Monday, March 14, 2016

The scoresheet

Playing few standard games doesn't motivate to produce a lot of analysis. I am not the type of player like Bobby Fischer, studying hard at home while being months away from competitive chess. Neither will I try to drag the analysis because there isn't much to do. At contrary as nowadays I use mainly again 2 computers to analyze which is different from what I wrote 2 years ago in my article to analyze with a computer.

Today I possess a laptop and a desktop. My laptop is less than 2 years old and only used for analyzing/ preparing games. He is my compagnon in the few tournaments I play each year. The desktop is already more than 5 years old but still slightly more powerful than my laptop. That PC is used for much more as the internetconnection is also popular by my children. Exactly because of that we decided to put the PC in the middle of our living. The internet is a fantastic place to find entertainment, information,.. but some parental supervision is absolutely necessary. Not rarely a pop-up shows up which proposes to install a number of programs. Fortunately my children have learned in the meanwhile first to consult me before clicking.

The central location of the desktop in the living also means that playing online chess (something which I still love to do and about which I wrote in my article the (non-)sense of blitz) is not something simple. I am regularly disturbed by my inmates which often don't realize how frustrating it is to lose games. Often I wait till the night so that the children are in bed but playing when you are tired isn't optimal either. It is surely no coincidence that my rating sometimes shows huge fluctuations of 300 points (Playchess 2150 - 2450) in just a couple of days.

In standard-chess we won't often experience such big variations. Although we do see sometimes in one particular game drastic changes of the quality. The current increments avoid extreme time-trouble of many moves in a couple of seconds. On the other hand we encounter today much earlier shallow play in our games. The obligatory recording of the moves at all times definitely also plays a role. If you play solely by increments then being forced to spend at each move a couple of seconds at recording, will further deteriorate the quality of the moves. It is no big surprise that when 1 side is pressing that the resistance often quickly collapses when playing only by increments. This also happened to me in my interclub-game of round 6 against the Belgian FM Bruno De Jonghe. A difficult position quickly was destroyed by some superficial play.
[Event "Interclub Temse Deurne"] [Date "2016"] [White "De Jonghe, B."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C90"] [WhiteElo "2229"] [BlackElo "2322"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "R1bq1r1k/Q1p1bpp1/3pn2p/1B2p3/2N1P1n1/3PBN2/1P3PPP/6K1 b - - 0 27"] [PlyCount "22"] 27... d5 {(It is obvious that black has a very difficult position. Besides I do not have much time and the defense becomes much harder when you are low in time. With this pawn-sacrifice I try to create chaos and hope to get some chances.)} 28. Ncxe5 Nxe3 $6 {(Pxe5 is objectively of course more accurate but I thought only Nxe3 gives still swindle-chances.)} 29. Qxe3 dxe4 30. Qxe4 Bd6 31. Nxf7 $6 {(This exchange wins a pawn but greatly complicates the win. Increasing the pressure with Bc4 was a much simpler win.)} Rxf7 32. Qxe6 Rf8 $6 {(I keep intuitively the pieces on the board because I am 2 pawns down but the endgame likely gave better surviving chances.)} (32... Bxe6 $1 33. Rxd8 Rf8 34. Rxf8 Bxf8 35. Bc4 $1 $16 {(I suspect this is winning for white but it is not so easy as even Komodo once spoiled it.)}) 33. Qe4 Qf6 34. d4 g5 { (I play solely by increments otherwise I definitely should have noticed whites next move. Now my position quickly collapses.)} 35. Bd3 Qg7 36. Ne5 Rd8 37. Ng6 Kg8 38. Rxc8 1-0
We don't only see that the quality of the game suffers as also the recording becomes a mess. I encounter mainly problems playing black. Suddenly due to the pressure I don't succeed anymore to interpret quickly the mirrored coordinates. Not less than 6 mistakes can be found in below scoresheet from move 27 onward.
Scoresheet of my game against Bruno De Jonghe
Of course you won't think twice or 3 times about the recording when you only have 30 seconds approximately. I am curious if other readers also experience this problem linked to playing with the black pieces.

I can imagine that my teamcaptain often has a hard time to dissect and digitize the scoresheets properly. Today he still volunteers to spread the games of our first team in our club. 10 years ago they were also published on the interclub-site of Valery Maes but this was stopped as it transpired we were the only club willing to cooperate. In my article password I already wrote that many players prefer not to have their games published anymore.

