Monday, May 19, 2014


Chess has an exceptional rich history which means for me a serious enrichment compared with other games. However to propagandize that this is applicable for everybody as Tom Piceu did in a reaction on my article to learn children to play chess, is incorrect. I remember that we once organized in my first club de torrewachters a quiz about chess-history in which I remarked that the knowledge of most participants was very limited.

Nevertheless I won't deny that there exists a niche-market for chess-history. I think for example at the set of books from Kasparov with the world-champions which were sold massively. Besides also many columns and websites exist:  Past PiecesInside Chess of the American GM Yasser Seirawanthe kibitzer or closer to home the Belgian chess-history or the extensive online archives of the CREB.

In my articles i never miss to add references to older material and that is an understatement if you look how many links per article are used averagely. Sometimes this is to show that something can be learned from what before happened on the board, see old wine in new skins. Sometimes I use it to explain how I arrived to some conclusions: see e.g Dutch steps in the English opening or the fake truth. Often it is just to illustrate something like in my articles chessintuition and excelsior. So I am a big fan of well documented work in which the writer shows he did (some) research and is reasonable up to date of the subject.

Therefore I was surprised to find out that many commercial publications little to not at all take into account the chess-history. An opening like the Kings-gambit was 300 years one of the most popular openings but in the recent work The King's Gambit of John Shaw this is barely discussed. On chesspub you can find multiple threads in which is shown, how few references were used to older material whereby often fair or not already longtime known moves are considered as new. The 2 knights game is a similar opening of which the first tracks already go back to end 16th century. In the very recent work a black repertoire against the two knights by Robert Ris again barely something is mentioned about this. The review of Arne Moll on chessvibes was surely deserved.

It is a fact that without research and references it is today possible to make and write high quality analysis. In a reaction on my article the progress of the engines I already recorded that I redo all my analysis made before 2007 as they became pretty useless due to the ever increasing strength of the engines. Even in more recent analysis I already detect ameliorations. So I can well understand why some authors (like Peter Lalic tells at chesspub) write their book based on the last megadatabase with an engine. However if a book is only covering the truth then it quickly becomes cold and unattractive.  Chess is more than just evaluations. These books are probably very good manuals to score many point in tournaments but their value quickly decreases on the long term. History is for me fun and the material also better memorizes when it is enjoyable to read.

Books in traditional paper-version surely are continuously fighting with space which means often many things must be cut out. I remember when I supported the analysis of the book 'Win with the Stonewall Dutch' that it was a continuous battle with the maximum allowed number of pages.
I didn't interfere in the concept or the choices but I did regret that little attention was given to the old traditional concept of Bc8-d7-e8-h5(g) as it was historical important. On page 25, 5th game the book tells us that this maneuver was before the standard method to activate the bishop but today considered as too slow and largely replaced by the modern plan b6. Unfortunately this is nowhere illustrated so I think this is a good opportunity to fix this gap here.

