Books II

I have been doing some practicing with the book “Anthology of Chess Combinations”. Great book, I would recommend it to the typical reader of this blog.

Here is what I’ve discovered in my ACIS quest so far:

Know your checkmates as much as possible. Really, this is the thing most important to commit to memory if there were really a book on it with hundreds of diagrams.

Find the candidate moves – this is more of a blundercheck in a way because it’s not too difficult to, say, spot 6 or 7 candidate moves in around 15 seconds. You will probably know what your two favorite choices are after a couple minutes, if not sooner.

The key to solving these puzzles, besides working through each line diligently so that things are not missed, is to “determine how the position is overworked.” The rest is about knowing your checkmates and spotting tactics.

Some problems, I am able to spot alternate solutions not listed – in one case 4 different mates were left out! in another case only one winning line was left out. I even found a “typo” impossible line because a pawn was blocking the square, but the actual solution was simple/forced/short. On another problem I spotted the initial move, winning a piece quickly, but the answer was a mate.

Here is another thing, this doesn’t help my “FICS games” hardly at all. The reason is that, besides many players wanting to win on time, is that for me I can have board vision, and calculate virtually nothing, or I can look for combos and not have board-vision enough to spot something dropping right in front of me, but I can’t do both on “internet time”. A combo from out of a book, depending on how elaborate, can take nearly 15 minutes which is a whole Standard time-control game on FICS. It is time-consuming to look for an opponent’s counter-moves.

For example. I played a 20 or 25 minute game on FICS today with an 1890 rated player. Here is the descriptive version of it: He had a winning combo but chose a useless fancy line instead, winning one pawn instead of two. I outworked him and won a piece. In time pressure, I try to defend and attack, obviously moving my queen from defending my knight, he doesn’t see it even though they are right next to each other. Now I figure out where to put that hanging knight, missing that his rook and mate in 1 is hanging. We play on and he wins on time. I am sure the guy is a strong player, but this is not the equivalent of “1890 OTB”, rather it is 1890 in “internet time” or quick chess, however you want to call it. I will say though that blitz is great for trying out new openings and gaining some pattern recognition that way, but it’s not really about solving “slow problems” accurately – it’s more about defending and building board-vision.

One interesting thing that I have observed is that some weaker players do what I used to do, and now it works against me. They will spend forever on the opening, then play the middlegame quickly based on intution, then stop as soon as they see the first blunder and methodically play out the win slowly but surely. The first part is so boring that I have to read something else to keep from losing my sanity. I bring the screen back up after they move, make a quick move, and if it’s a blunder, then they will go into that slow mode. Later, they will play real fast in my time-pressure, like crap but not enough time for me to dwell on their mistakes and either way the sudden jolt can cause me to lose on time, while I am trying to play more steadily and ignoring the clock until too late. After losing some of those games, I then go on to play faster than I can think, particularly in critical moments that even I sense, but now, now the opponent will surely slow down to find it, unlike me who is trying to appreciate a steady pace.

Finished another problem – Capa vs. Corszo, spent around 8 minutes on it and found the solution. But, it was rather obvious that if something was there it was going to be Capa’s. Could have made a developing move instead to “beef up the position first”, but since the flashing light “COMBO” was going off in the background, I knew to spend the time on that position. I never have this sort of luxury in an online game, which makes me think a lot less of them now, and I do lose online due to simple oversights.

Okay, I just played a couple blitz games to see if I was missing anything. Wow, people have their opening tricks worked out very well at blitz. I just won against a 1423 player who missed that he could fork my king and queen two moves in a row – I moved out of one fork into another. I can’t imagine anyone, even a 700 level kid OTB probably finds that. Great for stealing ideas or knowing how the other half lives, but a lot of things go missed. Realistically, I think blitz is more fun than Standard, though, plus you get to see more positions and endings.

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Final round of November

I played Mark again, as White, this time for the final round of Wednesdays, and for the month.

