Tuesday, January 26, 2016


If players don't want to take risks then chess will quietly die. In our rich history of chess there were periods in which people feared for this doom-scenario. Fortunately today we see most topplayers show an incredible fighting spirit. Already with the very first moves these players play boldly and aggressively as I showed in my article g4 in the najdorf.

This beauty is of course frequently covered by chess-websites and in magazines. There probably exists no better propaganda for chess and it is at the same time a role-model for many amateurs. However as often there is also danger. Although still some people believe elo-inflation exists, I on the other hand am convinced that today's + 2700 players show the maximum level a human can achieve. It is extremely difficult to fully understand this and therefore it is also often underestimated. It looks all very simple if you look at their games with an engine  (I knew it).

Only at the board things look suddenly much more difficult even if it just concerns following the footsteps of the top-players. Last I witnessed how the French IM Jonathan Dourerassou choked on board 1 against our strong Jan. Jan isn't always following current events so was not aware about Wei Yi's 21st century immortal game. Of course Jonathan hoped to profit.
[Event "Wachtebeke 1 - Deurne 1"] [Date "2015.11.29"] [Round "5"] [White "Dourerassou, Jonathan"] [Black "Rooze, Jan"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B85"] [WhiteElo "2468"] [BlackElo "2327"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3qr1k1/1b1rbp1p/p2p1np1/1p2pP2/4P3/P1NBB2Q/1PP3PP/4RR1K w - - 0 20"] [PlyCount "44"] {(We have via a transposition the same position as in the game Wei Yi - Lazaro Bruzon Batista played a couple of months before.)} 20. fxg6 hxg6 21. Nd5 Bxd5 $146 {(Jan ameliorates on the board but white still keeps a clear advantage.)} (21... Nxd5 22. Rxf7 Kxf7 23. Qh7 Ke6 24. exd5 Kxd5 25. Be4 Kxe4 26. Qf7 Bf6 27. Bd2 Kd4 28. Be3 Ke4 29. Qb3 Kf5 30. Rf1 Kg4 31. Qd3 Bxg2 32. Kxg2 Qa8 33. Kg1 Bg5 34. Qe2 Kh4 35. Bf2 Kh3 36. Be1 {(Wei Yi - Lazaro Bruzon Batista 1 - 0)}) 22. exd5 Rb7 23. Bxg6 $4 {(Knowing the latest games is no guarantee for success. Of course Jonathan is aware that Yi won his game with some nice sacrifices but this should not be copied here. Quietly improving the position with Qf3 and next g4 is the correct approach.)} fxg6 24. Qh6 Rf8 25. Qxg6 Kh8 26. Rf3 Nh7 27. Rh3 Bh4 28. Rg1 Rg7 29. Qe4 Bg5 30. Rh5 $6 {(A4 was necessary to resist.)} Bxe3 31. Qxe3 Qf6 32. Rh6 Rg6 33. Rh3 Qf5 34. c3 Qf2 35. Qe4 Kg7 36. b3 Ng5 37. Qh4 Nxh3 38. Qxh3 Qf5 39. Qh4 Qf4 40. Qe7 Rf7 41. Qd8 Qe4 0-1
If the attack is not crashing through then you are simply material down. Still it doesn't seem to scare people of sacrificing in almost every game. I don't just mean gambits but also sacrificing material later to create practical attacking chances. It is often not fully correct but the opponent is put under pressure. A small gamble which always creates fun games and sometimes even a beauty-prize. Who doesn't dare, never wins. That was probably also what my opponent in round 5 of Open Leuven thought. By the way didn't I state in my article "how to win from a stronger player", creating chaos is a clever strategy?
