Tuesday, December 18, 2018

An extra move part 3

About 7 years ago I started reading the 12 part-series of Garry Kasparov see the Neo Scheveningen. I finished all 5 books of his predecessors. The first book about Modern Chess Revolution in the 70s I didn't purchase as it is not much relevant for a fidemaster today. On the other hand the 3 books about his world-championship-matches against Karpov were very interesting. Finally Kasparov also wrote 3 books about his own career so beside his games played in the matches against Karpov. Of those books only the last one intrigued me although Hypekiller gave a rather negative review on this blog about it.

So I conclude my journey at 9 out of 12. The last book on Kasparov was definitely the least as Hypekiller warned us in advance but I don't regret the purchase. I was mainly interested in finding out what Kasparov tells us about the current openings and that aspect is well covered. Despite he already ended his career in 2005, many of his opening-analysis stay even today valid. He was always a pioneer in the openings. Many of his analysis confirm what I meanwhile discovered myself or even extended my knowledge of certain variations with new interesting ideas.

I am not going to summarize all those analysis here as that would be impossible in one article and also would likely violate copyright. However I do want to make 1 exception for a special position. I earlier wrote about twin-positions in my articles an extra move part 1 and an extra move part 2. Well thanks to this last book I found a triplet of positions with 0, 1 or 2 extra moves arising from the opening. First I couldn't believe it but after some research in the databases I got confirmed that each of those 3 positions are occurring in multiple games played at master-level. Therefore I think it is very interesting to figure out how the result is influenced by the extra move in practice. I start with the position without the extra moves which I even once got on the board in a standard game (see the earlier mentioned article of the Neo-Scheveningen).
283 games of which 1 of both players has at least a rating of +2300. The average rating of white is 2288 and he underperforms with a TPR = 2276.

The same position but white to move pops up less in practice but has been played successfully by Garry Kasparov.
21 games of which 1 of both players has at least a rating of +2300. The average rating of white is 2362 and he overperforms with a TPR = 2415.

Finally above position also exists with the extra move g4 so white still having the move. The most important game with that position is probably between the strong Russian grandmaster Evgeny Alekseev and the strong Armenian grandmaster Sergei Movsesian.
36 games of which 1 of both players has at least a rating of +2300. The average rating of white is 2427 and he overperforms with a TPR = 2546.

First thing what I notice from above statistics is that the more extra moves, the higher the average rating of white. I earlier wrote how little openings influence the result of a game (see to study openings). Later a reaction of a Belgian IM countered that statement as things go differently for masters. Well above statistics do indeed hint that stronger players put a lot of attention to the opening.

In the past there were many handicap-matches in which one color get 1 or multiple extra moves. I think it is therefore interesting to define a formula in which we link a tempo to a certain rating-gain. If we ignore tactical positions then it appears that the advantage of an extra move is rather limited. In above example we see that the first extra move generated an improvement of about 65 elo at the (relative) TPR. For 2 extra moves it increases to 131 points. From those 2 figures we can deduct that handicap-games based on extra moves between humans and top-engines are rather useless. It takes at least 6 extra moves to bridge a gap of 400 ratingpoints. How many interesting positions exist with so many extra moves? Only games with a material-handicap are competitive between humans and engines and even in that domain there are big limitations see comebacks part 3.

Brabo

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Byes

Last round in the Belgian interclub for the first time in my career I forfeited the game. Well in fact it was my son withdrawing as I didn't manage to bring him to the playing-hall. This season is not easy for my family to organize the transport. I play for Deurne while my son plays simultaneously for Mechelen. Last season half of the teams played at home while the other half played away each round. That made it possible to shuffle Hugo between the teams so he could always play at home. However this year Mechelen decided to play all teams together home or away. So this meant we couldn't avoid anymore "far" away matches.

46km from Kontich to Turnhout can't be considered very far away but if you take public transport then it takes one way still 1h 40 minutes. Besides you can't expect a 9 year old boy to do this trip alone which means mom and sister are forced to accompany him. My wife doesn't drive by car so they have to use the public transport. You could of course wonder if this kind of effort isn't excessive for playing 1 single game against somebody rated below 1300 elo.

Eventually their train was cancelled and the next one would come the earliest more than one hour later. I didn't have a backup-plan so the only thing left was to inform the team and the opponent that I couldn't avoid the forfeit anymore. I was embarrassed as I let them down. I knew in advance how unreliable trains are in Belgium but the club persuaded me to let Hugo play anyway. I won't repeat this anymore. Nobody benefits from such failure. I wrote 6 years ago on this blog already how much I detest forfeits see forfeits in the interclub.

I always considered it important to keep promises. Recent years I became more flexible in this as I became much more dependent of elements I can't control like family, work,... So today it happens that I make an appointment of which I know in advance that I maybe will cancel it later. I don't want to justify it but it is just the choice I make to optimize my time. I notice most arrange the same way their schedule. It is the evolution of which I talked in my previous article about the growing individualism in our society.

Many tournament-organizers understand today that you need to take this into account if you want to revert the current trend of decreasing participants. Today a lot of potential participants would drop out if you force everybody to play every round in a tournament. So that is why we see more and more tournaments allowing participants to take voluntary byes on the condition it is announced in advance. By informing the organizers in advance it allows them to remove the people taking a bye out of the pairings so everybody willing to play still has an opponent.

Some organizers take it even a step further to improve the attractiveness of their tournament by also given half points for the not-played rounds. The advantages of this are less fluctuations in the pairings and people taking a bye will barely feel any competitive disadvantage. Especially that last element caused some players not to take any bye in the past as too often their tournament would become uninteresting.

Many amateurs but also professionals like to use these byes. In old times you often had to decide between 2 tournaments when they overlapped. Today it is possible to play them both as you just take one or more byes for the first round(s) as it often doesn't matter for the final standings. A tour de force using the Swiss gambit was performed last summer at the Masters of BrugesThe Spanish grandmaster Oleg Korneev didn't play the first 2 rounds but still won the tournament. He surprised everybody by playing only 7 out of 9 rounds but was in the end proclaimed as tournament-winner thanks to the tie-break of winning the direct encounter against the co-winner see below game.
[Event "Brugge Belgium, Brugse Meesters"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.08.16"] [Round "?"] [White "Korneev, Oleg"] [Black "Wan, Yunguo"] [ECO "A48"] [WhiteElo "2513"] [BlackElo "2501"] [Result "1-0"] 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bf4 Bg7 4.e3 c5 5.c3 O-O 6.Be2 cxd4 7.exd4 d6 8.h3 Nc6 9.O-O Nd5 10.Bh2 e5 11.c4 Nb6 12.d5 Nb8 13.Nc3 N8d7 14.a3 Qe7 15.Re1 a5 16.b3 f5 17.Bf1 Qf6 18.Nb5 Nc5 19.b4 axb4 20.axb4 Rxa1 21.Qxa1 Na6 22.c5 Nxd5 23.Nxd6 Naxb4 24.Bxe5 Qe7 25.Bc4 Kh8 26.Bd4 Bxd4 27.Nxd4 Qf6 28.Ne8 Nc2 29.Nxf6 1-0
It is a well played game of Oleg but many wondered if the tie-break should've not been changed here. Can we state that somebody playing less games has more right to win the tournament? Of course the rules of the tie-break were known to everybody in advance but shouldn't we consider to change them for a next edition of the tournament?

Besides by playing fewer games, you are also fresher in the remaining games which is an advantage over the loyal participants playing all games. I doubt this was the case for Oleg but in the just finished Ilse of Man we saw many players taking a bye during the tournament. 19 from the first 100 players having played the last round, took use of this possibility. However even more remarkable is that the 3 first finishers in the final standings: the Polish top-grandmaster Radoslaw Wojtaszekthe Azerbaijan top-grandmaster Arkadij Naiditsch and former-worldchampion Vladimir Kramnik all took a bye. Below you find a crucial game of the tournament-winner Radoslaw winning against the British top-grandmaster Michael Adams played in round 8.
[Event "Chess. com IoM Masters"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.10.27"] [Round "?"] [White "Wojtaszek, Radoslaw"] [Black "Adams, Michael"] [ECO "E04"] [WhiteElo "2727"] [BlackElo "2712"] [Result "1-0"] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 dxc4 5.Nf3 c5 6.O-O Nc6 7.Ne5 Bd7 8.Nxc4 cxd4 9.Bf4 Be7 10.Nd6+ Kf8 11.Nxb7 Qb6 12.Nd6 Qc5 13.b4 Qxb4 14.a3 Qc5 15.Qb3 Na5 16.Qb4 Qxb4 17.axb4 e5 18.Bxa8 exf4 19.Rxa5 Bxd6 20.Rxa7 Bxb4 21.Rd1 fxg3 22.hxg3 Bc5 23.Ra5 Bb4 24.Ra6 Ke7 25.Bc6 Rc8 26.Rxd4 Bc5 27.Bxd7 Nxd7 28.Re4+ Kf8 29.Nd2 g6 30.Kg2 Rd8 31.Rc4 Be7 32.Ne4 h5 33.Rc7 Ne5 34.Raa7 Re8 35.f4 Ng4 36.Nc3 Nh6 37.e4 Bd6 38.Rc6 Rd8 39.Nd5 Kg7 40.Kf3 Ng4 41.Rb7 Kf8 42.Ra6 Bc5 43.Rc7 Bd4 44.Ra4 Bg1 45.Rb4 1-0
If the tournament exists next year keeping the same format then I expect to see much more byes. The winners have likely unintentionally proven that it is often more interesting to not play chess each round than playing all rounds.

It is of course perverse as a tournament is organized to let people play chess. I think we need to revise the byes. Maybe the prize-money must be adapted to the number of pairings somebody has been subjected to. At least we must make sure that players having played all the rounds are favored by the tie-brake above people having taken one or more byes.

