Monday, December 25, 2017

Invisible moves part 2

Once I got the questions of an exam in advance from a classmate at the university. His cousin followed the same studies at another university. Besides one of those courses was teached by the same professor. As his exams for that course were a couple of days earlier than ours, we were able to study carefully the questions he got. Later it became clear that the professor didn't take this scenario into account as we got exactly the same questions of the cousin. Of course we all scored extremely high at the exam.

This is also valid for chess. Things which we saw earlier, will be recognized and solved much easier. This effect we clearly see at tactic-servers. Although some solvers have very moderate otb-ratings, they manage to obtain very high online tactic-ratings. 2012VAChamp is the leader today with a stunning rating of 6482 elo (best Belg at Superdog-II has only 2900). 2012VAChamp explains at his profile that he has memorized all +3000 elo excercies. He estimates that there are about 500-1000.

For me this is the most important reason to not solve more than 5 each day. As non-paying member you are anyway not allowed to solve more than 5 but I could bypass this limit by using my FM-title and request the diamant-status. Besides I see that Warre De Waele has just requested this status as his tournament-victory in Le Touquet (see e.g. holidays part 3) put the foundation of the new FM-title. Nonetheless despite maximum 5 exercises each day, I notice some I have solved once before. The one below I managed recently to solve in only a couple of seconds as it was already the second time presented to me. I was able to recognize the position instantly and only the mouse-clicks took a couple of seconds.
[Event " opgave 65143"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "?"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/1p6/7p/5p1P/5P2/1p6/6RK/k7 w - - 0 2"] [PlyCount "15"] [WhiteElo ""] [BlackElo ""] [ECO ""] [CurrentPosition "8/1p6/7p/5p1P/5P2/1p6/6RK/k7 w - - 0 2"] { (Black last move Ka1 was a mistake.) } 2.Rg5 ( 2.Rg8 b2 3.Ra8+ Kb1 4.Ra5 Kc2 5.Rc5+ Kb3 $10 ) ( 2.Rg1+ Ka2 3.Rg7 b2 4.Rxb7 b1=Q 5.Rxb1 Kxb1 $19 ) ( 2.Rg7 b2 3.Rxb7 b1=Q 4.Rxb1+ Kxb1 5.Kg1 Kc2 $19 ) 2...hxg5 ( 2...b2 3.Rxf5 b1=Q 4.Ra5+ Qa2+ 5.Rxa2+ Kxa2 6.f5 ) ( 2...b6 3.Rxf5 b2 4.Rb5 b1=Q 5.Rxb1+ Kxb1 6.f5 $18 ) 3.h6 b2 4.h7 b1=Q 5.h8=Q+ Ka2 ( 5...Qb2+ 6.Qxb2+ Kxb2 7.fxg5 $18 ) 6.Qa8+ Kb2 7.Qxb7+ Kc1 8.Qxb1+ Kxb1 9.fxg5 $18 { (The second time that I solved this problem, I only needed a couple of seconds.) } *

Some people indicate that they solve the same exercises 20 or more times. This has nothing to do anymore with practicing tactics but rather shows how eager they are to get an extremely high tactic-rating. Vanity is still a very wide-spread human weakness and at the same time a source of schadenfreude. It is why the English program Keeping Up Appearances was extremely popular in the 90's.

Once those people are sitting at the board then not much is left of their tactical wizardry. Then simple exercises are unsolvable. Without the memorization they are helpless. Their online tactic-ratings would be very different if the server would process only fresh positions. Unfortunately this won't happen soon as you need a huge database to keep track of all the records of all members (today this is only done for the 25 most recent solved exercises).

The megadatabase seems to me a better tool to define the difficulty of a specific position not only more accurately but also at a much larger scale. In my previous article invisible moves I already indicated this can be done only for opening-positions. This time I want to add that we should only focus at positions not played at the professional-level as mistakes are immediately detected and corrected.

Especially the first round of open tournaments very often generate some interesting stuff to study. Besides the miniatures where the stronger player swiftly punishes the mistakes of the weaker player, we also detect games in which the win occurs less smoothly. That was definitely the case in my first round of the last Open Leuven against Mats Bakker.
[Event "Open Leuven 1ste ronde"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [White "Bakker, M."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C47"] [WhiteElo "1693"] [BlackElo "2284"] [PlyCount "25"] [Round "?"] [Site "?"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 6.Qd3?! { (Almost 5000 master-games in the database with this position but my opponent was already out book! I am already ashamed when I don't know a position when only 100 master-games are existing.) } 6...O-O 7.f3? Ne5 { (I played the much weaker d5 in the game just as I did twice before online but those blitz-games I never studied. In the megadatabase I found 8 games but in none of them the winning Ne5 was played. One of them was even played by a grandmaster of Azerbaijan: Azer Mirzoev.) } 8.Qe2 ( 8.Qd2 c5 9.Nf5 ( 9.Nb3 d5 10.a3 Bxc3 11.Qxc3 dxe4 12.Bd2 c4 13.Nc5 $19 { [%eval -212,34] } ) 9...d5 10.Nxg7 d4 11.Qh6 dxc3 12.b3 Kh8 13.a3 $19 { [%eval -202,31] } ) ( 8.Qe3 c5 9.Nf5 ( 9.Nb3 d5 10.a3 Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 dxe4 12.fxe4 Re8 13.Be2 $19 { [%eval -228,34] } ) 9...d5 10.Nxg7 Kxg7 11.Qg5+ Ng6 12.h4 Ng8 13.Qxd5 $19 { [%eval -209,30] } ) 8...c5 9.Ndb5 ( 9.Nb3 c4 10.Bf4 Ng6 11.Qxc4 Bxc3+ 12.Qxc3 Nxf4 13.O-O-O $19 { [%eval -224,34] } ) 9...d5 10.Bf4 a6 11.Bxe5 axb5 12.Kf2 Bxc3 13.bxc3 $19 { [%eval -196,31] } 0-1

Afterwards I found 8 games in the megadatabase with the same position after white's 7th move. In none of them the right move was played while 1 time it was even missed by a grandmaster of Azerbaijan: Azer Mirzoev see game. Further online I also missed it already twice but I very rarely study blitz-games see the (non-)sense of blitz.

This position breaks my previous personal record as most invisible move in my career. In my article scholar's mate I wrote about how popular books about tricks and traps are. So I think it could be a good idea once to collect the most invisible moves from the megadatabase and bundle this into a book. Likely this will be a very original piece of work for which surely some interest will exist.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017


Playing, playing and playing is the most important ingredient to improve see my article experience. However at some point of time we progress only very little anymore and eventually there is stagnation. We very quickly conclude that this is just natural. You can't forever squeeze a lemon.

Still many things which we do automatically after all those years prevent us of making any major breakthroughs. Only a few dare to question all established routines. A nice example is of course the recent news about Alphazero which tries something different after decades of Alpha-Beta-programming. The top-engines Stockfish, Komodo, Houdini are still making steady progress but Alphazero proves that machine-learning is definitely also a valid programming-track to explore. We could well be at the eve of a significant increase of playing strength of our best chess-engines (we are still far away from playing perfect chess!).

It is not only useful for engines to think out of the box but also we players can benefit from it. Besides we often know very well what is needed to make still some progression as experienced player. Valery Maes wrote a reaction on my article chess-links in which he stated that an IM-title for me is possible but I realize this is not feasible with my current playing- and working schedule. I see 3 domains which can likely make an impact upon my playing level:
- I should play (much) more competitions especially against stronger players (+2300 elo)
- I need to build a much more flexible repertoire so minimum a couple of openings for both colors so I can switch easily.
- Finally I need to dump the Dutch defense or at least I should not play it as my main-opening.

Easy to say of course and much harder to execute. None of the 3 domains will succeed without serious efforts and honestly I don't have the time/ energy for it. Probably my best chance is to profit from my son's chess-career. In a couple of years it must be possible to play together (several) tournaments each year and maybe I also will learn something of his openings when he starts to play better.

Anyway not for everybody it is that difficult to make new progress at a more mature age. I know many players with sometimes decades of experience whom are barely doing any homework ever. They have of course much more margin to improve. The winner of the first Maneblussers-tournament the 38 year old Belgian FM Matthias De Wachter proved this recently with a fide-ratingpeak of 2355 and as told to me with IM-ambitions. Coincidence or not but this rating-gain went along with teaching his daughter Livia chess!

