Monday, July 25, 2016


The Flemish youth-chess-criterium is a beautiful initiative to engage (Flemish) children in our game. However I notice despite the lovely numbers of participants that only a very small minority fully uses the opportunities. In the first half of this year there were 6 play-days but I only count 5 players having participated each time. It is no coincidence that these 5 players (among which my son) are leading the overall standings.

I expect that a lack of guides is here the main reason of the absences. Parents can't/ don't want to sacrifice 8 hours waiting for their children each play-day. That excludes the extra hours of transport often needed to get from home to the tournament and back. It is no surprise that many parents quickly stop their support and most clubs don't have volunteers to replace them.

Of course it is a bit easier for me to pass the time enjoyable. Through the years I got to know a lot of people in this little world of chess so I can always find somebody to chat with. Recently we were talking a couple of times about which mastergames (modelgames) could be useful to show to our kids. I heard the names of Capablanca, Tarkatower but I had strong doubts about this. As long the players are not capable to play without hanging any pieces, we better practice tactics.

Once they master the basics sufficiently, the next step can be made by looking at modelgames. Today there exists a lot of material about it already. Last I read Chess Structures A Grandmaster Guide written by the Chilean grandmaster Maurico Flores Rios. I was impressed by the collection of contemporary top-games to explain different types of pawnstructures but personally I doubt that I have learned a lot. I did learn something from the hedgehog chaper like Matthew Sadler. Online I tested in the meanwhile already with some success the concept with Qc1. However many structures don't pop up in my repertoire. Besides I get the feeling that structures not part of the authors repertoire aren't so well covered. For sure the stonewall is better discussed at my blog than in his book see Dutch steps in the English opening or manuals.

Another negative comment which I have, is the complexity of the chosen top-games. The author really tries to keep the attention to the themes but can't avoid sometimes to delve into some tactical complications. Therefore I prefer the selection-method given by the English FM Terry Chapman in Chess For Life. He will still choose modelgames played by (top-) grandmasters but contrary to the book "Chess Structures" the opponents will be rated a couple of hundred points lower. This allows to demonstrate some themes in a much pure format.

Finally we also must categorize the different themes as many will be too difficult for most youth-players or even the average clubplayer. Ambitious players around 2000 probably will get the most out of that book. Players rated lower look better to a very different type of themes. For them there are books like How to Reasses Your ChessWeapons of Chess,.... This means we need different modelgames too. Former worldchampion Max Euwe has shown us long ago already the right direction with his book master against amateur. The masters show convincingly how typical mistakes of amateurs can be punished.

In my own practice I played a lot of games against (much) lower rated opponents. Sometimes my opponent told me afterwards that he didn't understand where he made an error. No clear tactical mistake was made but somehow he wasn't able to avoid losing material on the long term and eventually also the game. A good example is below game which I played in the first round of Open Leuven 2014.
[Event "Open Leuven 1ste ronde"] [Date "2014"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Wouters, M."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2337"] [BlackElo "1802"] [PlyCount "83"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 a6 8. Qd2 b5 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. Bxc5 Nxc5 11. Qf2 Qb6 12. Bd3 Nxd3 {(B4 which I met already 3 times earlier in standard games, must surely be recommended.)} 13. cxd3 Qxf2 14. Kxf2 O-O 15. Ne2 Bd7 16. Ned4 {(I still found a computergame with Ke3 in my database but there is of course nothing wrong with my chosen move. White has a very comfortable advantage which also is shown by the close to 100 procent for white in practice.)} Nxd4 17. Nxd4 Rac8 18. Rac1 Rxc1 $2 { (The endgame of bad bishop against strong knight is easily won for white. I find it strange that somebody of 1800 points does no understand this as otherwise he would have chosen earlier b4.)} 19. Rxc1 Rc8 20. Rxc8 Bxc8 21. Ke3 Bb7 22. Nf3 b4 23. Kd4 a5 24. Kc5 Ba6 25. Ne1 f6 26. Kb6 Bc8 27. Kxa5 fxe5 28. fxe5 Kf7 29. Kxb4 Kg6 30. Kc5 Kf5 31. Kd4 h5 32. a4 h4 33. b4 Kg4 34. b5 Kf4 35. a5 g5 36. a6 g4 37. Nc2 h3 38. gxh3 gxh3 39. Ne1 Kf5 40. Nf3 Kf4 41. Ng1 Kg4 42. Kc5 1-0
The game is a model-example of a strong knight against a bad bishop. Black is already very early helpless but even in the post-mortem it took me quite some time to convince him of how bad his position was. I am not even sure if I succeeded.

