Thursday Final Round

Crazy game. Played Isaac for the ninth time and had the White pieces. He literally completes his move faster than anyone I’ve ever seen, and I am the opposite of him taking a while to get my head in the game. I don’t even feel like I am thinking about what’s going on until I’ve spent maybe ten minutes to clear my head and get my chess skull-cap on. Well, I blundered early with 5.c3. I was sort of writing down and making the moves as fast as I could, but then noticed my blunder and hoped he would play …Qf6, which he did not. He played 5…d5(!), or at least I felt it was an exclam at the time.

Soon, he had developed far more pieces than I, and I have made this silly-looking c3 move.

Before you know it, he is goading me into accepting a sac. Only reason I went for it is that I thought his position was much better than mine (as in -/+)! This was quite the incorrect evaluation, according to Crafty. I did not want to waste another tempo playing c4, moving the same pawn twice!? And I really did not see the c5 idea, same pawn moves 3 times!!

The alternate continuation to the sac that I had looked at was 9.0-0 Nxd and Black’s continuation just looks commanding, but what I hadn’t seen is that the c4-c5 idea tears down Black’s position like a “house of cards”. For example 10.c4 Ne7 (I figured on this move, when he still has greater development if say QxQd8..RxQ – which is what I had figured on at the board “what does that do?” I said to myself. But completely missed 11.c5! Ba5 12.Bf4 and there is a real threat against the c7 pawn. I also wouldn’t have suspected that 10…Nb4 would also turn out not so well for Black. IOW, I was looking at the position philosophically, but not concretely at all, apparently.

So, I went in for the sac, mostly worried about QxQd1, followed by KxQ..Bxf, and it becomes nearly impossible to find adequate cover for the king was my analysis, spent 80% of the time examining this continuation. I saw the game continuation as well with his …Ne4+, but figured I would probably get three pieces for the queen and it would be interesting to see how he goes about mating my king.

Well, for all of the cool tactics he displayed earlier, I probably wouldn’t have had any trouble mating myself, from his shoes, but this proved to be an obstacle for some reason. Also, I blundered in time-pressure with RxN, as Crafty shows that I should have played h3. h3 was my plan, but I figured that any attack on his king had to be quick, before he developed his rook on a8.

At the end of the game, of course I was very relieved to see the 3-fold repetition draw, I asked him “draw?”, and he accepted. I looked at my best attack after the game (he left to go be with his dad, his mom was still playing) and saw that I had nothing. For example, best try, Nf7+ Kg7, Bxf QxRa1, Bh6+ Kg6 and it’s all over. I can’t play Bd3+ to keep it going or he will simply take the now undefended Nf7 with his king.

I never suspected that my king could survive in the center and that White could have a huge win with …Ke3!!, even being up two pieces. Boggles my mind how easy White has it there. I suspect I spent too much time on the other variation with the queen trade, and that had colored my thinking, but here with queens on, I still have her as a defender. I did look at this line with Crafty and found a variation involving …a6 (my idea, and what I had feared at the board – in many other lines) where Black can force the draw, but this would have been a great line for White to go into, looking for Black to be the one to make that false step.

I played a nice game with the Queen’s Indian this morning, had a pawn advantage but my internet kept going out, so it wasn’t completed. Then I played this game:
Here, I could have kept the pawn with …f5 instead of …Bf5, but I blew the combo. I had sensed that there might be something there with 13…NxNc3, RxQ NxQ, RxR+ RxR, BxB, but then after …Nxb it’s even and White has the bishop vs. knight. Did not see that instead of …Nxb?, Black has …Re1 mate, or if on the move before White had played RxN BxB, RxB Re1 mate (this ‘removing the defender’ variation is a little easier to find than the knight cutting off the rook on the back rank). Technically, it is a zwishenzug mistake, but I think there is more to it than the faceless term “in-between move”, like what is that? That term sounds as if it is peripheral to the combo, rather than central to it.

I think the result of this error is because when we look at combinations (with a semi-jaundiced eye), we are first thinking “Gimme mah material back, daggoneit!” (or “counting”, as Heisman calls it) instead of examining all of the intermediary positions.

Perhaps I should give the reader more background to the Thursday night game. My opponent offered the first piece sac after spending less than 5 seconds looking at it, and the second piece sac offer (which I took) with …0-0, he spent I’d say less than 10 seconds on that move. So I knew that he seemed to be gunning for a win early, but faded when it came to having patience for the win – he spent just over 20 minutes on the game.

