I have a confession: I have a thing for dragons. And finally I got one. No, it is not a Norwegian ridgeback, but maybe I'll call it Norbert anyway.
This is the final game of a club tournament that has been going on during the past few months. I was paired up against the strongest player in the field, and with a rating difference of more than 500 points, I did not expect anything but a zero. However, I hoped that I would survive long enough to take something away from this game. And I did.
Much to my amusement, the game was an open Sicilian, and finally I got to play the dragon. It did not go into a main line, but I liked it nonetheless. The move 6. h3 got me thinking for a while.
Not the most common move
As the game progressed, I saw my chance to snag the bishop pair, and I was somewhat surprised that my opponent allowed it. However, in hindsight, I think that the whole idea of taking the bishop was incorrect.
Has black got the wrong idea here?
After the trade on b3, I had to watch as all my potential counterplay on the queen side disappeared, leaving a struggle to eliminate my central weaknesses. As shown in the game, I misjudged the position, and ended up with a bad position and a pawn down. Then things quickly went downhill.
As we went through the game afterwards, my opponent said that I started to go wrong with 7... Bd7. However, when reviewing the game, my conclusion is that the whole plan of grabbing the bishop pair by trading on b3 was the main reason for my demise. Instead, I should have developed normally and went for the plan of Rc8, trading on d4 and playing Bc6 and Qa5.
I would have liked to say that I learned something deeper from this game, but my conclusion is quite simple. I killed my own counterplay and thereby strangled my own dragon. Poor Norbert.