Sunday, August 16, 2015

Invisible moves

Puzzle champion, a cycling certificate, a medal for best runner... My children become quickly attached to grades, certificates, titles... That is not necessarily bad in the society we live but wicked businesspeople will try to take profit from this too. Also fide has already discovered some time ago that they can earn money by assigning titles. An exclusivity is transformed in a cash cow. Today we have approximately 1500 grandmasters and this number still grows as each year the new ones surpass many times the deceased ones.

Obviously discussions about the value of the titles and the different ways to achieve a title, occur regularly. An ex-fide official stated on his blog that he was comfortable with the current system. Personally I think titles are no guarantee anymore for quality so I started to use an additional nuance in my articles. I use the simple name grandmaster till 2600 elo. A strong grandmaster is between 2600 and 2700 and from 2700 I call the player a top-grandmaster.

Standard chess is not the only chess-domain in which you can earn titles. Many online sites have today their own reward-model to keep players. The value of the obtained decorations is often very limited or non-existing outside those sites. However titles attributed by ICCF are recognized by a much larger public. Unfortunately also here we see the exclusivity crumble away despite this is a niche.

A much smaller niche is solving chess. There are only 28 grandmasters including our Eddy Van Beers. Pity that his title in 2009 got so little attention. From experience I know that it is a very bright accomplishment which only can be achieved by many years of dedication and a lot of talent. Maybe the most exclusive and most respected grandmaster-title is in chess compositions. You can only earn every 3 years points for the title which means it often takes many years. Some months ago on the Israelite Yochanan Afek got compliments for his new title as one of the 7 living grandmasters. Although in fairness there exists no special title for only endgame-compositions. There only exists a title for compositions so more than just endgames. The full list is therefore longer than just 7 if you check wfcc which anyway doesn't harm the magnificent performance on which Afek has worked 48 years !

I am not going to discuss his many beautiful endgame studies as anybody interested can buy the database of Harold van der Heijden. I prefer to discuss the topic of one of his books: Invisible moves and which is naturally connected to his other work.

First we need to agree about what are invisible moves. If you watch live-broadcasts then you quickly notice players often disagree about what is easy/ difficult. I don't speak about just the inexperienced kibitzers solely relying on the evaluation of their engines but also commentators often wrongly predict what the top-player will or will not discover. The degree of difficulty can be more accurately defined in special solving-seances. Several tactic servers assign ratings to the problems based on earlier results: chesstempochessbasects, ...

The disadvantage of such sessions just like with training-books is that this doesn't copy tournament conditions. It is much easier to find a strong move if somebody tells you in advance there is one hidden (see my article my most beautiful move). Therefore I want to concentrate in this article on special positions in which not only several players but also the majority didn't find the 'clear' best move in a standard game.

Middlegames and endgames almost immediately are disregarded as they almost never pop up 2 times in practice without even considering the same mistake was made. So only openings remain. Of course players learn from the history so it is not easy to find positions which fully qualify. The first one which does is the position below popping up in 3 games of the Big Database 2015. In none of them the critical move was played.
[Event "Position 1 invisible moves"] [Date "2015"] [Round "?"] [White "?"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [ECO "A04"] [PlyCount "23"] 1. Nf3 f5 2. d3 Nc6 3. d4 e6 4. g3 Nf6 5. Bg2 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. c4 d6 8. d5 Ne5 9. Nd4 Nxc4 10. dxe6 g6 {(Including switching of colors we can find this position 3 times in the big database of 2015. Not once the invisible moves-combination was played.)} 11. Bh6 $1 Re8 12. Bc6 $1 {(This wins the exchange with the better prospects.)} *
Readers following my blog for some time probably recognized the position from my article Belgian interclub apotheosis as there I annotated my game against Glen De Schampheleire. By the way later Glen told me in a comment on the blog that the combination was played in an almost identical position by the Italian grandmaster Axel Rombaldoni. Almost identical is not identical so I don't take it into account.