We deviate from our topic as I wanted to talk about recording. Any competitive player is able to record correctly but in practice we see that many players consider this as an annoying task. Not seldom the scoresheet contains mistakes. Of course I remember the sadistic exam. Therefore I will be the last one to criticize people not willing to rely blindly on their own scoresheets. The Belgian FM Rob Michiels confessed after our recent game that he played the 41st move quickly despite the complex nature of the position because he wasn't sure about the number of played moves. The Belgian international arbiter Geert Bailleul made a very valuable remark just before the last interclubround in Deurne. He warned the players that the extra time is only added when the time of one of both players is showing 0 and not automatically at move 40.

Without live boards or assistance of the involved players it is often impossible to decipher somebodies scoresheet. I also often suspect that players deliberately neglect the scoresheet so digitizing is avoided. The most striking example of sabotage I read on chesspub. A grandmaster regularly uses the pretext that he has no readingglasses to record the moves. Arbiters get fooled by the small time-handicap which he proposes as compensation.

Finally I wonder what happens with all those scoresheets after the games. Normally after digitizing and analyzing a game, I will still wait for a possible processing of the rating but then it is thrown in the paper basket. Not everybody is unemotional. Once I heard about a big box of record-sheets below the bed of a famous Belgian IM. On the sleeping blog of Wim Barbier you can find some scans of his oldest record-sheets e.g dated 23rd June 1975! Are you a collector or do you immediately throw them away?


Friday, March 4, 2016

The Sicilian Kupreichik

In a couple of weeks I will be 40 but I am still far below the average age of our interclub-team. While previous seasons our results slowly deteriorated, this year we have a resurrection which mainly has to do with 2 new players. The very experienced and amicable FM Jan Van Mechelen offered his services beginning of this season and that present was of course happily accepted. Simultaneously our 15 year old talented clubmember Tamer Ismail won last year sufficient rating to conquer a spot in the first team of Deurne.

Most teams in our serie are well-matched so bringing new forces into play immediately creates disparity in the rankings. Last year we still played modestly average in our serie. This year we are still in the running of becoming champion. Of course Wachtebeke remains the biggest favorite for the title as they almost exclusively play with foreigners. Already in round 5 there was the clash between the leaders. As expected Wachtebeke didn't leave anything by chance and selected their (for the time being) strongest composition, averagely 2340 elo. In 1st division 7 of the 12 teams had in the previous interclub-round even a lower average rating just to illustrate how superior this team is in 2nd division.

I always found such challenges for myself an extra motivation to work extra hard. The preparations in second division are normally only a fraction of what I did in 1st division (see the list of force) but I made an exception for this round. 6 A4-pages (see example in archiving) I filled with summarizing analysis as preparation of the game. I talk about a summary because you can't do more than just check a few lines if you review dozens of openings. I don't know what other players prefer but I rather like to look at a huge number of lines superficially than only a few scenarios thoroughly. Surprises are today a very important part of modern chess so I think it makes more sense to diversify instead of specialize.

This also meant that I took into account a very unlikely scenario that the French IM Jonathan Dourerassou would play at board 2 (in theory possible although not happened yet in practice) and on top would try to surprise me with an opening he played only a couple of times in 2004, the Sicilian Kupreichik. To drag up openings played long ago, is a strategy more players use to surprise the opponent if they only fear a limited preparation (mainly based on the current repertoire).

