If I lose any more winning positions

….I’m going to have to change my name to Caruana.  ;-p

Round 3

There’s a tendency I’ve suffered from since my 1300 days, and that is to not analyze thoroughly late in games.  Sure enough, the move in question was move 39, a notorious move to blunder on.

On move 39, I had 39.Nxg5! winning.  I saw 39.Nxg5 Nxc4, and told myself I’d come back to this line, but never did (so I never saw 40.Ne6+ in this line).  One thing Kosintseva showed in her video is that you always have to come back and make a second pass of all your lines, and I failed to do this.

Instead, I played 39.d6? figuring on at least a fighting draw out of it.  I expected him to take my bishop instead of my knight, then I decided to give up a pawn for activity.  After the game I said I should not have given up the pawn, but then he beat me from the even material line, anyway.  I think it’s a deadly combination of 1) I get tired, and 2) My endgame skill is not as high as my middle-game skill.  Before this move, I did not feel tired, but looking at lines during this move wore me out a bit.  I collapsed in the endgame.  Not only is the endgame losing, but I blundered with 51.Rd5? in time-pressure, seeing right afterward that I should have played 51.Be2 to defend the g-pawn, although it’s still completely lost.

I often think if I could just force myself to do puzzles from the Volokitin book where you have to look at lots of long lines from a single position, that I would have more endurance and capability OTB to play them.  Most of these wicked complicated positions come after, say, move 28.  You need endurance and legitimate analytical skills to do really well in chess.  I mean, you can blitz chess games up to a point, but then you really have to do a lot of quality analysis in some position, particularly positions later in game where decisions become more concrete because there are less resources to wiggle out from bad decisions.

This marks my 7th consecutive game, OTB, where I had a winning position.  I need to close these games out, as endgames are infinitely more tougher.

I played at ClubChess! Wednesday night.  They have a Wednesday night tournament for at least this month and the next.  Here is my Round 1 game.  Great location, site, and hosts!

15…g5 was winning a move earlier as well, as she is just dropping a piece.

2017 Pikes Peak Open

Round 1

Round 2

Time-pressure is really a confidence check.  If I were playing a Class C player, I would have played 28…Qe5, 29…Qc5 and won easily, a rook up, which I saw, but was worried that since he’s an Expert he might have seen something here, such as 28…Qe5, 29.Nf5 Qc5, 30.Ne7 and 31.e5+.  Also, after 29.f4, can take on f4, or just play Qc5.  In time-pressure, I believed him enough to think I could win without the risk.

43…Kg7.  With 1min5sec on my clock, I was still writing down moves and only looked at the board enough here to actually make a move, otherwise 43…d6xe5 is blindingly obvious, as is not moving my king into a fork.  Even here, this would have been a relatively easy win with a 30 second increment, but I was playing on a 5 second delay for this game.  It’s ironic that superior blitz skills are a factor here, in an otherwise Standard time-control game.  In hindsight, I should have stopped writing down moves (he was still writing them down, and not playing faster than he felt he needed to, though he is practically a blitz specialist), but this is also a bad habit to get into for the 30 second increment time control.

Round 3

Off to a 2W 1L start.  I was winning the game I lost, but blundered a piece with a minute and 5 seconds on my clock (G/90, 5 second delay for first two rounds).

Round 4

38….Qf2+??  We were both under a minute.  A panicked move in time-pressure.  I told myself when playing 37…Qf6, that my next move was going to be do move the knight as a discovery on the queen, and I had seen the fork at some point as well, but I was trying to work out if there was either a mate or perpetual for some reason, and just blundered from here.  I knew I had blundered with this move, but compounded it on my next, and then blundered my rook on the following move while thinking about a “winning endgame”.

Round 5

This game took less than 20 minutes from my clock, a sad last round pairing, considering I could have been playing for prize-money instead had I won that previous game.  Alex finished his game quickly and wanted to go home, so I wanted to finish my game quickly as well.

