An Endgame lesson and personalities at the Charleroi Open 2017

by Sagar Shah
8/11/2017 – In the first part of the Charleroi Open 2017 we focused on the tournament, on the games and on the winners of the tournament. In the second part we will shift our attention to a great endgame expert playing at the tournament Aloyzas Kveinys. We try to find the reason on why he so good at the endgames and the author tries to acquaint you with a rule he has formulated in bishop vs knight endgames. The report also contains a lot beautiful pictures captured by Amruta Mokal of different personalities at the event.

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Part I - Tigran Gharamian wins Charleroi Open 2017

Endgame expert Aloyzas Kveinys

One player who greatly impressed me with his play and overall personality at the tournament was Lithuanian grandmaster Aloyzas Kveinys. Kveinys is five-time Lithuanian champion and has represented his country on eight occasions at the Olympiad. He was funny and jovial off the board, always spoke with great excitement and hand gestures and was a very friendly person. After the game you could always catch him at the bar with a glass of drink in his hand. He looked like a person who enjoyed life to the fullest. But when 55-year-old Kveinys sat at the board, he was a picture of concentration. He played uncompromising chess and fought right until the end in every game.

When he sacrificed a piece for three pawns against FM James Eden in round three I started to feel that he was an aggressive player. However, in the next round itself he faced Julien Sclacmendler (2261) and played a beautiful endgame. I was sitting on the adjoining board and was thoroughly in awe of his endgame technique. Let's have a look at this game.

Lithuanian grandmaster Aloyzas Kveinys

 

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This is the thing about these experienced GMs. They know how to maintain control. Bishops are superior to knights when there are pawns on both sides of the board, but to keep the knight under control is not so easy. You have to always keep an eye out for forks and it is possible to overlook something in such a long endgame. Kveinys made sure that he made no real mistakes.

At the end of the tournament I asked Kveinys about the secret of how he is so good at endgames. "I learnt chess from masters Mikenas and Vistaneckis. They both were very good at endgames. However, one of the major reasons why I improved at the endgames was because of my practice parnter and good friend Edourdas Rozentalis. Rozentalis is considered as one of the biggest endgame experts of our generation. When we were young, he loved to play the endgame. I was an aggressive player, but whenever I played 1.e4 he would reply with the Russian (Petroff) Defence. I tried to play the King's Gambit to avoid the Petroff, but later realized that I have to go into the endgames and try to outplay him. We played thousands of endgames, and this playing practice helped me get better. When you are working with the best in the business, some of the magic is bound to rub onto you!"

The Lithuanian team at the Euro Team Championship 2007 consisting of Sarunas Sulskis, Edourdas Rozentalis and Aloyzas Kveinys.(Photo credit: Greek chess)

A small rule from the Kveinys endgame:

Let's take a rook pawn, placed on any rank. Let's say it's the a4 pawn. Now in case Black has a knight and we have a bishop we shouldn't really be afraid of Black taking the rook pawn with his knight, provided we have the right colour bishop.

 

Just leave two squares from the rook pawn and check the colour of the next square. In this case it is a dark square (d4) and hence a dark squared bishop would be the right piece to have.

 

What this essentially means is that you need not be afraid of Black taking the pawn on a4 in this scenario. If Black takes the pawn on a4, the bishop comes to d4 and traps the knight.

 

And there you have it! The knight is trapped.

 

Now I knew that the bishop could trap the knight on the corner of the board. But I formulated this rule for myself after seeing the Kveinys game. I think strong players have such simple rules firmly ingrained in their mind when they play endgames. In this way, they can limit the amount of variations that they have to calculate and can focus on the key lines. This rule of two squares away from the rook pawn for a bishop against knight works for any rook pawn. Keep it in mind, it could come in handy any time!

Talking about endgame, I would like that you have a look at the final position from my game against WIM Andreea-Cristiana Navrotescu, which was analyzed in part I of Charleroi Open. Subsequently I analyzed the endgame with my friend GM Sandipan Chanda in Warsaw, and received a mail from the famous trainer and author Jacob Aagaard, that he has found a win! Well, stay tuned for an article on that soon.

Video compilation:

Here's a video from the 16th Charleroi Open that gives you quite a bit information about the event and also the atmosphere over there:

Pictorial impressions:

This was the first time I saw three player chess on a hexagonal chess board. It looked thoroughly intriguing and all those who would like to learn it, can know more about it from here. An intriguing scenario is when player B gives player A a check and player C can capture player's B's checking piece! In such a scenario player A doesn't have to worry about the check!

There was a family living in the Caravan in the tournament premises itself! Pretty good way to save money and time, if you ask me!

The body may get old, but the spirit remains youthful!

Chess is a stressful game. An ice-cream does help at times, though!

When your will to play chess is high, no accidents can prevent you from playing!

The maze of complex variations!

Robert Schuermans wears the t-shirt of Robert Fischer!

Fischer seems to be quite popular in Belgium!

Some people just prefer pawns!

Ever seen chess socks?!

Philippe Vukojevic and Ronald Flou

Philippe Vukojevic has one of the largest chess books and DVDs collection in Europe. He is the representative of Stappenmethode of chess learning and DGT boards. His boards that were used at the Grand Chess Tour in Leuven were the same ones at the top tables of the Charleroi Open 2017. Being one of the players, I had a great feeling that the boards on which I made my moves were the same ones on which legends like Carlsen, Anand and others had played. Ronald Flou (on the right in the above picture) is an accomplished chess photographer. Ronald's chess pictures and personal work can be found on Flickr.

The team of arbiters at the event: Lebret Loriane and her father Jean Michal on the left, Philippe Sauve and Renaud Barreau on the right. The chief arbiter Luc Cornet is missing.

Hilario Atienza (left) was responsible for the live broadcast of the games

The vice president of Charleroi chess club Ricardo Bruno (left), the honorary President Robert Romanelli and President Theirry Ruelens

The work put in by the entire team led by Robert Romanelli is just mind-boggling. Chess tournaments in Belgium are not so easy to organize because of the lack of coporate sponsorships. "Let's just put it this way - if I stop, the tournament stops", said 63-year-old Robert. "We started with just 44 players and now we have 240. This is the biggest tournament in Belgium. I have a wonderful team to work with. We have great experience and expertise in holding tournaments and we would like that more foreign players come and play in our tournament. For that we need sponsors and I hope that we are able to get some. Currently, the sales that we make through the bar during the event is how we make our ends meet."

The analysis room where people buy a drink and sit for hours discussing their games

The bar where you could see the President and the vice president chipping in to serve the chess players in the best possible manner!

Catherine Delatour (Robert's wife) made delicious hamburgers for the players

Invited players and grandmasters were hosted at the luxurious Van der Valk Airport Hotel. It is one of the best properties in Charleroi. Also other players who participated at the event could stay at the hotel at discounted prices.

Once the task at the bar was done Robert would drive the players back to the hotel

A relieved team after seven days of exhausting work!

You'll find additional photos in the gallery at the top of the page

As you can see, the Charleroi Open exists because of a group of few dedicated individuals who work with all their might in order to provide the players an enjoyable experience. Some of the Belgian players at the tournament told us that they would specially take leave from their work to play in this tournament. It was a great way to connect with chess and relax with friends. We can only hope that Belgium's biggest chess tournament continues in 2018 and beyond!

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Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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SmartShark SmartShark 8/12/2017 04:55
Nice lesson about the rook pawn and the bishop trapping the knight.
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