Saturday, March 13, 2021

Modelgames part 2

I am a big believer in using modelgames, and it is no coincidence that many opening- and repertoire-books / courses use modelgames. These are games that give me an aha-experience about an opening or middle-game (and an endgame by exception). More objectively defined, they meet a number of criteria. The first is that the games show a clear plan, and (secondly) the annotator explains this well. Where are the priorities, what must / is not allowed, which pieces to keep, and where to put them. It is also important whether the played line belongs to my opening repertoire (preferably).

I recently ran into one more, and it was a blitz for the first time, but the few lines of comment Daniil Dubov added were enough to slightly sharpen my weapons against the London (an opening that has recently been promoted as an universal weapon on the Internet. ). I had already found that “normal” Queen-Indians against the London work fine, but the few tips from Dubov (don't play d7-d5, Re8 and Bf8 are fine, and don't do too much too soon, because white players only want black to play actively), are the few anchors a player of my level needs to get far in the middle game.

Because of those very good analysis (also in the middle-game), Mauricio Flores Rios (Chess Structures: A Grandmaster Guide) is such a great book. One example: his commentary on the game Grischuk-Zhong (Shanghai 2001)  is so clear and simple that I have already been able to play it. It was a completely different chess than I usually played: instead of looking at a few lines and thinking “it will work”, I was now more likely to see which piece belongs where, and stick to the plan consistently.

Perhaps not a model-game, but excellently analyzed, I found the French game Parma-Hecht played at Bamberg 1962. For me not a model-game, because black wins (and I do not play the French), but the insights that Hecht puts down in his book Rochaden Schacherinnerungen are very interesting. Now that I am making the transition from model-games to excellently analyzed games, I have to say that Fischer's 60 Memorable Games contains much better analysis than Kasparov's MGP1, for example. Not because there are quite a few mistakes in Kasparov's book (and more than in Fischer's I think), but because Fischer explains it very clearly, while Kasparov too often gets lost in concrete lines, without explaining the game on the board. In the short period that the Evans Gambit was in my repertoire, Fischer's games against Celle and Fine were my model-examples. And when I brought a center-gambit to the board, Tartakover-Reshevsky, from the 1937 Stockholm Olympiads was my lead-game (alongside Zatonskih-Ipatov; only recently did I discover XieJun-Flear, which would have been a nice third). In that game White risks too much and he is lost after the opening, but in all the years that I played C22, nobody came to the refutation of Reshevsky. Only in correspondence-chess did I once meet Dd7 on move 13 (instead of 13… Dc8, but actually just as good) - that turned out to be a nice draw.

Often, classics can pass for modelgames. As Morphy treats Duke Isouard's Philidor in the Paris Opera, it is certainly worth remembering. And as already described here in this blog, giants like Botvinnik also stood on the shoulders of giants (Lasker, Capablanca, Rubinstein, Alekhine), and they interpreted the former exemplary played openings in a new way to play out certain positions. It is no coincidence that someone like Gelfand often refers back to Rubinstein. His Positional Decision Making in Chess is full of it. Also games of worldchampionships (or matches in general, because often the same openings are brought out) are often a good source to take a certain way of playing as inspiration. This is certainly not to say that only top-games can serve as an example (see “my” model-games). Games that usually do drop out are tactical slugfests; usually you don't get classic brilliant games appear on the board. You should already be able to execute a double bishop sacrifice (remember Lasker-Bauer and Nimzowitsch-Tarrasch: we also stand on the shoulders of giants for the middle-game). And although I have not yet managed to reenact anyone such as Steinitz-Von Bardeleben (you have to be crazy as a black player), “classic opening disasters” are possible (how many black-players have lost in a few moves in the Levenfish-Dragon, because after f4 they played Bg7 after all?).

Tartakover (° 1887, +1956) gave a remarkable example of a model-game in his book of best games. At the beginning of his career (which ran from 1905 to 1954, so exactly 50 years) his talent had not yet fully matured, but he knew all his classics and achieved a considerable playing-strength relatively early: he won Nuremberg 1906 and became shared third-fifth in Vienna 1907.

