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The Challenge
The World vs Natalija Pogonina
C U R R E N T   P O S I T I O N

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   Chessgames Challenge
Can a group of chess amateurs team up to beat a grandmaster?  Find out in the Chessgames Challenge!  You can vote for the move you think is best, and discuss the game with other members on this page.

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[Natalia Pogonina]

[flip board] GAME OVER: 1/2-1/2 [flip board]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 c6 7.O-O O-O 8.Qc2 b6 9.Rd1 Nbd7 10.Bf4 Ba6 11.Nbd2 Rc8 12.Rac1 Nh5 13.Be3 Nhf6 14.Bg5 h6 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.b4 Bb7 17.Qb3 Ba8 18.c5 a5 19.a3 Rb8 20.Qc2 Bb7 21.e4 Qc7 22.Nf1 dxe4 23.Qxe4 Rfd8 24.Ne3 Ba6 25.Ng4 Bb5 26.Qc2 axb4 27.axb4 Be7 28.Ra1 h5 29.Ne3 Bf6 30.Ra3 bxc5 31.bxc5 Ra8 32.Rxa8 Rxa8 33.Bf1 Bxf1 34.Kxf1 e5 35.dxe5 Nxe5 36.Qe4 Nd7 37.Qf5 Ra7 38.Qxh5 g6 39.Qg4 Nxc5 40.h4 Ra4 41.Nc4 Qb7 42.Kg2 Qb3 43.Qc8+ Kg7 44.Nd6 Qxd1 45.Ne8+ Kf8 46.Nxf6+ Kg7 47.Ne8+ Kf8 48.Nf6+ Kg7 49.Ne8+ Kf8 50.Nc7+ Kg7 51.h5 Ra1 52.h6+ Kf6 53.Qh8+ Ke7 54.Qe8+ Kd6 55.Qd8+ Nd7 56.Ne8+ Kc5 57.Qe7+ Kb6 58.g4 Ra4 59.Qd8+ Ka6 60.Nf6 Rf4 61.Ne5 Rxf2 62.Kxf2 1/2-1/2
GAME OVER thank you for playingit is now 17:28:19

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 1069 OF 1069 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-17-16  Marmot PFL: The World play seems too tentative in this game, waiting for a mistake that never happened. When the pawn advance finally occurs black has no problems meeting it.

In later games (Akobian, Williams, Naiditsch) the World played more critical lines, taking advantage of it's extra time and computing power. It's practically impossible for one player, even a very strong one, to look at every line in detail for weeks on end.

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: I still can't believe the team played 4. g3. Absolutely unbelievable.
Sep-17-16  cro777: <YouRang> The game Acevedo - Badolati started on June 10, 2011.

In the opening they could have consulted the game Zhao Jun - Wang Hao from the first Danzhu tournament in China in 2010.

Zhao Jun - Wang Hao. Position after 13...Bxf6

click for larger view

The same position arose in our game after 15...Bxf6. We continued with 16.b4.

In the diagram position Zhao Jun opted for 14.e4.

Zhao Jun vs Wang Hao, 2010

Sep-17-16  cro777: In the position we've been discussing

click for larger view

a grandmaster would play 16.e4. They usually follow the "be a center forward" strategy (center forward play). We were loyal to our "bayonet" strategy.

As far as the opening is concerned, 11.Nbd2 was not the best choice.

click for larger view

An immediate 11.Ne5 is more common, although after 11…Rc8 Black has a rather solid position. W So vs Karjakin, 2016

11.b3, which transposes into the Queen's Indian Defense, is another good option.

Sep-18-16  YouRang: Okay, my engine has been working on white's 18th move all day:

click for larger view

The team voted <18.c5> (I had voted for 18.e4, but I can't say I was "passionate" about it).

18.c5 159 votes (55.8%)
18.e4 105 votes (36.8%)
18.a4 7 votes (2.5%)
18.cxd5 6 votes (2.1%)
18.0-1 2 votes (0.7%)

Today's new analysis:

Stockfish_16090917_x64_modern @ 48 ply:
+0.35 18.e4 Be7 19.c5 a5 20.a3 axb4 21.axb4
+0.29 18.c5 a5 19.a3 Rb8 20.Qc3 Bb7 21.e4
+0.11 18.Qd3 c5 19.cxd5 exd5 20.dxc5 bxc5 21.bxc5

A slight nod to 18.e5, although not terribly conclusive. However, just structurally I didn't and still don't like 18.c5.


