Friday, June 26, 2015


Many have tried but only a few succeed. It isn't easy to transform your hobby into a profession especially if this hobby is chess. Besides your chances drastically diminish when you aren't a worldclass-player. Chesscafe is the most recent example of failures. Recently they switched from free to paying but not even a year later they had to announce a hiatus. It is highly confrontational to discover that almost 20 years of free publications don't guarantee anything commercially.

On this blog I have been regularly criticizing Chessbase (e.g in the article misinformation by chessbase) , but it is beyond any doubts that the company is the most successful one in our chess-domain. A very clever marketing-strategy assured the company more or less a monopoly. They were one of the very first ones to see the connection between frequently reporting about chess-news and selling their own products.

Almost a decade ago Chessvibes (today started to compete reporting chess-news. Initially Chessbase didn't care much. However this changed when they started to feel the consequences of not being anymore market-leader in chess-journalism. To protect the sales of their products they had to improve their model. They introduced finally the option to give direct feedback below the articles instead of the old fashioned, very limited mechanism of emails. However another important change was the involvement of (cheap) young (grand-)masters to comment games like Alejandro Ramirez (Costa Rica) and Shah Sagar (India).

Chessbase clearly has more financial reserves than their competitors which is reflected by their investments. One investment they made is the Let's check development. Let's check is nothing else than a gigantic database of all the collected positions by Chessbase with an evaluation made by an engine. The brilliance of the concept is that all the analysis are made by the users of Let's check while simultaneously the users will have to pay to consult their own analysis in the future. Chessbase only had to develop the interface and make sure enough storage is foreseen for the database (which can become a headache in the future with the large speed the system is growing).

I am astonished how fast this database is growing. The mechanism of awarding points seems to be a very good carrot for quite some users. When Chessbase launched the system I was chuckling but now only 4 years later I have to admit that I am blown away by the amount of data available many times bigger than whatever opening-book. I was pretty shocked recently to find out that a completely insignificant position from my clubchampionship-game against Marcel (see catenaccio) was already analyzed at a depth of 38 plies.
Let's check
Today consulting Let's check has become a fixed part of my analysis-routines. A negative remark which I heard is that the old analysis automatically slowly disappear out of the database. Personally I think this is something positive as it is essential that the analysis are made by the most recent and strongest engines otherwise the value of the database quickly decreases. Besides somebody will more quickly be tempted to connect an engine to the database when few or no analysis are mentioned. Finally it is also a mechanism to keep the size of the database under control. I recommend people interested to know more details about the tool to read the online review from HK5000 (Dutch language).

Although today I am fully convinced about the added value of the Let's check feature, it took me quite a while before I wanted to give it a try. It was only when I bought a couple of months ago Komodo via Chessbase instead of directly from the developers that I finally got access to all the features. Maybe 1 of the better reviews about Komodo has been written on chessbookreviews. I want to add that today I see very little difference between evaluations of Komodo and Stockfish 6 which is pretty much aligned with the result of the final of the 7th TCEC season. On top I also noticed that using very low timecontrols (10 seconds or less per move) that Komodo more often misses something tactically which again was partly confirmed by the CCRL 40/4 rating-list (40 moves in 4 minutes) which Stockfish leads in contrast to CCRL 40/40 rating-list (40 moves in 40 minutes). So if you are not interested in making very deep and extensive analysis then the free engine Stockfish is more than sufficient.

This is something about which Chessbase is also aware of course which explains their strategy to add some nice extras to anyway convince you buying their product. Except Let's check you also get 6 months premium subscription to Playchess and you get the new Fritz 14 interface. The added value of the subscription is evident but it is not clear what to expect from the interface.

Last couple of years I worked with the Fritz 11 interface which was ok for me. Besides a new interface always demands adjustments as some shortcuts change which I like to use (see e.g. using databases). In the beginning this causes a lot of annoyance when I once again use the old shortcut wrongly shutting down the program without saving the analysis. It neither is helpful that Fritz 14 has no manual. Reference is made to the manual of the Fritz 13 interface but I already detected several differences or I still miss certain details. The buyer is a bit left alone.

However there is one thing which let you forget all the previous obstacles. The interface clearly increases the strength of the engines. I compare the same analysis for both interfaces. First a screenshot with the Fritz 11 interface.
Fritz 11 interface
Hereafter a screenshot of the Fritz 14 interface.
Frit 14 interface
Same computer, same engine, same position and same period and still we see a serious difference between both analysis. The version 14 is almost 3 times faster as the version 11 which even gives us a gain of 3 plies. Well don't pin on the 3 plies as surely Stockfish prunes enormously in the tree of variations but undeniable we see a considerable rating-gain. 70 elo seems to be the difference between 1 core and 4 cores for Stockfish looking to CCRL 40/40  in which 1 core corresponds to the Fritz 11 interface while the 4 cores is the Fritz 14 interface.

