Everyone knows the Dragon. The double-edged theoretical minefield of tricks, traps and tactics gets played from club level all the way up to Magnus himself. But why? I mean, how many players enjoy the white side of an Albin Countergambit? Or the black side of a Double Muzio? Sure, it's possible to power your way through if you spend weeks and weeks memorising theory, but even chess players have better things to do with their time, right?
Shortly after this picture was taken, Kosteniuk went on holiday.
Well, I've figured it out. At least, I've figured out why it's so popular in the Bristol club scene. It's all in the name. No other opening has such a cool name. Don't agree? Well let's test this with a simple thought experiment. Imagine if you will, a hypothetical variation in the Sicilian. Let's pretend this variation is sharp but sound and offers both sides real winning chances. Now let's give this new variation a name that won't appeal to most Bristol club players. How about the "Najdorf" variation? Hell, most Bristol players won't even know how to pronounce that, so it's a good choice. Anyway, you see where I'm going with that.
So yeah, the Dragon is popular. Really popular.
The trouble is, most players haven't spent those hours booking up. Sadly, most players know how to get into the Yugoslav Attack variation of the Dragon (which provides the most serious problems for black), but that's where it ends. This is like turning up for a battle, getting your army equipped and into position and then telling them to just go and have a crack at it. It leaves their black dragon, distinctly without bite.
Sorry about that.
If you'll forgive me, here's a recent example of what happens if you dally about as black: