More Maroczy & Making Master

More Maroczy & Making Master

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M asked:

I have a question about a certain line in the accelerated dragon Maroczy Bind.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd2 Be6 11.f3 Qa5 12.Nb5 Qxd2+ 13.Kxd2 a6 14.Nc7 Rac8 15.Nxe6 fxe6 16.Rac1

Isn’t this a bad position for Black? I have played some recent games and lost every time from this position. 12.Nb5 is what is throwing me off – I have not seen this move until recently and have not been able to get an OK game after this position. Am I doing something wrong? Should I be playing a different system?
I was playing 11...a5 but there are no good books that cover the theory of this line and I often find myself in uncharted waters very early in the opening.  I am asking you because I know you have extensive knowledge of the Acc. Dragon and the Maroczy Bind. I only found 2 games with the above position at

Is this an old move or a new one? Is there a better way to play this position? Would really appreciate your help. This is my favorite opening, and I don’t want to give it up because I can’t do well in this position, and for some reason lately all my opponents are playing this move against me.

Dear M:

The line you fear (which usually arises after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd2 Be6 11.f3 Qa5 12.Nb5 Qxd2+ 13.Kxd2 a6 14.Nc7, but also commonly appears after 1.c4 or even 1.Nf3) is nothing for White. For example, even the great Botvinnik couldn’t get anything in the following game:

M.Botvinnik - M.Matulovic, Belgrade 1970

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.e4 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd2 Be6 11.f3 Qa5 12.Nb5 Qxd2+ 13.Kxd2 Nd7 14.Rab1 (P.Benko - M.Matulovic, Venice 1969 went 14.Nc7 Rac8 15.Nxe6 fxe6 16.Rab1 Ne5, ½. An epic struggle! Note that 16.Bxa7?? b6 would have left white’s Bishop trapped behind enemy lines) 14…Ne5 15.Rhc1 Rfc8 16.b3 Nc6 17.f4 f5 18.Bf3 fxe4 19.Bxe4 Bf5 20.Bxf5 gxf5 21.Ke2 Kf7 22.Rd1 a6 23.Nd4 Nxd4+ 24.Bxd4 b5 25.Bxg7 Kxg7 26.Rdc1, ½.

As you can see, black’s key maneuver in this line is …Nf6-d7-e5-c6 (this always threatens a possible leap into d4 and, ideally, aims at …Bd4, exchanging the dark-squared Bishops, and then …e5 followed by …Nd4 with a superior minor piece for Black). Also note that 13…Nd7, played by Matulovic, is the most accurate way to handle the position.

Still don’t believe it? Well, take a look at the following game:

J.Ehlvest (2610) - D.Harika (2421) Moscow 2007

1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 g6 3.e4 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd2 Qa5 11.f3 Be6 12.Nb5 Qxd2+ 13.Kxd2 a6 14.Nd4 Nd7 15.Rac1 Rfc8 16.b3 Nc5 17.b4 Nd7 18.Nxe6 fxe6 19.Rc2 a5 20.a3 axb4 21.axb4 Ra4 22.Rb1 Rca8 23.c5 Ra2 24.Bc4 Rxc2+ 25.Kxc2 Kf7 26.Rd1 Ne5 27.Bb3 Nc6 28.b5 Nb4+ 29.Kd2 Rc8 30.cxd6 exd6 31.Ke2 Rc3 32.Rb1 Nc2 33.Bxc2 Rxc2+ 34.Kd3 Rc3+ 35.Kd2 d5 36.Rc1 Rxc1 37.Kxc1 Ke7 38.Bc5+ Kd7 39.Kd2 Be5 40.h3 Bd6 41.Bd4, ½.

In that contest Ehlvest, who was almost 200 points higher rated than his opponent, faced the slightly less accurate 13…a6 and didn’t play Nc7! Instead he realized it wouldn’t give him anything and so he gave 14.Nd4 a shot (and still couldn’t win).

