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Mikhail Tal vs Bent Larsen
"A Bent Pin" (game of the day Apr-28-10)
Tal - Larsen Candidates Semifinal (1965)  ·  Sicilian Defense: Scheveningen. Tal Variation (B82)  ·  1-0
To move:
Last move:

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Given 103 times; par: 58 [what's this?]

Annotations by Iakov Damsky.

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Kibitzer's Corner
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May-01-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  Johnnysaysthankyou: @AylerKrupp

A few things. I highly doubt Komodo's lines work, but I will take the time to look them over.

The thing you have to remember about this position that Komodo cannot possibly understand is that black's kingside structure is very weak. If white constricts black's h pawn and controls the f6 square, there should be nothing black can do to prevent mate. Nontheless, if black can get his queen to Qc7 and somehow remove the g pawn while freeing the 7th rank, he can defend. This is a tall order, but my judgement is that it can be done...if white messes up. White's goal is much simpler, he just wants to get a rook and queen to the h file. That's all he wants. As long as the g pawn is restricting black, there is nothing that can be done once that is achieved.


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1) With the move Ne5, black does not even come close to completing his goal, but brings white a hell of a lot closer to completing his. 22. Rhf1! deserves an exclamation point. White will eventually put his rooks on the e and f files and put pressure on the black knight. Black's snoozing queenside won't even come into play if white does it right.

Black has to get active, so a good move for him to play might be 22.Bxc2+! But white doesn't need to complicate. All he needs to do is play Ka1 and after Bxd1, Rf4. White has an unstoppable threat of Rh4 and black can't stop it. Sadly for this sequence, all the lines end this way. I recommend playing out of a few of the positional concepts against Komodo and seeing what it says. If my suspicions are correctly, it will swing wildly once you hit on the correct line and get close enough that it has a whiff of what's happening to it.

2)Ne5 immediately sounds like a good idea. Preserve the knight, block the DSB, and the f5 pawn is still pinned. I surveyed the lines resulting from Ne5 for a long time while writing this up. I was using plans like opening the g or h files but they don't seem to work, it only ends up helping black. Instead, Keypusher has the right idea. After Ne5, Qh6 followed by f6 seems the correct plan. Meaning I was probably wrong about the bishop sacrifice stopping white's machinations in another line. From this position:


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An example might be 23...Nf3 trying to rid black of his dark squared bishop on black's terms. 24. Qf4 Nxd4 25. Rxd4 and if 25...Qc7 26. h4 Bb7 27. h5 Rac8 28. Qh2 Re5 29. hxg5 fxg5 30. Rh4 wins.

3)I'm not gonna give a long commentary on this one cause it just loses. From this position:


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22... fxg6 23. Rde1 Bd8 24. Rhf1 and there is nothing black can do.

May-02-16  beatgiant: <Johnnysaysthankyou> I find a lot to disagree with in your posts above, but I'll start with your latest and work backwards:


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22...fxg6 23. Rde1 Bd8 (not my choice, but let's stipulate it) 24. Rhf1 (end of your line) and now at least 24...Rxf1 25. Rxf1 Bf5 26. Rxf5 Bb6 27. Bxb6 Qxb6. Black is still a piece up and it looks like White's attack is out of steam. I'm not even sure that's Black's best defense there, but at any rate I don't think you can just claim "there is nothing black can do."

May-02-16  beatgiant: <Johnnysaysthankyou> Slight correction, the knight on h5 is supposed to be Black in the diagram above


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and the line from there is 22...fxg6 23. Rde1 Bd8 24. Rhf1 Rxf1 25. Rxf1 Bf5 26. Rxf5 Bb6 27. Bxb6 Qxb6.

May-02-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <1) With the move Ne5, black does not even come close to completing his goal, but brings white a hell of a lot closer to completing his. 22. Rhf1! deserves an exclamation point. White will eventually put his rooks on the e and f files and put pressure on the black knight. Black's snoozing queenside won't even come into play if white does it right.

Black has to get active, so a good move for him to play might be 22.Bxc2+! But white doesn't need to complicate. All he needs to do is play Ka1 and after Bxd1, Rf4. White has an unstoppable threat of Rh4 and black can't stop it. Sadly for this sequence, all the lines end this way. >

22....Bxc2+? 23.Ka1?? Bxd1 24.Rf4 Bh5. The "attack" is over and Black has ...Rc8 and ...Bf8, winning the queen. White can't even play 25.Rh4 Rc8 26.Rxh5, because 26....Rc1 is mate.

May-02-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  Johnnysaysthankyou: Oops. Guess you have to play Kxc2. And on Qc7+ move back to b1. But maybe I analyzed too hastily in assuming there was some kind of threat after Rc1. What is black trying to accomplish? Why can't I just play Rf2 and when he plays Rfc1 I play Rd3. On Bf8 I play Qh4 and on a5 I play Rh3? In light of this Bxc2 no longer seems like a good line, but I'm at a loss what black is going to do because the threat of Rxf5 Rd3 threatening Rh3 is too strong.
May-02-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Johnnysaysthankyou: Oops. Guess you have to play Kxc2. And on Qc7+ move back to b1. But maybe I analyzed too hastily in assuming there was some kind of threat after Rc1. What is black trying to accomplish? Why can't I just play Rf2 and when he plays Rfc1 I play Rd3. On Bf8 I play Qh4 and on a5 I play Rh3? In light of this Bxc2 no longer seems like a good line, but I'm at a loss what black is going to do because the threat of Rxf5 Rd3 threatening Rh3 is too strong.>

Sorry, Johnny, there's no saving this for White. From the top:

18.f5 Nc5(?) 19.Qh3? Nxd3+ 20.Kb1? Bxf5 21.Qh6 Ne5 22.Rhf1 Rc8 (better than 22....Bxc2+) 23.Rd2.

