Thursday, March 22, 2018

Comebacks part 3

In 2 years time my son Hugo managed to eliminate his original material-handicap. We started with 23 points (1 pawn = 1 point) as odds (see strange material balances part 2). Today only a (heavy) time-handicap (18 minutes against 1 minute and 15 seconds) remains. I find this surprising as I expected to still give bigger odds because I am almost 1000 points stronger. My son Hugo has only moderate technical skills so this situation is very different compared to the handicap-match against the Dutch expert Jaap Amesz which I mentioned in my article swindles.

I warned in my article sacrificing that often we sacrifice too optimistically. Today I want to refine my view by adding that even a small material-advantage in most cases will be decisive. Except beginners still dropping pieces, we very rarely see players recovering from a material-disadvantage. This sounds contradictory to what I wrote in my article comebacks. In that article I talked about 11 out of 100 of my games a deficit of 3 points was caught up. In 7 games even a comeback of more than 6 points happened with 2 extreme cases of 29,67 and 32,06 points.

The reason is that a computer-evaluation very often strongly deviates from the material-position on the board. Their evaluation is the final result of the critical line after both sides made the best moves. This final-position can deviate a lot from the actual position in terms of material if we are dealing with tactics. Sometimes those variations are extremely complex, making the engine-evaluation losing its connection to the practical chances on the board see annotations. It is another example of what I already described in my article to analyze using a computer part 2. An engine helps you to define very quickly your errors but then you still need to add the right interpretation to those mistakes. Unsurprisingly this often goes wrong, creating frustrations and aversion from the engines.

The difference between an engine-evaluation and a material-balance is clearly shown when looking at the comebacks. To illustrate this properly I again used the same 100 games of my initial article about comebacks. However I didn't just count the pieces on the board to make my investigation. Only when there was no clear compensation, I took the material-difference into account. Gambits or theoretical drawn positions can't be considered as comebacks. Below we see first the summary of my opponents.









Next is the summary for myself.










Only 5 pawns were recovered by my opponents in a total of 36 comebacks. I made up 13 points spread over 38 comebacks. So in most cases a pawn down meant a loss. Beside the exceptions can be almost exclusively linked to special cases. Or the position is tactically very sharp so a higher probability exists to recover from a small material disadvantage see my article the einstellung effect. Or the material is already very reduced so a higher probability exists to reach a theoretical drawn-endgame see e.g. my article practical endgames.

We can also assume from above tables that rating barely has any effect at the material-balance. I experienced this end of last year in a very painful defeat. I was obliged to win the last round of the maneblussers-tournament to get the tournament-victory and with the 1900 rated player Dries Janssen as opponent my chances looked bright in advance. However in an obscure opening-line I totally misplayed my position and very early lost a piece without any compensation.
Despite white surely didn't play the most quickest win, never the result was put in question. The handicap was far too big to ever hope to comeback. Besides my opponent wasn't a beginner either. Resignation immediately after losing the piece was a valid choice but something I couldn't cope with at that time. Also don't forget that it was 18 years ago that I lost another standard-game against a -2000 rated player see my article White chooses in the opening a drawing-line.

So you better don't get behind or your name must be Magnus Carlsen. Anish Giri didn't pass the opportunity to write a funny tweet about it: The world champion Magnus Carlsen is now officially a full piece stronger than the rest of the mankind. In other words Magnus can win against anybody even with a heavy handicap of a full piece.
Exceptions proof the rule. Miracles happen sometimes at chess so you do wonder if maybe it makes sense to continue always till mate. The American grandmaster Grigory Serper showed some other miracles in his article Why you should never resign? but leaves it up to the reader to decide when to resign or not at all. Personally I think it is dubious and mainly a waste of time to continue 100 lost games till mate just to steal 1 extra half point.

