Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A moral victory

As many millions of chesslovers, I followed curiously the past worldchampionship between Anand and Carlsen. I expected an exciting battle with a decision only in the 12th game. Today we know that the story went differently. Without doubt it is interesting to find out which strategies both players adopted without making the mistake to pretend that we would've made other and better choices as in hindsight it is always easy talking (see e.g. my blogarticle I knew it ). 

Anand afterwards stated in an interview for the online newspaper The First Post that he was surprised that Carlsen so little had changed compared with his usual tournamentplay for this worldchampionship. He found it a sign of courage which reflects his enormous self-confidence. In previous worldchampionships the players always tried to prepare some surprises but Carlsen not. Nevertheless from another interview given to the Indian branch of CNN we can deduct that Anand did take into account this strategy of Carlsen. He stated that his strategy consisted in neutralizing Carlsens play by making him clear that with pure dry technical play you can't score points against a worldchampion. If I understand well then Anand wanted to put pressure on Carlsens nerves so try to force him psychologically play a different type of chess. Afterwards Carlsen indeed admitted to suffer from stress. Just to indicate that there was a logic behind the strategy of Anand. Also it is nice to hear that I am not the only one, having to cope with stress for a game of chess. The first game of the worldchampionship went completely like expected. Carlsen avoided as usual an openingconfontation but was forced very quickly to allow a draw to avoid worse.
[Event "Anand-Carlsen World Championship"] [Site "Chennai IND"] [Date "2013.11.09"] [Round "1"] [White "Magnus Carlsen"] [Black "Viswanathan Anand"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A07"] [WhiteElo "2870"] [BlackElo "2775"] [PlyCount "32"] [EventDate "2013.11.07"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. d4 c6 5. O-O Nf6 6. b3 O-O 7. Bb2 Bf5 8. c4 Nbd7 9. Nc3 dxc4 {(Anand shows that even in side-variations he has prepared a lot of ideas.)} 10. bxc4 Nb6 11. c5 Nc4 12. Bc1 Nd5 13. Qb3 {(White is already more or less obliged to permit the repetition as anything else leads to a clearly inferior position.)} Na5 14. Qa3 Nc4 15. Qb3 Na5 16. Qa3 Nc4 { (A successful opening for black based on preparation. )} 1/2-1/2'/>
Many journalists spoke about an important moral victory, see e.g. chessbase or the Indian newspaper Mid Day. However in the next games no psychological influence could be noticed. Carlsen just kept on adopting his hit and run strategy (for more explanation see my blogarticle tanguy ringoir is champion of Belgium) and in the follow up it became evident that Anands opening-preparation was insufficient to neutralize in each game Carlsens play. In the end we got 10 different opening-variations on the board. We have to return to the worldchampionship between Spassky and Fischer to see the same kind of variety of openings in which coincidence or not, a same kind of strength-difference can be found between challenger and reigning worldchampion. Chess is a complex game. It is surely an enormous accomplishment to have an answer for all critical lines but it is completely impossible even for a worldchampionship-preparation to have a reply ready for all possible openings. I am confident that Carlsen also was aware about that and therefore didn't pay attention to so called moral victories. Anyway a draw with white against the worldchampion is a normal result and not a bad one even for the number 1 in the rankings. 

Eventually only the score counts. It doesn't matter how good your position was as only with signing the scoorsheets we define who gets what. After my debacle with my scoresheet (see the previous article) Steven tried to sheer me up by awarding me the title of moral victor but we both knew that it was nothing more than excusing yourself for the luck received. To receive more than you would expect with your play, is certainly morally pleasant. In round 3 of the Belgian interclub I was hours defending with the back against the wall against the new joung Belgain IM Stef Soors but achieved thanks to persistent defending and some luck the draw.
[Event "Interclub Crelel-Deurne"] [Date "2013.10.13"] [White "Soors, S."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A80"] [WhiteElo "2420"] [BlackElo "2347"] [PlyCount "134"] 1. d4 f5 2. Nc3 d5 3. Bf4 a6 4. e3 Nf6 5. Nf3 e6 6. Bd3 c5 {(Last year I suffered a painful defeat against Quinten Ducarmon with Be7 but c5 is an obvious improvement. See my blogarticle Chessintuition.)} 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. O-O O-O 9. Ne2 Nc6 10. c4 Nb4 11. cxd5 {(Last year I studied a3 and Ned4. By coincidence I got cxd5 2 days earlier on the board in 2 online blitzgames.)} Nxd3 12. Qxd3 Nxd5 13. Be5 Bd7 {(I assume b6 is more critical as it provides better counterplay for black.)} 14. Ned4 Qb6 15. Rfd1 Rac8 16. Rac1 Bxd4 $6 {(I try to simplify the position as it is not easy playing for black but now white gets a small permanent advantage. The engines recommend Nb4 but I am not really thrilled about it.)} 17. Bxd4 Qa5 18. Ne5 Bb5 19. Qb1 Rfd8 20. b3 Be8 21. h3 Qb4 22. Qb2 Qe7 23. a3 h6 24. Rc4 Bb5 25. Rcc1 Be8 26. Rd2 Bd7 27. Rc4 Bb5 28. Rc1 Be8 29. Rdc2 Bd7 30. f3 Rxc2 31. Rxc2 Rc8 32. Rxc8 Bxc8 33. Ng6 $6 {(White had the whole time, the better position but I could not find anywhere a clear path to a big advantage. In the meanwhile Stef was lacking time and could not find the most precise moves anymore which causes him to lose the remaining advantage. Immediately Qc2 is stronger and white can still put some pressure on blacks position. )} Qg5 34. Qc2 Bd7 35. Ne5 Qd8 36. Qc5 Be8 37. Nc4 Bb5 38. Qd6 Qxd6 39. Nxd6 {(The remaining endgame is still nicer for white but if black does not make any mistakes then there should be no problems to make a draw.)} Bc6 40. Kf2 Nc7 41. a4 Ne8 42. Nc8 Kf7 43. Ke2 Bd5 44. b4 Bc4 45. Ke1 Bb3 46. a5 Bc4 47. h4 Bb5 48. Kd2 Bd7 49. Nb6 Bb5 50. Nc8 Bd7 51. Nb6 Bb5 52. Be5 Nf6 53. Nc8 Bc6 54. Nd6 Ke7 55. Nc4 Bb5 56. Kd3 Nd5 57. Kd4 Bxc4 58. Kxc4 Nxe3 {(Initially I thought white pushed too hard but it still is within drawing-limits. )} 59. Kc5 Kd7 60. h5 Nxg2 61. Kb6 Kc8 62. Bxg7 Nf4 63. Be5 Nxh5 64. Kc5 Kd7 65. Kb6 Kc8 66. Kc5 Kd7 67. Kb6 Kc8 1/2-1/2'/>
Such game will be regarded by experienced players as a plus-draw for white but to me it is a bridge to far to consider Stef as moral victor. I am pretty sure that I was more satisfied going home than he. Talking about moral victories seems therefore also more rubbish than based on serious psychological elements.

Brabo

Addendum 18 december
Grandmaster Hein Donner writes in his book " De koning" : "The real chessplayer plays his game like a game of chance. This also shows in the fact that winning thanks to stupid luck can generate much more joy and satisfaction than winning based on correct play." Thanks to Hypekiller5000 for sending me the hint and Lelystadse schaakvereniging for finding back the quote.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The sadistic exam

Long ago when I studied for engineer, I remember that I had little to no stress before an exam. If you studied well then you knew in advance that you had a good chance to score well. In official chessgames on the other hand I always have a portion of stress. My wife knows me in the meantime well enough so before each game she asks me if I went to the toilet already as she knows that I always struggle with some cramps. Even after almost 20 years of competition, stress is still existing although I must admit it has improved during the years.

Obviously chess is more than just a game for me. I spend a lot of time on chess so it is somehow normal that you care about the results. Now at contrary to a classical exam in school, only 3 results are possible: 100%, 50% or 0%. Besides you don't know in advance what will be asked so preparing is often impossible. 1 wrong answer can be sufficient for a 0. In the book MFTL (which i reviewed in a blogarticle) Willy Hendriks talks about a chessgame as a sadistic exam and I fully agree with him.

Recently I managed to set a new sad record in terms of most painful blunder ever in an official game with classical tempo. Already quite an achievement as I already managed to do some exploits. I remember that I once permitted mate in 1 while 2 moves earlier I was still 3 pawns up without compensation or how I spoiled a completely won endgame of rook against knight by putting the rook an a square after which my opponent could fork it with my king. This time I managed to lose on time not only in a totally won position but also with an increment of 30 seconds per move. 
Final position Geirnaert - Brabo
Losing with an increment of 30 seconds, sounds like I was sleeping on the board which could have been  possible ,considering the position and the time late in the evening. However if I explain that I let on purpose run the time out then clearly there was something else going on. Before the game we agreed between the two of us, to play with 90 min for 40 moves and 15 min extra for the rest with 30 seconds increment from move 1. The fide-regulations tell us that with such tempo of 30 seconds increment that we are always obliged to record the moves (see article 8.4). This means that the players always know how many moves are exactly played. Once move 40 played, I chose to relax and quietly study the position. In the previous moves some blunders were made due to stress so it looked appropriate to take a small break. Naturally I was shocked when Steven claimed the win on time once my time was set to 0 and told me that I hadn't played yet my 40th move. My first reaction was that he joked but after checking my scoresheet, I noticed to my horror that he was bloody-serious.
My scoresheet
Line 30 below column 1 was left open which caused me 10 moves later wrongly to assume that move 40 was played. Initially I thought the scoresheet was partly responsible as 30 moves per column is not something I use standard. However even more recent I made a similar mistake in my game against Luc Winants while using the more classical scoresheet with 20 moves per column. Fortunately that time I was still able to correct. It seems therefore more correct to admit that I was simply not attentive enough. I already longtime ago learned to accept defeats as it is inherent to chess but to these kind of disasters I never get used. It is no surprise that afterwards I couldn't catch my sleep and instead played mindless bulletchess till late at night without success.

After the game one of the kibitzers told me that he would've agreed to a draw in such situation but I find this nonsense. In my blogarticle about fairness I stated that giving presents has nothing to do with being sportsmanship and is even often a source for conflicts. I remember a polemic some years ago in the Belgium championship correspondence chess. Yen Peeren made a serious analyzing error by inattention of setting up the pieces. Once Yen discovered that he analyzed the wrong position, the position was already beyond repair but the opponent had mercy and accepted anyway the draw-proposal. A heavy debate arose when this was made public on schaakfabriek especially as the present played an important role in defining the champion.
[Event "BEL/C61 (BEL)"] [Site "ICCF"] [Date "2005.11.01"] [White "Peeren, Yen"] [Black "Casier, Willem"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [BlackElo "2346"] [PlyCount "59"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Bb5 d6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. d3 g6 6. f4 Bg7 7. Nf3 Nh6 8. O-O f6 9. Be3 Rb8 10. b3 O-O 11. Qe1 Ng4 12. Bd2 f5 13. Rd1 e5 14. exf5 exf4 15. fxg6 hxg6 16. Ne4 Qe7 17. Neg5 Ne3 18. Qh4 Bf6 19. Rde1 Rb7 20. g3 Qg7 21. Bxe3 fxe3 22. Rxe3 d5 23. Kg2 Rb4 24. c4 Rb7 25. Rfe1 Rbf7 26. g4 Bd7 27. R1e2 Bc8 {(I assume that Yen wrongly thought Bd8 was played here which would explain his next moves. )} (27... Bd8 28. Ne5 Re7 29. h3 Rfe8 $18) 28. Ne5 $4 Re7 29. h3 $4 Rfe8 30. Nef7 {(Here Yen realized that something was wrong. He contacted his opponent to explain that he unconsciousness had analyzed the wrong position. In 2 moves the position had deteriorated from winning to losing. Eventually a draw was agreed.)} 1/2-1/2'/>
Correspondence is of course another discipline than otb. On the other hand correspondence chess can be considered as an open book exam in which you have access to all kind of tools so I don't see any serious reason to be suddenly gentler than otb.

