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Tying up loose ends, Dragon adventures, a bit of everything, hot off the press and bingo! ...
Well ‘better late than never’ could go on my tombstone but hopefully you’ll be pleased to hear that despite facing four 1 e4s in the same tournament and yet not one single ‘Anti-Sicilian’, I haven’t died of shock!
A slightly different update then to the one I had originally planned, in particular here detailing my exploits from this year’s British Championships and also finally being able to finish answering a couple of subscriber questions/requests.

Download PGN of July ’19 Dragon Sicilian games

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Hyper-Accelerated Dragon 2...g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nf6 5.Bb5 a6 6.e5 axb5 7.exf6 Nc6 [B27]

Kicking off my full house of Dragons is Zapolskis, A - Ward, C.

It was a pure Hyper-Accelerated Dragon in 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nf6 5.Bb5 where previously I have scored quite well with the endgame that arises after 5...Nc6 6 Bxc6 dxc6 but on this occasion against my Lithuanian IM opponent I instead entered the complications of 5...a6 6.e5 axb5 7.exf6 Nc6. The original assessment (in old text books) of the position after 8 dxe7 Qxe7+ 9 Qe3 was favourable to White because of his better pawn structure but in fact after 9...b4!? I believe we can turn that around to slightly better for Black as his bishop pair and pressure against White’s queenside more than compensates. White was clearly in agreement as 8.Qd1 appeared instead:

The idea behind 8...b4 is to keep the keep White’s queenside knight out of action and only after 9.0-0 did 9...e6 appear to keep a nice structure. A little tricky was 10.c4 Qxf6 11.Nbd2 d5 12.Qe2 but I believe Black is better and certainly 12...Be7 13.Nb3 0-0 14.Bg5 Qg7 15.cxd5 Bxg5 16.dxc6 Bf6 17.c7 Bd7 18.Nc5 Bc6 19.Ne4 Rfc8 20.Nxf6+ Qxf6 21.Ne5 Rxc7 justified that statement.

Maroczy Bind 5...Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Bg5 0-0 10.Qd2 a5 [B36]

A couple of years ago I received an e-mail enquiring 'First, thank you for publishing great content on the Dragon Sicilians on ChessPublishing. I am writing to you to ask about your opinion of the following line in the accelerated dragon 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 g6 5 c4 Nf6 6 Nc3 d6 7 Be2 Nxd4 8 Qxd4 Bg7 9 Bg5 0-0 10 Qd2 a5!?, which as far as I could tell wasn't covered on ChessPublishing.'

Well, following the 4th (chronologically) of my Dragon encounters at the British Champs in Ashton, A - Ward, C I now have an opinion!

Okay, so regarding 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Bg5 0-0 10.Qd2 a5, I’m not going to lie, it was far from planned. A morning game with less time to prepare, I wasn’t expecting to be in a Maroczy Bind and it was a spur of the moment decision.

So not untypical in a Maroczy, Black does a spot of binding himself on the b4-square. This is often to pave the way for a ...Nd7-c5 manoeuvre but 11.0-0 a4 highlights the main purpose here. The idea is to slide the black queen in behind the pawn as occurred via 12.Rab1 Be6 13.f3 Qa5. The annotation highlights the various possibilities revolving around White parking his knight on d5 but actually with 14.Rfc1 Rfc8 15.b4 axb3 16.axb3 Qb4 17.Rc2 Ra3 that never happened. Instead the queens came off through 18.Nb5 Qxd2 19.Rxd2 and despite my desire to win (and propensity to blunder!), a draw always seemed most likely!

Classical Dragon 6.Be2 Bg7 7.Be3 Nc6 8.Nb3 0-0 9.0-0 Be6 10.f4 Rc8 11.f5 [B74]

In truth, the game Smith, AP - Ward, C left me totally gutted and cursing myself for not getting any practice ahead of the event. I take pride in the fact that over the years my results with the Dragon have been excellent, so losing one due to lack of match sharpness and resultant time trouble was devastating. The one crumb of consolation I suppose (at least as far as you guys are concerned!) is that the opening was just fine.

It was an old style mainline when after 6.Be2 Bg7 7.Be3 Nc6 8.Nb3 0-0 9.0-0 Be6 10.f4 Rc8 I’m still not sure whether I can actually award 11.f5 with a ‘?!’ or not. White may have aspirations of a kingside pawn storm but the concession of the e5-square is a real gift for Black. Following 11... Bd7 , subscribers should remember that 12 g4 Ne5 13 g5 is refuted by 13...Rxc3! After 12.Qd2 Ne5 instead 13.Rae1 was a novelty:

I contemplated sacrificing the exchange here on c3 anyway as well as the calm 13...Bc6 but instead plumped for 13...b5! which it would appear is best. Certainly upon 14.a3 a5 15.Bd3 b4 16.axb4 axb4 17.Nd1 I was very happy with my position although after 17...Nc4 18.Bxc4 Rxc4 19.Bd4 Qa8 20.Ne3 Nxe4 21.Qd3 Rxd4 22.Nxd4 Nc5 23.Qd1 Qe4 24.Nf3 Bc6 25.h3 gxf5 26.Ng5 Qd4 27.Qh5 h6 whilst I was still doing fine, disaster was about to strike! Alas it’s too painful for me to view again and so you’ll have to check it out for yourself!

