Monday, March 30, 2020

Surprises part 3

Aging mostly goes hand in hand with a growing aversion for any changes in our society. My grandmother passed away only 3 years ago but never possessed any computer or mobile phone. In Belgium many banks closed last year many of their affiliates and are demanding to switch to online banking but this caused panic and despair for a big part of the older population. I expect many of them didn't find any other way out than trusting relatives or friends to deal with their finances.

I see the same reluctance at older players to the changes in chess. Some even stopped playing as our chess today doesn't resemble anymore to the way they were originally taught how to play chess. Chess has dramatically changed in the last 20 years. I am thinking about the (much) quicker pace of the games, the introduction of the increments, electronic clocks instead of analogue ones, the abolishment of adjournments, new rules but maybe the biggest impact had the computer.

It is hard to estimate how many players have stopped playing along the way but I do think many changes were necessary to attract young people and to protect the future of chess at the long term. Besides I see for many young players it still isn't fast enough. On the other hand it is no coincidence that senior-tournaments are very popular for the older players especially because a slower pace is still maintained.

It is not simple to reinvent yourself each time and that is also valid for myself. Despite all efforts I made recently, I am not able to compete with the modern opening-strategies. I also experience that openings are changing so fast nowadays that you are never finished with studying. One of the reasons is that computers now made it possible to find interesting ideas much quicker than before. In a recent interview Anish Giri made the following interesting remark: "In 2010 I needed averagely 10 days of analysis to discover the details of a new idea. 2 years ago it only took me 2 days anymore and today I often have the solution in a half hour."

It also means that today it became very risky to play twice the same line if your opponent can prepare for it. Today you only need a fraction of the time compared with a decade ago to discover the critical moves and lines. So once games of yourself are stored in a public database then you better start to deviate from them as there will be definitely opponents using them against you. In my situation I also need to take into account what I wrote here on the blog as I already experienced a few times that readers later used my work against myself. Obviously I think twice nowadays before publishing something here as it can't be the purpose of this blog to lose more games.

