Monday, July 27, 2015

Devilish originality

Resting and relaxing are at least as important than preparing in a tournament of multiple days. This can be difficult especially when you don't have a good answer to a nasty variation. However it surely is a doubtful strategy to prepare each day till midnight and the full morning which I guess Tanguy Ringoir will likely confirm after the past Belgium championship. No I am more sympathizing with the approach of the players from Zottegem. They prepare a few hours for each game but make sure sufficient time is left for having fun together. On the chessforum of Zottegem you can read about their most recent adventures in Dortmund where Glen De Schampheleire managed to stunt by winning the tournament: see final standings SCM (a pity that Schaakfabriek gets no support to write a report about this achievement).

So it is better not to study a (new) opening thoroughly during a tournament. Besides the allotted time is often insufficient in a game-preparation. I spent almost 2 weeks at my analysis of the Fraser-defense which I summarized in the previous article (I anyway had no other games to analyze anymore). Although I worked on a moderate tempo, still I don't believe somebody can execute this work in a half day (10 hours).

Another example of such analysis I made last year about a specific but important line in the Najdorf. I not only reviewed hundreds of otb- and correspondence games but I also verified the different critical lines by my engines. The very short summary can be viewed below.
[Event "Open Gent 6de ronde"] [Date "2014"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Stuer, M."] [Result "*"] [ECO "B92"] [WhiteElo "2333"] [BlackElo "2130"] [PlyCount "31"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e5 7. Nb3 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Be3 Qc7 10. a4 {(From my database of engine-games I discovered the very interesting move g4 which has not been played before by a human player at all.)} Be6 11. a5 {(In 2001 I once played Qd2 against Marc. A5 is more popular but often just transposes.)} Nbd7 12. Nd5 {(In my half hour preparation I had checked this move and decided to try it out. Today I think that it gives nothing for white. White should rather look at Qd2, Re1 or Bf3.)} (12. Bf3 $5 Rac8 13. Re1 Rfe8 14. Nd2 Bf8 15. Nf1 $13) (12. Qd2 $5 Rac8 13. Rfd1 Rfd8 14. Nc1 {(In 2001 I played Bf3 but Nc1 is surely better.)} h6 15. h3 Nc5 16. Bf3 Nh7 17. N1a2 $13) 12... Bxd5 $6 {(I hoped for this move. Although it is the most frequently played, it is a mistake.)} (12... Nxd5 $1 {(Some correspondence-games tell us that this is fully playable for black.)} 13. exd5 Bf5 14. c4 $5 Rac8 15. Rc1 $5 Bg6 16. Qd2 $5 Rfe8 $5 17. Rfe1 $5 f5 18. f4 $5 $13) 13. exd5 Rac8 14. c4 Ne4 15. f3 Nec5 16. Nd2 $14 {(White won the opening-battle as the threat b4 is hard to answer.)} *
Indeed this was based on my game against Marc Stuer played in Open Gent 2014. Because of that I decided to wait with the publication after the Open Gent which just finished see results 2015. I don't want to give my potential opponents too easily my conclusions of the many often boring hours of analysis.

