The Fabulous 00s: Different Ways to Engage Tactically

This just in from Round 6 US Championship action.   A crazy struggle where it would appear pre-game computer cycles played a major role.
GM L. Christiansen – IM R. Robson  Slav Crazy (Computer-Oriented) Gambit Line

1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 Different Way to Play #1: It’s quite possible now to play a tactical, attacking game (!) after 3. cxd5 as Kasparov showed many times.  The computer would play less of a role.

3. d4 c6 Different Way to Play #2: And here, Khalifman used to have good results with the soft, slow-motion gambit of 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. g3!? dxc4 6. Bg2.  Shabalov tried this line vs. Sevillano and lost in an earlier round of the ’09 Championship, but the opening was not to blame.  That line offers a rich mother-lode for human creativity.

4. e4 dxe4 5. Nxe4 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Qxd4 7. Bxb4 Qxe4+ 8. Ne2 Na6 Both players are following a fairly narrow mainline in this insanely tactical, inhuman (thus computer-oriented) melee.

9. Bf8 Ne7 10. Bxg7 Nb4 11. Qd6 Nc2+ 12. Kd2 Nxa1 13. Bxh8 Qc2+ 14. Ke1 Qxc4 15. Nc3 Qb4 Cute, but computer ho-hum, black exploits the fork on c2 to move the queen to this active square.

16. Qd2 e5 Does anyone doubt that at least one of the players had this in the computer before the game? 

17. Qc1 Bg4! The best.  I doubt black has had to think on his own yet. Rybka 3.1 says this is equal.

Addendum May 16, 2009:  IM Fluffy reminded me to say this is good prep by Robson, the article is not a knock on Robson.

Computer Chess

Computer Chess

18. f3? In a not very illumating computer “finding”, Rybka 3.1 likes 18. h3 but at the same time believes black is OK after 18. h3. The mainline is a humorous, absurd, repetition draw: 18…Bh5 19. g4 Bg6 20. Qxa1 Qf4! 21. Ne2 Qb4+ 22. Nc3 Qf4! 23. Ne2 and drawn!   Note that 21…Qe4?! is met by 22. f3! Qxf3 23. Rg1 and white has an edge.

18…Bxf3! Not very difficult but pleasing.  White’s king loses protection.  

19. Bf6 19. gxf3 Qh4+ 20. Ke2 Ng6! 21. Qxa1 O-O-O gives black a big attack.  Queen and knight is a very dangerous attacking duo.

19…Nd5 20. Bxe5? A fatal second miscue.  20. gxf3 Nxf6 21. Qxa1 O-O-O with a black edge but not yet decisive was necessary.

20…Qe7! Now white’s king cannot get out of the danger zone and no more resistance is possible.  A depressing result of the battle of computers. Perhaps black’s computer had been going a lot longer on this variation.   Psychologically, the two deviations given at the start of the game would yield better chances versus a tactical junior than engaging in a full-on irrational position computer war.

21. gxf3 Qxe5+ 22. Kf2 Qd4+ 23. Kg3 Ne3 24. Bh3 Nac2 25. Nd1 f5 26. Nxe3 f4+ 27. Kf2 fxe3+ 28. Kg3 Qd6+ 29. f4 Qd3 30. Rd1 Qg6+ 31. Kf3 Qh5+
32. Bg4 Qxh2 33. Rd6 Qf2+ 34. Ke4 e2 35. Bxe2 Qxe2+ 36. Kf5 Ke7
0-1

Kind of a depressing game in general where the “gee, look at that moves” were prepared already.   To put it another way, not much work at the board for black to achieve a winning game versus a strong player. I’d rather have both players on their own devices in an original, not analyzed setting, to create something nice in this important tournament.

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2 Responses to “The Fabulous 00s: Different Ways to Engage Tactically”

  1. dfan Says:

    I was watching this on ICC as it happened. It was tough to tell because the relay had issues, but I think the pre-game prep ended before you think… Robson spent a long time on 14…Qc4 (which was apparently a novelty) and things slowed down a lot after that.

    We’ll only know by player interviews. GM Kavalek a long time ago objected to 3rd party commentators “getting into the player’s heads” to claim a player knew this or thought that, and he is right. Sometimes a player slows down to remember or double-check preliminary conclusions. I think my suggestions earlier in the game would definitely give a less computer-oriented game.

  2. Varl Boro Says:

    White should seek salvation in 16.Qd1! allowing 16…Qxb2 17.Bd3 followed by Bf6 and or Qd2 when the knight on a1 is a dead man. Black will still have compensation for sure in the form of two pawns and attack potential against the stranded white king. My hunch is that Robson was out of book when he played either Qxc4 or Qb4. The Marshall Gambit vs. the Noteboom is a very exciting opening where computers can and will misevaluate lines (let alone humans!). In particular Ne2 is a good human alternative to Be2 (unknowable tactical density leading to draws). I look forward to seeing more games in this line.

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