Let us return to the fact that i lost on time as I still want to add something to the story. Afterwards I realized that I could have deducted from the digital clock that I didn't play 40 moves as the extra 15 minutes are added automatically once the 40 moves are played. Even more astonishing is that the helpful Austin Apemiye showed in advance how the specially selected clock works. However during the hectic final phase I completely forget about it and just thought the clock works as usual so only adding time for a new period when the remaining time of the previous period was fully consumed (and the number of mandatory moves was achieved). To wait with adding time when a clock first shows 0 is preferred if one doesn't want to give information about the number of moves already played. Before, waiting with adding time was propagandized by fide, see e.g. dgt 2010 time correction in option 21 with move counter. In Germany the DGT2000 is even forbidden to use, see e.g dgt 2000 nicht fuer fischer modus geeignet.

Today however I hear other sounds on the internet after some surfing. In his monthly article of August 2012 Geurt Gijssen writes that he understands the problem but a serious answer is missing. His reference that a lot of tournaments are using screens on which live games are shown, is nonsense as there exist no regulations about how such projection should be done (remember the commotion last year in the Belgian interclubs). Also he mentions that arbiters can't share the number of moves played as they can make errors hereby completely ignoring that an electronic clock also easily can show a wrong move-counter.

Our regulations are clearly lagging with the technological developments. It is not wishful to have several clocks behaving differently. Today I recommend not to trust the move-counter of a clock as we don't know in advance when time will be added for the next period. Taking care of a proper recording is the most wisest choice but this seems easier for me said than done.

Brabo

Addendum 10 december
Yesterday once more was proven that our regulations are lagging with the technological developments. It is sad that Ivanov Borislav can make a comeback see e.g. chessvibes as we are one year further compared to my blogarticle cheating and no progress has been made.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How to win from a stronger player?

During the game, a player has to make judgments often based on very little information. It makes that an uncertainty is created on the quality and eventually also the result. The elo-system takes into account this uncertainty as it makes a prognosis for each game based on an extensive statistical research depending on the difference in playing-strength between the 2 players. In 2011 there was a competition to develop a rating-system which provides a more precise prognosis, see the deloitte fide chess rating challenge. A lot of teams succeeded in presenting a clearly better performing mechanism as you can notice on the leaderboard. Still an adaption of the existing elo-system didn't happen by fide. I was not involved in the internal discussions but I can imagine some good reasons: 
  • The better performing mechanisms are based on complex formulas which have to rely heavily on computers.
  • To replace the current rating-system by a new one signifies extra costs. 
  • The rating-system has as primary function to define the playing-strength of a player. To prepare a prognosis for a single game is of minor interest. It is why the current rating-system is sufficient.

The disadvantage of defining a prognosis is that they can often be intimidating for the lower rated player. If you have 200 points less than your opponent that the expectancy score is only 24%. Intimidation is not a good adviser. Often you see players playing passively against stronger players to avoid big errors while it is exactly this policy that makes them lose without a chance. As there is little mentioned in literature about maximizing your chances as underdog, I thought it would be interesting to write an article about it.

First i have to admit that as lower rated player that you can't do much if the difference is 300 points or more. The opponent is then so much stronger on every domain that each of your plans will be sabotaged long before you even thought about it. An example of such scenario can be found in my blog-article met een kanon op een mug schieten. If the difference is smaller than 200 points then there are more chances to create resistance as weaker player. The strategy mentioned e.g. on the blog of the Ukrainian grandmaster Igor Smirnov is probably the best known one. If you play against a stronger player then play as bold as possible and complicate even if it costs material. The principle is based on the earlier mentioned uncertainties which pop up during a game. If we would have a game of 100% uncertainties then we can assume that the result will be random so the prognosis will be 50%. The bigger the complexity, the more uncertainties, the more interesting for the lower rated player as his expectancy score will improve. Somebody you don't need to tell him twice to complicate, is my clubpresident and teamcaptain Robert Schuermans. In 2006 Robert made a sensational exploit by beating with black in a sharp game the Ukrainian grandmaster Stanislav Savchenko.
[Event "Le Touquet op"] [Site "Le Touquet"] [Date "2006.11.01"] [Round "7"] [White "Savchenko, Stanislav"] [Black "Schuermans, Robert"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D07"] [WhiteElo "2532"] [BlackElo "2239"] [PlyCount "48"] 1. Nf3 Nc6 2. d4 d5 3. c4 Bg4 4. Nc3 e6 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bf4 Bd6 7. Bg3 Nge7 8. e3 O-O 9. Be2 Nf5 {(The complications start after which the players quickly lose the control. As chaos is the theme of the game, it would not be correct to analyze the moves objectively.)} 10. Qc2 Nh6 11. a3 Re8 12. Nb5 Bf5 13. Bd3 Bb4 14. Ke2 Be4 15. Bxe4 dxe4 16. Ne5 Nxe5 17. Bxe5 Bd6 18. Qxe4 Bxe5 19. dxe5 c6 20. Nd4 Qa5 21. f4 c5 22. Nc2 Qb5 23. Kf3 Rad8 24. Rhd1 f5 {(This must have been a hard blow for the grandmaster as most likely he assumed that the worst complications were behind.)} 0-1'/>
The game is a nice example of how a grandmaster completely lost control over the game and eventually made the first big error. Despite that I see clear rewards on this chaos-strategy, I also have some critics if this method is really the best for everybody. Exists there no risk that you as weaker player won't create complications which mainly will backfire so leading to just extra mistakes solely for yourself? In my blogarticle tactic I wrote that I don't like to take risks so I doubt playing against your own style is the most clever strategy. Therefore I don't find it redundant to look if other strategies exist which can improve your chances as the weaker player.

I remember last year that the Dutch expert Danny De Ruiter defeated in 2 weeks time, the well-known grandmasters Ivan Sokolov and Jan Timman.  This article explains how Danny spent 3 weeks to prepare different variations for his game against Sokolov and in the end was fully rewarded for it. The game-preparation is an important weapon for the lower rated player. As described in my blog-article de sterktelijst the available materials for studying your opponent increase seriously with his rating. Myself I remember 1 victory on the Bulgarian grandmaster Ventzislav Inkiov based on a successful game-preparation.
[Event "Interclub Lille EDN- Mingé Auxances"] [Date "2007"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Inkiov, V."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B65"] [WhiteElo "2247"] [BlackElo "2510"] [PlyCount "165"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 { (I only had 1 earlier game played with a6 in open Leuven. Fortunately I prepared myself in the hotelroom for my opponent and noticed that he had this opening on his repertoire.)} 8. O-O-O O-O 9. f4 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 Qa5 11. Bc4 Bd7 12. e5 dxe5 13. fxe5 Bc6 14. Bd2 Nd7 15. Nd5 Qd8 16. Nxe7 Qxe7 17. Rhe1 Nb6 18. Bf1 Rfc8 { (Until this position we both blitzed the moves. I knew that my opponent already in 1998 played this rare move but I was not able to study deeply this idea during the 1 hour in my hotelroom. )} 19. Qg4 $5 {(Kb1 is in this position more popular but my choice is maybe even a little bit stronger. )} Qc5 $5 $146 {(A novelty which Inkiov probably has improvised at the board. Still known was Bd5. )} (19... Bd5 $5 20. Kb1 Nc4 21. Bh6 g6 22. c3 $1 $146 {(Last year the young Dutch FM Roeland Pruijssers played the blunder Qg5 and was harshly punished by FM Blokhuis Jeroen with Na3. The game-continuation prevents this idea and gives white somehow the better chances on the kingside due to the big holes on the black squares.)}) 20. Qb4 $5 {(Qb4 is the safe positional approach. Probably Bd3 is slightly stronger but against a much higher rated player I do not find my choice less good.)} (20. Bd3 $5 Bb5 21. Bb4 Qc6 22. Be4 Nd5 $14) 20... Qxb4 $5 {(After long reflection played. Bb5 is maybe stronger but the prospect of having an inferior but likely still tenable endgame right after the opening, was no option for the grandmaster. )} (20... Bb5 $5 21. Qxc5 Rxc5 22. Bb4 (22. Bxb5 Rxb5 23. b3 Rc8 24. Re4 Rd5 25. c4 Nd7 26. Bc3 Rxd1 27. Kxd1 $14) 22... Rd5 23. Bxb5 $1 Rxb5 24. Bd6 Ra5 25. a3 Rc8 26. b3 Rb5 27. Re3 Rd5 28. Rdd3 $14 {(The majority of pawns on the queenside gives white in both variations the better endgame. )}) 21. Bxb4 Bd5 22. b3 a5 23. Bd2 Nd7 24. Kb2 Nc5 25. c4 Be4 $6 {(Black searches desperately for counterplay or at least complications. However re-positioning the bishop to g6 drastically weakens the queenside while black can not get enough in return.)} 26. Be3 Bg6 27. Rd6 h6 28. g4 Na6 $6 { (Black tries to re-position the knight to c6 but probably underestimates my next move. After Na6 black loses forced material. On top white keeps the initiative which means black is here already lost. That I still need almost 60 moves to actually win the game, should be linked to the fact that I am only an amateur and my opponent a grandmaster. Stronger continuations are Kf8 or a4 but also then white keeps a big advantage.)} (28... a4 $5 29. Bxc5 Rxc5 30. b4 Rc7 31. c5 h5 32. g5 Bf5 33. Be2 $16) 29. Bg2 Rc7 30. Bb6 Re7 31. Red1 Nb4 32. a3 Nc6 33. Bxc6 bxc6 34. Rxc6 Kh7 35. Rc5 a4 36. b4 {(The 2 pawns on the queenside are obviously sufficient for the win but black anyway manages to put up a stiff resistance.)} Rb7 37. Rc6 Be4 38. Rcd6 Bf3 39. R1d4 Kg6 40. Rf4 Be2 41. Be3 Rc8 42. Kc3 Rbc7 43. Bc5 Kg5 44. Rdd4 f6 45. exf6 {(I spent my remaining extra minutes to find the best continuation. Herein I succeeded but with the consequence that I had to play the rest of my moves solely on the increment of only 30 seconds. )} gxf6 46. Rde4 Bd1 47. h4 Kxh4 48. Rxf6 Rh7 49. Rf1 Bb3 50. Rxe6 Kg3 51. Rg1 Kf4 52. Rf6 Kg5 53. Rf5 Kg6 54. Re1 Rd7 55. Re6 Kg7 56. Rff6 Rd1 57. Rg6 Kh7 58. Rxh6 Kg8 59. Rhg6 Kh7 60. Rgf6 Rc1 61. Kd2 Rxc4 62. Re7 Kg8 63. Rg6 Kh8 64. Ke3 Rc3 65. Kf4 Rc4 66. Kg3 Bc2 67. Rd6 Re4 68. Rxe4 {(With only 30 seconds remaining on the clock, I do not think that somebody can blame me to liquidate to a won endgame instead of Rh6 which wins spectacular.)} (68. Rh6 $1 Kg8 69. Rg6 Kh8 70. Rxe4 Bxe4 71. Bd4 Kh7 72. Rg7 Kh6 73. Kh4 {(And mate on g5 can only be postponed with 1 more move.)}) 68... Bxe4 69. Kf4 Bc6 70. Ke5 Kg7 71. Re6 {(I remember from my endgame-sessions with Eddy Verledens that endgames with opposite bishops are always won if there are more than 2 columns between the 2 pawns. This is here the case so I did not have to be afraid of black exchanging rooks. )} Be8 72. Kd6 Kf7 73. Re7 Kf6 74. Bd4 Kg6 75. Ke5 Bc6 76. Be3 Bb5 77. Re6 Kf7 78. Bc5 Kg7 79. g5 Bc4 80. Rb6 Rd8 81. Bd4 Bf7 82. Ke4 Kh7 {(Black was playing quickly not to give me any extra time to think but here he blunders into mate although after Kf8 it is also lost e.g with g6.)} 83. Rh6 {(A little bit silly to resign one move before mate but naturally it is never nice to lose against an almost 300 points lower rated player.)} 1-0'/>
Now it is a delusion to think that it is always that easy to get an advantage out of the opening against a grandmaster. I believe my Bulgarian opponent likely never suspected that I could prepare myself sufficiently in 1 hour( time between announcing the pairings and the start of the game) on a system which I had little to no experience (I had no games in the database) with. As described in another blogarticle of Igor Smirnov most grandmasters will deviate from their standard repertoire from the moment they sense some danger. A fast playing opponent in a for him unfamiliar opening is surely a warning signal which the professional won't ignore.

