Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Avrukh part 2

The Dutch Stonewall is not a popular opening at grandmaster practice. Thus theoretical developments only happen slowly. However also the character of the opening plays a role herein. Tactical refutations are rare compared with more open types of schemes. We have rather a battle between plans than exact moves.

1 of the last big shifts in the Dutch stonewall was the rise of the b6 systems which largely replaced the old Bc8-d7-e8-h5 (g6) systems. I wrote about this in my article manuals. Today I believe we experience a new shift. More and more white chooses to leave the classical setups with knights on e5 and d3 to control the black squares and instead chooses a more dynamic type of position recommended by Avrukh.

In my article of 2012 I already wrote that we saw an increase of 150% of this unorthodox system in the databases after the publication of Avrukhs book and this trend still continues. There are 50 games (+2300 elo) played in 2015 with this openingline in the database. That is more than 4-fold of what we see in the years before 2010.

This evolution doesn't surprise me. It is not easy psychologically to play the Dutch Stonewall when you are forced to drop the standard schemes. Whites score in my opening-book is more than 62% on + 400 games (+2300 elo) which only boosts the popularity. Also in Belgium I see a number of players picking up white. Grandmaster Bart Michiels is probably the strongest and most known supporter. His recent game against the reigning Flemish champion Ashote Draftian, a very big fan of the (Dutch) stonewall demonstrates well whites chances in this line.
[Event "39th Eastman Open"] [Date "2016.07.18"] [White "Michiels, Bart"] [Black "Draftian, Ashote"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A81"] [WhiteElo "2524"] [BlackElo "2283"] [PlyCount "122"] 1. d4 f5 2. g3 e6 3. Bg2 Nf6 4. c4 d5 5. Nf3 Bd6 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3 c6 8. Qc2 Ne4 9. Rb1 Qe7 10. b4 Bd7 11. b5 Be8 12. a4 Nd7 13. c5 Bc7 14. bxc6 bxc6 15. Rb7 {(White exits the opening with a nice edge but he is not able to keep it.)} Qd8 16. Nxe4 fxe4 17. Ng5 Rf6 18. Be3 h6 19. Nh3 Nf8 20. Bf4 Bxf4 21. Nxf4 g5 22. Nh3 Rf7 23. Rxf7 Bxf7 24. f3 exf3 25. exf3 Rb8 26. f4 Bg6 27. Qd1 Rb1 28. Qd2 g4 29. Nf2 Rxf1 30. Bxf1 Bf5 31. Qb4 Qc7 32. Ba6 Nd7 33. Kf1 Kf7 34. Be2 h5 35. h3 Nf6 36. hxg4 Nxg4 37. Bxg4 hxg4 38. a5 Ke7 39. Nd1 Bd3 40. Ke1 Kf6 41. Ne3 Qh7 $4 {(The decisive blunder. Bf5 is still equal.)} 42. Nxg4 Kf5 43. Nf2 Be4 44. Qb8 Qh2 45. Qe5 Kg6 46. Qxe6 Kg7 47. Qf6 Kg8 48. Ke2 Qg2 49. Qg5 Kf8 50. Qg4 Qg1 51. Nxe4 dxe4 52. Qf5 Kg8 53. Qxe4 Qa1 54. Qxc6 Qb2 55. Kf3 Qc3 56. Kg4 Qd2 57. Qe6 Kf8 58. Qf6 Ke8 59. Qe6 Kf8 60. c6 Qd1 61. Kg5 Kg7 1-0
Of course Bart is the stronger player but I assume Ahsote wasn't up to date of the theory as otherwise he would not enter the line with 10.b4. Obviously I play the opening completely different. Studying openings is today a big part of my study-time. Contrary to Ashote I do use extensively foreknowledge in my games. An extreme example is surely my game of Open Gent played in round 5 against Johan Goormachtigh in which I spent less that a quarter.
[Event "Open Gent 5de ronde"] [Date "2016"] [White "Goormachtigh, J."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A90"] [WhiteElo "2189"] [BlackElo "2314"] [PlyCount "42"] 1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 e6 4. Nf3 d5 5. O-O Bd6 6. c4 c6 7. Nc3 O-O 8. Qc2 Nbd7 {(Johan already met in his practice the most popular move Ne4 in 2013 by Jan Rogiers according to my megadatabase so his chosen line is not a surprise for me.)} 9. cxd5 {(Rb1 was played end of last year against me by Raf De Coninck. Cxd5 is considered as critical by the theory but of course I knew an anti-dote.)} cxd5 10. Nb5 Bb8 11. Bf4 Bxf4 12. gxf4 Ne8 13. Rfc1 Nb6 14. Nc7 Nxc7 15. Qxc7 Nc4 16. Qxd8 Rxd8 17. b3 Nd6 18. Rc2 $146 {(The first new move as in 1928 Ne5 was played by the Polish/French grandmaster Saviely Tartakower.)} Bd7 19. e3 Rac8 20. Rac1 Rxc2 21. Rxc2 Rc8 {(I only spent 10 minutes for all the moves. The endgame is pretty sterile. A half point was acceptable for me with the tournament-situation but the line can be a disadvantage if you really want to win with black.)} 1/2-1/2
I will not claim at all that Nbd7 is the end of whites concept but the anti-dote used in most sources (as the one of Avrukh) is totally inadequate. The old game Efim Bogljubov - Savielly Tartakower played in 1924 is often used as model but nobody seems to be aware of the game Savielly Tartakower - Alfred Brinckmann played in 1928 which shows a totally different evaluation. Maybe this has to do with the different move-sequence but any database consists today of tools to bypass this problem.

