Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The RetiCK - final part

1.e4 c6 2.b3 d5 3.Bb2 dxe4 4.Ne2!? Bf5 5.Ng3 e6 This is Schandorff's recommendation in The Caro-Kann.

6.Nc3 Nf6 7.Qe2

A) Schandorff also mentions a slight deviation on Black's part: 7...Nbd7 which does look sensible.  

8.Ngxe4 Be7 Diagram 

Reprintsev-Dreev, Internet blitz 2003.

And now, instead of "castling into it" with 0-0-0 as in the game, I think white should develop with g3, Bg2 and castle kingside or perhaps delay castling to first see where the black king goes, and then decide if his own king should follow suit or not. For example: 9.g3 Qa5 10.Bg2 h5 11.h4 (11.h3!? h4 12.g4 Bg6 13.a3) 11...0-0-0 12.0-0-0 Nxe4 13.Bxe4 Bxe4 14.Qxe4.

B) 7...Bb4!? An idea inspired by the real Reti Gambit vs the French - and even there it looks suspicious to me. So, personally, if I were Black here, I wouldn't be interested in exchanging my darkfielder for a measly c3-knight just to keep an exposed e4-pawn. But Caro-Kann players are usually more likely to argue that 'Greed is Good'.

8.0-0-0 Diagram

8...Bxc3 This is similar to the mainline in the real Reti Gambit (1.e4 e6 2.b3 d5 3.Bb2 dxe4 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Qe2 Bb4 6.0-0-0 Bxc3). Personally, as black, I'd rather go for Dreev's Nbd7 and Be7 above. But this is of course a big part of what makes Chess so interesting - we all have different preferences and ideas, so what one considers 'doubtful' or 'too weakening' another will label 'ambitious' or 'interesting'.

(By the way, 8...Qe7 might be worth a try - if there is a CK-player who would not hang on to an extra pawn for dear life?! 9.Ncxe4 Bxe4 (9...Ba3? 10.Nxf5+- ; 9...Nxe4 10.Nxe4 Ba3 11.Ng3=) 10.Nxe4 Nbd7=)

B1) 9.dxc3!? Allowing the pawns to be doubled on the c-file and removing the d-pawn pawn from the centre. But on the other hand it opens the d-file and allows White to control the d5-square by means of c3-c4, without weakening the pawn cover of his king.

9...Nbd7 10.c4 Qa5 Diagram

And now according to Schandorff, white doesn't have enough for the pawn. Which may of course be true, but in the following game white still beat "a computer enhanced human", and the dark squares in Black's camp do look kind of inviting.

So, to me it's a verdict open to at least debate. 11.Nxf5 (11.Qe3 Bg6 (11...Qxa2 12.Nxf5 exf5 13.Qg5 Qa5 14.Qxg7 Rg8 15.Qh6=) 12.Kb1 0-0-0=/+) 11...Qxf5 (11...exf5 12.Qe3) 12.h3 Qg5+ (12...Qf4+!? 13.Kb1 0-0-0 14.Bc1 Qf5) 13.Kb1 0-0-0 (13...h5!? 14.Bc1 Qg6 15.Qe3 and white can play for g2-g4 or hope to open the g-file with f3 perhaps. My engine consider white to be "0.3" down, which in human terms sound like "compensation". In a blunderchess game I suppose both sides would be reasonably happy.) 14.g4 h5?! 15.Bc1 Qg6 16.g5 Ne8 17.f3 exf3 18.Qxf3 with initiative, the game we're following continued: 18...f5 19.Qe3 a6 20.Ba3 Nc7 21.Be7 Rde8 22.Bd6 e5 23.Qa7 Rd8 24.h4 e4 25.Bf4 Qe8 26.c5 Nb8 27.Rd6 Qe7 28.Be2 Rd7 29.Rhd1 Rhd8 30.R1d4 1-0 Berlinger,G-Caressa,M (2126) ICCF Email 2003.

B2) 9.Bxc3 This gains the bishop pair without incurring any static weaknesses, but on the other hand it doesn't increase White's chances for dynamic counter-play either.   


(9...Nbd7 10.Nxf5 exf5 11.g4! fxg4 12.h3 Qc7?! (12...g3 13.Rg1!?) 13.hxg4 Qf4 14.g5 Qxg5 15.Bh3 Qc5 16.f3 0-0-0 17.Bxf6 (17.fxe4) 17...gxf6 18.fxe4 Qd6 19.Bf5 +/- Borwell,A (2215)-Coleby,R (2058)/ICCF 2008 (1-0 68).)  

