Friday, April 27, 2018

Fashion part 2

My previous article proved that there exists an enormous variety of openings. It is today completely impossible even as super-professional to know all existing deviations in your repertoire by heart. Nevertheless we shouldn't overestimate the value of openings especially at amateur-level. Many of my opponents don't play critical lines at all and just want to skip the opening to get a playable position in which the player with the strongest technique instead of memory can win.

I mean an ambitious player should rather focus the study of openings only at the critical lines. The many less dangerous systems can be checked too but in most cases it is sufficient to develop your pieces and get an acceptable middle-game. Besides even if you concentrate at the remaining important openings then still a lot of study remains as we can see by the testimonies of many professionals.

I believe it is not so easy for an amateur to make the distinction between important and less critical openings. How should I recognize which openings I need to study or which ones can I ignore? A coach can surely help here but not everybody has access to such luxury. In any case it is wrong to believe that openings played by higher rated players will automatically be more profound. As proof I checked my 100 most recently played games which I split in ratinggroups. For each of the groups I defined the average depth of the opening (linked to the deviation compared with earlier played games). I start with the games in which I had white.
For black we don't see any important difference.
So it seems there exists no link between somebodies rating and the opening-knowledge. No that is a wrong assumption. A higher rated player will have a better knowledge about openings. The confusion is created by the mix between opening-knowledge and opening-novelties. 99% of my opponents are followers. I mean that they will rarely use original ideas which are worked out at home in their openings. This isn't a surprise as the rating-groups consist almost exclusively of amateurs spending little or no time at doing individual research of openings.

The real pioneers and leaders of openings are of course our top-players and we should not forget correspondence-players. If we want to know which openings are critical then we should first check their games. This is something I do already for some years see e.g. how I described the preparation of my games in the article using databases or check my article the expert part 2 in which I stated that I focus at the games of +2600 rated players.

However keeping up to date the critical openings is something easier said than done as today we have more than 200 + 2600 rated active players. So every day there are novelties popping up which a professional needs to check. Last the Dutch top-grandmaster Anish Giri twittered that "If more than 2 twics are missing on your laptop then something went wrong in the routines." In my article how much money do you spend at chess I also wrote that I download at least twice per year the free twics but I don't have/ spend the time to filter all relevant +2600 games for my repertoire to study the novelties.

I guess for most amateurs it is the same. You can't expect amateurs working every day at their repertoire. Besides it doesn't make much sense. Much more interesting for us is to use summaries made by a professional which explains all the new critical opening-lines. This allows us to get up to date very quickly by a minimum of effort. Openingbooks and dvds are our first address to check. The disadvantage of those media is that they are very quickly outdated and can't manage to keep track of the latest trends. To really follow the fashion, chess-magazines need to be consulted preferably with the accent solely at openings. I recommend 2 subscriptions: and chessbase magazine.