I don't know what exactly Matthias changed at his approach to chess. However I was impressed by his game-preparation of our mutual game which we played in the finished Maneblusserstornooi. As far as I remember correctly, it was the first time in my career that I met a real killer-novelty. Novelties are played in every game (with a couple of exceptions like copycats) but a home-cooked and on top strong (=killer) idea is something very rare on my level. I only was capable of doing it 8 times (at + 800 games!!) see e.g. the list of strength and the expert. Remarkably only 3 of the 8 (e.g the boomerang) are still today not discovered by anybody-else.
[Event "Maneblusserstornooi 3de ronde"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [White "De Wachter, M."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A80"] [WhiteElo "2325"] [BlackElo "2310"] [PlyCount "55"] [Round "?"] [Site "?"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 d5 { (In July Matthias played a tournament in Greece where he met Nf6 on the board. His opponent Andrey Rychagov, a Russian grandmaster won the game but stood after the opening rather awkward. I wanted to enter the same line as I had prepared something. However if I would play here Nf6 then Matthias would definitely be alarmed. In 5 earlier games of the megadatabase I chose always d5.) } 3.Bf4 { (So I gambled wrongly as I had hoped Matthias would allow me to transpose after 3.Bg5 to his game against the grandmaster. On the other hand I did look at this possibility during my game-preparation as I had also rechecked my analysis of this line made in 2013.) } 3...a6 4.e3 Nf6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bd3 c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.O-O O-O 9.Ne2 Nc6 10.c4 Nb4 11.Be5 { (Matthias deviates here from my game against Stef Soors played in 2013. While I had studied at that time 5 continuations: cxd5, a3, Ne5, Ned4 and Nc3, Matthias still managed to surprise me with a very dangerous 6th possibility. At home Matthias used his computer to discover this novelty after his engine reached a great depth of plies. ) } 11...Bd7? { (That is already wrong. Well probably without an engine it is very unlikely to find the right answer.) } ( 11...b6! 12.Nf4 Ng4 13.Bc3 a5 14.a3 Nxd3 15.Nxd3 dxc4 16.Nxc5 bxc5 17.Qa4 { (My mainline but already recommended in the post-mortem by Matthias.) } 17...Qd7 18.Qxd7 Bxd7 $13 { (Black has some good drawing-chances but surely nothing more. Besides white can easily deviate in this line while black can't. It again proves that playing this line against a prepared opponent is very risky.) } ) 12.Nf4 Rc8 13.cxd5? { (I am fortunate. Not only Matthias had not checked my last move in his game-preparation but also the refutation is difficult to find. The critical move Be2 will not be played by a FM easily as it interferes with the basic rule of not playing twice the same piece in the opening.) } 13...Nfxd5? { (I want to put the knight of b4 at c6 but this doesn't work here.) } 14.Nxd5? { (After this move white still is a bit more comfortable but much stronger was Bc4 to exploit the weakness of e6.) } 14...Nxd5 15.a3 Bc6 16.Qe2 Bd6 17.Bc4 Bxe5 18.Nxe5 Qd6 19.Nxc6 Qxc6 20.Bb3 Rfd8 { (The position is now again balanced. I proposed a draw but Matthias still wanted to continue despite running low on time.) } 21.Rfd1 Nf6 22.Rxd8+ Rxd8 23.Rd1 Rxd1+ 24.Qxd1 Kf7 25.g3 Qb6 26.Qd3 Ke7 27.Qc3 Kf7 28.Qd3 { (Matthias doesn't see anything interesting anymore. The repetition of moves can be avoided by both but a win has become very unlikely.) } 1/2-1/2
So I escaped with a black eye. I was lucky that I played a couple of inferior moves which Matthias had not checked in advance and obliged him to find a non-trivial refutation. After the game there were a lot of speculations about how careless I was. The Dutch defense is a too dubious opening to play non-stop. I am too predictable as an earlier game of me was copied till move 10 which was not only published in the database but also on my blog see a moral victory. These are justified remarks of course. However I still want to nuance the picture. First I really had planned a surprise but to increase the success-rate I decided to answer 3.Bg5 with 3...Nf6 instead of immediately 2...Nf6 which of course allows 3.Bf4. That was a first wrong gamble. The second was that I trusted my very elaborated study of the opening. On my blog I wrote in the article annotations that I only publish a very short summary of my analysis. Of the position raising after the 10th move I had made a lot of extra analysis. Not less than 5 different moves I had studied and even rehearsed for the game-preparation.
[Event "Hollands 2.Pc3 en 3.Lf4"] [Date "2012.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "?"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [ECO "A80"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1bq1rk1/1p4pp/p1n1pn2/2bp1p2/2P2B2/3BPN2/PP2NPPP/R2Q1RK1 b - - 0 10"] [PlyCount "21"] [WhiteElo ""] [BlackElo ""] [Site "?"] 10...Nb4 11.Ned4 ( 11.a3 Nxd3 ( 11...Nc6 12.Rc1 Bb6 13.h3 h6 14.Bh2 Bd7 15.Bd6 Re8 16.cxd5 exd5 $14 { [%eval 58,15] } ) ( 11...dxc4 12.axb4 cxd3 13.bxc5 dxe2 14.Qxe2 Bd7 15.Rfd1 Qc8 16.b4 Nd5 $14 { [%eval 58,16] } ) 12.Qxd3 Bd7 13.Rfd1 ( 13.Ne5 Be8 ( 13...Rc8 14.Nxd7 Qxd7 15.b4 Ba7 ( 15...Be7 16.c5 Bd8 $11 { [%eval 17,16] } ) 16.c5 Bb8 $11 { [%eval 12,15] } ( 16...Rfe8 $11 { [%eval 17,18] } ) ) 14.Nd4 Qe7 15.Rac1 dxc4 16.Nxc4 Rd8 $11 { [%eval 3,16] } ) 13...Rc8 14.Rac1 Qe8 15.Ned4 Ba4 16.Re1 Qd7 $11 { [%eval 7,15] } ) ( 11.Nc3 Qe7 ( 11...Nxd3 12.Qxd3 dxc4 13.Qxc4 Qe7 14.Rac1 Bd7 15.Qb3 b5 16.Rfd1 Rac8 $11 { [%eval 19,16] } ) 12.cxd5 Nfxd5 13.Nxd5 Nxd5 14.Be5 Rd8 15.Nd4 Nb4 16.Bc4 b5 $11 { [%eval 9,16] } ) ( 11.Ne5 Qe7 ( 11...Bd6 12.cxd5 Nfxd5 13.Bc4 Re8 14.Nd4 Qf6 15.Ndf3 Nc6 16.Nxc6 Bxf4 $16 { [%eval 90,14] } ) 12.cxd5 Rd8 13.Qb3 a5 14.a3 Nbxd5 15.Qc2 Bd6 16.Bg3 Nh5 $11 { [%eval 1,15] } ) ( 11.cxd5 Nxd3 12.Qxd3 Nxd5 13.Be5 b6 14.Rfd1 Bb7 15.Qb3 Qe7 16.Ne1 a5 17.a4 Rac8 18.Nd3 Bd6 $11 { [%eval 8,35] } ) 11...Bxd4 ( 11...Qe7 12.Be2 ( 12.a3 Bxd4 13.exd4 Nxd3 14.Qxd3 dxc4 15.Qxc4 Bd7 16.Qb3 Bc6 17.Rac1 $11 { [%eval 15,18] } ) 12...Bd7 13.a3 Nc6 14.Rc1 ( 14.b4 Bd6 15.c5 ( 15.Nxc6 Bxc6 ( 15...bxc6 $14 { [%eval 27,16] } 16.Bxd6 Qxd6 17.Qd4 $14 { [%eval 43,15] } ) 16.c5 Bc7 17.Qd4 $11 { [%eval 13,15] } ) 15...Bb8 16.Nxc6 Bxc6 17.Qd4 $14 { [%eval 35,16] } ) 14...Ba7 15.Nxc6 Bxc6 16.b4 Rad8 17.c5 $14 { [%eval 41,15] } ) ( 11...Nxd3 12.Qxd3 Bd7 ( 12...b6 13.Nb3 ( 13.Rac1 a5 ( 13...Qe7 14.Nb3 ( 14.cxd5 Nxd5 15.a3 Nxf4 16.exf4 Bb7 17.b4 $11 { [%eval 21,17] } ) 14...Rd8 15.Nxc5 bxc5 $11 { [%eval 15,16] } 