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Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Spectacular Piece Sacrifice in a World Correspondence Championship Game!!

    Fake stories and headlines designed to titillate are proliferating on the internet, social network sites, newspapers and TV and they can do serious damage to whatever or whomever was the target. 
     The recent American Presidential race was a prime example of the political aspect of fake stories. Hillary Clinton, rightly or wrongly, was accused of series of crimes, there were claims she had health issues, and that she was in cahoots with shadowy global financiers. And, of course, the overwhelming majority of the media’s campaign coverage consisted of negative reporting, also rightly or wrongly, on Donald Trump. I saw a lot of memes on Facebook along with news stories concerning both candidates there and elsewhere that I simply could not verify by any research...makes me think a lot of it was made up. Shoddy analysis and reports that are often colored by bias, innuendo and prejudice seems to be the norm, but that's nothing new. See my posts on Political Mud Wrestling and the story about the time Upton Sinclair ran for governor of California. 
     That post came to mind when I read the new world CC champ, Leonardo Ljubicic (FIDE rated 2087 and ICCF rated 2602), managed to pull off a "speculative piece sacrifice" at move 32 (with help from Stockfish, of course) for a critical victory over German SIM Hans-Hermann Clever. I figured it had to be a "Man Bites Dog" headline and was eager to see how Ljubicic pulled it off.  It turned out that playing through the game was a disappointment because like a lot of news stories we see these days,  the claim was a boat load of crap. The truth is Stockfish 8 saw the sacrifice immediately in a position where it was already giving white a huge advantage.
     Everybody knows that it's impossible to achieve any significant result in today’s CC without engines and databases and good results require powerful computers, diligent opening research and lots and lots of patience. The result is a lot of very high quality, sterile games. In the last world correspondence championship 87 percent of the games in the finals were drawn, with two players drawing all 16 of their games. The point is that when I see claims that 32.Bh7+ was a spectacular sacrifice when Stockfish saw it instantly and white was already winning, it's hardly an accurate description. Far more credit should be given to Ljubicic for finding 28.g6 because, at least on my laptop, it wasn't even in the engine's top five moves.

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