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.


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