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[FEN "rn2r1k1/pp2qpp1/3b1nbp/2pp4/6PP/1B1PBP2/PPPQNK2/RN2R3 b KQkq - 0 14"]

14... c4 15. dxc4 Nxg4+

I set up the above position in Stockfish and the initial analysis was that c4 was the best move. After some time it changed its evaluation and gave Nc6

I am trying to understand the idea behind the continuation C4, It looks like a pawn loss and a waste of tempo, If the plan is to sacrifice the Knight, why not just sacrifice it at move 14?(move 1 in the above position?) instead of wasting the pawn then "sac" the Knight?

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The position is very advantageous for Black anyway, but there are two points in including 14...c4 15.dc4 before sacrificing the knight:

  • Deflecting the wPd3 give access to e4 to Black pieces if White plays fg4. Especially the Bg6 will gladly join the mating attack.

  • Since Black Pd5 will be undefended after the knight departure, it is worth preventing any Bxd5 by White : the bishop there would be excellently placed in the center, defending h1/g2/f3 on one diagonal and attacking f7 on the other. A White pawn on d5 (after a possible cxd5) will be much less annoying, threatening nothing and blocking the Bb3.

  • At any moment, Black can drag the white Bishop to the unprotected square c4, where it might become a target to horizontal attacks by the queen. E.g., if 14...c4 15.dc4 Nxg4 16.fg4 Qh4 17.Kf1 Qh3 [simply 17...Be4 must already be winning] 18.Kf2 Qh2 19.Kf1, then 19...dc4 20.Bxc4 Qh3 21.Kf2 Qxg4 is a pattern to take into account even if it also exposes the Bd6 on the d-file.

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    Just nitpicking and desparately trying to analyze in my head (I can't), but White must stay on f1 with the king since Kf3 Be4+ is mate immediately?! BTW, this underlines an advantage of c4 you didn't mention yet - Pd3 is deflected and the other bishop can join the fray by Be4. Oct 19 at 7:38
  • @HaukeReddmann you are right. It seems I can't calculate in my head either. I edit the answer.
    – Evargalo
    Oct 19 at 13:16
  • I felt free to also swap "Black" and "White" in the added paragraph. ("Fischers theorem" - no, not Bobby, but Emil, chemistry nobel. As my prof always quoted him, bugs preferrably sit in the last minute edits, much less in main text.) Oct 20 at 8:12

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