We are very eager to acquire a new version of an engine but the interface is sometimes forgotten. Komodo 9 wins only 24 ratingpoints compared with version 8 conform the most recent tests. I will surely better follow up new developments on the interfaces in the future.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Using databases part 2

It is already longtime no surprise anymore for me how sometimes very strong players prepare their games very poorly. It is really not only amateurs as described in my article password whom don't optimally prepare. Previous article is a model  example of how one should not prepare. You are an international master and you play a closed grandmaster-norm-tournament in Czech. The pairings are known well in advance and you only have to play one game each day. Still you manage to miss an important game of your opponent played over 1 year ago. Although this game was inserted in any commercial database.

Funny or rather sad is a Chessbase article published a few months earlier. In this article the British grandmaster Daniel Gormally explains how he despite preparing well with chessprograms (databases and engines), lost against a 300 points lower rated opponent. However his preparation didn't take into account one very important element. His opponent was a very experienced and strong correspondence-chess-player: the British Senior International Master John Anderson.
[Event "Hastings Chess Congress"] [Site "Hastings ENG"] [Date "2014.12.30"] [Round "2.12"] [White "Daniel Gormally"] [Black "John Anderson"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D15"] [WhiteElo "2499"] [BlackElo "2180"] [PlyCount "80"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. e4 {(John is an expert in the Slav so Daniel chooses for a side-line. However that line is very tactical so not appropriate against an experienced correspondence-player that surely has studied this before.)} b5 6. e5 Nd5 7. a4 e6 8. Ng5 h6 9. Nge4 b4 10. Nb1 Ba6 11. Nbd2 Nf4 12. Qg4 Nd3 13. Bxd3 cxd3 14. O-O Qd5 15. Re1 Nd7 16. Nf3 {(On Chessbase Daniel tells us that till here it was preparation but that is not enough against a correspondence-player)} c5 {(A logical novelty of which Daniel admits on Chessbase having missed it in the preparations. Possibly John already investigated it earlier but even if not the case then still I believe Johns experience helped him finding this fearless move. )} 17. dxc5 {(Daniel recommends Nd6 on Chessbase as an improvement. That is correct but still black gets excellent chances.)} (17. Nd6 Bxd6 18. exd6 c4 19. Qxg7 O-O-O 20. Qxf7 Bb7 {(An improvement over Daniels c3 with very nice play for black.)}) 17... Nxc5 18. Nd6 Bxd6 19. exd6 Nb3 20. Bf4 Nxa1 21. Qxg7 O-O-O 22. Rxa1 d2 {(Black loses the thread as Kb7 guaranteed black a serious advantage.)} 23. Bxd2 Qxd6 24. Qxf7 Rd7 25. Rc1 Kb7 26. Bxb4 Rxf7 27. Bxd6 Rd8 28. Ne5 Rg7 29. Bb4 Rd5 30. Bc3 Rc7 31. Re1 Bc4 32. f4 a5 33. Kf2 Bb3 34. g4 {(White underestimates the counter-play on the queen-side after this over-aggressive move.)} Bxa4 35. g5 hxg5 36. fxg5 Be8 37. g6 a4 38. h4 a3 39. bxa3 $4 {(Time-trouble which is largely the consequence of the wrong opening-choice.)} (39. h5 a2 40. h6 Rxc3 41. bxc3 Rxe5 42. Rxe5 a1=Q 43. g7 Qb2 44. Re2 Qb6 45. Re3 $11) 39... Rxc3 40. g7 Rd2 {(In the next games Daniel chose a more positional approach which generated much longer games but also gave him a much better performance.)} 0-1
By pure coincidence I was aware about this fact as I won against him in 1998 a beautiful correspondence-game of which I am still proud today.
[Event "EU/M/1234"] [Date "1998"] [White "Anderson, J."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "2399"] [PlyCount "84"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. Nc3 Bg4 8. h3 Bh5 9. g4 Bg6 10. Nxe5 Nxe4 11. Re1 Nxc3 12. bxc3 O-O 13. Rb1 Bd6 14. Rxb7 Qh4 15. d3 f5 16. Bf4 fxg4 17. Bg3 Qxh3 18. Qxg4 Qxg4 19. Nxg4 Rf5 20. Ne5 Re8 21. d4 Bf7 22. a4 Bd5 23. Reb1 Rh5 24. Kf1 Rh1 25. Ke2 Rxb1 26. Rxb1 c5 27. Kd3 h5 28. f4 c4 29. Kd2 Be7 30. Re1 Bd8 31. Bh2 g5 32. fxg5 Bxg5 33. Ke2 Re7 34. Rg1 Rg7 35. Nf3 Bd8 36. Rxg7 Kxg7 37. Ne5 Kf6 38. Nd7 Kf5 39. a5 c6 40. Nc5 Bxa5 41. Nxa6 Bxc3 42. Be5 Be4 0-1
Now it is clear that Daniels opening-choice wasn't very smart. Choosing a sharp opening as the stronger player is already risky (see my article how to win from a stronger player). If you combine this against a player with loads of correspondence-chess experience then all ingredients are there for a very nasty surprise.

Daniel did't have the chance to play before a correspondence-game against John will surely be an excuse some readers will use to defend Daniel. I don't accept such excuse. In my article using databases I explain how to use the correspondence-database to extract the optimal moves in a variation but that is not the only reason why to use that database. In my preparation I will often check if my opponent doesn't play correspondence-chess. By doing so I found out that not only former world champion correspondence Gert-Jan Timmerman playing for KOSK, but also Rene Beniest plays correspondence-chess which could've played an important role in the interclubmatch against SK Oude God

Solely looking to the correspondence-database to define if somebody is an (active) correspondence-player isn't fully safe. I played 20 correspondence-games in my career and only 1 fragment of a game can be found in the database so I can imagine many correspondence-players are not even mentioned. Therefore it is not redundant to check some sites like ICCFIECCFICGS in which I encountered the for me unfamiliar Belgian topplayer Jeroen Van Assche recently made the transfer to ICCF. This transfer is no surprise as ICCF is the place to be in correspondence-chess.

I also want to honor our Belgian correspondence-federation still each month publishing a free open and nice magazine of which we can only dream about in standard chess especially after the recent general annual meeting. Scrolling through the current list of correspondence-members I remark our Belgian topplayer Francois Godart. Maybe he joined after being inspired by our Dutch neighbors where several strong youth-players started with correspondence-chess:  Etienne GoudriaanTwan Burg. In any case I believe that a few years correspondence-chess can be useful for standard-chess as you learn how to work properly with databases and engines which after reading above article surely can't be considered anymore as a luxury.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Switching colors part 2

The publishment of a book mostly depends if a reasonable sale can be expected. Chessbooks are therefore mainly written for the average player. This chessplayer expects of openingbooks some ideas immediately ready for implementation in his tournament-games. So an author will often brighten up the analysis to comfort the readers. The Australian grandmaster David Smerdon on his blog believes this is acceptable as standard chess is something very different from top-correspondencechess.

I am often claiming to always seek the truth and play scientific chess but despite all good intentions I also realize that some subjectivity remains. I often catch myself looking a tad harder for improvements for the color which I would like to play. I don't want to throw away an opening for the smallest problem if I built up already quite some experience. Besides another opening doesn't mean necessarily less problems. A similar sound can be heard in an interview with Michael Adams at Shamkir a few months ago.  Introducing ideas can be an elegant method to bypass these little problems.

However from my previous article you can deduct such experimenting with new ideas doesn't always bring relieve. I tried in the meanwhile already 4 different systems in standard games against the modern french but still no satisfying results. Maybe it is time to try a very different approach by deploying a strategy covered in an older article switching colors. What can't be refuted is maybe better joined and played. Easier said than done as I am not eager to start playing the French in my repertoire. MNb rightfully remarked that the cure could be worse than the disease.

For this problem I believe to have found a solution as e.g. in the Modern French. Let somebody else switch colors so you don't have to take risks and learn from his games. The reader is probably confused as how can you force somebody to switch colors. Well naturally we can't force somebody but by checking the database we can sometimes find a strong player willing to play both sides of a position. Surely you won't find such type of player always but I had luck in the Modern French with the young strong Turkish IM Burak Firat.
Maybe some very attentive readers still remember this name from my article the modern french part 2 but I guess most people are completely unfamiliar with this player.

The Turkish chess-federation was a decade ago very small but last years they made fantastic progress which many other federations can only dream of (like our Belgian federation). In 2006 suddenly 1,1 million euro was injected in Turkish chess and this didn't stop. A massive recruiting campaign started which at beginning of 2014 already gathered more than 350.000 members. Even more astonishing is that 1/3 are women. I understand a number of schools have introduced chess courses and this naturally drastically influenced the figures. We notice that the youth is getting the highest priority by the authorities as was reflected e.g. at the Olympiad with ages of teamaverages descending from 23 years to only 8 years old.

