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Hi peeps!
Merry Xmas everyone and...
Have I got some stocking fillers for you! Yep with Yugoslav Attacks galore, forget your roast turkey and potatoes and with no draws in sight, get your teeth stuck into this selection of Xmas crackers...
Second thoughts... enjoy both and my seasonal greetings to boot!

Download PGN of December ’17 Dragon Sicilian games

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Accelerated Dragadorf 6.Be3 a6 7.f3 b5 8.Qd2 Bb7 9.0-0-0 Nbd7 10.Kb1 Rc8 11.h4 [B75]

The game Kett, T - Williams, S is a nice place to kick off this festive update. Through 6.Be3 a6 7.f3 b5 8.Qd2 Bb7 9.0-0-0 Nbd7 10.Kb1 Rc8 we have an Accelerated Dragadorf and a position that we have seen a bit of in the past with only 11.h4 being new:

Yes previously we have seen 11 g4 and 11 Bd3 but the text suggests that White is looking for a further advance of this h-pawn and as the ‘Ginger GM’ opts not to block its path with 11...h5, following 11...Nb6 12.Bg5 Bg7 indeed 13.h5!? follows and then 13...Nxh5 14.Rxh5!. Sadly after 14...gxh5, Tim misses the strength of 15 Ncxb5! and after 15.Nf5 Bf8 doesn’t quite show the required urgency. Indeed 16.Be2? Qc7 17.f4?! Qc5 18.Bf3? Nc4 is suddenly horrendous for White with essentially Black having been gifted an early Xmas present!

Yugoslav Attack 9 g4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Kb1 Ne5 12.h4 b5 13.h5 [B76]

This month’s update has been a bit like a trip down memory lane with 6.f3 Bg7 7.Be3 Nc6 8.g4 0-0 9.Qd2 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Kb1 Ne5 12.h4 b5 13.h5 Nxf3 14.Nxf3 Bxg4 15.Be2 b4 16.Nd5 Nxe4 featuring for the first time in a long while on the site in Olszewski, Mi - Gazik, V. This particular line was an old favourite of English IM Richard Pert and, indeed, a few years he annotated his encounter with young English talent Yang Fan Zhou here on ChessPublishing.

That game saw 17 Qxb4 but this time the engine recommendation of 17 Qe1 featured. Three pawns for a piece is always going to be an interesting imbalance but although objectively I feel White should be better, it’s pretty complicated and either player could easily go wrong. Indeed after 17...e6 18.hxg6 exd5 White should probably settle for the structural advantage that comes with 19 gxh7- Kh8 20 Bd4 but in an attempt to keep the h-file action alive he tried 19.gxf7+? and then after 19...Rxf7 compounded his first mistake with 20.Ng5? allowing 20...Qf6! with 21.Rd4 Nxg5 22.Bxg4 Re8 being ‘Pin City Arizona’! It all went downhill quickly from there!

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Kb1 a5 [B76]

Things are definitely looking quite good for the Dragon right now with 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 being a line that White has been turning to quite a bit in search for an advantage. However, in Fier, A - Beradze, I after 10...e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Kb1 rather than commit and travel down recently well analysed variations like 14...Rb8 15 Ne4 f5 16 Bxa7! Black was less committal, deploying 14...a5 instead:

Then after 15.Ne4 Re8 16.g4 Rb8 17.Bc5 a4 18.g5 Qd7 although structural considerations might suggest that White has a small edge, these positions are tough nuts to crack. Probably White should continue with a standard plan of advancing his h-pawn but instead he tried to force things through 19.Ba3?! Qa7! 20.Bxd5?! when it looks as though the talented Brazilian GM may have misassessed the position after 20...cxd5 21.Nf6+ Bxf6 22.gxf6 Qc7. Indeed it didn’t prove so easy to deliver mate on g7 and after 23.Qe3 Kh8 24.h4 d4 25.Qg5 Rec8 26.Rh2 Qc4 the good old ‘opposite-coloured bishops favour the attacker’ maxim was seriously working in Black’s favour.

