|May-10-12|| ||mavaddat: Nikolaos Ntirlis said in memoriam:
<"Sometimes when you have a dream, a vision, and you carefully plan how to transform it intoreality, life decides otherwise. A man with such a vision was my former trainer, mentor, teammate, and above all the big brother I never had, Nikolaos Karapanos. Karapanos was one of the most loved chess figures in Greece. When he participated in a tournament as a player, or more frequently as a coach, everybody sought out his company, enjoyed hearing his funny stories, and wanted his friendly support. Nikolaos devoted his life to teaching young and upcoming juniors.
"He was an enormous chess talent as a junior himself, but he never had the will or motivation to become a professional chess player. He was a 'man for the team' and not a 'man for himself'. He could easily draw or even win against a grandmaster if his team needed him to do so, but he could
make a 1 5-move draw against a 1 600 amateur in order to go with him and have a coffee and a pleasant talk about history, poetry, women or football, if he considered him an interesting person!
Nikolaos lived an exciting life. His sudden death, during the traditional Acropolis Tournament in the summer of 2009, was a big shock for the whole Greek chess community. The story of his death was published on chess sites all over the world.
"The spectators were thrilled by Nikolaos's play during the game. His aggressive style created unbearable problems for his experienced opponent. Everybody now expected White to deliver the decisive and quite obvious blow 37.♖xf7+ followed by 38.♖xf6. Nikolaos sat down, looked at the board and stayed calm for two minutes without moving. When everybody was convinced that he was making sure that his next move would win, he suddenly fell from his chair unconscious. "His opponent, Dan Zoler, was a doctor and provided first aid for him, and after a short time he was taken to the hospital. A few hours later, his death from a cardiac arrest was confirmed.
"Nikolaos's vision was to create a chess school. He was one of the most successful trainers in Greece, so he had clear and strong ideas about how such a school should work. He knew that no man can achieve anything without the support of people that he respects and trusts. One of those
people from his very close circle was me. Nikolaos told me in 2004: 'Someday you'll become a good player, but never a great one. But there is no doubt that you can become a great chess coach!' Of course Nikolaos always exaggerated in order to make someone feel comfortable with himself, but he proved that his thoughts about me were sincere as he brought me into his team, where I started my first lessons with young kids. He knew that I had a special love of opening theory and that I devoted much of my chess study to that area, so he made me responsible for analysing the openings he wanted to teach to his most ambitious students.
"One of the openings that Nikolaos used with success in his own games was the Tarrasch Defence. In practice, he used it only against opponents that he knew would have prepared something strong against his pet defence, the King's Indian. He liked the fact that the pawn structure that arises in this opening (e6-d5-c5 , with knights on f6 and c6 - I named it in my notes back then 'The Universal Tarrasch Structure') can be used against everything except l .e4, so his opponent couldn't avoid it! In 2006 he asked me to make a simple repertoire with the Tarrasch Defence, so
that we could use it for training purposes. I also had other projects running during that period and the Tarrasch wasn't really an opening I greatly respected, so the material I gathered back then wasn't anything special. But I continued enriching these files over the years and the Tarrasch was used with great success in the games of our juniors. This was part of the material he wanted to be taught in 'his' school.
"After Nikolaos's death in 2009, I decided as a close friend and student of his that although I don't have the power to make his vision come true, I could publish some parts of the work I did for 'our' school to honour his memory. The project of the Tarrasch Defence seemed a good choice as the theory needed to be updated. After a lot of hard work I felt ready to publish my analysis. Unfortunately I didn't have the necessary support in Greece to do so, so I turned to my favourite publisher, Quality Chess and especially to the man whose books I have enjoyed reading for many years, GM Jacob Aagaard. The rest is a story that Jacob can tell better than me, but the result was the beginning of a partnership (and friendship) that resulted in the book you hold in your hands and (hopefully) in various other projects in the future.">