Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Holidays part 3

Last year I started to teach chess in KMSK see the chess microbe. This year I continue my voluntary classes but hereby I added some new conditions. I want to avoid just being an entertainer instead of a teacher. My students are taking the courses not seriously enough while my goal was to use them as a catalyst so they can develop themselves quicker. It is nonsense to give advanced classes when there is no interest to focus harder at chess.

So at the start of the new season I demanded some engagements from each of my students. They have to attend my courses strictly. There aren't a lot of them so regular attendance is mandatory to follow a program. Unannounced absences won't be ignored and will be considered disrespectful. My students are all older than 12 so are perfectly capable of mailing or picking up the phone. 

Also I want that my students play at least 50 standard games every year. It is useless to spend time at courses and studies if barely any games are played. Playing games is crucial to improve see experience. Some achieve this number automatically but for others it will demand doubling or tripling the number of games. I helped them by presenting a long list of possible tournaments which they could use to create for next season a schedule. Of course this should be discussed together with their parents.

Finally I also asked each of them to digitize each played standard game in a personal database (possibly still to be created) and add some light comments. This should't take more than an hour for each game. In the past I stressed many times on this blog that it is very important to learn from your own mistakes by looking critically at your own games see e.g. which games to analyze. My students are mature enough to handle such task. When I started to play chess against a computer at the age of 14 (see chesscompositions) then I also made analysis of those games.

Some of my students answered immediately affirmative to my conditions but I also heard different sounds. One talented kid decided to stop following my classes. Chess is just a game for him to make some fun and nothing more. It is an honest and courageous answer. In the end it makes no sense to attend classes about databases and engines which he will never use.

Fortunately the other 5 children were willing to accept the conditions. But that is of course not enough. They still need to be followed up and that is less evident. It is not so easy to play interesting games for young strong players. Not only there isn't so much choice in the neighborhood but playing far away demands a strong support from the parents. Still I managed to convince a couple of parents to make the trip to the open tournament of Le Touquet. When they also triggered on their turn some other Flemish young players to play, we suddenly had assembled a small army. The French were completely taken by surprise.

A young group of Flemish wolves came in real Halloween-mood to the tournament creating fear and despair all around. You could see the disbelief grow in the eyes of several masters and grandmasters due to any lack of rating-logic. Huge plus-scores were set by the Belgian players of whom the 15 year Warre De Waele rated 2045 elo was obviously the leader of the gang. He surprised everybody by winning the tournament in front of 5 grandmasters, 4 international masters ... see final standings
The very surprising winner: Warre De Waele
Source: https://twitter.com/villedutouquet/media
In the last round I saw his mum standing at the door of the tournament. I assume the excitement was too big to stay away from the playing-room. I don't think I really helped to calm her down by telling her at the mid of the game that Warre had some chances to win. It was for sure a fairy-tale.

It is sad that such performances are today always accompanied by distrust. Some anonymous players (likely top-players) asked the arbiters to watch out for the Belgian players. Statistically it is very unlikely what happened. Looking at the luck calculator then the chance was less than 1 out of 100.000. Such big numbers are difficult to grasp but remember that  the fantastic grandmaster-result of strong Jan in 2013 was a chance of 1 out of 1632 and the famous cheater Ivanov Borislav demonstrated a chance of 1 out of 305.0000. It is understandable that people get very suspicious.

Well I watched Warre playing in the tournament without detecting anything unusual. His play looked strong but natural so no typical engine moves. Besides the couple of times that he was analyzing after the games, he made a strong impression. He is clearly much stronger than his 2045 rating. Previous months he lost a lot of rating by playing some youth tournaments. Big thanks to Warre for sending me his games and allowing me to publish them. There were no live-boards and for some years games are not published anymore see my article from 2012: game-publications.