16.Ne5 Bb7 17.Qe2 $14 { [%eval 31,16] } ) 14.Rfd1 Qe8 15.cxd5 Ba6 16.Qd2 Bb4 17.Qc2 $11 { [%eval 16,14] } ) 13...Qe7 14.Nxc5 Qxc5 15.cxd5 Nxd5 16.Rac1 Qe7 17.Be5 $14 { [%eval 39,17] } ) ( 12...Qb6 13.a4 Rd8 14.Rfc1 Ne4 15.Rc2 Bd6 16.h3 Rb8 17.Ne5 $16 { [%eval 71,14] } ) 13.Rfd1 ( 13.Rac1 Qb6 ( 13...Rc8 14.Rfd1 ( 14.cxd5 Nxd5 15.Rxc5 Rxc5 16.Bd6 Rc8 17.Bxf8 Qxf8 18.e4 fxe4 19.Qxe4 $14 { [%eval 39,16] } ) ( 14.Qb3 Bxd4 ( 14...dxc4 15.Qxb7 Qb6 16.Qxb6 Bxb6 17.Ne5 Bxd4 18.exd4 Bb5 19.Rfd1 $11 { [%eval 25,19] } ) 15.Nxd4 Re8 16.Be5 Ng4 17.Nf3 $14 { [%eval 35,17] } 17...Bc6 18.c5 Nxe5 19.Nxe5 $11 { [%eval 10,16] } ) 14...dxc4 15.Rxc4 Qe7 16.Qb3 b5 17.Rcc1 Bxd4 18.Nxd4 Rxc1 19.Rxc1 $14 { [%eval 41,19] } ) ( 13...Bxd4 14.Qxd4 ( 14.Nxd4 Qe7 15.Bg5 Qd6 16.Nf3 Bc6 17.Qd4 Qe7 18.Ne5 Rac8 19.Nxc6 $14 { [%eval 54,16] } ) 14...dxc4 15.Qxc4 Qb6 16.Ne5 Be8 17.Rfd1 Bh5 18.Rd2 Rad8 19.Nd3 $14 { [%eval 59,16] } ) 14.b3 ( 14.Ne5 Rfd8 15.b3 dxc4 16.Nxc4 Qa7 17.Bc7 Rdc8 18.Be5 b5 19.Nd6 $11 { [%eval 4,17] } ) 14...dxc4 15.bxc4 Rfe8 16.Rb1 Qa7 17.Qb3 Rad8 18.h3 Bc8 19.Qc2 $11 { [%eval 25,17] } ) ( 13.Rfc1 Bxd4 ( 13...Qe7 14.Qb3 ( 14.Rd1 Rac8 15.cxd5 Nxd5 16.Qb3 Bc6 17.Be5 Rfd8 18.h3 Bb6 19.Rac1 $14 { [%eval 39, 16] } ) 14...b6 15.Be5 dxc4 16.Rxc4 Ne4 17.Rac1 Qe8 18.R4c2 Rc8 19.Qd3 $14 { [%eval 40,15] } ) ( 13...Rc8 14.Qb3 ( 14.cxd5 Nxd5 15.Be5 h6 16.a3 Qe7 17.b4 Bd6 18.h3 Rcd8 19.Qd2 $11 { [%eval 20,15] } ) 14...b6 15.h3 Qe7 16.Rd1 Bxd4 17.Rxd4 Qc5 18.Ne5 Bc6 19.f3 $14 { [%eval 40,16] } ) 14.Nxd4 ( 14.Qxd4 dxc4 15.Rxc4 Bc6 16.Rac1 Bd5 17.Bc7 Qe8 18.Rc5 Bxf3 19.gxf3 $11 { [%eval 0,15] } ) 14...Qe7 15.Bg3 e5 16.Nb3 Qd6 17.f3 Rae8 18.Re1 a5 19.c5 $14 { [%eval 31, 16] } ) 13...Rc8 ( 13...Qe7 14.h3 ( 14.Bg5 h6 15.Bh4 g5 16.Bg3 Rad8 17.cxd5 Nxd5 18.Qb3 Be8 19.Re1 $11 { [%eval 23,14] } ) 14...Rac8 15.cxd5 Nxd5 16.Rac1 Ba4 17.b3 Bd7 18.Ne5 g6 19.Bh6 $14 { [%eval 49,15] } ) ( 13...Qe8 14.Rac1 ( 14.h3 dxc4 15.Qxc4 Rc8 16.Ne5 Bxd4 17.Qxd4 Bc6 18.Rac1 Bd5 19.b3 $14 { [%eval 52,17] } ) 14...Rc8 15.Ne5 Bb6 16.h3 Ba7 17.b3 Bc5 18.Qe2 dxc4 19.Nxd7 $14 { [%eval 61,16] } ) 14.Ne5 ( 14.Qb3 Bxd4 15.Rxd4 Bc6 16.Qa3 Nd7 17.Ne5 Re8 18.Nxc6 bxc6 19.Rdd1 $14 { [%eval 26,17] } ) 14...Qe7 15.Qb3 Bc6 16.Ndxc6 bxc6 17.Rac1 Ne4 18.Nd3 Ba7 19.Qa4 $14 { [%eval 38,16] } ) 12.exd4 ( 12.Nxd4 Re8 ( 12...Qe7 13.Bg5 ( 13.Bg3 Nxd3 14.Qxd3 e5 15.Ne2 g5 16.f3 f4 17.exf4 exf4 18.Bf2 $11 { [%eval 19,16] } ) 13...Qd6 14.Nf3 Nxd3 15.Qxd3 b5 16.b3 Bd7 17.Rfd1 bxc4 18.bxc4 $14 { [%eval 51,18] } ) ( 12...Nxd3 13.Qxd3 Re8 14.Be5 Ng4 15.Nf3 Nxe5 16.Nxe5 Qc7 17.f4 dxc4 18.Qxc4 $14 { [%eval 34,18] } ) 13.Nf3 ( 13.Be5 Ng4 14.Bg3 Nxd3 15.Qxd3 e5 16.Ne2 dxc4 17.Qxc4+ Be6 18.Qb4 $11 { [%eval 3,17] } ) 13...Nxd3 ( 13...Bd7 14.Be2 Nc6 15.Rc1 Qb6 16.cxd5 exd5 17.Qc2 Rac8 18.Qb3 $14 { [%eval 36,16] } ) 14.Qxd3 dxc4 15.Qxc4 b5 16.Qc6 ( 16.Qe2 Bb7 17.Rad1 $11 { [%eval 9,17] } 17...Bd5 18.b3 $11 { [%eval 11,15] } ) 16...Ra7 17.Qc3 Rd7 18.Ne5 $11 { [%eval 20,17] } ) 12...Nxd3 ( 12...dxc4 13.Bxc4 b5 14.Bb3 Re8 ( 14...a5 15.a3 ( 15.Re1 Nbd5 16.Be5 Bb7 17.a3 Rc8 18.Ng5 $14 { [%eval 39,15] } ) 15...Nbd5 16.Be5 ( 16.Bg3 Bb7 17.Re1 a4 18.Ba2 $14 { [%eval 44,16] } ) 16...Bb7 17.Qe2 ( 17.Qd3 $14 { [%eval 41,16] } 17...Qd7 18.h3 $14 { [%eval 39,15] } ) 17...a4 18.Ba2 $14 { [%eval 57,15] } ) 15.Re1 Nbd5 16.Bg3 h6 17.Be5 Bb7 18.Rc1 $14 { [%eval 51,16] } ) ( 12...b6 13.b3 ( 13.Re1 Nxd3 14.Qxd3 dxc4 15.Qxc4 b5 16.Qb3 Nd5 17.Bd2 Re8 18.Ne5 $14 { [%eval 40,17] } ) 13...Bb7 14.Be2 Rc8 15.Qd2 Nc6 16.Qe3 Qe7 17.Rfe1 Ne4 18.Ne5 $14 { [%eval 61,15] } ) 13.Qxd3 dxc4 14.Qxc4 Bd7 ( 14...Re8 15.Rac1 ( 15.Rfe1 b5 ( 15...Bd7 16.Qb3 Nd5 17.Bd2 Qb6 18.Qxb6 Nxb6 19.b3 Rac8 20.Ne5 Bb5 $14 { [%eval 37,18] } ) 16.Qb3 Ne4 ( 16...h6 17.Rac1 Qd5 ( 17...Nd5 18.Bd2 Nf6 19.Bb4 Nd5 20.Ne5 Bb7 $14 { [%eval 40,17] } ) 18.Qe3 $14 { [%eval 55,16] } 18...Ra7 19.b3 Rae7 20.h3 Bb7 $11 { [%eval 21,16] } ) 17.Qd3 Nf6 18.Nd2 Bb7 19.Nb3 Rc8 20.Qe2 Nd7 $11 { [%eval 9,16] } ) ( 15.Rfc1 Bd7 ( 15...Nd5 16.Bg5 Qb6 17.b3 Bd7 18.Ne5 Bb5 19.Qc5 Qxc5 20.dxc5 h6 $14 { [%eval 30,18] } ) 16.Qb4 Nd5 17.Qd2 Nxf4 18.Qxf4 Bc6 19.Ne5 Qd6 20.Rc3 Rad8 $11 { [%eval 13,17] } ) 15...Qb6 ( 15...Bd7 16.Rfe1 Nd5 17.Bd2 Bb5 18.Qb3 Qd6 19.a4 Bc6 20.Ne5 Rac8 $14 { [%eval 34,17] } ) 16.Be5 Bd7 17.Qc5 Qb5 18.h3 Rac8 19.Qa3 Qa4 20.Qxa4 Bxa4 $11 { [%eval 13,16] } ) ( 14...Qd5 15.Qxd5 ( 15.Rac1 Qxc4 ( 15...Bd7 16.Qxd5 Nxd5 17.Bd2 Rfd8 18.Rfe1 Rac8 19.Ne5 Be8 20.f3 h6 $11 { [%eval 16,18] } ) 16.Rxc4 Bd7 17.Rc5 Rfc8 18.Rfc1 b6 19.R5c4 Rxc4 20.Rxc4 Rd8 $11 { [%eval 0,18] } ) ( 15.Ne5 b6 ( 15...Rd8 16.Qb4 Qe4 17.Qe7 Rf8 18.Bd2 b6 19.Rfe1 Qd5 20.Rad1 Qd8 $14 { [%eval 40,17] } ) 16.Rfd1 Bb7 17.f3 Rfc8 18.Qd3 Qb5 19.Qd2 a5 20.b3 Nd5 $11 { [%eval -3,18] } ) 15...Nxd5 ( 15...exd5 16.Rac1 Bd7 17.Rc7 Bc6 18.Ne5 Rac8 19.Nxc6 Rxc7 20.Bxc7 bxc6 $14 { [%eval 60,21] } ) 16.Bd2 Bd7 17.Rac1 f4 18.Ne5 Bb5 19.Rfe1 Rac8 20.b3 Rxc1 $14 { [%eval 27,19] } ) ( 14...b5 15.Qb3 ( 15.Qe2 Re8 ( 15...Qd5 16.Rfc1 Bb7 17.Rc5 Qd7 18.Ng5 Rfe8 19.Be5 Nd5 20.Rac1 Rac8 $14 { [%eval 33,17] } ) 16.Qd2 Bb7 17.Ne5 Ne4 18.Qd3 Qh4 19.g3 Qh5 20.f3 Ng5 $11 { [%eval 13,17] } ) ( 15.Qc6 Qd5 ( 15...Bd7 16.Qd6 Bc8 17.Rfe1 Re8 18.Qxd8 Rxd8 19.Rad1 Bd7 20.Rc1 Rdc8 $11 { [%eval 23,19] } ) 16.Qxd5 Nxd5 17.Be5 Bb7 18.Rfc1 Rfc8 19.Rc5 Nb6 20.Rac1 Nc4 $11 { [%eval 8,18] } ) 15...Qd5 ( 15...Nd5 16.Be5 b4 17.a3 bxa3 18.Qxa3 Bb7 19.Rfc1 Rc8 20.Rxc8 Bxc8 $14 { [%eval 41,17] } ) 16.Qxd5 ( 16.Rfe1 Qxb3 17.axb3 Rd8 18.h3 Nd5 19.Bd2 Nf6 20.Ba5 Re8 $11 { [%eval 22,17] } ) 16...Nxd5 17.Bd2 ( 17.Be5 Bb7 18.Ne1 Ne7 19.Nd3 Nc6 20.Rfd1 Nxe5 $11 { [%eval 11,18] } ) 17...Bb7 18.Rac1 $11 { [%eval 20, 19] } ( 18.Rfc1 Rfc8 19.Ne5 Ne7 20.Rc5 Nc6 $11 { [%eval 23,19] } ) 18...Rac8 19.Ne5 Nf6 20.Nd3 Nd7 $14 { [%eval 31,18] } ) 15.Qb3 ( 15.Rfc1 Nd5 ( 15...Re8 16.Qc5 Rc8 17.Bc7 Qe7 18.Qxe7 Rxe7 19.Ba5 Rxc1+ 20.Rxc1 Nd5 $11 { [%eval 15,20] } ) 16.Bd2 Qb6 17.b3 Rac8 18.Qf1 Nf6 19.Qe1 Rfe8 20.Bc3 Qd6 $11 { [%eval 11, 17] } ) ( 15.Be5 Nd5 ( 15...Re8 16.Qb3 Bc6 17.Rfc1 Rc8 18.h3 Qe7 19.a3 Be4 20.Ne1 Bc6 $11 { [%eval 0,16] } ) 16.Qb3 Qb6 17.Qxb6 Nxb6 18.Rfc1 Rfc8 19.Nd2 Bb5 20.b3 h6 $11 { [%eval -3,18] } ) 15...Nd5 ( 15...b6 16.Bg5 Bc8 17.Rac1 Qd6 18.Bxf6 gxf6 19.d5 exd5 20.h3 Re8 $11 { [%eval 25,17] } ) 16.Bd2 Qb6 17.Qa3 Rac8 18.Rac1 Rfe8 19.Rc5 Rxc5 20.dxc5 Qb5 $11 { [%eval 11,18] } *
So I gambled again wrongly as I missed Matthias' choice. Besides this 6th possibility is very strong. Matthias told me that he found the move after his computer calculated for a while upon the position. I redid the experiment and indeed after 1 hour of calculations and depth 39 in multi-mode (analyzing several lines at once, so here 3) we see Stockfish showing the same preferred first choice.

