Thursday, June 26, 2014

The expert

You win for a first time from dad, big brother, a friend or even better the teacher and you get caught by the microbe. I suppose many have started with chess this way. Both players have the same tools (16 pieces) and battle for victory on a board of 64 squares only by moving the pieces. The player with the best and most creative ideas wins. That is the picture which a lot of films use. The spectator sees naturally the smartest person win.

So it does not surprise me that regularly emotional reactions appear on my blog when I discuss game preparations, studying openings or last on my previous article. The image of an honest intellectual battle between 2 individuals is abruptly broken. Databases, books, coaches, preparations, training, experience, money, time,... influence drastically the chances in modern chess.

Players rarely will tell something about how much money, time and efforts were spent to improve. It is not cool to tell that the chosen line was already completely prepared at home. Today there exists a taboo on working at chess. However because of this a lot of less experienced players get a wrong view of what competitive chess includes. This blog often breaks this taboo which doesn't make me popular of course.

That a taboo exists, can be also detected in a reaction of my article The Czech defense. I called somebody an opening-expert and immediately the person started to counter that he doesn't consider himself an expert. The term "expert" has a negative connotation. It is not proper to win a game with the support of a superior knowledge of the opening. I consider such position completely redundant as everybody has its own favorite systems. I do know one nice player defining the first move with a dice. However also he knows something about openings as last Friday after our cup-match he surprised me by sharing the information that I deviated from the recommendation of the recently published and colossal book of the kingsgambit written by John Shaw.

So every player with a bit experience is in some openings a sort of expert. Now it is clear that not all experts are equal. An interesting question is if it would be possible to know an opening that well that one can't be surprised anymore. Can you become a super-expert in an opening so you don't need to fear any preparation anymore? Well I am afraid the answer is no. Bart told me after the game that he spent a lot of time studying the opening and I believe him but still I succeeded to copy an idea of a game which was unknown for him. To overestimate the experience or underestimate the preparation is something which I notice regularly. I remember a game against the Armenian grandmaster Sergey Galdunts in which I discovered on one of his favorite systems a novelty, posing him troubles.
[Event "Interclub Lille EDN - Bischwiller"] [Date "2004"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Galdunts, S."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C99"] [WhiteElo "2308"] [BlackElo "2494"] [PlyCount "67"] 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 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. d4 Qc7 12. Nbd2 cxd4 13. cxd4 Nc6 14. Nb3 a5 15. Be3 a4 16. Nbd2 Be6 17. a3 {(I had only 2 hours to prepare for this game. While reviewing the opening I detected an interesting novelty in Galdunts favorite line which I liked to try out. This explains my choice a3. Besides a3 is also the most common continuation. An interesting alternative is Bd3 of which I only found 1 game.)} Rfc8 {(Mostly Na5 is played in this position but my opponent already plays for years Rfc8 and has become an expert according to himself.)} 18. Bd3 {(Rc1 immediately is also possible. In the game the sequence does not matter but both black and white could deviate.)} Bd7 19. Rc1 {(During the preparation I already decided to select Rc1 as I really wanted to test my novelty at move 20. Although also Qe2 is here worth considering forcing black to play Qb8. At home with a more powerful PC I also found out that immediately b4 is very strong.)} (19. Qe2 Qb7 $6 20. Bxb5 Nxd4 21. Nxd4 exd4 22. Bxd7 dxe3 $6 23. Bxc8 $16 {(And now exd2 does not work as the queen is under attack which was not the case if Qb8.)}) 19... Qb7 20. b4 $146 {(After this novelty my opponent thought very long. In all earlier games white played Qe2, giving black rather good counterplay with b4.)} (20. Qe2 b4 21. d5 $146 {(The only move which maybe gives white still a microscopic advantage.)} (21. Rc4 bxa3 22. bxa3 exd4 23. Nxd4 Ne5 24. Rb1 Qa6 25. Rxc8 Qxc8 26. Bb5 d5 $11) (21. dxe5 Nxe5 22. Rxc8 Bxc8 23. Nxe5 dxe5 24. axb4 Bxb4 25. Rc1 Qe7 26. Nf3 Bb7 $11) ( 21. Nc4 exd4 22. Nxd4 Ne5 23. Bg5 Rc5 24. Bd2 bxa3 25. bxa3 Nxd3 26. Qxd3 Re8 $11) 21... Na5 22. Rxc8 Bxc8 23. Bb5 Bd7 24. Bxd7 Nxd7 25. Qd3 Rc8 26. axb4 Qxb4 $14) 20... exd4 $5 {(After almost 3 quarters reflection my opponent chooses probably for the strongest continuation. Naturally I had checked axb3 with an engine in my preparation of which I believe white still holds some advantage.)} (20... axb3 $5 21. Qxb3 exd4 22. Nxd4 Nxd4 23. Bxd4 Rxc1 24. Rxc1 Bc6 25. Bb1 Ra4 26. Bb2 $14) 21. Nxd4 Ne5 22. Qe2 Nxd3 23. Qxd3 d5 $5 {(Till this point I prepared the moves which is quite a remarkable achievement considering I only looked a half hour at this opening. In the remaining time I also had to review the Pirc,... as my opponent often varies. After the game the Armenian top-grandmaster Akopian joined the analysis. Some lively discussions happened around the subject if white was better and what black should play here. Galdunds also an Armenian grandmaster and I could barely follow what Akopian was showing us but now and then we also were able to insert some improvements which he did not notice immediately. After the game Akopian recommended here h6 as a possible improvement but he was neither sure if black has full equality with it.)} (23... Rxc1 $5 24. Rxc1 Re8 (24... h6 25. f3 Re8 26. Ne2 Rc8 27. Rxc8 Qxc8 28. Nb1 Be6 29. Nbc3 Bc4 30. Qd4 $14) 25. Bg5 h6 26. Bh4 Bd8 27. N4f3 Re6 28. Re1 Bb6 29. Nd4 Bxd4 30. Qxd4 Nh5 31. Nf1 Bc6 32. f3 Rg6 $14) (23... h6 $5 24. Rcd1 Rd8 25. Nf5 Bxf5 26. exf5 Rac8 27. Bd4 d5 28. Re2 Ne4 29. Nxe4 dxe4 $14) 24. e5 $5 {(First exchanging on c8 and only then e5 is also fine for an advantage.)} (24. Rxc8 $5 Rxc8 25. e5 $14 Ne4 26. Nb1 Rc4 (26... Qc7 27. f3 Bh4 28. Rd1 Ng3 29. f4 Qc4 30. Nf3 Ne2 31. Kf1 Ng3 32. Ke1 Nf5 33. Nxh4 Nxh4 $16) 27. f3 Bh4 28. Rd1 Ng3 29. Bf2 Qb8 30. Kh2 Nf5 31. Nxf5 Bxf5 32. Qxf5 Bxf2 33. Rxd5 $16) 24... Ne4 25. N4f3 $6 {(During the game I saw the good idea with Nb1 but I could not calculate properly the consequences so in the end I chose for a more neutral move however throwing away the advantage.)} (25. Nb1 $5 Rc4 26. f3 Ng3 27. Nd2 Rxc1 28. Rxc1 Rc8 29. Rxc8 Qxc8 30. Kh2 Bh4 $14) (25. Rxc8 $5 Rxc8 26. Nb1 $14) 25... Bf5 $6 {(White can repeat hereafter the position which is not wise. With e.g. Be6 black could consolidate.)} (25... Be6 $1 26. Nd4 Nxd2 27. Bxd2 Rc4 28. Rcd1 Rac8 29. Nf5 Qd7 30. Nxe7 Qxe7 31. Be3 $11) 26. Qd4 $6 { (This gives no advantage so better was returning with Nd4 to a previous position.)} f6 $5 {(A very interesting and strong pawn-sacrifice is Qa6 followed up with Qg6 and exercise strong pressure on whites king-side with excellent compensation.)} 27. Qb2 Bg6 $6 {(Black prepares f5 but white can easily avoid this move so Bg6 just loses time. Better was exchanging on c1 and black can defend the position.)} 28. exf6 Bxf6 29. Bd4 Qb6 $6 {(Black complicates but his only makes the position worse. Better is Rf8 or Rc1 although also after those moves white has still some advantage.)} 30. Nxe4 dxe4 31. Bxf6 gxf6 32. Nh4 Qe6 33. Qe2 Rc4 $6 {(After this move white can liquidate to an endgame with big winning chances. Better is Rc1 or Qe8 with only a big advantage.)} 34. Nxg6 $1 {(I proposed with very little time left a draw as I did not realize how big my advantage was. I had missed the point 39.b5. After the game Akopian showed us how to proceed but it was only at home with Fritz and the other engines that I was able to really unravel the endgame.)} (34. Nxg6 hxg6 35. Rxc4 bxc4 36. Qxe4 Qxe4 37. Rxe4 Rc8 38. Re2 Rd8 39. b5 $1 {(I only looked at Rc2 which indeed leads to a rook-endgame which despite the pawn extra is an easy draw.)} Rd3 40. b6 $1 Rb3 41. Re8 $1 {(Rc2 was recommended by Akopian but that does not win.)} Kf7 42. Rc8 c3 43. Rc7 Ke6 44. b7 Kd5 45. Rxc3 $1 Rxb7 46. Rg3 $1 g5 47. Rg4 {(Black is forced to put the rook passive on the a-file. Probably this endgame is won for white as blacks rook can hardly defend the a-pawn when white will create a passed pawn on the king-side. It still requires a lot of technique but black has only minimal chances of survival.)}) 1/2-1/2
I had looked only a half hour at this opening but it was already sufficient with the aid of the engines to find something interesting. Afterwards the strong Armenian grandmaster Vladimir Akopian joined the analysis of the novelty. My opponent was very surprised that my short preparation was superior than his expertise. How is it possible as besides 11 published games in the database with the opening, a similar amount of games played with the opening was not registered in the databases.

