Openings for Tactical Players: A Childhood Love

Openings for Tactical Players: A Childhood Love‎

GM Gserper
25 | Opening Theory

[Ed: this week, our daily columnists [may] have secretly traded columns. From this Sunday through Friday, read all the columns, and guess who wrote which. Mail your guesses to dpruess at A couple prizes will be awarded at random to those with 6/6 correct answers.]

[This article was actually authored by WIM Iryna Zenyuk]

In our previous two articles we looked at how to win a game in a sharp style and quickly with white. Ok, when you have the white pieces you can afford a pawn sacrifice here and there, since you get an advantage in development. With black it is not so easy to win quickly… there are rather many infamous games of how to lose a game under 20 moves. There are not as many gambits with black as with white but there are many games that are pretty sharp and require strong nerves.

Today we will talk about an opening that many of us can call a ‘childhood love’. Why this name? When we learn chess at first this opening is very useful to play for beginners to develop tactical vision, dynamical sense, attacking possibilities and memory for storing all the variations. Thus, most of us who learned chess at an early age started off as having this opening as a main opening in our repertoire as Black. Can you guess what opening it is?.. Of course, the Sicilian Dragon! It was particularly popular a few decades ago when every game played at a high level featured an important novelty. Nowadays, it was played very rarely at the highest level until Carlsen and Radjabov picked it up. The Dragon is having its second youth. Of course, to play it one needs to know tons of theory and follow all the recent developments. But if you want a crowd of people gathering at your game because you just sacrificed rook and knight and possibly queen, then the Dragon is right for you! Of course you run a risk of getting mated in 20 moves if you make only one step in a wrong direction, but at least the torture will end quickly and you are not going to miss a football game on TV.

Lets go over a few tactical ideas. First of all, if Nc3 is not defended R:c3 should be performed on auto-pilot mode. Secondly, try to keep the h and g lines closed, even if your opponent offers pawn sacrifices there. If you get your rooks on the c file and Queen on a5 then you are in good shape. Keep an eye on the d5-break and of course pretty much any endgame will give you a good advantage due to your better pawn structure.


The previous example sets the mood for exchange sacrifices for the knights. Usually, it is only one on c3. The next one features knight maneuvers as well as pawn operations in the centre.

As one can see if white's attack does not work, and black closes the position, then black is in good shape. The next example has a destructive attack and shows the importance of active piece play.

In the next example, Black uses a tactical idea to save his game.

Playing a Dragon is a provocative action. It is like wearing red attire– you can be the highlight of a party, noticed by everyone as having taste for new trends in fashion, or a total loser who is desperate for attention.

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