An approach which I like a lot, is to find positions which maybe don't guarantee an advantage but are easily playable. Besides studying openings also psychology plays herein a role. The higher rated player will feel obliged to play for the win but the type of positions will require disproportional risks. Already in the first round of the new Belgian interclubseason I showed the merits of this approach.
[Event "Interclub Deurne - Rochade"] [Date "2013"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Feygin, M."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2340"] [BlackElo "2512"] [PlyCount "109"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3 6. bxc3 Qa5 7. Bd2 Qa4 8. Qb1 c4 9. Ne2 {(Against Hovhanisian I chose Nf3 in 2006. 2 years ago I tried Be2. This time I chose for a bigger variation which scores pretty well for white in practice although today h4 is the most popular try.)} Nc6 10. g3 {(Nf4 is more critical and more popular but I had before the game decided to play g3 which leads to more simple play. In practice white also seems to score better with g3.)} Bd7 11. Bg2 {(Also now Nf3 is more popular but again not better performing in practice.)} O-O-O 12. O-O f5 $6 $146 {(An interesting and psychological novelty to destabilize me but objectively I find it less exact than the known f6 as it gives white extra interesting possibilities.)} 13. exf6 $6 {(I transpose to the known variation with f6 but leaving the center closed is probably strategical stronger. After h4 white keeps somehow the better prospects on the kingside although it is certainly not without risks to play on the wing where your own king is placed. )} Nxf6 14. Re1 Ne4 $146 {(A second novelty which came as a surprise. Afterwards I discovered that the move is a standard-idea in this type of positions so clearly my opponent was more familiar than I about the system. Black more or less equalizes with this move but the position remains easier playing for white. Therefore the opening can be considered a mini-success for white.)} 15. Be3 Be8 16. f3 Nf6 17. Nf4 Bf7 18. Bd2 Rhe8 19. h4 Qa5 20. Re2 e5 21. dxe5 Rxe5 22. Rxe5 Nxe5 23. Qb4 Nc6 $6 {(Black wants to release the pressure by exchanging queens but now whites bishops get more scope to play. Stronger was Qc7 and black seems able to defend if we trust the engines. Anyway it is evident that white keeps the nicer looking position.)} 24. Qxa5 Nxa5 25. Bh3 Kb8 26. Re1 Nc6 27. Ne6 Bxe6 28. Bf4 Ka8 29. Bxe6 b5 30. Kf2 Kb7 31. Bh3 d4 32. cxd4 Rxd4 33. Be3 $6 {(After the game I already indicated that I somehow could play more exact in this phase and indeed engines recommend the subtle Bf5 with a more clear advantage for white.)} ( 33. Bf5 $1 Rd8 34. g4 g6 $1 35. Re6 Nd5 36. Bg5 Rc8 $14) 33... Rd8 34. Bg2 a5 35. g4 Re8 $4 {(Black has little time and makes a serious judgement-error by relinquishing the d-file. Kc7 as well as Nd5 look playable for black.)} 36. g5 Nh5 37. Rd1 $6 {(This guarantees white a big advantage but even more powerful was Rb1.)} (37. Rb1 $1 b4 38. axb4 axb4 39. f4 Kc7 $18) 37... Kc7 38. Bh3 Ne5 $6 {(The endgame with Rd8 is of course no pleasure but maybe more persistent than the game-continuation after which I had few technical problems to solve. )} (38... Rd8 $1 39. Rxd8 Nxd8 40. f4 Kd6 41. Bg4 {(F5 immediately shall normally transpose.)} g6 42. f5 b4 43. axb4 axb4 44. Be2 $1 Kd5 45. Bd2 $16 {(This should very likely win for white but of course still requires a good technique.)}) 39. Rd5 b4 40. axb4 axb4 41. f4 Ng6 42. Rc5 Kd6 43. Rxc4 Ng3 44. Rd4 Kc7 45. Rd7 Kc6 46. Rxg7 Nh1 47. Kf3 Nxh4 48. Kg4 Rxe3 49. Kxh4 Ng3 50. Rxh7 Ne2 51. Rf7 Kd6 52. g6 Re8 53. g7 Rg8 54. Kg5 Nd4 55. Bf5 1-0'/>
My teammate Daniel Sadkowski summarized well afterwards by stating that I chose the easier playing side of the board. Loyal readers will surely still remember my blog-article green moves in which I discussed the usage of openingbooks for engines. Well if you would check the opening with a recent openingbook then you would quickly discover that I regularly didn't follow the most popular/ critical continuation but instead chose the best scoring in practice continuation. We all know that statistics have their limitations but concerning practical chances for a boardgame they are pretty useful.

Purely playing the man without taking into account your own strong points, seems to me wrong. Above examples show that we can create optimal chances by starting from our own strengths: chaos for the sharp tactical player, opening-knowledge for the player willing to spend lots of time in the preparation and study, positional play for the more positional player,... Therefore I recommend to choose a strategy against stronger players based on self-confidence and your own trumps instead of fear (to lose).

Brabo

Friday, November 15, 2013

Stockfish 4

Last month I was triggered by hypekiller5000 that a new release of Stockfish became available and scored remarkably well on the ccrl (computer chess rating list) with a 3rd place. Important detail is that the program can be downloaded for free. Now I am always a bit reluctant to use free software as I immediately think about illegal copies but eventually I let myself seduce to test and use the program in my analysis. The main reason for this is that my method of analyzing is based on 2 engines (see blogarticle analyseren met de computer) and with such method of analyzing it is recommended to use 2 approximately equal engines (preferably also complementing engines). Last year I wrote on this blog that I bought  Houdini 2.0, which replaced Fritz 11. As a consequence Rybka 3 remained as second engine but I quickly experienced that the gap in strength between the 2 engines became too big to have a good return with my method of analyzing. We should not forget that the release-date of Rybka 3 was august 2008 so we may state that the expiry-data has been passed.

The first thing which stands out from Stockfish is the way how the engine evaluates the positions. If you are used to classical evaluations of Rybka, Fritz and Houdini then you are in for some surprise. I mean with Stockfish you can easily have evaluations which divert 1 or even more pawns (so 100/100sten). An absolute record I detected in an analyzed variation of my recent game against Steven Geirnaert, see below screenshot.
Stockfish shows an evaluation of 94 points for black !

Stockfish shows an advantage of 94 points for black. Even if you promote all the remaining pawns then still you can't reach this sum. Houdini by the way only shows 11 points advantage for black after 10 minutes calculating. On chesspub this fact was mentioned as a negative quality of Stockfish but I believe this needs to be nuanced.  The program is in the first place made to play as strong as possible and uses therefore a mechanism for the evaluations which helps optimal. These evaluations are shared pure informative to the end-users but it is never the intention to make a final judgement of the position about who has the advantage and how big it exactly is. 

One would expect with such high evaluations that the engine will be very strong in tactics. However comparing with Houdini then I notice it is considerably weaker. Especially with quiet unexpected sacrifices Stockfish seems to have troubles. The solution of the below analyzed variation is found within a second by Houdini but after 10 minutes Stockfish still didn't!
[Event "Analyzed variation Groffen - Brabo"] [Date "2013"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r4r1k/1p5p/p1p1b3/3pPp2/1P1Q1P2/4P1R1/q6P/2R2BK1 w - - 0 23"] [PlyCount "9"] 23. e4 $3 {(Stockfish misses this move completely despite the fact that Houdini finds it very quickly.)} Rg8 (23... dxe4 24. Bc4 Bxc4 25. e6 Rf6 26. Qxf6#) (23... Rf7 24. exf5 Rxf5 25. Bh3 Rh5 26. f5 $18) (23... fxe4 24. Bh3 Rae8 25. f5 Rg8 26. Bg4 $18) 24. exf5 Rxg3 25. hxg3 Bxf5 26. g4 Be4 (26... Bxg4 27. e6 Kg8 28. Qe5 $18) 27. Re1 $1 $18 *'/>
It is incredible that Houdini finds this breakthrough-move e4 so quickly and correctly calculates the consequences. Besides, the keymove reminds me on the only time that I was completely surprised by my opponent in my correspondence-career (20 games played in the period 1998-2003). With some trouble I still escaped with a draw.
[Event "EU/M/1234"] [Date "1998"] [White "Verhoef, H."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "q5k1/1r4p1/r1pbp2p/P2p1p2/3P4/P5P1/3QPPBP/R1R3K1 w - - 0 27"] [PlyCount "47"] 27. e4 $3 {(This move was a complete surprise for me. Houdini shows this move immediately but Stockfish needs on my desktop still more than 4 minutes.)} fxe4 28. Bf1 Rxa5 29. Rxc6 Bxa3 30. Bh3 Kh8 31. Bxe6 Rb2 32. Qc3 Rb8 33. Rc5 Rxc5 34. dxc5 Qc6 35. Bxd5 Qxc5 36. Qxc5 Bxc5 37. Bxe4 {(The worst is over and I have little trouble to make a draw.)} Rf8 38. Ra2 g5 39. Kg2 Kg7 40. f3 Rd8 41. h4 gxh4 42. gxh4 Rf8 43. Kh3 Rf4 44. h5 Be7 45. Ra7 Kf8 46. Kg2 Bg5 47. Bg6 Kg8 48. Rd7 Kf8 49. Kf2 Kg8 50. Ke2 1/2-1/2'/>
Again Houdini finds the move instantly ( in 1999 this move never popped up on the screen) while Stockfish still needs more than 4 minutes. I still can show other tactical examples (eg. 8.g4 in my article on Houdini 2.0) but I assume that in the meantime it is sufficiently clear. Stockfish cuts a lot in the tree of variations to make an evaluation which causes it to regularly miss some tactic. Now how is it possible that there is only a gap of 25 points with Houdini, looking to the elo-rankings of the engines? Well clearly there is more than just tactics. It is very difficult to quantify but looking how Stockfish plays in stonewall-positions, I notice that the engine better understands than Houdini which plans are possible. On the other hand, in positions with fixed pawnchains as e.g. in the Portisch Hookvariant I notice no real difference in strength with Houdini. I deduct that pawnmoves could be a very important subset of how the mechanism for evaluating works of Stockfish.

