Greek gift from Nepo - Sjugirov, 2016

Greek gift from Nepo - Sjugirov, 2016 - screen shot by achja

A closer look at a stunning Greek gift novelty from Nepo

ChessAnalysisTacticsChess engine
In May 2016 GM Nepomniachtchi uncorked a surprise Greek gift sacrifice in a team game versus GM Sjugirov which gave Nepo an important victory

A search on the Internet shows that Nepo shared via social media :

Giant thanks, honor and glory to Daniil Dubov, who shared this beauty with me!

What and databases do not show, but the Lichess Masters database does show is that this very line was played already in a game about two years earlier in June 2014 by Andrea Manzo who is an International Correspondence Master from Italy. Here is that game :

Let's switch to a newer copy of the Nepo game, played in September 2016, some months after the original Nepo Greek gift game. It is played by a now 25 years old IM (2200+ at the time the game was played) as white and a elderly GM (2300+ at the time, and born in 1968) as black. In this game black did chose the best defense, which involves a queen-less endgame. In this game white slowly goes astray and then blunders. Even though Stockfish does not show it in the analysis, 16.Kd2 bringing the king to the center was better than 16.Kf1. This idea is also mentioned in another variation by GM Neil McDonald in his Chessable course "Coach yourself" where the Nepo game is shown with some annotations.

Now let's look at the Nepo game. The thing that impressed me the most was how white's technique brought home the full point, with the climax 27.Rc1, which seems like a Nimzo-mysterious rook move to me.
Of course it is possible that Dubov and Nepo had seen this far before the game, but still, picture me impressed. Actually after checking with Lichess Stockfish (The WASM browser version) it shows 27.Rc1 as number one choice very soon.

Conclusion : Inspiring game, top notch, but the influence of computers in top level chess is obvious, and it is not the first time ideas were borrowed from correspondence chess games. A chess friend told me recently that nowadays several top GMs start to play like chess engines, because they consult the engines at home and learn from them.

Perhaps there is still hope for the much weaker amateur chess player to improve :)