Saturday, April 18, 2015


Some of the strong reactions on my previous article are definitely deserved. Showing only examples of opponents having little or not prepared, created the wrong impression that people don't have to fear preparations (except from myself).

A small minority is willing to spend time at building a dangerous preparation. Steven made earlier rightfully the remark that in norm-tournaments (exclusively consisting of the 1% highest rated players) that this minority very likely transforms to a majority. If you don't take this into account then this can quickly cost points which I experienced myself this season even on a modest second board in second division.

In the 6th round of the Belgian interclubs I was trounced by the French FM Manuel Ippolito. After only 3 hours of play we were already analyzing at the bar. Besides I used twice as much time as my opponent.

In the database I couldn't find any games of my opponent with this opening but in the postmortem it became clear that he was very well aware about a huge amount of lines. He even admitted that he used my game played in Open Leuven 2013 against Mark Davey as guideline in his preparation. I don't know if his improvement on Kasparovs 19...Bxa3 still was part of his preparation but there exists no doubt that the preparation was a deciding factor in this game.

So do I admit my mistake in my article about passwords? No as I only told one side of the story. To explain the other side we must return to the analysis made on my game of 2013 with this opening.

White achieves with correct play a clear advantage but during my game against Manuel I could not reconstruct the analysis despite long reflections. At move 17 I mix Bb6 with Nb6 and after that it quickly goes downhill in the minefield. After the game I even discovered that my analysis of 2013 were optimistic about blacks problems in this opening.

The repetition of moves with Bg5 already shows my unsureness. I know at that moment already that the game can become very tactical if I avoid the repetition. 13.Bd3 was the last chance to deviate with an interesting continuation and likely would throw the opponent out of book. However again I follow the scientific approach and more or less commit harakiri by deliberately ignoring the signals (opponent plays something very sharp for the first time, I can't remember the analysis).

After the game I had a lively discussion with some of my teammembers about my harakiri. Some were of the opinion that you are morally obliged to play the line if you studied it at home and concluded this was giving an advantage. Why would you make the analysis if you don't dare to play it? Besides often you start to remember things when you are a few moves further in the opening. Not everybody agreed with this. Losing is inherent of the game but losing in such way is nonsense. You don't learn anything and you just make a fool of yourself.

It is not the first time that I forget analysis and it won't be the last time either. In my last 100 games I can find 7 games in which I forgot or mixed up the analysis with an important impact on the further course of the game. Some of this silliness already was covered on this blog: chess-intuitionchess-intuition part 2. If I look at a decade ago then I notice that I forget today more often something. Am I growing old? Next year I will be 40 so I am not young anymore.

Although I believe age has nothing to do with it. I just have much more analysis to remember than a decade ago. Last couple of years the amount of theory exploded. A very recent article on hln confirms my supposition that failing memory isn't the culprit. My short-term memory surely has passed the peak but the long-term memory can still improve till pensionable-age. It is the long-term memory which counts here so I may still have some hope.

I complain about the amount of theory but what about 2700 players. Last Karjakin lost a game against Nakamura about which he tweeted that the worst way to lose a game is, when you know the line until a draw,but, can not remember how it goes and get a losing position immediately.

I found it disappointing to see how with bluffing today you can reach a 2800 rating. I call it bluffing as choosing a line with white of which you know it is a forced draw isn't very flattering.

If a young player like Sergey Karjakin already experiences problems to remember the variations then his colleagues won't do much better. Last year on the site of Tim Krabbe there was a funny article called Fischer Random, anyone? with a long list of opening-errors caused by forgetting the analysis made by topplayers. It is remarkable that not once Carlsen is mentioned. I don't want to claim he doesn't forget anything but he rather chooses openings which require less knowledge of theory.

This should close the topic. Passwords, harakiri... are about exact opening-knowledge. There exist good alternatives to neutralize sufficiently such opening-knowledge without using drastic measurements like Fisher Random. Most important is not to be stuck in routines which makes you too predictable.


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