A first important reference-game in which it is clearly shown that black is slow to find counterplay, is a correspondence game of 1999 in which the Argentinian specialist and IM Walter Fabian Bonnati is pushed off  the board.
[Event "Pereyra Puebla Memorial A"] [Site "CAPA Email"] [Date "1999.10.29"] [White "Binelli, Rodolfo Eduardo"] [Black "Bonatti, Walter Fabian"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A90"] [WhiteElo "2476"] [BlackElo "2512"] [PlyCount "101"] [EventDate "1999.10.15"] [EventType "tourn (corr)"] 1. d4 e6 2. c4 f5 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 d5 5. Nf3 c6 6. O-O Bd6 7. b3 Qe7 8. Ne5 O-O 9. Bb2 Bd7 10. Nd2 Be8 11. Ndf3 Nbd7 12. Nd3 Ne4 13. Nfe5 Nxe5 14. dxe5 Ba3 15. Bxa3 Qxa3 16. Qc1 Qe7 17. f3 Ng5 18. Rd1 Bd7 19. c5 Nf7 20. Qc3 Nh8 21. e3 g5 22. f4 h6 23. b4 Ng6 24. a4 Kh8 25. Bf3 Rg8 26. Bh5 Nf8 27. Qb2 a6 28. Kf2 Nh7 29. Nc1 Rg7 30. Ne2 Rag8 31. Qc3 Be8 32. Bxe8 Qxe8 33. Nd4 h5 34. b5 axb5 35. axb5 cxb5 36. Rab1 h4 37. Rh1 Qe7 38. Rxb5 Ra8 39. Ra1 Rxa1 40. Qxa1 Nf8 41. Qa8 Kh7 42. Nf3 gxf4 43. exf4 Ng6 44. Qc8 hxg3 45. hxg3 Nf8 46. Ng5 Kg8 47. Rb6 Qc7 48. Qxf8 Kxf8 49. Nxe6 Ke8 50. Nxc7 Rxc7 51. Ke3 1-0
A second important key-game is the grandmaster-duel in 2006 in which the Stonewall specialist and Russian grandmaster Alexei Iljushin lost without a chance.
[Event "RUS-chT 13th"] [Site "Sochi"] [Date "2006.04.22"] [Round "3"] [White "Kiriakov, Petr"] [Black "Iljushin, Alexei"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A90"] [WhiteElo "2555"] [BlackElo "2483"] [PlyCount "95"] [EventDate "2006.04.20"] [EventType "team"] [EventRounds "11"] [EventCountry "RUS"] 1. d4 e6 2. c4 f5 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 d5 5. Nf3 c6 6. O-O Bd6 7. b3 Qe7 8. Ne5 O-O 9. Qc2 Bd7 10. Bb2 Be8 11. Nd2 Nbd7 12. Ndf3 Ne4 13. Nd3 Rd8 14. Rad1 a6 15. Qc1 Bh5 16. Nf4 Bf7 17. Ne5 Rfe8 18. Nfd3 Bb8 19. f3 Nef6 20. Ba3 Bd6 21. Bxd6 Qxd6 22. Qb2 Rf8 23. Rfe1 Qe7 24. Nxd7 Qxd7 25. c5 Qc7 26. b4 Nd7 27. a4 Rb8 28. Rc1 b6 29. Qc3 a5 30. cxb6 Nxb6 31. bxa5 Nc4 32. Nc5 Rb2 33. Rb1 Rxb1 34. Rxb1 Qxa5 35. Qxa5 Nxa5 36. e3 Ra8 37. Bf1 Kf8 38. Kf2 Ke7 39. Ke1 Kd6 40. f4 Be8 41. Rb6 Bd7 42. Ra6 Rxa6 43. Bxa6 Kc7 44. Kd2 g6 45. Kc3 Kb6 46. Kb4 Be8 47. Be2 Nb7 48. a5 1-0
I played the system till 2007. After extensive analysis on my game against David Vincent (French IM, died in 2012 at age of 36) I switched to the modern plan with b6.
[Event "Interclub Niort - Lille EDN"] [Date "2007"] [White "David, V."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A81"] [WhiteElo "2375"] [BlackElo "2247"] [PlyCount "79"] 1. d4 {(I had to start the game with a handicap of a quarter. Partially because I was 5 minutes too late myself, partially because my teamcapitain for the umpteenth time was too late with the composition of the team. )} f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 e6 4. Nh3 d5 5. O-O Bd6 6. b3 O-O 7. Bb2 Qe7 $5 {(I choose for a classical stonewall structure. After the sharp c5, the position can explode very rapidly if white answers with c4. In some lines black wins a pawn but white always gets active piece-play for it.)} 8. c4 c6 9. Nd2 Bd7 $5 {(I try to steer the game to positions which I am familiar with as I found it not wise to explore new territory with a time-handicap. Nevertheless I have to admit that Nbd7 and definitely b6 looks more natural than my move.)