Beware the Automatic Rook Move!

Here’s what looks to be a typical position:

The game is from Budapest 1996 and is between Jacob Aagaard and Istvan Almasi.

In his most recent book Thinking Inside the Box Aagaard says that this was apparently from a Petrosian game, and here Petrosian played the normal looking 17.Rad1. (Side note – I looked but couldn’t find the Petrosian game.)

So I’m looking at this position and thinking, yeah, that’s probably what I’d play. After all, don’t we often just automatically make moves to put our rooks in the center of the board like that? Especially on an open file?

However, the soon-to-be-IM Aagaard realizes that the only thing that is going to happen on the d-file is exchanges. And he doesn’t want exchanges.

So here he plays 17.Re2 in order to double on the e-file and prevent the exchanges he was worried about.  He wins this game in a great attacking style.

The main point of this game is not to show this move.  It’s in the chapter on analyzing your own games, and beyond this there is some detail by Jacob on his difficulties with the French Defense.

However, as someone who has made automatic looking rook moves for years I found this tiny snippet to be incredibly useful.

Here is the game.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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