10.h4 Diagram


(10...h6!? may be a more exact way for black to play, as white's d3-idea loses some force. 11.h5 Bh7 12.f3 (12.d3 exd3 13.Qe1 (13.Qd2?! a5! with g5 unavailable, there was no point in playing Qd2, as black has other options than moving the queen.) 13...Nbd7 14.Bxd3 Bxd3 15.Rxd3 Qc7 with an edge for black, as his queen is more actively placed to limit the weakness on the dark squares.) 12...exf3 13.gxf3 Nbd7 14.Ne4 Qe7 15.Re1 0-0-0 16.Qh2 Diagram

with reasonable compensation due to better dark square control and the bishop pair.)

11.d3!?N Diagram

My computers idea, the point seems to be that with an open centre white can optimise all his pieces, making it hard for black to break out to make his extra pawn count. Having a black pawn on h5 probably helps white, as it will require either to be defended by pieces or the weakening of more dark squares if ...g6 needs to be played.

[11.f3 exf3 12.gxf3 Qc7 13.Ne4 Nbd7 Horvath-Krizsany, HUN 1995. "White has some compensation for the pawn, but Black is solid and I prefer the material" - Schandorff.
White has no immediate threats so he should probably set his house in order with moves like Rg1, Bh3 and Kb1 and then react to what black comes up with. Which is another way of saying that black is slightly better, I guess.]

11...exd3 12.Qd2!? 

[12.Qe1 Nbd7 13.Bxd3 Bxd3 14.Rxd3 Qc7 15.Kb1 0-0-0 16.Bb2 and with white's queen less active on e1, Black has a slightly better version than in the mainline.]  


[12...Qd5 13.Bxd3 Bxd3 14.Qe1 Nbd7 15.Rxd3 Qxg2 16.Nf5 Qg4 17.Nd6+ Kf8 18.Nxb7 looks promising for white.; 12...Na6 13.Bxd3 Bxd3 14.Qg5=;
12...Qe7 13.Bxd3 Bxd3 14.Qxd3 Nbd7 15.Rhe1 0-0-0 16.Nf5!? Qa3+ 17.Bb2 Qf8 18.Nd6+ Kb8 19.Nc4 Ka8 20.Qg3 with good compensation, perhaps more.]  

13.Bxd3 Bxd3 14.Qxd3 Qc7 15.Qf3 = with the white queen active on f3 and a black pawn on h5, White's compensation is better than in the note on 10...h6!?, for example:

15...0-0-0 16.Rhe1 Diagram

16...Nb6 [16...Kb8 17.Kb1] 17.Bd4 Nbd5 18.c4!? [18.Ne4 Nxe4 19.Rxe4 Rhe8 20.Qxh5 f6 21.Qf3] 18...Nb4 [18...Qf4+ 19.Re3!] 19.Bxf6 gxf6 20.a3 Na6 21.Qxf6 Qa5 22.Qb2 Rxd1+ [22...Qc7 23.Ne4 Qf4+ 24.Rd2 Rxd2 25.Qxd2 Qxd2+ 26.Kxd2+/=] 23.Rxd1 Rd8 24.Ne4= Diagram

White might even have an edge due to fewer pawn islands when it trades down to a simpler ending, but I'll let you determine that for yourself. After all, as Larsen said, a long variation is often a wrong variation...

In conclusion it seems that 2.b3 is (surprisingly enough) playable for White, even with Bc8 outside of the pawn chain. Though you shouldn't expect an edge, unless Black gets over confident or too cavalier.

Still, while there are more critical variations available for a booked-up White-player, 2.b3 seems a decent surprise weapon, and over the board I'd suspect that it gets stronger and stronger as the players get weaker, since Black needs some experience and a sense of danger to not underestimate White's chances in the middlegame...

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

RetiCK - quick reply to a reader suggestion

1.e4 c6 2.b3 d5 3.Bb2 dxe4 4.Ne2 Nd7 5.Ng3 Ngf6 6.Nc3 Nc5 7.Qe2 Bg4 8.Qe3 e6!? Diagram This is a suggestion from a reader of my first post on 2.b3 vs CK.

9.h3 Bf5

A) 10.Nxf5 exf5 11.g4!? f4! (11...Qd7 12.0-0-0 0-0-0 =; 11...fxg4?! 12.hxg4 Nxg4 13.Qe2 Nf6 14.0-0-0 Be7 15.Bh3 Qd6 16.Rde1 +=) 12.Qxf4 Ne6 13.Qg3 (13.Qe3 Bc5 14.Qg3 Bd6) 13...Bd6 14.Qg2 Nf4 15.Qg1 Diagram This is = (0.00) according to my engine, and probably it's right as white can pressure pawn e4 with 0-0-0, Re1, g4-g5 and even f2-f3.

