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Viswanathan Anand vs Ian Nepomniachtchi
FIDE Online Nations Cup (2020) (rapid), INT, rd 5, May-07
Gruenfeld Defense: Exchange Variation (D85)  ·  1-0



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Premium Chessgames Member
  LucB: It's games like this one that make me such a Vishy fanboy... wow..
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Open Defence> No I had not seen the game. That's hysterical, even though I suspect that Nepomniachtchi disagrees. And I don't know who "they" are or what engines they used but on my computer "my" engines had no trouble finding 11.f4 and initially evaluating it to be White's best move, but they didn't always stick to that evaluation. And that might be what "they" meant by "trouble".

Stockfish 11: Found 11.f4 as its top move in less than 1 sec and at d<8. But at some plies it evaluated other moves as being slightly better. Evaluation at d=30 was [+0.31] after 04:00 mins.

Houdini 6: Found 11.f4 as its top move in less than 1 sec and at d<8. But at some plies it also evaluated other moves as being slightly better. Evaluation at d=19 was [+0.14] after 01:59 mins.

Komodo 12.3: Found 11.f4 as its top move in less than 1 sec and at d<8 and this lasted until d=18 when it evaluated it at [+0.55] after 00:13 secs. But thereafter it dropped out of its 3 top moves until I stopped the analysis after 04:49 mins when it considered the best move to be 11.Be2 with an evaluation of [+0.21]. But eventually, after 06:21 mins of calculation it reverted to considering 11.f4 to be the best move, with an evaluation of [+0.37]. But then at d=30 it reverted to considering 11.Bd3 to be the best move with an evaluation of [+0.29] after 10:15 mins of calculation (I had forgotten that I still had the analysis running while I was composing this post).

Komodo 12.3 MCTS. Found 11.f4 as its top move in 00:02 secs and this lasted until d=16 when it evaluated it at [+0.21] after 00:16 secs of calculation. But thereafter it dropped out of its 3 top moves until I stopped the analysis after 04:49 mins when it considered the best move to be 11.Nf3 with an evaluation of [+0.22].after 06:18 mins of calculation.

This is not an uncommon situation in complex positions when there are several acceptable moves to consider, each of them being given an evaluation similar to the others. What the engines consider the "best" move then depends on <when> the move needs to be made as dictated by that engine's time management procedures, and the move evaluations and rankings may change from ply to ply.

But is really "trouble"? Remember that the classic engines (Houdini, Komodo, and Stockfish) use a handcrafted evaluation function and the minimax algorithm to determine the best line assuming <best play by both sides>. And Komodo MCTS uses a similar evaluation process as AlphaZero and LeelaC0 by choosing the move that will give the best scoring % following a series of simulated game playouts. So two different methods of determining the best move give the same result: 11.f4 is <not> the best move in this position. After all, after 11.f4 Stockfish 11 was able to find a mate in 4 for White in only 18 plies, well within its move search capabilities and not a difficult thing for it to do, even at Rapid time controls.

Could it be that Nepomniachtchi simply didn't find the best responses to Anand's moves? After all, Anand had the benefit of home analysis as the link in <MissScarlett>'s post shows. Nepomniachtchi had to find the best moves OTB, and at a Rapid time control at that. He spend only 10 secs in responding to 10.Qd2, only 2 secs in responding to 11.f4, and only 9 secs in responding to 12.Nf3. At that point he slowed down somewhat, spending 01:07 mins, 00:24 secs, 00:18 secs, and 00:30 secs before he resigned. The results might have been different if this game had been played at Classic time controls.

May-07-20  chextifor: Why not 15. ...Pxf5?
May-08-20  jith1207: Could 14...Rd8 have saved the game for Nepo?
May-08-20  jith1207: <chextifor>: 15...gxf5 16. Qg5+ Kh8 17. Qf6+ Kg8 18. Ng5

click for larger view

It looks like Black had no other chance than sacrifice some pieces to delay the loss.

