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Well dear subscribers,
We are reaching the end of 2016 but this month it’s not so much a case of ‘out with the old and in with the new’ as so much as ‘getting back to the future’! Hmm I’m not sure if that makes total sense but implied is that this update sees the possible resurrection of an old line or two although I wouldn’t get your hopes up! Two familiar opponents from days gone by still battling it out as though it was 20 years ago, a surprising blunder and a wacky subscriber submission also appear in this update which wouldn’t be complete without the usual white h-pawn sorties!
All good stuff; now get reading!

Download PGN of December ’16 Dragon Sicilian games

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Classical Dragon 9 Re1 a6 [B70]

Regards 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 Nc6 8.Nb3 0-0 9.Re1, regular subscribers will be only too familiar with this Classical system in which White parks a rook on e1, retreats his bishop to f1 and plays a timely Nd5 with the hope of ultimately activating his rook against e7 should Black trade knights on d5. In recent times there have been refinements for White in delaying Bf1/possibly switching it to b5, but frankly I remain unimpressed by this White selection which is rarely successful against the strong Dragon players.

Nevertheless, following 9...a6 10.Bg5 b5 11.Bf1 Bb7 in the Grandmaster clash Ehlvest, J - Petursson, M (a pairing I simply couldn’t resist including given the game could equally have been played the best part of 20 years ago!) nobody could have predicted just how well things could have gone for Black after 12.Qd2 Re8 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.exd5 Ne5 when White plays the poorly timed 15.a4?:

Often an important positional concept to challenge Black’s queenside, it seems that White had missed the boat as far as this thrust was concerned and suddenly 15...Nc4 left him in big trouble that was soon confounded by a big blunder. A free lesson for the reader to learn and, yes, evidently even experienced GMs can make serious opening (or early middlegame) mistakes!

Accelerated Dragadorf [B75]

The following e-mail popped into my inbox:

«Dear Chris,
First let me congratulate you on your wonderful set of books and great continuing commentary on the Sicilian Dragons (and other games, including all your guest commentary on the Nimzo and Benonis you provided many years ago).
I'm writing to ask your opinion of a Dragadorf concept used in a game played in our local club championship earlier this year--a Black Rook lift down an opened h-file.
The game was between the eventual winner of the Koltanowski Club Championship (played in Campbell, California), here in the USA, Mike Splane (2202) and Michael Da Cruz(2029), one of the other members of the club, on September 22nd of this year.
Obviously, not everyone will help you out by opening the h-file for you when you haven't castled Kingside as Black, and their king is stuck in the center. Despite this, I think it is an enjoyable game to review--and since you have given me so much pleasure with your chess analysis, I thought it only fair that I at least send you one interesting game in return.»
Gary Kelly, Scotts Valley, CA

Thank you Gary for your kind words and game submission which I have taken pleasure in annotating and submitting. Also please thank Mike, although in truth I still find it weird investigating games for the Dragon site that don’t actually involve Black’s dark-squared bishop making it to g7!

Well, yes we have seen a few Yugoslav Attack encounters where Black plays ...h5-h4 and then ...Rh5 but admittedly Black’s king’s rook does get some fairly unique early action!

Okay everyone the game concerned is Da Cruz, M - Splane, M which eventually reaches a familiar situation but via a bizarre move order: 1.Nc3 c5 2.e4 a6 3.Nf3 d6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Bc4 b5 7.Bb3 Bb7 8.f3 g6 9.Be3 Nbd7 10.Qd2 Nc5!?

Yes from a ‘Saragosa’ to an ‘Accelerated Dragadorf’ with possibilities of stopping off at a ‘Closed Sicilian’ or a ‘Sozin Najdorf’ and a unique position for us at ChessPublishing except, in fact, for our esteemed leader! Check out the notes for an explanation there but the game soon featured a slightly odd move.

11.g4 expanding on kingside wasn’t an unusual concept and 11...h6 halting that g-pawn and equally preparing ...Bg7 without White being able to reply with Bh6 but now 12.Rd1?! appears to leave the white king stranded in the middle. Anyway 12...Rc8 13.Nd5 e5 14.Nxf6+ Qxf6 15.g5 hxg5 16.Bxg5 Qg7 saw the black queen adopt the Dragon bishop position and 17.Ne2 Rh3! saw the rook enter the action nice and early. All intriguing stuff but I won’t spoil the rest!