} 10. Nf4 Be8 11. Qc2 $5 {(A natural move in the stonewall but with the years of experience I learned that if often is useful to wait a bit with the queen. Affer Nf3 and especially Nd3 you quickly understand what I exactly want to tell.)} (11. Nf3 $5 Nbd7 $5 {(This transfers to the classical paths but maybe black needs to try something different here with the more adventurous Bxf4.)} (11... Bxf4 $5 12. gxf4 Bh5 13. a4 $5 {(The more consistent continuation.)} Bxf3 14. Ba3 Qc7 $1 15. Bxf3 Rf7 $13) ( 11... dxc4 $6 {(This is a bit too early as black is still insufficiently developed for this kind of drastic actions.)} 12. bxc4 Ne4 13. Ne5 $1 c5 14. e3 Nc6 15. f3 $14) 12. Ne5 Ne4 13. Nfd3 $5 {(The critical variant but also Qc1 is possible here and black probably does wise to choose for an annoying and passive defense. )} Nxe5 $5 {(The only way to get some active play but I have some serious doubts if this is sufficient for equality )} 14. dxe5 Bc7 (14... Ba3 15. Bxa3 Qxa3 16. Qc1 $1 Qe7 17. f3 Nc5 $146 {(The Argentinian correspondence IM Bonatti chose in this position for Ng5 but was slowly pushed off the board. Rybka recommends Nc5 but questions remain about the correctness.)} 18. Qa3 b6 19. Rac1 d4 20. Rfd1 a5 21. f4 Rd8 22. Bf3 $14) 15. Qc1 $5 b6 16. a4 $5 $14 {(An easy improvement on my old analysis which continued with Ba3. By the way I believe white has here even other good moves like Rd1.)}) (11. Nd3 $1 {(The advantage of this move is that it avoids the dubious Bf4 variant forever.)} Nbd7 12. Nf3 dxc4 $5 { (Ne4 is best answered by Nfe5 which I already discussed extensively in the 11. Nf3 line.)} 13. bxc4 c5 14. Nfe5 $1 $14) 11... Nbd7 $5 {(To exchange with Bxf4 demands some strong nerves but I can not find a good punishment.)} (11... Bxf4 $5 12. gxf4 Bh5 13. a4 Na6 14. Qc3 $13) 12. Nf3 Ne4 $5 {(Probably Bxf4 is again possible here.)} 13. Nd3 $5 {(Ne5 is likely more critical which limits largely the counter-play and demands precise play by black to avoid a worse position.)} (13. Ne5 $5 Bf7 $1 {(Black probably should choose for a solid but passive defense.)} (13... Rd8 $6 14. Rad1 Nxe5 15. dxe5 Bc5 {(Black can not play Ba3 in contrary with the Bf7-line due to the weak protected e6-pawn. )} 16. Qc1 a5 17. cxd5 $14) 14. Nfd3 $5 Nxe5 15. dxe5 Ba3 16. f3 Bxb2 17. Qxb2 Nc5 18. Qa3 b6 19. Rac1 Rac8 $1 $13 { (White controls but thanks to the bishop at f7 black can defend sufficiently.)}) 13... Rd8 $5 {(I did not want to deviate from my home-analysis as I still had to recuperate some time-backlog. However f4 looks here a good alternative with more active but also more risky play.)} (13... f4 $5 14. Nfe5 (14. gxf4 $5 Bxf4 15. Nxf4 Rxf4 16. Bc1 $5 Rg4 17. h3 Rg6 $13) 14... fxg3 15. hxg3 Rd8 $146 {(The Russian grandmaster Tsechkovsky lost in 1992 with Be5 as he could never anymore compensate the weak black squares. The stronger Rad8 is better.)}) 14. a4 $146 {(The novelty a4 is very interesting as it avoids black to exchange on e5. Still known in this position is of course Nfe5 which I once met in the French interclub and Rad1, played in 2006 by Kiriakov after which the Stonewall specialist Ulibin had to swallow a tough defeat.)