By complete chance I got the same opening another time on the board in the last round of the same tournament. First I wanted to vary my play but as I was out of contention for the prizes (due to a discrimination based on Belgium ratings) I decided to check what my opponent has prepared. A mini-thematic tournament looked at first appealing to me but it became a disappointment.
[Event "Open Gent 9de ronde"] [Date "2016"] [White "Clemens, A."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A90"] [WhiteElo "2170"] [BlackElo "2314"] [PlyCount "46"] 1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 e6 4. c4 d5 5. Nf3 c6 6. O-O Bd6 7. Nc3 {(After the game Adrian told me that he saw Bart playing this in round 5 successfully against Ashote Draftian so he also wanted to give it a shot. However he did not know that I already met it in the same round against Johan Goormachtigh.)} O-O 8. Qc2 Nbd7 {(I doubted several minutes here as I was not sure if it is safe to repeat the same choice as in my game against Johan. Maybe Adrian prepared something against it. In the end I anyway again played Nbd7 as the analysis of the alternatives were not easy to remember and there were no prizes anymore to win for me.)} 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. Nb5 Bb8 11. Bf4 Bxf4 12. gxf4 Ne8 13. Rfc1 Nb6 14. Nc7 Nxc7 15. Qxc7 Nc4 16. Qxd8 Rxd8 17. b3 Nd6 18. Ne5 {(Only here Adrian deviated from my game against Johan. As already written in the comments of Johans game this Ne5 was also played in 1928 by Saviely Tartakower.)} Bd7 $146 {(Although here I deviate myself from the old game. Alfred Brinckmann played the weaker Ne8. I discovered the move earlier at home with the help of my engines.)} 19. Rc7 Bb5 20. e3 Rac8 21. Rac1 Rxc7 22. Rxc7 Rc8 23. Rxc8 Nxc8 {(2 draws with black against FMs is not bad. On the other hand I spoil a chance to play real chess and I already play few games.)} 1/2-1/2
Adrian did not know about my game against Johan Goormachtigh despite it was published via the live-broadcasting. He just chose the line because he saw a few rounds earlier Bart winning against Ashote with it. At move 18 I improve on the earlier mentioned game Tartakower - Brinckmann with something I had studied at home and a few moves later the game was dead already. Again I used only 10 minutes for the complete game which afterwards did feel a bit awkward especially as I would not be able to play chess anymore till the new season.

