The below position is from Knaak-Geller, Moscow, 1982 and was analyzed by CCGM Robin Smith in his book Modern Chess Analysis. Smith’s book is badly outdated when it comes to engine analysis, but that doesn’t stop his “human” analysis from being instructive plus his general advice on how to properly analyze a position with an engine is still valid. I enjoy setting up some of the positions from the book, published in 2004, and letting today’s engines give an opinion.
Smith examined the position below with Chess Tiger, Fritz, Junior, Shredder, Chessmaster, Rebel and Yace and all of them strongly favored White. White appears to have a distinct advantage but no immediate win, but none of the programs found the correct move. All of them preferred 22.h6 which looks quite logical and is a move many of us probably would have played. Smith explained that after 22.h6 g4! White will have a harder time putting pressure on the black K because White’s h-Pawn actually shields Black’s K from attack. Nimzovich’s principle that the threat is stronger than it execution applies here. The White h-Pawn is actually restraining Black’s g-Pawn from advancing and thereby making it a permanent weakness. He ran some engine vs. engine tournaments from the position after 22.h6 g4! and Black scored decisively.
GM Mark Dvoretsky outlined the goals of Knaak’s long-term plan and pointed out that this position requires quiet maneuvering. Dvoretsky wrote in Positional Play, “It is not immediately clear how White should best proceed…some of his pieces cannot take part in the (K-side attack.) First he must consolidate.”
Dvoretsky then outlines the correct plan: White must regroup by placing his B on b3 from where it will also shield the b-Pawn from attack. Then the b1R will defend the d4P. The N will occupy the f4 square from where it also attacks d5 while also being closer to the Black K. While this plan may not win outright, it puts a lot of pressure on Black to find the best defense. In the game, Geller did not defend well and lost quickly.
I let Critter 1.2 64–bit, Fire 1.5 xTreme x64, Ivanhoe B47cBx64a and Houdini 1.5 examine the position for about 30 minutes just to see what they would suggest.Critter 1.Rbc1 (0.65)
Fire: 1.Rbc1 (0.49)
Ivanhoe: 1.h6 (0.54)
Houdini: 1.Kg2 (0.51)
Note that all the evaluations are pretty close but Ivanhoe played the definitely inferior 1.h6. Both Critter and Fire selected 1.Rbc1 then followed it up with the incorrect 3.h6. Houdini didn’t do much better. It played a couple of pointless moves then played 3.h6. You will also notice that after 3.h6 that all of the engines decided NOT to capture the h-Pawn except Houdini which chose the horrible defense 3…gxh6.
Another interesting thing is that in the final position Geller resigned, but according to Houdini the evaluation is only about 0.60 P’s in White’s favor and I tried several engines, but was unable to find a line that gave White even a full P advantage. As has been said many times, when it comes to engine positional evaluations and a GM’s, always trust the GM. I guess Geller knew he was thoroughly beaten despite what the engines say.