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Hi dear subscribers,
What do you expect this time of year? Creepy players and spooky goings on? No, fireworks of course and in that regard, hopefully we deliver!
Let the pyrotechnics begin!

Download PGN of October ’17 Dragon Sicilian games

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Accelerated Dragon 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 d5 [B35]

I never thought I'd find myself saying that there was an exciting selection of Maroczy bind games to choose from but that was definitely the case this month and I have tried to incorporate several of them inside two annotations.

The game Adhiban, B - Gelfand, B was surprisingly after 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 g6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 our first example of 8...d5 on the site:

Previously, of course, we have covered 8...a6 and 8...e6, whilst Negi's own suggestion of 8...Re8!? has featured a lot in recent times. It is however 8...d6 and the transition from the Accelerated variant back into a standard Dragon that will have received most air time here on ChessPublishing. The 8...d5 thrust itself (certainly if successful) makes a bit of a mockery of White’s efforts to prevent the break and though I touch on alternatives, it certainly looks as though 9.exd5 Na5 10.0-0 Nxb3 11.Nxb3 b6 is critical when White adopted Parmigan Negi’s recommendation of offering to return the pawn here through 12.d6 intending to receive a superior pawn structure. However, Black refused to accept an isolated d-pawn and instead responded with 12...e6 with this game precipitating the following e-mail:

«Dear Chris,
Thanks for all your great work on chesspublishing! I am writing to you to ask about your opinion of Gelfands 12...e6 against Adhiban in the Isle of Man 2017, Negi in his book critical of this move calling it not serious, however Gelfand seems to think otherwise. So I would like to know your opinion on this line.
Yours Sincerely, Wy»

Well, thank you very much for your kind message and I was very happy to oblige. The game continued 13.Qf3 Rb8 14.Rad1 Bb7 15.Qh3 Nd5 16.Nxd5 Bxd5 17.Bd4 Bxd4 18.Rxd4 Rc8 19.Qh6 Qf6 20.Rc1 b5 21.Rh4 Qg7 22.Qxg7+ Kxg7 23.Rb4 a6 24.a4 bxa4 25.Na5 a3 26.bxa3 Rc5 where Black seemingly had few problems holding and from my annotations you can detect that I do consider that 12...e6 should be taken seriously. There are clearly some chances for White to demonstrate a kingside initiative before Black manages to round up that errant pawn on d6. However, if Black picks it up for ‘nothing’ (i.e. without emerging with an isolated queen’s pawn of his own or White getting going on the kingside) then unless the white queen and knight get their act together, Black might wind up with a favourable ending. So in that respect I guess I fall more on Gelfand’s side but of course that’s not to say that he will be repeating it (especially against lower rated opposition) if he believes his opponents can simply learn those moves, make the odd inaccuracy and still comfortably secure a draw. Then of course it becomes more of a debate of the level of chess you are playing at, how well are opponents likely to be prepared and whether a draw is a good result with Black?

Bypassing all that for now, even at good club player level those Negi repertoire books have certainly proven to be a thorn in many a good players’ side but if you look carefully, you will no doubt find the odd line where he has perhaps been prematurely dismissive. Regards this whole 8...d5 variation, you will also note for example that although I can’t exactly disagree with his summary on 12...Ba6 13 dxe7 Qxe7 14 Re1, his analysis stops there when the ‘Negi booked up White player’ may still have some choppy waters to negotiate (i.e. alone!) before consolidating that ‘slightly better for White’ assessment!

Accelerated Dragon Maroczy Bind 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Be3 Qb6 [B38]

Although Jakovenko, D - Savchenko, B was a blitz game, it was of a remarkable quality and contained some wicked ideas that I thought might be of interest to our followers.

After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 d6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Be3 rather than continue mundanely, Black wheeled out 7...Qb6:

A kind of recurring theme this month and in most instances when new to the site. This piece deployment is very provocative. Her majesty helps pressurise the white knight on d4 whilst simultaneously hitting the pawn on b2. However she is of course in the firing line of White's dark-squared bishop and there will always be concerns about getting her trapped!

Following 8.Ndb5 Bxc3+ it could well be that the amusing sequence 9 Nxc3 Qxb2 10 Nd5 Nb4 is critical but instead White opted to retain material equilibrium through 9.bxc3 Qa5 10.Qb3. Black could easily be punished for conceding his Dragon bishop but he has compensation in the form of a compromised White pawn structure and his accurate play in 10...Nf6 11.f3 Be6 12.Be2 Rc8 13.0-0 Nd7 14.Nd4 Nc5 left him fine. Indeed it was only after 15.Qb2 and then 15...Na4?! 16 Qxb7 when he lost a bit of control and things started to get a bit mad. Nevertheless, intriguing stuff!

Accelerated Dragon Maroczy Bind 6.Be3 Qb6 7.Nb5 [B38]

And here we go again as after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.c4 Bg7 6.Be3 another very strong player whips out a provocative queen move in the form of 6...Qb6:

I would imagine most subscribers are just happy to see me crack on with the Yugoslav Attack but although from time to time I check in on the Accelerated Dragon, not much generally seems to change in those Maroczy Bind set-ups. White gets his space advantage and if Black doesn’t manage a ...b5 or ...d5 break then he usually has to suffer a little before acquiescing or holding the draw. In truth, though, when flicking through the last month’s worth of Accelerated Dragon games around the world, I found it a very refreshing experience with plenty of outings breaking from that aforementioned monotony.

