Wednesdays Final Round

This was the fifth game between me and Dean.

It started out as one of those nuevo type responses for White against …e5 that we have been talking about. Luckily, because I have seen it so much online, and recently, that I remembered to play …Nf6 and then ..d5, and I can figure out the rest but hadn’t seen it before.

I wouldn’t recommend this opening for White as I saw and could have played …f6, but simply didn’t feel any need to risk anything in a new opening variation against a lower-rated player. As it is, Black was going to have the edge with either …f6 or ..a5, both are strong.

Basically, what happened in this game is that he wasted a tempo with c3, and that is what cost him a pawn. I had already come to this conclusion before I had played …a5, and also explained it to him afterward that simply playing bxa would have been his best move. I hate to say that I beat a lower rated player from a simple trick in under 30 moves, but this it seems is how most all of these G/90 games go, decided in under 30 moves, whether won or lost.

Right before the final position, I had anticipated g4, and then wanted to play ..c2, which luckily works since Rc1 and now Black hits up the knight for two tempos …Rc5, Nb7 Rb5, Nd6 Rb3 and then …c3 followed by …Rb1 cements the win as the bishop is preventing the knight from becoming effective.

You may or may not find this interesting, but I input this game without ever taking my scoresheet out. I find it amusing that other people I play with have not reached the point where they can remember the games that they’ve played. I think it’s because I spend so long on my moves which makes it simple enough to do that.


Opening Theory II

Continued from:

Azridine, thanks for that stat.

This may be a dumb question, but do you ever get rid of your old openings books?

Me personally, I think the Silman book and that opening is good for a club player who wants to play the Sicilian as Black, I’m just not too interested in the book as White.

I do like to feel my way around new openings as Black before I look at a book, but some of the books I own, I clearly see them as, or call them “agenda books”. Everyone may draw the line at a different place, but I call it that when I get the feeling the author is saying “Ha! I dare Black/White to attack me with e4/d4, I laugh in their faces! My opening suggestion will crush them!”, that sort of vibe.

In the Silman book there are a lot of unnanotated “game dumps” to support his point where a “this move fails because of this game” scenario plays out. Crud, he does it a LOT in this book. I look at this game Casey-Donaldson Philadelphia 1979 (he seemed to play this var. a lot or gets his games mentioned a lot)”….and Black won in a few more moves.” Huh? White is up a pawn and it’s 3-1 pawn queenside pawn majority, both kings 0-0. I would take this position for White…in my dreams. Before White won the a-pawn and traded queens, Black had an isolated a and c-pawn against a2,b2,c2 for White. This doesn’t prove anything to me other than “Gee, another White line that I like which is supposed to be good for Black.” Googled for that game and can’t find it, doesn’t mention first names either, although I’ll assume that the Donaldson is John.

BTW, Silman did get to the f4 line I was talking about earlier, through a different move order. Here is a sample game from the main line, which is around 15 moves long:

In this game, instead of Rf3, I would try c3 followed by Qc2, then the d-file is good to go, should anything happen there, and the Qc4 queen trade is off.

Silman’s comment to this branch-off game is “White has nothing after 16.Nd5….”, giving a few more moves of this game. I’d say that White has more than nothing. In a practical game, at the club level, surely White has a reason here to play on for practical chances, IMHO.

I think I’m starting to see a pattern here, Vestol-Botvinnik 1956 0-1. Oh, no, how could Vestol have possibly lost to Botvinnik? Must be a terrible line!


I haven’t been sick once since I’ve been in Colorado, but have been feeling under the weather the last couple days. When I get sick, I can’t concentrate and stop drinking coffee to let my immune system work. This time, immediately before the game I had a sandwich at the venue, but should have ordered coffee instead as I could use have used a focusing performance boost.

In this game, I played another Alex, a Class A player that I had drawn once before as Black. He did the “fake the Najdorf, play the Dragon” which is typical of what I see from Black players (although that may simply be book), but I was in the mood to play either opening.

Not until I got into the game did I realize that I could still calculate, but wasn’t focused, and thought about grabbing some coffee but didn’t. I was surprised by his Nxe4 because I didn’t think it worked, but we both missed that he could win two pieces for the rook simply with …Rxd4, QxRd4…BxBh6. In the combo, I thought I was getting two rooks for queen and pawn, which I shouldn’t be allowing anyhow, but I missed at the end of it if I play Bh6xRf8, he has the intermezzo Be3+, saving his bishop before recapturing on f8. Actually, now that I look at it again, even without the check …Be3 would have been preventing my bishop from getting back out unless I sack back the exchange (chase the bishop with rook to f4, Black plays …e5, then RxBf4 allows the bishop to get back out – Bh6).

