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Online banter blitz and super-computer tussles; what is the World coming to? Oops probably not a great question right now, but whilst the outcome of a lot of things may be in doubt, the future of the Dragon looks just fine!

Download PGN of April ’20 Dragon Sicilian games

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Accelerated Dragon, Maroczy Bind 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Nxd4 7 e5!? [B36]

Yes, that’s right, in the entertaining banter blitz encounter Grandelius, N - Carlsen, M, via a move order of 1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.e4 Nxd4 reaching a very topical position for the site, rather than the obvious recapture, suddenly the World Champion was stunned by the fascinating 7.e5!?:

With both players independently offering their comments during play, upon seeing this Magnus even tendered the view that 'Is this something embarrassing that I've blundered?'.

Instead his Swedish GM opponent tendered the information that this was an idea belonging to Sulskis was designed to gain positional compensation for a pawn.

It was a joy to annotate this game and even investigate side-lines such as the visual 7...Ne4!? here but in the main game the World Champion composed himself and play continued 7...Ne6 8.exf6 exf6 9.Be2 Bg7 10.0-0 0-0 11.Be3 f5 12.Qd2 b6 It was interesting to see how Magnus changed his assessment of the position as the game went on but although both sides could have improved, ultimately it was Black that got on top after 13.Bf3 Rb8 14.Rfd1 Bb7 15.Nd5?! Re8 16.Rac1 Rc8 17.b3 f4 18.Bxf4 Nd4 and in 19.Qd3 Bxd5 20.cxd5 Qf6 21.Rxc8 Rxc8 22.Bg3 h5! 23.h3 h4 24.Bh2 Rc3! was nicely on the road to victory.

Accelerated Dragon, Maroczy Bind 7.Nc2 Bg7 8.Be2 0-0 9.0-0 Be6 10.Be3 [B37]

After 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Nc2 Bg7 8.Be2 0-0 9.0-0 Be6 10.Be3 intriguing about Hong, A - Huang, R is that we have seen Black win a high level encounter before on this site when it was White to move! Here of course it was Black’s turn and rather than go for a solid ...Nd7-c5 and ...a5 set-up, he chose to challenge White through 10...Rc8 11.Rc1 a6 12.f3 Ne5 13.b3 b5:

White shouldn’t be worse but after 14.Nd4 bxc4 15.Nxe6 fxe6 16.f4?! Nd3 17.Bxd3 cxd3 18.Qxd3 Ng4! that’s exactly what he was as 19.Ne2 Nxe3 20.Qxe3 Qa5 21.a4 Qb4 22.Qd3 a5 23.Rc2 Rxc2 24.Qxc2 e5 25.f5 Bh6 left Black with the superior minor piece and more activity.

Classical Dragon, Karpov Variation 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Bg5 Nc6 9.Nb3 Be6 10.f4 Rc8 [B70]

Although after 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Bg5 Nc6 9.Nb3 my own preference has tended to be for 9...a6, certainly if I knew that after 9...Be6 my opponent was going to rush in with 10.f4?! then I’d go for that every time! Previously on the site we’ve observed that 10...Na5 seems fine and that 10...b5! simply looks good. In Rabatin, J - Mroziak, M though Black came up with a 3rd promising response in the form of 10...Rc8:

I generally like this move because of the future possibility of a ...Rxc3 but Black’s main plan is to ultimately secure a knight on c4. Well that aim was certainly achieved after 11.Bf3 Na5 12.e5 Qb6+! 13.Kh1 dxe5 14.fxe5 Nd7! 15.Bxe7 Rfe8 16.Bh4 Nc4 when Black was already comfortably on top.

Classical Dragon 6.Be3 Bg7 7.h3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 [B72]

The first of three games involving metal monsters is Stockfish, 202004181536 - Xiphos 0.6.1 which sees 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.h3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0:

Well, if computers take over the World, is this really the way we might see the Dragon go?

Okay so replace h3 with f3 and we have a 9 0-0-0 Yugoslav Attack that we've seen a billion times. Replace h3 with Be2 and we have the aggressive long castling Classical line that we check in on from time to time.

