Monday, January 19, 2015

Optical illusions

Endgames often hide their beauty. Their treasure is sometimes only detected in the analysis as during the game there is no time or stress dominates. A deceptive easy looking position not seldom demands a lot of extra research compared with what we initially believed.

In positions with a very limited amount of material it is evident that the king plays a major role. The king doesn't wait anymore in a corner but is actively participating in the battle. In some endgames you get the feeling that the king does the job all alone. Recently I studied a few of those endgames and once again I was surprised how complex and beautiful chess can be.

After my very fortunate victory in round 3 of Open Leuven on Iuliia Morozova, I had to play the same evening still against the Belgian grandmaster Alexander Dgebuadze. I didn't play well the opening which forced me to spend a lot of time avoiding an immediate defeat. Later in the game I managed to fight back but in the end I run out of time. Short of time I blundered and got a lost endgame on the board after which the flag rescued me of further suffering. At least that was how we both evaluated the game till I discovered with an engine that the endgame wasn't lost at all.
[Event "Open Leuven 4de ronde"] [Date "2014"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Dgebuadze, A."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2337"] [BlackElo "2510"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/1k6/1p6/3p4/3PbBpP/2p3P1/5P2/5K2 w - - 0 37"] [PlyCount "6"] 37. Ke1 $4 {(A study-like draw can still be achieved with Ke2.)} ( 37. Ke2 $1 Ka6 38. Bd6 Kb5 39. Bc7 Ka4 40. Bxb6 Kb3 41. Ba5 c2 42. Bd2 Kb2 43. h5 c1=Q 44. Bxc1 Kxc1 45. Ke3 Kc2 46. Kf4 Kc3 47. Kxg4 Kxd4 48. f3 Bc2 (48... Kc3 $2 {(Now black even loses.)} 49. fxe4 d4 50. h6 d3 51. h7 d2 52. h8=Q $18) 49. Kg5 Kc5 (49... Bh7 50. Kf4 Kc3 51. g4 d4 52. g5 Bc2 53. g6 d3 54. h6 d2 55. h7 $11 ) (49... Ke5 50. f4 Kd6 51. f5 d4 52. h6 d3 53. h7 d2 54. h8=Q $11 ) 50. f4 d4 51. f5 Bb3 (51... d3 52. h6 d2 53. h7 d1=Q 54. h8=Q $11) 52. Kf4 Bg8 53. h6 Kd5 54. g4 d3 55. Ke3 $11 ) 37... Ka6 38. Kd1 {(Now the mechanism with Bd6 does not work anymore as white miss a tempo.)} (38. Bd6 Kb5 39. Bc7 Ka4 40. Bxb6 Kb3 41. Ba5 c2 42. Bd2 Kb2 43. h5 c1=Q 44. Bxc1 Kxc1 45. Ke2 Kc2 46. Ke3 Kc3 47. Kf4 Kxd4 48. Kxg4 Kc3 49. f3 d4 50. fxe4 d3 51. h6 d2 52. h7 d1=Q $19 {(Black has other wins in the last moves too but this line shows very nicely how important the tempo was.)}) 38... b5 39. Bd6 Ka5 {(My flag dropped but honestly I was relieved not having to search any futile defense anymore.)} 0-1
The illusion is that black easily wins with his fast passed pawn and this fast bishop prevents any counter-promotion. However the truth is that the slow king is sufficiently fast to support the pawns and simultaneously slow down the passed pawn. A remarkable performance which reminds me of the famous Reti-study.

A second example of an illusion I met in the book From London to Elista which I read during my holidays in Russia. I discovered the existence of the book a few month ago by accident and I immediately decided to buy it. The book is easy readable with more shortened analysis than Kasparovs books of his matches with Karpov. The book wasn't written by Kramnik but is a project of the for me unknown Russian amateur Ilya Levitov which relied for the analytic part on the strong Russian grandmaster Evgeny Bareev. This brings a special dynamic in the book with sometimes good but also less good chapters. Especially when Ilya tries to make statements about some technical aspects then I am a bit annoyed by the ignorance. In the book after the missed winning chances by Kasparov of the 8th match-game a reference is made to the strange resignation in the game Kramnik Svidler, played in Wijk aan Zee 2004. Svidler resigned in apparently a drawn position which Ilyia unjustly classifies as a beginners-mistake.
[Event "Corus"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee"] [Date "2004.01.14"] [Round "4"] [White "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Black "Svidler, Peter"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B97"] [WhiteElo "2777"] [BlackElo "2747"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "4r3/5p2/5k1p/p2B2p1/P1K2bP1/2P2R1P/8/8 b - - 0 42"] [PlyCount "14"] 42... Re3 {(Further waiting is not pleasant and the opposite bishop-endgame looks a safe harbor for the draw.)} 43. Rxe3 Bxe3 44. Kb5 Ke5 45. Bxf7 Kd6 46. c4 Bf2 47. Be8 Ke7 48. Bc6 Kd6 49. Bb7 {(Here Svidler resigned because it was inevitable that white would create 2 distanced passed pawns. It appeared an optical illusion as afterwards they soon discovered that blacks king can do much more than obstruct the c-pawn.)} (49. Bb7 Kc7 50. Bd5 Be1 (50... Kd6 51. Bf7 (51. Kxa5 Kc5 52. Ka6 Kb4 53. a5 Bd4 54. Kb7 Kxa5 55. Kc7 Kb4 56. Kd6 Bf2 $11 {(White can capture the h-pawn but black puts the king on c5 and the bishop on h4 which constructs an impenetrable defense.)}) 51... Be3 52. Be8 Bf2 53. Kxa5 Kc5 54. Bb5 Be1 55. Ka6 Bd2 56. Kb7 Ba5 57. Kc8 Kd6 {(Blacks king avoids that whites king can escape and simultaneously stops the important c-pawn.)} 58. Be8 {(Only the sacrifice of the c-pawn allows white to free the king but then black can put the king on a5 and the bishop on h4. Again this is a position which white can not win.)} Bb6 $11) 51. c5 Bd2 52. Kc4 Bf4 53. Kd3 Be5 54. Ke4 Bf4 55. Kf5 Be3 56. c6 Kd6 57. Bh1 Bf4 58. Kg6 Bg3 59. Kxh6 Bh4 60. Kg6 Kc7 61. Kf5 Kd6 62. Bg2 Kc7 63. Ke5 Bg3 64. Kd4 Be1 65. Kc5 Bb4 66. Kb5 Be1 67. Bh1 Bd2 68. h4 $18 {(I assume this position was probably what Svider thought as unavoidable when he resigned and is indeed a simple win. This reminds me of my endgame against Grochal which I earlier discussed in the article "opposite bishops".)}) 1-0
The resignation has nothing to do with being ignorant about the basic rule of 3 columns between 2 passed pawns in an oppositie coloured endgame as Ilya claims. On the contrary, it is because Svidler knows this rule that he resigned as he had the optical illusion that such lost position was unavoidable.