The game roughly followed a GM game that I had seen before, with the a3 followed by Bd3 and Qc2-e2-e4 idea. So for me, the opening didn’t involve too many decisions, but he spent a long time on his clock analyzing traps that White may have in store for him. I, OTH, was pretty much oblivious to these traps, simply trying to get out of the opening with an advantage. e.g., Bxf7+ followed by Qf3, e6 Qf7 mate – I mean, I lost a game online once sacking two pieces for Rh8 but it was simply bad, but he was worried about mate in this case.

In any event, after move twelve I had 1 hour to his 6 minutes remaining, and after move thirteen I had 51 minutes to his 2 minutes. It’s funny how both players can have a lot of the same thoughts during a game, but I had figured it was +/= at times and +/- near the end, but he had been worried that is was more like +/- even back when Crafty was calling it equal. I told him that he should have played …Be7 and ..0-0 about a half hour before he did and also to play ..Bd7.

Well, by the end of the game he had 11 seconds left for his last few moves, and I had 8 minutes left, and yes the time did come in handy! Who won? Well, my take on it is that the clock did! Naturally.

I thought that 12..f6 was his best moves, but he thought it was weakening. Really, it is a +/= playable middlegame, not as much a big deal on the board as on the clock, since 13.exf is best and playing a waiting move like 13.g3 and letting Black take on e5 is only equal. During the game I was contemplating 12..f6, 13.Nh4 Nxe, 14.f4?? which didn’t look quite promising enough for the pawn anyway, but 14..Nxf is a discovered attack on the Bd3 and is winning for White (also a ..g5 fork threat after a recapture on f4). Crafty prefers 12..Bd7 or 12..Bc5.

I told him afterward that I thought that his 13..Nd4? was a mistake. But I knew that time was affecting him, and it seemed he felt like he needed to “take on the world” in this position instead of looking for a calmer developing move, and letting his game take care of itself more.

After move 15..f5, Mark asked for a draw. I immediately replied “I think I am winning a pawn here, ask me again later.” Incidentally, this was also Crafty’s first choice 16.NxNd5 fxQ, 17.NxQ axN (doubling his b-pawns) 18.Bxe4 (winning a pawn and giving us a bishop-pair endgame, all forced BTW). So he was looking at that when I finally decided against the plan of tussling with him in an endgame and played 16.exf followed by 17.Qg6.

I spent quite a bit of time deciding between the Rg1 plan and the Ne4 plan, went back and forth and finally chose Kh1,Rg1. But this was a huge screw-up on my part.

I had seen 17.Ne4 NxN, 18.BxN Kg8, 19.Qh7+ Kf7, 20.Bxh6 Bf6, 21.Bg6+ Ke7, 22.Bxg7 and I was thinking “Well, now his king takes flight using the square that his bishop just vacated (e7) and I am potentially only gaining a pawn.” Very bad interpretation of the position, as Black will lose his rook on f8 the very next move or get mated. Crafty gives it +16.0 in favor of White.

Anyway, on move nineteen he plays 19…Nd5?? Which, I had just as awfully predicted he would make. When in fact, he had 19…Qe8! with a slight advantage. His 18..Qc6 had surprised me, and since he plays it ‘with tempo’ he gets to e8 one move sooner. I didn’t realize how good for him that move was, and only really noticed that I was getting my attack in before he could play Bc8-d7-e8. Instead of the 18…Qc6 idea, I had only suspected 18…Rg8

So, my checkmating skills left a whole lot to be desired, and yet it was my clock management skills (relatively speaking) which carried the day. Often, I will lose and still think that I am the better player, but with Mark I win and still suspect that he is quite possibly the stronger player. Without a doubt, opening theory gave me a big edge compared to someone who is trying to figure it all out OTB. You know, if the clock times were the other way around, I would have traded queens for the pawn, but having played more than my share of online games knew that it would be too difficult on the clock to defend accurately against a mating attack.

After the game, we discussed it outside and I told him how I thought that he could have improved or try differently, so that next time it will probably be a much greater struggle to garner a full point against him.

I don’t think that quicker time-controls than G/90 are a good idea for me, since G/90 is just barely enough time. Reason I say this is that I went 3/4, but will be lucky if my rating goes from 1757 to 1770. I could lose twice that much of a rating point swing from a one day G/60 quad tournament simply due to time-pressure. I had sort of given up on the rating points improvement game, but rating points do earn respect when it comes to pairings, so I can’t pretend to think that they simply don’t matter when it comes to one’s “fate” in chess. Anyway, if I do lose at quicker games, people will simply think that I am incompetent regardless.