18..Bxc4 19. Qxd6

Or 18..Qd8 19.Qh6 Qxg5 20.Qxg5

May-08-20  jith1207: Anand in his post game interview gives a line that he had to be careful against:

16...Qd5 17. f6 Qe4

click for larger view

In this position, if White plays 18.Qh6, Black had chance to redeem by making a check Qe3+ and exchanging the Queens.

However, it doesn't force equality. White has the following line,

18. Rae1 Be2 19. Rxe2 Qxe2 20. Qxe2 h6 21. cxd4 Nc6 22. Qe3 Kh7 23. d5 Nd4 24. Nxd4 cxd4 25.Qxd4 and White still wins easily.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Open Defence: <AylerKupp: > some commentators said engines have trouble finding <15.f5>

not sure if that's actually the case and no idea what they are running and what hardware

Premium Chessgames Member
  ProfessorLaxis: Wondering if 11. f4 paved the way for this. But seriously 14. ... d4 is the problem. Stockfish 11 shows that to be the best move and 14. ... Rd8 to be the second best move. We know 14. ... d4 is obviously a blunder but what about 14. ... Rd8. Because evaluation keeps on changing and it's only a slight advantage for white and 15. f5 doesn't work as well now.
May-08-20  Everett: 15.f5 comes off to me as pretty intuitive.

There’s no more DSB, the dark squares are weak all over, and White’s Q is on the perfect square to take advantage. White has pawn roller potential, with tempo no less.

I’ve seen Qd2 being played so often as a pre-cursor to a K-side attack, I didn’t see the 15.f5 move as difficult to find, at least as a candidate. The pre-reqs are there.

May-08-20  Everett: Korchnoi vs Karpov, 1974

11.Qd2, highlighting dark-squared weaknesses

Bronstein vs Keres, 1955

15.Qd2 same thing

Bronstein vs Lputian, 1996

Not Qd2, but more dark-squared issues for Black in the Grunfeld

May-08-20  petemccabe: It's always interesting to me when the engines do something like this. After 14 0-0, the Chessgames engine suggests black play d4, saying it's even. After black plays that, it suggests white play f5 with a huge advantage.

Where's the disconnect in there?

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Another interesting tidbit involving the silicon monsters--the computer at ChessBomb considers Anand's 10.Qd2 as inferior to 10.Bb5+. If correct, that means he won a 17 move game vs. a Super-GM with an inferior variation!

Why did that never work for me? Or did I answer my own question?

May-09-20  Ulhumbrus: <An Englishman: Good Evening: Another interesting tidbit involving the silicon monsters--the computer at ChessBomb considers Anand's 10.Qd2 as inferior to 10.Bb5+. If correct, that means he won a 17 move game vs. a Super-GM with an inferior variation!

Why did that never work for me? Or did I answer my own question?>

Kramnik has said that his opponents don't make the blunders against him which they make against Carlsen. One explanation has been indicated by some people already: Carlsen knows how to give his opponents reasons for making these blunders.

May-09-20  MordimerChess: There was a losing combo in the game: Be6 together with d4. Both moves could be played but not together :D

And Stockfish indeed shows that d4 is the best move in position. Interesting!

My video analysis:

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Open Defence> some commentators said engines have trouble finding <15.f5>

Again, it depends what you mean by "trouble". If the commentators were using Stockfish and relying on the relatively low plies (typically 20 – 25) that it reaches in the small amount of time that they let it analyze the position, then Stockfish 11 would definitely have "trouble" finding 15.f5.

I'm rerunning my engine analyses and so far none of the engines have been unable to find 15.f5 and consider it winning, but so far it took 2 of the engines possibly too long to find it. It took Stockfish 03:57 mins at d=29 to find 15.f5 on my admittedly relatively slow machine, and this is probably too long to let it search for a game played at Rapid time controls. But, with a faster machine at their disposal, had the commentator's site allowed Stockfish to run just a little bit longer then it might have found it within an acceptable time limit. But, in fairness, they didn't have the time; Anand spent only 01:10 mins to play 15.f5 and I don't think that even Sesse's high eng computer system using Stockfish would have been able to find 15.f5 in that amount of time.

