Friday, November 20, 2015

Tactics part 2

When we check our games with a computer then very often we are frightened by the number of missed tactics. For some people this spoils the fun. They prefer not to look anymore at the lines spitted out by the tactical monster. I am on the other hand a real masochist as I would even skip sleep just to get an old fashioned beating (see my article interferences).

Of course I am just joking. In the first place it is my unrestrained curiosity which needs to be temporarily tempered by a quick qualitative analysis. I expect 99% of the chessplayers would be satisfied with these analysis. I on the other hand am only fully content after having evaluated each played move at least 1 minute by my 2 strongest engines, see details in my article analyze with a computer. It partly explains why my games are sometimes only months later published here on the blog. Qualitative analysis needs time especially if chess isn't your profession.

Except pleasure you could ask yourself why to make such thorough analysis of the games. Sure I have a blog and you don't want to appear completely foolish with some sloppy analysis on the internet but what if there would be no blog? Everybody understands the value of analyzing openings as the chance is real to use them in practice but how often the same tactical trick in a middle game will reoccur in practice? If I am objectively looking at my games then I have to admit similar combinations in the middle or end-game are very rare. On the other hand we learn most from our mistakes and we still remember them many years later.

I once missed in 2002 a not very difficult tactical combination. After the game I was especially upset not having won the game.
[Event "Open Avoine 3de ronde "] [Date "2002"] [White "Foucaud, S."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A80"] [WhiteElo "2010"] [BlackElo "2223"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6rk/pp1nq1rp/2p5/1PPp3b/P2PPP2/2B2B2/3Q3P/1R3R1K b - - 0 26"] [PlyCount "4"] 26... Bxf3 {(This wins but much easier is Rg1.)} (26... Rg1 $1 27. Rxg1 Bxf3 28. Rg2 Rxg2 $19) 27. Rxf3 Qxe4 $4 {(Nf6 was still winning but the variations are more complex now to calculate.)} 28. Qd3 {(And after a number of adventures the game was drawn at move 51.)} 1/2-1/2
However this summer I got to my great joy a chance to play a similar motive in the last round of Open Gent. Not only I found the combination this time but I had seen it already a few moves earlier.
[Event "Open Gent 9de ronde"] [Date "2015"] [White "Barendse, T."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A90"] [WhiteElo "2150"] [BlackElo "2316"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3rb1rk/pp4qp/2p1p3/3pPpn1/2P5/1P1NP3/P1Q2PBP/3R1R1K w - - 0 21"] [PlyCount "10"] 21. Qb2 $4 {(White completely misses the combination which follows hereafter.)} (21. f3 $1 dxc4 22. bxc4 c5 23. Nxc5 Rxd1 24. Rxd1 Bc6 $13) 21... Bh5 {(In 2002 I missed a similar but less complex combination which I still remembered very well.)} 22. f3 dxc4 23. bxc4 Bxf3 24. Bxf3 Nxf3 25. Rxf3 Rxd3 { (Black is winning which I capitalized a few moves later.)} 0-1
It really becomes weird when you find out that a similar tactical curiosity happens for a second time in the same game. Last season I missed to my surprise in the final round of the clubchampionship of Deurne a pretty easy win of the queen. Fortunately my chosen move was also winning swiftly as otherwise I would be very ashamed.
[Event "Klubkampioenschap Deurne r9"] [Date "2015"] [White "Van Lil, B."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C54"] [WhiteElo "1890"] [BlackElo "2318"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r4rk1/pp4pp/2p1b3/4q3/4Q3/N7/PP4PP/R3R2K b - - 0 21"] [PlyCount "7"] 21... Qxe4 {(Played without thinking much as this wins pretty easily. However at home I discovered what I missed.)} (21... Rf1 {(This would have ended the game at once.)}) 22. Rxe4 Bd5 23. Re2 Rae8 24. Rd2 Bxa2 {(White resigned as he trusted my skills with 2 extra pawns.)} 0-1
Exactly the same motive but in a much more beautiful composition occurred in my game against Ted. Not only it costed me just a few seconds to find the right moves but I also saw the combination already before white captured the pawn on b7 !
[Event "Open Gent 9de ronde"] [Date "2015"] [White "Barendse, T."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A90"] [WhiteElo "2150"] [BlackElo "2316"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "7k/pp1q3p/2p1p3/4Pp2/2P5/3rP1P1/PQ6/1R5K b - - 0 28"] [PlyCount "9"] 28... Rxe3 {(B6 wins too but I already saw the combination after Qxb7.)} 29. Qxb7 Re1 {(I missed the same motive a few months ago although I won anyway that game quickly. Still I very much liked to get the second chance.)} 30. Kg2 Qd2 31. Kh3 Qh6 32. Kg2 Qh1 {(Next move will be mate so Ted resigned.)} 0-1
It takes more than one swallow to make a summer so these examples don't prove that spending many hours analyzing our games will bring a good return. Personally I think a good book about tactics or one of the many sites on which you can solve tactics (some were mentioned in my article invisible moves) will be more efficient. Solving some puzzles can be fun but doing every day your homework as some (Belgian) topplayers do, must be a monotonous hard labor for which I can't push myself as amateur.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Wandering kings

The strong Georgian grandmaster Jobava Baadur confirmed once more in a recently published two-piece interview on Chessbase that knowing the games of our great ancestors is crucial for the development of any young player. It is a pity that I get this info 20 years too late as back then there was no internet or other source giving me such advice. Only in 1998 via my job I got my first restricted access to the internet.