[Event "Open Leuven 5de ronde"] [Date "2015"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Daces, P."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B01"] [WhiteElo "2271"] [BlackElo "1980"] [PlyCount "59"] 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 Bf5 6. Bc4 e6 7. Bd2 c6 8. Nd5 Qd8 9. Nxf6 gxf6 10. Bb3 a5 {(Bjorn Dijckmans already once played Qc7 against me in 2011.)} 11. a4 Na6 $5 {(The most popular move but at home I had most problems with Be4 to show some advantage for white.)} ( 11... Be4 $5 12. Qe2 Bd5 13. Bxd5 cxd5 14. O-O Nc6 15. Rfd1 Qd7 $14) 12. O-O { (During my 20 minutes of preparation which I got from the organization I had selected this move with my engines. Earlier Philippe already once drew the young German FM Felix Klein, playing Qe2.)} Nb4 13. c3 Nd5 14. Re1 Rg8 $6 {(A standard move but it does not work here. Better was Bg6.)} (14... Bg6 $1 15. Nh4 Be7 16. g3 Qb6 17. c4 Nb4 18. c5 Qd8 $14) 15. Nh4 Bg4 16. Qc2 f5 {(In my preparation I noticed that Philippe is not afraid to sacrifice material so this move was not a surprise. Besides being materialist is unattractive here.)} 17. Nxf5 Qf6 $6 {(More stubborn was h5. The chosen move looks menacing but white can defend.)} 18. Ng3 h5 19. f3 Bh3 20. Bxd5 cxd5 21. Qh7 { (The clue is that I can answer Rh8 with Nxh5. That also explains why I first exchanged the knight on d5.)} Rg6 22. Qxh5 Bd6 {(Black keeps throwing wood to continue the attack but to no avail.)} 23. Qxh3 O-O-O 24. Nh5 Qh8 25. g4 f5 26. Kh1 Rdg8 27. Rg1 e5 28. gxf5 Rxg1 29. Rxg1 exd4 30. f6 1-0
Everybody can sacrifice material but it is not easy to justify this. I expect the number of failures is likely much higher than the amount of success-stories despite the perception created by the news. Even an extremely dangerous attacking player like the American IM Emory Tate who recently deceased, played 2 sorts of games, see the tale of two emory tates. Besides aging only makes things worse. You clearly can see how older attacking players lose quicker ratingpoints compared to equally older more positional players.

Of course there are situations in which a draw and/or rating are unimportant. I don't think we should criticize Anands exchange sacrifice in the 11th and also last game of the world-championship 2015. If you see an opportunity to rectify the matchscore with only 1 game remaining then you should try this.
[Event "World Championship"] [Site "Sochi"] [Date "2014.11.23"] [Round "11"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C67"] [WhiteElo "2863"] [BlackElo "2792"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "rr3b2/2p2p2/2k1bNnp/p1pNP1p1/P1P1K1P1/2B4P/5P2/3RR3 b - - 0 27"] [PlyCount "36"] 27... Rb4 {(An exchange sacrifice in the spirit of Petrosian. There is nothing wrong with the move but black has to play precise to prove sufficient compensation.)} 28. Bxb4 cxb4 $2 29. Nh5 Kb7 30. f4 gxf4 31. Nhxf4 Nxf4 32. Nxf4 Bxc4 33. Rd7 Ra6 34. Nd5 Rc6 35. Rxf7 Bc5 36. Rxc7 Rxc7 37. Nxc7 Kc6 38. Nb5 Bxb5 39. axb5 Kxb5 40. e6 b3 41. Kd3 Be7 42. h4 a4 43. g5 hxg5 44. hxg5 a3 45. Kc3 1-0
A similar situation I recently encountered in my last round of Open Leuven. Of course Marc Lacrosse drew lessons from our previous game (see using databases) and therefore tried to surprise me. He succeeded which forced me already early in the game to take risks.