Lately the line 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd2 a5 has gained a lot of popularity (intending to play …a5-a4 followed by …Qa5).

Since this has given Black good results, White has started to adjust his move order a bit with 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.f3 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Qe3 0-0 10.Qd2 a5 and now 11.b3! (which wouldn’t work in the previous move order) might be a chance for White to get a little something. The idea is to meet 11…a4 with the space gaining 12.b4. The game Ehlvest - Ramirez shows what can happen if this occurs.

J.Ehlvest (2614) - A.Ramirez (2547) US Chess League 2009

1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.e4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Nxd4 7.Qxd4 d6 8.f3 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd2 a5 11.b3 (Another idea is 11.c5!?, seen in S.Dvoirys - Y.Kuzubov, Cappelle la Grande 2009, but I can’t believe this will prove to be too bothersome for Black. However, when a strong grandmaster like Dvoirys tosses this out [and wins the game!], it clearly deserves respect – but I still don’t believe it!) 11…a4 (11...Be6) 12.b4 Be6 13.Rc1 Nd7 14.Be2 a3 15.Nd5 Bxd5 16.exd5 Bb2 17.Rc2 Qc7 18.0-0 Rfc8 19.f4 Nf6 20.Bf3 Qd7 21.Re1 Qf5 22.Re2 h5 23.h3 Re8 24.Bf2 Rac8 25.Bh4 Rc7 26.c5 dxc5 27.bxc5 Qc8 28.Qe3 Rd8 29.Red2 Qf5 30.Bxf6 Qxf6 31.g3 Qa6 32.Kg2 Qa4 33.f5 Bf6 34.fxg6 fxg6 35.Qh6 Kf7 36.Qh7+ Bg7 37.Rf2 Qxc2 38.Be2+ Qf5 39.Rxf5+ gxf5 40.Bxh5+ Kf8 41.Qxf5+ Kg8 42.Bf7+, 1-0.

However, 11…Be6 is probably better, when 12.Rc1 Nd7 13.Bd3 Nc5 14.Bb1 Qb6 15.0-0 Qb4 was okay for Black in S.Dovliatov - E.Sazhin, Cherepovets 2005. Nevertheless (theory is always marching on!), in A.Kovalyov (2525) - M.Leon Hoyos (2490) Salou 2008 White was better after 1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.e4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.f3 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd2 a5 11.b3 Be6 12.Rc1 Nd7 13.Be2 Nc5 14.0-0 Qb6 15.Nb5 Bd7 (15...Rfc8!?) 16.Rfd1 Rfc8 17.Bf1 h5 18.Qf2 Qd8 19.Rc2 Qf8 20.Nc3 Bc6 21.Nd5. I’m sure there’s been more important games in this line since then, but I’m not privy to them.

If you’re looking for a good book on this opening, may I suggest you buy STARTING OUT: THE ACCELERATED DRAGON by Andrew Greet (Everyman Chess, 2008)?


Cookie3 asked:

I am a basic beginner, just learning the openings. I am developing a passion for the game that is starting to make my wife jealous (sadly true)! Through my reading, playing, and watching higher rated players play, I feel I am learning quickly. I have a competitive personality, and set myself a goal of becoming a Master. Would you be able to tell me of a “general” timetable of how long it takes to move through the ranks? I have about a year of experience, and am playing currently at an Elo rating of 1620.

Also, is there a good time to set amateur openings aside and start more complex ones?  I am currently using the Torre, Boring, and Colle openings as White and feel comfortable using them. If these are solid, why move away?

Sorry, one more question: Is that a Primus picture on your profile?  Just wondering!


Dear cookie3:

Here are my recommendations:

1) Dump the wife – that will give you more time for chess.