I had felt rather strongly that 12…f6 was his best move, and even told Mark that “It looks like a middlegame, but it’s really an ending opening (which is what scared me OTB considering how we _both_ mismanaged our clocks). To prove this assertion, I want the reader to look at this game continuation after 12…f6. For the first 5 moves I show how I was planning on playing it as White, and after that it is all Crafty playing both sides. I found this to be comically horrible as trusting Crafty to play an endgame, yet it would also be difficult to do anything better than draw with White with best play. If you put this position up against your engine, it will tell you that White should play 13. exf, but if you notice, the middlegame position is very similar or nearly identical whether White takes on f6 or doesn’t.

After the game, Mark told me “You outplayed me”. I guess I did have a handle on that position after all, but it came from having read Gary Lane’s entire openings monograph (minus a lot of the sidenotes) on the C3 Sicilian, and then applying my own intuition OTB after all that, to find a move like 12..f6. It’s one of those “I know they aren’t telling me something” types of moves.

Books

I have read a lot of chessbooks in my time, over a hundred _read_, not simply purchased. At one time I had around 120 books, I was reading them, then I would trade them in for more chess books when I was done. I’ve also read books cover-to-cover that I have simply checked out from a library.

I am reading this book by Lane, going over the games in the Alapin Sicilian. I really like this author, it’s more of a games collection even though he is thorough in regards to the opening. The games are fun and improving my positional and tactical play.

Another author I really liked was Mednis. The saying “anything by Mednis is good” still roughly applies.

S*ltis books really seemed to be driven by example, almost to where ‘the specific incident proves the rule’, which I find baffling, but he picked out nice interesting games regardless of whatever greater rule that he was trying to prove. If you could remember but also ignore the rule and just be amused by the games, then it was provocative and helpful. Actually, he does give multiple examples of how the rule works, but I don’t think great players are thinking “Man, that general rule in the blah-and-blah opening really kicked my @ss again.” They are aware of the general rule, but chess is much bigger than “tricks”.

I have had three of Minev’s book. Some authors seem to be in love with a certain number of games. My last two books by him both contain 200 games. The book on the Fantasy var. of the Caro-Kahn seemed like a rushed job. The biggest problem with this book, meager amount of annotations aside, was the game selections. I have no doubt that it was quite difficult when he wrote it to scrape up 200 games on this variation, but I feel as though over half of the games should never have seen the light of day in print because of their quality. You sort of forget that there are bad games out there when you read a lot of books because they always try to include the most impressive/instructive games played. Yes, even masters wake up on the wrong side of the bed sometimes and should burn their scoresheet after the game.

But this gets to my main point, the most important thing is an author’s reputation and game selection. Monographs seem needless in the day of the database, but their worth is really even more in the game selection than in the annotation – game selection is much, much more important than annotation, something I had never realized before. No offense meant by this, but annotations are much more necessary for the reader below 1900 rating strength. I still gain a lot from annotations and the author’s opinion of moves, often done only with words not necessarily with variations.

Thursday – Final Round

I played Peter for the second time. In this game I am Black and trying another Queen’s Indian variation.

Really, I don’t know what the variations are but I always seem to play one, and make it up as I go. My philosophy is try out different variations. For example, I really like the ..Bb4 one, and even my piece capture on d5 was weird, but I only did it to try something new, not necessarily looking for something better, merely different.

So my Class D opponent outplays me in the opening once again, but it was a fun game. Both of us made technical mistakes, it’s just that his one or two mistakes were huge compared to mine.

Compare this to my last game where I did play the same opening that we had played before, and I only did it because he played it so passively, but then again we were only heading for a draw, since he also knew what to look out for. Those kind of games for “rating points” are not as nearly as enjoyable an intellectual exercise.

