Thursday, November 26, 2020

The (non-) sense of blitz part 3

Never waste a crisis as it is an excellent opportunity to question the default. We can wait till everything normalizes again but maybe we never fully return to the old situation. Nonetheless I don't see many new initiatives. Therefore I don't think it is a coincidence that in the most recent online magazine of Vlaanderen Schaakt Digitaal readers were asked to share their ideas/ experiences to survive as a chess-player during this corona-pandemic.

In my previous article I talked about how some players endangered themselves and their environment by going to far destinations just to play chess. In this article I rather want to look for safer solutions and just a couple of days ago I learned about an excellent initiative via the site of my very first chess-club de torrewachters which I still sometimes visit: my online class.
For now it is only accessible for players of West-Flanders and you have to ask access to Tom Piceu/ Glenn Dayer so I can't test it but it looks visually great. This has the potential of becoming much bigger. People interested in an introduction to this virtual chess-club can find it here. If you understand Dutch then you can also read about it via this link.

I am not such a IT-specialist as (I assume) Mark Dechamps is and neither do I have such great ideas but end of last month I also made a click in my mind. I didn't want to wait any longer so I started to look for new possibilities to develop myself as a player. What can we still do today of chess while respecting the safety-rules of corona? Well online chess is about it of course. However haven't we had enough about that? I even wrote in July already see my article online chesstournaments that we better don't spend too much time at playing online chess.

I am still supporting that view but end of last month I realized we can do more than just playing those online games. In part 2 I have shown that I used my online played games to prepare for my opponents (but also in post-mortems) so I would know about common mistakes which my future opponents are likely to make. However this time I asked myself if maybe I can learn even more from those online games. Despite that those online games last only a couple of minutes, I think they can sometimes offer more than just the detection of mistakes.

Anyway if we look at the middle-game then we only find a sea of big errors in those online games of which I am sure that more than 90% would never happen in a classical standardgame (probably 90% is still heavily underestimated). So I don't think it makes sense to look at it seriously. The endgame is even worse. First interesting endgames are very rare in blitz and online it is very often just a pre-move-competition which has hardly anything to do with playing regular chess. So the openings remain but don't we see mostly nonsense in those online games? If one can win with the Bongcloud an online top-tournament then we just have to conclude that there is nothing to learn about openings in online games at all, right?
[Event "Chess24 Banter Blitz Cup Final"] [Site " INT"] [Date "2020.09.29"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Carlsen,Magnus"] [Black "So,Wesley"] [Result "1-0"] [Annotator ""] [WhiteElo "2863"] [BlackElo "2770"] [PlyCount "159"] 1. f3 e5 2. Kf2 d5 3. e3 Nc6 4. Bb5 Ne7 5. d4 a6 6. Ba4 exd4 7. exd4 Nf5 8. Ne2 Bd6 9. c3 O-O 10. Nd2 Re8 11. Nf1 Bd7 12. Bc2 Qh4+ 13. g3 Qf6 14. Bf4 Nce7 15. Bxd6 Nxd6 16. Ne3 Bf5 17. Nf4 c6 18. Re1 Qh6 19. h4 Qf6 20. Bxf5 Nexf5 21. Ng4 Qd8 22. Qd3 Qb6 23. b3 Qb5 24. a4 Qxb3 25. Reb1 Qc4 26. Qd2 a5 27. Ne5 Qa6 28. h5 f6 29. Ned3 Nc4 30. Qa2 b6 31. g4 Nfd6 32. Re1 Qb7 33. Ne6 Qd7 34. Ndf4 Re7 35. Re2 Rae8 36. Rae1 Nf7 37. Qb1 Ng5 38. Nxg5 fxg5 39. Rxe7 Rxe7 40. Nd3 Re6 41. Ne5 Qe7 42. Re2 h6 43. Qf5 Rf6 44. Qc8+ Qf8 45. Qxf8+ Rxf8 46. Nxc6 Kf7 47. Re7+ Kf6 48. Rd7 Rc8 49. Ne7 Ke6 50. Ra7 Rf8 51. Nf5 Rf7 52. Nxg7+ Kf6 53. Rxf7+ Kxf7 54. Nf5 Nb2 55. Ke2 Nxa4 56. Nxh6+ Kf6 57. Kd3 Nb2+ 58. Kc2 Nc4 59. Nf5 b5 60. h6 Kg6 61. Ne7+ Kxh6 62. Nxd5 Kg6 63. Nc7 Nd6 64. Kb3 Kf6 65. Nd5+ Ke6 66. Ne3 Kd7 67. Ng2 Kc6 68. f4 Ne4 69. fxg5 Nxg5 70. Nf4 Ne4 71. Nh3 a4+ 72. Kb4 a3 73. Kxa3 Nxc3 74. g5 Kd5 75. g6 Ne4 76. Ng5 Nf6 77. Nf3 Ke4 78. g7 Kf5 79. Ne5 Kg5 80. Kb4 1-0
This kind of openings are occurring all the time in online-chess. Some are more ugly than others. On the other hand there is only 1 Magnus Carlsen whom is able (not always) to be successful with this kind of crap. There are still many players preferring to play solid openings too online. Besides I already explained in part 1 that many players play the same openings online as they do in classical chess offline. So if we concentrate on the online games with "serious" openings then maybe we can use them for our study.