I had not met yet earlier the Sicilian Kupreichik. Neither did I ever study it. However the amount of games in the database with this opening made it clear that this opening is more than a nine days wonder. If you don't want to endanger the rest of the preparation then you need to make some practical choices. Initially I had a preference for a setup with Be2 to transpose to a position from the Scheveningen. I have been successful before with that opening see my article swiss gambit. Unfortunately that didn't work as Jonathan already won in 2004 a game with e5 instead of e6.
[Event "FRA-chT U20 0304"] [Site "France"] [Date "2004"] [Round "6"] [White "Barbet, Loic"] [Black "Dourerassou, Jonathan"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B56"] [WhiteElo "2100"] [BlackElo "2250"] [PlyCount "62"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bd7 {(I found 2 games of Jonathan in the databases with the Kupreichik.)} 6. Be2 e5 7. Ndb5 Bc6 {(White scored miserable in this line.)} 8. Nd5 Nxd5 9. exd5 Bd7 10. O-O g6 11. Bg5 Qxg5 12. Nc7 Ke7 13. f4 exf4 14. Nxa8 Bg7 15. Nc7 a6 16. Re1 Be5 17. Na8 Bh3 18. Bf3 Nd7 19. Nc7 Rc8 20. Nxa6 bxa6 21. Qe2 a5 22. Rab1 Bf5 23. Be4 Bxe4 24. Qxe4 Nf6 25. Qd3 Ng4 26. Re2 Ne3 27. Kh1 Kf8 28. b4 axb4 29. Rxb4 Ng4 30. Qa6 Re8 31. Re1 Qh4 0-1
White not only scores miserable in practice with this line but I also couldn't find easily an improvement. I decided to move on and look at Bg5. Bg5 is today's most popular continuation. Besides I already play for several years the Rauzer (I once won a game in this opening against a grandmaster see my article how to win from a stronger player) so that looked attractive. Because Jonathan had no games with Bg5 in the database, I switched to my openingbook to define the move Jonathan most likely would play. I already explained this technique in my article using databases. The openingbook was very clear as Nc6 was played in 90% of the games as the screenshot below proofs.
Openingbook Megadatabase 2016
After Nc6 we transpose to a line of the Rauzer which means I don't have to make any new analysis as I have already something about that done. A rehearsal of the critical lines finalizes this piece of the preparation.