For some reason, I just didn’t want to face a pawn storm and the bishop pair, figured that might be too easy for him, so I ended up trading Queen for Rook and dark-bishop, which looked interesting afterward, but it was the result of a blunder. Some mental fatigue hit me, so I decided to move, then saw ..Be3+ immediately. Toward the end, just when I thought that I might get in Rf4-f7-g7 mate (yeah, right), he traded his rook for bishop and pawn, and I immediately saw the point of Qe5+ and said “Ahhh, I thought I might have had it.” – he smiled – which is my way of saying that I am playing on in a resignable game. I could have resigned right there but played on to witness his technique. Interestingly enough, we both missed his mate in two with …Qe1+ instead of …Qe5+. Later, I figured Rxb7 was best, but wasn’t much interested in playing out the rook vs. queen and played a tongue-in-cheek move instead, not seeing that it drops the rook.

Incidentally, if I had played Kf2 instead of taking his rook, I would still lose either rook or bishop on the d-file depending on my next moves – Crafty says -6.

Well, it was a fun game, he deserved the win, and I’ll have to be more careful in the opening next time. I sort of knew that this game might suck depending on how my body reacted, if my concentration began to come in waves. But you can’t time these things, ideally it would happen in a game against a lower-rated player. Needless to say, I haven’t been able to do hardly any mental work in the last two days.

Wednesday Round 4

Well, if you’ve been following this one, my last two rounds were a draw and a loss, so for this round I got a new opponent, a Class E level player that drove all the way from Denver to play!

I wasn’t feeling sharp, since I had a touch of something earlier in the day, but luckily my opponent blundered early and often (not entirely unexpected). There was one move where I thought I may have blundered, after …e5 I played …Nf5. Fortunately, this isn’t actually a blunder since …d5 can be met by Bb5+ winning a pawn, and …Nxe4, the move I was more worried about, allows Black to win the pawn back with Nxg7+ before recapturing on e4.

After the sluggish start, I felt like I got my head into the game, and didn’t need much time, around 35 minutes for the entire game. In fact, that is perhaps the shortest analysis of a game that I can remember in years, unless I want to book-up for next time.

Okay, just checked book on CA and it was what I was trying to do! After …e5, I was looking at Bb5+ Nd7, Nf5 (as the knight is now “safe” here), but then I saw …a6 and if the bishop retreats with Ba4, then …b5 and ..Nc5 looks good for Black. Turns out White is supposed to trade on d7 there, bishop for knight. What’s more surprising is that the #1 line for Black is to give up a pawn with …Nxe4(the move I had been afraid of), Nxg7+ BxNg7, Nxe4 and now this knight and queen are both hitting the backward ..d6 pawn, which Black usually decides to give up. hehe. I don’t know what to say other than that would seem like a rather dumb thing to do just to have the bishop pair. Black doesn’t have to sac a pawn, but the alternative seems to be doubled f-pawns with queens still on.

Well, since that was another short game, I’ll entertain you with a goofy Nimzo-Indian try that I just played on FICS. It feels like I’ve maybe only tried …Bb4 in a couple blitz games ever, can’t remember the last time, so being in a humorous mood, I tried my hand at it here. Should have played …f5 where I dropped a piece, but he loses with Kb1 instead of Ka2 a few moments later in what should have been a draw – haven’t looked at it with an engine. 15/0 game, the ending was blitzed out.

Okay, so I happen to have two books in my bookcase from long ago that I’ve never read. Choices are “Winning with the Slav” by Markov and Schipkov, and “Winning with the Nimzo-Indian” by Raymond Keene. The Nimzo seems to be the defense that has gotten the most traction. One problem right off the bat with the Slav is that White can play cxd..cxd on move 3, and it’s the most boring symmetrical variation that I know. Actually, I consistently lose from that position online as Black because I try to do stuff when Black can seem to do little but sit there and take it, and hope it doesn’t hurt too much.

Opening Theory

Like I was saying on Tommy’s Blog, I have been planning on getting rid of some of my White repertoire books. Just looked at the Alekhine Exchange variation in my CA database. Wow, opening theory has moved on. Black has improved in order to avoid all of White’s cheap tricks. The beat goes on, as they say.

Another reason for letting some books go is that I forget it all anyway, and then keep going back to the same books to remember some theory which is no longer current cutting edge, anyhow, if that was the motivation for having them, AKA “tricks”. Chess is about a lot more than tricks. The best tricks to know are probably either endgame ones or tactics, not openings as much. The only nice thing about openings is feeling confident and comfortable with them, other than that they usually don’t determine the game unless you outbook, which seems to be more rare than the normal course of events.

But the other big reason I don’t want to play the “remember your openings” game, particularly as White, is that these books really draw away attention from books/concepts that haven’t been studied yet, but deserve the attention.

Here’s my question: Tal – Hort, Montreal 1979 (Tournament of the Stars, famous tournament). This game is quoted by Nunn as well as I believe MCO 13.
What has this game to do with the opening? The endgame is utterly fantastic/magical, but the opening?

