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.


No comments:

Post a Comment