2 solid comfortable draws against FMs and earlier this season a very quick victory over Raf De Coninck (see resigning) is a promising start for this concept. On the other hand it does not offer a solution against mainly lower rated players which are only looking for a draw. I did not continue the endgames as they offer very few opportunities to play for a win. However I do remember one online blitz-game in which I managed to do the impossible although with some help of my opponent.
[Event "Rated game, 3 min"] [Site "Main Playing Hall"] [Date "2016.01.11"] [White "Adnan___n"] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A90"] [WhiteElo "2128"] [BlackElo "2384"] [PlyCount "126"] 1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 e6 4. Nf3 d5 5. O-O Bd6 6. c4 c6 7. Qc2 O-O 8. Nc3 Nbd7 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. Nb5 Bb8 11. Bf4 Bxf4 12. gxf4 Ne8 13. Rac1 Nb6 14. Nc7 Nxc7 15. Qxc7 Nc4 16. Qxd8 Rxd8 17. b3 Nd6 18. Ne5 Bd7 19. a4 Be8 20. Rc7 Kf8 21. Rfc1 Rdc8 22. e3 Rxc7 23. Rxc7 Rc8 24. Rxc8 Nxc8 25. Bf1 Nd6 26. Bd3 Ke7 27. Kf1 a5 28. Ke2 b6 29. Kd2 h6 30. h4 Kf6 31. Kc3 g5 32. fxg5 hxg5 33. hxg5 Kxg5 34. f4 Kh4 35. Nf3 Kg3 36. Ng5 Bd7 37. Kd2 Kf2 38. Nh3 Kg2 39. Ng5 Kg3 40. Be2 Kf2 41. Nh3 Kg3 42. Ng5 Kh4 43. Nf3 Kh3 44. Ng5 Kg3 45. Bh5 Kf2 46. Bf7 Ne4 47. Nxe4 fxe4 48. f5 {(White is trying to win but he miss my f4. Otherwise it is of course a draw.)} exf5 49. Bxd5 f4 50. exf4 e3 51. Kc3 e2 52. Bc4 e1=Q 53. Kb2 Qd2 54. Ka3 Qxd4 55. Bf7 Qxf4 56. Bc4 Qd6 57. Kb2 Qb4 58. Kc2 Bxa4 59. Be6 Bc6 60. Kd3 a4 61. Bc4 axb3 62. Bd5 b2 63. Bxc6 b1=Q# 0-1
So I recommend to also know an alternative when you want to play for a win with black. The mainline with Ne4 surely offers more chances if of course you know the theory. Anyway it also looks prudent to not always play the same line and use the element of surprise in your games.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Comebacks part 2

Bad advertising is also advertising but I have my doubts when it is about chess. If you don't hear anything else about chess then as a parent you would not allow your children to play chess. Chess is of course much more than these incidents. In the previous olympiad we had more tension and drama than in any top-sport see e.g. tiebrake-system decides the olympiad. However nothing about this was mentioned in the media. Even in US nothing was reported while their team won gold. Well almost nothing as the New York Times had a very sad article about it. Instead of congratulations we were able to read how the journalist ridiculed the magnificent performance of the team by insinuating that US bought gold by importing foreign top-players.

