Thursday Round 1 – November

I played against Gene for the third time, this time as Black.

I got into bad time-trouble in this game as I spent 23 minutes before playing …h6, even though I would have wanted to play this move had it been blitz chess. Something about “losing” makes me not want to play it. hehe. The thing is, though, this is not a discretionary move. At the board, I figured out that the only way to make progress was to resolve the kingside first, or else it would become too dangerous and was cramping my game. Of course, Crafty is suggesting …h6 way before I actually played it.

Early on, I guess I should have played …Ng4 and followed it up with …f5. I did consider …Ng4 for a moment, but didn’t want to get myself into a position I might not understand, and I missed the …f5 follow-up idea, or I would have played that plan. Something about playing OTB and worrying about rating acts has a natural damper on playing these moves. No wonder that it’s people who don’t care about ratings that have no trouble playing these moves. Of course, if you don’t win, you also don’t get a stronger opponent in the next round.

Anyway, it becomes clear that time is affecting my game and I finally decide to resort to “coffee-house” chess, which is a little more subjective and psychological.

I missed 21…Ba5 winning his queen, although I had seen trapping his queen in some situations. I saw …Bd4 right away, and time-pressure made me not want to look-off a quick move much in favor of something better.

I was happy that he didn’t play 28.h4.

31…Qe5 was a bit of a panic move, should have simply taken his knight on g3. After I moved I had a “zen moment” where I realized he could simply move his knight away. Luckily, his response was near immediate and what I had planned on, trading queens, which still wins the piece since if he moves his knight I have NxRf3+ followed by NxRe1.

I had 3 1/2 minutes at the end of the game, and he had 55 minutes. It felt great to win this game because it also felt like I should have lost on time, as he avoiding trading pieces quite a bit and kept up the pressure, until Bxh6 that is. I also came away with the feeling that I can’t play G/90 like this, even with all of that blitz practice.

The pressure surely seems far greater OTB than online, not wanting to blow it making some silly move. Probably it’s because online, you can simply close your browser, but with OTB chess you have to (generally) drive yourself there and back, which is time and gas. Plus, it’s easy to not get nervous while playing online after a while. My game was the last one done, all of the other boards were packed up and gone, which is a little surprising since my opponent had nearly an hour left. But that is how it goes, one person gets into time-trouble and the other one blitzes more.

An interesting note is that 16…Bc7 is objectively losing the game due to the reply 17.Bxh6. Even during the game, I had considered playing 16…Bf8 and chucking the pawn which, curiously enough, is only .60ish advantage for White. Naturally, one considers the opponents rating before making these moves. If my opponent had been stronger, I would not have played ….Nd7, for example, which is not a good move. Instead I would have played …cxd3, which is equal. In some sense it is more stressful playing down in ratings because the desire to complicate is greater in order to avoid the draw.

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11 thoughts on “Thursday Round 1 – November

  1. I wanted to leave an example of perhaps a better game of mine, but more importantly clock management.

    Here I am playing an opening that I barely know and make a couple silly moves early (..h6 instead of ..Nd7, and also ..Na5 instead of ..Nc5). Haven’t looked at this game with an engine yet.

    This was G/45, I had just under 12 minutes at the finish, and he/she just under 5. Yeah, sure, I don’t know the opening like I should, am goofing off a bit, was trying to read at the same time early on.

    What is the point? The point is that in this game, the opponent makes a bad piece sac, but then I guess sticks around as if I am going to get all worried and lose it in time-pressure or something. I saved the best for last, just like all good football teams are 4th quarter teams. Sorry bud, I am not into that hanging around flinging out crap in time-pressure stuff, I finish (or so I have learned).

    This is how chess “should” be played, strong finish not marred by time-trouble. Think about how many rating points are thrown away simply due to poor clock management. It’s like “I am up a rook with 12 minutes left, seriously, what are you hoping for?” and yes, I even blitzed it out.

