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Merry Xmas everybody and this year Santa is bringing you plenty of Yugoslav Attacks! No doubt some of you were following Gawain's activities in the recent London Chess Classic. Yep, it was certainly pretty tough for him and his opponents were pretty 'scrooge like' when it came to handing over points! Still, he was unbeaten in the event with the Dragon and we can maybe look forward to him sharing some of that acquired wisdom with us in the future.
Actually, any of you that followed the commentary that I was involved in at the highly impressive London event may have seen me take the opportunity to quiz Hikaru Nakamura on the 9 Bc4 Nxd4 Yugoslav variation that features twice this month. Yes, I thought that you guys might be interested to hear how exactly he came to start a trend that evidently GM Socko, for one, is avidly following. Check out this month's relevant annotations for that, and speaking of which, let's start unwrapping some presents:

Download PGN of December '12 Dragon Sicilian games

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Yugoslav Attack 9 g4 Nxd4 [B76]

Put simply, I think that Kurnosov - Geller could be an important contribution towards the theory of the 9 g4.Yugoslav Attack At the moment many Dragon players are stressing over the 9...Be6 10 Nxe6 lines, but as far as I can see, this encounter makes 9...Nxd4 10 Bxd4 Be6 look perfectly acceptable.

As shown in the above position, the key points are the a- rather than f-rook coming to c8, and then this simple ...Bc4xf1 manoeuvre to make available the c4-square for the rook. I hope you'll enjoy my notes to this game, and the implication that the ball is back in White's court!

9 Bc4 Nxd4 10 Bxd4 Be6 [B77]

So, the fascination with this old fashioned (now revived!) system continues, but the good news is that the two games with it in this month's update are considerably different from their predecessors, both in terms of plans and excitement value. In the game Kulaots - Socko, following 11 Bb3, Black continues with 11...Rc8 (i.e. rather than the 11...Qa5 12 0-0-0 Rfc8 13 Kb1 b5 that we have grown accustomed to seeing) and following 12 0-0-0, simply trades bishops and breaks in the centre instead:

This quite logical plan has been seen in the past, but not too much, thus allowing it to slip under the radar.

In my notes to Dragun - Socko, I do talk about how Hikaru Nakamura came to play this old fashioned line, but actually in the main game, following 9 Bc4 Nxd4 10 Bxd4 Be6, White opts for 11 Bxe6, thus preventing any repeat of those un-inspirational variations.

Indeed, effectively his deviation of opting to trade bishops prevents the 11...Rc8 of our other annotated game in this line this month. Again, an important game to take note of, because although 11 Bxe6 was slated in old text books, after a few casual black moves, White's impressive plan proves totally devastating.

9 Bc4 Bd7 10 h4 [B77]

The game Videnova - Ibarra Chami saw an interesting move order, but essentially boiled down to an Anti-Chinese (that's variation, not race!) 10 h4.

The position above arose after Black has just played 12...Rb8, where previously on ChessPublishing we have looked at 12...Rc8 and 12...Nxb3+. Essentially then he looked set to play in the same vein as the Chinese variation with ...b5 and ...Nc4 etc. but unusually with h4 already blocked by ...h5. White definitely misses chances in this game, but it is Black who errs before that, at the moment leaving this idea yet to be refuted. Certainly 13 g4 looked like a good place to start, but perhaps 13 Bh6!? will be up next?

9 Bc4 'Soltis with Kb1 and ...a6' [B78]

Although I myself was never an exponent of the Soltis variation, over the years it has long proven a worthy adversary of the 9 Bc4 Yugoslav Attack. So much so of course, that popular became delaying the deployment of the h-pawn by White, in favour of the 12 Kb1 (intending 12...Nc4 13 bxc4 Rxc4 14 g4) system:

So rather than 12...Nc4, Black needed a good waiting move and thus the emergence of 12...Re8 and the 12...a6 that entered our thoughts courtesy of the 2008 Topalov-Carlsen encounter. We haven't seen one of those for a while, but Eliseev - Beradze acts as a handy refresher course. Black appears to have forgotten his theory (or doesn't subscribe to ChessPublishing!) and I am afraid that it all goes horribly and quickly downhill from there!

9 Bc4 with ...Rc8 non Soltis [B78]

The game Savchenko - Pridorozhni was intriguing in so many ways. First of all the early move order throws up a whole bunch of questions regarding what system both players were trying to play, and whether White has actually provided us with some food for thought. Eventually it transposes to an old style ...Rc8 (without ...h5) system more typically reached via 9 Bc4 Bd7 10 0-0-0 Rc8 11 Bb3 Ne5 12 h4 Nc4 13 Bxc4 Rxc4 14 g4. Though Black has options here, he sensibly selects 14...b5, after which White accepts the offering.

Usual then would be 15...Qa5 but so as not to obstruct his a-pawn, Black plumps for the novel 15...Qb8 illustrated above. Tactics are rife in this game as White tees up a Nf5 but Black has counter-sacrifices available to bring his Dragon bishop into play. The lines not played are particularly entertaining!

That's it for now folks. Enjoy the festive period and...

Happy New Year! Chris

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