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Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 Qb8 [B76]
«1.) I recognised that after 9. 0-0-0 d5 10. Qe1 e5 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. exd5 Nxd5 13. Bc4 Be6 14. Ne4 the option 14... Qb8 is not discussed in the files at all.
I was wondering, which location for the queen is more precise, c7 or b8?»
Well, I observed last month that all we’ve said on it so far is that ’14...Qb8 is an interesting alternative’. Now in this update I’ve broken from my usual protocol of only including recent games to revisit the past, thus enabling me to correct that situation this month with no less than three 14...Qb8 games!
Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 Qb8 15.Bd2 [B76]
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.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 Qb8 15.Bd2:
You can imagine my surprise when beginning my research on 14...Qb8 initial investigations revealed that the highest ELO player to deploy it was... me! It looks as though the move had only been played 5 times prior in documented encounters and so I'm pretty sure then that it would have been over-the board ‘inspiration’ rather than home prep. Of course I had completely forgotten about this old Rowson, J - Ward, C game but whilst I guess involving two players that both went on to become British Champions(!), this isn’t of much theoretical importance. Perhaps the Scottish GM retreated his bishop to d2 so that he could keep the a5 and h6 squares under scrutiny but it’s clear that 15 Bc5 is the main move.
I continued with 15...a5 anyway when 16.Qh4 f6 17.Nc5 Bc8 18.Bh6 Qb4 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.Nd3 Qb6 21.Rhe1 Bf5 22.Qf2 Rfd8 23.a4 Rab8 24.b3 Nc3 25.Qxb6 Rxb6 26.Rd2 Rd4 27.Nb2 Na2+ 28.Kd1 c5 29.Bd3 Nc3+ 30.Kc1 Be6 31.Bc4 Na2+ 32.Kd1 Rbd6 33.Bd3 Nc3+ 34.Kc1 Na2+ 35.Kb1 Nc3+ 36.Kc1 c4 certainly containing the odd inaccuracy but is perhaps a reasonable example of how Black can exploit some holes when White erects a queenside structure including pawns on a4 and b3.
Yugoslav 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 Qb8 15.Bc5 Rd8 16.Qh4 h6 17.g4 Nf4 [B76]
9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 Qb8 15.Bc5 Rd8 16.Qh4 h6 17.g4 sees more standard moves for this line, when first up I wanted to look at 17...Nf4:
Definitely not a thriller, the essential question is whether 18.Bxe6 Nxe6 19.Be3 Nf4 20.Rxd8+ Qxd8 21.Qxd8+ Rxd8 leaves White’s structural advantage being enough for him to convert such an edge into a win. As you will be discover, practical encounters to date would suggest not and even the 22.Bxa7 Ra8 23.Bc5 Rxa2 24.Kb1 Ra8 25.Rd1 Ne6 shouldn’t really have seen White win in Mannion, S - Helmer, C.
However, it crossed my mind that 22 Bxf4 exf4 23 c3 might be a serious option and as you will discover in the annotation, I went to town studying that endgame. Yes, I've investigated it with pupils in coaching sessions and helpful friends have even staged engine matches to try to decipher the truth!
Of course it would be easy to simply summarise with 'Black has the more active rook and a bishop for a knight but White is half a pawn up' but I wanted to know and more importantly be able to inform the ChessPub subscribers of the real story. Alas you might not like it(!) but come on, which true Dragon player really wants to play like that anyway?
Yugoslav 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 Qb8 15.Bc5 Rd8 16.Qh4 h6 17.g4 a5 [B76]
Following 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 Qb8 15.Bc5 Rd8 16.Qh4 h6 17.g4 then, given 17...Nf4 is dull and maybe just bad, a lot of hope then rests with 17...a5:
This is definitely more in the spirit of things, putting any ...Nf4-e6-d4 possibilities on ice in favour of preserving pieces and tension in the centre and getting on with a queenside offensive.
The game Al Modiahki, M - West, G is as far as I can see the only documented encounter in this with as I see it one big question being whether White should in general be looking to halt this pawn in its tracks through a2-a4.
That wasn’t the case through 18.Rhg1 a4 19.g5 h5 when White was clearly desperate to infiltrate on f6 but 20.Bxd5?! Rxd5! 21.Nf6+ would have been totally unsuccessful had Black responded with 21...Bxf6! 22 gxf6 Qb5! Instead 21...Kh8?! 22.Rxd5 Bxd5 23.Qg3 Bxa2 24.Re1 Bd5 25.Ba3 Qd8 26.Qxe5 Bxf3 occurred in a tricky game that understandably contained inaccuracies with the last one being decisive (i.e. in a negative way!)
