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.


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