Thursday, July 7, 2016

14 x SOS part 2

My 17th interclub-season with Deurne has finished already a few months ago. I don't doubt that there are players in Belgium with (much) longer club-traditions but I assume very few can show a higher dedication. From 187 interclubgames I only missed 4. Once I preferred to play the French interclub instead as there was nothing anymore at stake for Deurne which wasn't the case for my French club (Luc EDN). In 2009 I skipped 2 rounds not to miss anything around the birth of my son Hugo. Finally this year I gave for the first time priority to a communion in my family. Normally I never submit to family-parties and my family also takes this into account but a communion is not something which can shift. Besides the chances to promote for Deurne were reduced to almost 0. Wachtebeke had made a gap which they surely would maintain with their mercenaries.

So in all those years I never cancelled for any illness although I do remember that I was feeling unwell a few times. By the way also this season I played a round with a vascular infection which created red bumps everywhere on my skin. Except for a ridiculous look and some people fearing unjust to get some contagious disease, I felt in good shape. In brief I am not losing yet my motivation.

Therefore it is not really a surprise that also in the last round I was eagerly playing for a win. Well theoretically there still existed a possibility to become champion but probably winning the lottery would've been easier. As my opponent was almost 200 points lower rated, a win didn't look so difficult at first sight. However ratings don't tell us everything. Gert-Jan Timmerman is maybe only rated 2135 at the day of the game but it would be very na├»ef to believe he can't play better. His opening-choice for the weird Relfsson gambit already shows that he hasn't lost any of his wizardry to get the opponent quickly out of his comfortzone.

Last year Gert-Jan achieved a modest succes by using an article of the Spanish Bird in SOS 12, see my blogarticle. This year he even did better thanks to an article of the Ukrainian grandmaster Adrian Mikhalchishin (today playing for Slovenia) published in SOS 11. In fairness I have immediately to add that Gert-Jans play played a much larger role in the result than the opening as more than gaining some time was not achieved contrary to last year.

