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.


12 thoughts on “Thursday Final Round

  1. Yeah, crazy game indeed. The first 2 sacs are not sound. You have to play 11. Ke1 to avoid 11… Bg4+ and after 11… Qh4+ 12. g3 Nxg3 13. hxg3 Qxh1 … you are 2.5 up. Then Nd4 makes it worse, instead cxb7 keeps it equal. Fritz considers 16. Bf4 a game losing mistake, he lets you go after 19… f5. In the end he is winning after 26 … or 28… h5 or 27. … Re3 with 6-7.5 advantage. For some reason he chose 3-fold repetition which would occur after 29. Kf2. You didn’t have to ask him, you just had to claim it with TD.
    I understand that it is very difficult to calculate all this tactics with a king on the open.

  2. Rollinpawns, I’m glad you liked my game! 😀

    Thanks for the analysis! Yes, 11.Ke1, _that_ is the winning move for White as Ke3 only draws with best play from Black, I believe. I really under-appreciated the importance of cxb7 to control the e8 square. I figured, “Oh, a rook will use the b-file to sac for my 2 minor-pieces somehow”, but the e8 square was crucial.

    Unfortunately, my choice of king moves (Kf3) was made rather quickly with a spectator watching, and Isaac immediately responding with his …Bg4 sham-sac. The guy was like “ouch!” or something like that, but of course I knew what I was getting myself into in the short run.

    The part that blew me away the most perhaps, besides getting the draw, was where he missed 19…Qh4+ followed by 20…Qf2+, driving my king into the center of the board (aka “kill-zone”). I thought that that was going to be the game, right there. But, that is why you play these things out.

    Heck, my last game today on FICS went like a Ghandi saying “First I dropped my rook….then I dropped my bishop….then I dropped my knight….then I won.” 😉 Okay, I probably shouldn’t tweak famous quotes like that, but never give up is the rule in a possibly confusing situation. I think that king hunts are a special talent (analysis, combination and tactics combined).

    This book “Secrets of Chess Tactics” by Dvoretsky absolutely blows his other two books away (training and technique – got rid of them, like so many others) by an order of magnitude, by comparison, IMO; in part because endgames, openings, and technical middlegames are not going to do a heck of a lot for a Class player’s ratings, no matter how well done. Also, this one is actually a book by _Dvoretsky_ whereas the other two were more a hodgepodge of authors/trainers/and some student games from his school, along with his own material. This book has awesome king-hunts galore so far. In fact, for a change I do not want to lose these games, some of them were such as blitz with Dvoretsky vs. Petrosian. I am tempted to put one of them on Chessflash for you, but there is another one I totally dig as well. I have gone over these two games (problem position actually) many times and they are like “mantra” from the Shao-lin temple, for a chessplayer (“Kung Fu” TV show reference):

    I’ve come to realize that the biggest weakness in my game right now are “in-between moves” (‘zwischenzugs’). If I could get a handle on this, my practical strength would become around 1900, IMHO. I say this with absolutely no one to impress, zero reason to BS to anyone on this blog, it’s more a mental placemarker for me to write this. It’s definite, not the result of one game, but of most all that I play online. The most instructive games I have found were Dvoretsky’s blitz games because the zwishenzugs (hereafter referred as by ‘zugs’ – why should I use full German??) were present, which is nice about blitz games. In OTB games of GMs, you miss out on a lot of zugs because they calculate/factor-in/sidestep them a lot – it’s usually the one at the end of the game that they allow that makes them resign.

    Zugs can come in sequence, stacked-like one upon another. In my last blitz game on FICS, I ignored a threat, but lost when I failed to ignore it again. Sometimes a threat is ignored to create another threat, but then both of those threats are ignored to go after, or ignore, yet new threats. Most of my games and I think a lot of other class players, we are making and immediately responding to the most directly obvious threats. Perhaps some threats get side-stepped, but if you look at a Master level game, there is way more side-stepping of threats (count them!) than in the average class players’ games.

  3. Exciting game– you guys played like it’s 1858. Intuitively, it’s hard to believe that line (QxQd1, followed by KxQ..Bxf) is dangerous for White. One would think that white’s king will survive comfortably if Black trades queens. So i’m surprised you would spend a whole lot of time calculating there, where i would probably spend 2 minutes on hard calculation and then (unless i found something) , write it off as intuitively “OK”. Don’t undervalue the huge practical role of intuition in guiding calculation.

    I would also strongly recommend that you upgrade from Crafty to Stockfish, Houdini, or Toga (or Rybka). Crafty is notoriously bad at evaluating dynamic positions, where Rybka excels. 🙂 Stockfish is getting better and better though.

    I recently played an exciting (although flawed) game myself, annotated in great detail at my blog… I’d be curious what you think of it since your comments tend to be pretty objective and to-the-point. Peace!!

  4. Katar, I feel honored to find that you replied here! 🙂

    I replied to your game. Thanks for taking an interest in my game, now I wish I would have played better. 😉

    I’ve watched all of your videos from your ChessTV wiki page. Don’t know if that is all of them as the only thing that would be better is seeing the final games from the Spielmann book. 😀

    I can’t believe how fast you see things tactically, doesn’t surprise me at all that you are an Expert!

    One thing is I find myself agreeing with your friends on the argument (old argument by now, I guess) that it appears odd that you would play the Berlin Defense. It does make sense in one way, though. Perhaps you wanted one of your openings to be more technical than the others, just for that experience.

    When I played this game, I couldn’t get myself out of an overly defensiveness mindset, as in I didn’t want this to be happening to me. Therefore, I didn’t come to believe that I had time to play Bg5 in the …Qxd1 variation with …Bxf2 to follow. I knew I had that one free tempo before I needed to play Nbd2 to stop any rook checks, and then Kc1 would become available. Emotions must have gotten the better of me.

