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Lubomir Ftacnik vs Rolf Sand
"Pound Sand" (game of the day Mar-02-2019)
5th Neckar Open (2001), Deizisau GER, rd 1, Apr-12
Gruenfeld Defense: Three Knights Variation. Hungarian Attack (D92)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-02-19  Mountain1: first
Mar-02-19  lentil: ho hum
Mar-02-19  morphynoman2: 16... Rxd5 is not good?
Mar-02-19  Ironmanth: Hmmm...interesting trickiness by Ftacnik here...thanks, chessgames!
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Like the pun.
Mar-02-19  morfishine: I don't see a whole lot of pounding going on

I see a much better and higher rated player winning positionally

In fact, this game is so boring, its like watching sands through the hourglass...

Mar-02-19  ACMEKINGKRUSHER: Howdy,
WOW! Ftacnik was at "The HEIGHT of His GAME" during this Tournament! It's a shame that SAND was "pounded" here and in EVERY GAME in the Database! ACME KING KRUSHER
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: I don't know about the rest of you but this game smacked to me of an extensive book line through 21.Rxa7.

click for larger view

I was therefore surprised that this was the only game in Opening Explorer that featured 9...Nc6 and that the more extensive ChessTempo database didn't have this game in it. Black might have concocted this line in home analysis but White was apparently improvising OTB since I doubt that he would have prepared against this novelty in his home analysis.

9...Nc6 doesn't seem all that great to me (and apparently to many others) since after 10.Nxc6 Black is left with an isolated pawn in a semi-open file that White controls. But of course we could all be wrong. Getting rid of the isolated pawn with 12...Nd5 entails at least a temporary pawn sacrifice after 13.Nxd5 cxd5 14.Bxd5 Ba6+ 15.Kf3 Rad8 16.Rhd1 (would the immediate 16.Bb3 be better? Is Black's e-pawn better on e7 or e6? Probably e6 since it would not be attacked once White's rook reaches c7. So I think that Black made the correct decision to play 16...e6 since, in addition, he's temporarily a pawn up and wants to exchange pieces) 16...e6 17.Bb3 Bb7+ 18.Kg3 Bxb2 19.Rc7 Rxd1 20.Bxd1 Bd5 21.Rxa7 leading to the position above. Many of the moves seem semi-forced.

White is a clear passed pawn up and his rook on the 7th rank appears decisive compared with Black's currently inactive Rf8. Stockfish 10 oscillates between considering that White stands slightly better (~ [+0.9x]) and significantly better (~ [+1.2x]) from d=32 to 38 after 21...Bg7 (it assessed this as the best move for Black in this position) and I can't argue with either evaluation. Komodo 12.3 reached a similar conclusion, also oscillating between considering that White stands slightly better (~ [+0.9x]) and significantly better (~ [+1.2x]) from d=26 to 32, but it sometimes preferred 21...Kg7 to 21...Bg7.

Houdini 6 had similar results except that its evaluations were less in White's favor than Stockfish's or Komodo's, possibly because it could not reach higher search depths in the same amount of time I let Stockfish and Komodo run. After 21...Bg7 it's evaluations were in the [+0.8x] and [+0.9x] from d=18 to 24.

Finally I tried Komodo 12.3 MCTS, even though it's rated about 80 Elo points lower than Komodo 12.3 using standard alpha-beta pruning, search tree pruning heuristics, and a hand-crafted evaluation function to see if its supposedly "more human" lines would result in different evaluations. Nope. Its evaluations after 21...Bg7 were all in the range of [+0.9x] from d=15 to 26.

So I'm not surprised that this 9...Nc6 experiment was not repeated.

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