Friday, October 16, 2015

To disarm

The new generation of young players possess today a wide range of tools to improve of which I could only dream about in my starting years. Live broadcasts with comments from grandmasters, countless high quality books, extremely strong engines, online training-facilities... it is for everybody affordable with a minimum budget.

The negative side of the big stream of information is that it became even for top grandmasters impossible to keep track of everything. So you need to filter but how and what depends of a lot of factors. The entertainment value should not be neglected but more relevant is of course the educative part. In the past the rule was first to work on the weak points as that is where the most progression is possible. Today however there are increasingly doubts about this old rule. Something you do good is often also something you like to do. As a consequence it often takes much less time and effort to work on the strong points. Eventually some recent studies proofed a considerable gain in profit by working on the strong points instead of the weak points. A book about the Kings gambit will be very easy to read through for an attacking player and will surely show quickly dividends in practice.  However forcing the same attacking player to read a book about the Dutch stonewall could be even damaging the results.

So it is not all bad to specialize to some extend in chess. Nonetheless I won't deny there are dangers too. Playing the man is something which you need to take into account especially when the opponent knows your strong points. The success largely depends how successful you can avoid the disarmament of your strong points. A clash of different styles often caused lively discussions in our rich history of chess. We all remember how Botvinnik lost his fist match against Tal but was able to reverse the tables in the returnmatch. We don't even need to go back in time or look to the very strongest players to witness such interesting duels. I noticed end of last year a game played at the Antwerp Liga between Marcel Van Herck and Robert Schuermans in which Marcel outfoxed Robert by simplifying the position and win soberly the endgame.
[Event "Liga Antwerpen"] [Date "2014.12.07"] [White "Van Herck, Marcel"] [Black "Schuermans, Robert"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E43"] [PlyCount "143"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. d4 c5 4. e3 b6 5. Nc3 cxd4 6. exd4 Bb4 7. Bd3 Bb7 8. O-O O-O 9. Bg5 h6 10. Bh4 Bxc3 11. bxc3 d6 12. Nd2 Nbd7 13. f4 Qc7 14. Qe2 Rfe8 15. h3 Qc6 16. Kh2 b5 17. Rac1 bxc4 18. Bxc4 a6 19. Nb3 Qc7 20. Bd3 a5 21. c4 a4 22. Nd2 Qb6 23. Rb1 Qc6 24. Qf3 {(Seen from pure technical perspective this is not a good move as it gives away all the advantage but against Robert simplifying the position definitely makes sense.)} Qxf3 25. Nxf3 Bc6 26. Rb4 Reb8 27. Rfb1 Rxb4 28. Rxb4 Rb8 {(Black proposed a draw but Marcel naturally realizes that he has not much to fear in this kind of position.)} 29. Be1 Ne8 30. Rxb8 Nxb8 31. f5 Bd7 32. fxe6 fxe6 33. Kg3 Kf7 34. Kf4 Nc6 35. Ke3 Kf6 36. Bc3 Kf7 37. Bc2 Ne7 38. g4 g5 39. Bb4 Ng6 40. Bxg6 Kxg6 41. c5 Nf6 42. cxd6 Nd5 43. Ke4 Nxb4 44. Ne5 Kg7 45. Nxd7 Nxa2 46. Nc5 Kf6 47. Nxa4 Nb4 48. Nc3 Nc6 49. Ne2 $2 {(A little flaw in otherwise a very well played endgame.)} Nd8 50. Ng3 Kf7 (50... Nb7 $1 51. Nh5 Kf7 $1 52. Ke5 Na5 $1 53. d7 Nc4 $1 54. Ke4 {(With this non trivial sequence Robert could have saved the game.)}) 51. d5 {(The rest is played impeccable so the essence of the story was maintained.)} Ke8 52. Ke5 Kd7 53. dxe6 Nxe6 54. Nh5 Nf8 55. Nf6 Kc6 56. Ng8 Kd7 57. Nxh6 Ng6 58. Kf5 Nf4 59. h4 Kxd6 60. Nf7 Ke7 61. Nxg5 Nd5 62. Ne4 Ne3 63. Kf4 Ng2 64. Kg5 Kf7 65. h5 Kg7 66. Nd6 Kh7 67. Nf5 Ne1 68. Kf6 Ng2 69. g5 Nf4 70. g6 Kh8 71. g7 Kh7 72. Kf7 1-0
I couldn't stop smiling when Robert took a week later already revenge again with the black colour. This time Marcel didn't manage to neutralize the chaos.
[Event "Klubkampioenschap Deurne r4"] [Date "2014.12.12"] [White "Van Herck, M."] [Black "Schuermans, R."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B02"] [WhiteElo "2075"] [BlackElo "2110"] [PlyCount "60"] 1. e4 Nf6 2. Nc3 {(A try to seduce black of playing e5 and enter less sharp lines but Robert obviously has different plans.)} d5 3. e5 Ne4 4. Nce2 d4 5. d3 Nc5 6. b4 Ne6 7. f4 g6 8. Bb2 Bg7 9. Nf3 c5 10. bxc5 Nc6 11. c3 Qa5 {(Robert has exactly the type of position on the board that he likes.)} 12. Qd2 dxc3 13. Bxc3 Qxc5 14. d4 Qd5 15. Kf2 f6 16. g3 O-O 17. Bg2 Qc4 18. Rhc1 fxe5 19. Nxe5 Bxe5 20. dxe5 Rd8 21. Qe3 Nc5 22. Rd1 Bg4 23. Bf3 Bxf3 24. Kxf3 Rd5 25. Rxd5 Qxd5 26. Kf2 Rd8 27. Kg1 e6 28. Bb2 Nd3 29. Rd1 Qc4 30. Bd4 Nxd4 0-1
Robert is for everybody extremely dangerous if he can obtain his favorite type of attacking chess on the board. I also once lost by not finding the right answers in the complications created by Robert or maybe the reader still remembers my article how to win from a stronger player.

