Endgame Mistake

Round 2

11…Nc2?  11.Ndb5!

25.Qxa1?  25.Nxb1!? Bxc6, 26.bxB Qxc6, 27.Rc1 Qe6, 28.Bc4 is unclear.

25.c7!? NxNc2, 28.QxNc2 Rbc8, 29.BxRc8 RxRc8, 30.RxBd5 is another possibilty.

25…Bb3!

33.Bxc6??  I thought that I was equal after 33.Nxc6! Bc7 ( 33…Bxa4??, 34.Nxa7 Bc5, 35.BxB cxB, 36.c5 Bd5, 37.Nb5 is winning for White), but it seemed he had had answer for everything up to this point, so believed him in my time-pressure.  Objectively, it’s a draw with chances for both sides, but I strongly suspect that he would have played the blunder in a desire to be right.  Perhaps my biggest sin was playing this endgame on the increment, which explains the mistake.

No Defense

Round 2

I made the same type of mistake in this game as in my last loss against Aleksandr.  Once I sensed I was getting low on time, I played 22….h5? based on the looks of the position, and missed that he was getting 23.Nc3 in “a la tempo” or, as a free tempo.  So, I should have played 22…Rad8 first, and if he plays 23.Nc3, then I will not play ….h5.  It makes me think of the Monty Python skit “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquistition!”

24…Kh8 looks bad, but if 24…Bh6, he has 25.Bg5 Rf7, and he played 26.Bh4! post-mortem here, and won with Ng5+ trading knight for bishop, where it surprised me how devastating the bishop-pair was here when one would think this should be a “knight position”.  Quick note is that if I push …d5 at any point, he can give me four pawn islands and easily won post-mortem that way as well.  He can also play 26.a4 here, and if …Bf5, then he could play 27.Nc3 or simply 27.a5, and my pieces are all still jumbled up, where it will be difficult to defend against his rook pair as in the game.

30….Bh6??  Loses, but a slow loss appears as 30…Bf8 (which I did consider), but then that other rook is still getting to a6 and I will lose the pawn on c5 or d6 at some point, and then I have weak pawn islands on same rank.

This is how Paul A. wins his games, it’s very technical.  He says that I am great with time, but have terrible instincts when I don’t have enough time to spend on a move.  I will say that defense is more exhausting than attack.

Round 1 Games

Round 1 Tuesday

In this game, I avoided attacks and sacs early on, tried to get my “sea legs”, and could have probably played lots of improvements.  I also made quite a few mistakes.  However, once he got a good position and initiative, he didn’t quite know what to do with it, and I easily took advantage of that – even with only two minutes on my clock, didn’t matter with the increment.

Round 1 Wednesday

17…Rd3!  I played this move so that if 18.Qc1, then …Rae8, and White cannot place the Nb3-c1 to defend e2 because the queen would be on c1.  After 18.Qc2, there is a windmill tactic winning both White’s f3 and h3 pawns.

I believe the only Round 1 upset in either tournament was Will Wolf’s drawing of Anthea, but he is also very under-rated (nevertheless, I I had no trouble against him in a couple of skittles games, but he has a very mature feel for standard openings – his Latvian gambit appeared to be a terrible choice against me in skittles).

Round 5 Loss

Round 5

This game felt like a needless, disappointing loss.

