More on the stunning Dragon idea against the Pirc! 5.Qd2!?

January 13, 2024 Matthew Sadler No comments exist

In the last post, we looked at the most natural human responses to Dragon’s stunning 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Qd2!? In this post we look at the way the engines counter this idea… and it’s equally stunning!  

This post is accompanied by a video on my YouTube site ( and some pgns from the usual location ( The pgns are organised as follows:

1. A pgn with this content

2. A pgn with this content PLUS a host of games and analysis from Stockfish, Leela and Dragon in these lines.

3. A pgn with everything I’ve run between my engines in this whole line!


1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Qd2 0–0

5…c5 6.dxc5 0–0 7.Nf3 transposes.

6.Nf3 c5 7.dxc5

Position after 7.dxc5


Position after 7…Nbd7

This stunning idea could only come from an engine. It takes some time to grasp why Black should ever dream of claiming full compensation (not just a bit of play) for the sacrificed pawn.

8.cxd6 exd6

Position after 8…exd6

1…g6 This game has nothing directly to do with Dragon’s 5.Qd2!? idea but it was the first game I thought of when I saw the recommended engine line against this system. It amazed me at the time that Black could achieve decent counterplay by sacrificing a pawn, losing a tempo with the black queen (…Qa5–c7) and accepting an isolated d-pawn into the bargain! 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 c5 4.dxc5 Qa5+ 5.c3 Nf6 6.b4 Qc7 7.Bd3 d5 8.cxd6 exd6

Posaition after 8…exd6

9.0–0 0–0 10.Bf4 Nh5 11.Be3 Nc6 12.b5 Ne5 13.Nxe5 Bxe5 14.f4 Bg7 15.Kh1 b6 16.Bd4 Bb7 17.f5 Be5 18.Nd2 Rae8 19.Rc1 Qe7 20.Bc2 a6 21.bxa6 Bxa6 22.Re1 Bxd4 23.cxd4 Qf6 24.fxg6 hxg6 25.Nf3 Qf4 26.Rb1 Rb8 27.Bd3 Ra8 28.Rb2 Rfc8 29.Bxa6 Rxa6 30.e5 Ra3 31.Rbe2 dxe5 32.dxe5 Ng7 33.Rd2 Ne6 34.Nd4 Re8 35.Nb5 Re3 36.Rf1 Qxe5 37.Nd6 Rd8 38.Nxf7 Rxd2 39.Qxd2 Qd4 40.Qc2 Nf4 41.Nh6+ Kg7 42.Ng4 Rc3 43.Qb2 Nd5 44.Qe2½–½ Stockfish-LCZero TCEC Season 21 – Superfinal 2021 (54.1)]

You’ll see now why I thought of the TCEC SuperFinal games when I saw this idea!

A. 9.Qxd6

Position after 9.Qxd6

9…Re8 presents White with a dilemma

1) 10.e5 is the very first line your hand would reach out to make in a blitz game, but there is a flaw! 10…Nxe5 11.Qxd8 (11.fxe5 Qxd6 is tragic!) 11…Nxf3+ 12.Kf2 Rxd8 and …Bf5 will regain the sacrificed c2–pawn leaving Black with a better position.;

2) 10.Ng5 looks exciting but has a tactical flaw! 10…h6 11.Nxf7 Nxe4 (11…Kxf7 12.Bc4+) ;

3) 10.Qd3 looks a little meek, but White is 2 pawns up! Black needs to keep on harassing White. 10…Qb6 Eyeing the f2–square (combining with …Ng4) and preventing White from castling kingside while introducing the threat of …Nc5 without allowing the exchange of queens. 11.Be3 Qxb2 12.Rb1 Nxe4 Black needs to keep on going (12…Qa3 13.e5) 13.Rxb2 Bxc3+ 14.Kd1 Bxb2 15.Qb3 Hitting b2 and threatening Bc4 15…Nc3+ 0.00/51 16.Kd2 Ne4+ 17.Kd1 with a draw by repetition is the engine line.;

4) 10.Bc4 Also looks aggressive, but the wilder tactics are more on Black’s side in this position. 10…b5

