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Dull accuracy or entertaining errors; which would you prefer to see? Well don’t worry because here you don’t have to choose. You get it all!

Download PGN of February ’19 Dragon Sicilian games

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Dragadorf 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 a6 8.Qd2 Qc7 [B75]

Following 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 a6 8.Qd2 the game Can, I - Annageldyev, O sees a debut on the site for the move 8...Qc7:

Given that 8...b5 9 a4!? has been an issue for Black with White immediately implying that Black’s queenside advance is premature, we have seen Black delaying this thrust in other ways. 8...Nbd7 has featured on the site as has 8...h5 (though with a slightly different agenda) and of course always Black’s intention in this system is to keep his king’s future flexible.

Although parking the queen on c7 is solid and non-weakening and certainly consistent with the 'Najdorf' part of the opening, there is obviously a big question hanging over whether Black really wants his queen there. Her majesty does effectively plug a gap on c6 for when ...b5 comes and the sting is removed from a future e4-e5 lunge. However should a rook make it to c8, with the queen in the way, ...Rxc3 won't for example be on the menu. White naturally wanted to park his knight on d5 but 9.g4 b5 10.g5 b4 left him with a decision not including that desired home. His selection was 11.Na4 but after 11...Nfd7 12.Qxb4 Bb7 13.0-0-0 0-0 14.Be2?! Rc8! 15.Nc3 Nc6 16.Nxc6 Bxc6 17.Bd4 Rab8 18.Qa3 it was soon clear that Black had more than adequate compensation for the pawn.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e6 11.h4 Qc7 12.Kb1 [B76]

It certainly seems that after 9.0-0-0 d5 that 10.Qe1 has almost become the main line but 10...e6 isn’t as popular as 10...e5. Regards the text though, following 11.h4 Qc7 we are used to the standard ‘time-out’ 12.Kb1!? but not in this particular position:

Yes, we are more used to the more forcing lines 12 h5 and 12 Ndb5 but as it happens, in Hansen, M - Christensen, T this quiet response ultimately proved just as deadly. Indeed play continued 12...dxe4 13.fxe4 Ng4 14.Bg1 h5 15.Be2 f5?! 16.Bxg4 hxg4 17.h5 g5 18.h6 when suddenly Black was in deep trouble, only lasting but a few moves longer.

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

The game Peng, Li Min - Bogdanov, E in 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 Nf4 17.Qc3 Rd4!? sees us revisit a line we first checked out over 10 years ago:

The text looks to resolve the issue of the light-squared bishops and is of course a positional (well encouraging some tactics!) exchange sacrifice. White accepted it through 18.Bxd4 exd4 but his queen was hassled and after 19.Qb3 Rb8 20.Qa4 Nd5 21.Bb3 c5 22.Qc4 Black had a choice of attractive continuations including the game continuation of 22...Nc3 23.Qxc5 Bh6+ 24.g5 Qxc5 25.Nxc5 Bxg5+ As the game panned out, Black could have done better though and White eventually grovelled to a draw.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Nxc3 13.Qxc3 Bh6+ 14.Be3 Bxe3+ 15.Qxe3 Qb6 16.Qxe7 Be6 17.Qa3 Rad8 18.Bd3 Rd5 19.b3 Rfd8 [B76]

Due to the popularity of other lines, we haven’t seen too much of 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Nxc3 in recent times on the site, but some time ago we did reach a conclusion about 13.Qxc3 Bh6+ 14.Be3 Bxe3+ 15.Qxe3 Qb6 16.Qxe7 Be6 17.Qa3 Rad8 18.Bd3 Rd5 19.b3 Rfd8:

A new conclusion I think we can also reach from the game Caruana, F - Moranda, W is that the most recent challenger to Magnus's crown isn't a studious follower of ChessPublishing or else he would have been aware of why here 20 Rde1! is the only serious test of Black’s position.

Instead, 20.Rhe1 a5 21.Qb2 Qc5 22.Kb1 Rd4 23.Qc1 a4 24.Be4 f5 25.Rxd4 Rxd4 26.Bd3 axb3 27.cxb3 Qxc1+ 28.Kxc1 Bxb3 occurred which should have just been a draw but Fabi seemingly tried too hard to win and disaster struck leaving Black with a notable scalp. Yep it’s really true!

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Bc4 Rd8 16.g3 Bh3!? [B76]

I think we can be proud that it is essentially ChessPublishing that has brought to the World the now seemingly key variation 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Bc4 Rd8 16.g3 Bh3!?:

Given that 16 g3 gained momentum through White’s desire to keep the black pieces out of the f4-square and essentially shield the h2-pawn from the black queen, this tricky response (connecting the black rooks) appears to have solved any Black problems. Earlier I remarked that to his detriment Caruana may not be keeping up with current events on our site, but it could well be that there is one top Azerbaijan GM that does!

Indeed, Deac, B - Mamedov, R continued 17.Qf2 Nb6 18.Rxd8+ Rxd8 19.Nxb6 axb6 20.Rd1 Rxd1+ 21.Kxd1 Qd6+ 22.Kc1 Qe5 23.a4 c5 when Black was still absolutely fine.

To be honest, I’m still not sure about including such a far from thrilling encounter in an update but it was a top-level ‘tussle’ in a cutting-edge line and so I’ll let it slide!

Yugoslav Attack 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.g4 b5 13.h4 [B78]

Next up, though, is a polar opposite! I’m not going to lie, originally I was intending to include a Soltis encounter but that will have to wait a little as the following tournament advertisement was recently forwarded to my inbox and after the sort of kind words, I simply couldn’t resist annotating it!

So about the following was written ‘This game was played at the recent Golders Green rapid between Dave Cork and Ashir Valjee in the Major Under 170 section. If you play the Dragon Variation of the Sicilian Defence, with either colour, you will never be bored. Ask GM Chris Ward! It is quite possible to walk past the game and say with confidence "white is winning here, he'll probably mate on h7 in a few moves", and then just a few minutes later walk past the same board and say "black is totally winning - there must be mate here somewhere!" and be right both times!’.

Though from time to time I do feature the occasional club player game, to be fair the phrase ‘beginner’s corner’ sounds a little disrespectful even if the players involved in such games are significantly below the ratings of most players we tend to feature!

Okay, so it’s the game Cork, D - Valjee, A and 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.g4?!:

which in the past we have decided is inferior to both 12 h4 and 12 Kb1 and with regards the latter, Black now not needing to transpose to the line 12...Nc4 13 Bxc4 Rxc4 14 g4. Indeed given White’s weakening of the f3-pawn, 12...b5! isn’t even a sacrifice.

Now proceeded fun and games in 13.h4 b4 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.exd5 a5! 16.Nc6 Bxc6 17.dxc6 Nxf3? 18.Qd5?! Ne5 19.h5 e6 20.Qe4 d5 21.Qg2 Rxc6?! when White missed an opportunity to equalise through 21 Rxd5! and instead 22.hxg6 fxg6 23.Qh2 h5 left Black in control and after plenty of inaccuracies from both sides, on his way to victory.

Back soon! Chris

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