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1 Qc7 12.h4 Rfc8 13.h5 Qa5 14.a3 Nxh5 [B76]

And so following an Accelerated, a Hyper-Accelerated and a Classical, completing my full house of Dragon variations from the 2019 British Championships, in Moore, G - Ward, C finally a Yugoslav Attack!:

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 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1 Qc7 12.h4 Rfc8 13.h5 Qa5 14.a3 Nxh5 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.g4 Rxc3

Okay, so the game annotation explains quite a lot up to this point including the amount of preparation that my opponent had done but why there was some confusion around 14 a3 which arguably deserves a ‘?!’ in light of the theoretical strength of 14 hxg6. However you will note that I had one or two ideas about that and returning to this situation, although engines may consider 17 Qxc3+ Qxc3 18 bxc3 Nf4 as equal, I believe it’s way more fun for Black and my opponent similarly considered it as a bit grim for him. Hence he sought action for the pawn via 17.gxh5 Rc5 18.Qd4+ f6 19.hxg6 hxg6 20.Bd3 but after 20...Rh5 21.Rhg1 Qc5 22.Qa4 Rg5 23.Rh1 b5 24.Qa6 Qb6 25.Qxb6 axb6 a comfortable pawn up endgame was reached which I was able to convert.

Yugoslav 9.0-0-0 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1 Qc7 12.h4 Rfc8 13.h5 Qa5 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.a3 Rab8 16.Bd3 [B76]

And following the Dragon exploits of Chris Ward at the 2019 British Championships, we finish this month’s update with two impressive games by a Chilean International Master in the same line. First up then Daneri, M - Abarca Gonzalez, N and, regards 9.0-0-0 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1 Qc7 12.h4 Rfc8 13.h5 Qa5 14.hxg6 fxg6 making a comparison of recapturing toward or away from the centre...

Obviously one point is pawn structure and now Black has the generally less desirable feature of having more pawn islands. However this is a tactical situation and I would say that there are pros and cons.

Cons: Should White get in e4-e5 then Black may end up with an isolated e-pawn. With no pawn on f7 the e6 square is weaker and there is potential for future vulnerability along the c4-g8 diagonal. Pros: The pawn on h7 acts as a defence to getting mated along the h-file. Without it we have seen scenarios under which White can treble major pieces in order to create a massive threat on h8 but with this additional barrier, Black at least has some extra time to work his own magic on the queenside. The f7-square is available for Black to use, conceivably for the king to use as a flight square but also as a retreat for the light-squared bishop. In the case of the latter the bishop acts as an extra support to g6 and specifically h5 should g4-g5 and ...Nh5 ever occur but also the option of the advance ...e5 comes into play. Of course that thrust in itself has its downsides (conceding a backward pawn on d6, an outpost on d5 and obstructing the Dragon bishop) but is nevertheless critical in reducing the impact of White's standard Qg5 pin.

White now dealt with immediate possible tactics around a2 with 15.a3 when 15...Rab8 16.Bd3 Bf7 (a key idea side-stepping the paralysing 16...b4 17 Qg5!) 17.Qf2 Rc6 18.Nd5 Nxd5 19.exd5?! Qxd5 20.Bxg7 Qa2+ 21.Kc1 Kxg7 22.Qh4 h5 left Black firmly in the driving seat.

Yugoslav 9.0-0-0 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1 Qc7 12.h4 Rfc8 13.h5 Qa5 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.a3 Rab8 16.g4 [B76]

Ulloa, G- Abarca Gonzalez, N instead saw White deviate from the above after 9.0-0-0 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1 Qc7 12.h4 Rfc8 13.h5 Qa5 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.a3 Rab8 with 16.g4:

but the use of 16...Bf7 was well highlighted in the game continuation of 17.Bd3 b5 18.Qg5? e5! White was already in deep trouble and after 19.Nd5 Nxd5 20.exd5 exd4 21.Qf4 it’s fair to say that 21...b4 22.Rxh7 Qxd5 23.Rdh1 bxa3 24.Qh2 Qa2+ 25.Kc1 axb2+ 26.Kd2 Qa5+ was but just one of several ways to close out.

Back soon everyone. Best wishes, Chris

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To get in touch with me subscribers can email me at Chris