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Thibault de Vassal    (2013-05-07)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

As you may know, Eros Riccio won the 8th FICGS chess championship by beating Jeroen Van Assche (who remains undeafeated though, he did not lose a single chess game at FICGS yet) in the candidates final, preventing him to play Eros again in the final.

Eros kindly accepted to answer a few questions:


- Hello Eros. First of all, congratulations for winning this 8th FICGS correspondence chess championship. Once again, you did not even have to play the 12 games match to defend your title as you won the qualifying tournament. In these conditions, the challenge was really tough for Jeroen Van Assche, in despite of his prodigious chess. He had to beat you consecutively in the candidates final (8 games match), then in the final (12 games match). How did things go in this candidates final?

Eros: Hi Thibault, thanks again! I was also worried to have to play a very strong player like Van Assche, but fortunately I had again the advantage that all draws were enough to win, and so my strategy was again not to take risks in all my games. As White it was easy... and surprisingly also as Black. The only game where I had to be more careful than others was this one: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qf3 h6 8.Be3 Qc7 9.0-0-0 Nbd7 10.Qg3 b5 11.a3 Rb8. Here Jeroen surprised me with an interesting novelty, 12.Kb1. The two times I had played this position I was White against Gueci and Kruse, and in both games I continued with 12.Bxb5 but couldn't get more than a draw. The idea of 12.Kb1 is to sacrifice a Pawn for the initiative after 12...b4 13.axb4 Rxb4 14.Nb3 Nxe4. The White Bishops are very strong after 15.Nxe4 Rxe4 16.Bd3 Ra4 17.Bd4 and fully compensate the Pawn less. Anyway I managed to defend, and when I was finally able to trade the Queens we agreed for the Draw.

- You also won the ICCF Umansky Memorial a few weeks ago, the italian correspondence chess championship (again) as well, obviously you played numerous games last year, what do you plan for the next months? By the way, Jeroen already qualified for the candidates final of the 9th cycle, meaning that he may play you in the final match next year if you defend your title again, is there a chance that we can see a revenge?

Eros: Yes, like in the past, also last year I have played a lot of games... anyway for the future I am planning to reduce my games a lot. At the moment, except a few games in minor tournaments, I am only playing for the italian colors at the Olympiads and European Championship, for ICCF. I didn't register for the new Italian Championship this time... I prefer to wait that another individual top ICCF Tournament starts. And of course I am also waiting to meet my next challenger for the FICGS Final! Maybe it will be Van Assche again, we have to see if he beats his opponent in the semifinal (actually next candidates final).

- It looks like a few chess engines reached a certain maturity, I mean algorithms. As a consequence, the computer speed may become the major evolution factor during the next years, that is generally slower than the program's improvements (but the future may have surprises, of course). What do you expect from the computer chess world in the next few years and its impact on correspondence chess?

Eros: As I have already said in a previous interview, being chess probably a draw with perfect play, the more engines get stronger, the more draws we will see. That's quite obvious.

- You probably do not play chess over the board so often, yet you have a quite good ELO! (about 2200, while many correspondence chess masters are rated below 2000 or not rated at all) By the way, I can certify that you are a strong blitz player after we met a few years ago. Do you still play tournaments?

Eros: I am not playing otb chess for a few years, my peak was 22... and a few points, I don't remember exactly. One of the main reasons why I stopped is because later, when analyzing my games with an engine... every time I got frustrated a lot seeing all the blunders I was making.

- Do you estimate that playing OTB chess is good to improve at correspondence chess?

Eros: Yes, it's useful especially if you develop a strategical style, then also in your corr. games you can see more easily "long-term-strategy" plans, which is still the "weakest strenght" in all engines.

- Do you feel that you're still improving at correspondence chess? If yes, is it mainly a question of opening book or something else?

Eros: Improving at corr. chess... hmm... I will surprise you with my thought about this matter! I think I can evaluate my strenght according to the speed of the computer I am analyzing my games with. When I bought this computer, 3 years ago, I felt like I could beat the corr. World Champion. Now... as my computer is becoming older and older, I feel like my play is getting weaker each day it passes. So my answer is that I am still getting worse at corr. chess, not improving.


Thibault de Vassal    (2013-05-07 13:18:49)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

A quite surprising last answer, indeed :)


Alvin Alcala    (2013-05-07 18:10:04)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

More questions please :). Congratulations!


