Wednesday, September 13, 2017


The big news of last month was of course the comeback of Garry Kasparov. He played again a tournament for rating while his previous one dated from 2005. Well as a matter of fact it was only for rapid and blitz ratings which even didn't exist back in 2005.

Of course I was also curious about how Kasparov would fare. So I started to follow the broadcasting attentively. However my interest very quickly faded away from the event. The combination of the late starting-hour (they played in Saint Louis/ US), the many mistakes specific to the quick tempo (rapid/ blitz) and probably also the lack of excitement in the fight for the first place made that I only saw a limited number of games. Rapid/ blitz never really interested me (I still didn't play any fide rated game at that tempo) and the mimics of Kasparov see kasparov what went wrong didn't compensate for the tragic suffering of the once so feared monster of Bakoe.

In his best years this tournament would've been catastrophic for Kasparov. He wasn't satisfied himself with today the 13th place in the world for rapid and the 9th place in the world for blitz while he was used for many years to be the number 1. Afterwards there was a lot of debate about what went wrong. Probably his age 54 years old plays a role but much more important was his absurd time-consumption which doesn't have at all a link with age. A good explanation of why can be found in the article Why was Kasparov deep thinking? If you play regularly then you make some decisions automatically. However if you haven't played for a long time any competitions then this automatism has disappeared and you try to compensate that by extra calculations which burn precious time.

I already described those dangers in my article inactivity. You need to play a minimum of games to maintain the game-level. It is the reason why I subscribed for the maneblusserstornooi of Mechelen. The playing days and the tempo are not optimal but sometimes you need to make compromises. The club-championship of Deurne is this year even weaker than last year see the list of participants. It does not fulfill again my minimum-criteria (which many already consider very low).

On the other hand the hyped circus also generated unrealistic expectations of Kasparov. Besides despite some hard counter-proof still many believe elo inflation exists so people consider today's topplayers ready to be butchered by Kasparov. In other words it was very hard to get a proper preview of what the results would be also because his comeback was something very unique in the chess-world. After the tournament it all became much more clear. Now we understand much better which impossible mission Kasparov had started. If we look today objectively to his results then we should admit that he did in fact very well considering the exceptional conditions.

He demonstrated that he is still dangerous for any top-player and his opening-repertoire is still top-notch. In most games he got fine out of the opening with some strong modern chess. It seemed he never quit studying openings and he very well adapted himself to the most recent evolutions. Kasparov definitely didn't make the error to stick to some old likely obsolete analysis.

