Lucenna again

I probably get this position at least once out of every 100 games, and probably more so.

Here is the problem I have with caring about my online rating; I lost this game in the opening, but won it back because my opponent didn’t know Lucenna, and didn’t play the endgame confidently. Okay, I hope he learned something from my valuable instruction time, but I probably didn’t get anything out of this game, and certainly got no fix for this lingering opening-hole, other than to suggest going back to the Ruy Lopez opening.

I meant to play 21. a4 instead of c4, simply moved too quickly. Either way, the game should be his but I’d say his level of play in this game went downhill once he started putting his pawns on the light squares (the bishop threats on that diagonal were now blocked by his pawns, and perhaps his king could have got over to the queenside with a rook to cover behind the king.

Lucenna again



I saw the beginning of variation 1, but couldn’t verify the other variations because I did not see the power, in the other variation, of 20) Be3!

I think that chess is a “performing art”. Karpov called it a sport, but exactly so because he didn’t see it wise to entertain possibly speculative variations, variations which probably didn’t seem justified to do for someone seeking a sporting result.

In the game, Larsen avoids these and quickly gives the piece back to keep a clean-looking board with seemingly equal chances. The real game didn’t take me long to analyze, Tal played it brilliantly and I don’t think Larsen had any way out. But the Nb6 variation that Larsen never played took me a couple of hours to analyze! Perhaps Tal had already spent a long time over the board on those variations and Larsen saw to shift the focus.

Game 1 seemed like the best practical chance, if not ugly. There may have been a way out in there for Black in that variation. Black was up a pawn for ten’s of moves, but Crafty kept giving the nod to White the whole way. But oh yeah, Tal was looking 30 moves ahead! Probably not. I’m thinking it was his artistic instincts that told him he had the nod.

I still haven’t analyzed the part of the game leading up to the sacrifice, but suffice it to say that Tal’s style of opening treatment foreshadows the result.

Black could have played 0-0 instead of taking the knight, where 17.Nd6 BxN 18.exB gives White what seems to me to be a dangerous passed pawn, with c2-c4-c5 to follow, but White also could have played 17. Nd4, I guess, kicking Black’s queen.

Thought process II

A follow-up to a previous post.

Now I am starting to see that I want/need to see more things over the board. One advantage of analyzing quickly is that you can move on to look at, investigate, yet more ideas.

I’m becoming more convinced that the lot of us are not “bad” chessplayers, but that we need to move on to investigate more ideas at the board. This has started to become more apparent in some of my games, either because I did it or didn’t do it.

People focus so much on quality difference between us and the GMs and all that. I’m starting to think quantitative is more useful. Now, in practical results, quality is usually all one needs because when you are already more high-rated than the other guy, all you really need to do is keep playing and eventually you will find a hole in that person’s knowledge which is not a hole for you, and you win easily enough. A dead give-away is when someone spends too much time on a move, which indicates confusion. If you are more experienced, chances are the position will be less confusing to you, if not decisive.

But to get better, I think we have more quality oftentimes than we realize, yet not enough quantity. It’s quantity which allows better follow-through of ideas before committing to them. Quality is “This looks like my optimal move or idea.” Quantity is “It looks like this square is my optimal point of attack, but looking further ahead, this plan has holes in it that I don’t want to spend resources addressing.”

Lucenna Position

This is a comical game played at 15 4, but the opening theory for White that I invented is at least interesting, play the advance var. of the Caro-Kahn without the dubious g4, and typical pawn loosening king-side stuff. I played this style in an earlier game and also came out of the opening ahead. It should really go Nbd2-b3 before moving out the bishop on c1 that protects b2.

I never figured out the Lucenna Position over the board in this game, but if I had simply checked the king one more file away from the b-pawn, then grabbed the a-file with the rook, should be simple win. Then I went to the Lucenna Position wiki and sure enough Black starts with the rook guarding the a-file, but I studied it and understood it.

There were numerous quicker endgame wins along the way, but here is the game:
Lucenna Position game

Chess Improvement

I was just looking at Korch’s blog from Wednesday, January 7, 2009:

See all of these tactical traps? I played the c3 Sicilian for a while and never remember seeing these traps. The other day I played a Najdorf as White. Going over the game I found all kinds of traps I hadn’t noticed before (with help from Crafty) right in the opening.

I think this is what the strong players (expert+) do, they evaluate these possibilities (or know them cold).