Thibault de Vassal    (2013-05-08 22:05:53)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Not so easy to find good questions... particularly for the same player after the 3rd or 4th time in a row :)


Daniel Parmet    (2013-05-09 03:13:24)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

But you did anyways Thib! Great interview.


Thibault de Vassal    (2013-05-09 17:57:09)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Eros just told me that he will try to answer all questions (by FICGS players) in this discussion... so if you have any idea to try to discover his secrets, please just ask! :)


Eros Riccio    (2013-05-09 18:57:45)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Thib, let me start pointing out that I have no secrets except one: Luck. It accompanied me throughout these FICGS WCHs.
So guys don't ask me to reveal my "secrets", as I have none!


Alvin Alcala    (2013-05-10 12:25:55)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

1. How many man-hours do you spend on your games particularly how many hours on your move? Do you spend countless hours over it?

2. What are the top 3 engines you find useful on your CC games.

Thanks and More power to you!


Thibault de Vassal    (2013-05-10 12:26:09)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Nice try :) Just joking... luck is part of the game, indeed... but one can't achieve what you're doing (here and in other tournaments) without something other players do not have. Well, good chess first.


Alvin Alcala    (2013-05-10 12:28:20)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

lol!


Eros Riccio    (2013-05-10 16:09:30)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

you know, Thib, I have always wondered why corr. chess is so easy for me. As I said, human chess is a completely different story, I feel like a beginner there, blundering at almost every move. But at corr. chess, with the help of the computer, things become extremely easy. I don't know why not everyone using a computter too is not nearly unbeatable as I am. maybe they use weak engines? Slow processors? Maybe they let their engine analyze the position only for a few minutes? I came to the conclusion that it must be something like that, otherwise everyone would play at GM Level by just analyzing for a decent amount of time with houdini on a fast processor. My conclusion is that I have more success than most other players because they don't take corr. chess too seriously, they probably have some better interests and only take corr. chess as a fun hobby.


Eros Riccio    (2013-05-10 16:29:52)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Hi Alvin:

1) It depends on the position. Deciding a move may take from a few seconds to many days. My longest thought was 64 days for a move, in a decisive game of a past Italian Championship, the move was so hard for me that I also used the 30 days leave in order not to exceed the time limits for a single move. If someone is curious, it's move 40...Rh3 of the game Baiocchi - Riccio 0-1, 57 Italian Championship, played in 2007. Back then, after all my analysis with many different engines, I found out that Hiarcs was the engine that understood better than all the others that endgame, so I sticked to it mostly and its suggestions rewarded me with a win that allowed me to become Italian Champion.

2)The top 2 engines, which I usually use (and consider about equal) in infinite analysis at the same time with 3 cores each on my 6 cores computer are houdini 3 and deeprybka 4.1. Then come all the others, hard to pick a third place, probably critter or stockfish, depending on positions (stockfish is very strong in endgames, critter in tactical positions)


Alvin Alcala    (2013-05-10 16:55:50)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Thanks for sharing this information and the other one in RF (very old stuff). It's a very good model in every CC player's tool box.


Garvin Gray    (2013-05-11 15:20:04)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Eros, how do you think you would go in events with shorter time controls?


Attila Ba    (2013-05-11 16:56:56)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Do you ever overrule the engine? ( I mean, have you ever made a move which was considered inferior by the engine. )

Are you willing to make moves suggested by opening books even if there valued less then optimal by the engine?


Alvin Alcala    (2013-05-11 17:06:49)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Eros answers are always very informative. I have not seen any other person who shares at this level.


Eros Riccio    (2013-05-11 17:08:42)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Garvin,
the speed of the pc is much more important for events with shorter time controls. The shorter the event, the fastest the pc is important. I don't know how short you mean with shorter, if you mean very much shorter, like freestyle games, 60 min + 15 sec, I did great there, while I have never tried time controls like 1 or a few days per move... I don't think I would do bad there too anyway.