The prizes in the last Open Leuven were split in case of equal points so the tie-break wasn't very important. Still I did notice that a tournament-performance isn't a good system to use to rank the players when the rules allow participants to get half points for byes. For the first time in my career I took 2 byes in a tournament as Open Leuven overlapped with Open Le Touquet. I had only played 19 standard games in 2018 which is very few and Leuven was my last chance to get some more practice. Friday 2nd of November I was still at noon in Le Touquet supporting my son while in the evening I showed up in Leuven to play myself the 3rd round. With only 1/2 I got as opponent the 82 years old Belgian Karl De Smet whom gave me a good fight. At the end of the game I felt exhausted but I anyway managed to validate my big rating-advantage.
[Event "Open Leuven 3de ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "De Smet, K."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A80"] [WhiteElo "1595"] [BlackElo "2290"] [PlyCount "94"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.d4 { (I missed the first 2 rounds of Open Leuven as it overlapped with Open Le Touquet. That is why I get still in round 3 a much lower rated opponent. Still I didn't underestimate him as Karl is a 82 years old very experienced correspondence player.) } 1...f5 2.Nc3 Nf6 { (Last year I experienced serious troubles with d5 against the Belgian FM Matthias De Wachter. After that game I decided to check the mainline with Nf6 as the solution for d5 didn't appeal to me as it is not very practical.) } 3.g3 { (While preparing for this game I had found a correspondence-game of Karl which continued with the mainline Bg5. G3 has been played a few times but doesn't seem to work very well together with white's second move.) } 3...d5 4.Bg2 e6 5.Nf3 c5 { (This is the most aggressive approach but black can also choose to play it slower.) } 6.e3 Nc6 7.O-O Be7 8.Re1 { (I found still some games with b3, Ne2 and a3. Karl plays very fast and chooses for a different solid move.) } 8...O-O 9.Ne2 Bd7 10.c3?! { (Also solid but black now gets a free hand on the queen-side. More accurate is b3.) } ( 10.b3! b5 11.Nf4 Ne4 12.dxc5 Bxc5 13.c4 bxc4 14.bxc4 dxc4 15.Nd2 Nxd2 $11 { [%eval -29,31] } ) 10...Qc7?! { (I looked for many minutes at c4 but feared some counterattack from white in the center.) } ( 10...c4! 11.Nd2?! b5 12.f3!? e5 { ( I missed this strong idea in the game.) } 13.b3 a6 14.a4 Qb6 $17 ) 11.dxc5 Bxc5 12.Ned4? { (White's play lacks aggressiveness. Better is Nf4.) } 12...Rad8?! { (More ingenious is Nd8 after which e5 becomes even more effective as white can't exchange anymore at c6. It is a nice example of the superfluous-piece. I choose for simple development which still is enough for some advantage.) } 13.Qe2 a6 14.Ng5?! { (White prepared f4 to cover e5. However this creates new holes and doesn't avoid e5 in the end. In this difficult position the engine recommends a4.) } 14...Rfe8 15.f4 Bd6 16.Qd1 g6 17.Ndf3 Bf8 18.Bd2 Bg7 19.Rc1 b5 20.Nd4 e5 21.Nxc6 Bxc6 22.Qb3 h6 23.Nh3 Kh7 24.a4?! { (A couple of days after the game Karl admitted that he totally missed this blunders a pawn. The least damage is fxe5 with only a large advantage for black.) } 24...bxa4 25.Qa2 Qb6 26.Qb1 Rb8 27.Rc2 Bb5 28.Nf2 Bc4 29.Bc1 exf4 30.gxf4 Re7 31.Bf1 Bxf1 32.Rxf1 Ne4 { (I definitely don't choose the fastest win but my opponent never gets any chances anymore to save the game.) } 33.Nxe4 Rxe4 34.Bd2 a5 35.Qc1 Qc5 36.Kh1 Rbe8 37.Qd1 Qc4 38.Bc1 R4e6 39.Rg2 Qe4 40.h3 a3 41.bxa3 Bxc3 42.Qb3 Bg7 43.Qa2 Rc8 44.Qf2 d4 45.exd4 Bxd4 46.Qg3 Rc3 47.Qh4 Qd3 0-1
I also won the next 2 rounds and suddenly in round 6 I joined the leaders. Some players joked if I would also perform a Korneevke following the example of Oleg Korneev at the Masters of Bruges. That would've been an even bigger stunt but in the end didn't happen. In round 6 I was defeated in a good game by the Swedish grandmaster Ralf Akesson and at the same time also later tournament-winner. However I still managed to win the last round and catch the -2300 rating-prize (100 euro). In  the final standings I was placed in front of other players with equal points having not taken any byes thanks to the better TPR. TPR is calculated by taking the percentage-score in combination with the average rating of the opponents. Obviously by not playing 2 rounds my percentage-score is much better. Also the opponents in the first rounds drag the rating-average drastically down.

I don't doubt that we need to allow byes if we want to attract more participants in a tournament. Still I think we made things too profitable for the players taking byes. The nice participants playing all rounds should not be penalized. A well organized tournament also guarantees a fair split of the prizes between the winners. I have made a couple of proposals but I don't doubt that a smart guy can invent something better.

Brabo

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Holidays part 5

In the last Open Le Touquet (French tournament) my 9 year old son surprised us all by winning first prize in the category 1400-1599 elo. I knew that he made progress but I didn't expect a +1700 TPR otherwise I would've not subscribed for the Open Leuven. I had decided in advance to skip the prize-givings of Open Le Touquet to play the 3rd round of Open Leuven in the evening. Obviously my son wasn't happy to miss his moment of glory but fortunately he forgave me quickly when I was able to pass him his 100 euro prize the next day via the help of some Belgian chess-friends.

I heard next year the tournaments won't overlap. This brings us back to how it was last year and I assume many Belgian chess-players will like that. It allows to close the tournament of Le Touquet calmly and still enjoy a bit holidays at the site. Last year we decided to spend the remaining time by visiting the setting of the extremely popular french movie: Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis.
The super funny movie from 2008 is probably not so known in Flanders but in France more than 20 million people bought a ticket which made it the most watched ever movie in France. The story is about a post-office-director whom misbehaved himself and was relocated from the warm south to the cold north naturally creating some hilarious situations.

While searching this location in the North we made a mistake by first driving to Berck instead of Bergues or also Sint-Winoksbergen called. Our children were not amused by the lost time but I don't mind so much when having holidays. Eventually we reached the correct Bergues and there we found even 9 years after the release of the movie still plenty of information about the locations in the film used via the office de tourice with even a real Ch'ti-tour. The village clearly profited the previous years from the many tourists which were the result of the movie see article in the nieuwsblad.

This combination of playing a chess-tournament and visiting the settings of a nice movie, was a pleasant experience so this year we made plans to play the Open St Antonin. St.Antonin was used as location of the feel-good film The Hundred Foot Journey from 2014 with the British star-actress Helen Mirren and produced by a.o. the top-producer Steven Spielberg.
The film describes 2 competing restaurants which after many conflicts eventually start to join forces. However I have to warn the visitors of the movie-locations as you can't find the restaurants in St Antonin as they were fully built in the film-studio. Still there remain places in St-Antonin worth a visit which popped up in the movie like the very beautiful historical center. Also for this village the movie created a boost of tourism which you can read in this article: Visit the village from the film the hundred-foot journey.

My wife ordered the dvd online so we could watch it together but the trip itself to St Antonin didn't happen. We started very late checking the details but especially the distance (almost 1000km) combined with the late end-date of the tournament (30 August so only a couple of days before the beginning of a new school-year) made it a difficult. Next year the tournament probably will still exist so we decided not to rush.

Anyway it is not because we didn't visit St Antonin that we haven't combined chess with a setting of a movie this summer. Bruges doesn't need a movie to attract visitors but it is perfectly possible to connect  the open brugse meesters with visiting several locations used in the criminal - comedy In Bruges from 2008 with a.o. the famous Irish actor Colin Farrell.
We visit Bruges regularly as it is for my wife her favorite town in Belgium. Nonetheless she doesn't like very much the movie as she finds the story too dark. So she puts Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis as first, the Hundred-foot journey next and as last In Bruges. I have the same number 1 but I rather prefer to switch In Bruges with the Hundred-foot journey. I find the feel-good film too fluffy.

The combination of playing chess-tournaments and visiting film-settings is probably very few would think of. The link film and chess is normally something we only make when we see a film-fragment about chess. Besides about that combination there exists an excellent blog from the Belgian expert Nikolaas Verhulst see belgianchesshistory. On that blog he discuss many movies with chess but also other media which use chess like cartoons, music-clips, strips, paintings, drawings, non-chess books, commercials, non-chess magazines, non-chess computergames,... Nikolaas complains about the low number of visitors see cipc 47 Bennett cat and window. That is sad to hear as his blog is very well written and it is hard to maintain this when you don't see any appreciation. Personally I find it a bit weird why Nikolaas doesn't split this rich content from his Belgianchesshistory-website as it has nothing to do with Belgium and its history. I hope this small paragraph can give a boost to his blog.

Brabo

P.s. As a dessert I also want to share the very funny cartoon of Masha and the Bear. They speak Russian but even without knowing the language the humor can be understood. It is very well done (chess is part of the Russian DNA): Masha learns chess from Bear and Tiger. Translations of the cartoon exist in other languages (e.g. Dutch) but often not free available.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Wasps

It is not yet cooling down outside so there still remains some time to prepare the garden for the winter. Beside the yearly cutting of branches, I should also not forget this time to fertilize the grass. The recovery of my green after the months of drought has been accompanied with an explosive growth of moss. From the outside it looks all again healthy but if you look closer then you notice that the empty spots have been filled by undesirable moss.

Last summer was very tough for nature. Many plants and trees suffered heavily and some even didn't survive. On the other hand it struck me that some insects prospered from these extreme weather conditions. For instance there were much more wasps than usual as this article testifies: "Twice as much people beaten by a wasp." The insects were a real plaque as you met them everywhere. Chess-tournaments were no exception as after the last round of the Brugse Meesters my son Hugo was also sting by a wasp when playing outside with other kids. Fortunately there was no allergic reaction so the discomfort was rather limited.

Besides also during the games the bugs were very much present. Just next to the playing-hall there was a nest of wasps and despite several complaints the organization didn't manage to solve this problem. I therefore advised my son not to bring anything sweet to the games. So he chose water instead of cola to drink. Anyway during his games he didn't get too much annoyed by the wasps as he was quite far playing from the nest. Less lucky were the players on the top-boards as they were playing nearby. Eventually a wasp caused a loss of a full point to my strongest student Sterre Dauw. Sterre has a panic fear for wasps so naturally things went wrong in round 3 when one of them started to harass him during the game. In the end he played some random moves and spoiled a certain win.
[Event "Bruges Masters 2018"] [Site "Bruges BEL"] [Date "2018.08.13"] [Round "3.11"] [White "Rajesh, VA."] [Black "Dauw, Sterre"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A61"] [WhiteElo "2325"] [BlackElo "2192"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2N2r1k/4q1bp/4B1p1/1ppP4/1nN2r2/6Q1/1Pb2PPP/R4RK1 b - - 0 26"] [PlyCount "8"] [EventDate "2018.08.12"] [CurrentPosition "2N2r1k/4q1bp/4B1p1/1ppP4/1nN2r2/6Q1/1Pb2PPP/R4RK1 b - - 0 26"] { (I followed the game online with some friends thanks to the live-boards. We couldn't decide about which move wins the easiest for black but we did notice immediately Rxc8 is wrong. Naturally we were very surprised to see black anyway playing that losing move.) } 26...Rxc8?? 27.Qxf4 Rd8 28.Ne5 Bxe5 29.Qxe5+ Qg7 30.Qg5 { (Just after the game Sterre came to us and told us that he panicked as a wasp was harassing him at the board.) } 1-0
I was following the game live online and first didn't understand what had happened. The Indian IM Vav Rajesh was completely outplayed and the win seemed a triviality but suddenly Sterre stood next to me telling me he resigned. "Wasps are very dangerous animals" was his fantastic dry humor which is typical for him. I still didn't understand why he didn't leave the board till the wasp disappeared.

Anyway he is not the first one and won't be the last one being fascinated about those little species. Some time ago I discovered that an American programmer John Stanback has called his engine Wasp. You can download it for free on his site and it plays pretty strongly: 34th place in the current ranking of CCRL40/40 and a +3000 rating so more than likely stronger than any other human. A good game of that engine can be replayed below.
[Event "CCRL 40/40"] [Site "CCRL"] [Date "2018.06.07"] [Round "103.4"] [White "Komodo 12.1.1 MCTS 64-bit"] [Black "Wasp 3.0 64-bit"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B00"] [WhiteElo "3081"] [BlackElo "2987"] [PlyCount "63"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.c3 g6 5.Be3 Bg7 6.Bd3 O-O 7.O-O e6 8.h3 h6 9.Qd2 Kh7 10.b4 b6 11.a4 e5 12.a5 exd4 13.cxd4 d5 14.e5 Ne4 15.Qb2 bxa5 16.b5 Nb4 17.Be2 c6 18.bxc6 Bf5 19.Rc1 Rc8 20.Nfd2 Nxc6 21.Nxe4 dxe4 22.Bc4 f6 23.e6 Bxh3 { (Despite white is not the strongest release of Komodo, I still think it is admiring how clever Wasp wins this game tactically.) } 24.Qd2 f5 25.Ba6 Qh4 26.Bxc8 Nxd4 27.Qd1 Nf3+ 28.Kf1 f4 29.e7 Rxc8 30.Nd2 Nxd2+ 31.Bxd2 f3 32.Be3 0-1
An engine which can stick can be easily neutralized by switching off the power. However things become more tricky when the pieces itself are transforming into insects. Sure this is not part anymore of standard chess as we now enter the magic world of fairy-chess. A summary of the existing fairy-pieces can be found on wikipedia see antelopes, bisons, flamingos, lions and zebras. I couldn't find any wasp in the list but anybody can develop a new piece and call it as such. Nonetheless another scary insect which is even very popular in fairy-chess does exist: the grasshopper. That piece moves like a queen but with the special condition that each move is combined with a jump over another piece and the landing must happen just behind that piece. There exist quite a number of funny chess-problems with that piece like the one below.