Briefly once you start to reach master-level, it becomes absolutely necessary to learn continuously new systems and to variate your openings. It is something I slowly start to do myself more often. However I admit it is still too little, too slow what I do. A recent example again from my Dutch repertoire is a good demonstration of this shortcoming. Till 2013 I answered the line 1.d4 f5 2.Bg5 h6 3.Bh4 g5 4.e4 always with Nf6. In the end I played 4 standardgames with this line of which the one below is the most recent one.
[Event "Interclub Landau - Sliedrecht"] [Event "TSM tornooi"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013"] [Round "?"] [White "Geirnaert, S"] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A80"] [WhiteElo "2420"] [BlackElo "2347"] [PlyCount "79"] 1. d4 f5 2. Bg5 {(2 years earlier Steven chose g3 but it was no surprise that he would deviate to avoid any preparation.)} 2... h6 3. Bh4 g5 4. e4 Nf6 5. e5 e6 6. exf6 Qxf6 7. Bg3 f4 8. Be2 {(Last year I met Qh5+ which was recommended like the continuation of this game in the book 'Playing 1.d4 The Indian Defences' van Lars Schandorff.)} 8... Bg7!? {(Playable but I regretted that I couldn't remember c5 which I recommended last year as the critical test in this position.)} 9. Bh5+ Kd8 10. Nf3 Nc6 11. c3 e5 {(A recent game continued with b6 but this is more interesting. I had used a similar idea in my game of 2003 against the Belgian expert Peter Mangelschots.)} 12. dxe5 Nxe5 13. O-O d6? {(This is a mistake as now white gets an important tempo to generate dangerous activity. Correct was fxg3 with a balanced position.)} 14. Nxe5 Qxe5 15. Re1 Qf5 16. Bf3? {(A much stronger solution was Bxf4.)} (16. Bxf4! Qxf4 17. Nd2 Rf8 18. Qe2 Qe5 19. Ne4!) 16... fxg3 17. hxg3 Re8?! {(More accurate is first g4 and black can still choose between Re8 and the plan with h5-h4 depending on how white answers.)} 18. Nd2?! {(More harmonious is first exchanging on e8 followed up with Na3 leading to some advantage for white. After Nd2 the worst is over for black although the position still remains complex.)} 18... Rxe1+ 19. Qxe1 c6 20. Nc4 d5 21. Rd1 Qe6 22. Ne3 Kc7 23. b4 Qe5 24. b5 g4 25. Be2 h5 26. bxc6 bxc6 27. c4 d4 28. Nc2 Rb8 29. Qd2 Bf6 30. Re1 Bg5 31. Qd1 Rb2 32. Bd3 Qa5 33. Qe2 Bf5 34. Qf1?? {(Till now it was well played but here Steven makes a mistake. During the game I mainly feared Qe8 which is indeed recommended by the engines. Qe8 leads to serious complications in which both sides have their chances.)} 34... Bxd3?? {(I missed totally Rxc2 which was shown to me after the game by Steven.)} (34... Rxc2! 35. Bxc2 Bxc2 36. Qe2 d3 37. Qe8 Qc3 38. Re6 Qxc4 39. Rg6 Qc5 40. Rg7+ -+ {[%eval -489,23]}) 35. Qxd3 Qc3 36. Qh7+?? {(Steven didn't like the endgame after Qxd4 but this is losing.)} (36. Qxd4! Qxd4 37. Nxd4 Bf6 38. Ne6+ Kc8 39. a3 Ra2 {(The engines consider this defensible for white but I think black has the easier play.)}) 36... Kb6 37. c5+ Qxc5 38. Na1 d3 39. Rf1 d2 40. Qd3 {(In this won position I lost on time. It was a big shock as I had more than a minute left for my last move. I wrongly thought I had passed already the time-control due to a mistake I made earlier while recording my moves.)} 1-0
The loyal and attentive blog-reader probably recognized the game from my article the sadistic exam. In my article Lars Schandorff I have covered already my other games with this line. So when end of last year the Belgian FM Arno Bomans surprised me by entering this line, I got alarmed and decided to deviate with an alternative which I studied deeply a year ago. In surprises part 2 I indicated that averagely my opponents deviate at move 4 so I thought that I was doing ok this time but I was wrong.
[Event "Interclub Opwijk - Deurne"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019"] [Round "?"] [White "Bomans, A"] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A80"] [WhiteElo "2260"] [BlackElo "2301"] [PlyCount "111"] 1. d4 {(3rd time we meet each other with the same colors and 3rd time Arno chooses a different first move.)} 1... f5 2. Bg5 h6 3. Bh4 g5 4. e4 Bg7 {(Arno learned his lesson from our previous meetings as this time he also prepared for this line although I didn't have any games yet in the database with it.)} 5. Bg3 d6 6. Bc4 d5 7. Bxd5 e6 8. Bb3 f4 9. Qh5+ {(Tomme Lowie played last year Bxf4 against me but this is more critical and still was part of Arno's preparation.)} 9... Kf8 10. c3 fxg3 11. fxg3 Nf6 {(In my notes of the game against Tomme Lowie I had analyzed Qe8 but I wasn't able to remember that during the game. )} 12. Qe2 Qe8? {(However now Qe8 is wrongly timed. C5 or Kg8 were correct with a very sharp position in which white has probably sufficient but nothing more compensation for the sacrificed piece.)} (12... c5!? 13. Nf3!? Nc6!? 14. e5 Nd5 15. O-O Kg8 16. Nbd2 cxd4 17. Nxd4 Bd7) 13. Nf3 {(Only here Arno was out of book. White has a large advantage despite having a piece less. Black has big problems to develop and white's attack is straight forward.)} 13... Kg8 14. Nbd2 Nc6 15. e5 Nd7?! {(More stubborn is Nd5.)} (15... Nd5! 16. O-O Na5 17. Bc2 Bd7 18. Rae1 Qe7 19. Ne4 Rf8 20. b4 Nc6 21. b5 {[%eval 157,18]}) 16. Ne4 b6 17. h4 g4 18. Nfd2 h5 19. Ng5 Rh6 20. Nde4 Bb7 21. O-O Nd8 22. Rf2 Qe7 23. Raf1 Bd5 24. Bc2 b5 25. b3 a6 26. c4 bxc4 27. bxc4 Bxe4 28. Qxe4 Rb8 29. c5 Rb4 30. Qa8 Nf8!? {(Leela thinks that I missed a chance here to get back into the game but Stockfish calculates deeper.)} (30... Rxd4!? 31. Rf7 Qe8 32. Ba4! Bxe5 33. Bc6 Bxg3 34. Qc8 Bxh4 35. Bxd7 Rxd7 36. Rxd7 Bxg5 37. Rfd1 +-) 31. Rf4 Qd7 32. c6 Qe7 33. Bb3 Rg6 34. Qxa6 Rb6 35. Qd3 Rh6 36. Ne4 Nxc6 37. Nf6+?! {(In mutual zeitnot Arno gives me a very small chance to survive. The quiet Kh2 is more accurate.)} 37... Bxf6?! {(After the opening-debacle it would've been a miracle to escape with a draw but I missed my last mini-chance.)} (37... Kh8! 38. Ne4! {(The best is just to go back. The lost time gives black some respite but it is still a very nasty position for black.)} 38... Ng6 39. R4f2 Qd7 40. Rd1 Rb4 41. Bc4) 38. exf6 Qd6 39. d5 exd5 40. Rf5 Kh8 41. Rxd5 {(Zeitnot passed and the resulting position is beyond repair. In the remaining part of the game white doesn't choose the quickest path to victory but never spoils it.)} 41... Qa3 42. Rg5 Rxb3 43. axb3 Qb4 44. f7 Ne7 45. Rf4 Qe1+ 46. Kh2 Rd6 47. Rxh5+ Kg7 48. Rg5+ Neg6 49. Qf5 Qe6 50. h5 Qxf5 51. Rfxf5 Rb6 52. Rxg4 Rxb3 53. hxg6 Rb6 54. Rc5 Ne6 55. Rh5 Nf8 56. Rh7+ 1-0

There exist no games of myself with 4...Bg7 in the databases and on this blog you can't even find back a hint of it that I would deviate with 4...Bg7. I did however once at the sleeping site of schaakfabriek mention that I consider this line theoretically interesting but that happened in 2015. It is very unlikely that my opponent based his analysis on it. After the game Arno admitted that he prepared very well for this line. At the moment Arno left book, the game was more or less decided already as after 12 moves white has a very large (probably winning) advantage. How is this possible on this very modest level to encounter such deep preparation as what more can we do than deviating at move 4 to avoid such debacle?