Anyway hiding your analysis does not mean that you are protected from surprises even after such extensive research. As end of last year the Georgian grandmaster Gaioz Nigalidze introduced a shocking novelty.
[Event "3rd Al Ain Chess Classic"] [Site "Al-Ain UAE"] [Date "2014.12.23"] [Round "6.1"] [White "Kuzubov, Y."] [Black "Nigalidze, G."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B92"] [WhiteElo "2701"] [BlackElo "2536"] [PlyCount "130"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e5 7. Nb3 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Be3 Be6 10. a4 Nbd7 11. a5 Rc8 12. Qd2 Qc7 13. Rfd1 Nxe4 {(Rfd8 is the most common move as shown in my analysis but this piece-sacrifice in an enormous surprise.)} 14. Nxe4 Qxc2 15. Qxc2 Rxc2 16. Nc1 d5 17. Ng5 Bxg5 {(I found in my database of engine-games still 1 game with Rxb2 played by the unfamiliar program Bison 9.11 which was won by white. Again an example of why we should put more attention to these engine-games. The current top-engines rather prefer slightly Bxg5 with still some advantage for white.)} 18. Bxg5 Rxb2 19. Be7 Rc8 20. Bd3 Nc5 21. Bxc5 Rxc5 22. Bb1 Rcb5 23. Nd3 Re2 24. Kf1 Re4 25. Ne1 Reb4 26. f3 g5 27. Bd3 Rc5 28. Be2 e4 29. Rd2 {(Rdc1 was whites last chance to fight for some advantage. From now on-wards blacks pawn-mass starts to move forwards.)} f5 30. Rc2 Rxc2 31. Nxc2 Rb2 32. Nd4 Kf7 33. Ke1 Kf6 34. Kd1 Ke5 35. Kc1 Rb4 36. Nxe6 Kxe6 37. Kc2 {(On Chessbase it was correctly annotated that white gets into troubles after this move. Fxe4 followed up by Rb1 was necessary to maintain the balance.)} d4 38. g4 {(A very drastic decision to return the piece as the rook-endgame is very bad.)} d3 39. Bxd3 exd3 40. Kc3 { (This is too sophisticated.)} Rf4 41. Rb1 Rxf3 42. Rxb7 Rh3 43. Rb6 Ke5 44. gxf5 Kxf5 45. Rxa6 Rxh2 46. Kxd3 h5 47. Ra8 h4 48. Ke3 Kg4 49. a6 Ra2 50. a7 h3 51. Rd8 Rxa7 52. Kf2 Ra2 53. Kg1 Kg3 54. Rd3 Kh4 55. Rd4 g4 56. Rb4 Re2 57. Ra4 Kg3 58. Ra3 Kf4 59. Ra4 Kf3 60. Ra3 Re3 61. Ra1 g3 62. Rf1 Kg4 63. Rb1 h2 64. Kg2 Re2 65. Kh1 Kh3 0-1
The game was quickly spread via the media see e.g. Chessbase. Playing a new piece-sacrifice in a position known from more than 300 games and tested by the likes of Anand, Svidler, Gelfand and Mamedyarov looks like pure speculation. However winning with it against a strong grandmaster like Yuriy Kuzubov is another cup of tea.

No it is not another example of a deep home-analysis as the winner later explained to the author of the Chessbase-article. Besides my engines consider the sacrifice only as the 21st best move in the position as shown in the screeshot below:
13...Nxe4 only 21st choice by Stockfish 6
Extremely original, isn't it? Well it becomes devilish original if we know that the creative winner was caught cheating only 3 months ago. The news of the reigning champion from Georgia using a smartphone on the toilet gave an enormous shock in the chessworld via the media as can be seen e.g. on

It just proofs how easily any automatic system of detecting cheating can be sidestepped. You play a number of original moves but still you consult a few times a computer. The uncertainty clearly adds a lot to the fact that many players have become paranoia. Players are rightly or wrongly accused as was recently the case with the Romanian WGM Mihaela Sandu. 2 camps diametrically opposed to each other which is shown in the article and reactions on

Even in the past Open Gent I heard a player loudly requesting for extra control (frisking) and restrictions. Well it is not illogical if a player like the French grandmaster Sebastien Feller again participates after his expulsion of 2 years. On the other hand such measures don't fit at all in the atmosphere of the festivities. We have to wait to see how standard chess will survive. Next month Mihaele Sandu will play at Open Brasschaat. I am curious to find out what will happen but naturally I hope everything will run smoothly.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Computers achieve autonomy

In the unofficial world-championship for engines (TCEC) the role of an opening-book has been restricted. The goal of the competition is to measure the pure strength of the algorithms so excluding any influence of manual corrections. A programmed opening-book can assure a significant advantage at least this was the view many shared until recently.