Now Black can just play 23....Bf8. After Qh4, Black's other bishop covers h3, so there's no threat of mate on the h-file even if White could somehow get a rook to h3.

But Black doesn't even have to play ...Bf8. 23....Qb5 hits the rook on f1, and if White tries 24.Rf3 then 24....Bxg5! 25.Qxg5 Nxf3 forking queen, rook, bishop and the back rank. If 26.Qg2 then 26....Nxd2+ 27.Qxd2 Qf1+ 28.Qc1 Bxc2+ 29.Ka1 Qxc1#.

If White defends c2 with the other rook (23.Rf2) then black has 23....b3 and again White gets killed on the queenside: 24.axb3 Qxb3 25.Rdd2 Bf8 26.Qh4 Nc4.

May-02-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  Johnnysaysthankyou: I'm not following you...Where does the move Rd2 come from? It's an awful move and obviously just a placeholder, but what a place to put it! If you can't find a good continuation let me get to a computer and I'll look at the line on a viewer. I'm certain I looked at your line and found Rxf5 followed by some kind of took lift that can be stopped. I'll let you know.
May-02-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Johnnysaysthankyou> The thing you have to remember about this position that Komodo cannot possibly understand is that black's kingside structure is very weak.> (part 1 of 2)

I don't know on what basis you say that Komodo cannot possibly understand that black's king side structure is very weak. Pawn structure and king safety are fundamental factors in any engine's evaluation function, and the importance (weights) of these factors relative to other factors has been tested over 10s of thousands of games. It strikes me that perhaps you don't understand how chess engines work, or have a mistrust of them like several others on this site. Fair enough, but that's no reason to doubt the accuracy of their evaluations.

And you tend to talk in generalities and ideas, which is fine when you are trying to formulate plans, but proper evaluation of lines of play require calculation. The best ideas and plans will not work if there are tactical issues that prevent their implementation. Since you say that you generally (and quickly) analyze in your head, I would suggest that you set up the pieces on an actual board and try to find the best moves by both sides. I know that this is one of my greatest failings; I usually come up with good plans and good moves for the side I'm playing, but I am much less successful in identifying my opponent's best responses and so I tend to overestimate my chances. Optimism is fine, but it can be counterproductive if you are not objective and don't consider your opponent's best moves in addition to your own best moves.

For example, in this position you give 22.Rhf1 a "!" claiming that White will eventually put his rooks on the e and f files and put pressure on the black knight.


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But White will never get a chance to do that, White's king is no safer than Black's and perhaps even less so. After either 22...Qc7 or 22...Rc8 Black will take the initiative since White must respond to the threats against his king. Remember that Black is 2 pieces ahead and can give up one or both of them if it means achieving a superior position. And Black can even give up its queen for a rook to blunt White's attack and still remain sufficiently ahead in material to ensure the win.

May-02-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Johnnysaysthankyou> The thing you have to remember about this position that Komodo cannot possibly understand is that black's kingside structure is very weak.> (part 2 of 2)

After either of those 2 moves (22...Qc7 or 22...Rc8) the immediate attempt to open up the g-file by 23.Rxf5 doesn't work. For another engine's perspective this is what Stockfish 7 had to say about it at d=33:

1. [-12.39]: 22...Qb5 23.Rxf5 gxf5 24.Qh5 Rfc8 25.Bxe5 dxe5 26.Qf3 Qd7 27.h4 Bd6 28.Qd3 a5 29.h5 a4 30.Rd2 e4 31.Qd4 Qb5 32.g6 hxg6 33.hxg6 Bc5 34.c4 bxc3 35.Qf6 c2+ 36.Rxc2 Qf1+ 37.Rc1 Qxc1+ 38.Kxc1 Bd4+ 39.Qc6 Rxc6+ 40.dxc6 fxg6 41.b3 axb3 42.axb3 Rc8 43.Kd1 Rxc6 44.Kd2 Kf7


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2. [-12.36]: 22...Rc8 23.Rxf5 gxf5 24.Qh3 Qb5 25.Qe3 Qxd5 26.h4 Nf3 27.Qd3 Nxh4 28.Bf2 Qxd3 29.Rxd3 Bxg5 30.Rh3 Ng6 31.a3 bxa3 32.Rxa3 f4 33.Ra5 Ne5 34.Rd5 Rab8 35.b3 Rc6 36.Rd1 Nc4 37.Rg1 h6 38.Ka2 Ne3 39.c4 Rcc8 40.Be1 Kh7 41.Bd2 Bf6 42.Bc1


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3. [-10.55]: 22...Qc7 23.Rxf5 gxf5 24.Qh3 f4 25.Qg2 f3 26.Qf2 Rac8 27.h3 Qc4 28.Rd2 Qxd5 29.Bxe5 Qxe5 30.Qxf3 Rc5 31.h4 Qe1+ 32.Qd1 Qxd1+ 33.Rxd1 Rc4 34.Rh1 Rfc8 35.Rh3 Rxc2 36.a3 d5 37.axb4 Rc1+ 38.Ka2 R1c4 39.b5 axb5 40.Kb1 f6 41.Rd3 Rd8 42.gxf6 Bxf6 43.Rb3


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In all cases Black beats off White's attack and with his great material advantage is ensured of an easy win.

Again, I did no forward sliding nor did I check out what other engines have to say (I typically use at least 3 engines to analyze a position so that if one engine misses a good move there is a pretty good chance that the other engines won't) so I don't know if these are the best moves by both sides but complex tactical positions like this one are chess engines' main strength so I would be reasonably confident in their evaluations and their early moves.

