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Not that you guys would, but if anyone was ever going to complain about the quality of players featuring in games here, this wouldn’t be the month to do it. Yes the average rating of participants involved in the 6 games below is a whopping 3023! One game where I am absolutely in awe, but don’t worry, elsewhere I have managed to offer my usual critique!

Download PGN of June ’20 Dragon Sicilian games

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Accelerated Dragon 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 Re8 9.Nxc6 dxc6 10.h3 Qc7 11.f4 b5 [B35]

Regards 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 Re8, I never could have imagined that I would find myself annotating 3 games for an update in a system that whilst interesting, I hardly considered essential. Nevertheless, I appreciate that Accelerated Dragon exponents might not want to allow a transposition to a Yugoslav attack in which case it’s a totally reasonable deployment. Plus, of course, we have a trilogy in a ‘Battle Royale’ featuring 2 of today’s stars of the chessboard.

Anyway in this first outing of Nakamura, H - Dubov, D we see Hikaru surprise his opponent with the rare 9.Nxc6 dxc6 10.h3 and the talented young Russian respond with 10...Qc7 11.f4 b5:

Logical play followed with 12.e5 b4 13.Na4 Nd5 14.Qf3 Nxe3 15.Qxe3 when my opinion is that Black would be fine if he prevented White from castling long with 15...Rd8! He didn’t though and after 15...a5?! 16.0-0-0 Qa7 a simple trade of queens would have left White with a clear grip on the position. White appeared to get a tad elaborate though and after 17.Qe4?! Bf5 18.Qc4 Qe3+ 19.Kb1 Be6 20.Qd4 Qxd4 21.Rxd4 Rad8 22.Rhd1 Rxd4 23.Rxd4 Bc8 24.Nb6 c5 25.Rd2 g5 Black was back in the game and thanks to a couple of inaccuracies was able to take the full point.

Accelerated Dragon 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 Re8 9.Nxc6 dxc6 10.h3 Qc7 11.f4 Rd8 [B35]

Clearly unhappy with the first game, this time after 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 Re8 9.Nxc6 dxc6 10.h3 Qc7 11.f4, in Nakamura, H - Dubov, D, Black immediately responded with 11...Rd8:

White of course replied 12.Qf3 when 12...c5 introduced a different but very concrete plan. Yes, Black is hunting down White’s light-squared bishop and after 13.e5 c4 whilst I would have liked to have seen 14 Ba4!?, instead 14.exf6 Bxf6 was destined to see Black recoup his material. In fact after 15.Ba4 interesting might have been 15...Rb8!? but of course 15...Qa5 was more than adequate with 16.0-0 Bxc3 17.bxc3 Qxa4 18.Bd4 Qc6 19.Qe3 Bf5 20.Qe5 Qf6 21.Qxf6 exf6 22.Bxf6 a drawn endgame.

Accelerated Dragon 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 Re8 9.f4 [B35]

Actually there were 4 games but in the 3rd of the trilogy covered here, Naka finally gets what he deserved and easier than he would have expected, seemingly due to opponent miscalculation.

This time, after 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 Re8, rather than swap knights, in Nakamura, H - Dubov, D White got straight to the point with 9.f4:

Following 9...d6 10.Qf3 as I would have been tempted by it, I have investigated the immediate 10...Ng4 but instead Black waited a move with 10...Bd7 11.0-0 Ng4. However after 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.Bd2 d5 this made 14.f5!? more dangerous with 14...Ne5 15.Qf2 e6 16.f6 a bit tricky. Black had to bite the bullet but uncharacteristically appeared to fall down in the tactics department with 16...Ng4? 17.Qf3 Qxf6 18.Qxg4 Qd4+ 19.Rf2 f5 20.Qf3 fxe4 21.Qf7+ having resulted in the loss of a piece and shortly after, the game.

