Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Obstruction part 2

General rules are taught so better moves are found quicker. This is done so students can acquire in a very short time-frame a basic level at chess. However to progress further, it becomes more and more important to also recognize the exceptions as chess is full of those.

In my courses for the advanced player I use a lot of time to explain about e.g. "the superfluous piece" or "the line of Troitsky" (see my previous article for more information). Although those complex and often unknown examples of obstructions rarely occur in practice, they do have a didactic value. There exists a category of endgames in which it is useful to throw away ballast (useless pawns) so a more easy defense can be played.

Also my students are regularly surprised how it is possible that I can so often use own games as examples for a certain theme which looks to them very seldom popping up. I only play a fraction of the number of games they play each year. Despite my much longer career some of my students have already played almost the same number of standard games.

Maybe it is because I am playing at a higher level so averagely my games contain more content (sounds to me a very good reason to improve at chess). However I think the most important reason must lay in the difference of working-discipline. Contrary to my students I analyze my games thoroughly while using the help of engines. On the other hand they are satisfied with a simple blunder-check of a couple of minutes.

Now I do understand that somebody of 1600 is only checking his blunders as tactics should at that level be the number one reason of losing games. However a young ambitious +2100 player should look for different type of errors or he will not improve anymore. I clearly notice this in my students as none is doing more than those blunder-checks. Some have the potential to become stronger than myself but without a change of attitude this will most likely not happen.

Initially this year I wanted to stop teaching but my daughter Evelien convinced me to continue one extra year. I did 6 years the efforts for my son Hugo so refusing a second year for my daughter wouldn't be fair. Anyway I did warn them that it is the final year if none of both is willing to work regularly at chess independently. Also this year I will return to the basics and concentrate on my 1600 rated students. I think this is more useful than what I can do for the highest rated ones.

So analyzing your own games is really something I consider mandatory. Probably I am now living the most hectic period of my life but still I do reserve time to do this job. There exist no excuses just other priorities. I still develop myself each day as a player because I still discover new things. One of those I encountered in below position. All engines (Leela included) choose for a very special self-obstruction.
[Event "Clubchampionship Deurne r6"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Weynen, J."] [Result "*"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r2q1rk1/1bp2p2/p2p1npp/P3p3/1p1bP3/1B1PN2P/1PP2PP1/R1BQR1K1 w - - 0 16"] [ECO "C88"] [WhiteElo "2309"] [BlackElo "1580"] [PlyCount "7"] [CurrentPosition "r2q1rk1/1bp2p2/p2p1npp/P3p3/1p1bP3/1B1PN2P/1PP2PP1/R1BQR1K1 w - - 0 16"] 16. Qd2! {(The engine recommends Qd2 for white which prepares c3. I play the ordinary Qf3 with a much smaller advantage.)} 16... Rb8 17. c3 bxc3 18. bxc3 Ba7 19. Ba2! ± *
Qd2 is of course counter-intuitive but the engines calculate deeper and see that this obstruction is only temporarily. Also top-players are nowadays regularly breaking old rules as they use every day engines. Below position became very popular after Carlsen had tested it with success.
[Event "Gashimov Memorial 5th"] [Site "Shamkir"] [Date "2018.04.23"] [Round "5"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Wojtaszek, Radoslaw"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B23"] [WhiteElo "2843"] [BlackElo "2744"] [PlyCount "61"] [EventDate "2018.04.19"] [Eventtype "tourn"] [Eventrounds "9"] [Eventcountry "AZE"] [Eventcategory "21"] [Sourcetitle "CBM 184"] [Source "ChessBase"] [Sourcedate "2018.05.16"] [Sourceversion "1"] [Sourceversiondate "2018.05.16"] [Sourcequality "1"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Qxd4 Nc6 5. Qd2 {(Before this game we only find 4 games with this move played by a 2500 player in the database. After this game the popularity of this move explodes. I found 72 games played by a 2500 in only the last year!)} 5... Nf6 6. b3 {(This is the logical alternative route for the development of the bishop.)} 6... e6 7. Bb2 a6 8. O-O-O b5 9. f3 h5 10. Nh3 Be7 11. Ng5 h4 12. f4 Bb7 13. Kb1 Rc8 14. Be2 Qc7 15. Rhe1 Nh7 16. Nxh7 Rxh7 17. g4 hxg3 18. hxg3 Bf6 19. Bd3 Rh8 20. g4 Nd4 21. Re3 Kf8 22. Ne2 Nxe2 23. Rxe2 Bc3 24. Bxc3 Qxc3 25. Qe3 Rc5 26. e5 dxe5 27. fxe5 Rh1 28. Rxh1 Bxh1 29. Rh2 Rxe5 30. Rh8+ Ke7 31. Qa7+ 1-0
In my previous article I showed positions in which you don't see at first sight an obstruction but there is one hidden. In this article I show examples which let you believe an obstruction is obviously happening but it is just an illusion. Did I already tell you that chess is a difficult game?


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