Friday, July 29, 2016

Old wine in new skins part 2

Last season I didn't participate at the clubchampionship of Deurne just like 2 years ago. The interest of the stronger players has been fading away for some time as mentioned in my article inactivity and there hasn't been a cure yet found for it. The alternative was for me again TSM Open but that competition ended already around new-year. After the last round of the Belgian interclubs in April I didn't manage to play any standard games anymore. To get back into shape for the Open Gent I decided just like 2 years ago to play the cup in Deurne.

From 2 earlier participations I had learned that the scientific approach puts myself in a very vulnerable position. The higher rated player gets a time-handicap defined by the rules and the combination with a surprise in the opening by my opponent created a very dangerous mix. Not seldom only a few minutes remained on my clock after the opening for playing the rest of the game. I couldn't win the cup this way.

This year I chose to disregard the scientific approach and play in a very practical way. This also corresponds better to my goal of getting back into shape. Each match in the cup means that one player proceeds and one player is eliminated. So if you want to play a maximum of games then you first need to win the matches. Therefore I chose practically after winning the first game to force the draw in the second game even in completely won positions. My openingchoices also deviated from my standard repertoire. When Robert Schuermans in the quarterfinale played a6 in the Spanish instead of his favorite Schliemann-gambit, I countered surprisingly with the exchange variation. Not only I avoided his preparation but I also managed to exchange the queens which to some extent disarmed him.

In my semi-finale against Marcel Van Herck and the finale against  Thierry Penson I decided to return to openings which I played more than a decade ago regularly. They are not part anymore of my standard repertoire as there exists at least 1 anti-dote but they seemed to me a good choice for the cup. The strategy worked. Both opponents were not prepared for this surprise and spent a lot of time in the opening which caused them to make errors quickly in the middlegame. Without showing something great, I won comfortable the cup.

The practical value of a surprise from the old box can and should not be underestimated. However I still was slightly puzzled when last month the Ukrainian topgrandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk won with a really dubious opening against the Cuban topgrandmaster Leinier Dominguez Perez in the 51st Capablanca memorial.

A +2700 player knows an enormous amount of theory so I assume Leinier has seen this line before. Unfortunately for him this wasn't enough to keep the opening-advantage. For the umpteenth time the well calculated gamble of Chucky was successful. I am sure the opening is dubious as it was part of my standard repertoire till 2004, although with a different move-order. I still won my last game with the variation but afterwards I got convinced that I better play different lines.

I got acquainted with the opening by a book of 1986 Spanish gambits by Leonid Shamkovich and Eric Schiller. The analysis were not of a high quality but till today (mainly in online blitz) I still get a lot of pleasure with it. The opening gets called different names by people. One of the first players playing it on a high level was the Russian grandmaster Mark Taimanov in 1955 so sometimes it is named after him. In the book which I read, it is called the wing-variation which is also an option given on 365Chess.com. Some prefer it to call the Norwegian variation as several strong players from Norway played it like the strong Norwegian grandmaster Simen Agdesteinthe Norwegian IM Svein Johannessen and the Norwegian IM Arne Zwaig.

Today I didn't introduce yet old (dubious) openings in my standard-chess. I am convinced of the practical value even against very strong players. Winning is important but that is not the only thing which counts for me in chess.

Brabo

Addendum 29 July 2016
I realized after posting this article, that the opening discussed in this article also helped me to win a game against Nicola Capone a couple of years ago in Leuven. The analysis of that game was published in the article http://chess-brabo.blogspot.be/2014/01/the-sequence.html. If you read the analysis then you can even find the link.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Modelgames

The Flemish youth-chess-criterium is a beautiful initiative to engage (Flemish) children in our game. However I notice despite the lovely numbers of participants that only a very small minority fully uses the opportunities. In the first half of this year there were 6 play-days but I only count 5 players having participated each time. It is no coincidence that these 5 players (among which my son) are leading the overall standings.

