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Wastings at Hastings, a GJ double, a 9th 9th and mysteries galore, what are you waiting...for!

Download PGN of January ’19 Dragon Sicilian games

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Hyper-Accelerated Dragon 2...g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Qa4 d6 7.e5 dxe5 8.Nxe5 Bg7 [B27]

Unfortunately, during my annual stint commentating at the Hastings event, Dragon games were at a premium but when they did crop up I was tempted to scrutinise them with the commentary room audience. Unfortunately, Cherniaev, A - Petrov, M was anything but a thriller although the way that the Bulgarian IM seemingly dismissed White’s system suggests that Black has little to fear if he adopts an active approach. After 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Qa4 d6 7.e5 dxe5 8.Nxe5 Black opted not to bother guarding his c6-knight through 8...Bd7 nor dabble in the complications of 8...Qd4, instead simply sacrificing a pawn through 8...Bg7:

That pawn was bagged through 9.Bb5 0-0 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bxc6 when a number of different methods of demonstrating compensation are investigated in the notes but perhaps none better than the 11...Bd7 12.0-0 Rc8 13.Bxd7 Qxd7 14.Be3 Qxa4 15.Nxa4 Rxc2 16.Rfc1 Rfc8 17.Rxc2 Rxc2 18.Rc1 that occurred.

Accelerated Dragon 4...g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 Re8 9.h3 [B35]

The second Dragon related game the commentary room got to follow live was Korneev , O - Kalavannan, K when sadly all that seemed in store for Black was suffering.

After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 Black deployed Negi’s advocated 8...Re8 which, in view of the ..e6 and ...d5, is a reasonable deterrent to a Yugoslav Attack set-up. However, after 9.h3 I feel that 9...e6?! is misguided:

The point is that after 10.0-0 d5 11.exd5 Nxd5 12.Nxd5 exd5 the fact that White hasn’t moved his f-pawn means that his dark-squared bishop is secure with no hole on e3. The isolated pawn remained well blockaded and in 13.c3 Na5 14.Qd3 a6 15.Rad1 b5 16.Nf3! Nxb3 17.axb3 Bb7 18.Bd4 Re4 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.Nd4 Qb6 21.f3 Re7 22.Rfe1 Rae8 23.Rxe7 Rxe7 24.b4! the future was always looking bleak in the good knight Vs bad bishop scenario.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc5 [B76]

Now, I have no doubt that when you take a look at Moiseenko, Va - Jones, G you will be asking yourself ‘Why don’t strong players play like that against me’? In this case the strong player was a Grandmaster and after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5, rather than the 13 Bc4 (essentially connecting the rooks) 13...Be6 and then either the 14 Kb1 or 14 Ne4, White erred with 13.Bc5?:

Given this was a World Championship event I find this pretty incredible and like any regular subscriber of ChessPublishing would do, Gawain punished this inaccuracy with 13...Bh6+! 14.Kb1 Nxc3+ when of course White is forced into the ugly 15.bxc3. Thereafter followed 15...Rb8+ 16.Ka1 Qa5 17.Bb4 Qb6 18.Rb1 Rd8 19.Bc4 Bf5 when Black was clearly better, allowing White just the one chance before the game was over. That wasn’t spotted and so the still improving young English GM notched up the first of two Dragon wins in this update.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qc7 [B76]

The recent English Championship winner continues to move up the rankings and it is fantastic that the ex co-host of this site remains faithful to our favourite opening. I know that Gawain has had concerns about one or two variations being a bit drawish and as that isn’t ideal against lesser rated opponents (albeit hardly weak ones!), it seems that he has taken to mixing things up a bit as was demonstrated in Lobanov, S - Jones, G.

Yes, after 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4, rather than enter the now ultra theoretical 13...Qb6 (as is up next), he deployed the 13...Qc7 that we haven’t seen on the site in some time. A pawn sacrifice (via 14 Nxd5) that White is wise not to accept and, in fact, with the queens remaining on the board, the Russian IM decided to initiate a swift offensive with 14.h4:

Previously we had seen the straightforward 14 Bc4 and the 14 Qc5 that lodges the queen in nicely on a potentially awkward for Black post. Re the h-pawn thrust, kudos for the attacking intent though which after 14...Rd8 15.h5 Bf5 16.hxg6 Bxg6 left Black with structural deficiencies but with a lead in development and reasonable defences. Imbalanced but I’d say with about equal chances was 17.Re1 Rab8 18.Nxd5 Rxd5 19.Qe3 Qd6 20.Bc4 Rd4 21.Bb3 but the rest is definitely worth viewing as when Mr Jones gets a sniff of blood, he doesn’t let go!

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Nc5 [B76]

Given how much these top players study each other’s games and how much opening work they do, I’m afraid that the game Caruana, F - Edouard, R is somewhat of a mystery.

Okay, so we are talking the effectively new main line of 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 where White opts for 15.Nc5 Rd8 16.Bc4 Bf5 17.Bb3:

All fair enough so far but now rather than following in Nakamura’s footsteps (with his and other encounters well annotated on this site), Black selects 17...h5?! which I thought we (well and Karjakin!) had proven to be bad because of 18 g4! I can’t see any reason to alter my assessment on that but instead Fabi plays the calmer 18.Kb1 and in 18...Qf4 (The notes explain why I think 18...Nb6! instead should be basically equalising) 19.Nb7 Qxd4 20.Rxd4 Rd7 21.Na5 e5 22.Rdd1 Ne3 23.Rxd7 Bxd7 24.g3 Re8 25.Re1 effectively gets a small endgame advantage.

The betting would probably be a close thing between the talented French man hanging on in there for the draw or the World no 2 demonstrating brilliant technique and grinding down his opponent to get the full point. The reality was neither though with not particularly great technique shown and whilst I wouldn’t necessarily call it over-pressing, the advantage does eventually become Black’s just in time for him to blunder horribly and throw all his hard work away. Still, we’ve all been there!

Yugoslav Attack 9.Bc4 Rb8 [B77]

I start off my annotation to Savchenko, B - Rechlis, G with ‘Sorry guys, I genuinely don't like to feature blitz games outside of those involving the cream of World chess but both well over 2500, these GMs aren't bad and as soon as I saw this game, I couldn't resist it!’

You’ll soon see what I mean but my first declaration after 5...g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 is that 9...Rb8 is the 9th 9th Black move that we have featured in a main game here on ChessPublishing!

In the annotation I explain how I once gave this move my serious attention when deciding that the Chinese variation was quite okay but that ‘wouldn’t it be good to save a tempo on ...Bd7’. When checking out possible variations at home though I noted the problems of White not having to commit himself to castling so soon and the potentially gaping hole on c6. As it happened those issues were exactly the stumbling block in 10.h4! Ne5 11.Be2 b5 12.h5 Nxh5 13.f4 Ng3 14.fxe5 Nxh1?! 15.Nc6 Qc7 16.Nd5 Qb7 17.Ndxe7+ Kh8 18.exd6 where things were already rather grim for Black!

Happy New Year everyone! Chris

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