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From Ebinezer Scrooge to Marty McFly as my previous serious update is succeeded by a trip down memory lane. 4 of these games I could easily have been annotating in the 90s but the other 2; well they bring us back to the future!

Download PGN of December ’18 Dragon Sicilian games

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Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1 Qc7 12.h4 Rfc8 13.h5 Qa5 14.hxg6 hxg6 [B76]

I use the game Della Morte, G - Sanhueza, C to revisit the state of play in this old (once favourite of mine) approach to 9 0-0-0 but the encounter is fun and instructive in its own right. We’re talking the arguably critical line of 5...g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1 Qc7 12.h4 Rfc8 13.h5 Qa5 14.hxg6 hxg6 15.a3 Rab8 when 16.Bd3 Bc4 17.Rh4 Bxd3 18.cxd3 b5 19.Rdh1 e5 sees White’s dark-squared bishop knocked off its perch but new threats about to hit the board via Bh6 ideas:

Quickly observing the game continuation of 20.Be3 b4 21.Na2 Qa4 22.Nxb4 a5 23.Bh6 Bh8 24.Bg5 Bg7 25.Bxf6 Bxf6 26.Rh7 Rxb4 0-1 most certainly doesn’t paint anything like the full picture and with tactics abound for both sides, be sure to check out the annotations for the truth!

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 f5 [B76]

Yes, you’ve read it correctly, after 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 in Jonasson, B - Jonsson, B Black did indeed eschew the overwhelmingly most common 14...Qc7 and even the second most popular 14...Re8 in favour of the ultra-rare and extremely provocative 14...f5:

First up, I guess it's worth me noting that although the black knight is pinned in a couple of directions, with the bishop on e6, Black is now threatening to take the knight on e4 as although ultimately he won't wind up a piece to the good, he will emerge with a tasty centre (i.e. after a future exd5 cxd5 occurs).

Instead, the logical 15.Ng5 Bc8 happened when perhaps White should seek a different approach to the autopilot style 16.h4 h6 17.Ne4 Be6 18.Nc5 as after 18...Bf7 19.Bb3 Qe7 20.Bf2 I think that Black can quite happily just centralise both rooks and strive for ...e5-e4. I wasn’t a great fan of 20...Rfd8?! 21.Kb1 Rab8 with the game continuation of 22.g4! fxg4 23.fxg4 Nf4 24.Ne4 Bxb3 25.axb3 Rxd1+ 26.Qxd1 Rd8 27.Qf3 Ne6 28.Qc3 Qd7 29.g5 Qd5 30.Re1 leaving White in a dominant position (though with plenty of twists and turns ahead!)

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 Qc7 15.Bc5 Rfd8 16.g4 h6 17.h4 f5 [B76]

It’s fun watching the talented Russian handle the Dragon and particularly fascinating in Pridorozhni, A - Morozevich, A was comparing the opening line with recent Nakamura encounters. Specifically after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 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.Ne4 Qc7 15.Bc5 Rfd8 16.g4 h6 17.h4 f5 18.gxf5 gxf5 19.Ng3 Qf7 we reached the same position that Hikaru had but with Kb1 and ...Rb8 included:

That is, of course, because 14 Kb1 Rb8 15 Ne4 has become more fashionable but there were clearly comparisons to be made.

Anyway, through 20.Qa5 Rd7 21.Bb3 Rad8 22.Ne2 Qh5 23.Rdf1 Kh7 24.Kb1 Nc7 25.Nc1 Bd5 26.Bxd5 cxd5 27.Rhg1 Ne6 28.Be3 Qf7 29.Nb3 Rc8 30.Rg2 Rc4 31.Rd1 d4 32.Bc1 e4 33.fxe4 fxe4 Alexander had built up an attractive pawn centre in a position that could have gone either way but in the end went neither way! A very interesting game though with a particularly neat tactic for Black that was sadly overlooked!

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.exd5 cxd5 12.Nxd5 Nxd5 13.Qxd5 Qc7 14.Qxa8 [B76]

Although, after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0 the reasons are well documented on this site why 9...d5 is the main line, whichever way you look at it, it is still a cheeky move! Presumably when the idea was first conceived, the first variation that had to be considered was whether after 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.exd5 (or more accurately the order of those trades reversed!) 11..cxd5 12.Nxd5 Nxd5 13.Qxd5 Qc7 and just whether or not Black gets enough compensation for the pawn. Well on this site following 14 Qc5 we have investigated both 14...Qb7 and 14...Qb8 and concluded that Black gets enough action and in Nomin-Erdene, D - Drazic, S we get super retro with 14.Qxa8 Bf5 15.Qxf8+ Kxf8 16.Rd2. Yes, nearly 16 years ago I annotated a game with the main move being 16...Be6 but here 16...Qb8 hit the board:

White has two rooks and a pawn for the queen but Black’s pair of bishops are very active and the queen is multi talented. Actually, in 17.b3 e6 18.Bc4 Qe5! 19.Bd4 Qa5 20.Bxg7+ Kxg7 21.Rhd1 Qxa2 22.Re2 we had seen some accurate moves. A perpetual was soon taken but although Black could try for more, a draw seems like the correct outcome.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 e5 13.Bc5 Be6 14.Ne4 Rb8 15.c4 [B76]

The visual encounter Munk, P- Sokolov, A was like another blast from the past as 16 years on I find myself revisiting the variation 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 e5 13.Bc5 Be6 14.Ne4 Rb8 15.c4:

White’s very direct approach seeks to budge the annoying black knight as soon as possible but after the tricky 15...Qc7 White’s total greed of 16.Bxf8 Bxf8 17.cxd5?! cxd5+ 18.Qc3 is beautifully punished through 18...Qe7! 19.Qxe5 Rc8+ 20.Nc3 Bh6+! 21.f4 Bg7 22.Qe3 Qb4 23.a3 Qb3 24.Rd4 Bf5 Yes, already the end was nigh!

Yugoslav Attack 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Qa5 11.Bb3 Rfc8 12.Kb1 Ne5 13.g4 b5 [B78]

It feels quite surreal as annotating the last 3 games of this update felt like I’d been transported back in time some 25 years with the tussle Kung, T - Kaliksteyn, A taking place in my old 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Qa5 11.Bb3 Rfc8 arena. I comment in the annotation that so rare are outings in this system these days that possibly some White players have forgotten why it went out of fashion and in fact 12.Kb1 Ne5 13.g4 is the one permutation of deploying two of h4, g4 and Kb1 that Black can feel confident facing! Black correctly continued with 13...b5!? and after 14.h4 Nc4 15.Bxc4 bxc4 16.Ka1 Rab8 17.Nde2? must have felt that it was Xmas come early:

Well, okay, obviously not that early given we’re in a festive update but well, I would be disappointed if the Dragon playing regular subscribers amongst you passed up the opportunity of 17...Bxg4! 18.fxg4 Nxe4! 19.Qe1 Nxc3 20.bxc3 Rc6. Yes, nice work if you can get it!

I guess all that remains is for me to wish you all ‘Happy New Year’!

Best wishes, Chris

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