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Well everybody...
‘To be or not to be on f3’, that is the question, and the answer: well that’s a work in progress! We do make inroads on that debate, though, in a month where it’s definitely a case of Women, Children and Dragadorf’s first!

Download PGN of September ’18 Dragon Sicilian games

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Classical Dragon 6.Be3 a6 7.Be2 Bg7 8.Qd2 h5 9.0-0-0 Nbd7 [B72]

Smith, B - Shabalov, A was an intriguing game that kicked off 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 a6 7.Be2 Bg7 8.Qd2 h5 9.0-0-0 Nbd7 10.f4:

My reason for keeping this game as a 'B72' rather than a 'B75' essentially revolves around one point. The white f-pawn has bypassed the f3-square and so although all the other Dragadorfs (including those up next) are classified under B75, this simply isn't a Yugoslav Attack!

With White advancing his f-pawn one square further than ‘usual’ the position is completely changed in nature. He has less control over the g4-square but whilst the e4-pawn is less well protected, his clear aim is to get in e4-e5 and punish Black for his early wing play.

Though I have wanted to look at this sort of ‘Aggressive Classical Vs Dragadorf’ situation before, it transpires that exactly this position is unique!

Play continued 10...Qc7 11.Bf3 Nb6 12.e5 Ng4 13.exd6 Qxd6 when White missed his chance for an advantage through 14 Nc6! instead deploying 14.Ndb5 which after 14...Qxd2+ 15.Rxd2 axb5 16.Bxb6 0-0 was only equal and indeed saw the higher rated American GM go on to win the endgame.

Dragadorf 6.Be3 a6 7.Be2 Bg7 8.Qd2 Nbd7 9.f3 h5 10.0-0-0 b5 [B75]

The first of two games from the European U-18 girls championship is a very impressive win by Black although regards Garcia Martin, M - Hrescak, I I observed that after 1 e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 a6 7.Be2 Bg7 8.Qd2 Nbd7 9.f3 h5 10.0-0-0:

(spot the difference between this and the previous diagram!)

10...b5 11.h3, White’s play strikes me as being a little slow and a little clumsy. Nevertheless I wouldn’t say White was worse until 11...Bb7 12.g4 Nb6 13.g5?! when the kingside was sealed off but about 13...Nfd7 14.Nd5 0-0 15.Nb3 Bxd5 16.exd5 Nc4! 17.Bxc4 bxc4 18.Nd4 Qb6 19.c3 Qa5 20.Nc6 Qxa2 21.Qc2 Ne5 clearly the same couldn’t be said about the queenside and Black’s aspirations there.

Dragadorf 6.Be3 a6 7.f3 h5 8.Qd2 Nbd7 9.Be2 Bg7 10.0-0 [B75]

Alas, a few days later in Dimitrova, A - Hrescak, I the young Slovenian WFM had a somewhat different experience when after 5...g6 6.Be3 a6 7.f3 h5 8.Qd2 Nbd7 9.Be2 Bg7 her opponent chose 10.0-0 instead:

So, this month we have seen White ‘go long’ with f2-f4 and ‘go long’ with f2-f3 but here White adopts the pragmatic approach. Certainly the 4th permutation of short castles with f2-f4 would feel logical with White again looking to punish Black for that early ...h5 but this is certainly solid and carries with it the familiar plan of parking the knight on d5 and setting up a Maroczy Bind with c2-c4. Actually, the annotation includes taking a look at the various Black options but certainly 10...Ne5 11.Nd5 e6 12.Nxf6+ Bxf6 wasn’t feeling very comfortable after 13.Nb3 Qc7 14.Rfd1. Probably Black needed to try and hunker down with 14...Be7 but the miscalculation 14...0-0? 15.Qxd6 Qxc2? proved fatal after 16.Bc5!.

Yugoslav Attack 9 Nb3 [B75]

The game Walter, S - Zaskalski, A was ultimately another success for White in 5...g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.Nb3, despite 9...Be6 10.0-0-0 Na5 11.Kb1! not looking a ridiculous Black approach:

However, 11...Nc4?! 12.Bxc4 Bxc4 was not really cutting it for Black and indeed White had a free hand on the kingside. Although 13.Bh6 b5 14.h4 b4 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.exd5 Bxb3 17.axb3 Bxh6 18.Qxh6 f6 helped Black avoid being mated, 19.f4 Rf7 20.h5 gxh5 21.Qxh5 still left him standing structurally inferior.

Yugoslav Attack 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Ne5 11.Bb3 Rc8 12.Kb1 Re8 13.Bg5 [B78]

Sawlin, L - Tutisani, N featured a position that we have only touched on in the past and is incredibly rare. After 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Bc4 0-0 9.Qd2 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Ne5 11.Bb3 Rc8 12.Kb1 Re8, normal of course is 13 h4 with 13 g4 and 13 Bh6 getting their fair share of outings too. Although the bishop move itself is a familiar one, in fact 13.Bg5 is very unusual:

Nevertheless, it can be seen to carry some punch as all in the name of stopping an e4-e5 thrust, the Georgian IM played on autopilot with 13...Rc5 14.f4 Neg4?! but after 15.Rhe1! e5 16.Nf3 exf4 17.Qxd6 Qc7 18.Qxc7 Rxc7 19.e5 Nh5 20.Nd5 already found himself in serious trouble.

Yugoslav Attack 9 Bc4 Bd7 10 0-0-0 Rc8 11 Bb3 Ne5 12 h4 Nc4 [B78]

Regards 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Bc4 Nc6 9.Qd2 Bd7 10.h4 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.0-0-0 Nc4 it's not often these days we get to see an old main line but that is exactly the case here as Black eschews the ...h5 Soltis blocker in favour of getting on with his own queenside initiative. The obvious appeal of this move is that White is essentially forced to part with his f7-pinning bishop whilst Black gets to facilitate a future doubling of rooks on the c-file. However, the downside is that Black equally waves goodbye to this knight which has both offensive and defensive value. Can, I - Rajic, I then continued with 13.Bxc4 Rxc4 14.h5 Nxh5 15.g4 Nf6 when we see a first for the site in 16.Kb1:

Previously we have covered 16 Bh6, 16 Nb3, 16 Nd5, 16 Nde2 and 16 b3 but interestingly the text ends up having most in common with another 16th move option 16 e5. Unfortunately for Black 16...Re8 17.e5 Nxg4 18.fxg4 Bxg4 is suddenly a worse version of that because of 19.e6! when 19...Bxd1 20.exf7+ Kxf7 21.Qxd1 Rxc3 22.Qf3+ Bf6 23.bxc3 left the black king horribly exposed.

See you all again soon! Chris

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