Saturday, December 27, 2014


After the Open of Leuven, Stefan Docx told me that he liked the positions which I obtained in the Dutch. However only my first move didn't appeal to him. It is therefore no coincidence that on chesspub the opening is categorized under the daring defences. Deliberately weakening f7 also called the Achilles of blacks position is obviously risky.

The achilles not only plays an important role in openings in which the f-pawn is pushed. Also in many other openings this weak spot is attacked. A few examples to illustrate this theme. I start with the feared Cochrane gambit.
[Event "XVI Ciudad de Linares 99"] [Site "Linares ESP"] [Date "1999.03.02"] [Round "8"] [White "Topalov, V."] [Black "Kramnik, V."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "2700"] [BlackElo "2751"] [PlyCount "62"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nxf7 {(The Cochrane-gambit is a very rare bird in standard-chess and for sure at the top.)} Kxf7 5. Nc3 c5 6. Bc4 Be6 7. Bxe6 Kxe6 8. d4 Kf7 9. dxc5 Nc6 10. Qe2 (10. O-O dxc5 11. Qe2 Qe8 12. Re1 Nd4 13. Qd3 Qe6 14. e5 Nd7 15. Ne4 Be7 16. Bg5 Nxe5 17. Qc3 Qc4 18. Qg3 Ng6 19. Bxe7 Ne2 20. Rxe2 Qxe2 21. f3 Qe3 22. Kf1 Nxe7 23. Re1 Qd4 24. Nd6 Kg8 25. Rxe7 Qd1 26. Re1 Qxc2 27. Qe5 Qd3 28. Re2 Qd1 29. Re1 Qd3 30. Re2 Qd1 31. Re1 {(and draw in the correspondence-game Starke,Heiko - Hudak Dusan played in 2009)}) 10... Qd7 11. Be3 {(Here better is 0-0 as now black gets some chances.)} dxc5 12. f4 Re8 13. e5 Ng4 14. Rd1 Qf5 15. O-O h5 16. Bc1 Nd4 17. Qc4 Kg6 18. h3 Nh6 19. Nb5 a6 20. Nxd4 cxd4 21. Qxd4 Rc8 22. Qb6 Kh7 23. Qxb7 Rxc2 24. Be3 Qg6 25. Rc1 Rxc1 26. Rxc1 Nf5 27. Bf2 h4 28. Rc7 Ng3 29. Kh2 Nf1 30. Kg1 Qb1 31. Bxh4 Bc5 1/2-1/2
I never studied this seriously but it looks playable for white. In the second example we see again the same players at work but this time in a trendy variation: the anti-Moscow gambit which I already used in one of my first articles, see my novelty in Wijk aan Zee.
[Event "Corus A"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2008.01.22"] [Round "9"] [White "Topalov, V."] [Black "Kramnik, V."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D43"] [WhiteElo "2780"] [BlackElo "2799"] [PlyCount "89"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 dxc4 7. e4 g5 8. Bg3 b5 9. Be2 Bb7 10. O-O Nbd7 11. Ne5 Bg7 12. Nxf7 {(Kramnik was very surprised by this gambit although it was already known from correspondence-chess.)} Kxf7 13. e5 Nd5 14. Ne4 Ke7 15. Nd6 Qb6 16. Bg4 Raf8 17. Qc2 Qxd4 { (Immediately after the game Rhg8 was recommended and later several times tested in practice. Of course it is very difficult to find every time the right answer at the board against the prepared moves of the opponent.)} 18. Qg6 Qxg4 19. Qxg7 Kd8 20. Nxb7 Kc8 21. a4 b4 22. Rac1 c3 23. bxc3 b3 24. c4 Rfg8 25. Nd6 Kc7 26. Qf7 Rf8 27. cxd5 Rxf7 28. Rxc6 Kb8 29. Nxf7 Re8 30. Nd6 Rh8 31. Rc4 Qe2 32. dxe6 Nb6 33. Rb4 Ka8 34. e7 Nd5 35. Rxb3 Nxe7 36. Rfb1 Nd5 37. h3 h5 38. Nf7 Rc8 39. e6 a6 40. Nxg5 h4 41. Bd6 Rg8 42. R3b2 Qd3 43. e7 Nf6 44. Be5 Nd7 45. Ne6 1-0
The playground of this variation almost completely shifted from standard-chess to correspondence-chess probably because white scored terribly and the compensation isn't easy to find. From my own practice I can show a rare line which was in my repertoire till 2004. I only got it on the board in standard-chess once.
[Event "Open Avoine 4de ronde"] [Date "2002"] [White "Lemoine, F."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C70"] [WhiteElo "2128"] [BlackElo "2223"] [PlyCount "71"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 b5 5. Bb3 Na5 6. Bxf7 Kxf7 7. Nxe5 Ke7 8. d4 Nf6 $5 {(It has been long ago that I encountered this variation as in my personal database there are no games with this system. Nevertheless I am sure I once got it on the board. )} (8... d6 $5 {(During the game I spent a lot of time remembering what exactly is the most optimal continuation. New analyses show that both continuations are interesting.)} 9. Nd3 Kf7 $44) 9. b4 $2 $146 {(In practice were already tried 0-0, Bg5 and Qf3 but I only consider Nd3 as the proper continuation for getting sufficient compensation. Strange it seems nobody yet has tested this. After b4 black gets a clear advantage.)} (9. Nd3 $1 $146 Qe8 10. O-O Kd8 11. e5 $44) 9... Nb7 $2 {(This does not look nice and it is also not surprising that white gets again good compensation after this move. Much better is d6 which frees c4 for the knight with a big advantage for black.)} (9... d6 $1 10. Nd3 Nc4 11. e5 dxe5 12. dxe5 Ne4 13. O-O Bb7 14. Qh5 (14. Qf3 Qd5 15. Re1 $17) 14... Qd4 15. Na3 $17) 10. Bg5 $5 {(The pin is a logical reaction but a4 must also be considered with excellent compensation for the piece.)} Qe8 $5 {(Ke8 is the alternative but also in that case white has nice compensation for the piece.)} 11. Nc3 c6 12. f4 $2 {(This is nonsense as now black gets time to get active play. Much better is a4 and blacks pieces do not work together which permits white to obtain very nice compensation for the sacrificed piece.)} (12. a4 $5 d6 13. Nd3 bxa4 14. e5 Kf7 15. O-O dxe5 16. Nxe5 (16. dxe5 Nd5 17. Qh5 g6 $44) 16... Kg8 17. Qf3 Nd6 $11 ) 12... Kd8 13. Nd3 h6 $5 {(A5 is also possible with some advantage for black.)} 14. Bxf6 gxf6 15. a4 Qe6 16. d5 $6 {(A pawn-sacrifice which is pretty superficial. 0-0 is of course better although this leaves black the advantage.)} cxd5 17. e5 Qc6 18. Ne2 bxa4 19. O-O a5 20. c3 $5 {With the pawn-sacrifice b5 white could keep the a-file closed but that is not sufficient to save the game.)} axb4 21. cxb4 d6 $2 {(A big positional blunder as this weakens heavily the squares e6 and c6. Much better and simpler was Be7 followed up with Rg8 and white has not sufficient compensation for the piece so should lose eventually.)} (21... Be7 22. Kh1 Rg8 23. f5 Qc4 24. Rf4 Qc7 25. exf6 Bxf6 26. Rxa4 Rxa4 27. Qxa4 $19 ) 22. e6 $5 {(Ef6: seems also possible again with good compensation for the piece.)} Bxe6 23. f5 Bd7 $2 {(A difficult choice in time-trouble. Which squares should I defend first. Afterwards it became clear that I should defend first d5 so Bf7 is better with an unclear position.)} 24. Kh1 $2 {(A useful move but not the most accurate one as in some variations white can do without it. Nd4 gives white already good winning chances as the engines find it difficult to organize the defense.)} Rg8 $2 {(The weird Fritz move h5, connected with the queen-sacrifice on c4 seems to be the only way to continue. After the logical text-move it is probably already lost.)} (24... h5 $1 25. Nd4 Qc4 $1 26. Nf4 Bh6 $1 27. Rc1 Bxf4 $1 28. Rxc4 dxc4 29. Rxf4 a3 30. Nc2 $44) 25. Nd4 Qc4 26. Nf4 Be7 $5 {(Rc8 and Nc5 are recommended by Fritz and Shredder but none can save blacks position. After Be7 black gets annihilated.)} 27. Rc1 a3 28. Rxc4 dxc4 29. Nde6 Bxe6 30. Nxe6 Kd7 31. Qd5 Ra7 32. Qb5 Kc8 33. Qxc4 Kd7 34. Qb5 Kc8 35. Nd4 Bd8 36. Qc4 1-0
Not a well played game but again a nice example of how hard it is to defend against such sacrifices without preparation. For online blitz or bullet these gambits are very lethal.

Not only in the opening is f7 (or f2 for white) a weak spot. Also further in the game we notice that the achilles remains a headache which many players got into troubles. I found on the internet a nice collection of combinations in which the achilles plays a key role. It is difficult making a choice out of it but I like the combination of our reigning worldchampion Magnus Carlsen in his game of 2011 against the Chinese topgrandmaster Wang Hao.
[Event "73rd Tata Steel GMA"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2011.01.29"] [Round "12"] [White "Carlsen, M."] [Black "Wang Hao"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B12"] [WhiteElo "2814"] [BlackElo "2731"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r1k2r/2q2pp1/2n1p3/1p1pP1BB/n1pP4/2P3P1/1P3PK1/R2Q3R w k - 0 24"] [PlyCount "11"] 24. Bxf7 {(Not the only winning move but the fastest one.)} Kxf7 25. Qf3 Kg8 26. Rxh8 Kxh8 27. Rh1 Kg8 28. Qh5 Rf8 29. Bf6 1-0
Recently I got a golden opportunity to play a beautiful combination using the Achilles.
[Event "Interclub Deurne - Brasschaat"] [Date "2014"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Beukema, S."] [Result "*"] [ECO "C99"] [WhiteElo "2337"] [BlackElo "2311"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3rr1k1/1q1bbppp/2n2n2/1pB1p3/1P2P3/pB3N1P/P4PP1/2RQRNK1 w - - 0 24"] [PlyCount "27"] 24. Bxf7 $1 {(Missed as I played Qe2 in the game. I remember that I looked a few seconds at the brilliant Bxf7 but I did not realize this could actually work. Qe2 is sufficient for a small advantage which is probably the reason why I did not look for anything better.)} Kxf7 {(The engines play Kh8 but naturally no human would choose such move.)} 25. Qb3 {(Not first with the knight as otherwise white would have no answer after Kg6.)} Kg6 26. Nh4 Kh6 27. Ng3 Bxc5 (27... g6 28. Qf7 {(Another quiet move which closes in the king.)} Ng8 29. Be3 Bg5 30. Nhf5 gxf5 31. Bxg5 Kxg5 32. Qg7 Kh4 33. exf5 Bxf5 34. Nxf5 Kh5 35. g4#) (27... Nd4 28. Bxd4 exd4 29. Ngf5 Bxf5 30. Nxf5 Kg6 31. Qg3 Kf7 32. Qxg7 Ke6 33. e5 $18) 28. Ngf5 Bxf5 29. Nxf5 Kh5 30. Qf3 Kg6 31. Qg3 Kh5 32. Nxg7 Kh6 33. Nf5 Kh5 34. Qh4 Kg6 35. Qh6 Kf7 36. Qg7 Ke6 37. Qxb7 $18 *

I looked a few seconds at Bxf7 but never thought it could work against a tactician like Stefan (obtaining only a few days earlier an IM-norm in Le Touquet. It often strikes me that tacticians are very good in the attack but in the defense they regularly make mistakes. A missed opportunity or something we can consider as an oddity? In any case Steven Geirnaert believes that we shouldn't too easily minimize mistakes. We should look for ways how to avoid them and improve our play. Of course he has a valid point. On the other hand I am surely not the only one missing such tactics.

