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Hello dear subscribers!
With all this Summer heat, who needs fire-breathing Dragons?
Well... we do of course and in this month we get a few spicy numbers in the form of some aggressive non-standard Yugoslav Attack lines. I do have a soft spot for such offbeat lines, but don’t worry there’s still space for a couple of main lines too with Black continuing to hold his own. Okay without further ado...

Download PGN of June ’18 Dragon Sicilian games

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Dragon 6.h4 [B70]

Regarding the opening sequence 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.h4 and the game Manea, Al - Ileana, G, the Romanian IM has played this offbeat aggressive lunge before with success but... well it’s not very good!

Of course I couldn’t resist including this game in an update because it reminded me of all the weird and wacky things that people used to try against me in my early Dragon days and after 6...Bg7 I do observe that we might on another occasion see 7 h5 Nxh5 8 Rxh5 i.e. in blitz...amongst friends...after a few drinks! However, 7.Bc4 Nc6 8.Nde2 Bd7 9.Bg5 was more sober although 9...h6 10.Bf4 Ne5 11.Bb3 b5 12.Ng3 Nc4 13.Bxc4 bxc4 14.Qd2 Qa5 15.0-0 Be6 16.Rab1 Nh5 17.Nxh5 Qxh5 18.Nd5 Rc8 19.Bg3 Bxd5 20.Qxd5 Qxd5 21.exd5 Rc5 had merely lead to a favourable endgame for Black in which White did well to salvage a draw.

Classical Dragon 6.Be2 Bg7 7.Nb3 0-0 8.g4 [B70]

Continuing in an update of aggressive non Yugoslav Attack lines is the 6.Be2 Bg7 7.Nb3 0-0 8.g4 seen in Heberla, B - Druska, J:

This is the first time that we have seen this exact position on the site although we are on our way to transposing to another offbeat Classical line that has been previously covered. Play continued 8...Nc6 9.g5 Nd7 10.Be3 Nb6 11.h4 when White's main plan is to crash through the h-file but although Black's 'defensive king's knight' has been lured to the queenside, with the pawn on g5, it's not so easy swapping off the Dragon bishop. Also whilst h4-h5 is easily achieved, even aligning the queen and rook along the h-file isn't easy and so mate is a long way off.

Following 11...Be6 12.Nd4 d5 13.Qd2 Ne5 14.b3 dxe4 15.0-0-0 Bf5 White’s inaccuracy 16.Qe1?! allowed Black to get on top through 16...Qc8! with 17.Kb1 Rd8 18.h5 Nd3! a visually crushing blow.

Levenfish Dragon 6.f4 Nc6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Bd3 0-0 9.0-0 Bd7 [B71]

In Sowray, P - Graham, D after the standard Levenfish start of 6.f4 Nc6 it was starting more to resemble the good old Grand Prix Attack after 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Bd3 0-0 9.0-0 Bd7 10.Qe1 Rc8 11.Qh4 Qa5 12.f5:

White has a standard mating plan through Bh6 and Ng5 in mind and so Black opted to remove an attacker through 12...Ne5 but after 13.Nxe5 Qxe5 14.Kh1 d5?! 15.Bf4 Qd4 potentially saw his queen getting in a bit of a pickle. In fact White had a neat combination here kicking off with 16 e5! but instead stayed on the case of her majesty through 16.Rad1 That however allowed 16...dxe4 17.Bb5 Qxc3! 18.bxc3 Bxb5 19.Rf2 Rxc3 and a fascinating imbalance in material.

Yugoslav Attack 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.Nb3 [B75]

Yes, in Tomczak, J - Mista, A two good Grandmasters, after 5...g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 you read correctly, we’re talking 9.Nb3:

With this retreat White prevents the standard 9...d5 break and although 9...Be6 10.0-0-0 a5 is tempting to try to dislodge that knight, I’m not sure it’s best as after 11.a4 Rc8 12.Kb1 Ne5 13.Nd4 Bc4 14.b3 Bxf1 15.Rhxf1 Nc6 16.Ndb5 White has a bit of a bind. Following 16...Nb4 17.Rc1 Black got in 17...d5 but then 18.e5 Ne8 19.f4 f6 20.Bd4 and particularly 20...e6 21.Qe3 fxe5 22.fxe5 Rxf1 23.Rxf1 Qd7 24.h4 left Black struggling for an active plan in a game that frankly made for painful viewing and suggests that 9 Nb3 is not to be underestimated.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Bc4 Rd8 16.g3 Bh3!? [B76]

Following some intriguing games in offbeat lines, the encounter Katz, A - Graif, W brings us right back into the theoretical maelstrom specifically here in the 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 variation. Main line is 15.Bc4 Rd8 when 16.g3 has become quite trendy with the appeal of it to White being that the move both controls the f4-square and frees the h1-rook of its duty of defending h2. Regular subscribers will be aware of how much time we have spent on this whole variation and indeed checking out annotated games in the archive will uncover several examples of Black parking a queen or knight on f4 or the queen on g3 should White play h2-h4 instead. In response to this g-pawn nudge, the intriguing 16...Bh3!? could be taking off:

Outwardly provocative in that this looks like a square that the bishop could easily get trapped on, one mustn’t forget that the black rooks are now connected and so ...Nb6 is threatened. Including generous subscriber input we have investigated this quite a bit and here it is 17.Qf2 that receives more airtime with 17...Nb6 18.Bb3 Nxa4 19.Bxa4 c5 20.Qe3 Be6 21.Rxd8+ Rxd8 22.Rd1 Rxd1+ 23.Kxd1 leaving Black slightly better in an endgame where he has several opportunities to take that poisoned (or not!) pawn on a2.

Yugoslav Attack, Topalov Variation 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.exd5 Bxd4 15.Qxd4 a5 16.a3 Rc5 [B78]

After 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 13.Nd5 Nxd5 by far the most popular selection in practice is 14 Bxg7, as White deems it useful to lure the black king to some potential exposure along the c3-g7 diagonal. So, instead then 14.exd5 Bxd4 15.Qxd4 a5 16.a3 as seen in Karthik,V - Nayak, R should probably be a better version for Black than the analogous main line (i.e. with the queen on d2 and the black king on g7).

Indeed plugging on with the standard 16...b4!? has scored well for Black in practice but instead here Black chose 16...Rc5 paving the way for the f-rook to come to the queenside. Then 17.Rhe1 Qc7 18.Rd2 Bf5 19.g4 a4 20.Bxa4 would also have been okay in the event of 20...e5! but 20...Rc4?! 21.Qe3 Rxa4 22.gxf5 b4 23.Rd4! saw the b-pawn pinned and thus Black’s attacking aspirations hindered. This game is definitely a warning as to how quickly things can go sour with 23...Rc8 24.Re2 Qb6? 25.Rh4! soon seeing Black in big trouble.

See you soon! Chris

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