Without considering your opponent's best moves no plan or general ideas are worth anything. It's not hard to win a game if your opponent doesn't make the best moves. It's not easy to always consider your opponent's best moves but chess is not an easy game to master.

May-02-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Johnny>

I was talking about the diagram you posted below. Here it is again.


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22.Rhf1 Rc8 threatening c2.

Now you complain about me suggesting 23.Rd2, but defending c2 with 23.Rf2 isn't any better, as I already pointed out:

23....b3 24.axb3 Qxb3 (threatening ....Bxc2+) 25.Rdd2 Bf8 26.Qh4 Nc4 (threatening ...Na3+ and ...Nxc2). If 27.Rxf5 Nxd2+ 28.Ka1 Qa4#.

May-02-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Going all the way back to 17....g6 18.f5 Bxg5+ 19.Kb1 Ne5 20.Bxe5 dxe5 21.f6


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This is interesting to me, because it's a slightly more realistic line than most of what we've been looking at because if 18.....Nc5(?) White would surely continue with 19.f6, not 19.Qh3. Also, frankly, because it's not instantly losing for White like most of the other variations on the page.

But it still seems quite hopeless. 21....Qd6 blocking the pawn on d6 and threatening the pawn on f6. If 22.Rdf1 just 22....Bf4 and the pawn is doomed, and White doesn't seem to have anything for it: 23.h4 Bd7 24.h5 Qxf6 and ?

May-03-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  Johnnysaysthankyou: An immediate f5 may not be the line. I have defended it as I long as I am able, but it is not working. But looking back at 17..g6 18. Red1, I think f5 forms a possible avenue of strong attack after g6, as I am thoroughly convinced that the move g6 is a mistake. To accomplish f5 however, we must first back up the f pawn. I'm going to try 18... Bd8 19. h4 Bb7 20. f5 Qc7 21. f6 Rc8 22. h5 Nc5 23. Bxc5 Qxc5 24. hxg6 fxh6 25. Qh3 and if black guards the h pawn white has Bxg6 and a mating sequence.


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Is there a better defense for black? If so, does it give black a good game?

May-03-16  beatgiant: <Johnnysaysthankyou> <Is there a better defense for black?> After 17. Rde1 Bd8 18. h4, I don't understand your <...Bb7> but instead <18...Nc5> looks fine, followed by 19. Bxc5 dxc5 20. f5 <c4> for example, and I don't think White will find the time to continue the Kingside attack.


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I don't claim this is Black's best defense, but it does look adequate.

May-04-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Johnnysaysthankyou> But looking back at 17..g6 18. Red1, I think f5 forms a possible avenue of strong attack after g6, as I am thoroughly convinced that the move g6 is a mistake.>

You may believe that 17...g6 is a mistake but so far you have not shown any convincing analysis that this is indeed the case, so I'm not sure why you hold that opinion so strongly. And the engines, as usual, disagree with you. Here is a summary of 3 engines' evaluations, sorted in order of ascending Ratings Adjusted Average since it is Black's move, whenever there's more than one engine with an evaluation for that move:

<Summary of Black's choices after 17.exd5>


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a. Moves not reported by the engines as one of their top 3 moves are considered to be null when calculating the averages.

Black's Houdini 4 Komodo 9.2 Stockfish 7

Move d= 29 d= 27 d= 36 <St.Avg> <RAdj.Avg>

-------- -------- ----------- --------- ---------- -----------

17...g6 [-0.77] [-0.53] [-0.79] <[+0.70]> <[+0.68]>

17...f5 [0.00] [0.00] [+0.10] <[+0.03]> <[+0.04]>

17...b3 [------] [+0.86] [------] <[+0.86]> <[+0.86]>

17...Ne5 [+1.12] [------] [+1.15] <[+1.14]> <[+1.14]>

b. Moves not reported by the engines as one of their top 3 moves are considered to be evaluated one centipawn less than the move with the lowest evaluation when calculating the averages. This is the best evaluation that the move could receive from the engine and therefore the average evaluations will likely be optimistic since the engine's actual evaluation of the move could be much lower.

Black's Houdini 4 Komodo 9.2 Stockfish 7

Move d= 29 d= 27 d= 36 <St.Avg> <RAdj.Avg>

-------- -------- ----------- --------- ---------- -----------

17...g6 [-0.77] [-0.53] [-0.79] <[+0.70]> <[+0.68]>

17...f5 [0.00] [0.00] [+0.10] <[+0.03]> <[+0.04]>

17...b3 [+1.13] [+0.86] [+1.16] <[+1.05]> <[+1.03]>

17...Ne5 [+1.12] [-0.87] [+1.15] <[+1.05]> <[+1.03]>

So these 3 engines agreed on Black's top 2 moves and their rank, with 17...g5 evaluated as slightly better for Black, 17...f5 as played by Larsen to be about even, and all other moves giving White an advantage to a lesser or greater degree. So Larsen's 17...f5 was a reasonable move to play and his mistakes came later.

And here is a summary of how the 3 engines ranked the moves, without regard for the value of the evaluation.

Black's Houdini 4 Komodo 9.2 Stockfish 7

Move d= 29 d= 27 d= 36 <Avg> <TrueRank>

-------- -------- ----------- --------- ---------- -----------

17...g6 1 1 1 <1.0> <1>

17...f5 2 2 2 <2.0> <2>

17...Ne5 3 4 3 <3.3> <3>

17...b3 4 3 4 <3.7> <3>

True Rank: 1 = [ 17...g6 ]; 2 = [17...f5 ]; 3 = [17...Ne5, 17...b3 ]

I'll post the details of each engine's line for the top 3 moves after I've had a chance to review them.

May-04-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  Johnnysaysthankyou: Computers are inherently materialistic. Therefore, they will always factor material factors over non-material ones.