During the games of my son I stayed outside the playing-room. I warned in advance the organisation that I am a FM and will keep distance from the board of my son to avoid any discomfort. I only made one exception when he came to me clearly upset by something which happened at the board. He had announced "j'adoube" to rectify some pieces but his 61 year old opponent Jocelyne Wolfangel had missed it and now demanded to play the first touched piece. Hugo doesn't speak French so was not able to defend himself. I had to help him and joined him to the board. Normally the arbiter will decide in such situation to not play the first touched piece but I knew in advance this won't go smoothly. So I asked Jocelyne which piece she wanted him to play. She told us the queen. Next I looked at the position and quickly detected that the demand should not play an important role to the course of the game. To shortcut any discussions I advised my son just to play a move with the queen. He was clearly not happy but obeyed to the relief of everybody. For a moment I feared that he would now collapse emotionally but instead he doubled his forces. He would and should pay back this unfair treatment. At the end of the game he clearly enjoyed the process of converting the won position while a lot of people were watching closely around the board.
The foreign language was not only a problem for Hugo. I was shocked how bad our older children speak French. The announcements were always only done in French (big difference with our own Belgian tournaments in which sometimes the information is spoken into 4 languages) and even if somebody spoke English then still it was difficult for many children to understand. So playing a tournament abroad with children instead of adults is a very different experience.

Also other details during the tournament confirmed this. Many game-records got lost as some children were extremely negligent. Reconstruction of the games appeared to be impossible. My wish to insert all the games into a database and analyze them, failed before we could even try. The adult guides have an almost permanent task to keep an eye on them. This is not easy as 2 players managed to get out for a swim into the sea at night while still wearing their clothes ! The 2 remaining rounds 1 of them played his games without shoes.

I believe our children really enjoyed the experience of playing a tournament abroad. The next plans are already prepared. Next time I advise to make stricter rules between supervisors and children so we can work more seriously at chess. I recommend both parents accompanying and separate accommodation like Warre did but I understand this is not feasible for everybody.

Brabo

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Chess position trainer

One way or another we chessplayers study openings and build up a repertoire. The complexity and amount of knowledge we know, grows exponentially with the playing-strength. Especially strong/ ambitious/ professional players have to know vast amounts of theory. Besides it is not necessarily learning the moves by heart which is difficult but rather remembering everything so it can be reproduced at the board when it pops up in a game. Not rarely this fails sometimes see harakiri.

Top-players are aware of these human limitations and even created a new ugly strategy around this aspect. They choose an opening of which they know in advance that the opponent has studied the anti-dote but they gamble that the opponent won't be able to reproduce all the analysis at the board. Chess has become a pure memory-game. It is not a coincidence that Karjakin was one of the very first targets to try out this new strategy. It is well-known that Karjakin sometimes forgets his analysis see my previous link.
At the end of the game Vachier-Lagrave had about an hour extra on the clock compared to Karjakin see e.g chessbomb. After the game Karjakin sent out a tweet in which he claimed to have studied at home the line till move 38... Ne4. Even more remarkable it becomes when you heard the interview of Karjakin after the game in which he stated that he looked at the line an hour before the game see roundreport 7 at chess.com. On the other hand it is not a new phenomenon for me. Last year I saw strong Jan, first board of Deurne choosing already very early an inferior variation in his interclub-game against an expert of Bruges, Stijn Bertem.
I know the opening coincidentally as it is part of my repertoire see the article professional chess. After the game Jan admit frankly that he mixed up the preparation while he had looked at it in the morning. So you better wait with Nf3 after the moves 9.Qh5 Ng6.

With this introduction I want to show that it is important to create a good method of studying chess. In fact this is nothing new what I write here as at school our teachers told us exactly the same. However it is too easy to refer to the classical methods of studying. To learn long strings of moves and implement this knowledge in practice is something very different of studying for school and do exams.

Despite I don't remember anything similar happened in my games, I won't claim that I have found the ideal method for studying chess. No, definitely at the long term I experience also problems to remember stuff. In best case I can reconstruct the analysis by spending a lot of reflection-time. I've published several examples on this blog in which I failed in doing even that.

So when I saw 6 months ago in a youth-tournament Tom Piceu, IM of Bruges to use the for me unknown tool chesspositiontrainer, I got curious. Tom explained me that he with some friends decided a couple of years ago to motivate each other and work harder at chess. Studying openings and repeating the openings regularly would be an important element of this. So they bought together chesspositiontrainer (you can buy 1 license for 3 computers). Tom was very satisfied about the program but had to admit that he was not always very disciplined in following up rigorously the schedules.