[Event "Open Leuven 7de ronde"] [Date "2015"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Lacrosse, M."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C83"] [WhiteElo "2271"] [BlackElo "2180"] [PlyCount "112"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. Nbd2 Be7 10. c3 Nc5 11. Bc2 d4 12. Nb3 dxc3 {(Previous year in the last round of Open Gent, Marc suffered a painful defeat in the mainline with d3 against me. This time he chooses a small sideline to surprise me. Theoretically dxc3 is dubious but practically it is interesting as I only had 20 minutes to prepare the game.)} 13. Nxc5 Bxc5 14. Be4 Qd7 15. Qc2 $6 {(Despite I do not find any games of Marc in the database, I did check the line last year in my preparation. Then I indicated Qc2 as interesting. However today I think after making some very extensive analysis that the novelty Bg5 gives better chances to find some opening-advantage.)} (15. a4 $6 {(At least as interesting as my played move but due to Bg5 objectively somewhat weaker.)} Rd8 16. Qxd7 Bxd7 17. axb5 axb5 18. bxc3 O-O 19. h3 $5 Ne7 20. Ba3 Bxa3 21. Rxa3 Bc6 22. Bxc6 Nxc6 23. Ra6 Ne7 $13) (15. bxc3 $6 {(The same remark as a4 so as interesting as the move of the game but I prefer Bg5. Bxc3 was already played 100 years ago 2 times successfully by Jose Raul Capablanca.)} Rd8 16. Qxd7 $5 {(Qc2 transposes to a line which I discuss at whites next move and is definitely also playable.)} Bxd7 17. e6 $5 {(Capablanca played twice Rd1 but I do not see anything special for white after 0-0. A4 and in particular the move of the Dutch grandmaster Friso Nijboer e6 look more interesting.)} (17. a4 $5 bxa4 18. Bc2 O-O 19. Bxa4 h6 $13) 17... fxe6 18. Ng5 Bd6 $5 $146 19. Re1 $5 Be5 $1 20. Re3 $5 Na5 21. Nxh7 Bc6 22. Bg6 Ke7 23. Ba3 Bd6 24. Bxd6 Rxd6 $5 25. Rae1 Bd5 $11 ) (15. Bg5 $1 $146 {(A mysterious novelty which I discovered by accident after consulting the lets check on chessbase. My engines miss the strength of this move if they get only a few minutes to calculate.)} h6 $5 (15... cxb2 $5 16. Rb1 Rb8 $1 (16... Qxd1 $6 17. Rfxd1 O-O 18. Bxc6 Ba3 19. Bd5 $1 Bf5 20. Bxa8 $1 Rxa8 $16) 17. Qc2 Bc4 18. Rfd1 Nd4 19. e6 fxe6 20. Qxb2 Nxf3 21. Bxf3 $14 ) 16. Qc2 hxg5 $1 17. Rfd1 $5 (17. Rad1 $5 Nb4 18. Qxc3 Bxf2 19. Kxf2 Nd5 20. Qc5 c6 21. Nxg5 Rh5 22. Nf3 Qa7 $14 ) 17... Nd4 $1 18. Nxd4 Bxd4 19. bxc3 Rd8 20. Rxd4 Qe7 $14 ) 15... Bd5 16. e6 $6 {(Stefan Docx was rightly critical after the game about my chosen opening. You do not play an opening without serious preparation against somebody having played it continuously for 25 years. Indeed I had not checked this line anymore in the 20 minutes preparation and was not able at all to remember the lines which I analyzed last year. Admittedly e6 is an important thematic move in this position but is not good now. In fact I already felt intuitively that I was forcing the position. However I could not see anything else to fight for a win and I did not want to draw with Bf5 at all. Probably my choice was also influenced by the fact that I had not lost any of my last 17 games and then you are not so objective anymore. Finally a win would bring me 5 times more prize-money than a draw so why not take some risks.)} (16. bxc3 $5 {(Without doubt the critical test in this position and some lines are pretty complicated.)} Ne7 $5 {(If I let my engines calculate longtime then they start to show this move which I consider indeed as the strongest.) } (16... Rd8 $5 17. Bg5 $5 Bxe4 (17... Ne7 $2 18. Bxd5 Qxd5 19. Rfd1 Qc4 20. Rxd8 Kxd8 21. Qf5 Qd5 22. c4 bxc4 23. Rb1 $16 ) 18. Qxe4 Ne7 19. Bxe7 $5 Bxe7 20. Qb7 O-O $1 $146 {(A novelty and improvement upon the game Jose Raul Capablanca - Oscar Chajes played in 1916.)