Of course you will see quite some overlap between both magazines. Although different authors are working for the magazines, the same trends are noticed. That was last the case for the Armenian Winawer-line of the French defense Both published beginning of January a summary of the most recent developments in that system see chesspublishing January 2018 and chessbase magazine 182. Strangely I encountered the line already before newyear in my game against the Belgian expert Nathan De Strycker played  in the 56nd Christmas-tournament of Deurne.
[Event "Kersttornooi Deurne"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "De Strycker, N."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2310"] [BlackElo "2200"] [PlyCount "77"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Ba5 6.b4 cxd4 7.Qg4 Kf8 { (Nathan already plays awhile the Armenian-line of the Winawer so got somehow aware by this quickly becoming popular trend.) } 8.Nb5 { (I never checked Kf8 so I spent a lot of time at the board figuring out what could maybe the best move. Nb5 is today considered as critical but I couldn't detect any advantage for white.) } 8...Bc7?! { (Nathan feared my opening-knowledge or just mixed the lines. Anyway here Bb6 is the mainline.) } 9.f4?! { (If white wants to refute black's last move then he must play Qxd4. I considered that move too exotic to play without any analysis done at home so I chose for a more solid approach.) } ( 9.Qxd4! Nc6!? 10.Qc5+ Nge7 11.Nxc7 Qxc7 12.Nf3 b6! 13.Qc3 d4!? 14.Qc4 Ng6! $14 ) 9...Bd7 10.Nxd4 Bb6 11.Qd1 Qc8 12.Bb2 Ba4 13.Bd3 Ne7 14.Ngf3 Nbc6?! { (This appears to be inaccurate as black's bishop at a4 could become uncomfortable. Stronger is a6.) } 15.Qd2?! { (Ne2 would have been better to profit from black's last move.) } 15...g6? { (Black wants to discourage f5 but again a6 is necessary to support the bishop of a4.) } 16.Rc1? { (I neither notice that Ne2 followed by Nc3 opposes black's plans.) } 16...Nxd4 17.Bxd4 Qd8 18.O-O Bxd4+ 19.Nxd4 Qb6 20.c3 Rc8 21.g4 h5? { (Black underestimates or miss my next move. Mandatory was Nc6 to exchange quickly some pieces to counter the attack.) } 22.f5 gxf5 23.gxf5 exf5?! { (Somewhat more accurate is first Nxf5 and only next exf5.) } 24.Bxf5?! { (Komodo show the very precise b5 which profits from black's inferior move-order. The idea of b5 is to threaten with Rb1 followed by Rb4 to challenge the bishop of a4. Naturally this is too difficult for me and I chose for a more normal continuation.) } 24...Rc4?! { (More stubborn is Nxf5 but the position is already very difficult anyway.) } ( 24...Nxf5! 25.Rxf5 Qh6 26.Qxh6+ Rxh6 27.e6 Rc7 28.Kf2 Rg6 29.Re1 Re7 30.Ree5 $16 ) 25.Kh1 Ke8 26.Bd3 Rxd4 { (This exchange-sacrifice is despair and I have no difficulties anymore to conclude the game.) } 27.cxd4 Bd7 28.Qf4 Be6 29.Rc5 Rg8 30.Rg1 Rg4 31.Rxg4 hxg4 32.Qh6 a6 33.Qh8+ Kd7 34.Qb8 Nc6 35.Qd6+ Ke8 36.Bg6 fxg6 37.Qxe6+ Kf8 38.Rxd5 Ne7 39.Qxb6 1-0
I was lucky that my opponent couldn't remember well the analysis of this line as otherwise the game could've gone differently. As I don't have a subscription, I decided to make my own extensive analysis about the opening. I was surprised that this hypermodern-system is very playable for black see below the summary. I made my analysis using the modern monte carlo-mechansim so by playing many quick computer-games see my article computers achieve autonomy.
[Event "Frans Armeense variant met 7...Kf8"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "?"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [ECO "C18"] [PlyCount "57"] [WhiteElo ""] [BlackElo ""] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Ba5 6.b4 cxd4 7.Qg4 Kf8 { (This peculiar move gains quickly popularity. Before almost exclusively Ne7 is played as I got twice on the board by the Belgian expert Linton Donovan.) } 8.Nb5 { (The theoreticians consider this the main-line.) } ( 8.Qxd4 Bb6 9.Qf4 ( 9.Qd2 Nc6 10.Nf3 Bc7 11.Qe2 a6 12.Na4 b6 13.h4 h5 14.g3 $11 { [%eval 0,28] } ) 9...Ne7 10.Na4 ( 10.Bd3 Ng6 11.Bxg6 hxg6 12.Nb5 Qh4 13.Qxh4 Rxh4 14.Nf3 Rc4 15.Kd1 Bd7 $15 { [%eval -35,25] } ) ( 10.Nf3 Ng6 11.Qg3 Nd7 ( 11...Nc6 12.Bb2 h5 13.h4 Nd4 14.Bd3 Nxf3+ 