Since 2007 I saved practically all my online played games. Meanwhile the counter has crossed some time ago the 70.000 mark. That is a huge number of games so it is very likely that some of those games discuss interesting openings. Then the next question is of course how do we get those interesting games selected out of it and which criteria do we use? Another even more important question is how will we check the database as going manually through 70.000 games is unrealistic. I need a good filter but which one wasn't easy to define. My first idea was to define my personal score in each of the openings of my repertoire. I would then start working on the opening with the worst possible score by filtering the games in my database on that particular opening. If you have an account on lichess then this is something you can find out in just a couple of clicks via Chess Insights. Below you see such graphic obtained of one of my accounts.
That is just for the games in which I had black and I also limited the filter to only opponents rated approximately the same as I am. I have played much more games against weaker opponents compared to stronger opponents so otherwise we would have to look at TPR instead (which seems today impossible at lichess). Anyway it is also interesting to look once at results obtained only against weaker opponents (efficiency) or only against stronger opponents (correctness).

The first thing I notice in above graphic is that dubious openings score very well online. My score with the Dutch, except for A81 is excellent. Classical and more correct openings like the Spanish and the Scotch score remarkably worse. From this you could deduct that it makes sense to invest more in dubious openings and play less mainlines if I want to score better. However my goal is to improve my classical otb-chess and then I don't think this is the right approach. Also I am annoyed that lichess can only show the results of 1 account at a time. This account has almost 5000 games but that is only a fraction of my complete database of online played games. Finally I also miss details about the openings. In most cases an opening contains dozens of critical lines. This tool doesn't tell me which specific lines are problematic and when it exactly goes wrong.

Chess Insights looks sufficient for the beginner interested in getting a quick verdict about the big gaps in his repertoire (like having no decent setup against the Caro-Kann) but for experienced players this tool is nothing more than a gadget. To get a more in-depth view of my repertoire I decided to make my own opening-book like I explained earlier in my article green moves based on solely my lost games. In below screenshot you can see how it looks like for my repertoire after I played 1.e4.
As games played in 2007 are not really relevant anymore for my current repertoire and as I played many games in recent months, I decided to limit the number of lost games to only the ones I played in 2020. Yes I lost already 665 games with only 1.e4 this year which wasn't always fun to say the least. Still the more lost games I have, the more I probably can learn something of it.

