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For this fun packed update, we have endgame marathons and stunning miniatures. Yep, that’s about the long and short of it! Enjoy!

Download PGN of September ’20 Dragon Sicilian games

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Maroczy Bind 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd2 a5 11.f3 a4 12.Rc1 Qa5 [B36]

The game Vallejo Pons, F - Druska, J takes place in the trendy Gurgenidze system of 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd2 a5 11.f3 a4 12.Rc1 Qa5 where White brings something new to the table in the form of 13.Nb5:

We are of course used to plenty of variations where White tries to gain a favourable trade of queens through Nd5 but after 13...Qxd2+ 14.Kxd2 the white knight is on a different track. In fact with 14...Be6 15.Nc7 Rac8 16.Nxe6 fxe6 it’s been traded off when the big question is ‘Who has gained through this minor piece trade’? Well clearly White now has the bishop pair and a potential weakness on e6 to target. On the other hand Black doesn't have to contend with an annoying white piece on d5 and has easy access to the game for his own king via f7.

Black would have been right to be content with his position after 17.Rc2 Nd7 18.Rb1 b6 19.b4 axb3 20.axb3 Ra8 21.b4 when we proceed to get a bit of an endgame feast in a tussle that one might have expected to have been a draw but could have gone either way and indeed it did!

Maroczy Bind 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.f3 Bg7 8.Be3 0-0 9.Be2 Nh5!? [B36]

Although after 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.f3 there will be some that wonder why White might prioritise this move when there are other more flexible moves to deploy first (e.g. & Be2 elsewhere this month) , in fact it is a kind of 'Anti Gurgenidze ...a5' system. As Black played ... d6 before trading knights, of course 7 Nc2 is also an option but the key is that e4 is over-protected. The point therefore is that if then 7...Nxd4 8 Qxd4 Bg7 9 Be3 0-0 10 Qd2 a5, White can intercept Black's ...a4 and ...Qa5 manoeuvre with 11 b3 or indeed 11 Na4, neither of which are available if f2-f3 was traded for Be2.

The upshot is that in Arjun, K - Paravyan, D we get to introduce a whole new line to the site in the form of 7...Bg7 8.Be3 0-0 9.Be2 Nh5!?:

Okay so knights on the rim may be dim but this h5-steed has the f4-square within its sights with the Dragon bishop now unleashed too.

Although there might be some groans regards how short this game is, despite the faster time limit, first up I should point out the strength of the two players involved. Yes 2477 plays a 2653 and the fact that a talented young Indian IM can fall into such a trap suggests anyone can! It’s a cheeky miniature alright but be sure to check out the notes to 10.0-0 Nf4 11.Qd2 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 Bxd4+ 13.Qxd4 e5! 14.Qd2?? Qg5! 0-1 because I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing more of this line!

Dragon Modern Classical 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 Nc6 9.h3 Nxd4 10.Qxd4 [B70]

I couldn’t really ignore the exciting match-up Dubov, D - Jones, G even if 6.Bc4 isn’t the variation that we would have wanted to see. However, after 6...Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 Nc6 9.h3 Gawain deviated from his book recommended 9...Bd7 to try 9...Nxd4 10.Qxd4 b6:

He’s seeking a harmonious method of development alright but for this move only (i.e. before the fianchetto is completed) Black is loose along the diagonal towards a8 and White sought to punish that through 11.e5! dxe5 12.Qxe5 The notes to the game provide plenty of analysis here on the possible variation 12...e6!? 13 Bg5 but the game saw my ex site co-host sacrifice a pawn with 13...Bb7 13.Qxe7 Qc8 Here 14 Qb4! appears to keep everything together but it seems there was a tactical oversight as Dubov’s 14.Bg5? ran into 14...Bxg2! 15.Kxg2 Qxc4 bearing in mind the check on c6 indirectly helps protect f6. I was surprised after 16.Qb7 Rac8 17.Qf3 that Black wanted to swap queens but 17...Qc6 18.Rad1 b5 19.Re2 b4 20.Bxf6 Qxf3+ 21.Kxf3 Bxf6 really shouldn’t have been an endgame that Gawain should lose.