I expect that a lack of guides is here the main reason of the absences. Parents can't/ don't want to sacrifice 8 hours waiting for their children each play-day. That excludes the extra hours of transport often needed to get from home to the tournament and back. It is no surprise that many parents quickly stop their support and most clubs don't have volunteers to replace them.

Of course it is a bit easier for me to pass the time enjoyable. Through the years I got to know a lot of people in this little world of chess so I can always find somebody to chat with. Recently we were talking a couple of times about which mastergames (modelgames) could be useful to show to our kids. I heard the names of Capablanca, Tarkatower but I had strong doubts about this. As long the players are not capable to play without hanging any pieces, we better practice tactics.

Once they master the basics sufficiently, the next step can be made by looking at modelgames. Today there exists a lot of material about it already. Last I read Chess Structures A Grandmaster Guide written by the Chilean grandmaster Maurico Flores Rios. I was impressed by the collection of contemporary top-games to explain different types of pawnstructures but personally I doubt that I have learned a lot. I did learn something from the hedgehog chaper like Matthew Sadler. Online I tested in the meanwhile already with some success the concept with Qc1. However many structures don't pop up in my repertoire. Besides I get the feeling that structures not part of the authors repertoire aren't so well covered. For sure the stonewall is better discussed at my blog than in his book see Dutch steps in the English opening or manuals.

Another negative comment which I have, is the complexity of the chosen top-games. The author really tries to keep the attention to the themes but can't avoid sometimes to delve into some tactical complications. Therefore I prefer the selection-method given by the English FM Terry Chapman in Chess For Life. He will still choose modelgames played by (top-) grandmasters but contrary to the book "Chess Structures" the opponents will be rated a couple of hundred points lower. This allows to demonstrate some themes in a much pure format.

Finally we also must categorize the different themes as many will be too difficult for most youth-players or even the average clubplayer. Ambitious players around 2000 probably will get the most out of that book. Players rated lower look better to a very different type of themes. For them there are books like How to Reasses Your ChessWeapons of Chess,.... This means we need different modelgames too. Former worldchampion Max Euwe has shown us long ago already the right direction with his book master against amateur. The masters show convincingly how typical mistakes of amateurs can be punished.

In my own practice I played a lot of games against (much) lower rated opponents. Sometimes my opponent told me afterwards that he didn't understand where he made an error. No clear tactical mistake was made but somehow he wasn't able to avoid losing material on the long term and eventually also the game. A good example is below game which I played in the first round of Open Leuven 2014.

The game is a model-example of a strong knight against a bad bishop. Black is already very early helpless but even in the post-mortem it took me quite some time to convince him of how bad his position was. I am not even sure if I succeeded.

A very different theme popped up in the 7th round of the club-championship in Deurne 2015. Here white even won a pawn in the opening and kept if for quite some time but didn't realize how huge the compensation was for black.

Players experienced with example Queens gambit accepted won't be surprised of what happened to white in the game. However in the post-mortem white couldn't accept that taking the pawn on c5 was too risky. I am not a grandmaster so my views aren't taken for granted.

In open tournaments many of such modelgames are players. Surely in the first rounds often interesting lessons can be learned due to the big differences of ratings between the players. Seldom these games get commented on the internet so don't hesitate after the game as weaker player to ask some valuable feedback about your play.

Brabo

Addendum 29 July 2016
In my analysis of the game against Maarten Wouters I criticize that somebody of 1800 points should know that an endgame of bad bishop against strong knight must be avoided. Well it is a coincidence but at http://www.schaaksite.nl/2016/07/27/toernooi-in-vaujany/ very recently the strong French grandmaster Christian Bauer didn't stand a chance in a similar endgame. Maybe I was a bit too harsh as Christian has about 2600 elo.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

14 x SOS part 2

My 17th interclub-season with Deurne has finished already a few months ago. I don't doubt that there are players in Belgium with (much) longer club-traditions but I assume very few can show a higher dedication. From 187 interclubgames I only missed 4. Once I preferred to play the French interclub instead as there was nothing anymore at stake for Deurne which wasn't the case for my French club (Luc EDN). In 2009 I skipped 2 rounds not to miss anything around the birth of my son Hugo. Finally this year I gave for the first time priority to a communion in my family. Normally I never submit to family-parties and my family also takes this into account but a communion is not something which can shift. Besides the chances to promote for Deurne were reduced to almost 0. Wachtebeke had made a gap which they surely would maintain with their mercenaries.

