How Chess Engines Have Changed My Style: Part 2

By Brendan J. Norman | Computer Chess

In part one of this article, I spoke about how working with chess engines has drastically changed the style in which I play chess engine and how now I am playing in a much more aggressive and speculative style.

I then went on to show some examples of this and also mentioned that there are several areas of my play which have actually been affected.

I showed how I learnt from observing the play of human-like engines that Strong Players Can Lose Quickly (if caught off guard early and placed under pressure).

This observation led me to take more risks and be more aggressive in my own play, dealing out a lot of short losses to strong players in the process.

In this post, I’ll share one more thing:

What This Chess Engine Taught Me:

2. Queen + Knight= Knightmare!

As a reasonably decent player, I was already aware that queens and knights (as opposed to queens and bishops) combine much better when it comes to attacking the enemy king, but it wasn’t until I started tweaking engines for aggressive play, that I realised just how deadly this small piece of information could be.

Now I know that not all of you readers are experienced players, so I’ll give a very basic example of this concept of the queen+knight combining to harass the king.

The infamous “Greek Gift” sacrifice.

This tactic occurs when once side sacrifices his bishop for the enemy h-pawn in order to draw the king out of his safehaven in order to make it easier to attack using the queen+knight combination.

Here’s an example.

Obviously, this basic knowledge of attacking chess was known to me, but I was still quite intrigued when I downloaded the chess engine “Gambit Fruit” and when checking out how I could “tweak” its settings, I noticed the following.

chess engine

Here it can be seen that we can change the weight which the engine gives this combination of “queen+knight” combo and that the default weight is 15.

So while creating my “cognac” (my so-called “cognac” settings for chess engines always have the goal of making an engine speculative, aggressive and human-like) settings, I made various changes to the weights this engine gives to several things and in my work changed the weight of queen+knight combo from 15 to 100!

Pretty quickly I was seeing results like this.

Game 1: GambitFruit Cognac vs Ares 1-005 (2415 CCRL)

In this game, a very decent engine Ares makes a single (but serious) mistake and is suddenly at the mercy of GambitFruit’s queen + knight combination.

Game 2: GambitFruit Cognac vs Rodin 8.0 (Attacker Personality)

In this game, GambitFruit Cognac is against a very new chess engine which is itself a truly great player (you can see one of Rodin’s nicer won games in this post) with an excellent playing style.

In this game however, Rodin 8.0 was the victim of a standard bishop sacrifice on h6 after which GambitFruit Cognac also swung his knight in to assist the queen.

Pretty quickly again the queen and knight combo was decisive.

Game 3: GambitFruit Cognac vs Rebel Century 2000 (MACHEID Personality)

Here we see our friend playing against one of the great predecessors of Prodeo 2.0 ( Prodeo 2.0 is reviewed here) who in this game, is outclassed by GambitFruit’s swarming knights and queen.

This game is the classic for this theme. Watch the way he maneuvers his knight from the queenside over the assist the queen and black is forced to deal with the increasing pressure of a queen and TWO knights.

This is a very instructive game and quite human-like the way GFC increases the pressure.

How’d It Affect My Play?

I have found myself dropping some former prejudices concerning bishops (I considered bishops much better than knights) and have focussed more on space, active pieces and attacking chances.

I have very often got an advantage in development (even against masters), sometimes at the cost of a pawn and often convert it to a swift victory.

Here are a couple of my nice victories where my updated queen+knight knowledge was used.

Game 1: BrendanJNorman vs NM FrankieJay

In this game which was against a National Master from the U.S, I play a Bf4 line against his Grunfeld defence and I must admit, I honestly knew nothing about the opening.

I decided to play logical moves and when he got greedy and tried to “win” a pawn, I sacrificed it forcing him to be very accurate in his defence.

His 13…Qa5 is natural but already losing and I am given the chance for a bishop sacrifice which is swiftly followed up my a queen+knight combo sweeping in. He resigns in only 16 moves!

Game 2: BrendanJNorman vs Massakru

This game is against a very talented player from Malta.

I’m pretty sure the game is already out of “book” by move 5 when I have given my bishop in exchange for his knight and some central control.

With the use of some time-gaining exchanges (14.Rxe8 followed by 15.Re1, for example) I gain a bit of a development advantage and use the extra time to manoeuvre my knights to the kingside in a manner very reminiscent of  GambitFruit Cognac.

Once appropriate pressure is placed on his position with the use of queen+knight combo, he cracks and in the end I break through with queen+rook.

Conclusions:

Clearly this is a big  and useful chunk of attacking chess knowledge I’ve stumbled upon here just by working with and tweaking engines over time.

There are several other things I’ve learnt from my work but you’ll have to wait until Part Three of this article! 🙂

Stay Tuned!

P.S You can download the Gambit Fruit engine here, just let me know if you’d like to know my “cognac” settings. 😉

 

  • Bobby Garry says:

    Which are settings for Gambit Fruit cognac?

    • Brendan J. Norman says:

      Hi Bobby (I’m sure that’s your real name haha), I have created a Pinterest page to seamlessly share all of these personality settings. Here are the settings for Gambit Fruit Cognac: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/343962490272208970/

      • Bobby Garry says:

        Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov 😀

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