Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Risks part 2

20 years I already play exclusively 1.e4 with white. With black I have been answering 1.e4 at least as long by only 1...e5. If you combine this with my elaborated current opening-studies (see studying openings part 2) and I am FM then it is expected that no more big surprises can happen after 1.e4 e5 for me. Still my young opponent Mardoek Thienpondt managed to play me out of book in the 7th round of Open Gent after exactly 3 moves with an old forgotten gambit. Old can be this time be replaced by prehistoric. In the article old wine in new skins we went back to 1962 and 1918. In the article old wine in new skins part 2 we were briefly in 1955. This time we return to 1856. Yes we are talking here about a gambit played a few times by Paul Morphy. I selected his most spectacular one from the 4 games in the mega-database with this gambit.
[Event "London m1"] [Site "London"] [Date "1858"] [White "Morphy, Paul"] [Black "Barnes, Thomas Wilson"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C55"] [PlyCount "75"] 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nxe4 4. Nc3 {(A dubious gambit but it creates of course practical chances.)} Nxc3 5. dxc3 f6 6. O-O Nc6 7. Nh4 Qe7 8. Nf5 Qc5 9. Bb3 d5 10. Be3 Qa5 11. Nh4 Be6 12. Qh5 g6 13. Nxg6 Bf7 14. Qh4 Bxg6 15. Qxf6 Rg8 16. Rad1 Be7 17. Qe6 Bf7 18. Qh3 Nd8 19. f4 e4 20. Rxd5 Bxd5 21. Qh5 Kf8 22. Bxd5 Rg7 23. b4 Qa6 24. f5 Nf7 25. f6 Bxf6 26. b5 Qd6 27. Bxf7 b6 28. Bh6 Ke7 29. Bxg7 Bxg7 30. Bb3 Rf8 31. Rf7 Rxf7 32. Qxf7 Kd8 33. Qxg7 Qd1 34. Kf2 Qd2 35. Kg3 e3 36. Qf6 Kc8 37. Be6 Kb7 38. Qf3 1-0
In my private database of online games I notice that I met this line a number of times in blitz/ bullet but I never put any effort in studying this opening. I considered the opening as harmless and fun is for me the most important reason to play blitz online (see the (non)-sense of blitz). 

My teammate the Belgian FM Daniel Sadkowski at the other hand did know something about the opening as he could explain me the critical line of this opening. Daniel already plays chess for 40 years. Besides he still has been playing in the era when computers didn't play any role so at that time those gambits were much easier to play. Nevertheless I was slightly puzzled that somebody often varying (e.g Daniel answered 1.e4 already with c5, e6, g6, c6, Nf6 and e5) knows more about some overlapping repertoire than I do with my scientific approach. It again proves what I already stated before in my article a Dutch gambit. My repertoire is like cheese with holes and my method of study isn't optimized for practical chess.

The first official worldchampion Willem Steinitz told us that a sacrifice is best refuted by accepting it. Normally if we follow the power-play method this would mean that I have to accept the gambit but in the meanwhile I also know this is a good receipt for a disaster if you don't have any foreknowledge. Today opening-knowledge and preparation are playing a much bigger role. Besides it is not very scientific to try to refute a gambit at the board and fall into a trap after a couple of moves. No practically often refusing the gambit is more clever if possible when you meet it for the first time. I also chose cowardly running away from the complications.
[Event "Open Gent 7de ronde"] [Date "2016"] [White "Thienpondt, M."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "1923"] [BlackElo "2314"] [PlyCount "98"] 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. Nf3 {(I have not met this move before in a standard game.)} Nxe4 4. Nc3 {(A gambit from the romantic era played a couple of times even by Paul Morphy.)} Nf6 $6 {(A practical choice if you never studied this gambit. Critical is of course accepting the gambit and I do not see full compensation for white against accurate play.)} 5. Nxe5 d5 6. Be2 {(The preparation of white could not have been long as he spent here a lot of time to produce a move. Bb3 is more popular but it is not necessarily better.)} Be7 7. d4 O-O 8. O-O Re8 9. Bf3 c6 10. Qd3 Nbd7 11. Bf4 Nxe5 12. Bxe5 Nd7 13. Bg3 Nf8 14. Rfe1 Be6 15. Re2 Qd7 16. Rae1 Bf5 17. Qd2 $6 {(White has not played the opening optimally and now has to play accurately to avoid standing worse. Here the clever Qd1 is stronger to protect the bishop on f3 indirectly.)} Ne6 18. Re5 Ng5 $2 {(Too hasty. I already saw in the reflection period of my opponent that there exists a refutation. First supporting the bishop with g6 would have given black a clear advantage.)} (18... g6 $1 19. R5e2 Ng5 20. Nd1 h5 $5 21. Ne3 $1 Bh3 22. Be5 $15) 19. Bxd5 Bf6 20. Rxe8 Rxe8 21. Rxe8 Qxe8 22. Bc4 b5 23. Bf1 $6 { (The active Bb3 is stronger to maintain some advantage.)} Qd7 $2 {(I miss again a trick based on the weak back-rank. Better was Qd8 with almost equality.)} 24. Ne2 $2 {(Fortunately for me white missed this time the opportunity.)} (24. Qf4 $1 Bxc2 25. d5 {(I admit that this key-move is not easy to foresee, nor to evaluate properly.)} cxd5 26. Qb8 Qd8 27. Nxd5 Qxb8 28. Nxf6 gxf6 29. Bxb8 a6 30. f3 $16 {(Material is equal but the endgame is terrible for black.)}) 24... Ne4 25. Qf4 $6 {(Too late. Now the passive Qd1 is recommended. I assume white saw my 27th move too late.)} Nxg3 26. Nxg3 Bxc2 27. Nh5 Bd8 28. g3 $6 { (White has to take extreme measures with d5 to avoid worse.)} h6 $2 {(Too modestly played. More energetic is Bf5 with a much larger advantage.)} 29. Qe5 f6 30. Qc5 $2 {(White dances on a tightrope as only Qe2 is sufficient to keep the balance.)} Be4 31. Nf4 $6 {(More stubborn is Qc3.)} Bb6 32. Qc1 Qxd4 33. Nh3 a6 34. Bg2 Bf5 35. Qe1 Kh7 36. Nf4 Qxb2 37. Bxc6 Qxa2 38. Be4 Bxf2 39. Qxf2 Qxf2 40. Kxf2 Bxe4 41. Ke3 Bh1 42. Ne6 b4 43. Nc5 a5 44. Kd4 Kg6 45. Kc4 Bc6 46. Nd3 Kf5 47. Kc5 Ke4 48. Nf2 Kf3 49. Nd3 Be4 0-1
After having played this game I have studied the opening seriously so I will be better armed for the future and hopefully will get a quicker advantage with black. This time we just played chess in which the competitive part with its load of mistakes dominated.

