 11...Re8:

In over-protecting e7 (the point of potential pressure) this act of prophylaxis worked out especially well after 12.Nd5 Nxd5 13.exd5 Ne5 when White under-estimated the counterplay that Black was going to have against the d5-pawn with 14.Qe2?! and was rightly punished after 14...Bb7 15.Rad1 Nc4 16.c3 Nb6.

Yugoslav Attack - Dragadorf With Be2 [B75]

In my notes to Todorovic - Radovanovic I have quite a lot to say about the unusual move order of 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.Be2 Nbd7 8.Qd2 a6 9.g4 b5 10.f3:

Despite the interesting earlier deviations available though, the bottom line now is that it is basically a Dragadorf where White has committed himself to an early Be2. This should be fine for Black but regards 10...Nb6 11.g5 Nfd7 12.h4 Ne5 13.b3 Bb7 14.h5 Ned7?! 15.h6 Bf8 16.a4! it seems to me that Black caught himself in two minds and once that White pawn was on g5, I wonder how much thought he gave to castling kingside? Yes one of the attractions of the Dragadorf to the non-main line Dragon player is that the black king isn't offered as a target. However, although I accept that the king can stay in the middle for a bit, when it appears relatively safe to 'go short' then it should definitely be a consideration.

Sicilian Dragadorf With Bc4 [B75]

The game Lopez Martinez - Moreno Ibanez was a more standard Dragadorf although after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 a6 8.Qd2 Nbd7 admittedly we haven't seen that much of 9.Bc4 b5 10.Bb3 recently. As I discuss in the annotation, Black needs to decide whether he is going to allow White to trade off his Dragon bishop and if so, following 10...Bb7 11.Bh6 Bxh6 12.Qxh6 should he deploy the likes of ...Nc5 or get on with 12...Rc8 13.0-0-0...

and yes, you've guessed it, 13...Rxc3. Well he did here but after 14.bxc3 Qc7 15.Kb2 Nb6 16.Qg7 Rf8 17.Rhe1 I call into question (amongst other things) whether 17...Na4+ 18.Bxa4 bxa4 was the correct way to go. My complaint is that the open b-file is more likely to benefit the white rooks and indeed although after 19.Qh6 e5? White misses 20 Nf5!, he still seemed to remain boss.

Yugoslav Attack 9 g4 Nxd4 [B76]

The game Fernandez Cardoso - Castellanos Zarate started off normally with 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.g4 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.h4 Qa5 12.h5 but then we were in for a shock in the form of 12...d5(?!):

No doubt like most of our subscribers, I do enjoy seeing something different and naturally then this caught my eye. I simply hadn't thought that this move was possible but whether through home preparation or over-the-board inspiration, clearly Mr Castellanos Zarate thought differently!

Following a natural reaction by his strong opponent of 13.h6 Bh8 14.g5, he continued dynamically with 14...Rfd8 when 15.gxf6 dxe4 16.0-0-0 Bxf6 17.Qe3 hit the board. Check out the game to see how Black's persistent play was soon quashed but how he might have kept the game alive in a different way. Alas I wouldn't get your hopes up too much though; I'm afraid it's all probably a little dubious!

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 Soltis Variation With 13 g4?!

Following 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Bc4 Nc6 9.Qd2 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.h4 h5, in my early Dragon days I observed 13 g4?! was a natural reaction for many a club player intent on smashing the Sicilian but for a while now this break played immediately has been deemed suspicious. Indeed after 13...hxg4 14.h5 Nxh5 15.Bh6 I remind the reader why 15...e6 and 15...Kh7 have fared well for Black, but in Ali,Ak - Sati'a Black seemingly goes on autopilot:

Yes instead he deploys 15...Rxc3 which I was quick to award with a '?!'. The more I looked at the game though I wasn't sure whether that was because after 16.Rxh5 (The simple 16 bxc3 is perhaps better when Black might still be okay but I am fearful) he definitely erred with 16...Rc5? and consequently got splattered. Possibly I have been harsh on him then but with better options available there is definitely no need for Black to be taking this path.

Okay, bye for now! Chris

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