From my own practice I remember a recent special case of successful disarmament. A couple of months ago I managed to draw in Open Gent against the surprising tournament-winner, the Russian grandmaster Alexei Gavrilov, while the biggest part of the game I was a pawn down and temporarily even 2. In my preparations I had noticed that my opponent was very dangerous once he had the initiative by employing tactics which is in below example nicely demonstrated.
[Event "Heart of Finland op 23rd"] [Site "Jyvaskyla"] [Date "2013.07.08"] [Round "1"] [White "Gavrilov, Alexei V"] [Black "Osmolny, Vladimir I"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D07"] [WhiteElo "2452"] [BlackElo "2213"] [PlyCount "49"] [EventDate "2013.07.08"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "FIN"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2013.08.26"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nc6 3. Nc3 dxc4 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Bg5 Nd5 6. e4 Nxc3 7. bxc3 Na5 8. Bxc4 Nxc4 9. Qa4 c6 10. Qxc4 Be6 11. Qe2 f6 12. Be3 Qa5 13. O-O Bg4 14. h3 Bd7 15. c4 e6 16. Rab1 Qc7 17. e5 {(Alexei plays normal developing chess in the openings but once the position is ready for action then he does not wait to play energetically by using pawnmoves combined with little combinations.)} Kf7 18. d5 exd5 19. Bf4 Be6 20. cxd5 cxd5 21. Rfc1 Bc5 22. Rxc5 Qxc5 23. Rxb7 Ke8 24. exf6 Qc8 25. f7 {(A fitting conclusion. Kf8 is answered by Bd6 mate while after Kd8 follows Bg5 mate.)} 1-0