A few months earlier an example of such blindness between grandmasters was published in the great column of grandmaster Lubomovir Kavalek.
[Event "Budapest m"] [Site "Budapest"] [Date "1993"] [Round "10"] [White "Polgar, Judit"] [Black "Spassky, Boris V"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C95"] [WhiteElo "2595"] [BlackElo "2565"] [PlyCount "148"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Nb8 10. d4 Nbd7 11. Nbd2 Bb7 {(In reality Re8 was played but the organization preferred to hide the double-blunder and correct the move-order.)} (11... Re8 12. Bxf7 {(Judit played on automatic pilot Nf1 and missed hereby an immediate and obvious win.)} Kxf7 13. Ng5 Kg8 14. Ne6 (14. Qb3 $2 {(Playing too clever with Qb3 would jeopardize the win.)} d5 15. Ne6 Nc5 $14)) 12. Bc2 Re8 13. Nf1 Bf8 14. Ng3 g6 15. b3 Bg7 16. d5 Nb6 17. Be3 Rc8 18. Qe2 c6 19. c4 cxd5 20. cxd5 Nbxd5 21. exd5 Nxd5 22. b4 Nxb4 23. Bb3 Bd5 24. Red1 Bc4 25. Qd2 Nd3 26. Bh6 d5 27. Bc2 Nc5 28. Re1 Bh8 29. Rad1 Qb6 30. Qg5 e4 31. Qe3 Bxa2 32. Bb1 Bxb1 33. Rxb1 Na4 34. Qxb6 Nxb6 35. Be3 Na4 36. Nd4 Nc3 37. Rbc1 Rc4 38. Nge2 Nxe2 39. Nxe2 Rd8 40. g4 d4 41. Rcd1 d3 42. Ng3 Bc3 43. Bd2 Bxd2 44. Rxd2 Rdd4 45. f3 exf3 46. Kf2 b4 47. Kxf3 Rd8 48. Re7 Rb8 49. Rd7 b3 50. R7xd3 a5 51. Rb2 a4 52. Ne2 Kg7 53. Ke3 Ra8 54. Nc3 Rb4 55. Nxa4 Raxa4 56. Rbxb3 Rf4 57. Ke2 Kh6 58. Rf3 Kg5 59. Kf2 Rxf3 60. Kxf3 Kh4 61. Kg2 Ra2 62. Kg1 h5 63. gxh5 Kxh5 64. Rf3 f5 65. Rf4 Re2 66. Kh1 Re4 67. Rf2 Kh4 68. Kg2 Rb4 69. Kh2 Re4 70. Kg2 f4 71. Kf3 Re5 72. Rg2 g5 73. Rg4 Kxh3 74. Rg3 Kh4 0-1

If players from this caliber miss something much simpler then I can quicker accept my mistake. Of course one doesn't get many chances in his career to play such extraordinary combinations so it always will feel as a missed opportunity. 


Addendum 26 Augustus 2015
Despite playing 20 years of competition, only last couple of years I started to review and study the old grandmasters. Again and again I realize that I should have done this much earlier. I discovered a few days ago via the book "The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal" the game Mikhail Tal - Wolfgang Unzicker played in 1961: which includes some of the same motives Nh4/Ng5 as my missed combination against Beukema. We can only guess what if I had discovered Tals game just before my game against Beukema.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


If you read the previous article then it is clear that chess has changed a lot. The usage of engines or more broadly electronics have heavily impacted our game. Surely not everybody is happy about this. I even have a strong suspicion that because of this some players have stopped playing chess as they lost interest. There exists a real danger that the creative side of the game is minimized. We are today very much dependent from those electronic aids.

This dependence sometimes also creates silly situations if something goes suddenly wrong. Probably some readers will remember the transmission-error in the 10th game of the recent WC. Top-grandmaster Fabiano Caruana joked on twitter that maybe it was a try to give a few million viewers a collective heart-attack.
Anand - Calrsen: 19...Bxg2 ???
While this only lead to maximally some irritations, it becomes more painful when a technical error impacts the course of a game. Such thing happened in the recent game Karjakin - Caruana played in Baku for the fide grandprix. A transmission-error was the reason why Karjakin got very quickly already in timetrouble. In those top-tournaments players have access to rooms where they can get snacks or drinks. Karjakin relied as usual on the screens in those rooms to know when he had to move but he realized far too late that something went wrong. Later in huge timetrouble - 10 moves in 2 minutes without increment - Karjakin didn't manage anymore to scrutinize sufficiently the complications in initially a favorable position and lost nonetheless.
[Event "Baku FIDE Grand Prix 2014"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2014.10.02"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Caruana, F."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2767"] [BlackElo "2844"] [PlyCount "74"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. Rc1 Nbd7 7. cxd5 exd5 8. e3 c6 9. h3 Ne4 10. Bd3 Ndf6 11. O-O Bf5 12. Ne2 Nd7 13. Qb3 Qb6 14. Qc2 Bg6 15. Bh2 Rfe8 16. Nf4 Bd6 17. Nxg6 Bxh2 18. Kxh2 hxg6 19. g3 Qd8 20. Kg2 g5 21. Rh1 {(In this position Karjakin spent a lot of time in the room where you can get some snacks and drinks. Due to a transmission-error he missed completely that Caruana moved already much earlier. Something like 15 minutes were lost because of it.)} Qe7 22. b4 a5 23. b5 c5 24. h4 g4 25. Ng5 Rac8 26. Bxe4 dxe4 27. Qb3 g6 28. Rc4 b6 29. Rhc1 Rcd8 {(Here Karjakin had only 2 minutes left without increment.)} 30. dxc5 Nxc5 31. Rxc5 bxc5 32. Rxc5 Rc8 33. Re5 Qf6 34. Rd5 Red8 35. a4 Rxd5 36. Qxd5 Rc2 37. Kh1 Rxf2 0-1
Later on e.g., several players asked why there was not an arbitrary time-correction in favor of Karjakin which compensates the transmission-error. Many considered the victory of Caruana as not sportsmanship. However arbiters aren't allowed to judge based on emotions but have to define who is liable. Of course I don't have access to the contracts of the top-players but I suppose that the screens in the rooms where players can rest, are only informative. I don't think it is possible as player to claim any compensation or to give notice of default.

Some people also consider the behavior of Caruana as incorrect. If you executed your move then it is normal to warn the opponent that his clock is running. This is not only difficult or forbidden, see article 4.9 but can we really state that you aren't a gentleman when you don't warn the opponent? Is time not a crucial element of the game just like the pieces which we carefully move on the board? Anyway I notice that even for the most ordinary casual games a clock is installed which dictates the tempo and often has a large influence on the result.

Accurately keeping track of the time (but also the recording as in the article the sadistic exam) is the full responsibility of the player. I won't hold back to profit from some negligence of my opponent. In 2 recent consecutive games my opponents forgot to press the clock. Well in such situations I will pretend to think very hard. We can be best friends off the board but in a game I don't give presents. However I do warn my opponent if I am completely winning and a running clock only prolongs the game unnecessary.

In one of those 2 games, the one against Stijn Bertrem, something peculiar happened. While I had to move but his time was running, I took off my watch and put it next to the clock. I regularly do this as I don't like wearing a watch during a game. While thinking, I often put my hands against my head and at that moment I don't like to feel any pressure on my wrest from the watch (steel of about 100 gram). After putting the watch down, Stijn looked at it and at the same moment noticed that his clock was still running. In fact I gave him unintentionally a hint. The hint is nothing special but I do want to discuss the habit of putting the watch on the table during a game.

I am aware this is a bit strange and I am careful that the watch isn't stolen but I am surely not the only one. Without doubt the most famous protagonist is former world-champion Garry Kasparov. It is a well-known anecdote that at the start of any game he puts his watch next to the board. When he puts the watch back on his arm then it is in most cases a signal for the opponent to resign. Somehow I think this is is logical as when you have a clearly won position then no further deep reflection is needed. So I don't believe Garry tries to play any psychological game.

When 2 months ago Loek Van Wely in his Unive Chess festival of Hogeveen demanded the participants to wear some bands which would register their heart-beat and transmit the data then I really wondered who is that crazy to agree. In an official game you don't experiment but money seems to be a very good incentive. Even Jan Timman was persuaded. I may belong to the first generation having learnt to work with computers but some experiments and electronic aids are really not for me.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Using databases

"Preparation is half of the work" was written by guest-writer Hypekiller5000 in the previous article. In other words, a good opening has a not negligible influence on the final result of the game. Even on my modest level I already showed 2 years ago that such effect is visible, see study chess-openings. It is not a surprise that players, knowing me better, try to avoid the bigger mainstreams against me as e.g. Tom Piceu leads Bruges through 1st division or just recently in Open Gent when afterwards my opponent confessed to read my blog. This is a disadvantage of writing this blog which I accept. In the end also my opponent takes a gamble of playing something which he doesn't know very well and of which he can't be sure that I haven't analyzed it already, see the boomerang.

If players are less familiar or ignore my preparation then I have often a significant higher chance to profit from a superior opening-knowledge. The most striking examples on my blog are described in the article the list of strength. After the umpteenth example on my blog I got the comment from MNb that I am pretty good in preparing games. Later he clarified this statement: there is creativity needed. Well in this article I will explain that creativity is often minimal and every player is able to arrive to the same conclusions. Much more important than creativity is discipline, organisation and a good methodology.

The title already betrays that I use intensively databases or also called plugging in jargon. A good book about plugging doesn't exist (a.f.a.i.k.) yet. There exists documentation about how chessbase functions but no guide about which steps you need to follow to optimize your chances in a short timeframe of preparing successfully. Besides I was struck by how many players were almost completely uneducated about how to use databases. So it looks appropriate to write an article in which I will present by means of screenshots a step by step approach how I prepare.