Well of course one can deviate at move 1,2 or 3 of course. Anyway in 99% of the cases deviating at move 4 should be sufficient but here I met a very clever and experienced opponent. He knows me very well and follows this blog already for years. In our 2 earlier encounters he had prepared different systems but these were bigger systems so it was impossible/ very hard to check all possible lines. This time Arno made sure he chose a system in which only a limited number of lines are existing. The only difficulty remaining was to choose a system of which he has a very good chance that it would occur on the board. Eventually he noticed my game of the 5th round of Open Leuven played on a live-board less than 1 month ago in which the exact same 3 moves were played of the system. A screenshot of my opening-book shows how few games exist in the database with this system.
So we only have to deal with about 100 games in the megadatabase of which one of the 2 players has at least a +2300 rating. Maybe only 10% is relevant for the theory so in the end you only need to investigate 10 games deeper with a strong engine. By summarizing the key-lines it is pretty simple to memorize it and be fully prepared for battle. Arno knew that I normally always play first board so he was almost sure that I would be his opponent in the interclubs. Besides he also knew from experience and my blog that I very often allow the same systems. Therefore it is no surprise that an ambitious fide-master like Arno prepared himself for 4...Nf6 , 4...Bg7 as well as 4...Rh7.

So switching between lines even of which I have no games in the database, seems insufficient to survive the preparation of my opponents on my modest level. In a report of my match against KOSK I read that I am one of the most famous players in Belgium but this is rather a disadvantage for me at the board. I think my problem is also very rare as I don't know any other people in Belgium experiencing the same issues. There are no top 100 of the world-players in Belgium so nobody needs to deal with very specific preparations of their opponents. This is very different at the candidates which are played at Yekaterinburg in Russia. There we clearly see players whom stick to their normal systems, are suffering a lot as the opponents prepared some very specific lines very deeply.


Monday, March 23, 2020

Free of charge part 3

Chess doesn't have many sponsors and I believe things will only become tougher. After the current ongoing biggest crisis since WW2 the first priority will be to put the economy back on the rails. This will cost many billions of dollars/ euros so do't expect that there will be any money for chess or even any other leisure activities.

We chess-players will have to take care ourselves about chess. However I don't expect much of this. Most chess-players aren't rich and are already now keeping a very strict control about their expenses. An example of this I mentioned in my article Papua New Guinea. In the last decade there was a clear shift from playing online for a fee to playing online free of charge.

I also always try to limit my expenses as the costs related to chess can very quickly get high as I calculated for myself in my article How much money do you spend at chess? So each time I want to buy something, I always ask myself if there exists no cheaper or even free of charge alternative which is legal and miss barely any important features. Therefore I haven't bought any new engines for already a couple of years as Stockfish and Leela can be downloaded free of charge. I want to add the remark that people possessing a computer with a modern graphical card, can better switch to the new T60 networks. The score of a very recently finished rapidmatch between stockfish 11 and Leela T60 network 62713 was 48-52 which corresponds to a progress for Leela of 3,5 points from 100 games (about 40 elo) compared to an earlier test made with one of the best T40 networks.

This blog is open for everybody so I don't earn any money with it. Logically I also try only to use free software to create the articles of this blog. First I used the free of charge KnightVision PGN Viewer. As Flash started to get refused by most browsers, I switched in 2017 to the free PGNviewer see my article new viewers. However for free unfortunately is also in most cases connected with less stability which is something I experienced in the last couple of months a few times. End of last year I noticed changed their script without any warning for the pgnviewer which destroyed the layout of all in my articles.

I assume few readers noticed it but I did update immediately after this problem occurred, the more than 1000 games in +600 articles to get them look again normal. It took me 8 hours in total to adapt for each of them the html code. It is no fun but I found it too pity to leave the old articles in such dire state although some other bloggers do see the Australian grandmaster David Smerdon and the Croation grandmaster Alex Colovic. I see at the statistics that my old articles are still very often consulted which I don't think is a surprise as I normally don't talk much about the news.

When 2 weeks ago I discovered for a second time that had adapted their script, I started to realize that maybe using free of charge software for the viewers wasn't the best choice. The damage was this time less serious as the second ugly scroll bar at the right isn't the end of the world. So I decided this time to update the html-code of only my most recent articles. You can clearly notice this from my article the novelty seeker. Other bloggers experience the same problem see e.g. an article of Alex Colovic.

If you don't pay for a service then there also don't exist any guarantees about the quality. It is no coincidence that did an extra effort for the bloggers using their own platform. I guess it was not too difficult to update the html of the older articles simultaneously with the update of the script-viewer so the layout wasn't destroyed.

To avoid new problems, I could transfer or continue the blog on Maybe this would allow my blog to attract a lot of new readers. On the other I would have to relinquish the unique identity of this blog as it would become just one of the hundreds or even thousands blogs which exist already on This doesn't sound attractive to me. Besides today my blog is found very fast by the search-machines like google and that would most likely not be the case anymore when I would use

Maybe I should after all buy Chessbase and start using their viewer which you can integrate on a blog. It is less likely that I run into the same problems when I pay for the software. Quality has a price. It is something which I recently also discovered by using the online database of chess.db. The database gets less and less frequently updated. My most recently played games of Brasschaat, Leuven and Cappelle La Grande are missing contrary to Chessbase. I know chess.db is for many players the free database to use for preparing their games but today this is a rather doubtful choice.

The financial model of chess.db consists of advertisement-revenues and I guess they misjudged this. To maintain a site like chess.db, demands a continuous investment of time and money. You need a lot of traffic to the site to live purely from advertisements. However investing less, leads to fewer visitors which very quickly becomes a vicious circle. So I doubt chess.db will remain on the long term.