Brabo

Monday, March 5, 2018

e4 e5 openingbook

25 years I already open my games exclusively with e4. Also as long I answer 1.e4 exclusively with e5. In other words I have quite some experience with the position 1.e4 e5. It is therefore no surprise that some players asked for my opinion of the recently published repertoire-book Playing 1e4 e5 a classical_repertoire by Nikolaos Ntirlis. However to be able to judge a book, you first need to get the  chance to read it. That is a problem as I don't buy any books about openings since 20 years. Fortunately my team-mate Daniel Sadkowski was so gentle to borrow me his book for a week which allowed me to check the content.
I know the author Nikolaos since 2009 when we were discussing furiously some analysis at chesspub forum lasting several months. Despite our initial disagreements things went afterwards much smoother between us. We both realized that we only were trying to search the truth of a position so no reason to feel emotionally bad about any critical analysis.

In 2009 Nikolaos was still unknown. Today he has built a solid reputation as opening-specialist. Playing 1.e4 e5 is already his 3rd opening-book and in the meanwhile his 4th about 1.d4 d5 is released see qualitychess. Besides any of those book was welcomed very positively. That is an extraordinary performance especially if you know that Nikolaos doesn't possess a fide-rating. By hard working, a lot of research and knowing how to maximally use the engines a lot can be achieved. By the way he also tests his analysis in correspondence chess with some decent success. This is enough introduction of the book. Time to evaluate the content.

Well I will be short. I warmly recommend this book to anybody interested playing this repertoire. The quality of the analysis is excellent and the light writing-style makes it very easy to read and digest. However for myself there was not much new. That is also to expect if you have 25 years of experience with the repertoire. This book would've been very useful for myself 15 years ago on my road to the FM-title. Meanwhile I made in most cases exactly the same conclusions as Nikolaos which is of course a compliment for the book.

Still I wouldn't write this article if I could not add some remarks to the book. So what follows next should be considered as an annex to the book and not an attack. The first thing I want to discuss is the chapter about the Belgrado-gambit. I noted Nikolaos claims a small advantage for black so more or less refuting the gambit. The review from the Australian grandmaster David Smerdon warns the readers that many refutations of so called black advantages are well hidden in the book. However this was not the case for this gambit. I have studied it several times in the past as happened last year with one of my students at the bjk. Never I was able to refute the gambit so I became curious if Nikolaos really has found something close to a refutation. Unfortunately after doing some research I had to conclude that Nikolaos had missed an important idea. I really would've loved to see that annoying gambit disappearing from practical standard play.
Of course this is just a detail as the gambit anyway remains a very small side-system in practice. Totally different is the Spanish Breyer-opening which is used as the terminal of the repertoire-book. The keystone of any Spanish repertoire is always a soft spot. Somehow you must make a choice of how you will fight against the critical mainline. Now about the Breyer-opening you can write a complete book. On the other hand I was a bit puzzled to see only 1 real chapter about this big opening. Besides I also wonder if this is really the best choice to make for such kind of book. I guess the target-audience is between 1800-2200 elo and the Breyer seems a risky choice for them.I demonstrated recently how risky it can be in the last round of Leuven. My opponent FM Arno Sterck also Belgian youth-champion - 18 was already lost just after the opening.

Nikolaos recommends a different line of the Breyer-opening. He very often refers in his analysis to the correspondence-games of the Russian Senior International Correspondence-master Igor Telepnev. However also from pure theoretical perspective I have my doubts about the selected system. There are some lines which are nowadays rather shaky.
Naturally I admit that a 1800-2200 player will rarely encounter such highly sophisticated analysis. On the other hand we should not ignore that maybe the Breyer-opening is too complex for the amateur. But which opening is better? I play the Spanish Chigorin but I can't recommend that although I obtain very acceptable results. The Berlin and the Marshall-gambit are surely theoretical more stable but these openings won't seduce the average player. So I also don't know what could be the perfect cornerstone against the Spanish. I need more experience with different systems to get a better view of each qualities. Only by experimenting you can find out which systems are enjoyable. Anyway don't get discouraged of this article and give the Breyeropening a chance.

Brabo