A third and last example of an optical illusion which I want to show here, is an endgame which I met a few years ago in an analysis. Again I was surprised that my engine immediately showed a win while I thought on first glance that it should be an easy draw. Later I tried to compose an endgame-study out of it with an introduction but I must admit that I didn't get further than a rough diamond.
[Event "Composition-idea"] [Date "2014"] [White "?"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/4k1p1/3p3p/2p1P3/1p1P4/p1P3P1/1P5P/1K6 w - - 0 1"] [PlyCount "39"] 1. exd6 $1 Kxd6 2. dxc5 $1 Kxc5 3. cxb4 $1 Kxb4 4. bxa3 $1 Kxa3 5. Kc2 $1 Kb4 6. Kd3 $1 Kc5 7. Ke4 $1 Kd6 8. Kf5 $1 Ke7 9. Kg6 $1 Kf8 10. Kh7 $1 {(The exclamation-marks are only put to tell that there is only 1 winning move. Till this position it is just the introduction. Optically it looks a simple draw but we will quickly discover this is an illusion.)} Kf7 (10... h5 11. Kg6 $1 h4 12. g4 $1) 11. g4 $1 Kf8 12. h4 $1 Kf7 13. g5 $1 hxg5 (13... h5 14. Kh8 $1 Kg6 ( 14... g6 15. Kh7 $1) 15. Kg8 $1) 14. hxg5 $1 g6 (14... Kf8 15. g6 $1 Ke7 16. Kxg7 $1) 15. Kh6 $1 Kf8 16. Kxg6 $1 Kg8 17. Kh6 $1 Kh8 18. g6 $1 Kg8 19. g7 $1 Kf7 20. Kh7 $1 {(20 consecutive only moves which are needed for the win!)} *
Except for the funny king-walks, I find it extraordinary how white still managed to get black into zugzwang. Anybody with time and energy is free to rework the study into something looking better.

Despite the small steps, the king is often not weaker than a piece but this only becomes clear in the endgame when the king can join the action. Besides the mobility of the king is more difficult to grasp as it can reach a square via several routes in the same number of moves but optically the distance looks each time different. Maybe this is simple for somebody like Ivanchuk. When Yasser Seirawan asked him why Jobava resigned after the first round of the still ongoing Wijk aan Zee , then he replied "It is not so difficult for a good grandmaster". However for us ordinary mortals such optical illusions are much tougher to see through.


Monday, January 12, 2015


Some time ago Daniel Sadkowski asked my opinion about Negi's new book. He assumed by default that I bought the book as it largely overlaps with my repertoire. However I shocked him by replying that I don't have it. I haven't bought any openingbook anymore the last 20 years. In the post-mortem after my game in Opwijk somebody asked me how I can have often a better knowledge of openings without possessing books than my opponents have.

In my article using databases I explain how in a quick efficient way to get results. The results are more than sufficient for a player of my rating but it would be a big mistake to deduct that we always will be successful. I frequently use correspondence-games in my preparation but correspondence is very different from standard-chess. The same remark can be made for standard-chess compared with blitz. It is not because an opening is fully playable on a certain tempo that the same results will be achieved on a different tempo. An example I mentioned in my article Achilles.