Besides loads of medals at youth-championships for Turkey today we also start to discover the first players achieving norms and titles like Burak. Burak is only 22 years old and he is seriously working to get the necessary norms for the grandmaster-title as we see e.g. in a closed grandmaster-tournament at Moscow. This should be sufficient as introduction of the player so time to see how he manages to switch sides as it is something very natural.

Firat games
So in total there are 17 games of which he took 11 times white and 6 times black. In his most recent games he demonstrates that it little matters which color he plays to win. I don't exaggerate if we look to his last game played with black.
[Event "TUR-chT"] [Site "Kocaeli"] [Date "2014.08.22"] [Round "5.4"] [White "Yuksel, Atilla Koksal"] [Black "Firat, Burak"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2107"] [BlackElo "2456"] [PlyCount "64"] [EventDate "2014.08.18"] [EventRounds "13"] [EventCountry "TUR"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2014.10.17"] [WhiteTeam "Ankara Demirspor"] [BlackTeam "Denizsu Aquamatch"] [WhiteTeamCountry "TUR"] [BlackTeamCountry "TUR"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Be7 8. Qd2 b6 {(Burak chooses the same sequence as Bart played against him in 2013. )} 9. Be2 O-O 10. Nd1 {(I played in my first game against Bart 0-0 and mentioned in my analysis afterwards that Nd1 is playable but not guaranteeing any opening-advantage.)} f5 {(I focused on cxd4 in my analysis which is more popular than f5.)} 11. O-O {(More critical are c3 or c4.)} cxd4 12. Nxd4 Nxd4 13. Bxd4 Nc5 14. Nf2 g5 {(In 2012 Burak learned the hard way by the strong grandmaster Zhang Zhong from Singapore how strong this move is in this type of positions. This time Burak uses this lesson in his advantage. Technically the position is still playable for white but it is not a position you want to play without any study at home.)} 15. g3 Bb7 16. Qe3 Kh8 17. Kh1 Rc8 18. c3 a5 19. b4 Na4 20. Rfc1 Nb2 21. a3 Nc4 22. Qd3 Qc7 23. Nd1 gxf4 24. gxf4 Bh4 25. Ne3 Bf2 26. Nc2 Rg8 27. Bf3 Bxd4 28. Nxd4 Qe7 29. Be2 Qh4 30. Rf1 Rg6 31. Rf3 Rcg8 32. Raf1 Nd2 {(Qxd2 is refuted by Rg2. A game not without mistakes but clearly black had a superior understanding of the position. )} 0-1
Even more impressive is his last white game against the Spanish international master Daniel Garcia Roman which he blows away in only 22 moves with mate!
[Event "Olomouc GM 17th"] [Site "Olomouc"] [Date "2014.08.04"] [Round "6"] [White "Firat, Burak"] [Black "Garcia Roman, Daniel"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2458"] [BlackElo "2379"] [PlyCount "42"] [EventDate "2014.07.30"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "CZE"] [EventCategory "8"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Be7 8. Qd2 b6 9. O-O-O {(Burak chooses the same risky line of 2013 against Bart Michiels although his opponent is an experienced international master from Spain.)} c4 10. f5 b5 11. fxe6 fxe6 12. Ng5 Bxg5 $2 {(Black did not make his homework as here Nb6 is mandatory. Last year I thought black gets the better chances but now with stronger software I am not sure anymore. I think chances are probably even.)} (12... Nb6 $1 13. Qe2 O-O {(B4 is the alternative but I am more trusting 0-0.)} 14. Qg4 {(H4 can be slowed down by Qe8.)} (14. Qh5 Bxg5 {(H6 is answered by the strong move h4.)} 15. Bxg5 {(Exchanging queens with Qxg5 is also possible but this is more critical.)} Qd7 16. Nxb5 {(Be2 is also possible but I think Nxb5 is more critical.)} Na4 17. b3 a6 18. Nd6 Nc3 19. bxc4 g6 {(With enormous complications in which black has decent play.)}) (14. h4 $6 Qe8 15. Qg4 b4 16. Nb5 {(Ne2 will be answered by a5.)} h5 $15) 14... Rf5 {(14... Bxg5 15. Bxg5 and 14... Qe8 15. Be2 are still giving black problems to solve.)} 15. h4 g6 16. Ne2 Na4 17. Nf4 Qa5 {(I also looked at Bxg5 but after hxg5 white keeps a very dangerous attack. Qa5 announces an immediate counter-attack.)} 18. Nxh7 Qb4 19. Qxg6 Kh8 20. Qe8 Kxh7 21. Qg6 Kh8 22. Qh6 Kg8 23. Qg6 Kh8 {(Kf8 fails tactically due to Nxe6 while at the same time black threatens to win on b2. As often a fantastic analysis ends in a perpetual check.}) 13. Bxg5 Qa5 14. Qf4 {(On the other hand white clearly made his homework as this amelioration was already shown a few months earlier on my blog. I have no doubts Burak does not read my blog and discovered the move himself with the computer of course.)} b4 $6 {(H6 is better as mentioned in the other article but black has anyway a very bad position.)} 15. Ne4 dxe4 16. Bxc4 Nb6 17. Rhf1 Nd8 18. d5 exd5 {(I still discussed Nxc4 in my analysis and in both lines black is totally busted.)} 19. e6 Bxe6 20. Qd6 Nc8 21. Bb5 Qxb5 {(Qxd8 mate ! A very nice game which proofs even in strategy openings a good homework can make a big difference.)} 1-0
The games of players playing regularly both sides in an opening are often a very good reference to check if you have any problems. Those players know from experience what can be annoying for the other color.