Position after 10…b5

11.Bb3 Nxe4 12.Nxe4 (12.Bxf7+ Kxf7 13.Qd5+ Kf8 14.Nxe4 Bb7 15.Qxb7 Nc5 is very scary for White!) 12…Rxe4+ 13.Kf2 Bf8 (13…Qe8 14.Rd1 Nf6 15.Qd8 Ng4+ 16.Kg3 Bf5 17.Qxe8+ Raxe8 18.h3 Ne3 19.Rd6 Nc4 20.Ra6 Re2 21.c3 h5 22.h4 Nxb2 23.Bxb2 Rxb2 24.Rxa7 Ree2 25.Bxf7+ Kf8 26.Rg1 Bxc3 27.Bd5 b4 28.Ra8+ Ke7 29.Bc4 Rec2 30.Bb3 Re2 31.Bc40.00/51) 14.Qd5 Qb6+ 15.Kg3 Re7 16.Be3 Qxe3 17.Qxa8 Nf6 18.Qxc8 Ne4+ 19.Kh3 Nf2+ 20.Kg3 Ne4+ was Stockfish’s perilous route to a draw for White!;

5) 10.Bd3 Also looks sensible, trying to consolidate White’s gains (2 pawns!) through development but Black’s dynamic potential is huge! 10…Bf8 11.Qd4 Bc5 12.Qa4 b5

Position after 12…b5

13.Bxb5 Nb6 14.Qa5 Nxe4 15.Bxe8 Qxe8 16.Qb5 Bd7 17.Qe2 Nxc3 18.bxc3 Bb5 19.c4 Bxc4 20.Qxe8+ Rxe8+ 21.Kd1 Na4 22.c3 Re2 23.Bd2 Rxg2 and Black’s huge initiative continues.;

6) 10.Ne5

Position after 10.Ne5

10…Bf8 11.Qd3 Qc7 12.Be2 Nxe5 13.fxe5 Qxe5 14.0–0 is the top engine defence but 14…Nxe4 15.Nxe4 Qxe4 16.Qxe4 Rxe4 17.Bf3 Re7 18.Bg5 (18.a4 Bf5 19.Bg5 Re6 20.Bxb7 Rb8 21.Bd5 Re2 22.b3 Rxc2 23.Rae1 h5 24.Rc1 Bc5+ 25.Kh1 Rxc1 26.Rxc1 Ba3 27.Rc7 Be6 28.Bxe6 fxe6 29.Rxa7 Rxb3 30.g3 Bc5 31.Rd7 Rb1+ 32.Kg2 Ra1 33.Bh6 Rxa4 34.Rg7+ Kh8 35.Rxg6 Ra2+ 36.Kh1 Ra1+ 37.Kg2 Ra2+Pirc Austrian Attack-Dragon 5.Qd2 Dragon analysis 0.00/51) 18…Rc7 19.c3 Be6 is obviously leading to a draw, both in engine and human games!;

B. 9.Bd3

Position after 9.Bd3

was my sensible idea. After all, just castle and then slowly consolidate your extra pawn! 9…Nc5 10.0–0 Re8 11.Re1 Qb6 12.Kh1 Bd7 with …Bc6 to follow gives Black lots of play for the pawn.

C. 9.Bc4

Position after 9.Bc4

The favourite engine approach.


9…b5 is also pretty good for Black. 10.Bxb5 Qb6 (10…Re8 is also good.) 11.a4 Re8 12.Qf2 Nxe4 13.Qxb6 Bxc3+ 14.bxc3 axb6 15.0–0 Nxc3 16.Ba3 Nxb5 17.axb5 Nc5 was the engine route to equality.


Fighting fire with fire!

10…d5 11.Bxd5 Nxd5 12.Qxd5 Bxc3+ 13.bxc3 Qf6 14.Be3

My favourite line – by far the most aggressive.

14…h6 15.h4

Position after 15.h4


15…hxg5 16.hxg5 Qe6 17.Bd4 f6 18.Kf2 is very risky for Black.

16.0–0–0 Nf6 17.Qd6 Bg4 18.Bc5 Qxd6 19.Rxd6 Nxe4 20.Nxe4 Rxe4 21.Rf1 Re6

and Black has reached the safe harbour of equality!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this exciting new idea against the Pirc and plenty of luck in using it ion your own games!

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