The game proceeded as the engine suggested for a few moves: <18.c5 a5 19.a3 Rb8>

click for larger view

Here, white deviated by shuffling the queen back to c2: <20.Qc2>, whereas the analysis above preferred 20.Qc3.

I'll let the engine sit on our 20th move for a while...

Sep-18-16  YouRang: Here are my results for move 20:

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The vote:
20.Qc2 147 votes (62.3%)
20.Qd3 65 votes (27.5%)
20.e4 6 votes (2.5%)
20.Qc3 5 votes (2.1%)
20.Qa4 3 votes (1.3%)
20.e3 3 votes (1.3%)

The new analysis:
Stockfish_16090917_x64_modern @ 45 ply:
+0.27 20.Qc2 Bb7 21.e4 Ba6 22.Ra1 Be7 23.e5
+0.26 20.Qc3 Bb7 21.e4 Ba6 22.e5 Bg5 23.Ra1
+0.26 20.Qd3 Bb7 21.e4 Ra8 22.Bf1 axb4 23.axb4

So hardly any notable difference to be found.


The game continued: <20...Bb7 21.e4> (we *finally* played e4, but I think it was better earlier) <21...Qc7>. Here we came to another debatable move <22.Nf1>. I recall voting for 22.Bf1. I'll let the engine simmer on this today...

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<YouRang> I felt that we failed to give GM pogonina a good challenge> (part 1 of 2)

It seems to me, as <cro777> indicated in The World vs N Pogonina, 2010 (kibitz #27563), that Pogonina does not agree with you, or at least she didn't then, considering this and the other game she played against the team in 2009, to be "by far most memorable and demanding".

I think that this game can be divided into two phases, the opening and the middlegame (there really wasn't an endgame). I agree with you in that I don't think that the team played its best in the opening and did not seem to come out of it with much, if any, advantage. Possibly the Zdhanov distraction had something to do with it but I wouldn't know, I had not joined the team at that time. But I think that starting with 21.e4 and the slight opening of both the center and the q-side that the game became more interesting. Our 41.Nc4 really made the game double edged, as did our exchange sac with 44.Nd6 Qxd1 45.Ne8+ Kf8 46.Nxf6+, particularly since Black develops mating threats of her own.

click for larger view

At this point Stockfish 7 is of no help to determining our winning chances, evaluating the game's best continuation to be 46...Kg7 47.Ne8+ Kf8 48.Nf6+ and a draw by repetition. A pretty finish (from our perspective) would have been 46...Ke7 47.Qe8+ Kxf6 48.Qe5# but that obviously would not have happened with a grandmaster, not even in blitz under time pressure.

If you haven't see it, this might be a good time to check out <kingscrusher>'s video of the game,

So our 50.Nc7+ might have been considered "gutsy", except that Stockfish also evaluates it at [0.00], d=38 after 50...Kg7 51.h5 Ra1 52.h6+ Kf6 53.Qh8+ Ke7 54.Qe8+ Kd6 55.Qd8+ Nd7 56.Ne8+ Kc5 57.Qe7+ Kb6 58.g4 f5(1) 59.gxf5 gxf5 60.h7 Qf1+ 61.Kg3 Ra4 62.Qd8+ Kc5 63.Qg5 Rg4+ 64.Qxg4 fxg4 65.h8Q(2) gxf3 66.Qc3+ Kb5 67.Nd6+ Kb6 68.Nc4+(3) Kb7 69.Na5+ Kb6 70.Qxc6+ Kxa5 71.Qxd7 Qg1+ 72.Kxf3

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And this is a tablebase draw after 72...Qh1+ 73.Kg4 Qg2+ 74. Kh5 Qf3+. The White king cannot escape the Black queen's checks on an open board.

