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Sorry I’m late but being the November update, Christmas has come early! Ho! Ho! Ho! But don’t go go go as I’ll be back before the end of the month to the help bring in the new year with punctuality in mind for a NY resolution...

Download PGN of November ’19 Dragon Sicilian games

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Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 Be6 [B76]

After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 d5 it certainly appears that whilst the main line has been 10 exd5 Nxd5 11 Nxc6 bxc6 12 Bd4 for a while with 10 Qe1 gaining in followers, that actually now 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 has suddenly become fashionable. It’s not as though this is new to us on the site where 11...Bxh6 12 Qxh6 Qb6 has been a common response, but now we’re coming across games in other variants. Indeed two of those crop up this month starting with Alsina Leal, D - Calzetta Ruiz, M and 11...Be6:

This bolsters the centre and connects the major pieces along the back-rank but after 12.exd5 cxd5 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.g4 Qa5 15.g5 Nh5 we soon see why White has to be careful in taking the d5-pawn. Indeed it appears White falls into 16.Qd4+ Kg8 17.Nxd5? Rfd8, not being the first strong player to miscalculate and after 18.Bc4 Bxd5 19.Bxd5 e6 20.Bxa8 Rxd4 21.Rxd4 Qxa2 22.Rhd1 Qa1+ 23.Kd2 Qxb2 24.Rd8+ Kg7 25.Be4 Nf4 Black’s queen and knight pairing dominated White’s uncoordinated army.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 Qc7 [B76]

In Bersamina, P - Nguyen Duc Hoa following 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 we saw 11...Qc7 for the first time with Black seemingly unconcerned about keeping the d5-pawn as an offering but eager to prevent an e4-e5 advance:

However naturally White continued with his kingside offensive through 12.h4 when it seems that 12...e5? is just too slow. Yes tactics were favouring White after 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.h5 d4 15.hxg6 whilst 15...h5 16.Na4 fxg6 17.Bc4 Qe7 18.Qg5 Nd5 19.Qxe7+ Nxe7 20.c3! simply left White with a strong positional advantage.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Nxd5 cxd5 13.Bh6 [B76]

Regards the game Milenkovic, M - Zamar Kodelja, J I’m not a big fan of the 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Nxd5 cxd5 13.Bh6 line:

Eliminating the Dragon bishop and planning a swift assault down the h-file is certainly a direct approach. However, Black is left with a superior pawn structure and two attractive centre pawns compared to White's zero. He also has handy half-open b- and c-files to boot, but this game demonstrates why Black cannot take his eye off the ball as things can soon become critical.

Yes, definitely my recommendation here (as explained on the site before) would be to trade bishops and then immediately either activate the queen on a5 or the rook on b8 but 13...e6 14.h4 Qf6 15.Bxg7 Qxg7 16.h5 Rb8 17.c3 Bd7 18.Bd3 e5?! 19.hxg6 hxg6 20.Rh6 Rb6 21.Rdh1 Qf6 22.g4! Rfb8 23.g5! should serve as a warning. Game over!

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qa5 15.b3 Qc7 16.g3 [B76]

I’m not going to pretend that Santos Ruiz, M - Aravindh, C is a thriller but it’s recent, is in a main line and features two strong players! The question is whether 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qa5 15.b3 Qc7 16.g3 brings us closer to the truth?

Well, we establish that the b2-b3 provoking 14...Qa5 is just as popular as the immediate retreat 14...Qc7 but that 16 g3 is rare. Last time we featured this position, Black’s piece sacrifice of 16...Rd8? 17 c4! was proven unsound but here 16...Bf5 17.Bd3 Bxd3 18.Rxd3 Rab8 19.a3 e5 20.Qe4 Qe7 21.Kb2 f5 22.Qc4 e4 23.fxe4 Qxe4 24.Qxe4 fxe4 seems to equalise. Mind you, I still argue that White can deviate at various places to retain a slight pull due to his lasting structural advantage. So, well I guess the jury remains out!

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 Bd7 10 Bb3 Nxd4 11 Bxd4 b5 12 0-0-0 [B78]

The recent London league game Balloglu, P - Ward, C you wouldn’t find anywhere else, and to me it was both enlightening and enjoyable! After negotiating a tricky move order, through 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Bg7 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 d6 9.f3 Bd7 10.Qd2 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 b5 12.0-0-0 we had reached a 9 Bc4 Bd7 10 Bb3 variation where after 10... Nxd4 11 Bxd4 b5 I was only really familiar with the cautious 12 a4 and the sharp 12 h4.

Instead then 12 0-0-0 had hit the board which at the time I just felt couldn’t be right Actually I'm not sure whether that was a memory issue on my part as it transpires that this has in fact been played by strong players including the likes of Gelfand and Svidler in the past. A first for the site though and well, I still don’t think it’s that good!

I continued naturally with 12...a5 looking to hunt down that bishop, with 13.e5 dxe5 14.Bxe5 prompting my first big think of the game. The game annotation offers my conclusion on 14...a4 but I played 14... Bc6 when 15.Qxd8 Rfxd8 16.Rxd8+ Rxd8 17.Bc7 Bh6+!? 18.Kb1 Rd2 19.Bxa5 Rxg2 resulted in a favourable endgame that I was able to covert.

I remain intrigued but not worried!

Yugoslav Attack Soltis 13 g4 [B78]

In Sindarov, J- Berdnyk, M we finish the update with a lovely Christmas cracker. Okay, so after 5...g6 6.f3 Bg7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Bc4 Nc6 9.Bb3 Bd7 10.h4 h5 11.Qd2 Rc8 12.0-0-0 Ne5 we know that 13.g4 isn’t objectively White’s best but it’s certainly challenging and this is a young talented strong player deploying it. After 13...hxg4 14.h5 Nxh5 15.Rdg1 Black must take care.

Indeed, previously on the site we concluded on the site that 15...Qa5! Is the most accurate response but the tempting 15...Rxc3 16.bxc3 is okay so long as Black now places his queen on the c-file facilitating a future ...Nc4. Alas now Black played 16...Qa5? when 17.f4! only left 17...Nc6 and 18.f5! Ne5 19.Bh6! Bf6 20.fxg6! Nxg6 21.Nf5! was ruthless play with 21...Bxf5 22.Rxh5 Qa3+ 23.Kb1 Bxe4 24.Rxg4 d5 25.Rxd5! Bxd5 26.Rxg6+ fxg6 27.Qxd5+ teaching Black a harsh lesson that fortunately we can all learn from without experiencing!

Merry Xmas! Chris

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