With this openingbook I see in a glance which moves caused me the most defeats. Logically I wanted therefore to first look at the lines in which I suffered the most defeats. Unfortunately this approach didn't result to anything useful either. My main-line of lost games resulted in the 6.Be2 system against the Najdorf but this caused a conflict as that same line was also 1 of my best scoring lines of my repertoire. Of course scores can always be improved even if they are already very good but when looking at the lost games with this opening then I noticed that the losses have no relation to the opening at all.

So this sort of opening-book is not practical. You get an idea about which lines are popular (in online-chess but therefore not always in standard chess offline) but that is it. We should also not forget that online chess are just blitz-games. I mean if the input is of low quality then you can't much expect of the output. Results of blitzgames are very unpredictable so you better don't make upon it some conclusions of the chosen openings.

That means I was back to square 1 but I didn't give up yet. There was still one filter which I wanted to try. What if I only selected my online lost-games against my strongest opponents? Almost any online platform keeps track of its own online ratingsystem. Also in most cases you get automatically of each online game the online rating of both players so it is very easy to set a filter on it.
In above screenshot I show the result of such kind of filter. Only lost games are considered after I opened with 1.e4 against +2600 elo (online) opponents played in the year 2020. In the background you see that there were 10 of them and that is of course perfect to manually check one by one if they contain interesting openings. Especially numbers 3,7 and 8 look appealing to me. With those I started my study of which there is much more again to talk about. However that is for the next time as this article has exceeded again the maximal length.


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Corona endangers the existence of many chess-clubs

Some time ago my club-president Robert tried to cheer us up by telling us that a year without chess isn't the end of the world. He is right of course. Many players have proven that it is perfectly possible to make a comeback even after a long period of inactivity (the strongest example is doubtless strong Jan managing to become an international master after retirement and decades of not playing competitions). Beside I have every year a couple of months in which I don't play any games. I always thought this is something good as this allows me to concentrate at repairing some holes in my repertoire for which you don't have really the time during the hectic competitions.

Nevertheless today I see many indications that  chess is standing in front of the biggest crisis ever. The online magazine Vlaanderen-Schaakt-Digitaal-2020-17 warned their readers that 1 out of 3 has not renewed their membership of the Belgian federation. That is an alarming figure but we are still not the worst of the class as our neighbors England and Netherlands are even talking about a decrease of more than 50%. I have never known such huge declines in just 1 year. Also for every player stopping and returning back, there are probably a multitude of players quitting permanently. I have to admit that I also see a lot of advantages of not playing competitions. Suddenly my life is a lot more organized and quiet. It allows me to spend time at activities which before were hard to realize without getting stressed. So I believe the longer this crisis continues and it seems it will do that chess will lose more and more players.

Maybe even worse is the fact that a lot of clubs are on the point of disappearing. 14 Belgian clubs haven't subscribed themselves to the federation anymore for this year. The international situation is that bad that Fide warned in October that some clubs with a history going 150 years back, are getting into troubles. These clubs are irreplaceable and restarting any club is probably unprecedented. Therefore it is with a good reason why the boards of several chess-organizations are calling for solidarity to protect the future of chess. Below reworked poster of Lord Kitchener Wants You, originally published to call for British soldiers to fight in WW1 is funny but at the same time very serious too.
Fide Newsletter #17 (October 26, 2020)
I hope of course that the message will be heard but I fear a lot of people have bigger concerns than the existence of chess-clubs. If you lost your job in recent months or you had to make a lot of costs due to hospital-bills then it is absolutely understandable that you cut expenses which aren't of the highest priority. I can also understand that some volunteers prefer not to take risks now by meeting other chessplayers.

Fortunately not everything is bad as I see also a lot of volunteers are still willing to help. Despite the difficult circumstances many (Belgian) clubs are still offering youth-lessons. It would be a very bad idea now to abandon our youth. On the other hand I do think there is a serious problem for our teenagers. The biggest development of a player happens between the age of 12 and 18 years old. Losing 1 or 2 of those years will make a big impact forever on their career. I already noticed that last half year there were practically no new IMs or GMs. A lot of talent will be wasted if they don't receive any perspectives.

