Friday, May 22, 2015

The Glek

Strong ambitious players will surely know which openings are today trendy. In the British chessmagazine simply called Chess, each month there is a summary of which openings became more or less popular for top-players. However most amateurs try to stay faraway of those openings and prefer a repertoire which is more stable so without quick theoretical developments. It is not hard to avoid theory but it is less evident to achieve at the same time an interesting position on the board. I mean with an interesting position that a battle of ideas are possible instead of reciting theory.

An opening which complies at these conditions for black and already touched on my blog is the Czech defense. In this article I want to look at a white opening which is already for some time very popular between amateurs: the Glek. The Glek is defined as a four knightsgame with g3. The Russian grandmaster Igor Glek developed the system beginning of the 90ties and still regularly uses it today. Meanwhile about 40 games of Igor are with his system in the databases.

The popularity is likely owned a great deal to the large number of books propagandizing the opening as easy playable: Mikhail Tseitlin & Igor Glazkov "The Complete Vienna" (Batsford, 1995)Gary Lane "Vienna Game" (Everyman, 2000)John Nunn "New Ideas In The Four Knights" (Batsford, 1993)Jan Pinski "The Four Knights" (Batsford, 2003)Cyrus Lakdawala "The Four Knights: Move By Move" (Everyman, 2012),... I remember that just before the millennium foremost Paul Motwani was peddling his books door to door in my region. This created a big boost of players using the opening in their repertoire.

Although the opening is particularly attractive for amateurs, also some professional players like to experiment with it. Not every professional is always keen to battle a complex theoretical duel. Sometimes they also just want to play chess and avoid any preparations. Recently the Azerbaijani grandmaster Shakhriyar Mamedyarov used this opening in his game against the Russian grandmaster Dmitry Jakovenko in the Fide Grandprix at Tbilisi. Yes probably no coincidence that Shak again is a protagonist as in the article of the Czech defense.
[Event "FIDE Grand Prix Tbilisi"] [Site "Tbilisi GEO"] [Date "2015.02.21"] [Round "6"] [White "Shakhriyar Mamedyarov"] [Black "Dmitry Jakovenko"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C26"] [WhiteElo "2759"] [BlackElo "2733"] [PlyCount "152"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. g3 {(This opening already exists since the 19th century. It still attracts players today as it creates positions in which theory plays rather a minor role.)} d5 4. exd5 Nxd5 5. Bg2 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Nc6 7. Nf3 {(Only now we can really call it a Glek. The Russian grandmaster Igor Glek developed the system in the 90ties and has today approximately 40 games in the database with this position.)} Bc5 8. O-O O-O 9. Re1 {(Initially Glek played also Re1 but now he prefers d3 which I already encountered myself in my games against Vandenbrande Werner and Maddens Martijn.)} Qf6 10. d3 Bg4 {(H6 is more popular.)} 11. h3 Bh5 12. Be3 {(The critical move seems g4.)} (12. g4 Bg6 13. Bg5 { (Here we see a small drawback of not playing h6.)} Qd6 14. Nxe5 Nxe5 15. d4 $13) 12... Bb6 13. g4 Bg6 14. Nd2 Qh4 15. a4 f5 {(Black already conquers the initiative.)} 16. gxf5 Bh5 17. Nf3 Qe7 18. Bxb6 axb6 19. d4 Rxf5 20. Qd3 Raf8 21. Nxe5 Nxe5 22. Rxe5 Rxe5 23. dxe5 Qxe5 24. Qd5 Qxd5 25. Bxd5 Kh8 26. Bxb7 Rf5 27. Re1 Rc5 28. Re3 Kg8 29. Be4 Bf7 30. Bd3 Kf8 31. Bb5 Bg6 32. Bd3 Bxd3 33. Rxd3 Rc4 34. Kg2 Rxa4 {(Black of course pushes in the rook-endgame as white must be very careful with the heavily damaged pawn-structure.)} 35. Kg3 Ke7 36. h4 g6 37. f3 Ke6 38. Kh3 Rc4 39. Kg3 Ra4 40. Re3 Kf6 41. Rd3 Rc4 42. Re3 Kf5 43. Rd3 c6 44. Re3 b5 45. Rd3 Rc5 46. Re3 Re5 47. Rd3 Rd5 48. Re3 Rd2 49. f4 Kf6 50. Re5 Rd5 51. Re3 Rc5 52. Kf3 Rc4 53. Kg4 h6 54. Kg3 Kf5 55. Re5 Kf6 56. Re3 h5 57. Kf3 Kf5 58. Re5 Kf6 59. Re3 c5 60. Rd3 Ke6 61. Re3 Kd6 62. Rd3 Kc6 63. Ke3 Ra4 64. Rd8 Rc4 65. Rg8 Rxc3 66. Kd2 Rh3 67. Rxg6 Kd5 68. Rg5 Kd4 69. Rxh5 b4 70. Rg5 c4 71. Rg1 Rxh4 72. f5 Rf4 73. Kc1 Rxf5 74. Kb2 Ke3 75. Re1 Kd2 76. Re4 Rc5 1/2-1/2
My analysis indicate that probably white must try to improve with 12.g4. While preparing this article I discovered that the same recommendation was done on chesspub by Markovich already in 2013 ! (Markovich is a senior international master ICCF Mark Morss)

The Vienna move-order is today at least as popular as the 4 knights order but that can well change when players get informed about the recent game Vedder - Geirnaert.
Steven Geirnaert
Steven Geirnaert is one of the current rising stars in Belgium although he is not anymore in his childhood. Some people will wonder how this is possible but if you look more closely to the little pieces of shared information then you realize that hard working is as often the key to success. Reading and studying chessbooks, analyze endgames, preparationsplay abroad (with this year a grandmaster-result in the Dutch interclub) ... witness motivation and an iron discipline. Hereby I should not forget the role of his chessloving and supporting girlfriend Iris.