A second much more frequently occurring position which I show is already known from 1892. In 178 games only 23 times the best move was played and probably almost exclusively by players having studied the position before.
[Event "Position 2 invisible moves"] [Date "2015"] [Round "?"] [White "?"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [ECO "C64"] [PlyCount "23"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Bc5 4. c3 d6 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4 Bb4 {(This position occurs 178 times in the Big database 2015. Now white can keep an edge with the simple Nc3, Nbd2 or Bd2 but only the spectacular Kf1 wins immediately decisive material.)} 7. Kf1 $1 {(In 1996 I also did not discover the move in my game against Pieter Truwant. It was Fritz 4 that let me discover this beautiful move. However the move was already earlier discovered and played by former world-champion Emanuel Lasker in 1892! We do not learn much from history as in only 23 games of the 178 the winning move was played.)} d5 {(Undoubtedly the toughest move and probably the reason why Alekhine rejected Kf1 in a second encounter.)} (7... a6 8. Bxc6 bxc6 9. Qa4 a5 (9... Rb8 10. a3 $18) 10. a3 Ba6 (10... Bd7 11. axb4 c5 12. b5 $18) (10... Bb7 11. Qb3 $18) 11. Kg1 Bb5 12. Qb3 $18) (7... Nge7 8. d5 a6 9. Be2 $18 ) (7... Bg4 8. Qa4 $18) (7... Ba5 8. Qa4 Bb6 9. d5 a6 10. dxc6 axb5 11. Qxa8 $18) (7... Bd7 8. Qa4 a5 (8... Nge7 9. d5 a6 10. dxc6 axb5 11. cxd7 $18) (8... Rb8 9. a3 a6 10. Bxc6 bxc6 11. axb4 $18) 9. a3 Nf6 10. Bg5 $18) 8. Qb3 $1 { (Alekhine played Ne5 but only Qb3 wins.)} Bd6 (8... dxe4 9. Ne5 Be6 10. Nxc6 Bxb3 11. Nxd8 Kxd8 12. axb3 $18) 9. exd5 a6 10. dxc6 axb5 11. cxb7 Bxb7 12. Qxb5 $18 *
Grandmasters Kevin Spragett, Alonso Zapata and even Anatoly Karpov missed the best move. Kevin Spragett missed the move even twice. It just shows that not everybody agrees with me to analyze all your own games in detail like I wrote in my article which games to analyze. Former world-champion Alexander Alekhine played the first time the correct move but varied in a second encounter. Sure some tactical lines must be calculated but isn't that exactly the specialty of Alekhine? Of course I also didn't play the move when I met it the first time. However online I was in the meantime able to play Kf1 40 times already totally surprising my blitz-opponents.

A 3rd and last example is copied from the excellent but now sleeping curiosity-site of Tim Krabbe. The position occurs less frequently than the previous one as only 41 times but seems to be a much harder nut to crack as 0 times the winning move was played in standard chess.
[Event "Position 3 invisible moves"] [Date "2015"] [Round "?"] [White "?"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [ECO "C01"] [PlyCount "15"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 4. c4 Bb4 {(I found 41 examples with this position in my big database 2015. Not once the strongest move Ke2 was played. )} 5. Ke2 $1 Nb6 6. c5 Nd5 (6... Nc4 7. Qb3 $18) 7. a3 Ba5 8. b4 $16 *
The Philipinian grandmaster Eugenio Torre is the most famous player having missed the incredible Ke2.

Can we consider the last move as the most invisible move or do you prefer the previous one? Maybe you know a more difficult move from your repertoire with openingtraps. Let us know in the comments which move/ position has given you already many easy wins.


Friday, August 7, 2015

Quitting chess

Quitting chess: Karel Van der Weide and others

Players quitting chess - it is a recurrent theme. Some become insane (or evolve psychologically in such way that it is not possible to function anymore as the majority of the people), like Torre or Rubinstein and maybe you can also add Fischer. Chessplayers are just humans and this subset of the society contains also less beautiful aspects. Suicide (Oll and many others), alcoholism (Tal, Stahlberg), criminals (Norman Whitaker), illegal use of engines (many), hustlers (Gufeld), many passions (Aleister Crowley), are also showing up between chessplayers. But I won't talk about those aspects in this article.

Karel Van der Weide
Recently Karel Van der Weide (already known from “Chess for housewives” - see picture) presented his new book in Gent. It is rather a collection of articles which he wrote earlier and now bundled as some sort of personal chess-testament. The book is easy reading and the games are excellent. Van der Weide was an attacking player and this book is surely top in that area. Lay-out and illustrations could be slightly improved but the young publishing house Thinkers’ Publishing has just started so will surely improve. At the presentation he analyzed casually 2 beautiful games of which especially his win against Piket stuck (not captured in the book).
[Event "Ch Netherlands"] [Site "Rotterdam (Netherlands)"] [Date "1998"] [Round "11"] [White "Van Der Weide Karel (BEL)"] [Black "Piket Jeroen (NED)"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B06"] [WhiteElo "2490"] [BlackElo "2605"] [Annotator ""] [Source ""] [Remark "VI-VII"] 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 d6 5.h3 b5 6.Bd3 Nd7 7.O-O Bb7 8.Be3 a6 9.a4 e5 10.axb5 cxb5 11.dxe5 dxe5 12.Bxb5 axb5 13.Nxb5 Bf8 14.Qd3 Ra6 15.Rfd1 Qc8 16.Rxa6 Bxa6 17.Nd6 Bxd6 18.Qxd6 Be2 19.Rd5 Ne7 20.Nxe5 Nxd5 21.Nxd7 Rg8 22.Bg5 Ba6 23.exd5 Qxd7 24.Qe5 1-0
Of course the conversation turned to the topic why he quit chess. It was very recognizable: no progression anymore, a too difficult living of chess, too little support from the federation, no social status of the profession. In the book Van der Weide also elaborates on some characteristics which enlighten his decision to quit. E.g. when he enjoyed resting in his hotel-room instead of joining the closure-banquet of a tournament or when he prefers the order and silence of a tournament in Austria instead of the half-drunk atmosphere of the Open Gent. Such characteristics are not necessary linked to quitting chess but it is part of the personality (I also prefer a good book above moderate company or a meaningless conversation) which does point to this direction. If the essence of the motivation disappears then all the other side-activities (travelling, ceremonies, absence from home, irrelevant comments, bad conditions...) which are whether or not obligatory, become suddenly annoying and stimulate the decision to quit.