15.gxf3 Bd7 $11 { [%eval -1,27] } ) 12.Bd3 Bc7 13.Bg5 Qe8 14.Nb5 Bb8 15.Nd6 Ngxe5 $11 { [%eval -5,29] } ) 10...Ng6 ( 10...Qc7 11.Nf3 Ng6 12.Qd2 Nxe5 13.Nxb6 axb6 14.Bb2 Nbc6 15.Nxe5 Nxe5 $11 { [%eval 0,33] } ) 11.Qd2 Nxe5 12.Nxb6 axb6 13.Bb2 Qc7 14.Nf3 Nxf3+ 15.gxf3 f6 $11 { [%eval 0,30] } ) ( 8.bxa5 dxc3 9.Qb4+ ( 9.a4 Nc6 10.Ba3+ Nge7 11.Nf3 Kg8 12.Bd3 Nxa5 13.O-O Nec6 14.Rfe1 $15 { [%eval -37,25] } ) 9...Ne7 10.Qxc3 Nbc6 11.a6 d4 12.axb7 Bxb7 13.Qc5 Qb6 14.Qxb6 $11 { [%eval -14,29] } ) 8...Bb6 { (It is this idea which has rehabilitated this line.) } 9.Bb2 ( 9.Nf3 Nc6 10.Bb2 Nge7 ) 9...Nc6 10.Nf3 ( 10.f4 a6 11.Nd6 Bc7 12.Nxc8 h5 13.Qf3 Rxc8 14.Bd3 g6 15.Ne2 Nh6 $15 { [%eval -54,25] } ) 10...Nge7 11.Bd3 { (Today we mainly focus at Bd3 to search for an advantage.) } ( 11.Nbxd4 { (In practice this move has been chosen more often. The line is not totally exhausted but anyway is highly doubtful white has anything.) } 11...h5 12.Qf4 ( 12.Qg5 Nxd4 13.Nxd4 ( 13.Bxd4 Nc6 14.Qxd8+ Bxd8 15.Bc5+ Be7 16.Bd6 f6 17.c4 fxe5 18.Bxe5 $11 { [%eval 0,26] } ) 13...Ng6 14.Qe3 ( 14.Qxd8+ Bxd8 15.Bd3 ( 15.Nb5 Bd7 16.Nd6 Ke7 ( 16...Bc7 17.Bd3 Nf4 18.Nxb7 $11 { [%eval 0,25] } ) 17.Nxb7 $11 { [%eval 0,26] } 17...Bc7 18.Be2 $11 { [%eval -7,25] } ) 15...Nf4 16.Bf1 Ng6 17.Bd3 Bd7 18.Ne2 $11 { [%eval 0,28] } ) 14...Bd7 15.Bd3 ( 15.Be2 Ba4 16.Bd3 Rh6 17.O-O Kg8 18.c3 Rc8 19.Rfe1 a6 20.Rac1 Bb5 $11 { [%eval 0,30] } ) ( 15.a4 Qe7 16.c3 Kg8 17.f4 Nh4 18.Qd3 Rh6 19.g3 Ng6 20.h4 a6 $11 { [%eval 0,28] } ) 15...Kg8 16.O-O Qe8 17.h3 a6 18.g3 Bb5 19.Rfe1 Qd7 20.Qg5 Bxd3 $11 { [%eval 0,32] } ) ( 12.Qh4 Nxd4 13.Nxd4 ( 13.Bxd4 Nc6 14.Qxd8+ Bxd8 15.Bc5+ Be7 16.Bd6 Bd7 17.c4 Rc8 18.Rc1 $11 { [%eval -3,27] } ) 13...Qc7 14.Qg5 Ng6 15.Bd3 Qxe5+ 16.Qxe5 Nxe5 17.Nxe6+ Bxe6 18.Bxe5 $11 { [%eval 0,33] } ) 12...Ng6 13.Nxc6 ( 13.Qe3 Qc7 14.Bd3 Ncxe5 15.Nxe5 Nxe5 16.Nxe6+ Bxe6 17.Qxe5 Qxe5+ 18.Bxe5 $11 { [%eval 0, 34] } ) 13...bxc6 14.Qd2 Nh4 15.Nxh4 ( 15.Qf4 Ng6 16.Qd2 ( 16.Qc1 Nh4 17.Qf4 Ng6 18.Qd2 Nh4 19.Nxh4 Qxh4 20.Bd3 a5 21.O-O $11 { [%eval 0,33] } ) 16...Nh4 17.Nxh4 Qxh4 18.Bd3 a5 19.O-O g6 20.Bc3 Kg7 21.g3 $11 { [%eval 0,32] } ) ( 15.Ng5 Qe7 16.Qf4 ( 16.a4 Rb8 17.Nf3 Nxf3+ 18.gxf3 c5 19.b5 g6 20.Be2 Bc7 21.O-O $15 { [%eval -46,29] } ) 16...Ng6 17.Qd2 Nxe5 18.Bxe5 f6 19.Nf3 fxe5 20.Nxe5 Kg8 21.Bd3 $11 { [%eval -10,29] } ) 15...Qxh4 16.Bd3 ( 16.Rd1 Qe4+ 17.Qe2 Qf4 18.Qd2 Qxd2+ 19.Rxd2 a5 20.b5 Bb7 21.a4 $11 { [%eval -26,30] } ) 16...g6 17.O-O $11 { [%eval 9,27] } 17...a5 18.Rfc1 ( 18.Bc3 $11 { [%eval 0,28] } 18...Kg7 19.g3 Qg4 20.bxa5 Bd8 21.Rfb1 $11 { [%eval 0,32] } ) 18...Ba6 19.Bxa6 Rxa6 20.c4 dxc4 21.Qe2 $11 { [%eval 6,31] } ) ( 11.Qh4 Bd7 12.Nbxd4 ( 12.Nfxd4 Nxd4 13.Nxd4 Ng6 14.Qg3 Qh4 15.Qxh4 Nxh4 16.a4 a6 17.a5 $11 { [%eval -11,27] } ) 12...Nxd4 13.Bxd4 Nf5 14.Bxb6 Nxh4 15.Bxd8 Nxf3+ 16.gxf3 Rxd8 17.Bd3 $11 { [%eval 0,31] } ) 11...Ng6 12.Qg3 ( 12.Bxg6 hxg6 13.O-O Kg8 14.Nbxd4 Ne7 15.a4 Bd7 16.a5 Bc7 17.Rfc1 $11 { [%eval -25,25] } ) 12...f6 13.Bxg6 hxg6 14.Nbxd4 ( 14.Bxd4 Nxd4 15.Nbxd4 Bd7 16.O-O Qe8 17.Nb3 Rc8 18.Nc5 Bxc5 19.bxc5 Rxc5 20.Nh4 $11 { [%eval 0,31] } ) ( 14.exf6 e5 15.fxg7+ ( 15.Nxe5 Qe8 16.f4 gxf6 17.O-O fxe5 18.Nd6 Qe7 19.fxe5+ Bf5 20.Nxf5 $11 { [%eval -14,30] } ) 15...Kxg7 16.Nxe5 Qe8 17.O-O-O Qxe5 18.Nxd4 Qxg3 19.Nxc6+ d4 20.fxg3 $11 { [%eval -6,32] } ) 14...Nxe5 15.Nxe5 fxe5 $11 { [%eval 25,30] } 16.Qxe5 ( 16.Nf3 e4 17.Ne5 ( 17.Qxg6 Qe7 18.Ne5 Bd7 19.Qg3 Be8 20.c4 Kg8 21.O-O Rd8 22.Rae1 $11 { [%eval 0,31] } ) 17...Kg8 18.Qxg6 Qe7 19.c4 Bd7 20.Nxd7 Qxd7 21.O-O-O Qf7 22.Qxf7+ $11 { [%eval 0,31] } ) ( 16.Ne2 e4 17.c4 ( 17.Nf4 Kg8 18.Qxg6 Qe7 19.Bxg7 Qxg7 20.Qe8+ Qf8 21.Qg6+ Qg7 22.Qe8+ $11 { [%eval 0,62] } ) 17...Qh4 18.cxd5 e3 19.fxe3 Qxg3+ 20.Nxg3 Bxe3 21.Rd1 Kg8 22.Bd4 $11 { [%eval 0,32] } ) 16...Rh5 17.Qg3 { (This seems whites most critical move but a draw must be the most likely result.) } ( 17.Nxe6+ $11 { [%eval 22,27] (This exchange has been played already twice in practice. Black still has some practical problems to solve but a draw should be unavoidable with correct play.) } 17...Bxe6 18.Qxe6 Qe8 $11 { [%eval 14,29] } 19.Qe2 Rc8 20.Qxe8+ ( 20.Rd1 Bxf2+ 21.Kxf2 Rf5+ 22.Ke1 Qxe2+ 23.Kxe2 Rxc2+ 24.Rd2 Rf2+ 25.Kxf2 Rxd2+ $11 { [%eval -8,37] } ) ( 20.g4 Qxe2+ 21.Kxe2 Rh4 22.Kd3 Rxg4 23.Be5 Rgc4 24.c3 Bd8 25.Rhg1 Bf6 $11 { [%eval -12,28] } ) 20...Rxe8+ 21.Kd2 ( 21.Kd1 Bxf2 22.Kd2 ( 22.g4 Rh3 23.Rf1 Rxh2 24.Bd4 Re1+ 25.Rxe1 Bxd4 26.Rf1+ Ke7 27.Rb1 $11 { [%eval 0,40] } ) 22...Kf7 23.Rhf1 Rf5 24.Rad1 Re4 25.Kc1 g5 26.Rd2 Ref4 27.g3 $11 { [%eval 0,33] } ) ( 21.Kf1 Rf5 22.f3 Rf7 23.a4 Rc7 24.c3 Be3 25.Bc1 Rxc3 26.Bxe3 Rexe3 27.Kf2 $11 { [%eval 0,32] } ) 21...Bxf2 22.Rad1 ( 22.Rhf1 Rf5 23.Rad1 Re4 24.Kc1 Be3+ 25.Kb1 d4 26.Rde1 Kf7 27.Rh1 $11 { [%eval 0,31] } ) 22...Rf5 23.Kc1 ( 23.Rhf1 Re4 24.Kc1 Be3+ 25.Kb1 d4 26.g3 Ke7 27.Rfe1 Kd6 28.Bc1 Ke5 $11 { [%eval 0,34] } ) ( 23.Kc3 Bh4 24.Kb3 Re2 25.g3 Bf6 26.Rd3 Ke7 27.h4 Re4 28.Bxf6+ gxf6 $11 { [%eval 0,34] } ) ( 23.g3 Kf7 24.Kc1 Re2 25.Kb1 Bb6 26.Rd3 Rff2 27.Rc1 Ke6 28.h4 Be3 $11 { [%eval 0,34] } ) 23...Re2 24.g4 Be3+ 25.Kb1 Rff2 26.Rhf1 Rxc2 27.Rxf2+ Rxf2 28.Rxd5 Rxh2 $11 { [%eval 2,31] } ) 17...Qc7 18.O-O-O ( 18.Qxc7 Bxc7 19.O-O-O a5 20.bxa5 Bxa5 21.f4 Bc7 22.g3 g5 23.fxg5 Rxg5 $11 { [%eval 0,30] } ) ( 18.f4 e5 19.fxe5 Qxe5+ 20.Qxe5 Rxe5+ 21.Kd2 Re4 22.Rhf1+ Kg8 23.Rae1 a5 $11 { [%eval 0,32] } ) 18...e5 19.Qf3+ ( 19.Nb3 Qf7 ( 19...d4 20.Rhe1 ( 20.Rd2 Be6 21.f4 exf4 22.Qxg6 Rh6 23.Qd3 Bc4 24.Qf5+ Rf6 25.Qh3 $11 { [%eval 0,37] } ) 20...Bd7 21.Rd2 Kf7 22.Nc5 Bxc5 23.bxc5 Rc8 24.f4 exf4 25.Qb3+ $11 { [%eval 27,30] } ) ( 19...Bf5 20.Rd2 ( 20.Nc5 d4 21.Rhe1 Bxc5 22.bxc5 Qxc5 23.Rd2 Re8 24.h3 Bd7 25.f4 $11 { [%eval -6,31] } ) 20...Re8 21.h3 d4 22.Re1 Re7 23.Nc5 Bxc5 24.bxc5 Kg8 25.c6 $11 { [%eval 12,26] } ) 20.Bxe5 ( 20.Rhf1 Bc7 21.Rde1 d4 22.f4 exf4 23.Qf3 d3 24.Qxd3 Be6 25.Qc3 $11 { [%eval 0,27] } ) 20...Bxf2 21.Qc3 Bg4 22.Rd2 Rc8 23.Nc5 b6 24.h3 Bxc5 25.bxc5 $11 { [%eval 0,30] } ) ( 19.Nf3 Bf5 20.Rd2 ( 20.Ne1 d4 21.Rd2 Rc8 22.Nd3 e4 23.Nc5 Qxg3 24.fxg3 d3 25.Bd4 $11 { [%eval -27,29] } ) 20...e4 21.Nd4 Qxg3 22.fxg3 Kg8 23.h3 Bd7 24.Re1 a5 25.g4 $11 { [%eval 0,29] } ) 19...Qf7 20.Qxf7+ ( 20.Nb5 Qxf3 21.gxf3 Bd7 22.Nd6 Bxf2 23.Rxd5 Bg3 24.Nxb7 Bc6 25.Rd8+ $15 { [%eval -35,27] } ) 20...Kxf7 21.Nf3 ( 21.Ne2 d4 22.Ng3 ( 22.h3 Bd7 23.f4 Rc8 24.fxe5 Ba4 25.e6+ Ke7 26.Nxd4 Bxd4 27.Bxd4 $11 { [%eval -12,30] } ) 22...Rh4 23.Rhe1 Rxh2 24.Rxe5 Rxg2 25.Rde1 Bg4 26.R5e4 Bf5 27.Nxf5 $11 { [%eval 0, 30] } ) ( 21.Nb5 a6 ( 21...Bd7 22.Nd6+ ( 22.Rxd5 Bc6 23.Nd6+ Ke6 24.Rd2 Rf8 25.Nc4 Rxf2 26.Rd6+ Ke7 27.Re1 $11 { [%eval -8,29] } ) 22...Ke6 23.Nxb7 Bxf2 24.Nc5+ Bxc5 25.bxc5 g5 26.g4 Rh3 27.Rde1 $11 { [%eval 7,29] } ) ( 21...d4 22.Rhe1 ( 22.f4 Bg4 23.Rdf1 Kg8 24.Nd6 Be6 25.fxe5 a5 26.Re1 axb4 27.axb4 $11 { [%eval 0,31] } ) 22...Kg8 23.h3 Bd7 24.Nd6 Bc7 25.Ne4 Ba4 26.Rd2 Rc8 27.Kb1 $11 { [%eval 14,27] } ) 22.Nc3 ( 22.Nd6+ Ke6 23.Ne8 Kf7 24.Nd6+ Ke6 25.Ne8 Kf7 26.Nd6+ Ke6 27.Ne8 $11 { [%eval 0,36] } ) 22...d4 23.Ne4 Bf5 24.Rde1 Rh4 25.Nd6+ Ke6 26.Nc4 Bc7 27.g3 $11 { [%eval 0,33] } ) 21...e4 22.Ne5+ ( 22.Nd4 Bd7 23.h3 Rc8 24.Kb1 Ba4 25.Rd2 a5 26.f3 axb4 27.axb4 $15 { [%eval -34,29] } ) 22...Kg8 23.Rxd5 ( 23.g4 Rh3 24.Rxd5 ( 24.Rhf1 g5 25.Rxd5 Be6 26.Rdd1 Rxh2 27.Bd4 Rg2 28.Bxb6 axb6 29.Rd6 $11 { [%eval 0,35] } ) 24...Be6 25.Rd6 Re8 26.Re1 e3 27.fxe3 Bxe3+ 28.Kb1 Bf4 29.Rd3 $11 { [%eval 0,34] } ) ( 23.Nxg6 Bxf2 24.Bd4 ( 24.Ne7+ Kh7 25.Bd4 Bh4 26.Nxc8 Rxc8 27.Bxa7 Ra8 28.Bc5 Bf6 29.Bd4 $11 { [%eval -22,31] } ) 24...e3 25.Rd3 Kh7 26.Ne7 Be6 27.Bxe3 Bh4 28.g4 Bxg4 29.Nxd5 $11 { [%eval 0,36] } ) 23...Be6 $11 { [%eval 0,30] } 24.Rd6 ( 24.Rd2 e3 25.Rd6 Re8 26.g4 Rxe5 27.Bxe5 exf2 28.Rxe6 Rxe6 29.Bg3 $11 { [%eval 0,32] } ) 24...Re8 25.g4 $11 { [%eval 6,29] } 25...Rh3 26.Re1 e3 27.fxe3 $11 { [%eval 19,30] } 27...Bxe3+ 28.Kb1 Bf4 29.Rd3 $11 { [%eval 12,32] } *
So now we finally know who creates new trends and how we can easily detect them. The next question is how interesting this is for the amateur. Well this isn't an easy question as I am not acquainted with the content of the magazines. I guess averagely once per year something could be useful for my standard games. That is not much but also largely depends on my own choices. I almost don't vary my repertoire as I use the scientific approach to choose openings. Also I play few games : I wrote 38 with a standard timecontrol last year in my article surprises part 2.