Once again it is clear that playing a narrow repertoire is risky. It is practically impossible to neutralize all possible killer-novelties in advance by analysis. Besides even if this would be possible then you still need to remember it for months and years. Finally I want to add that this was the very first killer-novelty after more than 800 standard-games. So for now there is no reason to panic.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Since July I possess a smartphone. For years I refused to buy one as I considered it expensive and unnecessary. Eventually my employer forced me to acquire one as he would charge me 10 euros per month no matter if I use one or not. Recently the Belgian law changed so no appeal was possible. In short I am definitely not an early adopter of electronic stuff and I will only introduce something new when I am really convinced it has an added value.

So questions about the newest cutest chess apps or programs are better not asked to me. I refer for such questions to a recent article of schaaksite. On the other hand I do warn the reader not to follow blindly the recommendations of the article. Unless you are applying illegal actions, things don't come cheap. Besides for many of the applications exist cheaper or even free alternatives which can be old-fashioned but otherwise function good.

Well I do realize of course that the youth won't listen to my advise. Young people are addicted to quick entertainment and want immediate results by a minimum of effort. A good example of this I already mentioned in my article the Bird. DVDs are surpassing very quickly the classical chess-books. The 12 year old Belgian FM Daniel Dardha is a big fan of the DVDs see a Dutch interview at hln in which Daniel states that he likes to watch them.

However not only amateurs but also professionals enjoy dvds. Former world-champion Viswanathan Anand once again stated in an interview at chess24 that professionals have today to check an enormous amount of information. DVDs are surely easier to digest than books or other sources of information. Besides it doesn't stop here as they still need to work a lot at home individually and create personal analysis. Obviously this work is well shielded from the public. I just read that Chessbase created for that even a special encryption-key to help professionals to secure their databases when they travel to tournaments.

So every professional has secrets which he keeps for himself. It is not a coincidence that often the higher rated player can use the best secrets in his games. A recent example of such secret occurred in the game between Fabiano Caruana and the strong Brittish grandmaster Gawain Jones played at Isle of Man. Both have seen Svidlers Archangels dvd but only Fabiono was aware of a mistake at move 23. Once Fabiano applied his secret on the board, the game was already over.
[Event " IoM Masters"] [Site "Douglas ENG"] [Date "2017.09.29"] [Round "7.2"] [White "Caruana, F."] [Black "Jones, G."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C78"] [WhiteElo "2799"] [BlackElo "2668"] [PlyCount "63"] [EventDate "2017.09.23"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.c3 d6 8.a4 Rb8 9.d4 Bb6 10.a5 Ba7 11.h3 O-O 12.Be3 Ra8 13.Re1 h6 14.Nbd2 exd4 15.cxd4 Nb4 16.e5 Nfd5 17.Ne4 Nxe3 18.Rxe3 Bb7 19.e6 Nd5 20.exf7+ Kh8 21.Re1 Rxf7 22.Rc1 Rc8 23.Nfg5 { (Both players followed the DVD of the Archangel of Peter Svidler till here. However Nfg5 is an amelioration which immediately refutes the line and of course already studied by Fabiano at home.) } 23...Rf5 24.Ne6 Qd7 25.Qg4 Qf7 26.Rxc7 Rxc7 27.Nxd6 Rxf2 28.Nxc7 Qf6 29.Nxd5 Qxd4 30.Qxd4 Bxd4 31.Re4 Ba7 32.Nb6 1-0
Between amateurs such secrets are barely popping up. Very few amateurs are up to date with the theory. Many don't have the time to check all publicly available sources, and surely don't spend time at searching novelties. The games are also played in a more relaxed environment. Financially there is little or nothing at stake. The weight of a novelty is rather small upon the result of a game. Finally we as amateurs also have to play against a much wider variety of opponents compared with the very small world of professionals. I am playing more than 20 years of competitions and only 8 times I played against the same player 5 or more times see matches. That is a big difference compared to the world-top playing continuously against each other.

Therefore last I was disappointed and offended when my opponent of the 2nd round in the Belgian interclub: the Dutch IM Xander Wemmers refused firmly to tell what he prepared at home for our game. In the game we got the Avrukh-treatment of the stonewall on the board see for more information about it part 1 en part 2. However as Xander never played this system before (conform the databases) I smelt a rat. I hadn't checked the lines very recently so I thought it would be wise to deviate with a rather new idea which I saw a couple of months earlier. This brought us very quickly on unknown territory so naturally inducing a number of errors.
[Event "Interclub Borgerhout - Deurne"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [White "Wemmers, X."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A90"] [WhiteElo "2430"] [BlackElo "2310"] [PlyCount "98"] [Round "?"] [Site "?"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 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 Ne4 { (2 of my recent games with Nbd7 were inserted in the databases so it was clear to me that Xander prepared this line. I had not rehearsed my notes about Nbd7 during the preparation of this game so I thought it would be smart to deviate with a back-up. After the game I asked my opponent what he had prepared against Nbd7 but he refused to answer. ) } 9.Rb1 a5 { (Nbd7 is the only alternative which seems also playable to me.) } 10.a3 Nd7 11.b4 axb4 12.axb4 Ndf6?! { (I spent a lot of time at these moves and eventually I was able to reconstruct my analysis. However today I have to admit that those analysis were very superficial and I get into problems after this move. There exist very few games with this position so it is virgin territory. The weird engine-novelty Be7 to restore the line is a nice example of this.) } 13.b5!? { (C5 is an interesting alternative to fight for an edge.) } 13...Nxc3 14.Qxc3 cxb5 15.c5 Bc7!? { (A little more accurate is first Ne4.) } ( 15...Ne4!? 16.Qc2 Bc7 { (We transpose to a correspondence-game Brian Brzezinski - Anthony Zawadski played in 2014 and which I had used as base to select this line.) } 17.Rxb5 b6 18.cxb6 Bxb6 19.Bf4 Ba6 20.Rb3 Bc4 21.Rb2 Rc8!? 22.Ra1 Ba5 23.Ra3 Bc7 24.e3! Bxf4!? 25.exf4 Rf7!? 26.Qb1 $146 { (The correspondence-game continued with Ne5 and 2 moves later a draw was agreed. Qb1 seems an interesting novelty to try. The position appears simpler to defend than it is.) } ) 16.Rxb5 b6 17.Bf4?! { (White does not see many winning-chances after cxb6 but this is a miscalculation.) } 17...Ne4 18.Qe3 bxc5 19.dxc5 Bd7?! { (I miss the opportunity to punish Xanders 17th move. Despite several minutes of thinking I didn't find the best move which probably can be explained by some growing time-pressure preventing me to stay fully focused.) } ( 19...Qe8! 20.Rb4 e5 21.Bxe5 Bxe5 22.Nxe5 Qxe5 23.f3 $13 ) 20.Rbb1 Rc8 21.Rfc1 h6?! { (Again played after several minutes of reflection but it just makes things worse.) } ( 21...Qf6! 22.Rb7 Bxf4 23.gxf4 Rfd8 24.Rb6 Be8 25.c6 d4 26.Qd3 Nc3 27.Ne5 $14 ) 22.Be5?! { (Even stronger is to exchange the bishops.) } 22...Bxe5?! { (If white doesn't exchange the bishops then I will do but this is a not recommendable strategy. Be8 defends better.) } 23.Nxe5 Rc7 24.f3 Nf6 25.Qd4 Bc6 26.Rb6 Qc8 27.e3 Nd7 28.Bf1 Nxe5 29.Qxe5 Qd7 30.Ra1?! { (The win is more technical than expected.) } ( 30.Rcb1! Kf7! 31.Ra1 Qe7 32.Qd6! Ba8 $16 ) 30...Rfc8 31.Raa6 Kh8 32.Qd6 Qe8 33.Bd3?! { (I am playing almost solely on increments so white hopes a mistake will happen spontaneously.) } ( 33.Rb8! Rxb8 34.Qxc7 Rc8 35.Qe5 Ra8! 36.Rb6 d4 37.exd4 Bd5 $14 ) 33...Bd7 34.Ra5 Qf8 35.e4 dxe4 36.fxe4 fxe4? { (Df6 forces the draw but is very hard to check completely with little time on the clock.) } ( 36...Qf6! 37.Ba6 Qc3 38.Bxc8 Qe1+ 39.Kg2 Qe2+ 40.Kh3 $11 ) 37.Bxe4? { (With the intermediate Qxf8 white still could play for a win but Xander was in the meanwhile also playing on increments.) } ( 37.Qxf8+! Rxf8 38.Bxe4 Rfc8 39.Kf2!? Kg8 40.Rb7 Rxb7 41.Bxb7 { (The engines show a clear advantage for white but against an accurate defense I don't find the win.) } 41...Rc7 42.Be4 Kf7 43.Ke3 Kf6 44.Kd4 Be8 45.Kc4 Rc8 46.Bb7 Rc7 47.Bf3!? Bd7 $16 ) 37...Kg8 38.Bd3?? { (This is a misguided winning-attempt.) } 38...Qxd6?? { (Qf3 would've punished white as the unprotected white king allows some tactical crushing shots. Anyway after hours of defense it is quite normal to not look further than Qxd6 which draws easily.) } 39.Rxd6 Kf7 40.Rd4 Ke7 41.Rc4 Bc6 42.Kf2 Bd5 43.Rc2 Kf6 44.Ke3 Ke5 45.Be2 g5 46.Bg4 Rc6 47.Be2 R6c7 48.Bd3 Rc6 49.Be2 R6c7 { (Black can still try something but I didn't think it would generate serious chances. Anyway the interclub-match was already lost at that time.) } 1/2-1/2

After the game I was especially interested in what Xander had kept in store for 8...Nbd7 instead of 8... Ne4. Earlier I demonstrated that I made comfortable draws twice in Open Gent against FMs with black. Obviously Xander would not permit me to reproduce such draw. I insisted but Xander didn't give in so the postmortem ended before it even started.