I can well imagine that KVDW is strict for himself and put the bar high as chessplayer. Once you can't obtain a certain level anymore then other aspects of the way of living are not out-weighted anymore by the joy of playing chess. Again I find this very recognizable and more or less was the reason why I stopped (I don't want to compare my strength at all with KVDW). It is not really because I gradually decline but more that I more and more often mess up well played games with blunders. You can be beaten by an equal or stronger player but to throw points away against weaker players is something very different. You can compare this with a 1500 meter runner increasingly losing won races because he is not able anymore to tie his shoes properly. Only the very passionate chessplayers are in such conditions able to continue playing.

The number of former-chessplayers is large - much larger than the number of active ones, which always shrinks. Known former-players there are plenty - and I don't mean the retired player trying to make some extras on top of his pension by writing (Hans Ree and Genna Sosonko are respectable examples, still contributing literature to the chessculture). I talk about people left the game behind and built up another career. Somebody like Kenneth Rogoff by example, IGM but now PhD and professor economics. Even Josh Waitzkin, famous from the chessmovie Searching for Bobby Fischer, became later still (in 2004) Worldchampion Tai Chi. The recently passed away Richard Von Weisz√§cker (see Schachbund and chessbase) was surely also a good player, but will be remembered by something very different. Locally I also know some good clubplayers having continued their academic career in USA and quit chess as a hobby. You can't tell them they were wrong when they achieve a much higher level professionally than chess ever could offer.

Besides there are also topplayers more or less forced to quit. It seems Danailov, manager of Topalov has played a role in the short career of Valeri Salov. Topalov met with Salov an opponent with an intangible positional style. Danailov appears to put pressure on the organizers so if Topalov participated, Salov would not be invited. Seems, appears,... in any case if somebody tries to google Valeri Salov then you find nothing anymore after his career. He said himself in an interview of 2009 that his criticism on Kasparov stopped invitations for top-tournaments. I can well imagine that the youth of today does not know very well Salov - in the end his career was relatively short. To get acquainted with him I recommend the exciting game against Karpov from Rotterdam 1989 - maybe no absolute top-game, but part of the legendary 0/3 by which Karpov threw away an almost guaranteed tournament-victory (and maybe even the win in the World Cup).
[Event "Rotterdam 47/649 "] [Site "Rotterdam"] [Date "1989.06.21"] [EventDate "?"] [Round "15"] [Result "0-1"] [White "Anatoly Karpov"] [Black "Valery Salov"] [ECO "E17"] [WhiteElo "?"] [BlackElo "?"] [PlyCount "104"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 Be7 6. Nc3 Ne4 7. Bd2 Bf6 8. Rc1 Bxd4 9. Nxd4 Nxc3 10. Bxb7 Nxd1 11. Rxd1 c6 12. Bf4 O-O 13. Bd6 Re8 14. Bxa8 Qc8 15. b4 Na6 16. b5 Qxa8 17. bxa6 c5 18. Nf3 Qe4 19. Rc1 f6 20. a3 Qc6 21. Rd1 Qa4 22. Nd2 Qc6 23. Nf3 Qa4 24. Nd2 Qxa3 25. O-O Qxa6 26. e4 Qa4 27. e5 Qc6 28. Rfe1 a6 29. Re3 h6 30. Rc1 Ra8 31. Ne4 fxe5 32. f3 a5 33. Ra3 a4 34. h4 Ra5 35. Kg2 b5 36. cxb5 Rxb5 37. Kh3 Rb3 38. Rxc5 Qa6 39. Rc3 Qb5 40. Kg4 Kh7 41. h5 Rxa3 42. Rxa3 g6 43. Bf8 Kg8 44. Bd6 Kf7 45. Rc3 gxh5 46. Kxh5 Qf1 47. Kg4 Kg6 48. Bxe5 d5 49. Nc5 Qh1 50. Kf4 Qh5 51. Ke3 Qxe5 52. Kd2 d4 0-1
His most beautiful victory was probably the Polugaevskytournament in Buenos Aires 1994, in which the Sicilian was mandatory - Salov didn't even have 1.e4 in his repertoire !

