Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The (non-) sense of blitz part 2

Teaching children keeps yourself young of mind but I rather get the opposite feeling. Some of them consider me a dinosaur from a distinct past. Anyone of my generation knows what a rotary telephone is but for today's youth this device is very confusing see a funny article at hln. Also other topics like technology, music or chess are all creating a big gap between myself and my students. Recently I was again surprised that even a group of +20 years old players never heard before of twic or ssdf. Twic already exists since 1994 and is one of the very first if not the first newssite about chess. It is still active today. SSDF is the still running computer-ranking created in 1984!

Briefly many things has changed since I started to play competitive chess. Many players have quit the game party because the technological revolution took away their pleasure. Others like myself tried to adapt themselves and even took advantage of the new possibilities. Personally I made enormous changes during the last 2 decades in my methods of how to prepare for a game. Not everything became more complicated as nobody wants to return to the era when we had to deal with suitcases full of heavy (paper) chess-books. Below I summarize the different methods which during those years were introduced in my personal game-preparation-evolution. Some exact dates couldn't be found back so were estimated.
  • 1996: I bought my first PC and Fritz-program. I made my first game-preparation based on my knowledge of previous games against the players. At that time I used my reasonable up to date (paper) opening-books to prepare and checked briefly some lines with an engine.
  • 1997: I started to play against stronger players. Some of them had some games in the very first databases which I looked up to check their repertoire.
  • 2003: I started to use the engine openingbook which was offered together with an engine. This way I got a better view of the different possibilities in an opening.
  • 2005: I created a database to collect and store my game-preparations per color. I realized that often there is very little time to prepare especially at the French interclub so you need to organize yourself.
  • 2007: I created a database of games played by players of Deurne. After the birth of my first child I stopped playing abroad and started to play the local clubchampionship. As commercial databases often don't include games of lower rated players, I felt the urge to collect and store myself some of those games which could be relevant for myself.
  • 2010: I started to check correspondence-games and engine-games to find ideas which can be used for a game-preparation.
  • 2012: I created a detail-database to deepen my opening-analysis of played tournament games so I can use this in my game-preparation.
  • 2013: I created my first engine-openingbook based upon standard tournament games played by +2300 players as the commercial engine-openingbooks are very quickly outdated.
  • 2013: I started to download regularly twic, iccf- and engine games to consult them during the game-preparations. I also started to check online databases like chess.db to get better updated of the very latest developments.
  • 2015: I introduced monte carlo system in my game-preparations to get a quick idea in an opening with very few or no reference-games. Fast analysis is becoming very interesting due to the ever stronger engines.
  • 2017: I bought Chess position trainer which I use today to practice some very specific opening-analysis in a game-preparation.
  • 2017: I started to use in a more structured method my online played blitz-games in a game-preparation.
So my most recent preparation-tool is a more systematic use of my online played blitzgames. In this article I will demonstrate how this can be done efficiently if 2 conditions are fulfilled. First you need to have an easy access to your online played games. That is the main-reason why I today prefer Playchess. Very few or no other interfaces take care of an automatic storage of the played games on the computer see the database myinternetgames.cbh which I mentioned in my previous article. The second obvious condition is that you play the same stuff in blitz as in standard chess. Some blitz-players have a special repertoire only fitting in blitz but they won't be able to use that knowledge to prepare games for standard chess.

A successful example of using blitz-experience in a game-preparation was implemented in the final opening-position which was closing the previous article. After whites 8th move there exist almost no games in the commercial databases. You could activate an engine to get an idea but that doesn't make much sense in such type of non forcible position. Black has too many options to just look at the evaluation of an engine. Much more useful is to check my online played games to see what in practice people like to play in that particular position. As blitz is chess of a rather low quality, I use a filter just looking to my lost games. Below we see a screenshot of my lost games.

Next I will check one by one with an engine which mistakes I made and especially if something could be improved in the opening. One of them was a game I lost after 8...c6 (see above marked in yellow). When I fed the position at the engine, it played a very remarkable gambit see the screenshot below.

Of course I spent some time to understand the consequences of this gambit. I repeated this for my other lost games (only 11 so not that much) hereby discovering some more nice novelties. Once this was finished I stopped the game-preparation. As my opponent has only a very limited amount of games in the database, any other preparation sounded useless. A couple of hours later our game started.
I was of course excited during the game when I found out that Edouard felt for one of my prepared traps. It was even difficult to hide my emotions not to spoil the surprise. In the end I won the game comfortably and only gave away 1 opportunity to escape in an already very complicated position. My opponent applauded me afterwards for my ingenuity but I admitted that I borrowed the fantastic idea from a +3000 rated engine.

Coincidence some readers will probably think. Maybe but these things happened to me too often. I regularly see that moves played in blitz will also occur in standard chess. Especially in positions with few tactics experienced players are mainly relying on instincts. My personal database of online played games contains already more than 60.000 games. That is a lot of material which I can use in a game-preparation.


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