@KeyPusher
According to stockfish your line runs into problems after h5 instead of f5. Like so... 18. Rde1 Bd8 19. h4 Nc5 20. Bxc5 dxc5 21. h5 Qd6 22. Re5 f6 23. hxg6 fxe5


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Stockfish gives white +0.43 in this position. A slight advantage that will only get larger. In an alternative line modeled after yours:


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The score is exactly 0, because white can now force a draw like so. 22...cxd3 23. Rxh7 Bf5 Rh8+ Kg7(Kxg8 is mate in 2) and Rh7+ Kg8 rinse and repeat. Since white has at least a draw in this line, black must play more carefully. But as demonstrated in the other line above, white will get an advantage if black doesn't take the draw.

May-05-16  beatgiant: <Johnnysaysthankyou> <Computers are inherently materialistic.> Maybe, but the king is a material piece too.

As for your line, 17...g6 18. Rde1 Bd8 19. h4 Nc5 20. Bxc5 dxc5 21. Re5, Black is not forced to play 21...f6, but simply <21...Ra7> seems to cover all immediate threats at least. What further plan do you see for White here?


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Or if looking for something more active, Black can return some material for an initiative with <21...Bf5> 22. Bxf5 gxf5 23. g6 <Bf6> 24. gxh7+ Kh8 25. Rxf5 c4 and Black's attack is starting to look serious.


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May-06-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Detailed Analysis after 17.exd5 g6> (part 1 of 3)


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<Houdini 4>, PV=1, [-0.77], d=29: 18.Rhe1 Bd8 19.Qh3 Ne5 20.Qh6(1) Bb6 21.f5(2) Bxf5 22.Bxf5 Re8 23.Bxe5 Rxe5 24.Rxe5 dxe5(3) 25.Bh3 Be3+ 26.Kb1 Qd6 27.Qh4 Bf4 28.Bf1 a5 29.Qg4 a4 30.h4 a3 31.Qe2 axb2 32.Qc4 Rd8 33.Kxb2 Qb6 34.Bd3 Rd6 35.Kb1 Kg7 36.Qe4 Qc5 37.Bc4 Rd8 38.Kb2 Qd6 39.Bb5 Rc8 40.Kb1 Rc3 41.Bd3 Rc7 42.Re1 Qc5 43.h5 Rc8 44.Rh1(4)


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(1) Houdini does not seem to fear 20.Qh6.

(2) Nor 21.f5.

(3) Houdini has given back the piece and restored material equality in exchange for getting rid of both White's DSB and f-pawn. Now it will be able to defend h7 by ...Qf8-g8 in case of Rd1-d3-h3. And it is Black who will have an attack against White's king by advancing its q-side pawns.

(4) Material is even and each side has a potential aside against the opponent's king. The BOC enhance each side's attacking chances since the opposite color bishop can't defend but, if the major pieces are exchanged, the chances for a draw increase.

Restarting the analysis from this position Houdini evaluates the resulting position at [-0.86], d=28 after 44...Rd8 45.Bc4 Qe3 46.Qxe3 Bxe3 47.hxg6 Kxg6 48.Re1 Bf4 49.Bd3+ Kxg5 50.Bxh7 Rxd5 51.Kb2 Rd4 52.Rg1+ Kf6 53.Kb3 Ke6 54.Rg8 Bd2 55.Re8+ Kf6 56.Bd3 Rh4 57.Rd8 Be1 58.Re8 Rg4 59.Be2 Rd4 60.Bd3 Bd2 61.Kb2 Rh4 62.Kb3 Be1 63.Kb2 Rf4 64.Kb3 Rg4 65.Be2, so its initial evaluation of 17...g6 seems reasonable. Black has a slightly better game but no win is evident.

May-06-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Detailed Analysis after 17.exd5 g6> (part 2 of 3)


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<Komodo 9.2>, PV=1, [-0.53], d=27: 18.Rhe1 Bd8 19.Qh3 Ne5 20.Qh6 Bb6 21.f5 Bxf5 22.Bxf5 gxf5(1) 23.Rxe5(2) dxe5 24.Bxb6 Qc8 25.Qf6(3) Re8 26.d6 Qd7 27.Ba5 Rab8 28.h4 Rb7 29.Bc7 e4 30.h5 Re6 31.Qxf5(4) Rb5 32.Qf4 e3 33.Re1 e2 34.Qd2 Rbe5 35.Qxb4 Rxg5 36.Qf4 h6 37.Qc4 Ree5 38.Qxa6 Re4 39.Rxe2(5)


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(1) Only here does Komodo deviate from Houdini's 22...Re8, not giving back the piece and apparently unconcerned about the opening of the g-file.

(2) So, in return, White gets 2 pieces for its rook and a passed d-pawn, remaining down only the exchange. But Black has 2 connected passed pawns of his own.

(3) If White tries 25.Rd3 to try to get its rook to the h-file, then Komodo assesses that White equalizes in spite of his material disadvantage, evaluating the resulting position at d=29 at:

(3a) [-0.27] after 25...f4 26.d6 Qd7 27.Rh3 Qf5 28.d7 Rfd8 29.Rd3 f3 30.Qf6 Qxf6 31.gxf6 f2 32.Bxf2 Rab8 33.Bc5 e4 34.Rd4 Rb7 35.b3 Rbxd7 36.Rxe4 Rd1+ 37.Kb2 R1d2 38.Rxb4 Rxh2 39.Rg4+ Kh8 40.b4 h5 41.Rg7 Rd7 42.a4 Re2 43.Rg5 Kh7 44.Rxh5+ Kg6 45.Rh4 Kxf6 46.Rh6+ Ke5 47.Rxa6 Rdd2 48.Rh6 Rxc2+


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Black has a R vs. B+P advantage and coordinated rooks, but apparently doesn't have any winning chances. Restarting the analysis from this position Komodo evaluates the resulting position at [0.00], d=29 after 49.Kb3 f5 50.a5 f4 51.a6 f3 52.a7 Ra2 53.Rh8 Reb2+ 54.Kc4 Rc2+ 55.Kb5 Rxc5+ 56.bxc5 (this position is a tablebase draw) 56...Rxa7 57.Rf8 Ra3 58.c6 Rc3 59.c7 Rxc7, and after 60.Rxf3 with only kings and rooks remaining, the position is a clear draw.

