November club open

Lost to Neal, again, as Black

Round 1

At first, I played Nf6 too fast and then realized that meant that I couldn’t castle queenside, which should be excellent for Black here (with Ne7). There were about 6 other people there that I had never played before, strong players, I just happened to end up playing Neal again, and he seemed surprised too.

30/60, SD/1hr.

The time controls were faster for the first 30 than usual, which made me play some moves that were more passive than should have been played. I tried to get a tactical position by giving him a hole on d5 and one for me on d3, but it didn’t work out that way. Of course I thought I was fine once the queens were traded, but against Neal’s expertise that wasn’t to be the case. At least I remembered to ask for a draw this time, but he knew what he was doing. He really hardly seems to need any time on his moves. I used up my 2 hrs, and he had used up maybe 30 minutes for the game.

When I play Neal, he beats me like a man, and I lose like a little kid. Of course, he is a couple decades older, so perhaps it’s understandable. 😉

1825 -> 1816

I should have a “if Neal didn’t exist” rating, which would be close to 1900. My “if I keep playing Neal” rating is probably somewhere around my floor.

I played moves 30 and 31 rather quickly, so I’d say the time control had a great effect on that, as I should have played …g6. Also, I note that it does seem more unnatural to find tactics around move 30 and beyond, but they are there. I can see now that I didn’t take advantage of where his bishop is placed, and that it’s critical to play against that tactically above any other positional considerations. So that if a rook leaves that file, then RxB, pawn takes, and the Rd1 is en-prise.

At the end, it was hard to see that opening up the queenside and trading a rook would lose because it would activate White’s king, which of course not only adds a piece to the attack but pushes out the bishop from defense. With two rooks, a fortress seemed to have been possible. During the game of course, I was not sure which way to go while I was pushing that a-pawn. In fact, that’s when I offered the draw and actually thought I was better, even though he was the one winning, but he seemed to know immediately. I liked …Ra4 to keep the king out, it seemed most solid, but I did not stick with it. It takes a lot of confidence to defend a fortress because if you are wrong, you lose, it’s that simple, versus playing bad by opening things up, but at least trying to create some doubt. After I had moved, I felt sure that a fortress was best as I was analyzing what I should have done.

Incidentally, …g5 loses, as he can still pry the a-file open with a4, trade a rook, then invade with his king to take that b5 or c4 pawn. …g6 and gxf would weaken that whole weird looking bishop fortress, let Black trade bishops, and then be able to try to draw a pawn down in the rook endgame.

With my gift-certificate prizes I bought Lev Alburt’s book on tactics and Khemelnitsky’s test yourself book, but I could really use some work on the endgame. Not simply to learn an endgame theme, but it seems like I have looked at middlegames and tactics for so long that when Neal starts marching his king, all of a sudden it hits me like a new concept “What is he doing with his king, where is it going?” I feel like a caveman getting hit over the head with a novel concept.

My original strategy was to “study tactics until I make Expert”. That is now back-firing as I’ve come to see that there is no way I am going to make Expert unless I improve my endgame. My game has become lopsided, even though I can easily outplay a 1600 kid at the endgame. Winning endgames against a 1900 level player, however, is another story.

My mind has been going blank too often in these endgames. Neal even makes moves that Crafty doesn’t see, but he “sneaks up” on me, same as I do to junior players. I need to become more comfortable with endgames again, and just looking at a book on endgames, it takes more discipline to concentrate than on some neato Kasparov middle-game killshot.

We know that I could go on forever, but another thing is that when I get to endgames, the brain isn’t as fresh. It’s so easy to spend time looking at all kinds of tactics in the opening, then get to the endgame and think “I’ze tired, the queens are off the board and there is no mate, can I go home now?” bzzzt, wrong answer Private, that’s exactly where they want you, in a position where you can’t easily escape.

I could spend a fortnight on what could have happened in this game. My ….QxQ loses by force, it’s just lucky that he didn’t find it, whereas Nc5 actually seems better for Black – of course he is not Crafty, and might improve, but it was winning in the variations I looked at. The amazing thing about this opening is that it looks so placid and staid, but once the queens come off, there is like another 45 moves or so to follow. The queens coming off is when this game really begins, not where it ends. Next time I’ll have another go at perhaps a nearly identical variation.