Houdini 6 definitely had trouble finding 15.f5. It took it 12:51 mins at d=20 to find 15.f5 and that's definitely too much time to spend looking for it at Rapid time controls.

But Komodo 12.3 MMX (minimax) was a superstar. It surprisingly found 15.f5 at d=16 after only 00:10 secs of calculation, with an evaluation of [+3.57], definitely a likely winning advantage. That's at a lower ply than <diceman>'s likely faster machine as he indicated in AylerKupp chessforum (kibitz #1626) but Komodo (presumably the "classic" version; i.e. using minimax) on his machine would probably also have found 15.f5 within an acceptably short length of time. So Komodo MMX definitely did not have any "trouble".

I'm currently running Komodo 12.3 MCTS and at d=26 and 21:45 mins it still hasn't found it. I'll let it run a little bit longer out of curiosity and post the details of the results from all 4 engines after it's done. But Komodo MCTS definitely also had "trouble".

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<petemccabe> After 14 0-0, the Chessgames engine suggests black play d4, saying it's even. After black plays that, it suggests white play f5 with a huge advantage. Where's the disconnect in there?>

There is no disconnect. When analyzing a position an extra ply can make an immense amount of difference in the evaluations and the move rankings. Because of the relatively low ply that they allow their Stockfish to run, the chess24 site often indicates an evaluation of, say, X1 for a player after its opponent plays move Y1 and the next best move for the player is listed as X2. And after the opponent actually plays move Y1 its evaluation of move X2 changes dramatically, often by a value of [+1.00] or more. This is, I assume, caused by the horizon effect at low ply.

Did you notice at what search ply the Chessgames engine suggested that Black play 14...d4 after 14.0-0? As you'll see in my next post none of the engines that found 15.f5 initially considered it to be among their top 5 moves and then all of a sudden they saw the light and considered 15.f5 not only to be their top move but to give White a winning advantage.

Blindly trusting a chess engine's evaluation will likely lead you astray. You should not believe any engine's evaluation until you have vetted it by reviewing its Principal Variation looking for alternate moves that it did not consider (likely as a result of pruning its search tree too aggressively at low ply) and doing some forward sliding to reduce the possibly adverse consequences of the horizon effect.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Results of engine search for 15.f5> (part 1 of 2)

To summarize the results of my most recent engine analysis, after 14...d4 we have the following position:

click for larger view

Below are the results of 4 engines' analyses to see whether they could find the winning 15.f5. It's important to remember that this was a game at Rapid time controls (25 mins + 10 secs increment per move, starting from move one). So, if an engine does find 15.f5 but it takes it 10 minutes of calculation to do so, then it's pretty useless information since, even if the engine was playing White, 10 minutes would be too much time to devote to determining what move to play in any given positions; the engine would effectively not have found 15.f5 in time. I'm guessing that the maximum amount of time that either a human or an engine could/would reasonably afford to spend on any one move at this time control would be around 3 mins, and then only if they realized that it was a critical position. Anand, BTW, spent 01:12min considering 15.f5 and that was probably to verify the 10-year old (!) analysis. Nepomniachtchi apparently did not consider this a critical position since he only spent 00:18 secs before replying 15...Bxc4.

Before I show the results of the engine analysis there was one common thread among the 3 classic engines (using the minimax algorithm to determine which move to play). These engines didn't initially considered 15.f5 to be among their top 5 moves, with evaluations ranging from [+0.37] to [-0.92], so they evaluated the position to be from equal to Black having a significant advantage. But, once they found 15.f5 to be among their top 5 moves, they immediately promoted 15.f5 to be their top move and its evaluation jumped to at least [+3.30], indicating that White had a likely winning advantage. It's like a light bulb went on in their chips. I've never seen that happen even once in the last 10 years.

<Houdini 6>: d=20, [+3.30], 12:51 mins of calculation. So Houdini technically found the winning 15.f5 but it took so long that for all practical purposes it failed to find it. If it had to make the move after calculating about 3 mins it would have played 15.Be2 which it considered its top move between d=18 and d=19 with evaluations in the range of [-0.01] to [-0.19].