So in all those years I never cancelled for any illness although I do remember that I was feeling unwell a few times. By the way also this season I played a round with a vascular infection which created red bumps everywhere on my skin. Except for a ridiculous look and some people fearing unjust to get some contagious disease, I felt in good shape. In brief I am not losing yet my motivation.

Therefore it is not really a surprise that also in the last round I was eagerly playing for a win. Well theoretically there still existed a possibility to become champion but probably winning the lottery would've been easier. As my opponent was almost 200 points lower rated, a win didn't look so difficult at first sight. However ratings don't tell us everything. Gert-Jan Timmerman is maybe only rated 2135 at the day of the game but it would be very naïef to believe he can't play better. His opening-choice for the weird Relfsson gambit already shows that he hasn't lost any of his wizardry to get the opponent quickly out of his comfortzone.

Last year Gert-Jan achieved a modest succes by using an article of the Spanish Bird in SOS 12, see my blogarticle. This year he even did better thanks to an article of the Ukrainian grandmaster Adrian Mikhalchishin (today playing for Slovenia) published in SOS 11. In fairness I have immediately to add that Gert-Jans play played a much larger role in the result than the opening as more than gaining some time was not achieved contrary to last year.

No, I still didn't study the SOS books but one of the disadvantages of the Relfsson gambit is that black can still choose to transpose to more common lines of the Spanish. After 10 minutes reflection that is also the practical choice I made. Gert-Jans reaction was not a surprise as in my preparation I bumped upon an old correspondence-game of 1981 which he played against his big nemesis Joop van Oosterom.

In my article using databases part 2 I already mentioned that I also study as part of a preparation my opponents correspondence games if he has any. This allowed me to quickly catch up time. I assume this also explains why Gert-Jan once again deviates a bit later from the mainline. Risky as not only slightly inferior but most likely also not part anymore of the preparation. Anyway it worked. I still had encountered the position before in online blitz but never studied it properly. Eventually an interesting battle appeared on the board in which I was never able to prove my higher rating.

After the game a smiling Gert-Jan told me that this was his best game of the season. Some nasty problems needed to be solved without Gert-Jan using any difficult tactics. A computer often doesn't see any difference in evaluation between several choices but in practice we do notice that some positions are much easier to play than others. When in one line you can play quiet moves to keep the balance, in another line you need to apply some deep typical computer-tactics. As a human you better avoid of course the latter.

As reported in my last article, ratings of amateurs are often more suffering due to aging than professionals. However as the calculation powers maybe declined, above game clearly demonstrates that Gert-Jan hasn't lost any or only very little of his chess-knowledge. For sure this game isn't a strong advertising for the SOS-books.

Brabo

Friday, July 1, 2016

Peakrating part 2

In part 1 we have seen that most players are playing chess because they like winning/ improving. Age plays a limited role as even older players are perfectly capable of performing strong. In that context I brought up Luc Winants peakrating at age 53 which I believe is something unique.

Maybe some readers will wonder how unique is such feat. Aren't there more players at +50 obtaining a peakrating or at which age a player is playing the best chess? Both critical questions aren't easy to answer but I give it a try in this article.

It is very hard to compare the strength of players over time. Fide doesn't publish any historical research. Contrary as they only hamper us by blocking the historical data. Some amateurs tried to do some calculations themselves but their results are not very scientific as in this cute video. Maybe a mix of several ratingsystems (edo, cmr, elo) is enough to get a rough classification of the players but it is definitely insufficient to accurately define somebodies peakrating.