No, I still didn't study the SOS books but one of the disadvantages of the Relfsson gambit is that black can still choose to transpose to more common lines of the Spanish. After 10 minutes reflection that is also the practical choice I made. Gert-Jans reaction was not a surprise as in my preparation I bumped upon an old correspondence-game of 1981 which he played against his big nemesis Joop van Oosterom.
[Event "Netherlands ch-10 1981-82"] [Site "corr"] [Date "1981"] [White "Timmerman, Gert Jan (NED)"] [Black "Van Oosterom, Joop J. (NED)"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C84"] [PlyCount "81"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d4 exd4 7. Re1 O-O { (My preparation continued with the more popular b5.)} 8. e5 Ne8 9. Bf4 b5 10. Bb3 d5 11. c3 Bg4 12. h3 Bh5 13. g4 Bg6 14. cxd4 Nb4 15. Bg3 a5 16. a3 Nd3 17. Re2 a4 18. Ba2 b4 19. axb4 Nxb4 20. Nc3 a3 21. bxa3 Rxa3 22. Bb3 Rxa1 23. Qxa1 c6 24. Na2 Qa5 25. Bh4 Bxh4 26. Nxh4 Qb5 27. Qd1 Nxa2 28. Rxa2 Nc7 29. Nf5 Ne6 30. Ra4 Bxf5 31. gxf5 Nf4 32. Qf3 Nd3 33. Bc2 Ne1 34. Qd1 Qb2 35. Be4 Qc3 36. Bg2 h6 37. f6 Nd3 38. Qg4 g5 39. Qh5 Qe1 40. Kh2 Qxf2 41. Qxh6 1/2-1/2
In my article using databases part 2 I already mentioned that I also study as part of a preparation my opponents correspondence games if he has any. This allowed me to quickly catch up time. I assume this also explains why Gert-Jan once again deviates a bit later from the mainline. Risky as not only slightly inferior but most likely also not part anymore of the preparation. Anyway it worked. I still had encountered the position before in online blitz but never studied it properly. Eventually an interesting battle appeared on the board in which I was never able to prove my higher rating.
[Event "Interclub KOSK - Deurne"] [Date "2016"] [White "Timmerman, G."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C84"] [WhiteElo "2135"] [BlackElo "2319"] [PlyCount "136"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bb5 {(Just like last year Gert-Jan again surprises with a rare system from the SOS books. On the internet some people call it the Relfson gambit. I have met it a dozen times in online blitz but I never did any effort to study it.)} a6 {(The most popular continuation and also the most simple answer if you meet this gambit for the first time as we can now transpose to more familiar Spanish territory. That is a weak spot of the chosen SOS-system which was partly compensated by the 10 extra minutes I spent to play this move. Theoretically Bc5 is likely more critical but I can not find a clear way for black to any advantage.)} 5. Ba4 Nf6 {(In my preparation I had reviewed a correspondence game of Gert-Jan played in 1981 against Joost Van Oosterom. In that game white also played a quick d4 in the Spanish so it is normal that I am not avoiding a transposition. However again Bc5 must be considered the more critical answer while still no clear advantage for black can be shown.)} 6. e5 {(More popular is 0-0 but I was also familiar with e5.)} Ne4 7. O-O Be7 8. Re1 {(The more critical and more popular Nxd4 was still part of my preparation for this game. Re1 I had already encountered about 50 times in online games so I did know some possible scenarios. However deep analysis of this line were only created after this game.)} Nc5 9. Bxc6 dxc6 10. Nxd4 O-O {(The most popular and blacks best scoring continuation. Still I think Ne6 is slightly more accurate to get some kind of improved Berlin position for black.)} 11. Nc3 f5 {(There exist several alternatives of which Re8 is the most popular. In online blitz I had experienced quite some tactical problems with Re8 so logically I chose for the more quiet f5.)} 12. exf6 {(This move was a surprise and was not yet played online against me. The open position seems to favor blacks pair of bishops but things are more tricky as black can not develop his pieces easily. Gert-Jan already spent quite some time so I assume that he built this concept on the board.)} Bxf6 13. Be3 Ne6 { (This blocks the bishop but I could not find anything better after spending a dozen minutes. Later I found in the databases that the move was played in practically each game so there is nothing wrong with it.)} 14. Nce2 {(The alternative Nf3 is also already tested in practice.)} Nxd4 {(I was not satisfied during the game about this rushed move to develop the queen-side. My engines judge the move as fully playable but in practice it is much more difficult. I recommended after the game Re8 but today c5 looks to me the cleanest solution.)} (14... c5 $5 15. Nxe6 Bxe6 16. Bxc5 $5 {(This creates some big tactics which is not easy to calculate at the board.)} Bxb2 17. Rb1 $5 (17. Bxf8 $5 Bxa1 18. Qxa1 Qxf8 $13) 17... Qxd1 18. Rexd1 Rfd8 19. Rxd8 Rxd8 20. f3 Be5 21. Rxb7 $13) 15. Bxd4 Be6 {(I wanted to play here already Bg5 but then after Ng3 I get problems to get my pieces of the queen-side into play.)} 16. c3 Bg5 {(I do not want to miss a second chance to preserve the pair of bishops. I consider the pair of bishops as a backup to achieve opposite bishops in the endgame when the position becomes difficult. The game shows this is a weak strategy. Whites pieces become more active hereafter and as long there are heavy pieces on the board, opposite bishops are not guaranteeing an easy draw at all. Wiser was not to avoid the exchange. The bishop is slightly stronger than a knight on an open board which is sufficient compensation for the slightly compromised pawnstructure.)} 17. Ng3 $5 { (More critical is Nf4.)} (17. Nf4 $5 Bxa2 18. Nh3 Bd5 19. Bxg7 Kxg7 20. Qg4 $13) 17... Bd5 $6 {(It is not easy to play with black. More accurate is Re8.)