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Results of engine search for 15.f5> (part 2 of 2)

<Komodo 12.3>: d=16, [+3.87], 00:10 secs of calculation. Where Houdini effectively failed, Komodo succeeded admirably, another good reason for using multiple engines since you never know ahead of time which one will find the truly best move. And not even AlphaZero could have saved the game as Black after 15.f5. But this was just not a lucky guess by my computer, <diceman> reported in AylerKupp chessforum (kibitz #1626) that on his computer Komodo (he didn't indicate which version) was able to find 15.f5 at d=23 (he didn't indicate how long it took to get there).

<Komodo 12.3 MCTS>: Where classic Komodo succeeded admirably, Komodo MCTS failed miserably. It never found 15.f5 even after more than 2 ½ hours of calculation and though it reached a "depth" = 31. I put "depth" in quotes because Komodo MCTS is not like a classic engine using iterative deepening where depth is increased and reported as a new iteration is completed. Instead, in Komodo MCTS, the best move choices are updated every 2 secs and, since most GUIs want to see a depth output, Komodo MCTS estimates the equivalent of a classic search depth based on the number of MCTS nodes searched.

<Stockfish 11>: d=29, [+4.42], 03:37 mins of calculation. Stockfish technically also found 15.f5 but the amount of time it took it to do so makes his achievement of questionable value. On a faster computer than mine (64-bits, more memory, more cores; e.g. Sesse's high end system (e.g. used for analysis of Carlsen's games) or even <RandomVisitor>'s system) it probably would have found 15.f5 in less than 03:00. So I'll let you judge whether Stockfish succeeded in finding 15.f5 soon enough.

<RandomVisitor> If you read this and have any interest, please run an analysis of the position after 14...d4 while devoting all your system's resources and let us know how long it took your Stockfish to find 15.f5.

If Stockfish had not been able to find 15.f5 in time it would have played 15.Be2 which at d=28 and somewhere between 02:27 mins and 03:37 mins it evaluated at [+0.37].

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Attempts by Black to save the game>

Now that I think it's been established that 15.f5 wins by force, how and when might Nepomniachtchi have saved the game, assuming that he could have? Well, in <MordimerChess> indicates that it is the <combination> of 13...Be6 and 14...d4 that loses the game. And that if instead of 14...d4 Black plays 14...Rd8 then he can hold the game

click for larger view

According to <MordimerChess>, the point of 14....Rd8 is that then Black's queen can retreat to f8 and prevent Qd2-h6 so advancing the e- and f-pawns to e5 and f6 does not lead to mate. He also claims that Stockfish does not realize that 14...d4 loses but as I showed earlier Stockfish does, it just maybe doesn't find it fast enough for a game played at Rapid time controls. I'll look at this later.

So, the next question is, can the engines determine that 14...d4 loses within a reasonable amount of time? Here's how the 3 classic engines did:

<Houdini 6> Houdini consistently evaluated 14...d4 from d=8 and less then 00:00 secs of calculation through d=22 and 29:16 mins of calculation when I stopped the analysis. And at that point it considered the position exactly even at [0.00]. It seems that Houdini never the danger because it never found 15.f5 after 14...d4 even though it found it after PV=3 14...Nd7 and PV=4 14...Nd7, evaluating them at [+0.92] and [+1.18] respectively. And after 14...d4 it continued with 15.Bxe6 instead of 15.f5. So clearly Houdini failed in this case.

<Komodo 12.3> Komodo always considered 14...Rd8 among its top 5 moves but its ranking varied. From d=12 through d=26 it consistently evaluated 14...d4 to be its top move with an evaluation near [0.00] as the search depth increased but for d=27 and d=28 (after 15:57 mins of calculation when I stopped the analysis) it evaluated 14...Rd8 as its top move. But at d=28 the evaluation of 14...Rd8 was [+0.49] and its evaluation of 14...d4 was [+0.95], still not realizing that 14...d4 leads to a likely winning advantage for White. Nor do I know whether, if I had run the analysis longer, Komodo might have gone back to evaluating 14...d4 as its top move.