Personally I always connected progress at chess to playing competitive chess and then I speak only about classical games. Those serious games were for me like fuel as without them there are no preparations of games or analysis afterwards. For my own children it is rather the atmosphere of the tournaments and the commitment to the games which are the dominant ingredients for their personal involvement to chess. Exactly because of those reasons I made an extra effort to play this summer a tournament in Prague see the chess-microbe part 3 but that was not something I could/ wanted to repeat.

I already realized in August that I had been lucky and that was once more confirmed a month later when other Belgian players also played a tournament in Czechia and got seriously ill by the corona-virus. This was a clear wake-up call for me and I stopped making any new plans of another tournament in Czechia to play during autumn-holidays. The infection-rate was meanwhile already 10 times higher than the period we were there. Eventually the tournament was not surprisingly cancelled. An alternative which I checked was Open Tegernsee in South-Germany but also that party didn't proceed. Well they made one exception for a separate master-group of 10 players. As the number of boards were limited, the organization managed to install on each of them a plastic screen to protect the participants maximally. Obviously I wasn't invited for it but our Belgian hope Daniel Dardha was. Despite 3 defeats he still managed to win some ratingpoints as the opponents were very strong. His victory against the Czech grandmaster Thai Dai Van Nguyen proves again that the title of grandmaster is for him just a matter of time. I assume most readers haven't heard before of this grandmaster but he did win very recently a rapid-match over 10 games against former-worldchampion-finalist Nigel Short.
[Event "Tegernsee Masters"] [Site "Bad Wiessee"] [Date "2020.10.31"] [Round "1"] [White "Dardha, Daniel"] [Black "Nguyen, Thai Dai Van"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2468"] [BlackElo "2571"] [PlyCount "111"] 1. c4 c5 2. Nc3 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 Nc6 5. a3 b6 6. d3 {(I am no specialist but looking in my online openingbook then I assume Daniel was surprised by this line.)} 6... Bb7 7. Bg5 h6 {(A logical novelty which is also recommended by Stockfish.)} 8. Bd2 e6 9. b4 Nge7 10. Rb1 d6 11. Qc1 $6 {(The start of a bad plan. B5 is fine but I understand why Daniel wants to play something more flexible.)} 11... Qd7 12. Nf3 Nd4 13. e4 f5 14. Qd1 {(White admits something went wrong.)} 14... O-O 15. O-O fxe4 16. dxe4 Rac8 17. b5 Kh7 18. Re1 Rf7 19. Re3 Rcf8 20. Be1 g5 21. Rd3 Nxf3+ 22. Bxf3 Bd4 23. Bh5 Rf6 $2 (23... Ng6 $1 24. Rxd4 cxd4 25. Qxd4 Ne5 $19) 24. Rxd4 {(Now the exchange sacrifice is much stronger as white has a very important extra move.)} 24... cxd4 25. Qxd4 e5 26. Qd1 Qc7 27. Nd5 Nxd5 28. cxd5 Qg7 29. Rc1 Rc8 30. Rc6 {(A lovely second exchange sacrifice. It is not difficult but you still need to play it as there were acceptable alternatives.)} 30... Bxc6 31. bxc6 Rcf8 32. Bg4 Qc7 $2 {(Despite the extra material black needs to be very careful. Here Qf7 is better to be able to repond Bf5 indeed with a counter exchange-sacrifice.)} 33. Bf5+ Kg7 34. Qd3 Kf7 35. a4 Ke7 36. Bb4 h5 $2 {(Black doesn't want to sit but this only weakens the position.)} 37. Bd2 Rg8 38. Qe2 g4 39. h4 Rxf5 {(This exchange-sacrifice arrives too late. Anyway the position is beyond salvation.)} 40. exf5 Qc8 41. Bg5+ Kf7 42. Qe4 Rh8 43. Qb4 Qb8 44. Qb5 Qc8 45. a5 Qc7 46. axb6 axb6 47. Kg2 Ra8 48. Qb1 Rh8 49. f6 Qb8 50. Bd2 Kxf6 {(Black accepts the pawn-sacrifice but this opens just more lines.)} 51. Bg5+ Kg7 52. Qf5 Qf8 53. Qd7+ Kg6 54. Qe6+ Kg7 55. c7 Qf3+ 56. Kg1 {(A nice victory from a very bad opening. Technically Daniel plays already like a grandmaster but I think there is still some work at the openings.)} 1-0
It seems Daniel is going to any place in Europe (Portugal, France, Hungary, Greece,...) wherever exists the smallest chance to play standard chess. This contains definitely risks but I do fully understand his choice. As I wrote earlier this are his best years to make progress. After he will be 18 years old, university will be next and later probably a demanding job. Also the health-risks of the corona-disease are rather limited at his very young age (I need to be much more careful).

