Thursday, March 22, 2018

Comebacks part 3

In 2 years time my son Hugo managed to eliminate his original material-handicap. We started with 23 points (1 pawn = 1 point) as odds (see strange material balances part 2). Today only a (heavy) time-handicap (18 minutes against 1 minute and 15 seconds) remains. I find this surprising as I expected to still give bigger odds because I am almost 1000 points stronger. My son Hugo has only moderate technical skills so this situation is very different compared to the handicap-match against the Dutch expert Jaap Amesz which I mentioned in my article swindles.

I warned in my article sacrificing that often we sacrifice too optimistically. Today I want to refine my view by adding that even a small material-advantage in most cases will be decisive. Except beginners still dropping pieces, we very rarely see players recovering from a material-disadvantage. This sounds contradictory to what I wrote in my article comebacks. In that article I talked about 11 out of 100 of my games a deficit of 3 points was caught up. In 7 games even a comeback of more than 6 points happened with 2 extreme cases of 29,67 and 32,06 points.

The reason is that a computer-evaluation very often strongly deviates from the material-position on the board. Their evaluation is the final result of the critical line after both sides made the best moves. This final-position can deviate a lot from the actual position in terms of material if we are dealing with tactics. Sometimes those variations are extremely complex, making the engine-evaluation losing its connection to the practical chances on the board see annotations. It is another example of what I already described in my article to analyze using a computer part 2. An engine helps you to define very quickly your errors but then you still need to add the right interpretation to those mistakes. Unsurprisingly this often goes wrong, creating frustrations and aversion from the engines.

The difference between an engine-evaluation and a material-balance is clearly shown when looking at the comebacks. To illustrate this properly I again used the same 100 games of my initial article about comebacks. However I didn't just count the pieces on the board to make my investigation. Only when there was no clear compensation, I took the material-difference into account. Gambits or theoretical drawn positions can't be considered as comebacks. Below we see first the summary of my opponents.

Next is the summary for myself.

Only 5 pawns were recovered by my opponents in a total of 36 comebacks. I made up 13 points spread over 38 comebacks. So in most cases a pawn down meant a loss. Beside the exceptions can be almost exclusively linked to special cases. Or the position is tactically very sharp so a higher probability exists to recover from a small material disadvantage see my article the einstellung effect. Or the material is already very reduced so a higher probability exists to reach a theoretical drawn-endgame see e.g. my article practical endgames.

We can also assume from above tables that rating barely has any effect at the material-balance. I experienced this end of last year in a very painful defeat. I was obliged to win the last round of the maneblussers-tournament to get the tournament-victory and with the 1900 rated player Dries Janssen as opponent my chances looked bright in advance. However in an obscure opening-line I totally misplayed my position and very early lost a piece without any compensation.
[Event "Maneblusserstornooi 7de ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Janssen, D."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A04"] [WhiteElo "1930"] [BlackElo "2310"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "rn5r/pppqbkpp/3p4/3Np1P1/2b3Q1/7P/PPP2PB1/R1B1K2R w KQ - 0 16"] [PlyCount "73"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [CurrentPosition "rn5r/pppqbkpp/3p4/3Np1P1/2b3Q1/7P/PPP2PB1/R1B1K2R w KQ - 0 16"] 16.Qxc4 { (Here I strongly considered to resign and that was definitely possible as the engine already shows an advantage of +6. I keep on fighting still for many moves and almost get counter-chances but the handicap was eventually too big.) } 16...Qe6 17.Qb3 Na6 18.Qxb7 Nc5 19.Qc6 Rac8 20.O-O Qf5 21.f4 e4 22.b4 Ne6 23.Ne3 Nd8 24.Qc4+ Qe6 25.Qxe6+ Kxe6 26.Bxe4 Rb8 27.Rb1 h6 28.f5+ Kd7 29.f6 gxf6 30.gxf6 Rg8+ 31.Kh2 Bf8 32.Bf5+ Kc6 33.b5+ Kc5 34.Be4 d5 35.Ba3+ Kd4 36.Nf5+ Ke5 37.Bb2+ Ke6 38.Bd3 Kf7 39.c4 Ne6 40.cxd5 Nc5 41.Bc4 Bd6+ 42.Nxd6+ cxd6 43.Rbe1 Rbe8 44.Bd4 Ne4 45.Rg1 Nd2 46.Rxg8 Rxe1 47.Rg7+ Kf8 48.Re7 Rc1 49.Be2 Rc2 50.Kg3 Rxa2 51.Bh5 Kg8 52.f7+ { (Mate follows. A painful defeat as not only I missed the tournament-victory but I also lost all the rating which I nicely gained during the last months.) } 1-0
Despite white surely didn't play the most quickest win, never the result was put in question. The handicap was far too big to ever hope to comeback. Besides my opponent wasn't a beginner either. Resignation immediately after losing the piece was a valid choice but something I couldn't cope with at that time. Also don't forget that it was 18 years ago that I lost another standard-game against a -2000 rated player see my article White chooses in the opening a drawing-line.

