A Human AlphaZero - Top 10 Of The 1990s - Isaev vs. Timoshenko, 1991

A Human AlphaZero - Top 10 Of The 1990s - Isaev vs. Timoshenko, 1991

NM SamCopeland

Correspondence chess is little appreciated by the larger chess community, but the battles can be some of the deepest and richest in chess. The strategic complexity and long-term plans often resemble the modern approach by neural-network engines like AlphaZero.Top players like Magnus Carlsen are in fact "huge fans" of the best correspondence chess players like former Correspondence Chess World Champion, Leonardo Ljubicic.

The following deep and fantastic battle between two players most have probably never heard of, could, apart from a few subtle errors, easily appear to be a modern Stockfish vs. AlphaZero masterpiece.

Top 10 Games of the 1990s

The game begins with a sharp Sicilian Defense, but it soon resolves into a positional struggle revolving around the central light squares. Once the position reaches an opposite-color bishop middlegame, White seems to let up, thinking that the position may be clearly drawn.

Just as White lets up, Black unleashes a barage of pawn sacrifices and breaks including ...b4!, ...e4!, ...h3!!, ...b3!, and ...a4! which rip open lines for the dark-square bishop. Black's ensuing concluding rook sacrifice and mating combination (after a missed difficult defense by White) is deeply striking.


  • In correspondence chess, deep evaluation is critical.
  • In opposite-color bishop attacks, material is less relevant than targets and in-roads.
  • When a first line (Rb3+) doesn't quite work, consider tweaks (...Qg2!!) to improve the line. Small details can change everything.

My notes are below and are partially based on notes in MegaCorr, a specialized correspondence database.

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