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Hi everyone!
I guess it's a little late for 'Happy New Year' but well, you know what I mean! A good month for the Dragon this one. Of course I'm not supposed to be biased, but well, let's hope 2015 stays that way! Okay, time for some action...

Download PGN of January '15 Dragon Sicilian games

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Dragon 6 Bg5 Bg7 7 Bb5+ [B70]

We kick off the new year with the game Cigan, S - Cvitan, O in which, after 5...g6, White deployed the offbeat system 6.Bg5 Bg7 7.Bb5+, where Black has the very reasonable choice of blocking the check with his b8-knight or his bishop. Here the Croation Grandmaster opted for the latter and after the standard 7...Bd7 8.Qe2 a6 9.Bxd7+ Nbxd7 10.0-0-0 came up with the interesting idea of delaying castling in favour of 10...Rc8!?, as illustrated below:

Clearly Black has an attractive plan of parking a knight on c4, whilst the thematic exchange sac on c3 is now also on the menu. White clearly didn't like the idea of his queenside pawn structure being compromised, but after 11.Nd5 0-0 12.Kb1 Nxd5 13.exd5 Ne5 14.c3 Qb6, Black had an attractive queenside initiative.

The speed of White's demise is somewhat shocking, but provides the rest of us with some visual tactics!

Classical Dragon with ...a6 [B72]

Following 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3, in Smart - Ward I played 6...a6 with the intention of deploying the Accelerated Dragadorf. However, my opponent decided against adopting a Yugoslav Attack formation and so 7.Be2 Bg7 looked set to be a Classical variation where I was essentially going to eschew the standard ...Nc6 development in favour of more 'Najdorf' like development on the queenside. Rather than quiet moves, White continued with 8.Qd2 Nbd7 9.Bh6:

when 9...Bxh6 10.Qxh6 left my king stuck in the centre for a bit. After 10...b5 White got tricky with 11.Nd5 but 11...Bb7 12.Bf3 e5!? 13.Nb3 Bxd5 14.exd5 Rc8 was fine for Black and White gradually erred to give me the full point.

Sicilian Dragadorf [B75]

After the standard Dragadorf sequence 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 a6 8.Qd2, the immediate 8...h5, inhibiting White's own kingside expansion plans and preventing Bh6 has become quite topical in recent times. Even the position after 9.0-0-0 b5 10.Nd5 Bb7 has featured on the site before, but in that game there was the crazy 11 Nb6 Qxb6 12 Ne6. In Balogh - Belezky though, the Hungarian Super GM settled for the more reserved 11.Nxf6+ Bxf6 12.Bg5:

He may well have had attacking inspirations, but they were quashed by 12...Bxg5 13.Qxg5 e5 when 14.Qxd8+ Kxd8 15.Nb3 Ke7 was an equal chances endgame. As it happens, it wasn't an endgame of the dull variety and certainly both sides had chances. The final result was a fair one though!

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 Nxd4 [B76]

Well yes, Andreev - Burnett was a Dragon Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 Nxd4, but after 10.Bxd4, rather than the standard 10...Be6 which is met by 11 Kb1 preventing ...Qa5, Black played 10...Qa5 immediately. The point is that after 11.Kb1, to side-step the Nd5 tricks, he continued with 11...Rd8:

Actually this move has previously featured in an annotated game before on the site but that ended disastrously for Black after 12.h4 Be6 13.h5 when he played 13...Nxh5? At least Black didn't make the same error here, but nevertheless, the game continuation of 13...b5 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.Qg5! cast a lot of doubt on an idea that I too contemplated when trying to come up with new Dragon ideas as a junior.

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 Soltis Variation 13 Bg5 [B77]

I explain in the annotation why the game Burovic - Schreiner is a bit of a mystery. Arrived at by a funny move order, unless we witness one of the worst prepared novelties ever (and certainly from the illustrated position below), it would appear as though White isn't remotely prepared for a main line Yugoslav Attack. Both players are around the 2400 mark, but Black is familiar with the opening, whereas it looks as though White usually meets the Dragon with one of the quieter lines.

We are of course talking the Soltis Variation 13.Bg5 and after 13...Rc5 14.Kb1 b5 15.g4 a5, I can't see 16.a4? becoming a regular fixture!

Being one of the sharpest openings in chess, this is not a place to 'fly by the seat of your pants'!

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 Soltis Variation 13 Bh6 [B77]

Our final game of the update sees another funny move order to reach a standard position. We're talking the Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 with the 'Anti-Chinese' 10 h4 (by the way that refers to the popular ...Rb8 system; nothing personal against a billion or two people!), that ultimately effectively reaches a 13 Bh6 Soltis with 13...Nc4 14 Bxc4 Rxc4 15 Bxg7 Kxg7. Here, though, rather than the mainline 16 g4 or 16 Kb1 variations, White opts for the relatively offbeat 16 Nd5 (illustrated below):

Black's accurate response of 16...e5! 17.Nb3 Nxd5 18.Qxd5 Rc6 looks good and after 19.Qa5 Qb8!? 20.Rd2 Be6, White's knight was misplaced and Black had the initiative.

In fact Ter Sahakyan-Abdyjapar was a very nice game by Black against a high rated opponent and it has a great finish too. Definitely worth checking out!

That's all for now; I'll be back soon! Chris

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