} 21. Qxa6 Ra8 22. Qb7 Rfb8 23. Rad1 $5 Rxb7 24. Rxd7 Kf8 25. Nd4 Ke8 26. Rd5 $13) (16... Bxe4 $6 17. Qxe4 Rd8 (17... h6 $6 18. Be3 Bxe3 19. Rad1 Qe6 20. Rd6 Qc4 21. Qxc4 bxc4 22. Rxc6 Bb6 23. Rxc4 $16 ) (17... O-O $6 18. Ng5 g6 19. a4 Be7 20. Re1 Bxg5 21. Bxg5 $16) 18. a4 h6 $1 19. axb5 axb5 20. Ra6 Bb6 21. Be3 Nb8 22. Raa1 $14 ) (16... O-O-O $5 17. a4 Bxe4 18. Qxe4 Qd5 19. Qg4 Kb7 20. axb5 axb5 21. Rb1 Bb6 22. Be3 $14 ) (16... h6 $5 17. e6 {(Yes now it is strong.)} fxe6 (17... Bxe6 $5 18. Rd1 Bd6 19. Ne5 Nxe5 20. Bxa8 $14) (17... Qxe6 $6 18. Re1 Ne7 19. c4 Bxe4 20. Rxe4 Qg6 21. Ne5 Qh7 22. Bf4 Ba3 23. Rae1 $16) 18. Bg6 Ke7 19. Bf4 $5 Bd6 20. Bg3 $14) 17. a4 $5 Rd8 18. Bg5 $5 {(H3 or axb5 must also be considered.)} Bxe4 19. Qxe4 O-O 20. axb5 axb5 $13) (16. Bf5 $5 Be6 17. Be4 Bd5 $11 {(I had seen this repetition but Marc already expected that I would not want to draw so quickly. Later it transpired that it would have been sufficient for a shared 3rd place and a bit more than 100 euro. Anyway I do not regret my choice to continue.)}) 16... fxe6 17. Re1 $6 {(That makes it only worse. Marc will of course not accept the second pawn sacrifice with cxb2 so Re1 is just superficial.)} (17. bxc3 $1 Bxe4 18. Qxe4 Qd5 19. Qe2 O-O 20. a4 Rad8 21. axb5 axb5 $15) 17... O-O-O 18. bxc3 Bxe4 19. Qxe4 Qd5 20. Qe2 Qc4 $2 {(Marc admitted after the game that he played this move to avoid any complications after Qd3. Naturally the active Qd3 is much more annoying for white.)} 21. Qxc4 bxc4 22. Bg5 $6 {(Whites position is not easy to play as some accurate moves are necessary to keep the balance. Here Kf1 was stronger to play boldly Re4 next trying to win back the sacrificed pawn.)} Rd3 23. Rac1 h6 $6 {(Normal but the exact Kf7 is slightly stronger objectively.)} (23... Kd7 $1 24. Kf1 h6 25. Bf4 g5 26. Bg3 Rb8 27. Rc2 Ba3 28. Nd2 Rb2 29. Rxb2 $15 ) 24. Be3 $2 {(I did not consider Bd2 as it is ugly and passive. Nevertheless analysis shows Bd2 is not only better but even fully playable. I was optimistic about the endgame after Be3 but that was wrong.)} Bxe3 25. Rxe3 Rxe3 26. fxe3 Rd8 27. Kf2 Rd5 28. Ke2 Kd7 29. Rc2 Kd6 30. e4 Ra5 31. Rd2 Kc5 32. Kd1 Ra3 33. Rc2 Kd6 34. Rd2 Ke7 35. Rc2 Kf6 36. Kc1 $6 {(I try to release the rook but enter a lost rook-endgame. Keeping the king in the center was vital but it still is a very difficult defense.)} (36. Ke2 $1 {(I analysed this endgame for some hours without getting to a final verdict. Many lines are long and complex with sometimes a draw and sometimes a win for black.) } Ne5 $5 37. Ke3 $1 Nd3 38. Kd4 Ra4 39. Ke3 $17) 36... Ne5 37. Nxe5 Kxe5 38. Kb2 Ra5 39. Rd2 {(Probably white and black can play the endgame somewhere better but I do not think it changes the evaluation of the played moves.)} Kxe4 40. Rd4 Ke3 41. Rxc4 c5 42. a4 e5 43. Rg4 e4 44. Kb3 c4 45. Kxc4 Rg5 46. Rh4 Rxg2 47. Kd5 Kd3 48. c4 Rg5 49. Kd6 e3 50. Rh3 Ra5 51. c5 Rxa4 52. c6 Rc4 53. c7 Kd2 54. Rh4 Rxc7 55. Kxc7 e2 56. Rd4 Ke3 {(A well played game by Marc based on a successful psychological choice of the opening.)} 0-1
My pawn-sacrifice was too optimistic and you shouldn't give Marc such advantage. So I didn't have to wait anymore for the prize-givings. On the other hand Marc afterwards prolonged his success by achieving a second place in a Spanish tournament for -2300 players with a 2400 rating-performance.

Maybe the best standard for our material is the computer. Engines have become so strong that they can except a few rare cases tell us exactly how a sacrifice can be refuted. It is no coincidence that Nakamura lost against Komodo the only game without getting any material handicap and got instead 4 tempos.


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