Finally we should realize that this blog uses a platform which is only depending on advertisement-revenues. I use the one of google but google is no charity-organization. Google created the platform in the assumption bloggers don't bring only content but will also allow advertisements to be shown in their articles. Thousand of bloggers are doing this and attract millions of readers which generate advertisement-revenues. To stimulate new blogs, Google allows not to show advertisements but after a while authors are politely requested regularly to consider adding advertisements to their blog.

Till today I always refused to do that. I don't like it that my blog would be polluted by often irrelevant commercials and I am not interested in the scarce revenues. I do take hereby a risk. If too many bloggers take the same decision then it becomes uninteresting for Google to maintain their platform. In the terms and conditions Google clearly writes that it can stop at any moment with their platform without any warning. Again this is what you can expect when you don't pay for a service but even a paying service won't protect you from every risk. Anyway I am taking my precautions by regularly taking back-ups of all html-code of this blog. I don't want to see disappearing 10 years of blogging in a blink of an eye.


Sunday, March 15, 2020

Automatic moves

Slowly my children get better at chess. My daughter Evelien managed to cross the 1400 elo some months ago. My son Hugo did the same with the 1700 barrier but he is playing chess already several years longer. Each coach and chess-parent will likely agree that such results make yourself proud although in the end it is the accomplishment of the children.

Clubs having many youth-players obviously want to see very often new publications of the rankings. Almost everybody wins points each time and even when somebody loses then it is just a temporary thing. However for clubs exclusively of older players each new ranking is torment. My clubmate Marcel Van Herck made recently the remark on facebook that he sees many minus-signs next to the Belgian-ratings of our clubmembers.

I am not so young anymore either so I detest to see much more often the minus-signs compared to the plus-signs next to my rating. A 5th defeat this season in the Belgian interclub pushed my rating even to the lowest level in 18 years. Or to let it sound even more dramatic, my fide-elo dropped below my starting-rating which I got in the year 2000. What is happening? Do I have Alzheimer but I thought chess is the best medicine against it?

First I need to explain that in the year 2000 you could only get a rating if your performance is above 2200 elo. Today the minimum-bar is at 1000 elo so we shouldn't compare startingratings in the year 2000 with the ones which we are used to today. Also having a rating less than 100 points below your own best isn't exceptional at all see peakrating part 2. In brief we shouldn't make a mountain out of a molehill.

On the other hand I still think I am (way) too young to see my rating slowly decrease already. Beside in the last couple of months I became again a much more active player so today I am much more routinized. In the previous years I didn't manage to play more than 10 standard-games each year which were processed for my fide-rating. In the last six months only I already played more than 25 fide-rated standardgames which is about 5x more than before (this is of course because I started recently to play tournaments together with my children).

So in my most recent games I rarely encountered serious time-troubles (can we ever speak about it when playing with increments?). However maybe exactly because of this my play has become too superficial. As every experienced player I try to divide my time properly between the moves during a game. I don't want to spend much time at moves which look forced/ natural so I save time for more complex positions. That is in most cases the right decision but sometimes this also leads to errors. I start with an example from my first game played in the Dutch interclubs for Landau Axel.
[Event "Interclub Landau - Sliedrecht"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Mijnster, N"] [Result "1-0"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6r1/p4p2/1pk1p3/7P/6P1/2b2K2/PP6/7R w - - 0 37"] [ECO "B19"] [WhiteElo "2254"] [BlackElo "2150"] [PlyCount "67"] 37. bxc3? {(I recapture automatically but with the not even difficult move Rc1 I could've kept a much larger advantage.)} 37... Kd6 38. Kf4 f6?? {(Fortunately my opponent doesn't have sufficient time as Ke7 should be drawing.)} 39. h6 Ke7 40. h7 Rh8 41. g5?? {(I knew that this move was necessary to play for a win but first a4 is crucial to avoid b5.)} 41... Kf7?? {(However also black plays superficial chess and after this mistake he doesn't get another opportunity to save the game.)} (41... b5! 42. gxf6+ Kxf6 43. Ke4 a6 44. Kf4 (44. Rh6+ Kg5 45. Rxe6 Rxh7 46. Rxa6 {(This is a tablebase-draw which is rather easy.)}) 44... Kg7 45. Ke5 Rxh7 46. Rxh7+ Kxh7 47. Kxe6 Kg6 48. Kd5 Kf5 49. Kc5 Ke5 50. Kb6 Kd6 51. Kxa6 Kc5 52. a3 Kc6 =) 42. gxf6 Kxf6 43. a4 e5+ 44. Ke4 Kg7 45. Rh4 Kf6 {(White's a pawn is decisive in this pawn-endgame.)} (45... Rxh7 46. Rxh7+ Kxh7 47. Kxe5 Kg6 48. Kd6 Kf5 49. Kc6 Ke5 50. Kb7 Kd6 51. Kxa7 Kc7 (51... Kc6 52. Kb8 b5 53. a5 +-) 52. c4 Kc6 53. Kb8 Kc5 54. Kb7 Kxc4 55. Kxb6 +-) 46. Rh5 Kg6 47. Rh3 Kf6 48. Rh4 Kg7 49. Kxe5 Re8+ 50. Kd6 Kh8 51. Rc4 Rd8+ 52. Kc7 Rd5 53. Kb7 b5 54. Kc6 Rg5 55. axb5 Kxh7 56. Rf4 Rg6+ 57. Kc7 Rb6 58. c4 Kg6 59. Rf1 Re6 60. c5 Re5 61. Kd6 Re2 62. Ra1 Kf5 63. Rxa7 Re6+ 64. Kc7 Ke5 65. c6 Kd5 66. Kb6 Kc4 67. Ra1 Kb4 68. Rb1+ Kc4 69. Kb7 Kc5 70. c7 1-0
When after the game my son Hugo asked why I didn't play 37.Rc1 and I didn't know immediately what he was talking about only then I realized that I played too fast at that moment. Yes there was little time left and there was a lot of noise (Sliedrecht has a very nice bar with a lovely collection of beers but it disturbs the games as it is located in the middle of the playing-hall) but those shouldn't be an excuse.