Not every article should be serious. The winter is ahead of us so those dangerous but also useful wasps will be again not annoy us for the next 6 months.

Brabo

Solution Grasshoppers-problem:
1.Gh3 Gh4 2.Gh5 Gh6 3.Gh7 Gh8 4.Ge7 Gd7 5.Gc7 Gb7 6.Ga7+ Ga6 7.Ga5+ Ga4 8.Ga3#

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Symbols

A couple of months ago the weekly magazine Knack published an article about facts and myths of yoga. First it was told that today yoga is an enormous booming business. More and more people are practicing some type of yoga. Also similar kind of activities like Tai Chi, mindfulness, meditation,... are experiencing the same exponential growth. Many in the Western world need to escape from the daily stress. So in the article the author wonders if we don't do those activities just to maintain our hectic life. This sounds something very awkward on the long term as it is very doubtful those escape tools will work forever.

Anyway today the effectiveness is still something under discussion. There is no clear agreement about which positive effects yoga and other related activities have. Sure we can't deny that some people feel better by it but some others barely feel any benefits of it at all. I am therefore against forcing people to follow such courses at school, work,... Let people decide for themselves if they want to spend time at it.

Personally I don't feel attracted to it. I don't need such exercises to feel better myself. Besides I neither believe in anything to do with spirituality. So karma which I mentioned 2 article ago, is nonsense for me. My wife warns me that I will get what I will expect so nothing (every Russian knows the book The Master and Margerita in which there is a chapter about an atheist dying under a tram and the devil forwards him to the void as he believes nothing). However I answer my wife if she expects me after her death then I don't have anything to worry about. Meanwhile I am 12 years married with my Russian wife so I start to know how to deal with her favorites.

On the other hand the horseshoe nail which I received 4 years ago as a present (see my article the lucky one) still has a place in the living room. No I still don't believe in good luck-charms. I just find it a cute and lovely accessory. You don't have to believe in symbols to consider them beautiful. The same is also valid for chess. Sometimes the pieces are forming a weird symbol which let you smile. Something like that happened also in the last round of Open Gent but I lacked the time to enjoy the special position.
[Event "Open Gent 9de ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Dauw, S."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B92"] [WhiteElo "2310"] [BlackElo "2190"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/7p/3p2p1/p7/2P1r3/1P1R1K2/P2Rr2P/8 b - - 0 43"] [PlyCount "32"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [CurrentPosition "6k1/7p/3p2p1/p7/2P1r3/1P1R1K2/P2Rr2P/8 b - - 0 43"] 43...R4e3+ { (A funny move which I missed and maintains the balance.) } 44.Rxe3 Rxd2 45.Re2 { (The rest was already covered in my previous article so I stop commenting.) } 45...Rxe2 46.Kxe2 Kf7 47.a3 Ke6 48.b4 axb4 49.axb4 d5 50.cxd5+ Kxd5 51.Ke3 Kc4 52.Kf4 Kxb4 53.Kg5 Kc5 54.Kh6 Kd6 55.Kxh7 g5 56.Kg6 g4 57.Kg5 Ke7 58.Kxg4 Kf7 59.Kg5 1/2-1/2

The 4 rooks forming a square, immediately reminded me of another weird square of knights which I created on the board in a correspondence game. That case was even more special as I also won that game against a player rated above 2500.
[Event "EU/M/1234"] [Site "?"] [Date "1998.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Dushin, A."] [Result "1-0"] [BlackElo "2534"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3rr2k/ppp5/1nn1p2p/1N3bp1/1PPP1b2/PN5P/4B1P1/R4RBK w - - 0 29"] [PlyCount "47"] [EventDate "1998.??.??"] [WhiteElo ""] [ECO ""] [CurrentPosition "3rr2k/ppp5/1nn1p2p/1N3bp1/1PPP1b2/PN5P/4B1P1/R4RBK w - - 0 29"] 29.Nc5 { (A square of knights is something which I haven't met on the board anymore since this game.) } 29...a6 30.Nc3 Nxd4 31.Nxb7 Rd7 32.Nc5 Rdd8 33.Bh5 Rf8 34.Ne2 Nxe2 35.Bxe2 Rd2 36.Rae1 Kg8 37.Nxa6 Bg3 38.Bf2 Bf4 39.b5 Re8 40.c5 Nd5 41.Kg1 Rf8 42.Bc4 Rc2 43.Bxd5 exd5 44.Nb4 Rc4 45.Rd1 Rc3 46.Nxd5 Rxa3 47.c6 Bd6 48.b6 cxb6 49.Bxb6 Ra6 50.Ne3 Bf4 51.Nxf5 Rxb6 52.Rxf4 1-0
While those are for sure special constructions on the board, things become really extraordinary in chess-problems. The next 3 problems were extracted from a book published in 1907: The Twentieth Century Retractor, Chess Fantasies, Letter Problems created by the famous female-composer Edith Baird. I start with a position in the shape of a heart.
White mates in 2 moves
The next one is in the shape of the number four. The solution is rather ugly which happens more often in this type of problems.
White mates in 2 moves
The initial of my first name and my son's should not be missing of course.
White mates in 2 moves but black also mates in 2 moves
Finally things get spiced up when a story is connected to the position as is the case for the last problem.

A chess-player has out of necessity put on stake his soul at the devil. If the player wins then he is again a free man. Else he would be for eternity belong to the devil. Slowly the devil outplayed the poor guy. Eventually the devil announced mate in 7. However just when the devil wanted to execute the final move, he dropped the mating piece out of horror. He jumped up and ran into the darkness. God had saved the player miraculously.
[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "?"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [WhiteElo ""] [BlackElo ""] [ECO ""] [FEN "3k1r2/3P4/3p2Q1/2nP1R2/1K3R1q/4rP2/8/6n1 b - - 0 1"] [SetUp "1"] 1...Rb3+ 2.Kc4 ( 2.Ka5 Qe1+ 3.Rb4 Qxb4# ) 2...Qxf4+ 3.Rxf4 Rxf4+ 4.Qe4 Rxe4+ 5.fxe4 Nf3 6.e5 Nxe5+ ( 6...Nd2+ 7.Kd4 Rd3# ) 7.Kd4 Rd3# *

To make sure the devil plays with his favorite color (so black) I decided to switch the colors of the original problem found at the blog dubbelschaak. That problem is already a revision by the Dutch composer Gerard Smits of the original published first in 1878 by the French Charles Godfrey Gumpuel (he also built the half-automate Mephisto).

Besides there exist several variants of this story with other positions forming a crucifix see e.g sign of the cross chess problem 67214. Composers love to make problems around symbols.

Such strange creations or symbols are much more rare in standard chess. Of course a game has other priorities. If you have met something special yourself in a game then don't hesitate to share it with us in a reaction.

Brabo

Solutions

Problem the heart: 1.Kd6 (waiting move)
1...Bc3 2.e3#
1...Be3 2.c3#
1...Bc1 2.c3#
1...Be1 2.e3#
1...Bxb4+ 2.Rxb4#
1...Bxf4+ 2.Rxf4#
1...c5 2.Rd5#

Problem the number four: 1.Ne8, ? 2.Bd6#

Problem the letter H:
white: 1.Nb6+, Kxe5 2.Rc5#
black: 1...Qxc6+ 2.Kd8 Bg5# of 2.Kb8 Qb7#

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Quicker part 2

A couple of months ago at the blog of LSV questions were raised about why some out-dated rules of the federation weren't adapted to modern society. We see that big changes only happen after some big disaster. The board of most clubs consist of older players not willing to give up their comfortable positions.

On the other hand nothing stays the same forever. There are continuously small changes which don't cause much resistance as most people consider them insignificant. Sometimes only after a decade we see how those little things have accumulated to a big shift. Chess isn't anymore the same. Everybody has adapted to the new situation except a few wondering if playing chess is still interesting.

In part 1 I wrote that the Bruges masters of 2006 was the first Belgian tournament using the quick standard-tempo G90 + 30 seconds. This year so 12 years later all the other remaining big tournaments in Belgium have adopted this tempo. The Zilveren Toren, Open Gent and Open Leuven made the change this year to this fast standard-tempo. So there are no more big tournaments in Belgium left where you can play at the old slower tempo. For the majority of the players this is a logical evolution. However I also hear a few other sounds of disappointment and even bitterness as players can't choose anymore between tournaments with different tempos.

Initially I was also against this quicker tempo but gradually I started to appreciate the advantages. No more enormous blunders due to playing moves with only seconds on the clock. There is also no need anymore of an arbiter to decide if somebody is not making any winning attempts. The games are shorter which is something I welcome in my hectic time of life. Even in Gent I noticed this. Games played at the new tempo of G90 + 30 seconds were averagely quicker finished than games at the old tempo of G120 + 0 seconds. Finally players enjoying the analysis don't need to worry about the recording of the game. You don't have to rely upon a good memory or live-boards. My game played in the 5th round of Open Gent against the tournament-winner Elshan Moradiabadi shows those benefits clearly. Already very early in the game I was down to 2 minutes on the clock but thanks to the increment I was able to avoid making big mistakes and to maintain recording of the moves.
[Event "Open Gent 5de ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Moradiabadi, E."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A90"] [WhiteElo "2530"] [BlackElo "2310"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "5nk1/6pp/1p2pq2/p4p2/2B5/1P2P1P1/P2Q1P1P/6K1 b - - 0 28"] [PlyCount "82"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [CurrentPosition "5nk1/6pp/1p2pq2/p4p2/2B5/1P2P1P1/P2Q1P1P/6K1 b - - 0 28"] 28...Qe5?? { (I was playing more or less solely at increments. With the accurate Qa1+ followed up with Qe5, I could've kept the equality.) } 29.Qd8 { (I had my queen already in my hand when I noticed the devastating Bxe6. Anyway it doesn't matter much as there is no saving move anymore. If white's king was at g2 then playable was Qe4+ and b5.) } 29...Qe4 30.Qxb6 { (White has won an important pawn. White doesn't hurry to conclude the game.) } 30...Qb1+ 31.Kg2 Qe4+ 32.f3 Qe5 33.Qd4 Qc7 34.e4 fxe4 35.Qxe4 Qd6 36.f4 g6 37.a4 Kf7 38.Kh3 h5 39.Qb7+ Kf6 40.Qa8 Qc5 41.Kg2 Ke7 42.Qe4 Kf6 43.Kf3 Qd6 44.Ke3 Kf7 45.Ke2 Qc5 46.Kd3 Qd6+ 47.Kc2 Qc5 48.Kd3 Qd6+ 49.Qd4 Qb4 50.Qe5 Qb6 51.f5 Qd8+ 52.Kc2 gxf5 53.Qxf5+ Kg7 54.Qxh5 { (That is the second pawn which I lose. I continue playing as the tandem queen+knight is often dangerous.) } 54...Qb6 55.Qg4+ Kf7 56.Qf4+ Ke7 57.h4 Nd7 58.g4 Qg1 59.Qg5+ Kd6 60.Qd2+ Ke7 61.Qxa5 { (Also a third pawn is lost. My last actions are easily countered.) } 61...Nc5 62.Qc7+ Kf6 63.Qf4+ Ke7 64.Bf1 Nd7 65.h5 Qc5+ 66.Bc4 Qa3 67.Qd4 Qb4 68.h6 Qb8 69.Qg7+ 1-0
Nevertheless there are some disadvantages too. Because of the increment we never know when a game will be finished the very latest. Theoretically the game can go on forever. 1 very long game can disturb the planning of a tournament. So this is annoying for the organizers but also for the participants it is no fun. Players have to wait longer between the rounds played at the same day and often don't get any time to prepare themselves. I noticed that the tournament-winner of the Bruges Masters 2018 the Spanish grandmaster Oleg Korneev of Russian origin was trying to get around this issue by deliberately being late to a game so he could still prepare for the crucial encounter. The Belgian international arbiter Geert Bailleul will try to discuss this at the imminent Olympiad of Batumi, Georgia. Can this be considered as cheating? Afterall Oleg did consult chess-software during the game.