The last 5 years I try to slowly close this gap. Often I don't manage to read more than 15 minutes a day but in the meanwhile I do get the feeling to know already something about our rich history of chess. I also do learn something technically but I don't expect any gain of rating as too many other components are at least as important.

Maybe the most attractive aspect of studying our classics is discovering connections between today and our past. Recognizing certain recurring themes allows to better understand and appreciate a game. Example there is the theme of the wandering king. The king walks over the board with the objective not to interfere an attack. The insane kings-walk of Navara which was shown in my article g4 in the najdorf is not a good example of this theme.

If we review our classics then it is not a surprise that former worldchampion Tigran Petrosian used this theme several times. His most famous game is probably the one against the German grandmaster Wolfgang Unzicker.
[Event "FRG-URS"] [Site "Hamburg"] [Date "1960.08.04"] [Round "7"] [White "Petrosian, Tigran V"] [Black "Unzicker, Wolfgang"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D61"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "q2r4/r4pk1/2Rbp1pp/pQ1p4/Pp1P4/1N2P1P1/1P3P1P/2R3K1 w - - 0 29"] [PlyCount "53"] {(Controlling 1 open file is often not enough advantage to win. Tigran wants to open a second front so decides first to evacuate the king from that zone.)} 29. Kf1 Kg8 30. h4 h5 31. R1c2 Kh7 32. Ke1 Kg8 33. Kd1 Kh7 34. Kc1 Kg8 35. Kb1 {(The king is evacuated so now white can open a new front.)} Kh7 36. Qe2 Qb7 37. Rc1 Kg7 38. Qb5 Qa8 39. f4 Kh7 40. Qe2 Qb7 41. g4 hxg4 42. Qxg4 Qe7 43. h5 Qf6 44. Ka2 Kg7 45. hxg6 Qxg6 46. Qh4 Be7 47. Qf2 Kf8 48. Nd2 Rb7 49. Nb3 Ra7 50. Qh2 Bf6 51. Rc8 Rad7 52. Nc5 b3 53. Kxb3 Rd6 54. f5 Rb6 55. Ka2 1-0
Another impressive example is surely his game against the Spanish grandmaster Jesus Diez del Corral.
[Event "Palma de Mallorca"] [Site "Palma de Mallorca"] [Date "1969"] [Round "14"] [White "Diez del Corral, Jesus"] [Black "Petrosian, Tigran V"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C18"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r5k1/p1r2qp1/1pn1p1p1/3pPp2/3P1Q1P/P2PB1P1/5PK1/R6R b - - 0 22"] [PlyCount "65"] {(Petrosian decides to evacuate the king out of the danger-zone.)} 22... Kf8 23. Qg5 Ke8 24. Rac1 Kd7 25. h5 gxh5 26. Rxh5 Rg8 27. Rh7 Kc8 28. Qh4 Qg6 29. Rh8 Rxh8 30. Qxh8 Kb7 {(Mission accomplished. Now Petrosian will use himself the opened kings-wing to counterattack.)} 31. Qf8 Rc8 32. Qd6 Qe8 33. a4 Rd8 34. Qa3 Qe7 35. Qc3 Rc8 36. Bd2 g5 37. Qc2 f4 38. gxf4 gxf4 39. Bxf4 Rg8 40. Bg3 Nxd4 41. Qc3 Ne2 42. Qc6 Kb8 43. Re1 Nf4 44. Kf1 Nxd3 45. Rb1 Qf7 46. Qd6 Kb7 47. Ke2 Rc8 48. a5 Rc2 49. Kf1 Nxf2 50. Rxb6 axb6 51. Qxb6 Kc8 52. Qa6 Kb8 53. Qb6 Qb7 54. Qd6 Qc7 0-1
Other games of Petrosian with this theme can be found in this collection. Petrosian had an enormous influence on chess with his remarkable style. I already discussed this in my article about prophylaxis but this is also valid for this theme. Very recently we saw a wandering king in the tiebrake of the semi-final of the worldcup by the Russian grandmaster Peter Svidler in his game against the Chinese child-prodigy Wei Yi.
[Event "World Cup"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.25"] [Round "5.4"] [White "Wei Yi"] [Black "Peter Svidler"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C50"] [WhiteElo "2734"] [BlackElo "2727"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/1pp2rk1/p3pqpr/4p1R1/2P1Pn1P/5PQ1/PP1R4/6NK b - - 0 42"] [PlyCount "25"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] {(Modern chess often deviates a lot from pre-computerchess but this does not mean that our current top players have not studied their classics. In this rapidgame Svidler uses the standard theme of the wandering king.)} 42... Kf8 43. b3 Rfh7 44. Rh2 Ke8 45. Rg4 Kd7 46. Qf2 Kc8 {(The evacuation is successful and everything is ready for the execution which Svidler for the umpteenth time forgets to cash in.)} 47. Ne2 Nxe2 48. Qxe2 Rxh4 49. Rhxh4 Rxh4 50. Rxh4 Qxh4 51. Kg2 Qg5 52. Kh2 Kd7 53. Qd3 Ke7 54. Qc3 Qf4 1/2-1/2
