Friday, May 22, 2015

The Glek

Strong ambitious players will surely know which openings are today trendy. In the British chessmagazine simply called Chess, each month there is a summary of which openings became more or less popular for top-players. However most amateurs try to stay faraway of those openings and prefer a repertoire which is more stable so without quick theoretical developments. It is not hard to avoid theory but it is less evident to achieve at the same time an interesting position on the board. I mean with an interesting position that a battle of ideas are possible instead of reciting theory.

An opening which complies at these conditions for black and already touched on my blog is the Czech defense. In this article I want to look at a white opening which is already for some time very popular between amateurs: the Glek. The Glek is defined as a four knightsgame with g3. The Russian grandmaster Igor Glek developed the system beginning of the 90ties and still regularly uses it today. Meanwhile about 40 games of Igor are with his system in the databases.

The popularity is likely owned a great deal to the large number of books propagandizing the opening as easy playable: Mikhail Tseitlin & Igor Glazkov "The Complete Vienna" (Batsford, 1995)Gary Lane "Vienna Game" (Everyman, 2000)John Nunn "New Ideas In The Four Knights" (Batsford, 1993)Jan Pinski "The Four Knights" (Batsford, 2003)Cyrus Lakdawala "The Four Knights: Move By Move" (Everyman, 2012),... I remember that just before the millennium foremost Paul Motwani was peddling his books door to door in my region. This created a big boost of players using the opening in their repertoire.

Although the opening is particularly attractive for amateurs, also some professional players like to experiment with it. Not every professional is always keen to battle a complex theoretical duel. Sometimes they also just want to play chess and avoid any preparations. Recently the Azerbaijani grandmaster Shakhriyar Mamedyarov used this opening in his game against the Russian grandmaster Dmitry Jakovenko in the Fide Grandprix at Tbilisi. Yes probably no coincidence that Shak again is a protagonist as in the article of the Czech defense.

My analysis indicate that probably white must try to improve with 12.g4. While preparing this article I discovered that the same recommendation was done on chesspub by Markovich already in 2013 ! (Markovich is a senior international master ICCF Mark Morss)

The Vienna move-order is today at least as popular as the 4 knights order but that can well change when players get informed about the recent game Vedder - Geirnaert.
Steven Geirnaert
Steven Geirnaert is one of the current rising stars in Belgium although he is not anymore in his childhood. Some people will wonder how this is possible but if you look more closely to the little pieces of shared information then you realize that hard working is as often the key to success. Reading and studying chessbooks, analyze endgames, preparationsplay abroad (with this year a grandmaster-result in the Dutch interclub) ... witness motivation and an iron discipline. Hereby I should not forget the role of his chessloving and supporting girlfriend Iris.

Of course also his repertoire maturated. At the previous week finished Flemish championship he told me that often his experience outweighs a specific preparation of the opponent. Now it is not only in the depth that the progress is seen but also in the diversity. He shocks in his game against Vedder with a stunning novelty at move 4!
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.exd5 c6 !?
Well new isn't fully correct as there are already some games in the database with this move but above screenshot proves no strong players (+2400) ever played it. Besides till now none of the games by titled players choosing black were won. At the contrary as almost all games were lost by black. So is this novelty again a bluff from Steven? Time to investigate the game more deeply.

My analysis clearly demonstrates that the new idea is perfectly playable. On top it also testifies how dangerous it can be for white to play such position on sight so unprepared. If players want to continue playing this opening then I advise them to check carefully my analysis how to improve Vedders game. Now it is a little bit too strong just to attribute Stevens victory solely to the opening. Some strong moves still needed to be played. While giving recognition, I should certainly not forget to mention that Steven was offered this novelty by nobody less than Stefan Docx on the condition that I can trust the interclubreport of Borgerhout for round 10. It is no coincidence that Stefan is also a not so young player anymore but recently made quite some progress by working very hard see e.g a grandmaster norm for stefan docx.

I can imagine quite some players don't want to study the details of this novelty or just don't like the resulting positions. Well fortunately we still have the 4 knights-sequence. In 2004 the only active grandmaster of Andorra: Oscar De La Riva Aguado chose in our mutual game for that sequence.

Quite some small mistakes on both sides but the game shows very well how complex the positions are in the Glek. Almost every move has alternatives and often the small details define the correct evaluation.

Probably some players will prefer the Vienna order as they want to avoid some lines in the 4 knights game. Personally I think there is little or no theoretical difference between both sequences. Besides in both lines you can have interesting battles. This article just warns the reader for c6 in the Vienna sequence.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015


The article Desert Island books but also some reactions confirmed once more that I know very little about chess-literature. It has no sense to look for any excuses. More relevant now is that last couple of years I regularly try to read a chessbook. Today it is much easier to buy books financially but especially Kasparovs series was an eye-opener for me. Chessbooks can be much more than just dry analysis.