Last I experienced how dangerous it is to use some old theory which was even played in a world-championship. In 2006 I scored a nice victory in this line see the influence of world-championships at openings but it is again the Belgian IM Stefan Docx showing me that I still have a lot of work to do at my repertoire (see for earlier examples to Dutch steps in the English opening and grandmaster-norm for Stefan Docx).
[Event "Open Gent 7de ronde"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [White "Docx, S."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C45"] [WhiteElo "2420"] [BlackElo "2307"] [PlyCount "67"] [Round "?"] [Site "?"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Ba6 9.b3 O-O-O 10.g3 { (In 1999 Stefan played the other mainline with Bb2 against me. Honestly I had not checked that game anymore in my preparation. In the database there are no games of Stefan with this opening since 2003 and as Stefan plays many other systems, I had to make a selection.) } 10...Re8!? { (This is probably just playable but it is not pleasant. Black has a number of more solid continuations like g6, g5, h5 and Pb6.) } ( 10...g6!? 11.Bb2!? Bg7 12.Nd2!? d6 13.Qe4 Nb6 14.c5 Bxf1 $13 ) ( 10...g5!? 11.Bb2!? Bg7 12.Nd2!? Nb4 13.O-O-O Nxa2+ 14.Kb1 Nb4 15.f4!? Qc5 16.Ne4 $13 ) 11.Bb2 f6 12.Bg2 fxe5 13.O-O h5?! { (The most popular move but black now gets into troubles. Only Nf6 is hard to refute directly.) } ( 13...Nf6! 14.Re1!? ( 14.Nd2!? h5! 15.Rae1!? h4 16.Qxe5 Qxe5 17.Rxe5 Rxe5 18.Bxe5 Bb4 19.Rd1 $13 ) 14...Bb7! 15.Nd2 Qb4! 16.a3 Qb6 17.Bc3!? c5 18.Bxb7+ Qxb7 19.Rab1!? h5 $13 ) 14.Qd2 Nf6 15.Re1 { (Only now Stefan deviates from my game played against Desiree Hamelinck of 2006 which continued with the weaker Qa5. I had already detected that Re1 is an interesting alternative and if you publish this at the blog of which you know that players like Stefan read it then you obviously take serious risks by not deviating earlier. I am sure some people would consider this very stupid behavior but I am not afraid to lose if I can learn something which was the case here. Besides Stefan told me after the game that he played himself this line with black but gave it up exactly because of Re1.) } 15...Qc5 { (In the postmortem Stefan told me that Qd6 is a little better. The difference of evaluation between both moves is minimal but intuitively I also prefer Stefans move.) } ( 15...Qd6!? 16.Qa5! c5 17.Nd2 Qb6 18.Qxb6 axb6 19.Rxe5 Rxe5 20.Bxe5 Bd6 21.Bc3 $14 ) 16.Nc3?! { (I am sure Stefan studied this line deeply but here I guess he mixed up the move-sequence. First h4 is more accurate.) } ( 16.h4! Bb7 17.Nc3 Qa5 18.a3 c5 19.Bxb7+ Kxb7 20.b4 Qa6 21.Nb5 c6 $14 ) 16...Kb8? { (I played this move after a long reflection. Nevertheless I do not succeed to understand the position. Twice playing the black queen on the same diagonal is of course not a very common solution.) } ( 16...Qd6! 17.Qc2!? h4 18.Ne4 Nxe4 19.Rxe4 hxg3!? 20.hxg3 Bb7! 21.Qe2 c5 22.Rxe5 $13 ) 17.h4 { (This rectifies not only the previous mistake but also avoids any counter-play of black.) } 17...Bb7 18.Na4 Qb4?! { (I understand that my extra pawn is not much worth so I try to sacrifice it to create some extra air for my pieces. Stefan rightly rejects the offer and now my queen is very awkward at b4. Somewhat better is Qd6 but it is anyway very difficult for black.) } 19.Qc2 e4 20.Bd4 d5 21.a3 Qd6 22.Nc5 Nd7 23.b4 Rg8 { (In the postmortem I tried to defend with Nxc5 but the engines see very quickly how desperate it is.) } 24.cxd5 cxd5 25.Qa4 Bc6 26.Nxd7+ Qxd7 27.Qxa7+ Kc8 28.b5 Bb7 29.a4 g5 30.hxg5 Rxg5 31.a5 Qxb5 32.Bf1 Qc6 33.Reb1 Re6 34.a6 1-0
I am for sure not the only player making sometimes this error. Besides here we see a clear difference of approach between young and older players. Young players build up their repertoire upon hyper-modern systems which are today considered critical. However older players often keep on playing what they learned in their youth and don't follow so much the latest trends. The 67 year old Robert Schuermans definitely fulfills above description of an older player. He likes to play old and long forgotten systems of Fischer, Karpov and other old grandmasters especially against young players. Not seldom he scores because these young players don't know the classics.

However in Open Brasschaat it went completely wrong against the 15 year old Sterre Dauwe rated 200 points lower. Robert had really bad luck this time. Sterre is one of my best students in KMSK and 2 weeks ago I showed at the onjk (where we met each other) my analysis of my game against Stefan Docx. It is really a coincidence that Robert played exactly this line so permitting Sterre to extract very easily an advantage from the opening.
[Event "Brasschaat Open"] [Date "2017.08.24"] [White "Dauw, Sterre"] [Black "Schuermans, Robert"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C45"] [WhiteElo "1958"] [BlackElo "2172"] [PlyCount "51"] [Round "?"] [Site "?"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Ba6 9.b3 O-O-O 10.g3 Re8 11.Bb2 f6 12.Bg2 fxe5 13.O-O Nf6 { (In my analysis of my recent game against Stefan I recommended Nf6 as an improvement but it is still a difficult position for black.) } 14.Qd2 { (Sterre saw my analysis at the onjk in Borre/ Netherlands so still remembered how to play this position. Except Qd2 I also looked at first Re1 and Nd2.) } 14...Bb7 15.Re1 Qf7?! { (The queen better stays at the diagonal a3-f8 ready to be exchanged  but this is naturally not the style of Robert. So Qd6 or Qb4 offers better chances.) } 16.Bxe5 Bc5?! { (Black wants to wrestle the initiative with active play but this move only gives white a starting point to attack.) } 17.Nc3 Rhf8?! { (Too slow as now whites attack gets too fast.) } 18.Na4 Ng4 19.Nxc5 Rxe5 20.Rxe5 Nxe5 21.f4 Ng4 22.h3 Nf6 23.Qb4 Ba8 24.Qa5 Kb8 25.Na6+ Kb7 26.Qb5+ 1-0
In my articles old wine in new skins part 1 and part 2 I showed a couple of examples in which old openings were successful. However this new article demonstrates that when the surprise-element is missing, things become much more dangerous. Even copying something played in a world-championship analyzed before and afterwards by some of the best players, doesn't guarantee a good opening. Openings are evolving and today even quicker than before with the ever stronger becoming engines. Every top-player works very hard to keep track of all those evolutions and even add something extra to it themselves. Otherwise you are doomed to be horribly out-dated like probably most amateurs.


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