In his games against Vidmar and Dus Chotimirsky he used a variant that Lasker had introduced a few years before, with one of his monumental games, namely the one against Napier, who played the game of his life against the worldchampion.
[Event "Karlsbad-01 International Masters"] [Site "Karlsbad"] [Date "1907.08.31"] [Round "9"] [White "Tartakower, Saviely"] [Black "Dus Chotimirsky, Fedor Ivanovich"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B72"] [Annotator "Surmont,Yves"] [PlyCount "111"] [EventDate "1907.08.20"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "21"] [EventCountry "CZE"] [SourceTitle "HCL"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "1999.07.01"] [SourceVersion "2"] [SourceVersionDate "1999.07.01"] [SourceQuality "1"] {[%evp 0,111,41,41,48,22,22,-18,28,28,28,28,101,73,89,41,41,6,40,21,37,-3,-2, -39,5,13,13,13,57,57,57,2,-12,20,15,-22,77,77,90,95,162,149,269,289,289,289, 303,275,275,275,275,275,275,275,275,286,356,356,356,356,364,241,285,285,290, 290,675,265,265,265,263,232,225,229,218,217,238,238,243,228,232,232,232,232, 226,236,235,191,194,199,208,216,218,244,366,381,384,385,536,560,569,571,663, 678,688,710,729,780,760,784,1090,1120,29993,29994]} 1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. Be2 {A seemingly innocent move, however holding some punch: a quick push with g4 becomes possible (and such twists are even possible in Philidor-esque positions).} 7... O-O (7... d6 8. h3 O-O 9. Qd2 Bd7 10. g4 a6 11. g5 {This is the aha moment of this line: with f3 the knight can jump comfortably to h5, and stand there for a longer period of time and stop the white attack. Now the diagonal of the bishop is free, just Bxh5 follows Nh5 and Black's position collapses.} 11... Ne8 12. h4 Rc8 13. h5 Na5 14. hxg6 hxg6 15. O-O-O {and although it seems as if white is much quicker, it was still an exciting game, which Tartakover was able to finish smoothly despite everything.}) 8. Qd2 d6 {Today, almost everyone here plays f3, but Tartakover is also on the shoulders of giants. In Vienna 1905-06 he had already opposed such a position against Vidmar and won, but that game also relies on a very important model-game, namely Lasker-Napier (Cambridge Springs 1904). His own game against Vidmar he enthusiastically describes as the perfection of the ideas of the latter game.} 9. h3 Bd7 10. g4 Rc8 11. g5 {Same as in the match against Vidmar: Nh5 is not possible and black is left with a passive position.} 11... Ne8 12. h4 Ne5 13. h5 Nc4 14. Bxc4 Rxc4 15. hxg6 fxg6 16. O-O-O Qc8 17. f4 e5 18. fxe5 Bxe5 19. Nd5 Rf7 20. Rdf1 Rg7 21. b3 {and from here on the engines don't like the position anymore for black.} 21... Rc5 22. Nf3 Bc3 23. Nxc3 Rxc3 24. Bd4 Rc7 25. Bxg7 Nxg7 26. Qh2 Nh5 27. Nd4 Bc6 28. Qxd6 Bxe4 29. Rh2 Ng7 30. Rf4 Rd7 31. Qe5 Bf5 32. Nxf5 Nxf5 33. Rc4 Qd8 34. Qe6+ Kg7 35. Kb2 Qe7 36. Qxe7+ Rxe7 37. Rc3 Ne3 38. Rd3 Ng4 39. Rh4 h5 40. gxh6+ Nxh6 41. c4 Nf5 42. Rg4 Kf6 43. c5 g5 44. b4 Kg6 45. b5 Kh5 46. Rc4 g4 47. c6 bxc6 48. bxc6 Rc7 49. Rd5 Kg5 50. Rcc5 Kh4 51. Rxf5 g3 52. Rc4+ Kh3 53. Rh5+ Kg2 54. Rd5 Kf3 55. Rd3+ Kf2 56. Rc2+ 1-0
It was remarkable that he also used this approach successfully with black: against Swiderski in the B-tournament of Ostend 1907 he managed to do exactly the same against the too cautious approach of white.
[Event "Oostende Masters"] [Site "Ostend"] [Date "1907.06.22"] [Round "28"] [White "Swiderski, Rudolf"] [Black "Tartakower, Saviely"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A28"] [Annotator "Surmont,Yves"] [PlyCount "40"] [EventDate "1907.05.16"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "29"] [EventCountry "BEL"] [SourceTitle "HCL"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "1999.07.01"] [SourceVersion "2"] [SourceVersionDate "1999.07.01"] [SourceQuality "1"] {[%evp 0,40,43,-23,-15,-19,-33,-24,-12,-6,-29,-29,-33,-46,-29,-65,-27,-54,-26, -34,-10,-20,30,13,13,-6,14,-27,-18,-51,10,8,15,-3,10,15,30,-32,-4,-166,-169, -387,-431]} 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. a3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. d3 Be7 7. g3 Be6 8. Bg2 h6 9. O-O Qd7 10. Bd2 {and yes, this is just a dragon with swapped colors, so why not use that same plan too?} 10... g5 11. b4 g4 12. Ne1 h5 13. Rc1 h4 14. e3 hxg3 15. fxg3 Nxc3 16. Bxc3 Bg5 17. Qe2 f6 18. Bd2 O-O-O 19. d4 {a blunder which loses the game, but black was already better.} 19... Nxd4 20. Qf2 Nb3 0-1

So yes, I think you can learn something from a good game showing a good plan. That may even be a “master-against-amateur” game for me, but that is for another time.