} (14. Rad1 $5 f4 $5 $146 {(Dc4: is probably also possible as the threats of a4 are now seriously weakened. Ulibin continued with the passive a6 and a few moves later quickly got into troubles.)} 15. gxf4 $5 {(Pfe5 or Dc1 are also possible.)} Bxf4 16. Nxf4 Rxf4 17. Bc1 $5 Rg4 18. h3 Rg6 19. Qd3 $5 Bf7 $13) (14. Rae1 $5 $146 {(Not before tested in practice and with a similar idea as Rad1.)} f4 $5 {(Same remark as with Rad1 so also here dxc4 must be considered.)} 15. gxf4 $5 {(This line is very similar to Rad1 as here too Qc1 or Nfe5 are possible.)} Bxf4 16. Nxf4 Rxf4 17. Qc1 $5 Rf5 $13) (14. Nfe5 $5 Nxe5 15. dxe5 Ba3 $1 $146 {(Already in my analysis of 2005 I already mentioned Bc7 is worse.)} (15... Bc7 $6 16. a4 b6 $5 {(C5 immediately can be best responded by a5.)} 17. a5 c5 18. axb6 Bxb6 $14) 16. Bxa3 $5 {(White can also play f3 or immediately exchange on d5 but a clear route to some advantage is not easy to find.)} Qxa3 17. cxd5 $5 exd5 $1 18. Rfc1 $5 b6 19. b4 Rf7 20. Rab1 Re7 $13 {(Blacks position is very loose but how white can profit from it, is not very clear.)}) 14... a5 $5 {(A5 is the more positional continuation while f4 is the more risky strategic choice.)} (14... f4 $5 15. gxf4 $5 {(Pfe5 is an interesting alternative.)} Bxf4 16. a5 $5 (16. Nxf4 $5 Rxf4 17. Qc1 $5 Qf6 18. Qe3 $13) 16... a6 $5 17. Nxf4 Rxf4 18. Qc1 $5 Qf6 19. Qe3 Rg4 $13) 15. Nfe5 Ra8 $5 {(Initially I wanted to exchange on e5 and proceed with Bb4 but I did not trust it and finally chose for the more passive but solid Ra8.)} (15... Nxe5 $5 16. dxe5 Bb4 17. Nxb4 $5 { (Direct cxd5 is also possible but it is not clear if this makes a difference.) } axb4 18. cxd5 Rxd5 19. Rfd1 Bg6 $13) 16. f3 Nef6 17. Kh1 $5 {(This prophylactic move is not really necessary but not really worse than Qd2 to which black best answers with Bf7)} Bf7 18. Rae1 $5 {(Very interesting is also Qd2.)} (18. Qd2 $5 Kh8 {(Black is tight up everywhere in this position and must be very careful as shown by the variations. Doing nothing is probably the best to keep all options open but it is clear that it is not pleasant anymore to play with black.)} (18... Rfc8 $6 19. c5 Bc7 20. Nxf7 Qxf7 21. e4 $40) (18... Bh5 $6 19. cxd5 exd5 20. Bc3 Bc7 21. Qg5 Be8 22. Bh3 $14 {(As black was obliged to play Bc7, he does not longer possess the chance to play Nh5.)})) 18... Rac8 19. Nxd7 Qxd7 20. Qd2 b6 21. c5 Bc7 $2 {(Black has survived pretty well the opening considering the circumstances but here I make a serious calculation-error which gives white excellent play on the black squares.)} (21... bxc5 $1 22. dxc5 Bc7 23. Ne5 Qe8 24. e4 $5 $13) 22. Ne5 Qe8 23. cxb6 Bxb6 24. Ba3 c5 25. Rc1 Qe7 26. dxc5 Bxc5 27. Rxc5 Rxc5 28. Qe3 $6 {(I suppose white missed my answer as the move played loses some of whites advantage.)} (28. Nc6 $1 Qd6 29. Qxa5 Rxa5 30. Bxd6 Ra6 $16) 28... Rc3 29. Qxc3 Qxa3 30. Ra1 Qd6 31. Nc6 d4 32. Nxd4 Nd5 $2 {(In time-trouble I choose to play all-in but my second pawn-sacrifice is just too much. Better was f4 which still gives some compensation for the gambit.)} 33. Qxa5 Nb4 34. e3 Rc8 35. f4 h6 36. Qe5 Qa6 37. Qb5 Qd6 38. h3 Nc2 39. Rc1 Qa3 40. Qf1 1-0
I am not somebody just believing anything which is written so I find illustrations a necessary supplement. A top-book is therefore more than just a manual.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Einstellung effect

