The Sicilian Defense is one of the most popular defenses to e4. Make no mistake about it, the Accelerated Dragon is one of Black’s more aggressive options. While not as theoretical dense as a classical Dragon, it is a very solid choice for a beginner looking to understand the intricacies of the Black pieces when meeting e4.
Before diving into the game, I should note that Jeremy Silman’s fantastic book Accelerated Dragons is a must buy for the aspiring Sicilian chessplayer. The book is packed with variations and ideas against the Maroczy Bind which is White’s more modern attempt at trying to slay the dragon.
Accelerated Dragon – theory versus practice
I’ve been playing the Accelerated Dragon for decades. Even now, I find myself getting lost in the myriad of ideas associated with this opening. Studying over books is a great way to learn the opening but playing it over the board is how you absorb the knowledge. The key to remember about this opening is that d5 is the thematic break Black is looking for. Once this move is played, Black has achieved equality. That didn’t happen here which is why White got the upperhand early in the opening.
When to trade pieces. After I played Re8, I started to run out of meaningful moves. I played the idiotic Qh5 which made no sense. Instead, I should have captured on d4 and repositioned my pieces to bear down on the center. For example, something like Be6 is logical to trade off White’s strong b3 bishop
Justify your moves. Before you play any move, ask yourself, “How is this helping my position?”. Clearly, a move like Qh5 is an attempt to get the queens off the board. This is an idea in the Accelerated Dragon but normally when the white queen is on f3 but that’s not the only reason. The problem in my position is that I played Re8 which makes my f7 square weak. Moves like Ng5 put pressure on that square which is similar to what happened in the game.
Strengthen your game by studying tactics. The only reason I won this game was due to a mate threat I calculated late in the ending. This is why studying tactics is so important, it forces you to calculate moves for both sides and analyze all possible continuations. Granted, I missed plenty of ideas during the game but tactics training is the reason I won this game.
My opponent let me off the hook. I made several mindless moves that should have cost me the game. It is disappointing that this happened during classical time controls but this put into focus the recurring problem I have – playing moves without calculating. If this happens to you, make a mental note, “I will spend more time looking at my opponent’s moves than my own.”.