In the last round of Open Gent I was paired against the Belgian FM Marc Lacrosse. The pairings were announced around midnight while the game started at 11 AM. I am not a robot so I need some night-rest. If we deduct another hour for driving with the car from home to the tournamenthall then it is evident that little time remains to prepare. On top Marc answers my Spanish with the Open Spanish variation of which he is a big expert. 51 games played between 1987 till 2013 I found from him in the megadatabase as you can check in the screenshot below.
51 games Open Spanish of Marc in the database
Few professionals have such big collection of games in this opening. By the way I don't have any illusions about the fact Marc very likely played a multiple of games with this opening so his knowledge of the opening is much more than what the database shows us. On the other hand I played only 4 standard games in this opening. 3 of them continued with 9.c3 permitting the Dilworth attack and which I don't consider interesting anymore today, see for the reason why at my article copycats. In 2008 I played for the first time the mainline with 9.Nbd2 but only against a 1700 elo. In short I hadn't looked at the Open Spanish for many years and my ready knowledge was therefore very limited.

What to do when you have 150 points more than the opponent, little time to prepare, playing the standard repertoire is jeopardizing the winning chances and the final rankings + prizes are at stake? Well obviously you deviate but this doesn't fit in the scientific approach. Now I also don't like to be slaughtered. Next I try to describe how I mitigated the risks and even succeeded to transform the disadvantage into an advantage.

More than a decade ago I prepared myself for tournaments by repeating homemade analysis. However not only was this increasingly difficult due to the ever growing number of games but also I experienced a ridiculous low return. I spent a lot of time at repeating lines but it was rare that I could use something during a tournament. Recent years my tournament-preparations look very differently. If I played not much chess in advance then a few days before the tournament starts, I do tactics at chess tactics server. I don't look at anything else or don't practice anything special but I do spend at least an hour to update my databases.
- Twic in which tournament-games played in countless locations can be downloaded till 1 week ago.
- Enginegames of 3 sites: Ccrl, Sddf and Tcec
- Correspondence-games of ICCF but for that I contact a friend. As mentioned in an earlier article their database is still inaccessible for the public. I did discover a few days ago that it is possible to access it via Openingmaster but against payment.
So I can collect all material for free. In addition to updating the databases, I also update my engine openingbook, see how this works in the article green moves. If this is combined with a good engine like Houdini and/or Stockfish running on a modern portable then you are very well armed for preparing games during the tournament.

It has little sense to do those efforts if there is insufficient time to prepare. Well if the first part is about organisation then the second is mainly discipline. You don't sleep out but put the alarm at 6 AM. Breakfast happens during plugging. Only for the shower, an interruption is necessary but I anyway need a break during 4 hours plugging. My lovely wife prepares some food so I can also eat something during the game (play is during lunchtime). Discipline of course is closely connected to motivation/ ambitions which I don't lack yet at contrary to many other players (of my age).

4 hours to challenge an expert in the opening of which he has 25 years experience, is still very little. In such short time-frame it is impossible to make profound analysis so it is a matter of using a good methodology. Hereby I employ 3 tools which I manage via the Fritzinterface:
- the database with tournamentgames to define the moves of my opponent.
- the engine openingbook to define my moves and the ones of my opponent.
- the correspondence database to define my own moves.
So no expensive Chessbase interface as you don't need that at all. The premium package of Chessbase costs today 370 euro. It seems some players are paying this amount as otherwise the price would be lower but this is just exploiting the monopoly-position.

Lets start with the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 Nxe4 which is the start-position of the Open Spanish. To define what white should play, I use in first instance my (self-made) engine openingbook. For positions of which many games can be found in the database and there is a clear distinction between the candidate-moves, this is by far the quickest and most efficient tool. With a simple click on the button "F11" I get the result so quicker does not exist. Pay attention that I very often use keyboard shortcuts so it is important to know some of them. This seems not something obvious as in Open Gent a +2100 player attentively watched how I was plugging and asked how I could get the output like in the first screenshot. Well for such output you need twice to press "ALT+Q". This keyboard shortcut permits to switch between 3 outputs: description of the games, list of the moves of the games and mix of short description + some moves of the games.
Openingbook for whites 8th move
Above screenshot nicely demonstrates that dxe5 is the critical move in the position so I also select it. Now some attentive readers will notice (looking at the first screenshot) that Marc played a move earlier also Be7 instead of d5. This is correct. In 1995-1996 Marc chose 4 times for Be7. However in all the other games d5 was chosen. So it is logical to give priority to d5 and if some time is left then we return to Be7. It is not redundant to also look at old lines of somebodies repertoire because if a player smells a rat then sometimes an old love is chosen. By the way Marc admitted that he was considering this option as he knew me from a few years interclub when we were playing together for Lille EDN.

From move 9 onward I switch from the engine openingbook to the correspondence database to quickly detect the critical mainline. The engine openingbook doesn't give a clear distinction anymore between the candidates but this is quickly solved by using a filter on the correspondence database. With the shortcut "F12" we open the database and with the combination "CTRL+F" we open the filter. The filter which I use is a selection of the won games by white in the last 4 years. Below a screenshot of the data which I entered besides of course the position.
Input filter correspondence-database
The result of such filter can be viewed below. Well that is not fully correct as I first change the output via the keyboard shortcut "ALT+Q" so a list of the moves is shown.
Output filter correspondence-database for whites 9th move
In a glance we notice that 9.Nbd2 is today considered as the most important line as most games are won with that move in correspondence-chess. Because engines are excessively used in correspondence and the games are played on a very slow pace, it is safe to state that those are the highest quality games. I repeat this process for each of my moves and I try immediately to memorize them.

Meanwhile I define the answers of my opponent by watching the earlier games he played. I notice he answered 9.Nbd2, 7x with Bc5 in the period 1987-2001; 2x with Nc5 in 2010 and 10x with Be7 in the period 2003-2013. All this can be deducted from the first screenshot but often it is handy to just run a new filter on the tournament-database but then specifically on the position after 9.Nbd2 and Marc Lacrosse as playing with black.

So I give priority to 9..., Be7 but again I don't forget to look at the other moves when there is time left. 10.c3 seems to be the critical move for white so we look again how Marc replied in earlier games. After 10.c3 he played, 3x Qd7 in the period 2003-2004, 5x 0-0 in the period 2008-2012 and 2x Nc5 in 2013. Despite 0-0 was played more often, I still will give priority to Nc5 as it was played more recently. We again repeat this process for move 11 so after 11 moves we are for now having as mainline:1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.Nbd2 Be7 10.c3 Nc5 11.Bc2 d4

If we now apply the earlier described filter on the correspondence database then we notice that the harvest becomes small but is still usable.
Output filter correspondence-database for whites 12th move
Only 13 games but in 10 of them 12. Nb3 was played so I select that move. Now we have a problem as there are no more games in the database from Marc with 12.Nb3. How can we guess what black will play. Well for that I use again the engine openingbook in which all relevant tournament-games are included. Somebody playing 25 years the same opening will likely be aware about what top-players play in this position.
Openingbook for blacks 12th move
12...d3 seems to be the preferred choice by most top-players (the engine-book is only built with games of strong players). I again give priority to 12...d3 but I don't forget to look at alternatives when some time is left. For whites 13th move I again use the filter on my correspondence database. The output tells us that 7x Bb1 is chosen against 3x Nxc5 in the won games for white. So 13.Bb1 is selected. A move earlier no more games could be found from Marc in the tournament-database so I use again the opening-book. I repeat this process till whites 26th move !! The complete critical mainline is 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.Nbd2 Be7 10.c3 Nc5 11.Bc2 d4 12. Nb3 d3 13.Bb1 Nxb3 14.axb3 Bf5 15.Be3 0-0 16.Re1 Qd5 17.Bd4 d2 18.Re2 Bxb1 19.Rxb1 Nxd4 20.Nxd4 Bg5 21.g3 c5 22.Nf5 Qd3 23.Nd6 Qg6 24.h4 Bxh4 25.Rxd2 Be7 26.Ra1

The last white move seems only known in correspondence-chess so not earlier played in tournament-chess or at least there are no references in my tournament-database. So it is impossible to further predict what black will play but that is not anymore necessary. Even if the complete line appears on the board then you still have a position in which games were won by white in correspondence-chess. Very likely black will not be aware of this information or otherwise he deviated earlier. It must be sufficient now to replay the remaining correspondence-games to get an idea how the game can further develop.

Does this process take a lot of time? No with pen and paper in the hand, you can quickly make notes of the selected moves. Using some keyboard shortcuts reduces the process for 1 single line to a few minutes. Another few minutes to better understand the final position and you can switch to another line. In 4 hours it is possible by using this methodology to check a lot of variations. In any case Marc was impressed by what I showed in the post-mortem.

And how about the opening of the actual game? Well it is no surprise anymore that the critical mainline popped up as otherwise I wouldn't have an article. Of course Marc somewhere deviates but for the rest of the story I refer to the viewer. The annotations were added afterwards.
[Event "Open Gent 9de ronde"] [Date "2014"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Lacrosse, M."] [Result "*"] [ECO "C83"] [WhiteElo "2333"] [BlackElo "2182"] [PlyCount "41"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. Nbd2 Be7 10. c3 Nc5 11. Bc2 d4 {(In the club-championship of Deurne 2008 I had once 0-0 on the board. D4 was new for my practice but of course no surprise as I had noticed in my preparation that Marc played it recently several times.)} 12. Nb3 {(Cxd4 was played successfully previous year by Peter Leko, a former world champion finalist so it is surely an interesting continuation.)} d3 13. Bb1 {(Nxc5 is sufficient for a minimal plus without any risk for white. On the highest level black in most cases draws without too much effort.)} Nxb3 14. axb3 Bf5 15. Be3 {(Nowadays the focus starts to shift to Re1, b4 and Bf4. Black has no light task to achieve equality.)} (15. Re1 $5 {(In april played by Caruana.)} Qd5 $1 {(Nakamura continued with 0-0 but after h3 I have doubts if black can get equality.)} 16. b4 O-O 17. h3 $5 Qd7 18. Bf4 Kh8 $1 19. g4 Bg6 20. Bg3 Qd5 21. h4 $13) (15. b4 $5 O-O 16. Re1 Bg6 $1 17. e6 $5 fxe6 18. Rxe6 Qd7 19. Re3 Rfd8 $13) 15... O-O 16. Re1 Qd5 17. Bd4 d2 18. Re2 Bxb1 19. Rxb1 Nxd4 20. Nxd4 c5 $6 {(Marc rarely or never gets the mainline on the board and here mixed up the sequence. First Bg5 and then c5 is playable but also in that line I had something prepared.)} (20... Bg5 $1 21. g3 c5 22. Nf5 Qd3 23. Nd6 Qg6 24. h4 Bxh4 25. Rxd2 Be7 26. Ra1 { (Marc told me afterwards that he still knew Caruana - L Ami of 2012 which continued with Rd5 but Ra1 is an interesting and dangerous alternative which I extracted from the correspondence-chess.)} Qe6 (26... f6 27. Qf3 fxe5 28. Qd5 Kh8 29. Qxe5 Bxd6 30. Qxd6 Qxd6 31. Rxd6 Rae8 {(This double rook-endgame is slightly better for white but in correspondence-chess it was demonstrated that black can defend.)}) 27. Rd5 $1 f6 28. Rxc5 fxe5 29. Qd5 Qxd5 30. Rxd5 Rad8 31. Rad1 Bxd6 32. Rxd6 Rxd6 33. Rxd6 Rf6 34. Rxf6 gxf6 35. b4 {(After the game I showed this pawn-endgame to Marc which I hoped to obtain and is completely lost for black.)} Kf7 36. b3 {(Biedermann,Kyle - Kogeler,Aart 1 - 0 played in 2013.)}) 21. Nf3 {(Now black loses a pawn. Marc already considered here resignation but that is far too pessimistic as black has still excellent chances to draw due to whites poor pawn-structure. In the game I only got a decisive advantage at move 36.)} *
Coincidence or there is something valid in my usage of databases? The truth probably is somewhere in the middle. I believe in the approach as I see results. This year again 7/9 in Gent but with a significant higher TPR of 2383 elo.

