Lichess4545 Ledger 012

Lichess4545 Ledger

Issue #012 - January 16, 2017

State of the League

Round 2 of the team league and round 1 of Lonewolf have just finished. #ladder continues along steadily and #blitz-battle is being organized at the moment. There is no shortage of opportunities to play games. Like I mentioned in the last issue of the ledger, we plan to highlight some important @chesster and website features. We also made some tweaks to the alternate search which is also explained below. Please be sure to thank cyanfish and lakinwecker for their work.

Chesster and website features

The newest feature is the addtion of iCalendar feeds. As long as your calendar program supports it, you can now add the scheduled game times to your calendar. The link to the feed is found in the pairings page on the top right hand corner where the small arrow is located. See below:

If you'd prefer to subscribe to your own team's games, do so by filtering the pairings page to only show your team's games and then find the same arrow at the top right hand corner.

You can also subscribe to just your own calendar (or any other player) on your player page. I have highlighted the link in the image below.

For Microsoft Outlook, adding a feed should be as simple as clicking on the Calendar link and following the prompts. For Google Calendar, right click the "Calendar" link and click "Copy link address", "Copy Link Location", or similar:

Then, in Google Calendar, under "Other calendars", click "Add by URL":

And paste the link you copied earlier:

Your games should now show up! If you use the Google Calendar app on your phone, you'll need to go into its settings and select the new calendar.

The second feature I want to remind you about is chesster notifications. You can edit those notifications via the website. This has been mentioned before in Lonewolf, but is worth mentioning again.

To see your notifications screen send a DM to @chesster with "notifications 45+45"

Alternate Search System (as explained by @cyanfish)

When a player can't play, their captain marks them (or they mark themselves) as unavailable using chesster (See ledger #003 for more on the available/unavailable feature). 48 hours before the round starts, chesster starts looking for alternates for everyone marked as unavailable. If a player is marked as unavailable after that, chesster starts looking immediately.

One alternate is contacted for each unavailable player. After 12 hours, if the alternate hasn't responded, the next alternate on the list is contacted.This repeats every 12 hours until any one of the alternates contacted accepts. If an alternate declines, the next alternate is contacted immediately. If a permanent alternate is needed, the same system is used to get an alternate for the round, and then the captain asks that alternate if they want to fill in permanently. If an alternate is contacted and they don't respond for at least 24 hours, they are marked as unresponsive and are moved to the bottom of the list.

How are alternates assigned to boards?

That works in two steps. First, to determine the rating threshold between two boards, a weighted average is taken between the ratings of players on the adjacent boards. Second, it looks at the number of alternates that would be placed on each board based on those thresholds. If there are at least two more alternates on one board than an adjacent board, it tries to adjust the threshold to even them out.

It repeats this a number of times to try and get them as even as possible. However, the threshold is never adjusted beyond the highest/lowest ratings that already exist on the board. Also, for both steps 1 and 2, there are some adjustments to prevent outliers from skewing it too much.


Notable lichess4545 community member video:

@thepawnslayer talks about King Hunts and features his own 45+45 game

@Atrophied live commentates his 45+45 game vs @JPTriton and his Lonewolf game vs @urjah


Stats from Round 2 of 45+45: Thanks to somethingpretentious for his work to automate the process of coming up with these stats. It is much appreciated!

  • Biggest upset: 161 point difference boviced 1692 beats ruby_kid 1853 Gamelink
  • Lowest ACPL game: 4 ACPL TIE both players in same game ramz_mihailov vs linail Gamelink
  • Lowest combined ACPL game: 8 combined ACPL ramz_mihailov vs linail Gamelink
  • Highest ACPL game: 126 ACPL madatadam in loss vs FM lovlas Gamelink
  • Highest combined ACPL game: 210 combined ACPL madatadam vs FM lovlas Gamelink
  • Longest game: Reached move 84 somethingpretentious vs klod42 Gamelink
  • Shortest game: Ends on move 14 ianremsen vs xVaria Gamelink
  • Quickest mate: Mate on move 14 by ianremsen vs xVaria Gamelink

Stats from Round 1 of Lonewolf:

  • Biggest upset: 334 point difference kobol 2059 beats NM Rezeknenian 2393 Gamelink
  • Lowest ACPL game: 10 ACPL NM Rezeknenian in loss vs kobol Gamelink
  • Lowest combined ACPL game: 22 combined ACPL kobol vs NM Rezeknenian Gamelink
  • Highest ACPL game: 106 ACPL JakobKS in loss vs hetraie Gamelink
  • Highest combined ACPL game: 199 combined ACPL hightecherik vs pgabrail Gamelink
  • Longest game: Reached move 81 hightecherik vs pgabrail Gamelink
  • Shortest game: TIE Ends on move 16
  • Quickest mate: Mate on move 16 by LM Flaneur vs CaptNCarter Gamelink

Finally as always feel free to join #lichessledger on slack if you want to help or contribute in any way to this newsletter.

Chess For You

A Case for the Four Knights Opening

by @tnan123

It is hard to give a definitive description of the place that should be reserved in opening theory for the Four Knights Game. Theoreticians of the highest level have given a wide range of evaluations down the years. Here are two extreme cases:
"The Four Knights Game leads to very animated play, rich in chances for both sides." (Tarrasch)
"The Four Knights Game is one of the best proven systems of avoiding all complications in the opening and it is therefore regarded by masters as a drawish opening." (Keres)
Obviously, both esteemed gentlemen are right, each in his own way.

From Mihail Marin, Beating the Open Games - Quality Chess 2007


I'm a big fan of the Ruy Lopez. I play it from both sides. The issue in playing the Spanish as White is that Black can very often steer the game into their own territory. From early on it is Black who chooses the first major branch point. They can assay the morphy defense (3...a6), the Berlin (3...Nf6), or even defenses such as the Schliemann, Cozio, Steinitz etc. Black is the one who may choose a Bc5 system, or decide to go into the Open Ruy. It is Black who chooses the variation of the closed Ruy Lopez (Zaitsev, Chigorin, Breyer etc). My point is that Black is probably as booked up in the opening as you, and as White you are often playing the game where Black is most comfortable.

If you find this frustrating, let me suggest the Four Knights Opening. I'm not saying its better than the Spanish, I'm mainly arguing for you to consider a few of its merits. In this post I will be speaking mainly about the Spanish Four Knights (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5) instead of the Scotch Four Knights (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. d4). With the Scotch Four Knights its helpful to know Scotch theory - especially against an opponent who already plays the Schmidt var. of the Scotch (4...Nf6).

There are five reasons I'm recommending that you consider the Spanish Four Knights. I hope to elaborate on all these reasons further below:

  1. It's a common occurance in classic games. If you're studying Lasker, Capablanca as White or Rubinstein as Black you'll often see the Four Knights.
  2. It's a great transpositional weapon against the Berlin and Petroff/Russian especially if you don't like the main lines against those openings (I don't think many 1. e4 players do).
  3. Modern GM's continue to play it for a win despite it's drawish reputation. Well known modern practitioners include several English GMs who brought it back into modern practice, including Nigel Short, as well as Vasily Ivanchuk and Alexei Shirov. More recently Arkadij Naiditsch, and Wei Yi, specifically, are using the four knights on a consistent basis in serious classical games.
  4. At the club level, Black is often unprepared when facing 3. Nc3 in the open game (1 e4 e5). As White, you can often extract an opening advantage, a time advantage, and/or a psychological advantage against your unprepared opponent.
  5. It is much more fun than you might think!

Lets go over my five points more closely

POINT 1 - The Four Knights in Classic Games
Studying classical games is one of the best ways to learn chess. In studying classics, you learn and appreciate chess culture/history. Moreover, in classic games the basic plans that develop from the classical openings (such as the Four Knights) are often easier to understand. Having some of the greatest players of our past consider this opening worthy of play is definitely a checkmark in favor of the four knights in my book! Here's a fun classical game to whet your appetite for this opening:

Capablanca vs Steiner 1933 - played with living humans as the pieces: See here (


POINT 2 - Meeting the Berlin and Petroff
Tired of the Berlin endgame or frustrated when you meet a Petroff (2...Nf6) expert? It's hard to come up with more annoying openings to play against as an 1. e4 player. In this short study I made, see how you can immediately steer the game away from those lines and very likely get a Four Knights Game. Sure, not everyone will decide to try the Four Knights in these situations. However, when faced with a player who plays a line you dislike, its good to have the flexibility to switch to Nc3. In addition to flexibiility, I would argue you shift yourself away from theory that requires good memorization in the Berlin and Petroff to a game where memorization of deep lines plays a lesser role.


