The Accelerated Dragon (Part 2)

Feb 25, 2010, 12:00 PM |

The Accelerated Dragon (Part 2) — A Closer Look at the 5. Nc3 Main Lines

In this section, we'll take a look at two of the main lines in the Accelerated Dragon with 5. Nc3. 

The 7. Nxc6 Line

By playing 7. Nxc6 and 8. e5, white tries to interfere with black's development and develop a bind on the position, in particular the f6 square.  However, white also releases some of the tension in the position, and gives up some of the normal development advantage white has in the Open Sicilian (white's knight moves three times to capture a knight that has moved once, and white gives up the strong central knight on d4).

From this point, white has two main moves.  The e5 pawn is under attack, so he can defend it with f4, or with Bd4.

9. f4

By playing f4, white weakens the kingside a bit and allows the black knight to return to the game via h6 and f5.  White also doesn't have as much piece pressure on black's kingside, so black should be able to castle freely and start his counterattack against white's center.

9. Bd4

When white defends the e5 pawn with Bd4, black can play ...Nh6 and ...O-O quickly to try to avoid complications, or can try to play actively against white's advanced pawn.

Common themes for black in these lines include reactivating the knight via h6, playing an ...f6 or ...d6 break, and watching out for e5-e6 from white, which can sometimes expose an attack on the g7 bishop.

An Accelerated Dragon player should certainly be comfortable in the lines with Nxc6 and e5, but not overly afraid of them. In return for his somewhat cramped position and inhibited development, black has reasonable counterattacking chances.

The Main Line (7. Bc4)

In the main line, white plays an early Bc4 (that is, early compared to Bc4 in the Yugoslav Attack) to prevent black from easily playing ...d7-d5.  Black has two main moves here:  7... O-O and 7... Qa5.  In both lines, black has some tricks up his sleeve to force white to castle kingside, thus avoiding the Yugoslav Attack. 

7... O-O

7... O-O forces white to play 8. Bb3, or else black can obtain a superior position (see the variations for move 8). 

7... Qa5

7... Qa5 is another solid alternative that ensures black a playable position and has a lot of traps that unsuspecting white players can fall into.

Common themes for black in the main line include playing actively with the queen along the a5-d8 diagonal (often to a5 or b6), playing ...d5 in one move if possible, white's weak b2 pawn, and exposing additional attackers onto the d4 knight with ...Nxe4. 

So while black avoids the Yugoslav Attack in the main line, the positions that result are by no means boring or quiet.  White often still attacks black's king, and black must play actively to generate counterplay on the queenside or in the center. However, black can exercise a great deal of creativity in approaching the positions that arise out of the opening, and can use similar themes in different lines.

Sample Game

Finally, just for fun, here is a nice game from Vladmir Malakhov in the 7... O-O line.  (Malakhov is a very interesting gentelman, from what I can tell. It seems he boasts a rating over 2700, but is not a professional chess player.  Instead, his main line of work is as a physicist.  Quite impressive!)

Hopefully this was enjoyable and instructive. Please leave any comments, thoughts, or suggestions for improvement.