Mate in 5

I am waiting to deliver the following mate for something like 45 years an counting. Yet so far nobody played 1…h5 against me. The move clearly makes sense though, because it stops 2. Qh5. Unfortunately the content creator disallowed comments, because I wanted to congratulate him for this awesome piece of preparation. And yes, it’s actually mate in 4, but there is no need for notpicking.
 

Making money with Stockfish?

There is a pretty popular website on openings that makes money with subscriptions. What do they offer in return? Expert advice of course. In the latest edition one of their experts calls the following line “very dangerous”. I added the clean equalizer in the comments. It is an equalizer because if white deviates black is better.

Since Stockfish is free and everyone can click the button, the real value comes from them spotting interesting games, but even there they are kinda slow. I have already covered Donchenko-Firouzja months ago, actually – if I remember correctly – on the day it was played. The big question is if Firouzja knew that the line is bad and he played it as a total bluff or if it was just terrible preparation.

In my previous article I did not mention alternatives for black, so let’s do it now. Instead of 15…Qc7, I am offering a few lines from correspondence chess starting with 15…Nc5, because that is the move which exploits the position of the newly arrived knight on d2. The Noteboom is a dubious choice, but it isn’t officially busted yet.

Just like the days of professional seconds are numbered, I am 100% sure that commercial websites on opening theory will eventually go out of business as well. Maybe it works with donations.

Amateur Experts

In the history of chess good books were written and strong analysis was usually provided by very strong players. In fact for many older GMs that was their main source of income. With the appearence of chess engines all of this has changed. Even lower rated players can come to correct conclusions by simply clicking through variations with their engines. I can name two examples: Kris Littlejohn and Nikolaos Ntirlis. The first guy is Nakamuras assistant, the other guy (no joke) worked as opening coach for the danish national team and has written a few books. Why does this work apparently well enough? The answer is simple: The guy is just the messenger, while the message itsself comes from some silicone-monster rated 3600+. Obviously I am trying to make a case for the “Expert Patzer”, because I am one of these myself, but there is something to it. With the help of strong engines even amateurs can come to totally valid conclusions, and if the engine-line ends in a forced repetition the game is finished after all. There is nothing more left to prove, not even good endgame technique. If the line does not end in a repetition though some care is neccessary, because new generations of engines produce better lines. Most of the analysis on this page is already more than five years old, before neuronal nets were available. Double-check everything!

Nice draw the Rauzer

Aronjan and Artemiev played a Rauzer where the critical line remained behind the curtain. Shankland didn’t mention it either.

“I play against pieces”

Seit Dvoretsky das Thema auf die Agenda gesetzt hat, hört man es immer wieder: Prophylaxe sei im Schach unglaublich wichtig.

Was will der Gegner, und wie kann ich es verhindern? Das ist jedoch völlig trivial, wenn sich klarmacht, was es bedeutet: Der Gegner kann lediglich legale Züge spielen, nicht mehr und nicht weniger. Seine Absichten, Wünsche oder Ziele sind nur eine Untermenge der möglichen Züge, die ohnehin zu berechnen sind. Prophylaxe ist als Konzept, wie Nimzowitschs Überdeckung übrigens auch, komplett überflüssig. Das merkt man schon daran, dass sie niemals eine Entschuldigung liefert, wenn man eine Taktik übersieht. Es ist nichts anderes, als die Standardphrase aller Eltern, wenn das Kind zum ersten mal alleine das Auto bekommt: Fahr schön vorsichtig!

Engines kennen keine Prophylaxe. Sie spielen den besten Zug, ohne wenn und aber. Das ist übrigens der Grund, warum Gligoric ein Buch mit dem Titel “I play against pieces” geschrieben hat.

In diesem Zusammenhang ist auf einen weiteren genialen “Pro-Tip” hinzuweisen: Einen schlechten Plan des Gegners soll man nicht verhindern. Auch das ist nur die halbe Wahrheit. Man soll den besten Zug spielen, völlig egal, was der Gegner plant oder beabsichtigt. Die Absichten des Gegner spielen im Schach überhaupt keine Rolle. Es geht ausschließlich um die konkrete Stellung auf dem Brett. Der beste Zug ist der Maßstab für “Accuracy”.

Nach der dieser ganzen Vorrede muss ich allerdings eine Einschränkung machen: Wer nicht einmal annähernd in der Lage ist, den besten Zug zu spielen, für den mag es ausreichen, “schlauer” zu sein, als der Patzer auf der anderen Seite des Brettes. Beim Kampf in der Kreisklasse, wo es darum geht, nicht in die Fallen des Gegners zu tappen, mag “Prophylaxe” erfolgreich sein. Objektiv ist es jedoch allenfalls eine Näherungslösung. Im schlimmsten Fall ist es jedoch nur eine Begründungsschablone für überflüssige Trainer, die um ihre Existenzberechtigung kämpfen.