10.Bg5?  I knew this was a bad move as soon as I saw it, but I let my guard down.  Incidentally, before this point, he had been doing “long thinks” such as 30+ minute move, and I was ten minutes ahead on the clock.  Finally, since we were sitting under this air-conditioning vent, I put on my jacket and tried to convince myself I could play that way (I play much better when it’s cold) because I was sort of “froze out” already at the board.  When he resumed moving, we played this moves quickly, I saw Bg5, then immediately thought …g6?, and I believe I did note the correct move, 10…gxf6, but didn’t play it because I missed the forthcoming tactic at this point.  I had this unusual conversation with myself trying to convince myself to think and not just move, but I guess I lost the argument and should have taken off my jacket on my move to focus better!  …g6 would have been correct (winning the f-pawn with my queen) had there not been this tactic.  When he played 11.Re1+ using not much time and making this move in this really fast, confident manner, which is how he makes his moves, I spent about 15 seconds before playing 11…Be6??, and then thought to myself as I was removing my hand from the piece “Why hadn’t I looked at 12.RxB?”, and then noticed his winning tactic as I finished pulling my hand away.  About five seconds later that rook on e6 disappeared and I instantly uttered “Sh*t! I was hoping you wouldn’t play that.”, rather disgusted with myself.  Then I took off my jacket to focus again but it was almost too late by this point, as I decided to play on.

20…Bb6?  It’s all over at this point.  I should have played 20…h5!, putting the question to his knight.

20.Qc1!  I was impressed with this move of his more than any other.  I expected 20.Qd2, but this move also stops me from playing 20…b5 (21.Qxc4).  Actually, it’s irrelevant because he’s just winning on the kingside now in any event, but I can appreciate his positional thoughtfullness here, as 20….b5 would at least be better than taking his pawn.

20….Nxd4??  The defensive task from a poor position had eaten away at my clock much more than it would have had I had a position with more legitimate chances.  BTW, 20…Bxd4 is obviously a much better move, however, winning this pawn is a bad idea except in the world of practical changes.  Some sort of maneuvering/waiting move here would be best, but it was really too late once I missed playing 20…h5, which I considered but didn’t appreciate all of the danger just then.

My Rating is up to 1844 now, and I split first place with Aleksandr, the Russian.

This game was bitter-sweet, as I had a good overall result, but felt out of it on Wednesday, probably because I hadn’t been tot he bar so long and was still recovering.   I was not psyched up at all for this game, and thought before the game and during the game that I could have a mental lapse, and that is exactly what took place.  I was not my normal self where I am paranoid and look for threats, nor really motivated, was in this lackluster mood after the opening instead.   I had considered playing Kasparov’s 5….Be7, but had told my buddies last week that I would play for a win as Black.  So, intellectually I may have still been motivated, but physically and spiritually lost my motivation after I felt some relief knowing I had survived the opening.  His manner of play, going from big thinks to an almost blitz-like series of moves, played confidently, also had an effect as I sort of glibly tried to play my moves back just as quickly, though without sufficient preparation behind them, as if it were a game on FICS.   I’ve had this throat infection today, so not sure if I was already coming down with a little bit of something during this game, but definitely was after another late night at the bar with Alex and Paul.  Magnus wins sick though!  hehe.

Refuting the Refutor

Round 4

18…Bd6 might seem crazy, but it’s going to be loose on any other square, and if 18…Qxh2, double-attacking Ne5 and Rg1, which I was expecting to see him play, then I have the pretty 19.Qd7+ Kb8, 20.Qd8+! NxQ, 21.Nd7 mate.  I confess that I did not see this OTB (maybe he did?), but I did see it as I was putting in the moves to the game a few minutes ago.

After the game, I told him it wasn’t wise to try and refute my opening play, and that I could played sharper and possibly refuted his move-order with 6.Nc3 Qe6+ (say), 7.Be3 Nf6, 8.Nb5!, but I wanted to manage my clock and not get sharp so early (but theoretically probably should have).  We played another post-mortem game starting with a normal C3 tabiya where he once again declared that he was winning a pawn (after I told him not try it), whereby I ended up winning a piece out of it and that game, too.

A pretty finish to this game could be 19….Rd8, 20.RxN+ bxR (forced), 21.Qxc6+ Kb8, 22.Nd7+ RxN, 23.QxR Qxh2??, 24.Rxg7 followed by 25.Rg8 mate.