He is not the only one as I read at the site of hmcdenbosch that the 16 year old Dutch FM Siem Van Dael played despite corona in the last months at 6 tournaments: Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Italy, Sweden. You have to run the extra mile sometimes as he admit that it wasn't pleasant at all to play with face-mask at + 35 degrees of temperature. Anyway they are exceptions. I think 99% of our youth hasn't played any official games at all lately as clearly making such trips in the current situation can't be recommended.

For me the Open of Prague this summer was the maximum I could achieve. So since beginning of October I have no more work to do at all for chess. All analysis of my games are finished. I also don't see anything in the pipeline as the Dutch interclubs, Open Bethune... are already cancelled. However in the next article I do want to propose the method which I invented for myself to anyway restart working at chess. Standing still is going backwards and giving up chess is no option for me.


Thursday, November 12, 2020

Testing chess-engines part 2

Corona has a serious impact on our social and for many also their professional lives. The damage is getting bigger by the day and no doubt for many it won't be easy to recover financially nor emotionally. However even in the darkest periods there are also positive elements. Some time ago Belgian newspapers reported that high-school-students achieved slightly higher grades compared with last years see e.g. higher success-rates in French high-schools despite corona-virusno corona-effect at university of Brussels as students perform better at exams than previous yearDespite corona success-rate is higher than usual in Leuven.

Nonetheless students were warned in advance that professors wouldn't make their exams easier. Also some experts thought that missing many classes would prevent the students to understand sufficiently the courses. However I think that the lack of distraction due to corona, probably pushed students to study more than usual.

I think this was a smart decision. I notice that this crisis also creates opportunities to start new projects which in normal times would be hard or even impossible. Also for chess-programmers we see an increase of activity. The progress accelerated this year as we got several important updates from Leela and Stockfish. I find it rather amazing that after all those years we still see so much progress as I expect most people already don't realize anymore how strong the current best commercial engine has become. Therefore I thought it could be once interesting to visualize this progress in a small graphic.

This youtube-movie shows a more detailed overview of the evolution of the best engines. There exist others but the message is always the same. In a bit more than 3 decades the engines have evolved from very weak to insanely strong and very difficult to grasp for a human.

At TCEC there is even a permanent running gag about how often somebody requests for a match between Carlsen and the computer. In my graphic above you can clearly see when the strongest commercial engine has definitely surpassed the level of the strongest human. In 2006 it was Rybka making any further matches between humans and engines futile and the gap only increased since then.

Testing of the best engines only makes sense today between each other. Last year I wrote in part 1 that I liked executing those tests but they were too time-consuming so something I wouldn't repeat often anymore. Naturally the corona-crisis suddenly erased my calendar and allowed me to pick up again this hobby. In the last year I organized a dozen of matches each of them consisting of 100 rapidgames  (15min + 10sec) using different computers between each time newer and stronger engines.

