The Fabulous 10s: Computer-Assisted Dragons

Or, Maybe, Computers NOT Assisting on Dragons in Holland

Random, bizarre move sequences appear on the board!  Or, maybe computers were NOT working – check the horrific blunder pair on moves 17 and 18!

[Event “Corus C”]

[Site “Wijk aan Zee NED”]

[Date “2010.01.26”]

[Round “9”]

[White “Li Chao”]

[Black “Robson,R”]

[Result “1-0”]

[WhiteElo “2604”]

[BlackElo “2570”]

[EventDate “2010.01.16”]

[ECO “B77”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. h4 Ne5

Since Robson was leading the tournament, this opening choice was a terrible idea! Why don’t American players have safety openings?  Now, OTOH (on the other hand), young Ray gets bravery points.  But if the Dragon is not his regular opening (and it is not), it is a monumental and perverse task to “get used to” its idiosyncratic patterns.  It’s a one-of-a-kind death-defying choice.

11. Bb3 h5

Personally I’ve always regarded this move (I believe popularized by Soltis first, maybe others?) with suspicion.  It increases the force of Nd4-f5 sacrifices in many lines.

12. O-O-O Rc8 13. Bg5 Rc5 14. Kb1 b5 15. g4 hxg4

Dangerous Deviation Alert!

16. h5

Deviation alert!  16. Bxf6! is a very dangerous try here, eliminating black’s most important defensive piece!  16. Bxf6 Bxf6 17. h5 gxh5 18. Nf5! Nxf3 19. Qh6 Rxf5!! (only this way!) 20. Qg6+ with a perpetual check!  Wow!  If black avoids a perpetual with 20…Bg7?, after 21. exf5 white is much better.  The text is an old try and “discredited” in the sense white gets no advantage.  But maybe it caught black by surprise.  Note that 16. Bxf6 exf6? 17. h5 gxh5 18. Qh2! Nc4 19. Bxc4 bxc4 20. Qxd6! gives white a big advantage.

16…Nxh5 17. Nd5

Old Theory Quiz: Black's best defense is.... ?

17…Nf6? (??)

Maybe my theory is out of date, but 17…Re8! 18. Rxh5 gxh5 19. Qh2 (as in an old Short game, Short-Mandl Germany 1986 where black botched the defense and went down in flames) is met by 19…gxf3! 20. Qxh5 Bg4! and black holds.  This happened in a game Lagumina – Magalotti, Forli 1991 and black indeed drew.

Note that also in the precomputer era, 19. Qh2 Rc4? 20. Bxc4 bxc4 21. Qxh5 with a big white edge happened in Karpov-Sznapik, Dubai 1986 Olympiad.

The computer shows no advantage for white after 17…Re8! – readers?

The game move looks really bad; i.e. immediately losing.  Is it possible Robson was making stuff up in this, the sharpest of all opening choices?

18. Bh6??

A monumental blunder in return. It’s impossible to say what Chao was thinking.   The guy is rated 2604 and he misses a win that any schoolboy would play – capture, capture, and mate!  Isn’t that the entire point of the Yugoslav Attack?

The elementary 18. Nxf6+ wins easily. If 18…Bxf6 19. Qh2! simply checkmates black. If 18…exf6 19. Bh6! forces 19…Bh8, since 19…f5 is crushed by 20. Bxg7 Kxg7 21. Qh6+ Kf6 22. f4 and wins. After 19…Bh8, white wins with the easy 20. Bxf8 Qxf8 21. Qh2 Qg7 22. fxg4 Bxg4 23. Rdg1 and wins.

What was in the water in this game? (or the Dutch pea soup?)

18…Nxd5 19. Bxg7 Kxg7 20. Qh6+ Kf6

Did Chao miss the king could run? Embarrassing! But look what happens!

21. exd5 Nxf3 22. Ne2?

22. Nxf3 keeps the balance.  Now Chao has overstepped even the bounds of an even game!

22…e5?

22…Bf5 consolidates and wins for black without too much trouble!

23. dxe6 Bxe6 24. Qf4+ Rf5 25. Qxg4 Kg7 26. Bxe6 fxe6 27. Nd4 Nxd4 28. Qxd4+ e5 29. Qxa7+ R8f7 30. Qe3 Qg5 31. Qd3 Qf6
32. a3 Rf2 33. Qh3 Qf5?

Apparently black was down to increments.  33…Kg8! was bad  (but not losing) for him after 34. Rxd6 Rf1+ 35. Rd1! but it was forced.  But doesn’t white’s play over the last few moves look pretty random?  Maybe he was in time trouble too.

34. Qh8+ Mate 1-0

For the gawking observers, what the HELL was going on this opening? Will we ever know?

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One Response to “The Fabulous 10s: Computer-Assisted Dragons”

  1. PoPChess » Magnus Carlsen Wins Corus 2010 at Wijk aan Zee Says:

    […] led the C-group by the middle of the tournament but fell back to fourth by the end following his loss to Li Chao in the Dragon. You can play over the games from the A-section at Chessgames.com.  There was excellent […]

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