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Accelerated Dragon 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7 Bc4 [B34]
Regards 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Nxc6 bxc6, typically I suggest that White should only dabble in this trade on c6 if he can follow up with a swift e4-e5. Otherwise the fact is that Black has been gifted control of the d5-square as well as a handy half-open b-file:
Actually were it not the fact that this was the game Shimanov, A - Xiong, J featuring two strong GMs, I might have written this off as a club players encounter (at best!) and moved on!
Okay so there is still a little to the idea (as discussed in the annotations) but I doubt White would have been so keen to play in this manner were it not a fast-paced game. Anyway play continued 7.Bc4 and Black, very aware of this e4-e5 concept responded through 7...Qc7 with 8.0-0 Rb8 9.Bb3 Nf6 10.Bg5 0-0 11.Qd2 d6 12.Rfe1 Re8 13.Rad1 Nd7 14.Qf4 Ne5 following.
It’s clear White was after a kingside attack but 15.Qh4 a5 16.f4?! Ng4! 17.f5! backfired horribly after 17...Qa7+! 18.Kf1 Ba6+ 19.Ne2 with the simple 19...Ne3+ 20.Bxe3 Qxe3 21.Qf2 Qxf2+ 22.Kxf2 Bxb2 23.Rb1 Be5 nice work if you can get it!
Yugoslav 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Nc5 Rd8 16.Bc4 Bf5 17.Bb3 Nb6 [B76]
Regards the game Caruana, F - Erigaisi, A course it’s great seeing such the young Indian talent throwing his weight behind our favourite opening. Better still 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 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Nc5 Rd8 16.Bc4 Bf5 17.Bb3 Nb6 18.Qe3 was seeing him adopt my recommendation of 18...Rxd1+!?:
18...Nd5 had been the main move prior to the appearance of this which although swapping pieces (which might typically favour the structural superiority of White), does force White to either abandon his h-pawn or temporarily at least expose his king.
Fabi opted for the former when 19.Rxd1 Qxh2 20.g4 Nd5 21.Qd4 e5 22.Qd2 Qxd2+ 23.Rxd2 Be6 24.Re2 saw Black make an inaccuracy. Yes, it seems I’m back to analysing endgames but 24...Nf4! would have been just fine for Black. Instead 24...Kg7?! 25.g5! put a dampener on Black’s chances of creating a passed h-pawn with 25...Bf5 26.Bxd5 cxd5 27.Rxe5 Rd8 28.b4 obviously in White’s favour. However, it still wasn’t easy for White to convert and the only sign that this was a fast-paced game was when things completely turned around at the end.
Yugoslav 9.g4 Be6 10.Nxe6 fxe6 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Be2 Qc8 13.h4 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Qxc4 15.h5 [B76]
Subscribers will know that I like to keep tabs on Gawain’s Dragon encounters and in Melikyan, G - Jones, G we got to see some more innovation. Yes after 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.g4 Be6 10.Nxe6 fxe6 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Be2 Qc8 13.h4 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Qxc4 15.h5 the move 15...Nd7 would reach a frequently contested position but instead the English GM unleashed the move 15...gxh5 for only the second time ever!
When Black faces h4-h5 in most Yugoslav Attack scenarios, taking it with the pawn rarely crosses one’s mind but here it's far from ridiculous and certainly mixes things up! A major point is that after 16 g5 Nd7 Black would be threatening ...Bxc3 as well as ...Rxf3 before White can align his major pieces along the h-file to ultimately get at h7.
The game continued 16.gxh5 Kf7?! 17.Rdg1?! Rg8 18.Bh6? Bxh6 19.Qxh6 b5 20.e5? dxe5 21.Ne4 Qxa2 22.Ng5+ Ke8 when more inaccuracies by White had left the black king safe but White’s very much in the firing line.
Chinese Variation 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rb8 11.Bb3 Na5 12.Kb1 b5 13.h4 Nc4 14.Bxc4 bxc4 15.Ka1 [B78]
The game Nitish, B- Adarsh, T after 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 10.0-0-0 Rb8 11.Bb3 Na5 12.Kb1 b5 13.h4 Nc4 14.Bxc4 bxc4 allowed us to revisit the comparison of White immediately continuing his offensive actions on the kingside or taking a little time out to protect b2 via 15.Ka1 Qb6 16.Rb1 i.e. without having to advance his b-pawn to thwart Black’s mate threat.
Moreover in the case of the latter, this outing is a reminder that even in the Chinese variation that continues to stand the test of time, casual play will be punished. Indeed after 16...Qa6?! (my personal recommendation is definitely 16...h5! and this game demonstrates why!) 17.Bh6 Bxh6 18.Qxh6 Qa5 19.h5 Rb6 20.g4 Rfb8 21.hxg6 fxg6 22.g5 Nh5 23.Rxh5, Black was already in serious trouble.
Topalov System 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.exd5 a5 16.a3 Qb6 [B78]
Although a top level encounter between Caruana and Erigaisi is always likely to pinch the headlines, in fact it was a different approach by a lower rated player that particularly caught my eye this month. However before we get rating obsessed a quick observation that White is in fact a good IM and both players were under 16. Possibly under-rated then but anyway in Razafindratsima, T - Gasanov, V we’re talking 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.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.exd5 a5 16.a3 but now rather than the standard ‘Topalov system’ concept of sacrificing a pawn through ...b4 before or after withdrawing the king to g8, Black deployed 16...Qb6 and after 17.g4 Rc7 18.h4 opted for 18...a4 19.Ba2 Rfc8 instead
So rather than jettisoning the b-pawn to obtain a half-open b-file and an open a-file, Black focuses his attention on c2. However although White’s selected 17 g4 prevented his bishop from getting in on the act (via the f5-square), after 20.Bb1 he looked to rectify that situation with 20...h5!?
Thwarted down the h-file White then switched his attention to the e-file and pressurising e7 with 21.Rde1. Fair enough although a read of the annotations reveals that Black now missed a the beautiful 21...Rc4!!, instead settling on the (also not bad!) 21... b4 Actually the game continued with 22.Qxb4 Qxb4 23.axb4 hxg4 with Black having pretty good chances to win before disaster struck later and the result was turned on its head!
Soltis Variation 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.h4 Ne5 11.Bb3 h5 12.0-0-0 Rc8 13.Kb1 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 15.g4 [B78]
I have to confess that I do find Mihail Golubev’s blitz Dragon exploits very entertaining and being a right Xmas cracker, I was always going to be tempted to include Garcia Pantoja, R - Golubev, M in this update.
So 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.Bc4 Bd7 10.h4 Ne5 11.Bb3 h5 12.0-0-0 Rc8 13.Kb1 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 was how it started when previously we’ve studied both 15 Nde2 and 15 Nb3. Here though White wasn’t hanging around as he got straight on with things through 15.g4:
Then 16...hxg4 16.h5 Nxh5 17.Rdg1 Nf6! 18.Bh6 was all natural when tactics kicked in via 18...Nxe4 19.Nxe4 Rxd4 but White then erring with 20.Qe3? rather than the crazily complicated 20 Qh2!. A little unnecessary was 20...Rxe4?! but after 21.fxe4? Qb6! 22.Qc1 Be5 23.Bxf8 Kxf8 it was looking good for Black in an imbalanced material scenario.
Take care everyone! Chris
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