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.


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