Worse was what happened in my game of the penultimate round of the Open of Leuven in 2019. I had a won position but blew it by playing an automatic move (I put my rook on the open file at the same time winning a tempo as I attacked the queen of my opponent). After I released my hand from the piece, I immediately realized the blunder as did my opponent the Hungarian expert Pal Suranyi. However by some inexplicable event he switched the winning sequence and missed the golden chance. We both exploded into a big laugh during the game by witnessing so much silliness.
[Event "Open Leuven 6de ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019"] [Round "?"] [White "Suranyi, P"] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "4r1k1/1p2p2p/1q1p2p1/3Pb3/3N4/1P2B1Pb/5Q1P/3R2K1 b - - 0 33"] [ECO "A87"] [WhiteElo "2100"] [BlackElo "2264"] [PlyCount "21"] 33... Rf8?? {(I played this move instantly because I wanted to save the few minutes remaining on my clock. Bxd4 wins rather straightfoward.)} 34. Ne6?? {(When I saw my opponent playing this move, we looked at each other and started to laugh. Obviously we both had seen the winning Qxf8+ but if you lack time then sometimes strange things happen on the board. Qxf8 should be a winning endgame for white but technically it is not so simple especially if you lack time.)} 34... Rxf2 35. Bxb6 {(White continues the game but I was now fully awake. I don't make any new blunders.)} 35... Rg2+ 36. Kh1 Rb2 37. Ng5 Bg2+ 38. Kg1 h6 39. Ne6 Bf3 40. Rd3 Be4 41. Rd1 Rg2+ 42. Kf1 Rxh2 43. Bg1 Rb2 0-1
In the 2 first examples it is easy to see why the automatic played move is wrong but it is not always like that as in the next example played in the Dutch interclubs. I remember that I was hesitating briefly in the game as I felt recapturing wasn't forced.
[Event "Interclub Goes - Landau"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Van der Kaap, J"] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3r4/1k4pp/1p3p2/p1Nb4/4P3/1P3P2/6PP/3R1K2 b - - 0 30"] [ECO "C69"] [WhiteElo "2100"] [BlackElo "2264"] [PlyCount "25"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 30... bxc5? {(Again played automatically. If I thought a bit longer then maybe I had detected the unorthodox winning Kc6.)} (30... Kc6! 31. Rc1 (31. Ne6 Bc4+ -+) (31. exd5+ Kxc5 -+) 31... bxc5 32. exd5+ Rxd5 33. Ke2 Kb5 -+) 31. exd5 Kc7 32. Ke2 Rb8?! {(The engine prefers Kd6 but I didn't like it during the game.)} 33. Rd3?? {(White already gambled earlier in the game but this time it costs the game. D6 and Kd3 should be a draw although black can push of course for awhile.)} 33... Kd6 34. f4 g6 35. h4 Rb4 36. Kf3 c4 37. bxc4 Rxc4 38. g4 a4 39. g5 f5 40. Rd2 a3 41. Rf2 Ra4 42. Ra2 Kxd5 0-1
The resulting endgame after the automatically played recapturing move was still better for me but not winning. All examples shown above still ended for me well despite I didn't play the right move. By playing fast you always put extra pressure on the opponent. However in the last example my luck finished. Against the Belgian IM Stefan Beukema you can't afford such tactical shallowness.
[Event "Interclub Brasschaat - Deurne"] [Site "?"] [Date "2020"] [Round "?"] [White "Beukema, S"] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1-0"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "1rb1knQ1/2q3b1/1p4p1/2P1p1B1/N1Pp2P1/3P4/4P2P/5RK1 b - - 0 27"] [ECO "A03"] [WhiteElo "2420"] [BlackElo "2296"] [PlyCount "12"] 27... bxc5?? {(Black has a piece extra but is under enormous pressure. Probably only an engine manages to save this position with Rb7.)} (27... Rb7 28. Nxb6 (28. Qd5 Be6 29. Rxf8+ Kxf8 30. Qxe6 bxc5 31. Qd5 Qd7 32. Qxd7 Rxd7 33. Nxc5) 28... Qxc5 29. Nd5 Qd6 30. Nf6+ (30. c5 Qxc5 31. Nf6+ Bxf6 32. Rxf6 Qe7 33. Qd5 Bxg4 34. Rxf8+ Qxf8 35. Qxb7) 30... Bxf6 31. Rxf6 Qxf6 32. Bxf6 Be6 33. Qh8 Rh7 34. Qxh7 Nxh7 35. Bxe5 Bxg4 36. Kf2 Ng5 37. Bxd4 {(After the extremely complicated tactics we have a non standard endgame on the board.)}) 28. Nxc5 Rb6 29. Ne4 Be6 30. Rxf8+ {(I missed this. It finishes the game immediately.)} 30... Bxf8 31. Nf6+ Ke7 32. Nd5+ Kd7 33. Qh7+ 1-0
I started this article by complaining about my low fide-elo. If my opponents would've taken all the half and full points I offered then it would've been even much worse. Fortunately a bad streak always ends at some moment which was the case recently in the open tournament of Cappelle La Grande (France) which I played. I won back 30 elo which recovers practically all losses made in the previous months. I published a report of my adventure at the site of my club Deurne in which 3 games (draws against +2450 rated players) can be replayed with some light analysis added.