I was skeptical about the added value of the program for myself. However as I thought it could be an interesting topic for this blog, I gave it a shot. Besides if you try something out then better to do it from the first time properly so not just using the stripped version but testing out the paying one with all features enabled. 40 euro is for a working person not insurmountable (especially in comparison of the prices applied by Chessbase).

A couple of months ago I downloaded the program. I paid for the license and managed easily to get access to all the features after getting my license-key. Next I wanted to test out the program. A small default repertoire is available but I quickly realized that this is not what a user is searching. You want foremost to train your own repertoire and then I imagine many users are getting disappointed. You have to insert all the stuff yourself.

I guess many drop out already. Even if we ignore that most players don't have a polished repertoire then you still need to get all the moves into the program. I read a comment at Quality Chess that somebody spent 40 hours at converting an opening-book into pgn. We know studying chess is hard but this kind of gigantic job is not realistic for most of us. Now we have to look at alternatives even if this means a decrease of quality. Today you have a few publishers, daring to offer DVDs of openings. I say "dare" as it is big risk that the content is illegally copied. It is very easy to spread files (although some of my students are not capable / they can play chess but have very little knowledge about how to use chess-software). You can buy Chessbase magazine DVDs (every 2 months, yearly for the price of 100 euro with a 40 euro voucher) and Move by move DVDs (20 euro each) of which you can select openings so a repertoire can be built. It is clear that you need a large collection of dvds to get a reasonable solid repertoire. It is not cheap this alternative.

Fortunately I could bypass this thanks to 20 years of playing competitive chess with a fixed repertoire see the scientific approach combined with a good archive see archiving. So I had already collected a good amount of material which I could insert simply via pgn into the chesspositiontrainer. I started with my openingbook-file which contains all my recent game-preparations for both colors. I was curious how many positions this would give.
3424 positions 0 times trained, 253 positions 1 time trained, 27 positions 2 times trained, 2 positions 3 times trained


This are already more than 3500 positions while I only injected my most superficial  analysis to study openings mostly in a broadly sense. This is a lot to maintain regularly so I have to be careful not to inject much more moves. Let us therefore have a look how many positions would count my database of my own played games which are commented often deeply. You can check this by creating an opening book e.g. "Brabo positions".

In above screenshot you see that I first select all 811 games of my personal database. Next I choose ECO 20 (default-input which tells us that averagely 20 moves are taken into account of each game linked to the popularity of the opening) and finally I enable the option of adding lines created by the analysis. I press the button "ok" and see the results in a couple of seconds.

OMG, we have almost 50.000 positions. On reddit I read that a specific user trains averagely 36 postions each day but that would mean that I need 1400 days just to train everything once. That is close to 4 years. On top the program tells us that we need to repeat this regularly. Default is set once per 4 days. It doesn't make sense anymore to look at my 3rd database with specialized analysis of openings.

In the end I decided to restrict the content for chesspositiontrainer to the initial 3500 positions. However that is not the end of the tale as now all the openings are in 1 big file. If you want to work efficiently then you still need to split this into modules. Again there is no support for this from the program. I spent approximately 5 hours to create some soft of structure with modules defined by opening and size.

Finally I can train a piece of my repertoire. I was not able to persevere very long. Except that it is extremely boring, I also wondered why am I doing this. I will not play any standard game in the next 2 months and even on the long term I see only a very small return of the invested time. If I would play regularly against strong opposition then maybe yes but today I don't need this. Besides I also find it rather cumbersome how I have to add new analysis made by a Chessbase-program. There is no automatic connection to the Chesspositiontrainer.

This program already exists since 2004. It is probably the best on the market but the many prerequisites makes it only useful for a very small group of players. I am thinking mainly at professional or and ambitious strong players. I will just use now as an extra tool for my game-preparations to train quickly some specific lines.

Brabo

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sore losers

While chatting a lot with other chess-parents I became conscientious how much ignorance there exists. People are convinced that our noble game is only played by gentleman always willing to help each other and never doing something wrong. Only after a couple of tournaments the first cracks appear in this idealistic view.

