Unfortunate End

Round 1 Thursdays

I got down to under half a minute when I played 37…b4?!  This is the move that is supposed to keep winning and drawing chances alive, but it is only digging the hole deeper.

39…g6  39…fxe4 is also drawing here.

40…Kc6?? With 15 seconds on my clock, I played this move thinking that everything is losing, but I at least should have gone into the unknown with 40…fxe4!, which no one could know draws at the speed we were playing it, but at least you can play it knowing that you don’t know yet whether it’s losing or not.   40…fxe4, 41.fxe4 Kd6, 42.Kd4 e5+!, 43.fxe Ke6, 44.Kd3 Kxe5, 45.Ke3 Ke6! draws.

41…Kd6??  Another surprisingly poor choice, since 41…fxe would at least give White the chance of going wrong with 42.Kxe?? which only draws, and 41…Kb5 would at least get into a pawn race where I queen one tempo short and White is required to show some technique.  He had plenty of time, over half an hour still on his clock, so there wasn’t much reason for him to falter, but it shows how I am just making guess moves in time-pressure.

I spent around two hours going over pawn endings stemming from this game.  Since I knew this game was heading for an endgame, I should have saved more time on the clock for the ending, and even two more minutes more would have given me a decent chance to find the draw, but I should allow the game to end with more time just because – it’s not like I was calculating checkmates against me, which would be different.  It was really poor to get into time-pressure since I was better nearly the whole game.  I was trying too hard to win, and the endgame was only equal.

A Tribute To MLK, tournament

A Tribute to Martin Luther King tournament did not turn out well for me, went 1 for 5 in the Open section.  The first two rounds were G/90, d/5, the last three were G/90, Inc 30.

Round 1

Blundered in time-pressure, I had 7 seconds left to his 6 seconds.  He blundered his rook blitzing, but I didn’t see it.  I blundered a pawn and he didn’t see it either, but I blundered last.

Round 2

Daoud had a terrible tournament and didn’t even look at the board during my turn, and left the board on most moves.

Round 3

Even though I got six hours of (restless) sleep before the tournament, I felt that I lost my usual focus at the board before this game and for the rest of the tournament.  The 2-3 hr wait in between rounds took a toll on me (I don’t know how Brian Wall does it at his age).  When I played Qe7 toward the end, I knew it was bad, but this was the first move where time-pressure really affected me in this game.

Round 4

I could play f6 or fxg6, eenie meanie minie moe, and chose the wrong one.  I was planning to sac on d5 (threat) so I figured he’d defend with …Ra7, and then I’d play Rxg4 but he beat me to the punch with …g3, and I was losing just like that, and then missed a couple of checks.  It was right when I decided to speed up my play that I played this f6 line.

Round 5

With the combined wait of over 2.5 hrs before this game, and only 5 hrs of restless sleep the night before, I started feeling really weird before this game, my body movements were slow and responded a bit sluggishly, like heavy arms.  I saw the drawing move ….Reb8, and that was my other choice, but it was last round and only keeping queens on could preserve a winning chance.  I missed his combo.  After the game, my brain felt strange like it was more full of fluid or something.  By the time I got home I felt much better.  I’ve heard of GMs (John Nunn, for example) not want tournaments to be scheduled too closely together so that they can recover.  I guess I didn’t realize I hadn’t played two weekend tournaments back to back before.  I was hesistant to play because I felt my brain was over-chessed (I really felt that playing blitz on Tuesday), and indeed it was; I felt that this might happen.

I reacted badly to time-pressure for the rest of the tournament after my round 1 debacle (Rhett’s dad says he practices playing G/30 seconds chess where they premove everything.  Rhett also played in the blitz tournament in the North American Open back in November.  There are no classical professional tournaments with a G/90 5 second delay, so it feels very fake/phony to me.

