Speelman's Agony #63

by Jonathan Speelman
10/30/2017 – This week GM Jon Speelman takes a break from amateur games to look at a new theme: when your engines let you down. Two famous examples from World Championship history — Kasparov vs. Anand (1995) and Kramnik vs. Leko (2004), plus two recent ones from the Isle of Man and the European Club Cup. Want Jon to take a look at your games? Send them in, and if selected, 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! | Photo: Chess.com / Maria Emelianova

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Engines gone awry

This week, I thought we'd go on a slight tangent, with the Agony that can be unleashed when collaboration with chess engines goes wrong. These have, of course, become immensely strong nowadays especially in tactical positions. But they nevertheless still require sufficient time to do their thing and this can lead to horrible accidents.

Peter Leko and Vladimir Kramnik in 2004The most famous instance of all occurred  in the Classical World Championship match between Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Leko in Brissago In Switzerland in October 2004. World Championship matches (as I know from personal experience after being a second at two of them) generate an unbelievable volume of analytical work and  it's crucial both to identify the battleground and to get it right.

The first requirement may seem obvious but it's all too easy to take a sequence for granted and that's what happened in the Kasparov vs. Anand match in New York 1995 when Anand played the Open Ruy Lopez for the second time and we started analysing a move too late...


Master Class Vol.7: Garry Kasparov

On this DVD a team of experts gets to the bottom of Kasparov's play. In over 8 hours of video running time the authors Rogozenko, Marin, Reeh and Müller cast light on four important aspects of Kasparov's play: opening, strategy, tactics and endgame.

In Brissago, Kramnik's camp identified the opening line perfectly  but no doubt snowed under by variations, managed to get an assessment wrong by a full 180%!


My Path to the Top

On this DVD Vladimir Kramnik retraces his career from talented schoolboy to World Champion in 2006. With humour and charm he describes his first successes, what it meant to be part of the Russian Gold Medal team at the Olympiad, and how he undertook the Herculean task of beating his former mentor and teacher Garry Kasparov.

If you're going to play a critical opening, then you have to be as confident as possible in your analysis. Quite often, top players simply forget the details of their analysis if they are slightly surprised by their opponent's choice. But in the recent Isle of Man Open Gawain Jones willingly played a recommendation from a DVD by Peter Svidler which his opponent Fabiano Caruana knew in advance to be unsound. In a welter of analysis, there is bound to be the odd error and this is absolutely no criticism of Svidler, but the outcome was disastrous for Jones.


Attacking with the Italian Game and the Ruy Lopez

The purpose of this DVD is to teach players how to conduct the attack on the black king using different methods. Although the Italian Game and the Ruy Lopez are mostly positional openings, it is very often possible to make use of attacking methods of play

I was prompted to write on this subject not  by any of the above but a murderously complicated endgame at the recent European Club Cup. When I first looked at this, I believed my engine that Black was winning after the complications started. But later I gave the silicon monster(s) more time and it turns out that White can hold, albeit after a totally hair raising sequence.


This column depends for its life blood on contributions from readers. At the moment I'm fairly low on these and await a transfusion. And unless this request unleashes a great spurting of gore, you should find your games published pretty quickly.

Submit your games

Did you enjoy the column and instructive analysis by GM Jonathan Speelman? Do you wish you could have a world-renowned grandmaster analyzing your play? You can!

To submit your games just upload a PGN or ChessBase file, along with your name and e-mail address. Send one success story (Ecstasy) and one loss (Agony). Tell why you chose them, where or when they were played

If your game is selected Jon will contact you personally, and 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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Correction October 31: In the Kasparov vs. Anand game, Jon initially wrote that Mikhail Tal had suggested the move 14.Bc2 "in the interim". The text has been updated to reflect the fact that Tal was no longer living in 1995.

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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