Playing Keith Arkell

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Roger de Coverly
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Playing Keith Arkell

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue May 29, 2012 10:40 am

The game below was played in the last round of the WECU event at Exmouth. It was featured on the local site http://www.Keverelchess.com and another blog which doesn't invite comments. So I'll give my thoughts on the game.



The opening was taken from Gawain Jones against Keith's ex-wife in the Sheffield British. Keith preferred 11 .. Qc7 to Susan's 11 .. Be7. I'd had the line myself in a league game, when I played the less accurate 11 0-0.

White gets a small advantage, but retaining the Bishop pair at move 18 with Be2 might be preferred. From then until the pieces come off at around move 36, the GM slowly improves his position. So I force or allow the ending to avoid anything worse. But it's still around equal at move 40. A draw at that stage would have reflected the position on the board. The time limit had been 36 in 90 plus 30 minutes. Keith used a lot of his time looking for a way to unbalance the position.

What he found was going active with 45 .. Ra8. Rybka suggests that White too, should take the active option and that 46 b5 , in the engine's eyes, leads to a White advantage. So 46 Kc2 isn't the best.

52 Rxg5 is just a losing blunder, the salient feature is that the presence of the c pawns makes the usual defence of checking the king away not work, so whilst I had planned Rook to the e file, followed by Re1, he just trades Rooks and invades with the King. Even at this late stage 52 b5 would keep White in the game.

That's probably the most difficult feature of Rook endings, knowing when to just be solid and when to sacrifice to clear the position for activity. Avoiding losing blunders helps as well.

James Coleman
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Re: Playing Keith Arkell

Post by James Coleman » Tue May 29, 2012 12:07 pm

Interesting. I'd have been looking at 47.Rd3 trying to clarify things as 47.g4 seems to hand him a lot of activity. If he doesn't exchange rooks you're obviously going to have a more active version of the game with Rf3+ideas - if he does, I don't see how he wins the pawn ending. 47...Rxd3 48.Kxd3 Ke5 49.g4. He can't arrange to play ...d4 and Kd5 and give you the move, (which would win), going after your g-pawns would be impossible due to b4-b5.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Playing Keith Arkell

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue May 29, 2012 12:23 pm

James Coleman wrote:Interesting. I'd have been looking at 47.Rd3 trying to clarify things as 47.g4 seems to hand him a lot of activity.
Actually Rd3 also works at move 48 as Black taking the g pawn with the King isn't a problem because of b5. By this stage of the game, I thought I had to go active with Re1+ and Re7, but "solid" was still available.

I would consider that the difference between Keith and a 2050 player is that Keith will find the right move or a decent move 20 times out of 20, whereas the lower rated player will only find 18 or 19 and the missed ones are fatal.

John McKenna
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Re: Playing Keith Arkell

Post by John McKenna » Tue May 29, 2012 1:46 pm

Roger, I know that this is with hindsight but didn't it occur to you that moves 16-18 would give black a protected passed pawn to use as an endgame sword of Damocles?
A quick thrust and counter was Gillen-Arkell,S 1992 Br. Ch. 10.O-O Be7 11.Bf4 Nf6 12.Nd2 O-O 13.Rfe1 a5 14.a3 Na7 15.Bd3 b6 16.cb Qb6 17.Qh3 Rfc8 18.Bg5 h6 19.Bh6!? gh 20.Qh6 Qf2 21.Kh1 Bf8 22.Qg5 Bg7 23.Rf1 Qb6 24.Rf6 Qd8 25.Raf1 Rc3 26.Qg3?? (Qg4! unclear) Rd3... 0-1 (47)
Last edited by John McKenna on Tue May 29, 2012 4:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

John McKenna
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Re: Playing Keith Arkell

Post by John McKenna » Tue May 29, 2012 2:15 pm

In fact the game I referred to above was NOT Keith playing black but Susan! Wonder what Keith would have done different if it had been him. Maybe nothing.
Last edited by John McKenna on Tue May 29, 2012 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Playing Keith Arkell

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue May 29, 2012 2:29 pm

John McKenna wrote:Roger, I know that this is with hindsight but didn't it occur to you that moves 16-18 would give black a protected passed pawn to use as an endgame sword of Damocles?
Taking on c6 wasn't best as the pawn is now defended when on d5. Middle games take place before endings and in middle games isolated pawns are weak and can be blockaded. The d pawn is dangerous only if the Rook and King break in to support it. I don't mind isolating it, in other games the idea of e6 - e5 - e4 seizing central space has been a nuisance.

I hadn't realised Keith had the opening twenty years ago, although it's no great shock. Gawain's idea of Nd2 - b3 - d4 was a novelty anyway as far as I was able to determine. The commentary on it at the British suggested it revived an approach for white considered harmless.