Briefly almost 100 euro per year for a magazine is a lot of money for me. For professionals the situation is very different. Last the Amercian grandmaster Alexander Lenderman grumbled with the famous Russian proverb "скупой платит дважды" after his painful defeat in 22 moves a week ago against the Amercian top-grandmaster Fabiano Caruana. The opening was treated in the most recent edition of newinchess yearbook 126 (this magazine is released only 4 times per year contrary to the monthly editions of chesspublishing and bi-monthly editions of chessbase) but Alexander missed it while Fabiano didn't.
[Event "US Championship"] [Site "St Louis, MO USA"] [Date "2018.04.19"] [Round "2"] [White "Fabiano Caruana"] [Black "Aleksandr Lenderman"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2804"] [BlackElo "2599"] [PlyCount "45"] [EventDate "2018.04.18"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qa5 7.Bd2 Qa4 8.Qg4 Kf8 9.h4 { (The idea which Fabiano had read a couple of days earlier in the most recent magazine of New in Chess, yearbook 126.) } 9...Nc6 10.h5 h6 11.Qd1 cxd4 12.Nf3 dxc3 13.Bxc3 g5 14.hxg6 Qe4+ 15.Be2 Qxg6 16.Qd2 Nge7 17.Bd3 Qxg2 18.Ke2 Qg4 19.Rh4 Qg7 20.Rg1 Ng6 21.Rf4 Nce7 22.Bb4 a5 23.Rxg6 1-0
My Russian father-in-law uses the proverb also regularly. A cheap person pays twice. Losing an extra half point in the US-championship can very well cost many times more than 100 euro see US-prizemoney and I don't consider yet other interests like qualification for the olympiad, the title,...

