Friday, April 22, 2016

Extra sweet

Some players like Sultan Khan, a slave and the Peruvian grandmaster Julio Ernesto Granda Zuniga, a fruit grower shocked the chess-world in the past by the contradiction between their excellent tournament-results and their very limited knowledge of the openings. With a minimum knowledge of chess they managed to beat experienced masters. It seemed like they solved the code of chess.

It doesn't surprise me that some players believe there exists a key which can solve chess. Now and then I hear scornfully certain theories proposed by players barely knowing more than the basic rules of chess. Of course pure nonsense as natural talents have never discovered any specific key.

Shortcuts to become better in chess don't exist. Except a few rare talents the road to master chess is very long and full of obstacles. Building up experience is very important but it is doubtful if this is sufficient on the long term to keep making progress. Definitely once +2000 rating is achieved, study at home will become an important catalyst to improve.

At home we can work at chess in many different ways but probably the most important is still analyzing critically your own games. I always put a lot of effort in it as e.g demonstrated by my old article which games to analyze. I know some people consider my diligence exaggerated (see e.g. this reaction) but I don't think this is justified. A recent case once again proofed this. In 2010 I lost in a dramatic way my last 2 rounds of Open Leuven against strong opposition. This destroyed any good ranking see the summary table. I start with the very painful defeat against the Indian IM Satyapragyan Swayangsu.
[Event "Open Leuven 6de ronde"] [Date "2010"] [White "Satyapragyan, S."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C54"] [WhiteElo "2466"] [BlackElo "2273"] [PlyCount "79"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 a6 6. Bb3 Ba7 7. Nbd2 d6 8. h3 O-O 9. Nf1 h6 $5 {(Immediately d5 is more critical and much more popular than the move I chose in the game.)} 10. g4 $5 {(A very dangerous and double-edged continuation which I had seen before but never studied.)} d5 11. Qe2 dxe4 12. dxe4 Be6 13. g5 hxg5 14. Bxg5 Bxb3 15. axb3 Qd6 16. Ng3 g6 17. Rg1 Kh8 18. Rd1 Qe6 19. Qd2 Nh7 20. Bh4 f6 21. Qh6 Qf7 22. Nh2 $4 {(Black found a proper defense and white must now play accurately to avoid standing worse. This is bad but I have to admit that the recommendation of the engine is not evident.)} (22. Nh1 $1 g5 23. Bxg5 $1 fxg5 24. Nxg5 Qe7 25. Nxh7 Qxh7 26. Qxh7 Kxh7 27. Rd7 Kh6 $11 ) 22... Rad8 $4 {(Too careful. Ne7 is the strongest move and of course recommended by the engines.)} (22... Ne7 $1 {(G5 is now much stronger as white has to cope with Ng8 and losing the queen.)} 23. Rd7 Rad8 $1 24. Rxc7 Bb6 $1 25. Nh5 {(Rxb7 is answered by Qb3 with the fatal threat of mate on d1 combined with Bxf2.)} gxh5 26. Rxb7 Rb8 27. Rxb8 Rxb8 $19) 23. Rxd8 $2 {(After this white gets again into troubles as whites king does not find any rest. Good was Ng4.)} (23. Ng4 $1 Rxd1 24. Kxd1 Rd8 25. Kc2 Rd6 26. Bxf6 Rxf6 27. Nxf6 Qxf6 $13) 23... Rxd8 24. Nf5 $6 { (Miscalculation or despair? In any case after the correct Ng4 white has also a miserable position.)} gxf5 25. Rg6 Rd6 26. exf5 Ne7 27. Qh5 Ng8 28. Ng4 Qd5 29. Rxg8 Qxg8 $4 {(I have little time left so I do not dare to spend a lot of time calculating the consequences of Kxg8. I think Qxg8 gives at least a draw with the extra piece. A pity as with a little extra effort I should not have missed this opportunity.)} (29... Kxg8 $1 30. Qe8 Kg7 31. Qe7 {(After Qg6 black has the simple answer Kf8 as white can not capture the knight due to mate on d1.)} Qf7 32. Qxf7 Kxf7 $19) 30. Bxf6 Rxf6 31. Nxf6 Qg1 32. Ke2 Qxf2 33. Kd1 Qg1 34. Kc2 Qg7 {(I realized that I missed my chance at move 29 so I agree for the perpetual.)} 35. Ng4 $2 {(Of course I expected Nxh7 with the perpetual. However white does not want to draw and gambles that I will make mistakes because I am low in time. It is a typical professional choice.)