Saturday, July 25, 2020

Accelerated Dragon #7

Ideas in the Accelerated Dragon

Idea #7 -  When White plays Nxc6

As a general rule, Black is happy when White plays Nxc6.  For these reasons:

  • After Black recaptures with a pawn.  White can no longer play Nd5, which is usually strong for White.
  • If Black recaptures with the b-pawn, then the d-pawn advance will be supported by the new pawn on c6.
  • If Black recaptures with the b-pawn, the open b-file and dark square bishop makes the square b2 a target.  Especially if White castles queenside.
  • If Black recaptures with the d-pawn, the open d-file can lead to simplifications or tactics favorable for Black.
So in most of the lines of the Accelerated Dragon, White only plays Nxc6 to get out of tactical trouble. 

How do you decide whether to re-capture with the b or d-pawn.  The answer:  re-capture with the b-pawn unless White would be able to play an immediate Bd4 threatening to exchange dark square bishops (like after Black plays ...Ng4)  and the d-pawn re-capture would prevent that move.

There is one advantage of this move for white, however.  Eliminating Black's knight on c6 enables the move e5.  With this in mind, there is one line where strong players have tried Nxc6.  The proper timing is on move 7 right after Black plays Nf6, so that e5 comes with an attack on the knight.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Accelerated Dragon #6

Ideas in the Accelerated Dragon

Idea #6  -  White's main line with 7.Bc4 and 8.Bb3

As we saw in Idea #5, this line is probably White's last chance to try for a Yugoslav Attack.
The moves up to this point:

1. e4        c5
2. Nf3     Nc6
3. d4       cxd4
4. Nxd4  g6
5. Nc3    Bg7
6. Be3    Nf6
7. Bc4    0-0
8. Bb3    

Idea 4 in that post recommended the move 8...a5.  This was based on the pattern of white having a minor piece on b3 (so ...a4 would be a threat).  This move also gives the rook a potential entry via a6.

If White ignores the threat and plays something like 9.0-0, then the e-pawn will fall after 9...a4.

White can try to stop ...a4 by playing 9.a4 first.  This means that if the Bishop on b3 is ever traded, White will have to recapture with the c-pawn.  So Black can play 9...Ng4, knowing that after 10.Qxg4 the move 10...Nxd4 will threaten discovered check against the white queen, and one of White's bishop will be traded for the knight.

So at move 9,  White's main line is 9.f3

Now black finally gets to play 9...d5in one move which has always been the objective.

Here, White's hopes for a Yugoslav Attack are crushed.  It would be too risky to try to castle queen side and advance king side pawns when Black can open the center and the a-pawn advancing is a nasty threat.

If White captures with the e-pawn,  Black will play ...Nb4 and will eventually get the pawn back.

Note:  It would be a mistake for White to take first on d5 with knight and then with Bishop.  Black would then take twice on d4, leaving the white queen on d4.  Now the white bishop is pinned.

Here is an interesting game that shows a lot of Black's ideas.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Accelerated Dragon #5

Ideas in the Accelerated Dragon

Idea #5 -  When white tries to prevent 8...d5 with 7.Bc4  --  Patterns to know

Let's take a look at the main line sequence:

1. e4        c5
2. Nf3     Nc6
3. d4       cxd4
4. Nxd4  g6
5. Nc3    Bg7
6. Be3    Nf6
7. Bc4    0-0

With 7.Bc4, White is signalling the intention to play a Yugoslav Attack while trying to prevent Black from playing 8...d5.  As usual, Black plays 7...0-0.   Now White proceed with caution, as it is easy to make a mistake.

Since Black will not be able to play 8...d5, I will show you 4 patterns to guide your response, depending on what White plays.

Pattern 1 -   White plays 8.f3 leaving the bishop on e3 undefended.

This position is common in amateur play.  White is continuing to try for the Yugloslav attack.
But 8.f3 is inaccurate for White, leaving the bishop on e3 unprotected.

Black can exploit this by playing 8...Qb6, attacking the unprotected pawn on b2, and an x-ray attack on the e3 bishop.

White's best choice is probably 9.Bb3, but this lets Black unleash the monster bishop with 9...Ng4 or 9..Nxe4 initiating tactics that favor Black.  (Note:  White can set a trap with 9.a3 hoping to trap the Black queen, but Black can avoid the poison pawn and play 9...Qc5.)