Let us go back to the mortals and it is doubtful to follow fashion in chess. There will always be players (mainly youngsters) being booked up by the latest novelties. So you do risk sometimes to play against a fashionista but don't panic as openings very rarely decide a game between amateurs.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Which openings do my opponents play?

The answer which I gave at a reaction upon my previous article (see Dutch version of this blog) wasn't complete.  I wrote that the number of openings even with a very narrow repertoire is gigantic. But gigantic is something intangible. Can't we define a more concrete number? Well I'll give it a try with this article.

However before we start the number-crunching, we should first agree about the definition of what is an opening. I consulted multiple sources and discovered there exists no consensus about this. The summary by ECO (Encyclopedia of chess openings) is the only standard existing today but the system only categorizes the openings in 5 main-categories and 500 sub-categories. So ECO classifies openings but doesn't tell us what exactly is an opening or how many moves counts an opening.

In fact it doesn't really matter for this article as we are only interested in how far somebody can be booked up. In other words how many moves can a player memorize of an opening. Of course this depends of the player and the opening itself. I know quite some lines beyond move 20 see e.g. mistakes and copycats. Beginners often don't know more than just a couple of moves. World-class-players on the other hand sometimes know lines as deep as move 40. Still a high rating is not a guarantee of knowing much about an opening see surprises part 1. In short we don't know what players know or don't know and that is only intensified by many players consciously hiding their opening-knowledge see secret.

So I am obliged to arbitrarily draw a line for the opening. As reference I use the default settings to create an openingbook in Chessbase. On my blog I showed countless examples of my openingbook see green movesto analyze using a computer part 3studying openings part 2using databases, ... but nowhere I explained which settings I used to create that book.
Default (standard) 20 moves are used with a deviation linked to ECO. This means we use averagely 20 moves for an opening-line. More moves are used for lines in openings defined by ECO as popular while less moves are used for lines in openings defined by ECO as secondary.

So 20 moves will be used in my research as the base to define an unique opening-line. That finally allows us to check the openings played by my opponents. My personal database of standard games counts today +800. Let us see how often the same 20 first moves are played in those games or complete games if the game lasted less than 20 moves. An hour of scrolling through the database was sufficient to extract the answer out of it. The result was stunning. Only twice I got exactly the same 20 moves of an earlier game on the board. Besides I am pretty sure that these 2 unique cases can be fully linked to very deliberate choices of my opponents. In one game the Dutch IM Edwin Van Haastert copied my lost game played a couple of weeks earlier against the Belgian IM Thibaut Maenhout. It was a full scale battle with many mistakes but the final one was made by my opponent when he missed a devilish trick.
[Event "Interclub Deurne - KGSRL"] [Site "?"] [Date "2006.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Van Haastert, E."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B92"] [WhiteElo "2296"] [BlackElo "2400"] [PlyCount "127"] [EventDate "2006.??.??"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.O-O O-O 9.Be3 Be6 10.Nd5 Nbd7 11.Qd3 Bxd5 12.exd5 Nc5 13.Qd2 Nfe4 14.Qb4 a5 15.Qb5 Qc7 16.Rad1 b6 17.f3 Nf6 18.f4 Nfd7 19.fxe5 Nxe5 20.Nd4 Rfe8 21.Nf5 Bf8 22.Rde1 { (My opponent, the Dutch International master Edwin Van Haastert noticed in his preparation that I lost only 2 weeks ago a game in this opening. Of course I didn't want to lose the same game over again so I deviated here.) } ( 22.c3 Rab8 23.Rd4 g6 24.Nh6+ Bxh6 25.Bxh6 f5 26.Rdd1 Qe7 27.Bd2 Ne4 28.Bf4 Nf7 29.Rfe1 Qh4 30.g3 Qf6 31.Bf3 Ne5 32.Bg2 g5 33.Be3 Qh6 34.Bd4 g4 35.Qf1 Nd2 36.Qxf5 Ndf3+ 37.Kf2 Nxd4 { (Brabo - Maenhout Thibaut 0-1) } ) 22...g6 23.Nh6+ Kh8 24.Bd1 Bg7 25.Bf4 Rf8 26.Ng4 Ncd7 27.Nf2 f5 28.c3 Rae8 29.Ba4 Re7 30.Nd3 Ref7 31.Be3 Nxd3 32.Qxd3 Ne5 33.Qb5 Rb8 34.Kh1 Qd8 35.Qe2 Qh4 36.Bf4 g5 37.g3 Qh6 38.Bd2 f4 39.gxf4 gxf4 40.Bc2 Rbf8 41.Be4 Qh4 42.Bf3 Rf6 43.Rg1 Rh6 44.Rg2 Rg6 45.Rf1 Qh3 46.b3 Rff6 47.Rxg6 hxg6 48.c4 Rf8 49.Be1 g5 50.Bc3 Re8 51.Bxe5 Rxe5 52.Qg2 Qxg2+ 53.Kxg2 Kh7 54.Rf2 Re1 55.Re2 Ra1 56.Kh3 Be5 57.Rxe5 dxe5 58.d6 g4+ 59.Kxg4 Rg1+ 60.Kf5 Rg8 61.Kxe5 Kg7 62.d7 Rd8 63.Ke6 Kf8 64.h4 1-0
The second unique situation appeared in a game of the club-championship of Deurne. I already once won in 2009 against the 1700 player Pascal Francois. In 2011 Pascal repeated the opening as the opening is theoretically healthy. I agreed as there exists an important difference between the evaluation of the engine and the practical chances in standard play.
[Event "Klubkampioenschap Deurne r1"] [Site "?"] [Date "2011.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Francois, P."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B19"] [WhiteElo "2324"] [BlackElo "1736"] [PlyCount "79"] [EventDate "2011.??.??"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 Nd7 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 Ngf6 11.Bf4 e6 12.O-O-O Be7 13.Kb1 O-O 14.Ne4 Nxe4 15.Qxe4 Nf6 16.Qe2 Qd5 17.Ne5 Qe4 18.Qxe4 Nxe4 19.Rhe1 Nf6 20.g4 Rad8 21.f3 Rd6 { (2 years ago Pascal chose Nd7 in our mutual game.) } ( 21...Nd7 22.Nd3 Nb6 23.c3 Nd5 24.Bd2 b6 25.c4 Nc7 26.Ne5 Bf6 27.Nxc6 Rd6 28.d5 exd5 29.Ne7+ Kh7 30.Bb4 Rd7 31.Nxd5 Rfd8 32.Nxf6+ gxf6 33.Rxd7 Rxd7 34.Re7 Rxe7 35.Bxe7 f5 36.Kc2 Kg7 37.b4 Ne6 38.Kd3 f6 39.Bd6 Kf7 40.a4 Ke8 41.Ke3 a5 42.bxa5 bxa5 43.gxf5 Ng7 44.Bf4 Nxh5 45.Bxh6 Ng3 46.Kd3 Kd7 47.Bd2 Kc6 48.Bxa5 Nxf5 49.Be1 Kc5 50.a5 Kc6 51.Bf2 Kb7 52.Ke4 Ne7 53.Bd4 Nc6 54.Bc3 Ka6 55.Kf5 { (Brabo - Francois,P 1- 0 gespeeld in 2009.) } ) 22.c3 Rfd8 23.Kc2 c5 24.Nd3 Rc6 25.dxc5 Bxc5 26.Nxc5 Rxd1 27.Rxd1 Rxc5 28.Rd8+ Kh7 29.Be3 Rc6 30.Bxa7 Nd5 31.Bb8 b5 32.Rd7 f6 33.Kd3 Ra6 34.a3 Ra8 35.Rb7 e5 36.Rxb5 Nf4+ 37.Ke3 Ra4 38.Rb7 Nh3 39.Bd6 Rf4 40.Rb4 1-0
When we met a third time in 2013, Pacal had learned from the losses. You can't select an opening just by looking at the evaluation of the engine so Pascal deviated much earlier with an interesting alternative.

