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Starting position: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cd 4.Nd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6

+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
| r  | n  | b  | q  | k  | b  |    | r  |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+ 
| p  | p  |    |    | p  | p  |    | p  |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
|    |    |    | p  |    | n  | p  |    | 
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
|    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    | 
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
|    |    |    | N  | P  |    |    |    | 
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
|    |    | N  |    |    |    |    |    | 
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
| P  | P  | P  |    |    | P  | P  | P  | 
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+ 
| R  |    | B  | Q  | K  | B  |    | R  |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+

The Dragon variation is one of the most exciting openings in chess, suited to attacking/counterattacking players and with more theory behind it than any other variation of the Sicilian Defense, except perhaps the Najdorf variation. Black's setup begins with the fianchetto of the black-squared bishop on g7, with the idea of using the long black diagonal to increase pressure on the centre and the queenside. It may be the most logical form of the Sicilian Defense from a positional point of view, with all of Black's pieces quickly reaching their best squares. However, as John Nunn points out in Beating The Sicilian 3: "General principles aren't much help in the Dragon, since success or failure is determined mainly by tactical considerations."

It is known as the Dragon because of Black's pawn structure. The head of the dragon is located where the bishop is fianchettoed on g7, and this bishop is commonly referred to as the Dragon Bishop. The dragon's tail is made up of the two mobile pawns on a7 and b7, which can lash forward very quickly to begin an attack on White's queenside formation.

The biggest problem with Black's opening formation in the Dragon is the Yugoslav Attack, which involves (for White) an equally rapid development of his pieces with an aim to opening lines on the kingside and checkmating Black. This attack has been the subject of intense theoretical and tournament-play scrutiny since the 1970's, with White and Black being declared at various different times to have won the debate as to who can checkmate their opponent faster. In the time of Bobby Fischer, the Dragon was considered almost to have been refuted, and Fischer himself includes one or two massacres in this variation in his book My 60 Memorable Games, but many resources have been discovered since then, rehabilitating the Dragon as a viable opening for attacking, enterprising players.

Far from being analyzed to death, fresh lines in the Dragon are being discovered and analyzed constantly, and many of the world's best players, including Garry Kasparov, have played it as Black, and played against it as White. The theory can sometimes run as deep as 20 or 30 moves, with entire books devoted to single variations (for example, Sicilian Dragon Yugoslav 9.Bc4 by Laszlow Sapi and Attila Schneider).

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