I worked through 1 of each 10 themes in Combination Challenge.

Played a Caro-Kahn fantasy variation as White on FICS. Black plays Bg4 on like move 5 or 6 and that blunders a pawn – simple check and fork. didn’t see it. But because I didn’t see it, I got saddled with a weak positional game. hehe. So much for that theory about combinations. But if you know your opening, the pull there tends to last longer than bang! tactic on a single move.

Wow, you want to see theory, study a few lines of the Accelerated Dragon. The goal is to find a spot around theory, because theory goes from the beginning to nearly the end of the game, almost 30 moves. Polly’s Qa5 isn’t necessarily the most challenging even, …a5 requires getting out of theory as White, pretty much.

I think I’m ready to step back from preparation until the tournament starts. I plan on playing U1900. They have U2100 and U1700 also, and more, not just Open and Amateur like the last tournament. Which means I would need to try and just about win it this time to have something to show for it, a very tall order but who knows.


11 thoughts on “Improvement

  1. ChessX, this time I entered lines from MCO into Crafty and saved as pgn files. I tried alternate moves and repeated the game a few times so that I could try and remember it, as playing it once on the board is not really enough repetition for me.

  2. I once played against 1800+ OTB ( being 1600 at that time ) as White in Scandinavian and didn’t notice that after Bg4 I have Bxf7+, etc. Funny that I regularly do that online. You just don’t expect anything like that with 1800+ on so early stage of game (but you should, my trap in game 4 for was after move 4). U1900 sounds right. Repeating the game a few times is a good idea, these lines should be engraved in the brain.

  3. I think playing U1900 will be harder. I can always say “aww, shucks” dropping a game to a 2000 player, and it doesn’t bite me much, but against a 1700 that tired, lazy game would take a large chunk out of my ratings hide. hehe. I would have to adjust the time I wake up to an early, normal time.

    ChessX, Crafty comes with the Winboard install. So install Winboard, then go to the Crafty icon and click, it looks just like Winboard. You simply enter the moves of your game onto Winboard and save it. There is an ‘Analysis Mode’ on Winboard that is normally greyed out when you are using just the normal Winboard on Fics, but if you click on the Crafty icon, it won’t be greyed out when Winboard pops up. That is what I mean by using Crafty.

    CA has some bugs, it crashes a lot and unfortunately I can’t promote a pawn in it! Haven’t exactly read the manual yet, but if I move a pawn to 8th rank it takes it back like it’s illegal to do. Winboard is simply easy to use for something simple.

    Rollingpawns – If I use my clock well, that tends to be my biggest weapon, time, so I should see more traps with more time, hopefully. Another thing is I was trying not to write my moves down first in that last tournament, and pretty much did not write them down first. This time I will air-scribble my move before I make it, that way I will be doing a blundercheck (which is sort of a different part of the brain than the chess idea factory, it’s like the lawyer side of the brain), and nothing will actually be recorded by doing that. This would have prevented my blunder of a pawn in game 2.

    I haven’t posted an interesting win a while, so I post this one just to show I am not totally washed up yet, still have some signs of life. Of course, my opponent in this game did not need to castle 0-0-0, could have played BxN on d4 earlier, and dropped a pawn with his f-pawn push (done to save his bishop on h3). Oh, this is what happen when opportunity meets preparation. A lot of the ideas in this opening, such as f3 and Rf2 were not my ideas, I saw them in GM theory games. So add Bh3 to the list of moves that didn’t really help him, especially in light of his f-pawn push. But you almost know that people will still try this stuff. 😉 hehe.
    Scotch game

    Rook vs. knight should draw. There are most elaborate wins in some instances, but should only happen where the losing side does not play the most active defense. Looking through BCE, I am amazed at what draws. I suspect better players OTB should save more losing games than weaker players from endgame study.

  4. If he goes 0-0 in this case, I can get a lot of space on the queenside, maybe trade a knight for bishop on b6.

    This is the thing, Rollingpawns, I feel I don’t “really” know my openings because people on FICS usually try and avoid theory.
    I was thinking today about the French def. I don’t really have much great experience or knowledge of the Steinitz def. or Nf6 against Nd2. Theory can get whacko in some popular lines, and I just play whatever I believe in.

    I see mostly the exchange, the burn, and the advance against the French, and it’s not usually well played as White. My only consolation is that hopefully, this pattern will continue OTB, and I can focus more on studying tactics. This also mean that the 1500 player that is well booked could get a commanding position, but I have to bank on that I get at least one tactical chance to gain equality and fight for an endgame draw, like by trading off pawns or with dynamic pressure.