I want to return to the original question of which openings my opponents play. In the meanwhile we have the answer. Every game a new opening is played except some very rare cases. So we can't predict which openings will appear in the future. Therefore it makes little sense to study the openings of the opponents.

You could even state that it makes no sense to study openings at all at our modest playing-level. That was insinuated in a reaction of the Unknown One see article of 2012. However this is a bridge too far for me. In many openings it is an undeniable advantage to know a number of moves. 20 moves can be a good arbitrary line to define an opening but it tells very little how useful studying openings can be see my recent article the (non-)sense of blitz.

As each opening has its own very specific characteristics, I can't assign one number to the number of moves which one should know to get an opening-edge. Besides this also depends on the knowledge of the opponent as only crucial additional information of the opening will lead to an advantage. Therefore the second part of this article will be covering the effect of studying openings using the scientific approach which I apply in my games. How fast does the opening-knowledge expand when only playing a very narrow repertoire? I have more than 20 years experience with this method, so I can definitely show some remarkable statistics about it. In all those years I played exclusively the same openings and only made adjustments to the repertoire when a line was broken. Below you can see the evolution of my opening-knowledge in the standard games where I was playing white.
There is little difference in the evolution of my opening-knowledge for the black games I played.
In about +400 white and + 400 black games we see an average deviation at move 8-9 compared to earlier played games. In less than 200 of the +800 games I deviated from an earlier game so where I introduced something new which I learned from earlier made mistakes. It is remarkable that we see barely any progress of the deviation during the last 15 years although I kept more or less the same level of activity. So a couple of hundred games is not enough to create depth in somebodies repertoire. I assume my strategy could work for an extrapolated number of games. We saw this in the the project Alpha zero for which 44 million training-games were played. Naturally no human will ever be able to play so many games.

Despite averagely we see a very early deviation in the games, still in a substantial % of games the deviation from earlier played games happens later. I made a graphic about this to illustrate the % of played games linked to the move-number where the deviation happened. Below you see first the graphic of my white-games.
Later deviations occur less frequently in my black repertoire. This has to do with the Dutch opening which I play. White has a large variety of interesting lines in this opening which permits much more early deviations (I mentioned this already in my article a Dutch gambit part 2).
From the graphics we can deduct that in 27% of my white-games there is a duplication of the first 10 moves from earlier played games. For the black games this is only 16%. For the first 15 opening-moves we see that the share of white-games already shrunk to 3% while for the black-games to 2%.

I conclude this long article. The percentages are small but not negligible. Studying the openings of your own games will bring some dividends later. We all have different ambitions and priorities so there exists no rule about which amount of study is reasonable or not. Anyway if you study only for gaining some rating-points then I fear you will get disappointed in the long run.


Monday, April 2, 2018

Surprises part 2

Last year I played 38 standard games of a slow time-control. I won 23 of them, made 10 draws and lost only 5. That seems a fantastic result but most of the games were played against weaker opponents. Besides only 11 were rated by fide so in the end I only gained a couple of ratingpoints. Many years already I can only play some small local tournaments to maintain more or less my playing-level.

Losing 5 games out of 38 is not much but each loss is one too many for an ambitious player. On the other hand losses are the best lessons to improve. That was part of the critics I received at chesspub because of my article to analyze using a computer part 2. Technically I make some high quality analysis but it is not clear how I learn something from it. Each game is unique (except in rare cases) so in each game new mistakes are made.