Just like in 2006 we see that the Bruges Masters is today again a pioneer. For the first time in Belgium a mechanism was introduced to stop the very long games. After 4h40 minutes of play the arbiter can decide to abolish the increment and give both players an additional 5 minutes which transforms the tempo to QPF (quick play finish). At first sight this doesn't make sense as we return the old headache of playing without increment. However if we look more closely then we see that you need to play already minimum 100 moves with G90 + 30 seconds to have a game lasting 4h40 minutes. Games of more than 100 moves are extremely rare (I have in my personal database only 2 out of + 800). So I believe the gain of comfort for the tournament fully compensates the very limited reduction of quality in a couple games.

Still at the first implementation of the new system there were some childhood diseases. The switch from increment to QPF had to be done manually so took a lot (too much) time. I assume the arbiter got more experienced with it after a few times but it is still a very disturbing activity. It was neither clear what exactly should be considered as the duration of a game. Should we start counting from the official starting-hour or from the real starting-hour? As often happens in opens we see that the first round starts delayed. As a consequence the first round-game between the Belgian international master Steven Geirnaert and the Belgian FM Frederic Verduyn was already switched from increment to QPF at move 87.
[Event "Brugse Meesters"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.08.12"] [Round "1.9"] [White "Geirnaert, Steven"] [Black "Verduyn, Frederic"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B07"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/1p3p2/6kb/1PBpPq1p/R2PbP2/4K1Q1/7P/8 b - - 0 87"] [PlyCount "11"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [WhiteElo ""] [BlackElo ""] [CurrentPosition "8/1p3p2/6kb/1PBpPq1p/R2PbP2/4K1Q1/7P/8 b - - 0 87"] { (In this position the clock was stopped by the chief-arbiter to switch off the increment and give both players an extra 5 minutes. This cumbersom way  is very disturbing. This maybe even impacted the result of the game.) } 87...Kh7 88.Ra8 Bg7 89.Bf8 Bh8 90.Bh6 Bf6 91.exf6 Qxf6 92.Qg5 Qxd4+ 1-0
The involved players weren't happy about this. We still need to get used to this but maybe we should also try to optimize the mechanism. I think it should be better if the clock can do the switch manually. I don't know any clocks able to do what needed to be done in the Bruges masters but we can try to make a compromise by making the switch after x number of moves. So x would be 60,80 or 100. Each player gets in return of cancelling the increment y = 5,10, 15 minutes extra. However only some clocks can execute such switch and they are not often available. I guess it is not easy to buy 100 such clocks for one tournament as this is not cheap at all.

A less visible disadvantage of the quicker tempo which I already mentioned in my article the scoresheet is that the play becomes more superficial. Players thinking for more than half hour at 1 move, is not possible anymore. That would be suicide with the current tempo. This also leads to poverty in the endgame. In my article practical endgames I already warned that endgames would be reduced to instincts and some minimized calculations. However in the recent summer-months I detected another alarming threat of those quicker games. Our youth doesn't know how to play some very basic endgames. I still can understand that my 9 year old son Hugo spoils the endgame below as he lacks experience of playing endgames.
[Event "Brugse meesters ronde 7"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Vanhee, L."] [Black "Hugo"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D60"] [WhiteElo "1789"] [BlackElo "1410"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/5Qpk/7p/8/8/5P2/1q3PKP/8 b - - 0 31"] [PlyCount "54"] [Sourcedate "2018.09.20"] [Sourceversiondate "2018.09.20"] [CurrentPosition "8/5Qpk/7p/8/8/5P2/1q3PKP/8 b - - 0 31"] 31...Qf6?? { (Till here Hugo played very well despite the big rating-gap. However here he misjudges the endgame. An easy draw is keeping the queens on the board as white has no way to avoid a perpetual when marching forward.) } 32.Qxf6 gxf6 33.Kg3 Kg7 34.Kf4 Kg6 35.Kg4?? { (That is a serious error as white must be able to answer f5 with Ke5. Now it is again equal.) } 35...f5+ 36.Kf4 Kf6 37.h3 Ke6 38.Ke3 Ke5 39.f4+ Ke6?? { (Of course Hugo should have stayed where he was with Kd5. Now white infiltrates by using zugzwang.) } 40.Kd4 Kd6 41.h4 Ke6 { (H5 is answered by the winning waiting move f3. Hugo prefers to leave h5 open for the king but that doesn't work either.) } 42.Kc5 Ke7 43.Kd5 Kf6 44.h5 Kf7 45.Ke5 Ke7 46.Kxf5 Kf7 47.f3 Ke7 48.Kg6 Ke6 49.f5+ Ke7 50.Kg7 Ke8 51.f6 Kd7 52.f7 Ke6 53.f8=Q Ke5 54.Qd8 Ke6 55.Qd4 Ke7 56.Qd5 Ke8 57.Kf6 Kf8 58.Qf7# { (After the game Hugo told me that Lars had very little time on the clock but that doesn't matter when one gets 30 seconds increment per move.) } 1-0
The self-destruction of the very talented young player Enrico Follesa in the next game is more serious. I still accept the small mistakes in the queen-endgame but not the deliberate exchange to a completely lost pawn-endgame. I even warned about this in my article queen-endgames part 2. You have to be very careful about the transformations from queen- to pawn-endgame. It is almost always better to keep the queens on the board if you are not 100% certain about the evaluation.
[Event "8th Brasschaat Belgium, Open"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.08.26"] [Round "?"] [White "Follesa, Enrico"] [Black "Van Dijck, Bjarne"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C45"] [WhiteElo "1856"] [BlackElo "1932"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/p2q1pp1/3p4/3Q4/1p1P4/6Pp/PP3P1P/6K1 w - - 0 29"] [PlyCount "22"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [CurrentPosition "6k1/p2q1pp1/3p4/3Q4/1p1P4/6Pp/PP3P1P/6K1 w - - 0 29"] { (Black finally achieved an equal endgame after a difficult opening.) } 29.Qa8+? { (As often it is more interesting to save checks till something more concrete can be obtained from it.) } 29...Kh7 30.Qe4+ g6 31.b3 Kg7 32.d5 Qc7 33.Qd4+ Kg8 34.Qc4? { (White evaluates the resulting pawn-endgame completely wrong. Of course Kf1 was mandatory and black still had a long way to win the game.) } 34...Qxc4 35.bxc4 a5 36.Kf1 a4 37.Ke2 b3 38.axb3 a3 39.Kd2 a2 0-1
Finally my own game against my most talented student Sterre Dauw played in the last round of Gent is the most shocking example. Sterre exchanged rooks while hardly thinking about the resulting pawn-endgame. I immediately knew that white has excellent winning chances with his 2 against 3 islands of pawns. Black escaped because I only had 2 minutes on the clock remaining so I missed a last devilish trick.
[Event "Open Gent 9de ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Dauw, S."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B92"] [WhiteElo "2310"] [BlackElo "2190"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/7p/3p2p1/p7/2P5/1P3K2/P2rR2P/8 b - - 0 45"] [PlyCount "28"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [CurrentPosition "6k1/7p/3p2p1/p7/2P5/1P3K2/P2rR2P/8 b - - 0 45"] 45...Rxe2?? { (I've seen the last couple of months several endgames of Sterre in which he made terrible mistakes. That is clearly something we need to work at. Here I consider it obvious that the pawn-endgame is bad from black so he should have kept the rooks on the board.) } ( 45...Rd1!? { (Or immediately Rd4.) } 46.Rf2 Rd4 47.Ke3 Rh4 48.Kd3 $11 ) 46.Kxe2 Kf7 47.a3?? { (Logically I want to create a passed pawn as fast as possible. I wasn't able to check anything else as I was below 2 minutes on my clock. Otherwise I would've very likely detected that I first had to stop d5 by advancing my king. After my move black can just make a draw.) } 47...Ke6 48.b4!? { (Komodo thinks initially that Kd3 wins but changes the evaluation after a couple of minutes calculating. The draw is not obvious at all.) } ( 48.Kd3!? d5! 49.c5 g5 50.Kd4 g4 51.c6 Kd6! 52.c7 Kxc7! 53.Kxd5 h5! 54.Ke4 h4! 55.Kf4 g3! 56.hxg3 hxg3! 57.Kxg3 Kd6 58.Kf4 Kd5! 59.Ke3 Ke5! 60.Ke2 Ke6! 61.Kd2 Kd6! 62.Kc2 Kc6! 63.Kc3 Kc5! 64.Kd3 Kd5! $11 { (14 forced moves from black and even the other ones have no real alternatives as they transpose.) } ) 48...axb4 49.axb4 d5 50.cxd5+ { (I consumed my last 2 minutes till only a few seconds remained on the clock to admit that the win was gone.) } ( 50.c5 g5 51.b5 g4 52.Ke3 h5 53.Kd4 h4 54.b6 g3 ( 54...Kd7 55.Kxd5 g3 56.hxg3 hxg3 57.c6+ Kc8 58.Kd6 g2 59.b7+ Kb8 60.Kd7 g1=Q 61.c7+ Kxb7 62.c8=Q+ $11 ) 55.hxg3 hxg3 56.Ke3 d4+ 57.Kf3 d3 58.Kxg3 d2 59.b7 d1=Q 60.b8=Q Qg1+ 61.Kf3 Qxc5 $11 ) 50...Kxd5 51.Ke3 Kc4 52.Kf4 Kxb4 53.Kg5 Kc5 54.Kh6 Kd6 55.Kxh7 g5 56.Kg6 g4 57.Kg5 Ke7 58.Kxg4 Kf7 59.Kg5 1/2-1/2
We can conclude that the youth is just gambling in the endgame. Before one could easily invest 15 minutes or more at 1 move in the endgame and gain some experience. The introduction of the increment has stopped this. Only by analyzing endgames at home we can still get the necessary skills but who (of the youth) does that? Yes I still do but my students were very surprised to hear in my most recent course that I sometimes spend several hours analyzing just 1 endgame.

Brabo

Monday, September 17, 2018

The scientific approach part 2

In my previous article I gave a glimpse of about what is needed to become a world-class-player. This information is very hard to find. Only by an extensive research through the games of former world-topper Vladimir Epishin I was able to discover how enormous his opening-knowledge is. I summarized it by comparing the number of Vladimir's openings with my own's. It were about 25x more and besides Vladimir often was also much more versed of the theory which is something really astonishing.

Though I do work quite a number of hours myself at chess. So an interesting question is how Vladimir succeeds to maintain and remember so many different openings. Well the simple answer is that he only plays a selected number of openings during a period and he only maintains and studies those. So it is definitely not the case that I could encounter all possible 72 positions in our game. However only Vladimir knows which openings in his repertoire are active. I have to guess which means I only play safe by checking everything.

