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Hi guys,
Jeepers Creepers, what is going on? A viewing of this month’s Dragon games around the World reveals Classical upon Classical and Fianchetto system upon Fianchetto system encounters. Sadly, I have felt compelled to reflect that in this May 2017 update but I can’t see myself doing that too often! I’m only hoping that you don’t all start getting Yugoslav Attack withdrawal symptoms!

Download PGN of May ’17 Dragon Sicilian games

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Fianchetto System 6 g3 Nc6 7 Bg2 Nxd4 8 Qxd4 Bg7 9 e5 [B70]

So, yes, we’re talking the fianchetto system of 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.g3 which I couldn’t really ignore in this update given the volume of outings that it has seen. Also after 7...Nc6 7.Bg2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7, I can’t deny that 9.e5 caught my eye!

It might not have done if it was a lower rated player deploying it but in fact Onischuk, V - Pijpers, A was the game in question. Of course a visit to the archives revealed that we have seen this thrust before on ChessPublishing and by the same strong White player. However, that saw 9...dxe5?! 10 Qxd8+ Kxd8 11 Be3!? in what turned out to be an unpleasant blitz game for Peter Heine-Nielsen. This, though, was a slow play game suggesting that GM Onischuk considers the idea to be more than just a bag of tricks!

After 9...Nd7 10.Qa4 0-0 11.exd6 Nb6 12.Qh4 exd6 13.Bg5 Re8+ 14.Ne4 f6 15.Be3 f5 16.Qxd8 Rxd8 17.Nc3 Be6 18.0-0-0,positionally Black is forced to mix things up with 18...Bxc3 19.bxc3 Bxa2 when you would consider that 20.Bxb7 Rab8 21.Ba6 Rd7 22.h4 Bc4 23.Bxb6 Bxa6 24.Be3 should be a draw. However, opposite coloured bishop endgames aren’t always drawn and certainly with rooks on, Black here comes up short in the department of proving it to be so.

Fianchetto System 6 g3 Nc6 7 Nde2 Bg7 8 Bg2 0-0 9 0-0 Bd7 [B70]

The move order in Rzayev, B - Beradze, I, specifically 6.g3 Bg7 7.Bg2 0-0 8.0-0 Nc6, is discussed before, when 9.Nde2 brings us to a standard main line. However, rather than 9...Rb8 and a typical ...b5 plan, we see Black deploy 9...Bd7 10.h3 Qc8 11.Kh2 and then 11...Rd8!?:

We have seen quite a bit of the set-up with the queen on c8 and bishop on d7 in the past although more often it is aimed at preventing h2-h3 or at least stopping White from castling after h2-h3 has been deployed. Typically there Black may have prioritised these two moves in favour of ...Bg7 and ...0-0 with the aggressive thrust ...h5 occasionally thrown into the mix too. When I first saw this and ...Rd8 it looked a bit weird although now it has somewhat grown on me! Regards the rook move, sure Black would love to get in ...d6-d5 but a ‘hedgehog style’ ...Be8 and ...e6 is possible now. Moreover White now has a big chance to go wrong and indeed he (an International Master) does through the not unnatural sequence 12.Be3 Ne5 13.b3? unfortunately allowing 13...Nfg4+! 14.hxg4 Nxg4+ 15.Kh1 Nxe3 16.fxe3 Bxc3 17.Nxc3 Qxc3 after which Black was in full control and demonstrated great technique through to the end.

Classical Dragon 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 Nc6 9.Nb3 a6 10.Bf1 [B70]

Aside from the fact that it featured two very strong players, I can’t deny that I was attracted to the game Fedorchuk, S - Cvitan, O because of the way it ended. It certainly was an entertaining game if theoretically speaking a bit baffling with after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 Nc6 9.Nb3 a6 10.Bf1 my struggling to explain 10...Re8:

Deep prophylaxis perhaps but after 11.Nd5 Nd7 12.c3 b6 13.Bg5 h6 14.Bh4 Bb7 15.Qd2 b5?! 16.a4! bxa4 17.Rxa4 g5 18.Bg3 e6 19.Ne3 Nb6 20.Raa1, with obvious weak points to target, clearly White was on top. However it’s probably not unfair to say that amongst 20...Ne5 21.f3 Qc7 22.Na5 Bc8 23.Red1 Bf8 24.b4 Bd7 25.c4 Red8 White passed up some good opportunities to put his opponent under serious pressure, instead dilly dallying through 26.Kh1 Be8 27.Qe1 Nbd7 28.Ra2 Ng6 29.Ng4?! h5 30.Ne3 h4 and encouraging Black to achieve a kingside initiative. The decline of White’s position though is something to behold although I don’t think all can be attributed to 10...Re8 !

