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No Spring cleaning required as it’s full steam ahead for the Dragon with Hikaru Nakamura continuing to lead the way!
Yugoslav Attacks a plenty, theoretical novelties and a couple of cracking top level blitz games. I’m thinking of renaming the site ‘The fast and the furious’!
Well, what are you waiting for...

Download PGN of March ’18 Dragon Sicilian games

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Fianchetto System 6.g3 Nc6 7.Bg2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.0-0 0-0 10.Qb4 [B70]

Not a thrilling start to the update I’m afraid as I feel obliged to keep tabs on this quiet system. Specifically here we are talking 6.g3 Nc6 7.Bg2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.0-0 0-0 10.Qb4 when in Wang Hao - Le Tuan Minh Black deviated from our previous offerings (including the likes of Kasparov-Ward!) with 10...Qc7:

This flexible alternative to the immediately challenging 10...a5 looks very reasonable and although with 11.Re1 White was seemingly dreaming of the usual e-file action that might come as a result of Nd5, with pressure against c2 after 11...a5 12.Qb5 Bd7 13.Qe2 Bg4 14.Qb5 Bd7 15.Qe2 Bg4 16.Qd3 Be6 17.a4 Rfc8 that never looked likely to come to fruition. Clearly White had felt compelled to avoid a repetition in the opening but the reality is that for most of the game it looks as though he was worse with 18.e5 dxe5 19.Qb5 Ne8 20.Qxb7 Rab8 21.Qxc7 Rxc7 leaving Black more than fine.

In fact Black missed a big opportunity in the endgame to get the full point in an annotation that includes a reference to a Carlsen-Nakamura blitz game that emphasises that the talented American is clearly a full time Dragon convert! That was a more aggressive non Yugoslav Attack variation but time to move on to the real thing...

Yugoslav Attack 9.g4 Be6 10.Nxe6 fxe6 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Be2 Qc8 13.h4 Nfd7 14.f4 Nc4 15.Bxc4 Qxc4 16.e5 [B76]

The game Sattarov, B - Seliverstov , Vl saw us reach a familiar position after 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.g4 Be6 10.Nxe6 (yes there continues to be a regular flow of tussles in this variation) 10...fxe6 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Be2 Qc8 13.h4 Nfd7 14.f4 Nc4 15.Bxc4 Qxc4 16.e5:

Now if more of these guys were subscribers to ChessPublishing then they (hopefully!) wouldn’t have such opening disasters but 16...Nb6?! (previously written off here with 16...Rad8 installed as a ‘must’) 17.Qh2 (17 h5! with a big initiative is our recommendation for accuracy!) suggests that they weren’t. Actually, here Black had the chance to make amends with 17...h6! (looking to meet 18 g5 with 18...h5 and 18 h5 with 18...g5!) but 17...dxe5?! allowed White the chance to return to the 17 h5! possibility with 18.h5! when 18...exf4 19.hxg6 h6 20.Bd4 soon lead to a very cute finish well worth checking out!

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 Bxh6 12.Qxh6 Qb6 13.e5 Nd7 14.h4 [B76]

The next two games of the update only reiterate why I have no qualms about featuring blitz games when the involve the elite players of this World.

After 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 Bxh6 12.Qxh6 Qb6 13.e5 Nd7 14.h4 even way back in my ‘Winning With The Dragon 1’ book I stressed the importance of the variation 14...Nxe5 15 h5 Bf5 16 g4 f6! intending 17 gxf5 g5! with ...Nf7 available to trap the white queen:

However, whilst anyone could easily make the casual error 14...Rb8? as did Black in Nepomniachtchi, I - Mamedov, Rau you probably wouldn’t expect it to be punished as ruthlessly as did the talented Russian through 15.Na4! Qb4 16.h5! g5 17.Bd3! f5 18.Qxg5+ Kh8 19.Rh4! The game was practically over already with such accurate White moves deployed at lightning pace.