It is a missed opportunity to show to the American public that chess can still be exciting and beautiful today. It really isn't very hard for a big newspaper to have a good and easy to understand annotation of a few of their best games. There exists definitely enough stuff to write a good story. Besides there wasn't any lack of drama either. I already mentioned the nerve-racking conclusion of the tie-brake but not less entertaining was the comeback in the game of the strong American grandmaster Samuel Shankland against the strong Indian grandmaster Sethuraman. 11 moves (from 23 till 34) white is completely busted. Some engines even show winning-evaluations for black of 18 points at some point of time but finally white still wins.
[Event "42nd Olympiad"] [Date "2016.09.09"] [White "Shankland, Samuel L"] [Black "Sethuraman, S P."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D12"] [WhiteElo "2679"] [BlackElo "2640"] [PlyCount "149"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bg4 5. cxd5 cxd5 6. Nc3 e6 7. Qa4 Nbd7 8. Ne5 a6 9. f3 Bf5 10. g4 Bg6 11. h4 b5 12. Qd1 b4 13. h5 Bxh5 14. Nxd7 Nxd7 15. Rxh5 bxc3 16. bxc3 Qc7 17. Bd2 Bd6 18. Bd3 Nb6 19. Ke2 h6 20. g5 Kd7 21. gxh6 gxh6 22. Rb1 Rag8 23. Bxa6 $4 {(After taking this poisoned pawn white is lost.)} Rg2 24. Kd3 Ra8 25. Bb5 Kd8 26. Rxh6 Rxa2 27. Rh8 Ke7 28. Re8 Kf6 29. Be1 Kg7 30. f4 f5 31. Qb3 Qf7 {(This wins but after Rh2 some engines demonstrate a monster-score of 18 points of advantage for black.)} (31... Rh2 32. Rxe6 {(Ra8 is the best move if you believe the engines but nobody will play such move of course.)} Ra3 33. Rb2 (33. Qd1 Qc4 34. Bxc4 dxc4#) 33... Rxb3 34. Rxh2 { (If the black rook was still at g2 then this was check.)} (34. Rxb3 Qc4 35. Bxc4 dxc4# ) 34... Rxb5 35. Rg2 Kf7 36. Rgg6 Qc4 37. Kd2 Nd7 38. Rxd6 Rb2 39. Kc1 Qe2 40. Rxd7 Kxg6 41. Rd6 Kh5 42. Rh6 Kxh6 43. Bd2 Qxd2#) 32. Qd1 Nc4 33. Rd8 Be7 34. Rd7 Rab2 $4 {(Qf8 was still winning. Now it is again equal and in the next moves black loses the thread of the game.)} 35. Bxc4 dxc4 36. Kxc4 Qe8 37. Rxb2 Rxb2 38. Qa1 Rb8 39. Qa7 Kf8 40. Kd3 Ra8 41. Qb7 Rb8 42. Qh1 Qxd7 43. Qh8 Kf7 44. Qxb8 Qc6 45. Qb2 Qe4 46. Kd2 Qg2 47. Kc1 Qf1 48. Kd1 Qd3 49. Qd2 Qc4 50. Qe2 Qa4 51. Qc2 Qc4 52. Kd2 Qf1 53. Qd3 Qh1 54. Qe2 Qe4 55. Qh2 Qb7 56. Ke2 Qb2 57. Bd2 Qb5 58. Kf2 Kg6 59. Qg2 Kf7 60. Qf3 Bh4 61. Kg2 Qd3 62. Qh5 Kf8 63. Qd1 Kg7 64. Qg1 Qxd2 65. Kh3 Kf8 66. Kxh4 Qxc3 67. Kh5 Qc6 68. Kh6 Qf3 69. Qg7 Ke8 70. Qe5 Kd7 71. Kg7 Qg4 72. Kf8 Qh4 73. Qg7 Kd6 74. Ke8 Qh5 75. Qf7 1-0
A loss instead of the win would've given 16 tie-brake-points less for US if the other results are kept identical. In other words this luck helped US to grab the gold as they only had 9 tie-brake-points more than Ukraine at the end.

At Chess.com Samuel explained that he has saved such bad positions before in his career but never against the caliber of Sethuraman. At some moment you just stop calculating and play a move which doesn't lose on the spot.

