I ran an engine match between Stockfish and Critter on my old 32-bit laptop. Stockfish won the match, but Critter won the first game in a model demonstration of a central pawn majority in the QG exchange variation. This was the best game of the match, although marred by Black's aimless shuffling with the king and knights. Critter's play however appears very "human" and strategically clear.
Style-wise I find that Critter plays like Topalov and seemed to sac an exchange in virtually every other game. Critter finds much more dynamic compensation than Stockfish, making Critter extremely useful for analysis. I am also impressed with both engines for their efficient use of system resources. Stockfish uses in general half as much RAM as Houdini, and Critter uses half as much RAM as Stockfish. Additionally, on both of my computers (old/XP and new/Windows7), Houdini continues to throttle the CPU at 100% if the GUI is closed while the engine is running. Because of this I have actually removed Houdini from my computers.
The purpose of this article will not be to spell out variations, but to describe an organizational approach to studying and managing a serious queen-pawn repertoire. Black's defenses in terms of quality and frequency can be grouped into three tiers.
First Tier, 60-70% of your games and study time:
1. KID / Benoni, Hungarian, Seirawan (Bd3), or Four Pawns
2. Nimzo, Reshevsky
3. QGD, Exchange (pt.1, pt.2, pt.3, pt.4, pt.5)
4. Slav, Exchange
Defenses in the First Tier are common enough to justify playing a relative mainline. Proponents of these venerable defenses are usually very experienced to have seen everything before and not to fear big theory. To promote efficiency I only considered anti-KID variations that apply equally to the Benoni so as to kill two Angry Birds with one stone. I also settled on the Exchange Slav to avoid the labyrinthine Slav and SemiSlav.
Second Tier, 20-30% of your games and study time:
5. Dutch, 2.Nc3
6. Grunfeld, Romanishin
7. Benko, Dlugy attack 5.f3
8. QGA, 3.e3
The Second Tier defenses tend to inspire fanatical devotees at the club level, who thanks to excellent repertoire materials for Black tend to be fairly knowledgable and booked up. So I purposely went for sidelines that strike me as being atypical for the opening and/or easier for White to play intuitively.
Third Tier, 10% of your games and study time:
9. Budapest / Fajarowicz gambit (pt.1, pt.2)
10. Tarrasch / Schara gambit
11. Chigorin / Albin gambit
The Third Tier defenses generally rely on early tricks and/or early confrontation in the center. As a result, the play is generally very forcing from the get go, meaning that Black has few ways to deviate from established lines without just being clearly worse. In turn, it is relatively practical to prepare a reliable line fairly deeply since Black's responses are predictable and limited.
Ten facts you may not know about Volodya Kramnik:
I was cleaning out an old box and came across this memorable blitz game score against (what was then) a new opponent, Steve, during his first visit to the club last summer. He had just finished terrorizing my buddy, who basically sicced me on him with a knowing nod and a crowd gathered around to watch. We ended up splitting our 4 games and walked away after a firm handshake as chess friends. Our first game had plenty of ultra-violence and crowd reaction, so I had bothered to scribble down the raw game score and stick it in a box for posterity. :-p
Topalov ventured against Kamsky the obscure Romanishin line with 7.Bf4 against the Grunfeld in their Candidates game today. I have mentioned this very same (rare) variation at this blog! Topalov deviated from Schiller's recommendation (feels surreal to type that, yes) by going 8.Qa3 instead of 8.Qc2. (See Schiller's e-book at the top of page 3.) Of course, Topalov's further experiment of 0-0-0 and h2-h4 amounted to either wishful thinking or disrespect against a lionhearted defender like Kamsky.
Also see GM Henrik Danielsen's video analysis of the game at chessdom.com
Check out these short videos on the Rubinstein Nimzo by GM Henrik Danielsen. These videos cover the "COBE" recommendation by Dzindzi & company. Danielsen suggests the "Reshevsky Nimzo" approach, 4...b6 5.Nge2 Ba6 6.Ng3.
It's a bit pretentious for an amateur chess blog to promote an extremely popular chess engine, but the free engine HOUDINI is an ideal complement to the equally free resources SCID and MILLBASE. With SCID, MILLBASE, and HOUDINI, any chess hobbyist can have immediate access to professional-quality computer chess resources.
What's that-- you want to learn how to use SCID? Glad you asked, because yours truly produced detailed videos explaining exactly this.
I've updated my White repertoire against the Nimzo-Indian, based on the method of the positional Nimzo assassin, Sammy Reshevsky. After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4, I want to play simply 4.e3 intending Nge2 and a3.
I am happy to publish the following e-book of annotated games, date-stamped in case I decided to supplement or revise it in the future.
Below is an opening outline to sort out Black's fourth-move options, and the links go to illustrative game examples.
Nimzo, Rubinstein 4.e3, Reshevsky plan
A. 4...b6 5.Ne2
1. COBE 5...Ba6 6.Ng3 Bxc3+ (6...0-0?!) 7.bxc3 d5 8.Ba3 Bxc4 (8...dxc4?) 9.Bxc4 dxc4
a. Endgame line 10.Qa4+
b. Gambit line 10.e4 or 10.0-0
2. Romanishin-Psakhis 5...c5 6.a3 Ba5 7.Bd2 0-0! 8.Rb1 Na6 9.Nf4
3. Pseudo-QID 5...Bb7 6.a3 Be7 7.Nf4
4. Pseudo-Dutch 5...Ne4 6.Qc2 7.a3 Bxc3 8.Nxc3 Nxc3 9.Qxc3
B. Reshevsky variation, 4...0-0 5.Ne2 d5 (5...Re8) 6.a3 Be7 7.cxd5
1. Soviet line 7...exd5 8.b4
2. Fianchetto line 7...Nxd5 8.Bd2 Nbd7 9.g3
C. The IQP line, 4...c5 5.Ne2 d5 6.a3
1. Double IQP line 6...cxd4 7.exd4 Be7 8.Nf4
2. Karpov’s IQP line 6...Bxc3 7.Nxc3 dxc4 8.Bxc4
D. Botvinnik variation, 4...d5 (4...Nc6?!) 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 0-0 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Bd3
Khalifman - Bologan, 2002
Petrosian - Ljubojevic, 1983
I played one of the most active players in the USCF, who has played 2,356 rated games, scoring exactly 50% with 1073 wins, 1073 losses, and only 210 draws. My opponent intermittently streaks to his peak rating in the 1900s but spends most of his time near his floor in the low 1700s.
I was 0-3 against this player in games from 3-4 years ago in which I attained a clear if not winning advantage, but fell for some trick or swindle while being annoyed by various off-the-board tactics. This player engages in "total war" during his games-- i.e., by "adjusting" the pieces during an opponent's long think or, while the opponent is away, extending his legs under the opponent's chair and not moving them when the opponent returns. Anyway, this game was my long overdue revenge.
"During a chess competition a chessmaster should be a combination of a beast of prey and a monk."
My notorious swindler of an opponent simply missed 12...Na5 and 15...d4, each of which wins a whole piece.