And unfortunately it took Komodo too long to determine that 14...Rd8 was its best move in this position, 13:07 mins, too long for a game played at these Rapid time controls. It would have instead played 14...d4 and lost. So I also think that Komodo fails this one.

<Stockfish 11> Stockfish actually found 14...Rd8 and evaluated it as its best move at low plies, 5 times from d=8 after less than 00:00 secs of calculation through d=17 after 00:04 secs of calculation. But it then settled into consistently considering 14...d4 to be its best move from d=18 after 00:04 secs of calculation through d=32 after 07:11 mins of calculation. So, at this Rapid time control, it would also have played 14...d4 and lost.

Score: Anand 3, Nepomniachtchi and the engines 0.

Then an interesting thing happened at d=33 after 09:53 mins of calculation. Stockfish stopped considering 14...d4 to be among its top 5 moves, seemingly conceding that it should not be played. But 14...Rd8 also fell from Stockfish's to 5 moves list at d=34 after 14:52 mins of calculation and neither 14...d4 nor 14...Rd8 reappeared in Stockfish's list of top 5 moves when I stopped that analysis at d=39 and 32:47 mins of calculation. At this point Stockfish considered 14...Qd8 to be its best move but its evaluation had fallen (from Black's perspective) to [+1.65] and Black was drifting into a losing position. So it's clear that Stockfish dropped the ball on this one too.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Saving the game after 14...Rd8> (part 1 of 2)

But does 14...Rd8 really save the game for Black if White continues with 15.f5? I ran a 3-engine analysis of the position after 14...Rd8

click for larger view

This is what they indicated as their principal variations. Of course, keep in mind that these are all long lines and long lines should be taken with a grain of salt since the game proceeding exactly as shown is nil. But at least it gives an idea of what would be most likely to happen assuming best play by both sides. I included some comments and I should add that all engines had 5-piece Syzygy tablebase support.

<Houdini 6> After 08:08:38 hrs of calculation: [1.10], d=28: 15.f5 dxc4 16.Qh6 Qf8 17.Qh4 f6 18.fxe6 Re8 19.Rad1 Nc6 20.Rd7 Re7 21.e5 f5 22.Rb1 Rb8 (seems too passive, 22...b6 protecting the Pc5 seems better) 23.Qxc4 Rbe8 24.Qxc5 Nd8 25.Qxa7 Rxe6 26.Qa5 R6e7 27.Rxe7 Qxe7 28.Qd5+ Kh8 29.Rb5 Qc7 30.Qd4 Kg8 31.h3 Qc8 32.Rd5 Ne6 33.Qd2

click for larger view

White is clearly better being a pawn up, having the initiative, and controlling more space but the win is not imminent.

<Komodo 12.3> After 06:19:52 hrs of calculation: [+2.18], d=28: 15.f5 dxc4 16.Qh6 Qf8 17.Qh4 f6 18.fxe6 Re8 19.Ng5 Re7 20.Rab1 b5 (seems risky, unnecessarily IMO giving up a pawn. I would have thought that 20...b6 followed by ...Nc6 preventing a2-a4-a5 would be more prudent) 21.e5 f5 22.Rxb5 (and now White's other rook becomes very active, something that would not have happened, at least to this extent, after 20...b6) 22...Nc6 23.Rxc5 Nd8 24.Qxc4 (now White has a 2-pawn advantage and a huge positional advantage with its command of space and passed e-pawns) 24...h6 25.Ne4 Kh8 26.a4 Nxe6 27.Rc6 Rb8 28.Nf6 Nd8 29.Ra6 Nf7 30.Nd5 Rxe5 31.Nf4 Qc5+ 32.Qd4 Qxd4+ 33.cxd4 Re4 34.Nxg6+ Kg7 35.Nf4 Rb6 36.Rxa7 Rxd4 37.Ne2 Rd2 38.Ng3 Rbb2 39.Nxf5+ Kg6 40.Ra6+ Kg5 41.h4+ Kh5 42.Ne3 Rd7 43.Raf6 Nd6 44.R1f4 Rb1+ 45.Kh2 Rb3 46.Re6

click for larger view

And 2 pawns down with its king in a mating net Black is clearly lost.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Saving the game after 14...Rd8> (part 2 of 2)