Yugoslav Attack 9 g4 Be6 10 h4 d5 11 e5 [B76]

Yes, that’s right, after 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.g4 Be6 10.h4 following Black’s thematic response in the middle 10...d5!, once again the speculative 11.e5!? makes it to our site and in another game involving strong Grandmasters:

In Azarov, S - Mista, A naturally Black accepted White’s offering with 11...Nxe5 when White got straight to the point with 12.h5 rather than the slightly more cautious queenside castling.

Well, White may have been in a hurry to deliver checkmate but for his part Black spotted the opportunity to punish White for his numerous pawn moves and 12...Nxf3+ 13.Nxf3 Bxg4 left us with a not unfamiliar material imbalance of three pawns for a piece. As usual a fascinating scenario but one that had soon clearly turned in Black’s favour after 14.h6 Bh8 15.Ne5 Bf5 16.Bd4? Ne4 17.Nxe4 Bxe4 18.Rg1 Qd6 19.Ng4 e5!.

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 d5 10 exd5 Nxd5 with 12 Bd4 Bxd4 13 Qxd4 Qb6 14 Na4 Qc7 [B76]

After 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 15.h4 Rb8 16.a3 e5 White demonstrated how determined he was to deliver a quick mate down the h-file by eschewing the more positional 17 Qc5 in favour of 17.Qd2 in Thavandiran, S - Arribas Lopez, A.

Black then responded with the flexible 17...Bf5 which from an attacking perspective eyes up the c2-pawn but with defence in mind offers up a future ...Bxg6 recapture should White continue as advertised. Through 18.h5 and then...

Rfd8 19.Qh6 he definitely didn’t disappoint but what followed transpired to be a critical moment of the game. Black responded in dynamic fashion with 19...Qa5 but check the annotations to learn how 19...gxh5!? would have avoided the forced sequence of moves that then led to a draw.

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 d5 10 exd5 Nxd5 with 12 Bd4 Bxd4 13 Qxd4 Qb6 14 Na4 Qc7 [B76]

Following 9.0-0-0 d5, despite the recent increased popularity of 10 Qe1, still 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 remains the ‘new’ main line and in Womacka, M - Fruebing, S, unlike in our other game this month in this line, Black does dabble in 14...Qa5 provoking 15.b3 However, upon 15...Be6 16.Bc4 Rfd8 White similarly demonstrated his intent to go for the throat with 17.Qe5 Qb4 18.h4:

Accurate play should see Black defend but 18...Rd6?! 19.h5 Qa3+ 20.Kb1 Nb4 was not the solution because of 21.Nc3! Bxc4 22.h6!, when Black was to experience significant problems on g7, e7 and his back rank.

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 ...Qa5 with 12 Kb1 Ne5 13 h4 Nc4 14 Bxc4 Rxc4 15 Nb3 Qc7 16 g4 [B79]

Regards 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Qa5 11.Bb3 Rfc8, to be fair Mr Kaliksteyn appears to have remained faithful to my old favourite system throughout the years but, nevertheless, Macieja, B- Kaliksteyn, A was like a throw-back to the old days. Certainly I’ve experienced 12.Kb1 Ne5 13.h4 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 15.Nb3 Qc7 16.g4 Rc8 17.e5 Ne8 a few times but not in a long while:

Here typically White takes the opportunity to gain a tempo on the black queen with 18 Nd5 but possibly concerned about pressure against his c2-pawn or perhaps just in a hurry to give mate, instead he went for 18.h5 provoking 18...Rxc3 19.bxc3 Qxc3 20.hxg6 hxg6 21.Qf2 Bxe5 22.Bd4 Bxd4 23.Rxd4 and the usual crazy Dragon type moves. On the face of it a nice game by Black but closer inspection reveals the irony of White missing a great opportunity down the h-file and I can’t see this game alone prompting a revival of this system.

Happy New Year! Chris

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