In a previous article the sadistic exam I wrote that competitive chess can be emotionally very tough. A well played game can be destroyed by just one stupid move without any chance to recover. However at least as dramatic is not winning a won position because you can't finish off your opponent. Emanuel Lasker told us that the most difficult is to win a won game. Nevertheless it is incomprehensible what happened in my game against Vermaat. 27 moves (from 22 till 49) I have a completely won position but for some reason I can't find the k.o.
[Event "Open Gent 8ste ronde"] [Date "2016"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Vermaat, M."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B85"] [WhiteElo "2314"] [BlackElo "2190"] [PlyCount "149"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 {(In our previous mutual game of 2011 Marcel chose e6.)} 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 {(I could not find any older games of Marcel in the database with this move. Anyway there are not many games altogether of him in the database.)} 6. Be2 e6 7. O-O Nc6 8. Be3 Be7 9. f4 Qc7 10. Qe1 O-O 11. Qg3 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 b5 13. a3 Bb7 14. Kh1 Rac8 {(In 2013 I met the more popular Rad8 by Johan Goormachtigh also played in Gent.)} 15. Bd3 {(More accurate is first Rae1 as I played in my game against Johan Goormachtigh as now it is not yet clear if d3 or f3 is the best square for the bishop. Another interesting alternative is Rad1.)} Bc6 16. Rae1 Rfd8 $6 {(E5 is the familiar theoretical move which equalizes. Maybe Rcd8 is also still playable.)} (16... Rcd8 $5 17. Qh3 $5 e5 18. fxe5 dxe5 19. Nd5 Bxd5 20. exd5 exd4 21. Rxf6 g6 22. Rc6 $5 $13) 17. e5 $6 {(Thematic but first Re2 as I played in my game against Johan looks a bit stronger.)} dxe5 18. Bxe5 Qb7 19. f5 exf5 $2 { (Only after Nh5 it is not evident if white can maintain an advantage on the condition of course that black plays some very strong moves.)} 20. Rxf5 $2 {(Much better was Bxf5 but I was needless scared about Rd2 as I had missed the winning response Ne4.)} Ne8 21. Ne4 f6 $2 {(The different lines are impossible to calculate at the board but g6 is a much better defense here.)} (21... g6 $1 22. h4 $5 Ng7 23. Bxg7 Kxg7 24. Qe5 Kg8 25. Rxf7 Kxf7 26. Rf1 Ke8 27. Nf6 $13 { (Stockfish evaluates this as very good for white. However Komodo still does not see any danger for black.)}) 22. Bc3 Nd6 $6 {(This allows whites advantage to grow. More stubborn is again g6 regarding my engines.)} 23. Nxf6 Bxf6 (23... Kh8 24. Qxg7 {(In the game I had noticed this cute queen-sacrifice although I have to admit immediately that other wins are easier.)} Kxg7 25. Ng4 Bf6 (25... Kg8 26. Nh6#) 26. Bxf6 Kf7 27. Rf4 $18) 24. Rxf6 Ne4 25. Bxe4 Bxe4 26. Re6 Bg6 27. h4 Rd7 28. Qg5 Rf8 29. h5 Bxc2 (29... Rf5 30. hxg6 {(Much stronger than Re8. I wonder if my opponent saw this idea as he played very quickly.)} Rxg5 31. Re8#) 30. h6 {(A direct win exists with Re7 if you also detect the winning bishop-sacrifice at move 33 leading to mate in 4.)} (30. Re7 Rf7 31. Re8 Rf8 32. Rxf8 Kxf8 33. Bxg7 Rxg7 34. Qf6 Qf7 (34... Rf7 35. Qh8#) (34... Kg8 35. Re8# ) 35. Qd8 Qe8 36. Qxe8#) 30... Bg6 31. hxg7 Rfd8 32. Qe5 {(A bit later I realized that a sacrifice at g6 is often very strong.)