At that time I didn't get enough time for such elaborated study but there exist a couple of rules which help to improve the odds of a preparation. 60% of Vladimir's openings were single experiments. I guess professionals can become bored of the usual traditional stuff and like to spice up from time to time the opening. An extra bonus is that the opponent will be surprised.
So only 12 of the 72 opening-positions were played by Vladimir in more than 5 games. Of course those 12 get a higher priority. Anyway even more important than the frequency is when an opening was played last. Vladimir plays no opening all his career.
80% of the openings Vladimir played, were used maximally 2,5 years. That is a very short period of time which obviously was influenced by the many one-time openings. Eventually we discover that only for a limited amount of openings that their lifespan overlap. I made an overview per year of the number of overlaps to better illustrate this.
Obviously there are less overlaps in the initial and the latest years. The peak is in 2008 with no less than 17 overlaps. The average is 8,2 overlaps. In other words if you would know which 8-10 openings are today overlapping then you could just limit the preparation on those.

For sure the best is to start with the most recently played openings if time is lacking. However it is wrong to assume that by looking solely at the openings played in the last 2,5 years that you have an 80% success-rate to prepare the right opening of the game. Beside the lifespan of an opening, also the frequency of the opening must be taken into account.
So in about 50% of his games this former top-player chooses for brand-new openings of his repertoire. I guess that preparations at his playing-level can be so detailed that it becomes almost mandatory to continuously reinvent yourself. We also see that we need to return 5 years back to get an 80% hit-rate of preparing the right opening of Vladimir's repertoire. The pareto-principle is definitely also valid for chess. Finally we also remark that in about 10% of the games, Vladimir likes to reuse an old love. Vladimir surely knows about the benefits of using old wine in new skins see part 1 and part 2.

So Vladimir cleverly uses all the assets of his arsenal of openings. It is still a lot of work to study and maintain but not something impossible for a professional. Anyway his approach stands diametrically opposed to how I play chess. Scoring is for me less important. On the other hand I can enjoy more the historical aspect of an opening (which probably explains partly why chess960 is still a small niche today despite some serious tries to get the public more excited about it like last by attracting former world-champion Garry Kasparov, see the current ongoing St. Louis-chessfestival).

That means I am for sure not a polygamist as a chess-player. I am a serial monogamist. Besides a few exceptions, I don't play several openings in parallel in the same position. So contrary to Epishin, you will see that the lifespans of my openings are almost never overlapping. If I make the same exercise for my own repertoire as I did for Epishin's repertoire then this becomes clearly visible. I checked each of my games played in the last 5 years how old my chosen openings were.
Contrary to Epshin many of my old games in the database (10 years and even older) can often still be used in the preparation. It is something which some opponents knowing me well, gratefully take advantage of. On the other the fact that I am using in 30% of my games fresh openings, shows that I do work at my openings. Openings which have shown weaknesses, are replaced immediately.

That last aspect was once more explicitly shown in the opening which occurred in the 8th round of Open Gent. It concerns a rather long rare line of the Dutch stonewall which I encountered for the first time in a correspondence-game. We have to go back 20 years in time for that game when I was renting a small student-room at the Paardenmarkt in Antwerpen. I just ended school and started working (besides today I still have the same employer).
[Event "EU/M/1234"] [Site "?"] [Date "1998.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Verhoef, H."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [PlyCount "99"] [EventDate "1998.??.??"] [WhiteElo ""] [BlackElo ""] [ECO ""] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.d4 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 e6 4.c4 d5 5.Nh3 c6 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.Bf4 Be7 8.Nd2 O-O 9.O-O h6 10.Bxb8 Rxb8 11.Nf4 Bd6 { (In this correspondence-game I played for the first time this rare opening. Ever since I kept it in my repertoire despite that it is not so easy for black to get sufficient counter-play. This game can be found in the Ultra-corr database.) } 12.Nd3 b6 13.Nf3 Rf7 14.b4 Ba6 15.c5 Bf8 16.Nfe5 Rc7 17.Rab1 Nd7 18.Rfc1 Nxe5 19.Nxe5 Be7 20.cxb6 Rxb6 21.a3 Bd6 22.Nd3 Bxd3 23.Qxd3 Rcb7 24.Ra1 Qa8 25.Qd2 a5 26.bxa5 Ra6 27.e4 fxe4 28.Bf1 Rxa5 29.Rxc6 Bxa3 30.Bh3 Kh8 31.Bxe6 Rb2 32.Qc3 Rb8 33.Rc5 Rxc5 34.dxc5 Qc6 35.Bxd5 Qxc5 36.Qxc5 Bxc5 37.Bxe4 Rf8 38.Ra2 g5 39.Kg2 Kg7 40.f3 Rd8 41.h4 gxh4 42.gxh4 Rf8 43.Kh3 Rf4 44.h5 Be7 45.Ra7 Kf8 46.Kg2 Bg5 47.Bg6 Kg8 48.Rd7 Kf8 49.Kf2 Kg8 50.Ke2 1/2-1/2

The game is stored today also in Ultracorr-x. An OTB-game of mine with the same opening which managed to get in the standard databases, is the one below against Emmanuel Bricard, at that time still an international master but today he is a grandmaster.
[Event "Open Plancoet 6de ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2003.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Bricard, E."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A90"] [WhiteElo "2456"] [BlackElo "2274"] [PlyCount "108"] [EventDate "2003.??.??"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.d4 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 e6 4.c4 d5 5.Nh3 c6 6.O-O Bd6 7.Bf4 Be7 8.Qc2 O-O 9.Nd2 h6 10.Bxb8 Rxb8 11.Nf4 Bd6 { (This game is the only with this opening which was inserted in the normal databases like the mega-database. From then onward any player could prepare against this opening of my repertoire.) } 12.Ng6 Rf7 13.Nf3 Rc7 { (In my then made analysis were Nd7 and b6 recommended as more accurate.) } 14.Rac1 b6 15.Nfe5 Bb7 16.Qa4 a6 17.Qb3 b5 18.c5 Bxe5 19.Nxe5 a5 20.h3 Re7 21.g4 Nd7 22.f4 Nxe5 23.dxe5 g6 24.Rf3 Rg7 25.Rg3 Qe7 26.Qa3 Ra8 27.Kh2 Kh7 28.Rg1 b4 29.Qe3 Rag8 30.Bf3 Ba6 31.a3 b3 32.a4 Bc4 33.h4 Qf8 34.Qf2 Qe7 35.Qd4 Qf8 36.e3 Kh8 37.Kg2 Kh7 38.Kf2 Kh8 39.Be2 Bxe2 40.Kxe2 Qa8 41.Qc3 Qa6+ 42.Kf3 Qa7 43.R3g2 Kh7 44.Rc1 Rb8 45.Qd3 h5 46.gxh5 gxh5 47.Rg5 Rxg5 48.hxg5 Kg6 49.Kg3 Qb7 50.Kh4 Qb4 51.Qd1 Rh8 52.Rc3 Qe4 53.Kh3 d4 54.Qxd4 Qf3+ 1/2-1/2
15 years later the Belgian FM Marc Lacrosse chose for exactly the same line as Emmanuel. Maybe Marc had prepared an improvement which isn't so hard to do. Anyway I deviated first with my improvement and I got very quickly a comfortable position. Probably it is karma for some people but against Emanuel I threw away a half point by proposing a draw in a winning position. This time Marc gave me a half point back by resigning in a drawn position.
[Event "Open Gent 8ste ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Lacrosse, M."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A90"] [WhiteElo "2120"] [BlackElo "2310"] [PlyCount "88"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [CurrentPosition "1rbq2k1/p4rp1/1ppbpnNp/3p1p2/2PP4/5NP1/PPQ1PPBP/R4RK1 w - - 0 14"] 1.d4 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 e6 4.c4 d5 5.Nh3 c6 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.O-O O-O 8.Bf4 Be7 9.Nd2 h6 10.Bxb8 { (In our previous game played in 2004 Marc chose for the weaker Rac1.) } 10...Rxb8 11.Nf4 Bd6 12.Ng6 Rf7 13.Nf3 b6 { (In 2003 I played the inferior Rf7 against the French IM Emanuel Bricard. Maybe Marc hoped for that move but I still remembered my old analysis.) } 14.Rac1 Rc7 15.c5 { (After the game Marc lamented about this move and he is right. Black has now a comfortable game. Critical is Nfe5.) } 15...bxc5 16.dxc5 Bf8 { (I knew Be7 is better when the rook is already at c7 but I wrongly thought it isn't valid when white's knight is at g6.) } 17.Rfd1 Qe8 18.Nxf8 Qxf8 19.Ne5 Nd7 20.Qc3 Qf6 21.Nxd7?! { (White's last moves were not the very best but only now black gets the advantage. With the ugly looking f4 white could've kept things under control.) } 21...Qxc3 22.Rxc3 Rxd7 23.b3 Kf7?! { (A more concrete approach with e5 or a5 is stronger.) } ( 23...e5!? 24.f4 e4!? 25.Bh3! Rdb7 26.Kf2 a5 27.Rd4 Rb4 28.e3 Kf7 29.Bf1 Ra8 30.h4 ) 24.e3?! { (A more accurate sequence is first Rd4.) } ( 24.Rd4! a5 25.f4 Rb4 26.e3 Rdb7 27.Bf3 a4!? 28.Bd1! axb3 29.Bxb3 e5 30.Rxb4 Rxb4 $13 ) 24...a5 25.Rd4?! { (This is now less strong because of e5. White should've played here Bf1.) } 25...Rb4? { (Again I postpone the concrete e5 for something useful but less strong. In the end I lose opportunities as in chess you need to take sometimes risks.) } 26.f4 Ra7 27.Kf2 Ba6 28.Bf1? { (This logical looking exchange brings troubles for white. Black gets full control about the queen-side and will later miss the bishop for the defense.) } 28...Bxf1 29.Kxf1 Kf6 30.Ke2 g5 31.Kd3 e5?! { (So I do eventually play e5 but as often I don't understand the position. A much better plan is Rab7 to first avoid a3 and next to open a second front with h5.) } 32.fxe5+ Kxe5 33.Rc2 Re7 34.Rf2 Rb5?! { (It is again the same as here once more the concrete h5 is more accurate.) } 35.Rc2 Kf6 36.Rc3? { (Marc also starts to wait and see which isn't a surprise when you are running out of time. Searching counter-play with h4 is stronger.) } 36...Rb4 37.a3 Rxd4+ 38.exd4?! { (The engines consider Kxd4 as more resilient but also after exd4 the win is not easy.) } 38...f4 39.g4 h5 40.h3 hxg4 41.hxg4 Ke6?? { (I felt intuitively that the endgame is won but I couldn't find the winning move as I was playing almost exclusively by increments. The precise Re4 forces the win.) } 42.Rc2 Kd7 43.Re2 Rxe2 { (I knew that the pawn-endgame is a draw but I couldn't find anything better. The engines confirm this evaluation but I still get an unexpected present. ) } 44.Kxe2 a4 { (Here Marc resigned. To be sure that I heard this rightly, I asked him to repeat this. After it I requested the arbiter to record this result. Only then I showed to my bewildered opponent that the final position is a dead-draw. No doubt the lack of time played an important role here but Marc also admitted that he was too pessimistic as often the case.) } ( 44...a4 45.b4 Kc7 46.Kd3 Kb7 47.Kc3 Ka6 48.Kd3 Kb5 49.Kc3 f3 50.Kd3 f2 51.Ke2 Kc4 52.Kxf2 Kxd4 53.Ke2 Kc4 54.Kd2 d4 55.Kc2 d3+ 56.Kd2 Kd4 57.Kd1 Kc4 58.Kd2 Kd4 59.Kd1 Kc4 60.Kd2 $11 ) 0-1
In part 1 I explained how I as amateur can achieve openings with a much richer complexity in my games by using a scientific approach compared to somebody whom prefers to variate a lot so choosing a more creative road. This article to some extent confirms this but also shows another side of this scientific approach. By playing the same opening for several decades you get also a historical ingredient in the games. Call me a stupid nostalgic player but I like to write some history even at the expense of some ratingpoints.

