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So, generally my policy in the past has been to only include blitz games in updates if they feature the cream of World chess who maybe produce better moves at top speed than most can come up with after several minutes of contemplation! However it has become clear that until such a time as life may return to normal, in order to keep track of recent developments, I’m going to have to relax that rule. Yes, the fact is that so much chess is being played online right now and I guess in order to decrease the chances of possible computer assistance, time limits are quicker. Of course, computer assisted encounters on this site would only boost the general quality, but I can certainly understand the point of view of tournament organisers!
Naturally it follows that short time limits may involve games that get decided by blunders but whilst selecting such games may be ultimately unavoidable, I will nevertheless pick encounters that offer some theoretical interest and/or feature mistakes that regular subscribers can learn from. I have got another idea for the future but whatever, I hope I can at least offer some entertainment value and retain the reader’s interest whilst at least scrutinising the opening moves on what after all is an openings site!

Download PGN of May ’20 Dragon Sicilian games

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Accelerated Dragon, Maroczy Bind 5...Nf6 6.Nc3 Nxd4 7 Qxd4 Bg7 8 Be3 0-0 9 Qd2 a5 [B36]

Regards the currently popular line 5...Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd2 a5 I write ‘No wonder this variation is all the rage right now and I have an astonishing statistic for you:

This position was reached 9 times in documented encounters over the last month and despite Black being the lower rated player in 5 of those games, Black scored an incredible 8/9.’

Well, 11.f3 a4 12.Rc1 Qa5 13.Kf2!? was seen again this month in a battle of two strong GMs a Sjugirov, S - Mekhitarian, K where after 13...Be6 14.Nd5 Bxd5 15.Qxa5 Rxa5 16.cxd5 e6! White attempted something different to try to prove an advantage in the form of 17.Bd2:

Following 17...Raa8 clearly White’s idea was 18.Bb4 exd5 19.e5 to take advantage of the pin. However I don’t think that it’s such a great idea because after 19...dxe5! 20.Bxf8 Bxf8 Black does of course have two attractive pawns for the exchange and in 21.a3 b6 22.Rc6 Bc5+ 23.Ke1 Nh5! 24.g3 Ng7! it was Black that had all the fun in the endgame and was ultimately able to keep the white rooks at bay and advance his impressive pawn majority to victory.

Maroczy Bind 5...Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Bg5 0-0 10.Qd2 a5 [B36]

Another cracking stat is that the position after 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Bg5 occurred 3 times (okay maybe not an amazingly sized sample!) in documented encounters this month with Black scoring 100%. I can’t believe I ever thought that the Maroczy Bind was such a tough nut to crack!

Anyway Kobalia, M - Molaei, M saw 9...0-0 10.Qd2 a5 once more reaching a variation that a dear subscriber had requested scrutiny of a couple of years back, when after 11.0-0 a4 12.Bd3 was a little new:

The implication is that White plans on refraining from f2-f3 as explained in the annotation with the light-squared bishop’s vacating of the e-file very useful in certain Nd5 variations. Obviously check the notes out to learn more about that but 12...Qa5 13.Rac1 Be6 14.Bh4?! Rfc8 15.Qe2 Qb4 16.a3 Qb3 17.Nb5 Nh5?! had certainly prompted an exciting middlegame which after 18.Qe3?! Be5! 19.g3 f6 20.Nd4 Bxd4 21.Qxd4 g5 was definitely in Black’s favour.

Sicilian Dragon Levenfish Variation 6.f4 Nc6 7.Bb5 [B71]

After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.f4 Nc6 we have generally focused on the main line of 7 Nxc6 bxc6 8 e5 but for the first time of any note, the game Raja, H - Abarca Gonzalez, N brings us 7.Bb5:

Black’s natural response is 7...Bd7 when after 8.Bxc6 I might have been tempted to recapture with the pawn. In the faster format of the game the young Chilean IM favoured 8...Bxc6 when White stuck to his game plan with 9.e5 dxe5 10.fxe5 Still Black should be absolutely fine after 10...Nd5 11.e6 although following the sequence of inaccuracies 11..f5?! 12.0-0? Bg7?! , it was White who ultimately had the last laugh courtesy of 13.Nxf5!