(3b) [0.00] after 25...Qc4 26.b3 Qf4+ 27.Kb2 Rfc8 28.d6 e4 29.Rh3 Qe5+ 30.c3 Qg7 31.d7 Rcb8 32.Qxg7+ Kxg7 33.Rh6 Rxb6 34.Rxb6 Rd8 35.Rd6 Kf8 36.cxb4 Ke7 37.Rf6 Rxd7 38.Kc3 Rd5 39.Rxa6 e3 40.Ra7+ Ke6 41.Ra6+ Ke7


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And a draw by repetition since White would win after 41...Ke5 42.Ra5. So 35...bxc3+ 36.Kxc3 Kf8 might have been advisable to eliminate the Pb4 after 36.cxb4, but then White would gain the advantage by eliminating White's passed pawns after 37.Rd5 f4 38.Rd4 f3 39.Rxe4 Rxd7 40.Rf4. So the draw by repetition seems to be the best that Black can achieve.

(4) White might try to keep the pressure along the a1-h8 diagonal by 31.Qd4 and threaten mate by 32.h6 but then Black can block the diagonal by a timely ...f6; e.g. 31.Qd4 e3 32.h6 f6 33.gxf6 Kf7. But Komodo at d=25 indicates that White can then get an even game ([+0.35]) after 34.Qh4 e2 35.Qh5+ Kxf6 36.Bd8+ Qxd8 3.Qh4+ Kf7 38.Qxd8 exd1=Q+ 39.Kxd1. But Komodo also indicates that Black can retain a small advantage ([-0.61]) by a better placement of its rooks before advancing the e-pawn by 31.Qd4 Rb5 32.Qa7 Re8 33.Qe3 f4 34.Qxf4 e3 35.Qd4 Rxg5 36.Qxb4 e2 37.Re1 Rxh5.

(5) Restarting the analysis from this complicated position (imagine trying to find the right moves just before the time control!) Komodo evaluates the resulting position at [-8.08], d=29 (winning) after 39... Qe8 40.Kd1 (40.Rxe4 loses to 40...Qxe4 41.Qf1 Qe3+ 42.Kd1 Rd5+ 43.Qd3 Rxc3+ 44.cxd3 Qxd3+ and if 41.Qc8+ Kg7 Black has a mate in 6 after 42.Qe8 Rg1+) 40...Rd5+ 41.Ke1 Rxe2+ 42.Qxe2 Re5 43.Qxe5 Qxe5+ 44.Kd2 Qxb2 45.Kd3 Qxa2 46.Kc3 Qa4 47.Kd3 Kf8 48.c3 Qb5+ 49.c4 Qa4 50.c5 Ke8 51.Bb6 Kd7 52.Ke3 Qg4 53.Kf2 Qxh5 54.Ke3 Qe5+ 55.Kf3 Qc3+ 56.Kf4 Qc4+ 57.Kf5 Qb3 58.Ke5 Qf3 59.Ba5 Qh5+ 60.Kd4 Qd1+ 61.Kc4 Qe2+ 62.Kb3 h5 63.Bb4 h4 64.Kc3, so its initial evaluation of 17...g6 was overly pessimistic. Of course, this was just one line and there are many opportunities for deviation by both sides.

May-06-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Detailed Analysis after 17.exd5 g6> (part 3 of 3)


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<Stockfish 7>, PV=1 [-0.79], d=36: 18.Rhe1 Bd8 19.Qh3 Ne5 20.Qh6 Bb6 21.f5 Bxf5 22.Bxf5 Re8 23.Bxe5 Rxe5 24.Rxe5 dxe5 25.Be4(1) Be3+ 26.Kb1 Qb5 27.Qh3 Bxg5 28.Qg2 Bf4 29.h4 Rd8 30.h5(2) Kg7 31.hxg6 hxg6 32.Rh1 Rh8 33.Rd1 a5 34.d6 Rd8 35.Qh1 a4 36.Bc6 Qc5 37.d7 a3 38.Qd5(3) Qxd5 39.Rxd5 f5 40.c3(4) bxc3 41.bxa3 g5 42.Kc2 Kf6 43.Kxc3 g4(5)


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(1) Only here does Stockfish deviate from Houdini's 25.Bh3.

(2) White does not have sufficient material to force its way through on the k-side, and Black can initiate a pawn storm of its own.

(3) Seems like a mistake to me, the queenless ending seems hopeless for White. But there's no horizon effect at work, restarting the analysis after 37...a3 Stockfish at d=33 still considers 38.Qd5 to be White's best move, evaluating it at [-1.43] when compared to 38.Qf3 ([-1.50]) and 38.Ba4 ([-1.57]).

(4) I would think that White does better with 40.bxa3 bxa3 since then Black's a-pawn looks week and White's c-pawn can advance at will. At d=35, Stockfish evaluates the resulting position after 40.bxa3 bxa3 and either 41.c3 or 41.Bb5 at [-2.22] or 41.c4 at [-2.2.1] which is not as good as its initial evaluation. But it turns out to be better than its evaluation of the resulting position after 43...g4 (see below).

