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Van der Stap - Shvartsman

Van der Stap - Shvartsman

Alexander Shvartsman (l.) plays against Wouter Sosef during Hoogeveen Open 2023. Photograph: Zainal Palmans

Auteur: Alexander Shvartsman
12-03-2024

„Sometimes you have to calculate more than twenty moves deep”



Author: Alexander Shvartsman
My good draughts friend Ben Provoost (we have known each other for years) approached me to make a contribution for draughts platform Damkunst. He asked me to analyse my best game from 2023. I was happy to do so, and after a while I chose to discuss my game against Peter Van der Stap. This duel took place in a tournament in Baarn in June 2023, where I won all seven games.
Against Van der Stap, I can boast of a good score. Of the four games we had played until then, I only had to concede one point. Still, our mutual games never went easy for me. Van der Stap is a solid player, who likes to play strategically and stick to his outlined course. Tactically, he is less strong and he does not always calculate deep enough either.
Because we have crossed paths before, I knew that he is not a player who is out to exchange pieces – even when he is against a strong opponent. So Van der Stap is a pleasant player to have opposite you.
My strategy in the game I will discuss was, as usual, to try to get complicated play on the board and thus get my opponent into trouble. For instance, I try to do that by offering the opponent many choices.
One reason to analyse my game against Van der Stap is that this duel is characterised by a lot of calculation. Also, typical of the game are the various interesting psychological moments. Sometimes you have to calculate fifteen to twenty (or deeper) and it is also very important to estimate what your opponent is going to play. I will go into all these moments and explain what I saw and thought and what my opponent did and did not calculate.
It was my pleasure to analyse this beautiful game, and I hope you will enjoy my report of it.
1.32-2816-21This game took place in the 4th round. Why I chose this opening against Van der Stap is not easy to say. Intuition probably played a role, but another reason is more of a practical nature: I know this opening quite well. So I don't have to spend much time on the opening moves, so I can put all my energy into the interesting middle game that arises after this. The flip side is that my opponent can also play relatively fast. 2.31-2611-163.38-32!...White continues to play convinced! Most of my opponents didn't even do 2.31-26 or continued with 3.37-32 and so on. 3....7-11I don't really like the forced variants that can arise after 3...18-22. 4.37-3119-235.28x1914x236.31-2723-287.32x2318x388.43x3210-149.41-37...The right wing lock is a fact. Now black has to make a choice. 9....12-18!?Black has to decide right now which development he prefers. The most commonly played standard variant is 5-1010.39-3314-1911.44-3910-1412.50-4412-1810.39-3313-19!?Developing piece 5 isn't possible anymore, because after 14-1911.44-395-10?white has the small combination 12.27-22!18x2913.34x5
The development chosen by black comes from Vadim Virny. At the time of the Soviet Union, he won many nice games in this opening.
11.44-398-1312.46-412-813.36-311-7I think black has little to gain from the plan 18-22?!14.27x1813x22At least because white always has the option to exchange with 41-36 and 31-27. 14.42-385-1015.49-437-1216.50-4420-24The opening is over. On the board is a principle position. Black has an economic right wing lock, with no piece on 2. But is it also good? A lot depends on whom the white player is! On the one hand, black does not need to develop any more pieces on his right flank. On the other hand, without a piece on 2 or 7, black's position is not so flexible; the formation 7/12/18, needed to exchange piece 27, can no longer be put in position.
17.34-30?...After this passive move, black's plan works! It was better to keep piece 34 in place and move to square 28 or 29 on the next move. 17....15-20?!The standard reaction, but a few moves later I understood that I had already made a mistake. Practically speaking, it was better not to lose an important tempo and continue with 14-20!?18.33-2818-23and now: 19.39-33Possible now is Of interest is the computer variant 19.27-22!?12-18Possible is also 23-29?!20.30-2510-1421.31-2729-3322.38x2924x3323.47-42and so on. 20.31-27Or also 20.30-2518x3621.25x54-1022.5x149x2020-2521.47-4225x3422.40x2015x2423.39-34and so on, with advantage for white.
However, all these variants do not matter that much, because there was no chance that white would have decided on 19.27-22!?
24-29!20.33x2420x29with at 21.44-39the small combination 17-22!22.27x711x223.26x1729-3424.40x1813x4425.43-3944x4226.47x3815-20This position, with the outpost on 17, is better for black.