Chess is no exception to other sports and activities. You have nice and less nice people. In the last couple of months I experienced 2 situations in which people were accused of cheating. In both cases I detected a very high degree of typical engine-moves so something you don't expect from a player. Besides the players visited very often the toilet during their games. However some bullet-proof evidence was not found (nor searched) so I am obliged to be careful. We should avoid openly accusing somebody in such case as I explained already in my article distrust.

However I believe we shouldn't ignore those signals. It is a potential time-bomb for competitive chess and could accelerate the shrinking of chess-clubs. There exists no cheap/ free solution for standard-chess. Anyway you can't forbid somebody to visit a toilet.

To let every player sign a charter of fair-play at the start of a tournament won't stop the real cheaters but looks still useful to me. With this symbolic act you show your strong disapproval to cheating and probably some will think twice before trying. Also I would demand as organizer that each player sits at the board when he has the move. In my article food and drinks part 2 I wrote that this is just standard behavior but in practice I do see people going to the toilet from the moment they have seen the answer of the opponent.

Now arbiters should be a bit flexible with such rule. If you are away from the board while your opponent has the move then you can't always be back immediately in time. Or when your opponent plays so fast that you never get the chance to get up from the board then you should still be allowed once to get a small break.

Last I experienced something else. My opponent deliberately didn't return to our board but preferred to walk around/ kibitz. In the meanwhile more than a half hour went off his clock. It was my 8th game of Open Gent which I showed in my article jokes. As I wrote earlier, I don't have problems with players continuing the game in a dead lost position but then you keep sitting at the board. Besides it is not the first time I experienced something like that see Deurne wins the zilveren toren. However it was the first time that this happened by a pretentious absence from the board.
Photo of Dominik Klaus, from Chess-DB.com
I give him the first prize for worst loser which I ever played against. I even consulted during the game the chief-arbiter Marc Bils for this behavior without any success. On the other hand it is something which I very often experience online. The anonymity very often generates some bad mannered behavior. Even some strong players are not immune for the virus of being a sore loser. In the game below the black player (if it is his real name, a Russian international master) simply let himself run out of time in a completely lost position. So I just had to wait 2,5 minutes to claim victory.
It is not a record. I already once experienced that after 8 seconds playing my opponent blundered a piece without compensation and let his remaining time run out. Or even worse are the sore losers playing 1 more move just before running out of time (so after several minutes) just to check if you are still attentive online. Not seldom they still score a point with this act as their opponents don't expect such evilness.

While you lose only a few minutes online due to sore losers, a completely different magnitude happens in correspondence chess. In below correspondence-game my opponent could've resigned surely earlier as I only got victory when I announced mate in 5 in the final position.
Probably we could've saved a couple of months if white resigned more properly. Besides it are again not only weak players that are sore losers. There are stories known of strong players continuing till mate while dragging the game maximally via their saved time. Earlier with the traditional mail a lost position could be dragged for 2 more years. Not seldom you could hear that a player with a completely lost position still won the game as the opponent deceased! Nowadays correspondence-chess is played on a server which allows things to proceed quicker. Nevertheless in the game below, black manages to drag the game for months in a completely lost position.
As the standard rate is 10 moves per 50 days see iccf playing rules black has 500 days for his 92 moves. You really need to be very patient when you play correspondence chess.

Running down the clock is a weapon sore losers often use. It seems there is not much you can do against it. A smart Bronstein clock could avoid such bad behavior but very few are interested. Today's clock with fixed increments is already hard to manage for many players.

Brabo

Monday, October 2, 2017

Schadenfreude and why we support for the underdog

In the last couple of weeks we saw the world-top playing -first in the World Cup, in which 2 places for the candidates were at stake (and ratingpoints for those not able to reach the final), next in the very strong Island of Man, which offered a second chance.

The WK-cycle offers today several ways to get to the candidates. For the world-top this is maybe a track which offers more opportunities to qualify for that tournament: via the criterium-tournaments of the Grand Prix, via the World Cup knock-out tournament, as the losing finalist of the previous world-championship, or via the rating. Only one strong (+2700) player will get a wild-card of the organizers - that is a matter of attracting sponsors of course.

