Friday, September 25, 2015

The wrong example

In quite a lot of Belgian chessclubs you can find teachers able to explain a number of steps of the steps method. Unfortunately it doesn't go beyond that. A more advanced coaching is only accessible for a handful of players, e.g. those getting a special invitation to join the project go for grandmaster. The majority and particularly adults are completely left alone after the steps method. 

Naturally top-players fulfill for those less fortune ones an unsolicited exemplary function. In my article fashion I already showed how a particular opening suddenly becomes very popular after a top-player started to insert it in his repertoire. If an opening holds against players of +2700 elo than it will certainly be against a much more modest level. That sounds pretty logical but it is too simplistic to believe that this will guarantee success. Every opening has its own characteristics and we don't have all the same style of playing chess.

So the danger exists that we play an opening for which we neither have the knowledge nor the skills. This aspect we also see in the middlegame. A top-player plays a risky concept but apparently wins with ease.
[Event "3rd Sinquefield Cup 2015"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2015.08.23"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Topalov, Veselin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B51"] [WhiteElo "2853"] [BlackElo "2816"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2015.08.23"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5 Nd7 4. O-O Ngf6 5. Re1 a6 6. Bd3 b5 7. c4 g5 {(This very aggressive move was already discussed 2 years ago on chesspub by the Australian grandmaster David Smerdon but Magnus did not know. It is not the first time that Magnus is not fully up to date of the existing publications, remember his debacle of a few years ago against Luke Mc Shane.)} 8. Nxg5 Ne5 9. Be2 bxc4 10. Na3 Rg8 11. Nxc4 Nxc4 12. d4 Nb6 13. Bh5 Nxh5 14. Qxh5 Rg7 15. Nxh7 Qd7 16. dxc5 dxc5 17. e5 Qc6 18. f3 Qg6 19. Nf6 Kd8 20. Qxg6 Rxg6 21. Ne4 Bb7 22. h4 Rc8 23. h5 Rg8 24. Bd2 Nc4 25. Bc3 Bh6 26. Rad1 Ke8 27. Rd3 Bf4 28. Nf2 Bc6 29. Nh3 Bg3 30. Re2 Bb5 31. Rd1 Bc6 32. Nf2 Bxe5 33. Ng4 Bxc3 34. bxc3 Kf8 35. Kf2 Rh8 36. Ne5 Nxe5 37. Rxe5 Be8 38. g4 f6 39. Re6 Bb5 40. Rde1 Rc7 0-1
Subsequently the temptation increases to try also such kind of moves like g5 which are anti-positional. If a world-champion doesn't succeed to counter the aggression then somebody with much less talent will neither be able to do. Practice however shows often a very different picture.
[Event "Open Gent 6de ronde"] [Date "2015"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Vandelacluze, I."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "2316"] [BlackElo "2100"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "4r1k1/2B2ppp/p4b2/3P1q2/PRPn4/5N2/5PPP/3Q2K1 b - - 0 24"] [PlyCount "40"] 24... g5 $6 {(You can only play these kind of moves in thematic openings like the kings indian, in very concrete positions or the endgame. Here it is not good although we must add that blacks position is already bad so it does make some sense to complicate.)} (24... h5 $1 25. Rb8 {(Black can answer h3 with Re2.)} Rxb8 26. Bxb8 Qg4 27. h3 Nxf3 28. Qxf3 Qxc4 {(Of course white is better but the win is not trivial at all.)}) 25. Rb8 Rxb8 26. Bxb8 Qc8 (26... Qg4 27. h3 Nxf3 28. Qxf3 $18 {(The negative consequences of g5 become already visible as the bishop hangs.)}) 27. Nxd4 Qxb8 28. Nf5 {(G5 also weakened the white squares on the kingside of which white easily profits.)} Qf4 29. Ne3 Bd4 30. Qd3 Bc5 31. g3 Qe5 32. Kg2 Qb2 33. Qe4 Kf8 34. g4 Qa2 35. d6 Bxe3 36. Qxe3 Qxc4 37. Qe7 Kg7 38. Qxg5 Kf8 39. Qe7 Kg7 40. h3 Qxa4 41. d7 Qc6 42. Kg3 Qc3 43. Kh4 Qf3 44. Qg5 1-0
Blacks position was already awkward so there were mitigating factors to go all in. Often the best move only delays defeat with a number of moves and there are no points to win with the number of moves. An objectively inferior move can sometimes create sufficient complications in such situations to change the course of the game. Here it failed and only a desperate endgame remains.