If grandmasters now and then make this judgmental errors then obviously we see it more often with less experienced players. Some examples on my blog are the articles Swiss gambit and revolution in the millenium in which I successfully achieved an advantage with a preparation in an opening of which I had no experience at all contrary to my opponents.

The reader having read the reaction of Kara on my previous article will probably conclude that I am a big exception and normally an expert doesn't risk so much. Well I still want to show an example of another Belg only 40 points higher rated on the Belgian rating-list, Bruno Laurent. The game was already mentioned in my article old wine in new skins to proof that keeping a repertoire up to date is for most players in-achievable.
[Event "TCh-BEL 2013-14"] [Site "Belgium BEL"] [Date "2014.01.26"] [Round "8.4"] [White "Laurent, B."] [Black "Gulbas, C."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B09"] [WhiteElo "2369"] [BlackElo "2377"] [PlyCount "45"] [EventDate "2013.09.22"] [WhiteTeam "CREC 1"] [BlackTeam "Wirtzfeld 1"] 1. e4 d6 {(I found 33 games of Cemil in the database so clearly he has quite some experience with the Pirc.)} 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. f4 Bg7 5. Nf3 O-O 6. e5 {(In 2 earlier games Bruno chose Be3. Bruno very likely plays e5 for the first time.)} Nfd7 7. Bc4 {(Cemil already once met on the board h4 in 2010.)} c5 8. e6 Nb6 9. exf7 Kh8 10. h4 {(A spectacular piece-sacrifice which has been tested a few times in practice.)} Nxc4 11. h5 Bf5 12. hxg6 Bxg6 13. f5 {(White adds another pawn-sacrifice. Also this is already played once before.)} Bxf5 14. Ng5 Qd7 15. Qh5 h6 16. d5 {(Undoubtedly an improvement discovered at home during the preparation.)} (16. Nd5 $4 e5 $4 {(Cxd4 would give at least a big advantage for black. )} 17. g4 Bxc2 18. O-O Bg6 19. Qxg6 Qxg4 20. Kh2 hxg5 21. Bxg5 Nd7 22. Rg1 Qf3 23. Bf6 Qf2 24. Rg2 {(Ivanisevic,I - Dzhumaev,M 1 - 0 ; World Cities Team KO 2012)}) 16... Ne5 17. Ne6 Rxf7 18. Bxh6 Bxh6 19. Qxh6 Bh7 20. Ne4 {(Black is helpless against N4g5.)} Qa4 21. N4g5 Kg8 22. Nxf7 Qe4 23. Kf1 {(An excellent execution of Bruno after the novelty. Probably it is not a coincidence that each time the top choice of the engines was selected.)} ( 23. Kf1 Qf5 24. Kg1 Qxf7 25. Rf1 {(Blacks reserves are arriving way too late.)}) 1-0
So black suffered a very serious defeat despite being an international master and having a large experience with the Pirc. Is it completely senseless to be an expert? Of course not but you have to weigh up carefully the risks. Did my opponent have a lot of time to prepare? Does my opponent usually prepare seriously for this games? Do I have some new ideas in stock? In a lesser extend also other aspects play a role like the type of position, the match/ tournament situation, the rating difference,... to make the right choice. Surely sticking at all costs to a repertoire is not optimal and a slick competition-player will in good time variate when expecting danger.


Monday, June 16, 2014

The Modern French part 2

My college studies of engineer were not taken lightly in contrast with many of my fellow-students. I studied my courses at least 3 times seriously so I knew the materials thoroughly. As a consequence my results were always very good. This profound method of preparation I also inherited in chess. Even today after almost 20 years playing chess, there is still very little or no diminution of my (very) intensive game-preparations. However I also have to admit that big differences exist between a modern game-preparation and my formerly exam-preparations.

First there exists no limit on the amount of subject materials for a game-preparation in contrast with most classical exams. So as a chessplayer has to make choices e.g when stopping the preparation is reasonable or not. A question which I recently asked, is if it pays to spend time rehearsing the studied materials or that time better can be spend studying extra lines. Or a very similar question is, how much time one should spend per move? The answer naturally depends of a number of factors like how fast and well can the person memorize, how many (new) lines must be remembered,... Nevertheless I do believe most players choose if under time-pressure to spend as little time as possible repeating stuff as it is still possible via calculations and deductions to puzzle with the remembered fragments.  Of course it is no surprise that sometimes something goes wrong when puzzling.

There are also big differences in study-conditions. When I prepared for my engineer-exams then my surroundings deemed it very important that I was not disturbed. This way I could easily study 12 hours concentrated in 1 day. Today a game-preparation is tolerated by my surroundings but they also expect that I am at the same time available for other tasks. A preparation on a Saturday is as a consequence often nothing more than a string of more or less free half hours (with 2 small children it is never 100% quiet) between the many other activities (weekly groceries, driving the kids to the dance-school, art-school or swimming courses,...) Such chaotic way of preparing obviously influences the quality of the study. I will try to sketch a real example of such chaotic preparation in the continuation of the article. Or more specified, I will tell the part which is directly connected with the played game.