Sort of a joke, but if you think your opponent is hastily throwing out tactics for a win, with hyper-energy to spare, make them sit there for an hour to an hour and a half and watch some of the wind come out of their sails. hehe. Of course, I did not intentionally do that to bug my opponent. On my move, he pretty much knew to leave and spend time talking with his dad, since it would have been a huge expenditure of time for a “little” kid to sit there looking at the same position for half an hour.

Once he reaches adulthood, I don’t think he will have any trouble making Expert, should he still be interested in playing tournament chess.


Wednesday Final Round

I had only played John once before, as White last month, and had that relatively quick tactical win.

John’s rating is only 1091, but he supposedly had a winning position against Isaac one week, pinned queen to king but somehow lost it, and he’s been in somewhat tight games against other players, but I guess he has always managed to find a way to lose.

In this game I decided to try out the Queen’s Indian, knowing, well at least in my mind, that it is somewhere between heavily drawish and a pure endgame. I spent a looong time before trading queens, but I did not want an opposite bishop endgame to occur after …Ne4, BxNe4, but afterwards reflected that “Well, at least I still would have had queens on the board!”.

So here we go, now he doesn’t want to open the position, shite. If I open the position, it will be bad for me, but naturally I didn’t see deep enough because with his Be5 there begins to be counterthreats against that bishop and f4 should I chuck a pawn in the center.

The one thing I looked at and considered a lot was this …Ba6 tactic, although it leaves c6 weak it actually hits the isolated c4 pawn, e2 pawn and Rf1, a real gun. But like I say, it leaves me opened up to Bxc6 hitting the rook at e8. I even considered playing …Rc8, just to make that work. Turns out the threat was greater than the execution as …Ba6 allows Black to push …d4, since he never played e3. Well, I did not see that or that my …c5 break was working in some situations. Once again did not manage my time well due to a few long thinks.

He had a chance to double his rooks but didn’t. After e4, I moved my knight right away, but about 15 seconds later I was like daaaarn, I missed dxe grabbing the rook file and probably winning the g-pawn. So he _still_ didn’t double rooks, and I immediately lunged at my cheapo opportunity to gain the d-file, should have been toast since even my …Rd8 was not objectively best to begin with. In my mind, I had already concluded that he was going to double rooks, which is why I simply reacted the first time by moving my knight instead of trading pawns.

After that it got easy, but I still didn’t notice that Nb3 was winning a piece near the end, but looked at it for a while. I completely missed Rf3, destroying almost my entire advantage and leaving him with the bishop pair. Luckily he played Rc1 instead to defend Bc3.

At one point, I thought his g3 pawn was en-prise for my knight to take, took me a _while_ before I realized that his Rd3 was covering that square – he even did one of those looks where he noticed me looking at g3 and gave an instant “whoops!” expression. Imagine had I dropped a piece! Only weird thing after that was that when I queened I forgot to remove the pawn, which he did two moves later for me once he noticed (I didn’t notice). We both took it down to a minute. The Master stopped by and gave one of those looks of disbelief that I had not polished off my opponent earlier due to the ratings difference. Well, like they say, “and that…is why they play the game.”

I whipped through the opening, and then I think I spent about 25 minutes on one of those things like whether to trade queens or not, given his rating and my wanting to avoid a draw. Total nonsense, but at least I know I would have spent less time on such thoughts had it been G/60. One thing is that I thought that I had messed up by playing …Bb4 too late as I had not made him play Nd2, nor had I taken on c3 before he could retake with a bishop. Crafty indicates that I was in a book-line, however, which is interesting. My trading queens cost me about a full point swing, from -.5 to .5, according to Crafty.


Hey, I saw your game. 🙂

I wanted to provide some comments on your game, and also point out that that Boris Spassky had some really nice wins with the Marshall Attack.
Look here, and search the page for ‘Marshall’:

A lot of them resemble your game, like the ones against Novopashin and Stein – they are the first two that pop-up if you search.

Here is my impression of the game that you played. You played “human” looking moves all game. I thought you played well, and I didn’t see that your move was a blunder at the end, either. If you look at Spassky’s game or the computer suggestions, none of them popped out at me, but sure they look somewhat obvious in retrospect. IOW, they are hard to find moves.

Heck, if it were me playing, I would probably have tried something like …Nf6 followed by …Bf5 once I had seen the Qd3 move, not realizing that …Re6 is the way to handle it. Half of me would be thinking “I am already a pawn down, how can I draw this thing?!”

That is a very difficult opening to play at G/90, particularly if you are not totally psyched from the word ‘go’.