Friday, March 6, 2020

Novelty-seeker part 2

Curiosity is probably the most important feature of a (fast) improving player. Some top-players consult any possible source of information or outsource it to their helpers. Asking questions and questioning yourself is the key to success. It is a shame that non of my students shows any initiative. They wait till I served them the materials and do no effort to do their own research.

I also experienced more than once that somebody wants to show their won game but critical questions are not welcome. Now I realize that a coach should support mentally their students but I don't think a group-session is the right place for it. If somebody just wants to brag about their result then I tell the person that this is a waste of time which could be used instead to learn something more valuable together. Maybe I deserve this behavior as some other coaches told me that this is the consequence of not asking any money for my classes. If you give something for free then it is often taken for granted and not respected.

Sim Maerevoet mentioned in his article ideas part 2 that he likes to coach maximally 3 players in tournaments which he participates himself. For the upcoming Belgian youthchampionship (if it won't be cancelled due to the corona-virus) already 10 players are asking my support. That means they want me to prepare their games and to analyze the ones which they played. Mission impossible I responded as last year people were waiting in the corridor till sometimes midnight to get a session with me. So this year I will make additional demands to players interested to work together. Any + 12 year old player will first need to prepare/ analyze themselves. I am not going to help if they haven't made any homework in advance.

Beside while we are now talking about asking questions, there is a second reference I want to make to the article of Sim. In that article you can read that during a game you should ask questions at your opponent. Obviously this shouldn't be taken literally as it is forbidden to talk during a game. Sim means we need to create positions on the board in which our opponent has to find some difficult moves without any external help. However there is 1 specific question which you better never ask to your opponent. What did my opponent prepare for me? It is ok to wonder about it so you can decide to deviate or not from your normal repertoire. Asking this question directly at your opponent should be advised against although in rare cases it happens.

