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With no Maroczy Binds or a White short castles in sight, it’s full steam ahead in the Yugoslav Attack, but with some running out of steam! Frying pans and fire; yep this month in the Dragon it’s all hot stuff!

Download PGN of March ’21 Dragon Sicilian games

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Classical Dragon 6.Bg5 Bg7 7 Qd3 Nc6 8 0-0-0 [B70]

After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.Bg5 Bg7 the game Galperin, P - Mamedov, R brings us our first ever game on the site featuring 7.Qd3 or for that matter 7...Nc6 8.0-0-0 appearing on the board:

The game annotations shed a little more light on how a similar White idea is deployed against the Najdorf but despite being played here by this young Ukrainian IM, I certainly can’t see it taking off. Although the long castles Classical line remains fashionable, in that instance there is a bishop supporting the d4-knight leaving White less susceptible to ...Nxe4 tactics. Were for example the white queen on her more natural post d2 here, then ...Nxe4 most certainly enters the equation whilst even here 8...Ng4!? is tempting.

Instead the game continued 8...Bd7 9.Be2 0-0 10.f4 Rc8 11.Nxc6 Bxc6 12.h4 Qa5 13.h5 when after 13...Nxe4 14.Nxe4 Qxa2 15.Nc3 Qa1+ 16.Kd2 Qxb2 17.hxg6 hxg6 18.Bh6 Bxc3+ 19.Qxc3 Qxc3+ 20.Kxc3 Bxg2+ 21.Kd2 Bxh1 22.Bxf8 Kxf8 23.Rxh1 Kg7 we had reached a fun (for Black!) endgame with 4 pawns for a bishop.

Yugoslav Attack 9.g4 Be6 10.h4 h5 [B76]

It was always going to be difficult for me to ignore a Dragon encounter between the World Champion and a rising star of the chess world but actually Carlsen, M - Firouzja, A won’t exactly be up for 'spectacle of the year' award and seemingly fell very short in the theory department too.

In fact right from the very off 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.Nf3 g6 4.d4 cxd4 had seen Black tricked by a move order that as I explained even way back in my first ‘Winning With The Dragon’ manuscript could been punished by 5 Qxd4!. Seemingly both players were blissfully unaware of that though with 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.f3 Bg7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.g4 Be6 a familiar line on this site. Generally we understand that after 10.h4 Black should react to this wing play through action in the centre with 10...d5! but instead it was 10...h5?! that hit the board:

Through 11.Nxe6 fxe6 12.gxh5?! Nxh5 13.0-0-0 Qa5! 14.Rg1 Kh7? it appears that there were several inaccuracies but personally most difficult for me to swallow is that after 15.f4 Bxc3 White rejected keeping the queens on in favour of 16.Qxc3? Qxc3 17.bxc3 and what should have been a clearly inferior endgame after 17...Nxf4. However there was still more bemusement as that obvious capture didn’t feature and instead 17...e5?1 18.f5 gxf5 19.exf5 Rg8 20.Rg5 Nf6? 21.Bc4 Rxg5 22.hxg5 Ng4 23.Rh1+ Kg7 24.Bd2 saw the tables totally turned and White competently convert.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 Bxh6 12.Qxh6 Qb6 13.h4 Rb8 14.b3 Qa5 [B76]

The game Rasulov, V - Golubev, M definitely constitutes some good news for Black in the still trendy 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 variation whilst reminding us all about the dangers of trying to learn theory parrot fashion. Still the most common line in practice is 11...Bxh6 12.Qxh6 Qb6 where White opted against the more standard 13 e5 Nd7 14 h4 in favour of the also well analysed on this site 13.h4 Rb8 14.b3. Previously here we have investigated 14...Qc5 and 14...Qb4 but the experienced Dragon exponent Ukrainian GM brought something new to the party in the form of 14...Qa5!?:

Regards 15.Kb2 dxe4 you will see that I have done a little work on the possibility of 16 Qg5, comparing it to the analogous variation with the black queen on c5 but that proved to be even more of a significant difference with 16.h5? as after 16...g5! 17.f4 Ng4 there was no longer the option of 18 Ne4 as there is no queen on c5 to hit! Hence 18.Qxg5+ Qxg5 19.fxg5 Nf2 and the loss of significant material.