At chesspub I mentioned my case but initially I got very little support. Why would you share something which can still be used later? However the chance is practically non-existent in this particular case even if Xander would never vary his openings anymore. Despite we both play for decades, this was our first game in which I had black. Besides if you look at the database then I am the only player having played 8...Nbd7 more than once see screenshot below.
Games + 2200 elo in the Avrukh Stonewall with 8...Nbd7
Anyway I don't see what we can win here by keeping secrets. It is just very egoistic and absolutely not how I play chess. No, I don't demand that everybody writes a blog to share his deepest secrets but a minimum of altruism is surely necessary if we want to preserve our chess-sport. It is another sad proof that chess-players are extremely individualistic.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017


At the start of this blog in February 2012, many were convinced this wouldn't last long. It is not so surprising as the span of a blog is averagely 100 days see e.g. scribblrs. Today people don't ask me anymore if I will still continue the blog but rather how much money I make with the blog. It is obvious that there is a readership and writing is something you only do if it also benefits yourself.

Astonishment and even incomprehension are common reactions when I respond that I don't earn anything with this blog. Somebody even joked by calling me an idiot. Nonetheless it is quite easy to get some revenues by adding a couple of advertisements to the blog. However I deliberately chose not to do so. I think this would only distract the readers and lower the overall quality of the blog. I want to show that chess is an incredible rich and interesting game via my blog. I believe that in the past years my many articles were a successful reflection of this view.

Apparently many readers agree as together with my Dutch main-site we have passed already some time ago the mark of 400.000 individual visits. If you know that the Flemish chess federation only has 3000 members than I think that this can be considered a success. In fact I am proud of this achievement. Today we have 300 articles all containing their own individual story. Besides as the blog is not another news-site, many of the articles are also timeless. Nowadays it happens often that I check one of my older articles myself just to refresh my knowledge of a subject.

Also when I correspond to other players I regularly use the blog by simply adding chess-links to specific articles. Before people told me sometimes that my answers are too tedious to read. By using chess-links I kill two birds with 1 stone. I don't lose time at chit-chat and at the same time I can share a lot of information with people really interested in the subject. Especially when you react at articles of others site this is very useful. You are not annoyed anymore by trolls.

However not every site likes to see such links. It is understandable as such links very often are undesirable with some very fishy content. The Captcha is not very popular but sometimes necessary to avoid being drowned into spam see e.g. the sleeping site of Alina L'Ami. Therefore some sites simply forbid all links. Without moderators it is often the only way to keep the site clean. Meanwhile even if there are moderators then still links are not always appreciated. After a couple of discussions with the very temperamentful Jacob Aagard which didn't go the way he wanted, he got angry. Eventually he decided to censor my comments see quality chess blog. As I was at that time a very active reader, it probably does explain for some part why we see today, 3 years later a clear drop of activity.

Recently I was also requested by Kees Schrijvers, the owner of schaaksite not to use links anymore in my reactions. He considered this spam. Even when I explained that all my links were always on-topic then still I got no permission anymore to use links. His argument was that my blog can be found via google. He didn't want to hear my counter-argument that it is often very difficult to find something in a blog when there are already 300 articles published. Just the other day one of my students told me that he got lost when searching something at my blog.

Meantime we are one month later and ever since I haven't made any new post despite I know quite some interesting additions to some of the newest articles. I am sorry for the readers using regularly my links at schaaksite to get more information about a topic (which is visible in the statistics of my blog). If the site-owner can not value properly my blog then it makes no sense to continue. It is rather clear that Kees does not have the time or does not want to spend time at investigating my blog.

Fortunately there are also positive sounds about this blog. Otherwise it would really be silly to continue this blog for so many years. I know at least 2 players that already picked up something of this blog to implement it successfully in their games. One example is an idea used by an expert of Bruges: Linton Donovan which I recommended in my article "tactics" published in January 2013.
[Event "BEL-chT 1314"] [Site "Belgium"] [Date "2013.12.15"] [Round "6.6"] [White "Ahn, Martin"] [Black "Donovan, Linton"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2273"] [BlackElo "2261"] [PlyCount "102"] [EventDate "2013.09.22"] [Eventtype "team-tourn"] [Eventrounds "11"] [Eventcountry "BEL"] 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Ba5 6.b4 cxd4 7.Qg4 Ne7 8.bxa5 dxc3 9.Qxg7 Rg8 10.Qxh7 Nbc6 11.f4 Qxa5 12.Nf3 Bd7 13.Rb1 O-O-O 14.Qd3 d4 { (In 2 earlier games Linton played Nf5. This is an improvement which I recommended at my blog.) } 15.g3 a6 16.Qc4 Be8 17.a4 Qd5 18.Kf2 Nf5 19.Bd3 Qxc4 20.Bxc4 Na5 21.Bd3 Bxa4 22.Ra1 b5 23.Ng5 Nh6 24.Ne4 Nc6 25.Nc5 Nb4 26.Nxa4 Nxd3+ 27.cxd3 bxa4 28.Rxa4 Kb7 29.Ba3 Rd5 30.Rb1+ Rb5 31.Rxb5+ axb5 32.Rxd4 Ra8 33.Bc1 Ra1 34.Be3 c2 35.Bd2 c1=Q 36.Bxc1 Rxc1 37.h3 Rb1 38.g4 Kc7 39.Kg2 b4 40.Rc4+ Kd7 41.d4 b3 42.d5 exd5 43.Rc5 b2 44.Rxd5+ Kc6 45.Rd2 Rg1+ 46.Kxg1 b1=Q+ 47.Kh2 Qe1 48.Rd6+ Kc5 49.Rf6 Kd4 50.g5 Ke3 51.e6 Kf2 0-1
The other example happened more recently. One of my students an expert of Mechelen, Deon Lee told me that he successfully used some analysis of the Fraser-defense in the Ponziani-opening see my article "computers achieve autonomy" published in July 2015.
[Event "BK 2017"] [Date "2017.07.09"] [Round "9"] [White "Oleg, Iolis"] [Black "Lee, Deon"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C44"] [WhiteElo "2111"] [BlackElo "2122"] [PlyCount "44"] [Site "?"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 Nf6 4.d4 Nxe4 5.d5 Bc5 { (The Fraser-defense in the Ponziani.) } 6.dxc6 Bxf2+ 7.Ke2 Bb6 8.Qd5 Nf2 9.cxb7 Bxb7 10.Qxb7 Nxh1 11.Bg5 { (At my blog I still had analyzed Qe4 which is not so easy to refute.) } 11...f6 12.Be3 O-O 13.Bxb6 axb6 14.Qd5+ Kh8 15.g3 Ra5 16.Qd2 e4 17.Nd4 Rh5 18.Kd1 e3 19.Qxe3 Rxh2 20.Qg1 Nf2+ 21.Kc1 Qe7 22.Be2 Rh1 0-1
Anyway this blog is of course much more than just a bunch of analysis of openings. In one of my classes I was really shocked to find out that my students never heard about tablebases never mind Lomonosov. At that moment I realized that a lot of stuff discussed on this blog is likely new for them and can help them to develop as player not only technically but also teach a few things about chess-culture. From then onwards I started to recommend them reading all the articles on this blog so even the very first ones. If you read 1 per day then in 1 year you have read all articles of this blog. What applies for my students, most likely is also valid for a much bigger audience. Call me arrogant but I think any ambitious (Flemish) +1800 player should be subscribed to this blog. It is nice to see that already several Flemish clubs have put a link on their site to this blog but I still welcome any extra publicity.


Monday, November 20, 2017

The butterfly-effect

A chessclub is for me the place to play chess. However not everybody seems to think like that as I often wonder why some people are showing up at all. Even in (big) tournaments I notice that some participants are barely interested in chess. They play their moves very quickly, hardly thinking about the consequences. They don't worry about the result. When I asked why then one of them responded that they mainly participate for the ambiance around the games. The socializing is often more important than chess itself .

I respect their choice but I believe the game is enough interesting to get pleasure. Chess is a vast source of incredible adventures if you are willing to spend time. The more time invested, the more you can discover and eventually also enjoy. Our youngest Belgian FM Daniel Dardha confirmed this at atv: "2 - 3 hours per day working at chess allows me today to enjoy a chess-worldtitle.

Now Daniel has of course a huge advantage thanks to his strong dad. Most youngsters don't have this luxury and often largely overrate their own skills. A small anecdote in le Touquet around a young Belgian talent confirmed my thoughts. The boy told me at the beginning of the tournament that he doesn't believe it is interesting to work extensively with engines  to study chess but later he was very disappointed when he lost a game without any chance playing black in a very theoretical Svechnikov after only 25 moves. We are not anymore living in the romantic 19th century where his kind of chess was successful. Today players need to learn how to operate the engines and databases otherwise more such defeats will follow especially when the opponents start to know which lines you usually like to play.

Anyway I am not only concerned about scoring points and winning titles. This would at the long term just lead to a fading interest and sometimes even some players to quit chess. No it is more important to learn how to find and appreciate the beauty in chess. The excellent recent article Why Study Chess demonstrates that this is possible at any level. Study helps to detect these beautiful things quicker. It is something which I do almost every day.

