A month ago I posted this position from Gelfand-Markowski, 1998 over the label "What's the Best Move?":
White to Move
The reason I was interested in the position was that I thought it was a fine example of the kind of play that one can probably never learn from tactics practice of the "Seven Circles" variety.
Two intrepid readers ventured lines.
Anonymous offered: "...what about 1.e4-e5. If the rook retreats, then White wins d6. If 1...d6xe5, then White has gained e4 for his knight (while denying e5 to the opposing knight), and he could follow up with c4-c5, Bc4(+) and Nd6, which would be more than enough for a pawn. This relinquishes f5 to the enemy bishop, but that seems livable. That leaves 1...Nxe5 2.Ne4 R moves 3.Nxd6. Again, White might continue with c4-c5 and Bc4(+), which adds up to a clear plus, perhaps winning."
Grandmaster of Blogging Liquid Egg Product wrote "...I'd have played c5, but seems inferior to the above commenter. Envisioning something like:
1. c5 dxc5
2. Bc4+ K-moves
Gallagher gives (from the above diagram), "22. e5!! dxe5 (Or 22... Nxe5 23. Ne4 Rf8 24. Nxd6 with a clear advantage to White) 23. Ne4 Rf7 24. c5 Kg7 25. Bc4 Re7 26. a4
26... Re8? (b6 offered more resistance)," and Black resigned after 27. Rf1 Re7 28. Rd2 b5 29. axb5 cxb5 30. Bd5 1-0. I wouldn't have resigned just yet, but okay...
All fine, right? "Gelfand's move opened up the game for all of White's forces to zoom into action and one slip by Black and it was over" is the story line. Anonymous seems to have gotten it right, while Donnie wanted to play the second best move.
And yet...just for fun I set a couple of engines (Gambit Fruit and Toga II) that came with ChessDB (free download) to work and from the second position above, after a good half-hour both engines give 26...a5(!) 27. b5 cxb5 28. cxb5 Nf6 29. Nxf6 Kxf6
as best, with a tiny edge for Black! One of the engines even thinks Donnie's 22. c5 is (slightly) best in the first game position!
So who do you trust, GM Gallagher, a computer, or none of the above? Was 22. e5 (!!) or (!?).
I almost always think that the questions are more interesting than the answers, and so it is here. What do you think?