[Event “Golden State Open 2013”]
[Site “Concord, CA”]
[White “GM Melikset Khachiyan”]
1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. c4 Nb6 6. e6 fxe6 7. Nc3 g6 8. h4 Bg7 9. h5 e5 10. d5 Nd4 11. hxg6 hxg6 12. Rxh8+ Bxh8 13. Bd3 c5 14. dxc6 bxc6 15. c5 dxc5 16. Bxg6+ Kd7 17. Ne4 Kc7
Weird openings lead to weird positions. White’s pawn sac and Black’s basic setup are all book, although I haven’t seen White’s c5 push specifically. Looks great, though, right? Black’s up a pawn but all his pawns stink and his king’s on the lam. On the other hand, Black has one good piece on d4.
My general sense at this point in the game was that my position is pretty bad.
Here Stockfish calls it -.44 i.e. Black is maybe half a pawn better. And it suggests that White get rid of that one good piece w/ Nxd4. Not 18.Nxc5 Qd6 forking knight and Bg6.
Not sure this is a super computer-friendly position, but it is interesting that Stockfish doesn’t say the GM is better (yet). And it increases Black’s advantage to about -.6 after White’s choice.
18. Bg5 c4
Afterwards Khachiyan, who wasn’t too keen on this line for Black overall, said 18…Bf6 was very interesting. Didn’t really consider giving it up for a knight; didn’t know what to do but in the absence of a specific threat by White, why not put the c-pawn on a protected square. Stockfish gives 18…Qg8, which I considered probably because it’s thematic in this line, then 19.Nh4 Bf6.
I think my mindset and approach to the position were just too passive because I was uncomfortable and psyched out. Specifically I couldn’t seem to get my king settled so I could improve my other pieces,. Tsk tsk. Two moves later, White’s the one Stockfish likes by a half pawn.
19. Rc1 Kb8 20. Nxd4 exd4 21. Qh5 a6 22. Qh2+ Ka7 23. Qh7 Be6 24. Bxe7
But wait wait. The evaluation keeps changing move by move. Stockfish says 24.Bxe7 and 25.a4 are both bad choices, and after 25…Be5 it shows Black ahead at -1.4! I, however, thought I was pretty much dead in the water at this point. Plus running out of time already.
24…Qc7 25. a4 a5 26. Qh4 d3 27. Bf6 Bxf6 28. Qxf6 Bd5 29. Kd2 Rb8 30. Rh1 1-0
Even in the final position – I didn’t record whether I flagged or resigned – Stockfish gives Black a big advantage! I suppose Black’s d3 pawn creates more immediate danger than White’s beautiful but distant kingside passers. And, you know, a4 and b2 are weakish too.
Is Stockfish just badly wrong? Can the GM understand White’s long-term advantages in this weird position in a way that Stockfish (running for a few minutes on a Macbook Air) can’t?
So, my team of estimable seconds and coaches <g>, what do you propose I learn from such an annotation exercise?
I think I need to figure out why I didn’t give 18…Bf6 serious consideration. If it’s exchanged, Black’s pawns get straightened out. There’s some common sense to the move. GM Khachiyen liked it. Stupid when I think about it more – the Ne4 is strong and the Bh8 is just staring at my own e-pawn.
Maybe I’m overestimating the bishop pair in general. Something to test as I go through more games.