Sometimes a player gets so much in love with an opening that the player doesn't want to play anything else anymore. The player even gets excited by getting the chance to see what the opponent has prepared exactly against it. I remember a couple of years ago that I was very surprised that our Belgian grandmaster Bart Michiels risked to play the same line for the 3rd time against me. Maybe Bart thought the danger wasn't big as there was less than one hour to prepare for the game but in open tournaments I always bring my computer along which allows me to access very rapidly my own databases and analysis. I analyze my games seriously so afterwards I only need about 10 minutes to refresh my memory. In the first 2 games with the opening I couldn't get any advantage but this time Bart did get into problems.
[Event "Open Gent 8ste ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Michiels, B"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2316"] [BlackElo "2520"] [PlyCount "154"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Be7 {(It is the 3rd time that Bart is playing this line against me in the span of 3 years. After the game Bart told me that he trusts the opening so much that he dares to play it often. As the game was played in the evening after a morning-round there was little time to prepare.)} 8. Qd2 {(Initially I wanted to play dxc5 but while looking at it during the preparation, I found Bart's game played beginning of this year in Wijk aan Zee against the very young American grandmaster Samuel Sevian for which I couldn't find a good response.)} (8. dxc5 Bxc5 9. Bxc5 Nxc5 10. Qd2 Qb6 {(Earlier I had only checked Qa5 and in the few minutes of preparation I didn't find an amelioration. Now after some extensive research I didn't find anything worth another try. Bart again confirms that he has worked very hard at his repertoire.)} 11. O-O-O O-O 12. f5 (12. Kb1 Rd8! 13. Qe1 Bd7! 14. f5 d4 15. Nxd4 Nxd4 16. Rxd4 Bc6 {(The master-correspondence-game Alexander Kuznetsov - Lars Forslof became a draw in 2014 from this position.)}) 12... d4 13. Nxd4 Rd8 14. f6 Nxe5 15. Qg5 Ng6 16. Bc4 e5 17. Nb3 gxf6 {(Bart played Nxb3 which is ok but this seems even easier.)}) 8... b6 9. Be2 {(I am going for an interesting idea which I mentioned in my analysis of my game against Ikonnikov. I considered briefly 0-0-0 but I already demonstrated before how black can achieve equality in the critical lines. I had published on my blog that my mainline ends in a perpetual. To play for a draw with white is lame even against a grandmaster. I am an amateur so I don't need to think about winning money. As I am not satisfied about Be2 after this game, I have focused my analysis this time at Bb5 which looks more interesting than stated at chesspub.)} (9. Bb5 Bb7 (9... Qc7 10. O-O-O Bb7 11. Kb1 O-O 12. h4! cxd4 13. Nxd4 Nxd4 14. Bxd4 Nc5 15. g4!) (9... Ndb8 10. Qf2! c4 11. f5! exf5 12. Qg3 Kf8 13. O-O! Nb4!? 14. Qf2! h6 15. a3 N4c6 16. b3) 10. O-O-O! O-O!? 11. Kb1! a6!? 12. Bxc6 Bxc6 13. h4! Rc8!? 14. h5 b5 15. Ne2! Nb6 16. dxc5 Nc4 17. Qc1 b4 18. Bd4! {(This is no final verdict but it shows white has potential. )}) 9... O-O 10. O-O {(I also investigated the unknown a3 without finding anything substantial.)} 10... f5 11. a3 {(In our first mutual game I played exf6. I had seen some interesting games with a3 so I wanted to test it myself.)} 11... Bb7 12. Rfd1 {(Rad1 and Bf2 were already tested in correspondence-chess leading to very complex positions in which I regard black's chances as ok.)} 12... a6?! {(Bart admitted afterwards that he read my blog but apparently not everything as he has missed my published analysis of this line in my article 'surprises'. As he hadn't studied this line, he was forced to improvise. The chosen move is inferior as black has problems now. Rc8 is maybe playable although in a recent correspondence-game white won. My preference is Qc8 which was tested by the same Lars Forslof of the Qb6-line successfully in 2013 or Kh8 which was recommended after the tournament by Bart. Kh8 avoids the tricks on d5 so after dxc5 black can respond with bxc5. It also prepares Rg8 to create counterplay with g5. )} 13. dxc5 Nxc5 14. b4 Ne4 15. Nxe4 fxe4 16. Nd4 Nxd4 17. Bxd4?! {(I played this quickly on general grounds as the queen is a bad piece to block. However chess is a game of concrete moves and here Qxd4 was necessary to keep an advantage with white.)} (17. Qxd4! b5 18. a4 bxa4! (18... Bc6?! 19. axb5 Bxb5 (19... axb5 20. Rxa8 Qxa8 21. Ra1 Qe8) 20. c4 Bxc4 21. Bxc4 dxc4 22. Qxc4 Qc8 23. Qb3 Kh8 24. Rac1) 19. Rxa4 g5!? 20. f5! Rxf5 21. Bg4!? {(C4 is also interesting with some advantage.)} 21... Qd7! 22. Ra2 Rff8!? 23. Qxe4 Qc6 24. Qd4 Bxb4 25. Qxb4 d4 26. c3! dxe3 27. Qe7) 17... b5 18. Bg4 Qc8 19. Qe3 Bc6 20. Qh3 Bd7 21. Rf1 a5 22. Rab1 axb4 23. axb4 Ra2 24. c3 {(The position is balanced. I don't see a clear plan to make progress without taking big risks so I choose again for the strategy of my article sitzfleish which means to wait and play fast.)} 24... Qa6 25. Rbe1 g6 26. Qe3 Ra8 27. Re2 Ra4 28. Rb2 Rc8 29. Rc1 Ra1 30. Rbb1 Ra2 31. Bd1 Ra3 32. Bb3 Qa8 33. Rf1 Rc6 34. Kh1 Rca6 35. Qg1 h5?! {(Bart has to win if he still wants to keep any chance alive of winning the tournament but this could've easily backfired. Qe8 is more solid.)} 36. g3?! {(I looked at g4 but in the end chose to stick to my waiting strategy. After the game Bart made the correct remark that I made the wrong decision.)} (36. g4! hxg4? {(The best is h4 and sacrificing a pawn which allows black to keep on fighting.)} 37. Qxg4 Kf7 38. Rg1 Qg8 39. Bxd5 +- {(Bart had detected this move while I was thinking but I didn't otherwise I probably had played g4. )}) 36... Kf7?! {(This doesn't solve the problems. Qf8 is more accurate.)} 37. h3?! {(Again g4 is strong.)} (37. g4! hxg4?! {(H4 is again necessary.)} 38. Qxg4 Bc6?! {(This avoids Bxd5 but allows another break.)} 39. f5 +-) 37... Qf8 38. Qe3 Ke8 39. Kg2 Kd8 40. Rf2 Kc7 41. Rff1 Kb7 42. Qd2 Qa8 43. Rb2 Bd8 44. Rc1 Bc7 45. Rbb1 Qf8 46. Rb2 Qf5 47. Rf1 Ra8 48. Qe3 Rg8 49. Rff2 Bc6 50. Kh2 Rga8 51. Rb1 Bd8 52. Rff1 {(The rest was reconstructed via the live-transmission as we both had less than 5 minutes on the clock remaining.)} 52... Be7 53. Rf2 Be8 54. Kg2 g5 {(Risky but black needs to try something now as he is running out of time.)} 55. Rbb2 gxf4 56. Rxf4 Qh7 57. h4 Bg6?! {(The transfer of the bishop to f5 weakens b5. Qg7 and waiting is objectively stronger.)} 58. Bd1 Bf5?! {(The bishop needs to return to e8 with or without Ra1 included but that doesn't fit black's plan of course.)} (58... Be8!? 59. Rbf2! Qg7! 60. Be2 Ra2 61. Bf1 Bd8) 59. Be2? {(I miss a double attack between b5 and h5 with Qe2.)} (59. Qe2! Kc6 60. Qxh5 Qxh5 61. Bxh5 Rg8 62. Rbf2 Raa8! 63. Kh2 Ra1! 64. Bf7) 59... Ra2?? {(2 long games per day, 11 PM, timetrouble,... The blunders are surely linked to it.)} (59... Bf8! 60. Rf1 Bh6 61. Qf2 e3 62. Bxe3 Rf8!? 63. Qg1!? Rxc3 64. Bxh6 Qxh6 65. Kh2 Ra8 =) 60. Rxa2 Rxa2 61. Rf2 Qg8 {(Black can not cover the pawn with the king as then black loses the rook to a discovered check.)} 62. Bxb5 {(I knew that I had a totally winning position but I proposed a draw as I had only 50 seconds on the clock against more than 2 minutes for black. Bart prefers to gamble as a draw isn't really better than a loss for him.)} 62... Ra1 63. Be2?? {(Automatic pilot as I am blinded due to Qg4-Qh3 mate. C4 won very quickly.)} 63... Bxh4 64. c4?? {(Now I see c4 but I miss completely another combination.)} (64. Rxf5! exf5 65. Qf4 Ra2 66. Qxh4 Rxe2+ 67. Kf1 Ra2 68. Qe7+ Ka8 =) 64... Bxg3 {(Played instantly by Bart. After the game Bart admit that only after he had played this move that he noticed his rook was hanging but couldn't be taken because of Bf4. Sometimes you need to have some luck.)} 65. Qxg3 {(Objectively the best move but the position is lost of course.)} 65... Rg1+ 66. Kxg1 Qxg3+ 67. Rg2 Qe1+ 68. Kh2 Qh4+ 69. Kg1 Qe1+ {(Bart repeats the moves to further reduce my time. This is professional. Bart was again fully awake after the shock he got at move 64.)} 70. Kh2 Qh4+ 71. Kg1 Bg4 72. cxd5 Qe1+ 73. Bf1 exd5 74. Rf2 e3 75. Rf7+ Kc8 (75... Kc6 76. b5# {(This funny helpmate was noticed by Bart. It is never too late to blunder.)}) 76. Kh2 Qh4+ 77. Kg1 Qg3+ {(With only 2 seconds remarining and mate very soon, I resigned. I was closer than ever but again I missed that last little push to score.)} 0-1
Eventually the extra 200 elo decided the game but Bart needed the full distance for it. After the game Bart congratulated me as I am one of the rare players coming up with really interesting ideas in the opening. You don't expect that from somebody with my modest rating. I expect next time Bart will think twice before again asking what I have prepared against his favorite opening.