Spiel schön vorsichtig!

Don’t play like Kasparov

I have never seen this before, at least not in chess, maybe the “Artosis Pylon” in Starcraft came close, but this shocking. What’s wrong with Kasparov? Losing three game in a Bg5-Najdorf is already weird, but what happend after that cannot be explained anymore. Kasparov forgot more about chess than I ever knew, but I certainly didn’t expect him to forget everything. WTF was that?

Even his Qc7-Najdorf doesn’t strike me as much of an improvement over the Rauzer. In fact it looks worse and engines agree.

Stamp of Drawproval

The Radja played the line recommended on this website and drew easily (as usual), but this time with black.

Champions Chess Tour FTX Crypto Cup

Match strategy is one thing and I can understand that Nakamura is making all those Berlin draws against opponents where is not a big favorite to begin with. On the other hand, what Radjabov is doing is a disgrace to chess. This guy should never be invited to any of these events anymore. Winning ugly doesn’t describe it. It’s just a joke, because these events are supposed to be an exciting show. It’s like watching gladiators fight in the arena, except only the little pieces die. That is what the sponsors are paying all the money for.

Right?

Well, he beat Pichot, who doesn’t belong there, Svidler, who is playing terribly as usual, and Nepomnichi, who either wanted to be creative or wasn’t keen on showing prep. Apparently that’s all you need to do to be in shared first place. Why spend more energy? In a way Radjabov is honest about his business. He doesn’t fake it.

 

Update: Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned his honesty because he lost an equal ending to Carlsen. On the other hand, losing equal endgames to Carlsen pretty much happens to everyone.

Update 2: No joke, I can’t watch this crap anymore. Carlsen is obviously dragging the matches into overtime only to finish off his opponents like it is no contest. I can be wrong, but the probability is low. Even if it isn’t rigged, it clearly feels like it. That’s sufficient in my book. In my view MC is playing for the gallery, for the show.

Der katalanische Schwätzkasten

Die These, die IM Silecki in seinem Beitrag bei den Perlen vom Bodensee vertritt, halte ich – sorry – für komplett abwegig.

Es handelt sich um ein geschlossenes Turnier, bei dem die Paarungen seit Monaten(!) feststehen. Nepomnichi spielt ca. 75% 1.e4, und von den restlichen 25% nimmt 1.c4 mit deutlichem Abstand den ersten Platz ein. Das heißt, die Eröffnungswahl kam nicht überraschend, und sie kann Alekseenko auch gar nicht überraschen, weil er für ein solches Turnier mit 100%er Sicherheit sein gesamtes Eröffnungsrepertoire gecheckt und überarbeitet hat.

Die Überlegung, “Oh der Nepo spielt 1.c4. Der will mich in einer Variante erwischen. Da spiel ich doch mal lieber Freestyle”, mag vielleicht der Herangehensweise von IM Silecki entsprechen, sie ist jedoch für einen Supergroßmeister, der um die Kandidatur zur Weltmeisterschaft spielt, völlig absurd. Mit anderen Worten: Wir reden hier weder vom einem Kaffehaus, noch vom Kindergarten.

Die mit weitem Abstand wahrscheinlichste Variante ist folgende: Der russische Schachverhand hat realisiert, dass sich Nepomnichi auf dem Zenit seiner Leistungsfähigkeit befindet, und Carlsen gerade mit einem Formtief zu kämpfen hat. Eine bessere Chance für einen russischen Weltmeister gab es seit langer Zeit nicht mehr. Da lag es nahe, an Alekseenko heranzutreten, und mit ihm ein kleines Gespräch über seine Zukunft zu führen…

 

Collusion?

You can never be sure, but that is not important. The phrase used in court is “reasonable doubt”. There is certainly doubt, but is it reasonable? According to my database the position after 11. Nxd4 occured 29 times. The highest rated player to end up in this position was Frolyanov (Elo 2555) in 2012 against much lower rated player in a firstround game of an open. Needless to say, he lost.

Overall white won 19, lost 2 and drew 8 games.

It is quite funny that Mr. “Too weak, too slow” Fressinet managed to draw a rapid game with white against a guy with an expectation near zero. That is the expected reasult with 400 points difference. Could that have been collusion beyond reasonable doubt?

On a positive note: Nepo will not draw 8 games with Carlsen and go on to lose the tiebreak. There is no reasonable doubt for sure.

Play it safe!