Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The (non-) sense of blitz part 2

Teaching children keeps yourself young of mind but I rather get the opposite feeling. Some of them consider me a dinosaur from a distinct past. Anyone of my generation knows what a rotary telephone is but for today's youth this device is very confusing see a funny article at hln. Also other topics like technology, music or chess are all creating a big gap between myself and my students. Recently I was again surprised that even a group of +20 years old players never heard before of twic or ssdf. Twic already exists since 1994 and is one of the very first if not the first newssite about chess. It is still active today. SSDF is the still running computer-ranking created in 1984!

Briefly many things has changed since I started to play competitive chess. Many players have quit the game partly because the technological revolution took away their pleasure. Others like myself tried to adapt themselves and even took advantage of the new possibilities. Personally I made enormous changes during the last 2 decades in my methods of how to prepare for a game. Not everything became more complicated as nobody wants to return to the era when we had to deal with suitcases full of heavy (paper) chess-books. Below I summarize the different methods which during those years were introduced in my personal game-preparation-evolution. Some exact dates couldn't be found back so were estimated.
  • 1996: I bought my first PC and Fritz-program. I made my first game-preparation based on my knowledge of previous games against the players. At that time I used my reasonable up to date (paper) opening-books to prepare and checked briefly some lines with an engine.
  • 1997: I started to play against stronger players. Some of them had some games in the very first databases which I looked up to check their repertoire.
  • 2003: I started to use the engine openingbook which was offered together with an engine. This way I got a better view of the different possibilities in an opening.
  • 2005: I created a database to collect and store my game-preparations per color. I realized that often there is very little time to prepare especially at the French interclub so you need to organize yourself.
  • 2007: I created a database of games played by players of Deurne. After the birth of my first child I stopped playing abroad and started to play the local clubchampionship. As commercial databases often don't include games of lower rated players, I felt the urge to collect and store myself some of those games which could be relevant for myself.
  • 2010: I started to check correspondence-games and engine-games to find ideas which can be used for a game-preparation.
  • 2012: I created a detail-database to deepen my opening-analysis of played tournament games so I can use this in my game-preparation.
  • 2013: I created my first engine-openingbook based upon standard tournament games played by +2300 players as the commercial engine-openingbooks are very quickly outdated.
  • 2013: I started to download regularly twic, iccf- and engine games to consult them during the game-preparations. I also started to check online databases like chess.db to get better updated of the very latest developments.
  • 2015: I introduced monte carlo system in my game-preparations to get a quick idea in an opening with very few or no reference-games. Fast analysis is becoming very interesting due to the ever stronger engines.
  • 2017: I bought Chess position trainer which I use today to practice some very specific opening-analysis in a game-preparation.
  • 2017: I started to use in a more structured method my online played blitz-games in a game-preparation.
So my most recent preparation-tool is a more systematic use of my online played blitzgames. In this article I will demonstrate how this can be done efficiently if 2 conditions are fulfilled. First you need to have an easy access to your online played games. That is the main-reason why I today prefer Playchess. Very few or no other interfaces take care of an automatic storage of the played games on the computer see the database myinternetgames.cbh which I mentioned in my previous article. The second obvious condition is that you play the same stuff in blitz as in standard chess. Some blitz-players have a special repertoire only fitting in blitz but they won't be able to use that knowledge to prepare games for standard chess.

A successful example of using blitz-experience in a game-preparation was implemented in the final opening-position which was closing the previous article. After whites 8th move there exist almost no games in the commercial databases. You could activate an engine to get an idea but that doesn't make much sense in such type of non forcible position. Black has too many options to just look at the evaluation of an engine. Much more useful is to check my online played games to see what in practice people like to play in that particular position. As blitz is chess of a rather low quality, I use a filter just looking to my lost games. Below we see a screenshot of my lost games.

Next I will check one by one with an engine which mistakes I made and especially if something could be improved in the opening. One of them was a game I lost after 8...c6 (see above marked in yellow). When I fed the position at the engine, it played a very remarkable gambit see the screenshot below.