Of course also his repertoire maturated. At the previous week finished Flemish championship he told me that often his experience outweighs a specific preparation of the opponent. Now it is not only in the depth that the progress is seen but also in the diversity. He shocks in his game against Vedder with a stunning novelty at move 4!
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.exd5 c6 !?
Well new isn't fully correct as there are already some games in the database with this move but above screenshot proves no strong players (+2400) ever played it. Besides till now none of the games by titled players choosing black were won. At the contrary as almost all games were lost by black. So is this novelty again a bluff from Steven? Time to investigate the game more deeply.
[Event "Borgerhout - KBSK"] [Date "2015.03.15"] [Round "10.2"] [White "Vedder, Henk"] [Black "Geirnaert, Steven"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C26"] [WhiteElo "2432"] [BlackElo "2400"] [PlyCount "64"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. g3 d5 4. exd5 c6 5. dxc6 $5 {(Accepting the gambit is very risky without any study which shows this game. Besides I think it is anyway better not to accept the pawn and make a choice between d4 or Nge2.)} (5. Nge2 $5 Nxd5 $5 {(I slightly prefer this move although it does not match with blacks previous move.)} (5... cxd5 $5 6. d4 e4 $5 (6... exd4 $5 7. Nxd4 Nc6 8. Bg2 Bg4 9. f3 Bd7 10. O-O Be7 11. Be3 O-O 12. Nb3 $13) 7. Bg5 Nbd7 8. Bg2 $13) (5... Bc5 $5 6. Bg2 cxd5 7. d4 exd4 8. Nxd4 O-O $5 (8... Bg4 $5 9. f3 Qe7 10. Qe2 Bxd4 11. Qxe7 Kxe7 12. fxg4 $13) 9. O-O Bg4 10. Qd3 $13) 6. Bg2 Nxc3 7. bxc3 $5 {(Nxc3 is certainly an option and maybe is microscopically stronger.)} Bd6 8. O-O O-O {(Former world-champion Boris Spassky played twice this position with white around 1980. Once against Karpov and once against Timman. Both games were draws so the position is most likely balanced.)}) (5. d4 $5 exd4 (5... Nxd5 $5 {(Black still wants a gambit.)} 6. dxe5 Bb4 7. Bd2 Nxc3 8. bxc3 $44) 6. Qxd4 cxd5 { (This position is already known from the Sicilian opening: 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.g3 d5 4. exd5 exd5 5.d4 exd4 6.Qxd4 Nf6)} 7. Bg5 Be7 $5 {(All games with a 2300 player choose this continuation but Nc6 should be also considered.) } (7... Nc6 $5 8. Qa4 Bb4 9. Nge2 Bg4 10. Bg2 Bxe2 11. Kxe2 $13) 8. Nge2 $146 { (I could find quite some games with this opening but only few strong players wish to play this position with white. This means there is still a lot of virgin territory. The idea Nge2 is of course not new but the timing is as I could not find a predecessor with this refined sequence.)} Nc6 9. Qa4 O-O 10. O-O-O Qb6 11. Nf4 $13) 5... Nxc6 6. Bg2 Bg4 7. f3 $5 {(I do not like this concept although it is maybe still playable. Better are Nge2 or Bf3 but also in those lines black has full compensation for the sacrificed pawn.)} (7. Bf3 $5 Qd7 8. Bxg4 Nxg4 9. Nf3 Bc5 10. O-O O-O 11. d3 $44) (7. Nge2 $5 Nd4 8. h3 Bf3 9. Bxf3 Nxf3 10. Kf1 Bb4 11. Kg2 $44 {(Black can respond with Qc7 as Kxf3 is punished by Qc6.)}) 7... Bf5 $5 {(The most natural square but possibly Bd7 is little more accurate.)} (7... Bd7 $5 8. Nge2 Bc5 9. d3 Qb6 10. Na4 Qa5 11. c3 Be7 12. b3 Rd8 13. Nb2 $44) 8. Nh3 $2 {(For sure not an easy position but the move of Komodo: Bh3 looks best with the idea to free g2 for the king. An engine has no psychological problem with moving twice the same piece in the opening and at the same moment offer the swap of the bishops which weaken the white squares.)} Bc5 9. Ne4 Nb4 10. a3 Nxe4 11. axb4 Bxh3 12. Bxh3 Nf2 13. Qe2 Bd4 $6 {(Steven has played the opening brilliantly however there is a hole in the plan chosen. Bb6 and taking the exchange, guarantees black a clear advantage.)} 14. c3 Bb6 15. Bg2 Qd5 $2 {(Steven wants to install a piece on d3 which more or less will put white positionally bankrupt but as earlier mentioned this does not work. Again better was to take the exchange although now white already gets some compensation.)} (15... Nxh1 $1 16. f4 O-O 17. fxe5 a5 18. Bxb7 Nxg3 19. hxg3 Rb8 $15) 16. O-O $2 {(Henk misses the opportunity to turn the game upside down.)} (16. d4 $1 Nxh1 17. f4 Nxg3 18. hxg3 Qd7 19. fxe5 a5 20. Qe4 O-O 21. Qxb7 Qxb7 $14) 16... Nd3 17. Kh1 f5 18. b3 O-O 19. Ba3 Rad8 20. c4 Qf7 21. c5 Bc7 22. Rfb1 $2 {(This passive move does not improve the position. The gambit with b5 recommended by the engines is better to resist..)} (22. b5 $1 Qxb3 23. b6 axb6 24. Rfb1 Qc2 25. c6 Rf7 26. cxb7 Rfd7 27. Qe3 Qc6 $15 ) 22... Rfe8 $2 {(Centralizing the rook, what is wrong with that? Nothing except black could get a winning advantage via some tactics: 22... f4 23.g4 e4 )} 23. Bf1 $6 {(White wants to remove the octopus from d3 but this is not helping. Better is to create activity with Bb2 even if this costs a pawn.)} (23. Bb2 $1 f4 24. g4 e4 25. fxe4 Nxb2 26. d4 Rxd4 27. Rxb2 Be5 28. Rxa7 Rxb4 $15 ) 23... a6 24. Qg2 Re6 25. Rc1 e4 26. fxe4 fxe4 27. Bxd3 Rxd3 28. Bb2 Qd7 29. Bc3 $6 {(There was no time anymore for this consolidating move. Only Re1 prolongs the game.)} (29. Re1 $1 Rxd2 30. Re2 Rd1 31. Re1 Rd3 32. Re2 Be5 33. Bxe5 Rxe5 34. Rae1 Rd4 $17 ) 29... Rh6 30. c6 Qg4 31. Bxg7 Rxg3 32. Qf2 Rxh2 0-1
My analysis clearly demonstrates that the new idea is perfectly playable. On top it also testifies how dangerous it can be for white to play such position on sight so unprepared. If players want to continue playing this opening then I advise them to check carefully my analysis how to improve Vedders game. Now it is a little bit too strong just to attribute Stevens victory solely to the opening. Some strong moves still needed to be played. While giving recognition, I should certainly not forget to mention that Steven was offered this novelty by nobody less than Stefan Docx on the condition that I can trust the interclubreport of Borgerhout for round 10. It is no coincidence that Stefan is also a not so young player anymore but recently made quite some progress by working very hard see e.g a grandmaster norm for stefan docx.

