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Hi everyone,
Welcome to a brand new year of Dragon fun and an update in which I can bring you a name from the past (one of my Dragon heroes as a junior) and some nice Black wins in a month that involved a lot of draws when the top guys were playing each other. I guess that's not unusual though, so anyway, without further ado...

Download PGN of January ’16 Dragon Sicilian games

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Hyper-Accelerated Dragon [B27]

Although the move order in the game Emms - Watson was a bit of an oddity, I am very pleased to be able to include it on our site. It was a London league game which wouldn't otherwise have come to light and albeit not main line, it was very nice to see William Watson on the black side of the Dragon again.

Thanks of course go to my friend and ChessPublishing colleague GM John Emms who I will leave to guide you through the intricacies of 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 c5 4.Nc3 Qa5:

which after 5.Be3 Nf6 6.Qd2 cxd4 7.Nxd4 0-0 8.Be2 Nc6 9.Nb3 Qc7 10.0-0 was basically a Classical but with Black having played ...Qc7 without yet having got around to ...d6.

It seems as though Black should have lost time but following 10...Ne5!? John explains why it's not that straightforward and 11.Nd5 Nxd5 12.exd5 d6 13.c3 Re8 hadn't brought White any advantage.

Classical Dragon [B73]

I do feel obliged to monitor the Dragon activities of the talented young Frenchman Romain Edouard, but I am rather hoping that his outings with our favourite opening will take a turn for the better in the entertainment stakes!

Okay, regards Kovchan - Edouard and 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.Be2 0-0 8.0-0 Nc6 9.Qd2 d5 10.Rfd1:

10...Nxd4 11.Qxd4 Nxe4 12.Qxd5 Nd6 13.Qb3 Be6 14.Nd5 Nf5 15.Bf3 Nxe3 16.Qxe3 Bxd5 17.Rxd5 Qc7 18.c3 b6 19.Rad1 Rad8 20.Qd3 Rxd5 21.Qxd5 e6 22.Qd7 Rc8, of course one can argue that it was White who dictated the variation but we could do with some more fireworks! As for this particular one, do read the notes but as we've had similar a couple of times now, I'm going to draw a line under it until I see anything that might alter my previous assessments. As you will see there are earlier deviations available but once Black starts down a certain path, it would appear I'm afraid that it's just a draw!

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 d5 10 Qe1 [B76]

Following 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 d6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e6 11.h4 Qc7, previously it has been implied that 12.exd5 might offer White a slight edge but after 12...Nxd5 it would appear that the strong Indian GM is unconvinced about the route people have taken before him and rather than swapping knights, came up with the novelty 13.Ndb5:

However, 13...Qe5 14.Bc5 Qxe1 15.Rxe1 Rd8 16.Nxd5 Rxd5 17.Be3 Rd7 looked like nothing whatsoever in Harikrishna - Grandelius with 18.Be2 a6 19.Nc3 b5 20.Ne4 Nb4 21.Kb1 Nd5 surely no problem whatsoever for Black until he carelessly conceded a bishop for a knight. Sadly, after that he was ground down, but theoretically speaking, Black need not worry!

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 d5 10 exd5 with 12 Bd4 Bxd4 [B76]

Following 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Bc4 Rd8, despite the availability of analysed options such as 16 Nc5, 16 g3, 16 g4, 16 h4 and 16 Bb3, recently popular has been 16.Rhe1 with White tempting Black to take that h2-pawn:

Naturally 16...Qxh2 is thematic (or as IM Richard Pert put it when reaching this position 'Well I felt I have to grab this pawn otherwise White is getting away without taking time to protect this') when 17.g4 Qg3!? left us with something a little different in Lintchevski - Dragun. A short game that ended in yet another draw but probably shouldn't be tarred with the same brush as some others and in fact is rich in possibilities.

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 with 12 Kb1 and 14 g4 [B78]

A frequenter of the English weekend club circuit shows that he should be a full time Dragon player in Batchelor - Kelly which bizarrely began 1.d4 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c5 but after 4.Nf3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.Be3 d6 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.f3 0-0 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Ne5 11.Bb3 Rc8 12.Kb1 had transposed to a once very fashionable and still critical line of the 9 Bc4 Yugoslav Attack. It's perhaps no great surprise that neither player knew their stuff and after 12...Nc4 13.Bxc4 Rxc4 14.g4 b5, White omitted to play the critical 15 b3! Instead he got greedy with 15.Ndxb5?! when 15...Bxb5 16.Nxb5 Qb8 17.Nd4 Rfc8 left Black with some obvious play on the queenside:

Following 18.Rc1 Nd7! 19.Nb3 Ne5 suddenly Black had a big initiative which soon turned into a material advantage as well as Black played some beautifully accurate moves for someone not so highly rated. The sort of game by Black that club players dream of and frankly restores our faith lost from some of the more turgid encounters that come our way from the more elite players.

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 with 12 g4

After 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.Bb3 Rc8 11.0-0-0 Ne5, in my opinion 12.g4 (?!) is inaccurate because of 12...b5!:

The point is that unlike 12 Kb1, 12 g4 leaves the f3-pawn weak and thus the b5-pawn isn't exactly a freebie. Rather than try to take it through 13 g5, in Nikolova - Drenchev White attempted to be aggressive with 13.h4 a5 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.Bxd5 e6 16.h5 but the bottom line is that his counterplay was nowhere near adequate and Black's queenside pawn advances had achieved their aim of hunting down White's light-squared bishop.

Thanks for reading! Chris

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