} (32. Qxg6 {(A shame that I missed this not so very hard move. Mate in 8 is shown by my computer.) } hxg6 33. Re8 Rxe8 34. Rxe8 Kh7 (34... Kf7 35. g8=Q#) 35. Rh8#) 32... Rd1 33. Rxd1 Rxd1 34. Kh2 Qd7 35. Qf6 (35. Rf6 {(Another mate in 8 but now including a sacrifice of the exchange. After the game the Indian IM Kumar Praveen rushed to my board to tell me I had missed a win. I replied that I missed thousand wins in the game. Obviously I was not pleased at all to hear his remark after I just experienced a terrible disappointment.)} Bf7 36. Rxf7 Kxf7 37. Qf6 Kg8 38. Qf8#) 35... Bf7 36. Rxa6 Qd5 37. Qe5 (37. Qf5 {(This move is maybe not so difficult to find but what follows next is pure computer-magic.)} Qd8 38. Rh6 Bg6 39. Qe6 Bf7 40. Qe4 Bg6 41. Rxg6 { (White has to bring his queen first to e4 by some forced moves to avoid Qh4.)} hxg6 42. Qe6 Kh7 43. g8=Q Qxg8 44. Qh3#) 37... Qb7 38. Rd6 Rxd6 39. Qxd6 Qc8 {(Here Marcel proposed a draw which I refused by playing a move. In the remaining part of the game Marcel still proposed a draw 3 times more which I found quite disturbing.)} 40. Kg3 { (Again there are 2 much quicker wins. Bb4 I even looked at for a few seconds but as time-trouble was starting I could not calculate it properly. A similar idea is Bd2 which even is a bit directer.)} (40. Bb4 Kxg7 41. Bc3 Kg8 42. Qe5 Kf8 43. Qh8 Bg8 44. Qg7 Ke8 45. Qxg8 $18) (40. Bd2 Kxg7 41. Qe5 Kg8 (41... Kg6 42. Qg5#) 42. Bh6 Qg4 43. Qb8 $18) 40... Be6 41. Kf2 Bc4 42. Be5 Qf5 43. Ke3 Qg5 44. Kd4 Qg4 45. Kc5 Qc8 46. Kb4 Qe8 47. g3 h5 48. Qh6 Qe7 49. Bd6 $2 {(I only had 2 minutes left on my clock so I panic and blunder a crucial pawn. I only took into consideration Qxe5. I saw Kc3 is not possible and wrongly thought Ka5 leads to a perpetual as I forgot my queen could stop the checks.)} Qxg7 50. Qxg7 {(I could keep the queens on the board but a win is already technically not clear anymore. Besides when you have less than 2 minutes on the clock remaining than swapping off the queens is probably the wisest thing to do.)} Kxg7 51. a4 Bf1 $2 {(Black has almost an hour extra on the clock but keeps playing fast not to give me the chance to calculate something. However this move throws away the draw as it is here necessary to first transfer the king to the queen-side.)} 52. a5 Kf6 53. a6 $2 {(My both top-engines still are showing winning evaluations for white after my move but it is already a draw. Mandatory was the clever Kc5 to keep the black king away from c8.)} Ke6 54. a7 Bg2 55. Bb8 Bc6 56. Kc5 Kd7 57. b4 Bf3 58. Kxb5 Kc8 {(I have 2 pawns extra but it is a dead draw. I realized this already in the game but I was too disappointed to agree already to a draw.)} 59. Kb6 Be4 60. b5 Bf3 61. Bf4 Bg2 62. Be3 Bf3 63. Ka6 Bb7 64. Ka5 Bf3 65. Kb4 Kb7 66. b6 Bg2 67. Kc5 Bf3 68. Kd6 Bg2 69. Ke5 Bf3 70. Kf4 Bd1 71. Bf2 Be2 72. Ke3 Bg4 73. Ke4 Be2 74. Kd5 Bf3 75. Kd6 {(As I had only 20 seconds left I had to admit that the win was not anymore there. In this game I made a sad personal record of playing the most consecutive winning moves and still not win the game.)} 1/2-1/2
After the game the Indian IM Kumar Praveen rushed to me to explain where I missed a win. Not 1 but thousand wins I missed, was my snappy reply. I can't find any standard game in my almost 800 of my personal database where something similar happened to me. How is this possible?

