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.