I can imagine quite some players don't want to study the details of this novelty or just don't like the resulting positions. Well fortunately we still have the 4 knights-sequence. In 2004 the only active grandmaster of Andorra: Oscar De La Riva Aguado chose in our mutual game for that sequence.
[Event "Interclub Orange - Lille EDN"] [Date "2004"] [White "De la Riva Aguando, O."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C47"] [WhiteElo "2549"] [BlackElo "2308"] [PlyCount "51"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. g3 d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 Nxc3 7. bxc3 Bc5 8. O-O O-O 9. Re1 {(I encountered d3 in 2001 by Werner Vandenbrande so I had some experience with this type of positions.)} Qf6 {(I knew in advance that my opponent could choose this line so I had checked it in my preparations. Re8 is the most popular move but I have doubts about the correctness. Black has a lot of less known alternatives which are also interesting: f6, h6, Bg4, Qd6, Bb6.)} (9... Re8 $6 10. d4 $1 exd4 11. Rxe8 Qxe8 12. cxd4 Bb6 13. c4 Bg4 14. c5 Rd8 15. cxb6 Nxd4 16. Qxd4 Rxd4 17. Nxd4 Qe1 18. Bf1 axb6 $14) 10. d3 h6 {(The most popular continuation but it is not clear which one is the strongest. Bg4, Bb6 and Re8 are serious alternatives.)} 11. Be3 Bb6 12. Nd2 {(The specialist of this system, the Russian grandmaster Igor Glek played several times this move with varying success.)} Bf5 {(Black tried some alternatives in the past but nothing which looks clearly better than my choice.)} 13. a4 $5 $146 {(I still found 1 correspondence-game with Rb1 and a complicated game. Shredder recommends Qf3 but this neither gives any advantage to white.)} Rfe8 14. Qb1 $5 {(I found this idea in a game of Igor Glek. There are many possibilities in his position like Bd5 and Qh5 recommended by the engines with approximately equality every time.)} Rad8 15. Qb5 $5 {(I do not understand this move. More natural looks Nc4.)} Bd7 16. Qb2 Bg4 $6 { (Played aimlessly and giving white a chance to find an advantage based on the unprotected piece. I had seen the right move Na5 in the game but the dogma "a knight on the rim" let me change my mind.)} (16... Na5 $1 { (Black prepares Bc6 to neutralize the pressure on the diagonal and to weaken the white squares around the white king)} 17. Bxb6 (17. c4 Bd4 18. c3 Bxe3 19. Rxe3 b6 20. Qc2 c5 21. Bd5 Be6 22. Be4 Qe7 $11) 17... axb6 18. c4 Qe7 19. Re3 f6 20. c3 Bc6 21. Bxc6 Nxc6 22. Rae1 $11) 17. h3 $6 { (Strange white does not want to profit from blacks last weak move. A5 was rather an easy way for some advantage.)} (17. a5 $1 Nxa5 18. Qb4 $14 {(With an attack against a5 and g4 which results in a clear advantage for white.)}) 17... Be6 $6 {(Here the bishop is safe but the protection of e5 is interrupted. More accurate was Bd7 with a balanced position.)} 18. Re2 $6 {(Again white misses the opportunity as the temporary pawn-sacrifice a5 is very strong.)} ( 18. a5 $1 Nxa5 19. c4 $14 {(White threatens winning a piece with c5 and simultaneously winning the pawn on e5.)}) 18... Qg6 $6 {(Black neither realizes the problem in the center. Ok was Bd5.)} 19. Rae1 $6 {(Weird that white despite his high rating does not see a5 followed up with taking b6 and the pawn on e5 drops.)} f6 $5 {(Finally black solves the problem of his e-pawn. An alternative was Bd5.)} 20. Nb3 $5 {(C4 is a sharper continuation..)} Qh5 $6 {(Aimlessly played as the provocation of g4 can not be exploited and now white can quietly improve his position. Better is e.g. Ne7 or Bd5 and black is not worse.)} 21. g4 Qf7 22. c4 Bxe3 23. Rxe3 Qf8 $6 {(Now black gets into serious problems. The black center can be blasted open at once with f4 as the bishop on e6 is not protected anymore. Correct was Bc8 and white is only slightly better.)} 24. f4 $2 {(Incomprehensible and afterwards Oscar admitted to play mediocre. F4 wins a pawn without compensation.)} (24. Bxc6 $1 bxc6 25. f4 Bd7 26. fxe5 $16) 24... Bd7 25. fxe5 Rxe5 26. Rxe5 $5 {(In this complex position my opponent proposed a draw. White has more space but his pawnstructure is awkward and he also realized that his play was not strong that day. Besides an extra half point more or less guaranteed the team-victory for Orange. I thought a few minutes about the proposal but finally accepted as a clear road to play for a win is not visible. A nice alternative was Be4 but it does not change the evaluation.)} 1/2-1/2
Quite some small mistakes on both sides but the game shows very well how complex the positions are in the Glek. Almost every move has alternatives and often the small details define the correct evaluation.