Some time ago I once again found a very nice concept in one of my personal analysis. In 2 earlier articles I already touched the butterfly-effect see an extra move part 2 and the einstellung effect. A very small change in the position has a huge impact upon the evaluation. Contrary to the earlier examples, this one is special as the effect only pops up many moves later. Let us start with the first variant in which white tries an interesting idea but it finally doesn't work.
[Event "Analysevariant na 11...b6"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Stange, S."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "2307"] [BlackElo "2140"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r2q1rk1/ppp1bppp/2n1b3/3p4/3P4/2PB1N2/P1P2PPP/1RBQR1K1 b - - 0 11"] [PlyCount "29"] [Round "?"] [Site "?"] [CurrentPosition "r2q1rk1/ppp1bppp/2n1b3/3p4/3P4/2PB1N2/P1P2PPP/1RBQR1K1 b - - 0 11"] 11...b6 12.Bf4 { (I think this is critical.) } 12...Re8 { (I believe Qd7 is better here but this is not relevant for my story.) } 13.Rxe6 { (A thematic exchange-sacrifice but white still needs to prove the compensation.) } 13...fxe6 14.Ne5 { (Here Bb5 is probably more accurate but again not very relevant for this article.) } 14...Nxe5 15.Bxe5 Bd6 16.Qh5 h6 17.f4 Bxe5 18.dxe5 Rf8 19.Qg6 Rxf4 20.Qh7+ Kf8 21.Bg6 Qg5 22.Qh8+ { (C4 is still sufficient for a draw.) } 22...Ke7 23.Qxg7+ Kd8 24.Qg8+ Kd7 25.Qg7+ Kc6 { (Whites attack ends so white is lost.) } 0-1
White offered material but black succeeded to thwart the attack. However I was very surprised to discover that 1 small change in the position allows a brilliant resource to pop up reverting the result. Watch and enjoy below engine generated high quality analysis.
[Event "Analysevariant na 11...Tb8"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Stange, S."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "2307"] [BlackElo "2140"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r2q1rk1/ppp1bppp/2n1b3/3p4/3P4/2PB1N2/P1P2PPP/1RBQR1K1 b - - 0 11"] [PlyCount "32"] [Round "?"] [Site "?"] [CurrentPosition "r2q1rk1/ppp1bppp/2n1b3/3p4/3P4/2PB1N2/P1P2PPP/1RBQR1K1 b - - 0 11"] 11...Rb8 { (Earlier I published at my blog that I liked Rb8 more during the game but analysis show that b6 and Rb8 are more or less equivalent.) } 12.Bf4 Re8 { (Just like the previous analysis, black should prefer Qd7.) } 13.Rxe6 fxe6 14.Ne5 Nxe5 15.Bxe5 Bd6 ( 15...Bf6 16.Qh5 Kf8 17.f4 Bxe5 18.dxe5 h6 19.Qg6 Qe7 20.Qh7 Qc5+ 21.Kh1 $14 ) 16.Qh5 h6 17.f4 Bxe5 ( 17...Re7 18.Qg6 Kf8 $14 ) 18.dxe5 Rf8 ( 18...Kf8 19.Qg6 Re7 ( 19...Qe7 20.Qh7 g6 21.Qxh6+ Qg7 22.Qxg6 Qxg6 23.Bxg6 Red8 24.h4 d4 25.c4 $18 ) 20.f5 Qe8 21.f6 Qxg6 22.fxe7+ Kf7 23.Bxg6+ Kxg6 24.Rxb7 $16 ) 19.Qg6 Rxf4 20.Qh7+ Kf8 21.Bg6 Qg5 22.Qh8+ Ke7 23.Qxg7+ Kd8 24.Rxb7!! { (A fantastic move. Only now we see the butterfly-effect as the pawn on b6 would avoid this option.) } 24...Rc8 ( 24...Rxb7 25.Qg8+ Kd7 26.Qe8# ) 25.Rxc7!! { (Chess is sometimes incredibly beautiful.) } 25...Rxc7 ( 25...Rf1+ 26.Kxf1 Qf4+ 27.Ke2 Qg4+ 28.Ke1 Qh4+ 29.g3 $18 ) 26.Qg8+ Kd7 27.Qe8# 1-0
Beautiful isn't it? Of course I would've never discovered this without spending many hours analyzing the game. I am sure all of us have such hidden treasures in our games but most are never emerging the surface. Ach ignorance is a bless. Anyway I keep sharing my diamonds at my blog so you can also enjoy them.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Holidays part 3

Last year I started to teach chess in KMSK see the chess microbe. This year I continue my voluntary classes but hereby I added some new conditions. I want to avoid just being an entertainer instead of a teacher. My students are taking the courses not seriously enough while my goal was to use them as a catalyst so they can develop themselves quicker. It is nonsense to give advanced classes when there is no interest to focus harder at chess.

So at the start of the new season I demanded some engagements from each of my students. They have to attend my courses strictly. There aren't a lot of them so regular attendance is mandatory to follow a program. Unannounced absences won't be ignored and will be considered disrespectful. My students are all older than 12 so are perfectly capable of mailing or picking up the phone. 

Also I want that my students play at least 50 standard games every year. It is useless to spend time at courses and studies if barely any games are played. Playing games is crucial to improve see experience. Some achieve this number automatically but for others it will demand doubling or tripling the number of games. I helped them by presenting a long list of possible tournaments which they could use to create for next season a schedule. Of course this should be discussed together with their parents.

Finally I also asked each of them to digitize each played standard game in a personal database (possibly still to be created) and add some light comments. This should't take more than an hour for each game. In the past I stressed many times on this blog that it is very important to learn from your own mistakes by looking critically at your own games see e.g. which games to analyze. My students are mature enough to handle such task. When I started to play chess against a computer at the age of 14 (see chesscompositions) then I also made analysis of those games.

Some of my students answered immediately affirmative to my conditions but I also heard different sounds. One talented kid decided to stop following my classes. Chess is just a game for him to make some fun and nothing more. It is an honest and courageous answer. In the end it makes no sense to attend classes about databases and engines which he will never use.

Fortunately the other 5 children were willing to accept the conditions. But that is of course not enough. They still need to be followed up and that is less evident. It is not so easy to play interesting games for young strong players. Not only there isn't so much choice in the neighborhood but playing far away demands a strong support from the parents. Still I managed to convince a couple of parents to make the trip to the open tournament of Le Touquet. When they also triggered on their turn some other Flemish young players to play, we suddenly had assembled a small army. The French were completely taken by surprise.

A young group of Flemish wolves came in real Halloween-mood to the tournament creating fear and despair all around. You could see the disbelief grow in the eyes of several masters and grandmasters due to any lack of rating-logic. Huge plus-scores were set by the Belgian players of whom the 15 year Warre De Waele rated 2045 elo was obviously the leader of the gang. He surprised everybody by winning the tournament in front of 5 grandmasters, 4 international masters ... see final standings
The very surprising winner: Warre De Waele
In the last round I saw his mum standing at the door of the tournament. I assume the excitement was too big to stay away from the playing-room. I don't think I really helped to calm her down by telling her at the mid of the game that Warre had some chances to win. It was for sure a fairy-tale.

It is sad that such performances are today always accompanied by distrust. Some anonymous players (likely top-players) asked the arbiters to watch out for the Belgian players. Statistically it is very unlikely what happened. Looking at the luck calculator then the chance was less than 1 out of 100.000. Such big numbers are difficult to grasp but remember that  the fantastic grandmaster-result of strong Jan in 2013 was a chance of 1 out of 1632 and the famous cheater Ivanov Borislav demonstrated a chance of 1 out of 305.0000. It is understandable that people get very suspicious.

Well I watched Warre playing in the tournament without detecting anything unusual. His play looked strong but natural so no typical engine moves. Besides the couple of times that he was analyzing after the games, he made a strong impression. He is clearly much stronger than his 2045 rating. Previous months he lost a lot of rating by playing some youth tournaments. Big thanks to Warre for sending me his games and allowing me to publish them. There were no live-boards and for some years games are not published anymore see my article from 2012: game-publications.

During the games of my son I stayed outside the playing-room. I warned in advance the organisation that I am a FM and will keep distance from the board of my son to avoid any discomfort. I only made one exception when he came to me clearly upset by something which happened at the board. He had announced "j'adoube" to rectify some pieces but his 61 year old opponent Jocelyne Wolfangel had missed it and now demanded to play the first touched piece. Hugo doesn't speak French so was not able to defend himself. I had to help him and joined him to the board. Normally the arbiter will decide in such situation to not play the first touched piece but I knew in advance this won't go smoothly. So I asked Jocelyne which piece she wanted him to play. She told us the queen. Next I looked at the position and quickly detected that the demand should not play an important role to the course of the game. To shortcut any discussions I advised my son just to play a move with the queen. He was clearly not happy but obeyed to the relief of everybody. For a moment I feared that he would now collapse emotionally but instead he doubled his forces. He would and should pay back this unfair treatment. At the end of the game he clearly enjoyed the process of converting the won position while a lot of people were watching closely around the board.
[Event "Le Touquet B 7de ronde"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [White "Wolfangel, J."] [Black "Hugo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D13"] [WhiteElo "1316"] [BlackElo "1474"] [PlyCount "140"] [Round "?"] [Site "?"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.c4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.cxd5 cxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.a3 e6 7.g3 Bd6 8.Bg2 O-O 9.O-O b6 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.e3 Bb7 13.Nb5 Rfd8 14.Nxd6 Rxd6 15.Rc1 e5 16.dxe5 Nxe5 17.Nxe5 Qxe5 18.b4 Rb8 19.Qd4 Qe7 20.Rfe1 Qe6 { (Here the opponent demanded that Hugo plays the queen as he touched that piece first. However Hugo had announced j'adoube before rectifying the queen so wanted to play another piece. She didn't agree. In the end I had to come to resolve the situation. I looked at the position, saw things were not critical and to avoid further discussions advised to play just a move with the queen. He was clearly not pleased but obeyed by playing a thoughtless move with the queen. I feared at that moment that he would not be able to control his emotions anymore.) } 21.Bf3 Rc8 22.Rxc8+ Bxc8 23.Rc1 Qf5 24.Bg2 Rf6 25.f4 Bb7 26.e4 dxe4 27.Qd8+ Kh7 28.Qc7 Bd5 29.Qc2 Qg6 30.Re1 Rc6 31.Qb1 Rc3 32.Bxe4 Bxe4 33.Qxe4 Rxa3 34.Qxg6+ Kxg6 35.Rb1 Kf5 36.Rb2 Ke4 37.Kf2 Kd4 38.g4 Kc4 39.f5 Rb3 40.Re2 Kxb4 41.Re7 a5 42.Rxf7 a4 43.Ra7 a3 44.Ra6 Kc5 45.Ra4 Kb5 46.Ra8 Rb2+ 47.Ke3 a2 48.h4 Kb4 49.g5 hxg5 50.hxg5 Rg2 51.Kf3 Rxg5 52.Rxa2 Rxf5+ 53.Kg4 g6 54.Rb2+ Kc5 55.Rc2+ Kd6 56.Rb2 b5 57.Rb4 Kc5 58.Re4 Rd5 59.Kf3 Rd4 60.Re5+ Kc4 61.Rg5 b4 62.Rxg6 b3 63.Rc6+ Kd3 64.Rb6 Kc2 65.Ke3 Rd3+ 66.Ke2 Rc3 67.Rb5 b2 68.Rd5 b1=Q 69.Rd2+ Kb3 70.Rd1 Qe4+ 0-1
The foreign language was not only a problem for Hugo. I was shocked how bad our older children speak French. The announcements were always only done in French (big difference with our own Belgian tournaments in which sometimes the information is spoken into 4 languages) and even if somebody spoke English then still it was difficult for many children to understand. So playing a tournament abroad with children instead of adults is a very different experience.