How do we find those type of players? Well I don't know any program that automatically detects this but a visual screening of the games from strong players often is sufficient to discover if any name pops up playing both colors. Some hints how to make an automatic process of this are welcome but I fear that my chances are low without possessing the extensive Chessbase database.


Thursday, June 4, 2015


I still remember 2 decades ago how people were making jokes about Kamsky having learned by heart the complete informator as preparation for his worldchampionship-finale against Karpov of 1996.  Today such complete study of theory is absolutely impossible. It can be pretty astonishing what the theoretical baggage some players have but it remains fragmented and nobody can protect themselves from the countless novelties discovered each day by engines. In a videoconference after the game Kramnik - Anand London 2014, Anand jokingly said but at the same time containing some truth that computers have a lot of time.

So nobody has a waterproof shield in the opening. Everybody is vulnerable for surprises. We don't have to exaggerate this risk for most players as shown by my article password. On the other hand when you play against the 1% best players then ignoring the risk can quickly backfire which was demonstrated in my article harikiri. It is impossible to tell in advance when exactly you better deviate or can rely solely on your experience. Finding out information about your opponent before the game will surely improve your chances to make the right decisions but in the end it remains an estimated guess so partly instinctive.

Sometimes there are very clear signs which hint there is danger. An opponent won't deviate from his standard repertoire to help you gaining a head-start in the opening. Almost always this indicates the opponent is well prepared and has some surprise in store to gain an advantage. Such advantage doesn't need to be a refutation of your favorite opening as often it is sufficient to show a new equivalent or even an old forgotten idea to win a lot of time on the clock.

If you see these signals then it is often wise to deviate too from your repertoire surely if the position can quickly become tactical. There are limits to a specific game-preparation. I mean even spending hours of preparation will only permit to analyze x number of lines as mentioned earlier in my article the list of strength. Most openings consist of many more options than the x-variations which can be checked in a preparation.

A first example which shows this strategy, is from my own recent interclub-practice. I played in the second round of the past Belgium interclub against the ambitious leader of Opwijk, Arno Bomans surprising me by following my game against Glen De Schampheleire. However before he can show his improvement and can use his engine-analysis, I already deviate myself from my game to restore the chances.
[Event "Interclub Opwijk - Deurne"] [Date "2014"] [White "Bomans, A."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A04"] [WhiteElo "2250"] [BlackElo "2337"] [PlyCount "15"] 1. Nf3 f5 2. d3 {(A surprise as there was no earlier game in the database from Arno with this move.)} d6 {(I immediately counter with also a surprise. Arno obviously studied my game against Glen De Schampheleire of 2013 and I was not willing to check his engine-analysis.)} (2... Nc6 3. d4 e6 4. g3 Nf6 5. Bg2 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. c4 d6 8. d5 Ne5 9. Qb3 { (After the game Arno told me that he prepared this improvement on my game against Glen. He was very surprised to hear that I already covered this on my blog and I even had proposed a counter-novelty for black.)}) 3. e4 e5 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. Nd5 {(The mainline continues with exf5 but Arno was surprised by my choice of opening and could not remember clearly the theory.)} Nf6 6. Bg5 Be7 7. Bxf6 {(This is new but there were only 2 games in the database with Nxe7. Bxf6 is a very logical alternative.)} Bxf6 8. c3 {(Here Arno proposed a draw as he sensed white must be careful. I hesitated to accept but finally anyway did after checking the boards of my teammates which were very favorable. Later we blew 5 winning positions with our team and scored only 1 board-point so even lost the match.)} (8. c3 O-O { (I planned this move as I somehow remembered this from my preparation a few weeks ago against Frederic Verduyn.)} 9. Qb3 {(Objectively better is not to chase after the pawn as black gets too much activity. Completing the development with Be2 is better. After Be2 white has nothing but should not be worse either.)} Kh8 10. exf5 Bxf5 11. Qxb7 Ne7 12. Nxf6 Rxf6 $15 {(Black can create with accurate play a very dangerous attack but I did not feel comfortable to execute such demanding task.)}) 1/2-1/2
We see here a nasty side-effect of this strategy. When both players have to play unprepared a position which they don't like and they fear each other then sometimes a quick draw is chosen. Sofia rules could surely avoid this behavior.