(1) Up to here Stockfish followed our game (most of the moves are forced) but Pogonina chose 58...Ra4 instead of 58...f5. Sliding forward and restarting the analysis after 58.g4, lets see what Stockfish suggests at d=36.

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1. [0.00]: 58...f5 59.gxf5 gxf5 60.h7 Qf1+ 61.Kg3 Ra4 62.Qg7 Rg4+ 63.Qxg4 fxg4 64.h8Q gxf3 65.Qd4+ Nc5 66.Nd6 Qd3 67.Qb4+ Kc7 68.Qxc5 Qxd6+ 69.Qxd6+ Kxd6

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This line is similar to Stockfish's original Principal Variation but still results in a tablebase draw.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<YouRang> I felt that we failed to give GM pogonina a good challenge> (part 2 of 2)

2. [0.00]: 58...Ra4 59.Qe3+ Kb7 60.Nh2 Qd5+ 61.f3 Qa2+ 62.Kh3 Qb2 63.Qe7 Qd2 64.Nd6+ Ka6 65.Nxf7 Ra2 66.Nf1 Qg2+ 67.Kh4 Ra5 68.Qxd7 Qf2+ 69.Kh3 Qxf1+ 70.Kg3 Qe1+ 71.Kh3 Qh1+ 72.Kg3 Qe1+

click for larger view

After Pogonina's 58...Ra4 Stockfish immediately deviates from our 59.Qd8+ to choose 59.Qe3+. I remember we looked at that move also but decided on 59.Qd8+, not that it helped us all that much. But this version of Pogonina's line also peters out to a draw by repetition, although perhaps with some anxious moments for White.

3. [0.00]: 58...Qf1+ 59.Kg3 Qd3 60.Qb4+ Ka6 61.Nd6 Ne5 62.Qb7+ Ka5 63.Nc4+ Qxc4 (in spite of the resulting material balance, 63...Nxc4 apparently loses, Stockfish evaluating the resulting position at [+3.42], d=28 after 64.Qa8+ Kb5 65.Qxa1) 64.Qc7+ Kb4 65.Nxe5 Qd5 66.Qb6+ Kc3 67.Qe3+ Kc2 68.Qe2+ Kb3 69.Qe3+ Kc2

click for larger view

And another draw by repetition. So there does not seem to be much to choose from between Stockfish's original recommendation 58...f5, Pogonina's 58...Ra4, and 58...Qf1+, and possibly other moves.

(2) Had we followed this line at least we might have had the satisfaction of queening our h-pawn, but the game would still have been a draw.

(3) If instead 68.Qb4+, both reasonable legal moves lead to an equal position at d=40:

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1. [0.00]: 68...Kc7 69.Nf7 Qg2+ 70.Kf4 Qg6 (70...Qxf2 does not provide winning chances, Stockfish evaluates the resulting positions at [0.00], d=37 after either 71.Qd6+, 71.Qa5+, or 71.Qe7) 71.Qa5+ Kb7 72.Qb4+ Kc8 73.Qe7 Qd3 74.Qe4 Qxe4+ 75.Kxe4 (and this position is a tablebase draw after 75...c5, but Lomonosov tablebases were not available in 2010) 75...Kc7 76.Kxf3 c5 77.Ke4 c4 78.Kd4 c3 79.Kxc3

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Still a draw, although I'm not sure why Stockfish decided to sacrifice Black's c-pawn.

2. [0.00]: 68...Ka6 69.Qb7+ Ka5 70.Qxd7 Qg2+ 71.Kf4 Qxf2 (a possible winning attempt by Black although the position is a tablebase draw) after, strangely, 72.Nc8) 72.Qd8+ Kb4 73.Ne4 Qc2 74.Qd6+ c5 75.Kxf3 (and this is obviously a draw, although 75.Qxc5+ Qxc5 76.Nxc5 Kxc5 77.Kxf3 would have made it even clearer, specially for players like me) 75...Qc4 76.Qe5 Qd3+ 77.Kf4 Qd4 78.Qb8+ Ka3 79.Qb6 Qb4 80.Qa6+ Kb3 81.Qd3+ Kb2 82.Qe2+ Ka1 83.Qf1+ Kb2 84.Qf2+ Kb1 85.Qf3 c4 86.Qd1+ Ka2 87.Qc2+ Ka1 88.Qc1+ Qb1 89.Qc3+ Qb2 90.Qa5+ Kb1 91.Nc3+ Kc2 92.Nb5 c3 93.Ke4 Kd1 94.Nxc3+