The most famous and recent example of the voluntary exit is surely Gata Kamsky, once arrived in America (after his lost Worldchampionship-finale in 1996 against Karpov) stopped playing chess to study medicines and law. He made a successful comeback from 2004 which even impressed Kasparov. Kamsky has stated earlier to retire from chess if he will be 40 but he passed that point and he still continues maybe because of new challenges posed by Nakamura, So and Caruana. Enrique Mecking, a worldclass-player, stopped when we was seriously ill, but also he came eventually back - a good but not a brilliant comeback.

The opposite of the early 'quitters' are the dinosaurs of chess. Kortchnoi, Reshevsky, Najdorf, Smyslov, Lasker, Mieses… kept playing at a very high age on a respectable level. Nakamura already declared that he doesn't consider a good example of professionalism to play at a high age like Kortchnoi even in a wheelchair. Besides young players get this way a chance to play against a living legend. This last aspect always fascinated me - contact with the past. To play against somebody who has known people you only know from books or databases. Afek wrote once in an issue of New in Chess (year 2000) about his (far) familymember I.M. Vistanieckis, still active at a very high age (he was the oldest I.M. in the world) and defeating young players in Israel - but also played in the years 20-30 of the previous century against people like Mikenas.

Conclusion: quitting early chess is part of life - also other sports have their quitters (without being negative about it). Life goes on and everybody makes choices. I believe the interest for chess often stays (a bit like a smoker having quit smoking), but it is suppressed till the moment is ripe again. The most beautiful example is of course the congenial Jan Rooze, one of the biggest talents of his generation in Belgium but he chose for a professional career instead. Only after his retirement he again picked up chess and managed to excel by achieving an European title and the IM-title. Maybe he is the example the quitters need to follow?


Monday, August 3, 2015


They still exist, players not using any engine/ computer. At the Open of Gent an FM even told me that he is such dinosaur. The kind is slowly extinguishing as any young ambitious player works nowadays with Chessbase. I even noted on the site of go for grandmaster that special courses were given to learn how to work with Chessbase.

Most players know in the meanwhile how to ask an engine what the best move-sequence is in a position. You put the engine in "infinite analysis" mode (you can use for this the shortcut ALT+F2) and each time an evaluation becomes more or less stable you press the spacebar. Automatically this command selects and plays on the board the first choice of the engine. "Let's check" which I talked about in my article interfaces, also uses the first choice of the engine.

Pressing the spacebar isn't only extremely simple but also very quick and efficient. In an open tournament there is often very little time to prepare but thanks to the spacebar you can check quite a number of critical lines. Today we see regularly the use of the new term spacebarring by the new generation of players as e.g. in the chessbase article: You've just been spacebarred. The strongest engines are today playing hundreds of points better than the world-champion so it logical to use this during the preparations in a legal way to your advantage.

This sounds very nice but once playing a (much) higher level we start to notice that our opponent finds exactly the same critical moves which just neutralizes our study-advantage. Of course the opponent also has a computer and possess the same top-engines. To out-prepare such player we need to make an extra effort by using once in a while not the spacebar. I explain by using an example which I developed a few months ago for my game against the Russian grandmaster Vyacheslav Ikonnikov.