So little creativity but organisation, discipline and methodology are the keys. Now I don't claim that anything everywhere can be solved with it. There are still many positions which can't be answered with this method and which still demand a lot of extra analyzing. There also exist some traps which I will describe in another article. The reader must understand the article as a guide to solve a huge number of opening-problems in a very short time-span.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Kasparov on Kasparov part 3

The newest book of Kasparov arrived and... it is a small disappointment. Pity that I have to start the review in this way, but I really was expecting him to discuss the worlchampionships after the Karpov-area and now it seems there are barely 10 pages per WC (Short, Anand and Kramnik). Kasparov went in such depth in his games with Karpov that I assumed a similar approach would be used for his other WC-matches. Kasparov managed to make the long string of draws in the first match to look interesting. But about each non-Karpov match only 2 games are shown, e.g. of the match with Kramnik only 2 games and 2 fragments. And that while - a.f.a.i.k. - the match against Short was the most spectacular of all the matches which he played. Beautiful openings and middlegames, a Western challenger, some arguing outside the playingroom, a good coverage by the BBC, in brief finally a match with some spirit - a big contrast with the matches against Karpov which mainly took place on the board and produced marvelous chess. The attractiveness of those matches was solely depending of Kasparov.

A global minus-point is that the book only counts 3 + 1 chapter. For a book of 501 pages this is too little. The first chapter (pages 7 - 170) treats immediately already “Short, Anand and Las Palmas”, which is a reflection of the brief coverage of those WC-matches (Short 24 pages, Anand 17 pages). This is a gigantic cut compared with the attention given to the matches from 1986 and 1987 against Karpov ( a full book!) and a forecast of the mix WC/ tournament-chess in this and the next chapter. This mix isn't good for the structure of the book - it would have been much better if the World-championships were covered in separate chapters and in between the often very successful tournament-results. With the chosen approach the chapters are too big and they don't form a unit in time nor theme. So why was this classification chosen? At the end of chapter 1 Kasparov calls the tournament of Las Palmas 1996 the modern variant of the AVRO-tournament of 1938 - the new and old topplayer (Aljechin/ Kasparov and Capablanca/Karpov) against the youth. The end of an era - since then Kasparov plays against the new generation. It is a valid argument (which does not absolve that the chapter was better split in several smaller parts). 

Chapter 2 (Second Peak) covers Linares 1997 (page 171) till the lost match with Kramnik (page 330). Also here I can agree with the end of the chapter but not with the size.

Chapter 3 (Life after Death, pages 331-460) lasts till his final tournament-game (against Topalov in Linares 2005). Also logical. That chapter 4, the fourth wheel on a tricycle is pity, but it is what it is.

What I notice at the content is that it looks he could only prepare well on Karpov in a match-situation. Short and Kramnik surprised him completely with their openings and also by extra chess-worries those matches clearly kept a bad aftertaste in Kasparov's mouth. This also generates the impression that Kasparov poorly prepared himself and that it was not him steering the situation but the opponents. Here not "Kasparov the Great" was playing but just Kasparov the super-grandmaster. About those moments he clearly doesn't like to write. Fortunately for the match with Kramnik we can use the detailed description of Bareev in the book “From London to Elista” (no idea if books of such level are available about the Short and Anand match).

On the other hand it is only a semi-disappointment as the tournament-chess which he played since 1993, is very well explained. Not fantastically but good till very good. Good because the keygames are well covered and now explained by the analysis of "the master". Kasparov played so many model-games that even summarizing them in this short review is a bit too much.

My personal favorite is Shirov-Kasparov (a model-example for everybody playing the Svechnikov with black), but this time I use the opportunity to show a "normal"game of Kasparov. Nikolic was for a long period just not top 10, but he was a regular customer in top-tournaments in the 90-ties. Nevertheless Kasparov scored 13,5/16 against Nikolic. In this game Kasparov sacrifices temporarily a knight to complicate Nikolic's task but Nikolic plays well. As a consequence this is in fact a very high class game, the analysis can easily resist the engines of today. Only due to timetrouble-errors black lost the game. The game is covered over 6 pages with comments - not only moves - i copied the comments of Kasparov on move 9, 13 and 15. The annotations are from Kasparov.
[Event "Horgen CS"] [Site "Horgen"] [Date "1994"] [Round "7"] [White "Kasparov, Garry"] [Black "Nikolic, Predrag"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2805"] [BlackElo "2655"] [Annotator "HK5000"] [PlyCount "77"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3 6. bxc3 Ne7 7. Qg4 Kf8 8. h4 Qc7 9. Qd1 $1 {I was not able to invent something better than sacrificing the d-pawn. If 9.Kd1 then 9...h5 is annoying while the gambit of the pawn with 9.Bd2 cxd4 10.cxd4 Qxc2 seems not to give much prospects of an advantage: 11.Rc1 Qe4 12.Qxe4 dxe4 or 11...Qa4!? (Ponkratof-Fedoseev, Taranrog 2011).} cxd4 10. cxd4 Qc3 11. Bd2 Qxd4 12. Nf3 Qe4 13. Be2 {Here I was already more at ease; the position is rather open, the black king is misplaced, white has excellent compensation for the gambit. Now it is blacks turn to think how do I neutralize whites growing initiative?} b6 $1 14. O-O Ba6 15. c4 $1 {Pawns are not important anymore - it is more relevant to open files to attack (and at the same time white also solves his weaknesses). Now a very interesting tactical phase starts.} Nbc6 16. Ng5 Qxe5 $1 17. Re1 Qf6 18. Bh5 $1 g6 19. cxd5 $1 exd5 20. Bg4 h6 $6 21. Ne6 $1 fxe6 22. Rxe6 Qf7 23. Qa4 $6 Bc4 $1 24. Rxc6 Nxc6 25. Qxc6 Re8 26. Bd7 $1 Kg7 $1 27. Bc3 Kh7 28. h5 $5 Rhf8 29. hxg6 Qxg6 30. Bxe8 Qxe8 $1 31. Qd6 $1 Qf7 32. Bd4 Re8 33. Rc1 Re4 34. Be5 $1 Rg4 $6 35. Rc3 Rg6 $2 36. Qd8 $1 Rg8 37. Qh4 Rg5 $2 38. f4 Rh5 39. Qd8 1-0
It becomes clear from the analyses that Kasparov refreshed the analysis with an engine afterwards. At move 16 he shows an improvement on his analysis by using a computer in 2012. The level of the analysis is high and gives a good image of the rest of the games in the book (comparable with the analysis of the other books). The next game (Kasparov-Shirov from the same tournament in Horgen 1994) is by the way once called " the game of the 21st century". Kasparovs rook-sacrifice against the bishop of b7 is still not found by engines today (see a previous article on this site). If the analysis are of excellent quality and readable (not a jungle as Hubner) then the attached comments are often colored. If Kasparov wins then it was almost against all odds. If he loses then he was a bit sick, his mind absent or just a bad day. Apparently a healthy Kasparov never lost.

And still I can't call the collection of games fantastic as a number of games are only fragments - sometimes of only 1 move. Then it is a bit of a delusion to announce the book as a collection of 100 best games after the matches with Karpov. I expect at least 100 complete games. And I am sure that Kasparov can present more stuff, considering his oeuvre - it would improve a lot the empathy with the covered tournaments.

For sake of clarity, there are more than 100 games, but the + 100 games are in chapter 4 with the simul-games, rapid and blitzgames. This chapter goes through the complete chronology (which is a bit pity - it is a missed chance to get some variety with the 440 pages of Kasparov the Great), but it is nothing more than a collection "best of" less important games. The games in that chapter averagely get 2 pages - a clear difference with the "real" games of the first 3 chapters.

Kasparov touches very briefly his usage of the first Chessbase release - again a half missed opportunity to discuss this. Kasparov also chose not to show any tournament-tables which saves space but it interrupts less the text. It is one big, long text - and the number of anecdotes fall a bit short too - apparently Kasparov doesn't like to gossip about colleagues. He does discuss the incident in Linares with Polgar, when he did/ didn't release the piece and made another move with the knight. According to Kasparov nothing happened - or what did you expect?

At the end he hints clearly that no WC-match is granted anymore to him (probably because of his political ambitions in Russia) but also the other players treat him more like a has-been, somebody to free space to the new generation. Remark that Kasparov till the end of his career was the number 1 at the world-ranking! Personally I think that he stopped far too early; the fact that he still pops up at large events clearly indicates that he will never give up chess. His losses are not only against the world-top, but now also against lesser gods (e.g. Huzman). However Kasparov does show generosity by commenting his last official game (a loss against Topalov in Linares).

Once I made the remark that Kasparov after his predecessors and his own chess-biography could also write about his successors (see bookreview). However now that I read this book, I hope he doesn't. It became clear to me that for Kasparov it is only about himself. He seems not capable of writing in objective praise about what happened after him in chess.

On one side too bad, it would be interesting to get his view about the 10 years after his departure - of tournament chess to be understood (on chess-politics I don't have any illusions - and his criticism that chess is now hidden in remote places like Khanty-Mansyisk or Elista, instead of the forefront like London or New York is very justified). Especially the break-through of the new generation, which Kasparov barely knew (Carlsen, Caruana, Nakamura) would be interesting to get his views upon. However taking into account my previous critiques, namely Kasparov considering himself as the culminating point of chess-evolution, the chances are that his comments won't be so objective.

Maybe the game hasn't changed much since Kasparov and we had to wait till Carlsen won everything, often without sophisticated openings, the trademark (but later also the self-created weakness) of Kasparov. But chess is now more than ever alive, only unfortunately without Kasparov as he could have continued surely 10 years at the top. However the pain of the lost image was too big and in fact he stopped just like Fischer (and Judit Polgar) when he was still at his best. It is not a coincidence  that he often mentions the total-score against other top-players - which are often heavily in his favor. Only Kramnik, Lautier (only standard chess) and Gulko (3/8) have a plus-score (over multiple games) against Kasparov. Probably very few players can show such dominance.

And now that we are talking about engines - almost not a word about the games and matches Kasparov played. Deep Blue gets a half line (!), the other matches are not even mentioned at all and I could not find the game against the world - for sure a gap in the mixed bag of chapter 4.

