Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tandems

Because of all the commotion around the finished worldcup-football my son became very interested in football. In my youth I played often with some friends of the neighborhood so today I still find it fun to regularly practice with my son. However my son has much more energy and time than I so it is never enough which let me decide to subscribe him in the local football-club. Big was the disappointment when we heard end of August that he was put on a waiting-list and didn't get the chance to start this season. In a newspaper I read that there was a run on the football-clubs, everywhere is a lack of infrastructure and so out of necessity they work with waiting-lists.

I proposed him to choose a different (physical) sport but to my surprise he only wanted to play again chess. Last season he quit somewhere half-way because he lost his interest so I let him repeat twice to be sure that he was serious. Last Sunday we went for the first time to the youth-class. He hadn't played chess for months so I doubted if he still remembered something which we learned last year. During the half hour drive I asked him  how many points is a knight. 3 points was the immediate answer. And the bishop, rook,... My concern was unjust as he gave every time the right answer and in the club he mated immediately twice a 3 year older boy. We have started well.

I learned this point-system long ago from a chess-book of Hans Bouwmeester and I still find it an easy method to quickly explain a beginner what a bad or good exchange is. Of course there are serious limitations on this point-system whereby some people did an effort to refine it. Recently there was a discussion about this on chesspub and more specific about the value of different pawn-formations. As reference was used the publication of Hans Berliner on wikipedia.

I don't consider defining the exact values interesting unless you are a developer of a chessprogram but I do find it useful to know which combinations have a positive or negative influence. I already once mentioned in my article chess-intuition part 2 about Capablanca's advantage, a tandem of queen and knight. In this article I want to discuss a different tandem, the connected rooks. Connected rooks are pretty trivial but when they start to move together then a remarkable collaboration is created.

In the 4th round of Open Gent I proposed a draw to Mehr Hovhanisian which to my big embarrassment happened in a more or less technically lost position. We both possessed about a tandem of rooks but I completely underestimated the difference in mobility and activity between both tandems. Later some spectators asked me if I really had to lose that position but my analysis didn't find any salvation.

I could break the tandem but not without serious defects. It is not an ordinary position but in comparison with what happened in the recent game Adams - Vachier Lagrave it is rather simple.

The extensive chess-trainings in France are making a sharp contrast with the deplorable situation in Belgium (I use on purpose the recent words of the Belgian FM Eldorado). Just before the Olympiad France even had for a short period 4 + 2700 players whom moreover have grown up and so also trained in France.  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is today the undisputed number 1 in France with a very attractive style. In his game against the British grandmaster Michael Adams, MVL demonstrates his breathtaking mastership. His tandem cross through the complete board.

It seems to me no coincidence that in both examples the defense fails due to a lack of counterplay. So the success of the moving tandem mainly depends how well the opponent can interfere. Personally I find discovering such little rules fun and useful. Players only looking to the evaluation of their engine will surely miss this kind of lessons.

Brabo

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