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Neven, Knut

Attacking the Scheveningen

White had a commanding lead after the opening only to give most of it back in one move. The advantage shifted, but Black's last mistake was too much to salvage.

Many players focus almost exclusively on opening preparation in their chess studies. The idea of catching an opponent in a prepared line and scoring an easy point is an appealing one, even if reality isn't quite so accommodating. That opening advantage and the final result are usually separated by several hours and dozens of moves where anything can happen...

The following slugfest, played at the 2013 Schleinich Memorial in Calgary, on a very cold day in January, proved entertaining enough to earn the Most Interesting Game award of the event, and was therefore published with analysis by up-and-coming Canadian talent GM Eric Hansen.

So did White's preparation prove decisive here? What about White's 20th move? Arguably much more important than an objective advantage from the opening was my inability to calculate a convincing finish. Lukas defended an inferior position very well for a long time and might have reversed the outcome when I overplayed my hand a dozen moves later in a risky attempt to regain lost ground. The 31st move was the final decisive turning point of the game, and it had nothing to do with opening preparation for either player. The Sicilian Scheveningen was tested but not breached, and neither player found all the right moves!

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