In my article surprises I wrote that I checked his 400 games played with black after 1.e4. This means I also looked at his recent games of 2014 against Alexander Seyb and of 2012 against Yuri Solodovnichenko despite it only concerned his back-up system for the Kalashnikov.
[Event "Pyramiden Franken Cup"] [Site "Fuerth"] [Date "2014.09.07"] [Round "7"] [White "Seyb, Alexander"] [Black "Ikonnikov, Vyacheslav"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2374"] [BlackElo "2576"] [PlyCount "83"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Qb6 {(In the database you can find 4 games of Vyacheslav with this sharp line. The variation was introduced by the Dutch IM Hans Ree in the 80ties.)} 9. Qd2 Qxb2 10. Rb1 Qa3 11. Bb5 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 a6 {(Till 2008 almost everybody played Bb4 which I once looked at years ago. The Spanish top-grandmaster Francisco Vallejo Pons showed a6 is a viable alternative.)} 13. Bxd7 Bxd7 14. Rb3 Qe7 15. Rxb7 Rc8 {(In the Open of Gent 2012 Vyachslav still played Qh4 against the Ukrainian grandmaster Yuri Solodovnichenko. Rc8 is the last wrinkle of the theory.)} (15... Qh4 16. Bf2 Qd8 17. Bb6 Qc8 18. Rc7 Qd8 19. Qd4 {(White can repeat the position with Rb7 so I am pretty sure Vyacheslav never would agree to play this against me.)} Ba3 (19... Rc8 20. Rc6 Qh4 (20... Qe7 21. Rxc8 Bxc8 {(0-0 as Kd2 are sufficient for a small advantage for white.)}) 21. g3 Qe7 22. Rxc8 Bxc8 23. Kd2 h5 (23... Qb4 24. Rb1 Qxd4 25. Bxd4 {(I found 1 correspondence-game with this position in which black drew but I do not like the position at all for black.)}) 24. Rb1 $14 {(The strong Indian grandmaster Seruya Shekhar Ganguly got quite some chances with this position in his game against Tsegmed Batchuluun of 2013 but did not manage to convert any of them.)}) (19... Rb8 20. Kd2 Ba3 21. Rb7 Qc8 22. Rxb8 Qxb8 23. Bc5 Bb2 24. Rf1 g6 25. Rf3 Bc6 26. Rd3 f6 27. exf6 Kf7 28. Qe3 Re8 29. Bd4 Qc7 30. h4 Rc8 31. f5 e5 32. Bxe5 Bxc3 33. Rxc3 d4 34. Qh6 dxc3 35. Kc1 { (Mark Stephenson - Miguel Iniguez 1 - 0 CT20/pr46 ICCF played in 2013)}) 20. Nb1 Be7 21. c4 Rb8 (21... Rc8 22. Rb7 Bb4 23. Kf2 {(Nd2 is countered by the annoying Qh4.)} Qxb6 24. Rxb6 Bc5 25. Rd1 Bxd4 {(Switching the move-sequence with dxc4 as Agdestein did against Caruana is dubious because of Qxc5 with a clear advantage for white.)} 26. Rxd4 dxc4 27. Nc3 Rc7 28. Rxa6 Ke7 {(This position was already 3 times successfully defended in correspondence-chess but Kamsky already demonstrated in 2013 that for standard-chess things are not easy at all. Stockfish also shows a small advantage for white.)}) 22. Nd2 (22. O-O dxc4 23. Rb7 Rxb7 24. Bxd8 Bxd8 25. Qd6 Rb6 26. Qa3 Be7 27. Qa5 Bd8 {(White can avoid the draw but black surely has compensation for the queen.)}) 22... O-O 23. O-O {(Peter Leko captured on d5 in his game of 2013 against Hikaru Nakamura but this looks slightly more accurate.)} Qe8 24. Bc5 {(An alternative is cxd5. White forces good knight against bad bishop but it is not much to play for a win.)}) 16. f5 {(A dangerous continuation which has not been investigated properly today. 0-0 is the mainline which I will discuss in another game.)} Qh4 $6 {(My preference is exf5 here.)} ( 16... exf5 $1 17. Nxd5 (17. O-O Qe6 18. Rb6 Rc6 19. Rb8 Rc8 20. Rfb1 Qc6 21. R1b6 Qc4 22. Qd3 Be7 23. R8b7 Qxd3 24. cxd3 Rxc3 25. Bxc3 Bc5 26. d4 Bxb6 27. Rxb6 O-O $44) 17... Qh4 18. Kd1 Be6 19. Nc7 Rxc7 20. Rxc7 Ba3 {(Be7 is also possible.) } 21. Rf1 O-O 22. Rf3 Rd8 $44) 17. g3 Qg4 $6 {(Here returning is safer.)} (17... Qd8 18. fxe6 Bxe6 19. Bb6 Bb4 20. Bxd8 Bxc3 21. Be7 Bxd2 22. Kxd2 $14) 18. Rf1 $6 (18. O-O $1 Qxd4 19. Qxd4 Bc5 20. Qxc5 Rxc5 21. Na4 Rb5 22. Nb6 O-O 23. a4 Rb2 24. Nxd7 Rxb7 25. fxe6 $16) 18... exf5 (18... Be7 { (The strong Russian grandmaster Alexander Motylev met this inferior continuation this year.)} 19. Rf4 Qh5 20. Na4 $1 {(However he missed this powerful move which refutes blacks setup. Bxa4 is answered by the winning Rxe7. Bg5 on the other hand is answered by Nb6.)}) 19. Rf4 Qg6 20. Rb6 $6 {(I expect Nxd5 is a better try to play for a win. I do not annotate the rest of the game as it has theoretically no value.)} (20. Nxd5 Qc6 21. Rxd7 Qxd7 22. Nb6 Qc6 23. Nxc8 Qxc8 24. Qc3 Qe6 25. Qd3 g6 26. Qb3 $14) 20... Bc6 21. Nxd5 Qe6 22. Nb4 Qd7 23. Nxc6 Rxc6 24. Rxc6 Qxc6 25. Qc3 Qh1 26. Kd2 Qb7 27. Qb3 Qc8 28. Qa4 Qd7 29. Qxd7 Kxd7 30. Rxf5 Ke6 31. Rf1 Bb4 32. Kd3 Rc8 33. Rb1 Ba5 34. Rb7 h5 35. Ra7 Rc6 36. Ke4 Bc3 37. Bxc3 Rxc3 38. Rxa6 Ke7 39. Ra7 Ke6 40. Ra6 Ke7 41. Ra7 Ke6 42. Ra6 1/2-1/2