After this long introduction it is really time to have a look at what I encountered in the game. Well maybe the reader will be upset but Jonathan Dourerassou was not my opponent. Instead the young Dutch IM Miguoel Admiraal took the seat in front of me. Last year he won approximately 100 points and also in the last Tata Steel tournament he demonstrated a nice result at the Challengers so not an easy opponent.
Miguoel Admiraal
Source: HK5000
Miguoel can't possibly be a surprise for me as opponent. He already played once on the second board. I admit that I had studied our mutual game of last year in detail and I also had an answer prepared on all the lines he tried in the previous years (of course limited to the ones published in the databases). I suspect strongly that Miguoel is at least aware about this blog. Therefore it was not a surprise that he would try something new. Indeed such coincidence exists in chess as he played the Sicilian Kupreichik which I prepared in fact for his team-member Jonathan Dourerassou (playing that round on first board).
[Event "Interclub Deurne - Wachtebeke"] [Date "2015"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Admiraal, M."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B56"] [WhiteElo "2313"] [BlackElo "2450"] [PlyCount "111"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 {(Last year Miguoel chose e6 in our mutual game. )} 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bd7 {(This was a surprise as I could not find any games of Miguoel with this Kupreichik in the databases.)} 6. Bg5 { (I never met this line before but I did look at it briefly during the preparation. No telepathy as Miguoels team-member, the French IM Jonathan Dourerassou has 2 games dated 2004 in the database with this line. I always try to prepare for several opponents and try to define an answer for each of their historical openingchoices.)} (6. Be2 {(In my brief preparation I mainly looked at this continuation to get a familiar position of the Scheveningen.)} e5 {(Jonathan won in 2004 with e5 which generates a totally different kind of position. Today however I think e5 is not the strongest here.)} 7. Ndb5 Bc6 8. Bg5 {(White scores miserable in practice so I did not spend further attention to it. Although statistics do not tell everything, especially if it is based on few games mainly played between amateurs.)} a6 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Na3 f5 11. Bf3 f4 12. O-O $14) 6... e6 {(If you check an online openingbook then you will notice Nc6 is played 10 times more than e6, transposing to a regular Rauzer of which I repeated the theory before the game. But an online openingbook includes also transpositions from other lines so is not always a good predictor. Only afterwards I discovered that in this sequence e6 is much more frequently played than Nc6. Of course I missed that in my preparation.)} 7. Qd2 {(I hope to transpose to the classic Rauzer but blacks next move is a cold shower. Today I prefer f3 to transpose to a modern Rauzer which is not part of my repertoire or the more cunning Ndb5.)} (7. Ndb5 Bxb5 {(A month later Miguoel chose for this line against the Ukrainian grandmaster Yuri Solodovnichenko. I suspect that Bxb5 is a bit more accurate despite Bc6 having more fans.)} ( 7... Bc6 8. Bxf6 gxf6 9. Qh5 {(The most popular and probably also the most critical continuation which tries to profit from the sequence chosen by black. Qd2 can easily transpose to the famous Kozul-variation which I already once met in a standard-game in 2007 by Tom Bus.)} a6 10. Nd4 Bd7 $5 11. O-O-O Nc6 $1 12. Nb3 b5 $5 13. f4 Qb6 (13... Rc8 $5 14. f5 $1 Ke7 15. Kb1 Qb6 16. Qh4 Ne5 17. Nd4 $1 h5 $1 18. fxe6 $1 fxe6 19. Be2 Qc5 20. Rhf1 Bg7 21. a3 $14) 14. f5 Qe3 15. Kb1 Qg5 $5 16. Qf3 Ne5 17. Qf2 Be7 18. h4 Qg7 $14) 8. Bxb5 Nc6 9. Qf3 {(Probably the critical test and also the choice of Yuri. Yuri confirms once more my suspicion that he has excellent knowledge about the status of many openings.)} Be7 $5 (9... h6 $5 10. Bf4 $5 a6 11. Bxc6 bxc6 12. e5 $5 Nd5 13. O-O Rc8 14. Nxd5 cxd5 15. c4 dxe5 16. Bxe5 Rxc4 17. Rfc1 Qh4 $13) 10. e5 Nd5 11. Be3 $5 {(Yuri chose for the safe Bxc6 but Be3 played already once in correspondence chess, is likely more critical.)} (11. Bxc6 $5 bxc6 12. Bxe7 Nxe7 $1 (12... Qxe7 $6 {(Miguoels choice in his game against Yuri but this is inaccurate.)} 13. Qg3 {(Again Yuri chose for the safe exd6 but white has a slight edge after Qg3.)} dxe5 $5 14. Qxg7 Qf6 15. Qxf6 Nxf6 16. O-O-O Rg8 $5 {(In the game Martin Senff - David Baramidze, played in 2006 a draw was agreed here. Anyway white has a nice small advantage so I guess the rating-difference played a role.)} 17. g3 $14) 13. exd6 Qxd6 14. O-O O-O $13 { (The engines show equality but I find whites position easier to play. A similar position also occurred in Miguoels game against Yuri. In that game Miguoel made some mistakes which caused in the end defeat.)}) 11... a6 12. Ba4 Nxe3 $146 {(An improvement found by my engines upon the correspondence game but it is still very complicated.)