Even so I had practiced tactics the last months a lot. On Chess.com I achieved a tactic-rating of +2600. Next I had won  the cup in Deurne which was played just before the open tournament of Gent and at Playchess I won even a couple of blitz-games against grandmasters during the last months. I was confident that I had sufficiently trained myself to perform well in tense situations. On the other hand the best training for standard-chess is still playing standard-chess. If you don't play for more than 3 months any serious games then you get unavoidably a bit rusty. Maybe the best explanation is given on the American chess-blog of Dana Mackenzie: "If there is anything, which even grandmasters, are not able to do very well then it are mating-combinations. That sounds to me a bit too simple so I will devote my next lesson to mating-combinations together with my students.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The chess microbe

After 3 years of lessons in Deurne my 7 year old son switched to Mechelen. It was a tough decision for me but at the same time necessary not to lose his interest in chess. The courses in Deurne were not anymore challenging and the club-management did not succeed to find a solution. The youth work can only survive by the selflessness of volunteers which isn't something you can force. On the other hand I do notice that we lack any flow of our children to adult-chess in Deurne. 10 years ago they started with giving lessons to the youth because they wanted to cope with the ageing club-members (see history). Today the problem is even bigger. An evaluation of youth-chess imposes itself.

In KMSK Hugo gets today step 2+ within a small group with their own teacher. The courses last almost 2 hours (twice as in Deurne) and consist of 1 hour working with a manual and the rest of the time playing chess. In the meantime I help the youth-chess just like I did before in Deurne. If you anyway have to wait then you better do something useful. I assume KMSK must have been delighted with my proposal as they immediately promoted me to teacher for the most advanced players so step 5 and higher.

That was a bit of a shock as I don't have any experience with teaching at that level. Besides I am an autodidact so I can't rely upon examples from previous teachers. Anyway what is meant with step 5 and higher? I noticed the strength of my students was very diverse from 1400 till even 2100 elo. A small questionnaire confirmed the heterogeneous picture of the students.  It is clear that it will be a big challenge to keep everybody satisfied in my courses.

The management of the club gives me carte blance which I will use to experiment a bit with some different methods of teaching. I have received the manuals of step 5 and 6 in the meantime which I will definitely use. I will also have a look to games played by the students. Additionally this blog can be a source for subjects to be used as teaching material. Nobody of them seems to follow this blog so I don't have to fear it will be just a repetition. Nevertheless last Sunday I didn't want to take any risks by selecting just an article. A Belgian IM has told me once that my article interferences is very interesting so I thought it is very unlikely that they would know the theme already.

Indeed nobody knew in advance what are interferences about. To explain the different types in a joyful way I let them solve in group a problem of each type. This made the course interactive and I assume this way they also grasped the themes better and quicker. Another advantage of this approach is that I get quicker feedback. Some of my students asked why some positions are very unorthodox.

It is a very natural and legitimate question. Some positions will indeed never occur in standard practice. Technically this subject won't learn them much. However I think the role of a teacher goes beyond just getting the students to play stronger chess. At least as important is to let them discover the love for the game. Winning points will give you a kick but on the long term only the chess microbe can survive if it is fed by inspiration and astonishment.

In this category we can probably consider the queen-sacrifice as the highest form of pleasure. The British and highly original attacking player Simon Williams wrote recently in an article on chess.com that such sacrifice is pure magic. Of course there exist many different degrees of beauty between queen-sacrifices. However in practice we will most likely see the real pearls played by stronger players. Unfortunately I am not one of them. There is always something lacking. I explain by one of my most dramatic games I have played in the last years. At least 4 fantastic queen-sacrifices were hidden in my 8th round of Open Gent against Marcel Vermaat.

