Monday, December 12, 2016

The fake truth part 2

With the New Year celebrations in front of us a lot of money will be spent. We are searching the right gifts for our loved ones but should not forget ourselves. This reminds me that I am still looking for a good book about chess to read during the Christmas's holidays. Currently I am reading the book Ivan's_Chess_Journey_Unravelled which I like so something similar is fine but other proposals I welcome too in the reactions.

In this period of the year we see shops making extra efforts to attract customers. Advertising, newsletters, ... are just a few techniques used to promote the products. The commercial king of chess is already for several decades Chessbase. Nobody else succeeds better to earn money by selling chess products. Except a large variety of attractive products also huge investments are done in marketing which plays a crucial role in their sales.

The financial resources of Chessbase are many times larger than the competition. This advantage they exploit maximally via skillful marketing-plans. This year Chessbase didn't miss a golden opportunity like the world-championship to attract (new) customers. They were the only ones to get annotations of the games by the world class pros Ruslan PonomariovFabiano CaruanaWesley So and David Navara. I can't remember an earlier world championship for which 4 players with an average of +2760 elo were asked to provide their analysis. I write this blog unpaid but I am sure these guys got a very high fee for their services.

It is very hard to predict if Chessbase will see an increase of their sales by this stunt. Besides are the analysis of the best players in the world really better than what you can get on the other sites? In my previous article you could read that today's best engines play several hundred points better than any player. You could therefore deduct that an annotator will just talk through the analysis of the engine.

From pure analytical perspective I do not see much difference. The engines point out quickly and accurately the mistakes which are covered in any proper report. One big exception is the opening. The top-players play and know each others repertoire extremely well so are able to tell us which lines are critical and popular. I give one example. Game 11 was a pretty harmless looking opening but Wesley So demonstrates things can quickly get out of control.
[Event "AGON FWCM 2016"] [Site "New York"] [Date "2016.11.26"] [Round "11"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2772"] [BlackElo "2853"] [PlyCount "67"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. a3 O-O 9. Nc3 Be6 10. Nd5 Nd4 11. Nxd4 exd4 12. Nxf6 {(Wesley So claims Nxe7 is the critical test in this opening.)} (12. Nxe7 Qxe7 13. Bg5 Bxb3 14. cxb3 h6 15. Bh4 Qe6 16. f4 c5 17. b4 Rfe8 18. f5 Qe5 19. Bg3 Qe7 20. bxc5 dxc5 21. e5 Nd5 22. f6 Qe6 23. fxg7 Ne3 24. Qd2 Nxf1 25. Rxf1 Qg6 {(Wesley stops here which I find a bit strange as this position pops up in the game Ivanchuk - Svidler played in 2013 which surprisingly white lost. Anyhow white can easily improve.)}) 12... Bxf6 13. Bxe6 fxe6 14. f4 c5 15. Qg4 Qd7 16. f5 Rae8 17. Bd2 c4 18. h3 c3 19. bxc3 d5 20. Bg5 Bxg5 21. Qxg5 dxe4 22. fxe6 Rxf1 23. Rxf1 Qxe6 24. cxd4 e3 25. Re1 h6 26. Qh5 e2 27. Qf3 a5 28. c3 Qa2 29. Qc6 Re6 30. Qc8 Kh7 31. c4 Qd2 32. Qxe6 Qxe1 33. Kh2 Qf2 34. Qe4 1/2-1/2
The biggest added value of the best players is their commentary. Computers are not capable today to understand the chess-psychology in human games. Besides this is something very much linked to somebodies playing strength. Finally Wesley so also injects lessons in his commentary for the average player. You notice clearly that Wesley has quite some experience in coaching weaker players contrary to his illustrious colleagues. He tells us to be practical if we analyze openings. Don't spent countless hours into studying some opening which will very rarely pop up in your practice. You will develop much faster by carefully selecting and absorbing ideas.

Another remarkable statement of Wesley is that he doesn't fully trust his notes of 2013. He rightly claims that Houdini, the computer and the internet were much slower 3 years ago. This fully matches my previous article in which I wrote that we saw a jump in strength of 200 ratingpoints in only 3 years for the engines. On the other hand I do wonder what he exactly means with the internet. I see today many enjoyable and addictive multi player games ( boom via the faster network but I normally use only 1 or 2 PC's for the analysis.

