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Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Tough Najdorf Sicilian

In this game my opponent, who holds the LSS e-mail master title, seemed to have the superior position throughout the game, but I could not find any significant improvements in his play and the game eventually fizzled out to a drawn R&P ending.

The opening reminded me of a game played many years ago in the final round of the 1972 US Open Postal Championship against a former US Closed Championship competitor.  We were following a popular opening booklet on the Najdorf Sicilian and after mailing him my move I discovered a flaw in the analysis.  Unfortunately he discovered it, too.  I liked the idea in that game of Black placing his N on e5 instead of c5 because I couldn’t find a way to continue the Q-side attack after 13…Nc4.  So, I decided to play 13…Ne5 thinking the N would be more useful on the e5 square. 
The engines didn’t like the move very much and it did look like White had a very strong attack.  Still, there seemed to be no way for him to cash in on his position which included an extra P.  At first the engines liked White’s position by a little over a Pawn but over the course of the game their evaluations showed a downward drift toward equality.  I haven’t been able to find any way to improve on White’s play so could it be that the engines were over-optimistic? If that’s the case, it remains another case in point that you can’t always rely on them.

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