I expect few will regret the deviation of the critical lines by this "coward" way of play if this creates again original play in which both parties are playing independently.  However a deviation of the critical lines doesn't guarantee always a good fight. A recent example of this can be found in a game played a couple of months ago in the Masters Final at BilbaoThe Russian top-grandmaster Sergey Karjakin will get a shot for the world-title in November but his game against the American top-grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura won't be very comforting for his fans.
[Event "Bilbao"] [Site "Bilbao ESP"] [Date "2016.07.17"] [Round "5"] [White "Sergey Karjakin"] [Black "Hikaru Nakamura"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2773"] [BlackElo "2787"] [PlyCount "36"] [EventDate "2016.07.13"] 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. d4 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. Qc2 Nc6 9. a3 Qa5 10. Rd1 Re8 11. Nd2 e5 12. Bg5 Nd4 13. Qa4 {(Kasparov calls this move cowardly in his book "My Great Predecessors Part 5" while commenting the worldchampionship-game between Korchnoi and Karpov played in 1978 at Baguio.)} Qxa4 14. Nxa4 Nc2 15. Ke2 Nd4 16. Ke1 Nc2 17. Ke2 Nd4 18. Ke1 Nc2 {(Hikaru did understand Sergeys choice. It is today very risky to enter the complications after 13.Qb1 if you did not check them in advance with an engine.)} 1/2-1/2
What a big difference we see in the reaction of Korchnoi upon being hit by a novelty prepared by the team of the then reigning worldchampion Anatoly Karpov in the bizarre worldchampionship of 1978. He wasn't afraid of the complications and achieved one of his greatest victories.
[Event "World Championship 29th"] [Site "Baguio City"] [Date "1978.09.12"] [Round "21"] [White "Korchnoi, Viktor"] [Black "Karpov, Anatoly"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2665"] [BlackElo "2725"] [PlyCount "119"] 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. d4 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. Qc2 Nc6 9. Rd1 Qa5 10. a3 Re8 {(A discovery of Zaitsev belonging to Karpovs team.)} 11. Nd2 e5 12. Bg5 Nd4 13. Qb1 {(White has no fear and does not avoid the complications.)} Bf5 14. Bd3 e4 15. Bc2 Nxc2 16. Qxc2 Qa6 17. Bxf6 Qxf6 18. Nb3 Bd6 19. Rxd5 Re5 20. Nd4 Rc8 21. Rxe5 Qxe5 22. Nxf5 Qxf5 23. O-O Rxc4 24. Rd1 Qe5 25. g3 a6 26. Qb3 b5 27. a4 Rb4 28. Qd5 Qxd5 29. Rxd5 Bf8 30. axb5 a5 31. Rd8 Rxb2 32. Ra8 f5 33. Rxa5 Bb4 34. Ra8 Kf7 35. Na4 Rb1 36. Kg2 Bd6 37. Ra7 Kf6 38. b6 Bb8 39. Ra8 Be5 40. Nc5 Bd6 41. b7 Ke7 42. Rg8 Be5 43. f4 exf3 44. Kxf3 Kf7 45. Rc8 Ke7 46. h3 h5 47. Rg8 Kf7 48. Rd8 g5 49. g4 hxg4 50. hxg4 Ke7 51. Rg8 fxg4 52. Kxg4 Kf7 53. Rc8 Bd6 54. e4 Rg1 55. Kf5 g4 56. e5 Rf1 57. Ke4 Re1 58. Kd5 Rd1 59. Nd3 Rxd3 60. Kc4 1-0
In My Great Predecessors Part 5 Kasparov considers 13. Qa4 a cowardly move to force the draw. However I think it is an exaggeration to state Karjakin is a coward and not a worthy challenger for our current worldchampion Carlsen. The foreknowledge of Nakamura was surely much bigger than what Anatoy knew when introducing the idea. Besides Karjakin experienced not long ago what can happen when you are not up to date of the theory, coincidence or not exactly against the same opponent see harakiri.

In part 1 I promoted taking risks to make chess more attractive. In this article I wanted to demonstrate we should put the opening into a separate chapter of risk-management. Modern practice proves we need to be extra careful in the opening. Maximizing your score unfortunately means we sometimes need to lock the game.


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