Probably some players will prefer the Vienna order as they want to avoid some lines in the 4 knights game. Personally I think there is little or no theoretical difference between both sequences. Besides in both lines you can have interesting battles. This article just warns the reader for c6 in the Vienna sequence.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015


The article Desert Island books but also some reactions confirmed once more that I know very little about chess-literature. It has no sense to look for any excuses. More relevant now is that last couple of years I regularly try to read a chessbook. Today it is much easier to buy books financially but especially Kasparovs series was an eye-opener for me. Chessbooks can be much more than just dry analysis.

After having read 3 books about the matches Kasparov-Karpov I made the switch to the books about his Great Predecessors. Personally I've always been fascinated to discover why things are like they are and not different. Which history, development proceeded till today. Currently I am reading the 3rd book and I must admit that those 3 books seriously changed my view about chess. I don't believe this will make me a stronger player but I do get the feeling to understand and enjoy a bit better the complexity of chess as a game.

A concept like prophylaxis is something any master uses today often several times in a game. However after reading about the Armenian former-worldchampion Tigran Petrosian you understand that he propagandized prophylaxis as a powerful weapon which can and should be used. Kasparov gave with the chapter "Miracles of Prophylaxis" in part 3  full credit to Petrosian for the development of this concept.

I was already aware about how Petrosian by using prophylaxis prevented any counterplay in middlegames before it even started but new to me was that he also developed some openings based on this ideology. I am not a 1.d4 player but in the kingsindian and the queensindian openings he left his mark. In 1954 Petrosian played for the first time the Bg5 variant against the Kingsindian which today is called after him and must still not be underestimated.
[Event "URS-chT"] [Site "Riga"] [Date "1954"] [Round "1"] [White "Petrosian, Tigran V"] [Black "Suetin, Alexey S"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E94"] [PlyCount "79"] 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. e4 d6 4. d4 Bg7 5. Be2 O-O 6. Nf3 e5 7. d5 Nbd7 8. O-O Nc5 9. Qc2 a5 10. Bg5 {(This is the first time that Tigran demonstrates Bg5 is very dangerous for black.)} h6 11. Be3 Nfd7 12. Nd2 f5 13. exf5 gxf5 14. f4 exf4 15. Bxf4 Ne5 16. Rae1 Bd7 {(Black has some permanent weaknesses in the position but his piece-activity holds the defense. In the next moves Petrosian will try to limit this activity with the necessary prudence.)} 17. Nf3 Qf6 18. Qd2 Rae8 19. Nxe5 dxe5 20. Be3 b6 {(Black has 2 hanging pawns which can be a weakness or a strength. I once had this formation in a game against Geert Vanderstricht but I had no clue what to do so more or less committed suicide.)} 21. Bh5 Re7 22. Bd1 Qd6 23. Bc2 Ref7 24. Kh1 Ra8 25. Re2 Qf8 26. Ref2 Nb7 27. Qe2 Nd6 28. c5 bxc5 29. Bxc5 Rb8 30. b3 Qc8 31. Qh5 Qa6 32. g4 f4 33. Re1 Qc8 34. Bxd6 {(White missed here the win. Besides in the next couple of moves some other mistakes happen but in the end white prevails which fortunately gave Bg5 the deserved recognition.)} cxd6 35. Bg6 Rf8 36. Ne4 f3 37. g5 Rf4 38. Rg1 Bf5 39. gxh6 Bxe4 40. Bxe4 1-0
For an extensive analysis of above game I refer to the 3rd book. Petrosian refined the system over the years but more important to remember is that Bg5 is played because he knew in advance that f5 anyway has to be played and after Bg5 this will be in a less favorable format.