In the last round of the Belgian interclubs nothing was anymore at stake for Deurne. Our team was already relegated so only some personal success could still be achieved. Due to circumstances I would play first board, so the chance was real that I would meet the new Belgian grandmaster Bart Michiels. Obviously I prepared myself properly for him. In our previous encounter he chose the modern french but I estimated the probability low that it would be played again. This time it wouldn't be a surprise anymore and if Bart followed a bit my blog then he would realize that I take my preparations seriously. Now as earlier mentioned, I am not somebody leaving a preparation open to chance so in spite of I decided to study seriously the opening of our previous encounter.

The first thing which I looked at, was a concept from the correspondence-game to which I already earlier pointed in my previous article so with 0-0-0. Because I didn't meet the opening on the board anymore since my game (so from 2012) and as a consequence hadn't studied it anymore seriously, I believed it was the right moment to check the game with an engine more closely. Besides Bart could do easily the same if he read my blog.
[Event "RCCA-Bronze 2009"] [Site "ICCF"] [Date "2009.12.05"] [White "Auzins, Maris"] [Black "Ivanov, Valery Petrovich"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2424"] [BlackElo "2282"] [PlyCount "83"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Be7 8. Qd2 O-O 9. Be2 b6 10. O-O-O c4 {(The critical test although it is neither clear if white is better after Bb7 or a6.)} (10... Bb7 11. Kb1 a6 12. Rhf1 Qc7 13. f5 $13) (10... a6 11. Kb1 Qc7 12. f5 cxd4 13. Bxd4 $13) 11. f5 b5 12. f6 gxf6 13. exf6 {(The Ukrainian strong but still very young grandmaster Illya Nyzhnyk played last year in this position Bh6 but that looks to me very good for black after fxe5)} Nxf6 $6 {(During the preparations I discovered Bxf6 and despite fierce attempts I did not succeed to find an antidote.)} (13... Bxf6 $146 14. Bh6 (14. a3 a5 15. Nxb5 (15. Bh6 Rb8 16. Bxf8 Qxf8 17. Nb1 b4 18. axb4 Bg7 19. g4 $19 ) 15... Rb8 16. a4 Ba6 17. Bh6 Bxb5 18. axb5 Rxb5 19. c3 $19 ) (14. Nxb5 Ba6 15. Nc3 (15. Na3 c3 16. Qxc3 Bxe2 17. Qxc6 Bxd1 18. Rxd1 Rb8 19. Bf4 $17 ) 15... Rb8 16. Bf4 Rb7 17. Bd6 Qb6 18. Na4 Qb5 19. b3 $17 ) 14... b4 15. Nb1 (15. Na4 Qa5 16. b3 Ba6 17. Rhf1 Bb5 18. Ng1 Qd8 19. Qe3 $17 ) 15... Re8 16. Rhf1 Qe7 17. c3 Bb7 18. Rde1 Kh8 19. Ng5 $15 ) 14. Bh6 Ng4 {(The alternative Kh8 is not better.)} (14... Kh8 15. Bxf8 Qxf8 (15... Bxf8 16. Ne5 Nxe5 17. dxe5 Ng8 18. Kb1 b4 19. Ne4 $16 {(Brabo - FM Trainer79 ; Blitz 3min Playchess 2012 and much later 1-0)}) 16. Qf4 b4 17. Na4 Ne4 18. Bxc4 Nf2 19. Bb5 Nd8 20. Nc5 f6 21. Rhf1 Nxd1 22. Kxd1 a6 23. Ba4 Bd6 24. Ne5 f5 25. Ncd3 Ra7 26. g4 Rg7 27. Qf3 Nf7 28. gxf5 Ng5 29. Qh5 Ne4 30. f6 Nxf6 31. Qh6 Be7 32. Nc6 Rg6 33. Qxf8 Bxf8 34. Nde5 {(Gabrielian,A - Iskysnyk,S 1-0 ; 66th Ruschampionship HL 2013)}) 15. Bxf8 Bxf8 16. Ng5 b4 17. Na4 Nh6 18. Kb1 Bg7 19. Qf4 Nxd4 20. Rxd4 Bxd4 21. Nxf7 Nxf7 22. Qxd4 e5 23. Qf2 Qe7 24. Nc5 Nd6 25. Rd1 d4 26. Bf3 Rb8 27. Qg3 Qg7 28. Qh4 Bf5 29. g4 Bg6 30. Bd5 Kh8 31. Ne6 Bxc2 32. Kxc2 Qg6 33. Kc1 b3 34. axb3 cxb3 35. Kd2 Re8 36. Rc1 Rxe6 37. Bxe6 Qxe6 38. Rc7 Nf7 39. Qe7 Qxe7 40. Rxe7 Kg7 41. Kd3 a5 42. Re6 1-0
I considered the concept ideal to combat Barts style but I didn't dare to play it due to the discovered hole at move 13. After our game I asked Bart if he read my blog and knew the antidote on the concept of 0-0-0 too. Bart confirmed that he had read my blog. It would've been a big surprise if a grandmaster didn't use the available free foreknowledge but his answer on the anti-dote was rather confusing. He answered that he already once replied successfully with c4 in practice. However the only game which I could find that Bart played successfully c4 after 0-0-0 was a line without the moves Be2 and 0-0 so I guess Bart didn't know the gap on move 13 (which doesn't mean that he couldn't find it at the board). It wouldn't be the first time that a (strong) player didn't take the opportunity to benefit maximally from the available info on my blog. Below I show the pretty interesting game in which Bart played c4 after 0-0-0.
[Event "14th Euro Indiv 2013"] [Site "Legnica POL"] [Date "2013.05.14"] [Round "9.87"] [White "Firat, B."] [Black "Michiels, B."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2421"] [BlackElo "2505"] [PlyCount "40"] [EventDate "2013.05.05"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Be7 8. Qd2 b6 {(Bart chose in his first games with this system for 0-0 but has now switched to b6 to discourage dxc5.)} 9. O-O-O {(The Dutch worldclass-player Anish Giri chose in 2012 with success for Nd1 against Bart but I do not believe it gives any opening advantage for white. With Be2 we can transpose to e.g. my game against Bart of 2012.)} c4 {(Without any doubt this is the critical test of the system.)} 10. f5 {(There exists a surprising alternative of which I did not find any games in the databases.)} (10. Bxc4 $5 { (This was not part of my preparation so I only discovered this recently.)} dxc4 11. d5 exd5 $1 (11... Ndxe5 12. Nxe5 Nxe5 13. fxe5 exd5 14. Nxd5 Be6 15. Qd4 Bc5 16. Qe4 Bxd5 17. Rxd5 Bxe3 18. Kb1 $14) 12. Qxd5 Qc7 13. e6 $5 (13. Nb5 Qb7 14. e6 Nf6 15. Nd6 Kf8 16. Qb5 a6 17. Qxc4 Qc7 18. Nxf7 b5 19. Qc3 Bxe6 20. Nxh8 Bc4 $13) 13... Nf6 14. exf7 Kf8 15. Qxc4 Bg4 16. Ne5 Bxd1 17. Rxd1 $13) 10... b5 11. fxe6 fxe6 12. Ng5 $6 {(I believe white gets here already into some troubles.)} (12. Bg5 $1 Qa5 13. Bxe7 Nxe7 14. Ne4 Qxd2 15. Nexd2 $13) 12... Bxg5 $4 {(However this is a bad reaction. Correct was Nb6 with the better chances for black.)} 13. Bxg5 Qa5 14. Kb1 $2 {(White misses a hidden chance for a big advantage with Qf4.)} (14. Qf4 $1 h6 (14... b4 $6 15. Ne4 {(White suddenly threatens mate on d6 so black has no choice.)} dxe4 16. Bxc4 Nb6 17. Rhf1 Nd8 18. d5 $1 Nxc4 19. Bxd8 Kxd8 20. Qf7 $18) 15. Qh4 O-O 16. Bxh6 gxh6 17. Qxh6 Ndxe5 18. dxe5 Qc7 19. g3 Qg7 $16) 14... b4 15. Ne2 c3 16. Qe3 $2 {(With Qf4 the position more or less remains balanced.)} cxb2 17. Nf4 $6 {(After this move it goes fast. With e.g. Qf3 white was able to defend more tenaciously.)} Nb6 18. Qh3 Na4 19. Rd3 b3 20. Be2 Nc3 0-1
The mistakes let me believe that such type of positions is not a bad choice against Bart if I would be prepared for it of course.

