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     Volume 4 Issue 16 | October 8 , 2004 |

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Time Out

The Dragon is alive Chess

The term 'fianchetto', which means flank development, may sound a bit weird if you are not familiar with it. A bishop is fianchettoed to bring its long-range firepower into play from a safe abode surrounded by pawns. It can be very effective when the bishop keeps a watchful eye on the long diagonal.

Of the many variations of the Sicilian Defence, the Dragon, where Black fianchettoes his black bishop , is perhaps the most aggressive. Black plays for the full point, instead of fighting for equality. But the plan has its pitfalls; White may unleash a direct, powerful attack against the enemy king by advancing his rook pawn and exchanging the Dragon bishop through a well known manoeuvring. Once that is done, Black's job of defending against the kingside attack can be very difficult.

It is Bobby Fischer who tamed the Dragon by scoring some effortless wins against it in the sixties. "White's attack plays itself ", said Fischer with his typical optimism. Since he was the best player in the world at that time, people trusted him blindly and the Dragon had to go through a lean period. Matters were made worse for it when Victor Korchnoi employed it in the Candidates final against Karpov in 1974, only to suffer a quick defeat. It seemed Fischer's observation received a further boost.

But experts think that Korchnoi's decision to play the Dragon was not bad in itself. What he lacked was adequate preparation for playing the razor-sharp opening.

Interestingly, grandmasters around the world refused to believe that the "slain Dragon' could not be revived. English Grandmaster Tony Miles injected life into the much-maligned variation by playing it regularly. He scored some convincing wins, and soon others joined him in the mission to resurrect the Dragon. Hungarian Grandmaster Gyula Sax and Miles' compatriot Jonathon Mestel became the leading Dragon players in the late seventies. Today the opening is fully rehabilitated and it attracts the players who love to play highly complicated positions with chances for both sides.

Look how Karpov played against the Dragon in the match against Korchnoi.


White-Anatoly Karpov (2700)
Black-Viktor Kortschnoj (2670) [B78]
Candidates final Moscow, 1974

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 00 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.h4 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.000 Nc4 13.Bxc4 Rxc4 14.h5 Nxh5 15.g4 Nf6 16.Nde2 Qa5 17.Bh6 Bxh6 18.Qxh6 Rfc8 19.Rd3 R4c5 20.g5 Rxg5 21.Rd5 Rxd5 22.Nxd5 Re8 23.Nef4 Bc6 24.e5!+- Bxd5 25.exf6 exf6 26.Qxh7+ Kf8 27.Qh8+ 10

Position after 24.e5!



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