Actually, the night before the first day of the tournament I studied English Opening and a lot of Catalans, which helped me to win in round two.  The interesting thing is that if you don’t count Rhett’s blunder with 6 seconds on his clock in a time-scramble, the only blunder that any of my five opponents made was the one in round two which prompted my opponent’s immediate resignation.  Think of that, five rounds with only one blunder coming from opponents!  Because of my physical state, and the conditions, I’d say the tournament wasn’t really worth it to me, but it did give me some experience playing in an Open section of a multi-section tournament; something I don’t remember doing in the last twenty years!  I’ve played in the top quad back in CA many times, but that is only for one day and has a consistent, sane, and desireable time control unlike the tournaments here in Colorado (Chess Palace is 30/90, G/30, d/5).  If a TD is reading this and thinking “then I don’t have to play” my answer is “No, we do have to play at tournaments with undesireable time-controls, like G/90 d/5, to be able to face many specific opponents.”

My new, hemorrhaged and over-chessed, rating is 1813.

The big difference between playing one round on a weeknight (assuming you don’t go in tired after a long day at work) is that a tournament really tests your stamina.  When I finished round 4, I had 2 hrs. and 10 minutes to wait until the next round even after finishing my subway sandwich, so then I went for coffee, and grabbed some yoghurt at Whole Foods, but really if the rounds were half an hour apart I wouldn’t do any of that.  At the Chess Palace, I could get by on a large soda because the rounds were closer together, three of them, and got to sleep alright after I got home and took a walk.  Here on day one, I drank a coffee, and a large cappacino between rounds, and went home wired, and then more out of it on day two.

When I have a lot of energy, the time between rounds serves to calm my nerves, but when I am already tired I have no nervous energy anyway, then the gap between rounds seriously wears on me.  In round 5, when I played …Re6?? I was looking at my own drawing sacs on his king.  …Reb8 was correct, and if he trades rooks I figured I could draw, but I was more concerned about him playing …Rb1, and then after RxR, RxRb7…a6, I wasn’t sure whether I could defend my a-pawn still, or whether after ….Nd7, …c5 which it turns out was possible, I wasn’t sure what would happen after e4 with my knight on d7.

When you are tired in a last round in particular, it feels tough to defend.  I came home and played two blitz games online, won both, but it was me not knowing how to defend a pawn in a new position, losing it and having a lost position, then setting a trap which my opponent promptly fell into and couldn’t figure the way out of – this is totally not how high-rated classical tournament chess typically works because they see your traps or find the exits.

What I now know about being over-chessed is that it affects one’s endurance, and in my case there is a physical feeling in my brain too.  I feel sharp right now, could go online and win blitz games where a shorter attention span (it’s a short game) prevails, but if I were to sit at a board for over an hour I would begin to feel it.  Actually, I blitz my first moves more in this state because it’s tougher to concentrate on subtleties.  Conversely, I would likely have been better off getting less sleep, and napping between rounds, than going into the tournament over-chessed.

I don’t know if re-adjusting to the altitude in CO (mile-high) played any significant role, but what I do know is that I have a more consistent playing experience in CA, when I play in one day quads and drive up there alone, mentally composed and gathering my thoughts.  My roommate Alex, who normally wakes up at 7am (I wake up at 11 am normally) was very fresh and went 4 wins 1 loss in the U1800 section after losing his first game by making a bad sac which would have been winning had he not got checkmated first.  Also, the Saturday quads in CA start at 11:30 am, which also makes it easier on me to go in fresh, being a late riser.




Chess Palace Quads

Round 1

9.Qd3.  I did spend a lot of time considering 9.0-0, which is the more critical line.

10.d5?!  Again, castling was better.

12…Ng6??  I missed 13.Nxd5!

14…Bf5??  This move could have been played two moves ago, when I would have responded Qe3 with an equal position.  Of course, I’d been waiting for this move, and it’s surprise value was history by the time he played it.  Simply 14…0-0 was best.

15…Ng3??  Doubling-down on a poor position.  I was expecting to see 15…Be6 +-.  15…Ne7? fails to 16.Nxf7 KxN, 17.QxNe4 (works due to the double pin).

