Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sixty Memorable Annotations

#7: Shliperman - Yermolinsky, Philadelphia 1997

4 Nbd2

This is probably the best move in the position if you are of equal strength to your opponent but ... it is often in the stronger player's interest to exchange bishop for knight ....

Jacob Aagaard, Excelling at Chess (Everyman Chess 2001)

Today is Wednesday. I mention that as a service for anybody who happens to be playing in a chess tournament and who therefore, if my experience is anything to go by at least, might not have known.

This time last week EJH, Angus French and I were in Penarth and up to our necks in the South Wales International. Just like Benasque a year ago, I lost the ability to recall the day of the week pretty much from the pushing of the first pawn. Occasionally I found myself thinking something like, "Well, we arrived on Friday and the next day I played him and him and the day afterwards it was that guy so today must be ....", but mostly I didn't even bother with that. There didn't seem much point really.

Time disorientation notwithstanding, it was a highly enjoyable week, not to mention a rich source of material for chess bloggers. No doubt EJH will be along shortly with his traditional ... against the grandmasters post. Usually this is an event for which I can do nothing more than spectate from the sidelines and feel envious, but at Penarth, thanks to a pairing system I do not pretend to understand and a first round victory against a guy rated roughly equivalent to 140 ECF, I finally got to play my first ever game against one of the game's bigger cheeses.

Round 2, 5:30pm Saturday 8th of July
JMGB (1908) v Marijan Petrov (GM, 2522)

A pairing, I rather suspect, that will live a shade longer in my memory than it will in his.

A fine place for a pre-game cup of tea

"Someone who isn't a strong chessplayer will lack the feel for when bishop takes knight is the correct decision", Phil wrote on Monday. It's hard not to agree, especially if, as Aagaard believes, the definition of 'correct' varies according to who is playing.

The Vowelled One's idea - he attributes the original thought to Smyslov - is simply that,

when the pieces in the two armies have different properties the outcome is less likely to be a draw.

so for him, it doesn't have to be BxN. The other way around would be just as good.

NxB is much easier to understand, though, isn't it? That way you unbalance the game and get the bishop pair. Bishop takes knight, however? That's a completely different kettle of minor pieces.

Marijan Petrov:
Not thought to have been bricking it prior to the commencement of round 2

Of course, regardless of who is playing, the inherent superiority of bishop over knight is one of those 'rules' the existence or otherwise of which sparked a falling-out between Aagaard and Watson a few years back. These days, could we even talk of a mini-fashion for playing BxN early doors in chess games? I'm not so sure, although I do know that,

  • in this month's New in Chess Peter Heine Nielsen points out that his boss handed Gelfand the bishop pair in more than half the games of their World Championship match, often, if not always, for "structural compensation";
  • when Black was by far the stronger player and had the chance to bust up White's pawns, it took him no more than a second to decide on ... Bxc3+ here:-

Either way, we have reached the boundaries of your humble scribe's technical competence and it's probably best that we move on. If the fact that I ended my twenty-five year wait to play one-on-one with a grandmaster is a good thing, I'm afraid our Penarth Diaries must continue on Friday with games that are both bad and ugly. I should warn readers of a squeamish disposition that they may wish to stay away at least until the weekend.

As for the result of my game with Petrov, well, formally you'll have to wait for Justin's post for that. Let's be honest, though. If the game had ended with any result other than the thousand-to-one-odds-on one, do you really think I'd not have mentioned it before now???

Sixty Memorable Annotations Index


Jonathan B said...

Justin tells me the first round was actually Sunday and that we travelled down on Saturday ... which rather proves my point, I think.

Anonymous said...

No, NxB doesn't work. It has to be BxN.