I often experienced to my shame that anti-positional moves like g5 are very risky. I still remember very well how I self-destructed a complex position against Geert Vanderstricht by playing twice on a row the extremely stupid g5.
[Event "Interclub Temse - Deurne"] [Date "2006"] [White "Van der Stricht, G."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A90"] [WhiteElo "2410"] [BlackElo "2337"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2rr2k1/pb4pp/3q4/2pp1p1P/4nN2/1P2P1P1/PQ3PB1/2RR2K1 b - - 0 26"] [PlyCount "22"] 26... g5 $2 {(In the Dutch, g5 is rather normal but it is always a matter of carefully weighting pros and cons. Here I want to chase away the knight with g5 which is clearly a too optimistic idea. A waiting move like Rd7 is unpleasant but much better.) } 27. hxg6 hxg6 28. Bf1 $2 {(White sets a trap. However much stronger was Bxe4 creating big problems for black.)} g5 $2 {(Consistent but I fall with open eyes for the trap. Kh7 or Qb6 were playable.)} 29. Nxd5 Bxd5 $6 {(Timetrouble, shock? In any case blacks counterattack is fantasy. The cool Kh7 still puts up a fight.)} 30. Rxd5 Qxd5 31. Bc4 Qxc4 32. bxc4 Rd2 33. Qe5 {(The black king is an easy target. No surprise that Geert only needs a couple of extra moves to finish the game.)} Rf8 34. Rb1 Nxf2 35. Rb7 Nh3 36. Kf1 Rf2 37. Ke1 1-0
G5 is a standard-move in the Dutch stonewall to initiate a kings-attack but in above example this was of course extremely optimistic. I can even add based on my decades of experience with the Dutch that g5 is always something delicate contrary to example the Kings Indian.

Replaying contemporary games of topplayers is definitely not the way to learn the basics of chess. In the article Knights On the Rim Are Amazing the Amercian grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky warns the reader that successfully breaking the rules fully depends on the strength of a player. Therefore it is surely not redundant to first understand and implement the basic principles. This can be much easier learned by grabbing a book which annotates the games of old masters like Capablanca, Rubinstein,....