After having read 3 books about the matches Kasparov-Karpov I made the switch to the books about his Great Predecessors. Personally I've always been fascinated to discover why things are like they are and not different. Which history, development proceeded till today. Currently I am reading the 3rd book and I must admit that those 3 books seriously changed my view about chess. I don't believe this will make me a stronger player but I do get the feeling to understand and enjoy a bit better the complexity of chess as a game.

A concept like prophylaxis is something any master uses today often several times in a game. However after reading about the Armenian former-worldchampion Tigran Petrosian you understand that he propagandized prophylaxis as a powerful weapon which can and should be used. Kasparov gave with the chapter "Miracles of Prophylaxis" in part 3  full credit to Petrosian for the development of this concept.

I was already aware about how Petrosian by using prophylaxis prevented any counterplay in middlegames before it even started but new to me was that he also developed some openings based on this ideology. I am not a 1.d4 player but in the kingsindian and the queensindian openings he left his mark. In 1954 Petrosian played for the first time the Bg5 variant against the Kingsindian which today is called after him and must still not be underestimated.

For an extensive analysis of above game I refer to the 3rd book. Petrosian refined the system over the years but more important to remember is that Bg5 is played because he knew in advance that f5 anyway has to be played and after Bg5 this will be in a less favorable format.

Earlier I wrote that I won't improve by reading about chess but that is maybe not fully correct. Maybe if I read this passage before playing my game against Rein then the course of the game could've been very different.

It is impossible to know if the result would've been better or worse with Bg5 instead of Be3. Fact is that in the meantime I was able to test it twice successfully online in bullet/blitz. My opponents had no clue about the dangers.

Well we all know that we should study our classics but often it takes time to be persuaded to do the efforts. Today I am convinced to continue till the end of the series but I am also starting to peek at other books. Although I am not ready yet for the serious openingbooks.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bishops of the same colour

Often we encounter beautiful technical endgames of opposite bishops. However interesting endgames with bishops of the same colour are much rarer. That doesn't sound abnormal to me as the bishops of the same colour fight eventually for the control of the same squares which implies an exchange happens more quickly. Often such endgame is rather easy to play correctly. It is no surprise that chessplayers often don't feel the danger in the exceptional cases.

I will show a few of those unique endgames in this article which at the same time proof people very regularly play too superficially endgames while instead accurate calculations are necessary. I start with an endgame from my practice of 2001 against the Frenchmen Guillaumat.

Afterwards being very satisfied about my play, I presented the endgame at the tournament-organisation so they would consider it for the beauty-prize. That was too optimistic as I never heard any feedback. Beauty-prizes are almost exclusively given to attacking-games while technical endgames are much less appealing.

The second example is from my interclub-practice. I wasted a big advantage in the middle-game but I continued to play for a win in the endgame which my opponent couldn't appreciate at all.

My opponent was convinced it was already several dozens of moves a dead-draw but my analysis show much was hidden under the surface.

It isn't seldom that only the analysis reveal the hidden possibilities. Recently I was very amused by analyzing the extraordinary bishop-endgame which could've appeared in my game against Christophe Gregoir (a fragment already popped up in the article password).

I am well aware about long analysis, wrong analysis but I challenge the reader to refute above analysis. In any case I admit never would I discover the lines without a strong computer. The one finding this at the board with a ticking clock, must be an absolute endgame-magician. The task appears to me completely impossible if you have to play solely on an increment of 30 seconds per move.

Now even in much simpler positions happen already serious blunders. In the chapter of bishops of the same colour in Dvoretsky's endgame manual there are some nice examples of tragic-comedies.

Both players were maybe confused by the famous endgame-composition of Heuacker in 1930.

Each of above examples are unique so I admit very little or nothing of the analysis will be reusable in the future. Regarding reusable knowledge I also want again to criticize Chessbase. Chessbase regularly badly informs their readers (as mentioned before in my article desinformation by chessbase). In the advertisement for the endgame turbo is stated that this new product is a necessity to train. Nonsense of course as not only the diversity in the endgame-positions is too large but also in many solutions there is no logic to detect. Above there is also the price of the product. There are free alternatives: Knowledge4IT or Finalgen. The last one can handle even more than the 6 pieces of the endgame turbo. Besides why would you spend 60 euro for tablebases till maximally 6 pieces while there exists a rather cheap alternative for tablebases till maximally 7 pieces on chessok.

If you want to become a better player then you better buy a good book of endgames instead of analyzing unique endgames or buying tablebases. However today becoming a stronger player is no priority for me. On the other hand enjoying a rich endgame by spending time at researching small details is something which I don't want to miss.