3. d4:c x d4
4. N x d4;Nf6
The Dragon Variation. First recorded in 1880 by a German grand master. Currently perfected in middle and end game variations by Magnus Carlsen. The Dragon is an assassin’s blade in the ribs of White’s offense. A stunning, confusing, improbable twist on the Sicilian. The Dragon opens quietly with a predictable nod to c5 before causing a small bit of mayhem for the opponent. White continues an ordinary line with Nf3 followed by d4 and a gullible grab at Nxd4. And then it unfolds. The Dragon tail shapes itself into a horrible coil, too late for White to muster a sufficient response. Black’s bishop, f8, lethally creeps in to g7–a protected fianchetto with a1 in the crosshairs…along with the collateral damage that will happen along the way. A simple, graceful adjustment and the The Dragon Variation is set in to motion. The tail snaps. An unprepared White crumbles as play advances towards an inevitable end game for inexperienced players.
Most players avoid utilizing The Dragon. It’s not immediately confrontational. It takes a bit of patience and restraint. It’s not a blitz strategy. And for anyone coached to control the middle of the board it lacks the zeal of a more foundational defense. That is its beauty. Order out of chaos. Patience in the middle of combat. Refinement in the midst of war.
“Chess is life” the mad man said at the zenith of his power. Before Iceland. Before insanity. Considering his prowess, his reach, his depth–despite the fallen legacy–he may be right. Life has chaos in it. Sometimes it feels out of control. And sometimes it feels like the opponent is dropping bombs. Yet within the chaos, I’m learning, there is elegance. There is design. And in the perfect scenario there is both. Hidden advantages manifest themselves and your position can change with the simplest move–shifting from your weakness to your strength in seconds. But it does take patience. It does take planning. It finally demands the humility to recognize that you can only control your resources and assets. It then becomes a matter of letting the design work its magic, leaving your opponent breathless.