POINT 3 - The Four Knights is Still a Serious Opening in Modern GM praxis
Yes the Four Knights is not as popular nowadays as in the past. However many top GMs continue to play it and theory continues to be developed. It's still regarded highly as a legitimate opening, and as shown below, it can be a true weapon in one's modern repertoire. Here just a small collection of some great modern games to check out! (all in the Spanish Four Knights).

  • Anand vs Mamedyarov Gashimov Memoral 2015: Gamelink - One of the most symmetrical positions after 15 moves from each side that you'll ever see! It leads to an amazing middlegame by Anand where he sacs the exchange for longterm compensation.
  • Morozevich vs Svidler FIDE Grand Prix Thessaloniki 2013: Gamelink Brilliant miniature that shows classic Moro creative genius! What an original idea with 13. b3 - b4 - Nb4! by Morozevich
  • Motylev vs Shirov Corsica Masters 2004: Gamelink 12. Nxd4!! A serious queen sac!!
  • Ivanchuk vs Caruana Biel 2009: Gamelink
  • Harikrisna vs Eljanov Gashimov Memorial 2016: Gamelink
  • Carlsen vs Aronian: Amber Tournament Rapid 2010 Gamelink
  • Wei Yi vs Maxim Rodshtein from World Team Championship 2015 Gamelink - An amazing game by Wei Yi!

Finlly, for the theory nerds (@TonyRo): There is still exploration in this centuries old opening. This New in Chess excerpt (link) is already quite old, but it shows that work on this opening continues. For more relevent and recent theory check the modern games of Naiditch and Wei Yi.

POINT 4 - The Unprepared Opponent

This can make a BIG difference. Overall, this is not a theory debate about which line is better than another. It's a case for practicality. Players who play 1...e5 study the Ruy Lopez, Italian, and Scotch (at least to some extent). There are also many gambits played from the classic Open Game so I'd venture to say players from the Black side also study the King's Gambit, the Bishop's opening, and Vienna game before they take a serious look at the Four Knights. People shun the Four Knights aside due to the drawish reputation. For a club level player, these arguments hold little weight. You will almost certainly be more prepared as White!

A wise full time chess coach recently messaged me when I asked him about the four knights:

"I have approached repertoires with students in the same way: aiming for practical simplicity narrowing the need for theoretical work and seeking the right to decide the flow of the game early - get a kind of home court advantage"

I would argue that you can very often immediately gain a psychological and/or time advatange highlights the inherent worth in considering the Spanish Four Knights. The Black player may be nervous in not knowing what to do very early in the game, he may let his guard down in seeing what he deems to be a less well-regarded opening. In any case, you already have many advantages in meeting the human opponent on the black and white battlefield. Sure, these can be true of any sidelines and lesser known openings, but its hard to find one so well respected throughout chess history and still played at such a high level today.

POINT 5. Fun
I'm sure many of you skimmed this article and many of you didn't really play through some of the games I've linked. Well,  go over the first four points again, play through those games, especially the one's I highlighted under point 3. For someone with a passion for chess, tell me that some of those games weren't fun.

And to quote some wise words from Emmanuel Lasker and the thousands of chess coaches, instructors, and players since

"Knights Before Bishops"

Sure it's not a maxim to follow in every case, but Lasker does have a point.

To conclude this probably way too verbose article, I hope I've made a case for you to at least consider this opening the next time you sit down at a chessboard.

Chess Puzzle

From a round 2 game in 45+45 on board 4: freefal vs johnhammer1456. White just played Ng3. Black to move. How does Black play for equality despite being 8 points down in material?

For the answer see gamelink.



Creative Commons License

Lichess4545 Ledger #012 ©2017 by Thienan Nguyen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

"A Case for the Four Knights Opening" written by Thienan Nguyen.

Thanks to @cyanfish, @somethingpretentious, and @lakinwecker for their contributions. Thanks to @petruchio for his help in editing this issue.