…c5 was my first blunder in the game, I didn’t realize I’d be trying to stop a passed pawn with my Nd7 in a matter of a few more moves! If he could advance pawn to d7 of course, even if only as a zwischenzug (intermediate move), then that pawn could fork the squares c8 and e8, not good for Black. Better moves according to Crafty were the patient ones such as ..Rc8, ..Bd6, ..Qe7, ..f6 like that.

Let’s look at move 18 where I played ..h6. My second choice was ..Bc6 (protects the bishop, covers d7, and even prevents Qa4), and my third choice was …Qe4, which I had seen first and Crafty likes best. After I played ..h6, I felt that ..Qe4 was probably objectively best, or so my “spidey-sense” told me. But, I was a little worried about my back-rank after a trade of queens on e4, and then Re1 kicks my bishop and uh, how’s my back-rank working out for me? Oh, yeah, I’d have to spend more time looking at that happenstance, so ..h6 was also some luft to keep the tactical eventualities less complex.

..h6 cuts down on his immediate kingside attack (I know Aziridine will disagree and be right) moves such as Ng5 and Qf5 (I’d like to trap her away from the real action in the center, get her jammed into the h-file or so).

When the climax of the game began, he played RxN to avoid getting his queen trapped by Ra8, but both of us were too tactically weak to see that he had Ne5 instead, when …BxN, BxB keeps the attack going. I had only seen Ne5..Bxg2??, Qxf7+!, missed that intermediate move.

Crafty gives White the huge advantage even after White gives up the exchange except that instead of 23.Ne5!! (neither of us saw this, or at least I didn’t), he plays 23.Be5?? and I simply “remove the defender” to come out a piece and exchange ahead.

The good news is that by the end of the game I had around 25 minutes on my clock and he around 16, so I still had some “padding” on the clock, though not much, in case he had sprung one of those better moves on me.

Despite Peter’s rating, he drew a 1573 rated player at the Tri-Lakes tournament a short while back, for example. He also knew that he had had a winning opening against me in this game, but blew it late. He is a retired minister, I am told.

Wednesday Round 3

I played against Isaac, this time with the Black pieces. We were both tied 2-0 in this tournament before this game.

We were both nervous for quite a while at the beginning, but then it normalized for me, though Isaac had only 24 minutes left at the end of this game whereas he usually has an hour left.

Well, the game even according to Crafty was even all game long really. It seemed as if this would come down to being a draw or a blunder decides.

I was down to 17 minutes left, not worried about my clock, when about 4 people walked up to the board (about 6 people in all). It was his turn but my mind sort of went blank. He captured my knight and I recaptured with the rook, literally a two second reply. I was hoping my quick response would make him nervous but that backfired when he played Qg4 and I immediately thought that I was dropping my Bb4. I didn’t make a sound, but inside I thought I had blundered by not recapturing the knight with my pawn.

Then my head felt like it was sort of swimming. Felt self-conscious, like six people were waiting for me to move, and I was barely breathing – this is something that internet chess does not simulate. Anyhow, I missed the defense, actually an aggressive move, but my opponent pointed it out to me after the game. 26..Bc3 instead of ..g5?? holds the game. After I blundered the bishop, I sensed one person walk away immediately as if I had blundered. The TD and Assistant TD kept watching, but the others left. I appreciate that they stayed because by the end of the game I felt like I was no longer bothered by people watching my game, like I had learned to block it out. It was an empty feeling after the loss, like I wasn’t my normal self, just blah.

That’s one thing that sucks about playing in a restaurant, the lack of room at times. I am in a corner booth where I like the privacy, the corner of a room, therefore everyone watching are packed like sardines hemming us in. It’s not like people all around from a distance at a regular tournament, they are right there, ‘X’ marks the spot. The kid at least had his back to them and didn’t seem to be bothered by it. In the end, the crowd departs and it is silence, not a word is spoken by anyone else. I say ‘well played’ to the kid and then leave to the other room where I talk with Anthea and Mark about their game – another failed Benko Gambit, and then Isaac tells me the move I missed a little later. So in the end, the crowd doesn’t matter, there is your game and then that is it. Some of us stick around a bit til closing time (9pm), but most don’t.

