Sicilian Defence, Dragon Variation, Yugoslav Attack - 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bc4

Yugoslav Attack, Dragon Variation – 9.Bc4 (Sicilian Defense Theory)

The Sicilian Defense, Yugoslav Attack, also known as the Rauzer System or the St George Attack, is a powerful, aggressive chess strategy that’s characterized by rapid development of pieces and an uncompromising attack on the opponent’s king.

It is primarily designed to respond to the Sicilian Defense’s Dragon Variation.

This article will look into the move order, the theory, strategy and purpose behind this dynamic attack, its variations, history, and usage among beginners, intermediates, and at the grandmaster level.

Move Order of the Yugoslav Attack, Dragon Variation

The Yugoslav Attack in the Sicilian Defense, Dragon Variation, is initiated with a specific sequence of moves.

These moves focus on rapid development and quick castle on the queenside.

The moves are as follows:

  1. e4 c5
  2. Nf3 d6
  3. d4 cxd4
  4. Nxd4 Nf6
  5. Nc3 g6
  6. Be3 Bg7
  7. f3 0-0
  8. Qd2 Nc6
  9. Bc4
Sicilian Defence, Dragon Variation, Yugoslav Attack - 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bc4
Sicilian Defence, Dragon Variation, Yugoslav Attack – 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bc4

Here, 9.Bc4 is a defining characteristic of this attack strategy.

Theory, Strategy and Purpose of the Yugoslav Attack, Dragon Variation

The underlying theory of the Yugoslav Attack is to rapidly develop the queenside and castle long, to then direct a forceful assault on the Black king.

This rapid development strategy puts pressure on Black and aims to exploit potential weaknesses in their position.

By developing the pieces quickly and castling on the queenside, White prepares for a powerful assault on the Black king’s position.

Variations of the Yugoslav Attack, Dragon Variation

The Yugoslav Attack has several variations that can lead to rich and complex positions.

Although the main line consists of the aforementioned move sequence, depending on Black’s responses, different strategic considerations can come into play.

Variations can offer White opportunities to put pressure on Black through various tactical and strategic means, while also challenging Black to find accurate moves to maintain an equal or favorable position.

There are numerous variations of the Yugoslav Attack that stem from the Dragon Variation of the Sicilian Defense, providing a wealth of tactical and strategic possibilities.

This section will focus on the main line and its associated subvariations.

Main Line: 9… Bd7 10. 0-0-0

  1. 0-0-0 is White’s most popular choice, setting the stage for the typical Yugoslav Attack plans: swift kingside pawn advances and a strong assault on the black king. The move order matters a great deal here, as 10.h4 h5 would transpose to the Soltis Variation, avoiding the Chinese Dragon, since after 10.h4 Rb8, the move 11.h5 is advantageous for White.

On the other hand, 10.Bb3 often leads to transpositions into the main lines but gives Black the option of 10…Nxd4 11.Bxd4 b5, known as the Topalov System.

White’s best chances in this line currently involve a short castle, aiming for a positional edge in an unorthodox manner in the Yugoslav Attack.

10… Rc8 11. Bb3

With 10…Rc8, Black develops the rook to the open c-file, applying pressure on the queenside and preparing a discovered attack on White’s bishop.

White sidesteps this potential issue by moving the bishop to b3 with 11.Bb3.

An alternative for Black is 10…Qb8, which prepares either 11…Rc8 or 11…b5.

11… Ne5 12. Kb1

After 11…Ne5, White has two main options: 12.h4, leading to the Soltis Variation after 12…h5, or 12.Kb1, a more solid choice that has gained popularity recently.

The former choice, 12.h4, can be met with various responses from Black that can effectively thwart White’s aggressive intentions.

On the other hand, the move 12.Kb1 aims to minimize Black’s counterattacking potential, creating a safer environment for White’s king.

12… Re8

Following 12.Kb1, Black’s straightforward plans like 12…Nc4 or 12…a5 are less effective due to White’s defensive resources.

The move 12…Nc4 13.Bxc4 Rxc4 can be met with 14.g4, securing an advantage for White.

The move 12…a5 is also less potent, as White can respond with 13.a4, restricting Black’s queenside play and creating a strong outpost on b5.

Therefore, Black often opts for the waiting move 12…Re8, allowing Bh6 to be met with …Bh8, which keeps the dark-square bishop on the board.

The move 12…Re8 also has the added benefit of defending the e7-pawn, freeing up the Black queen.

An alternative move for Black at this point is 12…a6, a line that has been employed by World Champion Magnus Carlsen.