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Romantic chess

In modern chess top players don't hesitate to grab the opponent by the throat right from the start. Labels as immortal game or evergreen are again used to express our amazement for those brilliant contemporary games. Finally we experience again the atmosphere of the romantic 19th century. The origin of the evergreen can be found in the game Adolf Andersson - Jean Dufrese played in 1852.
[Event "Berlin ’Evergreen’"] [Site "Berlin"] [Date "1852"] [White "Anderssen, Adolf"] [Black "Dufresne, Jean"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C52"] [PlyCount "47"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Ba5 6. d4 exd4 7. O-O d3 8. Qb3 Qf6 9. e5 Qg6 10. Re1 Nge7 11. Ba3 b5 12. Qxb5 Rb8 13. Qa4 Bb6 14. Nbd2 Bb7 15. Ne4 Qf5 16. Bxd3 Qh5 17. Nf6 gxf6 18. exf6 Rg8 19. Rad1 Qxf3 20. Rxe7 Nxe7 21. Qxd7 Kxd7 22. Bf5 Ke8 23. Bd7 Kf8 24. Bxe7# 1-0
Many decades the Evansgambit was one of the most popular openings but this popularity declined once Lasker found a good anti-dote largely removing the sting out of the attack. This anti-dote is even today still approved and played by the leading players as we saw end of last year in the London Classic.
[Event "6th London Classic 2014"] [Site "London ENG"] [Date "2014.12.12"] [Round "3.3"] [White "Nakamura, Hi"] [Black "Anand, V."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C52"] [WhiteElo "2775"] [BlackElo "2793"] [PlyCount "71"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Ba5 6. d4 d6 {(Laskers defense. Black counter-sacrifices immediately a pawn to achieve a comfortable position.)} 7. Qb3 Qd7 8. dxe5 Bb6 9. a4 {(A new move for standardchess but known from correspondencechess. There exists a game from 2011 in which a4 was played successfully by the Belgium IM in correspondence chess Dirk Ghysens.)} Na5 10. Qa2 Nxc4 11. Qxc4 Ne7 12. exd6 cxd6 13. O-O O-O 14. Qd3 Ng6 15. a5 Bc5 16. Be3 Re8 17. Nbd2 Bxe3 18. Qxe3 d5 19. Rfe1 dxe4 20. Nxe4 Qe7 21. Nd6 Qxe3 22. fxe3 Rd8 23. Red1 Rb8 24. Rd4 Be6 25. c4 b6 26. axb6 axb6 27. Ra7 h6 28. h3 Ra8 29. Rb7 Rdb8 30. Rc7 Ra5 31. Kh2 Rc5 32. Ra7 Kf8 33. g4 Ra5 34. Rc7 Rc5 35. Ra7 Ra5 36. Rc7 1/2-1/2
Just like many other gambits from the romantic era it wasn't only the anti-dote which caused the decline. More and more playable setups were found for black which made white vulnerable for dangerous preparations. I like to play a setup with 6...exd4 instead of 6...d6 as shown in the game below from the passed Open Gent.
[Event "Open Gent 1ste ronde"] [Date "2015"] [White "Vincent, G."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C52"] [WhiteElo "1810"] [BlackElo "2316"] [PlyCount "48"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Ba5 6. d4 exd4 7. Qb3 {(I already twice fought successfully against 0-0 in standardgames. I knew Qb3 was Shorts try to resurrect this line. It is pretty annoying to play this line without preparation.)} Qe7 8. O-O Bb6 9. Ba3 $6 {(The pairings of the first round were announced a few minutes before the start so my opponent neither was fully up to date of the latest theory. Here cxd4 and the rather unknown Re1 give better compensation.)} (9. Re1 $5 Na5 10. Qa4 Nxc4 11. Qxc4 Qe6 12. Qd3 Ne7 13. cxd4 O-O $44) (9. cxd4 $5 Nxd4 10. Nxd4 Bxd4 11. Nc3 Nf6 12. Ba3 $5 d6 13. Rad1 Bxc3 14. Qxc3 Qe5 $44) 9... d6 10. e5 $6 {(Too aggressive. Cxd4 gives better counterplay.)} (10. cxd4 $1 Na5 11. Qa4 $5 Bd7 12. Qc2 $5 Nxc4 13. Qxc4 $15) 10... Na5 11. Qd1 Nxc4 12. Qa4 Qd7 13. Qxc4 d5 14. Qb4 $6 {(White provokes c5 but this only helps black. Qb3 or Qe2 are stronger.)} c5 15. Qb3 d3 16. c4 d4 $4 {(I try to consolidate the position with this pawn-sacrifice. After all I am 2 pawns up but I miss an important detail. The sharp dxc4 was much stronger and should be leading to a won position if followed up by some accurate moves.)} 17. Qxd3 $2 {(Too greedy. Only at move 19 white discovers there are juicy squares for the queens-knight to achieve with Nbd2. Unfortunately then it will be too late.)} (17. Nbd2 $1 Ne7 18. Ne4 O-O 19. Nxc5 Bxc5 20. Bxc5 b6 21. Bd6 $1 Bb7 22. Qxd3 $13) 17... Qf5 18. Qd1 Ne7 19. Nbd2 Bd7 20. Re1 Bc6 21. Rb1 $6 {(A more stubborn defense is Nh4.) } (21. Nh4 $1 Qd3 22. Nb3 Qxd1 23. Raxd1 g5 24. Nf3 Bxf3 25. gxf3 Rc8 26. Bc1 Kd7 $17) 21... Ng6 22. Qe2 O-O 23. Rb3 Rfe8 24. Ne4 Nf4 0-1
The ever strengthening engines neither help the gambits. In below recent correspondencegame Nigel Shorts 12.Nb5 introduced in 2003 is dismantled.
[Event "DE5A/pr59"] [Site "ICCF"] [Date "2011.04.05"] [White "Bohak, Janko"] [Black "Balutescu, Mihail Goanga"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "2242"] [BlackElo "2232"] [PlyCount "60"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Ba5 6. d4 exd4 7. Qb3 Qe7 8. O-O Bb6 9. cxd4 Nxd4 10. Nxd4 Bxd4 11. Nc3 Nf6 12. Nb5 {(Nigel Short tried to revive this critical line in 2003 with this move.)} Bxa1 { (I believed till shortly that d5 was the only playable continuation in this position of which the final evaluation is a draw after accurate play from both sides. I remember from the local clash between Stefan Docx and Steven Geirnaert played in 2011 at Brasschaat this draw is not straightforward. Today however it appears that taking the rook is even better at the condition that you have the calculation skills of todays strongest engines.)} 13. Nxc7 Kd8 14. Nxa8 Bd4 {(I found 6 correspondencegames in my database of which 5 were won by black.)} 15. Be3 { (Bf4 was recently once tried in a standardgame between lower rated players but after d6 black has an edge.)} Qc5 16. Bxd4 Qxd4 17. Bd5 Nxd5 {(3 times this move was already played in correspondencechess and each time black won. This game is the oldest one. Nxe4 was also once tested but is clearly inferior as it did not bring a happy end.)} 18. exd5 d6 19. Qg3 Qxd5 20. Qxg7 Qe5 21. Qxf7 Bd7 22. h3 Qf5 23. Qc4 Qc5 24. Qf7 Kc8 25. Rd1 Re8 26. Qxh7 d5 27. Qd3 Qd6 28. h4 Kb8 29. Qg3 Qxg3 30. fxg3 Be6 0-1
No I don't believe romantic chess will popularize again. It makes no sense to sacrifice material while the opponent can play an exact sequence of moves vaporizing the compensation. It is pity but don't cry as Anand stated: for every door the computers closed they have opened a new one.