2) Since you’ve put in a year, the basic B-level to Master timetable calls for 4 years, 8 months, 7 days, and 12 hours more chess immersion before the coveted master title is yours. Most people don’t realize what one gets when becoming a chess master. First, you are sent a solid gold master pin. Second you get a membership into the master lounge (found in all major airports), and a permanent membership into the master clubs (unfortunately, these are only found in New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles) – these clubs feature fine leather chairs, free all you can eat buffets prepared by world famous chefs, model waitresses, and various kinds of adult entertainment (all the more reason to dump the wife … of course, if a woman is the one going for the master title, then dump your useless husband and join the chess elite!). The USCF also offers all masters a monthly stipend of 4,000 Euros (dollars are no longer worth anything, so they are offering you real currency). Clearly, being a master is good! Very, very good!

3) As for openings, you can use anything you like EXCEPT if you truly expect to be a master. If you intend to join the master ranks, then you have to use a blend of systems that offer a code to others like yourself. Now, I’m giving you highly classified information, so don’t share it with anyone else! The coded openings are:

Colle (you can keep that one!), Hippopotamus, English, Slav, Sicilian Defense.

Also add the Grob, Open Defense (in the Ruy), and finally the Dutch.

If you look at these openings long enough, and then use the first letters of each to form words, you’ll get: Chess God. This is very important (it allows those familiar with the code system to give you the respect you deserve), so switch immediately!

Finally, my new photo. What in the world is a Primus? Sounds like sort of science fiction villain that wants to rule the universe. No, that’s really me!

Okay, here is an alternative set of answers (the REAL answers of course):

1) The creature in my profile is known as a Blob Fish. It does indeed bear a striking resemblance to me.

2) Chess and jealous wives have always gone together. Such wives, forgotten and left sitting forlornly in the shadows, are known as “chess widows.” Here’s a true tale (the legendary Bent Larsen shared this with me during a dinner in Los Angeles about 20 years ago – he’s the finest story teller I’ve ever met) about grandmaster Friedrich Samisch (creator of 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 against the KID – it bears his name to this day):

Samisch (born in Germany, 1896) had fallen in love with a lovely young woman – he proposed marriage, she accepted, and he had explained that a honeymoon would be out of the question since he had made arrangements to play in a strong tournament in some far away land. His wife agreed to this and after the marriage he got on a ship and participated in the event. He was gone for several months. When he finally returned, she threw herself at him, embraced the exhausted chess warrior, and exclaimed, “I wasn’t sure I was ever going to see you again! I’ve missed you so much!”

He smiled, held her, and all seemed well until his eye noticed a letter on the desk. Opening it, he noted that it offered him participation in another tournament, but that to make it (since the letter had come quite a while before) he would have to leave immediately! Since he hadn’t unpacked yet, he grabbed his bag, said, “I’ll be back, but I simply must get to this new tournament!” and off he went. When he finally returned, his wife was gone, and he never saw her again. Such is the fate of chess widows.

3) There is no such thing as a “general timetable” to chess mastery. It varies with each individual. Children tend to improve far faster than adults. However, former US Champion John Grefe played in his first chess tournament after serving in the military and instantly came away with a 2150 rating! He made master shortly after that. Of course, many study chess their whole lives and never become masters.

Location can play a part – if you live in a place filled with strong players, then having access to them will help you make drastic, and often fast, improvement. But ultimately it comes down to desire and the ability to work hard (there’s the rub – hard work is something most are allergic to). Rest assured that your goal is very attainable, but it will take a major effort to make it a reality (all worthwhile things require sacrifice – don’t tell that to your wife, though!).

4) In case you thought I was serious about about all the perks for making master (in my earlier satirical rave), think again! You get nothing for making master, other than a sense of accomplishment and the glowing knowledge that supermodels will suddenly want you (or ... maybe not!).

5) For now, your openings are fine. But they won’t hold up when you make that final push to 2200. Once you reach 1900 or 2000, you will have to come up with more potent systems (you can always use your old lines as surprise weapons since they are all sound). This will allow you to beat better players, and the new ideas that they feature will enrich your understand of the game quite a bit.

Best of luck!

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