Typical 1700 level player is probably just playing some pattern they like in the opening, that they perhaps saw as an opening line from somewhere. Later, some really dumb mistake is decisive, and then a good portion of an hour is wasted making the other person verify their technique. For me, I think of this as blitz mentality because it is often played fast by this player. So when I play them, I get in lots of “grind” games, whose sole theoretical objective seems to be whether time-trouble will have it’s say, and most players seem satisfied by the result alone, if they win.

Anyway, my plan for my next game is to spend a little more time in the opening, but mainly not to avoid anything sharp, then less time in the middlegame, where I needlessly waste time when I already know my moves, then saving more time for the endgame so that result is not affected by the clock.

Also, I don’t plan on forcing wins out of drawn positions as someone just tried against me. I plan to write the move down after I make it, and to record accurately and legibly, not scribbling times all over it, etc.. In addition, I actually need the time to do these things, so I will not play G/60, if I can avoid it.

Sure, I can play fast but it quickly becomes a hack from the gut, where you basically only verify your trickiest threats, and your opponents mates. Oddly, I think this blitz behavior, for a lot of players, carries over into regular games, so it becomes a little bit of a blitz game played slowly. Sure, everyone scans the board correctly for the one-movers, but then sometimes miss the two-movers. And then, for some strange reason, players don’t generally seem to feel bad about it because, oh well, it was a time-pressure thing/result. Well, then play at a pace that makes sense for the game. Some people will even try and trick you into their time-pressure, following them there, probably sub-conscious, but then how often is the player satisfied by this course of action when a positive end-result comes out of it(?) No need to analyze, hurray! It’s as if they tricked the IRS or something. hehe. Shoot, I’ve probably many a game lead an opponent into time-trouble disaster. It has been played upon me as well, just not as often. But usually there are huge gaffes on my side and my opponents when this occurs, so why do it?

My original point is that if you simply memorized the openings, you wouldn’t be in a position to spring the traps resulting from the mis-steps. Really, it’s not even traps so much as understanding the different ideas between one subvariation of an opening and another. In Korch’s c3 Sicilian example, Black will often play e6, not because Black enjoys blocking in his/her light squared bishop, but rather because Bb4 pins the knight on c3 that is attacking the queen on d5.

Not as much elbow-room at the top

Okay, if I said I scored 2.5/3, that would sound as if I did really well, but I just calculated my new estimated rating. Was 1716, now perhaps 1725.

Won against 1345
Drew against 1652
Won against 1566

I was tired and played like heck, but God was kind to me and fortune smiled her favor on me once again.

In the game with the draw, I think last time I got a draw it was with the same guy, and about 10 years ago. I had the advantage and he was defending, then I flat ran out of gas for a couple moves. I was too wary and took too much time because the guy I drew against had just beaten a 1960 player, the guy I lost to last time in the French, KIA.

Two French and one Scotch. I completely wild-@ss blundered the Fr. Adv as White, was quite tired and saw it coming, but thought I could figure it out when I got there.

If I can recreate these games, I should study them, but I don’t feel like playing another real chess game for a few weeks.

Looking back, I had a large soda before that second game. I hadn’t had any soda in over half a year, then had one the day before and then again yesterday. I think when that wore off, that is what helped me to hit the wall with fatigue; no real need to be tired when I was controlling the initiative in that position. But I am also starting to realize that he played an intelligent defense, took me by surprise, and I had spent too much time on the clock up to that point.

I did some research of rating points calculation, and looked at another club members’ tournament history, and I realized something. The important thing, the way the rating system works nowdays is not so much about trading wins, but getting perfect scores. A 3-0 score can jump one up around a hundred rating points. When I used to play long ago, people’s ratings did not really move, it seemed, including my own. After 7 years of tournament play, my rating was actually at its lowest, like 1338 or something. I don’t remember people thinking that the big 3-0 was going to net them 100+ rating points. The thing that surprised me was when one of these guys I regularly beat, he had been in the 1100’s back when I was in the 1300’s. Suddenly he was 1600+ (and winning), and grinning, and so I am thinking what is in the kool-aide these days(?). Anyhow his floor became 1400 and now he is regularly 1400, like right now. hehe. So you hang around wating to catch the next 3-0 performance rating boost, I guess, or better yet go in pumped up trying to get the 3-0 and not thinking 2.5 is a pleasant result. hehe.

