Pogonina vs Chess.com Move 25. ...
Commentary done. This is positional chess, so what is more important is where each piece works the best.
Natalia Pogonina played 25.Ra4 which I found to be the most promising move. It is multipurposed in that it still guards a4, it keeps and eye on e4, is ready to enter b4 and b6 and if Black plays f5, then exf5 will allow the rook to move along the line a4-h4.
There seems to have been a hang up on my choice of Black's move 33 (My commentary on move 25.). For those viewers of my blog who can read there was and there are a better move suggested. No one commenting seem to have been able to spot that. So if readers are that careless, what is the point of me being careful. On the whole, what I set out to do, in my comment to move 25. was a sketch of a plan for White to focus all forces on b7. I carefully pointed out that Black had sligthly better responses and you can not analyze an idea 15 moves ahead and be 100% sure of all the moves. I just wanted to point out an idea and I got some interesting results.
Yesterday (Monday February 9 ), someone suggested the use of an engine to evalute one of the positions I had arrived at with opposite coloured bishops and White a pawn up. Even if that is a 64-bits Rybka III on a duo core 3 Ghz or worse, it is still stupid and will not be able to x-ray that kind of position like a well trained human mind.
It came to my attention that Black can use the weakness on a5 to recieve a stand-off. The problem with a5 is the same as for b7 with reversed colours. Black can bring 4 to a5, White can not.
So, is the siege of a5 the sheet anchor for Black? I will have a look at that. Remember, Chess is a complex game, there will always be new and hidden possibilities.
A revised plan for White would then be 1) attacking b7 and 2) guarding a5 or 3) an alteration of the position with and advantage.
Well, actually looking at the position it is easy to see that Natalia is expanding her choices. Rd1 is guarding the back, can go to the a-line if necessary, controls d5 and can go d3 and along d3-h3. Qc2 is rather centralised and can go to b3 but is also aimed at the king wing or the d-file. Ra4 is less mobile, there is the option of Rb4 and what is said above. It looks as if it is working at the queen wing but it can quickly go to the king side if the centre crumbles. The piece doing very little at the moment is Be2. It has done it's work and can be moved. So if 26.Be2 and some more jabs at the queen side coaxing more black pieces to the queen side, White is actually in a good shape to start a race against the king. The a-pawn might even be expendable. That is actually what I see happening here. Thus the present Alliance obsession with a5 might be its downfall, yet this palantir is seen by Sauron's eye so who knows what ideas will emerge in that group.