Emulating player's styles

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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Emulating player's styles

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:32 pm

David Robertson wrote: As you'll see, I accept one tripled pawn; another doubled pawn; and four pawn islands.
Given it was a Winawer, playing dxc5 is a normal idea.

According to an engine, Black was better in the agreed drawn final position, but it was equal at around dxc5. So where did it go a bit wrong? The engine prefers to be active with 22. Bh6, following it up with 23. Re7 rather than being passive with 22. Bd2 and blocking the Bishop's activity completely with 23. f4

MartinCarpenter
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Re: Emulating player's styles

Post by MartinCarpenter » Mon Apr 14, 2014 8:28 pm

Earlier than that really. White is actually a bit better round move 15 - which I did worry about at the time, one reason I offered the rather wet draw in the end - maybe non trivially so if very accurate. 16 Be3 (instead of o-o) gives black the time needed to rearrange properly, break with d4 and equalise. Otherwise the knight seems to end up on f7 instead of e6 and trying to justify blacks position against an engine becomes a seriously annoying exercise.

That's the thing with computer style chess of course. Once you start playing it you quite often have to keep being mega accurate to justify it. One natural move and its gone. I'm sure we've all run into that when preparing.

Here's another fun potential example of computer influence on chess from my last evening league game.


The main thing is of course that we can look at this sort of thing and just see a 'position'. Obviously a rather silly one - I think the rooks stopped talking to the players a few moves back :) - but far from totally outside what makes sense in chess. Probably even possible for some to broadly guess the opening, although you'd do rather well to get it fully right. A while back I suspect that this sort of position would have been treated as some sort of total abberation. Now if felt OK at the time(!) and when you just check after the game the comp is happy enough so.....

David Robertson
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Re: Emulating player's styles

Post by David Robertson » Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:18 pm

MartinCarpenter wrote:That's the thing with computer style chess of course. Once you start playing it you quite often have to keep being mega accurate to justify it. One natural move and its gone. I'm sure we've all run into that when preparing
Yes, I agree. And it's 'gone', not just when preparing; it can go in real time.

But the 'problem' to work on - re: style - is what constitutes 'natural' v. 'computer' move? In the Anand - Carlsen game I cite above, I bet Capablanca, Rubinstein etc would have played 44...g5; retained their 'shape'; then played around that for advantage.

This edges us (me?) a little closer to another aspect of Engine, namely: a difference in the treatment of harmony within the game. I need to brood further on it

Craig Pritchett
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Re: Emulating player's styles

Post by Craig Pritchett » Mon Apr 14, 2014 11:01 pm

In a perhaps slightly sideways bid to bring back poor old 1946 British Champion R F Combe centre stage, and return to the original issue about the value of (trying to) emulate great players' playing styles, I think he'd firstly say, "Yes, essential for any step change in self-improvement."

He'd stress, however, that it would be best to study as many stylistically different great players as you have time for and to focus especially on trying to fathom clearly how they win games - less with a view to slavish copying than with a view to incorporating the best in "their" approaches into your own game.

He'd be fascinated by the advances made by computers, of course, and appreciate that the practical player must now use a computer engine (of whatever hard-wiring) to check out his or her own games and learn from "its" moves, too.

The hard bit's doing all this "well". But the journey itself will certainly be illuminating. As a dour Scot (from Elgin), he might quibble a bit about David R's distinction between 'natural' and 'computer' moves - isn't there rather just a huge spectrum of 'good' to 'bad' moves in any given (non-trivial) position!? As a lawyer, on the other hand, I'm sure he'd see mileage in pursuing that other view, too.

Has certainly travelled a lot, this thread! Hardly surprising, of course, given the near limitless nature of the (various!?) quest(s) it appears to have led to!
Last edited by Craig Pritchett on Mon Apr 14, 2014 11:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Emulating player's styles

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Apr 14, 2014 11:10 pm

MartinCarpenter wrote: Probably even possible for some to broadly guess the opening, although you'd do rather well to get it fully right.
I would be tempted to say the Short system in the Advance Caro where following the Irish player De Loughry who punted it against Bronstein in 1958, you just treat it as an Advance French. The Bishop on a6 is a clue that it was probably a French proper. The position is mostly logical if in an uncoordinated manner. The Rook on a3 holds the Knight on b3, which if it were to move would leave the b2 pawn loose.

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Jon Mahony
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Re: Emulating player's styles

Post by Jon Mahony » Tue Apr 15, 2014 11:41 am

stevencarr wrote:When I was young, I naturally wanted to play like Tal. So I had Modern Benoni's and sacs against the Sicilian in my repertoire.

There was only one snag about trying to emulate Tal.

I wasn't Tal.

I would also like to play like Karpov or Adams. Adams has such a smooth style, so admirable.

But I can't play like them.

I've found in the past year that the player I should be emulating is Simon Williams.

With all due respect to Simon Williams, who is a far better player than I, his style is more suitable to players like me than the games of Tal, Karpov or Adams. I don't have to be a genius, which is one of the requirements of trying to play like Tal. I just have to be a bit of a nutcase to play like Williams - again, no disrespect intended.

So do other players have role models to try to model their chess on?

I used to be quite attracted to Simon Williams' ideas, and his opening DVD's are the only ones on the market, where you genuinely feel like you are getting a Chess book in video format.

