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Subject: Dutch Open: the story of the game Fruit - Diep

Author: JNoomen

Date: 14:28:55 11/18/05


Hi all,

After a very busy week at work I finally found some time to comment on a few
games from the Dutch Open, that ended last Sunday. Especially the game Fruit
against Diep needs some clarification. Each game has its own story, so has the
game Fruit-Diep and I want to tell you the whole story about it. But let's start
at the beginning.

When I started the tournament with the new Fruit version (with EGTB), I had of
course high hopes for a tournament victory. My nature is optimism and when I
play, I play to win. This has some disadvantage, of course, since any result
worse than 1st place would be some disappointment for me. On the other hand,
such optimism also gives me a certain drive, that is needed for computer
tournaments.

In the first round Fruit beated IsiChess in quite a brilliant way. My 6. Be3
Najdorf turned out to be a strong weapon and when Isi mixed some ideas, Fruit
punched with the strong moves g6!, Bc4! and the hammer blow Nf5!! to clinch the
game in great style. OK, that is a nice start!

Next game was the game against Pro Deo. Avoiding a Sicilian discussion (Pro Deo
is a monster in playing the White side of the Sicilian) I opted for a quieter
Ruy Lopez, in which Pro Deo avoided the dull Berlin Wall. To my surprise Fruit
quickly sacrificed an exchange, never thought it was worse and punished some
weakening moves by Pro Deo in nice style. So that meant 2 out of 2, with 2
excellent games being played.

Looking at the pairing, in round 3 Fruit had White against Diep. This
immediately posed a question for me, a dilemma most bookexperts know: what to
play? It was very tempting to play solid and never give Diep a chance to show
its real potential. So the big question was: go for a sharp Najdorf, or play a
solid line? After a tussle, I finally decided to go for the 1st option. I had
several reasons to do so:

1. The crushing win against IsiChess showed that Fruit is well capable of
handling these kind of lines.
2. The 6. Be3 line in the Najdorf is very well covered in my book.
3. I wanted to keep other lines in reserve.
4. I wanted to 'trick' Vincent into another line of the Sicilian.

Call reason number 1 'over-optimism' and reason 4 'a big gamble', but chess
would be dull without taking risks and I think taking risks are necessary to win
games against strong opponents. Looking back, I think I made the wrong decision.
But that is alway easy to say afterwards. As my analysis show, the game could be
easily the other way around. Now let's go to the game:

Fruit - Diep	Dutch open 2005, round 3
-------------------------------------------------------------
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3!?

This is the trick I mentioned in point 4. If now Black plays the 'normal move'
2... Nc6, Fruit would play 3.Nge2! followed by 4.d4 and Diep is unable to reach
its favoured Najdorf lines. Furthermore, I think Diep would find itself in lines
that were never tested before, a big advantage for the opponent. We never know,
though, how that game would have ended.

2... d6!

Alas, Diep is knowing the trick and avoids the line given above. A pity, but I
still felt confident.

3.Nge2 Nf6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 a6 6.Be3

So we are again having a 6.Be3 Najdorf. This decision can be questioned, because
Diep likes the resulting positions. On the other hand, testgames with Fruit
showed me that it scored very heavily with this line, so there was no reason for
me to have doubts.

6... e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f3 Nbd7 9.g4 b5!?

Diep repeats the line it played against Fritz in the WCCC some years ago. That
could turn out to be a risky business.

10.g5 b4 11.Nd5

An interesting moment. Databases show a higher score for 11.Ne2, but nowadays
GM's agree this move is worse than 11.Nd5. The mentioned game Fritz-Diep went
11.Ne2 and Fritz was clearly better, but I was sure that Diep would not repeat
the risky move Nc5 from that game, but play the solid g6! instead. After that
move it is hard to get an advantage for White, but at least there is no Black
attack. So all in all the move is a good alternative, on the other hand, the
risk the game might peter out into a draw is quite big. It is not my nature to
go for a solid, drawish alternative. So I chose the more agressive text move
instead.

11... Nxd5 12.exd5 Bf5 13.Bd3 Bxd3 14.Qxd3 Be7 15.Rg1 O-O 16.O-O-O a5 17.Nd2

Of course the white knight is doing nothing on b3 and merely 'asks for' a
a6-a5-a4 attack, so it hastens to approach the wonderful e4 square.

17... a4?!

Interesting: Diep avoids the known 17...f5. But this turns out to be a highly
risky decision. Because it didn't put me out of book, on the contrary!