Brabo

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Jubilee

At the age of 17 I started to play competitive chess. Before I spent my free time exclusively at music. In 1985 as a 9 year old boy I assigned for elementary music classes. A year later I started practicing an instrument the trombone.  Another 2 years later I joined a harmony orchestra: the Gildemuziek of Roeselare. There I first got to learn to play music together with other children on Sunday-mornings. A couple of years later I was permitted to play music in the main-orchestra in which even some professionals were playing. We rehearsed weekly on Friday-evenings. It was an interesting and lovely time with many performances in Belgium and abroad. I remember once that I participated at a notorious procession in France. Before we got a free lunched offered from the organization which included martini as much as you wanted. I don't have to explain this heavily impacted our music afterwards.

The members got many privileges. The orchestra got a lot of revenues thanks to the performances and the members were allowed to enjoy this. Clothes, memberships, drinks, food, instruments, music scores, transport, camps... was often completely for free. Also the most loyal members got celebrated every time they achieve a 10 year jubilee. I experienced 1 such jubilee myself. The complete orchestra came to my (elderly) house for a serenade. As commemoration you got a golden star on the hat of your music-costume which from then onward stayed on it.

That episode of my life came to an end when I moved at the age of 22 to Antwerp. It became too difficult to still attend the Friday-evening rehearsals. Besides at that time I already got in love with the game of chess which meant I preferred to play chess in Deurne than playing music. I did however have a look for an orchestra or fanfare in the neighborhood but my chess-ambitions interfered. Today I still possess my instrument. When my children were very small, I did play music on it a couple of times but in the meanwhile things again got quiet.

It is again a special introduction but I do believe something which can be interesting for chess. Many clubs in Belgium are having difficulties to survive. Last year the chessclub of Schoten was even liquidated. If there are no members then it stops. So it is very important as club to keep your members happy and seek new ones. The Gildemuziek has today more than 90 members. They are still very successful after 95 years. Of course chess has much less financial resources but a jubilee for our most loyal members shouldn't cost much. This can be done easily at a yearly club-party by giving them a small present. Maybe we can also think at a sweater/ t-shirt of the club (something already done by kmsk). Each time a jubilee is reached an extra piece is added next to the emblem of the club.

The club KSK Deurne for which I play today, is also experiencing difficulties. If you check the homepage then you notice 6 candles. Each candle represents somebody important for the club and whom recently died. Also we don't see any youngsters breaking-through to competitive chess despite a decade of youth-trainings. This year the club celebrates their 60th anniversary with a quiz. I don't like to quiz but this jubilee is a very good opportunity to make changes and prepare for the future.

So jubilees for chess players don't exist which doesn't mean I can't consider this year as a jubilee. It was in 1993 that I participated at my first big open international tournament at that time still as unrated player. Big can be considered literally as in that year there was a record of participants in Open Gent, 539 see palmares. I scored a modest 3,5/9 in that tournament. I guess that I still can find the score sheets in an old box (at that time I didn't have a computer and I never digitized it) but I won't publish anything here of it as nobody wants to be reminded about how bad my play then was.

25 years later so now in 2018 I again participated at the Open of Gent. I assume the organizers didn't notice. Some tournaments do pay attention to such details. In the last Open Brasschaat the organizers offered a present to the most loyal participants by inviting them for a simul. This wouldn't be interesting for me of course but it is the gesture which is important. In the end I probably gave myself the most beautiful present for this jubilee by competing against some very interesting opponents. In round 5 I played against the congenial American grandmaster from Iranian origin Eshan Moradiabadi, later winning also the tournament. However in round 7 I got an even more fascinating opponent: the Russian grandmaster Vladimir Epishin.

Once Vladimir was the 10th highest rated player in the world, helper of Karpov in his world-championship-matches and achieved a peakrating of 2670. Any real chessplayer loves to get a chance to play a standard game against such famous grandmaster. So I was eager to bring my best game. However in the morning I discovered very soon how difficult the task would be. He has 3441 games in my database (I only have 287) of which already 781 with black against 1.e4 (compared to 63 of mine). Besides I was also very surprised by the sheer amount of openings he dared to play. Even when I just stick to my fixed repertoire (so I don't change my openings) then I should still consider 72 different positions conform the database (I am sure that this doesn't include everything Vladimir knows as many games never get in the database). For this article I summarized it (so I prepared this a month after I played the game) as you can't fully understand this without viewing the details. I have never seen such large arsenal of openings from any player but I do suspect that the Ukrainian grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk would easily beat this record.
Vladmir Epishin's arsenal of openings which I had to take into account
To understand the magnitude of it, I made the same exercise upon myself. It sounds weird but how many openings would I look at to prepare for a game against myself by using the same kind of database.
So that are only 3 or 24 times less than Vladimir. Most amateurs are wondering what it takes to become a top-player. Well you see there is still an enormous difference between what a FM knows and what an (ex-) worldtop-player knows. By the way don't assume Vladimir just plays something randomly as most if not all chosen systems he knows very well which he also proves in our game.

It is pretty futile to prepare for such amount of openings during an open tournament. I got up at 6 o'clock in the morning to start. Anyway I don't need much sleep during a tournament due to the excitement of the games at the condition I don't drink any alcohol. I stopped at 11 o'clock out of necessity to leave timely from Kontich to Gent and to pick up along the way 2 players having troubles to find transport. It is like you go to an exam but you only learned a part of the complete course as many systems Vladimir played were completely new for me. In orange I indicated at which openings I had looked briefly of the 72 possibilities. It are 24 of them so 1/3.

In the game I was lucky as Vladimir chose number 68. On the other hand my luck didn't last long. I hadn't found any games of Vladimir beyond move 5 so there was still a lot to guess. Eventually I couldn't remember properly all my preparations. Looking at a maximum amount of lines comes at a certain price. It is necessary to repeat to remember things well. Anyway it was a great fight. In below hyper-sharp game both players were pushed at and over their limits.
[Event "Open Gent 7de ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Epishin, V."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B15"] [WhiteElo "2310"] [BlackElo "2530"] [PlyCount "84"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [Sourcedate "2018.07.19"] [Sourceversiondate "2018.07.19"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 c6 { (I found from Vladimir Epshin 781 games after 1.e4 in my database. He dares to play almost anything. So besides c6 you can find games with g6, b6, c5, d5, e5, Nf6 and e6.) } 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 a6 { (This is a very strange variation with the sole purpose to avoid my theoretical knowledge. However if you look in the database then you can find 4 games out of 49 Caro Canns in which my opponent chose this move. The most recent one was played in 2015.) } 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.h3 { (I deviate with this move from 2 earlier games my opponent won against +2400 players. H3 is the critical test which indeed I had analyzed during my game-preparation despite the very difficult circumstances. ) } 5...Bh5 { (The most popular continuation but my analysis recommends the more solid Bxf3.) } ( 5...Bxf3 6.Qxf3 dxe4 { (E6 is more solid.) } 7.Nxe4 Qxd4 8.Be3 { (This double pawn-sacrifice was still part of my preparation.) } 8...Qxb2 9.Bc4 { (White has a huge initiative for the sacrificed material.) } 9...Qxa1+ { (Obviously not forced but the most funny line.) } 10.Ke2 Qxh1 11.Qxf7+ Kd7 12.Be6+ Kc7 13.Qf4+ Kd8 14.Qxf8+ Kc7 15.Qc8# ) 6.exd5 { (Here I started to consume a lot of time. I couldn't remember if it was first g4 or first ed5? I only looked at this line a few minutes so then it is hard to remember the sequence correctly. Besides both moves are possible here and often transpose.) } 6...cxd5 7.g4 Bg6 8.Ne5 { (H4 is also interesting but Ne5 is the most played.) } 8...e6 { (My opponent played here instantly while I was consuming loads of time to correctly evaluate the consequences of Nc6.) } ( 8...Nc6 9.h4 Nxe5 10.dxe5 d4 { (Not the best move but the move you fear as white.) } 11.h5 { (I had seen this in the game and the engine confirms that it refutes black's line.) } 11...dxc3 12.Qxd8+ Rxd8 13.hxg6 fxg6 14.bxc3 $16 ) 9.h4 f6 { (After the game I found out that there are still 10 master-games in the database with this position. Of course my opponent was aware about this and that it scores rather well in practice for black.) } 10.h5? { (I had looked at Nxg6 in my preparation but that was done so chaotically that I couldn't remember the details at all. Anyway after Nxg6 white needs to play accurately to maintain the advantage or he risks getting into problems. Therefore I chose my own course hereby missing something elementary.) } ( 10.Nxg6! hxg6 11.Qd3 { (I still remembered that Qd3 is stronger but I couldn't see a good follow-up.) } 11...Kf7! 12.h5 gxh5 13.gxh5 Bd6 14.Bd2 Nc6 15.O-O-O Qd7 $14 ) 10...Bxc2 { (I was disgusted to miss this temporarily sacrifice. Bf7 and dxe5 are indeed good for white but now black is fully ok.) } 11.Qxc2 fxe5 12.dxe5 { (This game would be a good example of the rot-theory. ROT = revolutionary opening-theory. 1 of the characteristics of the theory is that the pieces are staying a longtime on the base-line.) } 12...Nc6?! { (The engines consider this an error but the position is extremely complicated for humans. Necessary appears to be Nd7 keeping the balance.) } 13.Bd3?! { (The accurate Be3 together with a fast long castling is stronger.) } ( 13.Be3! Qc7 ( 13...Nxe5 14.O-O-O Nxg4? 15.Qa4+ { (Black's knight will be lost.) } ) 14.O-O-O Qxe5 15.Kb1 d4 16.Bxd4 Nxd4 17.Qa4+ Nc6?! 18.Bg2 Qc5 19.Rhe1 $18 ) 13...Nb4 { (Black thought for some time here as there are several possible moves. In the end he chose for safety which is likely wise. After the game I showed Alain Talon what kind of crazy stuff could've happened if one of the alternatives was played.) } ( 13...Nxe5!? 14.Bxh7 d4? 15.Bg6+ Nxg6 16.Qxg6+ Kd7 ) ( 13...d4!? 14.Bxh7 dxc3 15.Be3 ( 15.Bxg8 Rxg8 16.Qh7 Qd5 17.O-O Nxe5 18.Qxg8 Nf3+ 19.Kh1 Ne1+ 20.f3 Nxf3 ) 15...Nge7 16.Bg6+ Kd7 17.O-O-O+ Nd5 18.Bf5 Qe7 ( 18...cxb2+ 19.Kb1 Kc7 20.Bxe6 Nxe3 21.Rxd8 Nxc2 22.Rxa8 N2d4 $13 ) 19.Rxd5+ Kc7 20.Bc5 Qg5+ 21.Be3 Qe7 $11 ) 14.Qe2 Nxd3+ 15.Qxd3 Rc8 16.a3 { (I was very pessimistic during the game. I saw no attacking possibilities. My pawn-structure is shattered and how could I bring my king into safety. I don't understand much of the game as the engines think it is still about equal. Besides a3 was here very interesting. Anyway I was again spending a lot of time.) } 16...Qc7 17.Bf4 Nh6 18.Bxh6 gxh6 19.O-O-O { (I sacrifice a3 and e5 but I rightly noticed that I would get excellent compensation.) } 19...Qc4 { (Black is a very experienced professional so knows very well how dangerous such complications can be. By exchanging queens black has for sure a comfortable game.) } ( 19...Bxa3 20.Kb1 Bb4 21.Ne2 Qxe5 22.f4 Qe4 23.Qxe4 dxe4 24.Rd4 Be7 25.Rxe4 $13 ) 20.f3? { (Unfortunately I was already here running out of time. I don't manage to find the accuracy needed to keep the position balanced. The precise Kb1 was sufficient to avoid any damage.) } ( 20.Kb1! Qxg4 { (This is not playable with the black king still in the center.) } ( 20...Bxa3 21.Nxd5!? exd5 22.Qxa3!? Rf8!? 23.Qd6!? Qc2+ $11 ) ( 20...Qxd3+ 21.Rxd3 Rg8 22.Rg1 Rc4 23.f3 Bc5 $13 ) 21.f4 Bc5 ( 21...Qxf4 22.Nxd5 exd5 23.Qxd5 $18 ) 22.f5 Qxf5 23.Qxf5 exf5 24.Nxd5 $14 ) 20...Bxa3 21.Kb1 Qb3?! { (Attractive but not so accurate.) } ( 21...Be7! 22.Ne2 Kd7 { (Or first exchanging on d3 and only next Kd7. ) } 23.f4 Qxd3+ 24.Rxd3 Rhg8 25.f5 Rxg4 26.Nd4 exf5 27.e6+ $17 ) 22.Rd2 { (I also considered Rh2 although I had detected the loss of a piece. The complications are not easy to calculate.) } ( 22.Rh2 Rxc3 23.Qxc3 Qxd1+ 24.Ka2 Bf8 25.Qc8+ Kf7 26.Qd8 Qa4+ 27.Kb1 Qe8 28.Qf6+ Kg8 29.Rc2 Qe7 30.Qf4 $19 { (Black slowly repels the attack and then the extra piece will tell.) } ) 22...Bb4 { (I suspect black has originally planned Bxb2 but now noticed that it doesn't bring any dividends. } ( 22...Bxb2 23.Rxb2 Qxc3 24.Qxc3 Rxc3 25.Rxb7 O-O $13 ) 23.Ne2?! { (A more stubborn resistance gives the precise Rc1. I was playing on increment so the quality of my moves automatically decreased.) } 23...Qxd3+ 24.Rxd3 Rg8 25.Rg1 Ke7 26.f4 Rc4 27.Rg2 Bc5 28.b3?! { (With Rf3 white could still prolong the fight. After the played move it is definitely lost.) } ( 28.Rf3! Re4 29.Nc1 Re3 30.Rfg3 a5 31.Nd3 Rxg3 32.Rxg3 Bd4 33.Kc2! b5 34.Kb3! Bb6 $17 { (This is a very good endgame for black but a clear win is not yet there for black. On the other hand this line is not forced at all.) } ) 28...Re4 29.Rf3 Rf8 30.Kc2 { (I saw black's next move but couldn't find an answer in only 30 seconds.) } 30...Rxe5 31.fxe5 ( 31.Rc3 { (After the game Alain Talon asked if I could've won a piece with Rc3.  I didn't notice this possibility during the game but I am sure the grandmaster saw the refutation.) } 31...d4 $19 ) 31...Rxf3 32.g5 Rf2 33.g6 { (Black doesn't fall for this trap but you never know of course.) } 33...hxg6 ( 33...Rxg2?? 34.gxh7 Rxe2+ 35.Kd1 Rxe5 36.h8=Q Rxh5 $11 ) 34.Rxf2 Bxf2 35.hxg6 h5 36.Nf4 Bd4 37.Nxh5 Bxe5 38.Kd3 a5 39.Kc2 { (Here my opponent started to stare at me as why was I still continuing the game. A round earlier I got the victory by the Belgian FM Marc Lacrosse in a dead-drawn position as  he unexpectedly resigned. I mean it never harms to play another couple of moves before resigning. I understand it is no fun to play in a lost position when many people are watching you but I just ignore them.) } 39...b5 40.Kd3 a4 41.bxa4 bxa4 42.Kc2 d4 { (My king can't stop both pawns and the rest can't play anymore. Mate in 14 is already shown by the engines so I also thought it was time to resign. It was a great fight in which I as amateur had to surrender to the professionalism of my opponent.) } 0-1