I think that you should let your time go down, when defending. Your blitz rating on FICS is far stronger than mine, you should be the one to feel comfortable in time-pressure. I saw a game on the internet where a Master lost but had 1 second on his clock for the last 15 moves. That is nuts, his game was lost, but I think you have an ability there and could pick up some wins where people blitz in your time-pressure.

I know what you mean about “the other guy was moving quick so I had to as well.” That is what happened to me last Thursday, he started blitzing out his moves and since I was getting way behind on the clock, I reciprocated. Very bad strategy looking back, and my last unused 20 minutes were worthless anyway. But I stopped playing chess and started playing a game called “being nervous while getting attacked on board and clock.”

The gambit opening is strange in a way because it intensifies the time-pressure element (those GMs often played at 40/ 2hrs.30 minutes back in that day when they created all of this theory that we look back upon nowadays). So, he is using that element against you right off the bat, White only needs to hold. Also, some of the computer suggestions are not what a person would play. there is that one line at the end with g4, looking for a moment as if it traps the Bh3. A person looking ahead may see the trap and simply play a4, trying to get the a1 rook into the game and hold on the kingside, knowing that they are already up a pawn. Like I’ve said before somewhere, this is why I stopped playing the Benko, “Why should I give them a free pawn?”

The computer lines are interesting, but seem difficult to find OTB at G/90.

I am relatively eager to gambit a pawn, however (big caveat), as _White_. Still, I don’t see anything in that game to be ashamed of. You played it better than I would have, as I looked through it a quicker than OTB pace. I miss some simple tactics as well, it is a danger. It’s easier to handle these crazy attacks as White, not that I don’t try them as Black, but losing with the Black pieces due to some tactical miscue is part of chess. This is why for the longest time, I have stressed trying to get points back with the White pieces, and just play who cares whatever as Black. Dont’ be too hard on yourself for losing with Black. 😉

I’ve been studying Dvoretsky’s “Technique for the tournament player” a little, it’s a book on endgames. There are some cool techniques for pulling out a win from what a normal human common-sense move would draw, or draw the hard to draw position. The more I think about it, the more I realize that endgames for ratings points stability seems like the way to go. Knowledge there can win (same tricks), again and again, whereas finding tactics is always a one-shot deal. Some tactics do come up a lot, though, like pins, forks, and maybe even ‘removing the defender’ – even though that’s what happened in your game, on a practical level that is also the tactic that has lost me more games than any other at G/90.

Thursday Round 4

I played Buck, an Expert, in this game where I had the Black pieces.

I’ll keep this post short, since I don’t get a lot of responses.

I decided to counter-attack, play defensive. I didn’t like his f5 move in the Vienna. On move 12, in blitz I would have played …dxe, but since I had time to calculate, …d4 looked best, but it is losing. Nevermind what score the engines give it initially, I have checked it out in many lines. Yes, my quick move Ne3 instead of Nf6 was dumb, but there is no defense to that line either – you have to play another 10 moves or so and I could explain precisely why in English, mainly because you need to defend with pieces on f6, which become vulnerable. My defense was based on Bf8, un-take-able there, but of course that didn’t work either.

KxNh7 was the losing move, but after the game he showed me quickly how he still would have won the Bf8 piece, had I not taken the knight. I knew he was going to play Qg6+, but was worried about the h-file, and saw the rook was going when he checked me.

His Ng5! took me by surprise and ruined my whole defense.

The correct move to save this game was 12… dxe, but what I saw was 13.Nxe4 Nxe4 14. Qxe4, not realizing that I had 13…Nxg4, when 14. say Rg1 can be followed up by …Bxf5 and Black is on top. He saw immediately in the post-mortem, though, that he would have recaptured with 13..dxe, which is correct, but with a roughly even position.

I’ve looked at it again. After 12…dxe, 13.dxe b5, 14.g5 Nd7, 15.g6 hxg6, 16.fxg6 and now both …f6 and …fxg, from what I have analyzed, are losing. It would take at least Master level defensive skills to find a defense that I couldn’t (since I have Crafty to try lots of stuff with, and Black has few move choices) find.

Buck didn’t like my …Na5, but it seemed to me like it was obviously the principled reply. In fact, I did not play this defense “Spielmann-esque” enough. The correct thing to do is to play 8…NxBb3, 9.axN, and then 9…d5! at once. At the time, I actually thought that his Bb3 move was weak, since if I capture the NxBc4, White has more of a “Silman-esque” pawn bind, and saves a tempo over the retreat.