So you better don't get behind or your name must be Magnus Carlsen. Anish Giri didn't pass the opportunity to write a funny tweet about it: The world champion Magnus Carlsen is now officially a full piece stronger than the rest of the mankind. In other words Magnus can win against anybody even with a heavy handicap of a full piece.
[Event "Tata Steel"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2018.01.21"] [Round "8"] [White "Magnus Carlsen"] [Black "Gawain Jones"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B76"] [WhiteElo "2834"] [BlackElo "2640"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1bqr1k1/p5bp/2p3p1/3nppN1/2B5/4BP2/PPP3PP/1K1RQ2R w - - 0 17"] [PlyCount "51"] [EventDate "2018.01.12"] [CurrentPosition "r1bqr1k1/p5bp/2p3p1/3nppN1/2B5/4BP2/PPP3PP/1K1RQ2R w - - 0 17"] 17.g4 { (A colossal blunder which should normally always lose the game.) } 17...f4 18.h4 fxe3 19.Qxe3 h6 20.Qc5 Bb7 21.Ne4 { (White is a piece down against a pawn and has no compensation whatever. Still Magnus manages to win the game.) } 21...Re6 22.h5 Qb6 23.g5 hxg5 24.Qa3 { (In the meanwhile white has full compensation for the piece.) } 24...Rb8 25.b3 Qd8 26.Qxa7 gxh5 27.Rxh5 { (White is winning already.) } 27...Rg6 28.Rxg5 Rxg5 29.Nxg5 Qc8 30.Rg1 Ra8 31.Qb6 Ra6 32.Qc5 Qd7 33.Ne4 Kh8 34.Qf2 Qe7 35.Bxa6 Bxa6 36.Qh2+ Kg8 37.Qh6 Qa7 38.Qe6+ Kf8 39.Rg5 Ne3 40.Qd6+ Kf7 41.Nc5 Bc8 42.Rxg7+ 1-0
Exceptions proof the rule. Miracles happen sometimes at chess so you do wonder if maybe it makes sense to continue always till mate. The American grandmaster Grigory Serper showed some other miracles in his article Why you should never resign? but leaves it up to the reader to decide when to resign or not at all. Personally I think it is dubious and mainly a waste of time to continue 100 lost games till mate just to steal 1 extra half point.


Monday, March 5, 2018

e4 e5 openingbook

25 years I already open my games exclusively with e4. Also as long I answer 1.e4 exclusively with e5. In other words I have quite some experience with the position 1.e4 e5. It is therefore no surprise that some players asked for my opinion of the recently published repertoire-book Playing 1e4 e5 a classical_repertoire by Nikolaos Ntirlis. However to be able to judge a book, you first need to get the  chance to read it. That is a problem as I don't buy any books about openings since 20 years. Fortunately my team-mate Daniel Sadkowski was so gentle to borrow me his book for a week which allowed me to check the content.
I know the author Nikolaos since 2009 when we were discussing furiously some analysis at chesspub forum lasting several months. Despite our initial disagreements things went afterwards much smoother between us. We both realized that we only were trying to search the truth of a position so no reason to feel emotionally bad about any critical analysis.