    I look at Chess Life, what do I see, an article showing a super grandmaster dropping a fork to another super GM, a piece. I see an opening book where this happens, then I play over a game with a GM getting his 3rd norm to another super GM. Comment is ! great sacrifice, and I’m like that cannot be any good. It won, but even Crafty sees is it as losing, like nearly -2.00.

    The pattern is clear, only drop pieces and games to grandmasters! How would it hurt your rating to lose very high-rated players? But I see many people who I know should be ‘expert’ playing for over a decade, and they play within a class range, and that seems to keep their rating down. If they play up, they can handle experts but choose to play within their class. What the heck? It’s so screwed up. I was for years 1300 but did okay in one class B tournament, it shocked me because I realized in many cases they weren’t any better. The only reason it seems to play in your class is the off-chance of prize money, but I guess that’s enough reason for most.

    The biggest problem that I and many others probably have is consistency. This mostly has nothing to do with your opponent, so it can adversely affect you if you play weaker players a lot. Do your blunder-checks always and that sort of thing, and that alone should be worth at least 200 rating points.

    You know what also is worth a lot when it comes to tactics? As a near-master once explained to me when he gave me a paid-for chess-lesson, follow the ‘threat trail’. This means like in ChessX game that he likes where the queen sacs itself marvelously. That is not an accident, you need to examine the threat trail of all moves in any position. Not just “Oh, that looks like it defends if he takes” but actually looking at it being taken and what happens afterward, no matter how bizarre a suggestion on the face of it. This alone is a big part of finding all the tactics. People don’t see the tactic because they shrug it off before even looking at it or considering the possibility.

  5. My OTB stats with French are different from FICS and in compliance with general stats – 2 Steinitz, 1 Tarrasch and 1 Advance. The guy with whom I played in 5th round, played in 4th French and got Exchange.
    It’s like gold panning on FICS, I think you can get better choice with higher rated players.

    Yeah, “looking at it being taken and what happens afterward, no matter how bizarre” is exactly what I need the most I realized after the tournament and it alone can be enough for me to get to “A” (and stay there).

  6. I think FICS standard time controls and OTB is different in a few major ways. One, I guess, is that OTB you have time to avoid opening blunders. Two, is that you have time to calculate middle-game tactics, and three is that you have time to calculate an endgame well enough to either find the best drawish chances or to find the only possible win in a draw.

    These things take time, lots of it too, if you keep track of that during a game.

    On FICS, I can play an intelligent positional game, but will mess up the middlegame because I don’t have time to calculate tricks, and neither does the opponent usually, so whichever side has the easiest game to play usually wins.

    From a practical point of view, I think a book of combination like the one I have is the best thing to study to make Expert. I believe that this was even the book recommended by Ken Smith, the Hayes and Hall book ‘Combination Challenge!’.

    Just drew an endgame where I was up a queen vs. knight with just under 2 minutes to play it. I didn’t know how to play it and couldn’t find it in an endgame book. Crafty taught me how to play it, though. It’s another one of those endgames which is best known and practiced ahead of time. General piece of advice would be don’t try to win the knight, but rather go for the checkmate. You should win the knight one move before checkmate, in a sense. The way you cut off the king does take into consideration the knight and the queen even has to threaten the knight at one point to get the king to back off yet even more.

    Typical OTB person would get this ending with < 2 minutes to play and expect to either stumble upon the win or find it to be intuitively obvious, and I would say that it is not quite that, definitely not a 2 or 5 minuter, if you have to figure it out OTB.

    Wow, 3 endgame draws in a row against weaker players where I should have won (two I should have won middlegame). I think it does help a lot to be fresh-up on endgames when playing someone within 150 rating points. Of course I am also making sleepy mistakes that I catch right away, but I mean for analysis’ sake.

  7. This guy is fantastic. Thanks for the link, RollingPawns!

    It’s kind of funny, though, his queen was on one side of the knight and his king on the other side, and the enemy king decided to go to the side of the board rather than the center. Reason I saw that’s funny is that you want to keep the king and queen on the same side. Notice how whenever the opposing king was getting boxed in that the king and queen were on the same side of the other king, and then ended up bunched together just to the side and in front of the enemy king; that is how you want to do it. He didn’t really _say_ he was getting zugzwang against the knight (since it loses a move each time it repeats a position), but that is what he was doing.

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