(5) Restarting the analysis from this position Stockfish evaluates the resulting position at [-3.24], (winning), d=35 after 44.Kd3 e4+ 45.Ke2 g3 46.Kf1 Bc7 47.Rc5 Bd6 48.Rb5 Rh8 49.Kg1 Be7 50.Rd5 Bd8 51.Rb5 Ke6 52.a4 Rh2 53.Rb3 Rc2 54.Ba8 Kxd7 55.Rxg3 e3 56.Bf3 e2 57.Bxe2 Rxe2 58.Rd3+ Ke7 59.Ra3 Ba5 60.Kf1 Rh2 61.Kg1 Rc2 62.Rb3 Kf6 63.a3 Rc4 64.Kf2 Rxa4 65.Kf3 Rc4 66.Ke2 Rc3 67.Rb8 Rxa3 68.Rc8 Ke5 69.Rc5+ Ke4 70.Rc4+ Kd5 71.Rf4 Ke5


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And this position is clearly won for Black so Stockfish's initial evaluation of 17...g6 seems pessimistic. But again, this was just one line and there are many opportunities for deviation by both sides.

However, the conclusion seems to be that 17...g7 provides Black with chances for an advantage and no worse than an equal game.

May-06-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Johnnysaysthankyou> Computers are inherently materialistic. Therefore, they will always factor material factors over non-material ones.>

This used to be true many years ago, but engines have advanced a lot. An engine's evaluation is usually a linear combination of all the factors in their evaluation function multiplied by their weights. So it is quite possible that the weighted sum of all the non-material factors exceeds the weighted sum of the material factors. And, of course, each engine has a different evaluation function so it is possible, even likely, that one engine evaluates the material factors higher than the non-material factors and another engine does the reverse.

I've seen computers make positional sacrifices where the end result could not be evaluated within the search depths achievable by current technology; see for example Aylerkupp / Rybka vs Kutztown46 / Stockfish, 2011 and the discussion about Stockfish's 11...c5 (Aylerkupp / Rybka vs Kutztown46 / Stockfish, 2011 (kibitz #49)).

You might find some research as to how current engines work enlightening.

May-07-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Detailed Analysis after 17.exd5 f5> (part 1a of 3)


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<Houdini 4>, PV=2, [0.00], d=29: 18.gxf6(1) Bxf6 19.Qe4 g6(2) 20.Rhg1 Rf7 21.Qe8+ Nf8 22.Bxg6(3) hxg6 23.Rxg6+ Bg7 24.Rdg1 Bg4(4) 25.Qxb8(5) Rxb8 26.R6xg4 Rbb7 27.R1g3(6) Nh7 28.Rg6(7) Rbd7 29.a3 bxa3 30.Rxa3(8) Rxf4 31.Bxg7 Rxg7 32.Rxd6 Rf1+ 33.Kd2 Rg2+ 34.Kc3 Nf6 35.Kb3 Ne4 36.Rc6 Rd2 37.c4 Rff2 38.Kb4 Rxb2+ 39.Ka5 Rb8 40.h4 Rc2 41.Ra4 Nd2 42.Rc7 Ne4 43.Kxa6 Ra8+ 44.Ra7(9)


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(1) Houdini immediately deviates from Tal's 18.Rde1. And that makes sense, if White's objective is a k-side attack it will be necessary to open files, and this is the quickest way to do that; there will be time for Rd1-Rd1 (or Rh1-Re1) later. The downside is that Black's DSB immediately takes up a good post, challenging White's DSB.

(2) So ...g6 was necessary after all!

(3) And White sacks a second piece for 2 pawns. No one can't accuse Houdini of not playing like Tal. It seems that almost all of Black's k-side pieces are pinned.

(4) The only move. According to Houdini other attempts to defend the 7th rank and the Bg7, 24...Ra7 and 24...Qb7, lose.

(5) White could now force a draw by 25.R1xg4 Qxe8 (attempts defend the 7th rank and the Bg7 by 25...Qa7 or 25...Qb7 fail even quicker than in the previous move after 26.Qxa8 Qxa8 29.Rxg7+) 26.Rxg7+ Rxg7 27.Rxg7+ Kh8 28.Re7+ Kg8 29.Rg7+ Kh8. But that's clearly not what White has in mind.

(6) The immediate smoke has cleared and White has 3 pawns for his piece, the initiative, and with the draw in hand since if Black tries to get out of the pin of the Be7 by ...Kh8 or ...Kh7, Rg4-h4 forces ...Kg8 and a draw by repetition.

(7) White can now force a 3P vs. N endgame by 28.Rxg7+ Rxg7 29.Rxg7+ Rxg7 30.Bxg7 Kxg7 and the following position:


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Is this a win for White? Apparently not, starting the analysis from this position Houdini (with 5-piece Gaviota tablebase support) evaluates the resulting position at [0.00], d=27 after either 31.Kd2 or 31.h4.

(8) Maybe White could take advantage of Black's tied up pieces by 30.bxa3 followed by placing his king in a more active position before simplifying to the 3P vs. N endgame. But Houdini does not think so, evaluating the position at d=28 at either [-0.19] after 31...Kf8 (getting the bishop out of the pin) or [0.00] after 31...Nf8 32.R6g4 Nh7 33.Rg6 and the draw by repetition.

(9) A non-obvious position, at least to me. White can force at worst a draw if it can exchange rooks, so Black's best bet is to avoid rook exchanges. But it would seen to me that White should hold on regardless and may even have some winning changes.

