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Many thanks dear subscribers for all the kind words I have recently received.
This month starts to get super theoretical as we almost have a three game repetition delving deep, deep, deep into the topical 9 0-0-0 d5 10 Qe1 Yugoslav Attack!
Prior to that continuing our review of 9 0-0-0 Nxd4, a weird Modern Classical line and a discussion on the early f2-f3 in the Maroczy and the World Championship. Confused? Read on!

Download PGN of January ’17 Dragon Sicilian games

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Accelerated Dragon Maroczy Bind with an early f2-f3 [B38]

Given the start to the game of 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.f3, clearly I was doing something a little different by including the game Perez Gormaz, M - Abarca Gonzalez, N in an update and indeed I thought it might be topical as quite possibly the whole world and his dog were glued to their screens for the culmination of what most would no doubt agree was a somewhat tedious 2016 World Championship. They had reached the last game of the rapidplay play off and the amiable Russian had to win with Black. Hence at long last the Sicilian appeared and Magnus rebuffed it with this sort of Anti-Sicilian 5 f3 line, leaving the queen's knight at home so as to try to get in c2-c4 first. No doubt the World Champion's logic was 'I'll set up a bind and see him try and win from there' and to be honest it proved a perfect strategy as Karjakin toiled (ultimately fruitlessly!) for activity with Carlsen eventually delivering the somewhat stunning knockout blow.

Back to the relevance to this site though and after 5...Nc6 6.c4 g6 7.Nc3 Bg7 8.Be3 0-0 9.Qd2 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Be2 Qa5 12.0-0 Rfc8 13.b3, White has erected a Maroczy bind, but one where the inclusion of f2-f3 was somewhat premature. I compare this position with other mainlines and even the analogous position with Rfd1 instead of f3 prevents what now followed.

Yes 13...b5! is supported by tactical variations and now only 14.b4! allows White to equalise, with the game continuation of 14...Qxb4 15.Rab1 Qa5 16.Rxb5 Qc7 17.Nd5 Nxd5 18.exd5 Bd7 19.Rb3 Bxd4+ 20.Qxd4 Rab8 21.Rfb1 quite reasonable.

‘Modern Classical’ Dragon 6 Bc4 Bg7 7 h3 0-0 9 0-0 Nc6 9 Nf3 [B70]

In Sasikiran, K - Edouard, R after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.h3 0-0 8.0-0 Nc6 it looked as though we are heading for a standard 'Modern Classical' variation' which still has its followers but just like the Be2 Classical lines, I could never see myself considering critical. However in this age where milIions of games have been played for all to view, I do like to see offbeat ideas developed and the Indian Grandmaster's idea of 9.Nf3 is off piste even if not exactly new:

We have featured this positioned before on ChessPublishing but via this move order Black was deprived the possibility of ...Bg4 as a solution to the conundrum of his light-squared bishop. However there are other answers and the talented Frenchman’s 9...Na5!? 10.Bd3 Be6 is just one. He was never worse throughout 11.Qe2 Rc8 12.Rd1 Qe8 13.Rb1 a6 14.Bg5 h6 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.Nd5 Bg7 17.Nf4 Bc4 18.e5 dxe5 19.Nxe5 Bxd3 20.Rxd3 Nc6 21.Nd7 Nd4 22.Rxd4 Bxd4 23.Nxf8 Kxf8 24.c3 Bg7 25.Rd1 Rd8 and with pieces getting traded off, between two such strong players, a draw was always on the cards.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1 Qc7 12.h4 Rfc8 13.h5 Qa5 14.hxg6 fxg6 [B76]

After 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1 Qc7 12.h4 Rfc8 13.h5 Qa5 14.hxg6 as a part of my subscriber prompted re-investigation into this old line, I delved deeper into 14...fxg6 15.a3, considering a few possibilities but being most interested in the ...Rab8 and ...Bf7 ideas. Then, just like that, a game suddenly occurs featuring 15...Rab8 16.Qe1!?:

The point behind which, in Lintchevski, D - Gazik, V, is made very clear after 16...Bf7 17.e5! dxe5 18.Bxe5 Ra8 Yes Black has lost a tempo and after 19.g4 Rc5 20.Bd4 clearly White was bossing. Two strong players but despite inaccurate play from here, it’s enough to suggest that Black might want to invert his move order. Check the annotation to find out how and why.

Yugoslav Attack 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Kb1 Rb8 15.Ne4 f5 16.Bxa7!? [B76]

After 9.0-0-0 d5 the first of our three 10.Qe1 games this month Sevian, S - Le Tuan Minh features 10...e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Kb1 Rb8 15.Ne4 f5 16.Bxa7!?:

And then after 16...Qe7, the immediate material grab 17.Bxb8. Clearly Black’s ...f5 is hoping that ...e4 might follow to liven up the Dragon bishop but after 17...Rxb8,White’s idea of 18.Rd3 is to slide the rook to b3 order to prevent any Black b-file action and seek to trade pieces to obtain a favourable rook versus two minor pieces endgame. After 18...fxe4 19.fxe4 Nf6 20.Rb3 Rd8 21.Qb4 Qf7 22.Bxe6 Qxe6 23.Rd3 Ra8 24.a3 Bf8 25.Qb7 that wasn’t how things were turning out and it’s only really when Black vacates the back rank through 25...Ra4? and 26.Rd8! Rxe4 27.Qa8! appeared, that White’s advantage was palpable.

Regards the game Ganguly, S - Quintiliano Pinto , R to be blatantly honest any reasonably competent ChessPublishing follower would have been able to win this game, let alone a highly rated Indian GM! Yes incredibly all of 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Kb1 Rb8 15.Ne4 f5 16.Bxa7 Qe7 17.Bc5 Qb7 18.Bb3 fxe4 19.Bxf8 Rxf8 20.fxe4 Nf4 21.Qc3!:

And even Bxb3 22.Qxb3+ Qxb3 23.cxb3 Ne6 24.Rhf1 Rc8 25.Rd6 had been seen before on the site, with an assessment of ‘a clear advantage for White’. More to the point, White can hardly go wrong and indeed 25...Nc5 26.Rfd1 Rc7 27.Rd8+ Kf7 28.b4 Ne6 29.R1d7+ Rxd7 30.Rxd7+ Ke8 31.Ra7 was basically like taking candy from a baby in a relatively effortless White win.

Yes, courtesy of forum member ‘NegiRefutes’ who in particular highlighted the strength of 21 Qc3!, most of that was tendered just a few months back and this game then merely reinforces our previous conclusion.

Yugoslav Attack 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Kb1 Rb8 15.Ne4 Qc7 [B76]

Yes, would you believe, more of 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Kb1 Rb8 15.Ne4 but this time Black holds back on that forcing 15...f5, instead preferring 15...Qc7:

This unpinned the knight and vacated the d8-square for the rook but ...f5 and a future ...e4 remained on Black’s mind in Adamson, R - Gelashvili, T which then saw 16.Bc5 Rfd8 and 17.g4 to dissuade the ...f5 break due to the open g-file that would be created. Black, though, remained undeterred and after 17...h6 18.h4 went for it with 18...f5 19.gxf5 gxf5 20.Nf2 a5 and then 21.Bb3 a4 22.Bxa4 Rxb2?!

Very tricky stuff and tough to deal with over the board but alas it doesn’t look sound. Nevertheless, Black has plausible alternatives to this totally direct approach, making this a reasonable alternative to the variation outlined in the other two 10 Qe1 games this month.

Thanks for being with us everyone. Best wishes, Chris

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