The second example which I want to discuss, does not show this side-effect mainly due to the big ratinggap between both players. Maybe the Russian grandmaster Vyacheslav Ikonnikov wanted me to pay for the article an arranged result in open gent or not as from the opening it was immediately clear that nothing was left up to chance. I was well prepared as I checked his 400 black-games with 1.e4 but Vyacheslav chose to play something new to avoid any of my preparation. Nonetheless neither did I wait for his preparation and countered his surprise fittingly with my own.
[Event "Interclub Deurne - Jean Jaures"] [Date "2015"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Ikonnikov, V."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2330"] [BlackElo "2550"] [PlyCount "108"] 1. e4 e6 {(In less than 5 percent of his games Vyacheslav deviates from his favorite move c5.)} 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Be7 { (The French system is already a backup-system in the repertoire of my opponent but it is the first time that he plays this move checking big database 2015 despite thousands of registered games. In 2012 I wrote a negative article about Vyacheslav on my blog so I would not be surprised that he was extra motivated to prepare seriously. He likely discovered that I prepare myself well and it is logical to have a surprise prepared to counter.)} 8. dxc5 {(Last summer I won a game with a3 but I did not want to repeat that line as the game was inserted in the last databases and blacks play can easily be improved. A bit earlier I already tested Be2 and Qd2 against Bart Michiels but also those games can be found in the database and were very likely studied by my opponent. To avoid any preparation and because I did not know any clear way to an advantage, I preferred to experiment with dxc5.)} (8. Qd2 O-O {(B6 is an important alternative to discourage dxc5. White can reply with 0-0-0 or Bb5.)} 9. Be2 {(Or dxc5 which transposes to the game.)} b6 10. O-O f5 11. a3 {(The move is already played in 2011 see game Tomczak Jacek - Sieciechowicz Martin but was only recently tried in correspondence-chess.)} Bb7 12. Rfd1 Rc8 13. dxc5 Nxc5 14. b4 Ne4 15. Nxe4 fxe4 16. Nd4 Nxd4 17. Bxd4 Bc6 18. c4 $146 {(This is an improvement on Jaceks Bg4.)}) 8... Bxc5 9. Bxc5 {(More popular is Qd2 and exchange later on c5 but I had other plans.)} Nxc5 10. Qe2 {(I have mentioned this move briefly on my blog but it took my opponent out of book as he started to think very long. It takes some time to study a new opening and an idea only tested in some computergames does not get first priority in a preparation. The concept behind this artificial move is that the standardmoves Qb6 and Qa5 can always be answered by Qb5 while the queen can still be transferred to e3/f2 which is common in the line with Qd2.)} (10. Qd2 {(It was not too late to transpose to todays mainline.)} O-O 11. O-O-O Qa5 12. Kb1 Bd7 {(H4 and Qe2 are here the most critical moves.)}) 10... O-O 11. O-O-O Bd7 12. Qe3 {(Here we see the disadvantage of playing a variation which was not studied properly or even tested before in blitz. I do not understand fully the small nuances and miss the optimal sequence.)} (12. Kb1 $1 {(This keeps the possibility Qb5.)} a6 $5 {(To eliminate Qb5 but it does weaken square b6 which white can use to his advantage.)} 13. Qe3 $5 Qb6 $5 14. Bd3 $5 h6 15. g4 Na4 16. Qxb6 {(Black has no more time for Nxc3 as axb6 is not possible anymore.)}) 12... Qb6 13. Nd4 {(Kb1 is countered with Na4 as Qxb6 is refuted by first giving check with Nxc3.)} Rac8 14. f5 Nxd4 15. Qxd4 Bc6 16. f6 Ne4 17. fxg7 Kxg7 18. Qxb6 $6 {(It is very tempting to destroy blacks pawnstructure but here activity is more important. Nxe4 is better as with Rxd4 I win an important tempo compared with the game and after dxe4 I can avoid the exchange of queens with Qd2.)} axb6 19. Rd4 Nf2 $6 { (A surprising move. I expected Kg6 to play boldly Kf5 and win the e-pawn. This plan is also recommended by the engines with a clear advantage for black.)} 20. Rg1 f6 21. exf6 Rxf6 22. Rd2 {(Maybe Vyacheslav only took Rb4 into account which indeed gives black a big advantage. Now I have to admit that Rd2 did not come first either to my mind.)} (22. Rb4 $6 e5 23. Rxb6 $2 d4 24. Nd1 Be4 $19) 22... Rcf8 {(The engines think the position is balanced but I do not think it is easy playing for white.)} 23. Be2 Rg6 24. Bd3 d4 25. Ne2 {(I correctly avoid Bxg6 but again I burn quite some time from my clock.)} Nxd3 26. cxd3 e5 27. Ng3 Rg5 28. Re1 Rf4 29. Rde2 {(Ne4 is answered by Rh5 and still no simple draw for white.)} Kf6 30. Ne4 {(A drastic choice but I did not want to wait anymore. This endgame is defendable but some precise moves must be found.)} Bxe4 31. dxe4 Ke6 {(An alternative is to transfer the rook via g8 to the c-file but in both lines I am not able to show any concrete win for black.)} 32. Kd2 h5 $5 {(Or again Rg8.)} (32... Rg8 $5 33. Rc1 Kd6 34. Kd3 $5 h5 35. Rcc2 Rgf8 36. Kc4 Ra8 37. b3 $1 Rc8 38. Kd3 $11 {(After exchanging rooks on c2 black can still push but it should be a draw if no mistakes are made.)}) 33. Rc1 Kd7 34. Kd3 Rg6 35. a4 $6 {(The start of a wrong plan. Better is to stay solid with Rcc2.)} (35. Rcc2 $1 h4 36. Rf2 Rgf6 37. Rxf4 Rxf4 38. a4 Rf1 39. Kc4 Ke6 40. Re2 $11 {(Again black can still try to win but in theory white should be able to defend.)}) 35... h4 36. a5 $6 {(The intention was of course to respond bxa5 with Rc5 but this is too optimistic.)} (36. Rcc2 $1 Rgf6 $1 37. Rcd2 Rf1 $1 38. Kc4 Rc6 $15 {(Houdini only shows a small plus for black but none of my engines could hold this endgame for white when shooting out the position.)}) 36... h3 37. Rcc2 $6 {(Resignation but it is anyway very hard to find something playable with only a couple of minutes left on the clock.)} (37. axb6 $1 Rxg2 38. Rc7 Kd6 39. Rxb7 Rf3 40. Kd2 Kc6 41. Rxg2 Kxb7 42. Rg7 Kxb6 43. Rg6 Kc7 44. Rg7 Kc6 45. Rg6 Kd7 46. Ke1 Re3 {(The e-pawn drops and the rest should be technique.)}) 37... bxa5 38. gxh3 Rf3 39. Kc4 d3 { (After the game some spectators told me that my opponent missed a direct win with Kc6. In timetrouble anybody misses something elementary.)} 40. Rcd2 Rd6 41. Rg2 Kc6 {(Having an extra hour my opponent finds again the right track. The win still exists but just will take some extra moves.)} 42. Rg5 b5 43. Kc3 b4 44. Kb3 Kc5 45. Rxe5 Kd4 46. Rxa5 Ke3 {(I also saw this double-pawn-sacrifice in the game but I hoped in vain that Vyacheslav would not dare playing it.)} 47. e5 Rd4 48. Rd1 Ke2 49. Raa1 d2 50. Ka4 b3 51. Ka3 Rxh3 52. e6 Re3 53. e7 Rxe7 54. Kxb3 Re3 0-1
A nervous battle with some mistakes on both sides which is normal when both players are playing a position on sight. In the end the strongest player wins merited and deserved which can only be positive propaganda for chess.

