Tuesday, January 19, 2010
BLACK IS NOT BLACK
For years most of us suffered under the comment from analysts that "White enjoys the benefits of having the first move." And when you look at analysis, many lines end in plus over equals--but to me that is primarily BECAUSE, all things being equal (which they seldom are), White has the next move.
Well folks, it's time to tell you that garbage laid out a while stinks, as if we didn't already know. Yesterday at Wijk aan Zee, there were four Black wins. Shirov beat Tiviakov (not impossible), Nakamura took out Short, Carlsen beat van Wely (who loses more games in the last few years than in a long time), and Ivanchuk beat Smeets (not unlikely). On the other hand I "see" these winners winning their games as White against "lesser" opposition.
What I am saying here is not to upset the theoretician's applecart so much as to note that since about 2006, Black seems to be winning a lot more games than he used to. Is this because he is better prepared? Is he/she taking more chances? Is White slow to notice this trend? Perhaps it is all of these. Look at the ChessBase web site and you will notice the big todo which is often made of Black wins. Imagine, if this weren't possible, what would be the point of playing high-level chess?
In the old days we heard about smokers, days off, adjournments, White's advantages, seconds, and the slow pace of theory rising to the top. ALL that has changed!
Just as Radjabov revitalized the King's Indian (after Kasparov had given it up), and the Schliemann has been rejuvenated (after Joel Benjamin basically wrote it off in Chess Chow)... chess openings are still viable for Black. I expect, one of these days, to see a revision of theory for the black side of the French Defense (Moskalenko is working on a French Defense Winawer book now). You saw it here first.