The last decades big steps were made to better understand how the human brain works although at the same time we do realize that psychology is a science still in its infancy. Exactly this poor and incomplete information generates lots of distrust for psychology. Undeserved as even today there is a lot to gain by considering psychology. 

Since many years I have a big curiousity in better understanding the psyche. Maybe I even followed the wrong studies but at home there was no support for psychology so it became logically engineer. Anyway if today I notice an article or tv program about this subject then I won't ignore it and if combined with chess then it only strengthens my interest. Recently 2 nice articles on chessbase were published about the Einstellung effect: article 1 and article 2. In those articles is explained how earlier experiences often have an important influence in new choices which sometimes leads to strange errors.

In fact I already discussed some examples of this effect on my blog without using the scientific name. I am referring to my first article about chessintuition in which I showed that reproducing analyses not always gives better results than searching yourself the moves without any particular opening-knowledge. Knowledge is often incomplete or outdated. Our memory has limitations which leads that remembering things often partly succeeds or even completely goes wrong when variations are mixed. In my 2nd article about chessintuition part 2 I show the dangers of implementing earlier acquired patterns, themes because every small change in a certain position can be decisive if something works or does not work.

While these earlier articles are about the impact of experiences sometimes happened much before the game, this time I want to talk about the impact of experiences within a game which influence in a weird sense the further course of the game. In other words I want to demonstrate that the Einstellung effect can also appear in a very short timeframe. In fact this is nothing new as who doesn't know the next joke? Answer the following questions! Which color has the first white refrigerator? Which color has the second white refrigerator? Which color has the third white refrigerator? What does a cow drink?

Many people answer wrongly on the last question when they hear the joke for the first time as they are misguided by the earlier questions. I believe that I also encountered something similar in my interclubgame against the Bulgarian grandmaster Dejan Bojkov (which i earlier already fittingly mentioned in my article camouflage ).
[Event "Interclub Deurne - Amay"] [Date "2014"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Bojkov, D."] [Result "*"] [ECO "C99"] [WhiteElo "2336"] [BlackElo "2500"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "RR2nr1k/7p/1bqp2p1/4pp2/1P2P1P1/4N2P/3B1P2/5NK1 w - - 0 36"] [PlyCount "11"] {(I spent almost half of my remaining minutes to calculate the consequences of Ra6.)} 36. exf5 (36. Ra6 $2 {(I rightly choose for exf5 as winning the piece leads to fully unclear complications. )} Qxe4 37. Raxb6 f4 38. Ng2 Kg7 39. Rd8 Nf6 40. Rdxd6 Qf3 41. Nh2 Qxh3 $14 {(The engines show a slight advantage for white but it is all very unclear to me.) }) 36... d5 37. Nxd5 $4 {(Now easily winning was Ra6 as Qe4 is not possible anymore. Probably influenced by the earlier calculations, I forgot about the possibility and all my attention went to another combination which unfortunately was wrong. )} Qxd5 38. Bh6 Rg8 39. Bg5 $2 {(Only now I noticed that I did not have a winning combination but my move only make things worse.)} (39. Rxe8 {(Despite blacks answer this move is surely much stronger.)} Qxa8 {(I forgot completely this move.)} 40. Rxa8 Rxa8 41. fxg6 hxg6 42. Kg2 {(The endgame must be defendable for white.)}) 39... Qf3 40. Ne3 Bxe3 41. Bxe3 {(Here I was lucky to have Bg5 as answer to Nf6. About this endgame I likely will write another article as it is pretty interesting what happened afterwards.)} *
Because a move earlier after some reflection I rightly ignored Ra6, I wrongly didn't spend time later at it. The fact that I was in slight time-trouble and I believed to see a winning combination, will certainly also play a role but I consider the einstellung effect as the main culprit to miss the simple win. Now if the reader thinks "this can't happen with myself" then I do find it funny reading on the blog of (yes!) my opponent that he exactly wrote the same in the article the art of excuses. I quote: "It is funny how people (or it is probably just me) tend to miss recurring tactical themes in a single game."