So, of course that was with the (alternative to the 10 exd5 main line) relatively rare 10 Nxc6. Up next are 10 Qe1 and 10 Kb1 but for some reason (occasionally these things happen as my mind goes off on a tangent) I got to thinking about the very rare 10 Bh6. Speculated about here, certainly it would appear possible although possibly not great!

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Kb1 Rb8 [B76]

We’ve just had mention of Hikaru playing the Dragon against Magnus and Anand, V - Nakamura, Hi suggests that it might be more than just a phase. Certainly the talented American looks very comfortable playing the opening and his results so far with it are excellent, often defeating lower rated players and rarely under pressure against the World’s elite.

Specifically, here after 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Kb1 Rb8 (repeating this line is an indication of how he believes in its soundness) 15.Ne4 Qc7 16.Bc5 Rfd8 17.g4 h6 18.Bb3 a5, the ex-World Champion deployed the novelty 19.Rg1:

This was clearly aimed at dissuading ...f5 but rather than try to force the issue with ...Ra8 planning ...a4, Hikaru stayed calm with 19...Rd7 20.h4 Rbd8 challenging his illustrious opponent to make progress. White essentially failed to rise to the challenge and after 21.a4, Black strove to highlight that a4-pawn as a weakness with 21...Nf4 22.Rxd7 Rxd7 23.Bxe6 Nxe6 24.Be3 c5! 25.g5 h5 26.Qe2 c4 27.Rd1 Nd4 suddenly leaving Black with the initiative and White having to play accurately to draw.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Kb1 Rb8 11.Ndb5 a6 12.Na7 [B76]

Regarding 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Kb1 Rb8 11.Ndb5 a6 12.Na7, the first thing I observe is that however many times I see this position it always looks weird!

Black bolstered his centre with 12...e6 and in discussing White’s options here I have promised to investigate 13 Qf2!? in the future. Here and now, though, in Cukrowski, F - Mista, A White chose to saddle his opponent with an isolated pawn via 13.exd5 Nxd5 14.Nxd5 exd5 15.Nxc8 Qf6 16.Ne7+ Qxe7 and then seek trades via 17.Bh6 Rfe8 18.Bxg7 Kxg7 Then in 19.g3 Rbd8 20.f4 Qc5 21.Bg2 I feel that White over-estimated his chances based on structural superiority and the potential bishop for knight endgame advantage. Black, though, set about using weaknesses as strengths first through 21...d4 22.Rhe1 Re3 and then after 23.Bxc6 Rxe1 24.Qxe1 bxc6 25.Qd2 Qd6 26.Re1 c5 27.Qd3 with 27...a5 28.b3 a4. Maybe not even Black could have dreamed how well this would turn out though and with apologies to Mr Cukrowski, I for one won’t be losing any sleep over White soon getting mated!

Yugoslav Attack Chinese Variation 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rb8 11.Bb3 Na5 12.h4 b5 13.Kb1 Nc4 14.Bxc4 bxc4 15.g4 [B78]

We end on a real high with Brkic, A - Djukic, Ni , an encounter that provides both theoretical development and cracking tactics. We are talking the Chinese variation (where you will note that good old Hikaru also pops up!) of 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rb8 11.Bb3 Na5 12.h4 b5 13.Kb1 Nc4 14.Bxc4 bxc4 where White abandons the old Ka1 manoeuvre facilitating the defensive Ra1 instead preferring to progress his own kingside attack through 15.g4:

Then, after 15...Qb6 16.b3 cxb3 17.cxb3 Black engages in a spot of jiggery pokery through 17...Qb7 (note 17...Qb4? runs into 18 g5! Nh5 19 Nd5) 18.h5 and only now 18...Qb4. It’s fascinating stuff but note that 19.h6 Rfc8 20.Nde2 Bh8 21.g5? Be6! had worked perfectly. With nothing else available White felt obliged to accept the offered material but 22.gxf6 Bxb3 23.axb3 Qxb3+ 24.Ka1 Bxf6 was already curtains!

Hope you are all well everybody! Best wishes, Chris

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