Also other details during the tournament confirmed this. Many game-records got lost as some children were extremely negligent. Reconstruction of the games appeared to be impossible. My wish to insert all the games into a database and analyze them, failed before we could even try. The adult guides have an almost permanent task to keep an eye on them. This is not easy as 2 players managed to get out for a swim into the sea at night while still wearing their clothes ! The 2 remaining rounds 1 of them played his games without shoes.

I believe our children really enjoyed the experience of playing a tournament abroad. The next plans are already prepared. Next time I advise to make stricter rules between supervisors and children so we can work more seriously at chess. I recommend both parents accompanying and separate accommodation like Warre did but I understand this is not feasible for everybody.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Chess position trainer

One way or another we chessplayers study openings and build up a repertoire. The complexity and amount of knowledge we know, grows exponentially with the playing-strength. Especially strong/ ambitious/ professional players have to know vast amounts of theory. Besides it is not necessarily learning the moves by heart which is difficult but rather remembering everything so it can be reproduced at the board when it pops up in a game. Not rarely this fails sometimes see harakiri.

Top-players are aware of these human limitations and even created a new ugly strategy around this aspect. They choose an opening of which they know in advance that the opponent has studied the anti-dote but they gamble that the opponent won't be able to reproduce all the analysis at the board. Chess has become a pure memory-game. It is not a coincidence that Karjakin was one of the very first targets to try out this new strategy. It is well-known that Karjakin sometimes forgets his analysis see my previous link.
[Event "Sinquefield Cup"] [Date "2017.08.09"] [Round "7"] [White "Maxime Vachier-Lagrave"] [Black "Sergey Karjakin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C67"] [PlyCount "90"] [WhiteElo ""] [BlackElo ""] [Site "?"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.h3 Ke8 10.Nc3 h5 11.Bf4 Be7 12.Rad1 Be6 13.Ng5 Rh6 14.Rfe1 { (More popular is g3 but it is all analyzed very deeply. All players of the tournament know the position. Even I a weak FM has spent a couple of hours studying the position with a computer.) } 14...Bb4 15.g4 hxg4 16.hxg4 Ne7 17.Nxe6 Rxe6 18.Kg2 Bxc3 19.bxc3 Rd8 20.Rxd8+ Kxd8 21.Rh1 Nd5 22.Bg3 Rh6 { (The tells this is a novelty but I already detected the move in a correspondence game played in 2014.) } 23.Rxh6 { (Only now a new move is played. In the correspondence game 23.Rd1 was played and a couple of moves later a draw was agreed between Milan Manduch and Vladimir Kharlamov.) } 23...gxh6 24.Kh3 Nxc3 25.Kh4 Nxa2 26.Kh5 Nc3 27.Kxh6 a5 28.f4 a4 29.f5 Ke8 30.g5 a3 31.e6 a2 32.Kg7 fxe6 33.f6 a1=Q 34.f7+ Kd7 35.Be5 Qa5 36.Bf6 Qc5 37.f8=Q Qxf8+ 38.Kxf8 Ne4 { (Afterwards Karjakin said that he has found all the previous moves in his notes. However he used almost 2 hours to reconstruct the moves.) } 39.Kf7 Nxg5+ 40.Bxg5 Kd6 41.Kf6 e5 42.Kf5 Kd5 43.Bd8 Kd4 44.Bxc7 Kc3 45.Kxe5 Kxc2 1/2-1/2
At the end of the game Vachier-Lagrave had about an hour extra on the clock compared to Karjakin see e.g chessbomb. After the game Karjakin sent out a tweet in which he claimed to have studied at home the line till move 38... Ne4. Even more remarkable it becomes when you heard the interview of Karjakin after the game in which he stated that he looked at the line an hour before the game see roundreport 7 at On the other hand it is not a new phenomenon for me. Last year I saw strong Jan, first board of Deurne choosing already very early an inferior variation in his interclub-game against an expert of Bruges, Stijn Bertem.
[Event "K.S.K. Deurne 1 - K. Brugse S.K. 2"] [Date "2017.03.12"] [Round "9"] [White "Rooze, Jan"] [Black "Bertrem, Stijn"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2317"] [BlackElo "2217"] [PlyCount "63"] [Site "?"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 O-O 8.Bd3 Nbc6 9.Nf3 { (This line is considered inferior for some time already. The mainline is Qh5 which I played myself a couple of times. Besides that Bg5 is the modern continuation.) } 9...f5 10.exf6 Rxf6 11.Bg5 Rf7 12.Qh5 g6 13.Qh6 Qc7 14.Bd2 e5 { (First cxd4 and then e5 avoids the continuation of the game as white would lose the a1-rook.) } 15.Nxe5 Nxe5 16.dxe5 Qxe5+ 17.Qe3 Qxe3+ 18.Bxe3 c4 19.Be2 Nf5 20.Bd2 Re7 21.Kf1 Bd7 22.h4 Rf8 23.Bf3 Bc6 24.Rh3 Ref7 25.Re1 Kh8 26.Be3 Nxe3+ 27.Rxe3 Kg7 28.Rg3 Rf4 29.Rg4 d4 30.cxd4 Bxf3 31.gxf3 Rxf3 32.Rxf3 1/2-1/2
I know the opening coincidentally as it is part of my repertoire see the article professional chess. After the game Jan admit frankly that he mixed up the preparation while he had looked at it in the morning. So you better wait with Nf3 after the moves 9.Qh5 Ng6.

With this introduction I want to show that it is important to create a good method of studying chess. In fact this is nothing new what I write here as at school our teachers told us exactly the same. However it is too easy to refer to the classical methods of studying. To learn long strings of moves and implement this knowledge in practice is something very different of studying for school and do exams.

Despite I don't remember anything similar happened in my games, I won't claim that I have found the ideal method for studying chess. No, definitely at the long term I experience also problems to remember stuff. In best case I can reconstruct the analysis by spending a lot of reflection-time. I've published several examples on this blog in which I failed in doing even that.

So when I saw 6 months ago in a youth-tournament Tom Piceu, IM of Bruges to use the for me unknown tool chesspositiontrainer, I got curious. Tom explained me that he with some friends decided a couple of years ago to motivate each other and work harder at chess. Studying openings and repeating the openings regularly would be an important element of this. So they bought together chesspositiontrainer (you can buy 1 license for 3 computers). Tom was very satisfied about the program but had to admit that he was not always very disciplined in following up rigorously the schedules.

I was skeptical about the added value of the program for myself. However as I thought it could be an interesting topic for this blog, I gave it a shot. Besides if you try something out then better to do it from the first time properly so not just using the stripped version but testing out the paying one with all features enabled. 40 euro is for a working person not insurmountable (especially in comparison of the prices applied by Chessbase).

A couple of months ago I downloaded the program. I paid for the license and managed easily to get access to all the features after getting my license-key. Next I wanted to test out the program. A small default repertoire is available but I quickly realized that this is not what a user is searching. You want foremost to train your own repertoire and then I imagine many users are getting disappointed. You have to insert all the stuff yourself.

I guess many drop out already. Even if we ignore that most players don't have a polished repertoire then you still need to get all the moves into the program. I read a comment at Quality Chess that somebody spent 40 hours at converting an opening-book into pgn. We know studying chess is hard but this kind of gigantic job is not realistic for most of us. Now we have to look at alternatives even if this means a decrease of quality. Today you have a few publishers, daring to offer DVDs of openings. I say "dare" as it is big risk that the content is illegally copied. It is very easy to spread files (although some of my students are not capable / they can play chess but have very little knowledge about how to use chess-software). You can buy Chessbase magazine DVDs (every 2 months, yearly for the price of 100 euro with a 40 euro voucher) and Move by move DVDs (20 euro each) of which you can select openings so a repertoire can be built. It is clear that you need a large collection of dvds to get a reasonable solid repertoire. It is not cheap this alternative.

Fortunately I could bypass this thanks to 20 years of playing competitive chess with a fixed repertoire see the scientific approach combined with a good archive see archiving. So I had already collected a good amount of material which I could insert simply via pgn into the chesspositiontrainer. I started with my openingbook-file which contains all my recent game-preparations for both colors. I was curious how many positions this would give.
3424 positions 0 times trained, 253 positions 1 time trained, 27 positions 2 times trained, 2 positions 3 times trained

This are already more than 3500 positions while I only injected my most superficial  analysis to study openings mostly in a broadly sense. This is a lot to maintain regularly so I have to be careful not to inject much more moves. Let us therefore have a look how many positions would count my database of my own played games which are commented often deeply. You can check this by creating an opening book e.g. "Brabo positions".

In above screenshot you see that I first select all 811 games of my personal database. Next I choose ECO 20 (default-input which tells us that averagely 20 moves are taken into account of each game linked to the popularity of the opening) and finally I enable the option of adding lines created by the analysis. I press the button "ok" and see the results in a couple of seconds.

OMG, we have almost 50.000 positions. On reddit I read that a specific user trains averagely 36 postions each day but that would mean that I need 1400 days just to train everything once. That is close to 4 years. On top the program tells us that we need to repeat this regularly. Default is set once per 4 days. It doesn't make sense anymore to look at my 3rd database with specialized analysis of openings.

In the end I decided to restrict the content for chesspositiontrainer to the initial 3500 positions. However that is not the end of the tale as now all the openings are in 1 big file. If you want to work efficiently then you still need to split this into modules. Again there is no support for this from the program. I spent approximately 5 hours to create some soft of structure with modules defined by opening and size.

Finally I can train a piece of my repertoire. I was not able to persevere very long. Except that it is extremely boring, I also wondered why am I doing this. I will not play any standard game in the next 2 months and even on the long term I see only a very small return of the invested time. If I would play regularly against strong opposition then maybe yes but today I don't need this. Besides I also find it rather cumbersome how I have to add new analysis made by a Chessbase-program. There is no automatic connection to the Chesspositiontrainer.