As expected this effect is enlarged in the endgame. This is also confirmed in my first analyses. In this phase Stockfish overpowers completely Houdini. First I show an analyzed variation from my game against Raetsky which I briefly already mentioned in my previous article.
[Event "Analyzed variation Raetsky - Brabo"] [Date "2005"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "R1bB2k1/6pp/4p3/2N2p2/1p1P4/4P1P1/5PKP/2r5 b - - 0 37"] [PlyCount "49"] 37... Rxc5 38. Ba5 Rc4 39. Bxb4 Kf7 $1 {(Stockfish chooses to keep the bishops on the board which looks to me as the rigth choice.)} (39... Rxb4 $6 { (Houdini chooses for the rook-endgame but with 10 seconds per move can not hold the position.)} 40. Rxc8 Kf7 41. Rc7 Kf6 42. Rc6 Kf7 43. h4 Rb2 44. h5 h6 45. Rc7 Kf6 46. Kf3 Rd2 47. Ra7 Rb2 48. Ra6 Rd2 49. Ra8 Kg5 50. Rg8 Kf6 51. Rf8 Ke7 52. Rc8 Kf6 53. g4 fxg4 54. Kxg4 Ra2 55. Kf3 Ra3 56. Rc5 Rb3 57. Rc6 Kf5 58. Ke2 Rb2 59. Kd3 Rb3 60. Kc4 Ra3 61. e4 Kxe4 62. Rxe6 Kf5 63. d5 Ra2 64. f3 Rc2 65. Kd4 Rh2 66. Re4 Kf6 67. d6 Kf7 68. Kd5 Rxh5 69. Kc6 Rh1 70. d7 Rc1 71. Kd6 Rd1 72. Kc7 Rc1 73. Kd8 g5 74. Re7 Kf8 $18) 40. Ra7 Ke8 41. Bd6 Bd7 42. h4 Bc6 $1 {(To restrict the activity of the white king seems indeed the best choice to me.)} ( 42... Rc2 $6 {(Houdini chooses to hang on the f-pawn but gets later into problems once white decides to sacrifice that pawn.)} 43. Kf3 h6 44. h5 Bc6 45. Kf4 Rxf2 46. Ke5 Bd5 47. Rxg7 Re2 48. Kf6 Rc2 49. Re7 Kd8 50. Rh7 f4 51. Bxf4 Rc6 52. Ke5 Ke8 53. e4 Bb3 54. Rxh6 Ra6 55. d5 Kf7 $18) 43. Kf1 Bf3 44. Ke1 Rc2 45. Re7 Kd8 46. Rxg7 Re2 47. Kf1 Rb2 48. Bc7 Ke8 49. Ke1 Re2 50. Kd1 h5 51. Bd6 Kd8 $1 {(Only after 4 minutes calculating, Houdini understands winning material with Rxe3 is not optimal.)} (51... Rxe3 $6 52. Kd2 Re2 53. Kd3 Kd8 54. Be5 Rxf2 55. Ke3 Rf1 56. Kf4 Bg4 57. Kg5 Rc1 58. Kf6 Rc6 59. Rh7 Bd1 60. Kg5 Rc1 61. Bf6 Ke8 62. Re7 Kd8 63. Rxe6 Kd7 64. Re1 Kd6 65. Be5 Kd5 66. Rf1 Ra1 67. Rxf5 Ra2 68. Bg7 Ke6 69. Rc5 Bf3 70. Kf4 Rf2 71. Re5 Kd7 72. Ke3 Rf1 73. Rf5 Bg2 74. Rxh5 Rf3 75. Kd2 Rxg3 76. Be5 Rb3 77. Rg5 Be4 78. h5 Rh3 79. Bg7 Ke7 80. h6 Kf7 81. Re5 Bh7 82. Ke2 Bd3 83. Kf2 Bh7 84. Rb5 Be4 85. Rb6 Kg8 86. Re6 Bd5 87. Rd6 Rh5 88. Be5 Bf7 89. Rb6 Bd5 90. Kg3 Bc4 91. Bf4 Kf7 92. Rc6 Bd3 93. Rc5 Bf5 94. d5 Bd7 95. Kf3 Kg6 96. Ke4 Rf5 97. Rc7 Rf7 98. Ke5 Rf5 99. Kd6 Rxf4 100. Kxd7 $18) 52. Kc1 Rxf2 53. Rh7 Re2 54. Bf4 Ra2 55. Bc7 Ke8 56. Bd6 Kd8 57. Be5 Re2 58. Bf6 Kc8 59. Bg5 Rg2 60. Bf4 Kd8 61. Rc7 Be4 {(The king is an important piece in the endgame but here he is cut off. As a consequence, the extra pawn is insufficient to force the win.)} *'/>
3 times Houdini loses the endgame while Stockfish marvelously defends (which doesn't mean that I claim that the endgame is for sure a draw against perfect play). Also in the 2 endgames discussed in my blogarticle on Houdini 2.0 Stockfish is clearly superior. 42...Th4! is found by Stockfish within seconds while Houdini 2.0 needs more than 3 minutes. Houdini 2.0 doesn't find the brilliant 48...Kd5! while Stockfish again does in about 7 minutes. However Shirovs brilliant Bh3 seems again a bit too hard for Stockfish as after 10 minutes it is still not found but of course here we are again talking about tactics.

Meanwhile it is for me clear that the program very well complements with Houdini 2.0. I am surprised that such strong program is offered for free. On the other hand I also realize that a collective of volunteers often presents better results than 1 or 2 professionals. Moreover it is expected that the next release of Stockfish could very well be the new number 1 in computerchess. No need to panic as we are still extremely far from solving chess so there still remains many years of pleasure to search for the unknown.

Brabo

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Problem moves

A spectacular game with a number of tactical blows will normally more appeal the audience than a more positional played game. Sacrifices and counter-sacrifices are not only fascinating but often also much easier to understand than the so called quiet moves. It is no coincidence that I chose in my blogarticle mijn mooiste zet for only tactical positions. Explaining well the concept of critical moves, is not easy with quiet moves which often differ little or nothing with the alternatives.

Nevertheless I won't deny that I can also enjoy a lot the quiet moves. As there are often in a game many of them which are trivial, it is not redundant to describe what can be a beautiful quiet move. In my opinion the most important characteristic is that the move must be rare and at the same time functional. Recently I bumped via the blog of David Smerdon on a game between L'Ami-Krasenkow in which the remarkable move Bh8-a1 was played.
[Event "Unive Open"] [Site "Hoogeveen NED"] [Date "2013.10.21"] [Round "4.2"] [White "Erwin L’Ami"] [Black "Mikhail Krasenkow"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D31"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3r3B/5k1p/8/p7/Rp6/8/6PP/6K1 w - - 0 36"] [PlyCount "56"] 36. Ba1 {(A retreating bishop move on the long diagonal is a rare move in practice. White gets a big advantage wit this move but eventually does not manage to win the game.)} Rd1 37. Kf2 b3 38. Kf3 Rd2 39. Rf4 Kg8 40. Rg4 Kf8 41. Bg7 Kf7 42. Bh8 Rd8 43. Rg7 Ke6 44. Rxh7 a4 45. Rh6 Kf7 46. Bb2 Rd2 47. Rh4 Rxb2 48. Rxa4 Rc2 49. Rb4 Rc3 50. Kf2 Rc2 51. Kg3 Rc3 52. Kh4 Rc2 53. Kh3 b2 54. Rb6 Ke7 55. g4 Kd7 56. Kg3 Kc7 57. Rb3 Kd6 58. Rb8 Kc5 59. h3 Kc4 60. Kf4 Rd2 61. Rc8 Kd3 62. Rb8 Kc4 63. Rc8 Kd3 1/2-1/2'/>
A bishop in the corner has a minimum of squares to where it can move to. So moving a bishop on purpose from one corner to the other one, is not what we see every day on the board. Thanks to an old article of the fantastic website of  Tim Krabbe we know that this move happens once per x thousands of games. Next would be nice to know which move is the most rare one. Well except some minorpromotions all moves have been played at least once in practice. This with the restriction if we use the long notation. If we use the short notation then I am not so sure of that even if we don't take minorpromotions into account. 

A knight on the rim is grim, is a known proverb so we won't play a knight easily to the side of the board. Putting a knight in the corner is obviously even less done although not very rare as Herman Grooten recently illustrated in some articles on schaaksite: vier maal een paard op h1 en gespot 56 paard naar de hoek. Really weird it is when you put a knight in the corner when you have the choice between 2 knights. I mean you play a move like Nba8, Nca8, Ngh8, Nfh8, Nca1, Nba1, Nfh1, Ngh1. I played such move once in my career against Alexander Raetsky whom after the tournament became grandmaster.
[Event "Open Cappelle La Grande 7de ronde"] [Date "2005"] [White "Raetsky, A."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A85"] [WhiteElo "2460"] [BlackElo "2316"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r3k1/1bn3pp/pn2p3/B3Np2/3P4/6P1/4PP1P/R4BK1 b - - 0 30"] [PlyCount "16"] 30... Nba8 {(Black has already a bad position so I do not find Nba8 much sillier than Nbd5 which would block blacks bishop. My opponent did not agree at all while the engines show little difference in evaluation between both moves.)} 31. e3 Nb5 32. Nd3 Rc2 $6 {(A try to become active but objectively it only worsens the position. )} 33. Nc5 Bc8 34. Bxb5 axb5 35. Bd8 b4 36. Rxa8 $2 {(The logical followup but there is a hidden resource which white misses. E.g. Ra7 would be over and out.)} b3 $2 {(With very little time remaining, I miss a golden opportunity.)} (36... Rc1 $1 37. Kg2 Rxc5 { (A complex endgame in which black has good surviving chances.)}) 37. Nxb3 Bb7 38. Ra1 1-0'/>
After the game my opponent laughed in my face for the most idiotic move he ever saw although even today I still don't find it a bad choice. Anyway at move 36 I missed a beautiful drawing chance with Rc1 followed up with Rxc5. Now I do admit that with such moves you won't win many games. The former worldchampion Anatoly Karpov succeeded once with such sort of move but he was at that time still very young see his 29th move Nfh1 against Fedin. Of the 8 possibilities, I found 7 but I assume Nba1 is likely also once played. A lot more unlikely it becomes if we add the condition that the move can't be played on the own side of the board. I mean Nba8 for white instead of black. Out of curiosity I challenge the reader to find such example from the tournamentpractice (so without cheating and constructing a game.) 

So far the special moves but really nice things can be seen when several quiet moves are combined. Recently Luc Winants deservedly informed us about a nice moment at move 31 and 32 in his game against Moens.
[Event "European Club Cup"] [Site "Rhodes GRE"] [Date "2013.10.23"] [Round "4.11"] [White "Andreas Moen"] [Black "Luc Winants"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C79"] [WhiteElo "2390"] [BlackElo "2534"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3rr1k1/5qpp/2pBbp2/1pP5/p3PP2/2QR2R1/1P4PP/6K1 b - - 0 31"] [PlyCount "5"] [EventDate "2013.10.20"] 31... Ba2 {(Not the only possible move but a move which contains some poison and includes a very nice theme. )} 32. Rde3 Qb3 {(A bristol-clearance which is rarely seen in practice. )} 33. Qxf6 $4 Qxe3 0-1'/>
We may rightly speak here about a bristol clearance. A lighter piece clears space for a heavier piece. In the problemworld this is well known but in practice you see such things very rare. A step further goes the below analysed opening in which i already discovered in 1997 a lovely novelty. If I can trust my databases then the move is still not played in practice. 
[Event "BEL-ch Expert"] [Site "Namur"] [Date "2007.06.30"] [Round "1"] [White "Akhayan, Ruben"] [Black "Hovhanisian, Mher"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2247"] [BlackElo "2391"] [PlyCount "110"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Qb6 8. Na4 Qa5 9. c3 cxd4 10. b4 Nxb4 11. cxb4 Bxb4 12. Bd2 Bxd2 13. Nxd2 b5 14. Nb2 Nc5 15. Bd3 Qc3 {(The move was around 1997 pretty popular with players in the region of Bruges. )} 16. Bxb5 $6 {(The only move in practice which has been tested several times but the novelty which I discovered in 1997 is stronger. )} ( 16. Qb1 $1 $146 {(A turton-bristol clearance as the queen clears space for the rook of h1.)} Bd7 17. Ke2 f6 18. Rc1 Qa3 19. Nb3 Rc8 20. exf6 gxf6 21. Kf1 Kf7 $14) 16... Bd7 17. Bxd7 Nxd7 18. Na4 Qe3 19. Qe2 Qxf4 20. Rf1 Qxe5 21. Qxe5 Nxe5 22. Nf3 Nxf3 23. gxf3 Ke7 24. Kd2 Rhc8 25. Rab1 Rc7 26. Rfc1 Rac8 27. Rxc7 Rxc7 28. Kd3 g5 29. Rb5 Kd6 30. Ra5 Ke5 31. Nc5 h5 32. Nb3 Rc3 33. Ke2 Rc2 34. Kd3 Rxh2 35. Rxa7 f5 36. Nxd4 Rh1 37. f4 gxf4 38. Nf3 Kf6 39. a4 h4 40. Rh7 h3 41. Rh6 Kg7 42. Rxe6 h2 43. Nxh2 Rxh2 44. Rd6 Ra2 45. Rxd5 Kf6 46. Rd8 Kg5 47. Rg8 Kh4 48. Rh8 Kg4 49. Rg8 Kf3 50. Ra8 Kg2 51. Rg8 Kf2 52. Ra8 f3 53. Kc3 Kg3 54. Rg8 Kf4 55. Kb3 Ra1 0-1'/>
Here the heavier piece clears space for the lighter piece. In my old book of problems this is called a Turton-Bristol but I also found different names so there is discussion about what is the right name. Finally I also want to show a real problem which I built 20 years ago as a non clubplayer. There exist many more beautiful creations with this theme but it sounds to me anyway appropriate in the context of the blogarticle. The solution is mentioned on the bottom of the article as maybe some readers prefer to try first themselves although I expect it must be easy if you read this article.
Wit mates in 3
I strongly doubt that such problemmoves are possible in tournament practice. Anway schaakcompositities clearly show that chess hides many more possibilities than we will ever see in a boardgame. Therefore I also think that we shouldn't search too fast for the rare/ problem-moves in a game. It is not with that sort of moves that we will decide a game in our favor or you have to be a very strong player like the grandmasters in above examples. 