B) 10.d4!? is an interesting alternative. 10...Ncd7 Diagram

Here white has a selection of choices, depending on what level of risk is acceptable for him.  


11.Ncxe4 Nxe4 12.Nxe4 Bxe4 13.Qxe4 Qa5+ 14.c3 Ba3 15.Qc2 Bxb2 16.Qxb2 0-0 17.Be2 =;
11.0-0-0 Nd5 12.Nxd5 cxd5 13.Nxf5 (13.f3) 13...exf5 14.g4;
11.Nxf5 exf5 12.g4.

11...Bd6!? looks critical.

11...Bg6 12.fxe4 Qa5 13.0-0-0 Ba3 (13...Bb4 14.Kb1) 14.Be2 0-0-0 15.h4 h6 16.Bxa3 Qxa3+ 17.Kb1 Nb6 18.Rhf1 =;
11...Nd5 12.Nxd5 cxd5 13.fxe4 Bg6 (13...dxe4 14.0-0-0) 14.0-0-0=

12.Nxf5 exf5 13.fxe4 0-0 Diagram

14.0-0-0 (14.e5? c5!) 14...Nxe4 15.Nxe4 Re8 16.Kb1 Diagram


16...Rxe4 17.Qd2 Nf6 18.Bd3 Rf4?! (18...Re8 19.Bxf5=) 19.d5 cxd5 (19...Nxd5 20.c4!) 20.g3 (20.g4) 20...Rf3 21.g4 Diagram # with initiative.

17.d5 Be5 18.dxc6 bxc6 19.Bc1 Bf6 20.g4 Diagram with good compensation for the pawn according to the machine. Probably based on the bishop pair and a minority pawn storm with g4-g5. But if you're going to play any of this, you should of course check everything for yourself more carefully.


Monday, 16 August 2010

The Reti Gambit vs the Caro-Kann

Over the years since I wrote The Fascinating Reti Gambit in 2006, people have occasionally asked me if the same set-up can be used against other openings than the French Defence. Especially the Scandinavian and Caro-Kann have been suggested. I don't know if this is because they've fallen in love with having a bishop on b2 or if they're not interested in booking up against openings they seldom encounter.

However, I have hardly taken this seriously, as it must be a completely different scenario when Black's Bc8 is allowed to come out without any loss of time - and in the Scandinavian Black also has c6 available for the knight, which should put a stop to this idea once and for all.

Though, in blitz I sometimes use a home brewed system after 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5/Qd6/Qd8 etc and now just Nf3, Be2, and then either 0-0 and b3 or first b3, Bb2 and see what happens. Why not call it The Jokhansson-system, if it needs a name. ;)

It's not very ambitious of course, but in 3 minute blitz online, the Scandinavian with Qxd5 is both very popular and annoying as the Black player usually has an enormous experience of the mainline positions and responds instantly up to around move thirty, and by then you are already pressured on the clock...

And now, back to 2.b3 versus the Caro-Kann. It was only when I recently was looking at the Caro-Kann from Black's point of view that I noticed in two recent repertoire books that 2.b3 was actually dealt with - though with little enthusiasm from the authors! :)

Their lack of enthusiasm may have resulted in some slight wishful thinking though, as my impression when seeing their lines was that White was basically equal and not worse, but with a somewhat different position than CK-players are used to play. By the way, as White over the years I've mainly relied on the Fantasy variation (2.d4 d5 3.f3!?) and more recently on the Apocalypse variation (2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Ne5!?), but after finally seeing the modern theory on the mainlines, I can see why they are usually preferred.

So, a reasonably ambitious White player should no doubt play 3.Nc3 or 3.e5 in my opinion - but there is something with the CK-solidity that often makes White want to play "something surprising" instead (probably because he never bothered learning the theory, as 1...c6 isn't all that popular, and weaker players punting it often crumble easily when surprised.) and there are many, many ideas to choose from and unlike in the French and Sicilian, it's hard for Black to really punish these off-beat ideas, as he has already committed to building a fort - so frequently black just builds the fort according to plan and waits for White to come to him.

And now finally a look at some concrete lines in the RetiCK - or whatever we should call 2.b3 here?! First according to Houska and then Schandorff.

1.e4 c6 2.b3 d5 3.Bb2 dxe4 4.Ne2!?

Houska mentions two ways to play for black.

A) 4...Nf6 5.Ng3 Nbd7 6.Nc3 Nc5 7.Qe2 (7.h3) 7...Bg4 Diagram

Now 8.f3 is forced according to Houska.