It is a very modern line which became mainly popular by the efforts of the American top-grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura. In the meanwhile we see many strong players following this new fashion in the French. Even the young Belgian FM Thibaut Maenhout won a nice little game with this opening in the past Belgian interclubs.
[Event "BEL-chT 1415"] [Site "Belgium"] [Date "2014.10.19"] [Round "2.4"] [White "Laurent, Bruno"] [Black "Maenhout, Thibaut"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2379"] [BlackElo "2344"] [PlyCount "72"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Qb6 9. Qd2 Qxb2 10. Rb1 Qa3 11. Bb5 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 a6 13. Bxd7 Bxd7 14. Rb3 Qe7 15. Rxb7 Rc8 16. O-O {(This is more popular than f5 which we checked in the previous game.)} Qa3 17. Rfb1 Bc5 18. R1b3 {(The Belgian champion of 2008 seems not up to date of the theory which is exceptional as he is known as one of the best theorists in Belgium. Ne2 is the mainline which I will discuss in the next game.)} Bxd4 19. Qxd4 Qc1 20. Kf2 Rc4 21. Ne2 Rxd4 22. Nxc1 Rxf4 23. Ke3 Rc4 24. Ra7 Bc8 25. Ne2 $6 {(Kd2 maintained the fragile balance.)} Rxc2 $6 {(Too greedy. F6 and 0-0 are ok for a black advantage.)} 26. Rc3 Rxc3 27. Nxc3 f6 28. Na4 O-O 29. Kd4 $6 {(After this move black can move forward the central pawns. Better were Nb6 or exf6.)} fxe5 30. Kxe5 Rd8 31. Kd4 $6 {(Again Kd4 is wrong here has it allows a malicious gambit. Better is Nc5.)} e5 32. Kxe5 d4 33. Ra8 d3 34. Nc3 Kf7 35. Rb8 g5 36. Ne4 $6 {(The right idea but the wrong execution. Nb1 prevented blacks next move.)} Re8 {(Black sacrifices the rook at e4 after which white will have to counter-sacrifice the rook for the running pawn. So Thibaut will remain a piece up which automatically ends the game.)} 0-1
First thing which I do when preparing a system to which I am unfamiliar with, is to check what correspondence-chess tells us (see my article using databases).  Often the most difficult questions are solved by those games. Naturally we shouldn't forget to look at the slightly weaker alternatives for which our spacebar is very useful. The result below is not bad at all.
[Event "EU/C2014/ct02"] [Site "ICCF"] [Date "2014.03.15"] [White "Keuter, Klaus"] [Black "Voiculescu, Costel"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2494"] [BlackElo "2473"] [PlyCount "73"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Qb6 9. Qd2 Qxb2 10. Rb1 Qa3 11. Bb5 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 a6 13. Bxd7 Bxd7 14. Rb3 Qe7 15. Rxb7 Rc8 16. O-O Qa3 17. Rfb1 Bc5 18. Ne2 {(Today theory concentrates around this critical move.)} Bxd4 (18... Ba4 19. f5 {(An amelioration on the game Dmitry Svetushkin - Dejan Antic played in 2014.)} O-O (19... exf5 20. e6 $18) 20. fxe6 fxe6 21. Qg5 Rf7 22. Rxf7 Kxf7 23. Rb7 Be7 24. Qh5 Kg8 25. Qg4 Kf7 26. c3 $14) (18... Be7 {(Played by the young Azerbaijanian grandmaster Ulvi Bajarani. He will soon play in Open of Brasschaat. The reader willing to play this tournament is warned !!)