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My first win over a GM using Chess Assistant for preparation!
keywords: preparation, opening, Kaidanov
Robert Pawlak
Friday, April 01, 2005

Anyone, from the lowliest patzer to the most experienced GM, can benefit from the regular use of Chess Assistant. As proof, I offer the following incredible game, which was played between myself and GM Gregory Kaidanov. As I explain this game, I'll go through some of techniques that I used while I was doing my home opening preparation.

BTW, in case you don't believe that a woodpusher such as myself could ever beat a GM, take a look at this photo as documentary proof:

[Pawlak vs Kaidanov victory handshake]

Ok, I knew that I would be encountering GM Kaidanov in a little less than a week, so I had limited time to prepare my clever trap. The first thing I did was to employ Chess Assistant's "Prepare for Opponent" function in hugebase. This function presented me a with a color-coded tree view of Kaidanov's games, organized by opening variation. In the screenshot below, you can see the report that Chess Assistant spits out, with red corresponding to moves that Kaidanov likes, and green for ones he does not (this function is designed for use by his opponent, hence the use of that color coding convention).

[prepare for opponent]

In going through the classifier produced by this function, I decided to confine myself to some variations where he didn't have quite so much OTB experience. Obviously, my old standby, the English, was not going to be a very good choice - there were 35 games in the database, and of these, it looked like my best bet might be A29, but I don't care for this line too much. Frankly, he was probably too well prepared for c4. So I decided to search further.

Well, I'd been reading a book on the Bishop's opening, and I also noticed that he'd only faced that opening one time OTB, with a score of 50% (one draw). I thus resolved to prepare a tricky line starting with 1.e4 e5 2. Bc4!. But how could I assume that my wily opponent would respond with 1...e5, when I played e4?. So I took a look in the opening tree for those 443 games. In it, I found 88 out of 159 games begin 1.e4 e5, which was good enough odds for me (I had over a 50% chance of steering him into this line).

Knowing that 1.e4 e5 was a pretty good possibility, I then went to the opening table function, and took a look at 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4. I was looking for something a little offbeat. Looking at the table and tree, I saw that I needed to be prepared at the very least for 2... Nf6 (8210 games, and highest in the table), and 2...Nc6 (1838 games, but not high priority in the opening table). It was probably also worth taking a look at ...Bc5 and ...d6 as well, but I had limited time.


Let's take a look at 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6:


I thought for a while about offbeat possibilities here. My eye was quickly drawn to the tactical Qh5. Could such a move be possible? Looking in the tree, I found 69 games with this particular variation. Of course it didn't score that well, but I was sure that such an immediately threatening move such as Qh5 could not be bad. The more I thought about it the more I liked it. Sure, it was an "in-your-face" move that smacked of incredible chutzpah, but I had to try it. Black only had a few reasonable responses, and I could prepare a few tactical traps in response to the reasonable moves ...g6 and ...Qf6.

Well the rest, as we say, is history. I've put the annotated game below, along with my blow-by-blow commentary.


Pawlak, Robert - Kaidanov, Gregory









1. e4 e5 Yes, all goes according to plan. I'm hopeful that I can steer the game into my preparation using Bc4. 2. Bc4 Nc6 Sweetness! I can't wait too uncork the cheeky Qh5. 3. Qh5!! A white glove in the face!

3... Nf6?? All right, this is incredible. A move that I was totally unprepared for. Let's see, the horsey moves in an L-shape, I think. Maybe I need to move my queen. Let's see, what are good retreat squares? No, wait a second! f7 looks weak to me. Holy cow, I've got two pieces hitting that square! Wait a minute! It looks too like the king is out of moves if I play queen takes? Damn, my clock is running down, can't stand the time pressure. I've got to move, so Qxf7 looks as good as anything. With shaky fingers, I snatch away his f7 pawn, and slam the queen down!

4. Qxf7#!!!! At this point, Kaidanov stands up and offers his hand. What a gentleman! I still can't believe that was checkmate. Maybe I need to go back and review 1001 sacs and combinations. In any case, that is definitely a game for the record books.



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