(But to me it looks like 8.Qe3! is a better move, e.g: 8...Qb6 (or 8...e5 9.Ngxe4 with a roughly equal position with fighting-potential, White can hardly expect more than this with 2.b3 vs the Caro-Kann.) 9.Bc4 (9.a4!?) 9...e6 10.h3 Bf5 11.Nxf5 (11.d4!?) 11...exf5 12.Qf4 (12.g4!?) 12...Be7 13.Qxf5 0-0 14.0-0 Rad8 15.d3! exd3 16.Rfe1 Ne6 (16...Bd6? 17.Na4!+-; 16...Rde8 17.cxd3 Qc7 18.d4) 17.Bxd3 +=)

8...exf3 9.gxf3 Bd7 10.0-0-0 (10.Nce4 Ne6 11.Bh3 Qc7) 10...Ne6 Bokuchava-Gurgenidze, USSR 1974. And now I think 11.Qe3!? is best again, covering most of Ne6's options, opening the way for Bf1 and perhaps supporting f4-f5 or d4-d5. Black has a pawn and no weaknesses, but his position is a little congested. In blunderchess white probably has decent compensation, but in corr perhaps not quite full comp..

B) 4...Bf5 5.Ng3 Diagram

The knight hits the bishop and pawn-e4, but also blocks the g-pawn - all necessary to recover the pawn, but also another thing that makes it less similar to the real Reti gambit. Throwing the g-pawn up the board, though weakening, has the usual effect of creating volatile positions with "cut and thrust" play. Now, with the pawn firmly on g2, Black has little to fear except the loss of his extra pawn.

5...Bg6 6.Nc3!? Diagram  Here I prefer to simply take back the pawn ASAP with the text move, without further ado.

Houska gives 6.h4 and even awards it an "!", h4-h5 may be a standard move in the mainline CKs, but here, to me at least, it looks more like a long term weakness. Worse still, is that it doesn't really lead to the kind of play you want as white - as can be seen from the humdrum examples below.

6...h6 (6...h5!? ) 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.h5 Bh7 9.Qe2 e6 10.0-0-0 Nbd7 11.Ngxe4
(11.Ncxe4 Qa5 12.Kb1 Nd5 13.Nc3 N7f6 14.Qf3 Nb4 15.d3 Nfd5 16.Nge2 Be7 17.a3 Nxc3+ 18.Nxc3 Nd5 19.Nxd5 cxd5 20.Qg4 Bxa3 21.Qxg7 Bxb2 22.Kxb2 Ke7 23.Rh4 Rac8 24.c4 b5 25.Rf4 Bf5 26.Qe5 f6 27.Qe3 dxc4 28.dxc4 Rhd8 29.Rfd4 bxc4 30.Qc3 Qxc3+ 31.Kxc3 cxb3+ 32.Bc4 Rxc4+ 0-1 Klee Helmut (GER) (2311)-Van Elsen Danny (BEL) (2248), corr.)
11...Qa5 12.Kb1 Be7 13.d4 (13.g3 0-0-0 14.Bg2 Nd5= Mazalon-Jaroch, Solec Kuj 2003.) 13...0-0-0 14.Qf3 Kb8 15.Bd3 Ka8 16.Nxf6 Nxf6 17.Bxh7 Rxh7 18.Ne4 Rhh8 19.Nxf6 Bxf6 20.d5 Bxb2 21.Kxb2 cxd5 22.Qxf7 Rhg8 23.Rh4 Rdf8 24.Qxe6 Qd8 25.Rg4 Rxf2 26.Re1 a6 27.Qe7 Qxe7 28.Rxe7 Rf5 29.Rb4 b5 30.Rg4 Rxh5 31.Rf4 Rg5 1/2-1/2 Cortifias,V-Zamora Aleaga,J, Cuba 1996, corr.

6...Nf6 7.Qe2 Nbd7 8.Ngxe4 Diagram

Why not unblock the g-pawn? The most natural way to develop now is g3, Bg2 and 0-0, (though 0-0-0 might be possible too). Playing for g2-g4 is hardly recommendable, as it weakens f4 and besides, since pawn e4 has already been recovered there's not much point in chasing Nf6 to an even more active post on d5 or encouraging a knight exchange on e4 for that matter.

By the way, 8.Ncxe4 Qc7 9.h4 h5 10.0-0-0 0-0-0 is preferred by my silicon friend, but it hurts my eyes to see Bf1 standing there boxed in, looking like a big pawn. What the engine likes is probably the chance to gain space with d4 and c4 - but it can hardly be wise to "storm the fort" with less than full force...

