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Okay guys, so here’s the story...

Download PGN of July ’23 Dragon Sicilian games

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I’ve been a bit of a numpty as explained by an enthusiastic subscriber:

«For the attention of GM Chris Ward:
The Caruana - Kramnik game in the June 2023 update was "no castling" chess, which helps explain some of the moves, for example white's 9.Kf2. (NC World Masters is a clue)
Many thanks for the June update. Some great games, as always.
David Faldon, Dragons subscriber»

The same point was made in a message from Junior Tay but although I feel it’s not entirely my fault, I had realised my error by that stage. I have adjusted the annotation accordingly but whilst on one hand I was reminiscing about my old schoolteachers liking of playing Kf2 (rather than long castles) in the Yugoslav Attack, I was unaware of the existence of ‘No Castling’ events nor would have understood why such games should make it onto main databases. One wonders if that would have been so in the case of ‘PCGB’ (Pawns Can Go Backwards) tournaments!?

Thank you David and for your kind words. Jr is the author of a recent book on the ‘Hungarian Dragon’, a system we have covered a lot on this site without my knowing what it was called! Coincidentally that’s where we kick of this update!

Hungarian Dragon 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 h5 8.Qd2 Nxd4 9.Bxd4 Bh6 10.Be3 Bxe3 11.Qxe3 Be6 [B72]

The game Ljukin, S - Bernadskiy, V was from Black’s point of view a rather model game. Following 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 h5 8.Qd2 Nxd4 9.Bxd4 Bh6 White settled for the relatively tame 10.Be3 when 10...Bxe3 11.Qxe3 Be6 12.Bd3 Qa5 13.0-0 Rc8 seemed very comfortable for Black:

White looked to preserve queens and get some action going in the centre but actually it was Black in tactical mode with 14.Kh1 a6 15.f4 Qc5 16.Qd2 h4! 17.f5 Nh5!? 18.Rf2 gxf5 19.exf5 Ng3+ 20.Kg1 Nxf5 21.Ne4?! Qe3 22.Qxe3 Nxe3 23.Re1 Ng4 24.Rf4 Ne5 leaving him a pawn up in a terrific endgame.

Hungarian Dragon 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 h5 8.Bc4 [B72]

Following 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 h5 we had a game of cat and mouse in Andersen, G - Avila Pavas, S with 8.Bc4 Bd7 9.Bb3 Bg7 10.Qd2 only seeing White commit the queen after Black had committed his bishop. Then 10...Na5 11.0-0-0 Rb8 12.Nde2 b5 left us with a sort of Soltis/Chinese variation hybrid:

Yes Black has plans such as ...b4 or ...Nc4 to prise open the b-file and struggling to come up with anything constructive himself, White opted to take the materialistic route with 13.Bxa7?! Undoubtedly though Black had good compensation for the pawn after 13...Ra8 14.Qe3?! b4 with 15.Nd5 Nxb3+ 16.axb3 Nxd5 17.Rxd5 leaving plenty of options in an ultimately impressive win.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 Bxh6 12.Qxh6 Rb8 13.e5 Nd7 14.Rd4 Re8 15.e6 [B76]

Previously on the site we have spent a bit of time 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 line investigating the complex 11...Bxh6 12.Qxh6 Rb8 13.e5 Nd7 14.Rd4 Re8 15.e6 variation after 15...fxe6 16 Bd3 threatening to crash through on g6. Although I think Black is probably okay in that line, I found refreshing in Arenas, D - Escalante Ramirez, B the move 15...Nf6 instead:

Play continued quite logically through 16.exf7+ Kxf7 17.Ra4 Qb6 18.b3 when Black selected 18...e5 19.Bd3 Qc5 20.Kb2 Rb4 21.Re1 Rxa4 22.Nxa4 Qd4+ and after 23.Kb1 for my money stood just fine. Certainly 23...Bf5 wasn’t forced although 24.Qe3 Qxe3 25.Rxe3 e4 26.fxe4 Ng4 27.Rg3 dxe4 28.Bc4+ Kf6 29.h3 Nf2 30.Be2 still left Black on top but with sadly errors made from here on in that turned a possible victory into an eventual loss!

Yugoslav 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Nxd5 cxd5 13.Qxd5 Qc7 14.Qc5 Qb7 15.Qa3 Bf5 16.Bd3 Rab8 17.b3 Rfc8 [B76]

We tend not to see the 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Nxd5 cxd5 13.Qxd5 Qc7 pawn grab line much these days where taking the rook on a8 leads to Black getting a queen and a fair amount of action for two rooks and a pawn. The alternative as played in Fernandez Borrego, P - Delgado Romero, M is 14.Qc5 when 14...Qb7 15.Qa3 Bf5 16.Bd3 Rab8 17.b3 has previously seen 17...Qc6!? do well. Instead 17...Rfc8 is also logical but after 18.Bxf5 gxf5 19.Rd3 though tricky, probably not great is 19... f4?!:

The notes will demonstrate why I think White should just take this offered pawn but 20.Bd4 Qc6 21.c4 e5 22.Bc3 e4! 23.Rd6? Bf8 24.Rhd1 would have been okay for Black had he taken the rook first before dabbling in the 24...exf3? that was sadly foiled by 25.Qa5!.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 e5 13.Bc5 Re8 14.h4 Be6 15.Ne4 [B76]

In Medarde Santiago, L - Fernandez Lopez, R after1.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.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 e5 13.Bc5 we see the fashionable move order 13...Re8, in the notes revisiting the d5-pawn grab. After 14.h4 Be6 my annotation also indicates why 15 h5? would be a mistake but following 15.Ne4 transposing to the main line, I feel it’s a move that Black really needs to be prepared for. Alongside the queen trade offer 15...Nf4, regular subscribers will know that 15...h6 (intending to meet 16 h5 with 16...g5) is most popular but that we have been having fun recently with 15...h5 (also revisited in the game notes). However I think 15...Qc7?! is too casual with 16.h5 then a real problem:

For structural reasons Black is never going to want to recapture on g6 with his f-pawn and the game continuation of 16...Rad8 17.hxg6 hxg6 18.g4! f6 19.Qh2 Kf7 20.Bc4! left White with a big initiative.

Yugoslav Attack 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Nxc6 Bxc6 12.Bb3 a5 13.a4 Qe8 [B78]

Following the standard 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.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 suddenly it seems that the move 11.Nxc6 has been creeping into practical encounters with 11...Bxc6 12.Bb3 a5 13.a4 Qe8 14.Qe2 Nd7 15.h4 Nc5 16.Bxc5 dxc5 17.e5 e6 as seen a couple of months ago here in a game featuring the young Indian star Erigaisi. This month Blomqvist, E - Olsson, W deviates from the 18 f4 Qe7 18 Nb5 (eyeing up the d6-square) with 18.h5 Qe7 19 f4:

Essentially then White has prioritised h4-h5 over Nb5 but after 19....Rfd8 20.h6?! Rxd1+ 21.Nxd1 Bf8 22.Ne3 Black justifiably opted for activity through the pawn sac 22...c4!? I think Black was just fine in 23.Qxc4 Qe8 24.Qd4 b5 25.axb5 Bxb5 26.Ng4 when 26...Qc6?! was the first of quite a few substandard moves to come. White was better, Black was better, White was better, Black was better; you get the picture! Probably more fun to watch than play and no doubt White would have been gutted to lose a game that he was definitely dominating for the majority. Alas such is life!

That’s it for this month everyone but stay tuned in case I come across a ‘NATPAETD’ Masters (Not Allowed To Play Anything Except The Dragon)!

Best wishes, Chris

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