Unexpected move in the QGD.

Technical questions regarding Openings, Middlegames, Endings etc.
Keith Arkell
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Keith Arkell » Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:24 am

Thanks, indeed, for sharing your wisdom with me, Jon.

Can I presume it also follows that If I am writing about a gender neutral person called, let's say, Ashley, I can write: 'Simon threw the ball to Ashley, and they threw it back'?

Thanks in advance.

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:37 am

Probably. I have heard of some transgender people specifically requesting to be referred to in the plural "they", to avoid masculine and feminine nouns (and of course the word "it" would dehumanise them altogether).

Since our language has not yet adapted to this problem, the consensus seems to be that "they" can be used where convenient, or to avoid offence, and we just live with any resulting anomalies.

(To Keith in particular) I haven't read through this thread, but I found Matthew's analysis of your QGD play very useful. Not that I would ever have dreamt of playing it against you!

Keith Arkell
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Keith Arkell » Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:57 am

Cheers Jonathan :)

Appreciated, especially given the two ( or perhaps 1.5) attacks, on this thread, of my thoughts.

I've spent 35 years developing the systems, basically through trial and error, and it's been a source of delight to observe that the worlds top players seem to agree with my conclusions, which are, in some ways, a definite shift away from 1940s thinking. Matthew, for example, gives a very nice Carlsen game to demonstrate many of the points.

Ian Rogers
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Ian Rogers » Wed Dec 26, 2018 12:15 pm

Certainly Javier used, probably overused, sarcasm, but he also continuously presented serious evidence to support his position and was clearly frustrated when that evidence was not being addressed.
Keith offered a number of ideas (many via Jack) but when he started debating for himself he kept appealing to one authority (Sadler!) and was very condescending to Javier, which continued up to his most recent suggestion that Javier should go off and watch a video.
I agree with Keith that in a person-to-person discussion we would probably agree on which structures need light squared bishops and which don't, and I suspect you and Javier, with his considerable knowledge in this line, would agree on a lot too. Getting you both together over a coffee might be tricky, however:)
My main point is that, despite developments in recent decades, the conventional wisdom is correct and it is misleading to argue that in a generic minority attack position from this opening Black should keep light squared bishops on the board. There are quite a few exceptions, some of which Keith explained, one which I did, but the general rule which says that an exchange of light squared bishops will generally make Black's position easier is correct more often than not. I think that is more or less all Javier was trying to say, in his own way. I believe that Keith is wrong to say that the top players support his theory - they may be finding more exceptions but are not overturning the generic advice.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Dec 26, 2018 1:13 pm

I was looking at the Capablanca v Golombek game from Margate 1939. First of all, the Bishop gets parked on e6, the original subject of the thread.

Then, Black regroups so as to exchange on f5.

While this is going on, the usual charge of the b pawn is taking place. When Golombek's position collapses because of a double threat on d5 and b7, you can infer the case for retaining the Bishop.


The whole game. Black loses a tempo with Bf8-b4-e7, allowing White to preserve the h4 Bishop from exchange.


Keith Arkell
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Keith Arkell » Wed Dec 26, 2018 5:18 pm

Ian Rogers wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 12:15 pm
Certainly Javier used, probably overused, sarcasm, but he also continuously presented serious evidence to support his position and was clearly frustrated when that evidence was not being addressed.
Keith offered a number of ideas (many via Jack) but when he started debating for himself he kept appealing to one authority (Sadler!) and was very condescending to Javier, which continued up to his most recent suggestion that Javier should go off and watch a video.
I agree with Keith that in a person-to-person discussion we would probably agree on which structures need light squared bishops and which don't, and I suspect you and Javier, with his considerable knowledge in this line, would agree on a lot too. Getting you both together over a coffee might be tricky, however:)
My main point is that, despite developments in recent decades, the conventional wisdom is correct and it is misleading to argue that in a generic minority attack position from this opening Black should keep light squared bishops on the board. There are quite a few exceptions, some of which Keith explained, one which I did, but the general rule which says that an exchange of light squared bishops will generally make Black's position easier is correct more often than not. I think that is more or less all Javier was trying to say, in his own way. I believe that Keith is wrong to say that the top players support his theory - they may be finding more exceptions but are not overturning the generic advice.
I spoke 'condescendingly' to Javier because I didn't like his dismissive and sarcastic tone, but ok we are going round in circles here.

The reason I referred to Matthew Sadler so often was because he has done so much of the research already, along with Natasga Regan, for 'Chess for Life'. Do you have that book, Ian? It truly is, like so many of Matthew's books, a masterpiece.

