Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Because of all the commotion around the finished worldcup-football my son became very interested in football. In my youth I played often with some friends of the neighborhood so today I still find it fun to regularly practice with my son. However my son has much more energy and time than I so it is never enough which let me decide to subscribe him in the local football-club. Big was the disappointment when we heard end of August that he was put on a waiting-list and didn't get the chance to start this season. In a newspaper I read that there was a run on the football-clubs, everywhere is a lack of infrastructure and so out of necessity they work with waiting-lists.

I proposed him to choose a different (physical) sport but to my surprise he only wanted to play again chess. Last season he quit somewhere half-way because he lost his interest so I let him repeat twice to be sure that he was serious. Last Sunday we went for the first time to the youth-class. He hadn't played chess for months so I doubted if he still remembered something which we learned last year. During the half hour drive I asked him  how many points is a knight. 3 points was the immediate answer. And the bishop, rook,... My concern was unjust as he gave every time the right answer and in the club he mated immediately twice a 3 year older boy. We have started well.

I learned this point-system long ago from a chess-book of Hans Bouwmeester and I still find it an easy method to quickly explain a beginner what a bad or good exchange is. Of course there are serious limitations on this point-system whereby some people did an effort to refine it. Recently there was a discussion about this on chesspub and more specific about the value of different pawn-formations. As reference was used the publication of Hans Berliner on wikipedia.

I don't consider defining the exact values interesting unless you are a developer of a chessprogram but I do find it useful to know which combinations have a positive or negative influence. I already once mentioned in my article chess-intuition part 2 about Capablanca's advantage, a tandem of queen and knight. In this article I want to discuss a different tandem, the connected rooks. Connected rooks are pretty trivial but when they start to move together then a remarkable collaboration is created.

In the 4th round of Open Gent I proposed a draw to Mehr Hovhanisian which to my big embarrassment happened in a more or less technically lost position. We both possessed about a tandem of rooks but I completely underestimated the difference in mobility and activity between both tandems. Later some spectators asked me if I really had to lose that position but my analysis didn't find any salvation.
[Event "Open Gent 4de ronde"] [Date "2014"] [White "Hovhanisian, M."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A04"] [WhiteElo "2510"] [BlackElo "2333"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/p1pBr1pk/1p1p1r1p/5P2/2P1P3/1P4R1/P3K2P/6R1 b - - 0 36"] [PlyCount "40"] 36... Rxd7 {(Here I even proposed a draw as I believed that I could create sufficient counterplay against the e-pawn. Whites next move woke me up and I was afterwards even embarrassed of the draw-proposal.)} 37. Rg6 Rff7 38. Re6 Rde7 $6 {(Tfe7 is more stubborn but also then whites tandem with Rgg6 works much better than blacks. White can slowly increase the pressure while black can only wait and suffer. I could not find a fortress for black..)} 39. Rgg6 Kg8 40. Kd3 Kf8 41. Kd4 Ke8 42. b4 a6 43. Kd5 Kd7 44. a4 Re8 45. Rxe8 Kxe8 46. Kc6 Re7 {(I noticed during the game that the resulting pawn-endgame was lost but further waiting is also futile. Mehr spent for a last time a serious amount of reflection time and then finished the job flawless.)} 47. Re6 Rxe6 48. fxe6 a5 49. b5 Kd8 50. e7 Kxe7 51. Kxc7 g5 52. Kxb6 g4 53. Kc7 h5 54. b6 h4 55. b7 g3 56. hxg3 1-0
I could break the tandem but not without serious defects. It is not an ordinary position but in comparison with what happened in the recent game Adams - Vachier Lagrave it is rather simple.

The extensive chess-trainings in France are making a sharp contrast with the deplorable situation in Belgium (I use on purpose the recent words of the Belgian FM Eldorado). Just before the Olympiad France even had for a short period 4 + 2700 players whom moreover have grown up and so also trained in France.  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is today the undisputed number 1 in France with a very attractive style. In his game against the British grandmaster Michael Adams, MVL demonstrates his breathtaking mastership. His tandem cross through the complete board.
[Event "4NCL 2013-14"] [Site "Hinckley ENG"] [Date "2014.05.05"] [Round "11.111"] [White "Adams, Mi"] [Black "Vachier Lagrave, M."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2752"] [BlackElo "2758"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "1r6/4pp2/4k3/3pP2p/2bP2rB/Pp3RP1/1K1R4/8 b - - 0 43"] [PlyCount "19"] [EventDate "2013.11.16"] [WhiteTeam "Wood Green HK"] [BlackTeam "Guildford"] {(White has no counterplay at all and the b-pawn does not present much hope to defend successfully. However I do find the conclusion of the game special as black only plays rook-moves to force resignation.)} 43... Rbg8 44. Rff2 Re4 45. Rd1 Rgg4 46. Kc3 Re3 47. Kb2 Rge4 {(Like a tandem the rooks cycle through the position.)} 48. Rdd2 Re1 49. Rh2 Rg1 50. Rhf2 Ree1 51. Kc3 Ra1 {(Head and tail are reversed of the tandem.)} 52. Kb4 Ra2 {(And white had enough. One of the threats is Rga1.)} 0-1
It seems to me no coincidence that in both examples the defense fails due to a lack of counterplay. So the success of the moving tandem mainly depends how well the opponent can interfere. Personally I find discovering such little rules fun and useful. Players only looking to the evaluation of their engine will surely miss this kind of lessons.


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