Sicilian Defense – Accelerated Dragon

Sicilian Defense - Accelerated Dragon

The Sicilian Accelerated Dragon is a modern king pawn opening that usually leads to semi-open gameplay. It is considered the sharpest variation under the Sicilian Defense that involves a number of threats and counter-threats making this opening tricky to play as Black and to face as white.

The Sicilian Defense – Accelerated Dragon usually follows the following pattern:

  1. e4 c5
  2. Nf3 Nc6
  3. d4 cxd4
  4. Nxd4 g6

The Sicilian Dragon is named so due to the similarity this position shares with the appearance of the Draco constellation.

Statistics

According to statistic found on lichess.org the Dragon Variation of the Sicilian Defense which is g6 is the second most popular variation after the Najdorf on Black’s 5th move, that has (247,318) games played in this line with a 46% win rate for white, 49% win rate for Black and a 50% draw rate.

Theory

Here Black delays playing d6 to prioritize piece development instead. Since White can play c4 as the 5th move in this variation, the delay of d6 s considered a disadvantage for Black as it delays its central control simultaneously giving an opportunity to White to gain this control.

Usually allowing White to play the c4 move, leads to the Marcozy Bind. The Maroczy Bind is a common pawn structure reached from several varieties of the Sicilian Defense, most notably the Accelerated Dragon variation. Since White does not have to play Nc3 early into the game and block the White c pawn, White expands in the centre and gains a lot of control over the central d5 square.

Principles

The Accelerated Dragon is marked by the characteristic play of g6. The play of the move ‘g6’ and the delay of ‘d6’ is the key marker of the difference between The Dragon and the Accelerated Dragon. This variation also allows Black to avoid the Yugoslav attack- one of the sharpest opening systems in the Sicilian Defense. Thus, the Sicilian Accelerated Dragon proposes a rather positional form of gameplay compared to the other variations of the Sicilian Defense.

This system for Black playing the Accelerated Dragon against White’s e4 is basically an improved version of the Dragon variation of The Sicilian Defense. The Sicilian Accelerated Dragon represents an easy-to-grasp, hypermodern and dynamic chess opening played by chess heroes like World Champion Magnus Carlsen.

It is difficult to track down a decent chess opening that satisfies the following three requirements:

  1. A sound and strong opening framework which can be played routinely and which doesn’t depend on stunts or modest snares.
  2. A chess opening framework that doesn’t compel you to gain proficiency with a perpetual measure of hypothesis to endure the initial 15 moves.
  3. An opening that doesn’t permit White to play varieties which pretty much lead to a constrained attract however empowers you to go for a strong attack against fragile players.

The Accelerated Dragon meets every one of these criteria.

Main Line

The notations of the main continuation of this variation of the Sicilian Accelerated Dragon is:

  1. Nc3 Bg7
  2. Be3 Nf6
  3. Bc4

Moves Played

Black usually follows this with castling or Qa5 and White should not castle if Black plays Qa5 as this could lead to multiple threats on the White King, unlike in the Yugoslav attack, where it is better for White to Castle Queenside.

If Black castles, then White can play Bishop to b3, developing the Bishop. If Black finally plays d6 on the 8th move, White can play f3, similar to what White plays in the Yugoslav attack. Black often then plays Qa5 or a5, making it imperative for White to castle Kingside even in this position, hence making castling on the kingside an overall better option for White under the Accelerated Dragon variation.

Goals

When Black plays Nc6 on the second move instead of d6 and then fianchetto the bishop at, g7 before playing Nf6, we now have the Accelerated Dragon. Note that in the Accelerated Dragon the Knight is brought out to Nc6 on the second move. In the basic Dragon, the Knight is not brought out to Nc6 until move 7.

This a very significant difference between the two variations that are important to understand and it is further important to know how this difference quickly affects the opening. Black’s main objective is to fight for the centre. This is based on the advance of the d pawn to d5. This is what distinguishes this opening from the Dragon Variation where Black plays with his pawn on d6, like most variations of the Sicilian.

Here plans of flank operations are more often employed than the direct and quick reaction in the centre.

Variations

1. Passmore Variation

  1. Nxc6 bxc6
  2. Qd4 Nf6
  3. e5 Ng8
  4. e6 Nf6
  5. exf7+ Kxf7

Here both White and Black have equal advantages. White is seen to commonly follow this with Bc4 to add kingside pressure and to develop the minor piece, to which Black can play e6 or d5, releasing Black off the pressure. Hence, both sides have to continue the game very tactically. The best move for White on the 10th move is Be2 statistically, followed by castling kingside.

2. Hyper Accelerated Dragon

Many players wonder what the difference is between the Hyper-Accelerated Dragon and the Accelerated Dragon. After –

  1. e4 c5
  2. Nf3 g6: we arrive at a position that is called the start of the Hyper Accelerated Dragon. If white plays the typical “Open Sicilian” format with 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4, there is essentially no difference between the Hyper-Accelerated dragon and the Accelerated Dragon. White can still play the Maroczy Bind. 

The only difference is that black has to be ready to face a different “sideline.”By playing the Hyper-Accelerated Dragon move order, black avoids-

  1. e4 c5
  2. Nf3 Nc6; the sideline, but now they must be ready to play against:
  3. e4 c5
  4. Nf3 g6
  5. d4 cxd4
  6. Qxd4. After the nearly forced 4.Nf6 that Black has to play, white intends to play:
  7. e5 Nc6
  8. Qa4 Nd5
  9. Qe4.

This peculiar line can be dangerous for an unprepared player with black.

Traps

1. Levenfish Attack

  1. e4 c5
  2. Nf3 d6
  3. d4 cxd4
  4. Nxd4 Nf6
  5. Nc3 g6
  6. f4 Bg7
  7. e5 dxe5
  8. fxe5 Ng4
  9. Bb5 Kf8
  10. Ne6+

White has an advantage and is material up.

2. Queen Advantage with Bc4

  1. e4 c5
  2. Nf3 d6
  3. d4 cxd4
  4. Nxd4 Nf6
  5. Nc3 g6
  6. Bc4!? Nc6?!
  7. Nxc6 bxc6
  8. e5! dxe5
  9. Bxf7+! Kxf7
  10. Qxd8

White is now a Queen up.

Weakness

It is definitely not advisable to enter into the dangerous waters of the Accelerated Dragon, for example, if you’re not familiar with the theory playing this variation is would be tricky. Since it is a sharp line, it is difficult for a beginner to play this variation.

FAQ

1. Why play the Sicilian Accelerated Dragon?

The opening is a structurally rich opening allowing the development of pieces throughout the opening and does not offer several varieties of tricks and traps and complex structures for White, allowing Black to initiate a strong attack.

2. Is the Accelerated Dragon good for beginners?

The dangers of this sharp line offer may not be the best route for a Beginner to take in the opening. Beginners should focus on less complex structural openings.

Conclusion

The Accelerated Dragon, and its close cousin the Hyper-Accelerated Dragon, are very exciting attempts by Black to achieve the kingside fianchetto in the Sicilian Defense without coming under heavy fire on the kingside. Both players need to understand the implications of the variations and play accordingly. Black must maintain central control and avoid the multiple threats that White can pose to maintain an advantage.

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