For a brief moment I even considered …Rc3, thinking I could sac the exchange, but it actually just loses the Bb4 also. When I fleetingly considered ..Bc3, I think I just forgot about the ..Rc6 being back there or something, and the persistent image of ..Bb4 was so strong as if I needed to close my eyes just to move it in my mind because looking at the board I just kept seeing it staying on b4. I think on some level also, due to nervous strain or my malfunctioning brain, I also sort of saw my two rooks as one rook, perhaps because I was kicking myself over not having played pawn takes rook, which would have blocked it off (but prevented the back-rank threat) from defending c3. I replayed that last move mistake in mind for quite a while, almost for as long as I spent on the current move.

Another thing, funny how you don’t realize this stuff until later, is when he played Qg4 or right before he played it actually, I noticed that he had Bxg7 Qg4+ followed by QxBb4 winning the g7 pawn. When he played Qg4, I assumed that it must be even stronger than that tactic since it immediately threatens mate, but actually it is a weaker tactic. I was assuming too much of him.

I don’t want to jinx myself and say that the monkey is off my back now, failing in front of every lower-rated player bystander like that, but it probably is.

Isaac will now take first place with a bye next week unless Mark shows up and wins his game.

I will say that I do have more understanding, sympathy for Bent Larsen now. One can have moments of oxygen deprivation, and it is more of a feat to come here and play chess right off the plane, climate has nothing to do with it it’s purely the mile-high altitude. Just because I am acclimatized doesn’t mean that I can jog anything close to what I did back home, I can’t, it simply means that I can “run upstairs” without gasping as a visitor to here would. I suppose that Fischer spent more time acclimatizing than Larsen did. The people who have lived here for years though, it’s weird, they act like it doesn’t exist, but even people who have only been here a year or two longer than me from CA, they can still feel it to when doing hard-labor. When playing chess, I don’t notice it, but I can’t jog at all anymore, even after losing weight.

I got side-tracked here, but visiting sports teams in great shape there is not much point in them trying to acclimatize. People think that sports-teams here have a home-field advantage but I think the biggest advantage that a Colorado sports team could have is to not play too many games here. If the Broncos had to play all of their football games here, for example, I think that they would be at a huge disadvantage, but people not from here tend to think that it should be the opposite of that.

I feel psychologically stronger now than I did before, though. The first round/s are not the real test, it’s the later rounds, but sure one does have to “survive” the first rounds if you want to call it that. I am not even thinking quite like that now, though. If I draw against anyone, I draw. The bigger thing to worry about is the clock, and to not get freaked out over “needing a win”, shouldn’t really think like that I’m now seeing.

I think I should stop blogging. I know that RollingPawns reads this, perhaps even Katar now, dunno, but it’s probably time to put chess on a shelf in a way. It seems people are still blogging off and on but don’t visit other blogs much. The purpose of this blog was to share the tournament experience. I guess that my poor G/90 skills ruined all of my games just about, except the ones where I was expected to win. Perhaps my G/90 games are just not that interesting other than to me at the time, finding a chess-hole in my game and plugging it up. It was useful to review the thoughts that I had during a game, but perhaps I should simply acknowledge that OTB chess is all about focus even more than ability, not getting down on yourself and all that sort of thing. It’s much easier to do that online, but then again it’s also easier to try out a bunch of crazy stuff and not worry about it so much online.

Thursday Round 2 – November

This game came down to my poor time-management against a higher-rated player.

This was our second meeting. He played an offbeat Sicilian as Black. I think I shouldn’t have worried so much and gotten the f4 plan in however. Be2 would have been more sensible, but even with Bb1, if he plays his bishop to the a6-f1 diagonal so what, put the rook on e1 if need be and push f4 anyway. This was Dan’s recommendation to me after the game, play f4, but that isn’t so great it seems because of …f6. Dan is 1700’s and won against a guy who is nearly 1900. Turns out the correct strategy is to make his bishop bad by trying to force him to play …e6. That was a nifty strategy that he used against me.

I played haphazardly, but Crafty says it was completely even when I played 25.Qg3, problem was I was running low on time.