Of course something will be learnt from analyzing carefully games but often more can be achieved by looking to the total picture. Is there a common denominator in the mistakes? In my 5 most recent losses I noticed 1 important aspect. In each of the games I got very early into problems. In 2 games I even didn't survive the opening. 1 was already covered in my article evolution. The other was my game against Dries Janssen of which I already showed the final part in my previous artice.
[Event "Maneblusserstornooi 7de ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Janssen, D."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "*"] [ECO "A04"] [WhiteElo "1930"] [BlackElo "2310"] [PlyCount "31"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.Nf3 { (In our previous mutual game played in 2005, Dries chose d4. In the databases there were no earlier games of Dries with Nf3.) } 1...f5 2.d3 d6 { (White clearly prepared something but I had not played d6 before if you look at the databases.) } 3.e4 e5 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.h3 { (During the game I thought white was out book when he played this seemingly weak move.) } 5...Nf6 { (After my lost game against Vrolijk Liam played earlier this year, I had checked briefly this line. I noticed that 5...Nge7 is playable here but there is nothing wrong with my Nf6, at contrary. ) } 6.exf5 Bxf5 7.g4 Be6 { (After the game Dries told me that Bg6 is considered critical in this position. I clearly underestimated his preparation. Probably he had seen my game against Arno Bomans which was covered on my blog in the article 'Surprises' which would make it much more likely to prepare 5.h3 for this game.) } 8.Bg2 Be7 9.d4 Bc4? { (I saw whites next moves but completely underestimated the consequences. I still found one game with Bf7 in the databases in which white responds the same way as in the game. Playable but not very easy are Nd5 and exd4.) } ( 9...Nd5!? 10.O-O Nxc3 11.bxc3 Bc4 12.Re1 O-O $13 ) ( 9...exd4!? 10.Nxd4 Nxd4 11.Qxd4 c6 12.Be3 O-O { (Or first Bf7 followed next by f4.) } 13.O-O-O d5 14.f4 Bf7 15.Qd2 $13 ) 10.d5 Nb8?! { (I had planned this retreat as Nb4 looks bad. Still Nb4 was better as now I am just dead lost.) } 11.Ng5 Qd7 12.Ne6 Kf7 13.g5 { (Only here I started to realize things went horribly wrong. Ne8 loses quickly due to h4 followed by Bh3. Therefore I chose to create complications.) } 13...Nxd5 14.Nxd5 Kxe6 { (I missed whites next move but c6 is also losing after Nec7.) } 15.Qg4+ Kf7 16.Qxc4 { (The remaining part of the game was covered in the previous article.) } *

No doubt my too optimistic play was a major reason for the defeat. Both kings stayed in the center but my king appeared to be much more vulnerable. However even more important to me is the fact that my opponent had seen the critical position already in his preparation. He was aware of a similar mistake made in that position see the game Haroon Azizi - Anneli Damau played in 2003 which also was countered by the same refutation (see moves 9,10 and 11). So aside from the technical mistake we should definitely focus at the disturbing difference of foreknowledge between both players. I am not yet even taking into account the rating-difference.

It is not a lack of study from my side. Earlier in the same year I had lost another game in the same opening. Because of that I had made an in-depth study of all the current theory. Of 5.h3 there exists only 1 mastergame in the mega-database but still I hadn't forgotten to check that possibility. Unfortunately during the game I wasn't able to remember my notes from that particular line. There were hundreds of them and 6 months later you just forgot most of it. I expect nobody can fully remember such analysis including absolute worldclass-players. Besides my analysis of 5.h3 were very superficial as the line can't be considered critical for the evaluation of the opening.

No my mistake was of course being too predictable for my opponent. I stick too much to the scientific approach of playing chess so my opponents can easily prepare a very dangerous surprise. I did some research of my games to illustrate this more clear. I selected all my standard-games which I played against somebody that I had played already once before with the same color. For this type of games I could assume  my opponents knew in advance my personality and adapted their opening-strategy to maximize their winning-chances. After filtering, 146 of my 829 standard games remained. It proves once again what I already stated in my article  matches that our chess-world is small. From each of the 146 games I wrote down which person deviated first from our previous mutual game(s) and at which move.
If we summarize then we see immediately a clear distinction between myself and my opponents. In 128 of the 146 games my opponent deviated first or in other words they tried to surprise me. Only in 18 games I was the one innovating from an earlier played mutual game. We also see this difference in the move where the game deviates from earlier play. My opponents averagely deviate at move 4 while I only do averagely at move 10. There is of course a connection between number of games and the move when the deviation happens. The next question is if my lack of flexibility costs rating points. Well I was surprised to find out that this isn't really the case. Below you see my TPR in the same rating-categories of my previous article.
Every medal has 2 sides. My lack of surprises is compensated by more experience. I also expect many players rather deviate to avoid a preparation instead of having made themselves a very elaborated preparation. It is again my negative remark of players being rather lazy than tired. Only for the highest rating-category there are doubts. The TPR doesn't decrease dramatically but I don't have a good stomach-feeling about my games. Especially Flemish top-players knowing me for decades will try to profit by using their preparation to counter my very narrow repertoire. So in that sense I do fully agree with the reaction at my article password of the Belgian IM Steven Geirnaert.

My article at the end of last year killer novelties indirectly proofs this with an example from my game against the Belgian FM Matthias De Wachter. Mixing openings is a necessity to improve which can also be deducted from  the almost 5 year old article the list of strength. On the other hand I do want to warn the reader that changing openings is not the holy grail either. In another loss this season the cause was definitely partly related by choosing a line which I hadn't studied earlier. I didn't know the mainline and my deviation was refuted by my opponent. So you can't play any unknown opening successfully to avoid being too predictable.