Acronis Chess Lecture Series with Nikolay Grebennikov- Prophylaxis in a chess game
Picture by Esther Koh

Acronis Chess Lecture Series with Nikolay Grebennikov- Prophylaxis in a chess game

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The Singapore-founded cyber protection firm Acronis is an official partner of several Formula 1 teams such as Force India and Rokit Williams. The firm however, decided to step up its local outreach, this time in terms of chess development and generous sponsorship in Singapore, starting with a series of complimentary chess lectures given by its Chief Development Officer Nikolay Grebennikov, who sports a FIDE rating of 2220. 

The topic at hand for the 1st lecture held in Acronis HQ penthouse (44th storey) lecture room was 'Prophylaxis in a chess game'. 

Nikolay highlighted to the 20 kids (comprising mainly students from CHIJ Primary (Toa Payoh) and their siblings)  and 5 adults present the importance of thinking carefully about the opponent's plans, not just one's own and apart from providing them his take on what prophylaxis entails ( to name a few - early interruption of opponent's aggressive intentions, preventive measures to eradicate potential threats and risks, interfering with your opponent's plan from occurring), he also stressed the importance of questioning oneself 'What's my opponent's next move or idea?' 

Of course, he also noted that not all of the opponent's plans should be prevented but it is important to check whether one should proceed with his/her own plan or take time out to nix the opponent's plan. He went on to explain that this approach to chess reduces risks considerably, might cause opponents to lose patience and start making mistakes or even make him/her change preconceived plans.

The flip side of playing in this manner, Nikolay noted, is the difficulty of winning against an opponent who is content to split the point so a balance of attacking and defensive moves is required to retain winning chances. As the audience were largely intermediate level (and primary school) players, Nikolay did not stress too much on the Nimzowitchian theoretical concepts but concentrated on the practical game examples.

One interesting example was the following in which the former  Women's world champion Xie Jun missed two opportunities to halt Mark Taimanov's king advance and soon could not defend against the rampant Black king's intrusion into the enemy camp and eventually succumbed.

After several more examples, the audience got the picture and in the following example, they were able to pinpoint the necessary move to gain time for Black's final onslaught.
His final example was a toughie and you can't really fault the audience for not figuring it out. After all, even the late great Victor Korchnoi missed the idea and lost to English IM Bob Wade.
Black to play and hold the position
Can you see what preventive move is required to maintain the balance?  The answer is at the end of the article.
Following the lecture and a short break, it was time for the audience to take on Nikolay in a 20 board simultaneous match.
Nikolay reading IM Kevin Goh's 6 Bg5 Najdorf book which was presented to him as a token of appreciation for the lecture and simul.
Half of them took White and it certainly wasn't a walk in the park for the lecturer who himself had drawn against Karpov in a 10 board simul (Karpov gave the simul  then of course...).
After 3 hours, there were still 5 players giving Nikolay a strong fight so he had to adjudicate the game.
HCI student Brendan Kong scored one for the visitors with a well calculated pawn grab and subsequent defensive technique.
Draws were scored by Clare Heng, Bernadette Kong, Hayley Lim and  Isabel Soh as well. One particularly interesting duel was the following where  Tan Xuan Ying matched Nikolay blow for blow and only faltered towards the end...
Nikolay was pleasantly surprised at the resistance put up and remarked that the participants had put up 'a real fight' and were definitely very serious in their chess study and game demeanour. 
Isabel holding her own against Nikolay

Bernadette won the exchange against Nikolay with the better position but the latter developed a very strong attack subsequently on her king.Instead of relying on adjudication, she requested to fight on so a clock was set and a furious tussle ensued.
Finally Nikolay offered a draw which was accepted.
Hayley fought Nikolay right into the rook + knight ending without losing ground!Clare Heng reached a rooks +  opposite coloured bishops ending a pawn down but Nikolay considered she has done enough to warrant a draw
The feedback from the participants regarding the lecture was that they found the content useful because Nikolay 'taught the kids how to open up the board' and to 'always think about the opponent's ideas and plans'.
Tomorrow, Nikolay will head down to Nanyang Community Club for a 'How to play French Defence' lecture as well as take on all comers in blitz matches.
Some more pictures from the event...

Prizes for the participants - F1 books, chess instructional books autographed by Nikolay and Acronis soccer balls co-branded witt the Arsenal Football club (also a partner)!
Brendan Kong with Acronis Marketing Communications Manager Anna Kocharova who coordinated the event seamlessly.

Nikolay was very impressed with the fighting spirit of 5 year old Jonathan Lian that he decided the kid deserved to make the prize list
Not very pleased with the draw but very happy to snag the football...

Hayley is pleased as peaches on the other hand...
Isabel gets a nice sturdy chess set for her resilience
 
Finally, the organizers would like to thank Pubxchess  (Mr Carleton Lim) for providing the sets required for the simultaneous match.
Oh yes...the answer to the Wade-Korchnoi question - Korchnoi had to play ...b5! to hold the balance and immobilize the White queenside pawns.

n a chess agameffff