Friday, July 29, 2016

Old wine in new skins part 2

Last season I didn't participate at the clubchampionship of Deurne just like 2 years ago. The interest of the stronger players has been fading away for some time as mentioned in my article inactivity and there hasn't been a cure yet found for it. The alternative was for me again TSM Open but that competition ended already around new-year. After the last round of the Belgian interclubs in April I didn't manage to play any standard games anymore. To get back into shape for the Open Gent I decided just like 2 years ago to play the cup in Deurne.

From 2 earlier participations I had learned that the scientific approach puts myself in a very vulnerable position. The higher rated player gets a time-handicap defined by the rules and the combination with a surprise in the opening by my opponent created a very dangerous mix. Not seldom only a few minutes remained on my clock after the opening for playing the rest of the game. I couldn't win the cup this way.

This year I chose to disregard the scientific approach and play in a very practical way. This also corresponds better to my goal of getting back into shape. Each match in the cup means that one player proceeds and one player is eliminated. So if you want to play a maximum of games then you first need to win the matches. Therefore I chose practically after winning the first game to force the draw in the second game even in completely won positions. My openingchoices also deviated from my standard repertoire. When Robert Schuermans in the quarterfinale played a6 in the Spanish instead of his favorite Schliemann-gambit, I countered surprisingly with the exchange variation. Not only I avoided his preparation but I also managed to exchange the queens which to some extent disarmed him.

In my semi-finale against Marcel Van Herck and the finale against  Thierry Penson I decided to return to openings which I played more than a decade ago regularly. They are not part anymore of my standard repertoire as there exists at least 1 anti-dote but they seemed to me a good choice for the cup. The strategy worked. Both opponents were not prepared for this surprise and spent a lot of time in the opening which caused them to make errors quickly in the middlegame. Without showing something great, I won comfortable the cup.

The practical value of a surprise from the old box can and should not be underestimated. However I still was slightly puzzled when last month the Ukrainian topgrandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk won with a really dubious opening against the Cuban topgrandmaster Leinier Dominguez Perez in the 51st Capablanca memorial.

A +2700 player knows an enormous amount of theory so I assume Leinier has seen this line before. Unfortunately for him this wasn't enough to keep the opening-advantage. For the umpteenth time the well calculated gamble of Chucky was successful. I am sure the opening is dubious as it was part of my standard repertoire till 2004, although with a different move-order. I still won my last game with the variation but afterwards I got convinced that I better play different lines.

I got acquainted with the opening by a book of 1986 Spanish gambits by Leonid Shamkovich and Eric Schiller. The analysis were not of a high quality but till today (mainly in online blitz) I still get a lot of pleasure with it. The opening gets called different names by people. One of the first players playing it on a high level was the Russian grandmaster Mark Taimanov in 1955 so sometimes it is named after him. In the book which I read, it is called the wing-variation which is also an option given on 365Chess.com. Some prefer it to call the Norwegian variation as several strong players from Norway played it like the strong Norwegian grandmaster Simen Agdesteinthe Norwegian IM Svein Johannessen and the Norwegian IM Arne Zwaig.

Today I didn't introduce yet old (dubious) openings in my standard-chess. I am convinced of the practical value even against very strong players. Winning is important but that is not the only thing which counts for me in chess.

Brabo

Addendum 29 July 2016
I realized after posting this article, that the opening discussed in this article also helped me to win a game against Nicola Capone a couple of years ago in Leuven. The analysis of that game was published in the article http://chess-brabo.blogspot.be/2014/01/the-sequence.html. If you read the analysis then you can even find the link.

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