click for larger view

Enough said. Our "attack" did not have any chance to succeed, something that was pointed out much earlier by, among others, <imag>, <OhioChessFan>, <Tabanus>, and Pogonina herself. If we want to look at possible winning approaches for White, we need to look for moves between 21.e4 and 41.Nc4 when the position began to open up.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: BTW, for those who remember The World vs Naiditsch, 2014, while I was looking at back posts I noticed <WinKing>'s reference to "hocus pocus" in this game: The World vs N Pogonina, 2010 (kibitz #23136).
Sep-18-16  YouRang: <AylerKupp: <<YouRang> I felt that we failed to give GM pogonina a good challenge> (part 1 of 2)

It seems to me, as <cro777> indicated in The World vs N Pogonina, 2010 (kibitz #27563), that Pogonina does not agree with you, or at least she didn't then, considering this and the other game she played against the team in 2009, to be "by far most memorable and demanding".>

Well, maybe she was being polite. I think she could have drawn this game by following 20-ply Rybka. We never created any situations where she had to find some precise, yet non-obvious move to hold the draw. (In contrast, our "hocus pocus" game with GM Naiditsch was laced with such situations -- and of course he did finally slip-up.)

Anyway, it's not really a matter of "disagreement" between Pogonina and myself. Even if she genuinely felt challenged, that wouldn't require *me* to feel that we adequately challenged her.

<If we want to look at possible winning approaches for White, we need to look for moves between 21.e4 and 41.Nc4 when the position began to open up.>

IMO, white needed improvements in the range of moves 11-25. Afterwards, the game had lost all of its steam. It may have had some drama in an OTB game, but in an engine-assisted game, the draw was secure.

Sep-18-16  YouRang: Our 22nd move:

click for larger view

The vote:
22.Nf1 113 votes (43.0%)
22.e5 91 votes (34.6%)
22.Bf1 37 votes (14.1%)
22.cxb6 9 votes (3.4%)
22.Re1 5 votes (1.9%)
22.exd5 3 votes (1.1%)
22.Nb3 2 votes (0.8%)

The new analysis:

Stockfish_16090917_x64_modern @ 45 ply:
+0.31 22.Bf1 Ra8 23.Nb3 axb4 24.axb4 Ra3 25.e5
+0.25 22.Ra1 Be7 23.e5 Ba6 24.Nb3 axb4 25.axb4
+0.25 22.h4 Ra8 23.Bf1 axb4 24.axb4 Ra3 25.e5

So, it shows a slight preference for 22.Bf1 (which was the move I voted for, but it finished a distant 3rd in the voting).

Our <22.Nf1> move didn't make the top three moves. For a while, I ran this with PV=7, but 22.Nf1 wasn't even in the top seven. I started feeling that the team lost its way with this move...


The game continued: <22...dxe4 23.Qxe4 Rfd8 24.Ne3 Ba6 25.Ng4 Bb5>, which led to an even more disputed move. I'll let the engine work on that next.

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <YouRang> I agree that Pogo almost surely isn't serious about this being a real challenge, and I likewise attribute it to graciousness. As for where we went wrong, when Black can play 17...Ba8, without knowing anything else about the game, you have to know she's not struggling.
Sep-18-16  cro777: In correspondence chess the final outcome to a great extent depends on the choice of the opening.

In this game the moves 4.g3 <the Catalan doesn't suit the playing style oh the World team> and 11.Nbd2 <the least active continuation> largely predetermined the result.

Besides, Pogonina satisfied with a draw chose one of the most solid defences against the Catalan. This approach by a large amount reduced Black's margin of error.

Sep-18-16  cro777: This is an example from the ongoing World Championship in correspondence chess.

