The Deadly Dragon by GM Prasad and GM Panchanathan

The Deadly Dragon by GM Prasad and GM Panchanathan

| 47 | Opening Theory

After our lesson in the calm and positional Ruy Lopez last week, we are ready to get back into some sharp variations again. This week we will take a look into the Sicilian Dragon. Our readers may wonder how one can explain the strategy and the basic ideas for an opening which deals mostly with precise calculation and sharp tactics. However, just like other openings, the Dragon can also be broken down into some basic attacking principles.


Being one of the riskiest of choices, the Dragon has never enjoyed a consistent popularity among the top grand masters. It was used only occasionaly as a surpise weapon at the top level. One of our all time chess greats, Garry Kasparov surprised our current world champion Viswanathan Anand in their PCA world championship match in 1995 by employing this opening with very good results. The Dragon, which has been dormant for a while now, has started resurfacing at the top level thanks to our young grand masters Magnus Carlsen and Teimour Rajdabov.


We have listed a bunch of strategic ideas for both sides.

White's Strategy

1. Launch a kingside attack with g4,h4,h5 and open the 'h' file.

2. Contain black's queenside counterplay with useful defensive moves.

3. Neutralisation of the dragon (g7) bishop - it will weaken black's defenses on the king side and also reduce black's pressure on the queenside.

4. Anticipate the exchange sacrifice on c3

5. Prevent black from breaking through in the center with d5.


Black's Strategy

1. The Source of black's counterplay will often be on the semi open c-file.

2. Look for an exchange sacrifice on c3 in order to destroy the pawn structure in front of the enemy king.

3. Maintain a healthy pawn chain on the king side. Endgames usually favour black due to his better pawn structure.

4. Look for central breaks with d5 when white neutralizes black's counterplay on the queenside.

5. Contain white's kingside play with useful defensive moves.

6. Last but not least, Save the Dragon!!!


As you go through the game, we hope you will understand how these ideas have been put into execution.



The Yugoslav Attack. It is widely accepted as the most critical line against the Dragon. 6.Be2 is the Classical variation. Even if white castles kingside, the dragon Bishop is useful in supporting black's pawn march on the queenside.

Before launching into his attack, white takes his king to a safer place avoiding any X-Ray attacks along the 'c' file and the possible exposure along the c1-h6 diagonal. 12.h4 was previously considered to be the main line. The text move, however has gained more popularity in recent times.

An exchange sacrifice! Black decides to forego his Rook in order to keep his strong Bishop on the board. I hope you remember the relative value of pieces discussed in our first article. Here again, black decides that his dragon Bishop is relatively more valuable than his Rook.

After all the intense struggle and the mutual sacrifices we can say that we have reached a "relatively" calm position. Black has two pawns and two minor pieces against white's two Rooks! However, his double Bishops, active piece play, and his superior pawn structure give him more than sufficient compensation for the material.

Now Black's advantage seems more obvious as his minor pieces are dominating the board. The rest of the game is just a matter of technique.

Hope you enjoyed this fascinating game and it has helped you in laying a strong foundation in the Dragon variation.

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