[FEN ""]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nd4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 O-O 8.Bb3 a5 9.O-O d6

It appears 10.Ndb5 is difficult for Black to play against. I only found some games from 2008. Is it still the case that Black is avoiding this line at high levels?

1 Answer 1


The line 8.Bb3 a5 9.0-0 d6 still occasionally occurs in games of IMs and GMs, and the results are actually quite ok for black. For example, Hou Yifan-Yu Yangyi, Kudrin-Diamant, Vishnu-Vazquez Igarza and Saric-Damaso.

However, at the highest level, it indeed seems that black is looking for alternatives. At the latest FIDE Grand Prix, Palma de Mallorca 2017, Gelfand tried 8....d5 against Vachier-Lagrave and 8....d6 against Vallejo Pons, but lost both games.

A remarkable alternative is 8....Re8, first played by Zvjaginsev in 2013. This move has been repeated in several GM games, e.g. Leko-Vitiugov and Sanal-Dubov. EDIT: In the first round of the Gashimov Memorial 2018, the theoretical discussion on 8....Re8 is continued in the game Navara-Mamedov.

Recently, a new repertoire book has been published: The Hyper Accelerated Dragon by IM Raja Panjwani. According to a book review on Canadian Chess Newsfeed, the author analyzes two variations against 7.Bc4.

If White avoids the Maroczy (c2-c4), then the only other way to stop the ...d7-d5 equalizer is 7.Bc4, which is the subject of Chapters 2 and 3. Black could allow the game to transpose into a Yugoslav attack (Bc4, f3, Qd2, 000, and a kingside pawn storm) but Raja wants to avoid that, and offers two antidotes: 7...Qa5 (ch.2) and his own system ("My System") which is a hybrid of the Dragon on the kingside (e7, f7, g6, h7/h5) and a Taimanov on the queenside (...a6, ...b5, ...e6). That's the subject of Chapter 3, and the excerpt in the game player below.

      [StartPly "15"]

      [FEN ""]
      1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 O-O 8.Bb3 a5 (8...d5)(8...d6)(8...Re8) 9.O-O d6

  • Thanks for all the info! Of the games you linked only one has the critical 10.Ndb5 and I prefer Whites position -- though Kudrin made a tactical oversight with 22.Nc7? 8...Re8 is interesting.
    – Ywapom
    Dec 12, 2017 at 23:58
  • You're welcome! Although I didn't look at it in detail, I like the subtile 8....Re8. Against 9.f3 black can play 9....e6 and 10....d5, while after 9.0-0 black seems also fine after 9....d6 and 10....Na5. Btw, 8....a5 9.0-0 d6 10.Ndb5 was also played in Saric - Damaso.
    – Maxwell86
    Dec 13, 2017 at 9:47

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