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

I think the game Espinosa Veloz, E - Moskalenko, A is pretty conclusive proof that after 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.g4 Be6 10.Nxe6 fxe6 11.0-0-0 Ne5 12.Be2 Qc8 13.h4 Nfd7 14.h5 in fact 14...Nxf3 is not the error that it was once considered to be.

Yes, it was originally believed that it walked headlong into the tactic 15.Nd5 i.e. 15...exd5 16 Qxd5+ and if 16...Kh8 then 17 hxg6. However after 15...Nxd2! 16.Nxe7+ Kf7 17.Nxc8 Raxc8 18.Rxd2 Ke7 although 19.hxg6 hxg6 20.Rh7 Rf7 21.Bg5+ Bf6 22.Rxf7+ Kxf7 23.Bxf6 Nxf6 24.Rxd6 nets White a pawn, in fact Black’s superior minor piece and more active king seems to at least compensate and after 24...Ke7 25.Rd4 a5 26.a4?! Nd7 27.Rd3 Nc5 28.Rh3?! Kf6 29.Rh7 b6 30.Bb5 Kg5 31.Rg7 e5 32.Re7 Kf6 33.Ra7 Rd8 34.Rc7 Rd6 you’d have to say more! A very convincing game by Black.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 Qc7 [B76]

9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 really is in vogue right now as White dispenses with those complex middlegame central pawn structures associated with the 9 0-0-0 d5 main lines in favour of keeping it simple down the h-file!

We’ve looked at quite a few games in this system in recent times and 11...Qc7 12.Bxg7 Kxg7 13.h4 h5 14.exd5 cxd5 15.Nxd5 Nxd5 16.Qxd5 Be6 as occurred in Sychev, K - Manukyan, A is one of the more exciting ones from a Black perspective.

Black has compensation for the pawn in the form of handy half-open queenside files and after 17.Qd4+ Kg8 18.Bd3 Rfd8 19.Qe3 Bxa2 I observe that ‘Given that c2 is pinned, there's nothing poisoned about this pawn!’ and with 20.g4 we get a real Yugoslav ‘Attack Vs Attack’ scenario. It looks like a very reasonable one for Black though as 20...Rab8 21.gxh5?! Rxb2!! stunned his opponent with 22.Kd2? Rxc2+ 23.Ke1 Qg3+ being swiftly decisive!

Yugoslav Attack 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.Kb1 Nc4 13.Bxc4 Rxc4 14.g4 b5 15.b3 b4 16.bxc4 bxc3 17.Qxc3 Qc7 [B78]

After the popular sequence 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.Kb1 and then 12...Nc4 13.Bxc4 Rxc4 14.g4 the game Zhu, J - Berdnyk, M gave us the opportunity to revisit the fascinating (but slightly suspicious!) exchange sac line 14... b5 15.b3! b4!? 16.bxc4 bxc3 17.Qxc3 Qc7. We’ve looked at a few different White approaches here before, but it was time to scrutinise 18.h4 h5 19.g5 Nh7:

White would have preferred to have had those lines towards the black king open but at least this steed didn't have the d7-square at its disposal. Mind you, there is a re-route in mind via f8 and White now has to come up with another plan. Swapping off pieces and winning the endgame is one but perhaps easier said than done!

After 20.Qd3!? Rb8+ 21.Nb3 it looks as though 21...Nf8 over-protecting the bishop on d7 and preparing a re-route is best as the tempting 21...a5?! was well met by 22.c5! Indeed 22...Nf8 23.cxd6 exd6 24.Qxd6 Qc8 felt as though it should be relatively plain sailing. However 25.Qc5 Qa6 26.Qa7 Qc8 27.Qc5 Qa6 28.Qa7 Qc8 29.Qxa5 was just the start of the marathon in which surprisingly Black did have her opportunities.

Take care everyone! Chris

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