Classical Dragon 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 h5 [B72]

With absolutely no disrespect to the young Grandmasters involved, being a blitz game (unlike the others) Iniyan, P - Sjugirov, S stands out in this update like a sore thumb. However given that it brought a fresh idea to the table, I was unable to resist including 5...g6 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 h5:

Of course, we have seen such an advance deployed early in other positions with a view to stifling White's own kingside expansion ideas and even on other occasions to try to achieve ...h5-h4 and a future ...Rh5. It soon became clear though that the talented young Russian GM has another idea in mind when play continued 8.Qd2 Nxd4 9.Bxd4 Bh6 Now we know why Black delayed going through with the usual fianchetto and 10.Be3 Bxe3 11.Qxe3 a6 12.0-0-0 Qa5 13.Kb1 Be6 14.Qd4 Rc8 15.a3 0-0 16.h4 Qc5 17.Qxc5 Rxc5 wasn’t bad at all with 18.Rd4 Rfc8 19.Be2 Nd7 20.Rhd1 Ne5 21.R1d2 Nc6 22.R4d3 Ne5 23.Rd4 Kg7 24.Nd5 Bxd5 25.exd5 b5 reminiscent of the Yugoslav Attack 9 g4 Be6 10 0-0-0 Nxd4 endgames. For such a fast paced game Black played very impressively and after 26.f4 Nd7 27.Bf3 Nb6 28.Re2 R8c7 29.g3 Kf6 30.c3 Rc4 31.Rd1 a5 was able to place his opponent under sufficient pressure to ultimately grind out the full point.

Topalov System 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.exd5 a5 16.a3 Kg8 17.Rhe1 Rc5 18.Re3 b4 19.axb4 axb4 20.Qxb4 Qa8 21.Bc4 Bf5 22.Ra3 Qc8 [B78]

Do you know what, I’m still a little bit shocked because I almost feel as though I’ve just seen two super computers essentially solve the Topalov System in a pretty amazing encounter.

Yes, after 5...g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.f3 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.exd5 a5 16.a3 Kg8 17.Rhe1 Rc5 18.Re3 b4 my notes I hope justify exactly why Black’s selected move order is the most accurate and whilst 19.axb4 axb4 20.Qxb4 Qa8 21.Bc4 Bf5 22.Ra3 Qc8 and beyond has all been seen before, in rofChade 2.303 - Fire 8_beta accuracy levels are is taken to a whole new plane.

Over the years we’ve debated whether or not Black gets enough play for the pawn and through 23.b3 Qc7 24.Qd2 Rc8! 25.Ra4 Bd7 26.Ra2 h5!? 27.h3 Rxc4! I think we have our answer. Black isn’t concerned about being the exchange down and after 28.bxc4 Qxc4 29.Rb2 Ra8 30.Qd3 Qf4+ 31.Qd2 Qc4 32.Qd3 Qf4+ 33.Rd2 Qh2 34.Qf1 even eschews the tactic 34...Bxh3 in favour of 34...e5 35.dxe6 Bxe6.

Maybe I’m being over-dramatic in saying it has to be seen to be believed but having spent ages on analysing this encounter, I’m flabbergasted. Mind you, I think I should also add that if you’re going to play like this, it helps if your rating is 3729!

Yugoslav Attack, Soltis Variation 10.h4 h5 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Bb3 Rc8 13.Kb1 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 15.Nb3 [B77]

So, in another sort of mini match it seemed that the two engines had to play each other on both sides of a 9 Bc4 Yugoslav Attack and this time around Fire 8_beta - rofChade 2.303 saw a Soltis variation with after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.f3 Bd7 10.h4 h5 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Bb3 Rc8 White eschewing the most popular moves 13 Bg5 and 13 Bh6 in favour of the also familiar to us 13.Kb1 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 sequence. Then the slightly surprising selection 15.Nb3 came and I had a couple of observations to make:

When annotating the Karjakin-Nielsen encounter for the site back in 2011, Gawain observed that this is 'The second most common move and played a fair bit in the early days of this variation but none of the elite have tried it previously'. Nine years on and that remains the case, still with none of the elite having tried it. Mind you that is of course the elite of the breathing, walking and talking type and possibly not such a valid claim if you were to include in that elite bracket Monsters of the 3729 rated variety!

Black has scored okay here in the main line of 15...Qc7 whilst our ex site host evidently believes in Peter Heine-Nielsen’s 15...Qb8!? Our computer friend though opted for 15...Qc8 and frankly was never troubled with 16.Bd4 Re8 17.Rhe1 Be6 18.a3 Qd7 19.e5 dxe5 20.Bxe5 Qxd2 21.Rxd2 Rcc8 22.Nd4 Red8 23.Rdd1 Bd7 24.Nb3 b6 25.Bf4 Kf8 more than fine.

So okay, the Dragon is probably just a draw but don’t let that put you off and I’ll be back again next month! Chris

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