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Hi everyone.
Well this update is certainly a little different from the norm with Gawain showing a definite interest in some less popular or irregular lines. All fun nevertheless, so let's get cracking!

Download PGN of October '11 Dragon Sicilian games

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Fianchetto System 6 g3 [B70]

Neither myself nor Gawain have ever really considered the fianchetto system to be a threat (even though Garry Kasparov chose it against me!) It would appear that one or two strong players have been turning to it in recent times to try for an edge as Ivanchuk - Radjabov demonstrates. Rather than settling for the standard ...0-0 and a quick ...b5 plan, Black did employ the more entertaining ...h5 idea:

although as an inaccuracy enabled White to set up an annoying bind, Black struggled to obtain the characteristic counterplay associated with this line.

Classical/Yugoslav Hybrid [B70]

Well how else would you describe this? Yes in Dembo - Eric, it looks as though White was going to play a Classical but then f3 is inserted before the white king goes short anyway. In his annotations Gawain is a little critical of Black's ...a5, as after White responds with a4, the b5-square is gone for good! Frankly, though, Black never really seemed to be struggling until he dabbled in an intriguing but peculiar queen manoeuvre later in the middlegame.

6 Bc4 with Be3 and no h3 [B72]

Well that's one description of how the above position could be reached. Alternatively it's a Yugoslav Attack where White prioritises Bc4 in favour of f3 possibly because he believes that he can punish 7...Ng4 with 8 Bb5+. Well that's exactly what happened in Eliseev - Antipov. Black is forced to move his king but White must then either expend further tempi on his bishops or lose the cherished dark-squared one. Here he chose the latter in a double edged encounter. This is a first for this line on this site but as I implied in my first WWTD book, it's kind of a redundant line as Black can always keep ...Ng4 in hand with 7...0-0 instead when White is then pretty much forced to transpose into a main line anyhow.

Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 d5 [B76]

Into the nitty gritty and in Dominguez Perez-Robson we see White switching from the well aired (on this site) 14 Na4 to the less discussed 14 Bc4:

Previously, then, we have seen Carlsen trade queens and then knights here to saddle his opponent with doubled isolated c-pawns. However, Black ends up very passive then in the ensuing endgame, so it is perhaps no great surprise that others, including Kudrin and now Robson, have favoured the more dynamic 14...Ne3. Ironically this way it is Black's queenside isolanis that ultimately come under the microscope with the question being whether dynamic play or the bishop for knight imbalance tenders adequate compensation. Well, in this game Black opts to throw in a pawn to deflect the issue and although White ultimately reaches a favourable endgame, my feeling is that Black probably has enough compensation when all the major pieces were on. It's a close one though, and I think that we can expect further outings in this variation.

Yugoslav Attack 9 g4 Be6 [B76]

So having last month discussed the position after 9 g4 Nxd4 10 Bxd4 Be6 and then 11 h4 rather than the transpositional 11 0-0-0, we are back again to looking at the pros and cons of 9...Be6 10 Nxe6, this time with 12...Rc8:

Well I definitely think that the game Stojanovic - Kovacevic highlights the deficiency in the black structure when White gets in his standard h4-h5. In addition, though it exposes the typical (for other Dragon positions) manoeuvre of 15...Nc4?! 16 Bxc4 Rxc4 as generating insufficient play and there is little that even a very strong player can do when White just continues in a very obvious and direct manner. Black players pay heed!

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 [B78]

Of 11 Be2 Gawain writes in his annotations to Zhigalko - Shinkevich that "When a player as high rated as Sergey Zhigalko tries this bishop retreat we have to take it seriously!"

That is of course very true but in all fairness Black had played 10...Ne5. Three times as many more people choose the 10...Rc8 move order when 11 Be2 would of course just look silly! Still 11 Be2 is relatively rare all the same and if Black had an offbeat attempt in mind, White certainly puts paid to that! Anyway as for the game itself, well it was certainly novel regards individual moves but ultimately it boiled down to a debate on the standard exchange sac on c3 when no pawns have previously been banked. You will however note in this game how White's 17 Nb3?! allowed Black to get in some familiar Dragon tactics with a fun endgame the ultimate outcome.

Okay bye for now!

Best wishes, Chris and Gawain

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