A.f.a.i.k. this is a better and shorter system than in the past. Before Fide the world-champion chose the opponent, which wasn't fair (Lasker avoided Rubinstein and never granted Schlechter a real match; Aljechin avoided Capablance and did not permit Keres to play a match). The Fide defined a system but it became a terribly long path for the new challengers: zonal and inter-zonal tournaments first and then you had to survive the candidates-tournaments or matches. Only after having provided the world-champion lots of material to study, you could start as challenger the final match. And besides that Tal and Smyslov (and Kasparov) were also unlucky that a world-champion has the right to get a second match...

The actual cycle is much shorter - you already need to be world-top to get a chance. There are no surprises anymore like Van der Sterren, qualifying from a zonal tournament at advanced age to the candidate-matches.

But despite that as a world-top-player (say top-20) you are in a comfortable position at the start, you are not alone. In each tournament the road to the candidates is hard. If you look at the standings of the Grand Prix (see FIDE Grand Prix 2017) then well-known players like Nakamura, Aronian, Nepomniachtchi, Adams, Svidler, Giri, … did not succeed to qualify via this path.

And the World-cup as an enormous lottery, even Carlsen couldn't avoid elimination. We are lucky that two top-players have qualified for the candidates making it a lot more attractive. Aronian has a lot of fans and Ding Liren is still rather unknown - at this level anyway.

So for the aspiring world-champions there was only one real alternative: to get selected based upon the average rating. At twitter Martin Bennedik (@bennedik) offered live the average ratings so the players didn't need to calculate themselves. This service adds of course pressure - also in the world-cup at the players. If you checked the live ratings (2700chess) before and after the world-cup (and before Isle of Man) then you saw that almost all the top-players lost points. The reason was simple. The ratingdifferences were often too big that even winning a match with 1,5-0,5 would mean losing points. Besides also many top-players preferred the rapid-games and recorded 1-1 which also harmed their ratings. In the end even the 2 finalists didn't win any extra points after a couple of weeks playing.

But the Kramniks, Nakamura's and Anands of this world had to force something as their average rating was only second priority, next to getting through to the next round. This explained the sometimes forced play (see the elimination of Anand, after playing too aggressive against sensation Kovalyov).

It is why in the Isle of Man, there was a lot of attention to the rating-duel between So, Caruana en Kramnik, all very close in terms of ratings. The stakes were high, as elimination in this rating-race would mean no ticket for Berlin. Every player was a potential winner.

As the tournament started in the first round with Caruana-Kramnik, we immediately witnessed a crucial moment when it became clear the players were playing for a win. As Kramnik lost, he was forced in the next rounds to make up ground. But in round 3 he lost again - against a ghost of the past: James Tarjan. Also here - under pressure due to the circumstances-, Kramnik overplayed his position. Tarjan, with white, played quietly the chess-equivalent of Catenaccio and let Kramnik come. He built up a nice position but didn't calculate well his combination, Tarjan saw the hole and just took the point with "normal" play.

Kramnik must have been mentally broken - a more emotional player (think the type like Kortchnoi) would have destroyed the board. But Kramnik took the defeat with dignity and his - automatic- elimination for the world-title. In a "normal" open tournament against a veteran rated 400 points less. It must hurt.

The press loved it - what a story. A noble "unknown player" (although, double Olympic gold and in may 1981 conform Chessmetrics top 40 of the world), 23 years older, eliminates an ex-world-champion. This is the classic David against Goliath tale. The mouse that roared. It reminds me of the Tour de France of 1956 won by the absolute underdog Walkowiak. Or Rulon Gardner, defeating one of the best sportsmen of all time, the almost invincible wrestler Alexander Karelin, in his last match for Olympic gold.

We love champions and we like to keep track of records and lists. But at some moment their era ends. And this we also like to witness. How great Anand and Kramnik were, their generation must make slowly place for the superkids, able to play a gear faster - and especially are extremely tough, if needed playing till 2 bare kings (which Fisher also once did - and even played 3 more moves).

It is not hard to support Tarjan - it is a nice story. An old grandmaster returns to play chess and defeats one of the greatest players of the latest years. It’s the stuff that makes heroes. But as said, it was mainly Kramnik losing the game, not Tarjan winning it.

