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Sicilian 2 Nf3 d6 3 c3 [B50]-WARNING Anti-Sicilian Approaching!
Chris 'from across the pond' asks how one could handle a 3 c3 Anti-Sicilian System in a Dragon fashion.
Dear Chris (aka Dr Nimzo),
Nice to hear from you and although strictly speaking your query belongs in the 'Anti-Sicilians' section, as it is especially aimed with a Dragon players perspective in mind, I am happy to oblige (especially because I often get asked similar questions so thought it might be of interest to others here). Do however feel free to cross reference any of my answers with the fine site hosted by my chesspublishing colleague Dave Smerdon.
Okay to start is the observation that unfortunately the Sicilian Dragon only becomes the 'Dragon' part once White has committed himself to an Open Sicilian i.e. 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 (or 2...Nc6 for Accelerated Dragon or 2...g6 for Hyper-Accelerated Dragon protagonists) 3 d4 cxd4.
Until a law gets passed making that early d2-d4 (intending recapturing on d4 with the knight) pawn break compulsory, I'm afraid that White is entitled to deploy any number of variations listed in that group known as 'Anti-Sicilians'.
I must admit that I did chuckle with your observation that 'I really want to play in the Dragon fashion' and my instinctive reply was 'well I really want to be dating Jessica Alba but we can't all get what we want'! Not the most helpful reply but one born out of my own frustrations of countless c3 Sicilians, 3 Bb5 checks, Grand Prix Attacks etc. that I have had to endure over the years even against players that against other opponents seem quite happy to enter sharp Open Sicilian variations.
Alas I haven't got any copies of my own Dragon books (I know it's sad!) but I do seem to recall in the introduction to possibly both 'Winning With The Dragon' texts talking about the various White Anti-Sicilian options. That aside though, do check out the first game of this update (which you should recognise) and although possibly not the answer that you were hoping for, it might help you survive the situation!
So with reference to the above letter, Anon - DrNimzo is a reader submission with the specific question of how can one best try to reach more Dragon-like set-ups against Anti-Sicilans and particularly 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 c3 Nf6 4 Be2 which I always knew as being the 'Basman' system:
I try my best to answer the ultimate question, but don't get your hopes up!
Yugoslav Attack 9 g4 Be6 10 Nxe6 [B76]
On to the real Sicilian Dragon and the Yugoslav Attack 9.g4 remains trendy with the debate over 9...Be6 10.Nxe6 fxe6 raging on. After 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Be2 in Seyb - Koepke we see the most common selection 12...Qc8:
which following 13.h4 Nfd7 14.h5 Nc4 15.Bxc4 Qxc4 16.hxg6 hxg6 soon becomes very tricky. We know that in the Dragon any small slip for either side can prove fatal and this game was no exception to that rule!
More of the same in Ponkratov - Matinian only after 12.Be2 Black opted for 12...Rc8:
We've seen the manoeuvre 13.Nb5, planning a re-location to d4, before, but here Black seemingly looked to save on not having to chase it there with his a-pawn. White had his own ideas though and after 13...Qd7 played 14.Qb4. So 14...a6 15.Nd4 b5 16.Kb1 did follow when Black's plan of doubling rooks on the c-file via 16...Rc7?! was probably a little slow.
Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 d5 10 Kb1 [B76]
Following 10.Kb1, I can still remember the early days when the queen for rook and bishop sac 10...Nxd4 11.e5 Nf5 12.exf6 Bxf6 13 Nxd5 Qxd5 14 Qxd5 Nxe3 was all the rage, but after the general consensus seemed to be that White was a little better, the main line became 12...exf6 as illustrated below:
Although I myself have played that (subscribers will know as well have the likes of Magnus Carlsen!), the position always looks a little weird (i.e. for a Dragon!) to me. I guess that's down to the doubled f-pawns and IQP, although the latter of course drops off straight away. Anyway enough waffle! 13.Nxd5 Nxe3 14.Qxe3 Be6 15.Bc4 f5 is standard when in Carlstedt - Trent White came up with the novelty 16.Qb3. I couldn't resist annotating this game involving my fellow London Chess Classic commentator and with 16...b5 17.Be2 a5 18.Bxb5 a4, he played this game just as he does numerous friendly bullet and blitz games in the VIP room of that annual Kensington Olympia event-very dynamically and actually pretty well! Black made all the running but unfortunately just fell a little short when it came to getting the full point.
Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 Soltis with Kb1 and ...Re8 [B77]
After 9 Bc4 Bd7 the game Ortiz Suarez- Pena Morales continued 10.h4 Rc8 11.Bb3 h5 12.0-0-0 Ne5 13.Kb1 Re8 when we reach a position more commonly associated these days with the trendy 10 Kb1 planning g4 before h4 move order.
This encounter saw 14.g4 hxg4 15.h5 Nxh5 16.Bh6 e6 17.Rdg1, when Black opted for the suspicious 17...Bh8:
rather than the standard 17...Qf6. Nice in theory, but in practice Black seems to get in trouble fairly quickly.
Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 Soltis Variation 13 Kb1 [B78]
Following 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.h4 h5 13.Kb1 of course 13...Re8 would transpose to the other B78 game this month, but instead Black deployed the more progressive move 13...Nc4. Then came the common 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 15.Nde2 b5 16.Bh6 Qa5 where Gary Kasparov had previously commented that White gets nothing unless he can arrange g2-g4. Not so much 'arranging' was required as in Stockova - Tupy White plumped for the immediate 17.g4. Clearly 17...Rfc8 18.Bxg7 Kxg7 19.e5!? as illustrated below is quite sharp:
and after 19...dxe5 20.g5 I'm particularly interested in 20...Be6!?. Alas Black played the inaccurate 20...Bf5? and was duly punished.
Thanks everyone; I'll be back real soon. Chris
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To get in touch with me subscribers can email me at Chris Ward@ChessPublishing.com.