We shouldn't forget that in standard-chess we don't have access to engines (if we don't cheat of course) neither have the time nor the means to inspect all the details. So the danger is real that a player at the board gets into nasty problems if you just follow without serious study a correspondence-game. Something like that happened in my game of the 3rd round Open Leuven. I had no experience with the Chinese dragon so I tried to patch this gap by memorizing some critical lines of correspondence-games. The correspondence-game which I followed, was Delizia, Costantino - Silva, Marcus Antonio Roli played in 2012.
[Event "Witold-ROW(s)"] [Site "ICCF"] [Date "2012.03.01"] [White "Delizia, Costantino"] [Black "Silva, Marcus Antonio Roli"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2325"] [BlackElo "2316"] [PlyCount "97"] [WhiteTeam "Witold’s Friends"] [BlackTeam "Rest of the World"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2 O-O 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. O-O-O Rb8 11. Bb3 Na5 12. Bh6 Bxh6 13. Qxh6 e5 14. Ndb5 Nxb3 15. axb3 Bxb5 16. Nxb5 Qa5 17. c4 d5 18. Qg5 Nd7 19. exd5 a6 20. Na3 b5 21. Qd2 Qb6 22. cxb5 axb5 23. d6 Rfc8 24. Kb1 b4 25. Nc4 Qa6 26. Rhe1 Rb7 27. Qe2 Ra7 28. Kc2 Rb7 29. f4 Rb5 30. Kb1 exf4 31. Qd2 Ra8 32. Re7 Nc5 33. Qd5 Ne6 34. Qe4 Kf8 35. Rd5 Rxd5 36. Qxd5 Rd8 37. Rb7 Ra8 38. Rxb4 Qa1 39. Kc2 Rd8 40. Na5 Qe1 41. Nc6 Rd7 42. Rc4 Kg7 43. b4 Qe2 44. Kb3 h5 45. Ne5 Ra7 46. d7 Ra1 47. Rc2 Qd1 48. Qxd1 Rxd1 49. b5 1-0
As expected, Iuliia deviated from the game at move 17 because d5 is obviously not a standard move which a human will think about in this type of positions. Unfortunately I quickly realized that the resulting position was not simple at all to play. The position is very rich and many details influence the evaluation. Naturally inaccuracies and even blunders became quickly unavoidable. Below the game with some comments.
[Event "Open Leuven 3de ronde"] [Date "2014"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Morozova, I."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B78"] [WhiteElo "2337"] [BlackElo "2072"] [PlyCount "61"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. O-O-O Rb8 {(I only found 1 game in the database of my opponent with the Chinese Dragon. Nevertheless I had reviewed the opening in my preparation. Not very extensive obviously as there was no time but sufficient to stay at least on equal terms.)} 11. Bb3 Na5 12. Bh6 {(By coincidence I had studied the same line a week earlier for the preparation against De Vos Nils, playing for Brasschaat. Once more an example of reusing preparations in later games. Besides by reusing the analysis, I was able to concentrate more on other lines which Iuliia has in her repertoire.)} Bxh6 13. Qxh6 e5 {(More popular is b5 but e5 is not a surprise as it even scores better and is played most often nowadays in correspondence-chess.)} (13... b5 14. Nd5 {(I had planned this move as it is scoring best in standard-chess as well in correspondence-chess. H4 and g4 are more popular but maybe after below analysis which were made after the game, some people will give it quicker a try.)} Nxb3 ( 14... e5 15. Nf5 Nxb3 16. axb3 Bxf5 17. exf5 Nxd5 18. Rxd5 Rb6 19. Rhd1 {(An improvement on Kovacevic - Cebalo played in 2005 but already known from the correspondence-world in which it was already 4 times tested.)} Qe7 20. g4 $14 { (Kangur,Alva - Rodriguez Keith and white won in 45 moves in the ICCF Olympiad Final 17th, 2009)}) (14... e6 15. Ne3 {(Again a novelty from the correspondence-chess which has not found the path yet to standard-chess. After the normal Nxf6 I could not find an edge for white.)} Rb6 16. Kb1 {(In the correspondence-game Toropov, Maksim Olegovich - Miciak, Ing. Emanuel played in 2013, h4 was chosen which is also sufficient for a small advantage.)}) 15. Nxb3 (15. axb3 {(I investigated a lot of time on this continuation because it is not easy at all to find something with Nxb3.)} b4 {(An incredible move and of course played in correspondence-chess.)} (15... Nxd5 16. exd5 Qa5 17. c3 $14 {(A simple improvement over Qe3 played in the otb-game Yilmaz - Sirin.)} b4 18. c4 Rbc8 19. Rhe1 Rfe8 20. Kb1 e5 21. dxe6 fxe6 22. Nc2 $14 ) 16. Rhe1 $146 {(My novelty to bring new live in this variation.)} (16. Nxf6 exf6 17. h4 Re8 {(In the correspondence-game Danzanvilliers Patrice - Rilberg Stefan, h5 was chosen in 2009 but after g5 white could not avoid defeat. More prudent is to keep the retreat possible with an equal position.)}) 16... e6 17. Nxf6 Qxf6 18. f4 {(With the idea after e5 to saddle black with a bad bishop. Houdini believes it is defensible but practically this could be a good backup for 15. Nxb3.) }) 15... e5 (15... Nxd5 16. exd5 Qc7 17. h4 Rbc8 18. Rd2 f6 {(To answer h5 with g5.)