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Valentina Gunina vs Anna Ushenina
European Team Championship (Women) (2017), Hersonissos GRE, rd 3, Oct-30
Sicilian Defense: Nezhmetdinov-Rossolimo Attack. Fianchetto Variation (B31)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Oct-30-17  siggemannen: Isn't 32.Ne6 better?
Oct-31-17  Nerwal: <Isn't 32.Ne6 better?>

32. ♖xe8 forced immediate resignation, so no. More seriously, in a team game context it makes sense to play extra safe.

Oct-31-17  ndg2: I disagree. 32. Ne6+ would be mate next move, so this is the safest continuation.
Oct-31-17  Nerwal: <32. Ne6+ would be mate next move, so this is the safest continuation.>

In terms of practical play, no. if 32. ♘e6+ turns out to be a hallucination and there is no mate because due to tiredness or lack of time you miss a counter defence or an escape square for the king you may lose a completely won game (the ♖e1 hangs with check). With 32. ♖xe8 you know for sure the game is in the bag, the distance to mate doesn't matter. It sounds ridiculous because it's mate in 2 but worse has happened. After a few excruciating experiences otb players can become a bit shy in trusting their brilliant calculations sometimes.

But it's also possible Gunina rushed to play the first win she saw since that's the way she plays now.

Oct-31-17  dumbgai: But how do you know Rxe8 doesn’t carry more risk of hallucination than Ne6?
Nov-01-17  ndg2: Nerwal, this is a strange a argument. Of course GM can fall victim to hallucinations like anyone else, but this is true for any move sequence and the longer this sequence is the more likely are "fata morganas". In this sense a forced mate through a two-move long sequence of checks is safer than anything else.
Nov-01-17  Nerwal: <Nerwal, this is a strange a argument.>

No, why ? Playing for mate a rook down and another rook hanging with check is not comfortable otb, even if it's a simple mate. That makes being pawn up with a pawn about to queen with check look tempting. If it was mate in four with two branches nobody would even argue for 32. ♘e6+, when the situation wouldn't be that different (a GM can certainly calculate this just as well as a mate in two, length is not the main factor of errors for trained players).

<this is true for any move sequence>

Anything can happen anytime indeed but it's hard to get anything useful out of this idea. otb players use their experience to deem intuitively various practical factors, and routinely go willingly for apparently suboptimal lines because right or wrong they're more comfortable with them. otb decisions aren't always rational, but time and again the attempt to always play for the best move gets punished (partly because it's too demanding for the brain but also because it may mean having to cross a minefield) and is often less successful in practice than playing prosaic moves (at least until laziness takes over).

<the longer this sequence is the more likely are "fata morganas".>

Length is not the only factor in determining how safe a continuation is otb and its blunder rate. Many players would prefer an ending one or two pawns up with no counterplay for the opponent (even if it takes more than 30 moves to convert) to a crowdy middlegame a full piece up for nothing but where both kings are unsafe. And they probably would be right practically.

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