Friday, April 30, 2010

The Sicilian Dragon

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6

This is the starting position for the Sicilian Dragon. Black will move his Dark Squared Bishop to g7 to attack the e5-d4-c3-b2-a1 squares. To accomplish this, however, Black had to weaken his dark squares h6 and f6 by moving his pawn to g6. Black's King must castle king side, and must be wary of these weaknesses.

White will attack these weaknesses, most commonly by pushing his h-pawn, h4, h5, and hxg6. This opens up the h-file, which allows White's h1 Rook to join the attack without even moving. White's pieces will have a rather easy time developing as well, which further increases the pressure on Black's position. White often castles Queen side to facilitate his King side attack.

This is where Black gets his counter play, by attacking White on the Queen side. Black will aim to get a Rook on c8, and break through somehow with this rook. Other plans are possible, including moving the Queen to the a5 square, or moving the a- and b-pawns aggressively against White's position.

In short, White and Black race to attack each other and come away with a win. It makes for exciting, but nerve wracking, chess.

That is the main story-line of the Dragon, but there are many other important things to know about this opening. End game play can be very important, as the racing attack may not lead to checkmate, but rather to a advantageous end game. Both sides should look for the other to over press, and try and simplify off enough material to get to these end games.

Positional play, and the quiet development of pieces can be very important. The best attacks usually require the best piece placement, and this cannot be done with sheer aggression.

Aside from these general ideas, to my mind, three positions should be looked at in the Dragon. Many other possibilities exist, but these three positions seem the most important.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Bc4 Bg7 7. 0-0

The first position is what is known as the Classical Dragon. A lot of variations exist based around similar ideas. 6. Be2 is possible, and moves like f3, f4, Be3, Bg5 can be played before White castles King side. Black has a great deal of possible moves and plans from this position. Truth be told, I dont have any preferred plans in this position, and usually just wing it. In future blog posts, we can explore this position in more detail.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Nc6 7. f3 Bg7 8. Qd2 0-0 9. 0-0-0

9. 0-0-0, I am not sure if this variation has any memorable name. It is a very good variation for White though, in my opinion. White leaves his light squared bishop undeveloped, and instead makes moves that he more or less knows he wants to make. Not a bad strategy, but it allows Black the move 9...d5, which leads to a very interesting pawn and Queen sacrifice. It is not entirely clear for even the top level players whether Black or White is better 9...d5 variation. I believe there is an excellent game by Ivanchuk, where he makes a strong case for White, but with the Dragon things change quickly and drastically. Black also has options like 9...Nxd4 or 9...Bd7. The variations that arise from this position are very complex.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Nc6 7. f3 Bg7 8. Qd2 0-0 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. 0-0-0 Rc8 11. Bb3 Ne5

This is known as the Yugoslav Variation. I believe it used to be the main variation of the Dragon, and it has been analyzed very deeply. White has a relatively straight forward plan of attack, to paraphrase Bobby Fischer, open up the h file, sac, sac, sac, and mate. Black has a lot of ways to mix it up, though. For what it is worth, my strategy in this position is to lose material as quickly as possible. I find that whoever sacrifices first in this position usually is the one who wins.

Well, thats a wrap for the Sicilian Dragon overview. Future blog posts will go through variations coming from these positions, as well as other positions. My next post will probably be a similar overview of the Chigorin.

I also want to lead anyone who stumbles onto my site to some of the better chess resources on the internet. First off, is probably the best general site on the internet. There are several chess tactical sites, but my favorite is It has a nice interface, and the problems are pretty decent.

Ok everybody, have a good one.

Introduction, Exploring My Openings

Hello everybody!

This blog's goal is to provide in depth chess analysis of exceptional games as well as broader overviews of tournaments, players and eras of chess. That is pretty lofty, so we will have to just see how it all ends up.

My favorite players are Tal, Kramnik, Kasparov, Smyslov, Lasker, Chigorin, Morphy, as well as many many more. My preferred openings are 1. Nf3 for White, and the Sicilian Dragon and the Chigorin as Black. This blog will have somewhat of a personal feel to it, mostly because I seriously that many people are going to read it. However, if anyone is ever reading it and has some suggestions, questions, requests etc. about some chess analysis, just leave a comment.

Also, I am fairly sure it will take a while for me to get good with lay outs and such, if i ever do. As it is chess pictures of boards etc. would be very helpful, wouldnt they? so I will have to figure out how to do that stuff. Maybe even a fancy java board or something could be in the works.

Just to get things started, with some very basics, the primary openings are 1. e4 and 1. d4. If you have a chess board, feel free to play these moves and look at the board. The central pawn moves forward two squares, and with 1. e4 White now has the ability to develop four pieces (two knights, Light squared Bishop and the Queen). With 1. d4 White has the ability to develop 4 pieces as well, (two Knights, dark squared bishop and Queen), but the Queen generally cant develop to a worthwhile square. [1. d4 ... 2. Qd3 seems like it could be fun though!]

I, as notes above dont play either of these moves with White. Lets look at some of Black's possible responses to e4 and d4. 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 leads to the Petroff. Boy oh Boy is the Petroff boring. Actually, for , oh by the way, I am Class A USCF which is very good but not really what you would call high level. Maybe something like a highly skilled hobbyist would be a good way to think about it, not even close to the Pros, but knows what is going on. Back to what I was saying earlier, the Petroff is not all that boring at the lower levels. But the idea of Nf6 is somewhat instructive, as Black is given the ability to quickly attack White's center.

Moving along, 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 is the Ruy Lopez. White's center is not under so much pressure at the moment, but it also costs him a good deal of time with his bishop. Development of his other pieces will probably get a little clunky. (or give up the bishop pair).

1. e4 c5 The Sicilian. This is actually what I prefer to play against when I play 1. e4. The center is not so much under attack, as Black is taking his own center square and preparing for an attack on the Queen side. Though I like playing against this the most, it is also very sharp and losses are easy to come by.

1. e4 c6 Caro Kann. Not down with this one all that much, as black pretty much just sits back. His position is very solid.

1. e4 e6 French. Black will get a very nice attack against White's center.

1. d4, and there are basically two families as I like to see it.

The first is the Indian Defenses, in which black plays something like Nf6, e6, g6, b6 Bg7, Bb7, Bb4, and so on until he decides to counter with d5, c5 or e5 depending on the situation.

The second is the ?? well the d5 Defenses. White plays d4 and c4 and Black plays any of e6, c6, Nf6, Be7, Nbd7, so on and so forth.

The d5 defenses are tough to crack, but there is really no way to avoid them, except by playing e4. The Indian defense can be pretty annoying. I hate playing against the Queen's indian, and I hate playing against the Nimzo Indian. Black has way too much play and I get all frustrated and end up over extending my position etc.

That is why I play 1. Nf3, it is easy to avoid these Indian defenses.

The Sicilian Dragon and The Chigorin are pretty much self explanatory as they as awesome.

This seems like a pretty good, though rambling, start.

This is more or less how I hope the blog turns out, with a little more analysis, and a little less fluff, but still focusing a decent amount on strategy, or putting into writing tactical ideas (ie forks, etc. etc.). For some people this may be a waste of time, but I think it helps learn the chess stuff better if you put it into words. For some people, that might be a great way to learn it.

Well, thanks for stopping by, I hope to post regularly, but honestly, I probably wont :(

It was pretty fun writing all this up though, and chess is pretty fun too, so I should be back pretty soon ;)