} 19. Re2 a5 20. Qd2 a4 21. Nd4 Rf7 22. h5 g5 23. Rhe1 $146 {(In 2 correspondence-games of 2009 and 2011, Ne6 was chosen and black successfully defended. I expect that they also looked at Rhe1 but I can not find a forced draw for black so Rhe1 looks more than sufficient for standard-chess.)}) 16. Ne3 $146 {(Stockfish shows this move after long calculations. I only started to look seriously at it when I found out that the known alternatives do not give a clear advantage. This move also pops up in another line so it is not a complete surprise.)} (16. h4 Nxd5 17. Rxd5 Rb6 18. h5 (18. f4 Bc6 $146 {(A simple improvement on the otb-game played in 2009 between Robson - Papp which continued with Be6.)}) 18... Qe7 19. Qe3 Be6 20. Rd2 b4 21. Kb1 Rc6 22. f4 Rc7 $146 {(In the correspondence-game Alonso Gonzalez Carlos - Moreno Carretero Carlos played in 2008, a5 was chosen but black got into difficulties after f5. Rc7 looks better with a playable position for black.)}) (16. Nxf6 Qxf6 17. h4 (17. Rd5 Rfd8 {(Other moves are probably also playable.)} 18. Rhd1 Bc6 19. R5d3 Rb6 20. Qd2 Be8 $13 {(In the correspondence-game Williamson Harvey D - Rilberg Stefan black chose for the weird Ba8 and lost. Better seems Be8.)}) 17... Rb6 18. Nc5 Bc8 19. Nd3 Qe7 $146 {(This could be more accurate than b4.)} (19... b4 20. h5 Qe7 21. Qe3 Be6 22. Kb1 $14 {(White won in 52 moves in the correspondence-game Efendiyev Enver Mikhailovich - Bauer Manfred played in 2008.)}) 20. Qe3 {(I also investigated Qd2, Kb2, Nb4 and Qg5 without arriving to a final verdict what exactly is the best move.)} Be6 21. h5 { (After Kb1 maybe f5 is possible.)} Qc7 22. Kb1 Rc8 23. Qd2 b4 24. b3 Qc3 $13 {(My engines indicate this is defensible for black but I surely find whites position attractive.)}) 16... Be6 17. Kb1 Kh8 18. Qh4 Qe7 19. Rd3 Rb6 20. Rhd1 Kg8 21. h3 Bc4 $14) 14. Ndb5 {(Nde2 is the known continuation but I saw some recent interesting correspondence-games with Ndb5 so I got attracted by it. For my opponent my choice was a surprise as she did not study this before.)} Nxb3 15. axb3 Bxb5 16. Nxb5 Qa5 17. c4 $6 {(I follow a correspondence game of 2012 but now after elaborated analysis I am trusting more Na3 to seek some advantage.)} (17. Na3 $1 Rfd8 (17... Rbd8 18. Kb1 $1 $146 {(In the correspondence-game Schilcher Andrian - Privara Dr Igor played in 2013, Qg5 was played. White won a pawn but black found enough activity to make a draw. Kb1 is possibly a refinement. I also looked briefly to Qd2 and h4 with a pleasant game for white without finding a concrete advantage.)} Qc7 19. Qg5 $1 {(C4 and h4 are interesting alternatives but at the moment my preference is Qg5.)} Kg7 20. Nb5 Qe7 21. Rhe1 $14) 18. h4 {(Already chosen in 4 correspondence-games and probably the strongest but Kb1 is not bad either.)} b5 19. h5 Qc7 { (1 correspondence-game continued with Nxh5 but after g4 white quickly got a too strong attack.)} 20. hxg6 $146 {(The critical position as now several plans are possible. As the 3 correspondence-games ended in draws i tried to find some fresh interesting ideas.)} ( 20. Qg5 Qe7 21. b4 $146 {(Hxg6 is a transposition to a variation discussed after 20.hxg6. B4 without hxg6 is an independent line.)} (21. Rd3 a6 $1 22. hxg6 {(I also looked at Re1 to thwart d5 but again without finding a concrete advantage.)} (22. Rhd1 d5 23. f4 h6 24. Qxe5 Qxe5 25. fxe5 Nxe4 26. Rxd5 Rxd5 27. Rxd5 gxh5 {(We still follow a correspondence-game of 2013 between Jan Willem van Willigen and Dr Igor Privara in which black gradually managed to equalize. )}) 22... fxg6 {(Giuliani answered with Nb1 and although white pushed for a longtime, he did not succeed to breakthrough. Some alternatives which I investigated are c3, c4 and Rhd1 without making substantial progress.)}) 21... Qe6 $1 22. Nb1 Ra8 $1 23. Nc3 a5 $1 $44 {(A gambit which gives black good compensation.)}) 20... fxg6 21. Qh4 {(Only now we are on new territory.)} (21. Qg5 Qe7 22. g4 $1 $146 {(With Rd3 we would transpose to the correspondence-game Giuliani Sante - Voll Aleksey Borisovich EU/TC8/final played in 2012. I also looked at b4 but black seems to possess some adequate resources.)} Rf8 $5 23. Rd3 $1 Qc7 $5 24. Nb1 $1 b4 $5 25. Nd2 a5 26. Kb1 $1 Ne8 27. Qe3 $14) 21... Qe7 $14 { (After b4 as well Nb1 a small edge is shown by my both top-engines.)}) 17... Rfd8 $6 $146 {(An expected novelty as I must admit that I did not think black knew the correspondence-game with d5 or would find the critical move at the board. By the way it is one of the main reasons why I chose this variation.)} (17... d5 $1 18. Qg5 (18. exd5 Nxd5 19. Rxd5 Qa1 {(The trick why d5 works.)}) 18... Nd7 19. exd5 a6 20. Na3 Qb4 $146 {(In the correspondence-game Delizia Constantino - Silvia Marcus Antonio Roli played in 2012 black chose for the aggressive b5 and in the end lost. B5 is maybe playable but Qb4 looks much better.)} 21. Qe3 b5 22. cxb5 Nc5 {(This is the most precise continuation.)