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Maximising the half-open c-file, utilising the c4-square and making the thematic ...d5 pawn break all reap dividends for the Dragoneer this month in useful lessons for all. Chuck in a Maroczy Bind, an offbeat system and a fashionable theoretical main line and what more could one ask for?

Download PGN of June ’24 Dragon Sicilian games

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Maroczy Bind 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd3 [B36]

So 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 remains a fashionable variation where White needs to decide where to retreat his queen to get it out of the Dragon bishop’s firing line. Most common is 10 Qd2 but if White is planning on launching his f-pawn then 10.Qd3 suits more. Indeed in Karthik,V4 - Djukic, Ni that was the case with 10...Bd7 11.0-0 a5 12.Bd4 a4 13.f4 hitting the board. Black continued in standard fashion with 13...Bc6 when 14.b4 was again very reasonable looking to harry that light-squared bishop. Hence 14...axb3 15.axb3 Rxa1 16.Rxa1 when Black then surprised his opponent with 16...e5!?:

After 17.fxe5 dxe5 White needs to retreat his attacked bishop to retain any hope of an advantage himself but instead 18.Bxe5?! Qxd3 19.Bxd3 Re8 left Black with the upper hand.

Classical Dragon 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Be3 Nc6 9.h3 Bd7 10.Qd2 Rc8 11.Nxc6 [B73]

Not exactly theoretically useful but certainly an important lesson for both sides is the game Goltsev, D- Zvjaginsev, V that kicked off with an old style Classical variation 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Be3 Nc6 White now neglected the ‘equalising’ threat of the ...d5 break in deploying 9.h3 but Black then eschewed that same move because it may have involved too many trades. Instead he opted for 9...Bd7 10.Qd2 Rc8 when White continued with a swap that we’ve seen a lot of recently under various guises; 11.Nxc6 Of the available recaptures 11...Bxc6 strikes me as best here because it keeps the c-file of relevance to the black rook whilst pressurising the e4-pawn.

Of the options available to White here, I figure 12 Bf3 must be best but instead White casually replied with 12.Bd3?! which was immediately met with the thematic break 12...d5! Sometimes this move does merely equalise but after 13.exd5 Nxd5 14.Nxd5 Qxd5 suddenly White has both his g2 and b2 pawns scrutinised with 15.f4 Rfd8 16.Rfb1 being plain ugly and 16...Bb5 17.Bxb5 Qxd2 18.Bxd2 Rxd2 19.Bd3 Rd8 20.Rd1 Bxb2 leaving Black a clear pawn up.

Dragon 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 e5 [B72]

We saw 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 e5 seven years ago on the site and courtesy of the recent game Nayak, R- Clarke, B it’s back!

I’d say the e-pawn advance is an ugly looking move because:
1) It concedes an outpost on d5.
2) It leaves a backward pawn on d6.
3) The pawn now on e5 obstructs the Dragon bishop diagonal.
However I do make the comparison with an analogous position in the Sicilian Classical variation and actually after 8.Nb3 Be6, Black is seeking the thematic central break that solves all of those issues. Indeed following the natural looking 9.Qd2 he achieves just that i.e. 9...d5! when 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxd5 Qxd5 12.Qxd5 Bxd5 13.0-0-0 0-0-0 14.Bb5 a6 15.Bxc6 Bxc6 16.Rxd8+ Kxd8 17.Na5 Kc7 18.Nxc6 Kxc6 was if anything minutely better for Black.

Of course, as soon as 7...e5 was played, there was the very realistic chance that the ‘Dragon bishop’ wouldn’t get fianchettoed at all just as in some Accelerated Dragadorf lines but various options are covered in the annotation including how White might try to prove an advantage in this offbeat system that he hasn’t really managed so far.

Yugoslav Attack Topalov System 11...Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 13.Kb1 [B35]

The game Kollen, Z - Pijpers, A was weirdly one of two games I viewed this month that saw a couple of titled players fall for the same trap/concept. Of the two, I selected the all Netherlands encounter that reached a Topalov System via an Accelerated Dragon move order of 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 d6 9.f3 Bd7 10.Qd2 Rc8 11.0-0-0 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 before the 2023 Dutch chess diving champion (yep seriously!) deployed 13.Kb1?!:

Incredibly this is the now the 8th White option we’ve investigated in this position and frankly it doesn’t look good! Typically such a quiet move is useful and waits for Black to commit. The problem is that Black’s plan of rolling his queenside pawns down the board to hunt White’s bishop is transparent and actually in the main lines the white king more often tries to do a runner to the safety of the kingside!

So 13...a5 naturally occurred after which White sought to preserve his light-squared bishop through 14.a4? but was subsequently punished by 14...bxa4 15.Nxa4 Bxa4 16.Bxa4 and then... Okay I won’t ruin the suspense!

Yugoslav 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 e5 13.Bc5 Be6 14.Ne4 Re8 15.h4 h5 16.Bc4 Nf4 17.Qc3 [B76]

Although it was a blitz game, I just had to include the encounter Shirov, A - Golubev, M as it featured a legend of the chess board against an all-time Dragon great. Furthermore it was in the fashionable variation 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 e5 13.Bc5 Be6 14.Ne4 Re8 15.h4 h5 that we’ve taken a bit of interest in on the site.

So after 16.Bc4 I myself had deployed 16...Qc7 because I wanted to keep the queens on but it has transpired that after 16...Nf4 instead, trading them off achieves little for White. At least he should swap off the light-squared bishops though with 17.Qc3 probably being an inaccuracy:

White shouldn’t be worse here but after 17...Bd5! it’s difficult to budge that bishop in a satisfactory manner. Ironically although the black steed was well-placed there previously, following 18.g3 Ne6 19.Be3?! Nd4! it had found an even better home. 20.Ng5?! promptly guarded the f3-pawn but 20...Nf5 21.Bf2 e4! 22.Qa3 e3 23.Be1 Rb8 suddenly left the white queenside under terrible pressure.

Yugoslav Attack 9.Bc4 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Bxe6 fxe6 12.0-0 [B77]

Following 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 we certainly appreciate on this site that 11 Bb3 is the main move but we have also had cause to investigate 11.Bxe6 fxe6.

It goes without saying that there are pros and cons surrounding the concept of the bishop trade on e6. The e6-pawn itself is undefended and could easily be a target whilst there are clearly holes in Black's kingside now too. However, control of the d5-square is always useful whilst a half-open f-file could be a nice bonus. In addition, with the light-squared bishops gone, Black has easier access to the c4 square and you will see just how key that is in the game Delaney, J - Mrva, M which instead of the long castles that we have gotten used to in the past, saw 12.0-0:

Presumably White’s intention was to play positionally and try to exploit Black’s doubled e-pawns but they are not easy to get at and in fact Black’s moves flow much easier. Indeed after 12...Rc8 13.a4 Qa5 14.Rfd1 Rc4 15.Be3 Rfc8 16.Ra3? Nd7 already there was too much pressure against White’s queenside and 17.Rb3 b6! 18.h4 Nc5 19.Ra3 Bxc3 20.bxc3 Rxa4 21.Rxa4 Nxa4 22.Ra1 b5 23.Bg5 Kf7! basically left Black a pawn up and with more to follow, a fairly easily convertible position.

Bye for now! Chris

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