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Hi guys,
Actually there were quite a few high profile blitz Dragon games this month but as they were not especially theoretically important, I resisted the temptation to include them. Besides there were other games of interest ranging from technical endgames to tactical shorts.
A good spread of variations; enjoy!

Download PGN of July ’16 Dragon Sicilian games

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Classical Dragon with 9 Qd2 [B73]

As I write at the end of the annotation, as far as ChessPublishing (well with me at the helm of the Dragon site) is concerned, Maze - Jones and 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be2 Bg7 7.Be3 Nc6 8.0-0 0-0 9.Qd2 d5 10.Rfd1 Nxd4 11.Qxd4 Nxe4 12.Qxd5 Nd6:

13.Qb3 Be6 14.Nd5 Nf5! is a line that I am now saying a final (but not tearful!) goodbye to!

About Black's move I observe 'The best move although requiring a bit of calculation as of course there are various pins and discovered attacks floating around. Indeed it is almost as though White has played this variation hoping that Black won't understand the importance of this move or work it out for himself. Of course we know that Gawain shouldn't fall short in that department as he has played it a couple of times before.

An amazing statistic is that to date this move has been played (and hence this position has been reached) on 14 occasions with the outcome of 11 draws and 3 black wins. In case your maths was letting you down, that's zero White wins!'

So 15.Bf3 Nxe3 16.Qxe3 Bxd5 17.Rxd5 Qc7 18.c3 b6 19.Rad1 Rad8 leads us towards that inevitable drawn endgame where not even the novelty 20.g3 makes a difference (note sarcasm!).

Just why so many strong white players have continued plugging away with this I don't know. The only real question is whether Black wants to avoid all this by trying to win with a different 9th move instead.

Yugoslav Attack 9 g4 Be6 10 Nxe6 [B76]

It's incredible how deep we start analysing variations and what then constitutes opening theory. The game Iljiushenok - Kanter revisits 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.g4 Be6 10.Nxe6 fxe6 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Be2 Qc8 13.h4 Nfd7 14.h5 Nc4 15.Bxc4 Qxc4 16.hxg6 hxg6 17.f4 Bxc3 and where White challenges his opponent by avoiding the queen swap through 18.bxc3:

We had previously concluded that 18 Qxc3 got White nowhere and so now it is over to 18...Qxa2 19.Qh2 Kf7 20.Qh7+ Ke8 21.e5 for White to try and prove an advantage. The game continued 21...dxe5 22.Qxg6+ Kd8 23.Qe4 Qa1+ 24.Kd2 Qa5 25.fxe5 when it looks to me as though 25...Qxe5?! is the error that following 26.Qxb7 left Black's position rather uncomfortable and soon suffering the ensuing endgame. So, White came out with his improvement but all the same the notes suggest that Black should still be okay.

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

The game Ganguly - Wang is an intriguing one from which something can only be learnt through a close inspection.

We are talking 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 cxd5 13.Bg5 Be6 14.Bc4 Qc7:

which we have seen a few times on ChessPublishing, with the endgame 15 Bxf6 dxc4 16 Bxg7 Kxg7 being profitable for White in practice. Objectively, though, White's advantage may only be slight and here instead White was arguably more ambitious through 15.Bxd5 Nxd5 16.Nxd5 Bxd5 17.Rxd5.

I'm not going to ruin this entertaining encounter for you guys but it certainly wasn't a case of White bagging a pawn and converting his material advantage. Indeed, quite the contrary!

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 Chinese Variation [B78]

In Ortiz Suarez - Arribas Lopez, eventually via the odd move order 1.Nf3 d6 2.e4 Nf6 3.Nc3 c5 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rb8, we had arrived at a Yugoslav Attack Chinese Variation, but after 11.h4, rather than our recommended 11...b5 or even 11...Na5, Black continued with 11...Nxd4?! 12.Bxd4 b5 13.Bb3 a5:

Essentially a 'Topalov system' but with the rook on b8 instead of c8, we haven't been too upbeat about this idea in the past because of the possibility of 14 e5!. In the notes we take a more serious look at that but in the game White eschewed that in favour of 14.a3, when 14...b4 15.axb4 axb4 16.Nd5 certainly wasn't to be feared. Even Black's surprising 16...e5 worked out fine, although the second player decisively erred later.

A Dragon tussle involving two strong players but seemingly riddled with inaccuracies and probably not of much theoretical interest.

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 ...Rc8 with Kb1 and g4 [B78]

Long-time subscribers will remember when there was a period way back that the site was dominated by the variation 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.Kb1 Nc4 13.Bxc4 Rxc4 14.g4. Black struggled for quite a while with that, and to this day it is not clear that he has solved his problems but merely the position doesn't arrive so much due to other concerns for White (e.g. trying to avoid the Chinese Variation).

However, one line that did offer some interest to Black was the exchange sacrifice 14...b5 15.b3 b4:

We demonstrated why White really needed to accept the offering and considered several options after the sequence 16.bxc4 bxc3 17.Qxc3 Qc7. A common Black plan includes moving the light-squared bishop and engaging in a ...Nd7-e5 manoeuvre, but in Vehi Bach - Vera Siguenas White cut across that idea through 18.g5 Nh5. Then he made the decision to vacate the b-file by moving his king to the corner, but after 19.Ka1 Be6 20.Rb1 d5, erred with 21.Qb4?!. Black would have been content with how the opening went, but soon got careless and frankly was eventually very fortunate to escape with a draw.

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 with 11...Nxd4 [B78]

Obviously in the so called 'Topalov system' after 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.Bb3 Rc8 11.0-0-0 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.exd5 a5, White needs to make provisions to safeguard his light-squared bishop. Of course, 16 a3 is standard but if there is one thing that I'm sure of, it's that 16.a4? is not going to take off!

Remarkably, though, it has been played quite a lot in practice with White presumably hoping to emerge with the better structure and the chance to target a couple of Black's pawns. Alas, a totally misguided notion, and 16...bxa4 17.Qd4+ Kg8 18.Bxa4 Rc5 19.h4 Bxa4 20.Qxa4 Qc7 of Wyss - Cvitan was an excellent way to demonstrate why. Black quickly built up a massive queenside initiative, the likes of which White players would be wise to avoid!

That's it for now I'm afraid but I'll be back in August! Best wishes, Chris

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