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 "chess.com 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.


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