30 April 2018

Battering the French

In last week's post on TCEC Season 11, A Double-edged King's Indian, I selected a pair of decisive games that used the same opening :-

Stockfish had White in the odd-numbered games [...] In one pair of games -- the 29th and 30th -- Stockfish won both as White and as Black.

In only one other opening were both games decisive, the next two games in the match, the 31st and 32nd. Both engines won playing White. The opening was labelled 'French: Tarrasch, Closed', and the first eight moves were as follows:-

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Be7 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nfd7 6.Bd3 c5 7.c3 Nc6 8.O-O

The top portion of the following chart shows the position after 8.O-O.

The bottom portion of the chart shows the evaluations throughout both games by both engines. Stockfish playing White was finished after 36 moves, while Houdini playing White lasted until the 76th move. It's curious that the first move where the engines diverged -- 9.a4 for Stockfish and 9.Bc2 for Houdini -- had similar characteristics to the divergence in 'Double-edged King's Indian'. The Stockfish move was more aggressive than the Houdini move.

I could say more about the two games, but I'll stop here. This is the third time I've discussed TCEC game pairs where White won both games. The other two posts were Battering the Gruenfeld (March 2015), and TCEC Season 9 Superfinal Openings (December 2016).

The post for TCEC Season 9 showed two openings, a '1.d4 Slav System' and a '1.e4 French Defense'. In today's post we again see the French taking a heavy beating. Does the closed nature of the French coupled with the bad light-squared Bishop give too much of an advantage to White?

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