} 23. Kb1 Nxb3 24. d6 f6 25. f4 Nd4 26. fxe5 Nxb5 27. Nxb5 Rxb5 28. Rd2 $13 {(The e-pawn drops and the advanced d-pawns looks insufficient to win the game.)}) 18. Qg5 $6 {(Stockfish is enthusiastic about this move which I discovered already during my preparation but at the same time this also proofs the limitations of such preparation. Only later so after the game after many hours analyzing I found that solely Kb1 is enough for some advantage.)} (18. Kb1 $1 Qb4 $5 (18... a6 $5 19. Nxd6 Qb6 20. c5 {(All tactics which without an engine is impossible to discover.)} Qxc5 21. Nf5 Ne8 22. Ne3 Rbc8 $5 23. Nd5 Qd6 $14) 19. Rd3 a6 20. Na3 b5 $5 21. Rhd1 { (Houdini believes Rc1 is doable but it is not pleasant for black.)} Ne8 22. h4 (22. Nc2 Qc5 23. Ne3 $1 Qa7 {(Bxc4 is better although white also should be better.)} 24. c5 $1 Qxc5 25. Nd5 Rd7 26. Rc3 Qa7 $16 {(White can double the rooks on the c-file and/ or build an attack on the kingside with h4.)}) 22... Rdc8 23. Rc3 Qa5 24. Qd2 Qb6 $14 {(The fork with b4 is easy to parry with Rd3.)}) 18... Ne8 19. Kc2 $5 {(From here onwards I started to think myself. I quickly realized the position is totally unclear how to continue. Kc2 does not spoil anything but more critical is without doubt h4 and Kb1.)} (19. h4 $5 Nc7 20. Nxc7 Qxc7 21. Rd5 b5 22. c5 dxc5 23. Qxe5 Qxe5 24. Rxe5 Rbc8 25. Rd1 Rxd1 26. Kxd1 a6 {(I could not catch Stockish making a mistake but in this endgame there are surely practical chances for standard-chess.)} 27. Kc2 $5 Kf8 28. g4 $5 h6 29. Rd5 Ke7 30. f4 Rc6 31. Kc3 Rc8 32. h5 Rc6 33. Re5 Re6 $4 {(Kf8 and black defends.)} 34. Rxe6 Kxe6 35. g5 $18) (19. Kb1 $5 Qb4 20. Rd3 $5 a6 21. Na3 b5 22. h4 $5 f6 $1 23. Qg4 Ng7 $1 24. h5 $5 {(An important alternative is Rc1.)} gxh5 25. Qh4 $5 Rf8 26. Qh3 $5 {(Rhd1 and Nc2 are important alternatives.)} bxc4 27. Nxc4 a5 28. g4 a4 $1 29. gxh5 h6 $1 {(Black must play very precisely to avoid immediately a disadvantage.)} 30. Rg1 Rb7 31. Nxd6 $5 Ra7 32. Qe6 Kh7 33. Qc4 Qb6 34. Rgd1 axb3 35. Rxb3 Qd8 {(Black has good compensation for the pawn but I must admit we are pretty far away from the game and the final position is neither clear to conclude the analysis.)}) 19... a6 20. Ra1 Qb4 21. Nc3 b5 $6 {(In the game I expected Nc7 and that is indeed approved by the computer with approximately an equal position.)} 22. cxb5 $2 {(I saw Nd5 and rated it better for white during the game but I thought my move is winning. Blacks 23rd move was a cold shower.)} Rdc8 {(I only considered axb5 after which by the way white only has an equal position. However Rdc8 is much stronger.)} 23. Ra4 $2 {(With Qd2 I could have limited the damage but I did not feel at all the danger.)} (23. Qd2 $1 Rxb5 24. Kb1 Rbc5 $1 25. Rxa6 Qxb3 26. Ra3 Qb4 27. Ra4 Qb7 28. Rc1 $1 Nc7 $15) 23... Qxb5 {(Stefan Docx asked me after the game if I missed this move and I could only confirm. I wrongly assumed Qc5 was obligatory as was the case after 21.Ra4 but with the rook on c8 black can just pick up the pawn.)} 24. Ra3 Qb4 25. Qe3 d5 {(I also saw the move but I hoped Iullia would not find it. Black gets now a winning attack.)} 26. exd5 Nd6 27. Kd1 {(The win after Rha1 and Kb1 were also found by my opponent. Kd1 was the only move to complicate a bit.)} (27. Rha1 Nb5 $19) (27. Kb1 Nc4 $19) 27... Nf5 {(Black want to keep the knights on the board but Nb5 wins much more direct.)} (27... Nb5 28. Nxb5 Rxb5 29. Re1 Rxd5 30. Ke2 Rc2 31. Kf1 {(Black stopped here with her calculations. As often 1 move too early.)} Rdd2 32. Qxe5 {(This allows a nice finish.)} Rf2 33. Kg1 Rxg2 34. Kh1 Rxh2 35. Kg1 Rhg2 36. Kh1 Qh4 37. Qh2 Qxh2#) 28. Qd3 Nd4 29. Re1 Nxb3 30. Na2 a5 $4 {(Black was convinced there was somewhere a direct win hidden and spent hereby more than 10 minutes. Suddenly she realized that less than 5 minutes remained to play till move 40, panicked and played probably one of her most horrible blunders.)} (30... Qb6 31. Rxe5 Nd4 32. b4 Nb5 33. Rb3 Qg1 34. Re1 Qxg2 35. Qd2 Qh3 $19 {(My both engines show this mainline. Whites position is totally loose so black must be able to win with some strong moves.)}) 31. Nxb4 {(I captured the queen only after a minute of reflection as such sort of present is very rare. In the evening my opponent left the tournament. On one hand understandable but on the other hand I find this weak. There were still 3 rounds to play and such blunders are unavoidable in any chess-career.)} 1-0
I was of course ironic with "some comments" as I spent a lot of time analyzing the opening. Besides I don't call this studying an opening but rather researching an opening. Obviously something you learn but eventually the return is low. In standard-chess it is not necessary to know this depth of details. Besides I believe few or no opening-books contain such detailed analyses. Vass on chesspub indicated that opening-books are written for tournament-players and little or nothing is relevant for correspondence-chess.