So in any case I searched for an alternative which  I found in a concept earlier mentioned in a reaction of TheUnknownOne. I made a quick glace of the consequences if Bart would choose for an identical setup as in our previous encounter and found out that I could play a nice novelty.
[Event "Modern French 8.Be2"] [Date "2014"] [Round "?"] [White "?"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [ECO "C11"] [PlyCount "32"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Be7 8. Be2 O-O 9. O-O b6 10. Qe1 {(This idea was proposed on my blog as an alternative for Qd2 and which I considered as interesting.)} (10. Qd2 f5 11. Nb5 a6 12. Nd6 $6 Bxd6 13. exd6 Nf6 14. dxc5 $6 Ne4 $15) 10... f5 11. Nb5 {(With the queen on e1 instead of d2, this move is much stronger. The move is b.t.w. recommended by the engines.)} a6 (11... c4 12. Ng5 Ndb8 13. Qg3 Bd7 14. a3 Na6 15. b3 cxb3 16. cxb3 Na5 17. Rfb1 $13 ) (11... Ba6 12. c4 dxc4 13. Bxc4 cxd4 14. Nfxd4 Nxd4 15. Bxd4 Bxb5 16. Bxb5 Nf6 17. Rd1 $14 ) 12. Nd6 Nxd4 (12... c4 $5 13. Nxc8 Rxc8 14. c3 b5 15. Ng5 Bxg5 16. fxg5 Qb6 17. Qd2 b4 18. Rab1 $13 ) (12... Bxd6 $5 13. exd6 c4 (13... Nf6 14. dxc5 bxc5 (14... Ne4 $6 $16 {(Here we notice the difference between the queen on e1 or d2.) }) 15. Bxc5 Ne4 16. b4 Nxd6 17. a4 Re8 18. b5 Ne4 19. Be3 $16 ) 14. b3 Nf6 15. bxc4 dxc4 16. Ne5 (16. Bxc4 Qxd6 17. Bb3 Na5 18. c4 $13 ) 16... Qxd6 17. Bf3 (17. Bxc4 Bb7 18. Bb3 Na5 19. c4 Nxb3 20. axb3 a5 21. Qf2 Rfc8 $13 ) 17... Bd7 18. Nxc4 Qc7 19. d5 (19. Rc1 b5 20. Ne5 Nd5 21. Bxd5 exd5 22. Rf3 Rac8 $13 ) 19... Nd4 20. Bxd4 Qxc4 21. Bxf6 Rxf6 22. Qe5 Rc8 23. Rab1 Qc5 24. Rf2 b5 $13 ) 13. Nxd4 cxd4 14. Bxd4 Nc5 15. c4 Bxd6 16. exd6 Qxd6 $13 {(I do not claim any clear advantage for white but I do find whites position more enjoyable. This combined with the surprise-value means that the idea has certainly enough value to be once tested in practice.) *
White probably doesn't have a tangible advantage but the resulting positions looked appealing for white. Besides I was almost 100% sure that the idea 11.Nb5 would be a complete surprise which would give me at least a serious gain of time on the clock.