Brabo

Solution:
Loydse clearance: A piece clears space for another piece which uses it in the opposite direction.
1.Lh8 (dreigt Db2#), Kb7 2.Dg7+ Kb6 3.Db2#

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Swiss gambit

Even in tournaments with a modest prize-fund we see today more and more grandmasters participating. This was also the case in the Open of Gent this summer in which 7 grandmasters played for 5 full days despite only 2 serious prizes, see info about the prizes. I can't remember an earlier edition in which 7 or more grandmasters participated. As indicated in my blogarticle shooting a mosquito with a canon it is also crisis for professional chess and players can't be too choosy when selecting tournaments. Worldwide we count already more than 1000 grandmasters so the internal competition is very tough. Besides we can't deny that the title of grandmaster doesn't have the same importance as before so without doubt the commercial value has decreased. Therefore within Fide some people would prefer to create a new title like super-grandmaster or elite-grandmaster. Personally I don't think this is a bad idea as with a strong marketing-strategy it could make chess again more popular with the mainstream-media. 

I wrote already quite some articles of the past Open Gent, see gambits , sportsmanship , green moves , a Dutch gambit part 2 , chessintuition part 2 , which games to analyze , iccf , revolution in the millennium but I didn't mention yet how the tournament ended for me. Well for the first time I scored 7/9, twice my score of 20 years ago when I participated for the first time. This also meant that I received a prize which after the abolishing of the prizes for the best Belgium players had been a while. However as 2 players achieved 7,5/9 and 10 players obtained 7/9, it was only a very modest sum (if I remember well then it was 105 euro). 5 grandmasters also had to be satisfied with such remuneration after 5 days 'working' so once again it is clear that  chess is not an easy choice as profession today. 

Maybe even more remarkable is the fact that I didn't meet in any of the 9 rounds a grandmaster or even a higher rated player than myself. After an unexpected defeat in round 3 which I discussed in detail in my blogarticle chessintuition part 2, I was thrown back in the pack which caused me avoiding all the stronger players. In the last round I had some luck as I was again paired to the bottom, received white and on top was able to use my limited preparation. Due to the early starting-hour (11 am) and the playing hall on a distance of an hour driving from home, it was important to use my limited time optimal for the preparation. First I checked the repertoire of my opponent and afterwards I made a choice about which variant was most likely to pop up on the board. At last I searched with that specific variant some recently played games by strong grandmasters in the databases (mainly twics) as explained in to analyse with the computer.
[Event "2nd Polugaevsky Mem"] [Site "Samara RUS"] [Date "2012.07.08"] [Round "4.2"] [White "Smirnov, P."] [Black "Geller, J."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B85"] [WhiteElo "2592"] [BlackElo "2555"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2012.07.05"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be2 a6 7. O-O Nf6 8. Be3 Be7 9. f4 d6 10. Qe1 O-O 11. Qg3 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 b5 13. a3 Bb7 14. Rae1 Rad8 15. Kh1 Rd7 16. Bd3 Re8 17. Re2 Qd8 18. Qh3 Bf8 19. a4 e5 20. Bf2 b4 21. Nd5 Nxd5 22. exd5 g6 23. Bh4 Be7 24. Bxe7 Rexe7 25. f5 Bxd5 26. Bxa6 Bc6 27. Qh4 Bxa4 28. Re3 e4 29. Rh3 h5 30. fxg6 fxg6 31. Qg5 Re5 32. Bc4 Kg7 33. Rf7 Rxf7 34. Qxd8 Rd5 35. g4 Rd1 36. Kg2 Rd2 37. Kg3 d5 38. Qg5 Rd1 39. Qe5 Kh7 40. Be2 Re1 41. Qxd5 Be8 42. Qxe4 Kh6 43. Qe3 1-0" />
Afterwards my opponent Johan Goormachtigh told me that he didn't have time to prepare. So on one side it is understandable that he chose something of which he had experience. On the other hand if you just like my opponent of round 7, see revolution in the millennium are not aware about the latest theoretical developments then this is looking for troubles.
[Event "Open Gent 9de ronde"] [Date "2013"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Goormachtigh, J."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B85"] [WhiteElo "2344"] [BlackElo "2208"] [PlyCount "55"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be2 a6 7. O-O Nf6 8. Be3 Be7 9. f4 d6 {(In 2012 Open Leuven I encountered the weird 0-0.)} 10. Qe1 {(After a4 black can transpose to my recent interclubgame against Negi which I wanted to avoid. )} O-O 11. Qg3 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 b5 13. a3 Bb7 14. Kh1 Rad8 15. Rae1 Rd7 16. Bd3 Re8 17. Re2 {(I played this move rather quickly as it is still part of my preparation. The concept is rather new and scores pretty good in practice. )} Nh5 $6 {(The critical continuation is without doubt Qd8.)} (17... Rdd8 $6 18. Re3 Nh5 (18... g6 19. Ree1 $1 Qd7 $5 20. f5 e5 $5 21. Be3 Rc8 $5 22. Bh6 Nh5 23. Qe3 $1 $14) 19. Qg4 $1 $146 {(A novelty on the correspondence game Ayrosa,Paulo Ferraz - Tosi Francesco played in 2007.)} Nf6 20. Qg5 h6 21. Qg3 Nh5 22. Qh3 $1 Bf6 23. e5 dxe5 24. Bxe5 Bxe5 25. fxe5 g6 26. Kg1 Ng7 27. Qxh6 $14 {(Here we see why white wanted to provoke h6.)}) ( 17... Qd8 $1 18. Qh3 Bf8 (18... h6 19. Re3 $146 Bf8 20. Rg3 Kh8 21. a4 bxa4 22. Nxa4 e5 23. Bb6 Qc8 $13) 19. a4 e5 20. Bf2 bxa4 $146 21. Nxa4 exf4 22. Qf5 Re6 $5 $13) 18. Qh3 g6 19. f5 Bg5 20. Qg4 Qd8 21. fxe6 Rxe6 $2 {(Necessary was fxe6 as now black has too many weaknesses on the white squares. )} 22. Ref2 Re8 23. a4 bxa4 { (After the game I indicated that I would have answered b4 also with Bc4 with a winning attack. )} 24. Bc4 Rf8 25. Nd5 Bxd5 26. Bxd5 Bh6 27. Bb6 Qe7 28. Rxf7 1-0" />
This surely doesn't mean that I have now a fitting answer for my defeat against Negi, see shooting a mosquito with a canon but I am glad to win once again against the Scheveningen. Besides with Rxf7 I also show with reference to my blogarticle  my most beautiful move, that playing such moves isn't a matter of knowing the patterns but rather of calculating correctly which is of course not very difficult in the case above. 

Despite I played some good chess since the third round, I won't deny this is also the merit of the pairings. I mean scoring 7/9 via the help of the Swiss gambit isn't the same as obtaining the same score with playing continuously on the topboards. By using the tie-brake system based on progression scores, fortunately some distinction is made in the final standings. Hereby I also want to mention that it is good to notice that the organisation has abandoned Bucholts as tie-brake in favor of progression scores because of the unavoidable dropouts in the last rounds (this change I recommended in my blogaticle result in open gent agreed or not in advance).

Nevertheless I still see despite the chosen tie-brake, players choosing for a Swiss gambit as they consider money more important than a little meaning honorary place. It seems to me no bad tournament-strategy to link prizes to the tie-brake system. Personally I find the easy Hort System a fair choice in which half of the money is divided between the players with the same score and half linked to the tie-brake system.

As we had to wait for the prize-givings, it probably would be a good idea to use a program for the calculations. I triggered Ruben Decrop whom recently founded chessdevil. The program seems to me an nice add-on of the tournament-program but it is not clear if it is also commercially viable. In any case if amateur-programmers are willing to help for a more smooth prize-givings, then this will certainly be welcomed by the tournament-organisations.

Brabo

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Revolution in the millennium

The only book of Kasparov about Modern Chess which I didn't read, is Garry Kasparov on modern chess, Part 1: Revolution in the 70's for the simple reason that I prefer to study recent openings. A nice bookreview of this book can be found on the site of the torrewachters. Recently the question was raised on chesspub if we can also speak of a sort of revolution in the new millennium. Very soon the remark was made that there has been in the last decade an explosion (and still ongoing) of new systems and variations in such magnitude that likely a book of the 70's would only be a chapter today. This is one of the main reasons why we have today much more repertoire-books as e.g. Playing 1.d4 Indian defences van Lars Schandorff instead of opening-manuals as e.g. The complete Albin counter gambit van Luc Henris.

Without a doubt the computer has hereby played an important role. Previously players were admiring the tactical wizardness of players like Mikhail Tal or Rashid Nezhmetdinov. Today every player backed up with some good home-analysis can show some fancy tactics which was illustrated in my blogarticle iccf. Players aren't afraid anymore to play hyper-sharp variations because they know that their engines have shown in advance it is fully playable. Besides tactics, we also see a remarkable raise of gambits in which material is invested for dynamical characteristics. The Marshallgambit is likely one of the most known systems which became very popular last decade even in such magnitude that a lot of white-players have given up the traditional Spanish setup and exchanged it for the slower d3 concept. On my blog I presented an example in my blogarticle eindspelen met ongelijke lopers deel 2. For the Marshallgambit we can mainly speak about expanding the theory but last years we have also seen many new fully playable gambits. I remember e.g. the astonishing Gajewski 2.0 gambits which caused a wave of attention in the chessworld as it concerned an extremely popular opening.

Finally I also see a 3rd kind of tendency in evaluating positional disadvantages compared with dynamics. An opening like the Berlin was regarded a few decades ago as nonsense but today most topplayers have it in their repertoire with white and black. In fact is it pretty absurd what black is doing. He let himself volunteerly lose the castlingrights, destroy the pawnstructure (double c-pawns) and on top white gets a few extra tempo. Despite all that a computer doesn't succeed in forcing an advantage, at contrary as black often has good counterchances if white plays a bit inaccurate.

