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Classical Dragon 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 Nc6 9.Nb3 a6 10.Bf1 b5 [B70]
Regarding 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 Nc6 9.Nb3 regular subscribers will be only too familiar with this Classical system in which White parks a rook on e1, retreats his bishop to f1 and plays a timely Nd5 with the hope of ultimately activating his rook against e7 should Black trade knights on d5. In recent times there have been refinements for White in delaying Bf1/possibly switching it to b5 but frankly I remain unimpressed by this White selection which is rarely successful against the strong Dragon players.
That said, of course occasionally I do still feature it on the site and it always catches my eye when I see Black performing nicely against such systems. Indeed in Mischuk, D - Valdes, Le I found a certain appeal to 9...a6 10.Bf1 b5 11.Nd5 Nd7!?:
Black decides that he can live with the white knight for a short while but basically plans to kick it away with ...e6. That plan seemed perfect after 12.a4 b4 13.Ra2 e6 14.Ne3 Nf6 15.f3 Qc7 16.Bd2 Rb8 17.a5 Rd8 18.Bd3 d5 19.exd5 Nxd5 20.Nxd5 Rxd5 and Black can be very happy with the way the opening turned out. He has an extra centre pawn and his opponent awkward development!
Yugoslav Attack 9.g4 Be6 10.Nxe6 fxe6 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Be2 Qc8 [B76]
Games involving 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.g4 Be6 10.Nxe6 fxe6 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Be2 Qc8 continue to appear and Morozevich, A - Pustovoitova, D was a standout encounter from both a variation and result perspective. After 13.h4 Nfd7 14.h5 Black ignored the general advice to stay away from the white f-pawn with 14...Nc4 and instead jumped straight in with 14...Nxf3:
Plenty of sources including ChessPublishing will tell you that this is a mistake because of 15 Nd5! but given that neither player here appeared to subscribe to that opinion, I thought I’d revisit previous assessments. Indeed with correct defence that doesn’t seem that bad for Black but 15.Bxf3 Rxf3 16.hxg6 hxg6 17.e5?! Bxe5 18.Qe2 Qc6 19.Bd4 certainly didn’t challenge Black more and after 19...Raf8 20.Bxe5 Nxe5 21.Ne4 Qc4 22.Qh2 Kf7 23.Ng5+ Ke8 24.Nxf3 Nxf3 Black found himself with 3 pawns and an attack for the exchange and well on the way to a victory that against such a strong and famous opponent, he will surely remember forever.
Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 Qb6 [B76]
Regards the recent Nepomniachtchi, I - Nakamura, Hi I make no excuses for featuring a 'blitz' game as it is clear to anyone that follows them that the World's top players take these St Louis events very seriously and don't hold back from using opening preparation.
Indeed, after 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 Qb6 12.h4 Hikaru unleashed the novel 12...dxe4 which seems to be just fine:
Admittedly I have never considered this White approach to be critical but it seems more likely than not that the talented young American had given some thought to this in the past. Then 13.Bxg7 e3 14.Qe1 Kxg7 15.Na4 Qc7 16.Qxe3 h5 17.Bc4 Bf5 18.Rhe1 Qg3 19.Qg5 Qc7 20.Qe3 Qg3 21.Qg5 Qc7 was remarkably accurate but with Black erring after 22.Nc5 Rad8 23.Qe3 with 23...Qg3? when 23...Rxd1+ 24 Rxd1 Qh2!? might have been quite annoying. The point was that Black had seemingly overlooked 24.Rxd8 Rxd8 25.Bxf7! although after 25...Qxh4 26.Bb3?! Nd5 27.Qe5+ Qf6 28.Nb7 Rd7 29.Nc5 Rd8 30.Nb7 Rd7 31.Nc5 it was Black’s turn to avoid the repetition with 31...Rd6 Eventually though a draw was the fair result!
Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Bc4 Rd8 16.g3 Bh3!? [B76]
Enthusiastic subscribers will recall that regards 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 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Bc4 Rd8 16.g3, we have had something to say about the intriguing 16...Bh3!?:
Evidently that caught someone’s eye as I then received the following e-mail:
I just noticed your 'Dragon-update' on 'Chess Publishing'. I enclose my game played few months ago in the Dutch league, quite interesting since you also mention the strange but logical 16...Bh3 move. I thought a long time, during the game, playing this move and I knew that my 'Editor in Chief' got problems with this 16.g3 move against Movsesian during the last Olympiad.
However in my story, the Dutch league, you never play against the same team opposition, nor John or myself could prepare for this game and we both were on our own after 16.g3.
Also I played a rather interesting Dragon-game against GM Gavrilov, first round Sabadell senior plus 50 European championship, this month. A game that still puzzles me, but if I may believe my dear friend Ivan Sokolov, a really good game from both sides that ended in a King versus King.
Hope this finds you well,
Daniël Vanheirzeele, Managing Director Thinkers Publishing»
CHRIS: My reply is first and foremost of appreciation and I have included your full annotation of Van der Wiel, J - Vanheirzeele, D in this month’s September 2017 update with as it happens minimal observations of my own. Specifically then after 17 Qh4 this game deviates from my previous comments with 17...Qa5! and I wouldn’t be surprised if a chesspublishing subscriber seriously benefits from this piece of analysis (although I would prefer it was me)! John Van der Wiel has featured in many tussles over time against the Dragon and this wasn’t far off being a notable scalp! Thanks Dan and I will try to incorporate that Gavrilov game in the once trendy (but still cropping up from time to time) Queenside castling Classical variation sometime soon.
Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 Soltis Variation 13.Kb1 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 15.g4 [B77]
There were some neat tactics in Stanojoski, Z - Nikolovski, N both of the deployed and overlooked variety. The game was a Yugoslav Attack Soltis line when after 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.h4 h5 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Bb3 Rc8 White played the calm 13.Kb1 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 before starting the fireworks through 15.g4:
Actually 15...hxg4 16.h5 Nxh5 17.fxg4 Bxg4 18.Rdg1 is a position that we have featured before with Black responding with 18...e5. Here though that was held back and indeed delivered with greater effect after 18...Qd7 19.b3? Rxc3 20.Qxc3 e5! Particularly odd was that after 21.Rh4 Nf6 22.Bh6 Rc8? White missed his seemingly built up to opportunity for 23 Bxg7! and instead 23.Qd3? Bxh6 24.Rxh6 exd4 25.Qxd4 Qe6! 26.Rf1 Qe5! kept Black in control in a variation that still appears to be fine for the 2nd player.
Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 Chinese Variation 11.Bb3 Na5 12.h4 b5 13.Kb1 Nc4 14.Bxc4 bxc4 15.g4 [B78]
Following 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rb8 11.Bb3 Na5 12.h4 b5 13.Kb1 Nc4 14.Bxc4 bxc4 by far the most common White plan involves tucking his king into the safety of the corner but Melia, S - Videnova, I saw 15.g4:
Yes, White then ploughed on with his kingside offensive when in fact almost ten times as many practical outings have seen the prophylactic Ka1 (following on from 13 Kb1) intending to guard the b2-pawn with the rook.
After 15...Qb6 White prevented the mate on b2 with 16.b3 when 16...Qc7 17.Bg5 cxb3 18.cxb3 e6 in turn saw Black eliminate the Bxf6 and Nd5 concept. This is an interesting position but as you’ll see 19.Nde2 Rb6?! 20.Bh6 a5 21.Bxg7 Kxg7 22.h5 Rfb8 23.Qf4! saw things go downhill for Black so very quickly and I’m not kidding!
Hope you’re all well. Back soon! Chris
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To get in touch with me subscribers can email me at Chris Ward@ChessPublishing.com.