In another line of the book on the Pirc (1980, first edition) by Nunn, I play past some line quoted as ” = ” and the next thing I know great complications arise out of nowhere and it strikes me that it is suddenly more like a game situation than a casual openings perusal. In fact, I would say the #1 thing to openings is maneuvering, whether by pieces or pawns, but it’s usually centered around the mobility of the pieces, because the combos almost always arise sooner or later during a game. But first, maneuvering is what can throw off the equilibrium of a game in order to lead to chances.

A.C.I.S and the Knights Errant

Something got lost in all this, starting with the MDLM plan. It is true that it is important to recognize and “grok” tactical patterns, but the plan is where things can get carried away. My take on the MDLM method is that this guy was clearly trying to win at the World Open, to the point of it being a raison de etre. He consistently played lots of OTB games against stronger players, so it was natural that his rating would go up, but I don’t think this was his goal, instead it was financial vindication. The ratings jump was sort of something that goes along with winning that prize and having a giant short-term improvement.

My guess is that if MDLM started playing again today, he would maybe drop up to a 100 points. Why am I so down on MDLM? I am not, I think he was great for our sport. But the 7 circle plan, I find it a little funny how people tried to follow it and eventually came to the conclusion that it became mostly cramming pattern-recognition into short-term memory. Well, of course, it was designed to win a World Open section and then “retire” a satisfied “customer”.

So if “it” isn’t pattern-recognition, then what is is “it”? Well, part of it is pattern-recognition, part of it is calculation, but a big part of it is visualization. Can you study a position blindfold? If you can’t do this sort of thing, then maybe you get lucky and “touch” Expert rating, but that is probably it IMHO. It would be nice if I were an Expert and had a slew of scientific data to back me up on this, but I’ve only figured this out in the last couple days. It’s becoming a new ability that I didn’t have before.

I’ll also throw out a conundrum for you, the reader, to solve. Whereas most of the draw of playing chess is looking forward to the future, new positions, new possibilities, new lessons, visualization is about looking into the past.

In other news, Paul, the Paul that I played for the first time last week, Class A player, he went 6-0 today at the G/29 event (I didn’t go) and posted his games. Man, that was like a whose who of piece-dropping in the opening. Actually, the one time someone else didn’t against him, he dropped the exchange himself, but the person blundered a piece back in the endgame while trying to trade rooks. Sheesh, talk about difference in quality between G/90 and G/29. He was amazingly accurate in complications, though, much more so than his opponents. I also notice he has one basic opening setup as Black – c6,d6,g6 – which can be used against e4 and d4.

Mystifying opening

I played a new opponent in this game, an older gentleman, and close to my rating.

I thought I had committed a semi-blunder, somehow eying the Nxe4 fork-trick as soon as I pushed bishop to f4. We played it over after the game, and he still let me fork on c7 and thought he was then playing for the win as Black with his extra center pawn. In slow-time, I think I could win that, but he had to leave after some more moves, but think I had zugzwang there for the win.

Anyhow, I spent a long time deciding on taking on f6, which apparently wasn’t the right choice. Also spent a lot of time on h3, alternative being Be2, but then I have to worry about …Bf5, …Nc6-b4-c2, that sort of headache, so played h3. Surprisingly, he did not play …Bf5 and I began to get a somewhat comfortable position. Then he gave me a tempo with …Nh5, and I was finally back on the offensive. I thought he could have maneuvered his queen instead by …Qb6, when Na4 to protect both b2 and d4 would allow him to play …Qb4, a3 Qd6 and he is supporting his e5 thrust nicely.

Afterward, I watched two Class A players, Paul and Alex play out an ending, so that was interesting to see how they played.

I don’t mean for all of my games to be over by move 16, but it is a trend, which only seems to magnify the gravity of those moves, particularly in an unusual opening. I could have played out an ending, but a lot of these games I never get a chance to.

Incidentally, the ending to this game would have been …Qa6, Nd6..b5, Bxb5 and the queen has no escape. I saw all of this OTB, and showed it to him afterward just to let him know that I had seen it.

I actually analyzed this opening correctly OTB (or at least Crafty is no better at figuring out the main line of this opening than I) and would play it again against him, same variation. It’s probably close to equal, but I can let him prove that he can handle it better than me before thinking of switching back to an Accelerated Dragon, which I figured he was gunning for anyway and indeed did play …d5.

Looked at the CA DB. After 6 moves, we were out of book. Turns out my h3 move, which I didn’t want to play(!) is a novelty. …Bf5 isn’t good after all because it runs into g4 a lot. Shredder11 goes for ..fxd, but here is the thing, the way for White to get a winning advantage is to sac the center pawn and go on a king hunt – White even has time for 0-0. The better tactician should win.

If instead, White simply wants a practical game, there is the plan of Nc3-e2, followed by Be3, Rc1, then Bf4, White retains an edge. I actually found the Nc3e2 plan in the first post-mortem of the game, protecting the pawn chain and supporting the f4 square. Then grab the c-file with rooks and gain some space over there.