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Ciao a tutti!
Plenty of Sicilians here but not an Italian game in sight; well except of course for Sunday night! Yes, come on England!
Okay, enough football talk and back to the chess...

Download PGN of June ’21 Dragon Sicilian games

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Accelerated Dragon Maroczy Bind 7.Nc2 Bg7 8.Be2 0-0 9.0-0 Nd7 10.Bd2 Nc5 11.b4 Bxc3 [B36]

Yes, in notes I’ve commented on the possibility on several occasions in the past but finally after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Nc2 Bg7 8.Be2 0-0 9.0-0 Nd7 10.Bd2 Nc5 11.b4 in Rakotomaharo, F - Ivanchuk, V we finally see 11...Bxc3 in a main game:

Of course, the point is 12.Bxc3 Nxe4 13.Bb2 and White has essentially sacrificed a pawn for the chance to make his opponent suffer on the dark squares that once stood a Dragon bishop. Compensation yes, but the legendary Ukrainian GM doesn’t mind taking up the challenge and immediately looked to blunt the key long diagonal with 13...e5!? Perhaps White could have been more direct than 14.a3 and after 14...Be6 15.Ne3 a5 16.b5?! Ne7 17.a4 Qb6 18.Bf3 Ng5 19.Bd5 Rac8 20.h4 Bxd5 21.Nxd5 Nxd5 22.Qxd5 Ne6 23.Rad1 Rfd8 I think it’s fair to say that Black was for preference. Of course, that’s not to say there weren’t ups and downs before he finally emerged on top though in a fascinating encounter.

Offbeat Dragon 6 Nf3 [B70]

Well after 1.Nf3 d6 2.e4 c5 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 transposing to a Dragon, you might have thought you’d seen all of White’s 6th move options here amongst the twelve previously covered on the site but I suspect not as we are treated to 6.Nf3 in Triapishko, A - Golubev, M.

Reminiscent of a Levenfish Variation, White’s plan is to force through e4-e5 and he is not to be deterred as can be seen in 6...Nc6 7.e5 Nxe5 8.Nxe5 dxe5 9.Qxd8+ Kxd8 10.Bg5 Be6 11.0-0-0+ Kc7 At the cost of a pawn, White has gained swift development and leaves the black king inconvenienced. It’s an intriguing idea but fortunately for Black, ‘13’ wasn’t to prove an unlucky number as after the inaccuracy 12.f4?! he emerged with a clearly favourable endgame through 12...h6 13.Nb5+ Kc6 14.Bh4 a6 15.fxe5 axb5 16.exf6 Rxa2 17.fxe7 Ra1+ 18.Kd2 Rxd1+ 19.Kxd1 Bg7 20.Bd3 g5 21.Be4+ Kd7 22.Bf2 Kxe7 23.c3 Rd8+ 24.Kc2 Bd5 and was able to convert.

All good fun though and I wonder if we’ll see this sort of thing repeated.

Dragadorf 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 a6 8.Qd2 h5 9.0-0-0 b5 [B75]

The system 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 a6 8.Qd2 h5 has of course been covered quite a lot here on ChessPublishing and as regulars will know has seemingly been given its seal of approval by Magnus. He has tended to face 9 Bc4 but it was back to 9.0-0-0 b5 in Perez Rodriguez, L - Can, E with White then deploying the rare plan 10.g3 Bb7 11.h3:

Clearly White didn't want to play 10 h3 first in case his pawn structure was fixed through 10...h4 and so instead these pawns will be creeping down the board with g3-g4 ultimately on White's agenda. Indeed 11...Nbd7 12.Rg1 Rc8 13.g4 occurred when Black doesn’t have to open the h-file. He did, though, and after 13...hxg4 14.hxg4 b4?! 15.Nce2 a5?! a Nf4-e6 plan could have been very awkward.

Instead, 16.Kb1 Ne5 17.Ng3 Nc4? 18.Bxc4 Rxc4 19.Rh1 Rxh1 20.Rxh1 Qc8? happened, when 21.Ngf5 ultimately led to a nice finish.

Dragadorf 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 a6 8.Qd2 h5 9.0-0-0 Nbd7 [B75]

In Eugene, F- Gokerkan, C K following 5...g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 a6 8.Qd2 h5 9.0-0-0 rather than play 9...b5 immediately, Black gave White a second chance to park his bishop on c4 through 9...Nbd7 but it was rejected in favour of vacating the c-file through 10.Kb1. However White’s light-squared bishop did get the opportunity to emerge on the diagonal towards g8 via 10...b5 11.Nd5 Bb7 12.c4 bxc4 13.Bxc4:

Black had plenty of opportunities to swap off that intrusive white knight on d5 but preferred not to concede the c6-square and instead 13...Rc8 14.Rc1 0-0 15.Rhd1 e6 16.Nxf6+ Qxf6 was far from illogical. For reasons explained, now perhaps 17 Bg5 would have been most testing but instead Black got to make an interesting pawn sacrifice in 17.Bb3 Nc5 18.Bg5 Nxb3 19.Nxb3 Qe5 20.Bf4 Qb5 21.Bxd6 Rxc1+ 22.Qxc1 Rc8 23.Qe3 a5. With the bishop pair and play against White’s king there is definitely reasonable compensation, but nevertheless White did cave in a bit too easily.

Yugoslav 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 15.c4 [B76]

This time last month after 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 having seen us generally focus on 15 Bc4 and 15 Nc5 (and a little 15 h4), not many would have given much thought to the ultra-rare and seemingly weakening (albeit knocking the attractively positioned black steed off its perch) 15.c4 Nevertheless Hikaru deployed it to defeat my ex ChessPublishing co-host Gawain who to be fair after 15...Nf4 16.g3 went down uncharacteristically tamely through 16...e5?! 17 Qd6. Whilst the Russian WGM (and male IM) might have been hoping for a repeat, instead in Shuvalova, P - Eswaran, A Black approached the situation more dynamically through 16...Ne6 (so not conceding the d6-square):

17.Qd2?! Rd8 18.Bd3 Rd4 19.Rhe1 Ba6 20.b3 Rad8 when the active piece play compensates Black for those queenside isolanis. A couple more inaccuracies through 21.Qc3?! c5 22.f4 Bb7 23.f5? Ng5! 24.Bc2 Nf3 and suddenly Black was completely bossing. That’s twice then we’ve featured 15 c4 but I’m not expecting many more occurrences of it!

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 h6 [B76]

Following 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 with Shahade, G - Sychev, K comes a debut on the site for 14...h6:

Most typically of course we’re used to 14...Qc7, vacating the d8-square for a rook. We’ve also had 14...f5 before but the main purpose of the text (which typically features at some point-especially when meeting h2-h4) is to deprive a white minor piece access to the g5-square.

Here 15 Bc5 is maybe most natural but instead White chose to hassle Black’s light-squared bishop the other way through 15.Nc5. Probably Black is then okay with 15...Qe7 but rather than protect it, the young Russian GM elected to preserve it with 15...Bc8 and after 16.Qd2 made an offering through 16...Rb8. White accepted it via 17.Bxd5 cxd5 18.Bxh6 Bxh6 19.Qxh6 Qb6 20.Nb3 when actually 20...Bf5! is definitely good compensation. However 20...a5 21.h4! Bf5 occurred when White returned the inaccuracy with 22.g4? allowing 22...Bxc2! 23.Kxc2 a4 when 24.Kb1 axb3 25.a3 Qf2 26.Qd2 Qxf3 27.Qxd5 Qxg4 28.Qxe5 was on route to an eventual draw.

Back soon everyone! Chris

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