Too Insistent

Round 3

I feel as though I won this game because, while I may have been a little too insistent on playing for a win, my opponent was even more insistent, too insistent, in playing for a win, and that is really the reason for his c4 blunder at the end of the game.  It wasn’t just that one move though, it was other moves as well, and interestingly enough that’s why I also won against his sister.  Themes might run in families because I beat Rhett’s dad Dwayne on Friday, in a different theme, yet it was possibly thematic of why I should have won against his son on Tuesday as well.

Poor Clock Management

Round 2

I played a new opening variation response against Rhett’s standard system, and then really began to wonder, after his a4, how I was going to defend my e-pawn after Nc4 and b5.  Luckily, the answer was after exchanging on b4, to play Bxf2+ and then Ra8xRa1 – once he plays Bb2, this rook will no longer hang, but he was reticent to play that, and from going to this “How can I possibly defend?” and “Help me, I forgot how the pieces move!” sort of feeling, I pretty much deciphered this opening system and then got a winning advantage.

I spent a really long time on my moves, and contemplated 17…Nd3, being simply up a pawn with still the better position as well, but I wanted to simplify in my time-pressure.

26…Qxd4?!  h6 might be better.  I was just in over my head in this position with the amount of time I had available.

35….Nxb4.  I wanted to lure him with the perpetual here, desiring a draw because of my lack of time.

37….Kf8?? I had just under a minute and half here, and told myself to really look at this position when I look up from writing down my move.  But instead, I was too tight, looked up and made the move, then immediately resigned after his move.  No doubt he would have continued to work my clock with his 15 remaining minutes.  We looked at 37…Kh8, 38.Qe3 Nc6, 39.Kh3.  If I continue with …Qg7, he has 40.Bc3 Ne5, 41.Qd4 f6, 42.Qd8+ Qg7, 43.Qxc7, threatening Qb7.  He could have definitely made my life miserable in my time-pressure and likely wins with his clock advantage still, since I have the much looser king.  He plays the opening defensively, usually, but then is the best swindler later on.

I had 25 seconds more than I would have had it been G/90 – but I’m also required to write down my moves – so basically I lost a G/90 game to an Expert, as Black, so I take a little of a moral victory there, but I also know where I need to make big improvements, later in the game.  BTW, Tuesdays are G/75, 30/inc.

Late addition:  Expert Paul Anderson gave my a good ribbing for not winning this game, pointing out for instance that 16…Qg3 is instantly winning, based on Qxg3.  He joked “Once you win a pawn, you should sac for his un-developed pieces” (the f2 sac of mine was pretty terrible).  Then, given the continuation at the end of the game I showed above after Qd1+ and Qxc2, he played Queen to h-file check, and then mated me as White with Qh1 mate (after a few more checks) – IOW, he found the queen and knight mate that I felt did not exist OTB.

I’ll post my Wednesday game when I get home.

The Veresov

I played my Round 2 game, after all, and I’m glad I did.  I wanted to be up there for Alexander in case anything terrible happened to his grandma, who is still in the hospital since earlier in the morning.  As it turned out his Mom came down to Denver to meet him at the hospital, so I just went straight home.

This game is one of those that looks a lot more lopsided than it really was.

10…Bxg4?  I should have played 10…dxe4, as she can now play 11.exd5.  Being not as comfortable as her with this opening, my timing of …dxe4 was possibly two moves later than it should have been.

11.Rg1??  It’s now a forced win for White.

14…f5.  She gave me plenty of time on her clock to find everything after this move.  If 15.Ng5 Bb4+, 16.c3 Bxc3+ (I discovered that 16…Re8+ doesn’t work, or at least not in terms of the quicker victory, so I changed the move-order), 17.bxc3 Qxc3+ and then 18…Re8+ or …QxRa1+ as appropriate, is winning rather easily.

16.Nf3??  I was hoping for this, and let her know that 16.Rh8 was forced, after the game.

18.Kd2??  Walking into one of two forced mates.  She had to play 18.Rd1 if she wanted to play on longer.

Actually 11.Rg1?? is losing because it allows an unfavorable “pull move” as I call them, or removing the defender.  I was expecting 11.Nf3-d2, which is why I didn’t take on e4 first.  It’s funny how so much analysis gets crammed in during a game that it can be difficult to keep it straight.  She saw as much as I did during the game, but she had less focus, and you can see how at this point I had done a better job OTB of refining the principal variation.  I could add more analysis that I saw behind the opening moves, but don’t have time to blog here what I saw OTB yet.

