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Dragon A cutting-edge repertoire in two volumes By JOHN HARTMANN


The Theory and Practice of the Sicilian


have even gone so far as to try to make it their own. It’s gotta be the name, right? Bobby Fischer famously claimed that he’d


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worked its defeat out to a science (“… pry open the h-file, sac, sac … mate!”) but the theory and practice of the Sicilian Dragon have come a long way in recent years. Not only are there new sub-variations to try—the Chinese Dragon, the Topalov Variation, the Dragadorf—but the traditional main lines have undergone extensive analysis and empirical testing. How can the Dragoneer hope to keep up? Older one-volume introductions by Chris


Ward and Mikhail Golubev are now dated. David Vigorito’s Chess Developments: The Sicilian Dragon (2011) is fairly current, but it does not cover every line. For a complete, cutting-edge repertoire, Dragon players should consider the new Grandmaster Repertoire: The Dragon 1 and 2 by Gawain Jones. In theory few are better suited to writing on


the Dragon than Jones, a lifelong Dragon enthu - siast with a rating in the mid-2600s. Of course Elo and experience are no guarantee of authorial talent, but after wrestling with the books for a few weeks now, I’m glad to report that Jones was up to the task. The most critical lines in the Dragon emerge from this position:


Jones, Gawain. Grandmaster Repertoire: The Dragon. Quality Chess: 2015. Volume 1: ISBN: 978-1784830076. 320 pages. Volume 2: ISBN: 978-1784830090. 325 pages. Paperback. (Available from uscfsales.com; Volume 1, catalog number B0111QT, $29.95; Volume 2, catalog number B0112QT, $29.95).


14 March 2016 | Chess Life


hildren love playing it. It appears as a plot point in the soapiest of Spanish telenovelas period dramas. The Chinese


recommends 12. ... cxd5 13. Qxd5 Qc7 [For a sample game in ths line, please see this month’s “Back to Basics” pg. 18-19. ~ed.]) 12. ... Bxd4 13. Qxd4 Qb6 14. Na4 when two repertoire choices are offered: the slightly offbeat 14. ... Qa5 15. b3 Be6!? and 14. ... Qc7. After 10. Kb1 Black should play 10. ... Nxd4 11. e5! Nf5 12. exf6 exf6!, and in case of 10. Qe1, Jones plumps for 10. ... e5 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. exd5 Nxd5. The repertoire presented in the two volumes


White’s three main tries here are 9. Bc4, 9. g4


and 9. 0-0-0. Jones treats the first two in Volume 1, and the third in Volume 2. He recommends 9. ... Be6 against 9. g4, and more than half of Volume 2 is devoted to sidelines. The bulk of the work focuses on 9. Bc4 and 9. 0-0-0. Against 9. Bc4, the traditional main line, Jones


has two recommendations. His primary reper - toire choice is the Topalov Variation (9. Bc4 Bd7 10. 0-0-0 Rc8 11. Bb3 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 b5), and I take it as a good sign that Jones has continued to play the line post-publication. White can dodge the Topalov with 10. h4 (instead of 10. 0-0-0), leading Jones to also include coverage of the Soltis (9. Bc4 Bd7 10. h4 h5 11. 0-0-0 Rc8 12. Bb3 Ne5) and Burnett (9. Bc4 Bd7 10. 0-0-0 Rc8 11. Bb3 Ne5 12. Kb1 Nxd4 13. Bxd4 Rxc4 14. g4 b5 15. b3 b4!) Variations. Readers are thus pre - sented with two options against the Yugoslav. 9. 0-0-0 is perhaps the more critical variation


in modern practice, and just under half of Volume 2 is devoted to it. After 9. 0-0-0 d5 Jones analyzes 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Bd4 (the current main line of the Dragon; if 12. Nxd5 Jones


of The Dragon resembles that of Peter Heine Nielsen on his recent two DVD set for ChessBase (The Sicilian Dragon for the Tourna ment Player), although they are not identical. Nielsen’s videos are very good in terms of explanation, but they cannot begin to match the density of information presented in Jones’ books. And make no mistake—these are dense books.


The analysis is comprehensive almost to the point of pedantry, as is typical for Quality Chess titles. Given the nature of the opening in question, such obsessive detail is perhaps warranted. Some bones are thrown to those of us unbur -


dened with photographic memories. There is a useful 20-page section on typical Dragon themes in Volume 1, and Jones is careful to point out standard motifs as they arise in his analysis. His notes are surprisingly verbose given how much ground he has to cover. These two volumes provide a thorough and


tested repertoire for the hardcore “dragoneer.” You don’t need to be a grandmaster to read them, but stronger players will surely derive more benefit from the sophisticated analysis. Players new to the Dragon might want to start with Nielsen’s DVDs.


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