When Paul met us at the bar, he said he had fritzed it after the game, and Fritz was suggesting the Rxc6+ followed by Qa6+, but that line was getting messy, even after trading my dark-squared bishop for his …Ra8.  I simply didn’t want to trade off my attacking force like that, but yeah, everything should be winning, more or less.  ;-)

Quick-Rated Tournament

This tournament was from last Friday, and only affected everyone’s quick rating.  But I have to confess that from the moment I stepped in I was thinking that all of these strong players show up for this tournament because it won’t affect their real-rating.  In light of this, I am including people’s regular ratings in the game descriptions, since it gives a better indication of their real chess strength and understanding.

I played in this tournament to help get me to make moves more quickly, but I found out that  time-usage is all about percentage of clock remaining, when it comes to time-management.  Alex was right, the reduced time generally hurt my opponents more than it did me because I wasn’t worried about blundering –  where they suddenly have half an hour to figure out how to refute it all the way to mate.  No sir, that fear was greatly diminished at quick-chess.

Round 1

Round 2

I can’t give this game justice by the score.  I did play badly as indicated, but then it got tactical where I attacked his rook, then he somehow forked mine with this knights, and then I set up these wicked piece-sacs where he could go wrong but didn’t.  It must be indicative of more bad play on my part and creative play on his part, but I just can’t figure it all out.  I didn’t win that a-pawn so soon, and he was playing his Nc6 and all sort of crazy stuff that I can’t deduce logically from the postion.  hehe.  Needless to say it was lost for White here a bunch of different ways and there is no need to analyze the continuation any further (it takes longer to figure this much out than it did to play the whole game!).

Way too many pawn pushes and confused rook moves on my part in this game.

Round 3

Round 4

I played Aleksandr as Black and won, and will play him again as Black next Wednesday.  Any prep suggestions!? :-D  In the game, his a3 move in the opening rather passed the buck, and he only blundered from there.  The game was over after he won a pawn and thus traded rooks in the process, and then he had to sac his bishop for a passed pawn and it was all smooth-sailing from there.

7.a3?! was weak, but a scary continuation here, for example, would be 7.f5 Nd4, 8.Ng5, h6, 9.h4! A Fishing-Pole!  So….if 7.f5, then …Na5 would seem mandatory, and that is likely why he was playing 7.a3 first.

The Lucky Tournament

This was Round 4 of the five round tournament on Wednesday’s this month at G/90, Inc/30.

It’s been said more than once by elite tournament winners that you also need a bit of luck to win a tournament, and this game was no exception to that rule.

I started off playing this ridiculous looking “Five and a half pawns attack”, which isn’t so great an idea against Paul perhaps, but fortune was on my side this time.

First, 13…Qa5.  I was worried about 13…e5, when my attack stands to wither away considerably.

22.Rd6?  I wanted to play 22.Nd6, which is dominating, and should lead to a win, but instead played 22.Rd6 based on a cute tactic which doesn’t work – 22…Bd7, 23.Nf6+ BxN, 24.exBf6, and not now …Qxf6??, but simply …Qe8, when I would seem to have nothing much left to show for my attack.

27.d7  I could also play 27.Bf3, and here Paul showed me …Qd8, 28.Kh1 Qb6, and then I saw after 29.d7 he has …Bf6, and Black is much better.  As it was, I sort of swindled/hookwinked him through this part, as he missed continuations where he would have been better.

34.Nxc6  Again, at the board, I felt that 34.Nxe6 was crushing after …Bd4+, 35.Kf1 (my king is now one step closer), Bb6, 36.d8(Q) BxQ, 37.NxB, and now while Black has saved his c-pawn, it will act as a shield against his own king while I round up the a-pawn, and there is one less kingside pawn to stop.  As it was, I chickened out and played the obvious continuation, which could have easily lost.  Paul made quite a few bad moves and may have even been winning had he played it right, was at least equal for Black.

4-0 is my score in this tournament as it now stands.  :-D