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So it seems that life may be returning to normal i.e. with computers still looking to take over! Okay so maybe that’s an exaggeration but just check out the two titanic engine battles I bring you this month and you’ll see how little regard they have for previous human assessment. They clearly don’t like the way we do things and hence the Dragon is being taken down a whole new path!
That’s in the middle of the sandwich though as we start with and then end with a couple of flesh and blood battles!...

Download PGN of July ’21 Dragon Sicilian games

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Fianchetto Variation 6.g3 Nc6 7.Nde2 Bg7 8.Bg2 Bd7 9.0-0 Qc8 10.Re1 h5! [B70]

And so a cute game to start with this month with Le Hetet, N - Grandelius, N giving White a taste of his own medicine as far as h-file assaults go. Yes after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.g3 Nc6 7.Nde2 Bg7 8.Bg2 Bd7 9.0-0, now 9...Qc8 saw Black first prevent h2-h3 and after 10.Re1 h5! start to launch the sort of kingside offensive that Black often faces against a Yugoslav Attack.

From here 11.Bg5 Nh7 12.Be3 h4 13.Qc1 hxg3 14.hxg3 Nf6 15.Nd5 Bh3 16.Nxf6+ Bxf6 didn’t really help White, who ultimately suffered a horrible fate courtesy of that open h-file!

Long Castles Classical Dragon 6.Be2 Bg7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 d5 [B72]

We continue to see the aggressive variant of the Classical system 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.Be2 Bg7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 deployed with the archives stacking up in outings now. We’ve certainly spent a bit of time on 9...Ng4!? And 9...Bd7 before but clearly of interest is the comparison with the 9 0-0-0 Yugoslav Attack particularly with respect of 9...Nxd4 10 Bxd4 Be6 and 9...d5. The former is revisited in the notes to Durarbayli, V - Manukyan, Sa A but it is the latter that takes centre stage with 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.exd5 Nxd5 12.Nxd5 cxd5 13.Qxd5 Qc7 prompting a blatant comparison between this position and the analogous variation with f2-f3 included instead of Be2. Generally the fact that White’s rooks are connected along the bank rank would suggest that the bishop move is more useful but it seems it may have to move again soon to try and neutralise Black’s queenside initiative whilst one negative is that the g2-pawn is loose. We have previously featured an encounter where White grabbed the two rooks for the queen but here instead White declines the option of 14 Qxa8 Bf5 with 14.Qc5 instead.

I think it’s fair to say that Black’s activity shouldn’t be under-estimated in this line though with 14...Qb7 15.c3 Rb8 16.Rd2?! Bf5! 17.Bf3 Qa6! 18.Qxa7 Qc4! suddenly leaving Black with a massive initiative that was well demonstrated in 19.Qa3 Bxc3!.

Yugoslav Attack 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 Bd7 9.0-0-0 h5 10.Kb1 Rc8 [B75]

I have to say that based on the two games featuring them this month, on top of games here in the past, the super-computers are demonstrating a whole new approach to Dragon play. Maybe not so unusual in Ethereal13.07_NNUE-15EE - Stockfish2021061923 after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 was 8...Bd7 9.0-0-0 h5 which was basically a delaying castles system where the black h-pawn advance has become quite fashionable.

However after some natural White moves in 10.Kb1 Rc8 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bc4 Qa5 13.Rhe1 Be6 14.Bb3, the way the 3632 rated beast handled the position through 14...Nd7 15.Bd4 Bxd4 16.Qxd4 Rg8 17.f4 Rb8 18.Qf2 Qb6 19.Qd2 Nc5 20.Qc1 Rb7 21.Re3 Kd7! was definitely a little different! Black just doesn’t seem to be losing these games with 22.Rde1 a5 23.f5 Bxb3 24.cxb3 f6 25.Qd2 Kc8 26.g3 g5 27.Rc1 Kb8 28.Na4 Nxa4 29.bxa4 on its way to a seemingly fair draw!

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 d5 10 Kb1 h5 [B76]

Yes, do NOT adjust your set, you are reading correctly! Albeit via the move order 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 h5 9.0-0-0 0-0 we have in ScorpioNN3.0.13 - KomodoDragon2747.00 effectively seen a giant of the chessboard (I think a 3582 rating justifies that title!) introduce to us mere humans another approach to the main line (i.e. 9 0-0-0 h5) which only got more intriguing after 10.Kb1 d5:

Showing total disrespect to players of the flesh and blood variety, the battling computers essentially decided to ignore countless years of Dragon theory in favour of a position that in recorded practical play has only ever been reached once!

Okay so once you’ve recovered from the shock that a super-computer offers its backing to meeting the 9 0-0-0 Yugoslav Attack with 9...h5 (yes, even with the black king over there!) you’ll soon notice that we’ve actually transposed to 9 0-0-0 d5 with Black meeting the 10th move alternative (i.e. to 10 exd5) with 10...h5.

This is really an incredible stuff although in the notes I investigate what now happens if White grabs the on offer pawn on d5 and it’s not a favourable situation to normal. Note also for example how 11 exd5 Nxd5 12 Nxc6 bxc6 13 Bd4?? simply loses to 13...Bxd4 14 Qxd4 e5!

Moving on and Black essentially is happy to concede a simple pawn via 11.Bh6 Bxh6 12.Qxh6 Nxd4 13.Rxd4 Qb6 14.Nxd5 Nxd5 15.Rxd5 Be6 and then a second one through 16.Rb5 Qf2 17.Bd3 Rad8 18.Rc1 Rd7 19.Rg5 Qb6 20.Rg3 Rd4! 21.Qxh5 Rb4 22.Qe5 Rc8 and it all appears to be sound!

I can’t wait for further outings of this!

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 Bxh6 12.Qxh6 Rb8 [B76]

The game Fier, A - Perunovic, M arguably indicates a theoretical assessment change in the trendy 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 Bxh6 12.Qxh6 Rb8 variation.

At least at some point after 13.e5 Nd7 14.Rd4 Re8 the disruptor 15.e6 was deemed dangerous but actually it seems that after 15...fxe6 16.Bd3 Nf8 17.h4 e5! 18.Ra4 Qd6 Black has most bases covered. After 19.h5 Bf5! 20.Bxf5 gxf5 21.Qg5+ Kh8 22.Qxf5 Ra8 23.Ra6 Reb8! White was unable to let go of his attacking aspirations but ultimately the attempt 24.Rh4? Ne6 25.Rxc6? was foiled by the intermezzo 25...Ng7!

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 Qc7 15.Bc5 Rfd8 16.g4 h6 17.h4 Rab8 [B76]

And we finish with the very theoretical Hammer,J - Elsness,F which followed the fashionable variation 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 Qc7 15.Bc5 Rfd8 16.g4 h6 17.h4 but instead of the riskily exciting 17...f5!? or the clarifying 17...Nf4, Black opting for the middle ground in 17...Rab8:

I believe that there are improvements for both sides (and more entertaining possibilities!) but after the not unnatural sequence 18.g5 h5 19.Rh2 Bf8 20.Qg1 Nf4 21.Bxe6 Nxe6 22.Nf6+ Kg7 23.Bxf8+ Kxf8 24.Rhd2 Rxd2 25.Rxd2 Rb4 26.Qe1 Rd4 27.Rxd4 exd4 28.Qb4+ c5 the game was headed for a draw.

Bye for now! Chris

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