Yugoslav 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Nxc3 13.Qxc3 Bh6+ 14.Be3 Bxe3+ 15.Qxe3 Qb6 16.Re1 [B76]

Following 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 the whole 12...Nxc3 13.Qxc3 Bh6+ 14.Be3 Bxe3+ 15.Qxe3 Qb6 system has basically waned in popularity, quite possibly because Black has to work quite hard for the draw after 16 Qxe7 Be6 17 Qa3 with generally little prospect of victory. Whilst I had in contrast touched on 16 Qxb6 offering White nothing, it occurred to me on seeing the recent Aravindh, Chithambaram VR - Obregon Rivero, J that it had been remiss of me not to mention on the site the possibility of 16.Re1:

After 16...Be6 17.h4 White's idea is revealed. He plans on continuing with a kingside attack until such a point as Black swaps queens after which he will have a structural advantage instead to work with. In the annotation I’ve taken a look at various practical encounters with this approach but it’s fair to say that none of them worked the treat that 17...Rfd8 18.h5 Rd5? 19.hxg6 Qxe3+ 20.Rxe3 hxg6 21.Bc4 Rd6 22.Bxe6 Rxe6 23.Rxe6 fxe6 did!

Yugoslav 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 Qc7 15.Bc5 Rfd8 16.h4 h6 17.g4 f5 18.gxf5 gxf5 19.Ng3 Qf7 20.Rg1 [B76]

Admittedly another blitz game but with a Super GM against an experienced Dragon exponent GM in an entertaining encounter in a topical variation and I simply couldn’t ignore Pichot, A - Golubev, M.

Okay, so we are talking the highly theoretical 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 Qc7 15.Bc5 Rfd8 variation where after 16.h4 h6 17.g4 Black preferred 17...f5 over 17...Nf4 and then after 18.gxf5 gxf5 19.Ng3 Qf7 White deviated from the queenside probing 20 Qa5 in favour of 20.Rg1:

The black king was logically vacated from the open g-file via 20....Kh7 when after 21.Bb3 a5 22.a4?! Nf4! 23.Bxe6 Nxe6 it certainly appears that the initiative was with Black. As it happens White gave his opponent a big helping hand through 24.Qe3? when after 24...f4 25.Qe4+ Kh8 26.Qf5 Rxd1+ 27.Rxd1 Qxf5 28.Nxf5 Nxc5 29.Rg1 actually the fun was just beginning!

Yugoslav 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Ne5 11.Bb3 Rc8 12.Kb1 Nc4 13.Bxc4 Rxc4 14.g4 b5 15.b3 b4 16.bxc4 bxc3 17.Qxc3 Qc7 18.Ka1 [B78]

The entertaining game Shirov, A - Bujisho, B so nearly saw an impressive scalp by a significantly lower rated player deploying the Dragon.

It was in the fun line 5...g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Ne5 11.Bb3 Rc8 12.Kb1 Nc4 13.Bxc4 Rxc4 14.g4 b5 15.b3 b4 16.bxc4 bxc3 17.Qxc3 Qc7 where rather than forcing the black knight to commit, the white king was immediately vacated from the b-file through 18.Ka1:

Given that it has transferred on to the Dragon bishop diagonal it could be argued as a case of ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’ and indeed after 18...Rc8 19.Rb1?! d5!? 20.g5 the black steed was merely being moved on to sunnier climes. Yes. 20...Ne8 21.exd5 Nd6! was starting to see Black’s position cook and following 22.Rb3 Nxc4 23.Bf2 Qf4 24.Qd3 Bf5 25.Qd1 Nb6 26.c3 Nxd5 27.Nxf5 Nxc3 it’s a miracle (and some significant help from the opponent!) how the Latvian long time Superstar of the chess World managed to not only escape from the jaws of defeat, but actually wind up victorious!

Best wishes everyone! Chris

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