Losing a game when you are the big favorite (at rating) hurts - I can tell you from experience. I once lost a game against somebody 450 points lower rated in the interclub - the way how will likely be considered by my opponent as his most beautiful game ever:

It just demonstrates that you should never underestimate somebody. Everybody can have a good day and has a hidden supply of strength. The game against Kramnik was for Tarjan one of his best experiences in his career, but for Kramnik was it a bitter pill to swallow - especially considering the circumstances. His goodbye from the world-champion-cycle (together with Anand - Topalov, Gelfand, Ivanchuk which we already lost earlier) marks the end of a great generation of players - Kramnik was probably the last one of the school of Botvinnik-Kasparov.

It is now at the generation grown up with Fritz and internet. It is a generation which adds creativity to perseverance. The players don't know the classics anymore but can calculate very well and dare to take risks on top of a very good endgame-technique. And finally novelties at move 5 varied with novelties at move 25 or 35...

Chess has changed but not necessarily bad. The generation of Carlsen has shown us beautiful things and there are still nice things ahead of us.

HK5000

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Jokes?

While reading the book H.E. Bird of Hans Renette I noticed not only that in the 19th century a lot of matches are organized but also many games are played offhand. At that time it was normal to visit a club and play an informal game against some random available player. This we don't see often anymore today. If you don't make any appointment with a player in advance then you risk not getting any game in a club. I often encountered that I left the club after a half hour to go back home as I wasn't able to find anybody free willing to play chess with me.

This sets the bar for newcomers of course a lot higher. I sometimes hear people getting rejected of a championship as the competition has already started. They need to wait for a couple of months to join any new competition. A sad consequence is that many drop out immediately after the introduction. Today we don't have enough fresh blood so this only accelerates the ageing of the club.

Likely the wide choice of tournaments explains the lack of interest in offhand games today. Most regular clubplayers don't want to play anything else than the tournaments and prefer to have a drink at the bar when they have finished their games. It is a pity as those offhand games are ideal to get softly introduced to our noble game. The score is not recorded and it allows you to experiment without needing to worry about the outcome. In offhand games it is not forbidden to talk or laugh during play at contrary as it often creates a positive ambiance.

On the other hand online there are still a lot of offhand games played. A distinction can be made between rated and unrated games but I don't consider this difference very important. An online rating has very little value as any serious controlling mechanism lacks. Personally I don't play tournaments online so you could argue that my online blitz are only offhand games. In any case I look at those games as fun so I sometimes just fool around with my opponents.
Mostly it are very weak opponents not resigning. Besides I recommended my son Hugo to continue playing till mate when he started in the youth-tournaments see resigning. Nowadays he has outgrown this phase as he does resign when he feels further resistance has become futile.

When a strong(er) player plays till mate then something is not ok. People need to respect their opponents and if they don't then they deserve to be teached a painful lesson.
I ignored on purpose many times mate in 1 to end the game by creating a series of queen-promotions. Honestly I would have preferred knight-promotions but this was too cumbersome. I didn't want to tire myself by first switching off the default setting of automatic queen-promotions and later after the game reset the toggle. A famous example of completely redundant knight-promotions is of course the online game between Crafty - Nakamura played in 2007.
Everybody loved it how the engine was ridiculed but such behavior against people does not get the same response. It is not because chess looks like a sadistic exam that we should behave like sadists. It is a grey zone of what can still be considered as a joke or what people feel as an insult. Besides accidentally the American grandmaster Gregory Serper wrote a couple of weeks ago an article at chess.com about all sorts of insults in chess. He strongly disapproves such offenses as it only harms chess.

Publicly we should for sure not get involved in such stupid jokes. You risk to get beaten by your angry opponent and not seldom such joke ends badly. The whole world laughed at Nakamura a couple of months ago when he was punished for his arrogance in Paris Grand Tour Chess when he promoted completely unnecessarily to a knight instead of a queen.
Last Stefan Docx asked me after finishing my 8th round game of Gent why the game lasted so long. At move 17 I was already an exchange and pawn up for which my 250 points lower rated opponent, had no compensation at all. Besides we both had still plenty of time on the clock as we only consumed a half hour. However even in such completely won situations, I stay focused. I will keep looking for the best moves and won't play faster nor play some silly moves. It is also one of the reasons when I almost never suffer of inexplicable mistakes often connected to not being fully concentrated see my article mistakes.
Initially I thought my opponent would resign after move 17 but I was not disturbed when he preferred to continue the suffering. However at the end things became really ugly as we still had each more than a quarter on the clock remaining. Also this wasn't the only thing which was not nice. Much worse was another bad joke my opponent applied during the game. However this is for a next article.