The ..e5 pawn is not hanging. For example, 10.Nxe5 dxe, 11.dxe Re8, 12.Qxd8 Bxd8 and the knight is pinned to it’s e-pawn 13.Nc4 Bxf5 (e-pawn is pinned to king), and …f6 is another device to kick the knight away from the e4 pawn (…Rxe4). Also, White can’t simply 12.0-0 because Bc5+ picks up the discovered knight on e5 with Rxe5.

In sum, a speedy counter-attack appears to be the key to holding against this f5 attack, not passive defense. This game reminded me of that Simul where RollingPawns lost to Bareev. Same type of attack, and futility level.

My chess-goal for the next time that I play a higher-rated player will be to not get that “1000 yard stare” when I think that my position is losing, but rather to ward off the most immediate attacks that win material, and make the win as hard as possible for the opponent.

Wednesday Round 3

Played Anthea again as White, our seventh encounter (hardly seems that many times).

It seemed as if this game would be about the opening or the middlegame, but it turned out to be about the endgame where I threw away the win with a rather cocky move in time-trouble. I played Kf3, too much bravado, as I didn’t even anticipate the completely obvious …h5! This is what time-trouble does, missed something that a blind person would have seen.

I had around five minutes for the ending, but that clearly wasn’t enough. I didn’t see how to make progress in that limited time.

Once my king got stuck on f3, she could have exchanged her bishop and rook for my queen and pawn, if she wanted to, but I couldn’t see how it was forced, or even who would be winning then. The interesting thing about that endgame, should she have allowed it, is that if Black plays …b6 or ..b5 it’s a draw, but if Black were to move her king, then I could play a5, fixing the backward pawns, and then win a tempo with the king, and win the pawn-race by one tempo, winning.

Kh3 instead of Kf3 was easily winning, but on f3, the king is immediately checked by dxe+, whereas if the king were on h3, then that is not a check and there is no need to immediately recapture the pawn. Actually, it’s only “easily” winning, if Black had followed up Kh3 with ….h5?, whereas …Rg7 would have held out for a long time to come and I didn’t have enough time to play that out correctly – it actually goes 80 moves, the king has to get in there, queen trades for rook, and then bishop has to sac itself for a pawn while the Black king had previously been pushed out of play by the White queen.

Earlier in the game, when I played Kh1, that was based on mating possibilities that I had, but needed her queen to be one tempo further away from defense of her king. For example, after Nf5, Crafty first sees the line …Bd7, but then Nxg7 and the knight can’t be taken or it’s mate. Of course, I was also wondering how I could keep up materially and would it compensate for ditching my queenside, but apparently it does work because of Qg3. In the game, my Qg5 was a mistake. Qg3 followed by Nxd6 (threatening Nxf7+ winning an exchanges!) is much stronger. That was a quick move, and I wasn’t sure which line was better. In the game, Black had a defense, ….Qe2. This move takes away Qh5 so that the White queen won’t be able to check on f7, and Black is okay or better.

In the Qg3 line, I had realized that …f6 was Black’s best defense, and it is supposedly equal, but with Crafty I looked at a line where White gives up the d3 pawn for the exchange, which Crafty first rated as .27, but I knew it was somehow winning. What is surprising is that I could not win that endgame without Crafty’s help because there were so many pitfalls against sloppy play by White, leading to draws. But I did realize that a forced trade of rooks, and Crafty helped me with the rest.

Sadly, in the future I will need to save even more time for endgames against strong players. There is the school of thought that it’s better to study endgames for this reason, but I think I simply need to play quicker middlegames, more decisively. There was no reason that I needed to spend so much time earlier other than I didn’t think I was going to need it later, but I did.

Well, this is what happens when you don’t have that second time-control to fall back on and have to save all that time on the clock up-front. It was an interesting and exciting game that got fully played out (given that not enough time was saved to play it out well).

Going back to the game, her move 15…Bd7 instead of 15…Be6 (what I had expected), was a blunder. It’s even more interesting to realize why she played this move, it was to set up the …Ng4 fork. However 16.Bb6 and eventually Bc7 will round up the d6 pawn once again, in a matter of moves.

Chess Training, books again

Okay, I feel that I need to reply to this subject about Josh W@itzkin calling out Mark Dvoretsky, in ‘The Art of Learning’. I actually googled it and found the pages online.

Apparently, Josh didn’t take to Mark D’s recommendation to learn prophylaxis through Karpov. He liked the notion that he could learn it indirectly through Kasparov instead.

