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John Nunn vs Igor-Alexandre Nataf
"Slim to Nunn" (game of the day Jun-06-2013)
FRA-chT (1999), France, rd 6
Sicilian Defense: Old Sicilian. Open (B32)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-11-11  wordfunph: GM Nataf referred to this game as his best game ever played.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 8..f5 was apparently first played by Shabalov in his win over Kudrin at the 1997 US Masters. Kudrin responded 9 exf which allows White to respond to ..Nf6 with Bg5 fighting for control of d5. In the 1998 US Championship Defirmian played 10 Nc2 against Shabalov and won; Nunn's 10 g3 was new. Nunn was surprised by the pawn sacrifice 10..Nf6 though that move has been played several times since this game with great results for Black. Note that 14 Qd2? would not have avoided the sacrifice: 14..Nxf2! 15 Bxf2..Rxf2 16 Kxf2 Bg5! (chasing the queen away so Black can play ..Qg5+) followed by ..Bh4+. Since 14 0-0!? looks shaky Watsons suggestion of 14 f4!? looks best (as mentioned earlier in this thread. Nunn pointed out that 16 Rf1..Ng4 would have left Black with only a small edge.

Nunn after 24 Qxh4: "...After 16..Nb4 I had calculated up to here, and thought that Black had nothing better than 24..Qxf3+ 25 Kg1..Qe3+ 26 Kg2 with perpetual check. It is true that 24..Rxf3+ is bad after 25 Kg2 but, astonishingly, Black has a quiet move which gives him a decisive attack."

After all his brilliant moves Nataf could be excused for missing the stronger 25..Rxf3+ 26 Kg2..Qe2+ 27 Kg1..g5. Voted the best game of Informant 75.

May-02-13  chesswar1000: This game really should be one of the games of the day...14. Be2? 14. f4! and Black's position is cracking.
Jun-06-13  LoveThatJoker: Lovely stuff from GM Nataf!


Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Shouldn't this pun have been reserved for one of the many games between Nunn and Slim Bouaziz?
Jun-06-13  morfishine: Nunn was (is) extremely difficult to beat. Nunn graciously annotated this loss in that wonderful book "The World's Greatest CHESS GAMES"

In his notes, Nunn overlooks Black's initial sac 14...Nxf2 setting up the follow up rook sac and agrees that best for White was 14.f4 (instead of 14.Be2 after which there is no salvation) and actually claims a small advantage for White

Jun-06-13  queenfortwopawns: Goodness. That was a demolition act.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Black is just up a rook for a piece,but will certainly gain victory.
Jun-06-13  weisyschwarz: <FSR> A few years ago, I placed the game you mentioned in my pun submission page, under the title of, "Your Chances of Winning Are...". I guess my entry was overlooked...again. :-(
Jun-06-13  Lutwidge: Well, that escalated quickly.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: What an explosive game. The early pawn sac by black is brave.
Jun-07-13  Moszkowski012273: Really wish 25...Rxf3+ had been played (forcing mate).
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <weisyschwarz: <FSR> A few years ago, I placed the game you mentioned in my pun submission page, under the title of, "Your Chances of Winning Are...". I guess my entry was overlooked...again. :-( >

The ChessGames pun gods are fickle, no doubt about it.

Mar-17-14  Sourav: Does anyone know how to invert the board?
Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: What viewer are you using?
Mar-18-14  Sourav: pgn4web
Mar-18-14  Cemoblanca: Absolutely breath-taking.
Mar-19-14  Sourav: @WannaBe: Pressing the f key does it!
Aug-21-14  docbenway: Nunn annotates this game in his book Understanding Chess move by Move.
Oct-22-14  notyetagm: Nunn vs I A Nataf, 1999

Wow, what an *incredible* attacking game.