These top players know of course their classics but also closer to home we can detect that our Belgian leading players have spent time on studying them. Some months ago Bart Michiels demonstrated a wandering king in our most recent encounter.
[Event "Open Gent 8ste ronde"] [Date "2015"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Michiels, B."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2316"] [BlackElo "2520"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "q5k1/3bb2p/r3p1p1/1p1pP3/1P1BpP2/rBP5/6PP/1R3RQK b - - 0 35"] [PlyCount "57"] 35... h5 $6 {(After a long phase of maneuvering Bart realizes that I will not undertake any actions. He needs desperately a win but this sharp move could easily backfire. Qe8 was definitely more solid.)} 36. g3 $6 {(I looked at g4 but decided in the end to continue my waiting strategy. After the game Bart rightly condemned my passivity.)} (36. g4 $1 hxg4 $2 {(The best is h4 and sacrifice the h4 pawn which still gives black some chances to continue the fight.)} 37. Qxg4 Kf7 38. Rg1 Qg8 39. Bxd5 $18 {(Bart discovered the move in my reflection time which I did not as otherwise I would have likely played g4.)}) 36... Kf7 $6 {(Bart realizes that the king is not safe anymore but Qf8 was more accurate. )} 37. h3 $6 {(Again here g4 is strong.)} (37. g4 $1 hxg4 $6 {(H4 is again better.)} 38. Qxg4 Bc6 $6 {(This avoids Bxd5 but allows another counter.) } 39. f5 $18) 37... Qf8 38. Qe3 Ke8 39. Kg2 Kd8 40. Rf2 Kc7 41. Rff1 Kb7 {(The king walked to the relatively safer queen-side. It is still very difficult to create something so Bart decides to first maneuver.)} 42. Qd2 Qa8 43. Rb2 Bd8 44. Rc1 Bc7 45. Rbb1 Qf8 46. Rb2 Qf5 47. Rf1 Ra8 48. Qe3 Rg8 49. Rff2 Bc6 50. Kh2 Rga8 51. Rb1 Bd8 52. Rff1 {(The rest was reconstructed via the live-broadcasts as we had both less than 5 minutes remaining.)} Be7 53. Rf2 Be8 54. Kg2 g5 {(Risky but waiting is not an option if you still want to create some chances.)} 55. Rbb2 gxf4 56. Rxf4 Qh7 57. h4 Bg6 $6 {(Transferring the bishop to f5 weakens b5. Waiting with Qg7 was objectively stronger.)} 58. Bd1 Bf5 $6 {(The bishop better returns to e8 maybe after including Ra1 but that does not fit blacks plan of course.)} (58... Be8 $5 59. Rbf2 $1 Qg7 $1 60. Be2 Ra2 61. Bf1 Bd8 $14) 59. Be2 $2 {(I miss the double attack of b5 and h5 with Qe2.)} (59. Qe2 $1 Kc6 60. Qxh5 Qxh5 61. Bxh5 Rg8 62. Rbf2 Raa8 $1 63. Kh2 Ra1 $1 64. Bf7 $16) 59... Ra2 $4 {(2 games a day, 11 PM, very little time remaining,... The blunders occurring in this phase have surely some connection.)} (59... Bf8 $1 60. Rf1 Bh6 61. Qf2 e3 62. Bxe3 Rf8 $5 63. Qg1 $5 Rxc3 64. Bxh6 Qxh6 65. Kh2 Ra8 $11) 60. Rxa2 Rxa2 61. Rf2 Qg8 {(Black can not cover the pawn with the king as that would drop the rook.)} 62. Bxb5 {(I knew that my position was won but anyway I proposed a draw as I had only 50 seconds remaining against more than 2 minutes for Bart. Bart chooses to gamble as a draw is hardly better than a loss.)} Ra1 63. Be2 $4 {(Played on automatic pilot as I am blinded by Qg4-Qh3 mate. C4 won very rapidly.)} Bxh4 {(The conclusion of the game was already shown in my previous article.)} 0-1
I can well imagine that some players can devise a wandering king themselves without knowing previous examples. However the precious time needed to make such plans isn't always available with the ever faster becoming timecontrols. I often read the old masters thought 40 minutes or more over 1 move but we don't have such luxury anymore.