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Four minor pieces or a queen and a rook; that is the question!... But it’s far from the only one in another intriguing month in the life of the ChessPublishing Dragons!

Download PGN of January ’21 Dragon Sicilian games

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Accelerated Dragon Maroczy Bind 7 Nc2 Bg7 8 Be2 Nd7 [B37]

Following 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 (of course regulars will be very aware that plenty have been trading knights on d4 immediately), the logic behind 7.Nc2 is that with a space advantage White wants to keep more pieces on and after 7...Bg7 8.Be2 Nd7 9.Bd2 Nc5 we’ve typically seen 10 0-0 0-0 occur and only then White bolster with 11 f3 or respond aggressively to immediate knock the black knight off its perch with 11 b4. Far less common is 10.f3 (unnecessary right now) which though after 10...f5!? 11.exf5 Bxf5 brought us something new:

Although there is a discussion of active pieces Vs structural superiority and further highlighting of holes and fascinating material imbalances, all in all this is ultimately unlikely to be of that much theoretical importance with the game continuation of 12.0-0? Nd3 13.Rb1 Nd4 14.Be3 Nf2!? 15.Bxf2 Bxc2 16.Qd2 Nxe2+ 17.Qxe2 Bxb1 18.Rxb1 0-0 19.Qe6+ Kh8 20.Nd5 Qc8 21.Qe2 e6 22.Ne3 Qc6 23.Rd1 Rad8 24.b3 d5! basically leaving Black the exchange up in Postny, E - Sadorra, J

Maroczy Bind 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd3 Bd7 [B36]

After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0, we know that faced with a discovered attack, 10 Qd2 is the main line as far as withdrawing her majesty from the firing line is concerned. However we have before seen 10.Qd3 with White possibly having the more aggressive thrust f2-f4 in mind rather than the more solid f2-f3 and the reply in Azarov, S - Kudrin, S of 10...Bd7 opened up a new avenue though albeit with familiar themes:

Yes, rare compared to the outings of 10...Be6, 10...Nd7 and 10...a5, 11.0-0 a5 12.b3 Bc6 had seen Black erect a standard set-up. Hopefully my logic in the notes explains why 13.Bd4 shouldn’t be testing and indeed after 13...Nd7 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.Kh1 Qb6 16.Rab1 Qc5 17.f4 Nf6 18.Nd5?! Black utilised a worth noting simple tactic of 18...Nxe4! 19.Qxe4 e6 to slightly more than equalise.

Accelerated Dragon 5.c4 Bg7 6.Be3 Qb6 7.Nb3 Qd8 8.Nc3 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 [B38]

The game Zhao, I- Vakhidov, J immediately appealed to me as a game where Black managed to mix things up against a Maroczy Bind. After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 Bg7 6.Be3 Qb6 (what I affectionately refer to as the ‘staircase variation’) previously we’ve seen 7 Nb5 covered in detail on the site but this is the first time that 7.Nb3 features in a main game. Following 7...Qd8 White has the option of guarding b2 and ‘safely’ preparing Nc3 with 8 Qd2 but instead he went straight ahead with 8.Nc3 allowing 8...Bxc3+ 9.bxc3:

It’s always risky conceding the Dragon bishop in this manner because of the gaping hole left on g7 and the potential weak dark-squares around where the black king will most likely wind up. However Black has a clear plan of attacking that compromised white queenside pawn structure and 9...Nf6 10.f3 d6 11.Be2 0-0 12.0-0 b6 13.Nd4 Na5 14.Qa4?! Qc7 15.Rfd1 Bd7 16.Nb5 Qc8 17.Qb4 Be6 was definitely going Black’s way. White tried to tempt his opponent into helping iron out that pawn structure with 18.Rd4 but after 18...Nc6 19.Qb3 a6 20.Na3 b5 21.Rb1 Nxd4 22.cxd4 bxc4 23.Nxc4 Rb8 Black had only accepted the exchange offering when it was clearly in his favour.

Classical, Karpov System 7.0-0 0-0 8.Bg5 Nc6 9.Nb3 a6 10.a4 Be6 11.Kh1 Rc8 12.f4 Na5 13.f5 Bxb3 14.cxb3 Rxc3 [B70]

I was delighted to see the Sasikiran, K - Yakovich, Y encounter in 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Bg5 Nc6 9.Nb3 a6 10.a4 Be6 11.Kh1 Rc8 12.f4 Na5 13.f5 Bxb3 14.cxb3 Rxc3! if though somewhat perplexed in how the game panned out!

Previously on the site we featured a Kramnik game where he won as Black after 15 Bxf6 Rxb3 but here White went straight in for 15.bxc3 Nxe4 before a bizarre double blunder occurred. I spend quite a bit of time in the notes examining 16 Bh4 but mysteriously in a non-blitz game 16.Bd2?? happened with both sides evidently missing the simple 16...Nxd2 17 Qxd2 Nxb3. Instead 16...Nxc3 17.Bxc3 Bxc3 was less clear in a game that gradually got worse for Black before the game fittingly finished on another double blunder!

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Kb1 Re8 15.Ne4 f5 16.Ng5 Bc8 [B76]

After 5...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 13.Bc4 Be6 following on from last month’s 14 Ne4 f5 15 Ng5 Qf6 outing, I’m enjoying these swift ...f5 lines with 14.Kb1 Re8 15.Ne4 f5 16.Ng5 Bc8 occurring this month in Brodsky, D - Beradze, I. The World and his dog will all remember the World Champion’s 17 g4?? ‘crude blunder’ dropping a piece to Gawain after 17...f4 but 17.h4 is a bit more like it:

After 17...h6 18.Ne4 was of course fine because of the pins against the black knight but then 18...Be6 19.Bb3 Qc7 20.Nc5 Bf7 21.g4!? fxg4 22.fxg4 e4 was very interesting. Black now has three isolated pawns but the passed e-pawn could become a nuisance whilst the Dragon bishop had been reintroduced to the action, especially relevant in 23.Rf1 Rad8 24.Qf2 Re7 25.Rde1?! Qe5 26.c3 Nxc3+! 27.bxc3 Qxc3 I shan’t ruin the rest!

Yugoslav Attack 4...Nc6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Be3 d6 7.Bc4 Bg7 8.f3 0-0 9.Qd2 Bd7 10.h4 Qa5 11.Bb3 Rfc8 12.h5 Ne5 [B77]

In terms of move orders, transpositions and the sheer number of variations flirted with, I simply couldn't not include the recent game Ter Sahakyan, S - Baglan, E in an update. I can’t recall ever seeing anything like this and the fact that the game ends with a familiar instructive theme in (sort of!) my old pet line only made the situation more tempting!

So check out (but with plenty of comments through me) the way that the move order 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Be3 d6 7.Bc4 Bg7 8.f3 0-0 9.Qd2 Bd7 10.h4 Qa5 11.Bb3 Rfc8 12.h5 had left us on the verge of one of my favourite old 9 Bc4 Yugoslav ...Qa5 main lines:

However Black needed to grab that on offer h-pawn and then be prepared to sac the exchange on c3 but rather than make it to a ‘B79’ classification, 12...Ne5? 13.hxg6 hxg6 14.0-0-0 left Black staring down the barrel of an open h-file! As you’ll see he still had his chances but 14...Nc4 15.Bxc4 Rxc4 16.Nb3 Qa6 17.Bh6 Bh8 18.g4? Rac8? 19.Bf8! Rxf8 20.Rxh8+ Kxh8 21.Qh6+ Kg8 22.Rh1 was pretty terminal!

Back real soon (you might be surprised)! Chris

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