May-07-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Detailed Analysis after 17.exd5 f5> (part 1b of 3)


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So I was surprised to find out after restarting the analysis from this position that Houdini evaluates the resulting position at d=30 as [-3.56], winning for Black, after 44...Rb8 45.Rc7 Rcb2 46.Ka7 Nd6 47.Ra6(10) Nc8+ 48.Rxc8+ Rxc8 49.Rc6 Rd8 50.h5 Rd7+ 51.Ka6 Kf7 52.h6 Rb1(11) 53.h7 Rh1 54.h8R Rxh8(12) 55.Kb5 Rh2 56.Rc5 Ke7 57.Rc8 Rh7 58.Kc5 Rh4 59.Kb6 Rh6+ 60.Kb5 Rb7+ 61.Kc5 Ra7 62.Kd4 Rh4+ 63.Ke5 Ra6 64.Rg8 Rxc4 65.Rh8 Ra5 66.Rh7+ Kd8 67.Kd6 Ra6+ 68.Ke5 Rc5 69.Rh8+ Kd7 70.Rh7+ Ke8 71.Rh8+ Ke7 72.Rh7+ Kd8 73.Rh8+.

(10) Hard to believe, given the loss of the exchange that follows, that this is White's best move. But White has no real options since after, say, 47.c5 Nc8+ 48.Ka6, then 48...R2b6+ 49.Ka5 Ra8#. So after 47...Nc8+, 48.Rxc8+ is forced. And, with only 3 pawns for the rook, White is lost.

(11) Rather than 52...Rh2 immediately, Houdini as Black apparently likes to either create drama or rub White's nose in it by allowing 53.h7. And, as White, gives as good as it can by underpromoting to a rook at 54.h8R.

(12) And, according to the Lomonosov tablebases, Black mates in 31 from this position. So clearly White should have taken the draw by 25.R1xg4 but, because of the horizon effect, Houdini could not search deep enough to determine the results of the position after 44.Ra7. I suspect that by some forward sliding that better moves for White could have been found to avoid the position that White found itself in at that point.

Still, all in all, an interesting set of lines with likely even chances for both sides until about move 35 onwards. Looking forward to seeing what Komodo and Stockfish come up with after 17...f5.

May-07-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Detailed Analysis after 17.exd5 f5> (part 2 of 3)


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<Komodo 9.2>, PV=2, [0.00], d=27: 18.gxf6(1) Bxf6 19.Qe4 g6 20.Rdg1(2) Rf7 21.Qe8+ Nf8 22.Bxg6 hxg6 23.Rxg6+ Bg7 24.Rhg1 Bg4 25.Qxb8 Rxb8 26.R6xg4 Rbb7 27.Kd2(3) Nh7 28.Rg6 Kf8 29.Bxg7+ Rxg7 30.Kd3 Rgf7 31.Rxd6 Rxf4(4) 32.Rgg6 Rbf7 33.Rd8+ Ke7 34.Ra8 Nf6 35.Ra7+ Ke8 36.Ra8+ Ke7(5)


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(1) Komodo, like Houdini, prefers opening up the g-file immediately instead of Tal's 18.Rde1.

(2) Here Komodo prefers "the other rook" compared to Houdini's 20.Rhg1. Which looks kind of strange, locking in the other rook on h1. But it really doesn't matter since the next 13 moves, through 26...Rbb7 are essentially the same (other than moving the other rook to g1), and the same position is reached as in the Houdini analysis after 24.Rhg1.

(3) And here Komodo, recognizing like I did :-) that Black's pieces are completely tied up, decides to improve the position of its king before proceeding.

(4) I think that Komodo played the position after 17...f5 better than Houdini. It still has 3 pawns for its knight but its king and both its rooks are more actively placed than Houdini's, it has a passed d-pawn, and Black's q-side pawns look somewhat weak.


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Enough to make a difference in the outcome?

(5) Apparently not. Restarting the analysis from this position, at d=22 Komodo does not find anything better than the draw by repetition by 37.Ra7+ Ke8 38.Ra8+ etc., and evaluates that it also has nothing better than the same draw by repetition after 37.Rxa6 Nxd5 38.Ra7+ Ke8 39.Ra8+ etc.

So, does White have anything better before Black recentralizes its knight? Restarting the analysis after 31...Rxf4 Komodo at d=20 evaluates the resulting position the same, [0.00] (draw by repetition) after 32.Rgg6 Rbf7 33.Rd8+ Ke7 34.Ra8 Nf6 35.Ra7+ Ke8 36.Ra8+ Kd7 37.Ra7+ Ke8 etc. And capturing the a-pawn immediately doesn't help,, Komodo evaluates the resulting position as effectively even, [-0.26], d=24, after 32...Nf6 33.d6 Kf7 34.Re1 Ne8 35.c4 bxc3 36.Kxc3(6) Rd7 37.Rd1 Rf6 38.b4 Nxd6 39.Kb3 Rf3+ 40.Ka4 Ke7 41.Re1+ Kd8 42.h4 Rh3 43.Rd1 Ke7 44.Re1+ Kf6 45.Rf1+ Ke5 46.Ra5+ Ke4 47.h5

(6) Komodo evaluates that it's better for White to have connected a- and b-pawns than c- and d- pawns, even though the former are less advanced. If instead 36.bxc3, Komodo evaluates the resulting position effectively the same at [-0.26], d=26, after 36...Rd7 37.Re7+ Rxe7 38.dxe7 Kxe7 39.a4 Nf6 40.a5 Nd5 41.Ra8 Nc7 42.Rg8 Rf5 43.h4 Rxa5 44.h5 Kf7 45.Rc8 Ne6 46.c4 Rxh5 47.c5 Kf6 (47...Rxc5 48.Rxc5 Nxc5 is clearly a draw, and 47...Nxc5 is no better for Black) 48.Ke4 Re5+ 49.Kd3 Rd5+ 50.Ke3 Rf5 51.Ke4 Rf2 52.Kd5 Rd2+ 53.Kc6 Rc2. It seems that once Black activates its knight the position is even, although White might be up a pawn.