That is the sort of games why somebody likes to play chess. My 25th jubilee is behind me but I still hope to play many games in this crazy world of chess. Enjoy each of your games as nothing lasts forever.

Brabo

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Pawn structures part 2

All of my students are talented but unfortunately I still need to meet the first one, willing to work hard at home. Only a few players in Belgium study at chess besides playing. Meanwhile I got used to the fact that none of my students make a serious analysis of their games. Last year I gave my students some tasks see holidays part 3 but I won't repeat this anymore. That is not because some people are thinking that I am too strict. No I don't care about such comments. I simply don't want to spend anymore efforts at those useless discussions. Besides I already decided anyway to continue teaching for another year so irrespective of the efforts made by the students.

This school-year my son Hugo starts in step 4. That is the final step he can do without me in the club of KMSK. If Hugo will not start to work independently during this step at chess then I will stop. After you achieved step 4, you are mature to enjoy competitive chess for the rest of your career. Steps 5,6 and anything higher are made for the more ambitious students. Of course anybody has ambitions but those higher courses are only interesting when they are combined with a lot of study at home (my student Sterre is likely an exception). I have connected my teaching to Hugo following courses. Once I see that Hugo barely learns something from his courses, then I will stop mine and his classes. I still can give Hugo advice after his games of which he can/ will still learn a lot. That is something I can do very easily, contrarily to the courses at which I often spend several hours of preparation per course.

I have shown at this blog many times examples of how useful it is to study chess. However I can't stress this enough so in this article I show some new positions which popped up in a recent tournament I played. Last year I wrote that it is also useful to replay games outside ones repertoire as several ideas can be used in different openings see pawn structures part 1. In this article I want to elaborate on this topic by showing some connections even inside my repertoire.

