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Hi everyone!
Not too much fire breathing yet but Summer is here and things are hotting up in the Dragon! Wins, draws, losses, familiar variations and new positions! What more could you ask for?
Time to investigate...

Download PGN of May ’18 Dragon Sicilian games

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Classical Dragon 6.Nb3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.0-0 d6 9.Re1Be6 10 Nd5 Rc8 11 Bf1 [B70]

Regards 6.Nb3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.0-0 d6 9.Re1, the last time we saw this position on the site was when I was Black against Richard Pert and decided to provoke a weakness in White’s position with 9...Bg4 10 f3 before offering the bishop trade through 10...Be6. That exchange did take place when I was content that my control over the d5-square and half-open f-file compensated me for the weakness on e6.

In Iuldachev, S - Vokhidov, S though Black made the offer immediately with 9...Be6 but that was rejected by 10.Nd5 when 10...Rc8 saw this hybrid 6 Bc4/Classical realign to more standard channels through 11.Bf1. White’s aim is to provoke Black into taking on d5 in order to generate that e-file pressure after exd5 but in 11...Ne5 12.c3 Ned7 Black had come up with a very interesting manoeuvre to instead force White to trade knights on f6. His reluctance to do so saw him face the consequences with 13.Bg5 Bxd5 14.exd5 Nb6 highlighting Black’s plan. White can’t save his d-pawn without conceding his dark-squared bishop and 15.Be2 Nfxd5 16.Bf3 h6 17.Bh4 Bf6 18.Bxd5 Bxh4 19.Bxb7 Rc7 20.Bf3 Bf6 left Black on top with those centre pawns.

Yugoslav Attack 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 Bd7 9.g4 [B75]

I always find it a little amusing when White starts off in Réti mode with 1.Nf3 but then before you know it 1...c5 2.e4 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 becomes a Yugoslav Attack!

Efimenko, Z - Racherbaeumer, M though wasn’t destined to be a main line as with 8...Bd7 Black was opting for a side-line delaying castles system with 9.g4 h6?! becoming even more offbeat!

Relatively rare, the text sort of dissuades g4-g5 and prevents a future bishop trade through Bh6. However that's not possible anyway with the situation around d4 and c6 unresolved and so basically I'm clutching at straws for good explanations! The game continued 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.h4 Ne5 12.Kb1 b5 when White could have accepted White’s offering but 13.Be2 b4 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.exd5 Nc4?! 16.Bxc4 Rxc4 17.Rhe1 kept things simple and 17...Bf6 18.b3 Rc3 19.g5 hxg5 20.Bxg5 soon saw a delightfully cute finish.

Yugoslav Attack 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qe2 [B75]

Take a quick look at the 5...g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qe2 Nc6 9 0-0-0 of Tomczak, J - Mista, A and you could be forgiven for thinking that your eyes are deceiving you!

Yes, deployed by a strong Polish GM, that white queen really is on e2 rather than d2 and ‘what exactly’, I hear you ask, ‘is it doing there’? Well, comparing the standard responses in the 9 0-0-0 Yugoslav Attack, I do speculate about 9...d5 10 Nb3 but the response of 9...Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1 Qa5 is certainly logical with the black queen not having had to have stopped off on c7 en route to this active post so as to avoid Nd5 tricks. It would seem that one of White’s big ideas is 12.Qb5 with the argument that 12...Qxb5 13.Nxb5 might leave him with a slight plus in the endgame. I argue to the contrary although justifying his idea, certainly 13...Bd7 14.Nc7 Rac8 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.exd5 Bxd4 17.Rxd4 Rc5 18.Bd3 Rfc8 19.Re1 Kf8 20.g4 a5 21.a3 b5 22.b3 Rb8 23.Kb2 Rb6 24.b4 axb4 25.axb4 Rc7 26.g5 e5?! 27.Rh4! Kg7 28.f4! exf4 29.Rxf4 was rather uncomfortable for Black. Yes, Black missed his chances to equalise, was duly punished and watch this space for any further advocates on the back of this handy result!