In 2009 Nikolaos was still unknown. Today he has built a solid reputation as opening-specialist. Playing 1.e4 e5 is already his 3rd opening-book and in the meanwhile his 4th about 1.d4 d5 is released see qualitychess. Besides any of those book was welcomed very positively. That is an extraordinary performance especially if you know that Nikolaos doesn't possess a fide-rating. By hard working, a lot of research and knowing how to maximally use the engines a lot can be achieved. By the way he also tests his analysis in correspondence chess with some decent success. This is enough introduction of the book. Time to evaluate the content.

Well I will be short. I warmly recommend this book to anybody interested playing this repertoire. The quality of the analysis is excellent and the light writing-style makes it very easy to read and digest. However for myself there was not much new. That is also to expect if you have 25 years of experience with the repertoire. This book would've been very useful for myself 15 years ago on my road to the FM-title. Meanwhile I made in most cases exactly the same conclusions as Nikolaos which is of course a compliment for the book.

Still I wouldn't write this article if I could not add some remarks to the book. So what follows next should be considered as an annex to the book and not an attack. The first thing I want to discuss is the chapter about the Belgrado-gambit. I noted Nikolaos claims a small advantage for black so more or less refuting the gambit. The review from the Australian grandmaster David Smerdon warns the readers that many refutations of so called black advantages are well hidden in the book. However this was not the case for this gambit. I have studied it several times in the past as happened last year with one of my students at the bjk. Never I was able to refute the gambit so I became curious if Nikolaos really has found something close to a refutation. Unfortunately after doing some research I had to conclude that Nikolaos had missed an important idea. I really would've loved to see that annoying gambit disappearing from practical standard play.
[Event "EU-FSM/65 sf08"] [Site "ICCF Email"] [Date "2003.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Viksna, Talis"] [Black "Siewert, Wolfgang"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C47"] [WhiteElo "2333"] [BlackElo "2457"] [PlyCount "74"] [EventDate "2003.01.09"] [Eventtype "tourn (corr)"] [Sourcetitle "UltraCorr3a"] [Source "Chess Mail Ltd"] [Sourcedate "2010.03.06"] [Sourceversion "3"] [Sourceversiondate "2010.03.06"] [Sourcequality "1"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 Nb4 6.Bc4 Nbxd5 7.exd5 Bb4+ 8.Bd2 Qe7+ 9.Qe2 Bxd2+ 10.Kxd2 Qxe2+ 11.Kxe2 c5 12.dxc6 bxc6 13.Nxd4 d5 14.Bd3 { (This move was not discussed in Nikolaos e4 e5 repertoire-book. He only discussed Bb3 which is inferior.) } 14...c5 15.Nb5 c4 16.Bf5 { (This is the idea which solves whites problems.) } 16...Bxf5 17.Nd6+ Kd7 18.Nxf5 Rhe8+ 19.Kf3 Re5 20.Ne3 Kc6 21.Rhd1 Rae8 22.b3 Ne4 23.bxc4 dxc4 24.Rd4 c3 25.g3 Nd2+ 26.Kg2 Rb8 27.Rd3 Rc5 28.Nd1 Nb1 29.a4 a5 30.g4 Rb4 31.h3 h6 32.Kg3 g6 33.Rd8 h5 34.f3 hxg4 35.hxg4 Kc7 36.Rd3 f5 37.g5 Rc6 1/2-1/2