Brabo

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Evolution

The big news of last month was of course the comeback of Garry Kasparov. He played again a tournament for rating while his previous one dated from 2005. Well as a matter of fact it was only for rapid and blitz ratings which even didn't exist back in 2005.

Of course I was also curious about how Kasparov would fare. So I started to follow the broadcasting attentively. However my interest very quickly faded away from the event. The combination of the late starting-hour (they played in Saint Louis/ US), the many mistakes specific to the quick tempo (rapid/ blitz) and probably also the lack of excitement in the fight for the first place made that I only saw a limited number of games. Rapid/ blitz never really interested me (I still didn't play any fide rated game at that tempo) and the mimics of Kasparov see kasparov what went wrong didn't compensate for the tragic suffering of the once so feared monster of Bakoe.

In his best years this tournament would've been catastrophic for Kasparov. He wasn't satisfied himself with today the 13th place in the world for rapid and the 9th place in the world for blitz while he was used for many years to be the number 1. Afterwards there was a lot of debate about what went wrong. Probably his age 54 years old plays a role but much more important was his absurd time-consumption which doesn't have at all a link with age. A good explanation of why can be found in the article Why was Kasparov deep thinking? If you play regularly then you make some decisions automatically. However if you haven't played for a long time any competitions then this automatism has disappeared and you try to compensate that by extra calculations which burn precious time.

I already described those dangers in my article inactivity. You need to play a minimum of games to maintain the game-level. It is the reason why I subscribed for the maneblusserstornooi of Mechelen. The playing days and the tempo are not optimal but sometimes you need to make compromises. The club-championship of Deurne is this year even weaker than last year see the list of participants. It does not fulfill again my minimum-criteria (which many already consider very low).

On the other hand the hyped circus also generated unrealistic expectations of Kasparov. Besides despite some hard counter-proof still many believe elo inflation exists so people consider today's topplayers ready to be butchered by Kasparov. In other words it was very hard to get a proper preview of what the results would be also because his comeback was something very unique in the chess-world. After the tournament it all became much more clear. Now we understand much better which impossible mission Kasparov had started. If we look today objectively to his results then we should admit that he did in fact very well considering the exceptional conditions.

He demonstrated that he is still dangerous for any top-player and his opening-repertoire is still top-notch. In most games he got fine out of the opening with some strong modern chess. It seemed he never quit studying openings and he very well adapted himself to the most recent evolutions. Kasparov definitely didn't make the error to stick to some old likely obsolete analysis.

Last I experienced how dangerous it is to use some old theory which was even played in a world-championship. In 2006 I scored a nice victory in this line see the influence of world-championships at openings but it is again the Belgian IM Stefan Docx showing me that I still have a lot of work to do at my repertoire (see for earlier examples to Dutch steps in the English opening and grandmaster-norm for Stefan Docx).
I am for sure not the only player making sometimes this error. Besides here we see a clear difference of approach between young and older players. Young players build up their repertoire upon hyper-modern systems which are today considered critical. However older players often keep on playing what they learned in their youth and don't follow so much the latest trends. The 67 year old Robert Schuermans definitely fulfills above description of an older player. He likes to play old and long forgotten systems of Fischer, Karpov and other old grandmasters especially against young players. Not seldom he scores because these young players don't know the classics.

However in Open Brasschaat it went completely wrong against the 15 year old Sterre Dauwe rated 200 points lower. Robert had really bad luck this time. Sterre is one of my best students in KMSK and 2 weeks ago I showed at the onjk (where we met each other) my analysis of my game against Stefan Docx. It is really a coincidence that Robert played exactly this line so permitting Sterre to extract very easily an advantage from the opening.
In my articles old wine in new skins part 1 and part 2 I showed a couple of examples in which old openings were successful. However this new article demonstrates that when the surprise-element is missing, things become much more dangerous. Even copying something played in a world-championship analyzed before and afterwards by some of the best players, doesn't guarantee a good opening. Openings are evolving and today even quicker than before with the ever stronger becoming engines. Every top-player works very hard to keep track of all those evolutions and even add something extra to it themselves. Otherwise you are doomed to be horribly out-dated like probably most amateurs.