The summit which I once experienced was a recurring tactical motif in a combination of which I completely missed the switch-back. Probably I wasn't very concentrated as I still can't believe how I could play such blunder after quite some thought.
[Event "Interclub Deurne - Aalter"] [Date "2011"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Draftian, A."] [Result "*"] [ECO "B41"] [WhiteElo "2325"] [BlackElo "2272"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1b1k2r/2qp1pp1/pp2p3/4b2p/2PnP1P1/P1N1B3/1P1QBPP1/R4RK1 w kq - 0 14"] [PlyCount "8"] 14. Bxd4 $4 {(I totally miss the switch-back motif which black executes in the game. After e.g. f4 it is a normal game.)} (14. f4 $5 Nxe2 15. Nxe2 Bd6 16. g5 h4 17. Bd4 O-O $13) 14... Bh2 15. Kh1 Bf4 {(Only now I discovered the point.)} (15... hxg4 $2 16. g3 Bxg3 17. Kg2 {(I expected this in the game but even then Houdini finds an advantage for black.) } Bf4 18. Qd1 Rh2 19. Kg1 f5 20. Re1 Qd8 21. Bxg4 Qh4 22. Bxf5 Be5 $15) 16. Be3 {(In the game I gave up my queen with Bxg7 but kept on fighting a lost battle.)} hxg4 17. Kg1 Bh2 {(The missed switch-back by which black delivers mate in 2.)} *
Such blunders are not only painful but also very difficult to avoid. We are no engines which each position calculate from scratch and forget what happened before (with the exception of identical positions). It is often fascinating how engines in an instance can detect huge evaluation changes in the smallest difference of a position. Often I spend a lot of time to find out what exactly caused the Butterfly effect. I remember such recent case in my analyses of the game against the Dane Jens Frederiksen (a fragment was already covered in my article excelsior) in which engines pop up with the crazy move 9...,Kd7.
[Event "Open Leuven 2de ronde"] [Date "2013"] [White "Frederiksen, J."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "*"] [ECO "C68"] [WhiteElo "1730"] [BlackElo "2347"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r3kbnr/1pp2ppp/p1p5/8/6b1/5N2/PPPPKPPP/RNB1R3 b kq - 0 9"] [PlyCount "10"] {(An interesting novelty recommended by the actual strong engines. )} 9... Kd7 $5 $146 (9... O-O-O $5 {(I chose for this standard-move which had been tested several times earlier in practice.)} 10. d3 Re8 11. Kf1 Rxe1 12. Nxe1 { (Blacks play is somewhat more enjoyable but white is still very solid.)}) 10. d3 Re8 11. Be3 {(Here we detect the difference with 0-0-0 as after Kf1 black can answer with Bxf3 because the rook at e8 is defended. )} f5 12. h3 Bh5 13. Kf1 Bxf3 14. gxf3 $13 { (White has to play very precise to avoid standing worse.)} *
To withdraw from the Einstellung effect is very difficult or maybe even impossible for most of us. I notice this also for myself as I do some quick unconscious actions which I don't fully understand afterwards. Probably resistance can be built up by forcing oneself to try out regularly new unknown stuff so by leaving the comfort-zone. Easier said than done of course as the temptation to win easy points based on known stuff is very big.