18…fxe6.  It looked a bit more complicated to see 18…f6 when I was going to respond with 19.Bxd Qe7, and then Nxh7 wins another pawn.  The last part is something I had seen, but OTB it’s difficult to remember and keep everything in order.  When he got out of the restroom he played this move instantly, and then resigned within a minute or two seeing the continuation that I had seen, namely 19.Qxe6+ Kh8, 20.Bxd5 Qe7 (else …Rc8, 21.Qg8+ RxQ, 22.Nf7 is smothered mate), 21.BxRa8.  He pointed out this continuation excitedly, but I refrained from playing it more quickly because it was a committal and decisive sequence, and he had been showing a lot of will to win in his moves.

Round 2

7.fxe  7.0-0 is better, allowing …exd4, Nxd4.

10…Ne5?!  10…0-0 is the straightforward way to play.

11…NxNf3+?  11….Ng6? fails to 12.e5, but …Nfg4! and if 12.Qxg Ng6 threatens to trap the queen with …Bf8 (and Black can take on h2), so Be3-g1 (to give the queen the e3 square) +=.

14.Qg3  Simply not ambitious enough.  14.Qe3! was the way to avoid the queen trade, while Black is still seeking shelter for his king.

11.Qg5!  After a long think, I found this idea.  It was not easy to spot this move.  Black’s idea was to take on f3, then h2 and control that dark diagonal with his bishop, which could rest on f4, hence my concern to find a strong reply to this idea.

27…f6.  After great endgame play by Black, I felt that this move gave me a new lease on trying to play for a win.  The computer likes this move, but now he has to play this endgame very well, whereas there was no real way for White to make progress here I showed him in the endgame, and he proved it post-mortem.  Well, …f6 happens sooner or later, according to Houdini and I can see why after some analysis with it.

In the endgame, I was worried that Black would turn it into a race, when my slower extra pawn could turn it into a draw.  As Neal started moving his king further toward my pawns, which was the start of the wrong idea for him, my expectations for the outcome of this game began to soar.  He was guarding a backwards pawn on the queenside and had no space over there, and was down a pawn there.

35…Rd2  This is where he started to go wrong.  I expected 35.Ke7, and I wanted to play 35…Rf5 instead of 35…Rb8 because he appeared to have had the fast outside passer.  White actually wins this endgame by a single tempo because the a8 queen can take the h1 queen; e.g.; 35… Ke7 36. Rb8 Rxf3 37. Rxb7+ Kf8 38. a4 Rg3 39. Ra7 Rxg4 40. Rxa6 h5 41. Ra8+ Kf7
42. a5 h4 43. Rh8 g5 44. a6 Kg7 45. Rb8 h3 46. a7 h2

Once you see that White is winning in that line above, I want to backtrack one move.  When I played 35…Rf8 it was because I had looked at this (best) line: 35. Rb8 b5 36.
Rb6+ Ke5 37. Rxa6 Kf4 38. Rg6 Kxf3 39. Rxg7 Rg2 40. Rh7 Rh2 41. g5 h5 42. g6, and after move 37.Kf4 I hadn’t bothered to look any further, feeling it was unclear, but it’s clear as day once you follow that entire line or up to the simple idea behind 41.g5 that White is winning.

47…Re5+?  I was expecting 47…Ke6, but I knew when I played 47.Rb8 that 48.Rc8 followed by 49.Rc7 would be decisive.  Also, I sensed that 47.Kd5 was best and was tempted to play it, but 47.Rb8 was more immediately clear-cut with less to consider, and I had maybe 3 minutes left, so I didn’t want to have the chance to confuse myself.

50.Rc7  50.c5+ also works because after the rook trade …Ke6, 51.Re8+ Kd5, 52.RxR I can play the c6 pawn-promotion sac, but I hadn’t seen this idea yet (51.c6 bxc6 52.Rxc6 Rb5+, 53.Ka4 will also win).