Brabo

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Royal forks

The summer-holidays are again behind us. For many it was a period to recharge the batteries and play little or no chess. Others contrary were (very active). Any news about them was shattered all over the web as there exists no general platform where the local news is published. It is a shame as some of our youngsters performed excellently and this deserved much more recognition. First there was the 10 year old Enrico Follesa playing for Temse and gaining in 1 month 276 elo which very likely is a Belgian record. It is definitely not a world-record as the Slovanian FM Jergus Pechac managed in april 2015 to gain 426 points in 1 month.

Another Belgian record got smashed by the 11 year old Daniel Dardha playing for Hoboken. He just won the -12 youth-championship of the European Chessfederation which took place in Czechia. This makes him the youngest FM ever in Belgium. Besides now that I am closely involved at youth-chess, I also learned that there are 3 different types of youth-championships of Europe in which standard chess is played. So 1 for the European chess-federation, 1 for the European Union which happened beginning of August in Austria and 1 for the European countries which started yesterday in Romania.

Those exceptional results of these very young players didn't happen by accident. Not only their own efforts play a role but at least as important are the selfless sacrifices of their parents. I really liked the beautiful tribute of Daniel on his facebook to his father. With their permission I copied it here.
Behind any youthchampion there is a sweating coach and supporting parent 
Few realize how big the efforts of the parents are to allow their children achieve that kind of success. If you just wait to get support from the club, federation then I fear this can take forever. In the article How much time do you spend at chess I already showed a glimpse of how I support my son. Last year I accompanied my son 25 full days and this year it will probably be double. This summer Hugo played his first big tournaments with some success. He won the Open Dutch champion -8 and made a very nice performance in the very enjoyable mastertournament of Bruges by which he was rewarded by a very nice first 1474 fide elo.

Of course it is a matter of setting priorities to spend 25 full days or more as parent to support your child to his activities. You can't demand something like that from anybody. Besides it is often very boring waiting. Some parents are staring for hours at the door where their child should pop up after having finished their game. A fantastic article about the sacrifices chess-parents make can be read here. For me it is easier as chess is my own biotope. Even during the Brugse meesters where very few other chess-parents were, I didn't have the feeling of getting bored at all.

More and more often I take my laptop to the tournaments to continue analyzing my own games. After the Open Gent I had 9 freshly played games at which I spent together approximately 1 month. Regularly people are surprised hearing how much time I spend at the analysis. What is the fun of all that or is there really so much to learn from a couple of games. Well I am not only looking at the evaluation of the moves. Sometimes I also discover some truly beautiful treasures. See example a fragment of my analysis of my game against the Bulgarian grandmaster Boris Chatalbashev (the complete game was covered already in my previous article).
This is an unavoidable deflection of the king by a full queen-sacrifice followed up by a royal fork. I've been googling for some similar examples and it seems something quite unique. A very famous example of it are the missed chances in a worldchampionship-game between Alexander Alekhine and Max Euwe played in 1937.
Not less famous is another example again from a worldchampionship-game but this time between Tigran Petrosian and Boris Spassky.
Tigran is probably the only player whom got it twice on the board see his game against Vladimir Simagin although there is a little difference here as the royal fork can be avoided by black.

At the collection-site of royal forks there are many other beautiful examples but except the ones already mentioned in this article none fully fulfill at all my strict conditions. Many are without a queen-sacrifice or are not pure as some material is captured while sacrificing. In others we don't see a deflection of the king. Finally there are also many were the royal fork was not forced and could be avoided however often leading to a quick mate.

Discovering these little cute things are what makes analyzing something I enjoy. For sure this relieves the task of the chess-parent as the waiting becomes much easier. In the meanwhile I have finished the analysis of all my games of Gent so it is time to play some games myself and to experience new adventures on the board.

Brabo