Further I also want to point out that many gambits despite their theoretical status are still a dangerous practical weapon especially with the faster timecontrols. We are no computers so using the Evansgambit in the right circumstances (opponent/ tempo/ preparation) can still bring success. Finally I also agree with coaches trying to convince their students to try out for some time gambits. Romantic chess is an excellent school to learn abstract concepts like development and initiative. These are basic concepts which should be mastered first before studying more complex strategies discovered after the romantic era.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

G4 in the Najdorf

The internet is an enormous source of information which I daily consult. However we can't just trust everything as much is just rubbish. The American blogwriter Dana Mackenzie wrote a couple of months ago a funny post: " I love the past. Everyone in it is so stupid." with examples of written nonsense which later were refuted by the reality.

Correcting errors is something not always welcomed which unfortunately I many times already experienced. Because of those negative reactions I prefer to wait for others first to react. Only when I see no such thing happens then often I can't stand ignoring further and stick out my neck.

Some mistakes are real myths which you can't eradicate despite countless reactions. One of those myths is that former-worldchampions like Lasker, Capablanca, Aljechin, Fischer,... would easily dispatch our current top-players. Those champions were miles ahead of their contemporaries at there peak. Today we don't encounter anymore such extreme differences of level at the top. This created the perception that those players had something extra. I mean an unique talent which you only encounter a few times in a century and which no current top-player possess.

In my article elo inflation I already demonstrated that there is no proof on any inflation linked to playing-strength. This means the playing strength of our current top-players is higher than their predecessors validating their higher rating. In other words the quality of play of the former world-champions was rather weaker which shines a completely different light on their so called unparalleled talent.

On the other hand I fully agree that it is nonsense to make serious comparisons between players of different eras. The tools and knowledge grow continuously especially the last 2 decades due to the introduction of the computer. In this article I want to show how much the computer has influenced attacking chess at the highest level. As example I use the Najdorf in which white apparently  deploys a quiet setup. I start with a game from my own practice of which the concept was discovered in 1972.
[Event "H.V. Alcatel - Agfa Gevaert"] [Date "2002"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Bogaerts, M."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B92"] [WhiteElo "2277"] [BlackElo "2034"] [PlyCount "35"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f4 Qc7 {(It was quickly discovered that f5 can be answered after this move by Bc4. Today this is a standard reply in this type of positions but in this specific position it is not good.)} 9. g4 {(Initially everybody played f5 or 0-0 of which the oldest examples date from 1958 in the big database. Only in 1972 this move was tried. It still lasted till 1974 before players fully understood the strength of the move which is confirmed by the fact that Karpov in his game against Byrne of 1973 still did not play g4.)} exf4 10. g5 Nfd7 11. Bxf4 Nc6 12. Qd2 {(White scores 80 percent in my openingbook based on 36 games or more relevant white scores 150 ratingpoints above his own level.)} Nde5 13. O-O-O Rc8 {(A couple of years ago Wim Barbier played 0-0-0 against me. Also in that game I quickly got an advantage and eventually won.)} 14. Kb1 Be7 15. Nd5 Bxd5 $6 {(This loses already a piece. )} 16. exd5 Nb4 (16... Nb8 17. Bxe5 dxe5 18. d6 $18) 17. c3 Ng6 18. Be3 1-0
So it took 14 years to discover g4 is interesting and another couple of years to shut down blacks setup for example by the knew world-champion Anatoly Karpov.

