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Hello dear subscribers!
Solid Gurgenidzes, whacky Accelerateds, curious Classicals, and devious Dragadorfs make up this update-oh and did I forget a couple of Yugoslav Attacks for good measure! Yep thrills and spills abound (okay maybe not everywhere!). What are you waiting for...

Download PGN of August ’18 Dragon Sicilian games

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Accelerated Dragon 6...d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd2 [B36]

Yes, I’m not going to lie to you, the battle of my two ChessPublishing co-hosts Palliser, R - Emms, J can’t exactly be associated with words such as ‘thriller’, ‘epic’ and ‘classic’! However this annotation by Richard (a first for the site-thanks for that!) is perhaps representative of several tussles in the Maroczy bind between strong players with specifically his notes suggesting that there is more to it than meets the eye.

So this recent British Championship encounter was a Gurgenidze system when after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd2 Be6 Richard reveals that he had prepared 11.f3 but was ‘soon cursing himself for it’!

That was because John responded actively with 11...Rc8! when particularly interesting is that after 12 b3 to protect the c4-pawn, not only would Black have 12...b5 to challenge the bind but also 12...d5 i.e. the very moves that White’s system is devised to prevent!

Instead then White jumped in with 12.Nd5 when Nxd5 13.exd5 Bd7 14.0-0 e6! had seen Black comfortably equalise and White soon bale out for a draw before things got worse.

Accelerated Dragon 5.c4 Nc6 6.Nc2 [B37]

After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Bg7 5.c4 Nc6 6.Nc2 the game Eggleston, D - Ward, C sees a debut for the site of 6...e6!?:

Previously we have checked out 6...Nf6, 6...d6 and 6...a6 and in truth typically in the Dragons, Black is ill advised to concede such a hole on d6. Deployed here though the justification is that Black feels a lead in development can compensate. The point is that Black (who in this instance was of course me!) develops the knight on e7 rather than f6 with both breaks ...f5 and ...d5 future options.

Indeed, after 7.Nc3 Nge7 8.Be2 0-0 9.0-0, it was 9...f5 that occurred although after 10.exf5 Nxf5 11.Ne4 equally 11...d5 could have featured too. I was tempted though by 11...b6 when after 12.Rb1 Bb7 13.b3 Ne5 14.Ng3 Qh4, felt that my pieces had flowed nicely and I was set nicely for a kingside attack in a battle of more active pieces Vs superior structure.

Unfortunately, after 15.Nxf5 gxf5 16.f4 Ng4 17.Bxg4 fxg4 18.Qxd7 where I could have simply played 18...Rf7 with compensation, instead I inexplicably persevered with 18...Bxg2?? despite by now recognising that 19.Kxg2 Qh3+ 20.Kg1 g3 would see the sacrifice refuted by 21.Qd2! A game that I want to forget quickly but nevertheless all in all an opening success for Black.

Classical Dragon 6.Be3 Bg7 7.Be2 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 [B72]

After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.Be2 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0, in main games we have of course witnessed 9...Nxd4 10 Bxd4 Be6 11 g4!? as well as 9...Ng4 and 9...Bd7 but previously 9...d5 has only been discussed in the side notes:

This month’s Sivuk, V - Schwarz, D is however the first time that in a main game we have been able to make the obvious comparison between 9...d5 as played here against this trendy aggressive Classical system and 9...d5 in the 9 0-0-0 Yugoslav Attack. Basically the difference is the inclusion of Be2 as opposed to f2-f3 and I'd have to say that having the former is more useful. Not only are the rooks connected along the back rank but e3 isn't a weak point and White can put his light-squared bishop development to good use. Nevertheless this still looks just about playable for Black although after 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 e5 13.Bc5 Be6 14.Bf3 Black really needed to play 14...Qa5! as 14...e4? 15.Nxe4 f5?! 16.Ng5 Rb8 17.b3 Nc3 18.Qxd8 Nxa2+ 19.Kb1 Nc3+ 20.Ka1 Nxd1+ 21.Qd4 sadly didn’t cut it.

Dragadorf 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 a6 8.Qd2 h5 [B75]

Following 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 a6 8.Qd2 rather than the strict Dragadorf continuation of 8...b5, we have now on several occasions seen Black deploy 8...h5 instead:

There are a few points behind this trendy continuation:

  1. The bishop trade Bh6 is prevented.
  2. White is also inhibited from launching his standard kingside initiative of g2-g4.
  3. Black doesn't commit himself to the ...b5 that offers White the chance to get positional with the queenside challenging a2-a4.

The obvious downside is that now Black is a little tender around f7 and g6 which could prove awkward if White arranges the breaks f3-f4-f5 or e4-e5-e6 and in this month’s Kulkarni, C - Nihal, S White seemingly looked to punish Black for not getting in ...b5 by the deployment 9.Bc4 when 9...Nbd7 10.0-0-0 b5 11.Bb3 Bb7 12.Nd5 Nc5 13.Kb1 Rc8 14.Bg5 e6 15.Nxf6+ Bxf6 saw White accurately pressurise his opponent through 16.h4! Qe7 17.Rhe1 Rd8 18.Bd5! Alas after 18...Bxg5 19.hxg5 e5 20.Nc6 Bxc6 21.Bxc6+ Kf8 22.f4 exf4 he was too casual with 23.Qc3? and upon 23...Kg8 24.e5 Kh7 25.Bd5 Rhe8 26.exd6 Qxd6 the tables had turned.

All in all a very reasonable White approach although in this encounter it was ultimately Black who went away with the points!

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Kb1 Rb8 15.Ne4 [B76]

After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Kb1 Rb8 15.Ne4 practical outings with 15...Qc7 are rapidly growing:

Currently scoring over 55% for Black in practice, the text removes the queen from the firing line of White's rook, and in protecting the a7-pawn, stays clear of the bedlam of 15...f5 16 Bxa7!? that we have invested a lot of time in on the site.

Intriguing was the 16.Bc5 Rfd8 17.g4 h6 18.Rg1 Kh8 19.Bb3 of Arruebarrena, R - Mikhalevski, V and in particular how the experienced GM seemed to deliberately avoid the ...f5 break until it wasn’t possible for him to recapture with the g-pawn. It would be interesting to know how whether Black was trying to play the best moves or the most practical ones (i.e. to gain the full point) against a significantly lower rated opponent but given he won one can’t argue against his approach!

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 Bd7 10.h4 Rc8 11.Bb3 h5 12.0-0-0 Nxd4 13.Bxd4 b5 [B77]

Although it has a neat finish, I probably wouldn’t have featured the game Petrov, M - Maghalashvili, D were it not for the strength of the players involved. Regards 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Bc4 Nc6 9.Qd2 Bd7 10.h4 Rc8 11.Bb3 h5 12.0-0-0 Nxd4 13.Bxd4 b5...

I must admit that one of the appealing features of the Dragon is that it is rich in possibilities with as we've learnt in recent years, plenty of scope for new ideas and systems. Admittedly some might turn out to be duds and upon reflection, despite the strong Georgian GM deploying it, I can't imagine that there will be too many takers for this sort of Soltis/Topalov system hybrid!

In a side note to an old annotation on the site, Gawain commented here on the strength here of 14 e5! but 14.g4!? as played was very thematic with 14...hxg4?! 15.h5 gxh5 16.Bxf6! exf6 17.Qh2 yielding a massive attack.

Hope you’re all well, Chris

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