Double Chess-blindedness

Round 1

I don’t know what I was thinking on move 19, Qb3, as I knew he had craftily regrouped to put four attackers onto my d-pawn.  I was expecting him to play 19…Ba8, and of course I had looked at 19.BxNf6 just to prevent him from winning the pawn.  Pete showed me that the move is 19.e5 +-, when White is virtually winning here.  When he took my pawn on d5, it came as a complete surprise, and yet my next reaction after thinking I had blown it and must try to trade d-pawn for b-pawn, which is not even  possible, was to say “Can he really take that pawn?”  Within half a minute I saw that he could not, and after a minute I was sure of it and played my move within about a minute and a half total.

It’s just weird that I didn’t calculate that he could not take that pawn, and yet he couldn’t.  I had so much initiative and such a postional stranglehold that it’s not too surprising, but still, he got me down to four minutes on my clock at one point, and that’s enough of a scare right there.  Another possibility is that I did calculate that he couldn’t take the d5 pawn, but it was done so rapidly and subconsciously that I don’t recall doing it, but I don’t recall not doing it either.  Perhaps it was simply a moment of “unconscious competence” as Alex might say.  ;-)

6.Nf3.  I didn’t want to play 6.f4 because of exd, 7.exd Bf5.  Plus, you generally don’t want to get too “pawny” against a modern/pirc type player, and this is a closed-up pirc with …e6 cutting out his …Bg4 unless he wants to get into it with a Czech Benoni.  This is really a d4 opening that I chose to go into when I played 3.c4 instead of 3.f4.  I am not going to get ultra-religious about e4 and not play this as a d4 opening, particularly against a lower-rated opponent.  In fact, I want to get some d4 experience in against weaker players.

I played 12.e5 to avoid his playing …e5 first, and because I prefer open positions over closed positions when I have an advantage.

14…BxN was a positional concession.  when I played 14.Bf4 I was anticipating the reply 14…Qc7, 15.NxNd7 BxBf4, 16.NxNf6+ gxN when I still have pressure with 17.Bf3.

18.Re1.  Somehow his 0-0 reply caught me unawares, so all of my previous thinking must have been wearing on me.  Stronger may have been 18.BxNb8 QxB, 19.Re1+ Kf8 (Re7?? 20.RxR+ KxR, 21.Qe2+ followed by 22.dxBc6 winning the bishop), 20.Qb3 Ba8 is +-, or 19.Qe2+ Re7, 20.Qxa6 Ba8, 21.Qb5+ is +- as well, and even stronger.  It’s obvious that I got nervous by my strong position, and hadn’t saved nearly enough time to give this position the true attention that it deserved.

The rest of the game is sort of self-explanatory.  :-)

Endings and Beginnings

Round 5

Going into Round 5, I was not in contention for money, and I lost rating points.  However, my opponent Mark went 4 out of 5 and back up to 1782 rating.

In the opening, I may have played not so good, but turned it around in the middlegame, but could not find my equilibrium in the ending and lost.

34…g6??  This move is hideously bad.  I wanted to assure that I had locked up the position from attack, but only assured my trouble later on, as I could have let him play f6 and f6xg7 and then not recapture that pawn with my king until forced to at a later moment.

41.Kf3?  42.Kg3! wins.

42…Qc2??  42.Qh2 draws (I completely missed this move in time-pressure).  In the line I played, I missed that there is no perpetual there.

I had looked at other lines suck as 42.Qa7, 43.Qxb Qxc, 44.Qb8+ Qf8, 45.Qd6 and now Qa8 is possible, but I was worried about 26.Qe7 which becomes a constant mating threat.  Actually, 26.Qd7 would virtually be zugzwang there.  It was too much to examine in too little time, and Mark blitzed me excellently.

This was the first time that I had played a Cambridge Springs Defense OTB, and wasn’t thrilled about how I played it except to say that I don’t have much experience with it and was more or less trying to get through the opening.

This game was a great example of a “hole” in my chess understanding, and frankly the defeats that uncover a hole in my chess understanding – which are most of my losses or I likely would have hung up the skates by now – are not as damaging.  I thought Gareev’s video on this subject of using an enemy pawn-shield had been eye-opening enough, but seems I still hadn’t incorporated it enough into my general level.  Here is an awesome example by Tartakower of using the opponents’ pawn as a shield:

Tartakower gives the line 18…bxNc3, 19.NxN cxb2+, 20.Kb1(!) Qxc2+, 21.QxQ RxQ, 22.Nf4+ winning the Rc2.   Even after this stage was resolved, he didn’t take the b2 pawn – which came as a big surprise to me – since Black still has two rooks and a knight and there is no sense giving Black a free Rb6+ later in the game.  And since he didn’t play Kxb2, Black played this hideous-looking …b5 move, which no doubt would not have appeared had the possibility of a …Rb6+ remained available.

