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Dragon 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 Nc6 9.Bb3 Bd7 10.Nf3 [B70]
Following 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 Nc6 9.Bb3 Bd7 White typically plays 10 Bg5 or 10 h3 but in Najer, E - Kanmazalp, O White whipped out the rare and interesting 10.Nf3:
I discuss Black’s plausible plans but given that his light-squared bishop sometimes gets in the way, seemingly losing a tempo with 10...Bg4 seemed quite reasonable. After 11.h3 Bxf3 12.Qxf3 Black has options but 12...Nd4 13.Qd1 Nxb3 14.axb3 a6 15.Bg5 Re8 16.Qd2 Rc8 17.Rad1 occurred. Despite apparent tricks around Bxf6 and Nd5, Black did have the opportunity to deploy his queen on a5 and instead 17...Qc7 18.Re2 Qc5 19.Be3 Qc6 20.Bh6 Bh8 21.Nd5 Nxd5?! (21...e6!? was more in the spirit of things) 22.exd5 Qb5 23.Rde1 left him destined for a game of suffering. Of course it was far from a smooth conversion but I’ll leave that for you to discover yourself!
Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 [B76]
I suppose the game Azarov, S - Arribas Lopez, A might be viewed as the latest wrinkle in the 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 saga with White heading down the still trendy 15.Bc4 Rd8 16.g3 line:
Still not yet as popular as 16 Nc5 and 16 Bb3 though in terms of games played, in practice this is currently highest scoring of White's 16th move possibilities with the text preventing Black from invading on the f4-square and freeing up White's king's rook from having to defend the h2-pawn.
In the annotation I revisit and update news on the ultra rare 16...Bh3!? but it is the familiar 16...Bf5 17.Bb3 sequence that we get. Here though Black plays the sensible 17...Rd6 18.Rhe1 Rad8 19.Qc5 Be6 when after 20.Qf2 vacating the c5 square for the white knight to occupy and gain a tempo on the black bishop, I suggest that Black could practically force a draw through 20...Nb6. Instead 20...h5 21.Nc5 Qb6 22.Ne4 Qxf2 23.Nxf2 was an unpleasant although objectively still holdable endgame.
Yugoslav Attack 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.h4 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.h5 Nxh5 [B77]
Following 9.Bc4 Bd7 in Arakeljan, Ar - Kulicov, O we see an Anti-Chinese variation being deployed through White avoiding long castles with 10.h4 That theme continues after 10...Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.h5 Nxh5 when previously here on chesspublishing we have witnessed fun and games in the form of 13 g4 Ng3 (note there isn’t anything wrong with 13...Nf6) 14 Rg1 Rxc3 15 bxc3 Nxf3+.
Here though White adopts another direct approach in 13.Bh6:
This game was like a trip down memory lane for me as Black correctly bashed out 13...Bxh6 14.Qxh6 Rxc3! (i.e. before White could arrange g4 and Nd5) 15.bxc3 Qa5 leading to a type of position I experienced several times in my ...Qa5 Dragon days but with the remaining rook on a8 rather than f8. Following 16.Qd2 Rc8 17.Kf2?! Rxc3 18.Rxh5 gxh5 19.Qg5+ Kf8 20.Qh6+ Ke8 21.Qxh7 Kd8 White’s lack of subtlety had clearly been exposed with 22.Rd1 Qc5! 23.Kg3 Ng4! all very nice for Black. Certainly at the higher levels, you don’t see many games like this these days!
Yugoslav Attack 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Be2 [B77]
After 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 the game Kobo, O - Chekletsov, I saw another ‘Anti’ variation deployed in the form of 11.Be2:
We haven’t looked at this move for a while here but I have noticed that it has been creeping back into popularity and I can see the logic.
It looks silly of course but the bishop initially goes to c4 to prevent the break ...d6-d5 and now that task has seemingly (check the annotation!) been achieved. Should Black deploy a ...Ne5-c4 manoeuvre then this bishop will have used up the same amount of tempi before conceding itself for the black knight but the point is that this odd looking retreat side-steps the trendy Topalov system.
That said, it’s also fair to say that the bishop isn’t as offensive on e2 as although it may hinder those black ...b5 thrusts, it no longer pins Black’s f7-pawn nor of course have that aforementioned cover of the d5-square.
With all that in mind Black can afford to play a little slower than usual and although I have some recommended improvements or at least interesting alternatives, certainly making for fascinating viewing was 11...a6 12.g4 b5 13.Kb1 Ne5 14.h4 Re8 15.Nd5 Nexg4 16.fxg4 Nxe4 17.Qe1 e6 18.Nb4 a5 19.Nd3 e5 20.Nb3 a4 21.Nd2 Nf6 As you will discover, both sides had their chances!
Yugoslav Attack Chinese Variation 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rb8 11.Bb3 Na5 12.g4 b5 13.Bh6 Bxh6 14.Qxh6 b4 15.Nd5 Nxb3+ [B78]
Given it was a main line and an encounter involving two highly rated players (and you know how I feel almost obliged to feature such games), I could hardly ignore Zhigalko, S - Mamedov, R although to be honest I was a little disappointed by the quality (probably something people say about my games!). Still after 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rb8 11.Bb3 Na5 12.g4 b5 13.Bh6 Bxh6 14.Qxh6 b4 15.Nd5 Nxb3+ 16.Nxb3 Nxd5 17.exd5 Rb6 we did at least get something new in the Chinese variation in the form of 18.Rd4:
I guess a flexible enough move as it eyes up the b4-pawn and introduces the concept of g4-g5 and Rh4, whilst also facilitating a doubling of his rooks against a target d6-pawn. Well that pawn does indeed emerge as a target after the standard (given Black’s last move) 18...e5 but following 19.dxe6 recapturing with the pawn shows more ambition for Black. Unfortunately 19...Bxe6 was played when 20.Qd2 Ra6 21.Qxb4 Rxa2 22.Kb1 Ra6 23.Rhd1 Rb6 24.Qa3 Bxb3 25.cxb3 Qb8 26.b4 should still be okay for Black despite his slightly inferior structure. As it happens Black erred in a way that offers the rest of us a little lesson but all in all I’d day one more for the scrap heap than the scrapbook!
Yugoslav Attack 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.Bb3 Rc8 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Kb1 Nc4 13.Bxc4 Rxc4 14.g4 b5 15.b3 b4 [B78]
We have learnt on this site that one way of dealing with those ‘Anti-Soltis’ bullies is by dabbling in the so called ‘Burnett variation’.
Yes, after 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.Bb3 Rc8 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Kb1 Nc4 13.Bxc4 Rxc4 14.g4 White had avoided the h4 and ...h5 Soltis variation in a manner that we have very much become accustomed to on this site, and although the jury is still out on whether the sacrifice 14...b5 15.b3 b4 16.bxc4 bxc3 17.Qxc3 Qc7 is really sound, there is no doubting the sting that was demonstrated in Nguyen Van Thanh - Ludwig, J.
Being the 2nd most common move, 18.g5 occurred but after 18...Nh5 we see our first of the flexible rook lift 19.Rd3:
Probably that is alright but after 19...Rc8 20.Kc1?! Be5! 21.h4 Nf4 22.Bxf4 Bxf4+ 23.Kd1 Be5 24.Ke2 Qb6! it seemed that already Black was in a difficult position. Roll on a few innocuous moves and he’s in serious trouble. Well worth checking out and a reminder of how dangerous this variation can be.
Take care everyone! Chris
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