Yugoslav 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 Qc7 15.Bc5 Rfd8 16.Qh4 h6 17.g4 Rd7 [B76]
«2.) The second question is strongly connected to the first one, because although I'm playing the dragon for my entire life and I really love this opening, I feel struggling a lot in that line with 14... Qc7, especially in the lines like in Mannion-Vocaturo. Still I feel that black would have struggled to enjoy the game after 23. Rd6 instead of 23. Ba7.
This, and the fact that I always feel whites plan is rather simple (fixing the kingside with g5, going back with the queen, playing h4 and keeping the dark squared bishop on the board) and still leaves black more or less in a paralysed situation. Would it be possible to discuss a game in one of the upcoming updates, which discusses how black can organise some counterplay or at least what the important defensive ideas are?»
I’m hoping the following material packed annotation goes a reasonable way to helping you out and it includes my updated thoughts on your referenced Mannion-Vocaturo annotation. Given my views throughout this update, it should come as no great surprise that I’m personally attracted to the move 19...a4!? but actually I quite like the following detailed alternative to 17...a5.
So far in general we’ve seen Black plans of razzing the a-pawn down the board and generating play down the b-file, utilising the square b4 should White block with a2-a4. I’m not too impressed with the 14...Qb8 15.Bc5 Rd8 16.Qh4 h6 17.g4 Nf4 ending but certainly recognise there is a time and a place for ...Nf4. For example after doubling the rooks on the d-file first...
In the annotations to the entertaining Hoffmann, M - Berndt, S after 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Qe1 e5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Bc4 Be6 14.Ne4 Qc7 15.Bc5 Rfd8 16.Qh4 h6 17.g4 I do discuss 17...a5 but I was very pleased to be able to introduce 17...Rd7 which carries with it a very simple plan:
Yes, essentially Black wants to double his rooks on the d-file and play a timely ...Nf4 which will either leave him with control of the d-file or with all the rooks off and more options for his queen. Indeed the latter definitely transpired after 18.g5 h5 19.Rd2 Rad8 20.Rhd1 Nf4 21.Bxe6 Rxd2 22.Rxd2 Rxd2 23.Nxd2 Nxe6 24.Be3 e4! 25.Nxe4 Qe5 26.c3 Qd5 resulting in a fun game with a cute finish.
CHRIS: I hope I’ve been of some help but I would like to add that I’m assuming all my readers aren’t 2700+ rated players! It’s of course nice if you can have home prep of forced wins but generally my view is that over the board most humans will make mistakes. These games don’t involve the likes of Magnus but the players are of a reasonable standard. There are inaccuracies. Maybe based on this month’s evidence I would lean towards 14...Qc7 over 14...Qb8 but I’d probably be happy to play either as I’m content that Black can get some action and so all results are possible!
Yugoslav 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Bc4 Rd8 16.Nc5 Bf5 17.Bb3 Nf4 [B76]
I took the October 2019 game Popov, I - Cvitan, O as an opportunity to assess where we are in the main line of 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 with this encounter specifically featuring the move order 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Bc4 Rd8 16.Nc5 Bf5 17.Bb3 Nf4 18.Qc4:
We have seen this (hitting f7) on the site before as well as 18 Qf2 guarding the g-pawn but there seems to be a recurring theme in these lines. White is very slightly better whilst those black queenside isolanis remain. Should he go tactically wrong then Black can potentially turn things around to get on top but more often it is White hoping for an inaccuracy that could turn that slight pull into a significant advantage. As it happens after 18...Be6 19.Nxe6 in 19...Rxd1+? the premature concession of the d-file was just what was needed as 20.Rxd1 Nxe6 21.g3 Rd8 22.Rxd8+ Nxd8 23.Qc5! suddenly left Black under serious pressure with the queen and knight pairing unable to get going and the minor piece endgame 23...h5 24.a4 e6 25.c3 Qb6 26.Qxb6 axb6 eventually lost.
Yugoslav Attack 9.g4 Be6 10.Nxe6 fxe6 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Be2 Qc8 13.Rhe1 [B76]
Following 9.g4 Be6 10.Nxe6 fxe6 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Be2 Qc8 13.Rhe1 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Qxc4 15.Bd4 Nd7 16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.f4 the game Utiatskaja, I - Voit, D brings us something new to the site in the form of 17...b5:
Black is of course threatening ...b4 and deploying this advance immediately (i.e. in preference to activating a rook first) most certainly worked out well for Black in this encounter as after 18.b3 Qb4 19.Qe3?! Rac8 20.Ne2 Qa3+ 21.Kb1 Black unleashed 21...Rxc2!!. Not quite full revenge for the 0% Black had previously scored in this line but a nice visual way to end what has otherwise been a pretty tough update.
See you guys soon! Chris
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To get in touch with me subscribers can email me at Chris Ward@ChessPublishing.com.