Earlier I wrote that I won't improve by reading about chess but that is maybe not fully correct. Maybe if I read this passage before playing my game against Rein then the course of the game could've been very different.
[Event "Interclub Deurne - Zottegem"] [Date "2015"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Verstraeten, R."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B08"] [WhiteElo "2330"] [BlackElo "2298"] [PlyCount "24"] 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Be2 O-O 6. O-O Nc6 {(Rein surprises me with this less popular move. He chose the move because there were no games of me with it in the database. However he could not know that I had via a different move-order already encountered this position in my game against Korotkjevich.)} 7. d5 Ne5 {(Korotkjevich chose in 2010 for the mainline with Nb8. So black nevertheless succeeded to sidestep my theory-knowledge. Although in blitz I met Ne5 already many times but I never seriously studied the move.)} 8. Nxe5 dxe5 9. Be3 $6 {(The most popular but I believe Bg5 gives better chances for some advantage. The alternative Qd3 is also interesting but probably a little less critical.)} (9. Bg5 $1 {(E6 can be answered by f4.)} a6 ( 9... Qe8 $5 10. a4 $1 c6 11. Qd3 Bd7 $14) 10. Qd3 $1 Bd7 $5 (10... Qd6 $5 11. Rfd1 $1 b5 12. f3 $1 Nh5 $14) 11. Rfd1 $1 Rc8 $5 12. Qc4 Ne8 $5 13. a4 $1 Nd6 14. Qb4 f5 $5 15. f3 $1 Rf7 16. Bd3 $14) 9... e6 10. dxe6 {(Rein was well prepared as he indicated rightfully after the game that black can achieve equality after Bc5 with some accurate moves. I chose after a long thought not to take any risks in unknown territory so exchanged some pieces.)} Bxe6 11. Qxd8 Rfxd8 12. Rad1 a6 {(Black proposed a draw which I accepted quickly. You can still continue playing for hours this position and maybe somebody wins after a mistake but none of us wanted to look the whole afternoon at this boring position.) } 1/2-1/2
It is impossible to know if the result would've been better or worse with Bg5 instead of Be3. Fact is that in the meantime I was able to test it twice successfully online in bullet/blitz. My opponents had no clue about the dangers.
[Event "Rated game, 1m 0s"] [Site "Main Playing Hall"] [Date "2015.04.11"] [White "Deurne15"] [Black "Chess alchemy"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B08"] [WhiteElo "2123"] [BlackElo "1983"] [PlyCount "59"] 1. e4 Nc6 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 g6 5. d5 Ne5 6. Nxe5 dxe5 7. Be2 Bg7 8. O-O O-O 9. Bg5 e6 {(Yes why not, it is just a bulletgame. On the other hand black immediately gets into serious troubles.)} 10. f4 exf4 {(This loses already a piece. I manage to wrap up the game rather simple for a bulletgame.)} 11. e5 h6 12. Bxf6 Bxf6 13. exf6 Qxf6 14. dxe6 Bxe6 15. Qd2 g5 16. Bf3 Rad8 17. Qf2 Bf5 18. h3 Qg6 19. Bxb7 Bxc2 20. Rac1 Bd3 21. Rfe1 h5 22. Be4 Bxe4 23. Nxe4 f5 24. Nc5 g4 25. Ne6 g3 26. Qxf4 Rfe8 27. Nxd8 Rxd8 28. Qc4 Kg7 29. Qxc7 Kh6 30. Qxd8 1-0
Well we all know that we should study our classics but often it takes time to be persuaded to do the efforts. Today I am convinced to continue till the end of the series but I am also starting to peek at other books. Although I am not ready yet for the serious openingbooks.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bishops of the same colour

Often we encounter beautiful technical endgames of opposite bishops. However interesting endgames with bishops of the same colour are much rarer. That doesn't sound abnormal to me as the bishops of the same colour fight eventually for the control of the same squares which implies an exchange happens more quickly. Often such endgame is rather easy to play correctly. It is no surprise that chessplayers often don't feel the danger in the exceptional cases.

