Monday, 24 February 2020

060. Drawing With Someone Else's Moves

Black: Reprimand - thematic tournament,, 2020

I recently set up a Two Knights Defence thematic at, in order to refine my theory even further. As Black I faced 4 d4 and 4 d3 (twice) and my theory was duly refined. As White I opted for 4 Ng5, with the currently fashionable variation 4...d5 5 exd5 Na5 6 Bb5+ c6 7 dxc5 bxc6 8 Bd3!?.

A database search (criterion: 2015-2020) for this position brings up an array of strong grandmasters on the White side, such as Aronian, Kovalev, Mamedov, Melkumyan, Nisipeanu, Piorun, Popov, Sethuraman, Shankland, Shirov, Vallejo Pons, Van Foreest, Vitiugov, Wang Hao, and Zhigalko. And Black has been defended by the likes of Carlsen, Caruana, Ding Liren, Grischuk, Matlakov, Vidit and so.

It certainly seems like 8 Bd3 can lead to very interesting play and mutual chances over the board, as is the case with the Two Knights in general. However, in a theoretical sense at least, 8 Bd3 seems to have been played out.

One crucial line was in fact played out three years ago: in the game P.Bobel-F.Vaillant, correspondence 2017, which ended up with rook + four connected passed pawns vs. rook + knight in the ending. Now, if the white general was in close attendance, the pawns would probably win. But he wasn't. Instead, the pawns were peasants with pitchforks helpless against the black cannon and cavalry. Hence a draw.

The game below followed Bobel-Vaillant as far as move 28, whereupon my opponent proposed peace. I could see no reason to play on. Hence a draw.

And all with someone else's moves.

I don't think I'll try 8 Bd3 again.

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