Friday, January 12, 2018


Fighting back from a lost position is definitely not easy in chess. In my article comebacks I demonstrated that in most games an evaluation-difference of 1 pawn is an uphill battle. A recent article at schaaksite about reversibility proves the same but uses a totally different method. The Dutch expert Jaap Amesz played a couple of rapidgames against a top-engine rated 1000 elo higher than himself. Getting a piece extra to start, it became quite easy to defeat the tactical monster. Handicap-games make only sense for novices.

The endgame is an exception as a mistake will normally cause a much bigger impact upon the result of the game. In the past I often was able to save totally lost endgames due to a better sense of the intricacies see e.g. endgames of bishop against knightendgames of knight against knightendgames of opposite bishops,... I consider it a pity that we only deal with "playable" endgames in about 10% of our games. A higher percentage doubtlessly would've been positive for my rating. Besides the quicker games today compared with a couple of years ago were also deteriorating the endgame.

So a won middlegame with a relatively lower engine-evaluation will often be easier to win than a won endgame with sometimes a much higher engine-evaluation. Experienced players know how to avoid counterplay in a won middlegame. The defender often is restricted to just defending for several hours. It is not only boring but also such defense fails eventually in most cases. It is not a surprise that some players will try to swindle. The definition at wikipedia tells us to trick/ fool the opponent so a lost position can be saved.

So with a swindle-move you try to set a trap for the opponent but at the same time you also risk to lose much quicker or even immediately. When stiff defense will anyway will lead to a guaranteed defeat then such swindle is for sure the right decision. However in many other cases the right choice is not very clear. I am not an expert in that domain. When I try to swindle then it is mostly too late. It more resembles to my final gasp so without any real chance of salvation. I remember 1 clear exception in my career in which I tried to swindle in an inferior but not yet totally lost position.
[Event "Klubkampioenschap Deurne r3"] [Date "2014.??.??"] [White "Ismail, T."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C77"] [WhiteElo "2000"] [BlackElo "2337"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r4rk1/4b1pp/p1q5/1pPpn3/PP1Bp3/7P/2B1QPP1/R4RK1 b - - 0 22"] [PlyCount "16"] [Round "?"] [Site "?"] [CurrentPosition "r4rk1/4b1pp/p1q5/1pPpn3/PP1Bp3/7P/2B1QPP1/R4RK1 b - - 0 22"] 22...Nf3+ { (Normal moves give white a big advantage so I decide to gamble. Later it appeared the piece-sacrifice is correct but at the board I didn't know.) } 23.gxf3 Qg6+? { (With Rxf3 I could prove the correctness of the sacrifice but the tactics are extremely complicated. In fact only 3 years later I was able to find the equalizing line for black by using stronger engines.) } ( 23...Rxf3! 24.Be5 Raf8! 25.Bg3 Qe6 26.Bxe4 dxe4 27.Qa2 Rb3 28.Rfb1 bxa4 29.Qxa4 Rxb1+ 30.Rxb1 Qxh3 31.Re1 Bh4 32.Qb3+ Kh8 33.Rxe4 Bxg3 34.Qxg3 Qf5 35.Re7 Rg8 $13 ) 24.Kh2 Bd6+ { (I had planned Bd6 2 moves earlier when I sacrificed the piece. Only now I realize that the bishop can be taken by white. As anything else loses quickly, I decided anyway to go for it.) } 25.cxd6 Qxd6+ 26.f4 Rxf4 27.Kg2 Qg6+ 28.Kh2 Qd6 29.Kg2 Qg6+ 30.Kh2?? { (I was very relieved to see that white agreed with the repetition. However the win after Kh1 isn't very difficult especially when you see Ra3. I don't know if the rating-difference or the 2 earlier defeats were the reason not to search for a refutation. Maybe my surprising sacrifices created so much tension that Tamer couldn't think objectively anymore. I very much doubt that in the future I will be again so lucky.) } 1/2-1/2

The final-position is completely lost for black but I was fortunate. White was happy with the draw and didn't look beyond the repetition (something similar happened recently in the game Zaki Harari - Maxim Rodshtein played at Isle of Man). Very likely a stronger player would've deviated and my swindle would've failed. Anyway after the game I was not proud about the swindle. I got the feeling to have stolen a half point but also realized that most other players wouldn't hesitate to pull a similar feat against myself.