The first appears at move 24 but my opponent doesn't allow it. On the other hand I have to admit that despite the queen-sacrifice being correct, there are other wins available which are more easy. It is even likely that I would have not played it if I had the opportunity.
[Event "Open Gent 8ste ronde"] [Date "2016"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Vermaat, M."] [Result "*"] [ECO "B85"] [WhiteElo "2314"] [BlackElo "2190"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2rr2k1/1q2b1pp/p1bn1N2/1p3R2/8/P1BB2Q1/1PP3PP/4R2K b - - 0 23"] [PlyCount "8"] 23... Kh8 {(In the game Marcel played the stronger but also losing Bxf6.)} 24. Qxg7 {(In the game I had detected this brutal queen-sacrifice although I have to admit there exist other easier winning moves.)} Kxg7 25. Ng4 Bf6 (25... Kg8 26. Nh6#) 26. Bxf6 Kf7 27. Rf4 $18 *
A second queen-sacrifice is hidden at move 30. This time I would have definitely played it but again my opponent doesn't allow it.
[Event "Open Gent 8ste ronde"] [Date "2016"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Vermaat, M."] [Result "*"] [ECO "B85"] [WhiteElo "2314"] [BlackElo "2190"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "5rk1/1q1r2pp/p3R1b1/1p4QP/8/P1B5/1PP3P1/4R2K b - - 0 29"] [PlyCount "4"] 29... Rf5 {(Marcel replied instantly with Bxc2 and avoided hereby a cute queen-sacrifice I planned.)} 30. hxg6 {(Much stronger than Re8. I am not sure if my opponent has seen this too during the game.)} Rxg5 31. Re8# *
At move 32 I get my first real chance to play a queen-sacrifice. Unfortunately I play a different winning move. Normally I should not miss this but as my time got low such things can happen.
[Event "Open Gent 8ste ronde"] [Date "2016"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Vermaat, M."] [Result "*"] [ECO "B85"] [WhiteElo "2314"] [BlackElo "2190"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3r2k1/1q1r2Pp/p3R1b1/1p4Q1/8/P1B5/1P4P1/4R2K w - - 0 32"] [PlyCount "7"] 32. Qxg6 {(In the game I played Qe5 which should be sufficient for the win. It is a shame to miss this not very difficult move. My engine shows mate in 8.) } hxg6 33. Re8 Rxe8 34. Rxe8 Kh7 (34... Kf7 35. g8=Q#) 35. Rh8# *
The final queen-sacrifice is for sure the most sophisticated. The sacrifice is an introduction to a beautiful combination. Personally I think such combination is too difficult to find by myself alone.
[Event "Open Gent 8ste ronde"] [Date "2016"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Vermaat, M."] [Result "*"] [ECO "B85"] [WhiteElo "2314"] [BlackElo "2190"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/5bPp/R4Q2/1p1q4/8/P1B5/1P4PK/3r4 w - - 0 37"] [PlyCount "15"] 37. Qf5 {(I played the safe and still winning Qe5. The queen-sacrifice is maybe not very hard to find but what follows is pure magic.)} Qd8 {(The queen can not be captured due to Ra8.)} 38. Rh6 Bg6 39. Qe6 Bf7 40. Qe4 Bg6 41. Rxg6 {(White first needed to bring the queen to e4 to avoid Qh4 .)} hxg6 42. Qe6 Kh7 43. g8=Q Qxg8 44. Qh3# *
I don't think there are many games in which you can find 4 totally different queen-sacrifices. It was a big disappointment for me not to win the game (more about this in another article) but (much) later I can still enjoy the beauty hidden under the surface of the game. My chess microbe is still very alive.