Going over this game has given me the sense of how difficult it is to defend against a += position.  In fact, it is likely to be one of the hardest things to do in chess between two strong players.  He was defending better than I realized at points, but his task was also a lot larger than I had assumed.

Round 3

13.c5  I spent a long time debating between this move and 14.b3, but for better drawing chances, I wanted to play a more forcing line, which wasn’t a good reason to do it.

20.a4  f4 is a stronger idea, because it will give me a possibility of playing g5 in response to the …Bf6, …Nxd4 idea.  I wanted to play Bd3, but was concerned about …Bf6, threatening to take the d4 pawn.

23.Rhf1? Loses the exchange.  I thought about this game the next day, as I was getting ready to take a shower and thought I should have played the other rook to this square, as it was unfortunate that I didn’t have a check after Be2, in order to get out of losing the exchange.

24.Bxf4  Houdini gives Rxf4 as much better, and it’s easy to see why, keeping the bishop pair on the board.  There are a number of errors that we both made after this point, me making the most, but despite the differences in evals between moves this ending should be won for Black.

Last Round for this Month

Round 3

This morning I’m flying to California for the funeral of my step-sister, and then staying over for Christmas.  Thanks for all of your condolences on her passing, and well-wishes!

This game that I played Thursday evening with Paul was once again, a tale of two cities.  First there was the middlegame where I was doing well, then blundered a pawn and immediately noticed it (told Paul after the game since he didn’t see it).

13…dxc4?!  I meant to win a pawn with 13…dxc4, 14.Qxc b5 traps the queen, or so I thought until I moved, and then immediately realized my c6 would just be hanging, so I should have set it up with …Rc8 first.  Miscue #1.  I was trying to move faster in this game at times, and that is the main motivation for the blunders that followed.

18…b6??  Again, it was maybe ten seconds before I noticed he has 19.Rxc6 Qxc6??, 20.Nf6+ winning the queen, therefore I was going to respond with 19…Qd7, told Paul afterwards.

41…Rc2?? I had spent a lot of time further weakening his position, and then made the mistake of seeing what I wanted to see.  Never saw 42.Nd5+, but he played it right away.  If I had blunder-checked this move thoroughly – i.e, seen this tactic – I would have played 41…Ke8, and if 42.Ne4, then I would have played 42…Bg5, followed by 43…Bf6, when he has to take on one of these squares.  I had already had this in mind when I was surprised to see his 41.Ne4-c3, setting up the trap.  This plan above would have been an easy win because I had weakened his back ranks to his king, so that if he plays b4, then …BxN, followed by …Rc3+ would pick up the a-pawn (or even better force-trading rooks).

43.RxRc2?  Surprisingly, he did not win my bishop and instead took the exchange.  This takes us to the infamous 0.0 ending against Paul Anderson.  With my remaining clock time, and my endgame abilities compared to his I never seem to escape these things alive!

45….d3?  At this point, I sensed that I was “crossing the Rubicon”, as did he, but I simply didn’t have sufficient time to figure out this ending, based on my current abilities.  It’s almost a different endgame, as I push the pawn, and have to play it differently after each push.  This endgame wasn’t losing, but his side was easier to play, and he played it much better than I.  Most of my moves were mistakes, but it was difficult to figure out what I should or could be doing as most things I looked at simply didn’t work as far as I could see.  Disappointing way to lose a game, but you have to play a lot of blunder-free moves to beat anyone over 1900, in my experience.  Funny how my blunder on move 41 could have been after a 40 move time-control.  In a way, that is a good thing, making only one serious blunder in the first 40 moves.  For me, this represents some progress, but perhaps not to most players these days who regard 40/2 as a thing of the past.  Technically, at 40/2 I still would have had ten minutes on my clock, as compared to the speed we played at at G/90, Inc 30.  I had less than two and a half minutes on my clock when I made the move 41 blunder.  No, it was a four and a half minutes, but I spent two minutes realizing there was nothing I could do to not lose a piece, and contemplated resigning.