(edit) Apparently it was Sue all along. I don't know whether Gawain prepared the line for their game in the British or whether he's being using it for a while. Either way I think it's strong but I'm still considering the most accurate move order to reach it as 4 ... e6 is also possible and sometimes played by Keith and others. (/edit)

Here's another similar game. Black missed that he could equalise by taking on c8 and then playing, as Keith, Rb8.



or even this one a couple of weeks earlier


I noticed the sac 18 Nxe4, but missed the follow up 19 Qf5.

John McKenna
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Re: Playing Keith Arkell

Post by John McKenna » Tue May 29, 2012 5:04 pm

Apologies for the mistake about who was playing in the 1992 British game. However, since Susan was Arkell at that time, Keith may have had some influence on the game, perhaps. Interesting to see the advance of white's q-side pawns winning out against the black central pawn push in your two other games above.
You mention above, "... 4... e6 is also possible and sometimes played by Keith and others." Isn't this like an Advanced French, with Sveshnikov's & Kharlov's idea of giving up the centre, except white has given it up even sooner!?
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Playing Keith Arkell

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue May 29, 2012 5:24 pm

John McKenna wrote: You mention above, "... 4... e6 is also possible and sometimes played by Keith and others." Isn't this like an Advanced French, with Sveshnikov's & Kharlov's idea of giving up the centre, except white has given it up even sooner!?
I just have the one game in the e6 line, which I didn't play very well.



Declining a draw with a move that loses a pawn is never the best idea. At the end Black could try .. Kf8 instead of the perpetual.

Paul Cooksey

Re: Playing Keith Arkell

Post by Paul Cooksey » Tue May 29, 2012 5:55 pm

I believe the current thinking is that e6 is in better shape than Nc6, but that black has to play nc6 anyway (or something worse) if white delays the capture by playing nf3 first.

Of course nc6 is the Arkell speciality, I think I recall seeing him quoted as describing it as "the arrogant move, trying to prove black is better"

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Playing Keith Arkell

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue May 29, 2012 6:06 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote:I believe the current thinking is that e6 is in better shape than Nc6, but that black has to play nc6 anyway (or something worse) if white delays the capture by playing nf3 first.
Those who would try to wipe out the Caro like the idea of meeting c5 with c4. But it's possible that playing Nf3 first is better. So 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 c5 4 Nf3 Nc6 5 c4 but 4 .. other 5 dxc5

John McKenna
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Re: Playing Keith Arkell

Post by John McKenna » Tue May 29, 2012 7:21 pm

I played Jessie Gilbert more than once, sometimes I got an opening advantage only to see it disappear as the game progressed. I'd be lucky to escape with a draw, and never won.
With reference to the game that Roger played against her - 1.e4 Nc6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 e6 4.e5 (a not-unknown var. of the French) Na5!? (rare) 5.Nf3 c5 6.dc Bc5 7.Bd3 Nc6 8.O-O Nge7 leads to the same position as Roger's game but with white (9.Na4!?) to move instead of black! See Kisilev (2365)-Grabarczyk (2420) 1992 Czestochowa 0-1 (39).
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

Ian Stephens
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Re: Playing Keith Arkell

Post by Ian Stephens » Wed May 30, 2012 1:16 am

Hello Roger, I am glad you posted this game with comments, as I had come across the same game on a blog site and did not look at it then because the comment attached to that game just came across as someone using a chess game to take a cheap,vitriolic swipe at a fellow chess player, cowardly and pointless.
You actually played a nice game here and proved yourself a worthwhile opponent as I am sure GM Arkell would agree, yes you did come up short at the crucial moment, just like countless players have done in countless number of games,but I am sure you have also "pulled the trigger" in a few. I am just about to play through tother games,Thanks for posting
Ex-President of Liverpool Chess Club, now mere Tournament Controller and Chief bottle washer.

Keith Arkell
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Re: Playing Keith Arkell

Post by Keith Arkell » Wed May 30, 2012 2:32 pm

Certainly a tough game,yes. I think I was in trouble in the opening, and I knew that really the Rook endgame should be a draw. Hoping that Roger wouldn't play b5 was my last roll of the dice.On another day I'm sure that he would have found the move.

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Playing Keith Arkell

Post by Carl Hibbard » Wed May 30, 2012 6:04 pm

How hard can it be?
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Carl Hibbard

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Playing Keith Arkell

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed May 30, 2012 6:08 pm

Carl Hibbard wrote:How hard can it be?
It's easy to see that Rxg5 is losing. I was distinctly unimpressed with Roger's "I had planned Rook to the e file, followed by Re1", as analysing a few moves further, a rather annoying Black queen appears on the board. Not sure if Roger stopped analysing that line at the "I'm avoiding mate" point or what, but if he had realised Rxg5 was losing, then he would have presumably looked for something else and found b5.

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