It is hard to deduct from above table how much the progress of the strongest commercial engine was in the last year. Therefore I also did a comparison between Leela v22 (end of last year) and Leela v26 (now) with Komodo 11 on my new laptop. The result was amazing. Last year I was already impressed by the score of 62,5 - 37,5 in favor of Leela but this is small beer compared with the new score of 75 - 25 of the more recent Leela-version. That is about 100 TPR extra. In other words it is time to update Leela if you are still working with a version of last year (the best test-results on my computers were achieved by v0.26.1 with network J92-210).

It is try and error to find the best version of Leela. Some tests with more recent versions performed worse so you never know in advance if you should do an update or not. Anyway it also largely depends on which hardware (graphical card) you are using. That is also why I keep track in my tests of which hardware I had been using for it.

We see that my most recent version of Stockfish profits more from my new desktop than Leela. After I swapped my old laptop last year, I decided last month to also upgrade my old desktop (only 4 years old but it had a very bad graphical card and I encountered often problems with the memory). I notice Stockfish achieves 100-200% more nodes on my new desktop compared with my new laptop. Leela only gains about 50% more nodes.

So progress happens on the software and the hardware. Besides it becomes harder and harder to measure properly this progress. You can also see in my tests that the drawing-rate in my matches keeps getting closer to 100. This corresponds to what I described in my last article that the closer we get to perfection, the more draws we see. Even using obligatory openings starts to lose its efficiency.
With above table I keep track of which openings are interesting and which are not.  Green is fine. Orange means that the opening needs to be checked more carefully. Once it is red then the opening needs to be replaced. That happens when in 4 consecutive games with the same opening the same color wins or when in 8 consecutive games with the same opening the result was each time a draw. After my last match I have to replace 22 out of 50 openings because of those conditions.

At TCEC Nelson Hernandez and Jeroen Noomen are continuously looking for openings which allow optimal testing of the engines. This becomes an ever growing challenge. After my first cycle (4 matches) I only needed to replace 3 openings. After the second cycle I replaced 15 openings and now it are 22 of them which aren't useful anymore. I had hoped to see the reverse after I already removed the bad openings earlier. In any case the super-final of TCEC Season 19 in which Stockfish won with 9 points extra was clearly a nice job of selecting interesting openings.

Probably some readers will wonder why I am still organizing those matches. Today you just download Stockfish 12 and you can start the analysis. That is correct for now but a couple of months ago this version wasn't available yet. I mean that new releases are popping up at a rapid pace and it is very easy to miss the best engines. Last year till September I was still using Komodo 11 for my analysis. I believe currently my analysis is 200 points stronger and even at my level this makes a (modest) difference while preparing for a standard on the board game.

Also during the tests I noticed that there exists only about 60% overlap between the moves recommended by Leela and Stockfish. Stockfih 12 is surely sufficient but Leela still gives you at some moments some extra useful input. Anyway testing engines is also fun to watch and this is something which I welcome in times of corona.


Sunday, November 1, 2020

Practical chess part 2

It becomes more and more clear that we won't be able to play regular on the board chess for a long while. For me chess isn't worth taking huge health-risks nor can I afford it to take sufficient precautions to play chess safely. However there aren't many alternatives for playing chess. We can't consider online chess seriously as you never know who or what is exactly playing against you. Last couple of months one after the other cheating-scandal occurred to that extent that even mainstream-media like the guardian reported about it.

Maybe we should for online chess just admit that cheaters can't be avoided and therefore we stop trying to block engines. Then everybody will have the same tools and on top the games will become much better played and more interesting. This sounds to me much more educational than the countless blitz- bullet-games which are mostly a waste of time.