Sometimes it can become funny when both players try to surprise each other in such way that they suddenly play an important theoretical variation which they aren't familiar with. This happened a few months ago in the 2nd game of the worldchampionship-finale Muzychuk and Pogonina with a novelty only at move 18 but on which 17 minutes was spent so surely no preparation.
[Event "FIDE WWCC 2015"] [Site "Sochi"] [Date "2015.04.03"] [Round "6.2"] [White "Muzychuk, Mariya"] [Black "Pogonina, Natalija"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C95"] [WhiteElo "2526"] [BlackElo "2456"] [PlyCount "115"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O {(In the big database there are no earlier games with this move from Mariya so it is big surprise for Natalija that Mariya is willing to play the mainline of the Spanish opening in such important game.)} b5 6. Bb3 Be7 7. Re1 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Nb8 {(6 games of Nd7 played by Natalija can be found in the database but the highly theoretical and complex Breyer is a big surprise as this is new in her repertoire.)} 10. d4 Nbd7 11. a4 Bb7 12. Nbd2 c5 13. d5 c4 14. Bc2 Nc5 15. Nf1 Re8 16. Ng3 g6 17. Be3 Qc7 18. Nd2 {(A novelty played only after 17 minutes so surely no preparation. The rest of the game is a tough battle with a number of mistakes typical for competitive chess in which both players can not rely on analysis built by engines in advance or on familiar positions.)} Bf8 19. Qe2 Nfd7 20. f3 Nb6 21. a5 Nbd7 22. Nh1 Be7 23. g4 Qd8 24. Qf2 Bh4 25. Ng3 Rc8 26. Kg2 Nf8 27. Rf1 Bg5 28. f4 exf4 29. Bxf4 Rc7 30. Bxg5 Qxg5 31. Nf3 Qe7 32. Nd4 Qe5 33. h4 h6 34. Qd2 Bc8 35. Nc6 Qg7 36. Qf4 Rd7 37. Rf2 Bb7 38. Nd4 Re5 39. Nf3 Re8 40. g5 h5 41. Nd4 Qe5 42. Qd2 Rc7 43. Raf1 Ree7 44. Rf6 Red7 45. R6f4 b4 46. Nf3 Qg7 47. cxb4 Nd3 48. Rf6 Nh7 49. Nd4 Nxf6 50. gxf6 Qf8 51. Ba4 Ne5 52. Bxd7 Rxd7 53. Nf3 Ng4 54. Nxh5 gxh5 55. Qg5 Kh8 56. Qxh5 Nh6 57. Kh2 Qg8 58. Rg1 1-0
Such games won't have much value for theorists but spectators are enjoying the big drama on the board.