It is mandatory to stick to 1 calculation-system. I don't have time to create one myself so I can only rely on the few existing ratingssystems. There are the fiderating and the national ratings. Unfortunately the Belgian national rating also can't be used as our KBSB only keeps track of the rankings from the last 10 years. Maybe older players have more materials in their personal archive but I don't have access.

Viktor Korchnoi played competitive chess for more than 60 years at a (very) high level so an active career can last a very long period. Correct, even the fiderating was created only in 1970 so can't give us a complete answer. Now I do believe that 46 years can already tell us something. However on the condition that we assume the effect of elo-inflation but also elo-deflation is negligible. I also hope to neutralize the statistical fluctuations by using a lot of input.

When I got my first fide-rating in 1998 the minimum-threshold was still 2200. That automatically means that the careers of all players below 2200 can't be tracked sufficiently long. As we are interested in somebodies peakrating we also need to look at people having played actively for several decades. 50+ sounds therefore to me an additional necessary condition in our little study. It neither makes sense to look at players haven't played chess for a long time or that were inactive for many years. If we only take the Belgian players into account then we have a problem as only 15 comply to all the conditions. That is not enough to make any serious conclusions.

To achieve a bigger group, I chose to consider the active + 50 players with a +2500 rating irrespective of the nationality. This way I also get a good idea of how Lucs performance relates to his peers which is obviously something we are interested in. Today there are 1522 grandmasters (June 2016) so I was fearing the magnitude of the work but after the age-filter things were pretty manageable.

In the end only 82 players remained. The first thing which I remark is that almost all the names (except 4) are familiar to me which is something I can't say of the many young grandmasters. Before a grandmaster-title had much more prestige.

The average peak-age is 39 but we see enormous differences between the players. The American GM Maxim Dlugy peaked at age 23 while the Czech grandmaster Igors Rausis peaked only at age 54. The last one is also the recordholder so beats Luc Winant with 1 year.

Another thing which I notice is that a lot of players manage to maintain their rating well after their peak. Averagely 72 points are lost which is relatively not much on the rating-scale. The most astonishing player is for me the German icon Robert Huebner. He achieved his peak already at age 33. However today at age 68 he is still active and incredibly only lost 54 points !

This long-liveliness is an enormous asset for chess. There exist very few sports/ disciplines in which age has so little impact on somebodies results. I do realize that what above is shown for professional players is maybe not fully valid for amateurs. The motivation/ ambitions of the average amateur is surely lower compared to the average grandmaster. I do know quite a number of +50 amateurs having lost 200 points and more of their Belgian peakrating. Besides the statistics only include the players that were active during several decades. I don't know the number of players having stopped playing chess but if you would include those then it would surely change the picture.

Brabo

Monday, June 20, 2016

Korchnoi chess is my life

Few grandmasters have played more games than Korchnoi - I find in Chessbase Mega 2016 more than 5000 games. The database consists of about 5 million registered games so Korchnoi was in 1/1000 involved and probably in 1/200 as participant/ spectator in a tournament. If we look to only grandmastergames then the footprint of Korchnoi is even many times bigger.

He played against Levenfish (°1889) and against Carlsen (°1990), he won against all the worldchampions from Botvinnik till Kasparov at least one game - against Tal he had an enormous plusscore, however against Karpov he had a terrible minusscore. He lived to play chess, with an intensity which can't be found by other grandmasters. His gruffness, his stubbornness, his hate against the Sovjet-Union, his youth in the heavily besieged and famished Leningrad during WWII, his unexpected explosions but also his unexpected humor, his clear analysis on and off the board, his anecdotes from his excellent memory. We shall miss it. One of the greatest players has died and just like the recently deceased Mohammed Ali or Johan Cruijff, we should be happy to have them still seen at work during our lives.