Round 1
Game 1 was expectedly the least competitive, but it also served to remind me that there is nothing much to the Scotch as I should either try the gambit variation or go back to the Lopez. As I told Michael after the game, he could have played h6 and forced the exchange on f6, when my bishop on d3 could become bad, as h6, Bh4, g5 Bg3, Bg4 and my queen is forced onto the open e-file where he can oppose her with a rook. I should have followed with a more mellow opening build-up.

Round 2
Round 2 was against someone who has been playing the French as long as I can remember him, which is around the early 90’s. 😉
I was up by by 2.5 at one point according to Crafty. I actually had the rare temper tantrum saying “damn, I missed g5!” right before he played Kc2, getting his king all snuggly-wuggly in front of my pawn, and shutting down my attack. I can’t remember ever being that angry at myself at the board before, but I was at least pleased that meant some energy had returned. hehe. This game taught me not to waste time when I am not under real pressure at the board. I should be spending time when something is in doubt, and not when I am “counting my money at the table.”

Round 3
Round 3, “winning ugly”, what more is there to say? I feel I won mainly because my opponent went into a very visible self-doubt mode every time I found some little tactical resource. He basically beat himself as I played enough junky moves to allow him to draw. I think he even had Rf4 instead of Rh3 to win the h-pawn. I was getting low on time, but luckily so did he. I lost close to 10 minutes because I had not realized that I had not punched the clock and he was taking forever on his move, so I played sorta scrambly after that, letting him off the hook, which he didn’t take.

Best move of the game was 20.Nc8, and even Crafty gave it a low rating until I played it.

At the beginning of the game I was really tired, but started drinking coffee right after my mistake and got back in it. I really wanted to play the Milner-Barry gambit, but figured since I was tired and not spiffed up on theory that I should avoid it, but I should have played it; also considered Nd2 var. Just occured to me, that instead of Nc3, I should have played b4 with Bb2 to follow.

My opponent was drinking a red-bull. I think drugs (caffeine, etc) make people more emotional, and in chess that counts against you where you need to stay calm, unperturbed, clear-minded. I notice that when I am emotional, it works against the part of the brain that wants to calculate, and patiently assess all the details and plans.

Here is a hypothetical finish to the round 2 game:
hypothetical finish
I made Crafty play h4 to stop the g5 threat since …g5 is so winning it’s ridiculous (played that out already). It’s too bad I trusted my opponent to play the pawn structure correctly. It’s amazing, I always see these old-stalwarts as closed-game players, but I trust them too much. h4 should have been screaming out obvious. I can’t trust these guys, none of them. lol.

I played 2 more hypothetical games from roughly the same position there, so let me know if you want me to post them. I figured out Kurt’s strength, why he can draw me seemingly at will. He plays quickly and confidently even in any hairy positions (he was picking up pawns from near expert without seeming overly concerned). But here is his basic outlook, I think, and perhaps of the stodgy club veteran in general. They want to take you down the 80 move road to give you more chances to mess up. It’s not so much that it always appears that they play “closed positions”, but that they try to put the height of struggle off for 40-50 moves, so you will see tons of pawns late in their games. If you haven’t managed your clock well, you will be SOL and begging for a draw, not to mention you need to have your energy late in the game.

I was able to beat the Ongs, tactical and high-rated, because they start out the height of the struggle right off the bat, so you know what you are in for and are using your time to solve real problems. Against Kurt, he just seems to keep delaying, giving me what I want. His positions often look crappy late, but you still have to have time on your clock, energy, and experience at handling late positions, like the 5 move combo on move 48 or something. Yeah, good luck with that, but that’s really where you need to find it.

As an example, when I played …f5 in the opening of the French and asked why he didn’t play exf (as Crafty would). He said “Oh you have a file against my king, blah, blah” Didn’t really make _too_ much sense, but I can see where his “strategy of non-commitment” puts the battle off for late. Even the near expert suggested that I shouldn’t have played Ba4xNd1 (which even Crafty suggested that I do, and it played it _very_ well for Black in the theoretical sense), but rather hold onto it, with Bb3 or so (I mentioned that move, and he seemed to approve). To myself, I always wondered why I seem to get “clear-looking” positions as opposed to other players. Now I have answered that question, in general, to my satisfaction. I don’t play cagey and coy like unless there is a very calculated or clearly understood reason for doing so.