Aleksandr Dronov was the World Champion 2007-2010 and 2011-2014. He is only the second player (after Joop van Oosterom) to win the title twice.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <YouRang>, <OhioChessFan> Perhaps you're right and she was just being gracious. If that's the case, then it was a nice thing to say and completely in character. She is a nice lady.

But I still enjoyed the game even though the outcome was a foregone conclusion. Still, there are draws and there are draws, and I think this one was more enjoyable than most. But I'm probably biased because this was my first Chessgames Challenge game and where I learned a little bit about using chess engines. And, of course, I'm still learning.

Sep-19-16  YouRang: <OhioChessFan> True. To me, the annoying thing about 17...Ba8 was that we were even unprepared for that. But yes, it felt like she was saying "you've got nothing".

But I think <cro777> is correct, our biggest problem in this game was probably the opening. Either we picked a poor opening or we misplayed it -- or both.

We had some "experts" pushing for the Catalan, and those of us who admit to being rubbish at openings were in no position to argue against it. Perhaps we're a bit wiser now. :-)

Sep-19-16  YouRang: <AylerKupp: <YouRang>, <OhioChessFan> Perhaps you're right and she was just being gracious. If that's the case, then it was a nice thing to say and completely in character. She is a nice lady.>

I agree. And for the record I don't hold her responsible for the pre-game turbulence caused by PZ. I wouldn't even mind a rematch (provided that PZ keeps out of it).

<But I still enjoyed the game even though the outcome was a foregone conclusion. Still, there are draws and there are draws, and I think this one was more enjoyable than most.>

If you enjoyed it, then it served its real purpose. I enjoyed the game too, but compared to my prior experience in these games, this one was marred by internal disharmony and lack of analytical coordination.

We made some moves based on (IMO) flimsy reasoning (e.g. "trust me, I'm an expert"), and that grates on those of us who put a bunch of effort into searching for moves that were actually supportable.

For example, I believe it was on move 25 that one of our experts pushed hard for <25.Ng4>, and shortly after we made the move, that same expert was recommending that we play for a draw. Grr! ;-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <cro777> Comments on Schwetlick vs. Dronov, correspondence (part 1 of 2)

And interesting and, I think, remarkable game after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 c6 7.O-O O-O 8.Qc2 b6 9.Rd1 Nbd7 10.Bf4 Ba6 11.cxd5 (only here did this game deviate, the World Team preferred the much-maligned 11.Ndb2) 11...cxd5 12.Ne5 Nxe5 13.dxe5 Ng4 14.h3 Rc8 15.Nc3 Nxf2 16.Kxf2 Bc5+ 17.Be3 Bxe3+ ½-½.

click for larger view

To reach such a position in a correspondence game when the White king is forced into a king walk by the 16th move in a "dull" opening like the Catalan and only 5 moves after it deviated from our game seems remarkable. At first I didn't think that Black had enough compensation, but after 18.Kxe3 (declining the sac is much worse for Black) 18...Qg5+ 19.Kf2 (19.Kd4 Rc4# is suicide) 19...Qxe5 Black has 2 pawns for the knight, the better pawn structure, a somewhat vulnerable king, and a pesky pin on the c-file. Maybe that's enough.

But both Stockfish 7 and Komodo 10 evaluate Black's best move to be 18...b5, evaluating it at [0.00] at d=36 (Stockfish) and d=31 Komodo, while 18...Qg5+ is evaluated only as 3rd best, [+0.84] (Stockfish) and [+1.00] (Komodo). 19...f6, attempting to open up more lines around the White king, was the engines' second rated move by both engines, [+0.10] (Stockfish) and [+0.36] (Komodo). So it does appear that Black has adequate compensation of the knight sac.

Here is the top line for each engine:

Stockfish 7: [0.00], d=36: 18...b5 19.Qd3 Rc4 20.Nxd5 (a countersac resulting in material balance but killing Black's initiative and threats) 20...exd5 21.Bxd5 Qb6+ 22.Kf3 Rc5 23.e4 Qc7 24.Qe3 Bc8 25.Qf4 Be6 26.Rac1 Rxc1 27.Rxc1 Qb6 28.Qe3 Qb8 29.Qg5 h6 30.Qf4 Qb6 31.Qe3 Qb8 32.Qf4 and a likely draw by repetition.

click for larger view

Komodo 10: [0.00], d=31: 18...b5 19.Qd3 Qb6+ 20.Qd4 Qb8 21.Qb4 Qb6+ 22.Qd4 and an even quicker draw by repetition.