In my opinion, the understanding of when white would like to swap the light Bishops underwent a seismic shift when, in the Russia - Rest of the World Match, in 1984, in a standard position, on move 15, Timman played 15 Bf5 and Kasparov preserved his Bishop with the reply 15...Bh5. This required agreement by both of those leading players that it would have been to White's advantage to effect the exchange. http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1070090

I believe that there are simply too many examples of the very strongest players deliberately seeking this exchange, in these structures, for us to be able to continue with the axiom, from the past, that the exchange favours Black. In the video I referred to earlier, 2650 rated GM Akobian sings Korchnio's praises in making the exchange v Karpov, as his best way to play for a win. Exchanging the light squared Bishops v Tal at Niksic '93 was an important part of Seirawan's route to victory. Karpov gets in Bf5! on move 20 as an important part of his strategy in downing Campora at San Nicolas '94. And 25 Bf5! was a key move in Carlsen's magnificent win v Aronian at Tata Steel 2015: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1782692

As I write this, a thought occurs to me: maybe chess engines are teaching us that chess is evolving away from generalisations. Maybe there is no 'generic' right or wrong answer about when to swap light squared Bishops in the Carlsbad structures, but instead simply long lists of situations where the exchange is bad and other long lists where it is good. Computers are teaching us more and more that every position is unique and that generalisations are artificial crutches which we have invented because humans can't analyse very well. I think this is why we often find it hard to understand games between engines. They dont 'think' conceptually. They simply analyse the unique position in front of them.Kramnik said somethingh similar in a recent interview. He said positional concepts of the past are now almost redundant, and instead the current top players rely heavily on calculation, which they do far better than players did even as recently as in Kramnik's 'time'. So maybe I am neither right nor wrong to say that top players support my 'theory', but instead I am right about those exact positions. And it is only exact positions which exist. Having 'generic advice' is a dying concept, dying because engines are killing it off.

What do those who have read 'Chess for life' think? Apologies for referring to the same book again, but I know of no other book which tackles the Carlsbad structure so specifically, and in such detail.
Last edited by Keith Arkell on Wed Dec 26, 2018 5:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Wed Dec 26, 2018 6:29 pm

"Probably. I have heard of some transgender people specifically requesting to be referred to in the plural "they", to avoid masculine and feminine nouns (and of course the word "it" would dehumanise them altogether)."

And "ze", "zhe" and "zie" have also been suggested...

Ian Rogers
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Ian Rogers » Wed Dec 26, 2018 9:20 pm

Keith Arkell wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 5:18 pm

As I write this, a thought occurs to me: maybe chess engines are teaching us that chess is evolving away from generalisations. Maybe there is no 'generic' right or wrong answer about when to swap light squared Bishops in the Carlsbad structures, but instead simply long lists of situations where the exchange is bad and other long lists where it is good. Computers are teaching us more and more that every position is unique and that generalisations are artificial crutches which we have invented because humans can't analyse very well. I think this is why we often find it hard to understand games between engines. They don't 'think' conceptually. They simply analyse the unique position in front of them. Kramnik said something similar in a recent interview. He said positional concepts of the past are now almost redundant, and instead the current top players rely heavily on calculation, which they do far better than players did even as recently as in Kramnik's 'time'. So maybe I am neither right nor wrong to say that top players support my 'theory', but instead I am right about those exact positions. And it is only exact positions which exist. Having 'generic advice' is a dying concept, dying because engines are killing it off.
You have hit the nail on the head here, though I don't attribute this 'whatever works' development to computers so much since it has been happening for 30+ years and was well explained in Watson's Secrets of Chess Strategy two decades ago.

That doesn't mean that general advice is not useful for the majority of players - only after you know the general rules can you start to understand why the exceptions are exceptions.

Incidentally I haven't read Chess for Life - given the average age of its readership, it would be an admission that I am getting old :) But maybe I'll have to make an exception for the Arkell chapter!

David Sedgwick
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by David Sedgwick » Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:04 pm

Ian Rogers wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 9:20 pm
Incidentally I haven't read Chess for Life - given the average age of its readership, it would be an admission that I am getting old :)
Consider it a challenge to roll back the years.

Natasha Regan brought some copies to an tournament in early 2016.

"Will it enable me to become a Grandmaster?" asked the person in front of me.

"No" said Natasha.

"Will it enable me to get my FIDE Rating back above 2000" asked I?

