Monday, 26 August 2019

055. Computer Says No

White: M. Poppe - 1st North Sea Team Tournament, 1998

Searching my games by ECO code, looking for one that hasn't featured here before, brought up (along with numerous others) three examples of C96. This code covers lesser lines of the Closed Ruy Lopez, Chigorin System (9...Na5). All three games continued 10 Bc2 c5 11 d4 Bb7 12 Nbd2 cxd4 13 cxd4 exd4 14 Nxd4 Re8.

Yes, it's a bit loose for Black in that the d6-pawn is left as a weakness, backward and isolated. On the other hand, there's little prospect of being cramped under the Spanish Torture. Black has open lines and active pieces and can look to strike back in the centre with a timely ...d6-d5.

GM Oleg Romanishin (see Game 29) played this way on 24 occasions in 1988-97, for a plus three score. My own score was plus one: two draws and the win below.

It seems I was pleased with the win, since exclamation marks are strewn enthusiastically through my notes: 19...d5 “!”, 20...Bc5 “!”, 21...Nh5 “!”. Okay, I'll just check those with Stockfish now...

Tap, tap, tap.

Computer says no.

And that's no to all of them. In particular, the engine bangs out 21 Ngf5! instantaneously, assessing the position as winning for White; e.g. 21...gxf5 22 Nxf5 Bxf2+ 23 Kh2 Bxe1 24 Qxe1 and Black's extra rook is useless against the white queen coming to the kingside. Yurk. My notes don't mention 21 Ngf5 at all.

To be fair (to me) 23...Rxe2 “!” was good, and the idea of trapping the h6-bishop with 28...g5 “!” was good too. Computer says yes. But as for my earlier moves...

Computer says no :/

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