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I’ve seen plenty of fireworks this month everyone but alas that’s less in the Dragon middlegame arena and more in my local park!
Nevertheless if endings aren’t your thing (!!!) I think there’s quite a few handy tips and warnings in main lines alongside some fun and games in offbeat systems, so try to enjoy!

Download PGN of October ’21 Dragon Sicilian games

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Classical Dragon 6.Be2 Bg7 7.Be3 0-0 8.g4 [B72]

Regulars will know by know by now my tendency to be attracted by intriguing ideas such as the 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be2 Bg7 7.Be3 0-0 8.g4 that occurred recently in Ibrahimli, M - Tologontegin, S:

We have actually featured this before but whereas 8...Nc6 is often automatic, there is a definite appeal to reacting to this wing play with action in the centre via 9...d5! Played before White gets the opportunity to get in g4-g5, the centre being opened would simply leave the white pawn looking silly on g4. Hence 9.e5 is virtually forced when the point is revealed in Black having the option of 9...Ne4 Were White now to trade knights on e4 then the e5-pawn would be a bit out on a limb. Instead then 10.f4 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Nc6 12.h4 f6! 13.exf6 Bxf6 14.h5 e5! 15.Nxc6 bxc6 16.hxg6 occurred which should probably just be a tad better for Black if he simply recaptured on g6 or inserted 16...Bh4+ first. Instead though 16... exf4?! 17.gxh7+ Kh8 18.Bd4 Qe7 19.g5 Bg7 20.Kf2 f3 21.Bf1 c5 occurred which was all a bit double-edged. In this game both sides had their chances to take the full point but after a long drawn out ending, honours were split!

Classical Dragon 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 h5 8.Bc4 [B72]

As enthusiastic subscribers will know, after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 h5, the point behind Black’s delaying of the Dragon bishop’s development is to meet 8 Qd2 with 8...Nxd4 9 Bxd4 Bh6 but in Vrencian, L- Matinian, N White throws a spanner in those works with 8.Bc4!?:

As you’ll see in the notes the Russian GM Nikita Matinian is nothing if not persistent with this line but after 8...Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Bg7 10.0-0-0 Be6? 11.Bxe6 fxe6 12.Qd3 Kf7 13.Kb1 Qa5 14.h3 h4 15.f4 Rh5 16.Bd2 Rc8 17.e5! it’s surely a case of ‘Back to the drawing board’! as 17...dxe5 18.Ne4! Qd5 19.Ng5+ Kg8 20.Qxg6 already left him in dire straits.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 Bxh6 12.Qxh6 Rb8 13.e5 Nd7 [B76]

The variation 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 remains very trendy and the game Vega Gutierrez, S - Sychev, K tendered the perfect opportunity for me to demonstrate how things can go just as horribly wrong for White as Black if accuracy isn’t employed.

In general I was able to discuss the current trends within this popular variation but specifically after 11...Bxh6 12.Qxh6 Rb8 13.e5 Nd7:

White opted for the usual hack 14.h4 rather than the Rd4-h4 rook swinger. The standard sequence 14...Nxe5 15.h5 Bf5 16.g4 f6! Then occurred before White crucially erred with the casual 17.hxg6? The problem is that after 17...Bxg6, Black adequately defends h7, is a pawn up and arguably has the better attacking chances too. Play continued 18.Be2 Qa5 19.f4 when White’s idea was obviously to get in f4-f5 but unfortunately Black struck first with 19...Rxb2!! 20.Kxb2 Rb8+ 21.Kc1 Qxc3 and the game was only going one way!

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 18.h5 [B76]

With my annotating two games last month in the fashionable 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 e5 13.Bc5 Re8 variation, I had decided that Black is probably fine in the endgame after 14 Nxd5 cxd5 15 Qxd5 Qxd5 16 Rxd5 Be6 but now it seems there is another one to try to hold. The problem is that after 14.Ne4 Qc7 15.h4 f5 16.Nd6 Rd8 17.Nxc8 Raxc8 18.h5 Black doesn’t seem to have much choice:

Given the h-file is destined to become open and g6 inevitably peppered, White intends Bc4 next after which the black knight may never get unpinned. Hence the 18... Nb6 in Swiercz, D - Naroditsky, D that leads to 19.Bxb6 Rxd2 20.Bc4+ Kf8 21.Bxc7 Rxd1+ 22.Rxd1 Rxc7 23.hxg6 Bh6+ 24.Kb1 hxg6 25.Rd6 and a fairly unpleasant endgame in which 25...Kg7 26.b4! kept a clamp on Black’s position. Sure, opposite-coloured bishop endings are often drawish but White retains an active rook to the opponent’s passive one here and the bottom line question is ‘Is this what a Dragon player really wants out of the opening’?

Yugoslav 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 e5 13.Bc5 Be6 14.Ne4 Re8 15.h4 [B76]

I’m not going to lie that I wasn’t sure about whether to include the game Perez Gormaz, M - Ronka, E in an update because it is a fast-paced game full of mistakes. However, the fact is that I thought the errors made were definitely ones that some readers could benefit from observing so as to avoid incorporating them into their own game.

So 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 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 Be6 14.Ne4 Re8 15.h4 is the old main line but where here Black replied with 15...Qc7?!:

I especially wanted to feature this game because it is an excellent warning regards not getting caught up in the subtleties of new variations and becoming so confused that you forget the basics. Sure it last grasps the g5-square but White's last move really does threaten h4-h5 and that is why the overwhelmingly most popular reply is 15...h6. Black may have been eager to vacate the d8-square for a rook but now 16.h5 is very awkward. A key point to note is that although typically White has to try and trade off the Dragon bishop before he can deliver checkmate down the h-file, although that won't happen with White's bishop on c5, in fact that bishop prevents Black's king from escaping on f8 meaning that a future Qh7+ could be mate!

After 16...Rad8 17.hxg6 I entertain a big discussion on recapturing towards the centre with 17...fxg6?! instead leaving Black with 4 pawn islands and 3 isolanis. Then 18.Ng5?! introduces another error and with plenty more to come, I won’t ruin the suspense!

Yugoslav 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qa5 15.b3 Bf5 [B76]

From a Black perspective at least Subhayan, K - Aronyak, G saw the month end with a good ending but I’m getting ahead of myself...

So we’re talking 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 and the reliable 12...Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 system where after 14.Na4 Black opted for 14...Qa5 rather than 14...Qc7 and indeed after 15.b3 not retreating the queen then either, instead favouring the provocative 15...Bf5 over 15...Be6.

After 16.Qc5 Qxc5 17.Nxc5 White has scored well after the immediate 17...Nc3 but instead here 17...Rad8!? occurred. Keeping the knight where it is for the time being in favour of bringing a rook to the half-open file, though with less outings, has now performed better in practice. Note in deploying the a-rook there, the retreat ...Bc8 if required is more feasible as the black rooks can stay connected.

Anyway, after 18.Bd3 then the time was right for 18...Nc3 with 19.Rde1 Rd5 20.Bxf5 Rxc5 21.Bd3 Nxa2+ 22.Kb2 Nb4 23.Rxe7 Nxd3+ 24.cxd3 never having been a problem for Black who remarkably finished taking the full point courtesy of a big opponent boo boo later on!

Bye for now, Chris

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To get in touch with me subscribers can email me at Chris