The Lot Of Games From This Week

Quick Chess tournament

Round 1

Flagged.  I missed the tactical idea of trading rooks to weaken his defense, which is the same idea that I missed in  Thursday’s game.

Round 2

Round 3

The punch-drunk round.  When I came home and plugged it in and saw the engine’s eval, I immediately figured out how I don’t lose a piece, and Black stands no worse than White.  This is the problem with Quick-Chess is you play so many rounds that there are later rounds in particular where you are not fresh.  I got tired at this point, and didn’t even see his Bd2 in response to Nxa5.  Playing to the tempo of the clock in the opening, can lead to a disasterous position.  I kept seeing everything late.  Janet Jackson’s “Controversy” song (the restaurant music was playing loud) was bothering me in Round 1 when I was trying to calculate, but I also realized that it’s hard to find the time and energy to calculate something difficult in Quick-Chess.  You either have an understanding and immediate grasp of the tactics or you won’t be able to “learn/solve” anything you don’t previously already understand before you showed up.  There is zero room for learning, outside of losing (which nearly always qualifies as not learning during the game, for me).

BTW, I have tried noise-cancelling headphones in the past.  Earplugs work best for me, so perhaps I could find a pair to buy.  I do think having to wear earplugs in a restaurant, to play chess, is a bad idea in general however.  By the last round, I had tuned out the music, but it’s the same thing as telling yourself that there is a bunch of babbling commotion that you need to block out; you are still aware that it is there as some active background distraction, even if no longer listening to it.  But I’m just as happy that the staff there don’t seem to yell, and talk, and laugh as loud as they used to, it’s been much quieter in that regard.

Round 4

Thursday’s Game (Round 6)

I was going to try to put in pgn annotations, but I feel like it’s not gonna happen unless I challenge myself by saying that, at least.  My Step-sister, who was in town last week, passed away on Friday in California where her daughter lives (sudden stroke), so I can’t focus much on chess at the moment.

The easy way to understand how to win this chess game is by pushing the passed pawn before trading knight for bishop, or trading a pair of rooks, which is what I missed in the quick-chess game against Daniel as well.  Trading rooks is an advanced chess concept, to my mind, because it causes other things to hang like the other rook or back rank weakness, etc.  Other than that there are multiple rook endings that win that I missed, and the computer won’t necessarily tell you these are wins until you play them out (it’s eval will steadily increase).

Here’s how Thursday’s game looked like when I went over it with Houdini while showing lines that I mostly came up with while analyzing with Stockfish:

[Event “Thursdays”]
[Site “Denny’s”]
[Date “2016.12.15”]
[Round “6”]
[White “Brian Rountree”]
[Black “Alexander Bozhenov”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “1961”]
[ECO “C67”]
[EventDate “2016.12.15”]
[TimeControl “G/90, Inc 30”]
[WhiteElo “1810”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5
8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Nc3 Be7 10. Ne4 h6 11. b3 Be6 12. h3 b6 13. c4 Kc8 14. Bb2
Rd8 15. g4 Nh4 16. Nxh4 Bxh4 17. f4 Kb7 18. f5 Bd7 19. Rad1 g6 20. e6 fxe6 21.
Bf6 Bxf6 22. Nxf6 Be8 23. fxe6 (23. Rxd8 Rxd8 24. Nxe8 (24. fxe6 c5 25. e7 Rb8
26. Rd1 Kc6 (26… c6 27. Rd8 Kc7 28. Nxe8+ Kb7 29. Nd6+ Kc7 30. Rxb8 Kxb8 31.
e8=Q+ Kc7 32. Qe7+ Kb8 33. Qb7#)27. Rd8)24… Rxe8 (24… exf5 25. Re1 fxg4
26. hxg4 Kc8 27. Re6 h5 28. gxh5 gxh5 29. Nf6)25. fxg6 Rg8 26. Rf6 e5 (26…
Kc8 27. h4 Kd7 (27… h5 28. gxh5 Rh8 29. g7)28. h5)27. h4 e4 28. h5) 23…
Rd6 24. Rxd6 (24. e7 c5 25. Rde1 Kc6 26. Nxe8 (26. Nh7 Kd7 27. Rf8 Re6 28.
Nf6+ Kxe7 29. Rxe6+ Kxe6 30. Rxe8+ Rxe8 31. Nxe8 Kd7 32. Nf6+ Ke6 33.
Ne4)26… Rxe8 27. Rf8 Kd7) 24… cxd6 25. Nxe8 Rxe8 26. Rf6 g5 27. Rxh6 d5
28. cxd5 (28. Rh7+ Kb8 29. cxd5 cxd5 30. e7 (30. Rd7 Rxe6 31. Rxd5 Rg6)(30.
Rg7 Rxe6 31. Rxg5 Rd6)30… Kc7 31. Kf2 Kd7 32. Ke3 Rxe7+ 33. Rxe7+ Kxe7 34.
Kd4 Kd6) 28… cxd5 29. Rg6 Kc6 30. Kf2 Rh8 31. Kg3 d4 32. Rxg5 (32. e7+ Kd7
33. Rxg5 Kxe7 34. Rd5) 32… d3 33. Rf5 (33. Rg7 Rd8 34. e7 Re8) 33… d2 34.
Rf1 Rd8 35. Rd1 Rd3+ 36. Kf4 (36. Kg2 Kd6 37. h4 Kxe6 38. Kf2 Rd4 39. Kf3 Kf6)
36… Kd6 37. Ke4 (37. Kf5 Rd5+ (37… Rf3+ 38. Kg6 Rf2 (38… Rxh3 39. Rxd2+
Kxe6)39. h4 Kxe6)) 37… Rxh3 38. Rxd2+ Kxe6 39. Rg2 (39. Rc2)(39. Rf2) 39…
Kf6 40. Kf4 (40. Rf2+ Kg6 (40… Ke6 41. g5 Rg3 (41… Rh4+ 42. Rf4 Rh2 43.
Kf3 Rxa2 44. g6 Ra1 45. g7 (45. Kg4 Rg1+ 46. Kh5 Rg3 47. b4 Ke5 (47… a5 48.
