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Happy Easter to all chesspublishing subscribers!
Wow, an excellent month for Black in the Dragon is this one, with one draw and five wins! In amongst all that we have the birth of a new system, a top 100 player winning from two rooks down and an amazing knight manoeuvre by our very own Gawain Jones. In fact that's where I'm going to get things going, so without further ado...

Download PGN of March '13 Dragon Sicilian games

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Classical Dragon: 9 f4 Be6 10 g4 [B72]

We kick off this month's update with the very entertaining encounter Thorhallson - Jones. I have always considered the Classical variation illustrated below with 9 f4 and 10 g4 (i.e. without castling) to be one of the more intriguing lines and it was about time we revisited it:

Regular subscribers may know that there is a well annotated possibility for Black in 10...d5 11 f5 Bc8 12 exd5 Nb4, and also Black can try 10...Na5 preparing to utilise the c4-square. Gawain's selected 10...Rc8 is both the most challenging and provocative line for me though. I share Gawain's view that with active play he should be fine and in this game he is so much more than that. Check out the amazing journey that one of his steeds goes on.

Old Main line with 9 f4 [B73]

Though not exactly a thrill a minute, I thought it might be worth checking out whether 14 Bd1 (leading to the position below) really offers White any advantage:

Though a slightly different move order in Petrov - Stanojoski, we are effectively talking the old fashioned Be2 and Be3 (no Nb3) Classical with 9 f4. Black plays 9...Qb6!? in order to try and exploit the b6-g1 diagonal (bringing tactics around e4 and d4 into play) and rather than the speculative Zollner Gambit (10 e5?!), White continues with the centrally bolstering 10 Qd3. Thus follows the sequence 10...Ng4 11.Bxg4 Bxd4 12.Bxd4 Qxd4+ 13.Qxd4 Nxd4, when previously 14 Bxc8 has not been remotely threatening. My conclusion; well I still don't think it's anything for White.

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

10 Kb1 is still a relative sideline, although it does get wheeled out from time to time even by strong players. The game Popov - Mamedov is one case in point when after 10...Rb8 we saw 11 Ndb5 a6 12 Na7. I'm sure that I'm not the only one questioning the validity of positioning a knight on a7 and 12...e6!? as opposed to the probably also equalising 12...dxe4 maintains the tension. We have from here seen 13 g4 and 13 exd5 before on the site, and the 13 h4 illustrated below ultimately fairs no better:

Basically one way traffic throughout, with some handy tactics available to Black along the way. From the second player's perspective, definitely a nice game!

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 d5; 12...Bxd4 [B76]

Following 9 0-0-0 d5 10 exd5 Nxd5 11 Nxc6 bxc6 12 Bd4, a familiar sequence to us now is 12...Bxd4 13 Qxd4 Qb6 14 Na4 Qc7 after which 15 Bc4 is common, with 15...Rd8 16 Nc5 very plausible. In Burrows - Felgaer effectively Bc4 was substituted by 16 g2-g4, but for me it certainly isn't an improvement:

Perhaps a bit harsh given the rating differential, but it is impressive the way Black slowly takes over and then ultimately employs a nice tactic to help secure the full point.

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4: Chinese/Soltis Hybrid [B78]

'What the ...?' I hear you say! That's right, the Danish Super GM has brought something new to the table in the form of mixing and matching. Following 9 Bc4 Bd7 10 0-0-0, in Forsberg - Heine-Nielsen Black originally played 10...Rb8 but after 11 h4, just when we might have expected 11...b5 (or the arguably less accurate 11...Na5) of the Chinese Dragon, out comes 11...h5 incorporating the key characteristic of the Soltis:

As followers of the Chinese variation will know, there are some lines (the infamous 2008 Carlsen-Radjabov encounter being one) where Black does deploy the blocker ...h5, but we've never seen it this early before on our site. On the other hand, I can't ever recall a Soltis player parking his queen's rook anywhere but c8 to start with (admittedly because it has commonly gone there before h4 and ...h5 occurs!), but this whole idea brings into play an interesting move order question. Yes, we all know about the 'Anti-Chinese' system of 10 h4, but that wouldn't deter a Chinese/Soltis hybrid player who would happily block that h-pawn immediately with 10...h5 intending ...Rb8 next.

Okay, sorry if I've lost anyone so far, but if you are still with me, then no doubt the next question on your mind is 'that's all very well, but is it any good'? I guess the facts are that there may be a few games in existence (including of the correspondence variety), but it's still too early to say. One view might be if Peter played it then it can't be bad, but the other is that he might have wanted to try something different and less theoretical against a significantly lower-rated opponent. Certainly the opening as played turns out well for White, but ultimately he makes crucial errors in a complicated but very entertaining encounter. Watch this space!

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 and 11...Nxd4 [B78]

Well, by now most of you should be familiar with the position above, most commonly reached via the move order 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 11.Bb3 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.exd5 a5 16.a3 b4. Yes, in Lacasa Diaz- Gonzalez Perez there was no prophylactic 16...Kg8 and instead just like in the early days of this variation, it was straight in with gambiting the pawn. In truth I'm not sure how much can be gleamed theoretically speaking from this encounter, but certainly it is a warning about how things can go horribly wrong for White if he loses control or coordination.

Hope you enjoyed all that. Back soon with the April update!

Best wishes, Chris

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To get in touch with me subscribers can email me at Chris