Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dogmas part 2

I use regularly my very light playing schedule as excuse to read non educative chess-books. I find it much more enjoyable to read anecdotes and stories about chess than studying modern opening-lines or solving all kind of exercises. I very much liked reading the books Nadorf x Najdorf and Timman's Titans in the last couple of months. Najdorf's daughter writes some kind of biography about her dad from her very special but at the same time also extremely interesting point of view. Jan Timman pleasantly surprised me with his very witty style of writing in which he managed to share a personal story for each of the 10 former world-champions.
Jan Timman's book has contrary to Najdorf's book a lot of high quality analysis. Jan clearly had fun finding a number of ameliorations upon the already classic My Great Predecessors written by former worldchampion Garry Kasparov. The release of the series has been almost a decade already so Jan obviously was able to use much stronger software and hardware than Garry Kasparov. Beside his own games against the world-champions Jan focus especially at the less or even unknown games. Hereby a lot of attention is given to a bunch of secret training-games which Botvinnik played between 1936 and 1970.

Ragozin, Kan, Averbakh and Furman were Botvinnik's most regular sparring-partners. A game played in Moscow 1953 against Ilya Kan, famous for the Sicilian variation bearing his name, caught my attention. Particularly move 16 in which Botvinnik makes a remarkable choice.
[Event "Moscow training m1"] [Site "Moscow"] [Date "1953.01.20"] [White "Kan, Ilia Abramovich"] [Black "Botvinnik, Mikhail"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D71"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "1r1r2k1/p1q1ppbp/1pn1b1p1/2p5/3P4/1NP1P1PP/P2BQPB1/1R3RK1 b - - 0 16"] [PlyCount "50"] 16... Na5 (16... Qd7 {(Jan Timman correctly mentions in his book "Timmans Titans" that the current engines prefer this move.)}) 17. Nxa5 bxa5 18. Rxb8 {(Qa6 spoils the party.)} Rxb8 19. Bc1 cxd4 20. cxd4 Qc4 21. Re1 Qxa2 22. Qxa2 Bxa2 23. Ba3 e6 24. Bc5 Bf8 25. Be4 a4 26. Bxa7 Rc8 27. Bc5 Bxc5 28. Rc1 Bb3 29. dxc5 a3 30. Bb7 Rc7 31. c6 a2 32. Ra1 Bc4 33. f3 Kf8 34. Kf2 Ke7 35. Ke1 f5 36. Kd2 Kd6 37. f4 Bd5 38. h4 h6 39. Kd1 g5 40. hxg5 hxg5 41. fxg5 0-1
In 1998 Jan added 2 exclamation-marks to the move. Today he still thinks it is the best practical choice in a game but at the same time he also shows how the current engines manage to neutralize the concept.

In my most recent class I was pleased to use this fragment.  After discussing a number of good examples of pawnstructures, I found it important to warn my students for too dogmatic play. Dynamic elements must get priority upon structural aspects. In other words you sometimes need to weaken your structure to get the pieces active.

As my students often wonder if this kind of chess can also occur in their games, I had prepared some examples from my own practice. The at that time 21 years old Dutch Sebastiaan Smits impressed me with his audacious 17th move.
[Event "Interclub Deurne - Humbeek"] [Date "2009"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Smits, S."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B85"] [WhiteElo "2302"] [BlackElo "2170"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r1rbk1/1bqn1ppp/ppnpp3/6P1/P3PP2/1NN1B3/1PP1Q1BP/3R1RK1 b - - 0 17"] [PlyCount "41"] 17... Na5 {(The Czech grandmaster Vlastimil Janse already once played this audacious move in 1986.)} 18. Nxa5 $146 {(The first move which I can not find anymore in the database. It is a good move but white does not have any advantage. We should rather talk about dynamic equality.)} bxa5 19. Qf2 Nc5 20. Rfe1 Ba8 21. Bc1 Rb8 22. Qg3 $6 {(A tempo played as I only had a half hour left on my clock. My move is insufficiently sharp to maintain the balance. More accurate seems f5 with a very complex position.)} Rec8 23. Re3 $2 {(I miss blacks answer completely. Mandatory was f5 although I expect black still to be a bit better in the complications.)} (23. f5 $1 g6 $1 24. Qh3 $5 Bg7 $1 25. f6 Bf8 26. Qg3 $15) 23... Nxa4 24. Nxa4 Qxc2 25. Qe1 Qxa4 26. Ra3 Qc2 27. Rxa5 Rc4 28. Rxa6 Bxe4 29. Bxe4 Rxe4 30. Qf1 Re2 31. Rc6 Qe4 32. Rc3 d5 33. h3 Bb4 34. Rc6 d4 35. Rc4 Ba5 36. b4 Bb6 37. Rc5 d3 {(I was relieved that i ran out of time in this horrible position.)} 0-1
You can replay the complete game in my article the neo-scheveningen.