Today this theory is by more and more people questioned. Nowadays so many improvements are discovered in old openingbooks that the decision to early disconnect the engine from the openingbook , becomes increasingly attractive. Programmers start to prefer that the engine finds independently the moves in an opening. So the program plays better without additional human input but not yet without mistakes. To avoid the same errors reoccurring, statistics of the results are stored in a special openingbook. The engine learns autonomously a repertoire.

Nothing new some people will think as this already exists more than a decade. Correct but there is a big difference with the past. This special opening-book was considered only useful for an engine while today I see more and more applications for the otb and correspondence-player. Several current engines play stronger than Magnus Carlsen so it is not optimal anymore to only study the games of the top-grandmasters.

A nice example is the recent theoretical developments of the Fraser defense. The critical move 9.Rg1 which I already mentioned in my previous article, does not pop up in the big database 2015 neither in my correspondence-databases (updates till June 2015). However if we check my database containing a collection of computer-games published on sddfccrl and tcec then it transpires that Rg1 is not a novelty either, at the contrary.
36 computer-games with 9.Rg1
I am a chess-manic in my analysis so I am never satisfied with the number of found games. Therefore the next logical step is to create your own computergames played from a specific position using the available HW and SW. Though such standard games take too long without even thinking about the unattractive energy-bill. By playing shortened games as explained in my article analyze with a computer the process is accelerated. That allows me to achieve 18 games in 6 hours. Not bad but still too slow to my taste. I learned on chesspub from Vass that top-correspondence-players allow their engines to analyze at the speed of 10 seconds per move so I decided to test that strange looking method myself for this specific position. The final-result of several hundreds of games can be viewed below.
[Event "Ponziani 5...Bc5"] [Date "2015"] [Round "?"] [White "?"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [ECO "C44"] [PlyCount "41"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. c3 Nf6 4. d4 Nxe4 5. d5 Bc5 {(The Fraser-defense in the Ponziani.)} 6. dxc6 Bxf2 7. Ke2 Bb6 {(The old more popular bxc6 does not guarantee equality after Qa4.)} 8. Qd5 Nf2 9. Rg1 {(A novelty according to the Bigbase 2015 and my correspondence-database but already known from many computer-games.)} (9. cxb7 $6 {(Rejected by the theorists but it remains an interesting choice in practical play.)} Bxb7 10. Qxb7 Nxh1 11. Qe4 $5 {(Lets check also covers this move which is not easy to answer without any study. The alternative a4 can be answered by a5 or 0-0 with a small advantage for black.)} (11. Be3 Bxe3 12. Kxe3 O-O 13. Nbd2 d5 14. Bb5 Rb8 $19) 11... O-O (11... f6 12. Be3 c6 13. Nbd2 O-O 14. g3 f5 15. Qh4 Bxe3 16. Qxd8 Raxd8 17. Kxe3 f4 18. gxf4 exf4 19. Kd4 Nf2 $13) 12. Ng5 g6 13. Qh4 h5 14. Na3 d5 15. g4 Nf2 16. gxh5 Qe7 17. Bh3 $15) (9. Qxe5 $6 Kf8 10. Rg1 f6 {(Ng4 is also fine.)} 11. Qf4 g5 12. Nxg5 dxc6 13. Be3 Nd3 14. Qf3 Ne5 15. Bxb6 Nxf3 16. Bc5 Kg7 17. Nxf3 $15) 9... O-O $5 {(The critical test but dxc6 looks playable too.)