I made two visual errors and that was the game. First one was that I didn’t see that his capturing on d4 uncovered his Bd7 to protect f5 against the fork. I played this series of moves quickly and only after he played QxRd4 did I notice the combo didn’t work.

Then I made a visual error that hung a piece with 30.Ng6xe7. It was another quick move, but you can notice that after the bishop recaptures on g4, the rook is then guarding the e7 pawn. The right move was to not play 29.QxQ but rather Nxe7 right away instead, but it is still losing because Black has the reply Bb5 attacking Rf1. Naturally, I had seen 29.Nxe7 first, but was trying to “improve” upon it by trading queens first. The continuation should be 29.Nxe7 QxQ, 30.fxQ Bb5.

In 2-D it is easier to see my combo on d4 failing right away, but it is much more difficult to notice the Bd7 OTB, IMHO. As soon as I took with the rook and he took with his queen, he smiled over to his friend confidently and was completely obvious to me that he knew he was going to win. Not only does the Bd7 prevent the Nf5+ fork, but it also allowed the Qg4 defense, so I had naturally also missed that initially, thinking that I could at least sac the house on g6 for a draw. But after he played QxR, that’s when I also noticed the …Qg4 defense, and naturally I can’t move the pinned f-pawn to block out the queen with…if only I had played Kh1 earlier like I had thought of doing. 😉 Well, Qe3 is the move I should have thought of anyway, instead of RxN.

There was a fleeting moment before I allowed the d4 combination that I thought to myself that if I didn’t like the combination, I could back out with 27. Nxg6 or Bxg6, but forgot about it, however he has 27…Ne2+ forking king and queen. One thing about this game is it never helped to make a move and try to think on his time as he only seemed to spend time where he felt there were actual complications, and since he is a strong player, he only saw complications where they actually existed. Frequently, I felt like “Okay, move”, then he moves right back, not giving me anything, and I am still on my clock. If I hadn’t been thinking about so many possibilities on that move, I think I notice the obvious blunder and then find Qe3. It count against me that I had many things to consider on that move, but didn’t funnel those considerations by the most immediate threat posed to my position.

After the game, I asked him what he would have played if I had played 28. Bf5. I didn’t play it because I thought Qa7 disarmed my tactic, but actually there is a drawing line should he have played that. Instead he quickly played Rc1!..BxBd7, RxRf1+ Kh2 and I was cursing my luck, thinking I would have gotten Nf5+ fork in, but actually he can continue from that position …Rh8!! pinning the Nh4 to the king and winning it.

My last chance was a move I did not notice, getting two pieces for rook and pawn in an ending with only a slight advantage after 27.Qe3 Bb5, 28.Rfe1 Ne2+ 29.RxNe2 d4, 30.Qe4 BxRe2, 31.QxRe2 then Black trades a rook pair and queens on c1.

My longest move of the game was on playing b3. I was worried about a …b3 sac, axb3 Nb4 when it appeared that Black’s pieces get active, but the doubled pawn gives White a full point advantage and Black can make nothing of the initiative there. Also, my blitz move would have been Nf4 instead, but then we both trade d-pawns Nxd, Nxd and that is quite bad for White.

I made too big a deal out of strategy and did not save time for complications, that was the unstoppable train, the clock. He had close to an hour left, but I knew it was going to be like that going into this game.

I was just reading a game in ‘Secrets of Chess Tactics’ and I couldn’t visualize a tactical line he was seeing. I closed my eyes and I could actually see the pins and why the sacs worked, but if I were to look at the board it would be much more difficult to visualize without moving the pieces due to the “retained image” of the current position. That book _does_ do some serious GM level Stoyko-analysis on positions.

Wednesday Round 2 – November

I Played Dean in this game, as White, our 7th encounter OTB. Recently, he has dropped some rating points – it is usually over 1600.

He trotted out his Accelerated Dragon again, and perhaps sensing (correctly) that I had something in store for his usual reply of …d5, decided to play ..e6 and …f5 instead, which Crafty is real down on. He also felt that it was a mistake OTB.