So Komodo reaches the same conclusion that Houdini should have reached, a draw by repetition, with a lot less fireworks.

May-08-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Detailed Analysis after 17.exd5 f5> (part 3a of 3)


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<Stockfish 7>, PV=2, [+0.10], d=36: 18.gxf6(1) Nxf6(2) 19.Rhg1 Rf7 20.Rde1 Qb7 21.Bxf6(3) Rxf6(4) 22.Qe4 g6 23.Qxe7 Qxe7 24.Rxe7 Rxf4(5) 25.Rf1 Rxf1+ 26.Bxf1 Bf5 27.Bc4 a5 28.Kd2 Bg4 29.Be2 Bh3(6) 30.Bd3 Rf8 31.Ra7 Rf2+ 32.Ke3 Rxh2 33.Ra6 Kf7 34.Rxd6 Ke7 35.Ra6 Bf5 36.Rxa5 Kd6 37.Bxf5 gxf5(7) 38.c4 bxc3 39.bxc3 Rh3+ 40.Kf4 Rxc3 41.Kxf5 (8) Rc2 42.Kg5 Rg2+ 43.Kf5 Rf2+ 44.Ke4


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(1) Stockfish, like Houdini, prefers opening up the g-file immediately instead of Tal's 18.Rde1.

(2) Stockfish immediately deviates from both Houdini and Komodo by recapturing with 18...Nxf6 instead of 18...Bxf6. This does not seem wise since it foregoes the exchange of White's DSB (unless White cooperates) but it opens up the diagonal of Black's LSB.

(3) This "cooperation" by White seems necessary since Black was threatening to gain the initiative by pressuring White's Pd5 and increasing the pressure by ...Bd7-b5, striking at one of its defenders and, if Bd3-e4, increasing the pressure by ...Bc4. But now Black's DSB has a fine uncontested diagonal, and g7 is amply protected.

Alternatives? Restarting the analysis from the position after 20...Qb7 Stockfish still considers 21.Bxf6 as White's best move, evaluating it at [+0.20], d=30 following the analysis continuation for several moves. It evaluated its other top 3 moves, 21.Qg2 and 21.Qg3, at [0.00] and [-0.26] respectively, even though they leave the Pd5 hanging. But Black does not capture it in either continuation; Stockfish must see something that I don't see. Without reviewing the lines, I'll go with Stockfish.

(4) And yet Stockfish recaptures with the rook and not the bishop, removing 2 defenders from g7 and denying the DSB the fine a1-h8 diagonal! Now I see (with Stockfish's "help") that 21...Bxf6 loses to 22.Re8+ Rf8 23.Bxh7+ Kxh7 (23...Kf7 24.Qh5+ g6 25.Qxg6#) 24.Rxf8 and Black loses a rook with mate after 25.Qh5 seemingly inevitable. In fact, at d=29 Stockfish claims a mate in 22 following several horizon effect-driven sacrifices to delay the inevitable. It shows that, while general plans and ideas are useful, they are useless without precise calculation.

(5) After a series of forced moves White has recovered the piece and has an apparently better position with a rook on the 7th rank.


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But, restarting the analysis from this position, Stockfish does not consider that White has much of an advantage, evaluating the resulting positions at [+0.12], [+0.11], and [+0.10] at d=33 following 25.b3, 25.Re8+, and 25.Rc7 respectively. Note that the analysis continuation, 25.Rf1 is now not one of Stockfish's top 3 moves, indicating the benefits of forward sliding.

Still, I'm sure that Carlsen would be satisfied with the White pieces. And if it was the last game of the WCC match and he was down one point to Karjakin (well, allow me a slight fantasy) and needed a win to have a chance to retain his title, he would find a way to do it.

May-08-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Detailed Analysis after 17.exd5 f5> (part 3b of 3)


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(6) White was unwise to try to exchange bishops and Black was equally unwise to decline since after 29...Bxe2 30.Kxe2 Stockfish reassess the position to Black's advantage, [-0.32], d=33 after 30...Rc8 31.Kd3 Rc5 32.a4 Rxd5+ 33.Kc4 Rh5 34.Ra7 h6 35.Kb3 Rh3+ 36.Ka2 Rxh2 37.Rxa5 g5 38.Rd5 Rxc2 39.Kb3 Rc8 40.a5 Kf7 41.Kxb4 Ke6 42.Rd1 g4 43.Rh1 Rg8 44.Rxh6+ Kd5 45.a6 Kc6 46.a7 Kb7 47.Rxd6 g3 48.Rd7+ Ka8 49.Rd1 Kxa7 50.Rg1 Kb6 51.Rg2 Kc6. But, aren't all rook endings drawn?

(7) Now White is a pawn up with the better pawn structure. Shouldn't that be a substantial advantage?


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Perhaps, but restarting the analysis from this position Stockfish evaluates the resulting position at [0.00] after each of its top 3 moves, 38.c4 (the initial analysis continuation), 38.Ra4, and 38.Rb5. So, yes, all rook endings are drawn.

(8) And this makes it official; this position is a draw per the Lomonosov tablebases. So Stockfish's initial evaluation was reasonable.


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So it looks like these 3 engines agree that Larsen's 17...f5 was just as reasonable as 17...g6, and Larsen's mistake(s) came later. It doesn't seem like the immediate opening of the g-file gives White significant attacking chances since it leads to several piece exchanges. It may be that Tal sensed this (he couldn't have calculated the consequences) and so played 18.Rde1 rather than 18.gxf6. And of course, the finishing salvo 37.Qf7 was a delight. I wonder at what point in the game he saw this possibility?

Oh well, enough of this game for me. There's only so much blood one can squeeze out of a turnip.

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