Thursday, October 8, 2015

The sequence part 2

The most unique and beautiful about chess is for me the mix of players. I can't imagine immediately another widespread sport or discipline in which age, origin, character, education is so irrelevant. Despite this enormous variety we see each player quickly using familiar patterns which transpose into following routines.

Of course it is absolutely normal to repeat something which has proven its virtue. This not only concerns openingchoices but also style, tempo and even the opponents we want to play against. Routines give us support in the chaos of our complex chessgame but it also is often the reason why players don't progress further anymore.

Very few players are capable to criticize themselves and subsequently leave their comfort-zone. It is not easy at all to try something new and again lose some games to gain experience. A personal coach can not only support with chess related stuff but often can also mentally play an important role. However as mentioned in my previous article a coach is only affordable for a handful (advanced) players.

I have to admit that I also like to follow my routines which I have polished over the years. Playing the same openings for more than 20 years, doesn't show much courage of course. My excuse of the scientific approach naturally doesn't explain everything. On the other hand it is often also very hard to know which direction you need to go if you learn chess by self-tuition. The statistics of this blog often show some crazy searches like recently "how can I always win in chess" which just displays how desperate some people are.

The lack of an instant answer for many questions creates a lot of insecurity. However at the same time this leaves us a choice how to proceed which in itself is an interesting domain of psychology. I played last couple of months 2 games in which some very tough decisions were made. In both games my opponents deviated very likely unconsciously from the standard sequence in the opening so I had to choose between transposing back to the mainline or playing unprepared some interesting deviation.
[Event "Klubkampioenschap Deurne r8"] [Date "2015"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "De Cock, R."] [Result "*"] [ECO "C96"] [WhiteElo "2318"] [BlackElo "1650"] [PlyCount "17"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6 5. O-O Nf6 {(I encountered Bd7 already 3 times in standardgames but not yet Nf6.)} 6. Re1 {(In blitz and rapid I almost always played Bxc6 of which I made 20 years ago an extensive analysis but I hesitated at the board and eventually chose the more popular continuation. C3 definitely needs to be investigated here as white tries to win a tempo upon the classical variation.)} (6. c3 $5 Nxe4 {(Re1 avoids this move but is this necessary?)} 7. d4 Bd7 8. Re1 Nf6 9. dxe5 dxe5 10. Bxc6 $5 {(Bf4 is an interesting alternative.)} Bxc6 11. Qxd8 Kxd8 12. Nxe5 Bd5 13. Bg5 c6 { (Probably the critical position for the evaluation of this line. Black must defend very accurately but further tests are necessary to give a final verdict.)} 14. Nd2 $5 (14. c4 $5 Be6 15. Nc3 Bb4 16. a3 Bxc3 17. bxc3 h6 $13) 14... Kc7 15. Bf4 Nh5 16. Be3 Re8 17. Bb6 Kc8 18. Bd4 c5 19. c4 Be6 20. Bc3 $13) 6... Be7 {(Personally I think transposing to the mainline with b5 is safer.)} (6... b5 $5 7. Bb3 Na5 $6 {(While Ronny was thinking, I got afraid of this move but this proofed to be unjustified. Better is simple Be7 and play the mainline of the Spanish opening.)} 8. d4 exd4 $2 {(Nxb3 is better with a smaller disadvantage but it was mainly this move which caused me troubles.)} 9. e5 $1 {(The refutation.)} dxe5 10. Nxe5 $18 {(Be6 is answered by the devastating Nxf7.)}) 7. c3 {(Again I prefer not to follow my own openingbook which recommends Bxc6 and play instead the more popular c3.)} O-O 8. h3 {(Here d4 immediately is an important alternative despite most players anyway first include h3.)} b5 9. Bb3 {(I choose once more to stay on familiar ground but without doubt, we must ask the question if Bc2 is not more accurate.)} (9. Bc2 $5 Bb7 10. d4 exd4 11. cxd4 Nb4 12. Bb3 c5 $1 {(12... Bxe4 13. Rxe4! Nxe4 15. a3 and despite black has compensation, this looks a bit weak on the long term against accurate play.)} 13. a3 Nc6 14. Nc3 Na5 { (Ivan Sokolov chose in 2002 Nxd4 in his rapidgame against Anand but Na5 is stronger.)} 15. Bc2 Re8 {(This novelty upon a correspondence-game of a lower division probably keeps the line playable for black.)}) *
At contrary to the examples of my earlier article about the sequence it was not at all evident which choice was this time the most optimal one. I don't think it would've made here a decisive impact on the result because of the ratingdifference but it does become much more delicate when the ratings of both players are much closer like in the next example. My young opponent Ian Vandelacluze earlier in the tournament made a draw against GM Alexander Dgebuadze and FM Jelle Sarrau so I was warned.
[Event "Open Gent 6de ronde"] [Date "2015"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Vandelacluze, I."] [Result "*"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "2316"] [BlackElo "2100"] [PlyCount "29"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. O-O Be7 8. c4 {(I had not met the Russian opening anymore on the board since 2005. Besides the preparation was very short so I had little knowledge of the current state of the theory. Today it appears Nc3 is gaining popularity as no clear path after c4 is known for getting an advantage with white and as there exists already plenty of theory to study about c4.)} Nb4 9. Be2 Bf5 {(Normally we first castle here and only then Bf5. My opponent played his moves extremely fast so I wonder if he did not mix up the sequence. Anyway I did not find a punishment in the game neither after the game.)} 10. a3 Nc6 11. Nc3 Nxc3 12. bxc3 O-O {(We are in back in the mainline.)} 13. Re1 $5 {(The most popular continuation but maybe cxd5 followed up by Bf4 also deserves a test although I can not find any concrete advantage for white.)} Re8 14. Bf4 $5 {(I made up my mind already during the preparation of the game that I would play this move but I agree that cxd5 is today considered as more critical. After cxd5 we can transpose back to the game or try something different with Be3.)} Rc8 $6 { (Dxc4 is the solid theoretical move. It is unclear to me if Ian ignored this on purpose or played carelessly.)} (14... dxc4 $5 15. Bxc4 Bd6 16. Rxe8 $5 {(Qd2 is interesting.)} Qxe8 17. Nh4 {(I recommended this concept in my old analysis of 2005 already. Today I think white should try Qd2 or first Bxd6 followed up by Qd2.)} Na5 18. Nxf5 Nxc4 19. Qf3 Rb8 20. Bh6 g6 21. Nxd6 Nxd6 22. Qf6 Nf5 $11 {(23 correspondence-games were played between 2009 and 2014 with this position and not once white won so I remove this line from my repertoire.)} ) 15. cxd5 $6 {(Although blacks move has been played by the too young deceased Azerbaijani top-grandmaster Gashimov, I believe white can now profit from the different sequence. The Argentinian grandmaster Walter Cornejo already showed twice in correspondence that black has problems after c5.)} *
Ian played the opening in just a couple of minutes while I spent loads of time to discover the differences in evaluation with the different sequence. Only at home after making some extensive analysis with my computer I was able to define 1 moment in the game in which I should've not transposed to the mainline. The attraction of familiar positions proofed to be too big for me. I expect most players would make the same choice as I but I am sure there are also players loving fresh unknown positions which permit more creativity. Despite I won both games, it is absolutely unclear to me what is the best strategy. If you experienced something similar already then let me know the choice you made in a reaction below this article.


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