8...e6 Developing as usual - and incidentally stopping White's mate threat.  

9.g3 (9.g4? h5!? (9...Nd5!?; 9...Qa5!?) 10.g5 Nxe4 11.Nxe4 Bxe4 12.Qxe4 Qxg5) 9...Qa5 10.a3!? (10.a4?! Bb4 11.Bg2 looks more comfortable for black, as pawn d2 may be a tactical weakness.) 10...Be7 11.Bg2 0-0 (11...0-0-0 12.0-0 (12.b4!?) 12...h5 13.b4 would allow both players to "slug it out".)

12.0-0 Diagram

with a roughly level situation (though my computer prefers Black slightly), where the better player may still prevail. White's game plan will most likely involve advancing his q-side pawns, playing for an eventual b3-b4-b5 or perhaps d2-d4-d5. Black's play will probably involve piece manoeuvres and exchanges, saving c6-c5 or e6-e5 until white has declared his intentions.

Thus far we has some slight remedies against what Houska recommended in Play the Caro-Kann in 2007.

In my next post I'll take a look at what Schandorff recommends for Black in his very recently published repertoire book The Caro-Kann.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Game One: Wegelin - TJ

From the database I'd gathered that my opponent was a careful and solid "d4-specials" guy - especially Colle and London.

So, with him suddenly opening with 1.c4 for the first time, I could presume one of two things: either he's recently become interested in the English Opening or more likely, he had something prepared for my usual 1...f5.

Before the tournament I had decided to try the Nimzo Indian if given the opportunity, but I didn't want to end up in an English Mikenas variation after 1.-Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 and I was also not being particularly interested in playing yet another Dutch or English vs Dutch position.  

So, I thought I'd suprise him back with an invitation to a QG Slav. 1....c6 A little mind-game as well, - is he playing the TJ he thinks he playing? ;)  

2.e4 Hmm, I didn't expect that from a habitual 1.d4-guy, and for a while I considered bailing out into and Old Indian with 2...e5, but it just felt so passive that I didn't want to be stuck with it for month after month.  

2...d5 "Don't want to, but I must" as someone used to say in the blitz café in Lund a couple of decades ago. :)

3.exd5 I'd expected 3.cxd5, which can easily become slightly awkward for Black if White plays Bb5+ or Qa4+ instead of transposing to a Panov with d4. Still, with access to databases and books it shouldn't be impossible to neutralise.

3...Nf6 This nifty move gives white the choice between the solid Panov and keeping the gambited pawn with d5xc6. The latter is supposed to be good for black, but with white being a 1.d4 player, and perhaps not acquainted with a gambit usually coming up via the Scandinavian - so, why not tempt him?  Besides, if 3...cxd5 immediately, White can also play 4.cxd5 when Nf6 will probably be necessary anyway, as 4...Qxd5 5.Nc3 looks like an inferior version of the Scandinavian.

4.d4 cxd5 5.Nc3 e6 Diagram

The main option is Nc6, but that can quickly and easily end up in a rook endgame, and I usually want a middlegame before the endgame. Besides, the text move invites and eventually reaches a transposition to the Nimzo, so in a few more moves I was back on the intended track! :)

6.Nf3 Bb4 7.cxd5 

  [If White wants to show some aggressive intentions he should probably go for: 7.Bd3 dxc4 8.Bxc4 0-0 9.0-0 b6 with quite different play than in the game, though technically this is also classified as a Nimzo Indian just like the game eventually transposes into.]

7...Nxd5 8.Qc2

[8.Bd2 Nc6 9.Bd3 Be7 10.0-0 0-0 11.a3 Bf6 12.Qc2 h6 13.Be3 Nce7 14.Ne4 b6 15.Nxf6+ Nxf6 16.Ne5 Bb7 17.Rac1 Qd5 18.f3 Rac8 19.Qa4 Nc6 20.Qb5 Qxb5
(20...Rfd8 21.Nxc6 Bxc6 22.Qxd5 Nxd5 23.Bd2 Ne7 24.Ba6 Rc7 25.Be3 Nd5 26.Rfe1 Ba4 27.Bf2 g5 28.h4 Kg7 29.Rxc7 Nxc7 30.Bc4 Nd5 31.Bg3 Bc2 32.Be5+ 1/2-1/2 Cid Gallego,S (2074)-Baumgartner,U (2231)/ICCF 2007)
21.Bxb5 Ne7 22.Rfe1 Nfd5 23.Bf2 Rxc1 24.Rxc1 f6 25.Nd3 Kf7 26.Kf1 1/2-1/2 Canibal,J (2227)-Baumgartner,U (2212)/ICCF server 2009.]  