Of course this is just a detail as the gambit anyway remains a very small side-system in practice. Totally different is the Spanish Breyer-opening which is used as the terminal of the repertoire-book. The keystone of any Spanish repertoire is always a soft spot. Somehow you must make a choice of how you will fight against the critical mainline. Now about the Breyer-opening you can write a complete book. On the other hand I was a bit puzzled to see only 1 real chapter about this big opening. Besides I also wonder if this is really the best choice to make for such kind of book. I guess the target-audience is between 1800-2200 elo and the Breyer seems a risky choice for them.I demonstrated recently how risky it can be in the last round of Leuven. My opponent FM Arno Sterck also Belgian youth-champion - 18 was already lost just after the opening.
[Event "Open Leuven 7de ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Sterck, A."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C95"] [WhiteElo "2283"] [BlackElo "2284"] [PlyCount "69"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [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 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 O-O 9.h3 Nb8 10.d4 Nbd7 11.Nbd2 Bb7 12.Bc2 Re8 13.Nf1 Bf8 14.Ng3 g6 { (The pairings were only announced 10 minutes in advance of the last round. Still that was enough to do some successful crash-preparation. I discovered that Arno had played 1,5 month earlier in the Junior-world-championship at Montevideo in Uruguay this Breyer-opening with success. I also remembered that very recently the Breyer was used as main-weapon against the Spanish in a book' Playing e4 e5 - A Classical repertoire'  published by the correspondence-player Nikolaos Ntirlis ' and he didn't choose the most popular line. However I couldn't remember which line it exactly was and that strangely was my luck. I chose the wrong side-line but pure coincidence Arno also did so I hit the jackpot.) } 15.a4 { (Arno's earlier game continued with b3. I choose for the more popular a4 which I tried out already in other standard games.) } 15...c5 16.d5 c4 17.Bg5 h6 { (I once encountered in 2000 the move Bg7 but that was in a correspondence-game.) } 18.Be3 Qc7 { (Nc5 is 10 times more popular. That is the side-line of which I talked about and I had checked very quickly before the game by looking at some recent correspondence-games.) } 19.Qd2 Kh7?! { (I found approximately the same amount of games with Kh7 as with h5. Still h5 is definitely stronger. The king is not well positioned at h7 and often it is useful to get the extra option of h4 in some lines.) } ( 19...h5! 20.Ng5!? Bg7! 21.Rf1!? Bh6!? 22.Nh7! Bg7 23.Nxf6+ $14 ) 20.Rf1 { (In 2 recent correspondence-games played in 2016, this move was played successfully. The idea is also known from standard chess but in those games first Nh2 was played and only next Rf1.) } 20...Nc5 21.Nh2 bxa4 22.f4 Nfd7?! { (Lg7 is still known from correspondence-chess. It is stronger than the move of this game but anyway white has a clear advantage.) } ( 22...Bg7! 23.Rf2!? a3 24.Rxa3!? Rab8 25.f5! a5!? 26.Qd1!? Ba6 27.Ra2 $16 ) 23.Ng4 { (There are multiple continuations winning. I don't always select the strongest move but the win never escapes.) } 23...Bg7 24.fxe5 Nxe5 25.Nf6+ Bxf6 26.Rxf6 Qe7 27.Raf1 Ncd7 28.R6f4 Rf8 29.Bxa4 Bc8 30.Bxd7 Nxd7 31.Qf2 f6 32.Rh4 h5 33.Nxh5 gxh5 34.Rxh5+ Kg8 35.Qh4 { (Black resigned and my successful tournament was rewarded with a shared 3rd place and a nice prize of 340 euro.) } 1-0