18.33-28!...Through 18.30-2510-1519.33-28On 19.47-42follows 24-2920.33x2420x2918-2320.39-3324-2921.33x2420x29a position that we have seen before emerges. After 22.44-39black has the small combination 17-2223.27x711x224.26x1729-3425.40x1813x4426.43-3944x4227.47x3815-20and so on. 18....18-2319.39-3310-1520.44-39...This is probably the most important moment of the game. Here I invested a lot of time in choosing a plan. If you have played the variants I give in the coming moves, you can answer the most frequently asked question from amateurs to grandmasters: „How many moves can you calculate ahead during the game?" I usually answer, „About 15 to 20 moves." Using this game, you can check whether my answer is correct...
20....24-29!?After long calculations, I decided on a very risky plan. I did so because the position becomes too clear after the alternatives. So I don't always play the best move, but take my opponent's capabilities into account in my choices. I hoped my opponent would not see the main variant, and the course of the game proved me right. I show what I calculated: 12-1821.30-2524-2917-2222.28x17Of course not 22.26x17?because of 24-2923.33x2422x4424.40x4911x22and black has won a piece. 21x1223.41-3624-2924.33x2420x29and after the easy to find move 25.27-21!16x2726.31x2218x2727.32x21the game becomes too simple. 22.33x2420x2923.39-33?!29-34?!24.40x2923x3425.35-30?!Also good is simply 25.43-3934x4326.48x39with a good position for white. 34-40!26.45x344-10An interesting temporary sacrifice. But after 27.41-3619-2328.28x1913x3529.43-39white has enough counterplay for the strong piece on 35. 21.33x2420x2922.40-34?...After a few minutes of thinking, white decides to exchange black's outpost. To be honest, I expected this answer... Not so good is 22.30-25?17-22!23.27x711x224.26x1729-3425.40x1813x4426.43-3944x4227.47x389-13and so on. De strongest move is 22.39-34!and now a long forcing follows. I will show you what I saw during the game and elaborate on my way of calculating. I think this is more interesting than just showing variants indicated by a computer programme. 4-10!Because of the threat 23.30-24!, this is the main variation. Losing is 12-18??because of 23.30-24!The following forcing is not so good for black: 14-20?!23.28-22!17x2824.26x1712x2125.27-22!28x17
26.32-27!Very bad is 26.32-28?23x3227.34x2521-26!28.38x2717-21!29.27-2221-27and so on. 21x3227.37x2823x3228.34x2517-2129.38x2721x32White cannot win the piece on 32, but can choose an endgame with material advantage, for example with 30.48-4216-2131.31-2732-3832.27x738x4933.7-1and so on.
23.43-39!12-1824.39-33!White uses tactics to take advantage of the bad piece on square 10. 17-22Very important is that 14-20?25.33x2420x29loses because of 26.27-22!18x3627.32-27!21x4328.48x3923x3229.34x532-3830.5-23+-25.26x17!The best! Later, we will have a closer look at the alternatives. 25.33x24?!22x4226.47x3826.26x1711x2227.47x386-11is better for black. 11-1727.41-368-1228.27-2218x2729.31x116x17leads to interesting play. Also possible, but not so interesting, is 25.28x1721x1226.33x2423-2827.32x2318x2028.30-2520-2429.34-3024-2930.41-3619-2431.30x1914x23and the position is equal. 14-2026.33x2422x4227.47x3820x29
11x22?loses because of the majority rule 28.30-25!19x3929.25x5+-So far, the calculation was easy. I now saw the following variants passing by in my mind: 28.17-1228.32-28??White hopes for 23x12??but black takes 11x42!-+28.48-4211x2229.32-2823x4330.34x543-49Here I likewise stopped calculating after getting a king. But again I sensed danger, and rightly so. Indeed, the computer indicates that white again neutralises the black king:
31.30-24!49x2132.42-38!21x4933.35-30!49x3534.30-2535x1935.5x1After 22-28however, black again need not despair.
8x1729.32-2823x4330.34x543-49Here I stopped calculating. My intuition said the situation could be dangerous for black, but I saw no concrete variants. However, the computer shows that white can capture the black king:
31.30-24!49x2132.48-43!21x4933.35-3049x3534.30-2535x1935.5x26If black now continues with 9-14!he keeps sight of a draw. 36.25-20!After 36.26-12?of course 3-8!37.12x2015x24=14x2537.26-12and so on.
22....29x4023.35x4415-20Both players now play a series of logical moves. 24.30-2520-2425.47-424-1026.41-3610-1527.38-33...I was satisfied with the situation on the board. In my opinion, black has the initiative (which may be incorrect?). Indeed, I have free play on the left flank and on the other flank white has to consider the idea 17-22 and 24-29 and so on. However, a new plan needs to be made.