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I wonder how far ahead Black (and perhaps White) saw the drawing possibilities of 11.cxd5 cxd5 12.Ne5 Nxe5 13.dxe5 Ng4 14.h3 Rc8 15.Nc3 Nxf2? Stockfish found it after 11.cxd5 at d=33, although it preferred to interpose 14...Rc8 15.Nc3 Nxf2 rather than the direct 14...Nxf2 and then 17...f6 over 17...b5, although this was just a move transposition. And it evaluated 11.Ne5, 11.cxd5, 11.Nbd2, and 11.b3 all equal at [0.00], so those that maligned 11.Nbd2 again need to consider that Stockfish considered it no worse than the other suggested moves.

Here is Stockfish's complete 11.cxd5 line: 11.cxd5 cxd5 12.Ne5 Nxe5 13.dxe5 Ng4 14.h3 Nxf2 15.Kxf2 Bc5+ 16.Be3 Bxe3+ 17.Kxe3 f6 18.Kf2 fxe5+ 19.Kg1 Qg5 20.Kh2 Rac8 21.Nc3 d4 22.Qa4 dxc3 23.Qxa6 cxb2 24.Rab1 Rc3 25.Rxb2 Rxg3 26.e4 Rxh3+ 27.Bxh3 Qf4+ 28.Kh1 Qf3+ 29.Kh2 Qf4+ and a draw by repetition.

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If instead 25...Qxg3+ White apparently comes out on top; Stockfish evaluates the resulting position at [+1.55], d=35 after 26.Kh1 Qg6 (26...Rf2 fails after 27.Qb7, preventing the mate on g2) 27.Rb3 Rc7 28.Rbd3 Qg5 29.Qa3 g6 30.Qd6 Re7 31.Rg1 Rf4 32.Rd5 Kg7 33.Rxe5 Qf6 34.Rd1 Rf2 35.Re3 Rf4 36.Qd8 e5 37.Kh2 Rf2 38.Rf3 Rxf3 39.Bxf3 Rf7 40.Qxf6+ Kxf6 41.Bd5 Rc7 42.Rf1+ Kg5 43.Kg3 a5 44.e3 Rc3 45.Kf3 a4 46.Ke4 and Black's 2 pawns are no match for White's bishop and centralized king.

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <cro777> Comments on Schwetlick vs. Dronov, correspondence (part 2 of 2)

Komodo opts for a completely different approach, replying at d=30 and earlier to 11.cxd5 with 11...Nxd5, resulting in a completely different game and no knight sacrifice on f2. It evaluates the resulting position as approximately even, [+0.23], after 11.cxd5 Nxd5 12.Nc3 Nxf4 13.gxf4 Bb7 14.e3 Qc8 15.Ne5 Rb8 16.Rac1 Nxe5 17.dxe5 (a surprise to me, facilitating Black's next move) 17...c5 18.Rd2 a6 19.Rcd1 Bxg2 20.Kxg2 b5 21.Ne4 Qc6 22.f3 c4 23.Rd7 Rb7 24.R7d4 h6 25.Nd6 Rc7 26.a4 Bxd6 27.Rxd6 Qa8 28.axb5 axb5 29.Qd2 Rcc8

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White has a space advantage and controls the d-file but whether this can be converted into a significant advantage is open to question, particularly with Black's superior pawn structure.

Komodo's 2nd – 5th top recommendations after 10...Ba6 were also evaluated as approximately even; [+0.21] after 11.Ne5, [+0.13] after our played 11.Nbd2, and [0.00] after both 11.b3 and 11.Nf2. So Komodo also did not evaluate 11.Nbd2 as significantly worse than either 11.cxd5 or 11.Ne5.