First I start at a micro-scale. Within a variation of an opening we discover that the same concept can sometimes appear several times. The first position comes from a game-preparation which I made for the Belgian interclub. In the round against Wetteren, there existed the possibility that the Belgian expert Galeh Khonghaloos would be my opponent. Therefore I studied his games from the database. One of those games is shown below.
[Event "BEL-chT 0910"] [Site "Belgium"] [Date "2010.02.28"] [Round "9"] [White "Decoster, Frederic"] [Black "Khonghaloos, Galeh"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2280"] [BlackElo "2217"] [PlyCount "90"] [EventDate "2009.09.27"] [Eventtype "team-tourn"] [Eventrounds "11"] [Eventcountry "BEL"] [Sourcetitle "EXT 2011"] [Source "ChessBase"] [Sourcedate "2010.11.26"] [Sourceversion "1"] [Sourceversiondate "2010.11.26"] [Sourcequality "1"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 O-O 8.Bd3 Nbc6 9.Nf3 Ng6 10.Qh5 c4 ( 10...Qc7 11.Be3 c4 12.Ng5 h6 13.Nxf7 cxd3 14.Nxh6+ gxh6 15.Qxg6+ Qg7 $15 ) 11.Bxg6 { (Earlier this year during a preparation of a game for the Belgian interclub I had noticed that Ng5 is winning in this position. I played that round at board 1 so there existed the possibility that Galeh would be my opponent which eventually didn't happen.) } ( 11.Ng5 { (If black's queen is not at c7 then this move is very strong.) } 11...h6 12.Nxf7 Rxf7 ( 12...Qa5 13.Nxh6+ Kh8 14.Bxg6 Qxc3+ 15.Kf1 Rxf2+ 16.Kxf2 Qxd4+ 17.Be3 Qc3 18.Nf7+ Kg8 19.Qh8# ) 13.Bxg6 $18 ) 11...fxg6 12.Qg4 Qa5 13.Bd2 Bd7 14.h4 Rf5 15.h5 gxh5 16.Rxh5 Rxh5 17.Qxh5 Rf8 18.Qh3 Nd8 19.Ng5 h6 20.Nf3 Qa4 21.Kd1 Be8 22.Qg3 Kh7 23.Nh4 g5 24.Nf3 Bg6 25.Ne1 Bf5 26.Qh2 Kg7 27.f3 Nc6 28.g4 Bg6 29.f4 h5 30.f5 exf5 31.Bxg5 fxg4 32.Bf6+ Kh7 33.Qd2 Nd8 34.Ng2 Ne6 35.Ne3 Qb5 36.Rc1 Qa5 37.Qe1 g3 38.Rb1 b6 39.Rb4 Qxa3 40.Kd2 g2 41.Rb5 Nf4 42.Qf2 Qa2 43.Bg5 Qa1 44.Nxg2 Nxg2 45.Qxg2 Rf1 0-1
I got to play somebody else but in the second round of the last Open Gent I still was able to employ the learned concept. The position is almost identical (compare position after move 10 of the previous game with the position after move 11 of the next game) but a small difference of the details causes a chain-reaction of changes.
[Event "Open Gent 2de ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Deveque, G."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2310"] [BlackElo "2020"] [PlyCount "71"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 O-O 8.Bd3 Nbc6 9.Qh5 Ng6 10.Nf3 Qa5 { (This move doesn't fit in this system. I already noticed during the preparation of the game that my opponent knows very little theory.) } 11.Bd2!? { (More challenging is 0-0.) } ( 11.O-O Nce7 12.Bg5!? Qc7 13.dxc5!? b6! 14.Bxe7 Qxe7 15.c6 Qc5 16.Nd4!? Qxc3 17.Bxg6 fxg6 18.Qg4 Re8 19.a4!? $14 ) 11...c4 12.Ng5 { (I knew Pg5 is strong after 10....c4 but that is also here the case. However there are much bigger complications now.) } 12...h6 13.Nxf7 cxd3? { (In the game I mainly looked at Nf4 but I assume my opponent never considered it as he played very fast. Stockfish recommends an interesting novelty.) } ( 13...Ngxe5!? 14.Nxe5 cxd3!? { (Or first taking at e5 and next at d3.) } 15.cxd3 Nxe5 16.dxe5 Bd7 $14 ) ( 13...Nf4!? 14.Nxh6+ gxh6 15.Qg4+ Kh8 16.Bf1 Ne7 17.g3! Nfg6 18.Qh5 Rf7 19.Qxh6+ $14 ) 14.Nxh6+ gxh6 15.Qxg6+ Kh8 16.Qxh6+ Kg8 17.Qg6+ Kh8 18.h4 Qc7 19.Bg5?? { (Played after thinking for more than 20 minutes as I didn't manage to discover the win. It is even worse as after this move I lose all advantage.) } ( 19.Qh6+! Kg8 20.Rh3 Rf7 21.Qg6+ { (The win is not simple which was proven by the Qatari Mohammed El Sayed in 2006, playing the weaker Rxd3. Today he is a grandmaster and at that time was already rated 2486 so definitely no wood-pusher.) } 21...Rg7 22.Qe8+ Kh7 23.Rf3 $18 { (I had calculated this line till this point but couldn't discover black has no good defense against Rf6 followed up by mate at h6. ) } ) 19...Nxe5 20.Bf6+ Rxf6 21.Qxf6+ Kh7 22.Kd2 { (The planned 0-0 fails spectacularly due to Ng4. Here I realized the game is out of control.) } 22...Nc4+ 23.Kxd3 Nd6 24.f3 Nb5 25.Ke2 b6? { (This is too slow. After Bd7 white has nothing better to force a perpetual.) } 26.Kf2?! { (I evacuate my king out of the danger-zone but the engines consider h5 as slightly more accurate.) } ( 26.h5! Ba6 27.Qg6+ Kh8 28.Qh6+ Qh7 29.Qf6+ Qg7 30.Qxg7+ Kxg7 31.Kf2 $16 ) 26...Ba6? { (Too optimistic as black underestimates the dangers around his own king.) } ( 26...Qg7! 27.Qxg7+ Kxg7 28.a4 Nd6 29.a5 b5 $14 ) 27.Rae1 Qxc3 28.Qf7+ Kh8 29.Qf6+ Kh7 30.Qf7+ Kh8 31.Qh5+ Kg8 32.Qg6+ Kh8 33.Qh6+ Kg8 34.Qxe6+ Kh7 35.Qf7+ Kh8 36.Qh5+ 1-0
Another example is also from the past Open Gent, my game from round 6 against the German expert Taylan Guelsen. This time we look at a macro-scale. There is even a connection between 3 openings. I start with my game against the Dutch FM Frank Wuts, played in Open of Avoine at the year 2000. A Philidor was chosen in which I tested an interesting idea for the first time.
[Event "Open Avoine 6de ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2000.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Wuts, T."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C41"] [WhiteElo "2245"] [BlackElo "2335"] [PlyCount "44"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nbd7 4.Nf3 e5 5.Bc4 Be7 6.Ng5 O-O 7.Bxf7+ Rxf7 8.Ne6 Qe8 9.Nxc7 Qd8 10.Nxa8 b6 { (I never played this line before even not in a blitz-game. However it was Eddy Verledens, a strong correspondence-chess-player, whom showed me this idea. I thought it was interesting so decided to give it a try. An important alternative of b6 is b5 which has been played by Miguel Najdorf. Below I tried to summarize the many lines but things are too complex to get a final view. My conclusion is that b5 leads to an interesting battle with chances for both sides.) } ( 10...b5 11.dxe5 ( 11.Nd5 Nxd5 12.dxe5 ( 12.exd5 Bb7 13.dxe5 Nxe5 14.Nb6 axb6 15.f4 Bh4+ 16.g3 Nc4 17.O-O $11 ) 12...Nxe5 13.Qxd5 Qd7 ( 13...Bd7 14.O-O Bc6 15.Qe6 Bxa8 16.Re1 Bh4 17.Re2 $14 ) 14.a4 Bb7 15.Qxb5 Qg4 16.Be3 Qxg2 17.O-O-O Bf8 18.Rhe1 Bxa8 $13 ) ( 11.f3 b4 ( 11...Bb7 12.Nxb5 ( 12.dxe5 dxe5 13.Nc7 Qxc7 14.Nxb5 Qa5+ 15.Nc3 Bb4 16.Bd2 Qb6 17.Qe2 $11 ) 12...Bxa8 13.d5 Nh5 14.Nc3 Bb7 15.O-O Ba6 16.Rf2 Nf4 17.Rb1 $44 ) 12.dxe5 ( 12.Nb5 Ne8 13.dxe5 ( 13.Nxa7 Bb7 14.d5 Qxa8 15.Be3 Bh4+ 16.g3 Bd8 17.a3 Bb6 18.Bxb6 Nxb6 19.axb4 Bxd5 20.Nb5 Qc6 21.Nc3 Bc4 $44 ) 13...Nxe5 14.f4 Nc6 15.a3 Ba6 16.c4 bxc3 17.Nxc3 Qxa8 $44 ) 12...Nxe5 13.Nb5 a6 14.Nbc7 Bb7 15.O-O d5 16.Be3 Bd6 17.Bb6 $44 ) ( 11.Qd3 b4 12.Nb5 a6 13.Nbc7 { (Nac7) } 13...Bb7 14.f3 exd4 15.Nxa6 Nc5 16.Nxc5 dxc5 17.O-O { (e5) } 17...Qxa8 $44 ) 11...dxe5 ( 11...Nxe5 12.Nxb5 ( 12.Bf4 Ng6 13.Bg3 Bb7 14.f3 Bxa8 15.Qd4 d5 16.e5 Nh5 17.O-O-O $44 ) ( 12.O-O Bb7 13.Nxb5 { (Rd1) } ( 13.f4 Ned7 14.Nxb5 Bxa8 15.Be3 Qb8 16.c4 a6 17.Nc3 $44 ) 13...Bxa8 14.f3 Qb6+ { (d5) } 15.Nd4 d5 16.exd5 Nxd5 17.c3 $13 ) 12...Qa5+ 13.Nc3 Nxe4 14.Qd5 Nc5 15.Qd2 Bb7 16.O-O Bxa8 17.Rd1 $44 ) 12.Nd5 ( 12.Nxb5 Qa5+ 13.Nc3 Nxe4 14.Qd5 { (Bd2) } 14...Bb4 15.Qxa5 Bxa5 16.f3 Nxc3 17.Bd2 Bb7 18.Bxc3 Bxc3+ 19.bxc3 Bxa8 $44 ) ( 12.Bg5 Bb7 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Nxb5 Qa5+ 15.Nc3 Nc5 16.f3 Bxa8 17.Rb1 $13 ) 12...Bd6 ( 12...Nxd5 13.Qxd5 Nf6 ( 13...Ba6 14.Be3 Qc8 15.O-O-O Nf6 16.Qxe5 Ng4 17.Qg3 $16 ) 14.Qxd8+ Bxd8 15.Be3 Bb7 { (Be3) } 16.O-O-O Ba5 17.b4 Bxb4 18.Rd8+ Rf8 19.Rxf8+ Bxf8 20.Nc7 Nxe4 21.Nxb5 $16 ) 13.Bg5 Bb7 14.Qd2 ( 14.Nxf6+ Nxf6 { (Qe1) } 15.f3 Bxa8 16.O-O a6 { (Rd7) } 17.Qe2 $13 ) ( 14.O-O Bxa8 { (Qc4) } 15.Qd3 Bxd5 { (h6) } 16.exd5 e4 17.Qxe4 $44 ) 14...Qf8 { (0-0-0) } 15.Nxf6+ Nxf6 16.f3 Bxa8 17.O-O-O Rd7 18.Qd3 $13 ) 11.Be3 Ba6 12.f3 $146 { (There was a lot of noise during the game by spectators which let me burn a ridiculous amount of time of my clock. The played move is an interesting novelty. In the past has been played dxe5 leading again to a complex middle-game.) } ( 12.dxe5!? dxe5 ( 12...Nxe5 13.Nxb6 axb6 14.h3 Nc4 15.Qd4 Nxe3 { (Nd7) } 16.fxe3 { (Qxe3) } 16...Nd7 17.O-O-O $13 ) 13.Nxb6 axb6 14.a3 Qa8 15.f3 Bc4 16.Qd2 Bb4 17.Rb1 { (Qxd5) } 17...Nxe4 18.fxe4 $13 ) 12...Qxa8 13.Qd2? { (I have to admit that I totally underestimated black's next move. Stronger was d5 and black has surely sufficient compensation.) } 13...d5! 14.dxe5 Nxe5 15.Nxd5 Nxd5 16.Qxd5 Bh4+! 17.Bf2?! { (Kd1 was likely stronger but also after that move white has issues.) } ( 17.Kd1 Qxd5+ 18.exd5 Nc4! 19.Bc1 Rd7 20.c3 Rxd5+ 21.Kc2 Re5! $40 ) 17...Nxf3+! 18.gxf3 Qxd5 19.exd5 Re7+ 20.Kd2 Bxf2 21.Kc3!? { (Rad1 is likely stronger but again black is much better after e.g. Re2+. ) } 21...Re3+ 22.Kb4 Rxf3 { (I resigned as I considered my position hopeless especially as I was very low on time. My opponent however was surprised as he told me that his endgame isn't very good and the win still didn't look easy. Anyway the win is straight-forward by first locking out the rooks by Be2 and next to conquer the d-pawn. ) } 0-1
I still remembered this debacle 18 years later. The same idea can be used in the Spanish Breyer-variation but obviously I wasn't very excited about it. The computer also demonstrates that black has good counter-play despite the small material defecit.
[Event "Analysevariant 1"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Guelsen, T."] [Result "*"] [ECO "C95"] [WhiteElo "2310"] [BlackElo "2170"] [PlyCount "32"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 { (My opponent likes to switch a lot in the opening confirm the database. I have not found any older games with this move from him.) } 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 Nb8 { (This is played in less than 1 out of 1000 games. Personally I think black was mixing up the theory which wouldn't be a surprise as he likes to change openings a lot.) } 9.d4 Nbd7 10.Ng5 { (During the game I used more than 20 minutes at this move. I guess my opponent never considered any sacrifices at f7 as suddenly I saw him becoming nervous when he discovered what I was trying to calculate. In the end I played slightly disappointed the normal developing move Nbd2 as I couldn't find any advantage with the sharper moves.) } 10...O-O 11.Bxf7+ Rxf7 12.Ne6 Qe8 13.Nxc7 Qd8 14.Nxa8 Bb7 { (White has 2 pawns + rook for the 2 pieces. That looks interesting but I still remembered my defeat against the Dutch FM Frank Wuts of 18 years ago in Avoine. Black has excellent counter-play which also the engines confirm.) } 15.d5 Bxa8 16.f3 Nb6 $11 { [%eval 0,34] } *
There is a second link with a position from my game against Stefan Beukema played in the Belgian interclub at the year 2014. At that time I missed the spectucal winning idea Bxf7 see my article achilles. The opening of that game was a Spanish Chigorin-variation.
[Event "Analysevariant 2"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Guelsen, T."] [Result "*"] [ECO "C95"] [WhiteElo "2310"] [BlackElo "2170"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1bqk2r/2pnbppp/p2p1n2/1p2p3/3PP3/1BP2N2/PP3PPP/RNBQR1K1 w kq - 0 10"] [PlyCount "12"] [CurrentPosition "r1bqk2r/2pnbppp/p2p1n2/1p2p3/3PP3/1BP2N2/PP3PPP/RNBQR1K1 w kq - 0 10"] 10.Bxf7+ { (Earlier I wrote that I have looked at Ng5 during the game but most of my thinking was spent at Bxf7. Finally the quiet a4 is here also interesting but that is outside the scope of this article.) } 10...Kxf7 11.Qb3+ ( 11.Ng5+ Kg6 12.f4 exf4 13.Ne6 Qg8 14.Nxf4+ Kf7 15.e5 dxe5 16.dxe5 Nxe5 $11 { [%eval -21,35] } 17.Rxe5 Bg4 18.Qb3+ Kf8 19.Be3 Qxb3 20.axb3 Rd8 21.Na3 Kf7 22.Bc5 $11 { [%eval -18,35] (This line recommended by the engines popped up recently in a game between amateurs see Clarke - Maroroa played in the 4NCL interclub of 2016-2017. Black won in 38 moves.) } ) 11...Ke8 ( 11...Kg6?? 12.Nh4+ { (I remembered this idea from the analysis I made upon my game against Stefan Beukema played in the interclub of 2014.) } 12...Kh5 13.Qf7+ Kxh4 14.Qxg7 h6 15.Re3 Nf8 16.Qxh8 N8h7 17.Qg7 $18 { [%eval 2409,33] } ) 12.Ng5 Nf8 { (I discovered this move while calculating at the board. I didn't see a good continuation for white so abandoned the concept of Bxf7.) } 13.dxe5 Ng4 { (The only move. Despite I can't find any advantage in this line, I do think Bxf7 deserves a practical test. Unfortunately this will probably not happen very soon as this is a very rare line.) } 14.Qf7+ Kd7 15.f4 Ng6 $11 { [%eval 0,42] } *
This time Bxf7 wasn't winning but surely it would've been a good practical choice. So I also want to warn the reader that ideas/ concepts/ plans can't be copied blindly. Analyzing or preparing our games let us learn a lot of useful things which we often can reuse later. Yes some of these things we can find during a game without any foreknowledge but for sure this will cause a loss of time. In other cases we won't discover some hidden possibilities and won't take advantage of some offered chances.

Brabo