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The last update of 2022 and all the trendy lines are featured. No Christmas cards but moving into the new year and we’ve got mail!

Download PGN of December ’22 Dragon Sicilian games

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Dragon 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 h5 8.Qd2 Nxd4 9.Bxd4 Bh6 10.Qf2 [B72]

I can’t believe how popular this 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 h5 system is becoming but the fact is that championed by energetic Hungarian GM Richard Rapport, it’s getting good results. Indeed in Soltanici, R - David, Alexandru we saw the standard idea of 8.Qd2 Nxd4 9.Bxd4 Bh6 and then White eschew the check on b5 or the immediate offer of a bishop trade through 10 Be3 via 10.Qf2. So 10...Qa5 naturally followed to activate her majesty and guard a7 when 11.Bb5+ Kf8 leaves Black with a simple plan of ...e5 followed by a dark-squared bishop swap and a parking of the other bishop on e6.

White tried to intercept that through 12.Bc4 Be6 13.Bd3 with 13...h4 an important idea in this system and 14.0-0 Bg7 15.h3 Nd7 16.f4 Bxd4 17.Qxd4 f6 18.Nd5 Qc5 19.Qxc5 Nxc5 20.Nc7 Rc8 21.Nxe6+ Nxe6 a favourable endgame for Black for reasons I hopefully justify.

Dragon 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 h5 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.e5 [B72]

Yes, that’s right, after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 h5 it was probably only a matter of time before White was going to attempt to blow Black’s cheeky system out of the water and in Yoo, C W- Kazakov, K the forcing 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.e5 was a novel but definitely not illogical approach:

Okay, so there might be the odd available deviation but 9...dxe5 10.Qxd8+ Kxd8 11.0-0-0+ Kc7 12.Bc4 e6 13.Rhe1 Nd5 14.Bd2 f6 15.Ne4 makes perfect sense when I feel that we are at a critical moment. Given that White isn’t exactly threatening to restore material equality by taking on d5 and then on f6, I feel that Black should prevent the check on a5 through 15...a5! himself. Instead though 15...Be7?! 16.Ba5+ Nb6 17.b4 Kb7 18.Bb3! Nd5 19.a3 Rb8 20.c4 Nb6 21.Nd6+ Ka8 22.f4! left Black under severe pressure in what was ultimately a nice White win.

Yugoslav Attack 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 Bxh6 12.Qxh6 e5 13.g4 [B76]

We have seen quite a lot of the system 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.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bh6 in recent times on the site with 11...Bxh6 12.Qxh6 e5 looking like a reasonable way to respond that certainly prevents White from getting his own pawn to e5! Regulars will know that we have tended to spend our time here on 13 h4 and 13 exd5 but Peng, L M- Weishaeutel, M heralds the first appearance with 13.g4:

I don’t want exponents of the White side getting too excited though as although deployed here by a GM, it seems a bit slow to me and I’ve sort of awarded it a ‘?!’. Black responded sensibly through 13...d4 14.Na4 Qe7! when 15.b3 Be6 16.Qg5 Qa3+! 17.Kb1 Nd7 18.Qc1 Qe7! 19.h4 Nb6 20.Nxb6 axb6 had left him with a strong queenside initiative.

Indeed in the game it looked as though Black was cruising to a smooth victory but we know here that life doesn’t always work that way. Yes, Black erred, White turned things around before then blundering and handing the full point back to his opponent. That’s chess for you!

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]

The game Ding Liren - Li Chao2 suggests that in the variation 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.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qb6 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Bc4 Rd8 16.Nc5 Bf5 17.Bb3 Nf4 even top players are struggling to make headway for White in what we wouldn’t be unjustified as calling the main line. Previously we’ve investigated plenty of 18 Qf2 on the site but here the Chinese superstar of the chess board plumped for 18.Qc4:

A while back on the site we saw Black swap rooks on d1 before dealing with the threat to f7 but then suffering. Instead here the wise decision was the immediate 18...Be6 with 19.Nxe6 Nxe6 20.g3 Rd6 having Black prefer that the rooks were traded off on his own terms. In fact a few bits came off through 21.Qc3 Rad8 22.Bxe6 Rxe6 23.Rxd8+ Qxd8 but 24.Rd1 Qb6 25.b3 Rd6 26.Rxd6 exd6 didn’t even leave White with a small edge.

