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Hi guys (and gals)!
Looking at this month's update, I realise now that I may appear to be '6 g3' bashing as I progress from the February 2014 update of starting with one White Fianchetto system loss, to this March 2014 update and TWO such losses. It has become clear to me that I have a definite bias against that White system which is perhaps unwarranted given that it seems to be a popular alternative to the Yugoslav Attack right now. Obviously White players are employing it for a reason, but I'm afraid that I still don't get it, this month featuring two totally different Black approaches that prove successful. Indeed that is where we start the annotations and ... well, see for yourself!

Download PGN of March '14 Dragon Sicilian games

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Dragon 6 g3 [B70]

Regards the diagram below and the comparison with the game that kicked off our last update, it is definitely a case of 'here we go again' as Black thrusts his h-pawn down the board:

After 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.g3 Nc6 7.Nde2 h5, with ...h4 threatened White is obliged to play 8.h3 when 8...Bd7 9.Bg2 Qc8 prevents White from castling. In Van Eijk-Smerdon White deviates from last month's 10 b3 with 10.Bg5 but after 10...Bg7 11.Rc1 Ne5 12.b3, Black still manages to get a sacrifice in the form of 12...h4!?. It shouldn't prove devastating, but it is a sound offering and inaccurate defence sees White despatched rather quickly.

The encounter Firman - Svane is another Fianchetto system between two strong players but this time instead of the early h-file excitement, we see a return to the more solid approach by Black. Although I have always considered 6...Nc6 to be the most accurate move order (to bypass any Nxc6 and e4-e5 ideas), I am happy to let that slip (having said a lot on it in the past) and with regards 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.g3 Bg7 7.Bg2 0-0 8.0-0 Nc6 9.Nde2 Rb8, the simple plan of queenside expansion (whilst vacating the rook from the g2-a8 diagonal) has always seemed very satisfactory. New though after 10.a4 a6 11.Nd5 b5 12.axb5 axb5 13.Bg5 is 13...Ng4!? as illustrated below:

This seemingly looked to take advantage of the fact that White had omitted to play the common early h2-h3 and the black knights certainly ended up running amok in this game.

Dragadorf [B72]

I'm going with 'Dragadorf' for now but the opening in Ninov - Sorkin may wind up needing a new name! Yes after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 a6 7.f3, Black delayed ...Bg7 but unlike in the Accelerated variant, didn't play ...b5 either. Nevertheless, the selected 7...Nbd7 8.Qd2 h5 illustrated below, arguably has merits without creating weaknesses:

Perhaps we may investigate in more detail other White choices in the future as the 9 a4 selected here wasn't too challenging.

Yugoslav Attack 9 g4 Be6 10 Nxe6 [B76]

As White has relatively less to learn in the Yugoslav Attack 9.g4 variation (when compared to 9 0-0-0 and 9 Bc4), it continues to make appearances with 9...Be6 10.Nxe6 fxe6 still a topical line. It doesn't seem to be too threatening, though, and certainly the 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Be2 Qc8 13.Bh6 Bxh6 14.Qxh6 Qc5:

15.Rhf1 Rab8 16.Nb5 Nc6 17.Qd2 a6 18.Nd4 Nxd4 19.Qxd4 Qxd4 20.Rxd4 e5 had all looked rather tame in Smirin - Antipov. Black was more than fine here and had a promising deviation earlier too.

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 d5 Pawn Grab [B76]

Following 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6, still 12 Bd4 is the main line but Black players need to be aware of how to generate play after the pawn grab line 12.Nxd5 cxd5 13.Qxd5. Of course we have spent quite a bit of time on 13...Qc7 14.Qc5 Qb7 in the past but Ninov - Geller is the first time that we have featured 15.Bd4(?!) in a main game before:

Remarkably, according to 'Megabase 2014', it is the second most popular 15th move for White but Black's results have been rather good and after 15...Bf5 16.Bd3 Rfc8 17.Qa3 Bxd4 18.Bxf5, Black looks for more than a draw with 18...Rc3!? here, and well deserves the full point he eventually gets.

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 d5 New Main Line [B76]

Following 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6, I commented that 12.Bd4 is still the top move but now I am going to go so far as to say that 12...Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 has taken over from the once mandatory 12...e5 as the new main line variation. Our very own Gawain Jones has already had plenty experience in the 14.Na4 Qc7 variation and why should he stop if Korneev - Jones is anything to go by? Yep, 15.Bc4 Rd8 16.Nc5:

16...Bf5 17.Bb3 Nf4 18.Qf2 Rxd1+ 19.Rxd1 Rd8 20.Rxd8+ Qxd8 21.g3 was how the game went, when 21...Qd4!? led to an endgame in which Black might have considered he had winning chances, but for it to go as smoothly as it did must have come as a very pleasant surprise. That's right, our analysis is so deep these days here that we have now begun to scrutinise resulting minor piece endgames!

A pretty good month for Black then but sadly that's all for now. Don't worry though, I'll be back real soon!

Best wishes, Chris

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