Speelman's Agony: A beautiful attack

by Jonathan Speelman
5/4/2020 – For the first time, star columnist Jon Speelman gets to have a discussion with the protagonist of his Agony column, Belgian engineer Yves Surmont, an attacking player. | Send in your own games! | Jon welcomes submissions from readers. If your games are selected for the Agony column, not only will you get free detailed commentary of your games by one of chess’s great authors and instructors, and former world no. 4 player, but you also win a free three-month ChessBase Premium Account!

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Agony & Ecstasy #121

After nearly four years, this week's column is the first to feature a recorded discussion of the games with the sender, who is Yves Surmont, a Belgian currently rated about 2000, who can play considerably better than that at times.

Yves introduced himself in the accompanying video and prior to that had sent me this about himself:

I'm almost 52 years old (born in September 1968 in Roeselare, Belgium), married to my wife Yolo Mendoza (from Culiacan, Mexico), and we have two kids (Kylie is almost 18 and Dayton is almost 16).

I've been a chess player since 1984-85 (triggered by the K-K match). I played 30 years or so in the club of Roeselare, although I was also a member of several other clubs.

My level rose to roughly 2050 national Elo and, apart from one club title in Roeselare, I also got two provincial titles. In the summer of 2014, we moved to Antwerp and I gave up chess for a while. Now I'm planning to take up competitive chess again, so I'm working to get back in shape on some chess servers, among them of course Playchess and the tactics server of ChessBase.

I had a taste for correspondence chess in the past, but that became too time consuming so after some good results in the ICCF Jubilee Tournaments, I stopped playing CC.

Chess-wise I think my tactics are a little better than my positional understanding, but I experienced that my positional feeling got better with ageing (and my tactical awareness dropped simultaneously...). Apart from that, I have some interest in chess history, probably because my first chess book was the primer by Unzicker, which introduced me to the games and lives of the great masters and world champions. 

Professionally, I'm an engineer, working on projects in Niras (Belgian Agency for Radioactive Waste and Enriched Fossile Materials), a very interesting job in the company of some great colleagues.  

For the picture, I needed to search a bit — normally I'm the one taking pics in a chess tournament — so this one is from 10 years ago, when we clinched promotion with our team in the Belgian club teams competition. I'm the one holding the book.

Yves Surmont

Yves is the one holding the book

The two games that Yves sent me are both very interesting. He'd already annotated them and I've added my ideas as JS, some of them before our discussion and some during.

Yves quoted Jan Heim Donner at the end of the first disastrous game in which he played very well but then plunged into stalemate, and I've added a famous game by Donner in which his remarks about losing to a Chinese player (back in 1978 a real oddity) came back to haunt him. I've also added a small didactic position to show the proper way to defend against two connected passed pawns in an opposite-coloured bishop endgame — the important point is that the bishop needs at least two square so that it won't fall victim to zugzwang.


Power Play 20: Test Your Attacking Chess

Grandmaster Daniel King presents ten exemplary attacking performances. At key moments he stops and asks you to play a move. King then gives feedback on the most plausible continuations. It’s the next best thing to having your own personal trainer!

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See also:

Jonathan Speelman, born in 1956, studied mathematics but became a professional chess player in 1977. He was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980–2006 and three times British Champion. He played twice in Candidates Tournaments, reaching the semi-final in 1989. He twice seconded a World Championship challenger: Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995.


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