8...Nc6 9.Be2 

[9.Bd3 Ba5 (9...Nxc3 10.bxc3 Nxd4 11.Nxd4 Qxd4 12.Bb5+ Ke7 13.0-0 Qxc3 14.Qe2 looks quite good for white.) 10.a3 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Nxd4 12.Nxd4 Qxd4 is a better version of snatching the d-pawn, white still has good compensation though, so it's basically "unclear".]

9...Nce7! Diagram

A strong move, equalising completely. Black is simply making sure that he will always end up with a strong knight on d5 blocking pawn d4, as well as being shielded from attack by it.  


  [10.a3 Bd6 11.Bd3 h6 12.0-0 0-0 13.Qe2 b6 14.Re1 Bb7 15.Nxd5 Bxd5 16.Ne5 Bb7 17.Qh5 Bxe5 18.Qxe5 Nf5 19.Be3 Qd7 20.Bxf5 exf5 21.Qg3 Kh7 22.Rac1 Rfe8 23.f3 Rac8 24.Rxc8 Rxc8 25.Qf2 Bd5 1/2-1/2 Carlsen,T (2641)-Donnelly,D (2465)/ICCF 2007]  

10...Bd7 Here White has tried a number of moves, but it seems that after spending a tempo on Be2 it's quite hard to achieve anything promising for white, e.g:  

[11.Nxd5 Nxd5 12.Bd3!? Led to the following interesting game (12.Ne5 Bd6 has been the starting point of many a draw in the database.) 12...Bd6 13.Be4 Bc6 14.Bd2 Rc8 15.Rac1 Ne7 16.Rfe1 h6 17.Bxc6+ Rxc6 18.Qa4 Qd7 19.Rxc6 Qxc6!? (19...bxc6) 20.Qxa7 0-0 21.Qa5 b6 22.Qc3 Qa4 Diagram

At the cost of pawn Black has gained the initiative, due to 1) white's IQP which 2) obstructs the bishop and 3) Nd5 coming up, where the horse becomes an octopus. :)

In the game, Black's compensation eventually transformed into a win: 23.a3 Rc8 24.Qd3 Qc2!? (24...b5) 25.Qb5 Nd5 26.h3 (26.g3) 26...g5!? 27.Qd7 Bb8 28.Bc3 Rf8 29.Qc6 Qd3 30.Bb4 Rd8 31.Qb7 Bf4 32.Ne5 Bxe5 33.dxe5 Qd4 34.Bd6 Qxb2 35.Qc6 Kg7 36.Qc4 Qd2 37.Re2 Qd1+ 38.Kh2 b5 39.Qc2 (39.Qxb5? Nc3 40.Qa5 Nxe2 41.Qxd8 Qg1#) 39...Qf1 40.g3 Ra8 41.Qd2 Ra4 42.Re1 Qc4 43.Rc1 Qe4 44.Re1 Qf5 45.Kg2 Rc4 46.Re2? (46.Qe2 h5-/+ 47.Qxh5? Rh4-+) 46...Rc3! 47.Kh2 Nf4! 48.Bf8+ (48.gxf4 Rxh3+ 49.Kg2 Qg4+ 50.Kf1 Rh1#) 48...Kh7 49.Kg1 Nxe2+ 50.Qxe2 Rc2 51.Qe3 Rc8 52.Bd6 Rc4 53.Kh2 Kg6 54.Qb6 Qf3 0-1 Polgar,J (2687)-Rodshtein,M (2623) Natanya ISR 2009.

11.Ne5 Rc8 (11...0-0 12.Qb3 Bc6 13.Bg5 Qb6 14.Bxe7 Bxe7=) 12.Bd2 0-0 13.Rac1 Nc6 14.Qd3 Nxe5 15.dxe5 Nxc3 16.Bxc3 Bxc3 17.Rxc3 Bc6 18.Qxd8 1/2-1/2 Lucki,S (2358)-Brzoza,M (2263)/ICCF 2008;

11.Ne4 Sokolov,A (2603)-Izoria,Z (2606) Ermioni Argolidas GRE 2005 (1/2-1/2, 30). Much easier than in the game, Izoria could've equalised with: 11...Rc8 12.Qb3 Bc6=]

11.a3 Bc6 Diagram

Seeing that in previous corr games, this had been drawn 100% in about ten games, and considering my opponent's reluctance to sharpen the play, I offered a draw here. White can gain the bishop pair at will, but it's rather impotent in this position due to black's fine central knights.  