I will show a few of those unique endgames in this article which at the same time proof people very regularly play too superficially endgames while instead accurate calculations are necessary. I start with an endgame from my practice of 2001 against the Frenchmen Guillaumat.
[Event "Open Val Thorens 3de ronde"] [Date "2001"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Guillomat, J."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B41"] [WhiteElo "2232"] [BlackElo "2043"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/1p2kpp1/2p2b1p/1nP1p3/2B1P3/2K1BP2/6PP/8 w - - 0 34"] [PlyCount "79"] 34. Bxb5 cxb5 35. Kb4 Kd7 36. Kxb5 Bd8 37. Bd2 Bc7 38. Bc3 g6 39. Bd2 h5 40. g4 Bd8 41. Bc3 Bc7 42. Be1 Bd8 43. Bd2 Bc7 44. Bc3 $5 {(Very interesting is g5 and black suffers but I was not able to find anything decisive.)} (44. g5 Bd8 45. h4 Bc7 46. Bc3 Ke6 47. Ba5 Kd7 48. Bb6 Bb8 $1 49. Kb4 Ke7 $1 50. Ba5 Kd7 $1 51. Kc4 Ke7 $1 52. Kd5 f6 $1 53. gxf6 Kxf6 54. Bd8 Kf7 55. Bg5 Bc7 {(Again all my engines show a clear advantage for white but black is still in time to defend so with correct play the position remains drawn.)}) 44... f6 45. Bd2 Bd8 46. Be1 Bc7 47. Bc3 h4 $5 {(In my original superficial analysis I believed this was the decisive mistake but that is not correct. Anyway hxg4 was more simple.)} (47... hxg4 $1 48. fxg4 g5 $11 {(And it is pretty clear that white runs out of options.)}) 48. g5 $1 fxg5 $1 {(The only move to seek the draw.)} (48... f5 49. h3 $1 fxe4 (49... Bd8 50. exf5 gxf5 51. g6 Ke6 (51... Bf6 52. Kb6 Ke6 53. Kxb7 $18) 52. Bxe5 $18) (49... f4 50. Be1 Bd8 51. Bxh4 Kc7 52. Be1 Bxg5 53. Ba5 Kd7 54. Bc3 Bf6 55. Kb6 Kc8 56. c6 bxc6 57. Kxc6 $18) 50. fxe4 Bd8 51. Bd2 $1 Ke6 52. Be1 Bxg5 53. Kb6 Be7 54. Bf2 g5 55. Kxb7 Bxc5 56. Bxc5 g4 57. hxg4 h3 58. Bg1 Kf6 59. Kc6 Kg5 60. Kd5 Kxg4 61. Bh2 Kf3 62. Kxe5 $18) 49. h3 Ke6 50. Bd2 Bd8 51. Ba5 Be7 $1 {(Again the only move as after the exchange on a5, there remains a lost pawn-endgame for black.)} (51... Bxa5 52. Kxa5 Kd7 53. Kb6 Kc8 54. c6 bxc6 55. Kxc6 $18) 52. Bc7 Kf6 $2 {(The fatal error. Black probably missed my 54th move with the idea of Ba7. After Kd7 white wins an important pawn but I could not find any winning path for white.)} (52... Kd7 $1 53. Bxe5 Ke6 {(White can not win the b-pawn with Bc7 - Kb6 as black can counter with Kd7 - Bxc5. Black neither can be put into zugzwang so I do not see any win for white.) }) 53. Kb6 Ke6 54. Bb8 $1 {(I also looked at Bd6 during the game but correctly noticed this is not good.)} (54. Bd6 $4 {(This does not work.)} Bxd6 55. cxd6 Kxd6 56. Kxb7 Kc5 57. Kc7 Kd4 58. Kd6 g4 $3 59. fxg4 g5 $19) 54... g4 {(Black tries to complicate matters as waiting is for sure hopeless.)} (54... Bf8 55. Ba7 $18) 55. fxg4 Kd7 56. Bxe5 Kc8 57. c6 {(Much easier is Bd6 but the game-continuation is also beautiful.)} (57. Bd6 $1 Bd8 58. Ka7 Bc7 (58... Ba5 59. e5 Be1 60. e6 $18) 59. e5 Bxd6 60. cxd6 b5 61. Kb6 b4 62. Kc6 b3 63. d7 Kd8 64. Kd6 b2 65. e6 b1=Q 66. e7#) 57... bxc6 58. Kxc6 Kd8 59. Kd5 Kd7 60. Bf4 Bf6 {(The bishop must stay on this diagonal to prevent Ke5. Bd8 is also interesting with a study-like win for white.)} (60... Bd8 61. e5 Ba5 62. Be3 Bd8 63. e6 Ke8 64. Ke5 Be7 65. Bh6 Kd8 66. Bg7 Kc7 67. Bf6 Bd6 68. Kd5 Bg3 69. Be7 Be1 70. Bc5 Kd8 71. Ke5 Bc3 72. Bd4 Be1 73. Kf6 $18 {(I admit that with only 10 minutes on the clock remaining this is not easy to find.)}) 61. e5 Be7 62. Be3 Bd8 63. Bc5 Bg5 64. e6 Ke8 65. Ke5 Bd8 {(The alternative Kd8 is more stubborn especially as I had little time left to find the win.)} (65... Kd8 66. e7 $1 Kd7 67. Bb4 $1 Ke8 68. Ke6 Bf4 69. Kf6 g5 70. Bc3 Be3 71. Kg6 Kxe7 72. Bf6 Kf8 73. Bxg5 Bf2 74. Kh7 Kf7 75. Bh6 Bd4 76. g5 Ke6 77. g6 Kf5 78. Bg7 Bc5 79. Bc3 Bf8 80. Bd2 Ke4 81. Bh6 $18) 66. e7 Bxe7 67. Bxe7 Kxe7 68. g5 {(Black is in a fatal zugzwang.)} Kf7 69. Kd6 Kf8 70. Ke6 Kg7 71. Ke7 Kg8 72. Kf6 Kh7 73. Kf7 {(The pawns drop so black resigned.)} 1-0
Afterwards being very satisfied about my play, I presented the endgame at the tournament-organisation so they would consider it for the beauty-prize. That was too optimistic as I never heard any feedback. Beauty-prizes are almost exclusively given to attacking-games while technical endgames are much less appealing.

