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.


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