Sadly, I noticed as soon as I had played 9.exd6? that he had 9…Nf5 in reply, yet he blundered the game by taking with the queen anyway, then he played …Nf5 instead of …Nc6, so he had to give up the queen to avoid Ne5 mate.

I feel as if this game I just played is representative of where my level is at in chess right now, it’s somewhat higher than previously, and of course every time I’ve studied some of Tal’s games it’s helped my strength.  The main thing about this game is that I knew where I was going in this game straight out of the opening, much better than he/she.  I could tell during the game, even though it’s blitz, that my opponent was falling in with my plans.  Chessdotcom 5/5 blitz game

Round 2, Tuesdays

Round 2

I usually get paired with Expert Paul A. in 2nd rounds, but this time the turnout was lower, and I got another Expert instead (a newly minted Expert).  I figured if I got paired with Paul, I could at least try to draw him since that would be a first for me, believe it or not.  I wanted to make up for last weekend in this game, thinking no one is going to believe me that I brought my “B game” to that weekend tournament, and why should anyone care anyway?  No one looks through a database and sorts through which players had a cold during their games, for example.

This game was fun to play, and we both got down to under a minute, finishing hours after the other games where the top players won quickly.  Unfortunately, when I play in the tournament in Manitou Springs this coming weekend, the first two of five rounds will be G/90, d/5, boo!  I was lucky, yet happy to get a win after putting my body through the abuse the past week.  It’s tough to be able to play in a day tournament, at that time, and also in a night tournament in the same week.  Generally, you are probably either more of a morning person or a night person.  Some, such as Mark, play well sleepy-eyed.

It was poor form of me not to have had the guts, in time-pressure, to push e5 on various moves, which was my plan all along.  Still, it was nice to show that I could find another way to win, even if he had an easy draw close to the end by putting his king on h8 before dropping his pawn.  I figured it was one of those mistakes on his part, in time-pressure, to try and defend his pawn, although after the game Paul showed that he could have defended it with his knight as well.  When I see a technical Expert, like Paul, find a draw relatively effortlessly, it casts an impression on the importance of technical play – from either side of the position.

8888 B-Day Celebration for Imre

Round 1

I played an unrated young man from Boulder, Colorado.  He wasn’t so bad for this being his first tournament, as he was up a piece and many pawns against a 1300 player!  I’m pretty sure he won that.

 

Round 2

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to play in this tournament, as I woke up at midnight, then went back to sleep and woke up again at 3am.  By the second round, I was misfiring, seeing the right moves after I moved.  I eventually offered a draw as I was under a minute, and Mr Cacas was at 1 minute 27 seconds when I offered the draw, which he accepted.

At the end of the game, I said I would have played 34…Ne4, since White threatens to win a pawn with 35.Bxe5, and this is equal, but I completely missed the ….f5 idea until I came home and plugged the game into Houdini.  Also, I wouldn’t have known to play it intricately, starting with 34….Nh5, which prevents White from sacking a pawn with h5 to free his bishop.  That was a great winning chance for Black, but not finding this was a casualty of time-pressure.  My fatigue gave me difficulty in calculating efficiently, and so I was happy to walk away with a draw.

Round 3

Day 2, I was plenty awake, but had no adrenaline, as I had completely flipped my sleep schedule the week before from waking up at 4pm to 9pm, to midnight, to 2am to 4am to 6am, and I never got more than four hours of solid sleep that whole time, it was mostly REM sleep.  Monday, I had no adrenaline, and Tuesday is the first day where I mostly got back to normal.   I didn’t want to play in this tournament because I knew I was going to do poorly, but Alex persuaded me to, saying all I ever do is study chess, so I decided to check out this new club, which who knows if it will ever open as a club (this is the only event it has ever opened for).

In this round, I debated between the safe Be2, and going hog-wild with Bc4.  The sac on f7 (Ng5 move) was premature, and done in the wrong order.  Besides this cave-man sac, White needed to play all the other moves with subtlelty and intricacy, but I went into cave-man mode.  Taking on f7, seems like cave-man attack, and was new for me, but now I realize that you have to play this way with even greater subtlety and understanding, something I didn’t realize so much at the time.