The second example is from my interclub-practice. I wasted a big advantage in the middle-game but I continued to play for a win in the endgame which my opponent couldn't appreciate at all.
[Event "Interclub Deurne - Borgerhout"] [Date "2008"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Khalid, F."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B32"] [WhiteElo "2301"] [BlackElo "2199"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/5k2/p2pq2b/4p3/P1p1PpQp/BP3P1P/8/7K w - - 0 55"] [PlyCount "49"] 55. Qxe6 Kxe6 56. bxc4 Bf8 57. Kg2 Kd7 58. Kf2 Kc6 59. Ke2 Be7 60. Kd3 Bd8 61. Bb4 Bb6 62. Be1 Bd8 63. Bf2 Be7 64. c5 d5 65. exd5 Kxd5 66. c6 {(My opponent was insulted by my stubbornness to continue playing but undeserved. Here I missed a good try to create complications with Be1.)} (66. Be1 $1 Bg5 67. c6 Kxc6 68. Ke4 Kd6 69. Bc3 Bf6 70. Kf5 Bh8 71. Be1 Kc5 72. Bxh4 Kb4 73. Bd8 Kxa4 74. h4 Kb4 75. h5 a5 76. h6 a4 77. Be7 Kb3 78. Bf6 Bxf6 79. Kxf6 a3 80. h7 a2 81. h8=Q a1=Q 82. Qb8 Kc4 83. Qxe5 Qa8 84. Qxf4 {(The tablebases show a draw but in practice this is very tricky.)}) 66... Kxc6 67. Ke4 Kd6 68. Ba7 Ke6 69. Bb8 Bd6 70. Ba7 Bb4 71. Bf2 Be7 72. Be1 Bd8 73. Bc3 Bc7 74. Be1 Bd8 75. Bc3 Bf6 76. Bb4 Bg7 77. Be1 Bf6 78. Bb4 Bd8 79. Bc3 1/2-1/2

My opponent was convinced it was already several dozens of moves a dead-draw but my analysis show much was hidden under the surface.