Oct-22-14  john barleycorn: The first game I saw in which sacrificing both rooks did not work...
Oct-20-18  Saniyat24: Nataf the penetrator...!
Jan-29-21  Gaito: If we compare Nataf's own annotations in Chess Informant No. 75 with what the engines LcZero and Stockfish 12 have to say, we quickly discover a curious thing: annotations by human grandmasters are often based on emotions rather than objective considerations. Humans are very emotional, contrary to engines, which are devoid of emotions but cool and objective. Consider, for example, the following position, that would have arisen after 16.Bxf2?? (better was 16.Rf1 according to the engines) Nb4 18.Qf7 (Nataf wrongly attaches two exclamation marks to this move) Bh4+ 19.Kf3, reaching the following diagram with BLACK TO PLAY:

click for larger view

In his notes, Nataf wrote that White has a decisive advantage, but the engines do not agree. In fact, SF12 says that BLACK has a decisive advantage, and both LcZero and Komodo 14 are of the same opinion. A sample variation would be: 19...Nc6 20.Qf4 Bh3 21.Nd5 Ne5+ 22.Ke3 Bg5 and White is busted (see diagram)

click for larger view

Jan-29-21  Gaito: The following position was reached after 14.Be2 (Stockfish 12 likes 14.f4! with equality)

click for larger view

In his notes (Chess Informant No. 75) Nataf attaches two exclamations marks to the move 14...Nxf2, and used the symbol -+ ("Black has a decisive advantage"). To be sure, the move is pretty, but is it really so tremendously crushing? The engines do not seem to agree. Stockfish 12 and LcZero believe that after 14...Nxf2 the position is about equal, perhaps slightly better for Black or even unclear. From the diagram, there followed 14...Nxf2 15.Qd5+ Kh8 16.Bxf2?? (The engines point this out as a fatal mistake, though Nataf mentioned nothing in his notes. After 16.Rf1! Black could still put up a fight). Further, there followed 16...Nb4?! (according to the engines, this move is dubious, though Nataf attached two exclamation marks to that move in his Informant notes. The engines believe that Black ought to have played 16...Rxf2! with an evaluation of -6.16, for example: 16...Rxf2! 17.Kxf2 Nb4 18.Qf7 Bha4+ 19.Kf3 Nc6, and Black is winning: evaluation: -7.06. Nataf wrongly dismissed the move 16...Rxf2 and attached a question mark to it).

A philosophical conclusion:
The human brain works in such a way that it almost always given as a true fact that whatever is pretty must necessarily be a very good thing. That's why humans like beautiful cars instead of really good cars. A pretty woman could be a really good woman, but not necessarily. Likewise in chess, a pretty move could be a good move, but that is not always the case. Contrary to humans, computers and machines are devoid of such "human emotions". A strong chess engine will play the objectively best move regardless of its aesthetical outlook, but the human brain works differently: it is often guided by emotions or aesthetical values: "Does it look pretty? Then it must be good!" I remember playing over Alekhine's notes of his books and checking his analysis with Stockfish 12 or Komodo 14. Very often he was guided by emotions and that affected his judgment.

Jan-29-21  Gaito: This game was a beautiful attacking game by GM Nataf. It was not a perfect game, though. Of course, engines always point out mistakes and oversights made by humans, but engines have ratings of 3900 or even 4000 points when running in very fast computers. As an armchair critic with some strong engines at hand and without the pressure of a clock ticking, I will run the risk of being criticized by other kibitzers for using computers, but after all, the point of every debate is to find the truth, is it not? The computer tells us there were three moments where Black missed a forced mate, but that doesn't mean the game was not exciting. It was really exciting and beautiful.

In the following diagram Black played 25...Qxf3+.

click for larger view

The computer gives the following forced mate in 6 moves: 25...Rxf3+! 26.Kg2 Qe2+ 27.Kg1 g5 28.Re1 Nxe1, forcing checkmate.

Now take a look at the diagram below:

click for larger view

Black to play. Who could resist the temptation of capturing both of White's rooks? I guess nobody could resist that temptation, except, of course, an engine. Engines are far less materialistic than humans. Maddona used to sing "I live in a material world". But computer engines don't seem to share our materialistic approach to chess. Stockfish 12 tells us that after 27...Nxe4+! Black forces mate in six.

Finally look at the following diagram:

click for larger view

Black to play. He just played the "obvious" 28...Qxa1. Most people would play that "obvious" move. But not the engine. Stockfish 12 announces that Black had a better move, namely 28....Qf3+! and mate in 14 moves. (I believe that. Computers just don't lie). I love the non-materialistic approach used by chess engines: they don't seem so inclined to grab material as we humans do. Apparently they don't live in a material world, like Maddona and the rest of humans do. Perhaps we humans don't really play chess, but play a game that looks a lot like chess.

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