The problem with Simon Williams is, he is just a bit too attacking for me - all of his openings ideas are very theory intensive and come with the added problem that, because they are so sharp, you find yourself sitting on a razors edge after the first 10 moves, and one inaccuracy will cost you the game.

For instance in the 2.Bg5 Anti Dutch, Williams' recommends the very hairy 2...h6 - I can't remember all the analysis now as I haven't played the Dutch for ages, but basically if as black you manage to defend white's 10 or so mating threats (this involves eventually playing the crazy looking Rh7) you get into an ending an exchange down, but with the 2 Bishops and white has some isolated pawns.

Williams ends with a huge grin on his face saying he loves this ending for black and there are great winning chances - I'm left scratching my head, knowing that if there was even a slim chance I'd reach that ending in my own games, I would wind up blundering and losing it very quickly. If I ever take up the Dutch again, I think I'll stick with going into a Leningrad set-up after Bg5, safer!

I think the point is, don't try to emulate much stronger players, they are stronger for a reason - they can find the win in very tense, unclear positions - us lesser mortals will stick in a few a3's and h3's and quicky loose any advantage to be had.
"When you see a good move, look for a better one!" - Lasker

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Re: Emulating player's styles

Post by stevencarr » Tue Apr 15, 2014 12:08 pm

You do have to be a bit of a headcase to play William's recommended Rh7.

But he plays 1...e6 a lot against 1 d4, so I can avoid Rh7, and still follow his repertoire.

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Jon Mahony
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Re: Emulating player's styles

Post by Jon Mahony » Tue Apr 15, 2014 12:59 pm

stevencarr wrote:You do have to be a bit of a headcase to play William's recommended Rh7.

But he plays 1...e6 a lot against 1 d4, so I can avoid Rh7, and still follow his repertoire.
Or they might go into French, in which case his lines on poison pawn Winnower are even more wild :lol: I’m not keen on his 12…d4 pawn sac at best of times, but I found a major problem playing this line before that stage.

One of my games went like this:

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 (if 10.cxd4 Qc3+) 10.Ne2 dxc3 11.f4 Nbc6 my opponent surprised me with the simple 12.Nxc3?! (Williams only analyses 12.Qd3 then the pawn sac with 12…d4!).


12.Nxc3 isn't considered and at first glance looks like a blunder, I nearly played 12…Nxe5 but this fails to 13. Nb5! Qa5+ 14.Bd2

I went on to make some nothing move, and lost pretty quick.

I can't honestly remember what Fritz came up with here, I will have to check at home, but I'm almost certain it didn't like blacks position.

Classical French player now :)
"When you see a good move, look for a better one!" - Lasker

MartinCarpenter
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Re: Emulating player's styles

Post by MartinCarpenter » Tue Apr 15, 2014 1:26 pm

Lets try a human source :) "12 Nxc3 has only recently been taken seriously, and by some of the strongest players in the game" (Watson, PTF4.).

12.. Nd4 13 Bb2 Bd7 14 o-o-o Ndf5 etc (messy, but non trivial analysis after that) seems to be sort of 'main' line from Berg. Looks exceedingly like computers this :) I mean who'd look at that position as white and want to go Bb2 in order to castle queenside? The whole poisoned pawn complex is just deeply terrifying for both sides.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Emulating player's styles

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Apr 15, 2014 1:34 pm

Jon Mahony wrote: One of my games went like this:

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc4 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 (if 10.cxd4 Qc3+) 10.Ne7 dxc3 11.f4 Nbc6 my opponent surprised me with the simple 12.Nxc3?! (Williams only analyses 12.Qd3 then the pawn sac with 12…d4!).


12.Nxc3 isn't considered and at first glance looks like a blunder, I nearly played 12…Nxe5 but this fails to 13. Nb5! Qa5+ 14.Bd2
It appears to have been first played by Guimard in 1941 whose opponent took on e5 and met Nb5 with Qb8. The tactics seem to work that after .. Qb8, you don't lose a piece.

A number of GMs have discovered or rediscovered 12 Nxc3. The names of Nijboer, Shirov, Karjakin and Luther feature on the White side. Apart from taking on e5, .. Nd4 and .. a6 are the moves tested in practice.

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Jon Mahony
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Re: Emulating player's styles

Post by Jon Mahony » Tue Apr 15, 2014 2:07 pm

Thanks both :) will check out e5 after work Roger - From a quick look on my phone, it looks bloody complicated though!

I'm pretty sure I played a6 in my game
"When you see a good move, look for a better one!" - Lasker

MartinCarpenter
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Re: Emulating player's styles

Post by MartinCarpenter » Tue Apr 15, 2014 5:17 pm

That's super logical and likely to 'just' end up in the old main line(s).....

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Re: Emulating player's styles

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Wed Apr 16, 2014 11:39 am

Jon Mahony wrote:I think the point is, don't try to emulate much stronger players ...
I played like a thoroughly incompetent Rubinstein last night: induced weak pawns on c6 and a6 then annexed the dark squares around them and piled on pressure down the c-file.

It was a strategic masterpiece ... combined with a persistent refusal to notice opportunities to win material (a rook here, a piece there, several different pawns) and finished off with tossing away one last chance to win in a rook and pawn ending.

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Re: Emulating player's styles

Post by David Robertson » Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:47 pm

I like your style

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