I conclude that Kasparov better split the book in 2 to at least discuss the WC-matches completely, to expand the fragments to full games and to protect the chronology (the only reason to put rapid and simul-games in chapter 4 seems to be that the 100 best games since 1993 should be together). This would also offer the chance to get the book more organized.

Why is it not done? Tiredness of the project or was 5 books predecessors, 4 books Karpov and 3 books about himself sufficient?

Finally some small remarks. A glance at the index behind - which seems a bit mangled (the alphabetic ordered references to the games are neither time-ordered, neither page-ordered) - shows that Kasparov was mainly playing against the world-top - his preparation against familiar opponents was half of the work. That is why the book consists of 90% games against approximately the top 10 players of the world and only rarely against a lesser god. A remarkable name of these "lesser gods" is by the way our Russian-Belgian player Chuchelov, which Kasparov promotes as a good grandmaster (he is now by the way the second of Caruana). Concerning chapter 4, this is a little minuspoint: other opponents or shorter time-controls produce often interesting games too. And the linguistic mistake "an historic tournament" keeps popping up as in his previous books.

All in all I would give this book 3 out of 5 - it is maybe the worst from the series. This sounds negative, but the other books were also of a very high quality.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Commenting games

Often the winner in top-tournaments is invited to explain his game in front of the camera. This gives the spectators the opportunity to get a glimpse of what the top-grandmaster saw during the game and which emotions he experienced. Personally I find those post-mortems the most interesting and entertaining part of the complete broadcast. Nobody except the players are able to provide those insights so it also logical that a game is best commented by one of both players.

If I demand in my previous article live boards for a commentator then I also realize that this task should not be taken lightly.  Providing good comments on a game which you don't/ didn't play is not easy. I often catch oneself that I am so annoyed by the live comments that I switch off the sound and only look to the variations and evaluations of the engines. So I do understand HK5000 in his last article.

You won't find many detailed comments on my blog about games which I didn't play. Many of the published games from other players have the sole function to illustrate a certain theme. To dissect a game I almost exclusively do when I was involved myself in it. My article which games to analyze explains that I sift to the bottom all my own games. Hereby I imply the 2nd main reason why I often don't comment so deeply games from others. Somebody a bit active as player already has sufficient work with analyzing his own played games. To create high quality analysis needs a lot of time as explained in my article to analyze with an engine.

Of course time is a relative notion as motivation is closely connected. I also notice this behavior on my blog. Most reactions happen by players noticing their own name in the article. To abstain from commenting is much harder in such case which does not mean that I don't want to see comments, at contrary. The delicate balance between time/ motivation was also the reason why I refused polity a few times in the past to contribute at some analysis (e.g. for the praised book of the Tarrasch defense). 

Today anybody can create decent analysis with engines, see article theory. You search in the germane databases for the important games and you scrutinize the moves. Which databases to use and which games are important was covered in my article improvisation. To only prepare your own repertoire is already a gigantic task or maybe simply impossible. It is clear that only a thorough opening-study is made if you are pretty sure that you will reuse this later.

Commenting a game played by others and moreover with an opening completely outside of your own repertoire is no fun. I often read comments which are completely wrong. 2 examples of the internet on which I could not resist to react : schaaksitechessbase. In the book My Great Predecessor Part 2 I even caught Kasparov committing a serious shortcoming in the analysis. It regards the game Bronstein - Ljubojevic of which I already covered a fragment in my article the horizon.
[Event "Petropolis Interzonal"] [Site "Petropolis"] [Date "1973.08.07"] [Round "11"] [White "Bronstein, David I"] [Black "Ljubojevic, Ljubomir"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B03"] [WhiteElo "2585"] [BlackElo "2570"] [PlyCount "81"] 1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. c4 Nb6 5. f4 dxe5 6. fxe5 c5 7. d5 e6 8. Nc3 exd5 9. cxd5 c4 10. Nf3 {(The best move according to Kasparov but nothing about d6 which was well known in advance of the publication of the book.)}Bg4 {(After Bb4 Kasparov admits that it is unclear if white can claim any advantage. I have not studied this in detail but black scores more than 50 percent with Bb4.)} 11. Qd4 Bxf3 12. gxf3 Bb4 13. Bxc4 O-O 14. Rg1 g6 15. Bg5 Qc7 16. Bb3 Bc5 17. Qf4 Bxg1 18. d6 Qc8 19. Ke2 Bc5 20. Ne4 N8d7 21. Rc1 Qc6 22. Rxc5 Nxc5 23. Nf6 Kh8 24. Qh4 Qb5 25. Ke3 h5 26. Nxh5 Qxb3 27. axb3 Nd5 28. Kd4 Ne6 29. Kxd5 Nxg5 30. Nf6 Kg7 31. Qxg5 Rfd8 32. e6 fxe6 33. Kxe6 Rf8 34. d7 a5 35. Ng4 Ra6 36. Ke5 Rf5 37. Qxf5 gxf5 38. d8=Q fxg4 39. Qd7 Kh6 40. Qxb7 Rg6 41. f4 1-0
The analysis explains us that 10.Nf3 is the best move but I have serious doubts about that especially because Kasparov admits later that he is not sure if which can obtain some advantage with this move. Besides the critical move 10.d6 is not mentioned at all. Although the move is already known from 1976 so several decades before the book was written. I played 1 standard game in this line.
[Event "Open Gent 3de ronde"] [Date "2008"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Passchyn, M."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B03"] [WhiteElo "2319"] [BlackElo "2036"] [PlyCount "73"] 1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. c4 Nb6 5. f4 dxe5 6. fxe5 c5 7. d5 e6 8. Nc3 exd5 {(I encountered in 1997 the more obscure Qh4 line by Geert Danneel.) } 9. cxd5 c4 10. d6 Nc6 11. Nb5 Qh4 12. g3 Qe4 13. Qe2 Qxe2 $6 $146 {(I evaluated the critical main-line with Qh1 already in 1997 as very good for white. The unknown Bf5 looks to me the only way to avoid bigger damage.)} 14. Bxe2 Nxe5 15. Nc7 Kd8 16. Nxa8 Nxa8 17. Bf4 Bxd6 18. O-O-O Kc7 19. Nf3 Nd3 20. Bxd3 Bxf4 21. gxf4 cxd3 22. Rxd3 Be6 $6 {(This inaccuracy is too much for blacks position. Better is Bf5 but also then black has a very difficult defense ahead.)} 23. Ng5 Nb6 24. Re1 Bd5 25. Nxf7 Rf8 26. Re7 Kb8 27. Ne5 Rxf4 28. Nd7 Nxd7 29. Rxd5 Nb6 30. Rd8 Nc8 31. Rxg7 Rh4 32. Rdd7 Rxh2 33. Rxb7 Ka8 34. Rxh7 Re2 35. a4 Re5 36. Kc2 Re3 37. b3 1-0
Of course we ask ourselves what happens if black takes the rook on h1. Online I've won already countless blitz and bulletgames in this variation. A short summary can be viewed below.
[Event "Rated game, 3m 0s"] [Site "Main Playing Hall"] [Date "2012"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Spezial"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B03"] [WhiteElo "2294"] [BlackElo "2349"] [PlyCount "35"] 1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. c4 Nb6 5. f4 dxe5 6. fxe5 c5 7. d5 e6 8. Nc3 exd5 9. cxd5 c4 10. d6 {(Kasparov ignores completely this move in his analyses of the game Bronstein - Ljubojevic played in 1973.)} Nc6 11. Nb5 Qh4 12. g3 Qe4 13. Qe2 Qxh1 14. Bg5 {(I was already familiar with this move from my analysis made in 1997. In the databases the move pops up since 1999.)} f6 (14... Be6 15. O-O-O Qxg1 (15... Kd7 16. Bg2 Qxh2 (16... Qxg2 17. Qxg2 Rc8 18. Nf3 h6 19. Be3 Nb4 20. a3 Nd3 21. Kb1 Bd5 22. Nc3 Be6) 17. Bxc6) 16. d7 Nxd7 17. Nc7# { (Blitz 2008 Brabo - Bebysitter 1 - 0)}) (14... Nd5 15. O-O-O a6 (15... Qxg1 16. Rxd5 Qb6 17. Nc7 {(Bullet 2014 Brabo - Virginiax 1 - 0)}) 16. Bg2 Qxh2 17. Bxd5 axb5 (17... Qxe2 18. Bxc6 bxc6 19. d7 Bxd7 20. Nc7#) 18. Qxh2 {(Blitz 2009 Brabo - Furago 1 - 0)}) (14... Qxg1 15. Nc7 Kd7 16. Qg4 f5 17. Qxf5# { (Bullet 2012 Brabo - Guest 1 - 0)}) (14... Bf5 15. O-O-O Qxg1 16. d7 Nxd7 17. Nc7# {(Bullet 2013 Brabo - Guest 1 - 0)}) 15. Nc7 Kf7 16. e6 Kg6 17. Be3 { (I follow my own old analysis but current engines consider 0-0-0 as stronger.)} Bxd6 (17... f5 18. e7 Nxe7 19. Bxb6 axb6 20. dxe7 {(In 1997 I ended here my analysis and assessed the position as won for white which is still correct.)}) 18. Qg4# 1-0
I don't reproach anything Kasparov as it is an opening which he never played with any of the colors and probably never studied. By the way the other games of which he does possess opening-knowledge, largely compensate. I do have problems when a commentator hides on purpose elements because it does not fit the story or because it would show some own shortcomings. Unfortunately there are many of such type. Honesty is at my opinion the main asset to captivate the reader or spectator.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Computer chess

Today the internet provides us an abundance of information. If you follow Chessbase (and I don't mention on purpose Chessvibes, which after the acquisition by only remains a shadow of the initial site) then you know what I mean. There are not only the toptournaments which are successive but there are also national and local events, twic and many other blogs and sites. I forget the DVD's, chessmagazines, books which have some more or less some lasting value.

Currently the 7th season of TCEC is ongoing, and the games can be watched live. For people not yet familiar with TCEC, it is the unofficial WC for engines in tournament-chess. In the previous years this format earned credibility, the tournaments run smoothly and the site is exemplary. With the worldchampionship ahead (I wrote this article on 6-7th of November), it will be a difficult choice. In the previous WC between Anand and Carlen I did follow some games live (this was possible considering the time-difference with India as it was after office hours) and I really enjoyed it. Especially the game in which Carlsen in a rook-endgame sacrificed 2 pawns to challenge Anand with the advanced king and pawn made live a big impression. Running an engine in the background allows the kibitzer to easily understand the ongoing events. This is the big asset of live watching grandmaster-games.

