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There is sadly too much talk about variants these days and guess what, I have some more for you here! Meanwhile all I want for Xmas are no more 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 e5 13.Bc5 Re8 opening straight to endgames! Some active Black play elsewhere but whilst it’s clearly an in thing, please I don’t want to see any more middlegame deleting straight to opposite-coloured lacking pieces scenarios. Plus if the pandemic could hurry up and end, that would be really great!
Take care everyone!

Download PGN of November ’21 Dragon Sicilian games

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Classical Dragon 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 Nc6 9.Nb3 a6 10.Bf1 b5 11.Bg5 Re8 [B70]

Regulars will know how I personally find a couple of White systems against the Dragon over-rated with the game Damljanovic, B - Sankalp, G featuring one of them. Yes after 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 Nc6 9.Nb3 regular subscribers will be only too familiar with this Classical line in which White parks a rook on e1, retreats his bishop to f1 and plays a timely Nd5 with the hope of ultimately activating his rook against e7 after Black trades on d5. There have been refinements for White in delaying Bf1/possibly switching it to b5, but this game sees the idea in its original format!

So indeed play continued 9...a6 10.Bf1 b5 11.Bg5 when 11...Re8 was maybe slightly different:

Previously we saw 11...Bb7 but the text doesn’t commit this bishop yet with instead Black over-protecting e7 and giving him the chance to preserve his Dragon bishop after a future Qd2 and Bh6.

Moving on and my point is that after 12.Qd2 Rb8 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.exd5 Ne5 Black certainly hasn’t done anything special with 15.Na5 b4 16.Nb3 Qc7 17.Rac1 Bb7 18.Re4 e6!, following some far from unnatural moves, already leaving him with the upper hand.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bc4 [B76]

A surprise was awaiting us in Sevian, S - Mamedov, R when after 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 rather than the fashionable 11 Bh6, the American prodigy hit us with 11.Bc4:

A first for the site, following the natural 11...e6 12.Bb3 Black has logically bolstered d5 with the white bishop then sliding back to b3 where the optimistic view is that it retains pressure against d5 whilst acting as a shield on the b-file but the obvious negative is that it has limited scope and could later be hassled by an ...a5-a4 advance.

After 12...Bb7 13.Na4 White was looking to invade that c5-square and whereas I’m interested in the possibility of 13...Qc7!? Intending to meet 14 Nc5 with 14...a5, instead White battled for that square with 13...Nd7 Rather provocative given that knight is typically required for defensive purposes and with that in mind following 14.h4 Qe7 the question is whether White was right in putting his kingside attack on hold (i.e. eschewing 15 h5!?) in favour of getting all positional on the queenside through 15.Qa5. As it was, 15...Rfc8 16.Nc5 d4!? saw a complex middlegame with chances for both sides.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 Bxh6 12.Qxh6 e5 [B76]

It seemed inevitable but finally in the trendy 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 Bxh6 12.Qxh6 variation , finally we would get to investigate a game where Black physically prevents White from getting in e4-e5 by putting a pawn of his own there first! Yes, 12...e5 makes its debut on the site in the game Griffith, K - Liang, J and an interesting one it is too!

After 13.exd5 cxd5 in the notes I consider 14 Qg5 to immediately look to prove Black’s centre as being loose but following 14.h4 d4 15.h5 Be6 16.hxg6 fxg6 17.Ne4 Qc7 18.Bd3 Bf5 19.Nxf6+ Rxf6 20.Bxf5 Rxf5 instead that remains the big question. Nice centre pawns or too many pawn islands. The game could have gone either way even in the major piece ending but a share of the wares seems fair!

Yugoslav 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 e5 13.Bc5 Re8 14.Ne4 Qc7 15.h4 f5 16.Nd6 Rd8 17.Nxc8 Raxc8 [B76]

Incredibly following 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 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 e5 13.Bc5 it seems that 13...Re8 (instead of the main line of 13...Be6) continues to be popular as it cropped up in Ivic, V - Blomqvist, E in a serious slow play event. We’re talking the European Teams championship where obviously a serious amount of preparation goes into matches and evidently the Swedish GM has concluded that 14.Ne4 Qc7 15.h4 f5 16.Nd6 Rd8 17.Nxc8 Raxc8 18.h5 Nb6 19.Bxb6 Rxd2 20.Bc4+ Kf8 21.Bxc7 Rxd1+ 22.Rxd1 Rxc7 23.hxg6 Bh6+ 24.Kb1 hxg6 25.Rd6 Kg7 is good for a draw. White deviated from the previously seen on the site 26 Re6 and 26 b4 in favour of 26.c3:

In each variation White obviously has the initiative but with 26...Bf4 27.Re6 Rd7 28.a4 c5 29.a5 g5 30.Re8 g4 31.fxg4 fxg4 32.Rg8+ Kf6 33.Rxg4 Rg7 seeing Black reach a probably drawn opposite-coloured bishop ending, it’s becoming a war of attrition. Is White going to be knocked off this course because ‘it’s just a draw’ or will Black have to give it up because it’s all suffering with no chance of victory? I guess we’ll see!

Yugoslav Attack 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.h4 h5 11.0-0-0 Rc8 12.Bb3 Nxd4 13.Bxd4 b5 [B77]

After 9.Bc4 Bd7 regular subscribers will understand the move 10.h4 to be an ‘Anti-Chinese’ move order but the irony of the game Petrov, M - Vasilev, M is that we soon wind up with a hybrid of a 'Soltis' and a 'Topalov'! in the form of 10...h5 11.0-0-0 Rc8 12.Bb3 Nxd4 13.Bxd4 b5:

An interesting idea but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be very good! Mixing and matching arguably sees Black caught between two stools and White cracked on with 14.g4!? when 14...a5 (deviating from the 14...gxh5 that we saw back in 2018) 15.gxh5 a4 16.h6 Bh8 17.h5 axb3 18.h7+ Kg7 19.Rdg1 bxa2 20.Nxa2 e5 21.Be3 g5 22.Rxg5+ Kxh7 23.h6 left him with a crushing attack.

Yugoslav 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.Bb3 Rc8 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.g4 Nc4 13.Bxc4 Rxc4 14.Kb1 b5 15.Ndxb5 Qb8 [B78]

I wasn’t originally going to include the fast-paced game Bologan, V - Martin Carmona, G but I decided that we needed to end with some entertainment! In the notes I have a bit to discuss on the specific move order of 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.Bb3 Rc8 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.g4 Nc4 13.Bxc4 Rxc4 14.Kb1 b5 but what seems clear from here is that possibly in order to avoid any prep in the intriguing 15 b3 b4 16 bxc4 bxc3 17 Qxc3 variation, White definitely errs with 15.Ndxb5?!:

It has always been assumed that Black has more than adequate compensation for the pawn but presumably the Russian GM would have been surprised by the whirlwind that hit him after 15... Qb8 16.Nd4 Rfc8 17.Nde2 Bxg4! 18.Rhf1 Nxe4! 19.fxe4 Bxe2 20.Qxe2 Bxc3 Indeed he’s basically already lost although somehow fate smiles on him a little later!

Back really soon! Chris

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