Tuesday, July 7, 2015

14x SOS

Deurne didn't manage to excel in the last interclub-season. Some luck was needed (as I got a forfeit against the descending team Oude God which seriously influenced the final rankings) to maintain our position in the middle of the group. I also take the responsibility for this average result as I lost 3 times (see my articles identityharakiri and  surprises). The last round of the interclubs against KOSK was for me the last chance to improve my personal score but naturally my opponent former world-champion correspondence Gert-Jan Timmerman was not so eager to cooperate.

The smallest detail of an opening is studied in correspondence-chess but Gert-Jan also knows this gives no guarantees in standard-chess. The analysis in correspondence-chess are often very lengthily and made sometimes many years ago so there is a big chance that we don't manage to remember everything without any external help in a standard game. Today openings develop so fast that we are obliged to regularly update and remake the analysis. Finally an opponent can very well prepare in advance which lines to avoid by consulting a correspondence-chess-database.

In our previous mutual game of 2010 Gert-Jan selected his back-up system instead of the Schliemanngambit but that was insufficient to avoid my preparation. He told me after the game that he extracted a lesson from that experience. Therefore this time he experimented with some very exotic line of which he was confident that I hadn't studied it before. The SOS-books give a fantastic support to such approach. The series of NIC exist of 14 numbers. Each of them is a collection of early deviations in the theory and which have proven already many times their surprise-value in practice. Besides they can be learned in a very short time-frame. Gert-Jan probably only needed the train journey between his home to the playing hall to pick up the Spanish Bird.
[Event "Interclub Deurne - Oostende"] [Date "2015"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Timmerman, G."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C61"] [WhiteElo "2330"] [BlackElo "2250"] [PlyCount "38"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4 {(A surprise as there are no games from Gert-Jan in the database with the Spanish Bird.)} 4. Nxd4 exd4 5. O-O Bc5 6. d3 $6 {(I recommended this move in my openingbook but today after extensive analysis I prefer rather Bc4.)} (6. Bc4 $1 { (This avoids the plan of the game with c4 because of the threat Bxf7. Although I prefer now Bc4, there are several other interesting moves like d3, b4, Qg4 and Re1 which neither give black easy equality.)} d6 $5 (6... Qh4 $5 7. d3 $1 d6 $5 8. Nd2 $1 Nf6 $5 9. Nf3 $5 Qh5 10. h3 O-O 11. Rb1 $5 a5 12. a4 $5) 7. b4 {(Looks to me the strongest move but d3 is surely an interesting alternative.)} Bb6 $5 8. d3 {(My analysis prefer this move but we should not ignore a4.)} Nf6 9. Bg5 $1 h6 10. Bh4 g5 11. Bg3 $14) 6... c6 7. Bc4 $5 {(I wrote down Ba4 in my openingbook but I could not remember this during the game. Well I do not think this is crucial as often it just will transpose.)} d5 8. exd5 $5 {(More critical is without doubt Bb3.)} (8. Bb3 $1 Ne7 9. f4 $1 O-O 10. f5 Kh8 $5 11. Qh5 $5 f6 12. Nd2 $40 {(A recent correspondence-game suspects this is still playable for black but it does not look fun for a standard-game.)}) 8... cxd5 9. Bb5 Kf8 $6 {(Gert-Jan showed me after the game the S.O.S. book in which he found this idea. However my analysis prefer Bd7 with a technical boring but balanced position.)} 10. Re1 $5 {(La4 is also a good try to keep a small opening edge.)} Ne7 11. Ba4 $6 {(The most popular move but I believe only the mechanic c4 is correct for an advantage.)} (11. c4 $1 {(I found 1 game played by a lower rated player with this move so I can not claim this is a novelty.) } dxc3 $6 12. Nxc3 Qb6 $6 {(This looks nice for black but there is tactical problem with this move.)} 13. d4 Bxd4 14. Rxe7 $18) 11... h5 12. Nd2 $5 { (H3 avoids the continuation in the game but also after h3 black has a lot of counter-play.)} ( 12. h3 $5 Qb6 13. a3 Qg6 14. Kf1 Bg4 $1 15. Qd2 Qa6 16. Bb3 $13) 12... Bg4 13. f3 Be6 14. Nf1 $6 {(The typical engine-move looks better to attach blacks bishop to the d-pawn. Apparently the engine considers the stuck bishop at a4 to be no major problem.)} Nf5 15. Bd2 Qf6 16. Qe2 Qg6 $6 {(It is very doubtful if the queen stands better on g6. Bd6 looks somewhat stronger.)} 17. Qf2 h4 18. Bf4 $6 { (The engines recommend h3 so the knight can get a future via h2. Of course this weakens the black squares around the king but this seems not so important here.)} Rc8 19. Re2 a6 $6 {(Black proposed a draw which I accepted after some thought. I can launch an interesting pawn-sacrifice with b4 but I assessed correctly that black has more than adequate resources. Anyway white has no other active options. I also want to indicate that Qf6 so correcting blacks 16th move is considered as slightly stronger and the engines show a small advantage for black.)} 1/2-1/2
A half point is again no fantastic result but to press for a win would've been certainly not without serious risks. Afterwards Gert-Jan cheered me up by referring to our new Belgium grandmaster Tanguy Ringoir having lost a game some years ago against this variation.