} (9... dxc6 $5 10. Qxd8 Kxd8 11. Be3 Ng4 $1 12. Bxb6 axb6 13. h3 $5 Nf6 14. c4 $5 (14. g4 $5 Nd5 15. Nbd2 $5 f6 16. Kf2 $5 Nf4 17. a3 $5 g5 $13) 14... Ne4 15. Nxe5 $5 Re8 16. Nxf7 Kd7 $11) (9... bxc6 $6 10. Qxe5 Kf8 11. Nd4 Ng4 12. Qf4 c5 13. Nf5 $14) 10. cxb7 Bxb7 11. Qxb7 Qf6 12. Na3 {(I still found some computer-games with Qa6 and Qd5 but only Na3 looks sufficient for maintaining the balance.)} (12. Qd5 $6 c6 13. Qd2 e4 14. Nd4 e3 15. Qc2 Rae8 $1 {(A computer has the biggest difficulty to find the right moves in this position so impossible for a human to find independently the right track at the board.)} 16. Nf3 (16. Qf5 Qd6 17. Na3 Bxd4 18. Nc4 Qxh2 19. cxd4 g6 20. Qxd7 Nd1 21. Qxc6 Qxg1 22. Qf3 Re4 $15) 16... g5 $1 17. g4 (17. g3 g4 18. Nh4 Ne4 19. Rg2 Re5 20. Ke1 Nd2 21. Bd3 Nf3 $17) (17. Ke1 g4 18. Nd4 g3 19. hxg3 Bxd4 20. cxd4 e2 21. Bxe2 Qxd4 $17) (17. h4 gxh4 18. Na3 d5 $1 $17 {(An improvement on the analysis published on a chess-forum.)}) 17... Ne4 $1 18. Na3 Qf4 $1 19. Bh3 h5 $5 {(Re6 is another way leading to Rome.)} 20. gxh5 f5 21. Bg2 g4 22. Nc4 gxf3 23. Bxf3 Kh8 24. Nxb6 Nd2 25. Rg3 Nxf3 $19) (12. Qa6 $2 e4 13. Nd4 c5 14. Nc2 d5 15. Be3 Ng4 $17) 12... e4 {(I consider this as the mainline but black has interesting alternatives to avoid a preparation.)} (12... Rab8 $5 13. Qd5 c6 14. Qxd7 (14. Qd2 e4 15. Nd4 e3 16. Qc2 Bxd4 17. cxd4 $13) 14... e4 15. Nd4 Nd3 16. Be3 Rfd8 17. Qxc6 Bxd4 18. Qxf6 Rxb2 $11) (12... Qf5 $5 13. Qd5 ( 13. Qa6 Rfe8 14. Qc4 Ng4 15. h3 e4 16. hxg4 Qxg4 17. Kd1 d5 $13) 13... c6 14. Qc4 d5 15. g4 Qd7 16. Qa6 f5 17. g5 f4 18. Rg2 e4 $13) 13. Nc4 Rab8 {(This allows black to avoid an immediate draw.)} (13... exf3 $5 14. Qxf3 Rae8 15. Be3 Bxe3 16. Nxe3 Rxe3 17. Qxe3 Ng4 18. Qxa7 $11) 14. Qd5 exf3 {(Again black has 2 fun alternatives.)} (14... Ng4 $5 15. Kd2 (15. Bg5 Qg6 16. Nd4 Bxd4 17. cxd4 c6 18. Qa5 d5 19. Be3 dxc4 $13) (15. Nxb6 Rxb6 16. Bd2 exf3 17. Qxf3 Qg6 18. Kd1 $11) 15... exf3 16. Nxb6 f2 17. Rh1 Rxb6 18. Kc2 Ne5 19. b3 $11) (14... Nh3 $5 15. Rh1 exf3 16. Qxf3 Rfe8 17. Kd2 Nf2 18. Qxf6 gxf6 19. Nxb6 Rxb6 20. Rg1 Rd6 21. Kc2 Re1 22. b4 Rdd1 $11) 15. gxf3 Rfe8 { (I have a slight preference for this rook-move but probably it makes little difference in the end.)} (15... Rbe8 $5 16. Kd2 Ne4 17. fxe4 Bxg1 18. Bd3 c6 19. Qf5 Qxf5 20. exf5 Bxh2 $13) 16. Kd2 Ne4 17. fxe4 Bxg1 18. Bd3 { (It is noteworthy that black had a number of playable lines while white had to play each time the only move to avoid a disadvantage.)} (18. Qf5 $6 Qxf5 19. exf5 Bxh2 20. Rb1 Bf4 21. Kc2 Bxc1 22. Rxc1 $15) (18. Be2 $2 c6 19. Qd6 (19. Qf5 Qxf5 20. exf5 d5 21. Na3 Be3 22. Kd3 Bxc1 23. Rxc1 Rxb2 $17) 19... Qxd6 20. Nxd6 Re6 21. Kc2 Bxh2 22. Nf5 Rxe4 23. Bd3 Rg4 $17) 18... c6 {(This allows exchanging the queens. There is also the alternative Qf2 to keep the position complex tactically.)} (18... Qf2 $5 19. Kd1 Bxh2 (19... c6 {(Or anyway exchanging the queens.)} 20. Qf5 Qxf5 21. exf5 Bxh2 22. Bd2 Bc7 23. b3 d5 24. Nb2 $13) 20. Be3 Qg2 21. Rb1 Rbd8 $13) 19. Qf5 {(Again white has not really a choice.)} (19. Qd6 $6 Qf2 20. Kd1 Bxh2 21. e5 Bg3 22. Rb1 f6 23. Be3 Qh2 24. Qc7 $15) 19... Qxf5 20. exf5 Bxh2 {(This is logical but not mandatory.)} (20... d5 $5 21. Na5 c5 22. b3 Bxh2 23. Kd1 Rb6 24. Bd2 Bc7 25. c4 Ra6 26. Nb7 $13) (20... c5 $5 21. Nd6 Re7 22. h4 Bh2 23. Nb5 d5 24. b3 a6 25. Na3 $13) 21. b3 {(The first white move for which I found a playable but risky alternative: b4. This position requires extra research and definitely is worth testing in practice. Komodo prefers slightly blacks chances but Stockfish let us believe that it is an easy draw. Anyway a clear path to an advantage for black is not immediately clear for me.)} *