} Qf8 $2 { (I panic and blunder a pawn. Still the position is so good for me that it is still a draw. After Bc5 white could regret quickly his risky decision.)} 36. Nxe5 Qf6 37. Ng4 Qf8 38. f6 c5 39. Qg6 Bb8 $4 { (I miss the simple trap which I could have easily avoided with Qg8 still giving equality.)} 40. Nh6 {(That hurt. A game is often won by the one not having made the last error. After this disaster I was not in a mood at all to play the last round. However I do not quit tournaments when things go not well as some people do. Respect and dignity is more than just scoring points.)} 1-0
That game was just finished or I had to play already the last round against the strong Belgian FM Hans Renette (another player whom quit chess a couple of years ago). A handful minutes of preparation wasn't enough to build an answer for his repertoire.
[Event "Open Leuven 7de ronde"] [Date "2010"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Renette, H."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C98"] [WhiteElo "2273"] [BlackElo "2348"] [PlyCount "139"] 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. Nbd2 Nc6 {(I play with black the more popular cxd4.)} 13. d5 Nd8 14. a4 Rb8 15. axb5 axb5 16. b4 Bd7 { (I only got 5 minutes from the organization to prepare so I was not able to check this line anymore.)} 17. Nf1 {(An important alternative is bxc5 with as reference game Bitalzadeh Ali - Van Haastert Edwin.)} Ne8 18. Be3 f6 19. Qd2 { (First Ng3 looks more flexible as white can later find sometimes a better square for the queen.)} Nf7 20. N3h2 $6 {(This plan only looks good when black already played c4. Better is Ng3 followed up with the doubling of the rooks on the a-file with a slight advantage for white.) } g6 21. Ng3 Ng7 22. Ra5 f5 23. exf5 gxf5 24. f4 Bh4 25. Nhf1 Bf6 26. Ne2 exf4 27. Bxf4 Ne5 28. Ne3 Kh8 29. Rf1 Rbe8 30. Ra6 Bc8 31. Ra2 Rg8 32. Bh6 cxb4 33. cxb4 Nc4 34. Nxc4 Qxc4 35. Bb1 $6 {(The less materialistic Bd3 is a little better as piece-activity is more important in this position.)} Qh4 $2 { (Black does not have much time left and miss completely my answer. Bb7 kept some initiative for black.)} (35... Bb7 $1 36. Rc1 $1 Qh4 37. Qf4 Bxd5 38. Qxh4 Bxh4 39. Rd2 Bc4 40. Nf4 d5 41. Nxd5 $15 ) 36. Qf4 Qh5 37. Ng3 $6 {(More subtle is Bxg7 which allows white to exchange the queens and leaves less compensation for the pawn to black.)} Qg6 38. Bxg7 Qxg7 39. Nxf5 {(I proposed a draw here as I was not in the mood to play after the disaster in the morning. Black declines as he realizes only a win is sufficient to get a prize and he still has compensation for the pawn.)} Bxf5 40. Bxf5 Bb2 41. Qd2 Bc3 42. Qf4 Be5 43. Qf3 Bd4 44. Kh1 Re3 45. Qf4 Ra3 46. Re2 Be5 47. Qh4 Rg3 $2 {(Black takes serious risks to win. This easily could have gone wrong. Correct is Rf8 with an equal position.)} 48. Bg4 $2 {(More aggressive was Be4 and black has serious troubles to find sufficient compensation for the pawn.)} Rf8 49. Ref2 Rxf2 50. Rxf2 Ra3 51. Qd8 {(Here I made the decisive mistake of the game according to Stefan Docx. There is nothing wrong with the move but by hesitating between Rf1 en Qd8, which differ little of evaluation, my time drops from 3 minutes to 1 minute. The rest of the game is a reconstruction.) } Qg8 52. Qxg8 Kxg8 53. Be6 Kg7 54. g4 Rxh3 55. Kg2 Rg3 56. Kf1 Bc3 57. Bd7 Rd3 58. Bc6 Bd4 59. Rf4 Be5 60. Re4 Rd2 61. Ke1 Bc3 62. Kf1 Kg6 63. Bxb5 Rxd5 64. Bd7 Rd1 65. Kf2 d5 66. Bf5 Kg5 67. Re2 h5 68. Bc2 Rc1 69. gxh5 Bxb4 70. Bg6 {(I guess the game lasted another 20 moves but I am not able to reconstruct the moves. In the end Hans managed to win on time in a completely drawn position while having only 3 seconds on the clock remaininig. As the arbiter stood very close to our board, his claim was approved. Of course that is not very sportsmanlike so another sore pill to swallow. It deed teach me some valuable lessons.)} 0-1
