Monday, March 14, 2016

The scoresheet

Playing few standard games doesn't motivate to produce a lot of analysis. I am not the type of player like Bobby Fischer, studying hard at home while being months away from competitive chess. Neither will I try to drag the analysis because there isn't much to do. At contrary as nowadays I use mainly again 2 computers to analyze which is different from what I wrote 2 years ago in my article to analyze with a computer.

Today I possess a laptop and a desktop. My laptop is less than 2 years old and only used for analyzing/ preparing games. He is my compagnon in the few tournaments I play each year. The desktop is already more than 5 years old but still slightly more powerful than my laptop. That PC is used for much more as the internetconnection is also popular by my children. Exactly because of that we decided to put the PC in the middle of our living. The internet is a fantastic place to find entertainment, information,.. but some parental supervision is absolutely necessary. Not rarely a pop-up shows up which proposes to install a number of programs. Fortunately my children have learned in the meanwhile first to consult me before clicking.

The central location of the desktop in the living also means that playing online chess (something which I still love to do and about which I wrote in my article the (non-)sense of blitz) is not something simple. I am regularly disturbed by my inmates which often don't realize how frustrating it is to lose games. Often I wait till the night so that the children are in bed but playing when you are tired isn't optimal either. It is surely no coincidence that my rating sometimes shows huge fluctuations of 300 points (Playchess 2150 - 2450) in just a couple of days.

In standard-chess we won't often experience such big variations. Although we do see sometimes in one particular game drastic changes of the quality. The current increments avoid extreme time-trouble of many moves in a couple of seconds. On the other hand we encounter today much earlier shallow play in our games. The obligatory recording of the moves at all times definitely also plays a role. If you play solely by increments then being forced to spend at each move a couple of seconds at recording, will further deteriorate the quality of the moves. It is no big surprise that when 1 side is pressing that the resistance often quickly collapses when playing only by increments. This also happened to me in my interclub-game of round 6 against the Belgian FM Bruno De Jonghe. A difficult position quickly was destroyed by some superficial play.

We don't only see that the quality of the game suffers as also the recording becomes a mess. I encounter mainly problems playing black. Suddenly due to the pressure I don't succeed anymore to interpret quickly the mirrored coordinates. Not less than 6 mistakes can be found in below scoresheet from move 27 onward.
Scoresheet of my game against Bruno De Jonghe
Of course you won't think twice or 3 times about the recording when you only have 30 seconds approximately. I am curious if other readers also experience this problem linked to playing with the black pieces.

I can imagine that my teamcaptain often has a hard time to dissect and digitize the scoresheets properly. Today he still volunteers to spread the games of our first team in our club. 10 years ago they were also published on the interclub-site of Valery Maes but this was stopped as it transpired we were the only club willing to cooperate. In my article password I already wrote that many players prefer not to have their games published anymore.

We deviate from our topic as I wanted to talk about recording. Any competitive player is able to record correctly but in practice we see that many players consider this as an annoying task. Not seldom the scoresheet contains mistakes. Of course I remember the sadistic exam. Therefore I will be the last one to criticize people not willing to rely blindly on their own scoresheets. The Belgian FM Rob Michiels confessed after our recent game that he played the 41st move quickly despite the complex nature of the position because he wasn't sure about the number of played moves. The Belgian international arbiter Geert Bailleul made a very valuable remark just before the last interclubround in Deurne. He warned the players that the extra time is only added when the time of one of both players is showing 0 and not automatically at move 40.

Without live boards or assistance of the involved players it is often impossible to decipher somebodies scoresheet. I also often suspect that players deliberately neglect the scoresheet so digitizing is avoided. The most striking example of sabotage I read on chesspub. A grandmaster regularly uses the pretext that he has no readingglasses to record the moves. Arbiters get fooled by the small time-handicap which he proposes as compensation.

Finally I wonder what happens with all those scoresheets after the games. Normally after digitizing and analyzing a game, I will still wait for a possible processing of the rating but then it is thrown in the paper basket. Not everybody is unemotional. Once I heard about a big box of record-sheets below the bed of a famous Belgian IM. On the sleeping blog of Wim Barbier you can find some scans of his oldest record-sheets e.g dated 23rd June 1975! Are you a collector or do you immediately throw them away?


Friday, March 4, 2016

The Sicilian Kupreichik

In a couple of weeks I will be 40 but I am still far below the average age of our interclub-team. While previous seasons our results slowly deteriorated, this year we have a resurrection which mainly has to do with 2 new players. The very experienced and amicable FM Jan Van Mechelen offered his services beginning of this season and that present was of course happily accepted. Simultaneously our 15 year old talented clubmember Tamer Ismail won last year sufficient rating to conquer a spot in the first team of Deurne.