<Stockfish 11> After 07:50:08 hrs of calculation: [+3.39], d=50: 15.f5 dxc4 16.Qh6 Qf8 17.Qh4 f6 18.fxe6 Re8 19.Rab1 Rxe6 (interesting choice, Stockfish as Black offers the Pb7 in exchange for White's advanced passed Pe6. But White doesn't bite) 20.e5 Nd7 21.Qxc4 Rae8 22.Ng5 Nxe5 23.Nxe6 Nxc4 24.Nxf8 Rxf8 25.Rxb7 (the smoke has cleared and Black has 2 pawns for the exchange, but White has a rook on the 7th rank, at least temporarily) 25...Rf7 26.Rb8+ Kg7 27.Rc8 Nd2 28.Re1 f5 29.Rxc5 Rb7 (and now Black is simply the exchange down) 30.c4 Rb2 31.a4 Kh6 32.Rc7 a5 33.Rc1 Ra2 34.c5 Nb3 35.Rc3 Nd4 36.Rc4 Ra1+ 37.Kf2 Ra2+ 38.Ke3 Nc2+ (and I see no point in Black helping White centralize its king) 39.Kf4 Nb4 40.Ke5 Rxg2 41.Ra7 Rxh2 42.c6 Nxc6+ (pretty much forced but with only 3 pawns against a rook, soon to be only 2, Black's goose is pretty much cooked) 43.Rxc6 Kg5 44.Rxa5 f4 45.Kd4+ Kg4 46.Ra7 Ra2 47.a5 f3 48.Rf6 Kg3 49.Ke4 Ra4+ 50.Ke3

click for larger view

With only 2 pawns for a rook Black should lose, but perhaps Stockfish's White underestimated the threat posed by Black's 3 connected passed pawns, one of them far advanced, and the counterplay that they provided. Restarting the analysis from this position Stockfish re-evaluated the resulting position, in spite of White having an advantage earlier, at [0.00], d=43, after 01:37:14 and 51...Ra3+ (which might be obvious but what is not necessarily obvious is that any other move loses per the information provided by probing the Syzygy tablebases) 52.Kd4 g5 53.a6 h5 54.Rd7 g4 55.a7 Kg2 56.Rf8 f2 57.Rdf7 Ra4+ 58.Ke3 Ra3+ 59.Kd2 Ra2+ 60.Kd3 Ra3+ 61.Ke4 and a likely draw by repetition if Black continues checking White's king.

click for larger view

So clearly Stockfish stubbed its toe (assuming it has one) in this endgame.

Therefore clearly 14...Rd8 avoided an immediate loss, but Black's survival is not guaranteed. I suppose it depends on whether White plays the endgame like Komodo or Stockfish. :-)

May-11-20  SirChrislov: It's being said Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Anand's former second deserves credit for the idea. Apparently he showed it to Vishy 10 yrs ago.
May-11-20  SirChrislov: and mate on g7 is avoidable, it's mate on h7 that can't be stopped

17...Kh8 18. Qh6 Rg8 19. Ng5

May-12-20  jith1207: <SirChrislov>: actually, mate on h7 is avoidable, but not on g7. ;-)

In your line, 17...Kh8 18. Qh6 Rg8 19. Ng5

Black can play 19..Rg7 avoiding mate on h7 in next move and forcing white to mate on g7.

However, if the White is hell bent on mating only on h7, White could continue

20.fxg7+ Kg8 21.Qh7#

It becomes a matter of preference at that point ;)

Jul-16-20  Albanius: Carlsen was also busted after 14 moves as B in this variation, in a slightly different position: A Giri vs Carlsen, 2020 Chessable Masters final (rapid) after 14 ..Be6? allowing 15 Qh6! +- but Giri missed it and played 15 Bxe6?, eventually drawing.
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