Before I start to compare with some recent standard games in the Najdorf, let us first have a look to a crazy idea from a computer-game played last year. G4 is also in this game played but in a postion in which white already castled short which makes a huge difference.
[Event "CCRL 40/40"] [Site "CCRL"] [Date "2014.04.12"] [Round "145.1"] [White "Stockfish DD 64-bit"] [Black "BlackMamba 2.0 64-bit"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B92"] [WhiteElo "3179"] [BlackElo "3077"] [PlyCount "117"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e5 7. Nb3 Be7 8. Be3 O-O 9. O-O Qc7 10. g4 {(I found 56 master-games in the database with the position after Qc7 but no mortal every tried this move. Of course white wants to chase away the knight from f6 but does not fully manage. Still the move appears to be playable in the game on condition that you have the calculation skills of a top engine.)} h6 11. a4 {(H4 is surely also interesting.)} Be6 12. Nd5 Bxd5 13. exd5 Nbd7 14. c4 Nh7 15. a5 Bg5 16. Nd2 Bxe3 17. fxe3 Rab8 18. Qa4 Rfe8 19. Ne4 Nc5 20. Nxc5 Qxc5 21. Qa3 {(Black should be able to hold this position.)} Qc7 22. b4 Nf6 23. Kg2 Rec8 24. Qd3 Qe7 25. Qf5 Rc7 26. h4 Nd7 27. g5 g6 28. Qh3 hxg5 29. h5 { (This pawn-sacrifice must have been underestimated by black.)} Nf8 30. hxg6 Nxg6 31. Qh6 e4 32. Rf2 Qe5 33. Rg1 Rf8 34. Bh5 Nh4 35. Kh1 f6 36. Bg4 Nf3 37. Be6 Rff7 38. Kg2 Nh4 39. Kh3 Nf3 40. Rh1 Rce7 41. Kg2 f5 42. Rh5 Qg7 43. Bxf7 Rxf7 44. Qe6 Qf6 45. Qxf6 Rxf6 46. Rf1 Kg7 47. Rfh1 Nh4 48. Kf2 Kg6 49. Rh8 f4 50. c5 dxc5 51. bxc5 Rf7 52. exf4 Rxf4 53. Ke2 Nf5 54. d6 Nd4 55. Ke3 Nc6 56. d7 Kf5 57. Ke2 Ke5 58. Rc8 Rf7 59. Rd1 1-0
An engine of + 3000 elo doesn't manage to refute the concept. Top-players use daily these engines and are naturally influenced as we can see for example in the next pretty attacking game played at the Ukrainian championship of 2014.
[Event "83rd ch-UKR 2014"] [Site "Lviv UKR"] [Date "2014.11.11"] [Round "1"] [White "Ponomariov, R."] [Black "Areshchenko, A."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2711"] [BlackElo "2655"] [PlyCount "45"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e5 7. Nde2 h5 8. g3 Be7 9. Bg2 O-O 10. Be3 Nbd7 11. a4 Qc7 12. g4 {(Blacks last move was rather unfortunate. Just like in the previous game there is the threat of g5 followed up by Nd5.)} hxg4 { (Hereby black controls g4 but against a huge price.)} 13. hxg4 Nb6 14. g5 Ng4 15. Qd3 Qd8 (15... Be6 16. Nd5 Bxd5 17. exd5 g6 18. Bc1 Kg7 19. a5 Nd7 20. Qh3 $18) 16. a5 Nxe3 17. Qxe3 Nc4 18. Qg3 Bxg5 19. b3 Nxa5 20. Rxa5 Qxa5 21. Qxg5 Be6 22. Qh5 f6 23. Bf3 {(There is no defense anymore against Qh7 followed by Bh5. A nice modern attacking game by Ruslan.)} 1-0
An absolute height of modern attacking chess is achieved without doubt in the new evergreen Navara - Wojtaszek.
[Event "Biel"] [Site "Biel SUI"] [Date "2015.07.23"] [Round "4"] [White "David Navara"] [Black "Radoslaw Wojtaszek"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2724"] [BlackElo "2733"] [PlyCount "95"] [EventDate "2015.07.20"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. h3 {(This side-line got a lot of attention since 2011 at the top.)} Be7 9. g4 {(Modern attacking-chess. The development is not finished but concrete lines make this playable.)} d5 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Bg2 Nxe3 12. Qxd8 Bxd8 13. fxe3 Bh4 14. Kf1 Nc6 15. Nc5 Bc4 16. Kg1 O-O-O {(Black has the pair of bishops, less pawn-islands and is better developed. Still David entered this position voluntarily backed up by some ingenious analysis.)} 17. b3 Bg5 18. Re1 Bh4 19. Rb1 Bg5 20. Kf2 Bh4 21. Kf3 e4 22. Kf4 g5 23. Kf5 Rhe8 24. Rhd1 Re5 25. Kf6 {(David admitted after the game this was all prepared at home. In the past we have seen more king-walks but there was always mate involved which is not the case here.)} Rg8 26. bxc4 Rg6 27. Kxf7 Re7 28. Kf8 Rf6 29. Kg8 Rg6 30. Kh8 Rf6 31. Rf1 Bf2 32. Rxf2 Rxf2 33. Rf1 {(White is not mated and from now onwards black must defend.)} Rxg2 34. Rf8 Kc7 35. Nd5 Kd6 36. Nxe7 Kxc5 37. Rf5 Kxc4 38. Nxc6 bxc6 39. Rxg5 Rg3 40. h4 h6 41. Rg6 Rxe3 42. Kg7 Rg3 43. Kxh6 e3 44. Kg5 Kd5 45. Kf4 Rh3 46. h5 c5 47. Rg5 Kd4 48. Re5 1-0
The difference with the first g4 game is enormous. Some decades ago a move like g4 was only played after years of contemplation. Such aggressive move was linked to a healthy development (castling long) + control of the center. Modern attacking chess goes much further and is very often based on some concrete lines which were analyzed in detail at home. By the way David Navara admitted after the game that he had looked at the position of move 25 still in his preparations.