} 19. c3 Bc6 20. Ra7 Qa5 21. Rxe7 {(The Dutch grandmaster Benjamin Bok missed this winning combination after which the opponent escaped in 2014.)} Kxe7 22. Bb6 Qa3 23. Rb3 Qa4 24. Rb4 Qa3 25. Bc5 Ke8 26. f5 $18) (18... h6 {(On chesspub this move was recommended but again correspondence-chess shows us how to respond.)} 19. f5 exf5 20. h3 Bxd4 21. Nxd4 Rc4 22. e6 fxe6 23. Qe2 Qe7 (23... Rxd4 24. Qh5 Ke7 25. Rxd7 Kxd7 26. Qf7 Kc6 27. Qb7 Kd6 28. Rb6 Ke5 29. Qxg7 Ke4 30. Rxe6 $18) 24. Qh5 Kd8 25. Qe2 e5 ( 25... Rxd4 26. Rb8 Bc8 27. Rxc8 Kxc8 28. Qxa6 Kd7 29. Rb7 Ke8 30. Rxe7 Kxe7 31. Qa7 $18) 26. Rb8 Bc8 27. Nxf5 Qc5 28. Kh1 Rxc2 29. Rxc8 Qxc8 30. Qxe5 Rc1 31. Kh2 Qc7 32. Rb8 Kd7 33. Qxc7 Rxc7 34. Rxh8 Ke6 35. Nd4 Ke5 36. Nf3 Kd6 37. Ra8 Rc6 38. Nd4 Rb6 39. Nf5 Kc5 40. Nxg7 Rc6 41. Nf5 Kc4 42. Rh8 Kd3 43. Rxh6 {(Carlos Rodriguez Amezgueta - Tadeusz Baranowski 1 - 0 WC32/ct01 ICCF played in 2012.)}) 19. Nxd4 Rc4 20. f5 {(The Russian top-grandmaster Dmitry Jakovenko tried last year here R7b4 but after Rxb4 I do not see any problems for black.)} exf5 21. e6 fxe6 22. Rb8 Rc8 23. Rxc8 Bxc8 24. Nxe6 Qd6 25. Nxg7 Kf7 26. Nh5 Re8 {(White has a small advantage but black with the help indeed from the engines had little problems to neutralize.)} 27. h3 d4 28. Rb3 Qc5 29. Nf4 Qe5 30. Kf2 Be6 31. Rd3 Bxa2 32. Rxd4 a5 33. c3 Be6 34. Nd3 Qc7 35. Qg5 Qe7 36. Ne5 Kf8 37. Qf4 1/2-1/2
Even if the opponent has made a perfect homework then still you have an endgame which is slightly better for white but likely defensible with some accurate play by black. I assume most players will be satisfied with such result against a 200 points higher rated opponent. Well naturally this is sufficient to achieve a good result but I prefer to search still something extra. Wouldn't it be fantastic to find a concept which can't be discovered by spacebarring, which never was tried before and forces the opponent to find a long string of very difficult engine-moves?
[Event "Anti-spacebar analysis"] [Date "2015"] [Round "?"] [White "?"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [ECO "C11"] [PlyCount "80"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Qb6 9. Qd2 Qxb2 10. Rb1 Qa3 11. Bb5 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 a6 13. Bxd7 Bxd7 14. Rb3 Qe7 15. Rxb7 Rc8 16. O-O Qa3 17. Rfb1 Bc5 18. Ne2 Bxd4 19. Nxd4 Rc4 20. f5 exf5 21. e6 fxe6 22. Qf4 {(This move can not be found by using the spacebar as it is not the first choice of the engines. Nonetheless this move is not easy to answer. More critical is Rb8 as covered in the previous game.)} Qe7 $1 (22... Qc3 $2 23. Rd1 (23. Qd6 Qxd4 24. Kh1 Kf7 25. Rxd7 Kg6 26. Qxe6 Qf6 27. Qxd5 Rc6 28. h3 $14) 23... Rxd4 24. Qxd4 Qxd4 25. Rxd4 Ke7 26. c4 $16) (22... Qc5 $2 23. c3 Qe7 (23... Rxc3 24. Qe5 O-O 25. Rxd7 Rc1 26. Rxc1 Qxc1 27. Kf2 Rf6 28. Rd8 Kf7 29. h4 f4 30. Rd7 $18) 24. Qb8 Rc8 25. Qa7 Rf8 26. Rb8 Qd6 27. R1b7 Rxb8 28. Rxb8 Kf7 29. Rb6 $16) 23. Qb8 Rc8 $1 (23... Qd8 $4 24. Qa7 Rf8 25. Rxd7 Qxd7 26. Rb7 Qxb7 27. Qxb7 Rxd4 28. Qa8 Ke7 29. Qa7 Kd6 30. Qxd4 $18) 24. Qa7 Rf8 $1 (24... h5 $2 25. Re1 Rh6 26. Nxf5 Qc5 27. Qxc5 Rxc5 $16) 25. Rb8 Qd6 $1 (25... Qa3 $2 26. Rxc8 Bxc8 27. Nxe6 Rf7 28. Qb6 Qe7 29. Re1 Rf6 30. Nc7 Kd8 31. Qa5 Qxc7 32. Re8 Kd7 33. Re7 Kxe7 34. Qxc7 Bd7 35. Qe5 $16) 26. Rxc8 Bxc8 27. Rb8 Qd7 28. Qc5 Kf7 29. Nf3 Kg8 30. Ne5 {(Black is 2 pawns up but must be very careful.)