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Gee I feel old... but that’s why I got to play for England!
Yep, games this month from the alternative World team championship plus some tactics, warnings, Yugoslav Attack novelties and Chinese Variation action. Punctuality aside, what more could one ask for?

Download PGN of April ’19 Dragon Sicilian games

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Dragon Fianchetto System [B70] 6.Nc3 d6 7.Nc2 Bg7 8.Be2 Nd7 9.Bd2 0-0 10.0-0 Nc5 [B37]

I almost thought I needed to provide you with the game Salonen, J - Emms, J just to set the record straight although it also makes for an amusing tale! In round 2 of the World ‘young oldies’ (50+) team championship, I was playing on board 4 for England with good friend and fellow ChessPublishing host John Emms doing battle on board 3 in the match against Finland. I later discovered that ‘chess 24’ and ‘chess bomb’ had been showing John Emms defeated playing the Grunfeld and myself lose deploying an ugly looking fianchetto system against the Accelerated Dragon. All this in a match where ‘The mighty England were humbled by Finland’. Of course, anybody that knows John would know that he doesn’t play the Grunfeld and just how hypocritical would it have been for me to switch from my usual 1 d4 to 1 e4 to deploy a system against the Dragon that I spend most of my time (i.e. the little I dedicate to 6 g3) on the site slagging off!

Of course the point was that wires were crossed...literally and the websites had our games mixed up (i.e. I was White against the Grunfeld!) with England really winning 3-1 rather than losing 3-1!

Equally amusing was that the position reached after 1.e4 c5 2.Ne2 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Nde2 Nf6 7.g3 b5 8.Bg2 Rb8 9.0-0 0-0 also occurred in round 1 of the event with John Black in that too!

In this game that (due to the technical error made) you may not see anywhere else, White temporarily halted Black’s queenside progress through 10.a3 but my observation after 10...d6 11.Nd5 a5 is that White is worse off here than in the more standard scenario as it is Black that gets to decide when the a-file should be opened. This was a very nice game by John who after 12.Ra2 b4 13.axb4 Nxd5 14.exd5 Nxb4 15.Ra3 Bf5 16.c3 Nd3 17.g4 Nxc1 18.Nxc1 Bd7 19.Ra2 Qb6 was comfortably on top with a better pawn structure and a wonderful bishop pair.

Yugoslav Attack 9.Bb3 Bd7 10.h4 [B76]

After 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0, the game Loeffler, M - Bounlom, J highlights how tricky the move order 8.Bc4 Nc6 9.Bb3 Bd7 10.h4 can be.

At the end of the day it wouldn’t be a problem for exponents of the Soltis variation who could simply block White’s h-pawn with their own but those that prefer the other systems need to be careful as the swift attacking deployment of the h-pawn in preference to Qd2 proves surprisingly tricky. Indeed 10...Na5 11.h5! Nxb3 12.axb3 Nxh5 13.g4 Nf6 14.Qd2 Kh8?! 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.exd5 Be5 17.0-0-0 f5 18.f4 was already as good as game over with a familiar combination ultimately seeing Black off.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Kb1 Qd7!? [B76]

Following 5...g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Kb1 courtesy of the game Froewis, A - Pijpers, A I’m able to introduce the intriguing 10...Qd7!?:

In obstructing the bishop this is obviously an odd-looking move but whereas 10...dxe4?? drops a piece to 11 Nxc6, this does prepare that central capture. Another key point is revealed after the game continuation of 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5. Rather than simply recapturing, Black unleashed 12...Rb8!? with a view to creating swift threats along the b-file. If 13 dxc6 now then 13...Qxc6 is excellent compensation for the pawn with all that queenside pressure and so instead 13.b3 Nxd5 14.Nxd5 cxd5 15.Qxd5 Qa4 looks critical. White tried 16.Bd4? but after 16...Be6 17.Bxg7 Bxd5 18.Bxf8 Qh4! 19.Bxe7 Qxe7 20.Rxd5 Qe1+ 21.Kb2 Rc8 was struggling to the end.

I have suggested an improvement for White but let’s see if more encounters in this line come our way!

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 Bxh6 12.Qxh6 Qc7 [B76]

Most common after 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 is Black escaping the d-file pin by parking the queen on b6 with or without trading bishops. However we have also witnessed the sequence 11...Bxh6 12.Qxh6 Qc7 on the site before with Black eyeing up the f4-square as a potential place to trade queens. Indeed 13.h4 dxe4 14.h5 Nxh5 15.Kb1:

is not a new position for us. Last time we decided that the flexible 15...Qe5 is best to offer up if required, the defensive ...Qg7 but sitting just a couple of boards away from the USA Vs Iceland encounter Ehlvest, J - Petursson, M I was shocked to see an experienced Dragoneer get greedy with 15...exf3? and consequently be severely punished by 16.Rxh5! gxh5 17.Bd3 f5 18.gxf3! in a game I’m sure he will want to forget.

Yugoslav, Chinese Variation 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rb8 11.Bb3 Na5 12.h4 b5 13.h5 Nc4 [B78]

After 5...g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Bc4 Nc6 9.Qd2 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rb8 11.Bb3 Na5 12.h4 b5 13.h5 Nc4 typically we see a trade of minor pieces with Black then trying to make the most of the resulting half-open b-file whilst resisting White’s own h-file attack. In Bjornsson, S - Djukic, N, however, White selected 14.Qe1 instead:

which of course allowed 14...Nxe3 15.Qxe3 and Black having gained the bishop for a knight that so often leaves the Dragon bishop unchallengeable. However, this game serves as a serious caution as 15...b4 16.Nce2 Qa5 17.g4 Qc5 wasn’t an unnatural sequence before 18.Kb1 Rfc8?! 19.hxg6 hxg6 20.Nf4 Qg5? 21.Nf5!! suddenly left Black in deep trouble. As the Dragon bishop controls the key squares, mate wasn’t looking likely down the h-file but the prospect of an open g-file was unpalatable.

Chinese Variation 10...Rb8 11.Kb1 Na5 12.Bb3 b5 13.Bh6 Bxh6 14.Qxh6 e5 15.Nde2 b4 [B78]

The game Ponizil, C - Antoniewski, R was a bit of a shame from Black’s point of view. Regards 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.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rb8 11.Kb1 Na5 12.Bb3 b5 13.Bh6 Bxh6 14.Qxh6 e5 15.Nde2 b4:

we have seen this standard sequence (temporarily weakening the d6-pawn and conceding an outpost on d5) on a number of occasions although the annotation delves into the comparison between the various permutations of Kb1, h4 and g4 that it should/should not be deployed under.

Following 16.Nd5 Nxb3 17.Nxf6+ Qxf6 18.axb3 Black continued with the flexible 18...Rb6 after which White struggled to find a constructive plan. He opted to reposition his knight through 19.Ng3 Qe7 20.Nf1?! Be6 21.g4 Rc8 22.Ne3 but this was very time consuming and whilst a swift a-pawn advance looked attractive for Black, the game continuation of 22...Rc5 23.Rd3 Ra6 24.Rc1 Qc7 25.c4 bxc3 26.Rcxc3 Rxc3 27.Rxc3 Rc6 28.Kc2 Qb6 29.Nc4 Qa6 30.Kd3 Qb5 was certainly looking promising for him too until it sadly went a little wrong later.

These things happen, but hopefully now not to you!

Best wishes, Chris

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