bxa5 bxa5 49. Kh6 Ke5 50. Rc4 Kd5 51. Ra4 Ke6 52. Rxa5 Kf6 (52… Ke7 53. Ra7+
Kf8 54. g7+)53. Ra6+ Ke7 54. g7 Kf7 55. Ra7+ Kf6 56. Kh7 Rh3+ 57. Kg8 Rg3 58.
Kf8)48. Rg4 Rh3+ 49. Kg5 Ke6 50. Re4+ Kd5 51. Rh4 Rg3+ 52. Kh6 (52. Rg4 Rxg4+
(52… Rc3 53. g7 Rc8 54. Kf6 Rd8 55. g8=R Rxg8 56. Rxg8 a5 (56… Kc4 57. Ra8
Kxb4 58. Rxa7 b5 59. Ke5 Kc4 60. Rc7+ Kb3 61. Kd4 b4 62. Rb7 Ka3 63. Kc4 Ka4
64. Rxb4+)57. bxa5)53. Kxg4 Ke6)))42. Kf4)41. Rd2 Rh7 42. Kf4 Rf7+ 43. Ke5 Kg5
44. Rd4 Re7+ 45. Kd6 Rf7 46. Kc6 Rf6+ 47. Kb7 Rf7+ 48. Ka6 Rf2 (48… Rg7 49.
b4 Kg6 50. b5 Kf6 51. Rd8 Kg5 52. Rb8 Kxg4 53. Rb7 (53. Rxb6 axb6 54. Kxb6
Kf5))) 40… Rd3 41. Ke4 Rd1 42. Rc2 (42. Rf2+ Kg6 (42… Kg5)43. Ke5 Ra1 44.
Kd6 (44. Rc2 Rb1 (44… Rd1 45. Rc7 Rd2 46. Rxa7 Kg5 47. Ra6 b5 48. Ra5 b4
(48… Kxg4 49. Rxb5 (49. a3 Rb2 (49… Rd3 50. Rxb5)(49… Ra2 50. Kd4 Kf5
(50… Kf4 51. b4 Kf5 52. Kc5 Ke6 53. Ra6+ Kd7 54. Kxb5 Rc2 55. a4 Kc7 56. Rb6
Rh2 57. Ka6 Rh8 58. Ka7 Rh7 59. a5 Kc8+ 60. Ka8 Kc7 61. b5 Rh8+ 62. Ka7 Rg8
63. Rc6+ Kd7 64. a6)51. Rxb5+)))49. Ra4 Kxg4)45. Kd6)44… Rc1) 42… Rd7 43.
Re2 (43. b4 Kg5 44. b5 Kxg4 45. Ke5 Kf3 46. a4 (46. Rc6 Ke3 47. Rd6 Rc7 48.
Kd5 (48. Rc6 Rh7 49. Kd6 Rh2 (49… Rh5 50. a4 Rh4 51. Rc3+ Kd2 52. Ra3 Kc2
53. a5 Rh6+ 54. Kc7 Kb2 55. axb6 Rh7+ 56. Kc6 Kxa3 57. b7 Rh6+ 58. Kc7 Rh7+
59. Kb8 Kb4 60. Kxa7 Kxb5 61. Ka8 Rxb7 62. Kxb7)))) 43… Kg5 44. Kf3 Rd5 45.
Re3 (45. Re7 Ra5 46. a4 Rc5 47. Ke4 Rc3 48. Rxa7 Rxb3 49. Kd5 Rb4 50. Kc6
Kxg4) 45… a5 46. a4 (46. Ke4 Rd2 47. a4 Kxg4 48. Rd3 Rc2) 46… b5 47. axb5
(47. Ke4 Rd8 48. axb5 Rb8 49. Kd4 Rxb5 50. Re5+ Rxe5 51. Kxe5 Kxg4 52. Kd5 Kf5
53. Kc5 Ke6 54. Kb5 Kd6 55. Kxa5 Kc6 56. Ka6 Kc7 57. b4 Kc8 58. Kb6 (58. Ka7
Kc7 59. b5)) 47… Rxb5 48. Rc3 Rb4 49. Rc5+ Kg6 50. Rxa5 Rxb3+ 51. Kf4 Rb6
52. Kg3 Rc6 53. Kh4 Rb6 54. Ra8 Rc6 55. Rg8+ Kh7 56. Rb8 Kg6 57. Rb4 Ra6 58.
Rf4 Rb6 59. g5 Rc6 60. Rf6+ 1/2-1/2