The problem is for an amateur of course much smaller. The influence of the opening is rather small upon the final result of a game (see studying chess openings). On the other hand I always try to add something scientific into my games. It is pretty frustrating to discover afterwards that the used analysis in which quite some personal effort was put, are outdated. Something like that happened to me recently in the Belgian interclub. In 2007 I met for the first time a rather obscure line of the Sicilian after which I spent a number of hours to find an anti-dote.
[Event "Interclub Deurne - KOSK"] [Date "2007"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "De Baenst, B."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B29"] [WhiteElo "2303"] [BlackElo "2219"] [PlyCount "49"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 d5 4. exd5 Nxd5 5. d4 {(Critical is Bb5 but I was not aware of that during the game.)} Nxc3 {(More popular is Nc6. I once won a nice victory against that setup see my game Brabo - Hajenius. The chosen move is a more direct way to solve the opening problems.)} 6. bxc3 g6 7. Ne5 $6 {(I start an aggressive plan which leads to winning a pawn at move 11 but it contains too large disadvantages like a big lag of development and a crippled pawnstructure. Better are Bb5, Bf4, Be2 but I can not find an advantage for white.)} Bg7 8. Bb5 Nd7 9. Qf3 O-O 10. Bxd7 Bxd7 11. Qxb7 Ba4 12. O-O cxd4 13. Re1 $6 {(I miss blacks next move which further deteriorates my position. Better is Qb4 which loses a pawn but still keeps fighting chances.)} Qa5 14. Bf4 Qxc3 15. Rac1 Bxc2 16. Nxf7 $6 {(Objectively Re2 is better but maybe my move is a better practical choice.)} (16. Re2 $5 Rab8 17. Qxa7 Rb1 18. Rxb1 Bxb1 $17) 16... Qc8 $4 {(Black totally miss the strength of my next move. The game turns completely upside down after this. The cool Rae8 should very likely win for black.)} (16... Rae8 $1 17. Qb5 Rxf7 18. Re2 d3 19. Rexc2 dxc2 20. Qxe8 Rf8 21. Qa4 $19) 17. Qd5 Rxf7 18. Rxe7 Qf8 19. Rxf7 Qxf7 20. Qxa8 Bf8 21. Rxc2 Qxf4 22. Qd5 Qf7 23. Qxd4 Qf5 24. Rc1 Bh6 25. Rd1 1-0
In the second round I got recently again the same opening on the board by Hendrik Ponnet. I still could remember my recommendation from my opening-book but only after the game I found out that the theory was developed a lot since then.
[Event "Interclub Deurne - KGSRL"] [Date "2016"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Ponnet, H."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B29"] [WhiteElo "2314"] [BlackElo "2277"] [PlyCount "60"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 {(Our third confrontation and each time Hendrik chooses a different line to avoid any preparation.)} 3. Nc3 d5 4. exd5 Nxd5 5. Bb5 {(In 2007 I played Bc4 against Bruno De Baenst. In the meanwhile I knew that Bb5 is the mainline.)} Bd7 6. Qe2 $6 {(I recommended this move in my opening book but today I prefer Ne5.)} (6. Ne5 $1 e6 $5 7. Qf3 $1 Qf6 8. Nxd7 $1 Nxd7 9. Nxd5 $1 Qxf3 10. Nc7 Kd8 11. Nxe6 fxe6 12. gxf3 Ne5 13. f4 $1 Nf3 $14) 6... Nf6 $6 {(My last move threw Hendrik out of book. Better chances for equality are given by Nb4, a6 and Bc6.)} (6... Nb4 $5 7. Bxd7 $5 Qxd7 8. d3 N8c6 $5 9. a3 Nd5 $13) (6... a6 $5 7. Bxd7 $5 Qxd7 8. Ne5 Qe6 9. Nxd5 Qxd5 10. O-O Nc6 11. Nxc6 Qxc6 $13) (6... Bc6 $5 7. O-O {(Or first d4 and then 0-0.)} e6 8. d4 cxd4 $5 9. Nxd4 Nxc3 10. bxc3 Be7 $13) 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 e6 $146 {(An interesting novelty. A6 and g6 were tried before but without success.)} 9. Bg5 Be7 10. O-O-O O-O 11. Rhe1 $6 { (Played superficially as the sacrifices against e6 do not work. More useful moves are Bc4 and Kb1 with a slight advantage.)} Bxb5 12. Qxb5 Qc7 13. Qe2 Nc6 14. Nxc6 bxc6 15. Ne4 $2 {(I was slightly irritated not to get something tangible and besides I consumed already too much time. However this rushed move to exchange pieces and get a draw is an ugly mistake. I did take into account Nc3 earlier in the game but my emotions probably confused my thoughts.)} Nxe4 16. Bxe7 Nc3 17. Qe5 Nxa2 18. Kb1 Qxe7 19. Kxa2 Rfd8 20. g3 Rxd1 $2 {(The exchange of the rooks improves drastically the drawing chances for me as it is difficult for black to get active due to the weak c-pawn.)} (20... Qb4 $1 21. f4 h6 $5 22. Re4 Qb6 23. Rxd8 Rxd8 24. Qc3 Qa6 $5 25. Qa3 Qb5 $1 26. Qc3 Rd1 27. b3 Rh1 28. Ra4 $1 Qf1 29. Rc4 Rxh2 30. Rxc6 Qd1 31. Rc7 $17) 21. Rxd1 Rd8 22. Rxd8 Qxd8 23. c4 Qb6 24. Qd6 h5 25. Ka3 g6 {(I recommended after the game Qa5. The engines agree but Stockfish nevertheless shows a way how white can defend.)} (25... Qa5 $5 26. Kb3 c5 27. Qb8 Kh7 28. Qb5 $1 Qc7 29. Ka4 Qe5 30. Ka5 $13) 26. b4 Qa6 27. Kb3 Qb6 28. Ka4 Qa6 29. Kb3 Qb6 30. Ka4 Qa6 {(Black did not want to take any risks while playing solely upon increments and that is fully understandable. Anyway it is very doubtful if black can still try something here.)} 1/2-1/2
I get the impression that Hendriks preparation wasn't very extensive as normally I should not have obtained any advantage out of the opening. Sometimes using outdated analysis can throw the opponent out of book but you can't count on such coincidences of course.

We know that the raise of the machines won't stop immediately so we do have to take into account also in the future that some of our analysis will be outdated. Especially if you play sharp tactical lines you have to be very careful to rely on old analysis. Next I also experienced that by studying properly the options of the opponent you can improve drastically the opening analysis. Till a couple of years ago I was already satisfied after finding an answer to the lines which the engine showed. Today I also investigate any line which was played with some success in practice (+2300 standard chess, chess between computers, correspondence chess and even my own online-games). Well any line is of course not possible as in the end you do want to finalize the analysis in maximum a couple of weeks.

By looking at a much bigger variety of lines, I get a more balanced evaluation of an opening. Finally I also discovered that this method of studying openings bears a number of ideas which I use as surprises.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the article; I will have to take another look at that 2...Nf6 line.