Black …Qa5 Lines

The variation 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Qa5 11.Bb3 Rfc8 12.h4 Ne5, known as the …Qa5 line, represents another important facet of the Yugoslav Attack against the Dragon Variation of the Sicilian Defense.

This specific sequence of moves focuses on creating counterplay on the queenside.

Main Line: 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Qa5 11.Bb3 Rfc8 12.h4 Ne5

In this sequence, Black moves the queen to a5 early on, aiming to pressure the queenside and possibly create tactical opportunities against White’s king.

This plan is complemented by 11…Rfc8, which prepares to challenge White’s control of the c-file and supports the possible advance of Black’s b-pawn.

This line was popularized by GM Chris Ward in his books Winning with the Dragon and Winning with the Dragon 2, and was considered the main variation at one point.

This is evidenced by it being given the ECO code B79, while the …Rc8 variation did not receive an individual code.

However, this …Qa5 approach has slightly lost popularity in recent years.

One reason is that Black can run into difficulties against White’s 12.Kb1. This move shores up White’s position, preparing to meet Black’s counterplay with a solid defensive setup.

Furthermore, the rise in the credibility of the Soltis Variation in the …Rc8 lines, as mentioned earlier, has made the …Qa5 lines a less preferred choice for Black.

The Soltis Variation offers a robust response to White’s aggressive intentions, making it an appealing choice in the contemporary chess landscape.

Chinese Dragon

The Chinese Dragon variation represents an innovative attempt by Black to sidestep the well-established theory and venture into less explored, complex terrain.

Characterized by the move 10…Rb8, this line aims to catch White off guard and disrupt conventional Yugoslav Attack plans.

Main Line: 10.0-0-0 Rb8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.Kb1

After the opening moves of the Chinese Dragon (10…Rb8), the main line continues with 11.Bb3, which is a prophylactic measure from White.

This move anticipates and seeks to deter Black’s potential plan of sacrificing the b-pawn to open lines for counterattacks.

It also buys some time for White to organize their defenses.

Black often responds with 11…Na5, a move that creates a dual threat: to play 12…Nc4 13.Bxc4 bxc4, opening up the b-file for rook operations, or simply eliminating White’s bishop with …Nxb3.

This sets up a complex position where both players must navigate carefully to maintain the balance.

Originally, White would respond with h4 at this point. However, the move 12.Bh6 has gained popularity in recent years, leading to a sharp and highly complex position.

This line results in a double-edged game where both players must tread carefully, but Black has good practical chances, making the Chinese Dragon an interesting choice for players of the Sicilian Defense who are looking to surprise their opponents.

Evaluation of the Yugoslav Attack

The Sicilian Defence, Yugoslav Attack is generally evaluated at around +0.30 to +0.50 for white.

Theory & Continuation Lines of the Yugoslav Attack

Below we have some common theory and continuation lines from the Sicilian Defence, Yugoslav Attack that you would see at the highest level of play.

9… Nxd4

9… Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Be6 11. Bxe6 fxe6 12. O-O-O Qa5 13. h4 

9… Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Qa5 11. O-O-O Be6 12. Bxe6 fxe6 13. Kb1 Rac8 14. h4 Nh5 15. Bxg7 Nxg7 

9… Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Be6 11. Bxe6 fxe6 12. h4 Qa5 13. O-O-O Rac8 14. Kb1 Nd7 15. h5 Bxd4 16. Qxd4 gxh5 17. Ne2 

9… Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Be6 11. Bb3 Qa5 12. O-O-O b5 13. Kb1 b4 14. Bxe6 fxe6 15. Ne2 Qb5 16. h4 e5 17. Be3 a5 18. Qd3 Qxd3 19. Rxd3 Nh5 20. c3 Nf4 21. Bxf4 exf4 22. cxb4 axb4 

9… Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Qa5 11. O-O-O Be6 12. Bxe6 fxe6 13. Kb1 Rac8 14. h4 h5 15. Qd3 Nd7 16. Ne2 Nc5 17. Qe3 e5 18. Bc3 Qa6 19. Bd2 Ne6 20. Nc3 Kh7 21. g4 Nf4 22. Rdg1 Rf7 23. gxh5 

9… Qa5

9… Qa5 10. O-O-O Nxd4 11. Bxd4 Be6 12. Bb3 b5 13. Kb1 b4 14. Bxe6 fxe6 15. Ne2 Qb5 16. h4 e5 17. Be3 a5 18. g4 Nd7 19. h5 Rxf3 20. hxg6 hxg6 21. Bh6

9… Qa5 10. O-O-O Nxd4 11. Bxd4 Be6 12. Bxe6 fxe6 13. h4 Rac8 14. Kb1 Nh5 15. Bxg7 Nxg7 16. Rhe1 Rc4 17. Re3 b5 18. Rd3 b4 19. Ne2

The Yugoslav Attack in Chess Overview by GM Anish Giri

History of the Yugoslav Attack, Dragon Variation

The Yugoslav Attack has a rich history, being a favorite among aggressive players looking for a direct attack against the Sicilian Defense.