Another example happened in 2003. The same thematic move occurred on the board in Open Le Touquet. The German Erwin Hein seemed to me much stronger than his rating.
[Event "Open Le Touquet 4de ronde"] [Date "2003"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Hein, E."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B70"] [WhiteElo "2298"] [BlackElo "1958"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r2q1rk1/pb2ppbp/1pnp1np1/6B1/4P3/1NN5/PPPQBPPP/3R1RK1 b - - 0 11"] [PlyCount "134"] 11... Na5 $5 {(A bold move. Black deliberaty weakens his structure but hopes to get a lot of activity via the open b and c files. A more prudent plan is Re8 to cover the e-pawn and counter Bh6 with Bh8.)} (11... Re8 $5 12. f4 $14) 12. Qe3 $5 $146 { (A waiting move. I can capture already which has been played before and black will need to show where he can find compensation.)} Qc7 $5 { (Black threatens Nc4 so white is now forced to take. Nxb3 is also possible but it is unclear if this fully equalizes as white gets an open file so some activity instead.)} 13. Nxa5 bxa5 14. f3 $5 {(F4 is also playable but seems not really stronger than f3.)} (14. f4 Qb6 15. Qxb6 axb6 16. e5 dxe5 17. fxe5 Ne4 18. Nxe4 Bxe4 19. Bxe7 Rfe8 20. Bf6 $14) 14... Rfc8 15. Rd2 Qc5 16. Qxc5 Rxc5 17. Be3 Rcc8 18. Nb5 $5 {(White wants to have the option of advancing the c-pawn.)} a6 19. Nd4 $5 {(I chose a central position for the knight but it is not clear if this is the most optimal spot. Very interesting are Nc3 and Na3 with a small edge for white. )} a4 20. c3 $6 {(This allows black to counter in the center. Stronger is c4 to control the position with a long term structural advantage.)} a3 $6 { (Black wants to get rid of the doubled a-pawns. However it is rather dubious as black gets passive. More aggressive is e5 followed up with d5 and counter-play.)} ( 20... e5 $1 21. Nc2 d5 22. exd5 Nxd5 $132) 21. c4 axb2 22. Rxb2 Bc6 $6 { (White not only gets the b-file but also the pair of bishops. Stronger is Rc7 but white is still better after doubling the rooks on the b-file.)} 23. Nxc6 Rxc6 24. Rb7 Kf8 25. Rfb1 Ne8 26. Kf1 Rc7 27. Ke1 Bc3 28. Kd1 Rxb7 29. Rxb7 Nf6 30. Kc2 Ba5 31. Ba7 Bb4 32. Kb3 a5 33. a3 Bd2 34. Kc2 Bg5 35. Bf2 Ke8 $6 {(Objectively Nh5 is more accurate but white anyway keeps the advantage.)} 36. g3 Nd7 37. f4 $6 { (I was running out of time as that probably explained why I missed a direct win with capturing e5.)} Bf6 38. Bf3 Rc8 39. Kd3 Nc5 40. Bxc5 Rxc5 41. Bd1 $6 {(Whites intention is to redeploy the bishop out of the chain but this is too time-consuming. Much stronger was Rb8 followed up by Rf8 and blacks position is very delicate. In fact it is logical as activity of the rooks should normally get priority.)} Kd8 42. Ba4 g5 43. f5 h5 44. h3 $6 {(A bit more accurate is Rc7 immediately.)} h4 45. gxh4 gxh4 46. Ra7 Bg5 $2 {(That is just a loss of time. An easy draw is Kc8 with the idea of exchanging rooks and achieve an equal endgame of opposite bishops.)} (46... Kc8 $1 47. Be8 Kb8 48. Rd7 Kc8 49. a4 Rc7 50. Rxc7 Kxc7 51. Bxf7 Kc6 52. Be6 $11) 47. Bb5 Kc8 48. Rxa5 e6 49. Ra8 Kb7 50. Rf8 Rc7 51. fxe6 fxe6 52. a4 Rg7 $2 {(Black wants the h-pawn but this is too slow. Correct is Kb6 and I do not see how white can make progress despite being a pawn up.)} 53. a5 Bh6 54. Rf6 Rg3 55. Ke2 Be3 56. Rxe6 Rxh3 57. Rxd6 Bg1 58. Rd7 Kb8 59. Rh7 $2 {(Second timecontrol is approaching so I want first to eliminate the h-pawn but this permits black to exchange the a-pawn for the h-pawn after which a fortress becomes likely. Immediately winning was e5 but I missed a tactic in the game.)} (59. e5 $1 Re3 60. Kf1 Bh2 61. a6 $18 {(The e-pawn can not be captured due to a7.)}) 59... Rh2 $2 {(Black wants to keep the h-pawn but that is not the right defense-strategy. Better is immediately Ra3.)} 60. Kf1 Bd4 61. Bd7 $2 {(I try to first stop the h-pawn before running with my a-pawn to avoid any losing chances but this again allows black to organize the defense.)} Rf2 62. Ke1 Rf4 63. Bf5 Bc3 $2 {(Not the correct way to eliminate the a-pawn as now whites king get active. Correct is Rf3 and then continue with Ra3.)} 64. Ke2 Bxa5 65. Ke3 Rf1 66. Rxh4 $2 {(A safe choice again while having little time remaining but Kd4 was much stronger.)} Bb6 67. Ke2 Rf2 68. Kd3 Rf3 69. Kd2 Rf2 70. Kc3 Rf3 $2 {(Black is clearly tired after such a long game and only pushes whites king forward which is exactly what I wanted. Kc7 would still defend as it is really hard to find a breakthrough for white.)} 71. Kb4 Bd4 72. Rh7 Rf2 73. Kb5 Rb2 74. Kc6 Rb6 75. Kd5 Bf2 76. e5 Rb2 77. e6 Rd2 78. Kc6 1-0
So here it didn't end well but in the game black did achieve sufficient counterplay with the idea.

After these examples my students were convinced of the importance to also look at less common themes we find in grandmastergames. You never know what to expect in a game. Also eventually learning a lot of small new things will help you making another step forwards at chess.


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