A very different theme popped up in the 7th round of the club-championship in Deurne 2015. Here white even won a pawn in the opening and kept if for quite some time but didn't realize how huge the compensation was for black.
[Event "Klubkampioenschap Deurne r7"] [Date "2015"] [White "Devliegher, B."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D00"] [WhiteElo "1610"] [BlackElo "2318"] [PlyCount "78"] 1. f4 d5 2. d4 {(This move was twice played in the famous match between De Labourdonnais - Mc Donell in 1834 but is surely not an improvement upon Nf3 played by Bart in the clubchampionship of Deurne 2012 against me. The extra move makes it playable for white but I think it says enough that I could not find any game played by a white player of 2500 speler with this position.)} Nf6 3. e3 c5 4. c3 $6 {(There is little known of this opening but my analysis do not like this static move and prefer the more flexible Nf3.)} g6 $6 {(I like to play the stonewall with black so I know this type of positions well with the fianchetto. Strangely I somehow forgot that the stonewall is less attractive when there is no fianchetto. Maybe it is less strange when I tell that I looked at the position 1. f4 d5 2. Nf3 g6 a couple of hours ago so I programmed myself to get this on the board. The einstellungeffect likely is applicable here.} (4... Bg4 $1 { (Recommended by Stockfish and Komodo as the only move guaranteeing some edge for black. The idea is to get the bishop out with gain of time because e6 follows which removes the threat of dxc5.)} 5. Nf3 (5. Be2 $5 Bxe2 6. Qxe2 e6 7. Nf3 Bd6 8. O-O O-O 9. b3 $15) 5... e6 6. Bd3 $5 (6. Be2 $5 Bd6 7. Ne5 $5 Bxe2 8. Qxe2 $15) 6... Nc6 $1 7. O-O $5 Be7 $1 8. Qe1 $5 O-O 9. b3 $5 Bf5 $1 $15) 5. dxc5 $6 { (White told me afterwards that he had no experience with this position. That likely explains his decision. Dxc5 is not always crazy but here after blacks fianchetto white can not make b4 work. Normal developing moves like Nf3 are perfectly playable as I play this with reversed colors myself and a tempo less.)} Bg7 6. Bb5 Bd7 7. Bxd7 {(I do not really like this exchange as it fits blacks plan.)} Nbxd7 8. b4 Qc7 9. Bb2 $6 { (More accurate seems Ne2 to my engines but the position is already not pleasant for white.)} (9. Ne2 $1 b6 10. cxb6 Nxb6 11. O-O O-O $15) 9... b6 10. cxb6 Nxb6 11. Nd2 O-O 12. Rc1 e5 13. g3 $6 {(The ugly move Nh3 is the only one to keep fighting. After this the position is easily won for black.)} Rfe8 14. Kf2 exf4 15. exf4 Ne4 16. Nxe4 Rxe4 17. Ne2 Nc4 18. Ba1 {(After the game Bart asked me what he did wrong. The extra pawn does not compensate the lack in activity and king-safety of course.)} Rae8 19. Nd4 Bxd4 20. cxd4 Qe7 21. Re1 Ne3 22. Qd2 {(Bart proposed here a draw which just proofs that he does not understand the position correctly.)} Ng4 23. Kf1 Nxh2 24. Kf2 Nf3 {(Not the only road to win but a cute move to play.)} 25. Rxe4 Qxe4 26. Qd1 Qe3 27. Kg2 Ne1 28. Kf1 Nd3 29. Rc2 Qxg3 30. Bc3 Qxf4 31. Kg1 Qe3 32. Kf1 Re4 33. Qe2 Qh3 34. Qg2 Rf4 35. Kg1 Qe3 36. Kh1 Rh4 37. Qh2 Qf3 38. Rg2 Qf1 39. Rg1 Nf2# { (Just like in our previous mutual games Bart continues till mate. Anyway the final move is quite funny.)} 0-1
Players experienced with example Queens gambit accepted won't be surprised of what happened to white in the game. However in the post-mortem white couldn't accept that taking the pawn on c5 was too risky. I am not a grandmaster so my views aren't taken for granted.

In open tournaments many of such modelgames are players. Surely in the first rounds often interesting lessons can be learned due to the big differences of ratings between the players. Seldom these games get commented on the internet so don't hesitate after the game as weaker player to ask some valuable feedback about your play.


Addendum 29 July 2016
In my analysis of the game against Maarten Wouters I criticize that somebody of 1800 points should know that an endgame of bad bishop against strong knight must be avoided. Well it is a coincidence but at very recently the strong French grandmaster Christian Bauer didn't stand a chance in a similar endgame. Maybe I was a bit too harsh as Christian has about 2600 elo.

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