Wednesday, 30 May 2007

It's getting harder to attack

I was having a conversation (via Skype) with my PNG Olympiad teammate, Stuart Fancy. During the course of the conversation I remarked that chess had got much harder, especially over the last 15 years. This, I might add, is not because of the effects of age (well maybe a little), but due to the fact that players just defend better these days. I attribute this to the widespread use of computers.
As an experiment (for over 35's) , try and feed some of your early games (pre-1990) into Fritz and check out the error count for both sides. Then, if you can, try and remember what you thought of the game at the time. I'm sure the 'computer-assisted' conclusion is much harsher than the original one. Indeed, for my game against Fritz Van Der Waal that I gave a couple of days ago, I spent 5 or 6 years believing that instead of Bxf6 I would have won with Rxf6+. It was only when I put the game through my computer did I discover that I was lost no matter what I played.
Of course some games still stand the test of time, and here is one played in the 1982 Olympiad by Stuart Fancy himself. While it is certainly true that Black could have defended a whole lot better at the start, the Queen sacrifice by Fancy remains perfectly sound.

Fancy,S - Pickering,H [B06]
Luzern ol (Men) Luzern (4), 1982
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 e6 4.Be3 Ne7 5.Qd2 0-0 6.h4 h5 7.0-0-0 d5 8.e5 Nbc6 9.Bh6 Nf5 10.Bxg7 Kxg7 11.Nge2 Nxh4 12.Qf4 Nf5 13.g4 g5 (D) 14.gxf5!! gxf4 15.f6+ Kh6 16.Nxf4 Kg5 17.Nxh5 Ne7 18.f4+ Kg6 19.Bd3+ 1-0

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