Of course I spent some time to understand the consequences of this gambit. I repeated this for my other lost games (only 11 so not that much) hereby discovering some more nice novelties. Once this was finished I stopped the game-preparation. As my opponent has only a very limited amount of games in the database, any other preparation sounded useless. A couple of hours later our game started.
[Event "Open Leuven 4de ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Coenen, E."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B06"] [WhiteElo "2283"] [BlackElo "2160"] [PlyCount "87"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Nc3 a6 { (I was not able to find any games in the database of my opponent with this position. Nevertheless this move was not a surprise for me. Edouard likes to play this kind of modern defense with a6 so I suspected he would also play it in this position.) } 5.Be2 b5 6.O-O Bb7 7.Re1 { (After the game Edouard told me the also prepared this line but expected me to play here a4. In my previous games I played that indeed but on my blog I already announced to play Re1. Fortunately not all my opponents read this blog.) } 7...Nd7 8.a4 c6 { (In my game-preparation I also looked at my lost online games. One of them I encountered c6 so with an engine I prepared a very dangerous anti-dote.) } 9.e5 dxe5 10.dxe5 Nxe5 11.Nxe5?! { (A little more accurate seems to me Qxd8. This difference I was only able to detect after some serious analysis which was not possible in the timeframe of a game-preparation.) } ( 11.Qxd8+!? Kxd8 { (After Rxd8 white should transpose to the game by first playing axb5 and next Nxe5.) } 12.Bf4! { (This refinement defines the difference between both move-orders.) } 12...Nd7 ( 12...Nxf3+ 13.Bxf3 Bxc3 14.bxc3 Nf6 15.c4 Re8 16.axb5 axb5 17.Rxa8+ Bxa8 18.Ra1 $16 ) 13.Ng5 Ke8 14.Bf3 $16 ) 11...Bxe5 12.Qxd8+ Rxd8 13.axb5 cxb5?! { (I remembered during the game that I looked at Bxc3 in my game-preparation which seems a little stronger.) } ( 13...Bxc3! 14.bxc3 cxb5 15.c4 bxc4 16.Bb2 f6 17.Bxc4 Rc8 $14 ) 14.Nxb5 { (This is the idea behind my 9th devilish move.) } 14...Nf6 15.Bf3? { (My first move out book but not the best despite thinking 30 minutes. The engine has little trouble to find the much stronger Bf1 with a large advantage.) } 15...Ne4? { (After the game I recommended Bxf3 as likely better but I warned that it was very tricky.) } ( 15...Bxf3! 16.gxf3 Bxh2+ 17.Kxh2 axb5 18.Bg5!? { (I had planned this move but the engine finds a way to escape.) } 18...Nd5 ( 18...Kf8?? 19.Bh6+ Ke8 20.Bg7 Rg8 21.Bxf6 $18 ) 19.Ra7 O-O ( 19...Rd7?? 20.Ra8+ Rd8 21.Rxd8+ Kxd8 22.Rd1 $18 ) ( 19...f6?! 20.Bxf6 Nxf6? 21.Rexe7+ Kf8 22.Rf7+ Kg8 23.Rxf6 $18 ) 20.Bxe7 Nxe7 21.Raxe7 Rd2 22.R1e2 Rxe2 23.Rxe2 $11 ) 16.Nc3 f5 17.Nxe4 fxe4 18.Be2 Rd6 19.c3 Rf8 20.g3 h5 21.h4 Rdf6 22.Be3 Bc7 23.Ra3 Bb6 24.Rb3 Bxe3 25.fxe3 Bc8 26.Rd1?! { (More accurate is Rf1 but I could not resist the temptation to set a trap.) } 26...Rf2? { (I am sure that black made this mistake as he was running out of time.) } ( 26...Kf7! 27.Rb4 Bf5 28.Ra1 Rd6 29.Rd4 Rb6 30.b4 Rc8 31.Ra3 Rbc6 32.c4 $14 ) 27.Rb8 R8f6 { (Kf7 loses the f2-rook but relinquishing the bishop is also losing of course.) } 28.Rxc8+ Kf7 29.Bc4+ Kg7 30.Rd7 { (This wins the quickest but at the same time it needlessly complicates. This frivolity almost costed me a half point but in the end I managed to win.) } 30...R6f3 31.Rxe7+ Kf6 32.Re6+ Kg7 33.Rc7+ Kh6 34.Ree7 g5 35.Rh7+ Kg6 36.Rcg7+ Kf6 37.Rxg5 Rxb2 38.Rh6+ { (Sure Rf7 mates but I missed it as I was pressed by time.) } 38...Ke7 39.Rh8 { (I wanted to play Rh7+ but inexplicably released the rook on a square further. Luckily h3 is available for my king otherwise black could have forced the draw.) } 39...Rxe3 40.Rh7+ Kd6 41.Rh6+ Ke7 42.Rg7+ Kf8 43.Rf7+ { (After move 40 I get an extra quarter so now I was able to calm down and finally finish the game.) } 43...Kg8 44.Ra7+ { (Here black played the illegal move Rxg3+. Only when I told him that his king was checked, he noticed that mate would be next.) } 1-0
I was of course excited during the game when I found out that Edouard felt for one of my prepared traps. It was even difficult to hide my emotions not to spoil the surprise. In the end I won the game comfortably and only gave away 1 opportunity to escape in an already very complicated position. My opponent applauded me afterwards for my ingenuity but I admitted that I borrowed the fantastic idea from a +3000 rated engine.

Coincidence some readers will probably think. Maybe but these things happened to me too often. I regularly see that moves played in blitz will also occur in standard chess. Especially in positions with few tactics experienced players are mainly relying on instincts. My personal database of online played games contains already more than 60.000 games. That is a lot of material which I can use in a game-preparation.


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