In our mutual game I didn't hesitate sacrificing a pawn to avoid the positions in which he excells. I even sacrificed a second one when new threats were popping up.
[Event "Open Gent 7de ronde"] [Date "2015"] [White "Gavrilov, A."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C97"] [WhiteElo "2411"] [BlackElo "2316"] [PlyCount "130"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. d4 Qc7 12. d5 (12. Nbd2 cxd4 13. cxd4 Nc6 14. Nb3 a5 15. Be3 a4 16. Nbd2 Bd7 17. Rc1 Rac8 18. a3 Na5 19. Bd3 Qb8 20. Qe2 h6 21. Red1 Rfe8 22. d5 Rxc1 23. Rxc1 Bd8 24. b4 axb3 25. Rb1 Be7 26. Nxb3 Nc4 27. Bc1 Qa8 28. Bxc4 bxc4 29. Qxc4 {(Black has excellent compensation for the sacrificed pawn.)} Rc8 30. Qd3 Qa4 31. Nbd2 Bd8 32. Kh2 Kh7 33. Ng1 Ba5 34. f3 Nh5 35. Nf1 f5 36. Ne2 Rc5 37. Nfg3 Nxg3 38. Nxg3 f4 39. Nf5 Bb5 40. Qb3 Qxb3 41. Rxb3 Bd7 42. Bb2 Bxf5 43. exf5 Rxd5 44. g4 Be1 45. a4 Bg3 46. Kg2 Rd2 47. Kf1 Rf2 48. Kg1 Re2 49. Kf1 Re1 50. Kg2 d5 51. a5 Re2 {(Hamarat Tunc - Tarnowiecki Harald 1/2-1/2 played in 50JEGMT 2004.)}) 12... Bd7 13. b3 {(I already encountered Nbd2 and a4 in earlier official games but b3 is doubtless superior. I am surprised that b3 scores so good in correspondence-chess while in standardchess it is rather unpopular.)} Rfc8 $5 {(I remembered out of my old analysis that it was interesting to play first a rook-move before Nb7 but I forgot the details. I think better rookmoves in this position are Rab8, Rfb8 or Rfe8. Nb7, Ne8, g6 and h6 also seem playable.)} 14. Be3 $5 {(Immediately Nbd2 is an interesting alternative.)} Nb7 $6 {(I mix a couple of plans as this move is not optimal. G6 is more consistent after which black does not have to fear Bh6 attacking a rook and winning a tempo.)} (14... g6 $1 15. Nbd2 $5 Nh5 $1 16. Nf1 Nb7 17. c4 $13) 15. Nbd2 $6 {(Apparently white did not yet study this line thoroughly as otherwise he would definitely play c4 which underlines the shortcomings of blacks position.)} c4 16. bxc4 Nc5 $6 {(I had noticed in my preparation that the Russian grandmaster is very dangerous if he has the initiative so I did not hesitate to sacrifice a pawn. Besides I remember a similar position from the top-correspondence game Tunc Hamarat - Harald Tarnowiecki, see earlier, in which such pawnsacrifice gave excellent compensation. Nonetheless I have to admit that the sacrifice would have been stronger after Na5 instead of Nc5. By the way Na5 has been played once earlier in a game between engines.)} (16... Na5 $1 17. c5 {(Remarkable but both my top-engines recommend to counter-sacrifice the pawn.)} dxc5 18. c4 bxc4 19. Nf1 c3 20. Qd3 Ne8 21. Qxc3 f6 22. Rab1 $13) 17. Rb1 Rab8 18. Bxc5 $6 {(White will miss this bishop in the game. Better are Qc1 or Qe2 and black only has limited compensation for the pawn.)} Qxc5 19. Bd3 bxc4 $6 {(This only improves the coordination of whites pieces. I agree with the engines that Bd8 is more accurate which allows black to quickly control the black squares.)} 20. Bxc4 Qa5 21. Qc2 Bd8 22. Rxb8 Rxb8 23. Rb1 Bb6 24. Bd3 Qc5 25. Nc4 $6 {(The knight is not stable on c4. Better is Nb3.)} Ba7 26. Rxb8 Bxb8 27. Nfd2 Ba7 28. Nb3 Qc7 29. Qe2 h6 30. Kh2 Bb5 31. Nbd2 Bxc4 $6 {(I steer the game to an endgame of opposite bishops but this again improves the coordination between whites pieces. Better are g6 or Nd7.)} 32. Nxc4 Nd7 33. Qf3 $6 {(Qc2 to untie the knot on the queenside is stronger.)} Nb6 $2 {(I try to force the endgame of opposite bishops in which I am safe but I miss completely whites reply. G6 was much better and black defends comfortably.)} 34. Ne3 {(Except the exchange I only took Na5 into account which I would answer by Nxd5. This Ne3 was a cold shower.)} g6 {(I decide to sacrifice a second pawn to avoid the dangers after Nf5. Maybe it is not objectively the best move but against such dangerous attacking player surely acceptable.)} 35. Ng4 h5 36. Nf6 Kf8 37. Bxa6 $6 {(The less greedy g4 is more dangerous.)} (37. g4 $1 hxg4 38. Nxg4 Qe7 39. Bxa6 Na4 40. Bb5 Nc5 41. Kg3 Bb6 42. Qe3 $16 {(White has 2 extra pawns like in the game but kept the knights on the board. Still it is unclear if it is sufficient for the win.)}) 37... Nd7 38. Nxd7 Qxd7 39. Qf6 Qc7 40. Kg1 $6 {(I believe white missed my next move although even after the surprising and stronger Bc8 there is neither a clear path to victory.)} Qxc3 41. Bf1 Bc5 42. Qf3 Qc2 43. Qe2 Qa4 $6 {(Black has little problems to draw but Qc3 was even more forcing.)} 44. h4 Qd4 45. g3 Kg7 46. Kg2 Qb4 47. Qf3 $6 {(Qc2 kept a bit more tension in the game but should not influence the result anymore.)} Qb6 48. a4 Qb4 49. Bb5 Qa5 $6 {(It is not necessary to transfer the queen to the defense. The waiting move Kf8 probably leads quicker to the desired draw.)} 50. Be8 Qc7 51. a5 $6 {(White was heartbroken after this blunder which costs the extra pawn but honestly I do not see any constructive plan for white. Of course white can prolong the game with Qc3 but if black does not make a big mistake then then there is no win.)} Kf8 52. Bc6 Qxa5 53. Qf6 Qc7 54. Kh2 Bb6 55. f4 Qd8 56. fxe5 Qxf6 57. exf6 Bd4 58. g4 hxg4 59. Kg3 Bxf6 60. Kxg4 Kg7 61. h5 gxh5 62. Kxh5 Be5 63. Kg4 Kf6 64. Bb5 Bd4 65. Bc6 Be5 1/2-1/2
The positional pawn-sacrifices are maybe objectively not completely correct but in practice it worked. My opponent was very disappointed after the game about the result but I don't think that I didn't merit a half point.

How successful you disarm somebody, influences without a doubt heavily the final result. If you don't succeed to neutralize somebodies strong points several times on a row then there exists the danger of creating an angstgegner or also called black beast. It explains a.f.a.i.k partly why some players have mutual scores which strongly deviate from the prognoses made by elo.


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