I missed a tactic, after 11…f5, there was 12.exf6 which I figured would go 12…d5 and my knight has to move back with Nc3, but I missed that the correct reply would be to let the knight hang and play 13.Qd4 attacking Rh8, threat is f7+ QxRh8. I had seen the f7+ possibility , but missed Qd4, only looked at Ng5.

He makes a huge mistake with 16…Qb7 instead of 16…Qe7, as 17.Bc5 prevented him from castling.

What’s interesting is that if he had played 16…Qe7, I could respond with 17.b4 axb, 18.cxb and later if he plays …Nd5 can even play BxNd5, advance the b-pawn
to passivate his bishop and then play opposite bishops with a free bishop essentially and look for queen, rook and bishop mates. This was recently a hole in my knowledge until RollingPawns had pointed it out – Dvoretsky also pointed it out in his ‘Secrets of Chess Tactics’ book.

IOW, the b4 push and BxN doesn’t surprise me as I had thought of doing those things OTB, but the thing I found surprising was to not approach it as an endgame position (with the outside passer to be promoted, simply keep it as a threat) but rather as a middlegame position. White is up to around 2.75 according to Crafty, and yet there is no material advantage. Just as interesting is that White can still promote an isolated a-pawn with queens off the board.

Again, I have a nice workable position against him, but he keeps his queen up front as a target, allowing me to win his a-pawn cleanly and that was basically it. I saw his counter-moves and stuff that could have happened but didn’t, but there was simply no need to play the fancier lines as a win is a win.

Also, 21…Qa5 is the wrong idea as I saw that I also had 22.QxQ RxQ, 23.Bb4 Ra8 and I am still winning the a-pawn as in the game, minus the queens, but I wanted to keep queens on as she was a nice target for my attack. Black no doubt wishing for some lucky sort of Qd1+.

29…Qa5 was possible, and I was looking at responding with 30.b6 with the idea of deflecting the Bc8 from defense of d7, but even the queen is out of play I now see and the queen and bishop mate threat is back on.

Near the end, I felt that he could have sacked his queen on a8 for rook and bishop, but then I would have sought to mate Black on g7 with queen and bishop. Turns out ..Bd7 was not possible, so I goofed with that thought, but I played so prophylactically that it did not matter.

Also, I thought about pushing d7 toward the end, instead of Ra8. d7 would have been relatively quite a blunder; no need to entertain these sorts of moves as there is no crowd about to bust out the gold coins. hehe.

Some people there play some really outlandish stuff. I feel my game is more staid/Karpov-ish than theirs, but everyone is different I guess, some play looser than others, but then I guess I don’t have a low rating that I can let bounce all over the place like some of them do. One of the guys I talk to there intentionally blocked his own defense of c2 to allow a Nxc2+ fork, only to get in his own Nc7+ fork and win the Na1. That is sick, so to speak, and he spots lots of traps, quite talented, typically has an hour left at the end of games, but is back to around 1500 again, WTF? But that’s the thing, the rating system isn’t about who is most talented and gets the prettiest wins, it simply describes who wins most, period, the end.

Mark (1880-ish rating) played a game where he had a knight, rook and 3 pawns vs. a bishop, rook and 5 pawns – the extra two pawns being isolated – against a 1400 level player. Mark won but had 5 seconds on his clock the whole time, the other guys had 30 minutes but walked into a mate with 7 minutes left. I didn’t watch, didn’t want to make him nervous in case he did. But another guy that looks up to me finally took issue with me when I said I expected Mark to win, and then I added that it was because of the ratings differential – around 450 points. The other guys all thought that the 1400 player would win. It very much reminded me of the conversation that RollingPawns, Chesstiger, and I were having the other day.

I’m not saying that I could have won that position with 5 seconds left, but Mark has a lot of endgame experience and recalled when they used to play 7 hour time-control games. I probably couldn’t have won that position, but a chess rating is there for a reason! He said that the move was one where the other guy had 3 ways to go wrong, and chose one of those bad moves.

At the end of my game, I had 8 1/2 minutes left to my opponent’s 27 minutes or so. Really, I want to end my games with ten minutes on the clock as I am not really comfortable with the quality of my game once I go below that, but in this case it was a winning position against lower-rated so didn’t quite matter as much it could have.