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5 thoughts on “November club open

  1. I kind of didn’t like giving White that pawn “d5” bastion. To me it looked like it went downhill from there. Fritz says that White missed 25. Ne4 Red8 26. Nd6 Rab8 27. Nxb5 Nc5 28. fxe5 fxe5 29. Re3 e4 30. d6 Nd3 31. b4 Bd5 32. a4 a6 33. Nd4 Rxd6 34. Bxe4.
    Also 27… Rad8 28. fxe5 fxe5 29. Re2 Rxd5 30. Rxd5 Bxd5 was giving Black equal position.
    Instead of 44. …Ra2 {3.88} Fritz offers 44… Be8 45. Kxc4 h5 46. Rd4 R7a4+ 47. Kd3 Bb5+ 48. Ke4 Bc6+ 49. Bd5 Rxc3 50. Rxa4 Bxa4 51. Ra1 Rh3 52. Kd4 Rh4+ 53. Kc5 Ke8 54. Rg1 Rxh2 55. Rxg7 {1.15}
    Also Fritz doesn’t like exchanging rooks at all, evaluating it at ~3.00 and gives instead this line – 45… R2a6 46. Rg6 Rxd6+ 47. Kc5 Rxe6 48. fxe6 Be8 49. R6g4 g5 50. Rxc4 Ke7
    It was a tough game, I see.

    I had a devastating loss yesterday from the same master, will try to post today.

  2. I just went over that previous game with Neal where I had a rook for bishop and pawn. He said he found the win at home, so now it was my turn to look. I found a win, but it required great/amazing amounts of care. Because he had the extra pawn, I had to really squeeze his king back before trading a rook and getting my king in there. It would take a 100 moves to get to the actual mate.

    It’s easy to see his view of how to play against me, 100 moves is a 100 chances for me to make a mistake, the later in the game the more unfortunate.

    Okay, I’ll look at your analysis from Fritz now.

    You should post the game. I’ll wager that it had something to do with not wanting to trade queens? 😉

  3. RP, yes, in your first line the knight is getting all into Black’s position like cannot be believed. Crafty actually plays Ba6 to defend b5, but it’s still a loss as the knight and e-pawn combo really do a job.

    I almost played Rad8 in that second line, and wished I had, but could not see what difference that it made at the time. My …exf is bad because it opens up the file so that his Be6 move is supported (a move I didn’t even consider) whereas if the e-file had not been opened up it would fail to RxB, pawn takes, RxR.

    In the 3rd line, yes! I should have sacked the c-pawn in order to gain mobility, get rid of the ‘bad’ pawn on a light-square and win back his c-pawn. I felt that I needed to keep the R on a3, simply did not see all of this.

    In the 4th line, White didn’t have to play that way, giving up the d-pawn for the exchange. I played it down to pawn for bishop, but White has King, bishop and rook to mate with, so it’s game over, but interesting try.

    I think the …e5 giving up d5 was okay, I’m just surprised that I got away with the ..b5, ..c4 part of the plan. It just goes to show that it’s often better to keep the pressure up than to halt and worry about pawn structure, which was the main reason I didn’t play ..g6 later on, but tactics had trumped pawn-structure by that point. There is still some more to look at there, like I could have played Nc5 instead of backing off to cover d5. It’s amazing that I should be getting that Nc5 in each time and had more than one opportunity to do it.

    I played out the …e6 variation. It’s not any better than …e5, and more passive. I think I actually played it right until QxQ, that would be the position that I would want back. Crafty’s advice isn’t the total answer since this is a positional variation where engines are not quite as good as normal.

    The Alburt book on tactics is mostly a rehash of famous combos. The first couple were tough, but the ones after that so far I practically already have memorized. The text is useless for me since I’ve already learned this stuff. It even says stuff like ‘club players should have this one memorized!’ Well, like no duh, I already have! hehe. Truthfully, endgames would probably be more helpful at this point.

    It’s a good book, if you don’t already have a book on tactics. We all should go through this phase, but it’s simply one phase of chess progress. If chess were about combos like these we’d all be looking for the 3-move clincher then done, on move 25.

  4. Rollingpawns – I think it is constructive to post our losses. If we only post our wins, then it looks like we are “gods of the chessboard” when in fact only borderline A/B players looking to make Expert some day.

    Think about how agonizing it is to see ChessX beat up on another C level player. Now think about how much more constructive it is to follow a loss against a Master/Expert/high A player.

  5. I would recommend this Alburt book on tactics now as I see the puzzles are instructive and comprehensive. Large diagrams and short, simple explanatory analysis.

    There is real value on looking at tactics simply because it warms up the visualization part of the brain. Also, I can spot the bolt from the blue more quickly now (fingers crossed, naturally)
    http://main.uschess.org/content/view/9824/562
    Spotted the first move of Alex’s combo in about 20 seconds.

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