13.Ne5 After a few weeks thought, white decides to carry on.

[By the way, in blunderchess black has actually managed to win more games than white, though even there a draw is close to mandatory.

Here's a few examples: 13.Nxd6+ Qxd6 14.Ne5 0-0 15.Bd3 Nf6 16.Be3 Rac8 17.Qc5 Qd5 18.f3 (18.Nxc6 Nxc6 19.Qxd5 Nxd5=) 18...Ng6 19.Rac1 Nxe5 20.dxe5 Qxd3 21.exf6 gxf6 22.Qxa7 Rfd8 23.Bf2 Qg6 24.Bg3 Rd2 25.Rf2 Rcd8 Nisipeanu,L (2707)-Jobava,B (2601) Skanderborg DEN 2005 (0-1, 38). In this game, my term "blunderchess" for Over The Board play, is extra accurate, as white with his final move actually could have turned the tables in the time trouble!

13.Bd3 Rc8 14.Ne5  

(14.Bg5 h6 15.Bh4 0-0 16.Qd2 Bf4 17.Qe2 Bb8 18.g3 Qb6 19.Rad1 Nf5 20.Nc5 Nxh4 21.Nxh4 Rfe8 22.b4 Nc3 23.Qe3 Nxd1 24.Rxd1 Qd8 25.b5 Bd5 26.Bb1 b6 27.Qd3 f5 28.Nxf5 exf5 29.Qxf5 bxc5 30.Qh7+ Kf8 31.Qh8+ Bg8 32.Bh7 Qd5 0-1 Friedel,J (2547)-Milos,G (2589) Sao Paulo BRA 2009.)

14...Ng6 15.Nxc6 bxc6 16.Nxd6+ Qxd6 17.Qc5 Qxc5 18.dxc5 a5 19.Bd2 Ra8 20.b4 axb4 21.axb4 Kd7 22.b5 Ne5 23.Be2 cxb5 24.Bxb5+ Nc6 25.Rfd1 Rhb8 26.Bc4 Rxa1 27.Rxa1 Rb2 28.Bxd5 Rxd2 29.Be4 f5 30.Bxc6+ Kxc6 31.h4 Rd7 32.Ra6+ Kxc5 33.Rxe6 Kd5 34.Re2 Ra7 35.Kh2 Ra5 1/2-1/2 Polgar,J (2710)-Svidler,P (2742) Rishon Le Zion ISR 2006.]  

13...Rc8 14.Nxd6+ Qxd6 15.Qc5 Qb8 Even trading queens on c5 might still be equal, but allowing the sickly d-pawn to become part of a healthy Q-side majority would give white what he wants, the potential to manoeuvre indefinitely without any risk. By keeping the queens on, black's message is: "If you want to win, you must give me counter-chances."

As can seen from the following few moves, that was not something white was reluctant to do. 16.Nxc6 [16.Bb5 0-0 17.Bxc6 Rfd8 18.Qb5 Nxc6 19.Nf3 Qc7 White's tricks left him with the wrong bishop, giving black a reason to play on.] 16...Nxc6 17.Re1 b6 18.Qb5 0-0 19.Be3 Diagram "A draw is offered with this move."

Funny enough, it took me almost a week to notice the draw offer, despite that it was sent in the automatic move notification email. It was actually not until I logged in to reply, that a pop-up came up, as a reminder that a draw had been offered.  


Well, the end of a not very exciting game. But one can still learn some things from it, mainly how strong a centralised knight can be and that even a bishop pair vs a pair of knights is still balanced, if one of the bishops is bad due to an IQP on its colour and the knights command a good central outpost blocking the isolated pawn.

Stay tuned for more of my corr-games, but I think I will spend some posts between the corr-games on other chess related things. As I found it a bit boring to edit down a big chessbase game file into something that can be digested in blog form. And though this game was rather short, the original game file was certainly not!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

My favourite site for buying books

Just thought I should mention a really good site for buying books, - it actually offers free shipment to most countries, and it works! And still the prices are usually lower than what you'd pay in a bookstore - if the store has the book you're looking for, which is far from certain nowadays, as most stores only stock up on celebrity cookbooks and biographies of people under thirty...

Actually, I was tipped off myself about this place by a reader who had ordered The Fascinating Reti Gambit there - and this book of mine is quite hard to get hold of due to my publisher and their unusually expensive shipping costs - which scared off the few chess shops that were interested in offering it to their readers. So, for the FRG this site is definitely the place to order it if you're still looking for it.
& by the way, the FKG is also there:

 (Added 6th/8)
Btw, an example of the "trickle down effect" in chess: The reader who tipped me about the book site, also has a blog so why not link to what he's written about his first Reti gambit!?

