The Bjerring Variation – something new in the Dragon

2/27/2009 – Players of the Dragon are traditionally interested in a certain number of “bottlenecks” – i.e. variations which are very critical and which cause them a lot of concern in their games. The lines after 9.0-0-0 have been pretty unpromising. In ChessBase Magazine 114 André Schulz took a long and hard look at the move 12...Nxc3!, which he baptised the Bjerring Variation. Add it to your repertoire.

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9.0-0-0, 12...Nxc3 - Bjerring Variation [B76]

By André Schulz

In the Dragon the lines after 9.0-0-0 have been pretty unpromising. In the main line after 9...d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Black would play 12...e5 13.Bc5 Be6 (or 13...Re8) and could hardly count on more than a draw, and even that was sometimes hard to achieve.

In ChessBase Magazine 114 André Schulz took a long and hard look at the line 12...Nxc3! (instead of 12...e5) 13.Qxc3 [13.Bxc3 Qxd2+ 14.Bxd2 Be6=] 13...Bh6+ 14.Be3 [14.Kb1? e5] 14...Bxe3+ 15.Qxe3 Qb6, which he baptised the Bjerring Variation in honour of the stem game. Although Black has exchanged off his best piece, the bishop from g7, his king position remains defensible and he has sufficient compensation for the sacrificed pawn. It appears that Black has a much easier ride here than in the main line. In the Chess Olympiad in Dresden the variation was tested out in Petrosian-Li Chao. White played 16.Bd3 (instead of the main move 16.Qa3) and since Black turned down the chance to play the best line with 16...Bxa2, he soon ended up in a bad rook endgame (analysis in ChessBase Magazine 128).

André Schulz (right) discussing the Bjerring with a visiting grandmaster

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4

12...Nxc3! The main line 12...e5 13.Bc5 Be6 is much more difficult for Black. 13.Qxc3. 13.Bxc3 Qxd2+ 14.Bxd2 Be6=. 13...Bh6+ 14.Be3. 14.Kb1? e5 wins immediately. 14...Bxe3+. This all looks a little bit strange, since Black trades his best piece, The Bg7, but its fine for Black. 15.Qxe3 Qb6. Black has enough compensation for the pawn. 16.Qxe7. 16.Qxb6 axb6=.

16...Be6 17.Qa3. 17.Qf6 Rfd8 (17...Bxa2!? 18.b3 Bxb3! Sven Lindemanns suggestion. 19.cxb3 Qxb3 20.Rd3 Qb6 21.Qb2 (21.Be2 Rab8 22.Qa1 Qf2) 21...Rfe8! 22.Qxb6 axb6 23.Rd1 Ra1+ 24.Kc2 Ra2+ 25.Kb3 Rea8! 26.Rd8+ Rxd8 27.Kxa2 Rd1 28.g3 g5 29.Kb3 Rd2 30.h4 1/2-1/2 Topalov,V (2645)-Georgiev,K (2615)/ Elenite 1994/CBM 044/[Ernst] (30.h4 Rf2 31.hxg5 Rxf3+ 32.Kc2 Rxg3 33.Bd3 Rxg5=) ) 18.Rxd8+ Rxd8 19.Bd3 Bxa2 20.Re1 Be6 21.h4 (21.Rxe6 fxe6 22.Qxe6+ Kg7 23.Qe7+ Kh6 (Not 23...Kg8? 24.Bc4+ Rd5 25.Bxd5+ cxd5 26.Qe8+ Kg7 27.Qe5++-) 24.Qh4+ Kg7 25.Qe7+=) 21...Qd4 22.Qxd4 Rxd4 23.g3 Kf8 24.Kd2 c5 25.Kc3 Ke7 26.Ra1 Rd7 27.Ra5 Rc7 28.Bc4 Bc8 29.Bd5 Kd6 30.Kc4 h6 31.c3 f6 32.g4 g5 33.h5 Bd7 34.Ba8 Be6+ 35.Kd3 f5 36.gxf5 Bxf5+ 37.Be4 Bc8 38.Ke3 Re7 39.Ra1 Ke5 40.Ra5 Kd6 41.Kd3 Rc7 42.c4 Re7 43.b4 cxb4 44.c5+ Ke5 45.c6+ Kd6 46.Kc4 g4 47.Kxb4 g3 48.Ra1 g2 49.Rg1 Rg7 50.Kc3 Ke5 51.Kd3 Kf4 52.Kd4 a5 53.Kc5 Ke3 0-1 Dovliatov,S (2379)-Mamedov,R (2468) /Baku 2003/EXT 2005; 17.Bd3! Qe3+ 18.Rd2 c5 Rodriguez,Am-Clavijo/Bogota 53-208/1991/ 19.Qh4! c4 20.Re1 Qc5 21.Rxe6 fxe6 22.Bxc4+/-.

17...Rad8! 17...a5 18.Bd3 Qb4 19.Be4 Qxa3 20.bxa3 Ra6 21.Rd6 Rc8 22.Rhd1 Kg7 23.Bd5!+/- Klinger,J-Tolnai,T/Velden op/1994/ (23.R1d3+/= Popovic, P-Tolnai,T/OST-chT9394/1994/); 17...Qf2 18.Qa5!+/- Riveron-Cabrera,A/ 52-213/1991/,Wittmann-Gramer/Oberwart/1991/. 18.Bd3 Rd5 19.Qc3 Rc5 20.Qf6 Bxa2 21.Rhe1. 21.h4 Rb8 22.Rde1 Qa5 23.Qf4 Rd8 24.Qd2 Qa4 25.Qe3 Qa5 26.Qd2 Qa4 27.Qe3 Qa5 28.Qd2 1/2-1/2 Borisek,J (2508)-Carlsson,P (2481)/Crete 2007/CBM 121. 21...Bd5 22.h4 Ra5 23.b3 c5 24.Qc3 Qb4 25.Qxb4 cxb4 26.Kb2 Rc5 27.Rd2 Be6 28.Ba6 Rb8 29.Rd4 Rb6 30.Ra1 Rbc6 31.Bd3 a5 32.Rd8+ Kg7 33.Ra8 Bf5 34.R8xa5 Rxc2+ 35.Bxc2 Rxc2+ 36.Kb1 Rc3+ 37.Kb2 Rc2+ 38.Kb1 Rc3+ 39.Kb2 Rc2+ 1/2-1/2 Pelletier,Y (2479)-Berndt,S (2500)/Germany 1999/EXT 2000. [Click to replay]

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