Far from a thriller I’m afraid but theoretically nothing of much concern for Black with the whole variation continuing to stand the test of time.

Chinese Variation 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. O-O-O Rb8 11. Bb3 Na5 12. Bh6 Bxh6 13. Qxh6 b5 14. Nd5 [B78]

So I had a bit of mail come my way this month with the first coming from Jon:
"I spent some time looking at this recently after my chess program lost a game in this line as Black.
One of the things I notice is that correspondence players seem to rarely enter this variation (10 .. Rb8) now. In fact the only strong correspondence game I could find in 2022 was Meiners, E - Gleyzer, L This was drawn, but I think the position after 14. Nd5 is pretty difficult for Black:

Black has played 13...e5 too but that does not seem better after 14.Ndb5!"

Thanks for your observations and subscribers then will note that I have addressed these submissions in my annotation of Meiners, E - Gleyzer, L and I will be monitoring these lines moving forward. Of course, in super-computer tussles and correspondence chess, move accuracy is going to be significantly higher than plain old flesh and blood humans doing battle in pressure situation tournament play in ever fastening time limits. Many (myself included) enjoy the thrill and excitement of playing the Dragon where in practical play humans will make errors and so chances of mixing things up and winning with the black pieces seems significantly higher than in more mundane defences. That said, you live by the sword, you die by the sword and returning to the assessment of this line and your given variations do seem to offer White a little something. I have in the notes though proposed Black deviations that I don’t believe should see him losing and I’m not sure the main game was that difficult for Black with in that type of chess, a draw with Black being a good result!

Topalov System 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 13.Bxa7 b4 14.Ne2 [B78]

"Hi Chris,
I was a Chess Publishing subscriber around 2005, after reading your WWTD2 and starting playing the Dragon. Then came the very nice Dearing book, but I stopped playing the Dragon, as I was suffering as black vs 1700 players.
Upon seeing your ChessBase videos on the December 2022 updates I was hooked up and decided to go Gold Plus.
I was disappointed that the PDF file is difficult to follow and the critical lines well hidden and not the main lines. Perhaps the burden of producing a well structured PDF doesn’t correspond to the current level of subscribers.
My last outing with the Dragon, dates from Bad Wiesee 2019. I essayed Gawain Jones recommendation in his Dragon books. Funnily my choice was criticised by both Jan Markos and Renier Vazquez, who were coaching me at the time. They are both around 2600 or high 25xx.
You are as dismissive of Ne2 as is Gawain. Recently I run a comp match between Hiarcs 15 and Komodo Dragon latest version.... Interesting how the stronger side won from both sides. But both Jan Markos and Renier Vazquez dislike black after 13.Ba7...."

Dear Fernando,
Thank you for your positive comments and submission. There has (as you will have noted) been so many changes in theoretical assessments since you were last with us with new ideas/variations frequently popping up. Glad that you are enjoying the new ‘Dragon monthly’ show on ChessBase, where I do point towards this site as a source of up-to-date theoretical information. My aim here remains the same, which is to keep tabs on all Dragon (Accelerated and Hyper-Accelerated too) games played around the World each month and to annotate six of the most interesting ones from either a combination of theoretical, entertainment, ideas and personnel perspectives.
Noted though your remarks on the roadmaps. They are not so much intended to read as a book but rather have a quick reference to every game ever annotated on the site. I will however look to review them this year with a view to promoting the ‘main lines’. That said in many cases, those themselves keep changing and for example I’m not even totally sure myself what we should consider to be the main lines these days in the popular Yugoslav Attack 9 0-0-0 d5 line. However, I can assure you that it certainly isn’t my intention to hide anything important and welcoming you as a Goldplus subscriber, over time this year I will endeavour to review them.
Moving on and I have included your game as part of this update with my comments prefixed by a ‘CHRIS:’. I’ve not yet had that variation myself in a game but I can’t exactly concur with your previous coaches opinions regards the greedy 13 Bxa7. Perhaps we have been a tad dismissive here of 14 Ne2 but my opinion is that one of the available ...e5 and ...d5 sequences should provide Black with very reasonable compensation.

Anyway for other subscribers we’re talking 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.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 13.Bxa7 b4 with the retreat 14.Ne2:

and feel free to check out my annotation to Möldner, J - Semprun, F

Happy New Year everyone and hopefully I’ll be back real soon.

Best wishes, Chris

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