As non-correspondence-player why would somebody make such analysis. The answer is simple. I find it fascinating. I understand most people are indifferent by seeing details and rather prefer watching a battle on the board with mistakes but I can also enjoy a lot discovering small nuances in a certain type of position. This time I even found some ideas which probably are useful in correspondence-chess. In fairness I have to admit that with engines becoming ever stronger, it is not so unusual to find ameliorations on older correspondence-games.

Such research takes time, a lot of time. During 2 weeks each day I worked with my notebook which I only gave a break at night to cool down. This cooling is no luxury as despite I bought the new notebook only a few months ago, it produces (probably the fan) more and more noise.

In my previous article I mentioned time is scarce for me but last Christmas-holidays I had much spare time available. Just like previous year (see article the lucky one) I was again in Russia. Naturally there were the New Year festivities, visits and excursions but in the end most of the time is spent in the apartment of the parents-in-law. To entertain small children isn't always easy (especially as they don't understand sufficiently the Russian language). I had the splendid idea to bring along the first book of the the chess-steps but after 1 lesson my youngest already gave up. Boring and if you check below video then you understand that my son prefers something more active.

By the way not only children are enjoying the ice-slide but also many adults dared a ride. Big fun of course only for the parents watching attentively - ready to help when something goes wrong- it was pretty cold. No this kind of daredevilry is not for me. I rather prefer an interesting chess-opening which I can investigate quietly in a warm and cozy environment.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Although I have less and less spare time, I can really enjoy kibitzing. Following live games as spectator is a very different experience. There is no stress and you can jump unlimited to any game. As today often games are broadcast via a server, it is possible to get at any moment a pretty accurate verdict of the position.

If we exclude pseudo-kibitzing while playing - as that is often nothing more than glancing to the positions of competition or friends - today 99% of kibitzing happens at home from the arm chair. Arranging bus-transport to visit the tournament of Wijk aan Zee - as chessclub Oude God Mortsel already did a few times, is a rare exception. In most tournament you see barely any spectators resulting often in a special allotted room for the audience remaining completely empty.

Only for top-level-chess between professionals we notice on the internet many kibitzers. However it is too optimistic to state that every player is also a potential kibitzer. While chatting with players, I remark that many of them never follow live any game from top-tournaments or even the world-championship. I even have the impression that only a minority of players kibitz on regular base games from other players.

I wrote the introduction to proof what we already in fact know. Chess is an individual affair. Some fans exist but you play for yourself. Besides I am also convinced that we play chess in first instance to win. A loss can be surely an interesting experience but nobody keeps playing if he loses every game. The decisions we make in a game are always connected with the goal of winning the game. So I consider the reaction of the Anonymous IM a bit too simplified as there are 3 types of players: sportsmen, artists and scientists. Except some strange cases, nobody will choose for a beautiful but complicated queen-sacrifice when another simple move can win the game at once. Nobody will choose a complex win if there is a more simple win just to shorten the game with a few moves and play more scientifically.

There exist no different styles? Of course there are but in different domains. First every player will try to exploit its assets and camouflage their weaknesses. Somebody knowing a lot of an opening (learned from books, analysis or practice) will use this knowledge in his games. Somebody discovering easily good moves in unorthodox positions will exactly try to strive for such positions (e.g.  the flamboyant Dutch IM Manuel Bosboom). Somebody calculating quickly and accurately will try to strive for positions full of tactics. Finally somebody strong in the endgame will agree quicker to exchanges.

Maybe some choices seem artistic or scientific but in reality the sporting aspect is always dominant. Now this doesn't end the story as besides conscious choices also character plays a role of which we have little control. I am often astonished how different people impulsively react on certain risks. While one player sees all kind of big dangers, another player thinks everything is under control. Such difference in style was magnified in my games against Lacrosse and Beukema.