This program already exists since 2004. It is probably the best on the market but the many prerequisites makes it only useful for a very small group of players. I am thinking mainly at professional or and ambitious strong players. I will just use now as an extra tool for my game-preparations to train quickly some specific lines.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sore losers

While chatting a lot with other chess-parents I became conscientious how much ignorance there exists. People are convinced that our noble game is only played by gentleman always willing to help each other and never doing something wrong. Only after a couple of tournaments the first cracks appear in this idealistic view.

Chess is no exception to other sports and activities. You have nice and less nice people. In the last couple of months I experienced 2 situations in which people were accused of cheating. In both cases I detected a very high degree of typical engine-moves so something you don't expect from a player. Besides the players visited very often the toilet during their games. However some bullet-proof evidence was not found (nor searched) so I am obliged to be careful. We should avoid openly accusing somebody in such case as I explained already in my article distrust.

However I believe we shouldn't ignore those signals. It is a potential time-bomb for competitive chess and could accelerate the shrinking of chess-clubs. There exists no cheap/ free solution for standard-chess. Anyway you can't forbid somebody to visit a toilet.

To let every player sign a charter of fair-play at the start of a tournament won't stop the real cheaters but looks still useful to me. With this symbolic act you show your strong disapproval to cheating and probably some will think twice before trying. Also I would demand as organizer that each player sits at the board when he has the move. In my article food and drinks part 2 I wrote that this is just standard behavior but in practice I do see people going to the toilet from the moment they have seen the answer of the opponent.

Now arbiters should be a bit flexible with such rule. If you are away from the board while your opponent has the move then you can't always be back immediately in time. Or when your opponent plays so fast that you never get the chance to get up from the board then you should still be allowed once to get a small break.

Last I experienced something else. My opponent deliberately didn't return to our board but preferred to walk around/ kibitz. In the meanwhile more than a half hour went off his clock. It was my 8th game of Open Gent which I showed in my article jokes. As I wrote earlier, I don't have problems with players continuing the game in a dead lost position but then you keep sitting at the board. Besides it is not the first time I experienced something like that see Deurne wins the zilveren toren. However it was the first time that this happened by a pretentious absence from the board.
Photo of Dominik Klaus, from
I give him the first prize for worst loser which I ever played against. I even consulted during the game the chief-arbiter Marc Bils for this behavior without any success. On the other hand it is something which I very often experience online. The anonymity very often generates some bad mannered behavior. Even some strong players are not immune for the virus of being a sore loser. In the game below the black player (if it is his real name, a Russian international master) simply let himself run out of time in a completely lost position. So I just had to wait 2,5 minutes to claim victory.
[Event "Rated game, 3 min"] [Site "Main Playing Hall"] [Date "2016.12.24"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "AlexanderGelman"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B84"] [WhiteElo "2359"] [BlackElo "2254"] [PlyCount "35"] [EventDate "2016.12.24"] [Sourcetitle ""] [TimeControl "180"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 { [%emt 0:00:00] } 1...c5 { [%emt 0:00:06] } 2.Nf3 { [%emt 0:00:02] } 2...e6 { [%emt 0: 00:01] } 3.d4 { [%emt 0:00:00] } 3...cxd4 { [%emt 0:00:02] } 4.Nxd4 { [%emt 0:00:00] } 4...d6 { [%emt 0:00:01] } 5.Nc3 { [%emt 0:00:02] } 5...Nf6 { [%emt 0:00:01] } 6.Be3 { [%emt 0:00:00] } 6...a6 { [%emt 0:00:02] } 7.Be2 { [%emt 0:00:03] } 7...b5 { [%emt 0:00:00] } 8.Bf3 { [%emt 0:00:01] } 8...Bb7 { [%emt 0:00:01] } 9.e5 { [%emt 0:00:04] } 9...Bxf3 { [%emt 0:00:04] } 10.Qxf3 { [%emt 0:00:01] } 10...dxe5 { [%emt 0:00:00] } 11.Qxa8 { [%emt 0:00:02] } 11...exd4 { [%emt 0:00:00] } 12.O-O-O { [%emt 0:00:01] } 12...e5 { [%emt 0: 00:04] } 13.f4 { [%emt 0:00:09] } 13...Bd6 { [%emt 0:00:08] } 14.fxe5 { [%emt 0:00:01] } 14...Bxe5 { [%emt 0:00:01] } 15.Bxd4 { [%emt 0:00:40] } 15...Bxd4 { [%emt 0:00:02] } 16.Rxd4 { [%emt 0:00:01] } 16...Qxd4 { [%emt 0:00:03] } 17.Qxb8+ { [%emt 0:00:01] } 17...Kd7 { [%emt 0: 00:02] } 18.Qxh8 { [%emt 0:00:03] (Black is completely lost. But instead of resigning, my opponent just let his time run out. So I had to wait another 2,5 minutes before I could claim victory.) } 1-0
It is not a record. I already once experienced that after 8 seconds playing my opponent blundered a piece without compensation and let his remaining time run out. Or even worse are the sore losers playing 1 more move just before running out of time (so after several minutes) just to check if you are still attentive online. Not seldom they still score a point with this act as their opponents don't expect such evilness.

While you lose only a few minutes online due to sore losers, a completely different magnitude happens in correspondence chess. In below correspondence-game my opponent could've resigned surely earlier as I only got victory when I announced mate in 5 in the final position.
[Event "EU/M/1280"] [Site "?"] [Date "2000.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Goitre, F."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [PlyCount "54"] [WhiteElo ""] [BlackElo ""] [ECO ""] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.O-O Nf6 5.c3 Nxe4 6.d3 Nxf2 7.Rxf2 Bxf2+ 8.Kxf2 d6 9.Bg5 f6 10.Bh4 d5 11.Bb5 Qd6 12.Kf1 Bd7 13.Nbd2 O-O-O 14.a4 g5 15.Bf2 a6 16.Bxc6 Qxc6 17.Qc2 g4 18.Ng1 f5 19.b4 Qh6 20.h4 gxh3 21.Nxh3 e4 22.Bd4 Rhg8 23.Nb3 f4 24.Ng1 f3 25.gxf3 e3 26.Bxe3 Qxe3 27.Qf2 Rxg1+ { (Only after announcing mate in 5, I got the victory awarded.) } ( 27...Rxg1+ 28.Qxg1 ( 28.Kxg1 Rg8+ 29.Kf1 Bh3+ 30.Qg2 Bxg2# ) 28...Bh3+ 29.Qg2 Bxg2+ 30.Kxg2 Rg8+ 31.Kf1 ( 31.Kh3 Qh6# ) 31...Rg1# ) 0-1
Probably we could've saved a couple of months if white resigned more properly. Besides it are again not only weak players that are sore losers. There are stories known of strong players continuing till mate while dragging the game maximally via their saved time. Earlier with the traditional mail a lost position could be dragged for 2 more years. Not seldom you could hear that a player with a completely lost position still won the game as the opponent deceased! Nowadays correspondence-chess is played on a server which allows things to proceed quicker. Nevertheless in the game below, black manages to drag the game for months in a completely lost position.
[Event "EU/C2015/ct01"] [Site "ICCF"] [Date "2015.03.15"] [Round "?"] [White "Telepnev, Igor Viktorovich"] [Black "Podgursky, Artur"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2519"] [BlackElo "2472"] [PlyCount "183"] [ECO ""] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 e5 7.O-O Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.b4 Ne8 10.c5 f5 11.Nd2 Nf6 12.f3 f4 13.Nc4 g5 14.a4 Ng6 15.cxd6 cxd6 16.Nb5 Ne8 17.Kh1 Rf7 18.Bd2 Bf8 19.Be1 Bd7 20.Na5 Qb8 21.Bf2 h5 22.Ra2 Rg7 23.Qb3 Kh8 24.Rc1 g4 25.Nc6 bxc6 26.dxc6 Bc8 27.Bxa7 Raxa7 28.Nxa7 Qxa7 29.b5 d5 30.b6 Qe7 31.Rb2 Nd6 32.Qxd5 Nh4 33.Rcb1 Nb7 34.Rd2 Nd6 35.b7 Bxb7 36.cxb7 Nxb7 37.Rb6 Nd6 38.fxg4 Nf7 39.a5 hxg4 40.Bf1 Nf3 41.Rb7 Qxb7 { (To continue such position in correspondence-chess does not make sense especially at this level.) } 42.Qxb7 Nxd2 43.Bd3 g3 44.Qb2 Nf3 45.Qb8 Rg8 46.Qc8 Bh6 47.Qc4 Nd4 48.Qxf7 Rc8 49.Qf6+ Kh7 50.Qe7+ Bg7 51.Qa3 Bf8 52.Qb2 Rc7 53.Bf1 Bc5 54.Bc4 Ba7 55.Qa3 Rxc4 56.Qe7+ Kg6 57.Qe8+ Kg7 58.Qxe5+ Kh7 59.Qh5+ Kg7 60.Qg5+ Kf8 61.Qxf4+ Kg7 62.Qxg3+ Kh7 63.Qh4+ Kg6 64.Qg4+ Kf6 65.Qf4+ Kg7 66.Qg5+ Kh7 67.Qe7+ Kg8 68.h4 Bc5 69.Qg5+ Kf8 70.a6 Be7 71.Qf4+ Kg7 72.a7 Ra4 73.e5 Ra1+ 74.Kh2 Nc6 75.Qg4+ Kh7 76.Qe4+ Kg8 77.Qxc6 { (Now it even becomes ridiculous to continue in standard-chess.) } 77...Rxa7 78.Qb6 Ra8 79.Qb3+ Kg7 80.Qb7 Re8 81.h5 Kf7 82.Qf3+ Kg8 83.Qg4+ Kh8 84.Qe6 Rf8 85.Qxe7 Rb8 { (Black lacks clearly respect for his opponent.) } 86.e6 Ra8 87.Qf6+ Kh7 88.Qg6+ Kh8 89.e7 Rb8 90.h6 Rg8 91.e8=Q Rxe8 92.Qg7# 1-0
As the standard rate is 10 moves per 50 days see iccf playing rules black has 500 days for his 92 moves. You really need to be very patient when you play correspondence chess.

Running down the clock is a weapon sore losers often use. It seems there is not much you can do against it. A smart Bronstein clock could avoid such bad behavior but very few are interested. Today's clock with fixed increments is already hard to manage for many players.