However a week earlier I also read on that the strong Swedish correspondence-player Thomas Johansson claimed that black can immediately equalize with 9...,f6. I am not subscribed at the site (something which I warmly recommend to any player aspiring master-titles) but I was anyway able to rapidly find the reason. Now equality in correspondence chess doesn't mean a dry and dead position in OTB so I kept searching for some interesting ideas but more than below correspondence-game I didn't succeed.
[Event "8th European Team Championship - Semifi"] [Site "ICCF"] [Date "2009.02.21"] [White "Haraldsson, Haraldur"] [Black "Skripko, Petr Vasilievich"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2394"] [BlackElo "2383"] [PlyCount "99"] [WhiteTeam "Iceland"] [BlackTeam "Belarus"] [WhiteTeamCountry "ISL"] [BlackTeamCountry "BLR"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Be7 7. Be3 Nc6 8. Be2 O-O 9. O-O f6 {(On chesspub recommended by the strong Swedish correspondence player Thomas Johansson. Although I do not have a subscription, I was able to quickly detect why the move was recommended.)} 10. exf6 Nxf6 11. Kh1 Bd6 {(Ng4 is less clear due to Bg1.)} 12. dxc5 Ng4 13. Ng5 Nxe3 14. Qd3 Rf5 15. Qxe3 Bxf4 16. Rxf4 Qxg5 17. Raf1 Bd7 18. h4 {(It is interesting to discover that the move did not pop up yet in the megadatabase. So I estimated the probability high that my opponent had not seen the move before.)} Qh6 {(If that is the best move for black then white can not complain. However when searching for alternatives I did detect Qe7 and became a lot less optimistic.)} (18... Qe7 19. Rxf5 (19. Nb5 Raf8 20. Rxf5 Qxh4 21. Kg1 Rxf5 22. Rxf5 exf5 23. Qd2 $13) 19... Qxh4 20. Kg1 exf5 21. Nxd5 Re8 $13 {(In both lines white has nothing and maybe even needs to be careful.)}) 19. Qg3 Rxf4 20. Rxf4 a6 21. Kh2 {(The alternative looks more attractive to me and I would probably try it out if I got the chance.)} (21. Bg4 {(Even in equal positions there is often still music left. Here white menaces Nxd5.)} e5 22. Rf3 e4 $5 23. Rf4 Be6 $5 24. Bxe6 Qxe6 25. Rg4 g6 26. h5 Ne7 27. Ne2 Rf8 28. hxg6 hxg6 $5 29. Nf4 $5 Qe5 30. Rxg6 Nxg6 $4 { (Kf7 is necessary as now black gets tricked.)} 31. Qxg6 Qg7 ( 31... Kh8 32. Qh6 Kg8 33. Qxf8 Kxf8 34. Ng6 $18) 32. Qxg7 Kxg7 33. Ne6 Kf7 34. Nxf8 Kxf8 35. c3 $18) 21... e5 22. Rf1 Be6 23. Bg4 Qg6 24. Bxe6 Qxe6 25. Qh3 Qxh3 26. Kxh3 d4 27. Ne4 Rf8 28. Rxf8 Kxf8 29. Kg4 Ke7 30. c4 a5 31. h5 g6 32. hxg6 hxg6 33. Kf3 Nb4 34. Nf2 Ke6 35. Ke4 a4 36. a3 Nc6 37. Ng4 Ke7 38. Nh2 Na5 39. Nf3 Nxc4 40. Kd5 Nxb2 41. Nxe5 d3 42. Nf3 Nd1 43. Ke4 Nc3 44. Kxd3 Nb5 45. Ne5 Nxa3 46. Nxg6 Ke6 47. Nf4 Ke5 48. Ne2 Nb5 49. Kc4 a3 50. Nc3 1/2-1/2
So again I was not satisfied about the result and felt obliged to continue my quest. A weird but interesting game I found in the engine-database.
[Event "CCRL 40/40"] [Site "CCRL"] [Date "2013.08.27"] [Round "110.3"] [White "Stockfish 4 64-bit 4CPU"] [Black "Rybka 4.1 64-bit 4CPU"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "3228"] [BlackElo "3159"] [PlyCount "133"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Be7 { (Today some players even go for b6 to avoid at all costs dxc5.)} 8. dxc5 Bxc5 9. Bxc5 Nxc5 10. Qe2 {(A strange idea but several engines prefer this move instead of the more natural Qd2.) } a6 11. O-O-O b5 12. Qe3 Qb6 13. Kb1 O-O 14. Bd3 b4 15. Bxh7 {(Weird that a topengine permits this classic-sacrifice. Black resists still for a long time but against white precision it is futile.)} Kxh7 16. Ng5 Kg8 17. Qh3 Re8 18. Ne2 Ne7 19. Qh5 Ng6 20. Qh7 Kf8 21. Ng3 Na4 22. Ka1 Qc5 23. Nh5 Ke7 24. Qxg7 Rf8 25. g4 Rb8 26. f5 Nxb2 27. fxe6 Kd8 28. Ne4 Qc6 29. Kxb2 Bxe6 30. Nf4 Kc7 31. Nxe6 Qxe6 32. Nc5 Qc6 33. Nd3 Rbc8 34. Rhf1 Kb7 35. Rxf7 Rxf7 36. Qxf7 Ka8 37. Qf2 a5 38. Kb1 d4 39. Qe2 Ka7 40. e6 Rc7 41. h4 Ne7 42. Nf4 a4 43. h5 Qc5 44. h6 Ng8 45. g5 Qxg5 46. Qe4 Nf6 47. Qxd4 Qc5 48. Qxc5 Rxc5 49. Rd7 Ka6 50. e7 Re5 51. Rd6 Kb7 52. Re6 Rxe6 53. Nxe6 Kc6 54. h7 Kd7 55. h8=Q Kxe7 56. Nd8 Nd7 57. Qh4 Kd6 58. Qxb4 Kd5 59. Qd2 Ke4 60. Qxd7 Kf3 61. Qf5 Kg3 62. Ne6 a3 63. Qf4 Kg2 64. c3 Kh1 65. Qf3 Kg1 66. Nf4 Kh2 67. Qg2# 1-0
A bit too weird for me because I couldn't fully understand why exactly now Qe2. Besides the remaining time was too limited to spend a serious study at it so I put the idea aside. The concept of the next game which I show is much easier to understand.
[Event "CL/2012/A"] [Site "ICCF"] [Date "2012.10.15"] [Round "?"] [White "Sikorsky, Horst"] [Black "Pessoa, Francisco Azevedo"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2470"] [BlackElo "2547"] [PlyCount "91"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "Zugzwang Bocholt 2"] [BlackTeam "Sporting Clube de Portugal"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Be7 8. a3 { (An interesting idea but I will not claim that white gets a guaranteed advantage with it.)} O-O 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. Bxc5 Nxc5 11. b4 Nd7 12. Bd3 h6 (12... f6 13. O-O a5 {(Qe7 has been tested also successfully but whites play can be easily improved beginning with exf6.)} 14. b5 Ne7 15. Na4 b6 16. c4 Nc5 17. Nxc5 bxc5 18. exf6 $146 {(An improvement on the game Svetushkin,D - Kuljasevic,D which black even won. After exf6 white has a clear advantage.)}) 13. Qd2 a5 14. b5 Ne7 15. Na4 Nb6 16. Nxb6 Qxb6 17. Qf2 Qxf2 18. Kxf2 a4 19. g4 Bd7 20. h4 Nc8 21. b6 Ne7 22. Ke3 Nc6 23. h5 Rac8 24. g5 Ne7 25. Nd4 Rc5 26. Rhg1 hxg5 27. fxg5 Nc8 28. Rgb1 Ne7 29. Rf1 Rfc8 30. g6 Nf5 31. Nxf5 exf5 32. Rg1 R5c6 33. gxf7 Kxf7 34. Rg5 Rxb6 35. Rag1 Rg8 36. Kd4 Rh6 37. Bxf5 Bxf5 38. Rxf5 Ke7 39. Rfg5 Kf7 40. R1g3 Rhh8 41. Rf3 Ke7 42. Rc3 Kd7 43. Kxd5 Rh6 44. Rg6 Rxg6 45. hxg6 Ra8 46. e6 1-0
The lines which I looked at, seemed attractive to me. On the other hand with a move like a3, the door is wide open for all kind of interesting or not black continuations. In other words the probability is high that black would throw me immediately out of book and without any experience this is not funny.

