Closed Sicilian Girlfight!

GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant 2376 (SCO)

vs IM Nataliya Buksa 2409 (UKR)

FIDE Women’s Grand Swiss 2021 round 07
B25 Sicilian, closed

  1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. d3 d6 6. Nf3 e5 7. O-O Nge7 8. Nh4 O-O 9. f4 exf4 10. gxf4 f5 11. Kh1 Nd4 12. Nf3 Nec6 13. Nd5 Nxf3 14. Qxf3 Rb8 15. c3 Be6 16. Qg3 fxe4 17. dxe4 Bxd5 18. exd5 Ne7 19. Bd2 Nf5 20. Qd3 Bh6 21. Rae1 Rf6 22. Re4 Qb6 23. b4 Rbf8 24. Bh3 Qc7 25. Rfe1 Qb6 26. Qe2 Ng7 27. Rf1 Nh5 28. Be6+ Kh8
White to move
  1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. d3 (5 d3 is the most often played move to the tune of 5386 games in the ChessBaseDataBase and it has scored only 44%. 5 Nge2 shows 476 games in which White has scored 46%. Stockfish 13 @depth 50 is conflicted, torn between the two moves; Komodo breaks the tie, leaning toward 5 d3) 5…d6 6. Nf3 (‘Back in the day’ I played the Closed Sicilian because I did not have the time to study each and every possible defense Black can play against the open Sicilian. There were some good and memorable games won and/or drawn against higher rated players, but there were also losses to lesser lites. Michael “Mad Dog” Gordon, like me a player who bounced around between class A and Expert, liked to play 6 Nf3 versus the Closed Sicilian, a move I never played, much preferring to play 5 Nge2. Although Rybka and Deep Fritz prefer 6 Nf3, Stockfish 14 @ depth 47 play 6 Nge2, I am happy to report. The Dog did not have good results against my Sicilian in the many 15 minute games we contested over the years, and from what I recall, his tournament games with 6 Nf3 did not produce good results, yet for some reason the Dog continued to beat his head against the Sicilian wall. The ChessBaseDataBase shows White has scored only 37% in 110 games after firing the 6 Nf3 salvo. We will not talk about the miserable score amassed against the Dog’s beloved Alekhine defense. Mike beat me like a drum with the Alekhine until I started playing 2 Nc3…) 6…e5 (Stockfish 170121 @depth 51 plays the move played in the game but SF 14 @depth 44 and Komodo 14 @depth 50 play 6…Nf6, against which White has scored only 27%! 6…e5 has scored 44%) 7. O-O (Houdini castles, as has 192 players in the CBDB, but SF 14 @depth 35 plays 7 Nd2. There are only 5 games in the CBDB with 7 Nd2) 7…Nge7 8. Nh4 (SF 14 @depth 40 plays 8 Nd2, the only move showing a positive score at 54% in 90 games. In 54 games 8 Nh4 has scored only 35%) 8… O-O 9. f4 (The CBDB shows 77 games reaching the position after 8…0-0. In 66 of those games White has played the move played in this game, scoring only 36%, which makes one wonder why top players continue trotting the the f-pawn, especially considering none of the top three programs favor the move…SF 13 @depth 36 plays 9 Be3, as have six other players. Komodo @depth 27 plays 9 Nf3. There is only one game with that move having been played. Houdini play 9 a3, another move having been played in only one game) 9…exf4 10. gxf4 (Houdini and Fritz both play 10 Bxf4, and there are 50 examples of that move contained in the CBDB, with the move scoring only 30%. SF 14 @depth 36 plays 10 gxf4. There are only 3 games in which the better move has been played. Someone has not done their homework)10…f5 11. Kh1(TN) (Stockfish 150821 @depth 30 would play 11 Ne2, which will be a TN just as soon as a human makes the move)

From the diagram:

  1. Qg4? (White has a winning game because she has complete control over the e-file, and the Bishop on e6 is soooo much better placed than the Black Knight stranded over on h5. The conflict between the white b-pawn and the black c-pawn would indicate the play may revolve around the jousters, would it not? The move 29 bxc5 would seem to suggest itself because it attacks the most powerful piece on the board. One would think every Chess player would at least examine the move, and after seeing 29…Qxc5 30. Be3 Qxc3 31. Bd4, play it! ) 29…Qa6 30. c4 Qa3 31. bxc5 Bxf4 32. Bxf4 Nxf4 33. cxd6 Nh3 34. Rxf6 Rxf6 35. Qe2 Nf2+ 36. Kg2 Nxe4 37. d7 Rf8 38. Qxe4 Qxa2+ 39. Kh3 Qa3+ 40. Kg2 Qb2+ 41. Kh3 Kg7 42. Bg4 Qf6 43. c5 Qf1+ 44. Qg2 Qd3+ 45. Kh4 h6 46. d8=Q g5+ 47. Qxg5+ hxg5+ 48. Kxg5 Qe3+ 49. Kh4 Qf2+ 50. Qg3 Rh8+ 51. Bh5+ Qxg3+ 52. hxg3 Rc8 53. c6 bxc6 54. dxc6 Rxc6 0-1

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