Friday, August 17, 2018

Tactics part 3

On my blog several articles were published about how much efforts I make to allow my son to play chess. This means little free time remains for myself to play standard games. It is an investment in the future as probably within 2-3 years things will improve. Besides even today I already receive some dividends. Hugo starts to understand more and more about chess so our conversations become more interesting. He shows genuine interest in my games and even gives comments or shares ideas about certain positions.

Last he disagreed about my chosen strategy in a critical position which popped up in my game of round 2 from Open Gent. He considered me a coward by not playing the winning move as I wasn't able to calculate everything correctly to the end. His reasoning is that a couple of moves down the line things would become clear. This is not silly as if we look to the variation below which I calculated in the game then the win is very easy to detect in the final position.
[Event "Open Gent 2de ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Deveque, G."] [Result "*"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2310"] [BlackElo "2020"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1b2r1k/ppq5/2n1p1Q1/3pP3/3P3P/P1Pp4/2PB1PP1/R3K2R w KQ - 0 19"] [PlyCount "9"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [CurrentPosition "r1b2r1k/ppq5/2n1p1Q1/3pP3/3P3P/P1Pp4/2PB1PP1/R3K2R w KQ - 0 19"] 19.Qh6+! { (I chose after almost 20 minutes thinking for the much weaker Bg5.) } 19...Kg8 20.Rh3 Rf7 21.Qg6+ Rg7 22.Qe8+ Kh7 23.Rf3 $18 { (Till here I had calculated the line at the board. Now it is not difficult anymore to see that black has no good answer against Rf6 followed up with mate on h6. Therefore the engine sacrifices desperately a piece at e5 to prolong the game.) } *
Hugo definitely gets support from other players with this view see comments from some strong players on my article tactics part 1. They also believe you shouldn't be able to calculate everything to play a certain move. Some calculations and common sense should be sufficient to decide. However I am not convinced as this sounds more like I knew it. Hindsight it is always easier to tell that the move is better. Besides in above example I can prove that playing a winning move doesn't guarantee finding the win. It is a pure coincidence but I found a game in the mega-database with exactly the same position. In that game the Qatari Mohammed Al-Sayed played with white the strongest move but still deviated 2 moves later from the mainline.
[Event "Bayern-chI Bank Hofmann 10th"] [Site "Bad Wiessee"] [Date "2006.11.06"] [Round "3"] [White "Al Sayed, Mohammed"] [Black "Zill, Christoph"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2486"] [BlackElo "2270"] [PlyCount "59"] [EventDate "2006.11.04"] [Eventtype "swiss"] [Eventrounds "9"] [Eventcountry "GER"] [Sourcetitle "EXT 2007"] [Source "ChessBase"] [Sourcedate "2006.11.23"] [Sourceversion "1"] [Sourceversiondate "2006.11.23"] [Sourcequality "1"] [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 Ne7 7.Qg4 O-O 8.Bd3 Nbc6 9.Nf3 Ng6 10.Ng5 Qa5 11.Bd2 c4 12.Qh5 h6 13.Nxf7 cxd3 14.Nxh6+ gxh6 15.Qxg6+ Kh8 16.Qxh6+ Kg8 17.Qg6+ Kh8 18.h4 Qc7 { (The same critical position as in my game despite the different move-order.) } 19.Qh6+ { (Contrary to my game, white does play the best move.) } 19...Kg8 20.Rh3 Rf7 21.Rxd3 { (Stronger is Qg6+ but also after Rxd3 white should win in the long run.) } 21...Qe7 { (After this move black loses quickly. Much more stubborn is Rg7.) } 22.Rg3+ Rg7 23.Bg5 Qf8 24.Rd1 Qf5 25.Rdd3 Qg6 26.Qxg6 Rxg6 27.h5 Rg7 28.Bf6 Rxg3 29.Rxg3+ Kh7 30.Rg7+ 1-0
At that time he was rated 2486 elo. Today he is a grandmaster so not a fish. I mean if he can't find the optimal line after playing the strongest move then it is very harsh to condemn my chosen continuation as cowardly. I don't think my hesitation was misplaced. Besides nobody manages to calculate everything to the end. I am in good company as a couple of weeks ago Magnus also expressed no regrets when he wasn't able to complete his masterpiece. After the game he stated:  "The position screams for 20.Bg5 but if you don't see mate...".
[Event "51st Biel GM 2018"] [Site "Biel SUI"] [Date "2018.07.24"] [Round "3.1"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Svidler, Peter"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B94"] [WhiteElo "2842"] [BlackElo "2753"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r4r1b/1p1q1p1k/p2pb2p/4nP2/4P2B/2N4P/PPP2Q2/2KR2R1 w - - 0 20"] [PlyCount "14"] [EventDate "2018.07.22"] [CurrentPosition "r4r1b/1p1q1p1k/p2pb2p/4nP2/4P2B/2N4P/PPP2Q2/2KR2R1 w - - 0 20"] 20.Bg3 { (After the game Carlsen stated: 'The position screams for Bg5 but I didn't see the mate'. So he also thinks that you should not play something which is impossible to calculate properly.) } ( 20.Bg5 hxg5 21.Rxg5 Ng6 22.Rdg1 Bg7?? { (Both players didn't know how to continue but the engine demonstrates immediately the win. Anyway Carlsen's intuition wasn't wrong as black can still draw with Rac8.) } ( 22...Rac8! { (The Dutch expert Han Schut miss this saving move in his article at schaaksite about this game.) } 23.Nd5 Bxd5 24.fxg6+ fxg6 25.Qh4+ Kg8 26.Rxg6+ Kf7 27.exd5 Rxc2+ 28.Kd1 Rxb2 { (The engine tells us 0.00 in all lines. There is nothing to say more of course.) } ) 23.Rh5+ Kg8 24.f6 Qd8 25.fxg7 Kxg7 26.Qd4+ f6 27.Rhg5 Bf7 28.h4 $18 ) 20...Rac8 21.Bf4 Qe7 22.fxe6 fxe6 23.Qg3 Rg8 24.Qf2 Rgf8 25.Qg3 Rg8 26.Qf2 Rgf8 1/2-1/2

Today I strongly believe that a decision should be based upon analyzing concrete knowledge. So I am an adept of calculating countless lines during the game which is hard work. Intuition is nice but competitive chess doesn't allow much space to gamble. The best pilots are ashore which is today always the case as they can access the strongest engines to detect in a couple of seconds any blunder.

Of course some exceptions exist when a gamble can be interesting. I am thinking about bad positions without any hope. Sometimes a risky move can improve the odds. Also a half point can be insufficient in some situations. Solid play can lead to lower winning chances compared to chaotic moves. Chess is not a casino-game so gambling should be restricted to that one special occasion.


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