Classical Dragon 6 Be2 Bg7 7 0-0 0-0 8 Be3 Nc6 9 Qd2 Bd7 [B73]

After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Be3 Nc6 9.Qd2 although Gawain has done well with 9...d5, given there are forcing variations with lots of pieces being liquidated there, I also enjoy seeing strong players avoid that ‘equaliser’. One such example is this month’s Jansa, Vl- Navara, D where Black keeps things on the boil with 9...Bd7 Then there are comparisons to be made with the other option 9...Ng4 when White responds with 10.Rfd1 and 10...Ng4!? hits the board with the king’s rook on d1 rather than f1:

Essentially the strong Czech GM was taking a leaf out of Ivanchuk’s book, and through 11.Bxg4 Bxg4 12.f3 Be6 13.Nd5 Rc8 14.Rac1 b5!? 15.Nxc6 Rxc6 16.Bxa7?! Bxb2 17.Rb1 Bxd5 18.exd5 Ra6 19.Rxb2 Rxa7 he was no doubt glad to ground down his opponent in a favourable endgame.

Dragadorf 6 Be3 Bg7 7 f3 a6 8 Qd2 h5 [B75]

The Dragadorf variation 5...g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 a6 8.Qd2 h5 can no longer be called a side-line given that it now has well over 200 practical outings! Clearly aimed at preventing the likes of g2-g4 and Bh6, whilst tabling the option of ...h4, previously we have seen 9.Nd5!? attempting to refute it and in Rantanen, Y- Khalifman, A we do so again!

White’s idea is to erect a Maroczy bind through c2-c4 and such a controlled approach is always likely to frustrate a higher rated opponent desperate for a win. The Russian GM though sticks to his guns and rather than playing around the edges, heads straight for the thematic break through 9...Nbd7 10.c4 0-0 11.Be2 e6 12.Nxf6+ Bxf6 13.Rd1 d5.

It is a logical concept as although Black may rather have his h-pawn back at home, White had invested time on his knight just to end up swapping it off.

Various possibilities are investigated in the annotation but through 14.cxd5 exd5 15.exd5 Re8 16.0-0 Nb6 17.Nc2 Bf5 18.Bd3 Nxd5 19.Bxf5 Nxe3 20.Nxe3 Qxd2 21.Rxd2 Rxe3 we had seen a liquidation that was headed for a draw.

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 d5 10 Qe1 e5 [B76]

In Bakhmatsky, V - Golubev, M we’ve saved the best til last in a very entertaining encounter in a currently popular variation. After 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 d5 we are talking 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 and the trendy 14.Kb1 Rb8 15.Ne4. Here, though, rather than the tricky 15...Rb8 16 Bxa7!? Line first brought to our attention on the forum, Black settled for 15...Qc7 but after 16.Bc5 Rfd8 17.g4 h6 18.Bb3 a5 19.h4 we were on the verge of fireworks in the form of 19...a4 20.Bxa4 f5 21.Nf2 Rxb2+!?:

What a shock! Don’t believe it? Well check out the game and you just might!

With so much bad happening in the World, obviously no real comparison but it is nice when we see the emergence of something good and finally (it’s been a long time coming!) English chess have something promising in the form of the just turned 8 (yet ECF shortlisted for player of the year) Shreyas Royal. However chess politics being as it is where we are, funds are trying to be raised to send him to the World and European U-8 Championships and should you feel so inclined then a little donation to ‘’ would be gratefully accepted. I wouldn’t even have mentioned it and it’s certainly not compulsory but he’s the most talented youngster I’ve ever seen and with the Dragon in his armoury (whoever could have helped put that idea into his mind?), if he gets to go and fulfils his promise, then this could be the start of something special for our beloved opening!

That’s all for now guys but I’ll be back before you know it.

Best wishes, Chris

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