Maybe some people will consider evaluating a position with a single number too simplistic for chess but for many modest players - and I am one of them- this evaluation plays the role of a grandmaster-commentator.
Recently - in fact still ongoing- I am following the 7th season of TCEC. We are now in stage 2 and I catch myself that I daily do a quick check how the ongoing game is folding out. The tournament is extremely strong - Carlsen would not have any chance as all engines are stronger than him. E.g. the average calculation-depth is 25-30 plies and it often happens that at the end of a main-line we have an endgame on the board, while the opening isn't finished yet. Another example: Chiron announced against Naum mate in 93 moves. It is not a record (in the Lomonosov database there are mate-sequences of more than 500 moves), but still it is impressive how deep chess-software gets. The fun part is that they play this time without real openings - engines have to invent theory themselves and try to achieve nice positions (engines better have to use some early middlegame-knowledge which otherwise is only necessary if the opponent leaves book early).

The 4 top-engines (Komodo, Stockfish, Houdini and newcomer Gull) have their own characteristics. Especially Komodo's analysis of his game against Houdini impressed me a lot.
[Event "TCEC Season 7 - Stage 2"] [Site ""] [Date "2014.11.04"] [Round "9"] [White "Houdini 4"] [Black "Komodo 1318"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D12"] [WhiteElo "3224"] [BlackElo "3230"] [PlyCount "219"] [EventDate "2014.10.24"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bf5 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nh4 Bg6 7. Nxg6 hxg6 8. Qb3 Qc7 9. g3 Be7 10. Bg2 O-O 11. O-O Rd8 12. Rd1 Nbd7 13. a3 Nb6 14. c5 Nbd7 15. Qc2 e5 16. f3 Nf8 17. b4 b6 18. Rb1 Ne6 19. Ne2 e4 20. fxe4 Nxe4 21. Bxe4 dxe4 22. Rf1 Rab8 23. Qxe4 Bf6 24. Qc2 Qd7 25. Bd2 Re8 26. Nf4 Bg5 27. Nxe6 Rxe6 28. Rfe1 Rbe8 29. Qd3 b5 30. Qb3 Re4 31. Rbc1 R8e6 32. Rc3 Rf6 33. Qd1 Qh3 34. Qe2 Rfe6 35. Qg2 Qg4 36. h3 Qf5 37. a4 a6 38. axb5 axb5 39. Qf1 Qd5 40. Ra3 Qd7 41. Qf3 Qe7 42. Kh1 Rf6 43. Qe2 Qe8 44. Rd3 Rfe6 45. Qf3 Qa8 46. Rb1 Re7 47. Rbb3 Re8 48. Be1 Qc8 49. Kg2 Qe6 50. Bf2 Rd8 51. Ra3 Rd5 52. Kh2 Rf5 53. Qe2 Bh6 54. Qa2 Rd5 55. Kg2 Kh7 56. Qb3 g5 57. Ra1 g4 58. h4 Qf6 59. Qc2 Qf3 60. Kg1 g6 61. Qd1 Qf6 62. Ra2 Rf5 63. Re2 Rh5 64. Qf1 Qf5 65. Be1 Qe6 66. Bd2 Kg8 67. Rf2 Bxe3 68. Bxe3 Rxe3 69. Rf6 Qxf6 70. Qxf6 Rxd3 71. Qxc6 Rxg3 72. Kf2 Rb3 73. Qc8 Kg7 74. Qxg4 Rf5 75. Ke2 Rxb4 76. Qg1 Rc4 77. Qa1 Rd5 78. Kf3 b4 79. Ke3 Rh5 80. Kd3 Rc3 81. Ke4 Rc2 82. d5 f6 83. d6 Rcxc5 84. Kd4 Rhd5 85. Ke4 Ra5 86. Qc1 Rdc5 87. Qd1 Re5 88. Kf3 Rf5 89. Kg2 Rfd5 90. Qe1 Ra2 91. Kg3 Rd3 92. Kf4 Kh6 93. Qe7 Rf2 94. Ke4 Rff3 95. Qd8 Kh5 96. Qb6 Kg4 97. Qg1 Rg3 98. Qc1 b3 99. Qf4 Kh5 100. Qf2 f5 101. Ke5 Rge3 102. Kf6 Rxd6 103. Kg7 Rd7 104. Kf8 Rc3 105. Ke8 Rb7 106. Kd8 Rb8 107. Kd7 Rc4 108. Qe2 Rg4 109. Qb2 Rb7 110. Kd6 0-1
Komodo sacrificed a pawn for permanent pressure on the whites position and you could notice that Houdini never would escape out of it unless returning the material. Here Komodo showed constantly a minimal plus for white (despite the pawn extra for white) and kept this evaluation stable( the position did not change during 30 moves). Houdini evaluated the positions bit differently, although nothing substantially changed. It was clear that Komode made a much more 'human' evaluation of the position and surpassed the pure calculations of (in this case useless) small advantages. In the end Komodo broke through. I don't really care if this had to do with a better evaluation or a better calculation. Anyway Komodo evaluated the position more accurate and therefore deservedly won the game. Such improvement is a big advantage for each player and this is exactly the main asset of using Komodo for analysis.

This was only 1 example in favor of Komodo. In Komodo - Protector, the engine punished superbly an inferior queen-move in the endgame ( I wonder if somebody like Carlsen or Caruana would notice such opportunity). At move 54 Protector plays Qd7 instead of the anticipated Qb8 by Komodo. What follows is a long line in which black gets out of balance (Komodo's evaluation raises to maximally 0,85) but the advantage is not large enough to win as insufficient material remains on the board. So immediately also a counter-example but nevertheless a very instructive and epic game.
[Event "TCEC Season 7 - Stage 2"] [Site ""] [Date "2014.11.05"] [Round "10"] [White "Komodo 1318"] [Black "Protector 1.8b1"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E11"] [WhiteElo "3230"] [BlackElo "3000"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r5/5pk1/1nnqp1p1/1N1p3p/3P3P/4QPP1/R4PK1/5B2 b - - 0 54"] [PlyCount "253"] [EventDate "2014.10.24"] 54... Qd7 {(Db8 was expected by Komodo. It is instructive to see how this little mistake is exploited but is just not sufficient for the win.)} 55. Qf4 Nc4 56. Bxc4 dxc4 57. Nd6 Rb8 58. Rc2 Rd8 59. Ne4 Qxd4 60. Rd2 Qa1 61. Rxd8 Nxd8 62. Qc7 Qa8 63. Nd6 Kg8 64. Nc8 Nb7 65. Nb6 Qa7 66. Nd7 Qa8 67. Qc6 c3 68. Qxc3 Qd8 69. Nf6 Kf8 70. Qb4 Qe7 71. Nh7 Ke8 72. Qb5 Kd8 73. Ng5 Kc7 74. Ne4 Qd8 75. Qc4 Kb6 76. Qc3 Kb5 77. Qb3 Kc6 78. Qb4 Kc7 79. Qc3 Kd7 80. Qd4 Kc6 81. Qa4 Kc7 82. Qa3 Kd7 83. Kg1 Kc7 84. Qa6 Qd4 85. Kg2 Qb4 86. Qa1 Qe7 87. Qa7 Qd8 88. Qa6 Qd4 89. Qa3 Kd7 90. Qf8 Nd8 91. Ng5 Qf6 92. Qb4 Qe7 93. Qa4 Nc6 94. Qb5 Kc7 95. Qc4 Kd7 96. Qa4 e5 97. Qb3 Nd8 98. Qb6 Ke8 99. Nh7 Qe6 100. Qb4 Qc6 101. Qf8 Kd7 102. Ng5 Qd5 103. Ne4 Qd4 104. Qa3 Nb7 105. Qb3 Nd8 106. Qb8 f5 107. Ng5 Qd6 108. Qa7 Kc6 109. Qe3 Kb5 110. Qe2 Kb6 111. Qa2 Kb5 112. Qb3 Kc5 113. Qa3 Kc6 114. Qa5 Kb7 115. Qc3 Kb6 116. Qc4 Ka5 117. Qb3 Ka6 118. Kf1 Ka5 119. Kg1 Ka6 120. Kg2 Ka5 121. Qc4 Kb6 122. Qa4 Nc6 123. Qb3 Kc7 124. Qc4 Kb6 125. Nf7 Qe7 126. Qb3 Kc5 127. Ng5 Qe8 128. Qc3 Kd5 129. Qc2 Qe7 130. Qb3 Kc5 131. Qa2 Qf6 132. Ne6 Kd6 133. Nf8 Ke7 134. Qa3 Kd8 135. Nh7 Qe7 136. Qa6 Kc7 137. Ng5 Qd6 138. Qb5 Nd8 139. Qe8 Kb7 140. Qg8 Ka6 141. Kh3 Nc6 142. Qc4 Kb6 143. Qb3 Kc7 144. Kg2 Nd8 145. Qg8 Kb7 146. Nh7 Nc6 147. Nf8 Ne7 148. Qf7 Ka6 149. Qb3 Ka7 150. Nh7 Nc6 151. Ng5 Nd8 152. g4 hxg4 153. fxg4 fxg4 154. Ne4 Qd4 155. Nc3 Qc5 156. Kg3 Nc6 157. Qf7 Ne7 158. Kxg4 Ka6 159. Qf3 Ka5 160. Ne4 Qc1 161. Ng3 Qc5 162. Qe3 Qd6 163. Kg5 Nd5 164. Qd2 Kb6 165. Qb2 Ka5 166. Qa2 Kb5 167. Qb1 Ka5 168. Qxg6 Qf8 169. Qe6 Qf4 170. Kg6 Qd4 171. Ne2 Qe4 172. Kg5 Nb4 173. Ng3 Qf4 174. Kh5 Qf3 175. Kg6 Nd3 176. Kg7 Qxf2 177. Qd5 Nc5 178. Qxe5 Kb4 179. h5 Ne6 180. Qxe6 Qxg3 1/2-1/2
A second remarkable aspect which I noticed for Komodo, is that the program starts to calculate faster when the game proceeds. No other engine shows such behavior. In the game against Houdini Komodo starts at 17.000 knps and finishes at 40.000 knps – Houdini stayed for a very long time just below 30.000 knps during the complete game. It seems Komodo is programmed in such way that the number of parameters to be calculated are decreased in the endgame without a negative impact on the playing-strength. If you add a very clever searching-algorithm (Komodo often calculates much deeper than the other engines which calculate faster) then apparently you have a top-engine. Often a new engine is promoted as indispensable or a big step forwards but in the last years we can count the game changers on one hand:Fruit, Rybka, Houdini and maybe now also Komodo. In a world in which we can easily analyze with free engines, it is maybe again worth buying Komodo.

Stockfish has become less extreme in his evaluation, but at the moment of writing Komodo was still the only engine unbeaten. I am a fan of Stockfish, if only because it is a freeware project - an example of the force of cooperation on the internet. Besides it was the first program considered as stronger than Houdini on the CCRL-site. Cheng (nbr 46 on the CCRL-list) almost lost childishly in their mutual game -only 34 moves which is a bit like grandmaster against amateur.