The club was pretty neat, suits of armor, sword, big screen TV showing the Sinquefeld cup, and some other nifty embellishments, such as chess piece designs in the windows.

Round 4

I played a standard line in the Lopez, which I decided to since it’s Imre’s B-Day and besides I hadn’t tried the formal Archangelsk yet.  For some reason, I was surprised that he closed it up instead of playing it sharp, and then I didn’t play so well.  Even near the end, I figured that Nxc4 was solid, but I made that retarded pawn capture on a4 anyway, pretty much sums up my tournament.  …g5 was bad, but I didn’t know, was merely playing to prevent f4.

Another New Opponent

Brian has a provisional rating after four games, and I seriously doubt that his actual strength is reflected by his rating.

Round 1

I generally have bad luck against this type of opening schema online because at faster speeds it is like a psychological opening/ploy where you don’t want to trade your Black bishops for White’s knights.

3…c6 was unlike me to play, but I did it because he hadn’t committed his Ng1 yet, and this Qd1-h5 diagonal was still open for his king, so I was playing the opening shrewdly.

5…Ne7 continuing with the plan of a possible future …f5 push.

8…0-0.  I didn’t even want to concern myself with possible Nxe4 tactics, although they lose, because I don’t want to spend too much time in the opening even at this G/90, Inc 30 time-control.

9….b5  Played to keep him honest, to prevent him from castling queenside, but he chose to anyway.

10….Nd7  I passed the strategic “psychological dilemma” test by not freaking out after giving up the minor-exchange (bishop for knight).  I looked at 10…Bg4, 11.h3 Bf3, 12.BxB exB, 13.e4?, not realizing 13…b4 would give Black an advantage.  But if I should learned anything from Paul A. by now it’s that it’s all about simple chess – 13.Qd2-d1 followed by 14.Qd1xf3 picks up the pawn.

13…Bb4  My blitz-move was going to be 13…b4, but I didn’t see the follow-up after 14.Nd2? because I figured …c5 would then open up the position for most of his pieces, missing 14…Rxf2.  This type of move, wow, I really shouldn’t be missing it in my calculations.

14…Nb6  During the game, I did see 14…BxNc3, 15.BxBc3 Nb6, 16.Kd2 Nxa4, 17.Ra1 (thinking he’d get his pawn back, but 17…Na4xc3 takes care of that).  Actually, I thought this line was most prudent, and that the computer would confirm this, but at the end you are left with a more strategic position than a mating attack, and I didn’t see the follow up after this of …e5, and if d4xe5, then …Ne7-g6xe5.  Often, OTB, it’s like you can choose to evaluate a position well, or you can find the lines correctly, but it seems difficult to stay objective enough, and have clock-time to do both.

18…Ba3??  I could blame that I was playing on four hours sleep, but I drank a Dr. Pepper during the game and felt great by this point.  My “blitz move”, from the previous move, was to follow-up with 18…bxc2, but I didn’t notice that after this move that the Rc1 is attacked.  Possibly, some mental fatigue caused me to economize my thinking process, since I was looking at 18…Rxf2, and must have noticed for a moment that 18…bxc2, 19.Rdf1 would defend the f2 square.  Naturally, I only played this mental trick on myself to examine the variation 18…Rxf2, followed by 19…Rfc2+, but I should have “erased the mental chalkboard” better after writing off 18…Rxf2.  If 18…bxc2, 19.Rdf1, then this was a free-move for Black, and there is no need to save the possibility of …Rxf2 as a resource for Black, as Black has enough pieces on the queenside to attack the king with, and should be trying to keep the kingside bottled up to prevent counterplay.  After 19.Kxc2 comes …Rxf2+, and after 19.Rd2, …Nc4 will hit that piece with tempo.