Its use in master-level games has resulted in fascinating battles, showcasing the dynamic possibilities of this aggressive strategy.

The continued usage and development of the Yugoslav Attack attests to its viability as a response to the Dragon Variation of the Sicilian Defense.

Is the Yugoslav Attack Good for Beginners or Intermediates?

While the Yugoslav Attack is undeniably powerful and can lead to exciting games, it requires a strong understanding of chess principles and tactics, making it a more suitable choice for intermediate players.

Beginners might find the number of possible variations and the depth of strategy required daunting.

However, studying and understanding the Yugoslav Attack can provide important insights into aggressive play and the fundamental principles of chess strategy.

How Often the Yugoslav Attack Is Played at the Grandmaster Level

The Yugoslav Attack is a frequent choice at the grandmaster level when facing the Sicilian Defense, Dragon Variation.

It’s an aggressive approach that has been used to great effect in many high-level games.

Statistics from nearly 1500 master games show win-draw-loss percentages for White to be: 46%–25%–29%, for an expected score of 0.59 (where 1.00 = perfect score for white, 0.00 = perfect score for black).

This shows it favors white.

FAQs – Sicilian Defense, Dragon Variation Yugoslav Attack

What is the Sicilian Defense, Yugoslav Attack?

The Sicilian Defense, Yugoslav Attack is a specific variation of the Sicilian Defence in chess.

It specifically occurs in the Dragon Variation, where the Yugoslav Attack begins with the following sequence of moves: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4.

The Yugoslav Attack is known for its aggressive strategy which involves rapid development of the queenside pieces and a strong assault on the black king.

Who coined the term “Yugoslav Attack”?

The exact origins of the term “Yugoslav Attack” are somewhat unclear, as with many chess openings and variations.

The term, however, most likely stems from the popularity of this particular system among players from former Yugoslavia, who contributed to its development and widespread use.

Why is the move 9.Bc4 considered one of the main options in the Yugoslav Attack?

The move 9.Bc4 is considered one of the main options because it targets the weak f7 pawn and prepares the way for a queenside castle.

Additionally, the bishop at c4 provides support for potential pawn pushes in the center and on the kingside, setting the stage for an aggressive attack.

What did English GM John Emms say about the Yugoslav Attack?

English Grandmaster John Emms has stated, “I can safely say that the Yugoslav Attack is the ultimate test of the Dragon.

White quickly develops his queenside and castles long before turning his attentions to an all-out assault on the black king.

To the untrained eye, this attack can look both awesome and unnerving.”

What are the statistics for the Sicilian Defense, Yugoslav Attack?

According to a database of nearly 1500 master games, the win-draw-loss percentages for White in the Sicilian Defense, Yugoslav Attack are: 46% win, 25% draw, and 29% loss.

The Mega Database 2002 indicates that White scores 52% while 66% of the over 1200 games were decisive.

What is the ECO code for the Sicilian Dragon, Yugoslav Attack, 9.Bc4?

The Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings (ECO) code for the Sicilian Dragon, Yugoslav Attack, 9.Bc4 is B77.

The ECO codes are a system used to categorize chess openings based on the sequence of opening moves.

How should Black respond to the Yugoslav Attack?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this, as the best response depends on the specific position and the player’s style.

However, generally speaking, black players often try to counterattack on the queenside while maintaining a solid and safe king’s position.

Accurate defense and counterplay are crucial for black to withstand white’s attacking potential.

Is the Yugoslav Attack still widely used in competitive chess?

Yes, the Yugoslav Attack is still widely used at all levels of competitive chess, from amateur games up to the grandmaster level.

Its aggressive nature and potential for complex and exciting positions make it a popular choice among players who prefer sharp tactical battles.


In conclusion, the Sicilian Defense, Yugoslav Attack, is a dynamic and aggressive strategy, offering numerous possibilities for complex and exciting gameplay.

While it may be challenging for beginners due to its complexity and need for precise execution, it offers a rewarding study for intermediate players and remains a popular choice at the grandmaster level.

Its rich history and enduring relevance in competitive chess underscore its importance as part of a comprehensive understanding of the game.


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