Sunday, 4 July 2010

Written in the stars

The Sicilian Dragon is a very popular opening, especially with junior players and I'm convinced this has a lot to do with its name (rather than soundness). It has a such a aggressive and scary name that it just jumps off the page of any opening manual. However the source of the name is a mystery to most, with the explanation concerning the pawn structure looking like a "dragon" being only half correct (as it is a bit of a stretch to construct a dragon from 5 pawns)
In fact the pawn structure looks like the constellation Draco, which is the latin word for Dragon. This was then transferred to the chess opening, as it is easier to construct a vague arrangement of stars that might look like dragon out of 5 pawns than to build a real one.
Via this circular route comes a very brief game where White loses a bishop in only 12 moves. The connection to this topic is due to the fact that the path of bishop during the game resembles "Ursa Major" (or the "Big Dipper"). Having completed the outline of the "saucepan", the bishop is lost due to a threat of mate on f2.

Abt - Inkol [C24] Ontario, 1979

1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.e5 d5 5.Bb3 Ne4 6.Nf3 Bb4+ 7.Nbd2 0-0 8.Nxd4 Bxd2+ 9.Bxd2 c5 10.Nf3 c4 11.Ba4 b5 12.Bxb5 Qb6 0-1

2 comments: said...

Cute little trap Shaun. I play something similar as white, so I'll need to be wary of this in the future!

Anonymous said...

all the opening theory is now quite scary to confront, especially if you've made a conscious decision to focus on other parts of the game in order to improve your chess. Peter