This, though, in all our years has only been tackled in side notes and it’s very difficult to get ones head around the 9...Bd7 10.Kb1 a6 11.f3 Qa5 12.Nb3 Qc7 13.h4 Rfc8 14.h5 Nxh5 15.Nd5 Qd8 16.Qf2 Nf6 17.g4 Ne5 18.Qh2 h6 19.Bxh6 that was basically all one way traffic. Yes, they might have brains the size of planets but if you cut through all the move order ‘subtleties’, I have to say that if I played the Dragon like that, they I’m pretty sure I would have given it up a long time ago! I’m not sure I’d say ‘All calculation and no judgement’ but heck, I just have!

Yugoslav Attack 9.Bc4 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Qa5 11.0-0-0 Be6 12.Bxe6 fxe6 [B77]

In contrast to that last disappointing effort, I loved Stoofvlees, II a14 - Komodo 2522.05 Which, after 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Bc4 Nc6 9.Qd2 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Qa5 11.0-0-0 Be6 12.Bxe6 fxe6 reached a position we have discussed quite a bit in the past, only here White didn’t take a time out with 13 Kb1 or get straight to the point through 13 h4 but rather set about deploying another plan via 13.Rhe1:

Breaking in the centre is White’s idea and after 13...Nd7 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.e5 that had been realised, with White seemingly achieving a little niggle after 15...d5 16.Qg5 Rae8. However it soon became clear that White didn’t know how to progress and after 17.Kb1 Rf5 18.Qh4 Kg8 19.f4 Nb6 20.Qf2 the tide started turning through 20...Nc4 (plenty of threats around b2) 21.Ne2 Ref8 22.Qd4 Rc8 23.g3 Rc6 24.Qc3 Qa6 25.Nd4 Rb6 with Black the one on the offensive. Particularly striking was that in the game continuation of 26.b3 Rf8 27.Re2 Qa3 28.h3 Rc8 29.g4 Ra6 30.Qa1 Qb4 31.Rd3 Na3+ 32.Kb2 b5 33.Qd1 Nc4+ 34.Kb1 despite never having an engine assessment in the positive, there was a total reluctance by Black to draw by repetition up until an incredible finish to the game kicked off by 34...Rxa2.

Pretty amazing stuff and having Komodo in the Dragon corner, as well as the manner in which ‘he’ handled it is a fantastic boost for the opening.

Yugoslav Attack 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.Bb3 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 b5 12.a4 bxa4 [B78]

The game Komodo, 2522.05 - Stoofvlees, II a14 is another amazing encounter. This time the colours are reversed but donning the Dragon cap seems to invigorate Black to try to the bitter end to win.

In recent times, after 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Bc4 Nc6 9.Bb3 Bd7 10.Qd2 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 b5 we have seen 12 0-0-0 and revisited 12 h4 in recent times but in this game White seeks to gain an edge through the positional 12.a4, ultimately trying to create and then exploit weaknesses in the opponent’s queenside.

Interesting is that each of Guseinov, Giri and Carlsen have all fared well in annotated games on the site with 12...b4 but instead the old recommendation of 12...bxa4 13.Bxa4 is followed until Black deviates from 13...Be6 and 13...Bxa4 with 13...Qc7!?:

A rare occurrence in practical play but perhaps no great surprise that the top computer move would be played by a computer!

In many respects this game mirrors the last as in 14.Bxd7 Qxd7 15.0-0 Rfc8 16.h3 Qc6 17.Ra4 d5 18.e5 Nd7 19.f4 a6 20.Rfa1 e6 21.Kh2 Bf8 22.Qe2 Nc5 23.R4a2 Rab8 24.b3 Rb4 25.Qd2 Qb7 26.Qd1 Rc6 27.Qg1 h5 28.Qe3 Qc7 29.Qd2 Kg7 30.Kh1 Be7 31.Rf1 Qb6 32.Qe3 Qb8 33.Rf3 Qd8 34.Rf1 Qc8 35.Rf3 h4 36.Rf1 Kh7 37.Qd2 Rb7 38.Kh2 Rbc7 39.Rc1 Qb7 40.Qd1 Kg7 41.Rca1 Qb4 42.Rb2 it certainly seemed as though White had maximised his position, then got stuck for how to progress before his opponent had taken over his operation in the initiative stakes. Following 42...Rc8 43.Na2 Black plays the quite amazing and dare I say ‘unhuman’ 43...Qa3 and the rest has to be seen to be believed as Black is seemingly absolutely desperate to win. There are a load more moves from here and it’s remarkable stuff!

Take care everybody, Chris

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