Previous game was played between players of 2500 elo but this is also happening on + 2800 level. Let us have a look and enjoy a recent game between worldchampion Carlsen and the French supergrandmaster Vachier Lagrave both known not to be afraid of original creative chess.
[Event "Gashimov Memorial"] [Site "Shamkir AZE"] [Date "2015.04.21"] [Round "5"] [White "Magnus Carlsen"] [Black "Maxime Vachier-Lagrave"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A00"] [PlyCount "107"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 b5 {(The databases contain no games of Maxime with this daring move.)} 3. Bg2 {(Magnus already spent 11 minutes here and admitted later to be out of book after blacks second move!!)} Bb7 4. Na3 a6 { (Whites last move was also a surprise for Maxime as he spent 18 minutes to a6.)} 5. c4 b4 6. Nc2 e6 7. d4 a5 8. O-O Be7 9. d5 Na6 10. Nfd4 Nc5 11. Re1 {(This seems to be the real novelty as a blitzgame of the European championship 2014 between grandmasters continued with dxe6. Carlsen and Maxime already consumed both more than half hour so were not aware about this. You can of course wonder if such games are relevant to study for playing this position in practice.)} O-O 12. e4 e5 13. Nf5 d6 14. Bg5 Nxd5 15. Bh6 gxh6 16. Qg4 Bg5 17. cxd5 Kh8 18. h4 Bf6 19. Nce3 Bc8 20. Qf3 Bg7 21. Bh3 Rg8 22. Bg4 Qf6 23. Bh5 Bxf5 24. Nxf5 c6 25. dxc6 Rac8 26. Qd1 Rxc6 27. Qd5 Rgc8 28. Rad1 Bf8 29. Qxf7 Qxf7 30. Bxf7 Na4 31. Re2 Rc1 32. Rxc1 Rxc1 33. Kg2 Nc5 34. b3 Rc3 35. Kh3 Nd7 36. Be6 Nc5 37. Bd5 Nd7 38. Ne3 Nf6 39. Be6 Rc5 40. Nc4 Kg7 41. f3 Ne8 42. Rd2 Nc7 43. Bg4 a4 44. Nxd6 Bxd6 45. Rxd6 a3 46. Bd7 Rc2 47. Bc6 Rxa2 48. Rd7 Kf6 49. Rxc7 Rc2 50. Rxh7 Kg6 51. Rc7 Kf6 52. h5 Rc1 53. Rh7 a2 54. Bd5 1-0
The dead of chess by boring draws looks faraway when we check above games (and players don't fear to lose). I even believe that the abundance of information rather gave the game a boost as players continuously try to surprise. Competitive chess has a bright future on the condition we find a solution for the ever growing distrust as to cheating.