I met Korchnoi twice live - this was during the Lost Boys tournament in Antwerp 1995 (won by Novikov and Sokolov ; Korchnoi was shared third with 5 other players.). The first time was the most memorable. He played in the third round a game against the strong Dutch Teun Van der Vorm and I was just watching at his board together with 5 other spectators when Van der Vorm resigned. Korchnoi didn't look happy and it quickly became clear why: ‘If I come up to the board, you should stand up to shake my hand. Not because I’m a grandmaster – also for that – but because I’m older and out of respect for my age you should stand up.’ Van der Vorm kept his mouth wisely but Victor the Terrible continued. ‘You play this game against my French and then you deviate from a game of Fischer. Why do you do that – do you think you’re better than Fischer ?’ Van der Vorm stammered something like ‘it looked playable’ but Korchnoi was not in the mood for jokes so there was no analysis afterwards. The fact that I can still easily remember this, just shows which impression it made upon me - and probably even more on Van der Vorm.

The second time was less impressive, in the center of Antwerp, during the same tournament. I was waiting -together with Franky D- at the crossroad of the Huidevetterstraat and the Meir for the trafficlights, when I noticed Korchnoi on the other side. I crossed the road but was too shied to start a conversation so just mumbled ‘good evening Mr Korchnoi’.  I think he did hear something. Franky waited for him to start a short conversation with him. Pity that smartphones didn't exist at that time.

On twitter a nice reaction of Svidler was posted, in which he stated than an insult by Korchnoi was a kind of honour (this remembered me Donner, as Dutch players you only played a role when Donner noticed you and ... scoffed at you - ‘Krabbé ? A cycler!’) – and if he became angry, then it was because you got him agitated. Noting more could annoy him than a lack of respect or a loss. Svidler won their first mutual game because Korchnoi kept playing for a win despite the equalizing play of Svidler, but Korchnoi destroyed him in their second game. He thought for an hour upon a forced continuation - Svider couldn't find the win for Korchnoi, but after that hour of reflection he was defeated quickly in a strong sequence of moves. When Svidler congratulated him after the game with the words « I always appreciate a well played game, even against me» Korchnoi relaxed. Both games are really nice to be replayed.

As metioned on Chessbase, his wife Petra stays behind alone – a soulmate, as she also experienced the black side of the communisme. When she met him the first time, she knew that they were matching - Korchnoi needed her, first as a secretary, later as wife and anchor. Korchnoi lived only for chess and that is literally. He didn't read romans or other books, he seldom or never went to cultural or sportive happenings. His biggest pleasure -after giving up smoking - was to enjoy a good piece of chocolate. He regretted the gap of culture; e.g he never read the Russian classical authors but his choice was made: everything for chess - no compromise.

I have one book of Korchnoi (PracticalRook Endgames) – the endgames are very deeply analyzed (Hubners style) but are very instructive. Somebody interested in how world-classplayers analyze - recommended (see e.g. chessgames or chesscafe for a review), even if it was only for the excellent introduction to elementary rookendgames.

Did Korchnoi play impressive games to be stored as heritage? Yes Any wins of Korchnoi in collections of best played or most memorable games? No In the little book « Legendäre Schachpartien » of Humboldt, there are more than 100 memorable games. 2 of them are losses by Korchnoi, no wins are included. If we compare then Tal is mentioned 6 times, Kasparov 8 times. Also in other collections we see very few wins of Korchnoi ( in Bouwmeesters 100 brilliant games there are surprisingly still 2: Korchnoi-Udovcic, Leningrad 1967, in which he has to fight against his French defense and the latte middlegame of Korchnoi-Yusupov, Rotterdam 1988). Korchnoi was not brilliant, he liked defending and counterattack, but as Spassky sneakily formulated: « He can play anything, from attack to defense, from complex middlegames to technical endgames. He masters his openingtheory and posses an unbelievable strength to work. It is only a pity that he didn't have the talent to become worldchampion. » That hits the nail on its head. Just like Kamsky years later, Korchnoi also missed that last sparkel of creativity, dare, talent, luck, readiness to take risks, ingeniousness, - call it like you want - to jump over the last hurdle. Often he introduced a novelty on the board, which already was tried 50 years ago, because ‘everything that is forgotten is new (again)’.