Pattern 2  -  White plays 8.Qd2 leaving the square g4 undefended.

This move is also common in amateur play.  White is again trying for a Yugoslav Attack, but unfortunately the move 8.Qd2 leaves the g4 square undefended.

Black takes advantage of this by playing 8...Ng4 with a discovered attack on the knight.

White cannot move the bishop without losing the knight, so will either have to give up his bishop for a knight, or play 9.Nxc6 with simplifications that favor Black.

Pattern 3 -   White plays 8.0-0 allowing the "fork trick"

Sometimes White gives up on a Yugoslav Attack and plays 8.0-0.

This allows the "fork trick" (a similar situation occurs in the Two Knights Defense) with 8...Nxe4.

If White recaptures with 9.Nxe4,  then 9...d5 forks bishop and knight.  
White can try 9.Bxf7+ leaving Black a rook on the semi-open f-file and two central pawns.

Pattern 4 -  White plays 8.Bb3 tempting the a-pawn to advance.

If White doesn't what to play into one of the 3 patterns above, the best move left is 8.Bb3, which avoids the fork trick, and might still lead to a Yugoslav Attack if Black complies.  This should probably be considered the main line.

The pattern for Black to notice here is a minor piece on b3.  When you see this, you should automatically consider 8...a5, threatening 9...a4.  

White has several replies, which will be covered in the next post.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Accelerated Dragon #4

Ideas in the Accelerated Dragon

Idea #4  -  If White doesn't prevent it, play 8...d5

As we saw in the post,  Accelerated Dragon #1, Black wants to play the d-pawn to d5 in one move.  When Black is able to do this, he generally equalizes.  And this move throws a wet blanket on White's plans for a Yugoslav Attack, or Classical Dragon.

As we saw in the post, Accelerated Dragon #2,  Black's first 7 moves are usually the same.  So move 8 is the right time to play ...d5.

Here is in interesting game where Black gets his way.

The next few posts will look at ways White tries to stop Black from playing ...d5.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Accelerated Dragon #3

Ideas in the Accelerated Dragon

Idea #3 -  Black's dark square bishop is a monster.

The moves 1...c5 and 2...Nc6 have softened up the central dark squares. Blacks bishop on g7 threatens to run amok on the a1 to h8 diagonal. White must always be on the lookout for discovered attacks when Black moves the f6 knight.

White would like to trade off Black's dangerous bishop. Plans with Qd2 and Bh6 are common, as is Nxc5 and Bd4. Unfortunately for White, these plans are usually 1 move too slow.

Black wants to avoid trading off his valuable bishop, unless he gets something substantial for it. This would be something like:
  • Win of material.
  • Double White's pawns on the half open c-file, especially if it exposes White's king after castling queenside
  • Transition into a better endgame.

Black would especially like to trade one of his knights for White's dark square bishop. Then the monster on g8 will rule the dark squares unopposed.

Here is an example showing all these ideas.  Note: this does not represent best play by White, but all the moves seem plausible and often happen in amateur play.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Accelerated Dragon #2

Ideas in the Accelerated Dragon

Idea #2:  Black plays the same first 6  moves whenever possible, and usually castles on the 7th.

These moves are:  

1.e4        c5
2.Nf3     Nc6
3.d4       cxd4
4.Nxd4  g6
5.Nc3    Bg7
6.Be3    Nf6   

7.Bc4    0-0     
   or 7.f3      0-0  
   or 7.Qd2  0-0  
   or 7.Be2   0-0  
   or 7.Nb3   0-0  

Of course this only works if White cooperates.  We will look at deviations by white in later posts.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Accelerated Dragon #1

Ideas in the Accelerated Dragon

Idea #1 - Black wants to play ...d5 in one move

In the Sicilian Defense, ...d5 is generally an important freeing move for Black. With ...d5 and the resulting open lines in the center, White's plans of king side attack (with f3, g4, h4, h5 as in the Yugoslav Attack, or 0-0, f4, f5 as in the Classical Dragon) invite more risk for the first player.

In the standard Dragon move order, black plays an early ...d6, which means that ...d5 costs another tempo later. To illustrate the impact of this difference, we will compare two common Dragon strategies (the Yugoslav Attack, and the Classical Dragon) with the Accelerated Dragon.

Note: Of course, White does not have to allow Black to play the Accelerated Dragon. In particular, the Maroczy Bind and the Rossolimo Variation would derail Black's plans. But that is for another chapter.