All of these variations lead me to conclude that, at least from these 2 engines' perspective, 11.Nbd2 was not much worse than other alternatives, and in this game Black had pretty much equalized by move 10. So White's ability to obtain winning chances in this line don't look very encouraging unless Black makes a major mistake or commits several inaccuracies. And, unfortunately for us, Pogonina made neither.

Oh, and thanks for the link.

Sep-19-16  YouRang: Now we come to our 25th move. We ended up voting for <25.Ng4> as follows:

25.Ng4 119 votes (42.2%)
25.Bf1 100 votes (35.5%)
25.cxb6 24 votes (8.5%)
25.Rb1 12 votes (4.3%)
25.Nc4 9 votes (3.2%)
25.Qc2 5 votes (1.8%)
25.Nd2 5 votes (1.8%)
25.Ne5 2 votes (0.7%)
25.h4 2 votes (0.7%)

Here is some new analysis for the positions *before* and *after* we played <25.Ng4> (using PV=1):

== BEFORE 25.Ng4

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Stockfish_16090806_x64_modern @ 48 ply:
+0.35 25.Bf1 Bxf1 26.Kxf1 axb4 27.axb4 b5 28.Ra1 Ra8 29.Kg2 Rdc8 30.Ng4 Be7 31.Rxa8 Rxa8

== AFTER 25.Ng4

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Stockfish_16090806_x64_modern @ 48 ply:
+0.00 25...bxc5 26.bxc5 Rb3 27.Nfe5 Nxe5 28.Nxe5 Bxe5 29.dxe5 Rxd1+ 30.Rxd1 Rxa3 31.h4 Bb5 32.Qd4

The funny thing is that this new analysis isn't much different from the analysis we had back when we played this game. We had no real engine analysis supporting Ng4, just unsupported claims. In my mind, it stands out as the team's worst-reasoned move ever. Granted, this game was likely a draw anyway, but Ng4 threw a splash of cold water on whatever little flicker of hope may have remained.

(In looking at the <25.Bf1> line above, it's interesting to note that it actually calls for Ng4 to be played five moves later.)

25.Ng4 was billed as some sort of deep attack, since Nfe5, along with the Q+B battery, puts pressure on Pc6. However, Black's refutation was simplicity itself and no engine could miss it:

[1] Put a defender on Pc6 e.g. ...Bb5,
[2] Duck the strong DSB back to e7,
[3] Kick the knight with ...h5, and
[4] Put the bishop back on f6.

When these steps were finished, this was the position:

click for larger view

To my knowledge, all of the deep sliding analysis we did from this point on ended up producing 0.00s.

Sep-20-16  cro777: <AylerKupp> Thanks for the analysis.

As already mentioned, Pogonina chose one of the most solid defenses against the Catalan (thus considerably reducing the margin of error). In correspondence chess this defense leads to a draw.

As far as the night sacrifice 15…Nxf2 is concerned, Schwetlick and Dronov simply repeted the game (the latter one lasted a couple of moves more; Ron Langeveld was the CC world champion 2010-2014).

Originally, it was Topalov's idea from his game against Anand Anand vs Topalov, 2010 (Anand said he should have played 24.Qd4 instead of 24.Qd6).

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 c6 7.0–0 0–0 8.Qc2 b6 9.Rd1 Nbd7 10.Bf4 Ba6

click for larger view

Interestingly, this line was tried in the three CC World Championship finals (WC26, WC27 and the ongoing WC29). Different White's 11th moves have been tested (in this order): 11.Ne5, 11.Nbd2 and 11.cxd5.

The first one to be tested was 11.Ne5, the most common move in this position.

11…Rc8 is considered to be Black's best answer. 18.g4 is an interesting idea (worthy of multi-engine analysis).

Besides, you are right about our game against Pogonina.

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Boy, was this game annoying. And I <still> can't believe 4. g3.
Feb-12-17  morfishine: This game was monumentally annoying and time consuming. From the start with all the controversy, all the way to the miserable end, gawd, what a huge waste of time and effort

When it was done, I said to myself "Never again"


Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Hmm, forgot I made that post in February of 2017. I came here today to say the same thing. So......

I <still> can't believe 4. g3.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Williebob: "Democracy Doesn't Work"
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