Nikolaos recommends a different line of the Breyer-opening. He very often refers in his analysis to the correspondence-games of the Russian Senior International Correspondence-master Igor Telepnev. However also from pure theoretical perspective I have my doubts about the selected system. There are some lines which are nowadays rather shaky.
[Event "EU/C2016/ct05"] [Site "ICCF"] [Date "2016.03.15"] [Round "?"] [White "Serazeev, Albert Ilievich"] [Black "Mercadal Benejam, Josep"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2524"] [BlackElo "2398"] [PlyCount "93"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [ECO ""] [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 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 O-O 9.h3 Nb8 10.d4 Nbd7 11.Nbd2 Bb7 12.Bc2 Re8 13.Nf1 Bf8 14.Ng3 g6 15.a4 c5 16.d5 c4 17.Bg5 Nc5 { (This move is recommended in Nikolaos book but is only played in 10% of the standard games.) } 18.Nh2 ( 18.Qd2 Be7 19.Bh6 Nfd7 20.Nh2 Nxa4 21.Bxa4 bxa4 22.Be3 { (In the games of the Russian senior international correspondence-master Igor Telepnev only Rxa4 was played so they don't answer the alternative Be3. In the meanwhile Be3 was played already 4 times in practice. 3 times it was played by a +2500 fide rated player in standard-chess. Once it was played in correspondence-chess. Each time white won.) } 22...a5 23.Ng4 Bf8 24.Bh6 f6 25.f4 Nc5 26.Rf1 Nb3 27.Qe3 Nxa1 28.fxe5 Rxe5 29.Bxf8 Qxf8 30.Nxe5 Nc2 31.Qd2 dxe5 32.Qxc2 a3 33.bxa3 Qxa3 34.Rxf6 Qe7 35.Re6 Qc5+ 36.Kh2 a4 37.Qd2 Qf8 38.Qg5 Qf4 39.Qe7 Qf7 40.Qb4 a3 41.Re7 Qxe7 42.Qxe7 a2 43.Qe6+ Kh8 44.Qxe5+ Kg8 45.Qe6+ { (1-0 This was the beautiful correspondence-game played in 2016 between Pavel Bujdak and Andrea Sorcinelli) } ) 18...Be7 19.Be3 Qc7 20.Rf1 { (In the games of the Russian senior international correspondence-master Igor Telepnev only De2 was played so they don't answer the alternative Rf1. In the meanwhile 4 correspondence-games can be found in the databases with Rf1 which were all won by white.) } 20...Bf8 21.Bg5 Bg7 22.f4 bxa4 ( 22...exf4 { (A year earlier the German senior international corrrespondence-master chose exf4 against the same Albert.) } 23.Rxf4 Nfd7 24.Ng4 bxa4 25.Bxa4 f6 26.Bh6 Nxa4 27.Bxg7 Kxg7 28.Rxa4 Rf8 29.Qd4 a5 30.Rxc4 Qb8 31.Rf2 Ba6 32.Ra4 { (White won in 61 moves.) } ) 23.Qd2 a3 24.bxa3 Nfxe4 25.Nxe4 Nxe4 26.Bxe4 Qc5+ 27.Kh1 f5 28.Rab1 Rab8 29.Bc2 Qxd5 30.fxe5 Qxd2 31.Bxd2 dxe5 32.Rfd1 Bc6 33.Nf3 Kf7 34.Be3 Bf6 35.Ng5+ Kg7 36.Rxb8 Rxb8 37.Rd6 Rb2 38.Rxc6 Rxc2 39.Rc7+ Kg8 40.Nxh7 Bd8 41.Rd7 f4 42.Rxd8+ Kxh7 43.Rd7+ Kh6 44.Bd2 Ra2 45.Kg1 Rxa3 46.Kf2 Kg5 47.g3 1-0
Naturally I admit that a 1800-2200 player will rarely encounter such highly sophisticated analysis. On the other hand we should not ignore that maybe the Breyer-opening is too complex for the amateur. But which opening is better? I play the Spanish Chigorin but I can't recommend that although I obtain very acceptable results. The Berlin and the Marshall-gambit are surely theoretical more stable but these openings won't seduce the average player. So I also don't know what could be the perfect cornerstone against the Spanish. I need more experience with different systems to get a better view of each qualities. Only by experimenting you can find out which systems are enjoyable. Anyway don't get discouraged of this article and give the Breyeropening a chance.