Recently I met by coincidence a similar concept in the Rauzer in which black via serious positional concessions, tries to get very dynamic play. I mean the system with g6 in which black permits to destroy completely his pawnstructure often intending to sacrifice a pawn.
Nevertheless we see recently several strong grandmasters willing to play with the black pieces. I am thinking of 2012 Junior Worldchampion Alexander Ipatov, 2011 European champion Vladimir Potkin and +2600 Evgeniy Najer. A fantastic game however lost by black but not in the opening, was played beginning of this year in Wijk aan Zee between the Swedish grandmaster Nils Grandelius and the earlier mentioned Alexander Ipatov.
[Event "75th Tata Steel GpB"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2013.01.17"] [Round "5.3"] [White "Grandelius, N."] [Black "Ipatov, Alexander"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B60"] [WhiteElo "2572"] [BlackElo "2587"] [PlyCount "73"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bg5 g6 7. Bxf6 exf6 8. Bc4 Bg7 9. Ndb5 O-O 10. Qxd6 f5 11. O-O-O Qb6 12. f4 fxe4 13. Nd5 Qa5 14. Nf6 Kh8 15. Nc7 Be6 16. Bxe6 fxe6 {(My personal analysis continue with Rad8 and black has good counterplay.)} 17. Nxa8 Qxa2 18. Nc7 Qa1 19. Kd2 Qxb2 20. Nce8 Nd4 21. Nxg7 Rc8 $2 {(Hereafter black is lost. With Kxg7 black could have stayed in the game.)} 22. Ke3 Qc3 23. Rd3 exd3 24. Qxd4 Qxc2 25. Re1 d2 26. Qxd2 Qb3 27. Ke4 Rc4 28. Ke5 Rc5 29. Kd6 Qb6 30. Ke7 Rc7 31. Nd7 Kxg7 32. Rxe6 Qc5 33. Qd6 Qc4 34. Qe5 Kg8 35. Kf6 Rc6 36. Qb8 Rc8 37. Re8 1-0'/>
In the last New in Chess Yearbook 107 there is a complete chapter covering this system which I by coincidence discovered thanks to a review in Checkpoint, a monthly column by Hansen on Chesscafe (readers having this book and willing to share the knowledge of the chapter so I can verify my personal analysis, will certainly do me a favor). So we can expect in the nearby future that more players will pick up the system. Myself I didn't have to wait long before encountering the system on the board as in July in round 7 of Open Gent, a young promising Belgium player Yasseen De Herdt was willing to test me with it. During my preparation I discovered thanks to the latest twics and downloading the games of the just ended Belgium championship that Yasseen had won 4 recent games with the system so I was warned and didn't consider the opening lightly. I plugged the whole morning to find some sort of advantage which wasn't easy with 2 small children hanging around me begging for attention. The longer I was investigating the variations, the more I was surprised about the vitality of the system. Finally I anyway found something new of which I supposed (there was insufficient time to check everything in detail) that it could be an amelioration.
[Event "Open Gent 7de ronde"] [Date "2013"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "De Herdt, Y."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B60"] [WhiteElo "2344"] [BlackElo "2170"] [PlyCount "53"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nc6 6. Bg5 g6 {(A side-system which gained in recent years popularity. I had not yet encountered it in a serious game but thanks to a few hours plugging during the preparation, I was anyway able to achieve some small advantage.)} 7. Bxf6 exf6 8. Bb5 Bd7 9. Qd2 Bg7 10. O-O-O O-O 11. Nb3 {(A novelty introduced last year in the game Naiditsch - Najer.)} f5 $146 {(Najer continued with a6 on which I had planned Bxc6, deviating from Naiditsch play with a small plus for white. I missed the gamecontintuation in my preparation but I did have a look at Be6 and Qb6 which became handy as via transposition we later returned to the game-preparation.)} ( 11... Be6 $5 12. Qxd6 Qb6 13. Qc5 f5 {(Via transposition we are back in the game.)}) 12. Qxd6 Qb6 13. Qc5 $5 {(Thanks to the special move-order, white has an extra interesting option.)} (13. Qxd7 $5 Rfd8 14. Bxc6 Rxd7 15. Bxd7 Qxf2 $1 16. exf5 Qxg2 17. Kb1 $14 {(The 3 pieces must be more important than the black queen but it remains unclear if white really has better winning chances than in the game.)}) 13... Be6 14. Nd5 $5 { (The alternative exf5 is also good for some small advantage.)} (14. exf5 $5 Bxb3 15. Qxb6 axb6 16. axb3 Ra5 17. Bxc6 bxc6 18. f4 Rxf5 19. g3 Ra8 $14 ) 14... Qxc5 15. Nxc5 Bxd5 $5 {(The critical test is without doubt Nd4.)} (15... Nd4 $5 16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. Nc7 Rac8 $1 {(Now white must make a difficult choice as in both variations whites advantage is small.)} 18. Nxe6 (18. Rxd4 Rxc7 19. Rd7 Be5 20. Rxc7 Bxc7 21. Bc4 fxe4 22. Bxe6 Kg7 23. Bd5 Rxf2 24. Bxe4 b5 25. a3 $1 a5 $14) 18... Nxe6 19. Bd7 Nd4 $1 20. Bxc8 Rxc8 21. c3 fxe4 22. Rhe1 Ne6 23. Rxe4 Nc5 24. Ree1 Kf7 25. Rd5 $1 Rc7 26. Kc2 $14) 16. exd5 Nd4 17. Bd3 Rac8 $6 {(More precise is Rfc8 with better compensation.)} (17... Rfc8 18. Nxb7 Rab8 19. Nd6 Rd8 {(First Bh6 will normally transpose. )} 20. Nc4 Bh6 21. Kb1 Nb5 22. Ka1 Rxd5 23. a4 $14 ) 18. Nxb7 Rc7 19. Na5 Rb8 20. Nb3 Nxb3 21. axb3 Rxb3 $6 {(A5 was the last chance to stay i the game. Now white can force quickly the victory with pushing up the d-pawn.)} 22. d6 Rc6 23. d7 Bf6 24. Rhe1 Kg7 25. Re8 Bxb2 26. Kd2 Bc3 27. Ke2 1-0'/>
So white won pretty easily whereby Stefan Docx interpreted my victory as something fully linked to the very weak openingchoice of black. However I believe this is incorrect as black can easily improve his play in the game. Fully equality I can't find against the setup for which I chose but even with the small disadvantage it doesn't mean that black needs to lose. Maybe a grandmaster will manage to defend successfully the disadvantage but I have to admit that I wouldn't volunteerly play such position. For a player, liking gambits (so I don't belong in that category) it is certainly a good surprise-weapon but to play it every time seems risky, specially if the opponent can/ will prepare himself.

If we may speak about a revolution in the millennium then I guess we realize today that much more positions are playable as we imagined previously. Personally I find this a refreshing thought in comparison with pessimists, thinking the computer will be the end of modern chess.

Brabo

Thursday, October 10, 2013

ICCF

We all know that knowledge is important to score points. It is therefore not surprising that a lot of ambitious players are very eager to collect databases. In an earlier mentioned youtubemovie on this blog, see chessintuition part 2 Anand tells us that today he has a database of about 20 million games. The author of the book Grandmaster repertoire 10 The Tarrasch Defense, Nikos Ntirilis assumed initially that these were all quality games but on Quality chess blog I already indicated that this can impossibly be correct. We may assume that the reigning worldchampion only will speak about quality games when one of the players is at least top 100 and if the game is played on a standard timecontrol. If we take an optimistic 100 games per year for each of the top 100 players then not considering duplications, we achieve only 10.000 games per year in total. This means we need 2000 years to collect 20 million quality games.

It is clear that a worldchampion collects much more that just quality games. Of course i don't know the exact content of Anand's database but i am pretty sure that it is built around a Chessbase product (Mega or Big database) so also a lot of games with a limited quality are included. Now one can ask himself if it wouldn't be wise to throw out the less interesting games. Well I believe there is in every serious played game something interesting to learn. This I already discussed extensively in my previous blogarticle which games to analyze.
We also know that databases are a good source to find information about opponents. Most worldclassplayers don't play exclusively against their peers (simuls, open tournaments,...) We should also not forget that some young players will later become much stronger players. Finally storing a big database is very cheap and we possess today about tools which permit to search through such database very fast the information in which we are interested. Hereby I also want to remark that it is better to use chessbase format as database as I experienced serious lags when using pgn format.

Now even if we collect all these games with limited quality, still 20 million is an astronomical figure. The most recent commercial Mega Database counts 5,4 million games. I have around 7 million games of which I made a detailed summary in a comment under my blogarticle green moves. Recently I added thanks to a hint of hypekiller5000 another nice collection of quality games which were played between engines, see computerchess. Openingkillers you won't find but such enginedatabases are a handy tool to define in a fast and accurate way the evalution of today's existing openingsvariations. In openingmaster you can find today with paying some fee, 8,7 million games. I doubt you will find more on the internet as a standard chessplayers so Anand clearly has access to some exclusive channels. Mark Uniacke claims on  the Hiarcs website that Anand uses their engine so probably also has access to additional enginedatabases. It is also generally known that Anand is close friends with Frederic Friedel and therefore likely has access to the games played on the webportal playchess. Today on the counter of playchess we see 660 million games so it must be easy to select the 10 million better games out of it by using criteria like rating and tempo.

Besides a continue search for quantity, an equal search for quality happens. A few decades ago, quality was only linked to games played between worldclassplayers. Today these games are obviously still important but today most players have also discovered that iccf possess a real treasure of high quality games. In quite some recent otb-games we see the novelty originating from the correspondenceworld. Sometimes this creates weird and wild games when both players are using the same information. On chessvibes I found the game Vachier-Lagrave Gelfand in which both players followed a iccf-game from 2012. Maxime deviated on move 18 with a continuation of which I assume (considering the fact that little time was used for the whole game) he knew in advance that black with correct play could draw. Boris however had made his homework too as in lightning speed they liquidated with some fantastic tactics to a perpetual check. The example clearly shows how extensive these players prepare their openings and not only are aware about the keygames but also look critically to all sort of alternatives. Below you can replay both games.
[Event "WS/MN/083"] [Site "ICCF"] [Date "2012.05.02"] [White "Kloster, Josef"] [Black "Gromark, Per-Olof"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2326"] [BlackElo "2324"] [PlyCount "49"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4 c5 8. Ne2 Nc6 9. Be3 O-O 10. O-O b6 11. dxc5 Qc7 12. Nd4 Ne5 13. Nb5 Qb8 14. Bd5 Ng4 15. g3 Nxe3 16. fxe3 a6 17. Bxf7 Kh8 18. Bd5 Rxf1 19. Qxf1 axb5 20. Bxa8 Qxa8 21. cxb6 h5 22. Qxb5 Qxe4 23. Qe8 Kh7 24. Qxc8 Qxe3 25. Kg2 1/2-1/2'/>
The otb-game was played in the recently finished worldcup which was won by Kramnik.
[Event "World Cup"] [Site "Tromso NOR"] [Date "2013.08.20"] [Round "27.7"] [White "Maxime Vachier-Lagrave"] [Black "Boris Gelfand"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D87"] [PlyCount "54"] [EventDate "2013.08.11"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4 c5 8. Ne2 O-O 9. O-O Nc6 10. Be3 b6 11. dxc5 Qc7 12. Nd4 Ne5 13. Nb5 Qb8 14. Bd5 Ng4 15. g3 Nxe3 16. fxe3 a6 {(An otb-novelty which is already known from the correspondence world.)} 17. Bxf7 Kh8 18. Nd4 {(The correspondencegame continued with Bd5. Nd4 is a nice try to pull blacks leg. In the final part of the game Gelfand shows with lightning speed that he also made his homework.)} bxc5 19. Bd5 Rxf1 20. Qxf1 cxd4 21. Rb1 Qa7 22. Qf7 Be6 23. Qxe6 dxc3 24. Bxa8 Qxe3 25. Kg2 Qe2 26. Kh3 Qh5 27. Kg2 Qe2 1/2-1/2'/>
I also experienced a similar case a few months ago. Contrary to the previous example this time it is less clear who was first as the story already started in 2010. On chesspub I published my self-made analyses on the Stautongames with Qe2 on account of my game against Pieter Saligo. In 2011 a correspondencegame was played with exactly the mainline which I had recommended.
[Event "GER-NED"] [Site "ICCF"] [Date "2011.11.07"] [White "Tazelaar, H. J. A. (Louk)"] [Black "Betker, Jörg"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2410"] [BlackElo "2443"] [PlyCount "39"] [EventDate "2011.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "Netherlands"] [BlackTeam "Germany"] [WhiteTeamCountry "NED"] [BlackTeamCountry "GER"] 1. d4 f5 2. e4 fxe4 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Nc6 5. d5 Ne5 6. Qe2 c6 7. O-O-O Nxd5 8. Nxd5 Nf7 9. Nf4 Nxg5 10. Qh5 Nf7 11. Bc4 g6 12. Bxf7 Kxf7 13. Nxg6 hxg6 14. Qxh8 Qa5 15. Nh3 Bg7 16. Qh4 Qxa2 17. Ng5 Kf8 18. c3 d6 19. Rhe1 Qa1 20. Kc2 1/2-1/2'/>
Of course it can be a coincidence but as a lot of correspondence players are active on chesspub, it wouldn't surprise me that 1 or both players were aware of my earlier published analyses. On my turn I was aware about the correspondence game thanks to a website on the Stautongambit. Besides if you are an adept of gambits then you certainly should spend some time on  Ian Simpson's Chess Site. Initially i only took notion of the game and it was only after Stefan Docx told me (in Open Leuven 2012?) that black in the final position also can make a draw with the spectacular Bxc3 that I did the effort to check some variations on a computer.
[Event "Open Gent 6de ronde"] [Date "2013"] [White "Bezemer, A."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A83"] [WhiteElo "2290"] [BlackElo "2344"] [PlyCount "44"] 1. d4 f5 2. e4 fxe4 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Nc6 5. d5 Ne5 6. Qe2 c6 {(In the hour preparation I had remarked that Arno already had played this variation a few times so obviously I refreshed my memory on the analysis made of this variation. In 2010 against Pieter Saligo I played the cautious d6 in this position.)} 7. O-O-O Nxd5 8. Nxd5 Nf7 9. Nf4 {(Arno played this move immediately. Afterwards he told me that he had a look at it just before the game with the computer. Nf4 is a novelty for otb but it was already known to me since 2010 from my analysis.)} Nxg5 10. Qh5 Nf7 11. Bc4 g6 12. Bxf7 Kxf7 13. Nxg6 hxg6 14. Qxh8 {(We both were out of book after this move. Well technically this is not fully correct as I had revised the positon in 2011 at the cause of a correspondence game but on the board I could not remember the exact moves.)} Qa5 15. Nh3 Bg7 16. Qh4 Qxa2 17. Ng5 Kf8 18. c3 d6 19. Rhe1 Bxc3 {(Only here I deviate from the earlier mentioned correspondencegame. In that game an immediate perpetual check was given with Qa1-Kc2-Qa4-Kc1. Besides there is still a special story to Bxc3. After the game Stefan Docx told me that everything was already played in a correspondence game. Now I remember that he already told me this once and even indicated that black had different options to make a draw of which Bxc3 is one of the most spectacular ones. It again shows how much work lately Stefan spent at chess and that his progress did not arrive by coincidence. During the game I remembered this piece of information and therefore I was already looking for some moves to Bxc3. When white played Rhe1, I immediately saw the move worked.)} (19... Qa1 $5 20. Kc2 Qa4 21. Kb1 $4 {(White accepted the draw in correspondence as this fails.)} Bf5 22. g4 e3 23. gxf5 Qxh4 $19 {(A nice pointe.)}) (19... Bf5 $5 20. g4 $5 {(Re3 is also possible and black can best respond with d5 or c5.)} Qa1 21. Kc2 Qa4 22. Kd2 {(Kb1 transposes to the first variation. Now black has some interesting continuations like e3 and Bxg4 but the evaluation remains equal looking to the engines.)}) 20. bxc3 (20. Nh7 Kg8 21. bxc3 Qa3 22. Kd2 Qb2 23. Ke3 Qxc3 24. Kxe4 $4 { (Kf4 en Ke2 zijn correct.)} Qb4 25. Rd4 Qxe1 {(A trick we both noticed during the game.)}) 20... Qa1 21. Kc2 Qa2 22. Kc1 Qa1 1/2-1/2'/>
Several months later it popped up on the board during the 6th round of Open Gent. In the hour preparation on Arno Bezemer I had only revised my original analysis of the Stautongambit with Qe2 so during the game I couldn't remember the exact moves anymore of the correspondence game. Nevertheless thanks to logic play we anyway achieved the final position and at that moment I got a déjà-vue as I saw immediately the sacrifice on c3 and its consequences.

