Dennis M's Chess Site

This is a blog for chess fans by a chess fan. I enjoy winning as much as anyone else, and I've had a reasonable amount of success as a competitor, but what keeps me coming back to the game is its beauty. And that, primarily, is what this site will be about! All material copyrighted.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Dragon Update

The Sicilian Dragon has come up for discussion in a number of posts (most recently here), and it's time for a mini-update. The line that's received the most attention on here begins with 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 O-O 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.O-O-O Qa5 11.Bb3 Rfc8 12.Kb1 Ne5 13.Bg5 Rc5 14.h4 Re8 15.h5 Nxh5 16.Bh6

Here theory mentions 16...Bxh6, but Victor Reppert suggested 16...Bh8 instead. In a previous post, I presented some analysis of this position, concluding that White has an advantage, though not a clearly decisive one, after 17.g4! Nf6 18.Qh2. I'm not aware of any reason to think otherwise, but MNb wondered about meeting 17.Rxh5 gxh5 18.Qf4. Enter Reppert once more, who proposes the following line: 18...Bf6 19.Nd5 Rxd5 20.Bxd5 Qb6 21.Bg5 Ng6 22.Qe3 Bg7 23.g3 Ba4, when it seems that Black is OK.

I agree with his assessment of the final position, but I think his line admits of two improvements. Working backwards, White can improve with 20.exd5, with the idea of playing c3 and Bc2. One possible continuation is 20...h4 21.Qe4 Ba4 22.Nf5 Bxb3 23.cxb3 Qb5 24.g4 with a clear advantage for White.

However, Black can improve even earlier with 18...b6(!), with the completely obvious idea of protecting the Black queen. What's that, you say? She's already protected and about as far from being attacked as any piece could possibly be? Keep watching: 19.Nf5 Bxf5 20.exf5 Rxc3 21.Qg5+ Ng6 22.fxg6

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! Black doesn't have time to take the queen (22...Qxg5?? 23.gxf7#!), but now that the queen is protected, he doesn't need to, and after 22...Rxb3 23.gxf7+ Kxf7 24.Qf4+ Kg6 25.axb3 Qe5 26.Qxe5+ Bxe5 we have an ending in which Black has good winning chances.

In sum, 17.Rxh5 gxh5 18.Qf4 looks harmless for Black, but as far as I'm aware 17.g4 Nf6 18.Qh2 still leaves the ball in Black's court.


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