} 13. Bxc6 bxc6 14. Qxc6 Kf8 15. fxe3 $13) 7... h6 {(The Chinese topgrandmaster Chao Li has played this move already a couple of times in the last years which made Qd2 almost disappear. Only now I detected that Nxe4 can follow after Bh4 and after Be3 there is Ng4.)} 8. Bxf6 Qxf6 9. Ndb5 {(0-0-0 is also possible but black has a comfortable Rauzer with the pair of bishops and no damage of the pawnstructure.)} Bxb5 10. Bxb5 Nc6 11. O-O {(0-0-0 is of course more critical and was even tested a few months earlier by the Hungarian topgrandmaster Peter Leko. That game also showed that black has sufficient resources.)} Qd8 {(This move surprised me. I learned afterwards that this is a standard idea in this variation. Anyway I think Qg5 or Be7 are slightly more accurate here.)} 12. Qe3 Be7 13. Rad1 O-O 14. Ne2 Ne5 15. a3 Qc7 16. c3 a6 17. Bd3 b5 18. Nd4 Qc5 19. Qe2 Nxd3 20. Rxd3 Rac8 21. Rfd1 Rfd8 22. Nc2 Qe5 23. Qf3 Rc4 24. Re3 Bg5 25. Ree1 Qc5 26. g3 Qc6 27. h4 Bf6 28. Kg2 Qa8 29. Rd3 a5 30. Kg1 Kf8 31. Qe2 Kg8 32. Qf3 Rc5 33. Red1 Be7 34. Rd4 Re5 35. Kg2 Rc8 36. Ne3 h5 37. Nc2 Rc4 38. Ne3 $5 { (Black is pushing but this can backfire. Here I was able to create nasty counterplay with Rxc4 followed up with Rd4.)} Rxd4 39. cxd4 {(Black plays almost solely by the increments but here I try to force something unjustified. I blunder a pawn as I miss completely blacks easy 40th move. Fortunately I still get sufficient compensation.)} Rxe4 40. d5 Re5 41. Kg1 $6 {(Better is immediately Qe2 but who can resist to remove the king from the diagonal?)} g6 42. Qe2 exd5 43. Qf3 {(Initially I thought that I would lose after blundering the pawn but after finding this switch-back pattern I started to realize things are not easy at all for black to win.)} Qe8 $6 {(The queen is better on the queen-side. Slightly stronger are Bf8 or Qc8.)} (43... Qc8 $5 44. Nxd5 a4 45. b4 axb3 46. Qxb3 Qc5 $15) 44. Nxd5 Bd8 45. Qd3 $6 {(My engines tell me that now and the next moves I should do something against a4. Here b3 is considered as a better defense.)} Qc6 $6 {(Black is recommended of course to play a4 with a slight advantage.)} 46. Nf4 $6 {(B4 is given as somehow stronger by my engines.)} Kg7 47. Nd5 {(The greedy Qxd6 is countered by Te1, a theme we met a couple of times last months.)} Qc5 $6 {(Again a4 is better.)} (47... a4 $5 48. b3 (48. f4 $5 {(This is now weaker than the line discussed at blacks previous move.)} Re8 49. f5 $2 g5 50. hxg5 Bxg5 51. f6 Bxf6 52. Rf1 Bxb2 53. Rxf7 Kxf7 54. Qf5 Kg8 55. Qg6 Bg7 56. Nf6 Kf8 $19 {(Only now we see the difference in the line discussed at the previous move.)}) 48... axb3 49. Qxb3 Bb6 50. Nxb6 Qxb6 $15) 48. Kg2 Rf5 $5 {(A4 is still possible but has lost strength.)} (48... a4 $5 49. f4 Re8 50. f5 g5 $5 51. hxg5 Bxg5 52. f6 Bxf6 53. Rf1 Bxb2 $5 54. Rxf7 Kxf7 55. Qf5 Kg8 $5 56. Qg6 Bg7 $4 { (Now black is even lost.)} 57. Nf6 Kf8 58. Qxe8# {(With the queen on c6 this was impossible.)}) 49. Ne3 Rf6 50. Rd2 Bb6 51. b4 Qc6 52. Nd5 Rf5 53. f3 Re5 54. Nxb6 Qxb6 55. bxa5 Qxa5 56. Qxd6 {(I got the pawn back and proposed relieved a draw. The position is completely equal and despite being both low in time my opponent accepted. Only then I heard that we lost the match and seriously damaged our title-chances.)} 1/2-1/2
I put a lot of effort in above analysis leading to the correction of some earlier conclusions from my preparation. I should not have been so negative about the system with Be2 as I discovered that after e5 white does have some chances for an advantage. Statistics are often unreliable if they only are based on a limited amount of games as I already mentioned in my article green moves. A similar sound can be heard in Positional Decision Making In Chess of the Israelian top-grandmaster Boris Gelfand.

I showed in my previous article that you need quite some time to study openings properly. So these errors seem to me unavoidable in preparations of games. I find it more difficult to accept that I discovered Nc6 is not the most played move after Bg5 but rather e6. I was not aware that transpositions of other positions are added together in the statistics. If you would make an openingbook of only games after Bg5 then you get exactly the reversed result.
Openingbook Kupreichik filter
Chessbase created finally a manual see support for Fritz15 but I could not find a solution to switch off the transpositions except creating a new openingbook which of course isn't very practical. There exists a possibility to toggle non-played transpositions but played transpositions are always active. I welcome any help from the readers of course!

We come to the end of our adventure with the Sicilian Kurpeichik. I was initially relieved to save a half point but got anxious when I heard that we just lost the match. Fortunately my team-members calmed me down by informing me that my half point didn't make a difference anymore as Wachtebeke won the match with 5-3. In the meanwhile we are 2 interclub-rounds further. We keep winning all the other matches so the pressure remains for the leaders. Anyway I would be very surprised if we see another Sicilian Kupreichik in the nearby future.