Houdini is a known force but we don't see any big improvements anymore. The engine made moderate progression since version 1.5 and misses the consistent small steps of improvement which the Komodo-team demonstrates already in several releases (late Don Daily mentioned before his dead that he still had several ideas to improve the engine). Nonetheless the engine still plays super-human and almost wins every time against weaker engines. An occasional loss against an almost equivalent opponent (Komodo, Chiron) seems to be the price which must be paid. If people think that on a level of +3000 that combinations are not possible and a win/loss is only bad programming, must surely replay the game Naum - Houdini in which Houdini plays the temporarily exchange-sacrifice 19...Rxb3. It wins the white queen for the 2 rooks, shatters the white pawns and finally picks them up one by one.
[Event "TCEC Season 7 - Stage 2"] [Site ""] [Date "2014.10.30"] [Round "5"] [White "Naum 4.6"] [Black "Houdini 4"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B80"] [WhiteElo "3074"] [BlackElo "3224"] [PlyCount "151"] [EventDate "2014.10.24"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 7. Qf3 Qc7 8. a3 Nbd7 9. O-O-O b5 10. Qe2 h5 11. Bg5 Rb8 12. Qe1 Be7 13. f3 Nc5 14. h4 O-O 15. g4 b4 16. axb4 Rxb4 17. gxh5 Bd7 18. Rg1 Rfb8 19. b3 Rxb3 {(A temporary exchange-sacrifice after which black wins the queen for 2 rooks, shatters the white pawns and finally picks them up one by one.)} 20. Nxb3 Nxb3 21. cxb3 Rxb3 22. Rd3 d5 23. Kd1 Ba4 24. Nxa4 Rb1 25. Ke2 Rxe1 26. Kxe1 Qa5 27. Nc3 d4 28. Bd2 dxc3 29. Bxc3 Qxh5 30. Kd2 Qxh4 31. Rg2 Nh5 32. Kc2 a5 33. Be2 Qh1 34. Rg4 Nf4 35. Rxg7 Kf8 36. Rd2 Nxe2 37. Rxe2 Qxf3 38. Rgg2 a4 39. Rgf2 Qg4 40. Rh2 Bg5 41. Bd2 Bh4 42. Bb4 Ke8 43. Bc3 Bg3 44. Rhg2 Qf3 45. Kb2 a3 46. Kb3 Ke7 47. Rc2 Bd6 48. Rgd2 Qxe4 49. Rd4 Qh1 50. Rcd2 Qb7 51. Kc4 Qc6 52. Kb3 Bc5 53. Rc4 Qb6 54. Ka4 Bd6 55. Rcd4 Qa6 56. Kb3 Qb5 57. Bb4 Bxb4 58. Rxb4 Qa6 59. Ra4 Qb6 60. Ka2 f5 61. Rxa3 f4 62. Rb2 Qc6 63. Rbb3 Qc2 64. Ka1 e5 65. Ra7 Ke6 66. Rb6 Kf5 67. Rf7 Ke4 68. Rff6 f3 69. Rb4 Kd5 70. Rb5 Kd4 71. Rb2 Qc1 72. Ka2 e4 73. Rf5 Qc4 74. Rb3 Qe6 75. Rf4 Qa6 76. Kb1 0-1
The 3 engines split the final places of the previous TCEC seasons - over their supremacy there is no discussion.

Gull is the new star - on CCRL40 (probably the most reliable reference for defining the strength of engines), it was already positioned at spot 4 - but here it seems to confirm. Some games it seems to win with luck but engine-chess exactly distinguishes from "human" chess that luck is absent (no bad day, no chess-blindness, no tiredness). Personally I don't know the engine well but it is surely has potential and maybe it can still bring surprises in the next steps (it is allowed to introduce a newer release in the later tournament-phases).

Junior is the number 5 - the program has a big collection of world-titles (although we can argue that some titles were obtained while not all top-engines were present). It also played a few fine games, in which his evaluation (which I always considered as very neutral - a bit like Komodo today) was often more accurate. A striking example was Junior-Chiron, in which the h-file (and the weak position of the black king) was of a higher importance than the 2 connected black pawns in the center.
[Event "TCEC Season 7 - Stage 2"] [Site ""] [Date "2014.10.31"] [Round "6"] [White "Junior 13.3"] [Black "Chiron 2"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D45"] [WhiteElo "3000"] [BlackElo "3049"] [PlyCount "120"] [EventDate "2014.10.24"] 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Be2 b6 7. O-O Bb7 8. b3 Bd6 9. Qc2 O-O 10. Bb2 Qe7 11. h3 Rfd8 12. Rfd1 Rac8 13. Rac1 a6 14. Bd3 c5 15. cxd5 exd5 16. dxc5 bxc5 17. Na4 Re8 18. Qe2 Ra8 19. Qd2 g6 20. Ba1 Bc6 21. Bf1 Bxa4 22. bxa4 c4 23. Qd4 Rac8 24. g4 h6 25. Bg2 Rb8 26. h4 g5 27. hxg5 hxg5 28. Kf1 Kf8 29. a5 Rb5 30. Qd2 Ne4 31. Qc2 Ndf6 32. Bxf6 Nxf6 33. Nd4 Rc5 34. Bf3 Qd7 35. Kg2 Be5 36. Rh1 Nxg4 37. Nf5 Nf6 38. Rh8 Ng8 39. Rh7 Rb8 40. Bg4 Rc7 41. Nh6 Qc6 42. Nxg8 Kxg8 43. Rh5 d4 44. Bf3 Qf6 45. Qh7 Kf8 46. Rch1 d3 47. Rh6 Qg7 48. Qf5 Re8 49. Rxa6 d2 50. Rh7 Qg8 51. Bd1 g4 52. Rah6 c3 53. a6 g3 54. f4 Bg7 55. Qd3 Rce7 56. Qd6 Rc8 57. a7 Rce8 58. Rh5 Rc8 59. Bc2 d1=Q 60. Bxd1 c2 {(Resiged because of Rc5.)} 1-0
Engine-chess boring? Well it won't be covered in detail in the chess-history but as it is represented on TCEC, it surely is enjoyable. And as all games are downloadable in the analysis-section (pretty redundant as the site already provides the service to replay them) it completes the fun. With this we arrived at the beginning: computer-chess-sites generate hundreds of extra games daily - games of a (very) high quality. Again an extra source to check materials for games ...


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Live boards

This year in the Dutch interclub the time limit is for the first time 40 moves in 90 minutes and 30 minutes for the remaining moves with an increment of 30 seconds for each move. Earlier this month this time control was also inconspicuously approved for the Belgain interclub. It is unclear to me if this is a necessary improvement for Belgian chess. Anyway many players do like the new time control. The role of the arbiters is reduced to a minimum and a game is averagely shortened with an hour. My teammate Thierry proposed even to also advance the starting hour to 13h like in the Dutch interclubs so the Sundayevening would become free. Personally I find the loss in quality due to the reduced duration of the game more important than a free sundayevening. If I want to play quick then I prefer to play blitz in a cafe or on the internet but of course preferences and priorities differ.

In tournaments with a strict schedule of 2 games per day like Open Gent or Open Leuven, an increment is not an option. Only 1 game must last longer than 100 moves and the organisation has to deal with delays. Because of that those tournaments still choose for the old K.O formula. In 2 hours for the whole game it is still possible to play till move 30 reasonable standard chess. After move 30 the cadence accelerates from rapid to blitz or even bullet. The regulations tell us if we have less than 5 minutes remaining that no more recording of the moves is necessary and that happens regularly when more than 40 moves are played. If a game continues to move 80 or 100 then it is often impossible to rebuild the game afterwards. My teammate Daniel reacted unperturbed when I mentioned him this issue. Analyzing rapid, blitz or bullet is brainless and time-trouble-errors are only a joke.

This is a dry practical view about chess. However I apply a scientific approach so I also like to know  the truth of the final phase. This edition I was lucky that all my games in Open Gent were live broadcasted. It is a fantastic service of the organisation. This way chessplayers but also friends or family (like my father-in-law sitting in Ufa) can follow my moves live. In a neighboring room of the tournament the organisation set up a gigantic screen on which the top 16 games were live projected. Every visitor was free to give comments and at the same time enjoy a drink or some food.
Neighboring room with gigantic screen in Open Gent (photographer: Dirk Gregoir)
Eventually all the involved players got afterwards a complete recording of their games as when players stop then the program still continues. I find it extraordinary how today the equipment succeeds doing this job with such high level of accuracy as in the final phase the pieces are often not nicely put on their squares.

