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.


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