Why is the blog called 'Borg Chess' ?

Well, obviously I'm a Star Trek fan, and corrplayers are in some ways quite similar to the Borg. Come to think of it, many of the species encountered in Star Trek could actually be descriptions of different groups of chess players or chess styles.

Lets see:

Borg - relies on databases, technology and collected experience assimilated from others. Motto: "Will adapt"

Hirogen - see others as 'prey' and possible future trophies. Prey is studied carefully, but once the hunt begins a Hirogen may take enormous risks to secure his 'trophy'. A Hirogen: "I once followed prey into a collapsed neutrino star." Tom Paris: "I once chased a mouse in jeffreys tube twenty-four..."

Klingon - Battles for the sake of battle. Anyone backing off from a fight is "without honour". As in: "Romulans are without honour!"

Vulcan - Logical, plays the game without involving their ego (or so they think). Any losses incurred must be a symptom of disease.

Romulan - Only show ambition if they think they are likely to win. Seldom calls a bluff and spend most of their time cloaked...

Ferengi - Grabs material and hangs on to it. Firm believers in the Laws of Acquisition.

Federation - Always seeks to negotiate a resolution in every conflict, but can fight quite resourcefully if required. "Our shields are holding at 58%. Target their weapons system."

Kazon - Mindlessly aggressive, but with little strength to back it up. Any success can usually by attributed to sheer luck. (Btw, The Kazon is one of very few species not assimilated by the Borg - as their assimilation would 'detract from perfection'.)

Species 8472 - Ruthless counter-attackers and extremely hard to kill. "The weak shall perish."

Talaxian - Good humoured traders, wily but sometimes too gullible. "Let's have a good time!"

Ocampa - Nice people, but with a life span of only ten years and needing a Caretaker to protect them from the Kazon...

Added 13/8
Vidiian - A race that suffer from a severe disease (the phage) that forces to steal body organs from other species to survive.

This one is not at obvious at the others, but isn't it reminiscent of players with inconsistent opening repertoires? That is, those who e.g. as White can play the Colle, the King's Gambit and the Catalan in the same tournament.

Well, I guess anyone who has played chess for a year or two will make associations between these species and players they have encountered in tournaments. Some will even be able to self-diagnose!

Personally, I guess in corr I'm a Borg / Vulcan and Over the Board closer to Hirogen / Species 8472 at least on good days. :) On bad days I may well be a Kazon unfortunately. :(

And if you have no idea what I'm talking about here, then you're probably 1) not a chess player, 2) not a Star Trek viewer or 3) lacking the imagination necessary. If so, just leave without making a scene - there's probably another and better blog out there, for example on how to memorise Pi until the cows come home...

Entry One

Howdy, for those stumbling by accidentally this is the blog of Thomas Johansson. A common name in Sweden,  I'm the one who's written three chess books over the years: The King's Gambit for the Creative Aggressor (Kania 1998), The Fascinating King's Gambit (Trafford 2005) and The Fascinating Reti Gambit (Lulu 2006).

In January 2010, I tried correspondence chess for the first time, and surprisingly it went so well that I thought I'd share the games and experience here. Partly for the benefit of those chess players who have never tried corr before but might like to try - and partly to show off of course! ;)

I'm playing 2nd board for the chesspub team (Champions League 2010 Group C), as I'm been hanging at the chesspub forum for years. Before the tournament I thought 50% would be a reasonable aim, as I thought it must be extremely difficult to win even a single game in corr, with both players having access to books, databases, engines, and whatever else that might help them...

But to my surprise, corr chess has turned out to be not too different from an over the board tournament, except that the games are played over a longer time frame and tactical blunders, time trouble errors and forgotten theory are not as important as in OTB (or why not simply call it "blunder chess"?). There are still mistakes to be made - it's impossible to win without them, but they are usually easier to see after you've seen what happened in the game...

I've had a homepage at for more than ten years by now (it's still there, no need to check). But it has a lot of pop-ups from the hostdomain and the last few years I've hardly updated it.

Hopefully, this blog will be easier to maintain once I get the hang of it. And if so I might write about other chess stuff as well. But for starters I will begin with my first twelve corr games ever, one at a time in the order they became decided. A couple of  them are quite long, so I might leave off at an important decision and give you a week to start your engines and see if you arrive at the same move I did or at a different solution.

I'll try to add a new game every Sunday evening (which is the time my broadband seems to work best) - until I run out of games. And then we'll see what else I might write about...