Tartakower gives a note before playing Rde1 saying “The turning point of the struggle where the miracle of combination must make it’s appearance.”  My Best Games Of Chess 1905-1954 – Tartakower.

Another brilliant Tartakower game, this time featuring the Orangutan, which he basically invented, or made famous.

I think a positional refutation of this opening would simply be …d5 and …Bf5 because b4 acts as a shield for Black against Qb3 threats, which is what frequently gives Black such a bad light-squared bishop.

Tartakower gives 15…RxNe4, 16.QxNg6 Rg4, 17.BxNf6 QxB, 18.QxQ gxQ, 19.Re1 where White is simply a pawn up (and has better structure).

Round 1

I started this game with 90 minutes on my clock, and finished it with 92.  I’ve never had anyone stumble into this trap OTB against me before, and not even online as best as I can recall.  I stuck around and watched how all of the other games finished.  Some of these kids are, such as his brother Jesse, are massively under-rated. Wednesday’s G/90 Inc/30 tournament will be a five-rounder with two byes available.

Clear Second

Final Round

Up until move 13.Qb8?, this position looks as if it must be a tabiya, as a lot of logic has gone into both sides play, but starting with move thirteen, Black makes a series of technical errors that only compound his problem.  Before this down-slide, it would seem about as equal as Black could reasonably expect from an opening variation.

If anyone asks, I can say that I have reached a smothered mate position OTB, except of course that my opponent resigned before I could demonstrate it, which is probably mostly what happens in these situations.  I don’t see why it would be that uncommon in practice, for a Class player.


Round 4

Hard to believe that I hadn’t won in a while going into this game, my last outing with White against a lower-rated player was a draw, and now I faced a player who was higher-rated than that one, and who moves quicker as well.  My four-mile jog before the game takes away my calm-energy, and I am left with nervous energy, which is good, but can lead to nervous mistakes as well, and a lowered level of a confident feeling while playing.


9.Be3  White has a sizeable advantage here, but I didn’t have the guts to go with Daniel’s post-mortem recommendation.  9.Na3 (the d-pawn is still immune) Qb4+ (…Qe6+, 10.Bee Nf6 also looks suspicious for Black), 10.Bd2 Qxb2, 11.Nc4 Qxd4.  I stopped my analysis OTB here, questioning just as much why I want to go down two pawns to a 1600ish player who should be able to beaten by simpler means.  However, Daniel confidently continued with 12.Qa4! Nf6??, 13.Be3 Qd7 14.Rc1 Rc8, 15.Ne5 wins. So, instead if 12…e6, 13.Be3 Qd7 (13…Bb4+? should fail to 14.Kf1!) 14.0-0, and after 15.Rd1 and 16.Rc1, you probably wouldn’t want to be Black, thinking about holding those two pawns, when White is developed, Black is no castled and very worst case scenario is getting at least say the a7 pawn back as compensation, but no one strong would stoop to this if it only gained a pawn from the position.

12.Qa3.  Daniel liked 12.Qb3, but I had calculated OTB 12…Qb6 (..Be7 is also very possible and likely best), and if 13.d5?! BxNd2+, 14.KxB QxQ, 15.axQ exd shows that such a shot here would be premature)

15.QxQ.  I thought strongly about playing 15.Rc5 here, and probably should have played this based on positional principles, but at the last second changed my mind based on faulty calculation of the line that I played.

19.Bf4.  I had missed that after 19.Bd2, Black has the fork 19…Nb3!, and I didn’t even see this until I started to reach for my bishop.  I was far from touching the piece, but couldn’t find a move here that I liked anyway.

28…Rb8?? A blunder of a pawn this late in the game, with no compensation, is just losing.

32.Bd7?  At this point in the game, I was just a bundle of nerves, knowing that this move was a mistake, but playing it anyway because I didn’t want to calculate any more as I went below four minutes.  32.Rd7 was the obvious move, where 32…Nc5 fails to 33.Ra7, and 32…Nd8 fails to 33.Bf3 a6, 34.bxa6.  These lines are clear as day, but I was feeling too nervous to calculate clearly and simply.

34.Rb6?  Rb7 is clearly better, defending White’s seventh rank

37.Rc8+  Around here, Pete came to look at my game, and I shot this move out first for some reason, because I didn’t want to calculate that 37.Rc6 is winning based on his king can’t reach a passed c-pawn in time.

38…Rg8?  Here I had taken the time to calculate and was hoping she wouldn’t play 38…Kf7, as 39.Rc7+ Kf6 and it’s going to be long endgame.  40.bxa6 Rxa6, 41.Rc4 when White can cleverly still play for a win due to Black’s pawn islands.  40.Rxa7 is probably just as strong, or at least against a Class player, due to the pawn islands of Black and healthy pawn front of White.