So what to choose? I did't want to study again something new from scratch as I was running out of time because still other openings needed to be reviewed. Is the final position of my original analyses on the recommendation of Thomas really that pessimistic? I decided to recheck the line and found some interesting ideas which finally convinced me to give it a chance. After this long article it is surely no surprise anymore that yes, the whole line popped up in our game.
[Event "Interclub Deurne - KGSRL"] [Date "2014"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Michiels, B."] [Result "*"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2336"] [BlackElo "2510"] [PlyCount "61"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Be7 8. Be2 { (As in our encounter of 2012, Bart chooses for this opening which is a surprise for me. Ok, the opening has today a very solid reputation as in the megadatabase we can find recent games of 10 2700 players taking the black pieces. However in contrary with our previous encounter Bart could not rely this time on a surprise value and somebody following a bit my blog, will understand that I would be prepared for the opening. Did Bart assume that his in-depth opening-study would be sufficient to easily neutralize my preparation. In any case I deviate here already from the earlier game with a less known variation so giving a clear signal that I have something prepared.)} O-O 9. O-O f6 {(I believe this is the critical test. Bart played the move quickly so it is clear that Bart has worked seriously in recent years at his repertoire. Maybe it was exactly that effort which was the little extra needed to become grandmaster as in the past I sometimes had the feeling that Bart spent not enough time at his repertoire..)} 10. exf6 Nxf6 11. Kh1 Bd6 12. dxc5 Ng4 13. Ng5 (13. Bd2 $5 {(After the game Bart indicated that a recent top-game was played with this position which he studied. That is correct as Bd2 was played in 2011 Shirov,A - Vitiugov,N 27ste Europees cupchampionship Rogaska Slatina.)} Bxc5 14. Qe1 Ne3 15. Bxe3 Bxe3 16. g3 $13 {(I also studied this position in my preparation but concluded that it is rather white fighting for a draw.)}) 13... Nxe3 14. Qd3 Rf5 15. Qxe3 Bxf4 16. Rxf4 Qxg5 17. Raf1 Bd7 18. h4 {(After this more or less forced line Bart is out of book. It is remarkable how few OTB-players are aware about existing important correspondence-games.)} Qe7 $146 {(A novelty played after a long thought and of course a logical choice. Qe7 looks more solid than Qh6 and is more safe to play against somebody still in book.)} 19. Rxf5 {(Bart asked me after the game why I spent so much time if the move was still part of my preparation. Well there are several reasons. First the danger exists that playing fast makes you not fully aware about the game itself. The Belgian strong IM Stefan Docx once told me that after a long prepared line you are not warmed up to calculate. On the other hand I also have to admit that my preparation went chaotically which caused problems to remember exactly what I considered as best move. Anyway I wanted to avoid mixing variations like recently happened in the top-game Grishuk,A - Aronian,L 2014 Norway and for which I am surely not immune.)} Qxh4 20. Kg1 exf5 21. Nxd5 Re8 22. Qd2 $5 {(Initially I did not want to play this position but because the engine evaluated the position as not worse for white, I decided to look deeper. The played move is the most natural one but there are surely equivalent alternatives.} Kh8 $5 { (This move is shortly displayed by some of my engines so it came not as a surprise. Nonetheless I must add after some new and more deep analysis that Be6 was slightly more accurate.)} ( 22... Rxe2 $4 {(After the game the Belgian IM Geert Van der Stricht asked us what exactly happens after Rxe2.)} 23. Qxe2 Qd4 24. Ne3 $18 {(This was one of the many traps as after f4 white wins with Qc4 or Rd1.)}) 23. Bf3 $5 {(After the game I mentioned that I had looked somewhere around this move at Nc7 and that is indeed the move which the engines prefer. In my preparation I did not see a substantial difference between Bf3 and Nc7 which is why I chose for the more harmonic move but now after some deeper analysis I have to admit that Nc7 is more precise. The difference in evaluation shows also the limitations of a preparation.)} (23. Nc7 Rd8 $5 24. Nb5 b6 $1 25. cxb6 (25. Nd6 $5 Be6 26. Bb5 Qd4 27. Qxd4 Nxd4 28. b4 Nxb5 29. Nxb5 bxc5 30. bxc5 Bc4 31. Nd6 Bxf1 32. Nf7 Kg8 33. Nxd8 Bc4 {(Ba6 is responded with Nc6.)} 34. c6 Kf8 35. c7 Ba6 36. Nc6 Ke8 37. Kf2 Bb7 {(Kd7 still does not work due to Nb8.)} 38. Nxa7 Kd7 39. c8=Q Bxc8 40. Nxc8 Kxc8 41. Ke3 g5 42. Kd4 h5 43. Ke5 f4 44. Kf5 h4 { (And draw.)}) 25... axb6 26. Qc3 h6 (26... Re8 27. Rf2 Re5 28. Nd6 Qe7 29. Nxf5 Rxf5 30. Rxf5 Bxf5 31. Qxc6 Qe3 32. Kf1 $13) 27. Bf3 Na5 28. Nc7 Rc8 $13 {(Black keeps the balance with some difficulties.)}) 23... Nd4 $5 {(I believe that I also looked at the alternative Ne5 in my preparations with the idea to jump at g4 and threaten mate at h2.)} (23... Ne5 $5 {(This knight-move must be responded in a different way.)} 24. Nf4 $4 (24. b3 Bc6 25. c4 $11) 24... Bb5 25. Qd4 Bxf1 26. Ng6 Nxg6 $19) 24. Nf4 {(Here the proven answer on Ne5 would be inferior.)} (24. b3 $6 Bc6 25. c4 Re5 $15) 24... Nxf3 (24... Bb5 $4 {(The refutation of Ne5 does not work here.)} 25. Qxd4 Bxf1 26. Ng6 hxg6 27. Qxh4 $18) 25. Rxf3 Re1 {(Also here Bb5 is nothing.)} (25... Bb5 $6 26. Ng6 hxg6 27. Rh3 Qxh3 28. gxh3 $14) 26. Rf1 Rxf1 27. Kxf1 Bb5 28. Kg1 Bc6 29. Qd6 {(After the game I indicated that I have looked at home to different lines with c4 but eventually I concluded that Qd6 is the most interesting continuation. However again I spent a lot of time at the position after which one could rightly wonder if it is not another "I knew it" - position.)} Qe1 30. Kh2 Qe8 $5 {(To try forcing the draw with Qh4 does not improve blacks position.)} ( 30... Qh4 31. Nh3 h6 32. Qf8 Kh7 33. Qxf5 $13 {(It is probably still a draw but it is not comfortable anymore with a pawn less.)}) 31. Ne6 {(Not the only move but it looks the most pleasant one. Although engines evaluate the position as fully equal, it is clear that white controls fully the situation. Black needs to be careful which is also proven in the follow-up of the game. Therefore I evaluate the preparation as a complete success for myself.)} *
If a 200 points lower rated player achieves a position against a grandmaster in which he can control and black must be careful thanks almost exclusively due to the preparation then I do consider the preparation as very successful. The Belgian IM Geert Van der Stricht remarked afterwards that such fate is something unavoidable as higher rated player but I don't fully agree with that. If you play twice the same opening against the same person then one can expect that the opponent will be (well) prepared. The resulting position is mainly the responsibility of the player and not some sort of luck.

That I managed to mess up the nice position, is something for another article as there is still much to tell about that. With this article I made at least an update of the interesting Modern French.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014


After the publication of my previous article I received an interesting question. "Which system do I apply to keep all my opening-study surveyable?". I couldn't answer this question properly in a few lines so I prefer here to write a separate article. However I want to add hereby immediately that I don't claim my system is the best. The system which I will describe here, has been empirically developed and is nothing more than a logical evolution of my personal needs. So everybody has to decide for themselves if some useful elements can be copied. The article therefore needs to be interpreted in the same way as my articles to analyze with an enginethe game preparation and annotations.

In my college-time I learned that writing down a summary on paper, was for me an important tool to captivate the subject material. I also do that today when preparing my games. A preparation summarizes all the possible variations which my opponent could play (mainly based on the games available in the databases) with the addition of my selected answers (minimally a few moves per line but it can also be much more). Below you can find a scan of such recent summary, built as preparation on the Bulgarian grandmaster Marijan Petrov.
Summary on paper
If you realize that in the first division of the Belgium interclub sometimes I was preparing for 6 different players then you know that those summaries quickly multiply. Such pile of summaries can be handy as passenger in the car to once again repeat the materials but for reuse in new game-preparation it is tedious. Therefore to win time I will regularly save the analyses of those paper-summaries in a personal database conform my white and black repertoire. It is a very simple mechanism which I created in 2005 in which a database is used of just 2 games. Below a screenshot to show how simple such database really is.
The first game consists all the lines which I can meet with white and which I have studied at least briefly. The second game consists of all the lines which I can meet with black and obviously also studied before. My answers on those lines are often unique in the sense of that almost no variation exists which obviously closely matches with my scientific approach. A screenshot of the first piece of my white-repertoire can be seen below.
Preview opening-book
It is easy accessible as I avoid using big trees of analysis for specific lines and because I mainly use only variety on 1 color (the opponent). The usefulness of this database mainly consists of having a tool to repeat quickly the most effective answers in the width of somebodies repertoire. Of course I also make in depth analysis but seldom for a game-preparation as time is often insufficient. If I study an opening seriously then it is not rare that I spend 2 weeks or more. I want to remark that today I don't hurry with the analysis as I anyway play few games and I do have a lot of other obligations. Somebody analyzing full time with the right equipment can probably achieve similar results in just a few days.

