Tuesday, September 26, 2017


While reading the book H.E. Bird of Hans Renette I noticed not only that in the 19th century a lot of matches are organized but also many games are played offhand. At that time it was normal to visit a club and play an informal game against some random available player. This we don't see often anymore today. If you don't make any appointment with a player in advance then you risk not getting any game in a club. I often encountered that I left the club after a half hour to go back home as I wasn't able to find anybody free willing to play chess with me.

This sets the bar for newcomers of course a lot higher. I sometimes hear people getting rejected of a championship as the competition has already started. They need to wait for a couple of months to join any new competition. A sad consequence is that many drop out immediately after the introduction. Today we don't have enough fresh blood so this only accelerates the ageing of the club.

Likely the wide choice of tournaments explains the lack of interest in offhand games today. Most regular clubplayers don't want to play anything else than the tournaments and prefer to have a drink at the bar when they have finished their games. It is a pity as those offhand games are ideal to get softly introduced to our noble game. The score is not recorded and it allows you to experiment without needing to worry about the outcome. In offhand games it is not forbidden to talk or laugh during play at contrary as it often creates a positive ambiance.

On the other hand online there are still a lot of offhand games played. A distinction can be made between rated and unrated games but I don't consider this difference very important. An online rating has very little value as any serious controlling mechanism lacks. Personally I don't play tournaments online so you could argue that my online blitz are only offhand games. In any case I look at those games as fun so I sometimes just fool around with my opponents.
[Event "Friendly Game, 1m + 0s"] [Site "Cafe"] [Date "2015.??.??"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Guest1139807"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B01"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/8/4k3/3R3p/1pP3pP/pP4P1/P4P2/6K1 w - - 0 41"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2015.04.04"] [Sourcetitle "playchess.com"] [WhiteElo ""] [BlackElo ""] [Round "?"] [CurrentPosition "8/8/4k3/3R3p/1pP3pP/pP4P1/P4P2/6K1 w - - 0 41"] { (Bullet is for many players too fast but if you can use the mouse well then you can play a lot of moves in 1 minute.) } 41.Rxh5 Kf6 42.Rd5 Ke6 43.Kf1 Kf6 44.Ke2 Ke6 45.Ke3 Kf6 46.Kd4 Ke6 47.Kc5 Kf6 48.Kxb4 Ke6 49.Kxa3 Kf6 50.Kb2 Ke6 51.Kc3 Kf6 52.Kd4 Ke6 53.Ke3 Kf6 54.Kf4 Ke6 55.Kxg4 Kf6 56.Kf4 Ke6 57.Ke4 { (I first eat all black's material.) } 57...Kf6 58.f4 Ke6 59.g4 Kf6 60.b4 Ke6 61.a4 { (4th row) } 61...Kf6 62.b5 Ke7 63.a5 Ke6 64.c5 Ke7 65.f5 Kf7 66.g5 Ke7 67.h5 Kf7 68.Ke5 { (5th row) } 68...Ke7 69.c6 Kf7 70.b6 Ke7 71.a6 Kf7 72.Rd6 Ke7 73.f6+ Kf7 74.g6+ Ke8 75.h6 Kf8 76.Ke6 { (6th row) } 76...Kg8 77.a7 Kf8 78.b7 { (No mate yet as I want something more funny.) } 78...Ke8 79.c7 Kf8 80.h7 Ke8 81.Rd7 Kf8 82.g7+ Ke8 83.f7# { (Haha he will next time probably resign sooner.) } 1-0
Mostly it are very weak opponents not resigning. Besides I recommended my son Hugo to continue playing till mate when he started in the youth-tournaments see resigning. Nowadays he has outgrown this phase as he does resign when he feels further resistance has become futile.