Obviously the game attracted quite some crowd, curious of what exactly happened. Only after I and Stefan Docx explained that everything was known, people withdrew quietly. Just like in my blogarticle de wetenschappelijke aanpak reactions were very diversified from astonishment to disgustment.

I don't want to start up a discussion if these kind of otb-games are a good or bad thing for otb. Fact is that you as a titleholder are more or less obliged to be aware of these correspondencegames to level the opening. Iccf also started to realise that and came to the conclusion to hide their databases for non-members. Since end of last year (see ICCF Congress 2012) the database is hidden, something which I only discovered in july as I only then tried to download the most recent games as preparation for Open Gent. My tries on chesspub to circumvent these blockade didn't work so readers willing to help me, will certainly do me a favor. I expect some otb-players will still have access via exclusive channels to the iccf-database and obviously I would like to be part of that group of otb-players. On chessvibes I already noticed that no more references are made to recent correspondencegames played in 2012. It is a sad evolution which I earlier already discussed in my blogarticle partijpublicaties.

That iccf prefers to distantiate themselves from otb, was recently confirmed in an important change of their statutes. In the ICCF Congress 2013 was decided not to follow anymore the basic laws of otb so fide. Now I don't expect that iccf will change the movement of the pieces like knight or bishop but the emphasis will be much more on the correspondence so the analysis. A remarkable decision was to introduce ratings for Chess 960. Another remarkable decision is to abolish the 50 moves-rule (article 9.3) if a tablebase is reached in a correspondence game. Players can now with a tablebase claim a draw or a win at the tournamentdirector. The big advantage is that one isn't obliged anymore to wait many months for the result which everybody already knew. The disadvantage is that we can have for the same tablebase a different result for otb compared with a correspondence game. What exactly this means and why iccf has made this decision, will be explained with a position which I already touched in my blogarticle chessintuition part 2.

The upper screeshot shows finalgen giving the output that black wins in 85 moves. I also showed the mainline so that we see the 50 moves-rule doesn't kick in. This means if both follow the topline then black would win in otb and correspondence chess. However the story isn't finished yet. If I select on moves 49 and 50 a quicker losing move on first sight then we get another verdict.


Black now wins in 48+1+22 = 72 moves but now the 50 moves-rule does kick in (only at move 55 a pawn is moved). In otb this would mean a draw but in correspondence with the new rules, black can still claim the win. The inverse we can now do for black. We search for a less quicker win but avoid the 50 moves-rule to kick in. This proces can be repeated many times for white and black. I believe there are positions where millions of iterations will be necessary to define if the position can be won or not, considering the 50 moves-rule. Manually this is impossible. Tablesbases including the 50 moves-rule are much less available than the type of tablesbases which I discussed in my blogarticle tablebases. The only website which I know having a selection of tablebases including the 50 moves-rule (or DTZ50 called) is chess.jaet.org/endings/. In the computation status you can notice that we only have a modest coverage of the existing tablebases.

Of course one can ask oneself if such conflictsituations aren't very rare. In otb we may assume that nobody will be able to play 50 or more consecutive best moves like the tablebases so it is anyway something only relevant for correspondence chess or from analytical point of view. On chesspub the reference was made by Vass to a fantastic article in which 24 examples are worked out where the 50 moves-rule is important (in Russian but with googletranslate this shouldn't be a problem). 24 examples is still not much but it does indicate that a certain boarder has been crossed by iccf. Iccf chose to maximize the usage of tablebases irrespective of the 50 moves-rule. Besides we shouldn't forget that the 50 moves-rule is something arbitrary (something which i already explained in my blogarticle sportiviteit) and therefore can be considered as a tool to stop the game when the players aren't able to technically win the game. In correspondence the technique is much more refined so it is logical to disregard the 50 moves-rule and the human limitations in otb.

So i understand the iccf-steps but as a theoretician I regret this evolution. To make databases exclusive for a select group, applying different rules,... hardens my task to do proper research. Also it further desintegrates the chessworld. Maybe we indeed have to specialize to protect the future but I have my doubts as often bundling the forces is a better strategy.

Brabo

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Which games to analyze?

In my blogarticle Analyzing with an engine I mentioned that a lot of players consider analyzing as a necessary evil to score points or make progression. It is obvious that an activity which isn't pleasant, is restricted to the minimum. Therefore it is important to make a good selection which gives maximum return. Despite that I in contrary with the standard amateur-player like to analyse, I also have to make choices. It is simply impossible to check everything. 

A.f.a.i.k. there exists no consensus of what exactly is the best material to use for analyzing. Because analyzing is a bit like studying, I neither believe there is a best method for everybody. Therefore I don't want to write this article about what the best games are to analyze but I prefer to give a more personal insight of what I do daily as homework. Besides just being busy with certain positions will very likely already have a positive influence on your game.

I guess that today 80% of my analyses are made upon my own played games. The remaining 20% goes to gamepreparations, specific openings, input for blogarticles or just randomly found interesting positions. I doubt strongly if this is a good split but I don't care very much as optimal return isn't what I am chasing after as I am only an amateur. The motivation of this analyzing work can mainly be found in my vision of playing which is based on the scientific approach and the pleasure which I experience in investigating of what happened or could have happened on the board and more particularly in my own games.

As not every own played game is as interesting, it is clear that I don't put in every game as much analyzing work. Blitz or bulletgames I review seldom or never. An exception I make when a player manages to beat me several times with a certain system but even then I don't go deeper than just quickly checking with an engine and database the opening. On the other hand for serious games (in which time was available to record the moves manually) I use a much more thoroughly analyzing approach. I mean a system of analyzing which I explained in my blogarticle Analyzing with an engine.

I assume for most people such intensive analyses of own played games will sound incredible but today I can easily show my personal database of 650 own played games which are fully commented with a broad variety of different lines. Besides if you look to this blog with more than 100 articles which often contain very extensive analyses of own played games then one already can deduct that I reuse a lot of what I built long time ago. The oldest example on this blog dates from 1996, see chesscompositions which corresponds to the start of the digitization of my analysis.

So I am aware that my urge to analyse is rather an exception than the rule. A strong Belgian FM even admitted on this blog that he doesn't make his analyses that extensive, see his comment under my blogarticle an extensive repertoire for black. Also a known player from Zottegem once asked me the question if the chance isn't small that such games like a Dutch gambit repeat. Well as mentioned earlier in this article, I don't analyze purely for a maximum return which doesn't mean that I don't learn anything at all from the analyses. On this blog I've written already several articles which proof that one can harvest from earlier made analyses, see : an obscure line in the Viennathe boomeranga Dutch gambit and a Dutch gambit part 2. There is more to find on this blog but these are the most striking articles.

If you clicked on the links (or you simply still remember the articles) then likely you noticed that in a first meeting with the sidelines that I achieved a bad result (loss or draw against a much lower rated player). In this blogarticle I want to demonstrate that one can not only learn from bad results. So I go a step further with stating that one can learn from each seriously played game even if you won from an opponent much less experienced and played in a obscure sideline. To support this claim, I will show 3 games chronologically which i all won in a side-variation of the bishopgame which Linton considers inferior but at my opinion is somewhat undervalued.