Eros Riccio    (2013-05-11 17:32:04)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Attila,
sometimes it happens that I play a move that is not the first suggestion of the (supposed) best engine. Anyway I usually use more than one engine for analysis and it may happen that they all suggest different best moves, so it's not always easy to say what is a best move, also because even if you analyze with one engine only it may change his best move if you give it more thinking time.
Anyway it happens very rarely that I play a move which is not in the top 3 houdini suggested moves.
As for the second question, yes, I would trust (not always of course) a good opening book, as if the book has a good score with that move it means that it contains games which led to wins. It also depends on the quality of those games, but a good quality book should contain high-level games, so why not trust it?


Garvin Gray    (2013-05-12 01:25:35)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

I was referring to a time control like 30 days initial plus 1 hour per move increment


Eros Riccio    (2013-05-12 01:55:59)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Ok, I have never played that time control. I think that would be a little too fast for my tastes, as I am used to take some long pauses between the moves quite often.
That's one reason why I have never joined the WBCCC Tournaments on rybka forum, as they had that kind of time control.


Garvin Gray    (2013-05-13 17:08:14)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

I was seeing if you would be interested in playing in WBCCC 2014 :)


Daniel Parmet    (2013-05-15 15:09:03)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Eros,
What is the most number of games you played at once? Is there a number of games you feel maximizes your ability (IE does not spread your concentration too thin)?


Eros Riccio    (2013-05-15 15:29:16)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Hi Daniel,
in the past I have been playing something like 100 games at the same time. That was my maximum, and I really felt some pressure with that quantity of games, and I also felt that my overall play was reduced quite a lot. Anyway that happened when I still had a low ICCF rating, so playing many games back then was a good idea in order to raise my elo quickly. Playing so many games now that I am over 2600 wouldn't be such a good idea anymore, as with almost every draw I would lose points (not to count the losses!) because I would likely have a higher rating than most of my opponents.
Everyone has his own limit of games, but a thing seems logical for everyone: the more you play the more your quality of play is reduced. I think I can handle up to 50 games at the same time without a big loss of quality of play, and without feeling much pressure. Above that number, things would become difficult for me. Anyway it's very possible that, as at the moment I am only playing 16 games, (all for iccf) even playing (only) 30 games would give me some pressure. I am getting old :-)


Alvin Alcala    (2013-05-15 17:26:47)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

You lose some games, how did you feel about it? Can you give us some samples games that you lost and you did your very best. Seems your invincible!


Eros Riccio    (2013-05-15 18:09:28)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

I started playing corr. chess in 2000 and I (should, but maybe I lost a few games) have played 780 games. Most of them were draws (447). I lost 10 games as White and 13 as Black. My latest defeat as White was in 2005 against Gino Figlio, many of you know him as he plays here too, while as Black my latest defeat was in 2009 on this server against Alberto Gueci.
How I felt when I lost? I forgot! That happened too long ago ;-P


Alvin Alcala    (2013-05-15 18:20:08)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

lol, you definitely forgot it. :)


Alvin Alcala    (2013-05-15 18:23:15)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Whats your best games so far? against of course top opposition.


Thibault de Vassal    (2013-05-15 18:24:16)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

2005 is like an eternity ago, but I feel it would be a public interest source to publish this game (Riccio-Figlio) here :)


Eros Riccio    (2013-05-15 18:41:10)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Here is the game where Gino kicked me, it was played on a server called "Chessfriend.com":

[Event "AT-2005-0-00273"]
[Site "Chessfriend.com"]
[Date "2005.08.18"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Riccio, Eros"]
[Black "Figlio, Gino"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B97"]
[WhiteElo "2480"]
[BlackElo "2154"]
[PlyCount "112"]
[EventDate "2005.??.??"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Qb6 8. Nb3
Be7 9. Qf3 Nbd7 10. O-O-O Qc7 11. Bd3 b5 12. Rhe1 b4 13. Ne2 Bb7 14. Kb1 Nc5
15. Nxc5 dxc5 16. c4 O-O 17. g4 a5 18. Bxf6 Bxf6 19. g5 Be7 20. Qe3 a4 21. h4
Rfd8 22. h5 Rd7 23. Rd2 Qc6 24. Ng3 b3 25. a3 Bd8 26. Rdd1 Ba5 27. Rg1 Rad8 28.
Ka1 Qd6 29. Ne2 Ba6 30. e5 Qc6 31. g6 fxg6 32. hxg6 h6 33. f5 Bxc4 34. Nf4 Bxd3
35. fxe6 Rd4 36. e7 Re8 37. Nxd3 Rxe7 38. Nxc5 Rxd1+ 39. Rxd1 Qxg6 40. Qd4 Kh7
41. Nxa4 Qc2 42. Qd3+ Qxd3 43. Rxd3 Bc7 44. Rxb3 Bxe5 45. Nb6 g5 46. Nd5 Rd7
47. Ne3 h5 48. Kb1 Kg6 49. a4 h4 50. a5 Kh5 51. Kc2 h3 52. Nf1 Kh4 53. Ra3 Rf7
54. Ra1 g4 55. a6 Bd4 56. Kd3 Ba7 {White resigns.; Enddate: 12/3/2005} 0-1