Two Game Match with Stockfish:

Match Game #1

Match Game #2

Tuesdays Round 2

Round 2

I told Dan, after the game, that I like playing the King’s Gambit because of the novel positions that I get from it (versus a Lopez).  You can almost count on getting a unique position when playing the KG, and sure enough we got one.

I have a 6 million game (ChessKing) database, and I want to show how unique these positions are.  2..Nc6 was a really interesting line to get into.  3…d5 looked a bit dubious at first.  3…d6 has been played 730 times, but 3…d6 only 58 times.  Surprisingly, OTB I was most worried about the move 4…Nd4!, which Stockfish says is the #1 move, and curiously has never been played before!  52 out of 54 times, 4…Qxd5 was played;  …e4 and …Bg4 were the other two tries.

After 5…Qd8, this position has been reached a total of 8 times.  My blitz reaction was to play 6.fxe5, but after half a minute, I really wanted to try 6.Bb5.  It took me a solid twenty minutes or more to finally convince myself to play 6.Bb5.  I figured taking the pawn was wasting a tempo, when he could just get in …Bc5 and …Bg4, the pawn may fall anyway, and it looks like I might be playing d3 in that line, or at least Qe2 which I did consider on a couple of positions.  6.Bb5!? attacks the center right away, and leads to that great pawn center I get later on.  If 6…exf4, I figured 7.d4 was an important move to get in.  I felt that 7…Bd6, 8.0-0 would be the follow-up, but I liked my practical chances here.  Interestingly, 6.Bb5 has never been played before (of the 6 million games)!  So, after only five and a half moves we have reached a unique position!

On move, 6.Nxe5 for example, I did finally realize that my Nc3 was covering e4, so …Qh4+ variations are not a threat, but figured after 6…Bc5, 7.Bc4 (attacking f7) Be6 he might be okay, not considering that I had the threat of 8.BxBe6 fxB, 9.Qh5+! threat.  Still, it (Houdini now) gives 7.fxe5 as best, probably because 8…NxNe5 in that line above is messier.

When I saw 6…a6, I figured instantly that 7.BxN followed by 8.Nxe5 would be winning, but then I started to worry about 8…Bc5, preventing d4, but the refutation is then 9.Qe2! when best is 9…Qh4+, 10.g3, Qe7.  9…Ne7?? doesn’t work because 10.Qc4! forks both the f7 square, and the loose bishop on c5.

I looked at 10.Bg5, but figured there was no reason to bother with it, and played the best move 10.0-0

After 12.h3, 12…Nf5 caught me off guard because I was intending to lessen the strength of that move with what I had played, but I’ve studied way too many chess positions to trust that his move was not premature.  13.Bf2 was sort of my plan, anyway, and if 12…Bh4, I had intended 13.Nc3-e2 eyeing f4, and preparing 14.c3 to control the center.  Apparently 13.Qd3 would have been a touch stronger, and that was my second choice.

14….Nxd4?  This move is not solid, but 14…Ne7! is.

I decided that 15.BxN doesn’t do anything because, for example, I saw this whole line OTB: 15… Bxd4+ 16. Kh1 O-O 17. Rad1 c5 18. Ne2 Qe7 19. Nxd4 cxd4 20. Rxd4 Qxe5, which is still +=, but I wasn’t so sure of that at the time.  15…Qd4+ was another way to try and go about this as Black, but I have some e6 try in that line.

I chose 15.Qg4 because it seemed so direct, but more to the point was 15.Qe4++-, which I considered but didn’t see the point of, but here example 15…Ne6 is not possible because 16.Qxc6+ is winning quickly.

15…Nxc2??  I had calculated 15…Ne6, 16.BxBb6 bxB, 17.Qf3 (earlier, I had considered Ne4 followed by Nf6+ in this sort of situation, but somehow had forgotten to try it here) 0-0, 18.Qxc6 Rc8, which didn’t seem to promise much (I said to Dan after the game), but actually I missed 18…Qd4+, 19.Kh1 Qxe5 which is why 17.Rad1 is the move, cutting this out.

But after 15…Nxc2?? I knew he was toast, and played quickly 16.Qxg7.  One can practically play this line on the increment: 16… Rf8 17. Rad1 Qc8 18. Bxb6 cxb6 19. Ne4 Qe6 20. Nd6+ Ke7 21. Rf6 Qxa2 22. e6.  16…BxBf2, 17.RxB NxRa1, 18.QxRa8+ Ke7, 19.Qf6+ Kd8, 20.Qxf7 mate was another line I had calculated, but I had cut off my analyses right before seeing that it was mate, although I had seen that mating idea on f7 already because I knew Black had nothing to stop me with in this line.

Dan seemed disappointed by his loss, that he was paired up, but he gave it a great try, and personally I feel like I am one of the strongest players there in these types of positions, so it wasn’t like it was a simple lack of effort that caused his loss.  A short, but very interesting game.  I can feel that Dan is much stronger than his (unfortunate) rating would indicate.