After the move-order mistake at move 20 Marc told me afterwards that he already contemplated resignation. The position is indeed not pleasant for black but resigning is too pessimistic as the position is surely still defensible.
[Event "Open Gent 9de ronde"] [Date "2014"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Lacrosse, M."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C83"] [WhiteElo "2333"] [BlackElo "2200"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r4rk1/2p1bppp/p7/1p1qP3/3N4/1PP5/1P1pRPPP/1R1Q2K1 b - - 0 20"] [PlyCount "42"] 20... c5 $6 {(Marc gets seldom or never the mainline on the board and because of that mixes up the move-order. First Bg5 and then c5 is playable although I had some surprise in store.)} (20... Bg5 $1 21. g3 c5 22. Nf5 Qd3 23. Nd6 Qg6 24. h4 Bxh4 25. Rxd2 Be7 26. Ra1 {(Marc told me afterwards that he still knew the game Caruana - L’Ami from 2012 which continued with Rd5 but Ra1 is an interesting and dangerous alternative from the correspondence-world which I prepared.)} Qe6 (26... f6 27. Qf3 fxe5 28. Qd5 Kh8 29. Qxe5 Bxd6 30. Qxd6 Qxd6 31. Rxd6 Rae8 {(This double rook-endgame is slightly better for white but correspondence shows it is defensible.)}) 27. Rd5 $1 f6 28. Rxc5 fxe5 29. Qd5 Qxd5 30. Rxd5 Rad8 31. Rad1 Bxd6 32. Rxd6 Rxd6 33. Rxd6 Rf6 34. Rxf6 gxf6 35. b4 {(After the game I showed Marc this pawn-endgame which I hoped to reach and is completely hopeless for black.)} Kf7 36. b3 {(Biedermann,Kyle - Kogeler,Aart 1 - 0 played in 2013.)}) 21. Nf3 {(Black now loses a pawn. Marc already considered resigning but this is far too pessimistic as black still has excellent drawing-chances thanks to whites poor pawn-structure.)} Rad8 22. Rxd2 Qe6 23. Rxd8 Rxd8 24. Qc2 h6 25. h3 Rd7 26. Ra1 g6 27. c4 Kg7 28. Qe2 Qc6 29. Re1 Rb7 30. Rd1 Rd7 31. Rxd7 Qxd7 32. Kf1 Bg5 33. Qc2 $5 {(I investigated longtime h4 in the analysis without finding a clear path for a win.)} a5 34. cxb5 $5 {(I looked at e6 and h4 but again black seems to possess many resources.)} Qxb5 35. Qc4 Qd7 36. Ke2 Be7 $6 {(However this looks wrong as now white gets the opportunity to recycle the knight to a much better position. After the correct Qf5 I do not see how white can force a decision. )} (36... Qf5 $1 37. Qd3 Qe6 38. Qc3 Qf5 39. Nxg5 Qxg5 $14 {(Of course white can still try for a long time but it is very difficult or even impossible to avoid a perpetual and at the same time make progression.)}) 37. Nd2 Qf5 38. Qe4 Qh5 $6 {(Now it goes very quickly downhill after this mistake as blacks queen is shut out from play.)} (38... Qd7 $1 39. Nc4 h5 40. f4 Qb5 $5 41. Qd3 f6 $5 42. Ne3 $1 Qc6 $16 {(White makes slowly progress but must still be very careful not to let black off the hook.)}) 39. Nf3 f5 40. Qb7 Kf7 41. Qd5 1-0
A big difference with Stefan which afterwards told me that he felt the whole game was more or less balanced while objectively he often stood worse than Marc was in our mutual game. Even about the final position in which Stefan is still worse, Stefan remarked that he could've won if I avoided the repetition of moves.
[Event "Interclub Deurne - Brasschaat"] [Date "2014"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Beukema, S."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C99"] [WhiteElo "2337"] [BlackElo "2311"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r4rk1/1q1bbppp/2np1n2/1p2p3/p2PP3/4BN1P/PPB2PP1/2RQRNK1 b - - 0 18"] [PlyCount "38"] 18... a3 {(The strong Dutch-Bosnian grandmaster Pedrag Nicolic also once played this but it never became popular as black does surely not solve all opening-problems. Nonetheless Stefan was aware about the critical line with Rfe8 as I found back 6 earlier games in the database. I assume a3 was chosen to get me out of book.)} 19. b3 {(Throwing out of book only succeeds partly as by coincidence I play the same position with black and I already studied a3 in very similar positions. This way I knew b3 is the right anti-dote.)} Bd8 20. dxe5 $5 $146 { (This looks sufficient for a small advantage for white. In my databases I still found wins for white with Bb1 and d5 which also give some advantage.)} dxe5 21. Bc5 Re8 22. b4 Be7 23. Bb3 Rad8 $2 {(Stefan is a very tactical player but as many players mainly in an attacking mode. A double exchange via Bxc5 followed up with Be6 is better with a small disadvantage for black as now white gets an excellent winning-chance.)} 24. Qe2 $2 {(I remember that I looked a few seconds to the brilliant Bxf7 but I did not realize that it also worked. Qe2 is also sufficient for a small advantage which is probably the reason why I did not look for anything stronger.)} (24. Bxf7 $1 Kxf7 {(The engines play Kh8 but no human would play that move.)} 25. Qb3 {(Not first with the knight as white has no answer after Kg6.)