I learned from the 2 losses some valuable lessons and recently I was able to profit from this acquired new knowledge. I got exactly the same opening on the board in round 8 of the Belgian interclub as in my game against Satyapragyan.
[Event "Interclub Borgerhout - Deurne"] [Date "2016"] [White "Terryn, E."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C54"] [WhiteElo "1894"] [BlackElo "2322"] [PlyCount "42"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 a6 6. Bb3 Ba7 7. h3 {(I already encountered 0-0 and Nbd2 in standard play but as in this game h3 often just transposes.)} d6 8. Nbd2 O-O 9. Nf1 d5 {(In 2010 I suffered a painful defeat in Open Leuven against Satyapragyan with h6. In my analyses I recommended d5 and I still remembered this in the game.)} 10. Qe2 Be6 11. Bg5 dxe4 12. dxe4 Bxb3 13. axb3 Qd6 14. Rd1 Qe6 15. Bxf6 Qxf6 16. Ne3 Bxe3 17. Qxe3 Rad8 18. O-O Qe6 {(Remarkable in a correspondence-game played between Hilmar Kruger and Pentti Palmo in 2008 here a draw was already agreed. It is indeed completely equal which is not the same as an automatic draw in standard chess.)} 19. c4 $6 {(This is weak and allows black to grab the initiative. e.g. Nd2 is sufficient.)} f6 20. Qc3 Rd7 21. Rd5 Ne7 { (White proposed a draw with his last move. I declined with Ne7 so Erza resigned. He could not stay as he had an urgent appointment. Pity as blacks advantage is still small and white still has reasonable chances for a draw.)} 0-1
It is pity that white had no time to continue playing but it is clear that blacks opening was a success. Coincidentally exactly the same happened in the round 9 of the Belgian interclub but this time with the same opening of my game against Hans.
[Event "Interclub Deurne - Opwijk"] [Date "2016"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Gijsen, S."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C98"] [WhiteElo "2322"] [BlackElo "2220"] [PlyCount "65"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 {(A small surprise as I was only able to find games with immediately 0-0 from Stief in the database.)} 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. d4 Qc7 12. Nbd2 Nc6 13. d5 Nd8 14. a4 Rb8 15. axb5 axb5 16. b4 Bd7 17. bxc5 {(In the previous round of the interclubs I deviate from my game of the 6th round of Open Leuven 2010. This time I do the same but with the 7th round of Open Leuven 2010 played against Hans Renette which I lost in a dramatic way.)} Qxc5 18. Ba3 Qxc3 19. Re3 Qc7 20. Bb4 {(I could not remember exactly what I studied at home but I think today this is likely the most critical test in this position.)} Re8 21. Rc3 Qb7 22. Rca3 {(The strong Swedish grandmaster Emanuel Berg already played this once in 2009 but I think Bd3 which will be played later in the game, is slightly more accurate.)} Qc8 {(This allows a repetition but maybe Qc7 is a little better.)} 23. Rc3 Qb7 24. Bd3 {(I considered the repetition but in the end decided rightly to deviate. Bd3 is a novelty in standard chess but I discovered after the game that there exist already 9 correspondence games with this move.)} Ra8 $6 {(With Rc8 or g6 black defend better although it is not easy.)} 25. Rxa8 Qxa8 26. Ra3 Qb8 {(I still found one correspondence game with Qc8 which indeed is somewhat better but in any case white keeps a clear advantage.)} 27. Qa1 Bf8 28. Ra8 Qb7 29. Qa3 Nh5 $6 {(This loses quickly. Komodo sacrifices a piece to resist longer.)} (29... Qc7 $1 30. Ba5 Qc5 31. Qxc5 dxc5 32. Rxd8 Rxd8 33. Bxd8 Bd6 $16) 30. Qa5 Nf4 31. Bf1 Be7 32. Ra7 Qc8 33. Rc7 1-0
Indeed it can take a while before we see any return from all the hard work done. I can imagine that many players don't have so much patience and prefer to quicker variate between openings instead of persist the study. Besides a good memory is vital which is not something everybody has automatically. Anyway this double victory tasted extra sweet. 


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