As most of the in depth opening-analysis happens on my own games, I mainly save those analysis for the sake of convenience in my game-analysis. In the meantime I have stored already 690 games so this has become a goldmine for opening-materials. Especially the more recent games include quite some interesting opening-analysis of which I already published often pieces on this blog. Furthermore I also possess a separate database of enhanced opening-analysis. Sometimes it becomes too difficult to maintain the readability if I save the analysis in the game. In other cases I sometimes want to check a system which I haven't met earlier in a serious game. A screenshot of this database shows us how this special database grew over the years.
Analysis database
Each entry presents this time an analysis of a certain system. A lot of text you won't find as for own usage not necessary. Here we will notice a lot of variety for both colors in contrast to the opening-book. An example of the analyse-dump can be found below.
Example from the analysis database
The loyal and clever blog-reader will surely have noticed that I show an analysis already used in my article aljechin with g6. Now and then I try to publish some pieces of the database to insert more content to the articles.

Next to building personal databases it is naturally never redundant to consult other sources of information. To integrate opening-books or online opening-analysis with the personal archives looks to me as a very doubtful strategy. If you know where to find the materials then this should be in most cases sufficient. Eventually we do want to win time with archiving.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Creating a repertoire

Recently a surprising letter was published on schaakfabriek. I am not going to discuss the subject of the letter but I do want to zoom out a fragment in which players confess to spend a lot of time at chess. The definition 'a lot' is obviously vague but the fact that almost all of the signers have some sort of master-title, let us believe there is a link between the level of a player and the time spent at chess. Nothing new of course as I already mentioned many time on my blog about the 10.000 hours rule. However here a whole bunch of Belgium (top-) players indirectly confess that their results didn't arrive by coincidence and that is not something I've read before.

The same fragment also tells us in which domains those players spend a lot of time. The 2 first domains mentioned, are linked to openings: to study openings and to prepare against opponents. Also this is remarkable as this small group of players indicates that openings are for them very important. Looking to the average clubplayer then I notice a very big difference as openings are by far not so important for them. At which strength do we have to consider studying openings as a substantial part of chess?

First we can't deny that studying openings has a strong correlation with how strong the personal ambitions are. To study openings is for most of us not one of the most attractive aspects of chess so perseverance and willpower are mandatory. Ambitions are closely connected with somebodies rating as described in my article ambitions. Nevertheless even more important than ambitions is naturally the effectiveness of studying openings. I once calculated that the difference for myself between a good and bad opening is about 80 ratingpoints in performance, see article to study openings. Further we also see a considerable increase of effectiveness once the opponents have more than 2250 elo. A possible explanation could be that players at that level can better maintain an opening-edge but I have to admit that my data is really too limited to make serious conclusions.

Although it is a fact that strong players have to fear much more a game-preparation. They have much more of their games published in public databases. In my article the list of strength I clearly indicated that above 2200 rating, games are inserted on a regular base in the databases. At contrary to the average clubplayer, these strong players don't possess the luxury to play many years without any worries the same (dubious) openings. Something which I already stated on this blog in a comment. So I dare to conclude that studying openings and therefore creating a serious repertoire becomes from 2200/2300 elo really important. How is such repertoire created?

In the article which games to analyze I indicated that 80% of my analyses are made on my own games. I guess today about 3/4 of that time is used to study openings which permits me mainly to create depth in my repertoire. I don't find this redundant as my opponents prepare themselves on the material which they can find about me. Thanks to those intensive analyses for which there is no sufficient time during a game-prepartion, I am able to survive the openings. It is also the only alternative that I have with the scientific approach compared with players frequently deviating. Attentive readers will certainly have noticed that I regularly publish pieces of those thorough analyses on this blog. E.g. Linton Donovan thankfully absorbed some of the material written in my article tactic to defeat the strong FM Martin Ahn, see game. To not become the victim myself of my own publications, I admit sometimes to hide on purpose some fragments. I try to limit this to the bare minimum so only the most sensitive elements are removed and often not much relevant anyway to the content of the article.

It is insufficient to create a good repertoire based solely on the own played games (something which I only found out by experience). Besides depth it is also important to work in the width and for this I mainly use game preparations. That game preparations are a very good incentive for a lot of players to study openings, was earlier affirmed in a reaction of the Belgium FM Tom Piceu which already was covered in my article the fake truth. The previous 2 interclub-seasons in the Belgian first division were for me an ideal catalyst to make serious progressions in my repertoire. More than 75 hours were spent at game preparations in only the season 2012-2013 as recorded earlier in the article the list of strength. Despite no direct results this was not a lost investment. All analysis (using among other things the method of the green moves) were always inventoried in a personal white and black opening-book on my computer.