Most teams in our serie are well-matched so bringing new forces into play immediately creates disparity in the rankings. Last year we still played modestly average in our serie. This year we are still in the running of becoming champion. Of course Wachtebeke remains the biggest favorite for the title as they almost exclusively play with foreigners. Already in round 5 there was the clash between the leaders. As expected Wachtebeke didn't leave anything by chance and selected their (for the time being) strongest composition, averagely 2340 elo. In 1st division 7 of the 12 teams had in the previous interclub-round even a lower average rating just to illustrate how superior this team is in 2nd division.

I always found such challenges for myself an extra motivation to work extra hard. The preparations in second division are normally only a fraction of what I did in 1st division (see the list of force) but I made an exception for this round. 6 A4-pages (see example in archiving) I filled with summarizing analysis as preparation of the game. I talk about a summary because you can't do more than just check a few lines if you review dozens of openings. I don't know what other players prefer but I rather like to look at a huge number of lines superficially than only a few scenarios thoroughly. Surprises are today a very important part of modern chess so I think it makes more sense to diversify instead of specialize.

This also meant that I took into account a very unlikely scenario that the French IM Jonathan Dourerassou would play at board 2 (in theory possible although not happened yet in practice) and on top would try to surprise me with an opening he played only a couple of times in 2004, the Sicilian Kupreichik. To drag up openings played long ago, is a strategy more players use to surprise the opponent if they only fear a limited preparation (mainly based on the current repertoire).

I had not met yet earlier the Sicilian Kupreichik. Neither did I ever study it. However the amount of games in the database with this opening made it clear that this opening is more than a nine days wonder. If you don't want to endanger the rest of the preparation then you need to make some practical choices. Initially I had a preference for a setup with Be2 to transpose to a position from the Scheveningen. I have been successful before with that opening see my article swiss gambit. Unfortunately that didn't work as Jonathan already won in 2004 a game with e5 instead of e6.

White not only scores miserable in practice with this line but I also couldn't find easily an improvement. I decided to move on and look at Bg5. Bg5 is today's most popular continuation. Besides I already play for several years the Rauzer (I once won a game in this opening against a grandmaster see my article how to win from a stronger player) so that looked attractive. Because Jonathan had no games with Bg5 in the database, I switched to my openingbook to define the move Jonathan most likely would play. I already explained this technique in my article using databases. The openingbook was very clear as Nc6 was played in 90% of the games as the screenshot below proofs.
Openingbook Megadatabase 2016
After Nc6 we transpose to a line of the Rauzer which means I don't have to make any new analysis as I have already something about that done. A rehearsal of the critical lines finalizes this piece of the preparation.

After this long introduction it is really time to have a look at what I encountered in the game. Well maybe the reader will be upset but Jonathan Dourerassou was not my opponent. Instead the young Dutch IM Miguoel Admiraal took the seat in front of me. Last year he won approximately 100 points and also in the last Tata Steel tournament he demonstrated a nice result at the Challengers so not an easy opponent.
Miguoel Admiraal
Source: HK5000
Miguoel can't possibly be a surprise for me as opponent. He already played once on the second board. I admit that I had studied our mutual game of last year in detail and I also had an answer prepared on all the lines he tried in the previous years (of course limited to the ones published in the databases). I suspect strongly that Miguoel is at least aware about this blog. Therefore it was not a surprise that he would try something new. Indeed such coincidence exists in chess as he played the Sicilian Kupreichik which I prepared in fact for his team-member Jonathan Dourerassou (playing that round on first board).

I put a lot of effort in above analysis leading to the correction of some earlier conclusions from my preparation. I should not have been so negative about the system with Be2 as I discovered that after e5 white does have some chances for an advantage. Statistics are often unreliable if they only are based on a limited amount of games as I already mentioned in my article green moves. A similar sound can be heard in Positional Decision Making In Chess of the Israelian top-grandmaster Boris Gelfand.

I showed in my previous article that you need quite some time to study openings properly. So these errors seem to me unavoidable in preparations of games. I find it more difficult to accept that I discovered Nc6 is not the most played move after Bg5 but rather e6. I was not aware that transpositions of other positions are added together in the statistics. If you would make an openingbook of only games after Bg5 then you get exactly the reversed result.
Openingbook Kupreichik filter
Chessbase created finally a manual see support for Fritz15 but I could not find a solution to switch off the transpositions except creating a new openingbook which of course isn't very practical. There exists a possibility to toggle non-played transpositions but played transpositions are always active. I welcome any help from the readers of course!

We come to the end of our adventure with the Sicilian Kurpeichik. I was initially relieved to save a half point but got anxious when I heard that we just lost the match. Fortunately my team-members calmed me down by informing me that my half point didn't make a difference anymore as Wachtebeke won the match with 5-3. In the meanwhile we are 2 interclub-rounds further. We keep winning all the other matches so the pressure remains for the leaders. Anyway I would be very surprised if we see another Sicilian Kupreichik in the nearby future.