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Accelerateds, Hyper-Accelerateds, Classicals, Offbeats and Yugoslav Attacks; a bit of everything this month but a lot of entertainment!
Without further ado...

Download PGN of January ’23 Dragon Sicilian games

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Hyper-Accelerated Dragon 2...g6 3.c3 d5 4.e5 Nc6 5.Bb5 Bg4 6.0-0 Qb6 [B27]

The last time we had an encounter with 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.c3 d5 4.e5 Nc6 it was in a game of mine.

Available in the archives, here Grandmaster Justin Tan deployed 5 h3 to prevent the pin of his f3-knight and I responded with 5...d4 to mix things up and interfere with White’s building of a central pawn chain. However in Kosteniuk, A - Tan Z there were no such subtleties as both players got their pins in through 5.Bb5 Bg4 Then following 6.0-0 Qb6 7.c4? I quite liked Black’s position after 7... 0-0-0 8.Bxc6 Qxc6 9.h3 Be6 10.Ng5 dxc4 11.Nxe6 Qxe6 12.Re1 Nh6 although it was soon to take a turn for the worse. Actually 13.b3 Nf5 14.Ba3 b6 15.b4 cxb4 16.Bxb4 was all fine for Black but 16...Qc6?! 17.Na3 Rd4 18.Nc2 Rd3 19.Rc1 Bh6 20.Qg4 Kb7 21.Re4 b5 22.Rb1 Rc8 23.Bc3 and particularly the clear error 23...a5? well met by 24 Na3! soon saw the queenside and then the game dissolve!

Accelerated Dragon 6.Nc3 Nxd4 7.Qxd4 d6 8.f3 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd2 Qa5 11.Rc1 Be6 12.b3 Rfc8 13.Be2 a6 14.Na4 [B36]

The position after 1.Nf3 g6 2.e4 c5 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Nxd4 7.Qxd4 d6 8.f3 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd2 Qa5 11.Rc1 Be6 12.b3 Rfc8 13.Be2 a6 has been reached at least 1200 times in practical play where the offer of a queen trade via 14 Nd5 has been proven to offer White practically nothing. Instead 14.Na4 has always been deemed to be the more challenging attempt. However after 14...Qxd2+ 15.Kxd2 Nd7 16.g4, rather than 16...f5 and 16...Rc6, it seems to me that 16...Rcb8! is the dynamic approach particularly with 17.Nc3 b5 18.Nd5 Bxd5 19.cxd5 Nc5! in mind.

What I loved about the game Lenderman, A - Duda, J was not only how the Polish Superstar of the chessboard once again threw his weight behind the soundness of this system but how he also played in a manner that wasn’t merely to hold a draw.

Yes after 20.Bxc5 dxc5 21.Rxc5, Black is a pawn down in an endgame with opposite-coloured bishops but whilst I have previously observed how 21...Bh6+ followed by ...Bf4 leaves the ‘Dragon bishop’ dominating key squares, actually 21... Be5 22.h4 h6 23.Kd3 g5 24.hxg5 hxg5 25.Rc6 Kg7 seemingly saw Black trying to be more ambitious. Of course this was a fast-paced game (against a strong GM opponent) but I wouldn’t suggest Black should be winning. However after the inaccuracy 26.Kc2? Rc8! 27.Kb1 Rxc6 28.dxc6 Bf4 29.a4 bxa4 30.bxa4 Rb8+! 31.Ka2 Rb6 Black was definitely for preference and did indeed manage to grind out that cherished victory thanks to the route to the centre that he had created for his king.

Classical Variation 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 Nc6 8.Nb3 0-0 9.Re1 a6 10.Bf1 [B70]

I honestly don’t really know why but we continue to see outings in the Classical variation where White plays Re1 and drops his bishop back to f1 with the 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 Nc6 8.Nb3 0-0 9.Re1 a6 10.Bf1 b5 11.a4 b4 12.Nd5 of Nemeth, M - Goh Weiming a case in point.

White’s hope is to get pressure along the e-file after Black has taken on d5 and White having recaptured with the e-pawn but of course Black should not fall in line. Yes, a simple concept but over time Black players have got wise!

There is a Kramnik game in the archives from here I enjoyed where Black retreated his king’s knight to d7 and then budged the currently attractively placed white knight through ...e6 but here we saw 12...e6 13.Nxf6+ Bxf6 immediately with some not unreasonable moves in 14.a5 Bb7 15.Ra2 Rc8 16.Be3 Ne5 17.Qd2 Qe7 18.Bd4 Rfd8 19.f4 Nc6 20.Bb6 Rd7 following. I observe of the position that ‘All in all I'd say chances are about equal here. There is pressure against White's queenside whilst both a6 and d6 are closely scrutinised.’. I think that’s fair with a fun game ensuing.