My personal selection of Korchnoi games is therefore Van der Vorm – Korchnoi (Fischer-Darga).

and Karpov-Korchnoi from the tournament of Dortmund 1994, in which they both scored 50%.

The last game was one of the rare wins of Korchnoi over Karpov. After their second worldchampionship in 1981 they still met each other 32 times. But something was broken for Korchnoi. Karpov had solved the code and became his nemesis. Of the 32 games, Karpov won 16 times (!), they made 15 draws and only once Karpov lost. But that one game must have made Korchnoi very happy for week or so. It was also a very special game: In an equal position Korchnoi permits Karpov to get a second queen, but that is immediately the losing move. Although the game still lasts more than 10 moves, Korchnoi doesn't blink anymore and wins. After the game Korchnoi commented " one way or another the board is too small for 2 queens».

HK5000

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Peakrating

The strong British grandmaster Matthew Sadler doesn't really fit in today's routines of professional chess. As (sub-) worldclass-player he stopped playing in 2000 and chose a normal civilian life. Only in 2010 he found back his love for chess not by accident after his divorce. The rust quickly disappeared and today at age 42 he has a peakrating of 2670. Not surprisingly we find back this unusual career also in his style of play. Creativity and originality are omnipresent in his games. Experiments with dubious openings happen regularly. You will seldom see big theoretical battles.

A couple of months ago a new book Chess for Life was presented by this intriguing player so obviously I got curious. It wasn't an ordinary concept as by a number of interviews and analysis they explained how chess-skills develop or are maintained over the years. So it is not the usual technical book but rather an interesting psychological look at how some people keep playing strong chess.
The chapters were very varied even to such degree that it looked like a potpourri. There is much entertaining/ interesting stuff to discover but I couldn't find a common thread through the book. Unless maybe that active players consider winning still very important later in their career. Age seems not to matter really as the game is in the first place played to defeat the opponent. At the same time this also can give an explanation why so many players quit. Or winning is not so addictive anymore or it just becomes too difficult to keep on winning more games. The recently passed away legend Viktor Korchnoi was naturally the identification of an insatiable fighting spirit. I even read in 1 of the more unique obituaries on schaaksite that at the age of 73 he still hoped to increase his rating above 2650.

I was slightly disappointed to read that winning was of such importance for older players. I had hoped for other aspects of the game getting more attention in the book. Instead we get an overview of different techniques of how to stay successful in chess despite aging. Some players are even more ambitious. What can you do to make still progression and achieve a higher peakrating despite being not so young anymore?

Of course it matters a lot when we talk about a comeback or not. In the book the English FM Terry Chapman explains how he achieved at the age of 57 the FM-titel after 5 years of study. Closer we have our own even more powerful comeback of strong Jan. He achieved the IM-title at the age of 67. Also he spent an enormous amount of effort to improve his level.

Players having already a long active career, will get it of course much more difficult to find a way to increase their rating. There is not only less margin to study more but old (bad) habits are very hard to change. A recent exception is the natural Granda Zuniga (not long ago already popping up in my article extra sweet). On chess.com there was recently an article published in which he was congratulated with his new peakrating of 2699 at the age of 49. It is no surprise that in a recent interview he admit to work today in a much more structured way.

A great performance but maybe even more stunning is what our Belgian grandmaster Luc Winants achieved a few months ago. Not only he reconquered the first ranking upon young grandmasters such as Bart Michiels and Tanguy Ringoir but at the age of 53 he also managed to raise his peakrating till 2574 elo (fide). Luc pumped up his rating quietly with some solid victories. An example you can find in below technical clean game against the very experienced Russian grandmaster Vyacheslav Ikonnikov.

Beating weaker players won't let you win many points but if you do it regularly then it still helps to improve the rating. A few years ago I didn't stand a chance in my game against Luc in the Belgian interclubs.

I don't know Luc personally so I can only guess how much he worked at chess. I am curious if he developed new techniques or adopted new methods. It is a pity that there hasn't been more publicity about this unique performance. Schaakfabriek doesn't bring much news anymore today.