    You are right about Crafty, BTW. hehe.

  5. No prob dude. I have similar respect for you and your high level of objectivity and self-knowledge. Thanks for the great comment at my blog and I will also come back here for sure. 🙂

  6. Awesome, I appreciate the mentoring a lot!

    After a game, it’s easier for me to pick and choose what I would have done differently in someone else’s game, but when I play my own games I am exposed for all of my prejudices and the holes in my chessic understanding. 😉

  7. Yeah, either Bg5 and Kc1 or even an immediate Ke2 after Bxf2. My comment above was conservative to cover my possible embarrassment since i only glanced at the position, but on looking closer, i believe a player should spend hardly any time (10 seconds?) on the line with the queen trade, based mostly on intuition. So i would say that it is extremely useful to have an intuitive assessment before you bother to calculate. Your calculation must still be objective, but can be guided by intuition. If your intuition is so strong, you may not even calculate at all. After the game, you can find points where your intuition led you astray and fine-tune it, which is a constant process (even while annotating games, it’s good to constantly make intuitive assessments). It is said that GM’s don’t calculate more lines that regular masters, but the lines that GM’s DO calculate are more relevant. GM’s have a rapid intuitive assessment of a position so their calculation is laser-focused. E.g., an intuitive assessment might be that black must be getting killed on the dark squares around his king. So calculate lines or sacrifices that put a knight on f6, or bring the queen / dark bishop towards black’s king.

  8. I don’t believe that I even gave Ke2 much consideration there, but should have.

    One recommendation that I can give to anyone in a position like this as White is to close your eyes when you calculate it (you don’t really need to close your eyes, simply looking away from the board when thinking about it can have the same effect). The residual image of still seeing queens on the board may prove too distracting, even though it didn’t distract me when calculating in that line. Subconsciously, it may have crept in that the position appeared more dangerous than would have been visible after making the exchanges.

    One thing I do know from playing over enough GM games is that they can see future positions clearly. I don’t know how many of them can stare at the board so intently and do that in many situations. I think a lot of times they do wander away from the board and consider it in their heads instead, but most of the time they do spend looking at the board. It’s a subject that isn’t much talked about; okay it’s virtually never talked about.

    Relying on intuition would be great, if I already had a good sense of it for that position ahead of time, but I only had what I had, which wasn’t hot enough. In fact, my intuition was telling me the wrong things and probably my worst enemy in that situation. In the end, I did go with my intuition after fighting against it for a long time, but it felt like it wasn’t based on anything, just a gut decision of “let’s see what you got, Mr. sac-happy.”

    Well, my intuition told me to ignore the sacs, and if I could have, very possibly I would have found a strong plan and his moves might have become more aimless as soon as obvious tactics disappeared from the position. But I didn’t want to let myself off the hook from going into a position where there was possibly more pressure on me. If I had followed my intuition, I’d probably have another $20 in my pocket right now, and you’d never have seen this wild game. 😉

  9. Hey Linuxguy!

    I am going to try and make more out of my FICS account and was wondering if you wanted to play a game sometime?

    You will crush me but that is how I learn!!


  10. “In fact, my intuition was telling me the wrong things and probably my worst enemy in that situation.”

    Did you intuitively feel that white’s king is in trouble after the queen trade and Bxf2?? If so, this is the time to gently correct your misimpression. Make a mental note that positions with a loose king, with queens off, are safer than you had previously thought. This game should help to adjust your intuition in the other direction. I made a video about a game where i had a loose king but queens were off. It’s an example of switching back and forth between intuitive and concrete thinking.

  11. Tommy, we’ll play sometime. I posted to your blog.

    Katar, this is a fascinating game! In no way did you or your opponent play bad, as I think you were simply stronger than he was. It wasn’t a case of him playing bad for 1700, it was more you outclassing him in this game by a wide margin. For 1700, I’d say he played quite well.

    His sac surprised me just as well, but I can see how your king move threw him off. I can see more of my style in his play than in yours, going for some bone-headed, uncalled for attack in a position that doesn’t suggest one, like you say.

    As White, I would have played Kd2 there, instead of sacking the exchange or letting you take the bishop on b3, since I figured Black is simply trying to stir up the pot early. Yes, even when queens come off fireworks can fly.

    I figured it could be bad news for him not taking the knight back right away on a8 but he was probably being badly optimistic. It surprised me that you considered defending with b6 as I saw the tactic right away, but also missed the obvious Rc7 defense that you point out in your video.

    The part that completely threw me (and yes, you were outstanding on spotting tactics) was that even if White had captured the Na8, and also considering he has two connected passed-pawns for the the exchange, that somehow you are pelting him with all of your remaining pieces and winning anyway. That part took me aback as the dynamic advantage outweighs the static one.

    Very engaging game! I would have admitted failure of the idea afterward, if I were him. He was making ‘only’ moves for a while, and didn’t come close to saving the position.

    I learn a lot from your videos, I think I am going to have to search for any others that I may have missed. hehe. 🙂

    I just played around 25 blitz games in the last 24 hours. It’s great for board-vision (as well as defense). Hopefully, this will cure a lot of my time-control problems; naturally, it’s more of an issue against stronger players, but this should help a lot. Even G/90 is a little “blitzy”, since it is an absolute time-control. G/3 made G/5 a lot more comfortable, especially after losing a 60 move G/3 in a drawn rook-pawn ending, or accidentally stalemating. Okay, enough of that. I played some stronger people and computers, but the effective strength level of most opponents still isn’t as high as in Standard or OTB. Less time does sap some of the quality.

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