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 Soltis 10.h4 h5 11.0-0-0 Rc8 12.Bb3 Ne5 13.Bg5 Rc5 14.Kb1 Re8 15.Bh6 Nc4 16.Bxc4 Rxc4 [B78]

Following the high profile Vachier Lagrave-Nakamura annotated in last month’s update, I guess we are going to see more of 14...Re8 after 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.h4 h5 11.0-0-0 Rc8 12.Bb3 Ne5 13.Bg5 Rc5 14.Kb1, but the game Gao Rui - Zhang, Z saw a deviation from the 15 g4 hxg4 16 f4 of that game in the form of 15.Bh6 Nc4 16.Bxc4 Rxc4:

A position similarly reachable via the once (and still sort of) trendy move order 10 0-0-0 Rc8 11 Bb3 Ne5 12 Kb1 Re8 13 h4 h5 14 Bh6 including the site annotated Karjakin-Carlsen, it was only really after 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 18.g4 hxg4 19.h5 Rh8 20.hxg6 fxg6 that we saw something new in the form of 21.Nd5!?. In these lines Black has a couple of opportunities to take on f3 but in this game he didn’t and following 21...e5 22.Nb3 Nxd5? (best is 22...gxf3!) 23.Rxh8 Qxh8 24.Qxd5 Rc6 25.Na5 Ra6 26.fxg4 Qc8 27.g5 I’m sure Mr Zhang regretted his decision to pass them up.

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.Kb1 a6 13.h4 h5 14.g4 hxg4 15.h5 Nxh5 16.Bh6 e6 [B78]

So basically the game Cibickova, Z - Ciuksyte, D is as the previous one but with ...a6 instead of ...Re8 with that decision these days most typically being need to be made after 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.Kb1 given a reluctance to enter the 12...Nc4 13 Bxc5 Rxc4 14 g4 variation. So selected was when 12...a6 13.h4 h5 14.g4 hxg4 15.h5 Nxh5 16.Bh6 saw Black choose 16...e6 over the alternatives 16...Bf6 and 16...Kh7 previously discussed on the site.

This remains marginally the most popular move as although the d6-pawn is weakened, the advantages are clear:

  1. Black controls the d5-square hence preventing a future white knight invasion.
  2. White's light-squared bishop is blunted.
  3. The queen has access to the kingside so as to be able to pop out and help the defence.

Unfortunately, after 17.Rdg1 Qf6 18.Bxg7 Black either miscalculated or got a tad confused as instead of solidly recapturing with the queen, 18...Kxg7? Appeared with 19.Nce2 Nxf3 20.Nxf3 gxf3 21.Ng3 Rh8? 22.Nxh5+ Rxh5 23.Rxh5 already game over! Some interesting variations contained within the annotation but it still looks as though Black should be okay.

Yugoslav Attack 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.h4 Qa5 11.0-0-0 Rfc8 12.Bb3 Ne5 13.g4 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 15.h5 Rxc3 [B79]

Yes, Pijpers, A - Boeykens, M was another blast from the past! Regards 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.h4 Qa5 11.0-0-0 Rfc8 12.Bb3 Ne5 I remarked that for a Christmas present, I would love to see a resurgence in the ...Qa5 variation but I'm afraid that it seems far more likely that it will be just the usual socks and slippers! Yes, my old favourite line has too many hurdles to overcome with 13.g4 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 15.h5! being just one of them:

The text is more accurate than 15 Nb3 Qa6 16 h5 as then Black can play 16...Rxc3 without White being able to recapture with the queen (i.e. because of 16...Nd5!) but through this move order 15...Rxc3 16.Qxc3 Qxa2 17.hxg6 hxg6 is speculative. Right from the off on the site I have maintained that White can secure a small edge here with the simple 18 Qb3! but regards 18.Bh6 Bxh6+ 19.Rxh6 I think that I have to completely reverse an assessment from a decade and a half ago. Yes, sadly 19...Bxg4 must surely change from a ‘!’ to a ‘?’ in view of 20.Rdh1 Bh5 and now the nifty prophylaxis 21.Kd2!! with White’s threat being best highlighted by the game continuation of 21...b5 22.Nf5 Qc4 23.Nxe7+ Kg7 24.Nf5+ gxf5 25.Qxf6+ Sorry for any convenience caused (particularly to Mr Boeykens if he’s a subscriber!) but we’ve all got a right to change our mind don’t we!

Okay, here’s looking forward to another great year at ChessPublishing! Best wishes, Chris

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