When a strong(er) player plays till mate then something is not ok. People need to respect their opponents and if they don't then they deserve to be teached a painful lesson.
[Event "Rated game, 3m + 0s"] [Site "Main Playing Hall"] [Date "2008.05.26"] [White "Chrisj555"] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A04"] [WhiteElo "2033"] [BlackElo "2146"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/1p4pp/p1p5/8/8/2r5/1q6/3K4 b - - 0 48"] [PlyCount "67"] [EventDate "2008.12.31"] [Sourcetitle "playchess.com"] [Round "?"] [CurrentPosition "6k1/1p4pp/p1p5/8/8/2r5/1q6/3K4 b - - 0 48"] 48...a5 { (I still have a lot of time on the clock but white does not want to resign. I feel not respected so I teach him a little lesson.) } 49.Ke1 a4 50.Kd1 b6 51.Ke1 b5 52.Kf1 c5 53.Ke1 b4 54.Kd1 c4 55.Ke1 a3 56.Kf1 b3 57.Ke1 g5 58.Kd1 h5 59.Ke1 h4 60.Kf1 g4 61.Ke1 h3 62.Kd1 g3 63.Ke1 Kf7 64.Kf1 Kf6 65.Kg1 Kf5 66.Kf1 Ke4 67.Ke1 Kd3 68.Kd1 h2 69.Ke1 g2 70.Kd1 a2 71.Ke1 Kd4 72.Kd1 Kc5 73.Ke1 Kb4 74.Kd1 Ka3 75.Ke1 Rh3 76.Kd1 c3 77.Ke1 c2 78.Kd2 a1=Q { (Now I make a series of queen-promotions.) } 79.Ke2 h1=Q 80.Kf2 g1=Q+ 81.Ke2 c1=Q# { (Next time my opponent will think twice before making a fool of himself.) } 0-1
I ignored on purpose many times mate in 1 to end the game by creating a series of queen-promotions. Honestly I would have preferred knight-promotions but this was too cumbersome. I didn't want to tire myself by first switching off the default setting of automatic queen-promotions and later after the game reset the toggle. A famous example of completely redundant knight-promotions is of course the online game between Crafty - Nakamura played in 2007.
[Event "ICC blitz"] [Site "ICC"] [Date "2007.??.??"] [White "Crafty (Computer)"] [Black "Hikaru Nakamura"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A00"] [BlackElo "2664"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/2p5/1p1p4/pkn1p3/6K1/8/8/8 w - - 0 90"] [PlyCount "132"] [WhiteElo ""] [Round "?"] [CurrentPosition "8/2p5/1p1p4/pkn1p3/6K1/8/8/8 w - - 0 90"] 90.Kg3 { (The engine never resigns so this allows Nakamura to create a joke.) } 90...a4 91.Kf3 a3 92.Ke3 a2 93.Kf2 a1=N { (Knight number 2.) } 94.Ke3 Kc6 95.Kf3 Nab3 96.Kg4 Nd4 97.Kg5 Nde6+ 98.Kf5 Kd7 99.Kg4 b5 100.Kf3 b4 101.Kg3 b3 102.Kf3 b2 103.Kg4 b1=N { (Knight number 3.) } 104.Kf5 Na3 105.Kg4 Nb7 106.Kf5 Nf8 107.Ke4 Nd8 108.Kd3 Nb5 109.Kc4 Na7 110.Kd3 Nc8 111.Ke4 Ke6 112.Ke3 d5 113.Kd2 c5 114.Kd1 e4 115.Kc2 d4 116.Kb2 Kd5 117.Kc1 c4 118.Kd2 e3+ 119.Ke1 Ke4 120.Kf1 d3 121.Ke1 c3 122.Kd1 c2+ 123.Kc1 e2 124.Kd2 Kd4 125.Ke1 c1=N { (Knight number 4.) } 126.Kd2 Nb3+ 127.Ke1 Kc3 128.Kf2 Nc5 129.Ke1 Nce6 130.Kf2 Nc7 131.Kf3 e1=N+ { (Knight number 5.) } 132.Kf2 Nc2 133.Kf1 Ne8 134.Kg2 Nfe6 135.Kf2 Nf6 136.Kf3 Nd6 137.Kg3 Nc6 138.Kg2 N2d4 139.Kh3 N4f5 140.Kg2 Nfe7 141.Kf2 Ng6 142.Ke1 Kc2 143.Kf2 d2 144.Kg2 d1=N { (Knight number 6.) } 145.Kf1 Nc3 146.Kf2 Ncd5 147.Kg2 Nce5 148.Kg1 Nde4 149.Kg2 Nd4 150.Kg1 Ngf4 151.Kh1 Nfg4 152.Kg1 Nde3 153.Kh1 Ndf5 154.Kg1 Nf3+ 155.Kh1 Nfg3# { (Fortunately engines don't have feelings.) } 0-1
Everybody loved it how the engine was ridiculed but such behavior against people does not get the same response. It is not because chess looks like a sadistic exam that we should behave like sadists. It is a grey zone of what can still be considered as a joke or what people feel as an insult. Besides accidentally the American grandmaster Gregory Serper wrote a couple of weeks ago an article at chess.com about all sorts of insults in chess. He strongly disapproves such offenses as it only harms chess.