This modern evolution isn't only seen in the Najdorf. Last month the American grandmaster Grigory Serper wrote a similar article about the Bogo-Indian: "How to attack in modern chess?". The Bogo-Indian has a reputation of a quiet positional opening but none of that remains if you look to some of the current high class games.

However I don't agree with the advise of the grandmaster. He recommends players to attack from the very first moves even if it is a positional opening. He ignores that all the successful attacks in the examples were played by + 2700 players which have an extraordinary base of skills and knowledge. I expect most players will simply lose a lot of points if they try to copy this behavior.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015


My participation at a tournament never depends of the prizes. It is my hobby so the tempo, the expected opposition, location ... are more important to me. A professional will obviously look differently to this. Recently I read on the blog of Natalia Pogonina that for many professionals it becomes very difficult to cover the expenses.

An important reason would be the diminishing prizes of many tournaments. Is this true or fiction? I made a test by comparing the prizes of Open Gent in 1997 and  2015. The total prizes decreased from 7437 euro to 7125 euro. The first prize decreased from 1859 euro to 1800 euro. The CPI for Belgium (consumption-price-index or inflation) would be around 40 % in that period. Although these are official data, it is well known that this figure is rather optimistic by selecting only a bunch of products while the expenses of each family raised much more. E.g. I managed to sell my apartment in 2009 for approximately 100% higher of the buying price in 2000.

Besides the prizes also the growing number of grandmasters (already mentioned in my previous article) influences the income. In 1997 3 grandmasters participated at Open Gent. That is half less than recent years: 7 grandmasters in 20135 grandmasters in 2014 and 6 grandmasters in 2015. Even a modest total prizes of 3455 euro and a first prize of 800 euro attracted in Open Brasschaat already 4 grandmasters surprising the organizers. So not only the cake becomes smaller but it must also be split by more people. The era that a player like Bernard De Bruycker in the 70ties could make a living from chess in Spain as described in the book What is wrong mister Kasparov? is passed long ago and will surely not return.