This season I already could reuse a lot of those game-preparations. This not only let me win a lot of time but also permitted me to dig deeper in the repertoire of possible opponents (no luxury with the big imbalance between the smaller and bigger clubs of the first division). Because of this I was able to get a very decent opening in my game against Dejan (described in the article camouflage). Another advantage of my repertoire becoming more mature, I noticed in round 10 when suddenly the Dutch IM Henk Vedder popped up as opponent. He never played earlier in the season in the Belgium interclub so it was a total surprise. Nevertheless I got a very nice advantage out of the opening and it is really a pity that I was not able or didn't dare to face fully the complications. Maybe some time-shortness also played a limited role too as I always need a lot of time to remember an old analysis. I don't want to make a silly mistake in the move-order.
[Event "Interclub Deurne - Borgerhout"] [Date "2014"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Vedder, H."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2336"] [BlackElo "2380"] [PlyCount "64"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Qb6 8. Na4 Qa5 9. c3 b6 {(It was a complete surprise for me that Henk sit in front of me as he did not play before this season for Borgerhout. Nevertheless I was excited as the rare variant which he chose, was something that I already studied extensively in 2009.)} 10. Bd2 c4 11. b4 Qa6 { (I played my 2 previous moves quickly so I suspect Henk realized that I was acquainted with the opening. It is therefore a logical choice not to play the much sharper Nxb4 but to choose for the more strategic but also more passive Qa6.)} (11... Nxb4 12. cxb4 Bxb4 13. Qc2 Bxd2 14. Nxd2 b5 15. Nc3 b4 16. Nd1 Qb6 17. Nf3 a5 {(Less well known but not less interesting. )} 18. Be2 $1 a4 19. Qd2 $1 $14) 12. Be2 {(I doubted longtime in the game between Be2 and Qc2 as I could not fully remember my analysis. In the end I chose for what I had studied. Today I have to admit that based on new analysis also Qc2 and Nb2 with the idea after Qa3 to answer with Nxc4 are also giving good chances for some opening-advantage.)} Be7 13. O-O O-O 14. Qc2 f6 15. Nb2 b5 16. a4 {(In 2010 Henk already met exf6 by the young promising Dutch player Arthur Pijpers. White won that game. My move is not inferior as it is even recommended by the engines so I do find it strange that Henk still repeats this line. Maybe my opponent assumed that I was not familiar with the opening but such gamble looks unnatural to me.)} bxa4 {(2 earlier games of lower rated players continued with Nb6 but blacks novelty hardly changes the verdict.)} 17. Nxa4 Qb5 18. Nc5 $5 {(The engines recommend Rfb1 to eliminate every counter-play.)} Nxc5 19. dxc5 $6 {(I have to admit that bxc5 is stronger as now black gets more chances.)} fxe5 20. fxe5 Qb8 $4 { (This loses but even my top-engines have difficulties to find the refutation. Playable is a5.)} 21. Nd4 $2 {(A nice move guaranteeing a small advantage but winning is Ng5.)} (21. Ng5 $1 Rxf1 $5 22. Rxf1 Bxg5 23. Bxg5 Bd7 24. Bh5 $1 {(A tough move even for Houdini.)} Be8 25. Bg4 Qc8 26. Qf2 Bg6 27. Qg3 $18) 21... Bd7 22. Bg4 Nxe5 $6 {(Also for black are the complications too difficult as here Rxf1 is better.)} (22... Rxf1 $1 23. Rxf1 Qc8 24. Nxc6 Qxc6 25. Bh5 $1 Rf8 26. Ra1 Qc7 $14) 23. Bxe6 Bxe6 24. Nxe6 Rxf1 25. Rxf1 Nd3 26. Qd1 Qe5 27. Qg4 $2 {(Retracting moves in the attack are not easy for a human to find but a computer has no emotions.)} (27. Nf4 $1 a5 28. Nxd3 cxd3 29. Qf3 axb4 30. cxb4 Qd4 31. Be3 Qe5 32. Qf7 Kh8 33. Qf4 $16 ) 27... Re8 $2 {(A draw can be achieved after a5 but the line is absolute madness.)} (27... a5 $1 28. Nxg7 {(White has alternatives but this is the move which I planned and likely which black feared.)} Qxg7 29. Qe6 Kh8 30. Rf7 axb4 31. Rxe7 {(The queen is a poisoned present.)} (31. Rxg7 $4 Ra1 32. Be1 Bxc5 33. Kf1 Rxe1 34. Qxe1 Nxe1 $19) 31... b3 {(Not the only move but the most funny one.)} 32. Rxg7 Ra1 33. Be1 Kxg7 34. Qd7 Kf8 35. g3 Rxe1 36. Kg2 b2 $11 {(White has to force the perpetual to avoid losing.)}) 28. Nd4 Bf6 29. Qd7 Re7 30. Qd8 Re8 31. Qd7 Re7 32. Qd8 $2 {(I force a repetition of moves as I do not see how to make progress without taking serious risks. It is indeed not easy as only deep engine-analysis showed the correct path.)} (32. Qc6 $1 h6 33. Rf5 Qe4 34. Qxd5 Qxd5 35. Rxd5 Bg5 36. Rxg5 {(Only after this exchange-sacriice, the engines start to see the light. Of course to see this in advance, is way above my calculation abilities.)} hxg5 37. c6 Kf7 38. Nb5 Ke8 39. Nd6 Kf8 40. b5 g4 41. Kf1 Ne5 42. Bg5 Nxc6 {(Now Bxe7 and bxc6 generate an endgame with excellent winning chances.)}) 32... Re8 { (Although not fully inline with the rules, I proposed here a draw to avoid disturbing the other players with a claim. Black did not object and accepted immediately. )} 1/2-1/2
I played my 10th and 11th move quickly so I guess Henk did suspect my acquaintance with the nonetheless rare variant. His choice for a passive but more strategic 11..Qa6 instead of the explosive 11...Nxb4 is understandable. Surely not a wrong choice as I had looked at it extensively in 2009 in consequence of the repertoire of Mher Hovhanisian (see an expanded black-repertoire). When last year in the top-tournament of Dortmund (which was won surprisingly by Michael Adams) this variant popped up in a game, I was of course curious to check at which extend my analysis would correspond.
[Event "41st GM"] [Site "Dortmund GER"] [Date "2013.08.04"] [Round "9.5"] [White "Caruana, F."] [Black "Fridman, D."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2796"] [BlackElo "2629"] [PlyCount "125"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Qb6 8. Na4 Qa5 9. c3 b6 10. Bd2 c4 11. b4 Nxb4 {(A known but risky piece-sacrifice surely against a top-player like Fabiano.)} 12. cxb4 Bxb4 13. Qc2 Bxd2 14. Nxd2 b5 15. Nc3 b4 (15... Nb6 {(Mher Hovhanisian chose for this rare move in his game against the strong French-Armenian player Tigran Gharamian, played in 2008.)} 16. Be2 b4 17. Nd1 Bd7 18. O-O Ba4 19. Qc1 Bxd1 20. Bxd1 g6 21. f5 { (Very creative but Nf3 recommended byt the engines looks not only easier but also stronger.)} gxf5 22. Bh5 Na4 23. Nf3 h6 24. g4 Nc3 25. Qe3 fxg4 26. Nh4 O-O-O 27. Bxf7 Qb6 28. Rf6 Qxd4 29. Qxd4 Ne2 30. Kg2 Nxd4 31. Rd1 Nc2 32. Kf2 d4 33. Bxe6 Kb8 34. Nf5 c3 35. Bb3 d3 {(Wit has a won position but eventually a draw was miraculously concluded after 116 moves.) }) 16. Nd1 Qb6 17. Nf3 O-O 18. a3 {(Till this point the Italian superstar matches my analysis. However here he deviates but I have serious doubts if his choice is optimal. Maybe white created something on the board so not based on earlier prepared analysis.)} (18. Be2 f6 19. exf6 Rxf6 20. Qc1 $146 {(The queen will land on e3 after which I surely prefer white.)}) 18... b3 19. Qd2 f6 {(Another interesting plan for black is Qc6-Nb6-Na4)} 20. h4 Nb8 21. h5 a5 22. h6 Ra7 23. Nc3 Nc6 24. Rd1 Raf7 25. exf6 gxf6 26. g3 Kh8 27. Bh3 Qd8 28. Kf2 Qd6 29. Rhe1 f5 30. Qb2 Rf6 31. Rh1 Rxh6 32. Ng5 Kg7 33. Na4 Qe7 34. Nf3 Na7 35. Nc3 Bd7 36. Rde1 Qd6 37. Re3 Qb6 38. Qd2 Qd6 39. Qb2 Qb6 40. Kg2 Nc8 41. Ne5 Be8 42. Qd2 Nd6 43. Ree1 a4 44. g4 fxg4 45. Bxg4 Rxh1 46. Rxh1 Nf5 47. Bxf5 Rxf5 48. Qe3 h5 49. Rg1 Kf8 50. Nf3 Qd6 51. Ne2 Bg6 52. Kf2 Bh7 53. Ng5 Bg8 54. Qg3 Qe7 55. Qh4 Qf6 $2 {(After b2 Houdini shows an incredible variant which still gives black some surviving chances.)} (55... b2 56. Qxh5 Qxa3 57. Nh7 Ke7 58. Qh4 Kd7 59. Nf6 Kc6 60. Nxg8 Rf7 61. Rb1 Kb7 {(And Houdini shows an evaluation close to zero.)}) 56. Qxh5 c3 $2 {(This ends the game abruptly. Ke7 was more stubborn.)} 57. Nh7 Bxh7 58. Qxh7 Rxf4 59. Nxf4 Qxf4 60. Ke2 Qe4 61. Qxe4 dxe4 62. Kd1 Ke7 63. Rg5 1-0
Thanks to the recent intensive game-preparations I was able to expand my repertoire but for some players it does not end here. Eventually you are still lagging behind on the latest developments if you only base yourself on played games of yourself or of the opponents. To be maximally competitive it is important to follow up all the trends. New books, magazines,.. must be bought at regular intervals. More about this was already covered in my article the sequence. Creating a repertoire is not only something which takes a lot of time but it is also never finished. I often envy less experienced players as this less beautiful side remains for them limited.