} 18. Qd3 $6 {(I feared during the game Qg4 which indeed is a bit stronger.)} (18. Qg4 $1 Rf4 19. Qe2 b5 $5 20. a4 $1 Rf7 $14) 18... Qd7 19. Rad1 Qf7 20. b3 Rae8 21. c4 Rxe1 $6 {(I hope by the exchanges to get closer to the opposite bishop-endgame but this also allows white to grab the initiative. Better is Be6 but that does not really match blacks previous move.)} 22. Rxe1 Be6 23. Be3 $6 {(I assume white feared Rd8 but more active are Ne4 or especially Re4.)} (23. Ne4 $5 Bf5 24. Qg3 Bxe4 25. Qxg5 Qg6 $14 {(I think this endgame is easier to defend than what appears later in the game on the board.)}) 23... Bh4 $6 {(I clearly want the opposite bishops. After the game we both agreed that waiting was better. Rd8 and b5 are recommended by the engines with better chances to maintain equality.)} 24. Qe4 Bxg3 {(I proposed a draw but Gert-Jan refused politely. Of course Gert-Jan knew that he did not risk anything by continuing the game. Besides black has no clear path to force a draw. Well you never know without asking a draw if the rating-difference and the lag of incentives would influence the ambitions of my opponent.)} 25. hxg3 Re8 26. Bf4 Bd7 27. Qb1 Rxe1 $6 {(The endgame must be defensible but it is not easy. This exchange is probably unavoidable in the long end but wiser would be waiting for better circumstances.)} 28. Qxe1 Bf5 {(I try to avoid time-trouble so therefore play more quickly but miss hereby completely whites next move. Even with strongly reduced material there are often still some tactics. My engines tell me that my move is not a serious mistake as they expect that I will lose the pawn sooner or later anyway. However again I do not maximize my chances by making things easy for white.)} 29. Bxc7 Qd7 30. Bf4 Kf7 31. Kh2 Qe7 32. Qd2 Qd7 33. Qe3 Qd1 34. f3 Qd7 35. Qb6 h6 36. Bc7 Bb1 37. a3 Qc8 38. Be5 Bc2 39. Bb2 Qd7 40. Qe3 Kg8 41. b4 Bd3 42. c5 Bf5 43. Qe5 Be6 44. g4 Bd5 45. Kg3 Qf7 46. Bd4 Be6 47. f4 Bd5 48. f5 Kh7 49. Kf2 {(White has made quite some progression. Here g5 is already interesting but Gert-Jan prefers to wait still a bit with making any big decisions.)} (49. g5 $5 hxg5 50. Kg4 Qf8 {(Black can not take on g2 due to Qh2. That trick was later missed by both of us but at that time it did not matter anymore.)} 51. Kxg5 Bxg2 52. Qc7 {(Now Qh2 is weaker.)} (52. Qh2 Kg8 53. Qxg2 Qd8 $11) 52... Bd5 53. f6 Qf7 54. Qxf7 Bxf7 55. fxg7 {(I was afraid during the game of this scenario as I considered the position lost by defending passively.)} Kg8 56. Kf6 Bc4 57. Ke7 a5 {(The sacrifice of the a-pawn weakens the pawn-structure of white and allows a fortress.)} (57... Bb5 58. Kd6 Kf7 $2 59. Kc7 Kg8 (59... a5 {(This is now too late.)} 60. a4 {(Is chess not fantastic? Indeed the other rook-pawn forces the decisive break and now white does win.)} Bxa4 (60... Ba6 61. b5 cxb5 62. axb5 Bxb5 63. Kxb7 $18) 61. bxa5 $18) 60. Kxb7 Kf7 61. Kb6 Kg8 62. Ka5 Kf7 63. a4 Bc4 64. Kb6 $18 {(I had seen this position in my calculations during the game.)}) 58. bxa5 Ba6 $11 {(Black can not run out of moves.)}) 49... Qd7 50. g3 Qf7 51. Ke3 Ba2 $6 {(It is not a surprise that black errors here. The bristol-clearance with the idea of Qb3 is cute but insufficient. A few moves later I do discover the right idea but then it is already too late.)} (51... Bb3 $1 {(The only move to keep decent drawing chances.)} 52. Kf4 Bd1 53. Qe6 {(Not obligatory but black needs always to consider this possibility.)} (53. g5 hxg5 54. Kxg5 Qh5 {(The idea behind Bd1.)} 55. Kf4 Qf3 56. Kg5 Qg4#) 53... Bb3 54. Qxf7 Bxf7 55. Ke5 a5 {(Again this sacrifice of the a-pawn is vital for the defense.)} 56. bxa5 Bc4 57. Kd6 {(The engines show a big advantage for white but to me it looks a fortress.)}) 52. Kf4 Bd5 {(More stubborn is Qf8 if I follow up with the same moves as the engines of course.)} 53. g5 {(Here I realized that a defeat would be unavoidable without some help of my opponent.)} hxg5 54. Kxg5 Bb3 {(Too late. Now I do realize that a check on h5 would be useful but white does not permit this anymore.)} 55. g4 Bc2 {(White only has to play g5-g6 and the black position collapses. Bc2 hinders this plan but fails because of another refutation.)} 56. Kf4 {(Immediately after the game Gert-Jan told me that he missed the direct win Qh2. Fortunately the position is still easily won otherwise this could have been very sorrow.)} Qd7 57. g5 Kg8 58. Qb8 {(G6 can be answered by Bxf5 but white is now again alert.)} Kf7 59. g6 Ke7 60. Qe5 Kd8 61. Qb8 Ke7 62. Qd6 { (Of course no repetition. White still has enough time left so calculates correctly that black has no draw anymore after exchanging the queens.)} Qxd6 63. cxd6 Kxd6 64. Bxg7 Kd7 65. Kg5 Ke8 66. Bd4 Kf8 67. f6 Bb3 68. Kf4 b5 {(I did not wait anymore for Gert-Jans next move and resigned. Mate is already seen at the horizon. )} 1-0
After the game a smiling Gert-Jan told me that this was his best game of the season. Some nasty problems needed to be solved without Gert-Jan using any difficult tactics. A computer often doesn't see any difference in evaluation between several choices but in practice we do notice that some positions are much easier to play than others. When in one line you can play quiet moves to keep the balance, in another line you need to apply some deep typical computer-tactics. As a human you better avoid of course the latter.

As reported in my last article, ratings of amateurs are often more suffering due to aging than professionals. However as the calculation powers maybe declined, above game clearly demonstrates that Gert-Jan hasn't lost any or only very little of his chess-knowledge. For sure this game isn't a strong advertising for the SOS-books.


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