On the other hand I don't think chess is fun anymore when all games are drawn in a tournament due to everybody using extensively engines to select moves. That is exactly what happened in a recently finished top-tournament at iccf: Joop van Oosterom Memorial. All 28 games were drawn despite a lot of combativeness and games played out till the end. Many games ended in a repetition of moves.
This result was more or less predicted for some time already see my article of 2015 computers achieve autonomy. Or as Nigel Short described it on twitter: correspondence-chess is even more dead than a Norwegian blue parrot. Former-worldchampion correspondence-chess Leonardo Ljubicic still tried to defend correspondence chess but he couldn't undo the damage anymore. Besides I don't believe there exists one correspondence-player playing correspondence chess to donate for free opening-novelties to on-the-board-players or opening-books. Also correspondence-chess is played to win games/ tournaments just like regular on-the-board-chess. Without winners/ losers a competition does't make sense anymore.

Similar comments also were heard at the most recent final of the standard world-championship. 28th of November 2018 a rapid-match had to define eventually who is world-champion as all 12 standard-games were drawn. So also for otb (at least for the elite) people wondered if standard chess still makes sense if there are no winners/ losers anymore.

However I think we are making too quickly conclusions this time. Contrary to correspondence-chess Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruano did have some real winning positions in their standard games. For different reasons they didn't manage to convert those into full points. I made a small research with Stockfish and Leela to prove this claim and found out that at least 5 games would've been decisive if an engine could've been consulted in those won positions.

In other words working every dag with the best engines won't even for the strongest humans be sufficient to emulate the power of an engine in standard chess between humans. As I stated before in part 1 we humans don't have the capabilities to play the same way as the current engines do so we will always lag far behind. This does't mean however that it isn't possible to prepare a bulletproof repertoire. A small group of players is able today to select openings which can't be refuted anymore by using the enormous amount of available opening-knowledge and combine this with extensive analysis made by the best engines.

Obviously this doesn't mean that topplayers don't lose anymore games in the opening. Our memory is only a fraction of a standard chessbase-database. Besides many positions can be easily neutralized by the engine but without this tool it is often very different at the board. Personally I am since a couple of years not anymore trying to refute openings like before I was always expecting to do see my articles about the scientific approach part 1 and part 2. As refutations are often not anymore existing, it makes sense to look at other aspects of the opening. Nowadays I know of certain lines that if my opponent has analyzed the opening as deeply as I did, chooses to play the mainline and can reproduce everything on the board that a draw becomes inevitable .

At the elite-level we see openings with a lot of forced moves often are drawn very rapidly even when played at a standard rate of play (see e.g. the game Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - Boris Gelfand played in 2013 which was already covered in my article iccf). Anyway at my level I don't see any danger of such sort of non-games. I don't know anybody of my environment analyzing games so deeply as I explained in my article to study openings part 2. Therefore I don't reject lines anymore of which I know in advance they are leading to a forced draw like in the opening shown below.
[Event "Analyse Schliemanngambiet"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019"] [Round "?"] [White "?"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [ECO "C63"] [PlyCount "43"] 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 Qe6 10. Nf3 {(This line is already again dead in correspondence-chess but I don't think this should be also for otb-chess.)} 10... Qxe2+ 11. Kxe2 c5 $1 12. Re1 Bb7 $1 13. Kf1 Bxf3 14. gxf3 Rf8 $1 15. d4 cxd4 16. Bg5 Rf7 17. Re4 d5 18. Re5 Rd8 19. Rae1 Rd7 20. b4 h6 $1 21. Bxe7 Rfxe7 $1 22. Re6 {(3 very recent correspondence-games arrived to this position which is almost impossible to find independently. Besides it is not trivial to draw with black without assistance from an engine.)} *
A game with this specific line was already covered in my article novelty-seeker part 2 in which you notice that I rather easily won despite the theoretical evaluation. Besides I also want to add that white plays a bit easier in the final position. I mean that although all games in correspondence-chess were drawn with this position, I would still continue to play. White risks nothing and black still needs to fine a few accurate moves.