The fist time that I met the line, was in 2003 in the Open of Le Touquet. I treated the opening in the same fashion as the standard mainline of the bishopgame but quickly experienced that white was a bit bitter. Only in the endgame I was able to beat my opponent thanks to some crafty moves.
[Event "Open Le Touquet 1ste ronde"] [Date "2003"] [White "Patel, L."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C24"] [WhiteElo "2090"] [BlackElo "2298"] [PlyCount "126"] 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. exd5 cxd5 6. Bb3 Bd6 $5 {(Bd6 is the standardcontinuation after Bb3 but as white swapped the move-order, black now has some interesting alternatives: Bb4, Nc6 and Bg4.)} 7. Bg5 d4 $5 {(A year ago I already studied this position and considered d4 as best but today I am not so sure anymore. Now with better software and hardware I believe black has some serious alternatives: Nc6, Be6, Qa5, Nbd7 and Bg4.)} 8. Nbd2 O-O $5 {(H6 to force the bishop to make a decision, must also be considered.)} 9. Ne4 $5 {(Immediately castling short is at least as interesting because white can use the open e-file and put quickly pressure on e5. Also white has the option to increase the pressure afterwards with Nc4.)} Be7 $146 {(I still found 1 grandmastergame with this positon in which the inferior continuation Bb4 was chosen by black.)} 10. Qe2 $5 {(White chooses for a quiet setup but it is impossible that white can achieve any openingadvantage in this way. A more critical path is taking on f6 after which black can complicate by retaking with the g-pawn.)} Nc6 $5 { (Exchanging on e4 is also possible and can lead to a transposition unless white takes on f6.)} 11. O-O Bg4 $5 {(Nxe4 is still possible.)} 12. h3 $5 {(Bd2 to prevent the exchanges, is recommended by the engines but I can not find any advantage anyway.)} Bxf3 $1 {(This leads to a favorable general exchange of pieces so black can grap the initiative.)} 13. Qxf3 Nxe4 14. Bxe7 Nd2 15. Qe2 Nxe7 16. Qxd2 Ng6 17. Rae1 Qd6 18. g3 Rae8 19. h4 Kh8 20. h5 Ne7 21. f4 Nd5 22. Bxd5 Qxd5 23. fxe5 Rxe5 24. Rxe5 Qxe5 25. Qf4 Qxh5 26. Qxd4 b6 27. Qd6 Kg8 28. Qf4 h6 29. g4 Qd5 30. a3 Re8 31. Qf3 Qe6 32. c3 Qg6 33. Qf5 Re3 34. Qxg6 fxg6 35. d4 Re4 36. d5 $5 {(Kf2 would have made the defense must easier. Now a complicated endgame ensues in which white must play carefully to draw.)} (36. Kf2 $1 Rxg4 37. Ke3 g5 38. d5 Rf4 {(Black must give a pawn to transfer the king to the center. )} 39. Rxf4 gxf4 40. Kxf4 Kf7 41. c4 $11 {(Whites king holds blacks free pawns while black does not the same with the white pawns.)}) 36... Rxg4 37. Kh2 Rg5 38. c4 Rf5 39. Re1 Rf4 40. b3 Kf7 41. Kg3 $2 {(White centralizes the king which is a normal reaction in the endgame but here i find it superfluous as on this square the black pawns can only march quicker forward. Stronger seems e.g. d6 after which white can infiltrate and create its own counterplay by creating free pawns on the queen-side. After the textmove white gets into problems. )} (41. d6 $1 Rd4 42. Re7 Kf6 43. Rxa7 Rxd6 $44 {(White has excellent counterplay on the queen-side and therefore good drawing chances.)}) 41... g5 42. a4 Rd4 43. Kf2 Rf4 44. Kg3 h5 45. a5 Rd4 46. axb6 axb6 47. Kg2 Rd3 48. Re5 Rxb3 49. Rxg5 g6 50. Re5 Rc3 $2 {( A loss of time as white was anyway planning to play the rook to e4 to which he can easily support the d-pawn via Rd4. Therefore better is Kf6 and likely black has a won position.)} ( 50... Kf6 $1 51. Re4 g5 52. Rd4 Rb2 $1 53. Kg1 Ke7 $1 54. Re4 Kf7 $1 {(Black can respond on d6 with Ke8.)} 55. Re5 Kf6 56. Re8 Rb4 57. Rf8 Ke7 58. Rh8 {(On Rg8, black takes on c4 after which taking on g5 is punished immediately by Rg4.)} h4 59. Rg8 Kf6 60. Rf8 Kg7 $19 {(White can not create sufficient counterplay with solely the rook. )}) 51. Re4 g5 {(Kf6 is just too slow because of Kf2 with the idea of Ke2 after which the d-pawn runs too fast.)} 52. Kf2 $2 {(White will place the king on e2 to prevent Rd3 after which the d-pawn can march forward without any problems. However as black already played g5, black can quicker push his h-pawn which makes that white is a fraction too late. Therefore, more precise are drastic measurements with Re6 and it is unclear if black can win this position.)} (52. Re6 Rxc4 $5 {(Rb3 is also possible but it is impossible to analyze everything in detail.)} (52... Rb3 $5 53. Rh6 $1 h4 54. Kh2 $1 Rc3 55. Rxb6 $1 g4 56. Rh6 $1 Rc2 57. Kg1 h3 58. d6 Rxc4 59. d7 Rd4 60. Kf2 Rd3 61. Rh8 Ke7 62. d8=Q Rxd8 63. Rh7 Kf6 64. Kg3) 53. Rxb6 Rd4 54. Rh6 h4 55. Kh3 Rxd5 56. Kg4 {(Black has 2 pawns more but white has a fortress.)}) 52... h4 $1 53. Re6 $5 {(Only now white notices that Ke2 fails due to h3. Black threatens with Kf6-Kf5 to infiltrate so this explains whites choice. However here it is less trong as white does not possess anymore about the fortress with Kg4.)} Rxc4 54. Rxb6 Rf4 55. Kg1 $5 {(Kg2 is more exact but is also annihilated by the manoeuvre Rg4-Rg3 after which whites king can not reach the critical square g4 and black can win the d-pawn.)} Rf6 $2 {(Very short of time, I miss that white can push the d-pawn here to d7. Correct is Rd4 which stops the d-pawn and the remaining endgame must be won.)} 56. d6 Rf5 57. Rb4 $2 {(White misses his chance to complicate the situation as he was playing on my timetrouble. I do not see after d7 how black can make progress.)} (57. d7 $1 Rd5 58. Rb5 $1 Rd1 59. Kg2 Kf6 60. Rb6 Kf5 (60... Ke7 61. Rb5 g4 62. Rh5 h3 63. Kg3 Rg1 64. Kh2 Rg2 65. Kh1 {(The pawn on d7 can not be taken as otherwise white has a rook which can check forever but I can not find any other decent winning try.}) 61. Rb5 Kg4 62. Rb4 Kh5 63. Rb7 {(Friz as Shredder do not manage to win this with the black pieces. Probably the d-pawn is too far advanced.}) 57... Rd5 58. Rb6 Ke6 59. d7 Kxd7 60. Rg6 Ke7 61. Kg2 Kf7 62. Ra6 Re5 63. Ra4 Kg6 {(With less than a minute left on my clock, I blitzed the remaining of the game and managed to give mate with a few seconds on the clock left.)} 0-1" />
In the previous clubchampionship of Deurne I noticed in my preparation (yes even against a 1700 rated player) that Bb4 instead of Bd6 is very interesting as a normal concept of Nc3-Bg5 becomes impossible. This time I came on top out of the opening but after some inaccuracies and likely too optimistic play I let the position slip. Again only after move 40 I was able to get a decisive advantage despite the big ratingdifference.
[Event "Klubkampioenschap Deurne r8"] [Date "2013"] [White "Viaene, J."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C24"] [WhiteElo "1780"] [BlackElo "2336"] [PlyCount "96"] 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. exd5 cxd5 6. Bb3 Bb4 {(10 years ago I chose against Patel in Open Le Touquet for Bd6 and was able to win that game after a tough struggle. In my preparation I noticed that Bb4 is an interesting alternative which I wanted to try out. )} 7. c3 Bd6 8. Bg5 Be6 9. O-O O-O 10. Re1 Nbd7 11. Nbd2 h6 12. Bh4 Qc7 {(Till about here went my preparation. A complex position is on the board with chances for both sides.)} 13. Qe2 Rfe8 14. Ba4 {(I thought very long, probably too long to carefully rate the complications after Bxf6 but white almost responded instantaneous with an interesting alternative.)} (14. Bxf6 $5 Nxf6 15. Nxe5 {(Probably c4 is better here.)} Bg4 {(A5 is also interesting here with the intention to play a4-a3 but during the game I only looked at Bg4.)} 16. Nxg4 Rxe2 17. Nxf6 gxf6 18. Rxe2 {(After taking on h2 it is not clear who is better. D4 is a typical computermove with the intention or to destroy the pawnstructure or after c4 to limit the mobility of the white bishop.)}) 14... Nh7 $5 {(I prepare f5, followed up with g5 but I do not succeed. More critical seems Nh5 and white must be very careful not to land in a bad position.)} 15. Bg3 Bg4 16. Qf1 f6 17. Bb3 Be6 18. Qe2 a6 19. Nf1 Rad8 20. Ne3 Qc6 21. Nh4 Nc5 22. Bc2 Bf8 23. c4 $6 {(White plans an interesting gambit for which objectively he gets probably not enough compensation. More precise is therefore d4, a move which was even stronger a bit earlier in the game. )} d4 24. Nd5 a5 25. Qd2 Ra8 $6 {(I prefer to play on safety but the engines recommend the sharp b5 after which black can create better chances.)} 26. f4 exf4 $2 {(To accept the pawnoffer with Bxd5 is the lesser evil but it is clear that white gets good compensation for it.)} 27. Nxf4 Bf7 28. Nhg6 $2 {(I was mainly afraid of Nf3 during the game and indeed engines confirm that black has serious problems with his weak d-pawn.)} Bd6 29. Qf2 Bxg6 30. Nxg6 Bxg3 31. Qxg3 Qd7 32. Nf4 Rxe1 33. Rxe1 Re8 34. Rxe8 $5 {(This was afterwards criticized by my opponent but I can already not find an advantage anymore for white.)} (34. Nd5 $5 Rxe1 35. Qxe1 Qe6 36. Qxe6 Nxe6 37. a3 Nhf8 38. b4 axb4 39. axb4 Ng6 $11) 34... Qxe8 35. Qf2 Qe5 36. Ne2 Ne6 37. a3 Nhf8 38. b4 axb4 39. axb4 b6 40. Ba4 Ng6 41. g3 Qd6 42. Qf5 Ne7 43. Qb5 Kh7 {(Nc7 is the normal move but I want to win so I take some calculated risks.)} 44. Qd7 Qe5 45. Kf1 Nf5 46. Bb3 $6 {(The position is still within the boundaries of a draw with Ke1 or Bc6 but white is probably tired and does not succeed anymore to find a good defense. )} Ne3 47. Kg1 $2 {(With Kf2 white could defend still much tougher but after this blunder the game finishes immediately. )} (47. Kf2 $1 Ng4 48. Ke1 Nxh2 49. Qd5 Nc7 50. Qg2 Ng4 $15) 47... Ng4 48. Bd1 Qe3 0-1" />
Finally I got in round 4 of the previous Open Gent again this line on the board and this time my opponent had bad luck as I still remembered the analysis very well. We got the same middlegame but this time I knew that I better first control the queen-side before to engage any other actions. This knowledge-advantage together with the big time-advantage made it obviously an unfair battle.
[Event "Open Gent 4de ronde"] [Date "2013"] [White "Passchyn, M."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C24"] [WhiteElo "2012"] [BlackElo "2344"] [PlyCount "48"] 1. e4 {(In 2 earlier confrontations I had white so nice to have once the colors reversed.)} e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Bb3 d5 5. exd5 cxd5 6. Nf3 Bb4 7. c3 Bd6 8. Bg5 Be6 9. O-O O-O 10. Nbd2 {(Not even a month ago, I had looked in detail to this opening cause of my clubchampionshipgame against Jan Viaen. Then Jan played Re1 in this position. )} h6 11. Bh4 Nbd7 12. Re1 {(We have transposed back to my game against Jan which permitted me to win a lot of time on the clock contrary to my opponent.)} Qc7 13. Nf1 {(Jan played Qe2 but this Nf1 looks more natural.)} Rfe8 14. Bg3 a6 15. Ne3 b5 16. Nh4 g6 17. Qd2 Qc6 18. h3 Kg7 19. Rf1 $6 {(To play f4 at some moment and create counterplay but in this position this is too optimistic. The dry Nf3 was a better way to organize the defense. )} Nc5 $6 {(I prepare d4 but probably a little bit more precise is anyway a5 to concur maximally space on the queen-side, limiting whites options. )} 20. Bc2 $2 {(After the game I immediately recommended Bd1 to leave c2 open for the knight which was confirmed by the engines. )} d4 21. Nd1 $6 {(The engines pull the emergence break with Ng4 which means a gambit.)} Rad8 22. f4 {(Desperation which easily is refuted.)} Nh5 23. cxd4 Nxg3 24. Re1 Be7 0-1" />
In the 3 games I achieved the same result but the way how was totally different thanks to the continuous improvement of my knowledge based on analyzing the own played games. It is widely known that analyzing your own games is important but few know that also from won games something can be learned. Also if you don't learn anything from your won game, you can be sure your opponent will do. Analyzing won games is also a method to stay a step ahead of your opponent Of course if one lacks time then one should give priority to the lost games but I see often that time isn't the real reason as chessplayers often prefer to do something different than going over their own played games which lets us return to the introduction.

Brabo