It isn't seldom that only the analysis reveal the hidden possibilities. Recently I was very amused by analyzing the extraordinary bishop-endgame which could've appeared in my game against Christophe Gregoir (a fragment already popped up in the article password).
[Event "Interclub KGSRL - Deurne"] [Date "2015"] [White "Gregoir, C."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "*"] [ECO "A90"] [WhiteElo "2250"] [BlackElo "2330"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "5r2/7p/1pb5/p3kpp1/P1P1p3/1P2P1P1/3RK2P/5B2 w - - 0 36"] [PlyCount "48"] 36. Ke1 $5 {(White can only wait. Rd1 was played by my opponent but Ke1 is more accurate.)} (36. Rd1 $6 {(The win is also very difficult after Bg2 or Kf2.)} Rg8 $6 {(With only a few minutes left on the clock, I did not dare to steer into complications with f4.)} (36... f4 $1 37. exf4 {(Maybe best is Bh3 but also after fxe3 the endgame is very bad.)} gxf4 38. gxf4 Rxf4 39. Bg2 Rh4 40. h3 Rh6 41. Rd8 {(I had calculated till here in the game and wrongly evaluated this as too dangerous with the infiltrated rook.)} Rg6 42. Kf1 {(Kf2 fails due to e3.)} Rg3 $19) 37. Rd2 Rf8 38. Rd1 $6 { (A draw-proposal which I accepted too quickly. I understand my decision not to risk anything with f4 without serious study of the position but I could have played some waiting moves like Rc8 just to reach the timecontrol at move 40 and get an extra hour on my clock.)}) 36... f4 37. Rf2 $5 f3 $1 38. Rd2 Rf6 $1 {(You need to help the computer a bit as otherwise it is a draw. Black should not play g4 as that square is later needed for the bishop.)} 39. Bh3 Rd6 $1 {(Not h5 as after Bc8 the win is again far away.)} 40. Rxd6 Kxd6 {(The endgame of bishops from the same colour is absolutely not trivial.)} 41. Bf5 h6 42. h3 Kc5 43. Kf2 Kb4 44. Be6 g4 {(With the bishop on f1 this was bad but now matters are different. The king must keep an eye at the f-pawn. Black must be patient as immediately Kxb3 is only a draw. Besides g4 is not the only win in the position.)} (44... Kxb3 $4 45. Bd5 Kxa4 (45... Bd7 $4 46. c5 Kxa4 47. cxb6 $18) 46. Bxc6 Kb4 47. Bxe4 a4 48. Bd5 (48. Bb1 Kb3 (48... Kxc4 49. Ba2 Kc3 50. e4 Kd4 51. Kxf3 $11) 49. e4 Kb2 50. c5 bxc5 51. Bd3 Kc3 52. Bb1 Kb2 53. Bd3 $11) 48... a3 49. c5 bxc5 50. Ba2 Kc3 (50... c4 $4 51. Kxf3 $18) 51. e4 Kb2 52. Bf7 a2 53. Bxa2 Kxa2 54. e5 c4 55. e6 c3 56. e7 c2 57. e8=Q c1=Q $11) 45. hxg4 {(The variation with H4 explains what happens if white does not capture the pawn.) } (45. h4 $2 Kxb3 46. Bd5 Kxa4 47. Bxc6 Kb4 48. Bxe4 a4 49. Bd5 $5 (49. Bb1 $5 Kxc4 50. Ba2 Kc3 51. e4 Kd4 $19) 49... a3 50. c5 bxc5 51. Ba2 c4 $19) 45... Bb7 {(Black must again wait with Kxb3.)} (45... Kxb3 $4 46. Bd5 Kxa4 47. Bxc6 Kb4 48. Bxe4 a4 49. Bd5 $5 (49. Bb1 $5 Kb3 (49... Kxc4 50. Ba2 Kc3 51. e4 Kd4 52. Kxf3 $16) 50. e4 a3 51. e5 Kb2 52. e6 Kxb1 53. e7 a2 54. e8=Q a1=Q $14) 49... a3 50. c5 bxc5 51. Ba2 Kc3 $1 (51... c4 $2 52. Kxf3 $18) 52. e4 Kb2 53. Bf7 a2 54. Bxa2 Kxa2 55. e5 c4 56. e6 c3 57. e7 c2 58. e8=Q c1=Q $14) 46. Ke1 Ba6 {(Kxb3 is answered again by Bd5 but after this exact move it becomes a real threat.)} 47. Bd5 (47. Kf2 $2 Kxb3 48. c5 Kxa4 49. c6 (49. cxb6 Bb7 $19) 49... Kb4 50. c7 a4 51. c8=Q Bxc8 52. Bxc8 a3 53. Be6 Kc3 $19) 47... Bc8 { (Now the concept of blacks previous moves is revealed.)} (47... Kxb3 48. c5 Kxa4 49. cxb6 $18 {(Black can not play Bb7.)}) 48. Kf2 Bxg4 49. Bf7 Bd7 {(The square g4 is free. Now white still must maneuver the bishop to d1)} 50. Bd5 {(White again eliminates Kxb3.)} (50. Ke1 Kxb3 51. c5 Kxa4 $4 ( 51... Kb4 52. cxb6 Bc6 53. Be8 Kc5 $19) 52. cxb6 Bc6 53. Be8 Kb5 54. b7 $18) 50... Kc3 51. Ke1 {(White is in zugzwang.)} (51. Bf7 Kxb3 52. c5 Kb4 (52... Kxa4 $4 53. cxb6 Bc6 54. Be8 Kb5 55. b7 $18) 53. cxb6 Bc6 54. Be8 Kc5 $19) 51... f2 52. Kxf2 Bf5 53. Ke2 Bg4 54. Kf2 Bf3 55. Ke1 Kd3 56. Kf2 Bg4 {(Not too fast as it is not too late to let the win escape. Black again uses zugzwang as weapon.)} (56... Bd1 $4 57. b4 axb4 58. c5 bxc5 59. a5 b3 60. a6 b2 61. a7 b1=Q 62. Bxe4 Kxe4 63. a8=Q Kd3 64. Qd5 $11) 57. Bc6 (57. Bf7 Bd1 58. b4 axb4 59. c5 bxc5 60. a5 Ba4 $19) (57. Bb7 Bd1 58. b4 axb4 59. c5 b3 $19) 57... Bd1 58. b4 axb4 59. c5 Bxa4 $19 *
I am well aware about long analysis, wrong analysis but I challenge the reader to refute above analysis. In any case I admit never would I discover the lines without a strong computer. The one finding this at the board with a ticking clock, must be an absolute endgame-magician. The task appears to me completely impossible if you have to play solely on an increment of 30 seconds per move.

Now even in much simpler positions happen already serious blunders. In the chapter of bishops of the same colour in Dvoretsky's endgame manual there are some nice examples of tragic-comedies.
[Event "USSR"] [Date "1989"] [White "Savchenko"] [Black "Krivonosov"] [Result "0-1"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/8/2k2B2/8/8/p1P5/4K2b/8 b - - 0 0"] [PlyCount "5"] 1... Be5 $4 {(Kd7, Kd6, Kd5 and a2 are winning but not this interference.)} 2. Bxe5 Kd5 3. Bg7 $4 {(Time-trouble? I could not find the game in the databases to extract some additional information.)} (3. Kd3 a2 $4 (3... Kxe5 4. Kc2 $11) 4. Bd4 a1=Q 5. c4 $18) 3... Kc4 0-1
Both players were maybe confused by the famous endgame-composition of Heuacker in 1930.

Each of above examples are unique so I admit very little or nothing of the analysis will be reusable in the future. Regarding reusable knowledge I also want again to criticize Chessbase. Chessbase regularly badly informs their readers (as mentioned before in my article desinformation by chessbase). In the advertisement for the endgame turbo is stated that this new product is a necessity to train. Nonsense of course as not only the diversity in the endgame-positions is too large but also in many solutions there is no logic to detect. Above there is also the price of the product. There are free alternatives: Knowledge4IT or Finalgen. The last one can handle even more than the 6 pieces of the endgame turbo. Besides why would you spend 60 euro for tablebases till maximally 6 pieces while there exists a rather cheap alternative for tablebases till maximally 7 pieces on chessok.

If you want to become a better player then you better buy a good book of endgames instead of analyzing unique endgames or buying tablebases. However today becoming a stronger player is no priority for me. On the other hand enjoying a rich endgame by spending time at researching small details is something which I don't want to miss.