Brabo

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Fischer

Garry Kasparov played a huge number of fantastic games in his active career but maybe the series he published about himself and the former worldchampions will become his most important heritage. It hits me how often contemporary literature refers to these books. It looks like every serious chessplayer read the books.

The most recent one of the series which I read covered, as the title already reveals, Fischer. However Kasparov doesn't only talk about the 11th worldchampion. Reshevsky, Larsen and Najdorf are also getting their chapter which I liked very much. Unfortunately this meant that only half of the book remained for Fischer. On top Kasparov spends a considerable amount of space on Fischers weird behavior off the board which further shrinks the technical part of chess. I counted in total only 59 games of Fischer (some of them only partly).

About maybe the greatest player ever, I expected much more stuff. Was it Kasparovs ego that forbids him to praise Fischer? He surely would never admit that Fischer was stronger. After having finished the book I felt that I didn't get the right picture about Fischers strength. Besides it is not the first time that I search a supplementary book of a former-woldchampion after reading My Great Predecessors. I have read about Tal also the excellent book The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal.

About Fischer many books appeared but which one is the most appropriate for me? Naturally it depends what you want to find in a book. The book The Career and Complete Games of Fischer by Karsten Muller is doubtless the most complete collection of Fischer's games with more than 700. However the analytical part isn't very appealing as I see little difference with a database. The book My 60 memorable games door Robert Fischer is technically much better but has a big disadvantage that it stops in 1967. We all know that his best years were just after. An addition or follow-up never happened. Fischer was not anymore interested.

Being slightly lost, I consulted the biggest Fischer-expert in Belgium: Robert Schuermans. I explained him that I was searching a book with a large collection of Fischers games spanning his career but also well analyzed. Old analysis supported by contemporary engines are considered a plus. Anecdotes and side information improve the readability so should neither be neglected. Robert thought for a while but had to disappoint me. The book I wanted, must still be written. A real pity so I asked him which book he liked the most about Fischer. This time Robert didn't hesitate as "My 60 memorable games" is the uncontested number 1 for him.

So I bought this book in de denksportkampioen. I wasn't disappointed. The book is not only very enjoyable to read but it also includes many excellent analysis of the worldchampion himself. This is rare as in that era there were no engines playing decent chess. As Fischer played almost exclusively 1.e4, I became curious of any overlaps with my repertoire. Besides I don't follow any fashion and often play some old lines.

In 5 a 6 games I was lucky to discover Fischer's opinion about openings I also play. The book discuss the game of 62 against Keres which was part of my article old wine in new skins. The most intriguing game from theoretical perspective was for me his Sicilian game of 61 against Reshevsky. The last time I played the classical Sicilian Dragon with Be3 already dates from 1999 when I suffered a scornful defeat against Marcel Van Herck.

I didn't find any improvements for white so I replaced Be3 by Bg5. Fischer however claims in his book that white can create chances without playing 0-0. His analysis looked very convincing so I became interested to find out what our current top-engines tell us about that idea. To revive an old opening, can be useful in practice.

It was no big surprise to discover the engines didn't approve Fischers idea. The score of white in the online openingbook already hinted this. Fischer neither repeated the idea.

Such excursions once again confirm the gigantic gap in openings between the past and modern chess of today. The large part of the openings which were popular decades ago, have been reduced to footnotes in the theory which can only be used as a surprise on masterlevel. So from pure theoretical perspective you better read new books. Anyway these books I read primarily for the historical aspect.

Till today Fischer is a recurring topic in debates. An ultimate collection of his best games well analyzed and bundled in a new book doesn't sound to me useless. For sure we need to start with the 60 memorable games which Fischer chose. Fischer died in 2008 in Reykjavik so likely it is today easier juridical to reuse his work as base. Who (preferable a very strong player) dares as this will be a very big job while there is no guarantee about the return? No Kasparov already had his chance.

Brabo