Tuesday, July 7, 2015

14x SOS

Deurne didn't manage to excel in the last interclub-season. Some luck was needed (as I got a forfeit against the descending team Oude God which seriously influenced the final rankings) to maintain our position in the middle of the group. I also take the responsibility for this average result as I lost 3 times (see my articles identityharakiri and  surprises). The last round of the interclubs against KOSK was for me the last chance to improve my personal score but naturally my opponent former world-champion correspondence Gert-Jan Timmerman was not so eager to cooperate.

The smallest detail of an opening is studied in correspondence-chess but Gert-Jan also knows this gives no guarantees in standard-chess. The analysis in correspondence-chess are often very lengthily and made sometimes many years ago so there is a big chance that we don't manage to remember everything without any external help in a standard game. Today openings develop so fast that we are obliged to regularly update and remake the analysis. Finally an opponent can very well prepare in advance which lines to avoid by consulting a correspondence-chess-database.

In our previous mutual game of 2010 Gert-Jan selected his back-up system instead of the Schliemanngambit but that was insufficient to avoid my preparation. He told me after the game that he extracted a lesson from that experience. Therefore this time he experimented with some very exotic line of which he was confident that I hadn't studied it before. The SOS-books give a fantastic support to such approach. The series of NIC exist of 14 numbers. Each of them is a collection of early deviations in the theory and which have proven already many times their surprise-value in practice. Besides they can be learned in a very short time-frame. Gert-Jan probably only needed the train journey between his home to the playing hall to pick up the Spanish Bird.

A half point is again no fantastic result but to press for a win would've been certainly not without serious risks. Afterwards Gert-Jan cheered me up by referring to our new Belgium grandmaster Tanguy Ringoir having lost a game some years ago against this variation.

If we look at my comments of the game then we detect that the concept isn't waterproof against a detailed analysis. White has several paths to play for an advantage but needs to play exact and aggressive chess. This kind of chess I will seldom play if I am on unknown territory. Well the name SOS already explains to us that the system is mainly based on the element of surprise and the fact that normal moves only lead to exactly the kind of positions in which the strength of the system is hidden.

I read on the internet that some players therefore regularly change lines by jumping from one SOS number to another so the element of surprise is kept. After 14 numbers the Dutch IM Jeroen Bosch stopped with the series albeit to the displeasure of quite some fans. There is surely still a demand for new numbers but I understand everything comes to an end. 7 years is already a long time in our hectic society.

Stopping the publication of new numbers doesn't mean that Jeroen suddenly started to play only mainlines. His appetite for exotic lines still exists. Often he is successful but now and then it goes horribly wrong. Such bad experience happened with a Ponziani experiment. The Ponziani was tried a few years ago successfully by Magnus Carlsen but it nevertheless remains an unknown opening. Despite a fixed repertoire I only met the Ponziani once in almost 800 standard games.

The Fraser-defense was picked up by Peter on a chessforum. The variation is critical today for the Ponziani (something which I will discuss more extensively in a next article). Instead of surprising Peter, Jeroen was surprised himself. Here we see the flip-side of most exotic openings. Often there exist several different counter-systems (remember my remark about green moves in my article a Dutch gambit part 2). If the opponent has by chance checked your surprise-system then likely you will be surprised instead. Now by regularly changing lines and carefully selecting the opportunity it must surely be possible to minimize these type of accidents and have a lot of fun playing SOS openings.


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