I already talked about the negative consequences of this evolution on my blog see earlier articles: professional chess and quitting chess. However there is also something positive about this. First more (strong) amateurs get the opportunity to play against a grandmaster. Furthermore I also detect a much higher competitiveness between the top-players. A decade ago somebody like the Bulgarian grandmaster Boris Chatalbashev was an exception. While his colleagues easily played a few short draws in open tournaments, he was often the only professional playing each game till the end which I could see for myself in Plancoet 2004. Today he still uses the same strategy sometimes bringing him some big victories like recently in Maribor which hosted the Pirc Memorial.

Today Boris is not an exception anymore transforming many open tournaments being completely unpredictable. Very often it is only after the last round that the winner is known. In the last Open Gent we even saw 2 + 2600 players going home without any prize. In Brasschaat the victory was shared by the untitled Stefan Colijn. In Charleroi on the other hand we saw 5 winners despite a firework of deciding games. Eventually Alozyas Kveinys was proclaimed the tournament-winner thanks to a better coefficient although he lost in round 8. His game of a round earlier against Igor Naumkin is a good example of those gladiator-fights.
[Event "TIPC 2015"] [Site "Roux"] [Date "2015.08.06"] [Round "7.1"] [White "Kveinys, Aloyzas"] [Black "Naumkin, Igor"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A04"] [WhiteElo "2491"] [BlackElo "2437"] [PlyCount "85"] 1. Nf3 e6 {(This sequence avoids some annoying side-lines of the Dutch like Bg5 which I met recently in Open Gent by Bjorn Dijckmans.)} 2. c4 f5 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. b3 d6 7. Bb2 e5 8. d3 {(Stijn Bertrem chose last season Nc3 in our mutual game.)} Qe8 9. e3 Nc6 10. Nc3 Qh5 11. Nd2 Qh6 12. Nd5 Bd8 {(In 2000 Igor already lost a game with Nxd5. Bd8 is somewhat better but the position is certainly easier playing for white.)} 13. f4 a5 $6 {(I believe Be6 is slightly better.)} (13... Be6 $1 14. Qe2 Bxd5 15. cxd5 Nb4 16. Nc4 b5 17. Na3 Rb8 18. Rae1 $13) 14. Nf3 Nxd5 15. cxd5 Nb4 16. Ne1 c6 17. dxc6 bxc6 18. Nc2 Bb6 19. Kh1 Nd5 20. fxe5 dxe5 $6 {(Natural but this allows whites advantage to grow. Be6 is more accurate.)} 21. Bxe5 $6 {(The exchange relieves blacks task. The sharp e4 gave white a more clear advantage.)} Nxe3 22. Nxe3 Bxe3 23. Qc2 Bd7 24. Rae1 Rae8 25. Qc4 Kh8 26. Bf4 $6 {(Again this exchange relieves blacks defense. Critical was d4.)} (26. d4 $1 Bd2 27. Re2 Bb4 28. Bf3 Qg6 $14) 26... Bxf4 27. gxf4 Qd6 28. Qc3 Qb4 29. Rc1 Re2 30. a4 Qb8 31. Rce1 Rfe8 32. Rxe2 Rxe2 33. Bf3 Re3 34. Qd4 Re7 35. Qc5 Re8 36. Bh5 Re6 37. Bf7 Rf6 $4 { (Probably black lacked time as I do not understand what black exactly missed here. After Rf6 whites queen infiltrates and black loses the coordination.)} 38. Qe7 Qc8 39. Rg1 c5 40. Bd5 Qg8 41. Bxg8 Bc6 42. Rg2 Rg6 43. Bd5 1-0
An interesting opening from white especially if you like to play the Dutch. In our mutual game of 2012 another variation popped up on the board (some fragment of that game was shown in the article sitzfleisch) but I did meet the specific line last interclubseason against Stijn Bertrem.
