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Welcome to 2014 with ChessPublishing!
I did quite a lot of tournament commentary over the Xmas period and encountered the odd Dragon (or at least Dragon related!) game. A couple of those feature in this month's update but I'm hoping that they aren't going to prove indicative of the way our favourite opening is headed. Confused? Read on!

Download PGN of January '14 Dragon Sicilian games

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Hyper-Accelerated Dragon 3 d4 Bg7 4 dxc5 [B27]

Following 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 g6 3 d4 no doubt there will be some out there that wonder what 3...Bg7 is doing on a 'Dragons' site and I would certainly be inclined to agree if 4 d5 was played. Regular subscribers will know that we do touch on 4 c3 cxd4 5 cxd4 d5 and that's sort of pushing the boundaries a bit! In fact 4 dxc5 Qa5+ could easily see Black obtaining a standard Dragon set-up although 5 c3 Qxc5 6 Na3 sees White's queenside arranged somewhat differently from normal:

Actually we have spent a bit of time on this position in the distant past and the question is whether White can punish his opponent for so many queen moves. With that in mind, it may surprise people that in Dominguez Perez-Van Wely Black spent 52 minutes and then came up with 6...Qa5. This is new to the site and it seems to me that 7 Nc4 should be critical but instead White played 7 Qd5 and the resulting endgame wasn't that impressive.

6 Bc4 Dragon [B70]

Following 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 Nc6 9.h3, we are used to seeing Black play 9...Bd7 and deploying a plan involving trading knights and parking his bishop on c6. However, we have also previously seen 9...Nxd4 10.Qxd4 Be6 although we concluded that 11.Bxe6 fxe6 12.e5:

was a little better for White following 12.e5 Nd7 13 Qg4. In Zhao Zong Yuan-Wei Yi we revisit that assessment and frankly that is of more interest than the main game continuation of 12...Nh5? 13.g4!. I have previously written about how GM Julian Hodgson blundered against GM John Emms in that manner, but when I saw it repeated I was shocked, at first thinking that maybe we'd overlooked something. But no, the same mistake played only twice and both times by super GMs. Absolutely incredible!

Accelerated Dragadorf [B75]

And another game which may definitely seem out of place in this site is Lenier - Cherniaev but as it started 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 a6, it is of course strictly speaking an Accelerated Dragadorf. Don't worry, 2014 isn't going to carry on this way(!) but I couldn't resist showing you one of the most bizarre opening moves that I have ever seen a GM play. Yes, after 7 h3, in playing the man rather than the board, Black came up with 7...h6 as illustrated below!

Ultimately it works out well, although with the idea being to play ...e5, as you will see the game is more reminiscent of a 'normal' Najdorf. However the dark-squared bishop does eventually land on g7 so I'm not too unhappy!

The game Eames - Cherniaev is more like the Accelerated Dragadorfs that we are accustomed to, with White deploying the standard Yugoslav Attack formation. The 'Dragon bishop' never actually gets fianchettoed (so-not really a Dragon bishop then!) and White doesn't hang around with his kingside pawn storm:

Entertaining stuff, but theoretically speaking, probably not too much for Black to worry about!

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 d5 with 12...Bxd4 [B76]

Following 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qa5 15.b3 Qc7 the game Asgarizadeh - Bodek brought us a new move in the form of 16.Bc4 (illustrated below):

We can make comparisons with various positions with/out the white pawn on b3 (i.e. on b2) but frankly it's no great shakes though. Following the natural 16...Rd8 17.g4 Be6 18.Nc5 Nf4 19.Nxe6 Nxe6 20.Qc3 Qf4+ 21.Kb2 Nc7, Black's chances were no worse.

9 Bc4 Yugoslav Attack Soltis with Kb1 and ...Re8 [B78]

Regulars will know that 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Ne5 11.Bb3 Rc8 12.Kb1 Re8 was once extremely topical and following 13.h4 h5 14.g4 hxg4 15.h5 Nxh5 16.Bh6 we have studied some super sharp encounters with 16...Kh7 and 16...e6.

In Ali,Ak-Kanter though we see a site debut for the rare 16...Bf6 that this particular Russian IM seems pretty keen on. White plays 17 Nd5 which looks very sensible, but no doubt if we revisit this line in the future we will be investigating other possibilities too. An entertaining game but with one or two tactical inaccuracies which is not surprising given the ridiculously complicated nature of this crazy line.

Okay, thanks for sticking with us. One more time...

Happy New Year! Chris

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To get in touch with me subscribers can email me at Chris