Eros Riccio    (2013-05-15 18:55:23)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

I have problems in evaluating chess games, how can you say if a game is good or not? To my taste, "unusual" games are the best ones. The one I am publishing is one of the first games I played, back in 2001. After a "unusual" Hyppo-Defence, it was amazing how the Black pieces coordinated for an incredible kingside attack. This is probably my favorite game:

[Event "18 C.I.M."]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2001.02.01"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Calzolari, Mario (PG)"]
[Black "Riccio"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B06"]
[WhiteElo "2107"]
[BlackElo "2025"]
[PlyCount "76"]
[EventDate "2002.11.26"]

1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Nf3 a6 5. a4 b6 6. Bc4 e6 7. O-O Ne7 8. Re1 O-O
9. Bf4 h6 10. Qd2 Kh7 11. Rad1 Bb7 12. h3 Nd7 13. Re2 Nf6 14. Rde1 g5 15. Bh2
Ng6 16. d5 e5 17. b4 Qd7 18. b5 a5 19. Bb3 Rg8 20. Kh1 Nf4 21. Bxf4 gxf4 22.
Qd3 Nh5 23. Rg1 Bf6 24. Ree1 Rg6 25. Nb1 Rag8 26. c4 Bc8 27. Nbd2 Qd8 28. c5
Bh4 29. Ref1 bxc5 30. Qc3 Ng3+ 31. fxg3 Rxg3 32. Qc2 Bxh3 33. Rf2 Bg4 34. Rb1
Bxf3 35. Nxf3 Rxf3 36. Rxf3 Bg3 37. Kg1 Qh4 38. Qd1 Qh2+ 0-1


Thibault de Vassal    (2013-05-15 19:03:28)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Easier to watch this way...


... a funny game, indeed :)


Alvin Alcala    (2013-05-15 19:38:55)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Classic hippo setup. You played like a real virtuoso of hippo. Very nice game :)


Garvin Gray    (2013-05-17 07:43:26)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Which way Thib? I see only the notation.


Thibault de Vassal    (2013-05-19 21:00:05)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Do you have Flash activated in your browser Garvin? (application is ChessFlash)


Garvin Gray    (2013-05-20 14:23:01)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

I looked up chessflash, but could not see a pc type download. Only for mobiles by the looks of it.

So I am so confused. What do you mean by flash in this context?


Alvin Alcala    (2013-05-20 20:04:36)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Just use chrome browser.


Garvin Gray    (2013-05-21 00:56:06)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

I already do


Tano-Urayoán Russi Román    (2013-05-21 22:05:24)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Garvin you have adobe flash player installed? if you do you should see a replayable board with arrows and the game notation


Jeroen Van Assche    (2013-05-21 22:16:19)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Garvin, to the far right of the address bar, maybe a shield is displayed. Click on it and then click Load unsave script.

To Eros, congrats again. I definitely need to improve my opening play if I ever want to beat you.


Thibault de Vassal    (2013-05-22 01:22:46)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

By the way, I didn't see the Riccio-Figlio game... here it is:




Garvin Gray    (2013-05-22 16:29:35)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

From - Jeroen Van Assche

Garvin, to the far right of the address bar, maybe a shield is displayed. Click on it and then click Load unsave script.

Bingo, now I can see the diagrams. Thank you Jeroen.


Sebastian Boehme    (2013-06-25 03:01:04)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Eros, do you sometimes still use your old dual core for analysis? ;-)


Alvin Alcala    (2013-06-29 11:18:05)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Good question!


Dimitrios Ropokis    (2014-07-20 12:40:41)
Eros Riccio on his win in 8th chess WCH

Eros thank you! My best wishes to you!!









 

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