27....14-20!?After contemplating for a while, I rejected the alternative, which gives white little trouble: 12-1828.42-3817-22White has now two options: 29.28x17Surprisingly, white can also take 29.26x17!?24-29Best for black is the standard idea 14-20!30.25x149x20after which white does well to force the position with 31.31-2622x4232.48x3711x2233.28x17and so on. 30.33x2422x42and possible now is 31.17-12!18x732.43-3842x3333.39x2819x3034.28x1015x435.25x34and so on. 21x12and after the 'terrible exchange' 30.27-2116x2731.31x2218x2732.32x21black can forget about two points. 28.25x149x2029.43-3820-25I rejected 12-18because white can then force the position: 30.28-2230.48-43and the best thing for black is to play 17-2231.28x17After 31.26x17?20-25!white has a problem and has to fight for a point. For example 32.31-26!22x3133.36x2711x3134.26-2116x2735.37x26and after 23-2936.32x2118-2337.28-2223-2838.45-4028x1739.21x128x1740.39-3419-2341.33-2823x3242.34x23and so on, white wins back his piece. 21x12and white has again the exchange 32.27-2116x2733.31x2218x2734.32x21and so on. 17x2831.26x17!Possible is also 31.33x22?!11-1732.22x116x17and so on, with an interesting position that looks better for black. 11x2232.31-26!22x3133.33x2233.36x27!?18x2734.32x2116x2735.37-32and so on and white wins back two pieces. 30.48-4324-30!Black tries to keep his opponent from controlling the important square 34.
31.28-22!...After 31.45-40?follows the simple idea 19-24!32.28x1930-3533.19x3025x45-+It is interesting to check the implications of 31.44-40!?The best is 15-20!After 30-35?32.40-3435-4033.33-2912-18black faces some problems. To equal play leads 34.27-2234.39-33!?25-30The double sacrifice 19-24?35.28x3040-44is not so good, because the black king after 36.30-2444-4937.33-28has little room to move. 35.34x2523x34and after 36.43-3934x4337.38x498-1238.45x3415-2039.25x2318x4740.28-2217x2841.26x19white has a better position. 18x2735.29x93x1436.31x2240x2932.33-29Not good is 32.40-35?20-2433.45-40?3-934.40-349-14-+32.40-34results after 20-2433.34-2923x3434.28-2217x2835.32x1421x4136.36x4713-1937.14x233-9in an interesting position, but black has a better position. 23x3433.40x29and black has good counterplay. 31....17x2832.26x1712x2133.33x22...Simple and strong. In such a game type, black should always have his answer ready for this standard attack. And I had that... 33....15-20!The best. Not good is the alternative 11-1734.22x116x17and black's right flank looks weak. After, for example, 35.31-2613-1836.38-338-1337.42-38is 15-20?not possible because of the standard sacrifice 38.27-22!18x2739.37-31+-34.31-2623-2835.32x1421x4136.36x4720x9After a forced variant, the situation has changed completely. On the board is now a 9x9 position. The white outpost on 22 is enough protected, so black has no real advantage. However, white does still need to make some good moves...
37.45-409-1438.40-34...The continuation 38.40-35?14-1939.35x2419x30weakens white's right wing. 38....8-1239.38-3314-1940.43-383-9So far, there was no trouble for the white player.
41.33-29?...This is Van der Stap's first but not last mistake. A stronger continuation is 41.42-3719-2342.37-32and the best thing for black is to remove white's outpost with 11-17Not a good plan is 12-17?43.32-2717x2844.33x229-14?45.26-21!13-1946.38-33!and white will win. 41....11-17!42.22x116x17A good exchange! Simple and strong. I smell blood now and start playing with renewed energy. The piece on 29 hinders the white game, and black tries to exploit this weakness to the maximum. 43.38-3212-1844.42-3816-21!45.38-3318-23!46.29x1813x22Of course, this 7x7 position is still a draw, but thanks to the tempo advantage (+8), black exerts some pressure on the opponent.
47.34-29?...A serious mistake. Van der Stap rejected the variant 47.47-4219-2348.42-389-13or 9-14because he didn't see that after 49.44-40?(33-29 delivers a point if well played) a finesse follows if black plays 30-35?: but instead of 30-35? black has a wonderful win: 13-19!50.33-29*22-27!51.29x1819-23!52.18x2930-35!After this double sacrifice, white is without chance.