18.Ne4!

A very clever move and of course a very natural one. The square e4 is a
wonderful centralised post for the white knight, that can assist in defence and
attack at the same time. Fruit played it from my book and I had still some
variations in it. Now Diep was out of book and immediately Vincent started to
look worried. I explained him that black needs f7-f5 in this line, but Diep
wanted to play otherwise and showed a clear advantage for White here (I believe
something like +0,5 for White, Vincent will correct me if I'm wrong).

18... Qc7?

A clearly second rate move. 18... f5! is the right move. But this was the clever
side of 18.Ne4! When thrown out of book, no program wants to play 18... f5! as
after 19.gxf6 the g-file is opened, with the rook on g1 'viciously' looking at
g8. So progs refrain from the best move and now they all go for one plan: attack
on the queen's side with queen, 2 rooks and the stormram a4-b4. In many test
games I have seen this plan to be inadequate. And there is a simple reason for
that: Black has only 3 heavy pieces to attack, but all white's pieces can assist
in the defence. Furthermore, there is no way for Black to open the files, as
b4-b3 can always be answered by cxb3!,axb3 a3! shutting the door and leaving
black with no targets.

Take a look at black's minor pieces: the bishop is passive at e7, while white's
counterpart on e3 is very active. The knight on d7 would like to assist, but Nc5
or Nb6 will be answered by Bxc5 and Bxb6 respectively. In the remaining position
the wonderful knight on e4 would be superior to the helpless bishop on e7.

So the verdict is clear: without the move f7-f5 the attack initiated by black is
doomed to fail. White has a clear advantage. Black will go for b4-b3 (they all
play like that), white closes the position with cxb3!,axb3 a3! and calmly picks
up the pawn at b3. After that Black is dead. I recall Pro Deo won many games in
this line, against various progs like Fritz and Shredder.

There is one 'but'. Fruit now HAS to play the move 19.Kb1! It is the only good
move and the move that will preserve White's clear lead. Diep expected that move
and showed a clear white plus.

19.h4?

O, horror! A very natural move, but a bad one! The king had to leave c1, to make
cxb3 possible after b4-b3.

19... b3!

At the last moment, after calculating for several minutes, Diep comes up with
this hammer blow. Believe it or not, but I think that now White is lost.... I
remember Vicent saying that b4-b3 was played with only seconds to spare and with
a small margin over the 2nd best move (Vincent will correct me if I am wrong
here).

After this move it was my turn to become very nervous. This was going the wrong
way! My optimism quickly vanished and I was at this moment not only feeling
quite down, but also I started asking myself 'why did you not go for the solid
approach'? Alas, it was too late.

20.axb3 axb3 21.Qxb3 Rfb8

This is of course a big difference: with the a-file being opened, as well as the
half-open b-file, black has a murderous attack. The rest of the game is
therefore only for the statistics. Diep played excellent and pushed home the
attack in great style. I want to express my admiration for Diep's play, as
especially the move 33 ... h5!! is a high class move. It prevents White's only
counter possibility h4-h5-h6 and as gxh6 fails to Bf6!, white has no play at
all. Furthermore, the move 33 ... h5! pins the white pawn down at h4, where it
was eventually lost.

So Fruit lost and I was quite angry at myself for not going the solid way. Now,
one week later, I know that such thoughts are irrelevant. You take a decision,
after that you can only watch how it all ends. The 'ifs' and 'thens' do not
count. Just to be curious, I started a game between Fruit and Fritz 9, with the
move 19.Kb1! being played instead of the weak 19.h4? Here is the game:

Fruit - Fritz 9
------------------
Move 1 to 18: see above. 19.Kb1! Rfc8 20.h4 b3?   As expected, but it is going
to lose a pawn for nothing.  21.cxb3 axb3 22.Qxb3 Qa5 23.Bd2 Qa6 24.Bb4 f5
25.gxf6 e.p. Nxf6 26.a3 Qb6 27.Rc1   The game is already over. Black is a pawn
down for nothing, has no attack and white's pieces dominate.   27... Kh8 28.Qd3!
Nh5 29.Ng5!   No need to go further. Fritz 9 sees it is lost.

So, one little move: 19.Kb1! and we might have a different outcome.... As a book
expert, the loss is being counted, though. And rightly so. It is like climbing
the Everest: if you succeed, people will praise you. If you fail, everybody will
tell you it was a bad idea anyway....

Hope you liked the story, I will give some more details on other games if I find
the time to do so.

Best wishes, Jeroen



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