If we look at my comments of the game then we detect that the concept isn't waterproof against a detailed analysis. White has several paths to play for an advantage but needs to play exact and aggressive chess. This kind of chess I will seldom play if I am on unknown territory. Well the name SOS already explains to us that the system is mainly based on the element of surprise and the fact that normal moves only lead to exactly the kind of positions in which the strength of the system is hidden.

I read on the internet that some players therefore regularly change lines by jumping from one SOS number to another so the element of surprise is kept. After 14 numbers the Dutch IM Jeroen Bosch stopped with the series albeit to the displeasure of quite some fans. There is surely still a demand for new numbers but I understand everything comes to an end. 7 years is already a long time in our hectic society.

Stopping the publication of new numbers doesn't mean that Jeroen suddenly started to play only mainlines. His appetite for exotic lines still exists. Often he is successful but now and then it goes horribly wrong. Such bad experience happened with a Ponziani experiment. The Ponziani was tried a few years ago successfully by Magnus Carlsen but it nevertheless remains an unknown opening. Despite a fixed repertoire I only met the Ponziani once in almost 800 standard games.
[Event "NED CupT 1314"] [Site "Wijchen"] [Date "2014.05.29"] [Round "2.4"] [White "Bosch, Jeroen"] [Black "Lombaers, Peter"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C44"] [WhiteElo "2365"] [BlackElo "2273"] [PlyCount "110"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. c3 {(The Ponziani. 20 years ago I spent a lot of time analyzing this opening with Eddy Verledens, at that time my correspondence-chess buddy playing always this opening.)} Nf6 4. d4 Nxe4 5. d5 Bc5 {(This line was discovered end of the 19th century by former Scottish champion George Brunton Fraser but only recently due to some breakthroughs in the field of engine-development, it was defined how important this line is for the Ponziani. I played always Nb8 in this position which is like Ne7 much more popular.)} 6. dxc6 Bxf2 7. Ke2 Bb6 {(This move has been played only a couple of times before e.g. by our Belgian FM Emanuel Nieto but this could rapidly change. On the internet I read that Peter found the idea by accident on a chessforum.)} 8. Qd5 Nf2 9. Qxe5 $6 {(Rg1 seems to be the correct move which I will discuss in detail in a next article.)} Kf8 10. Rg1 dxc6 $6 { (Ng4 and f6 are better with an edge for black. Peters preparation or knowledge looks rather limited of this opening.)} 11. Be3 Ng4 12. Bc5 Kg8 13. Qd4 Qe8 14. Kd2 $2 {(Kd1 is fully playable.)} (14. Kd1 $1 Bf5 15. Nbd2 Rd8 16. Bxb6 Rxd4 17. Bxd4 c5 $13) 14... Bf5 15. Bd3 Bxd3 16. Re1 Qd8 17. Bxb6 Bxb1 18. Raxb1 {(Here Bc5, Bxc7 and Bxa7 are slightly stronger. Now white will be 2 pawns down without sufficient compensation.)} axb6 19. Kc2 Qxd4 20. Nxd4 Kf8 21. h3 Nf6 22. Kb3 h5 23. Rbd1 Rh6 24. Nf3 Re8 25. Ne5 h4 26. Rd2 Rh5 27. Rde2 Re6 28. Ng6 Ke8 29. Rxe6 {(Blacks last moves were not optimal as white had now a chance to fight back with the subtle a4.)} fxe6 30. Nf4 Rb5 31. Kc2 Rf5 32. Nxe6 Rf2 33. Kb3 Kf7 34. Ng5 Kf8 35. Nf3 Rxg2 36. Nxh4 Rg3 37. Rh1 g6 38. Rh2 Kf7 39. Ng2 g5 40. Ne1 Kg6 41. Kc2 Nd5 42. Nd3 Kh5 43. Ne5 Nf4 44. Rd2 Rg2 45. Rxg2 Nxg2 46. Kd3 Nf4 47. Ke4 Nxh3 48. Kf5 Nf2 49. Ng6 Nd1 50. Nf8 g4 51. Kf4 Kh4 52. Ng6 Kh3 53. Ne5 g3 54. Nf3 Nxb2 55. Ke5 g2 0-1
The Fraser-defense was picked up by Peter on a chessforum. The variation is critical today for the Ponziani (something which I will discuss more extensively in a next article). Instead of surprising Peter, Jeroen was surprised himself. Here we see the flip-side of most exotic openings. Often there exist several different counter-systems (remember my remark about green moves in my article a Dutch gambit part 2). If the opponent has by chance checked your surprise-system then likely you will be surprised instead. Now by regularly changing lines and carefully selecting the opportunity it must surely be possible to minimize these type of accidents and have a lot of fun playing SOS openings.


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