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.


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.

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