Totally different is the feeling when a swindle happens thanks to an unique hidden possibility after something changed in the position. Such swindles are not based upon provoking mistakes but rather use its own playing-strength by finding often stunning combinations. The most fertile territory is again the endgame. In my article holidays part 3 I wrote that I tried to kibitz the games of the other Belgium players in Le Touquet. Hereby I not only paid attention to the A-group but also looked at the players in the B-group. As such I saw a very lovely swindle executed by the 11 year old Leen Deleu.
[Event "Touquet2017"] [Date "2017.10.31"] [Round "5"] [White "Edery, Laurent"] [Black "Deleu, Leen"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A28"] [WhiteElo "1405"] [BlackElo "1399"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/8/7R/3p1k2/3P1P1p/2K1P2P/4r3/8 w - - 0 50"] [PlyCount "3"] [Site "?"] [CurrentPosition "8/8/7R/3p1k2/3P1P1p/2K1P2P/4r3/8 w - - 0 50"] 50.Kd3?? { (White wants to avoid Rxe3 and the infiltration of the black king but miss a stalemate.) } ( 50.Rh5+ Ke4 51.Re5+ Kf3 52.f5 Kg3 53.f6 Rf2 54.Rxd5 Rxf6 55.Rg5+ Kxh3 $18 { (A tablebase-win which isn't that difficult to execute.) } ) ( 50.Rxh4 Rxe3+ 51.Kb4 Ke4 52.Kc5 Rc3+ 53.Kd6 Ra3 54.f5+ Kxf5 55.Kxd5 $18 { (Also a tablebase-win but this looks a bit more complicated.) } ) ( 50.Kb4 Rxe3 51.Rxh4 { (See previous line.) } ) 50...Rxe3+ { (Not so hard but always fun to play. In any case it is nice from an 11 year old girl to stay focused after more than 4 hours play.) } 51.Kxe3 { (Not capturing the rook does surely not generate any winning chances.) } 1/2-1/2

Leen's results weren't fantastic in the tournament but this escape surely improved her spirits.

In Open Leuven I encountered my most beautiful swindle of my chess-career and on top in a middlegame. Just when I thought to finally overcome the resistance of my opponent, the flamboyant Belgian expert Emile Boucquet managed to knock off my socks by a marvelous piece-sacrifice leading to a forced draw. Initially I was disappointed to spoil a very good position with an extra pawn but later I did appreciate the beauty of the concept.
[Event "Open Leuven 3de ronde"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [White "Boucquet, E."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C47"] [WhiteElo "2175"] [BlackElo "2283"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r3k1/p1p2pb1/2p1b2p/Qq2B1p1/N1p5/P6P/1PP2PP1/4R1K1 w - - 0 27"] [PlyCount "9"] [Round "?"] [Site "?"] [CurrentPosition "2r3k1/p1p2pb1/2p1b2p/Qq2B1p1/N1p5/P6P/1PP2PP1/4R1K1 w - - 0 27"] 27.Qc3 { (This fantastic move was a complete surprise for me. Even today's top-engines have some difficulties to evaluate properly the consequences. I do believe Emiel also only realized a couple of moves later which beauty he found and played. ) } 27...Bf8 ( 27...Bxe5!? 28.Rxe5 Bd5 ( 28...Qxa4?? 29.Ra5 $18 { (I assume Emiel decided to play 27.Qc3 mainly because of this trick.) } ) 29.h4 { (I used half of my remaining minutes to evaluate properly the tactics and in the end rightly decided not to accept the sacrifice as it is too dangerous. Emiel told me he also looked at this move while I was calculating.) } 29...f6 ( 29...Qxa4 30.hxg5 h5 31.Re3 Be6 32.g6 Bf5 33.gxf7+ Kxf7 34.Rg3 Rg8 35.Qe5 $11 { [%eval 27,35] } ) 30.Qh3 Rf8 31.Qf5 fxe5 32.Qg6+ Kh8 33.Qxh6+ $11 { [%eval 0,45] } ) 28.Qf3 Bg7 { (I also looked at Be7 and Qxa4 but again chose for the safest continuation.) } ( 28...Be7!? 29.Bc3 Rd8 ( 29...Qxa4 30.Qh5 Bf8 ( 30...Qxc2 31.Qxh6 Qh7 32.Rxe6 Qxh6 33.Rxh6 f6 34.Bxf6 Bf8 35.Rh8+ Kf7 36.Bxg5 $18 { [%eval 261,32] } ) 31.Rxe6 Qxc2 32.Rf6 Qh7 33.h4 Rd8 34.hxg5 Rd6 35.Qg4 $11 { [%eval 5,37] } ) 30.Qh5 Qf5 31.Qxh6 Qh7 32.Qxh7+ Kxh7 33.Bb4 Bf6 34.Nc5 $11 { [%eval 13,36] } ) ( 28...Qxa4?? 29.Qf6 Kh7 30.g4 Qxc2 ( 30...h5 31.Qh8+ Kg6 32.Qxh5# ) 31.Qh8+ Kg6 32.Qg8+ Bg7 33.Qxg7# ) 29.Qc3 { (After the game I told Emiel that he could have avoided the repetition with Bxg7 but he missed that possibility.) } ( 29.Bxg7 Kxg7 30.b3 ( 30.Qc3+ Kg6 31.Re5 Bd5 32.h4 Qxa4 33.hxg5 hxg5 34.f4 gxf4 35.Qh3 Be6 $11 { [%eval 0,41] } ) 30...cxb3 31.Qc3+ Kh7 32.Nc5 Qc4 33.Qxc4 Bxc4 34.Nxb3 Bd5 $11 { [%eval -14,40] } ) 29...Bf8 30.Qf3 Bg7 31.Qc3 1/2-1/2

I assume Emile hadn't forecast everything but that doesn't really matter here and besides was practically impossible with the remaining time on the clock. Anyway I don't mind to lose half or even full points when my opponent can find such swindles during the game.

In fact such swindles should be collected for the real chess-amateurs. That is why we learned to play chess. Luckily the Australian grandmaster David Smerdon just requested on his blog to send him our best swindles as he wants to bundle them in a book see article: a swindle that never was. So if you experienced something spectacular in your games then respond to this post or send it directly to David.


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