[Event "Interclub KBSK - Deurne"] [Date "2014"] [White "Bertrem, S."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A04"] [WhiteElo "2260"] [BlackElo "2333"] [PlyCount "162"] 1. Nf3 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 e6 4. O-O Be7 5. b3 {(In 2 earlier games I met d3 but this is of course also playable.)} O-O 6. Bb2 d6 7. c4 {(D4 looks more ordinary and probably would transpose to my game against the Romanian grandmaster Andrei Istratescu of 2013.)} e5 8. Nc3 Qe8 $6 {(This move was already tested in practice but I do not like it. More accurate are c6, Nc6 or Na6.)} 9. d3 $6 {(Opening the center is stronger after which the white bishops put more pressure.)} (9. d4 $1 e4 10. Ng5 $1 c6 11. d5 Na6 12. Qd2 Nc7 13. f3 $1 h6 14. Nh3 cxd5 $14 ) 9... Nc6 $5 {(Just like in my game against Kveinys of 2012 I doubt this is optimal as c6 instead is very interesting.)} 10. e3 Qh5 11. Nd2 Qh6 12. Qe2 $5 {(I still found a game with the direct Nd5 in the database which is a very interesting alternative.)} Bd7 {(During the game I spent a lot of time at the thematic f4 but this looks premature here. )} 13. Nd5 Bd8 14. Rae1 Nxd5 15. Bxd5 {(The critical continuation is without doubt cxd5 and black must play very accurately to not get a worse position.)} Kh8 16. f4 Bf6 17. Nf3 Rae8 18. Qd2 b6 19. fxe5 Nxe5 20. Nxe5 Bxe5 21. Bc1 Bf6 22. Qg2 g6 23. Bc6 Qg7 24. Qf3 a5 25. Re2 Qe7 26. Ref2 Bg7 27. Qd5 Qd8 28. Qg2 Re7 29. a3 Bxc6 30. Qxc6 Qe8 31. Qf3 Qd7 32. Bb2 $6 {(White already lost the initiative but only after this exchange some real problems pop up.)} Bxb2 33. Rxb2 Rfe8 34. Re2 Qe6 $6 {(The sharp d5 was better creating bigger problems for white.)} 35. Rfe1 Qf6 36. d4 $2 {(White is not able to calculate the consequences of e4 in zeitnot but this is capitulation positionally.)} Re4 37. Qf2 Qe7 38. Kf1 Kg7 39. a4 Qg5 $6 {(Played randomly just to get through the time-control. Better was c4 to prepare the break-through d5.)} 40. Qf3 R8e6 41. Kf2 Qe7 42. h4 Qd7 43. d5 $2 {(This allows black to infiltrate via the open diagonal. Of course waiting with e.g. Rd1 was better.)} Re8 44. Rd2 Qe7 45. Rd3 Qf6 $6 {(Again played without much ingenuity as I agree with the engines h5 wins quicker.)} 46. Red1 Rg4 47. R1d2 $6 {(More stubborn is to play the rook to g1 to answer blacks attack.)} Ree4 48. Qd1 Qe5 49. Qf3 g5 50. hxg5 Rxg5 51. Rd1 Reg4 {(The tandem works optimally. Now white must give material and a hopeless position remains.)} 52. Rg1 Qb2 53. Ke1 Qb1 54. Qd1 Qxd1 55. Rxd1 Rxg3 56. Rxg3 Rxg3 57. Kf2 Rg4 58. Rb1 h5 59. b4 axb4 60. Rxb4 Kf6 61. Kf3 Ke5 62. a5 bxa5 63. Ra4 h4 64. Rxa5 Rxc4 65. Ra8 Kxd5 66. Rf8 Ke6 67. Re8 Kf7 68. Rh8 c5 69. Rh7 Ke6 70. Rh6 Ke5 71. Rh8 Re4 72. Re8 Kf6 73. Rf8 Ke6 74. Re8 Kf7 75. Rd8 Ke7 76. Rh8 d5 77. Rh7 Ke6 78. Rh6 Ke5 79. Rh8 d4 80. Re8 Kd6 81. Rxe4 fxe4 0-1
Due to the developments we also have to notice that including sofia rules became less relevant. I can imagine many grandmasters aren't happy to play in this surviving-mode. Some already decided to get a normal job besides just playing chess. Unfortunately this isn't always good for the results as Mher probably can confirm with the last Open Brasschaat.