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Hi everyone,
A slightly odd month in that half of the main games in this update were played at the World Blitz Championship. Although I have been known to include such short time limit encounters in the past, I have been reluctant to do so as there is always going to be the argument that with so little time to play with, accuracy is obviously going to be affected. Indeed no doubt practical play may dominate with nobody wanting to invest too much time to find the 'best' move. Nevertheless the games of this type that I have selected involve top quality players and are certainly of interest. Even if the top players may not ultimately find variations sound, they are certainly lines that club players could come across or choose to utilise. The simple truth is that I found them to be good, instructive encounters and I hope you will too!

Download PGN of November '15 Dragon Sicilian games

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Dragon 6 g3 [B70]

The move order 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.Nge2 g6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.g3 of course reaches a standard Dragon fianchetto (or 6 g3) system where as I junior I pretty much gleamed the advice from texts that this (alongside the Levenfish variation) is a case where the queen's knight should come out before the Dragon bishop. However, in Vallejo Pons-Edouard 6...Bg7 7.Bg2 0-0 (7...Nc6? 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.e5! is definitely a problem) 8.0-0 Nc6 occurred:

Clearly Black wasn't worried about 9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.e5 and the way the game panned out justified that belief. Old theory has implied that White might gain a small advantage but I definitely feel that assessment should be questioned.

Classical Dragon with Re1 [B70]

As far as the Classical system 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 Nc6 9.Nb3 Be6 10.Bf1 goes, I still don't really get the appeal. It all seems a bit lazy to me and pinning all the hopes on e-file pressure through an eventual Nd5 shouldn't really trouble Black.

In Harikrishna - Arnaudov after 10...a5 11.a4 Rc8 12.Bg5 h6 13.Bh4 Nb4, the super strong Indian GM opted for the passive looking 14.Rc1:

It's complicated but it looks as though the tactics with the tempting 14...Rxc3!? would have favoured Black but 14...Qb6 15.Nd4 Bc4 16.Ndb5 Bxf1 17.Kxf1 was also fine. Alas, the game went rapidly downhill from there!

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 d5 10 Kb1 Rb8 [B76]

Albeit a blitz game (in the World Championship!), in Nguyen - Mamedov following 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Kb1 Rb8 I was amazed to see 11.Bf4? Way back in 2009 I castigated this move and yet it would seem that several White players have continued to deploy it with dreadful results!

Frankly whatever the time limit, I wouldn't have expected the Vietnamese GM to miss 11...e5! 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.Bxe5 Nxe4! and this surely couldn't have been home preparation. Well, White kept going with 14.Qd4 c5 15.Qxe4 dxe4 16.Rxd8 Bxe5 17.Rxf8+ Kxf8 18.Kc1 when the only surprise was that someone of Mamedov's ability was unable to convert his huge endgame advantage.

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 d5 10 Nxc6 bxc6 11 Bh6 [B76]

In another Dragon encounter (of the relative side-line variety) from the same event, following 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 we see GM Gawain Jones stay true to his word:

Yes, the most popular continuation here and one that we have thoroughly investigated on ChessPublishing is 11...Bxh6 12 Qxh6 Qb6. However, when he was annotating for this site, Gawain's view was that he wasn't convinced that that was the right way for Black to go, instead preferring 11...Be6 and that's exactly what he did in Perunovic - Jones.

Given the game continuation of 12.Bxg7 Kxg7 13.e5 Nd7 14.h4 h5 15.f4 Rb8 16.Ne2 Nc5 17.Ng3 Qb6 18.b3 Ne4 19.Nxe4 dxe4 20.Be2 Rfd8 21.Qc3 Qf2 22.Bc4 Qxf4+ 23.Kb1 Bxc4 24.Qxc4 Qxe5, I doubt that he will be changing his opinion anytime soon! This was 'only' a blitz game (albeit the World Championship!) but I observe that the young English GM plays the majority of this game at least as well as some other Dragon encounters he has had with a full allocation of time!

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 with 12...Bxd4 13 Qxd4 Qb6

Back to main line territory and we have Kosteniuk - Muzychuk which after 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Bc4 Rd8 saw 16.Rhe1. More common are each of 16 Bb3, 16 g4, 16 g3, 16 h4 and 16 Nc5; all of which we've investigated here before and even this offer of the h-pawn isn't new to us.

Black doesn't disappoint; challenging White with 16...Qxh2 when 17.Bb3 deviates from our previously annotated McDonald-Pert encounter, provoking the debate of whether White is really threatening c2-c4. Black evidently thought so and there were plenty of fun and games followed 17...Rd6 18.Rxe7.

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 Soltis with Kb1 and ...Re8 [B78]

The game Hovhannisyan - Medarde Santiago was such a shame. Black was out-rated by his Super GM opponent by over 300 ELO points but outplayed him for most of the game, being unable to win when he obtained a second queen! Of course that was quite a bit later in the game which started 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.h4 Rc8 11.Bb3 h5 12.0-0-0 Ne5 13.Kb1 Re8 i.e. a Soltis variation with Kb1 and ...Re8 that was so popular when Magnus was playing the Dragon. White tried to blow his opponent away through 14.g4 hxg4 15.h5 Nxh5 16.Bh6 but Black knew his stuff, deploying the ChessPublishing tried and tested 16...Kh7!?:

Following 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 18.Rdg1 Black defended superbly with 18...Rh8! 19.fxg4 Bxg4 and White's 20.Nd5 e6 21.Ne3 Bf3 22.Bxe6 shouldn't even have earned him the draw that he did eventually get.

Okay, that's all for now. I will be back soon, but in case it's not before the 25th December...


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