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I would like to find out the purposes of the move 9... Rf7 in the chess game attached.

[FEN ""]
[Event "AlphaZero vs Stockfish Games: Game 1"]
[Site "https://lichess.org/study/wxrovYNH/fpMehAaB"]
[White "Stockfish"]
[Black "AlphaZero"]
[Result "0-1"]
[Variant "Standard"]
[ECO "C65"]
[Opening "Ruy Lopez: Berlin Defense"]
[Annotator "https://lichess.org/@/ElBlunderoni"]
[UTCDate "2017.12.06"]
[UTCTime "14:56:29"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. O-O Nd7 7. Nbd2 O-O 8. Qe1 f6 9. Nc4 Rf7 10. a4 Bf8 11. Kh1 Nc5 12. a5 Ne6 13. Ncxe5 fxe5 14. Nxe5 Rf6 15. Ng4 Rf7 16. Ne5 Re7 17. a6 c5 18. f4 Qe8 19. axb7 Bxb7 20. Qa5 Nd4 21. Qc3 Re6 22. Be3 Rb6 23. Nc4 Rb4 24. b3 a5 25. Rxa5 Rxa5 26. Nxa5 Ba6 27. Bxd4 Rxd4 28. Nc4 Rd8 29. g3 h6 30. Qa5 Bc8 31. Qxc7 Bh3 32. Rg1 Rd7 33. Qe5 Qxe5 34. Nxe5 Ra7 35. Nc4 g5 36. Rc1 Bg7 37. Ne5 Ra8 38. Nf3 Bb2 39. Rb1 Bc3 40. Ng1 Bd7 41. Ne2 Bd2 42. Rd1 Be3 43. Kg2 Bg4 44. Re1 Bd2 45. Rf1 Ra2 46. h3 Bxe2 47. Rf2 Bxf4 48. Rxe2 Be5 49. Rf2 Kg7 50. g4 Bd4 51. Re2 Kf6 52. e5+ Bxe5 53. Kf3 Ra1 54. Rf2 Re1 55. Kg2+ Bf4 56. c3 Rc1 57. d4 Rxc3 58. dxc5 Rxc5 59. b4 Rc3 60. h4 Ke5 61. hxg5 hxg5 62. Re2+ Kf6 63. Kf2 Be5 64. Ra2 Rc4 65. Ra6+ Ke7 66. Ra5 Ke6 67. Ra6+ Bd6 { 0-1 White resigns. } 0-1
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  • Hopefully you won't mind that I added markup to allow readers to move through the game on screen. If you don't want this, please edit the question and rollback my changes.
    – GreenMatt
    Commented Apr 25 at 0:16

1 Answer 1

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Certainly ..Rf7 is rather a striking and unusual move, but its purpose is simply to allow the manoeuvres that follow. Black's problem is that Nd7 has no prospects. My reflex move in that position might be ..Re8 to allow ..Nf8-e6, but AlphaZero seems to have decided that the dark Bishop needed to withdraw from the Q-side as well, which allows the N to reroute via c5. I am unable to tell whether the positions arising from one regrouping are much better than the other. My suspicion would be that they are not very different.

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    So thinks LiChess/Stockfish: 0.0 for both. Rf7 might save a tempo for a later Rd7, but after 13.Ncxe5 (a bit unsound), the point is probably moot, as Rick Springfield would say. Commented Apr 25 at 7:09

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