Accelerated Dragadorf 6.Be3 a6 7.f3 b5 8.Qd2 Bb7 9.0-0-0 Nbd7 10.g4 [B75]

After 6.Be3 a6 7.f3 b5 8.Qd2 Bb7 9.0-0-0 Nbd7 10.g4 we have seen Black look to stop White’s errant g-pawn in its tracks with 10...h6 or allow g4-g5 by vacating the d7 square through 10...Ne5. The same d7-vacation concept was adopted in Stojanas, J - Williams, S by the Ginger GM, who equally had in mind a long term plan of securing a black steed on the tasty c4-square. However there is a problem with 10...Nb6?!:

Specifically that White can exploit Black through the centre as detailed in the game’s notes through 11 Ndxb5! or indeed 11 e5!

Instead he plumped for the automatic 11.Kb1 when 11...Bg7 left Black at no immediate risk. With Black eschewing 11...b4!? perhaps White is still objectively a tad better but 12.g5 Nfd7 13.h4 Ne5 14.h5 Nec4 15.Bxc4 Nxc4 16.Qf2 Rg8 17.hxg6 hxg6 18.Rh7 Qc7 19.Nd5 Bxd5 20.exd5 Qc5 was an exciting tussle until White blundered with 21.Rxg7? Rxg7 22.Ne6 Qxe3 23.Nxg7+ Kd7 and his knight was in a right pickle.

Yugoslav Attack 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Bc4 Nc6 9.Bb3 Bd7 10.h4 h5 11.Qe2 [B76]

One doesn’t usually associate Bc4 variations with the ECO code ‘B76’ but the game Djukic, Ni - Dragomirescu, R basically reminded me of the existence of the rarely used roadmap 8 Bc4. Slowly memories came back on encounters I had had with Swedish GM Johnny Hector but they were nothing like the 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Bc4 Nc6 9.Bb3 Bd7 10.h4 h5 11.Qe2 seen here where I set about trying to explain the purpose behind White parking his queen on e2 rather than the overwhelmingly more popular d2.

Those efforts were essentially pointless here as Black set about refuting his opponent’s choice of queen deployment through 11...Nxe4!? The point of course is that with the white queen on e2 rather than d2, the knight on d4 is insufficiently protected making 12.Nxc6 Nxc3 13.Nxd8 Nxe2 14.Nxf7 Ng3 and now 15.Ne5+ basically a forced sequence. My analysis of this position suggests that 15...Kh7 16 Nxd7 Rfd8 17 Rh3 Nf5 is equal but instead 15...Kh8? 16.Nxd7 Rfd8 17.Rh3 Nf5 occurred, when 18.Bf2 Rxd7 19.c3 left White’s bishop pair dominating the endgame.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Kb1 e5 [B76]

When I first saw that the outcome of Golubev, M - Manukyan, S was Black winning against an experienced Dragon player with a new approach, it most certainly piqued my interest. Unfortunately a closer inspection revealed all was not as it seemed...

So after 9.0-0-0 d5 we know that 10 exd5 is officially the main line but that 10 Qe1 in recent times has had just as much air time with 10.Kb1 the other main alternative. Regards the latter 10...dxe4?? loses to 11 Nxc6 but whilst we originally invested plenty of time analysing the funky 10...Nxd4 11 e5, in more recent times Black has come up with sneaky ideas such as 10...Rb8 and 10...Qd7.

I was always under the impression that now 10...e5 would essentially just lose a pawn:

Yes, does Black really have compensation after 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Nxd5 cxd5 14.Qxd5, that was the question. Well, I think we can all agree that the endgame wouldn’t be great for Black with his opponent being able to mobilise that hefty queenside pawn majority but instead Black bashed out 14...Qc7 15.Qxa8 Bf5 when a simple comparison can be made between this situation and the immediate pawn grab after 9 0-0-0 d5 10 exd5 Nxd5 11 Nxc6 etc. My conclusion is that it definitely doesn’t compare favourably as the Dragon bishop is at least temporarily obstructed. I believe that the queen for rooks scenario should here be good for White but 16.Qd5! looking to keep all the material is perfectly sound. Play continued 16... Qxc2+ 17.Ka1 e4 18.Qb3! Bxb2+ 19.Qxb2 Qxd1+ 20.Qc1 Qd6 21.Bc4 when White had everything under control and the end of the game is a bit of a mystery!

Okay everyone stay home, alert, safe or whatever. Basically take care and I’ll see you soon! Chris

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