This week, I decided to explore the game between Ally and Turing. These are fairly experienced players, who are exploring the meta and tend to be quite intentional about what plays they make. So, in reviewing their game, I was hoping to find what moves lead to Turing's eventual loss. In my high-level overview, I've noted a few places where I play slightly differently, or I would explore a different line than the ones Turing and Ally chose. You can follow this commentary, as usual, at the following link and in the viewer below (https://goo.gl/Cu1bTa):
For a lot of the highlights, and variations, some of my plays are more experimental. There is, however, one set of moves and position in particular, where I think Turing's plays made a significant impact on the game and contributed negatively to his position as black.
Let us, then, take a look at the position in question, the end of white's 7th move:
|[6. ... e1' 7. 1d3-1]|
So, why play a wall at d3 in the first place? I would hypothesize that Turing (black) was reacting to the current position. White has a lot of strong threats, both west-east across the 2-rank and north-south, along the d-file. So, there is a strong impulse to play a wall to create strong defenses to help combat against white's positional strength. What, if however, as I postulate, white were to actually play a flat here? Could it be enough to give black a fighting chance? Let's play this out, playing d3 here:
|[7. ... d3]|
From here, White probably responds the same, playing 8.e3'. Notably, white has an interesting decision between b2' and e3', but I'd like to show how this similar line develops with a flat, rather than a wall.
In response, black has to respond to white's strong tak threat, but black can simply play 8. ... e4, a direct counter:
|[8. e3' e4]|
In response, black is forced to play 9. ... e4-. Any other response would probably yield tinuë. Note how this also actually has a bit of a road across the 3-rank:
|[9. d4' e4-]|
I could continue to play this out, but what's notable is that black has some viable options. White is still slightly ahead in terms of tempo and flats, but black can defend against any real immediate threats. And if white does make an error, then black can fill in space or develop his own tempo to wrest control. (in particular, if it were black's move, he would want to play either a3' or b3', pressing his tempo).
On the whole, I think that Turing's wall play is justified. There's a lot to be worried about with white's position. But, I think there's still a lot of value and interesting play that can come from contesting more actively, through the use of flats. I would, however, recognize that it requires a certain amount of finesse and skill as black to be aware of white's available tempo, threats, and responses that dance around tak, tinuë, and actually give black a fighting chance.