Van Haastert, E - Guseinov, G was another such encounter in which White responded to the attack on his d4-knight with 7.Nb5 (note 7 Nb3 is also commented on using recent practical outings) Then 7...Qa5+ 8.N1c3 Nf6 9.f3 0-0 10.Qd2 a6 11.Nd4 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 d6 had led us to a familiar situation but with different tempi. Do check out the annotations for a full explanation where you will discover why 13.a3 Be6 14.b4 Qc7 15.Nd5?! was a tad premature and after 15...Bxd5 16.cxd5 Rfc8 17.Be2 Qc2 18.Rd1 Nd7 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.0-0 Qxd2 21.Rxd2 Rc3 Black had taken over White’s operation and in controlling the c-file had the endgame advantage.

Dragadorf 6.Be3 a6 7.f3 b5 8.Qd2 Bb7 9.g4 Nbd7 10.g5 Nh5 11.0-0-0 Bg7 12.Nce2 [B75]

Two strong players involved, Predke, A - Utnasunov, A was like a throwback to the early Dragadorf days. Yes, we have seen the likes of 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 a6 7.f3 b5 8.Qd2 Bb7 9.g4 Nbd7 10.g5 Nh5 11.0-0-0 Bg7 12.Nce2 plenty of times in the past here on ChessPublishing and the big question was whether after 12...Ne5 13.Ng3 Nxg3 14.hxg3 Rc8 the move 15.Rh4 would constitute a significant improvement on what was originally seen:

Well I think it’s fair to say that previously 15 b3?! Nxf3! 16 Nxf3 Bxe4 didn’t work out very well for White, so this rook move facilitating a doubling (or trebling) on the h-file whilst vacating usefully the b7-h1 diagonal and over-protecting the e4-pawn doesn’t compare badly!

However, whilst it’s vaguely possible that White had improvements planned on the 15...0-0 that had previously been successful on ChessPublishing, White has yet to defeat the less committal 15...Qc7 in practice and even a Super GM didn’t look like doing so here either. In fact after 16.Kb1 d5! 17.f4 Nc4 18.Bxc4 dxc4 19.e5?! c3! 20.Qh2 cxb2 21.Rxh7 Rxh7 22.Qxh7 Kf8 the black king was safe and the white queenside structure compromised. It was all one-way traffic from here on in and look out for the neat finish!

Yugoslav Attack 9.g4 Be6 10.Nxe6 fxe6 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Be2 Qc8 13.h4 Nfd7 14.h5 [B76]

So, I received another nice piece of mail:

«Dear Chris,
Thanks for your next great 'Dragon update' and sharing my game with John to your audience.
I attached another Dragon game of mine, since I also noticed you mentioned this variation in the rapid game Moro lost. But indeed perhaps this is also a reasonable way to play for Black!
What I played and what Gawain recommends is maximum a draw for Black. The game enclosed is full proof of that unless White really wants to lose:)- and that happened in the my game. I especially liked the mate variation with Queen and Knight, you do not see these that often!
The Dragon is still alive:)-!
Best regards, Daniël»

Well Daniël, thanks again for another lovely submission in which again my comments are prefixed by a ‘CHRIS:’ and that aside your variations are left untouched for our subscribers to benefit from. What can I add other than that I always say ‘queen and knight is the most deadly combination’, yep the Dragon is very much alive and thanks very much!

So, Kramer, J - Vanheirzeele, D ‘starts off’ 9.g4 Be6 10.Nxe6 fxe6 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Be2 Qc8 13.h4 Nfd7 14.h5 Nc4 15.Bxc4 Qxc4 16.hxg6 hxg6 17.f4 Bxc3 18.bxc3 Qxa2 19.Qh2 Kf7 20.Qh7+ Ke8 21.e5 dxe5 22.Qxg6+ Kd8 when finally we get something new in the form of 23.f5:

Yes, beginning the main action on move 23(!), it’s fair to say we now have fairly extensive coverage on this line where White is struggling to prove an advantage. Generous subscriber DaniĆ«l offers key notes throughout and the game continuation of 23...exf5 24.Bg5 Qa1+ 25.Kd2 Qa3 26.Rh7 Re8 27.Bxe7+ Rxe7 28.Rh8+? soon shows how White might regret not taking the drawing option!

Yugoslav Attack 9.Bc4 Na5 10.Be2 Bd7 [B77]

The final game of this update is perhaps the most entertaining although I have to warn you that despite involving two good Grandmasters, it is tactically error strewn. Following 9.Bc4 Black deployed the relatively rare (i.e. as much as anything can be these days when so many catalogued practical games have been played) 9...Na5 for reasons that we have discussed in the past but with transpositions to main lines very possible. The response in Savchenko, B - Moiseenko, Va was 10.Be2:

Whilst we have seen both 10 Bb3 and 10 Bd3 before, here though White opts to retreat his bishop a little further, content then that it is out of reach of the black knight, having originally prevented the ...d5 break and still guarding the c4-square. Moreover re comparisons with the Chinese variation and similar, the bishop also hinders a ...b5 thrust. Regards downsides, I suppose Black's f7-pawn is no longer pinned and the bishop may get in the way a little on e2, whilst an ...e5 and ...d5 idea becomes slightly more plausible for Black but not simply ...d5 which can be well met by e4-e5.

After 10..Bd7 11.Bh6 Rc8 12.h4 Bxh6 13.Qxh6 Qb6 14.0-0-0 we see the thematic exchange sacrifice 14...Rxc3 with chances about even after 15.bxc3 Rc8 16.Nb3 Rxc3 17.Kb2 Rc8 18.h5 Bb5 19.Bxb5 Qxb5 Very reasonable play up to that point but things started going haywire for both sides and from here on in when it was a matter of who made the least decisive mistakes ending on top. Very entertaining though!

Bye for now! Chris

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