Thursday, June 18, 2015

Using databases part 2

It is already longtime no surprise anymore for me how sometimes very strong players prepare their games very poorly. It is really not only amateurs as described in my article password whom don't optimally prepare. Previous article is a model  example of how one should not prepare. You are an international master and you play a closed grandmaster-norm-tournament in Czech. The pairings are known well in advance and you only have to play one game each day. Still you manage to miss an important game of your opponent played over 1 year ago. Although this game was inserted in any commercial database.

Funny or rather sad is a Chessbase article published a few months earlier. In this article the British grandmaster Daniel Gormally explains how he despite preparing well with chessprograms (databases and engines), lost against a 300 points lower rated opponent. However his preparation didn't take into account one very important element. His opponent was a very experienced and strong correspondence-chess-player: the British Senior International Master John Anderson.
[Event "Hastings Chess Congress"] [Site "Hastings ENG"] [Date "2014.12.30"] [Round "2.12"] [White "Daniel Gormally"] [Black "John Anderson"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D15"] [WhiteElo "2499"] [BlackElo "2180"] [PlyCount "80"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. e4 {(John is an expert in the Slav so Daniel chooses for a side-line. However that line is very tactical so not appropriate against an experienced correspondence-player that surely has studied this before.)} b5 6. e5 Nd5 7. a4 e6 8. Ng5 h6 9. Nge4 b4 10. Nb1 Ba6 11. Nbd2 Nf4 12. Qg4 Nd3 13. Bxd3 cxd3 14. O-O Qd5 15. Re1 Nd7 16. Nf3 {(On Chessbase Daniel tells us that till here it was preparation but that is not enough against a correspondence-player)} c5 {(A logical novelty of which Daniel admits on Chessbase having missed it in the preparations. Possibly John already investigated it earlier but even if not the case then still I believe Johns experience helped him finding this fearless move. )} 17. dxc5 {(Daniel recommends Nd6 on Chessbase as an improvement. That is correct but still black gets excellent chances.)} (17. Nd6 Bxd6 18. exd6 c4 19. Qxg7 O-O-O 20. Qxf7 Bb7 {(An improvement over Daniels c3 with very nice play for black.)}) 17... Nxc5 18. Nd6 Bxd6 19. exd6 Nb3 20. Bf4 Nxa1 21. Qxg7 O-O-O 22. Rxa1 d2 {(Black loses the thread as Kb7 guaranteed black a serious advantage.)} 23. Bxd2 Qxd6 24. Qxf7 Rd7 25. Rc1 Kb7 26. Bxb4 Rxf7 27. Bxd6 Rd8 28. Ne5 Rg7 29. Bb4 Rd5 30. Bc3 Rc7 31. Re1 Bc4 32. f4 a5 33. Kf2 Bb3 34. g4 {(White underestimates the counter-play on the queen-side after this over-aggressive move.)} Bxa4 35. g5 hxg5 36. fxg5 Be8 37. g6 a4 38. h4 a3 39. bxa3 $4 {(Time-trouble which is largely the consequence of the wrong opening-choice.)} (39. h5 a2 40. h6 Rxc3 41. bxc3 Rxe5 42. Rxe5 a1=Q 43. g7 Qb2 44. Re2 Qb6 45. Re3 $11) 39... Rxc3 40. g7 Rd2 {(In the next games Daniel chose a more positional approach which generated much longer games but also gave him a much better performance.)} 0-1
By pure coincidence I was aware about this fact as I won against him in 1998 a beautiful correspondence-game of which I am still proud today.
[Event "EU/M/1234"] [Date "1998"] [White "Anderson, J."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "2399"] [PlyCount "84"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. Nc3 Bg4 8. h3 Bh5 9. g4 Bg6 10. Nxe5 Nxe4 11. Re1 Nxc3 12. bxc3 O-O 13. Rb1 Bd6 14. Rxb7 Qh4 15. d3 f5 16. Bf4 fxg4 17. Bg3 Qxh3 18. Qxg4 Qxg4 19. Nxg4 Rf5 20. Ne5 Re8 21. d4 Bf7 22. a4 Bd5 23. Reb1 Rh5 24. Kf1 Rh1 25. Ke2 Rxb1 26. Rxb1 c5 27. Kd3 h5 28. f4 c4 29. Kd2 Be7 30. Re1 Bd8 31. Bh2 g5 32. fxg5 Bxg5 33. Ke2 Re7 34. Rg1 Rg7 35. Nf3 Bd8 36. Rxg7 Kxg7 37. Ne5 Kf6 38. Nd7 Kf5 39. a5 c6 40. Nc5 Bxa5 41. Nxa6 Bxc3 42. Be5 Be4 0-1
Now it is clear that Daniels opening-choice wasn't very smart. Choosing a sharp opening as the stronger player is already risky (see my article how to win from a stronger player). If you combine this against a player with loads of correspondence-chess experience then all ingredients are there for a very nasty surprise.

Daniel did't have the chance to play before a correspondence-game against John will surely be an excuse some readers will use to defend Daniel. I don't accept such excuse. In my article using databases I explain how to use the correspondence-database to extract the optimal moves in a variation but that is not the only reason why to use that database. In my preparation I will often check if my opponent doesn't play correspondence-chess. By doing so I found out that not only former world champion correspondence Gert-Jan Timmerman playing for KOSK, but also Rene Beniest plays correspondence-chess which could've played an important role in the interclubmatch against SK Oude God

Solely looking to the correspondence-database to define if somebody is an (active) correspondence-player isn't fully safe. I played 20 correspondence-games in my career and only 1 fragment of a game can be found in the database so I can imagine many correspondence-players are not even mentioned. Therefore it is not redundant to check some sites like ICCFIECCFICGS in which I encountered the for me unfamiliar Belgian topplayer Jeroen Van Assche recently made the transfer to ICCF. This transfer is no surprise as ICCF is the place to be in correspondence-chess.

I also want to honor our Belgian correspondence-federation still each month publishing a free open and nice magazine of which we can only dream about in standard chess especially after the recent general annual meeting. Scrolling through the current list of correspondence-members I remark our Belgian topplayer Francois Godart. Maybe he joined after being inspired by our Dutch neighbors where several strong youth-players started with correspondence-chess:  Etienne GoudriaanTwan Burg. In any case I believe that a few years correspondence-chess can be useful for standard-chess as you learn how to work properly with databases and engines which after reading above article surely can't be considered anymore as a luxury.


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