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 Be6 10 Nxe6 fxe6 11 Bc4 [B76]

I have to say that I was very impressed with White’s play in Vasiesiu, V - Horvat, D, in a line that has previously gone uncovered on the site. We are talking 5...g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 when rather than trade knights first, Black deployed 9...Be6 immediately. This leaves Black with more options after 10 Kb1 than simply transposing back to the main line (i.e. through 10...Nxd4 11 Bxd4 Be6) but of course allows 10.Nxe6 which White duly played. Following 10...fxe6, Black has control over the d5-square and a handy half-open f-file but has a more fragile shield around his king with an obvious target on e6. Regards that, previously we have seen White scrutinise it via 11 g3 and Bh3 but here White got straight to the point with 11.Bc4:

Then followed the very reasonable sequence 11...Qc8 12.Bb3 Na5 13.h4 Nc4 with White then preferring to concede his dark-squared rather than light-squared bishop through 14.Qd3. So 14...Nxe3 15.Qxe3 hit the board when were the black e6-pawn back on f7 he would be laughing. Instead it remained a problem and through 15...Nh5 16.Ne2 Be5 17.Kb1 Kh8 18.g3! Bxg3 19.Nxg3 Nxg3 20.Rhg1 Nh5 21.Rxg6 Nf4 winning the battle over the f4-square wasn’t worth the grief that came with 22.Rg4 e5 23.Rdg1 e6 24.Rg7 A tremendous initiative and as you’ll see, a delightful end to the game too!

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Kb1 Rb8 15.Ne4 Qc7 16.Bc5 Rfd8 [B76]

If Yeritsyan, A - Smirnov, A is anything to go by then the talented Nakamura has set a trend in the popular 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Kb1 Rb8 15.Ne4 variation:

Indeed Black followed Hikaru’s lead with 15...Qc7 (i.e. staying away from the 15...f5 16 Bxa7!? bedlam that we investigated for so long) 16.Bc5 Rfd8 17.g4 h6 18.h4 f5 19.gxf5 gxf5 20.Ng3 Qf7 21.Bb3 Kh7 when only then did things start to deviate from Naka’s experiences. White tried 22.Rg1 Rd7 23.Ne2 Rbd8 24.Qf2 when 24...a5 25.c3 Nc7 26.Rxd7 Rxd7 27.f4?! only offered Black the chance to be on top. As it happened 27...Bxb3 28.axb3 Ne6 29.fxe5 Bxe5 30.Qe3 Nxc5 31.Qxc5 Qd5 32.Qxd5 cxd5 had merely lead to an equal endgame maintaining Black’s very acceptable score with this system.

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 Bd7 10 Bb3 Rc8 11 g4 a5 [B78]

Although I do understand why theory buffs like to keep up with the state of play in trendy variations, I have to confess that when the opportunity arises, I do like to look at new positions. For me that definitely includes the 5...Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 d6 9.f3 Bd7 10.Qd2 Rc8 11.g4 a5 of Eric, J - Cvitan, O:

Basically via an Accelerated Dragon move order this had started become a 9 Bc4 Yugoslav Attack specifically 10 Bc4 variation. Then rather than respond with the reliable 10...Nxd4 11 Bxd4 b5 system, Black looked to heading for a more main line until both sides chipped in with rare moves (first White with 11 g4 rather than 11 h4 or 11 0-0-0 and then Black with 11...a5 reaching the above position).

Then White was wise not to allow Black’s a-pawn to advance further with 12.a4 Nxd4 13.Bxd4 Be6 another fascinating concept. I’d have to say that 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.exd5 Bd7 offered about equal chances and Black opted to deal with 17.h4 and White’s kingside attack with 17...f6 18.h5 g5 to keep the h- and g-files closed. My notes suggest that wasn’t objectively the correct course of action but nevertheless after 19.h6+ Kh8 20.Kf2 Qb6+ 21.Kg3 Rf7 22.Rae1 Rcf8 23.Re4 f5 Black was on the way to turning the tables confirmed after 24.Qc3+ Kg8 25.gxf5 Bxf5 26.Re3 Rc8 27.Qd2 Bxc2 28.Rhe1?! Bg6 29.Rc3 Rxc3 30.Qxc3 Qd8!.

Take care everybody and see you soon! Chris

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