Yugoslav Attack 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 h5 [B72]

A year or so ago I barely knew of its existence but suddenly the 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 h5 system popularised by Richard Rapport is gaining momentum. Regular subscribers will be aware that the idea is to meet 8 Qd2 with 8...Nxd4 9 Bxd4 Bh6 and although I wouldn’t suggest that is exactly stunning, Black’s results in practice have been pretty good. Hence as in Petrosyan, M - Gharibyan, M White is now deviating with 8.Bc4 to grab the b3-f7 diagonal first, hence delaying Qd2 for now.

Nevertheless after 8...Bd7, 9.Qd2 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Bh6 did occur followed by 11.Be3 Bxe3 12.Qxe3 and then 12...Qa5 13.0-0-0 Rc8 14.Bb3 Qc5. A queen trade would be fine for Black and so White rightly kept them on through 15.Qf4, tempting Black into what was probably an over-extending in 15...g5 and after 16.Qd2 definitely an inaccuracy in 16...Be6?! With the future of Black’s king uncertain, White now went on to punish Black through 17.Rhe1! Nd7 18.Kb1 h4 19.e5! when 19...Nxe5 20.Qxg5 Bxb3 21.cxb3 Kf8 22.f4 was already very bad news for Black.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 Bd7 10.g4 Rc8 11.h4 Ne5 12.h5 Qa5 13.Kb1 Nxf3 14.Nxf3 Rxc3 15.Qxc3 Qxc3 16.bxc3 Bxg4 [B76]

Okay let’s cut to the chase and this month featured a game between two young talented players in Yip, - Escalante Ramirez, B and gee was it entertaining and value for money! It was in the 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 Bd7 10.g4 Rc8 11.h4 Ne5 variation where there are countless references in the notes to the Be2 move that doesn’t occur. Instead then another outing of the 12.h5 Qa5 13.Kb1 Nxf3 14.Nxf3 Rxc3 15.Qxc3 Qxc3 16.bxc3 Bxg4 17.Bg2 Nxe4 endgame of the piece for pawns variety which after 18.Kc1 Nxc3 19.Rde1 Nxa2+ 20.Kb1 Nc3+ 21.Kc1 gxh5 (a different approach but as the game shows, far from ridiculous) 22.Bd4 Bxd4 23.Nxd4 e5 24.Nb3 b5 25.Kd2 b4 26.Ra1 f5 27.Rxa7 f4 28.Ra8 Rxa8 29.Bxa8 Kg7 had crystalised to the standard 5 pawns for a rook!

And basically the game was just getting going now with Black ultimately trying hard but missing a couple of half chances and then right at the end one golden opportunity for the full point. All good stuff!

Yugoslav 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 e5 13.Bc5 Re8 14.Ne4 Be6 15.h4 h6 16.g4 Qc7 17.g5 h5 [B76]

And finally this month in Durarbayli, V - Asadli, V we see a rare ‘sort of’ (new to the site at least!) novelty. Yes 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.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 e5 13.Bc5 Re8 14.Ne4 Be6 15.h4 h6 16.g4 Qc7 17.g5 h5 the overwhelmingly most common continuation is 18 Bc4 Red8 19 Qf2 but here appeared the 18.Bh3 that had only appeared 4 times prior on the databases and never by anyone rated over 2200.

In general, we have learnt that simple swaps should favour White because of those Black queenside isolanis but if enough pieces remain then Black has plenty of wriggle room. Following 18...Bxh3 19.Rxh3 I would have thought retaining the tension by bringing a rook to the d-file immediately would have made sense but 19...Nf4 20.Rhh1 Red8 21.Qe3 Rd5! was an interesting approach. Of course White is never going to want to see Black’s c-pawn transferred to d5 and after 22.c4 I was surprised by 22...Rd4 My notes explain why rook trades would have been okay for Black but actually even after the game continuation of 23.Bxd4 exd4 24.Qd2 Black would have had reasonable compensation for the exchange in the event of 24...d3! Alas instead he lost a bit of time in 24...Be5?! 25.Rhe1 d3 26.Nf6+ Kh8 27.Kb1! Rd8 28.Qe3 Bxf6 29.gxf6 leaving White in full control.

Bye for now! Chris

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