Publicly we should for sure not get involved in such stupid jokes. You risk to get beaten by your angry opponent and not seldom such joke ends badly. The whole world laughed at Nakamura a couple of months ago when he was punished for his arrogance in Paris Grand Tour Chess when he promoted completely unnecessarily to a knight instead of a queen.
[Event "Grand Chess Tour Paris (Blitz)"] [Site "Paris FRA"] [Date "2017.06.25"] [Round "16"] [White "Shakhriyar Mamedyarov"] [Black "Hikaru Nakamura"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E21"] [WhiteElo "2800"] [BlackElo "2785"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/8/8/5R1P/8/7r/4Kpk1/8 b - - 0 77"] [PlyCount "30"] [EventDate "2017.06.21"] [Eventtype "blitz"] [CurrentPosition "8/8/8/5R1P/8/7r/4Kpk1/8 b - - 0 77"] 77...f1=N { (Nakamura likes sometimes to fool a bit in his games but this time it backfires terribly. A simple draw was obtained by promoting a queen of course.) } 78.Rf2+ Kg1 79.Rxf1+ Kg2 80.Rf2+ Kg1 81.Rf5 Ra3 82.h6 Rh3 83.Rf6 Kh2 84.Kf2 Rh4 85.Kf3 Kh3 86.Rg6 Ra4?? { (Kh2 ! =) } 87.h7?? { (Rg1 or Rg3 +-) } 87...Rh4 88.Rg7 Rh6?? { (Kh2 was still a draw. Now black loses. Many players enjoyed laughing at Nakamura for his arrogant knight-promotion.) } 89.Kf4 Kh4 90.Kf5 Rh5+ 91.Kg6 Kg4 92.Kf7+ 1-0
Last Stefan Docx asked me after finishing my 8th round game of Gent why the game lasted so long. At move 17 I was already an exchange and pawn up for which my 250 points lower rated opponent, had no compensation at all. Besides we both had still plenty of time on the clock as we only consumed a half hour. However even in such completely won situations, I stay focused. I will keep looking for the best moves and won't play faster nor play some silly moves. It is also one of the reasons when I almost never suffer of inexplicable mistakes often connected to not being fully concentrated see my article mistakes.
[Event "Open Gent 8ste ronde"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Klaus, D."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B01"] [WhiteElo "2307"] [BlackElo "2020"] [PlyCount "89"] [Round "?"] [Site "?"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 c6 6.Bc4 Bf5 7.Bd2 e6 8.Nd5 Qd8 9.Nxf6+ Qxf6 10.Qe2 Nd7 11.O-O-O Nb6 { (In 1998 I once encountered h6 by Yves Surmont. Nb6 is the most popular continuation but Bg4 looks to me the most critical test.) } 12.Bb3?! { (I play the most natural move like many other players before but Bg5 is stronger theoretically.) } ( 12.Bg5! Qg6 13.d5!? Bxc2 14.dxe6 f6 15.Qxc2!? Qxc2+ 16.Kxc2 fxg5!? 17.Bb3! $14 ) 12...Bd6?! { (Sharp but just playable seems Bg4.) } ( 12...Bg4! 13.d5!? Bxf3 14.gxf3 cxd5 15.Qb5+!? Kd8 16.Be3 $13 ) 13.Ne5 O-O-O? { (I had seen the blunder in advance and had hoped for it but I didn't expect to see it played on the board. H5 and Bxe5 avoid the disaster.) } ( 13...Bxe5 14.dxe5 Qh4! 15.Be3 Nd5 16.f3 b6 17.Rd4 Qe7 18.Bf2! Rd8! $14 ) 14.g4 Bg6 15.h4 h6 16.h5 Bh7 17.Nxf7 { (You can resign here but continuing is not a sin either.) } 17...Nd5 18.Nxh8 Rxh8 19.Rhf1 Kb8 20.Kb1 Re8 21.Be3 { (I take my time. Understandably black wants to counter-attack but I am well prepared.) } 21...e5 22.dxe5 Bxe5 23.Bd4 Nf4 24.Bxe5+ Rxe5 25.Qd2 Nd5 26.f4 Re7 27.Bxd5 Rd7 28.Qd4 cxd5 29.Qxf6 gxf6 30.Rfe1 a6 31.Re6 f5 32.g5 hxg5 33.fxg5 Ka7 34.g6 Bg8 35.Re8 Rg7 36.Rg1 Bh7 37.Rh8 Bg8 38.h6 Re7 39.Rxg8 f4 { (I had still more than a quarter on the clock here. More and more people started to surround our board to witness the absurd situation.) } 40.Rf8 Re4 41.g7 d4 42.g8=Q d3 43.Ra8+ Kb6 44.Qd8+ Kb5 45.Qd5+ { (Of course he didn't allow me to mate him but I was not expecting anything else. We could've been sleeping already in bed for an hour which would not have been a luxury as the next and final round would start early in the morning.) } 1-0
Initially I thought my opponent would resign after move 17 but I was not disturbed when he preferred to continue the suffering. However at the end things became really ugly as we still had each more than a quarter on the clock remaining. Also this wasn't the only thing which was not nice. Much worse was another bad joke my opponent applied during the game. However this is for a next article.


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