The Levitating Bishop lives...?


Dear endgame enthusiasts and members in general, I'd like you to help me out with evaluating and analyzing some of the rich endgame (or rather queenless middlegame) positions that arise in the Hyperaccelerated Dragon variation of the Sicilian Defence after 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Qxd4 Nf6 5. Bb5!? (dubbed the Levitating Bishop Variation by me Laughing). I've found that the line is a very dangerous practical weapon from White's point of view, and full of traps too, so Black needs to know exactly what to do. (Hey, I'm unintentionally rhyming! Laughing) And when he does, White can probably expect equality at best. This argument would turn most White players down, but I want to gain a better (and if possible, complete) understanding of those forced equal positions, since they can be very interesting and instructive, and so I can safely include the line in my opening repertoire and play it with an iron grip, or at least very good, improving in the process. Since we need a positional analysis, we aren't going to trust engines just like that. Their evaluations can serve as some guidelines to our thoughts, but they might be wrong in the long run, and no one can really play with computer precision all the way through either, so keep it real, okay? Here goes:


IMPORTANT NOTE: The second and fourth positions aren't really endgames (I admit), but they're crucial to the whole analysis. If Black refutes them, the whole opening is refuted.


1st position: I think White has a slight edge. Black's development will be rather slow, but Black's position also has no weaknesses.

2nd position: Actually, I think the critical line is 8. Qe3 e6. This leads to a middlegame where White's pawn on f6 could be either weak or strong; it's not easy to attack it or to defend it. Also, the queen will need to move from e3 again, either to develop the dark-squared bishop or to meet a potential ...Nb4.

3rd position: Black's worse structure means absolutely nothing. White will need to exert some effort to develop the queenside, and will probably lose all advantage in the process. An example is 11. c3 b4 12. a3 bxc3 13. Nxc3 Bxc3+ 14. bxc3 b5 =

4th position: Black has sufficient compensation for a pawn.


I remember reading this being played by the inimitable Bronstein in 1972.

Recent books on the Accelerated Dragon seemed to have defanged this creative idea.

(I've used it myself with generally good results.)


Thanks, khpa21! You've confirmed my feelings about the first and third positions (although I think Black's ALREADY equal in the third diagram, being that we both foresaw the same best continuation Wink). Any other suggestions for the second one? How should your critical position be played? Also, I agree with you that after the variation in the fourth diagram, Black has indeed got compensation for the pawn, but what about the diagram itself? Any improvements on White's play?

As for nimzovich, you mean this game? And I thought I'd practically invented the idea... should've known somebody else had it too, and forty years ago already... and what a player!


Dimitrije, my (sincere) congrats to you for finding these lines independently! (Judging from the blog articles you have shared, I can probably get a lot of entertainment and inspiration reading your ideas!)

Yes, the game you cited is the one I read about in the magazine "Chess Life & Review" almost 40 years ago.

Later I will look up the lines from my books and share the difficulties that black has posed for me when I used 5.Bb5.


By "lose all advantage" in the third position, I mean lose the better pawn structure. As for the second position, I'm thinking something like this


And a sincere thanks to you, nimzovich! Smile My blog is very modest at the moment, but I'll probably improve on some of my forum posts and include them there! (I was also thinking of putting up a collection of the most interesting games and positions I've played, blog post by blog post, but I need to do it in an interesting way.) Here's some of my home analysis here, in case you haven't checked it out yet:

It's got a few misevaluations, really, but also many fun lines! What inspired me to try and analyze the whole variation was the first time I'd played it and achieved a nice miniature (and thought it was my invention, because the Bishop seemed so unusually mid-air and insecure on b5, yet it was logical), and also a Queen sacrifice in some basic subsequent analysis!! Also, in a book on the Accelerated Dragon by Heine Nielsen and Carsten Hansen, Qd5 was recommended in my second position instead of Qd3 ! I've found nothing on the fourth position, but this is really more than enough already!

And I think both Qd5 and Qd3 are better than Qe3, khpa21. If you were fearing Nb4, it's just a ghost at the moment, but thanks for your thoughts!