Thursday, January 17, 2019

Desperado part 2

Since 2014 IMF claims China became the biggest economy in the world. However today there is still a lot of discussion about the interpretation of their figures see e.g. Is China's economy really the largest in the world? .  Obviously I don't want to go into details here as I only touch the topic to address the huge transformation China made in the last decades. It changed from an underdeveloped country to a superpower which causes today anxiety in some countries.

Not only economically China made enormous progress. We see in almost any domain that the Chinese have acquired an important position. This is also valid for chess. Last year China obtained for the first time double gold at an olympiad but few will still remember that China was only some decades ago not much bigger of importance than a small country like Belgium. Fide doesn't offer much support but after some painstaking hours of research I was able to create some remarkable statistics about China. My first graphic shows the evolution of the average elo of the top-10 players during the last 3 decades. To compare I used as reference Russia (only from 1993 onward as earlier fide categorized the Russian players under the Soviet-Union).
In my article about elo-inflation I wrote that many players are not aware about the fact that inflation is directly linked to the number of memberships. From above graphic we can clearly see this in the elo-evolution of the Chinese top-players compared with the Russian top-players. If we look at the rankings then this effect is magnified. In below graphic I show the evolution over time of the average-ranking in the world for the top 10-players.
We notice that Russia is still number 1 today but China is very close. Besides the strongest Chinese player has now a higher rating than the strongest Russian player. Of course I talk about super grandmaster Ding Liren whom as the first Chinese ever broke the 2800 elo-barrier a couple of months ago. He achieved that in a remarkable way about which several journalists have written. Liren didn't lose any game during a period of 15 months. Finally the counter of undefeated games stopped at 100 against often very strong opposition. Out of curiosity I checked my personal database to find my longest streak of consecutive undefeated games. The maximum I recorded was 37 in the year 2011 but it only gave me a TPR = 2300 elo so many of my opponents were rather weak.

Unfortunately this splendid performance of Liren also created again jealously among some players as the reaction of Sergey Tiviakov at Chessbase proofed. I educate my children not to cheer in the proximity of the defeated opponent after winning a game so it wasn't very tactful of Sergey. Anyway the loss of Ding Liren  is quite special worth to investigate closer. In that game there occurred a very special desperado of the queen. In an earlier article I talked about the desperado-pawn in which a doomed pawn makes a last move just to win a tempo. In a queen-desperado we see a different dynamic. The queen is threatened and can be saved. However instead of that the player chooses to play the threatened queen to a square where it still can be captured. 
[Event "2nd Du Te Cup"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.11.11"] [Round "?"] [White "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"] [Black "Ding, Liren"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C55"] [WhiteElo "2778"] [BlackElo "2816"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r5/1pp3k1/r4n2/2q4p/3N1BpP/P2QP3/6P1/R5K1 w - - 0 35"] [PlyCount "47"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [CurrentPosition "2r5/1pp3k1/r4n2/2q4p/3N1BpP/P2QP3/6P1/R5K1 w - - 0 35"] 35.Qxa6 { (Chessbase calls this a desperado but I don't agree with it as the white queen is not threatened. For me this is just eliminating the defender of the e6-square.) } 35...Qxd4 { (However this is a real desperado as black is threatened to lose the queen due to the royal-fork at e6.) } 36.Qf1 Qe4 37.Rd1 c5 38.Rd6 Qe7 39.Qa1 Kf7 40.Be5 Ne4 41.Rh6 Qxh4 42.Qf1+ Ke7 43.Rh7+ Ke6 44.Bc7 Rxc7 45.Rxc7 Nd6 46.Rxc5 b6 47.Rc6 g3 48.Qf3 Qh2+ 49.Kf1 Qh1+ 50.Ke2 Qb1 51.Qxh5 Qa2+ 52.Kf3 Kd7 53.Rxb6 Qf2+ 54.Kg4 Qe2+ 55.Kh4 Qxg2 56.Qh7+ Kc8 57.Qg8+ Kd7 58.Rxd6+ 1-0
In above position black's queen is threatened by the royal fork Ne6+. However instead of saving the queen, black plays a desperado-move with it as white's queen is also hanging.

On I often solve some tactical exercises. The most difficult ones are sometimes very special positions. One of them I remember involved the theme of the queen-desperado. Below position is extracted from the collection of exercises I made on that site. In the solution there pops up 1 queen-desperado but you can even see 3 consecutive queen-desperados in the temptation.
[Event "Opgave"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "?"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2rb1nk1/pp4p1/3Qbr2/4N1qp/2p2R2/2P1B1N1/2R2PPP/5K2 w - - 0 1"] [PlyCount "5"] [Sourceversiondate "2019.01.15"] [WhiteElo ""] [BlackElo ""] [ECO ""] [CurrentPosition "2rb1nk1/pp4p1/3Qbr2/4N1qp/2p2R2/2P1B1N1/2R2PPP/5K2 w - - 0 1"] { (This position was offered at for tactical training with a rating beyond 3000.) } 1.Re4 Bc7 2.Qxf8+ { (The correct queen-desperado.) } ( 2.Qxc7 Qxg3 3.Qxc8 { (3 consecutive queen-desperados.) } 3...Bxc8 4.hxg3 Bf5 { (White has still an advantage but it is much smaller than the mainline.) } ) 2...Rfxf8 3.Bxg5 *
A last example of the queen-desperado I encountered while analyzing my last Belgian interclub-game of previous season. Without a computer it is impossible to discover it as the desperado only appears in some very complicated tactical line.
[Event "Interclub Temse - Deurne Analyse"] [Site "?"] [Date "2018.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Barbier, S."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "*"] [ECO "A26"] [WhiteElo "2150"] [BlackElo "2309"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1b2rk1/ppp3bp/2np2p1/4pP2/2P1P3/2NP2qP/PP4B1/R1BQ1RK1 w - - 0 14"] [PlyCount "23"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [CurrentPosition "r1b2rk1/ppp3bp/2np2p1/4pP2/2P1P3/2NP2qP/PP4B1/R1BQ1RK1 w - - 0 14"] 14.Qg4 { (In the game white continued with the wrong move Nd5. The computer however shows a stunning equalizer.) } 14...Qxd3 15.Qg5 Nd4 16.Nd5 gxf5 17.Be3 f4 18.Rad1 h6 19.Ne7+ { (This is not a desperado as the attacked queen does not move.) } 19...Kh8 20.Ng6+ Kh7 21.Nxf8+ Bxf8 22.Qxf4 { (But this is a real desperado. Black can even choose how to capture the white queen or with the pawn or like in the game with a fork.) } 22...Ne2+ 23.Kh2 Nxf4 24.Rxd3 Nxd3 25.Rxf8 { (0.00 is given as evaluation after this crazy line. All roads lead to a draw.) } *
In each example of the queen-desperado we see that both queens are hanging. This doesn't look surprising to me as there are likely very few other situations in which such drastic move is good. If a reader knows such different situation of a queen-desparado so without hanging queens then I am curious to learn about.


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