The more remarkable part, after 18…bxc2, 19.Rdf1 is where Black continues the attack by retreating the bishop to either a5 or d6.  GM Daniel King said he likes how GM Michael Adams makes defensive moves during his attack, and this is a great example of one.  Another such defensive move could be …Rf6-h6 at some point, which would allow Black to continue defending the e6 square from the bishop, prevent a rook trade on f6, and be played with tempo as it attacks the Ba3.

 

Up on a Soapbox

I learned something playing 15 min/ 10 sec inc on chessdotcom (incidentally, here is the last game I played, flashy finish – taking the Rf6 loses – but I missed a lot too  French Winnawerhttp://www.chessvideos.tv/chess-game-replayer.php?id=110902).  I learned that at a higher level, chess is not really a game as much as an analysis apparatus.  Slow-chess on this site really emphasizes analysis. and endgames, and patience; playing my chess-nemesis Paul A. also achieves this condition.

Chess in the USA is sold as a game, like a blitz battle in the park, luring in kids.  At a higher level, chess is less about a game and more about analysis and decision-making, like some business adventure.  When you play a lot of Class C players and below, you sometimes get that good feeling, like after eating a ding-dong, but you immediately realize it’s empty calories (or worse).  Against lower-rated players, I’ve won “on the board” a lot, and thought that’s what chess was.  Chess is rarely about winning “on the board” for titled players, instead it’s about winning the battle of analysis.  Usually, if the position is within +- 1 on the board, the result will usually side with the player performing the better analysis, not with the player who had the <+1 advantage.  However, in both cases, chess is fun, and that is the part that everyone gets right!  🙂

This video on calculation is awesome!

 

Here is a blindfold calculation exercise:  http://www.thechessdrum.net/chessacademy/CA_VisionBlindfold2.html

I got 12 of 15 right, even though it said I got only 10.

I got #8 wrong, saw the right answer (knew that move, actually, as a tactical pattern), but thought there was a mate in 1.  Upon realizing I got it wrong I “noticed” that there is a pawn in the way.

I breezed through 11-13 and got #11 wrong because I hurriedly thought it was the Kalishnikov the way I play it, without c4, and so forgot about that pawn.  I got #11 wrong because I mixed up the colors/color to move from the “diagram”, and had thought it was suspiciously too easy at first (actually, it’s even a tricky problem).

This was a better result than I was expecting, as I was able to solve blindfolded, my errors came down to forgetting about a pawn twice, and mixing up the colors/direction in an endgame diagram, which is sometimes easy to do when looking at an endgame diagram visually.  Remembering where pawns are is usually the most important thing you get better at with blindfold practice, so I’d say my result makes perfect sense to me.

This Week’s Games

I’ll start it with a game from Chess dot com played at 15/10, and end it with one played at 3/2.

The slow games helped me improve, and the blitz games are more like a status check, they don’t make you better, only more primed to make quicker decisions.

I feel confident my chess has gotten better, or at least more 1900 than 1800.  I think some techniques like at least trying to blindfold or guess the opponent’s moves help, but it all sort of goes out the window in blitz, as my third or fourth blitz game was the type where ya don’t realize when or where the piece was dropped.

Tomorrow night is rounds 4-6 of quick chess.

Round 4

Round 5

Round 6

In rounds 4 and 5, I didn’t always take material when they hung it, to keep the games interesting.  I said Scott could take his move back, when he dropped his Bd7, but he said no but thanks, because it’s a rated game.

I played …b5 in a haste against Paul, and was considering the three other best candidate moves …Rab8, …Rfb8, …b6 were my other three candidate moves, best ones, but I quickly played some blunders, and was even looking at better moves at times, but didn’t have the experience level where I could just know, without spending time to calculate, whether I could fortress up or not.  Either way, I was a little better, but that ensured that Paul got his type of technical game, and he outplayed me for the umpteenth time.  I spent hours analyzing this game.

On the one hand, it’s a bummer losing to Paul at any time-control, and G/24, inc 5 sec feels real enough, even if he calculates and moves faster than anyone in terms of okay moves quickly.  OTH, I feel as if I should have only been playing Paul for the last 7 years, since he plays the game that I need to improve against, a purely technical player/opponent.