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Hi guys!
A bit of an Accelerated Dragon and relatively offbeat variations extravaganza this month without a Yugoslav Attack or Maroczy Bind in sight. Don’t worry though, this isn’t the new normal!

Download PGN of November ’20 Dragon Sicilian games

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Accelerated Dragon 6.Be3 Nf6 7.f3 0-0 8.g4 [B34]

Classified under the Semi-Accelerated Dragon, 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 is basically the Accelerated Dragons that we get a few of this month but with White opting for 7.f3 rather than 7 Bc4. We know that Black shouldn’t just let White sneak into a Yugoslav Attack as he has the ...d7-d5 break up his sleeve. However, in a first for the site, after 7...0-0 White looked to dissuade that in Kaganskiy, G - Zwardon, V with 8.g4:

Despite bringing g4-g5 to the party, the annotation explains why I think Black can happily play 8...d5 anyway but 8...Qb6! creating threats in the centre as well as hitting b2 is also good. White defended it with 9.Rb1 when 9...d5! again looks strong. However Black was tempted by instant tactics with 8...Nxg4?! which rebounded spectacularly after 10.fxg4 Bxd4?! 11.Nd5 Qa5+? 12.b4 Qxa2 13.Bxd4 f6 14.Ra1.

Accelerated Dragon 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 Re8 9.f4 d6 10.Qf3 Qa5 [B35]

The sequence 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 is commonly seen when Black deploys the Accelerated Dragon but White retains the hope that he might get a transposition a little further down the line into a 9 Bc4 Yugoslav Attack. This update has an underlying theme of White trying to achieve that but here with Black thwarting him with 8...Re8 being Negi’s recommendation to prevent such an outcome. We’ve discussed all that before and this month’s Mchedlishvili, M - Jojua, D revisits the Nakamura-Dubov tussles of the Summer. This time though after 9.f4 d6 10.Qf3!? Black deviates with 10...Qa5:

Whilst in theory I’m not averse to activating the queen, it has to be said that after 11.0-0 Ng4 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.Bd2 Qh5 14.h3 Qc5+?! 15.Kh1 Nf6 16.Rae1! it’s not really clear what Black has achieved. In fact White is poised to crash through the centre and after 16...d5 17.e5 Nd7 18.e6! fxe6 19.Rxe6 Nf6 20.Be3 Qb4 21.Rxc6 Black had already found himself a pawn down and in trouble.

Classical Dragon 9.Re1 a6 10.Bf1 b5 11.Bg5 h6!? 12.Bh4 Bb7 [B70]

I really enjoyed the game Rublevsky, S - Paravyan, D from a Black perspective at least! White deployed the trendy Classical line of 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 g6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Bg7 6.Nb3 Nf6 7.Be2 0-0 8.0-0 d6 9.Re1 a6 10.Bf1 b5 11.Bg5 with the system designed to ultimately pressurise e7 and Black accepted the challenge head on with the foot on the pedal 11...h6!? 12.Bh4 Bb7 13.Nd5 g5 14.Bg3 Nxd5 15.exd5 Nb4!?:

Yes, with regards the creation of potential weaknesses on the kingside, Black had acknowledged that ‘you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelette’ (yes I have been honing my culinary skills during lockdown!) and instantly put the question to White re his d5-pawn. White grovelled a bit in order to defend it through 16.c4? bxc4 17.Bxc4 Rc8 18.Qe2 when Black indulged in the not altogether necessary 18...Nc2 19.Qxc2 Bxd5, still emerging with a comfortable advantage after 20.Nd2 Bxc4 21.Nxc4 d5 22.Qa4 Rxc4 23.Qxa6 e6 24.b3 Rc2.

Levenfish Variation 6.f4 Bg7 7.e5 dxe5? 8.fxe5 Nh5 [B71]

There are a lot of things going on in the World right now that I really don't understand and it's fair to say that recent 'developments’ in the Levenfish can now be added to that list!

Yes, involving strong players, Dushyant, S - Livaic, L was but one of the games I came across this month that after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.f4 Bg7 7.e5 saw 7...dxe5? and only following 8.fxe5 came 8...Nh5:

Regular subscribers will surely know my view that 6...Nbd7 is the safe option with 6...Nc6 most challenging but more importantly 6...Bg7 can only be played if meeting 7 e5 with 7...Nh5 immediately. One reason for this is that then 8 g4? could be met by 8...Nxf4 because of the fork but here there is no pawn on f4 to take.

Actually in the notes I conclude that now 9 g4 isn’t that clear but I can’t believe an over 2500 rated player would be doing this in the hope that that occurred. More to the point it’s irrelevant as 9.Bb5+! Nd7 10.e6! fxe6 11.Nxe6 Qb6 12.Qe2! Bf6 13.Nd5 was basically crushing! Any more takers for the Levenfish trap?

Modern Classical Variation 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 d6 9.h3 a6 10.0-0 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 b5 [B72]

With the move order 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 g6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 d6 there was more discussion on the Accelerated Dragon in the notes to the game Bernadskiy, V - Chernobay, A but of course through 9.h3 we were simply back to a standard ‘Modern Classical’ variation. We do get something new to the site though here in the form of 9...a6:

Black’s not exactly disguised idea is revealed after 10.0-0 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 b5 when however the game position reached after 12.a4 Bb7 13.Nd5 Nxe4 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.axb5 axb5 16.Rxa8 Bxa8 17.Qd4+ Nf6 18.Nxf6 exf6 was a bit deceptive. Black does have two isolated pawns with d6 an obvious target. However, Black is also half a pawn up and with that extra pawn in the defensive shield, a safer king. Indeed following 19.Rd1 Re8! 20.f3 Re5 21.Kf2 d5 22.Qc5 Qe8! it was clear that White was under pressure.

Sicilian Dragon 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 h5 8.Qd2 Nxd4 9.Bxd4 Bh6 10.Qf2 [B72]

Although just like everyone else on here I do like to keep up with the developments in the main lines, I also have a soft spot for offbeat variations and new ideas. With that in mind it was a no brainer to include in this update the game Perez Leiva, JJ- Matinian, N which saw a repeat of the 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 h5 8.Qd2 Nxd4 9.Bxd4 Bh6 idea that was featured on the site not that long ago. On that occasion Black had no trouble demonstrating equality against 10 Be3 but here White was arguably tad more ambitious through 10.Qf2:

Of course, this means that White might not be castling queenside anymore but although Yugoslav Attack style was out of the question, 10...Be6?! 11.Bb5+ Kf8 12.0-0 a6 13.Bd3 Bg7 14.f4 demonstrated that White could certainly still launch an offensive. I had a debate regarding the hanging a7-pawn but White was certainly doing fine until 14...Ng4 15.Bxg7+ Kxg7 16.Qd4+ f6 17.h3 Nh6 18.f5 Bf7 19.Rf3?! allowed 19...g5 and after 20.Rd1 Rc8 21.Ne2 Qa5 22.h4?! Qe5 23.Qxe5 dxe5 24.hxg5 fxg5 Black had started taking over the operation!

Back soon! Chris

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