Nowadays it isn't so hard anymore to find dangerous ideas even against the repertoire of a grandmaster while having a much lower rating yourself. I just returned from the Open of Cappelle La Grande and again it struck me that I out-prepared quite easily international masters and grandmasters. Even switching between dozen of lines is not enough currently to be safe. Only by walking continuously new roads, it is possible to neutralize the influence of the engines.

In the club-championship of Deurne I was told by Robert Schuermans after our game finished that he was too curious about what I had prepared this time against his absolute love-child the Schliemann-gambit. Last summer Robert managed to neutralize my very dangerous idea at the board by himself. That was a great accomplishment but this time things went very different.
[Event "Klubkampioenschap Deurne r3"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Schuermans, R"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C63"] [WhiteElo "2301"] [BlackElo "2050"] [PlyCount "65"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5 4. Nc3 fxe4 5. Nxe4 Nf6 6. Nxf6+ Qxf6 7. Qe2 Be7 8. Bxc6 bxc6 9. Nxe5 {(A couple of months earlier in Open Brasschaat Robert made a very comfortable draw with this line against me. Nonetheless I was surprised Robert played it again as normally he doesn't like theoretical fights. After the game Robert told me that he was curious about my preparation. I guess Robert wants to play this line more often in the future so he wanted to test it seriously.)} 9... Qe6 10. Nf3 {(In correspondence-chess this line is already again neutralized but it is not straight-forward for a standard-game.)} 10... Qxe2+ 11. Kxe2 Ba6+? {(Robert hadn't checked this line in his preparation. Ba6 is the right move against 10.Nc4 but not here.)} (11... c5! 12. Re1 Bb7! 13. Kf1 Bxf3 14. gxf3 Rf8! 15. d4 cxd4 16. Bg5 Rf7 17. Re4 d5 18. Re5 Rd8 19. Rae1 Rd7 20. b4 h6! 21. Bxe7 Rfxe7! 22. Re6 {(3 very recently played correspondence-games reached this position. They were all drawn but it is not simple.)}) 12. d3 Bf6 13. Rb1 c5 14. Bg5?! {(I want to eliminate the pair of bishops but my top-engines prefer Be3 to allow less counterplay.)} 14... Kf7? {(Much stronger is 0-0 so black can recapture with the rook. This makes it much more difficult for white to develop and let the pieces work together.)} 15. Bxf6 gxf6 16. b3 Bb7 17. Nh4 Rhe8+ 18. Kd2 Re5 19. Rhe1 Rae8 20. g3 a5 21. f4 Rxe1 22. Rxe1 Rxe1 23. Kxe1 {(White has an extra pawn and the better structure. Robert still hoped my knight would be stranded but this wasn't the case.)} 23... Ke6 24. Ke2 Bc6 25. Ke3 a4 26. bxa4 Bxa4 27. c3 Bd1 28. Nf3 Kf5 29. h3 h5 30. Nd2 Bc2 31. Ne4 d6 32. c4 Ke6 33. Nc3 {(Instead of the white knight, it is the black bishop which is locked up. Robert resigned after he realized the piece couldn't be saved anymore.)} 1-0
If you search somebody for testing your opening and you don't have access to any top-player then I am surely a good candidate for it. I recently bought a powerful new computer with a strong graphic card. I try to follow all the technological trends. Clearly Robert wants to play this opening more often and then sacrificing one point isn't a lot.

Oh and I have deliberately erased something from my analysis. I have prepared another new idea for the Schliemann-gambit. I warn the reader so you don't think that with the analysis from the game you know everything and there exists no danger anymore. The developments never end. From competitive view of chess I agree with the reaction of Richard Meulders: the best opening is the opening which your opponent knows the least or a bit more accurate which you do know yourself of course.