} Qd8 $1 {(I believe Qe8 is less convincing.)} (30... Qe8 $6 31. Nc6 Qh5 32. h3 Qg5 ( 32... Qh4 33. c4 f4 34. Rxc8 Qe1 35. Kh2 Qg3 36. Kh1 Qe1 37. Qg1 Qxg1 38. Kxg1 Rxc8 39. Ne7 Kf8 40. Nxc8 dxc4 $16) 33. Rxc8 Rxc8 34. Ne7 Kf7 35. Nxc8 Qc1 36. Kf2 Qf4 37. Ke2 Qe4 38. Kd1 Kf6 39. Qc3 $14) 31. Nc6 {(White can choose to play slower with h3,g3 or even c3 but the engine keeps on showing 0.00 .)} Qg5 (31... Qh4 32. g3 Qh5 $1 (32... Qg4 $4 33. Qxf8 Kxf8 34. Rxc8 Kf7 35. Ne5 $18) 33. Ne7 Kf7 34. Nxc8 Qd1 35. Kg2 d4 $1 (35... Qe2 $2 36. Qf2 Qe4 37. Kg1 Rd8 38. Rb7 $16) 36. Qe7 Kg6 $1 (36... Kg8 $4 37. Qxe6 Kh8 38. Nd6 Rxb8 39. Nf7 Kg8 40. Nh6 Kh8 41. Qg8 Rxg8 42. Nf7#) 37. Qxe6 Rf6 38. Ne7 Kg5 $11) 32. Rxc8 Rxc8 $1 (32... Qc1 $6 33. Kf2 Qf4 34. Ke2 Qe4 35. Kd1 Rxc8 36. Ne7 Kf7 37. Nxc8 $14) 33. Ne7 Kf7 34. Nxc8 Kg6 $1 (34... Qc1 $6 35. Kf2 Qf4 36. Ke2 Qe4 37. Kd1 $14) 35. Ne7 Kh5 $1 (35... Kf7 $2 36. Nc6 Qc1 37. Kf2 Qf4 38. Ke2 $16) (35... Kf6 $2 36. Nc6 Qc1 37. Kf2 Qf4 38. Ke2 $16) (35... Kh6 $2 36. g3 Qd2 37. Nc6 Qe1 38. Kg2 Qe4 39. Kf2 $16) 36. Qa3 Qd2 $1 37. Qd3 (37. h4 Qxc2 38. Qf3 Kxh4 39. Qf2 Qxf2 40. Kxf2 {(A cute endgame which should be a draw if played correctly.)}) 37... Qe1 $1 (37... Qc1 $4 38. Kf2 Qf4 39. Qf3 $18) 38. Qf1 Qb4 39. Qe2 Kg5 $1 40. Qxe6 Qd4 $1 $11 {(White can not avoid the perpetual anymore.)} *
The opponent believes he will obtain a draw via a slightly inferior but tenable endgame but instead finds himself in a minefield in which 1 sub-optimal move immediately means a disadvantage/ loss. Objectively Qf4 isn't better than Rb8 as it only leads to full equality. However without serious study the idea is in practical chess much more dangerous.

World-class players use this technique continuously as can be seen in e.g. my articles iccf or harakiri. However using twice the same idea is often senseless unless you play for a draw with white against a stronger opponent. Such deploring behavior we last saw in the game Samuel L Shankland - Peter Leko.

Recently in the penultimate round of Open Gent I had a dilemma for my game-preparation against Bart Michiels. Should I play the very sharp line of Burak Firat which I published in detail in the article switching colors part 2 and of which the mainline ends in a perpetual check or should I play something else with unclear complications? What if Bart read my article, still remembers the mainline, approved the analysis and decides not to avoid the draw because it is too risky. I am just an amateur trying to implement in each game something scientific so I considered it rather silly to miss a chance playing a real game with a grandmaster. As a consequence I decided to play something different and of course I lost once again. Well the loss wasn't so obligatory but that is something for another article.