For rebuilding 3 of my own games I used the recording of the live boards. The first time was in round 2 against Martijn Maddens. I already covered a piece of that game in my article starflights. Below is the dramatic conclusion of the game.
[Event "Open Gent 2de ronde"] [Date "2014"] [White "Maddens, M."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C47"] [WhiteElo "2050"] [BlackElo "2333"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "4r1k1/p1p4p/1b6/3Rnp2/5B2/1NP3PP/P6K/8 b - - 0 30"] [PlyCount "75"] 30... Ng6 $4 {(Quickly played as approximately only 5 minutes was remaining on my clock. Immediately after releasing the move I realized that I missed a beautiful mate.)} (30... Nf3 31. Kh1 Re1 32. Kg2 Re2 33. Kxf3 (33. Kh1 Rh2#) (33. Kf1 Rf2#) 33... Rf2#) 31. Nd4 Bxd4 32. cxd4 Re2 33. Kg1 Nxf4 34. gxf4 Rxa2 35. Rxf5 Rd2 36. Rd5 c6 37. Ra5 $5 {(Rd8 is a much easier draw.)} Rxd4 38. Rxa7 Rxf4 39. Rc7 Rf6 40. Kg2 h6 41. Re7 Kf8 42. Re5 $5 { (Maintaining the rook at the 7nd line is again easier.)} Kf7 43. Kg3 Re6 44. Rc5 Ke7 45. Kf4 Kd6 46. Rc1 $2 {(Ra5 would still give a draw conform my analyses but it is not easy.)} (46. Ra5 $1 Kc7 47. Ra4 $1 Kb6 48. h4 $1 c5 49. Ra8 $1 c4 50. h5 Kc5 51. Rc8 Rc6 $11 {(The resulting pawn-endgame is a draw.)}) 46... c5 47. h4 Kd5 $2 {(The finalgen-tool tell us that I first need to transfer my rook to e8 as now white gets a new chance to ameliorate the position of his rook.)} 48. Kf5 $2 {(White misses his chance.)} (48. Rd1 $1 Kc6 49. h5 $1 c4 50. Rd8 Kb5 51. Rb8 Ka4 52. Rc8 Kb3 53. Rb8 Kc2 54. Rg8 c3 55. Rg6 Rxg6 {(If black does not exchange rooks then white captures the pawn and sacrifices the rook for the last black pawn. The remaining white pawn combined with the nearby king, guarantee a draw.)}) 48... Rc6 49. Rd1 Kc4 50. Ke5 Rc8 51. Rg1 Kb4 52. Rg6 Rh8 $2 {(Obviously with only a minute left, I play on instincts. Here I should sacrifice the c4 pawn as contrary to the variation at move 48, black is on time to stop whites remaining pawn.)} 53. Kd5 $2 {(Whites last chance was Rb6 and I can not find a win anymore for black.)} (53. Rb6 $1 Ka5 54. Rd6 h5 55. Ke4 Kb4 $11) 53... c4 54. Rb6 Kc3 55. Rc6 Rd8 56. Ke5 h5 57. Rc5 Kd3 58. Kf4 Rh8 59. Rd5 Kc2 60. Ke3 c3 61. Rc5 Kb2 62. Kd3 Rd8 63. Ke2 c2 64. Rb5 Kc3 65. Rc5 Kb3 66. Rc7 Rd1 67. Rb7 Ka4 {(Here the arbiter stopped the game due to an overstepping of the time-limit. First I thought that I lost but after checking the clock I noticed that Martijn lost. The live-broadcasting stopped a few moves earlier which probably means that the overstepping already happened earlier.)} 0-1
The second game was against Andrew Brown of which I already showed the conclusion in the article bricks. The 3rd game was my 100 moves-game against the Hungarian IM Adam Szeberenyi whom kept on playing a totally drawn-endgame as I had only 5 minutes against his 30 minutes. He pushed till the limit and even over it as on one moment I suddenly got an unique winning-possibility which I unfortunately missed as I was running out of time.
[Event "Open Gent 8ste ronde"] [Date "2014"] [White "Szeberenyi, A."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A81"] [WhiteElo "2310"] [BlackElo "2333"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "7k/p6p/1p2p3/3pPp2/3P4/2P2B2/PPb4P/6rK w - - 0 33"] [PlyCount "135"] 33. Kxg1 {(The endgame is clearly a draw but with less than 5 minutes left on my clock while my opponent still had a half hour, play is continued. Besides only a win still gave a reasonable chance for a serious price in this tournament.)} Bb1 34. a3 Kg7 35. Kf2 Bd3 36. Ke3 Bb5 37. Kf4 a5 38. b3 a4 39. bxa4 Bxa4 40. Be2 Bb3 41. Bb5 h6 42. h4 Kf7 43. Be2 Ke7 44. Bd3 Kf7 45. Ke3 Ke7 46. Bb5 Ba2 47. Kd3 Bb1 48. Kd2 Ba2 49. Be2 Bc4 50. Bh5 b5 51. Bd1 Kf7 52. Bh5 Ke7 53. Bg6 Bf1 54. Ke3 Bc4 55. Bh5 Bf1 56. Bd1 Bc4 57. Bc2 Kf7 58. Bd1 Ke7 59. Kf4 Kf7 60. Bc2 Ke7 61. Ke3 Kf7 62. a4 bxa4 63. Bxa4 Ke7 64. Bd1 Kf7 65. Bh5 Ke7 66. Kf4 Bd3 67. Bd1 Bc4 68. Ba4 Kf7 69. Ke3 Ke7 70. Bd1 Kf7 71. Bh5 Ke7 72. Bg6 Bb5 73. Kf4 $4 {(White plays very fast to win on time or to get the piece-sacrifice on f5 playable but by doing so blunders. Necessary was Bh5.)} Bc4 $4 {(Pity but understandable as I was playing the whole time at the speed of 2 seconds per move.)} ( 73... Be8 $1 {(Not difficult and an unique chance which passes by to play in the last round for the tournament-victory.)} 74. Bh7 {(The pawn-endgame is simply won with the protected passed pawn for black but now the bishop gets trapped.)} Kf7 75. Bxf5 exf5 76. Kxf5 Bd7 77. Kf4 Kg6 $19 {(Whites extra pawns are easily stoppable and black can quickly use the weapon of zugzwang to force the win.)}) 74. Bh5 Bb5 75. Bf3 Bc4 76. Bg2 Kf7 77. Bf3 Kg6 78. Kg3 Kf7 79. Bh5 Ke7 80. Bd1 Kf7 81. Ba4 Ke7 82. Bc6 Kf7 83. Kf4 Ke7 84. Ba4 Kf7 85. Bc2 Ke7 86. Bd1 Kf7 87. Bh5 Ke7 88. Bg6 Bb5 89. Bh5 Bc4 90. Bd1 Kf7 91. Ba4 Ke7 92. Bc6 Kf7 93. Ba4 Ke7 94. Ke3 Kf7 95. Bd1 Kg6 96. Kd2 Kf7 97. Bh5 Ke7 98. Bg6 Bb5 99. Bh5 Bc4 100. Bd1 {(Now we had both less than 2 minutes on the clock so white finally had seen enough.)} 1/2-1/2
So long games are invariably part of my practice which probably makes that I am averagely more active than the normal chessplayer (as earlier claimed in my article food and drinks). However the price for longest game of the tournament was not for me as it went to the dramatic game in round 7 between the Swedish grandmaster Thomas Ernst and our Belgian top-player Mehr Hovhanisian which lasted 108 moves. 
[Event "Taminco Gent Open"] [Site "KGSRL Gent"] [Date "2014.07.22"] [Round "7.1"] [White "Ernst T"] [Black "Hovhannisyan M"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2364"] [BlackElo "2515"] [PlyCount "216"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3 6. bxc3 Qc7 7. Qg4 Ne7 8. Qxg7 Rg8 9. Qxh7 cxd4 10. Ne2 dxc3 11. Qd3 {(I prefer to wait with this move till the black bishop is put on d7.)} (11. f4 Nbc6 12. Rb1 {(Qd3 would transpose to the game but with Rb1 I can avoid the played variation of the game.)} Bd7 13. Qd3 Nf5 14. h3 Rc8 15. g4 Nh4 16. Qh7 Nf3 17. Kf2 Ne7 18. Kxf3 d4 19. Nxd4 Rg6 20. Kf2 {(This way I won from Pieter Truwant in Open Gent 2011.)}) 11... Nbc6 12. f4 d4 {(Again Mehr shows that he is very up to date about the latest developments in his favorite French. In the last 5 years not less than 8 2700 players played this move. Besides in the latest Chessbase Magainze 161 this move is also covered in detail which does not mean that Mehr consulted this magazine as the edition was published after this game.)} 13. Nxd4 Nxd4 14. Qxd4 Bd7 15. Rg1 Nf5 16. Qf2 Qc6 17. Bd3 Qd5 18. Rb1 Bc6 19. Rb3 O-O-O 20. Rxc3 Kb8 21. Be3 {(A novelty probably invented at the board as it is surely not an improvement on the existing theory.)} Nxe3 22. Qxe3 Rxg2 23. Rxg2 Qxg2 24. Qg3 Qh1 25. Bf1 Qd5 26. Rd3 Qa5 27. Kd1 Rc8 28. Qe1 Qb6 29. Qe3 {(Here I started to follow the game live in the room where a big screen was installed so the audience could enjoy a projection of the first 16 boards. It was the only round in which I agreed for a premature draw in a position which I neither understood, neither trusted.)} Qb1 30. Qc1 Qa2 31. Rc3 Rd8 32. Rd3 Rh8 {(Despite the pawn less Mehr does not want a draw which is fully correct. The extra pawn is of little value here as the position is for white not easily playable. I already predicted a win for Mehr.)} 33. Qd2 Bd5 34. h3 Rc8 35. Qc1 Bc4 36. Rf3 Bxf1 37. Rxf1 Qc4 38. Rf3 Qe4 39. Rd3 Qh1 40. Kd2 Qg2 41. Ke3 Rc4 42. Rd4 Qxh3 43. Ke4 Qh7 44. Ke3 Qh3 45. Ke4 Rc3 46. Rd8 Kc7 47. Rd3 Qg2 {(It is easy giving comments when not playing but after missing Qxd3 I started to worry.)} 48. Kd4 Rc6 49. Qd2 Qg1 50. Ke4 Rc4 51. Rd4 Qh1 52. Ke3 Qh3 53. Ke4 Rxd4 54. Qxd4 Qxa3 {(The endgame may give very good chances, it is not easy to win with little time left on the clock. I also expect that Mehr already figured out that he missed some easier wins earlier. It is never easy to ban negative thoughts in a game.)} 55. Qc4 Kb6 56. Qd4 Qc5 57. Qd8 Ka6 58. Qd3 Kb6 59. Qd8 Kb5 60. Qa8 Qxc2 {(2 pawns extra so everybody thought it was over but it still turned out very different.)} 61. Kf3 Qc6 62. Kg3 a5 63. Qf8 Qd7 64. Qa3 a4 65. Qb2 Ka6 66. Qb4 b5 67. Kh4 Kb6 68. Kg5 Qd8 69. Kh6 Qc7 70. Kg7 Qc5 71. Qd2 b4 $4 {(Mehrs pawns are not advanced enough to sacrifice already the f-pawn.)} 72. Qd8 $4 {(Kxf7 was sufficient for a draw.)} Qc7 73. Qd4 Ka5 74. f5 exf5 $4 { (After this black can only lift up the checks by giving up the f-pawn. The resulting pawn-endgames seem to result every time in tablebase-drawns.)} 75. Qd5 Kb6 76. Qxf7 $4 {(After Qd4 I can not find quickly a clear win for black.)} (76. Qd4 Kb5 77. Qd5 Qc5 78. Qb7 Kc4 79. Qxf7 Qd5 80. e6 a3 81. e7 a2 82. Qf6 Qd4 83. e8=Q Qxf6 84. Kxf6 a1=Q 85. Kxf5 {(With a tablebase-draw.)}) 76... Qxf7 77. Kxf7 a3 78. e6 a2 79. e7 a1=Q 80. e8=Q Qd4 81. Qe6 Kc5 82. Qc8 Kb5 83. Qxf5 Qc5 $4 {(Only Ka4 wins. After perfect play from both sides it takes 76 moves. I do not think the 50 moves-rules is hit in the execution but of course no human can play this endgame perfectly without even considering the available remaining time.)} 84. Qd7 Kc4 85. Qg4 Kb3 86. Qd1 Qc2 87. Qf3 Qc3 88. Qd1 Ka3 89. Qd6 Kb2 90. Kg8 b3 91. Qd5 Ka2 92. Kh7 Kb1 93. Qd1 Kb2 94. Qd5 Kb1 95. Qd1 Ka2 96. Qd5 Qc2 97. Kg8 Kb1 98. Qh1 Kb2 99. Qd5 Qc8 100. Kh7 Qc7 101. Kg6 Ka3 102. Qa8 Kb2 103. Qd5 Qc3 104. Kh7 Kb1 105. Qd1 Kb2 106. Qd5 Qc2 107. Kg8 Ka1 108. Qa5 Kb1 {(Here Mehr called the arbiter to claim a draw with only seconds left on the clock which of course was approved. A dramatic end which both players exhausted for the last 2 rounds.)} 1/2-1/2
In fact I can recommend every organisation to install and use live boards. It is a small investment but the return is certainly huge via publicity and entertainment. Possibly still some improvements are possible. In Open Leuven not only a recording of the moves happens but also of the time-consumption per move. Personally I find this information very useful not only to understand better the game but also to make some conclusions as involved player later. Finally an organisation could also add a commentator in the room where a big screen is installed which projects the live games. This can quickly become expensive but I believe a 2200 player can already do the job for a broad audience. Cheating is surely a disadvantage of the technological advancements but there are a lot of advantages.