So playing lines which are easily drawn by engines, doesn't mean I play only for a draw. It is just a risk-free way of playing for a win with a draw always in the hand. This is something very different than the scenarios described in my articles to play for a draw against a stronger opponent and white plays a well-known drawing-line. Still we can question ourselves if this sort of chess is fun to play. It can be very efficient but in the end it is not creative at all.

I got this sort of remark after my 7th game in Open Prague this summer. In that game I chose for a theoretical line of which I knew in advance that it ends in a drawn-endgame but with a pawn extra for me. However my opponent wasn't in the mood for such kind of game and therefore tried an idea which he had analyzed a year earlier with the German grandmaster Artur Joesoepov and which leads rapidly to big complications.
[Event "Analysis Poisoned pawn Winawer-line"] [Site "?"] [Date "2020"] [Round "?"] [White "?"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [ECO "C18"] [PlyCount "59"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 Ne7 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 c5 7. Qg4 Qc7 8. Qxg7 Rg8 9. Qxh7 cxd4 10. Ne2 Nbc6 11. f4 dxc3 12. h4 Bd7 (12... b6 $2 {(My opponent of the 7th round in Open Prague wasn't in the mood for the mainline and therefore chose an idea which he had studied a year earlier with the German grandmaster Artur Joesoepov.)} 13. Nxc3 Nxe5 14. Nb5 Qb8 15. h5 $1 {(In my correpondence- database I found 11 games won by white by the strong h5 played between 2013 and 2019. I nor my opponent were aware about it during our mutual game. I played the much weaker fxe5 and eventually lost the game.)} 15... a6 $5 16. Nd4 $1 Qd6 $5 17. Ne2 $1 Ng4 18. h6 Kf8 19. Qd3 Rh8 20. Bb2 $5 Rxh6 21. Rxh6 Nxh6 22. O-O-O $1 Ke8 $16 {[%eval 142,18]} 23. Qh3 $1 Nhg8 24. Qh8 Bd7 $1 {(A correspondence-game played in 2016 continued with a5. Bd7 is the recommended move by the best engines today but even after the improvement black is much worse.)} 25. g3 b5 $16) 13. h5 O-O-O 14. Qd3 d4 15. h6 Rg6 $1 16. h7 Rh8 17. Nxd4 Nxd4 18. Qxd4 Bc6 $1 19. Bd3 Rxg2 20. Be3 Rg7 $1 21. Rh3 Nf5 $1 22. Bxf5 exf5 23. O-O-O Rgxh7 24. Rxh7 Rxh7 25. Qxa7 b6 26. Qa6+ Bb7 27. Qb5 Bc6 28. Qb3 Kb7 29. Qxc3 Rh1 30. Rxh1 {(This was exactly the final position of the correspondence-game played in 2019 between Artur Kovacs and David Sogin. Otb I would continue with white but black shouldn't have much troubles to draw despite having a pawn less.)} *
After the game I discovered via correspondence-games that his idea was meanwhile already refuted. My opponent wasn't aware about it when I told him about it later. Probably he would've not tried it otherwise. I already wrote here earlier that sometimes it is useful to play some outdated analysis if this puts your opponent out of book see the fake truth part 2.

Nevertheless playing some stuff which you don't know well, can also be very risky as I recently demonstrated in chess position trainer part 4. So my opponent in Prague was lucky that I hadn't studied his idea at home earlier with an engine.

Therefore more and more players prefer today to choose openings in which the play is less forced. It is not a coincidence why e.g. the quiet Italian and Berlin have become so popular in recent years even among amateurs. This allows us again to play real chess instead of checking who has the best memory/ analysis. Unfortunately also in those safe openings we see people trying to get an edge by analyzing very deeply a broad spectrum of key-positions. I am thinking about the recent publications the modernized berlin wall defense and of course also The Italian Renaissance part 1 and part 2. Nowhere we find anymore complete safety.