I already cleaned up the analysis so it became readable but anyway I am very satisfied of the results for this specific analysis. I used Stockfish 6 supported by the Fritz 14 interface. A further automation of the analysis is possible with the tool Aquarium already 5 years available on the market. That tool allows to execute several projects automatically in a parallel or sequential mode and automatically structures the analysed positions. Another important feature is that no limitation exists in the number of lines you want to analyze as opposed to the old "deep position analysis" mode of the Fritz 14 interface.

So computers achieve more and more autonomy for which we again pay a price. This price is paid e.g. in correspondence-chess as top-players due to the influence of the engines don't succeed anymore to win games.
The wc-finale which ended in 2002 and was won by Gert-Jan Timmerman

  Compare with the still running wc-finale which started end of 2013.
The still running wc-finale which started end 2013.

In 1 decade the drawing-rate went up till almost 100%. We should ask ourselves if such championships still make sense. The former worldclass-player Nikolai Papenin is the only player not performing as expected likely because of an early drop out. Recently the strong German correspondence-grandmaster Arno Nickel published an article on chessbase to get attention for this problem.

We are today entering a phase in which engines neutralize creativity by extensive analysis which can detect the risks in time. On the Utrecht chess-forum in the thread about Norway Chess  the Dutch programmer and fide-master Vincent Diepeveen rightly remarked that he can today in most endgames or advanced middle-game positions tell which moves are the best after a couple of hours extensive plugging on the computer.

Fortunately we aren't allowed to use engines at the chessboard so we should not fear the dead of chess by draws in standard-chess. Neither will our game be solved in the nearby future. However further progression of the understanding of chess will be managed increasingly by autonomous computers.


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.