I’ve found this to be an interesting subject recently. Geller, in his book ‘Application of Chess Theory’ does an outstanding job of describing prophylaxis in his games. It means that in a more or less quiet position, you need to cut down on your opponents replies in order to strengthen your own. Conversely, sometimes I’ve found that when “getting your attack in first”, and the more pressing attack, that your opponents threats, being concerned about them, starts to go out the window because you are “getting there first”.

Well, a lot of chess is positional play, it’s not always brilliant attacks. I would think that Karpov’s games are a better way to get that strength than to wait around for the “quiet game” from a Rudolph Spielmann or such. Good luck waiting for that one. How many times did Kasparov agree to a quick draw with Kramnik, as White, because some “b@lls-out” attack was foiled, and only quiet Karpovian-like play remained?

Josh’s point seemed to be that he wanted to build up his strength more, attacking play. I do remember seeing some of Josh’s games in Chess Life back when he was still playing. Not all of his games were crazy attacks, but it seemed that quite a few of them were. My take was that “he is either winning, or he is violating every rule of positional chess”. Naturally, he was far stronger than me, tactically, so he was creating those sorts of positions where either side could make a wrong/false move.

In other news, I did finally organize my chess library. There is a big section on Best Games, monographs on one shelf. Upper shelf is encyclopedias, tactics, and endgames. All of the treatise type of books, I put those into a closet shelf in my chess den. It’s a done deal for now, but those treatise type books that remain are three by Dvoretsky, one by Mednis, and one by Khemelnitsky. I may look at some opening lines on a board, from an encylopedia, but that is about it for now.

USAF Quads

I played in a G/60 quad tournament on Sunday. 1.5/3.

My goal was to play a G/60 tournament, and I was out of it when I got there, been up since 2am, but was ready to go to sleep by the end of the last game.

Two things I knew going in, my time-management and tactics (the really simple ones) are the crappiest part of my game lately. Well, I foresaw that completely correct then.

First game against a 1500 level that I had beaten before, we got into a tight endgame type of position and I blundered in time-pressure, but it would have taken a lot of time to defend correctly.

Second game, played Rhett for the first time, he’s 1702. He got a tactic in on me that won a pawn. Later he gave the pawn back. It was even, both in time-trouble but he despises draws, even though he had only a second left on his clock when I mated him.

Third game I played Dean, the TD, nicest guy there, 1600 level. He was kicking me around with tactics all game, winning pawns, but losing tempos, so he didn’t do it quite right. I finally got him in a trap and realized I was going to win, and then he realized he was going to lose, and at that moment I felt bad for him because I had been digging myself out of a hole for most of the game, so I immediately offered him a draw and he accepted. I had 1minute (1:01) left and he around 22 minutes, and I was so tired by that point that it took me nearly 10 seconds after the game before I realized that I still had my knight on the board. I was a rook up for 3 pawns. Pretty sure I would have won it, but there was a chance that I mess up and have to sac that knight for his two connected passed pawns, and then I would lose on time. Realistically, I don’t think I wanted to sit there for possibly another 20+ minutes, either; if we were both in time-pressure, then that would be a different story.

That was a really nice location, coffee, even got a free bagel. The TD only got to play because Anthea left after her first loss. He really knew his opening, Accelerated Dragon, and really gives it full effort. I don’t sense hostility and contempt when I am playing him, he just loves chess. Being a TD really seems like a selfless act. Nice turnout. I had fun.

My rating is such that I play to improve. People think I have a high-rating, but in my mind it’s basically a floor. Positionally, I could beat Experts, possibly Masters, but my tactical errors are so remedial and atrocious that that is all that really matters, not openings nor middlegames, nor endgames. My intuition is pretty strong for my rating.

I was reading ‘Training for the Tournament Player’, a Dvoretsky book, where he basically talks about identifying your personal weaknesses (we already know mine). The thing is, I look at the planning skills of some of his students, even a GM, and realize I can find the correct plan in a position (which so often they do not), but all of these players, like all Experts and Masters on up without exception, can wipe the floor with me tactically, that is why there are there and I am 1700 level. They spot the remedial tactics, and the advanced combos – that’s all it is, really, it _is_ that simple.

RollingPawns, thanks for all of your encouraging support!

I’ll enter and post my games at some point. I am definitely going to take a break from studying chess now. I feel like I could take a break from chess and be happy with that. If Anthea hadn’t shown up on Thursday, that tournament would basically be DOA as far as I’m concerned, it’s about a 45 minute drive to that one. She goes to just about every tournament she can, whereas locals to that area, they don’t even show up.