"Quite possibly" said Natasha. I bought a copy.

http://ratings.fide.com/id.phtml?event=404020

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Jon Tait
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Jon Tait » Thu Dec 27, 2018 11:35 am

Keith Arkell wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:24 am
Thanks, indeed, for sharing your wisdom with me, Jon.
You're very welcome :wink:
Keith Arkell wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:24 am
Can I presume it also follows that If I am writing about a gender neutral person called, let's say, Ashley, I can write: 'Simon threw the ball to Ashley, and they threw it back'?
That would be correct, yes. It's very common now for people who identify as non-binary to use they/them/their pronouns. In fact I prefer such pronouns myself, so feel free to start practising on me :)
Jonathan Rogers wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:37 am
Since our language has not yet adapted to this problem, the consensus seems to be that "they" can be used where convenient, or to avoid offence, and we just live with any resulting anomalies.
Actually, we use a gender neutral "they" formulation colloquially without any problems at all. It's generally in written language that people find it disturbing – though go back a few hundred years and we can see it used freely there as well.
Keith Arkell wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:57 am
especially given the two ( or perhaps 1.5) attacks, on this thread, of my thoughts.
If I'm one of those (perhaps the ½)... I was only teasing – or perhaps ½ teasing :wink:
Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 6:29 pm
And "ze", "zhe" and "zie" have also been suggested...
More often in the US. Over here, "ze" formulations don't seem to have caught on so much.
blog inspired by Bronstein's book, but using my own games: http://200opengames.blogspot.co.uk/

Keith Arkell
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Keith Arkell » Thu Dec 27, 2018 6:03 pm

Jon Tait wrote:
Thu Dec 27, 2018 11:35 am
Keith Arkell wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:24 am
Thanks, indeed, for sharing your wisdom with me, Jon.
You're very welcome :wink:
Keith Arkell wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:24 am
Can I presume it also follows that If I am writing about a gender neutral person called, let's say, Ashley, I can write: 'Simon threw the ball to Ashley, and they threw it back'?
That would be correct, yes. It's very common now for people who identify as non-binary to use they/them/their pronouns. In fact I prefer such pronouns myself, so feel free to start practising on me :)

Actually, we use a gender neutral "they" formulation colloquially without any problems at all. It's generally in written language that people find it disturbing – though go back a few hundred years and we can see it used freely there as well.
Keith Arkell wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:57 am
especially given the two ( or perhaps 1.5) attacks, on this thread, of my thoughts.
If I'm one of those (perhaps the ½)... I was only teasing – or perhaps ½ teasing :wink:
You ain't, Jon! I feel both enlightened, and, inadvertently, chastised! ( the latter because my 'and they threw it back' was meant to expose the absurdity of the new language, but instead I'm learning that it is fine).

Actually, there was only 1. There was no 1/2 at all. My discourse with Ian was ultimately both mutually respectful, and productive.

Nick Ivell
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Nick Ivell » Thu Dec 27, 2018 7:01 pm

I've followed this discussion with interest. In some ways it's shown this forum at its best and worst.

Worst? I like the discussion to be about chess. The stuff about pronouns is frankly irrelevant, but it's typical of this forum that we talk about anything other than chess.

To the chess then. And here, unfortunately, I can't add as much as I would like, having no experience of the Carlsbad with either colour.

I do think that positional guidelines are useful though. Why? Because we can't think like a computer. I'm lucky if I can analyse a handful of variations, let alone a million. So advice like 'exchange a bad bishop for a good one' has its uses. The strongest players know the exceptions, and it's been useful reading about these.

Keith Arkell
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Keith Arkell » Thu Dec 27, 2018 7:12 pm

I might add that if White chooses any system involving a Kingside attack himself, such as those involving the moves f3 and e4, then it would be abhorrent to swap of his Kings Bishop!

Nick Ivell
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Nick Ivell » Thu Dec 27, 2018 7:23 pm

One thing I've had to revise is my concept of a 'bad' bishop. As a junior I thought it meant about 6 pawns on the same colour as the bishop. Then I realised that one pawn will do, so long as it's fixed and in the centre.

As so often, it was the games of Robert James Fischer that taught me this. Specifically, the game against Saidy that Bobby needed to win for a perfect score in the US championship. A dark-squared bishop, and a pawn fixed on d4, were all that White needed to be struggling against a knight. Bobby went on to win the game and achieve his perfect score.

A game well worth the study,

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Unexpected move in the QGD.

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Dec 27, 2018 7:40 pm

Nick Ivell wrote:
Thu Dec 27, 2018 7:23 pm
A game well worth the study,
Taking a look at it with the help of an engine, suggests that Saidy didn't go wrong until quite late in the ending. In other words his judgement that the earlier position should be drawn was correct, but his technical execution left something to be desired after around move 40.



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