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.


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