} Kg6 26. Nh4 Kh6 27. Ng3 Bxc5 (27... g6 28. Qf7 {(Another quiet move which closes in the king.)} Ng8 29. Be3 Bg5 30. Nhf5 gxf5 31. Bxg5 Kxg5 32. Qg7 Kh4 33. exf5 Bxf5 34. Nxf5 Kh5 35. g4#) (27... Nd4 28. Bxd4 exd4 29. Ngf5 Bxf5 30. Nxf5 Kg6 31. Qg3 Kf7 32. Qxg7 Ke6 33. e5 $18) 28. Ngf5 Bxf5 29. Nxf5 Kh5 30. Qf3 Kg6 31. Qg3 Kh5 32. Nxg7 Kh6 33. Nf5 Kh5 34. Qh4 Kg6 35. Qh6 Kf7 36. Qg7 Ke6 37. Qxb7 $18) 24... Bxc5 25. Rxc5 Nd4 26. Nxd4 exd4 27. Nd2 $6 {(I doubted for a longtime in this position but eventually did not go for the best continuation.)} (27. f3 $1 Bc6 28. Qc2 Bd5 29. Rd1 Bxb3 30. Qxb3 g6 31. Qd3 Nh5 32. Rxb5 Qe7 $14 ) 27... Bc6 28. f3 $5 {(Also here I spent a lot of time as Rec1 looked very attractive till I discovered 29... Bd5.)} (28. Rec1 $5 Bxe4 29. Rc7 Bd5 30. Qxe8 Nxe8 31. Rxb7 Bxb7 $13) 28... Nd7 29. Rcc1 Nb8 $6 { (This move was a surprise. I first feared Na6 could bring problems till I found Nb1 which again gives white the better position. H6 or Ne5 are better. By the way after Ne5 there is a possible repetition of moves which I detected during the game and which I likely would allowed.)} 30. Nb1 Qa7 $6 {(Black uses small tactical tricks but further loses the coordination. Nd7 or d3 are better with a limited disadvantage for black.)} ( 30... Nd7 $5 31. Red1 Ne5 32. Nxa3 d3 33. Qf2 Rd6 $1 34. Rc5 $14) 31. Red1 $6 { (More precise is Qd3 which introduces Nxa3 thanks to the treat Bxf7. I completely missed this idea probably partly due to lack of time.)} (31. Qd3 $1 Qb6 $5 32. Nxa3 Nd7 33. f4 Nf6 34. e5 Nd5 35. Bxd5 Rxd5 36. Re2 Red8 37. Nb1 $16) 31... Rd6 32. Qf2 Nd7 $2 {(Black realizes the concept with Nb8 was not fantastic but this gives white another golden opportunity to get a huge advantage.)} (32... Na6 $1 33. Nxa3 Nxb4 34. Nc2 Nxc2 35. Rxc2 $14 {(Black can not hold the pawn d4 but this does not need to be decisive.)}) 33. Rd2 $2 {(I choose quiet solid moves which are sufficient for some advantage but with the beautiful move Nc3 I could achieve a more or less decisive advantage.)} (33. Nc3 $1 Ne5 34. Ne2 Bd7 35. f4 $1 Nc4 36. e5 Rg6 37. Bc2 $18 {(The attack is countered and the d-pawn will be captured.)}) 33... Rd8 $6 {(Stefan neither has much time left therefore also misses that Nc3 is still possible. The engines prefer Ne5 which black forces to give up the d-pawn but again keeps some surviving-chances.)} (33... Ne5 $1 34. Rcd1 Red8 35. Bd5 Bxd5 36. Rxd4 Qb8 $1 37. Rxd5 Rxd5 38. exd5 Nc4 39. Qd4 $14) 34. Qg3 $6 {(Pity, I do not see Nc3 with a clear advantage for white.)} Nf8 $6 {(Here more accurate is Rg6.)} 35. Qf2 Nd7 36. Qg3 $6 Nf8 $6 37. Qf2 $2 {(This allows 3 times the same position. Stefan proposed a draw before making a move which was ok for me as otherwise he would anyway claim. With Rd3 white still had a solid advantage as again Nxa3 is a threat thanks to the trick Bxf7. After the game I immediately indicated that I had the feeling that I missed something but I anyway agreed with the repetition as without a clear overview, I could easily make a blunder with only a few minutes remaining on the clock.)} 1/2-1/2
The evaluation-profiles for both games show objectively well how similar the size of the advantage was in both games for me and so how big the gap in perception was between both opponents. Readers interested in knowing more about evaluation profiles, must read the article on Chessbase from Roger Vermeir.
Evaluation profile game Brabo - Lacrosse since move 20

Evaluation profile game Brabo - Beukema since move 18
Of course a valid remark is that a similar judgement of the same engine in totally different positions may not automatically let us conclude that similar practical chances are existing. I am not making such silly claim. However what I do demonstrate with the evaluation-profiles is that Marc was too pessimistic while Stefan too optimistic. Maybe this was a coincidence for those specific games but I have a strong feeling that you will find this behavior also in their other games.

The behavior of both players neither is exceptional. I often detect players with a strong tendency to pessimism or optimism. Without willing to call names but in my club we have a player always believing after the opening that we will win with a big margin, only to be surprised by the much lower score after the match ended. Some of those optimists are also active in other domains in which luck plays a bigger role: poker, gambling in a casino,...

I personally find those different styles making chess more appealing. By the way if we look to the different former-worldchampions then it seems that different styles are possible for getting excellent results. Forcing upon yourself some style, doesn't sound to me the right solution.