For example: 53.39-3335x4454.33-2854.29-2344-5055.32-2850-4556.33-2917-2257.28x1721x1244-49!55.28-2217x3756.26x1749x3257.17-1232-38!and the 4x2 endgame causes no more problems.

Much better than the game move or 47.47-42 is 33-29. Now the situation becomes dangerous for white.
50.33-28!35x4251.28x8with a draw.
47....9-1348.32-2813-1849.47-42...The time for concrete calculations now has come for black. Here I have to evaluate a few alternatives.
49....19-24The temporary sacrifice 30-3450.29x4018-23doesn't result in anything. After 51.40-3423x3252.42-3832x4353.39x4821-2754.48-4227-3255.33-2922-2756.44-3917-2257.42-3832x4358.39x48the position of four pieces each offers no more chances of winning. Neither is better 21-2750.42-3830-3451.29x4018-23and to get a point now, white uses another idea: 52.38-32!27x2953.26-21!=50.29x2025x1451.44-4014-1952.42-38...Losing is 52.40-35?19-2453.42-3721-27-+What is possible is 52.42-37!30-3553.40-3421-27and white moves to safety by using the majoritiy rule: 54.37-32!27x4055.26-21!22x4456.21x14=52....30-3553.40-3418-2354.38-32...Both players are directing for a clash, which could be dangerous for white. But... black has to move.
54....22-2755.33-29?...A mistake that could have been decisive. A clear draw is there after 55.28-22Van der Stap missed the majority here 27x40and saw only the chanceless 55...17x37 56.26x17 37-42 and so on. 56.22x1121-27Now follows a simple forcing: 57.11-740-4558.7-1!45-5059.1x34!50x1160.34-18!27-3261.18-27!32x2162.26x6=Also, the illogical 55.34-30?!27x2956.28-2217x2857.26x1735x2458.17-11is enough for a draw. It is important that after 29-33another sacrifice follows: 59.11-6!33x4460.6-124-2961.1-628-3229-3362.6-1!=62.6x5032-37and now, for example 63.50-44and the attack on piece 19 brings one point for white. 55....27x3856.29x18...
56....21-27?A big mistake. A not so difficult win was possible after the logical 38-42and now: After 57.18-12Also possible is 57.28-2217x2858.26x1742-48!In 'calculating' this variant (time trouble!) I just trusted my intuition (not always right!) and it said that white's two pieces are really too close to king. But... white really has no defensive chances! The other two pieces are not in a good position and easily help black getting two points. For example
59.17-12Chanceless is 59.39-3328x30because white loses another piece after this. 19-2360.18x2935-4061.34x4548x7-+
17x858.26x1742-4859.17-11follows the nice finesse 19-23!60.28x198-13!61.19x835-4062.34x4548x16-+
57.34-30?!...The position is a draw. After 57.34-2938-4258.29-2419x3059.18-13there is little more to try for black. For example 42-4860.13-948x34and attacking piece 17 with 61.9-3gives white a point. But... remember that both players have no time! 57....35x2458.39-3338x2959.28-2319x2860.18-13...After a couple of sacrifices, a 5x2 endgame remains. The black pieces are very uncomfortable − all in the centre. During the game, I had the feeling that black cannot win anymore, and strong draughts programmes confirmed that feeling afterwards. But. I'm still trying to find problems for my opponent...
60....24-3061.13-930-3562.9-435-40The alternative 28-33is not better: 63.4x3133-3964.31-4229-3465.42-4835-4066.48-3740-4567.37-2845-5068.28x11!and black has no tempo to capture white's king. 63.4x3140-44Now comes the decisive moment in this 4x2 endgame.
64.31-18?...The final mistake in this interesting game. With 64.31-9(Several other moves are also good.) 28-3265.9-2029-3466.20-2534-4067.25-1432-3868.14-2844-5069.28x638-4370.26-21white could achieve a relatively easy draw. 64....29-33White has lost an important tempo and is now without a chance, because he can't successfully attack any black piece. 65.18-1344-4966.13-30...Other attacks are repelled as follows: After 66.13-19follows 33-38!67.19x4349x32-+Not better is 66.13-22and now black can even neutralise the white king in several ways: 17-2149-2167.22x1121-1768.11x2228x17-+49-4467.22x1133-3968.11x3339x28-+67.26x1749-2168.17x2628x17-+66....28-32On the way to king, black's pieces support each other... 67.30-1932-3868.19-23...After 68.19-2449-35!69.24-2035-24-+68....38-4269.23-4542-48White gives up.
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