  2. I tried to leave a comment yesterday, “submit” didn’t work. Anyway, Bxh6 was not sound, even after better Qxh6. 23 minutes on h6 is way too much, the sac ob h6 is not correct (as you proved!), simple Nh7, Qf6 defends your position.
    27… Rg8 lets him get back into the game after Rxd8, f4, Rf1 and h4, you lose the knight on e5. I liked your counter-attack, of course he had to stop “h” pawn.
    The mate was funny, like he wanted to get it.

  3. Regarding that G/45:
    I wouldn’t obstruct my bishop on b7 with pawns on c6 and d5.
    That sac on e3 was very good. Funny that all that demonstration on “d” line was worth nothing.

  4. I thought that that natural-looking defense of …Nf7 with …Qf6 would work as well during the game, but missed how ineffective, or losing, that it could be. I’ll try to add some of the combination analysis to this post.

    In the G/45, the …c6 move was played to protect my backward …c7 pawn/square. If I had played …Nbd7 instead of …h6, I think I would have had time to play …c5. I’ll have to see what Crafty thinks.

    It’s funny how during a game one can spend time on a seemingly stupid-looking move and wonder “Am I smoking crack here or what?” But Crafty it turns out had been looking at the same things, such as ..h6, BxN QxB, Nh5 Qe7 – I debated between Qe7 and Qd8 (looked best) for a while (..Qg6 is not possible), but like I told him after the game, I thought I was okay here as his knight is possibly just offside there on h5. For all that time spent, I’d grade myself about a ‘D’ as far as seeing actual tactics against the king which I needed to be concerned about. That kingside position of White’s is tricky, but it comes up a lot in the Lopez.

    You are right, …c5 was possible even after my ..h6 (which was actually Crafty’s choice, as well) because of the defense dxc…Na6! (threatening both ..Nb4 and recapturing on c5). This idea is new to me, since I am a novice at this opening. You are right that even …d5 was not Crafty’s preference, but I suppose my QGD experience helps to make it workable.

  5. It seems your great desire to exchange down to an advantageous endgame leads you to miss the sharpest or most accurate continuation. There is Ba5 trapping the queen as you mention– instead it seems you wanted to offer a trade of B for N. Then again instead of just taking the N, you tried to trade queens (31…Qe5) which as you note gives up the mate threat on g2 and lets White save the knight with 32.Nf5. Your errors fit into the same mode of thinking– making exchanges for the sake of exchanges– so it seems this is something that can be easily fixed. But you are winning, so kudos for that and keep it up. 🙂

  6. Thanks, Katar! 🙂

    It finally occurred to me today what my “chess” problem is – board-vision. I have always lacked badly in this department.

    Subconsciously, I am trading down so that my lack of board-vision won’t hold me back. I suppose my opponents in this sub-1600 category are virtually all doing this as well, albeit earlier in the game – allowing me almost to rely on this mutual tendency of theirs. It is quite amateur-istic, I’ll give it that.

    To tell you how bad this problem is, I may have even glanced at Ba5 for a moment, and not truly felt confident that the queen was trapped. Another is when I mated him with my knight. It took me a couple seconds to realize it was mate, much as I had wanted him to move his king up there for a couple of moves before I even checked him with my rook. Like I told him, the knight was simply hanging and moving it back with check seemed like a no-fail. It took him about twice as long as it did me to recognize the mate. So, perhaps my board-vision was bad and his was twice as bad(?).

    Anyway, this is the problem with calculation. If one doesn’t have not only the tactical vision, but the board vision to recognize simple threats, then one could calculate as well as an Expert but still be 1700 level. Just like last time I played Anthea and missed her simple …Ng4 fork. Intuitively, I wasn’t bothered because I had a big attack coming down the pipe, but it was a mistake to miss something so simple. Simple tactics trainers online, for example, can help me greatly before a tournament because while the problems are not difficult, they cater to my weakness of not spotting really bone-headedly simple threats.

    It’s like when I am reading this book by Dvoretsky, probably best book I’ve owned, but the problem is sometimes I can see ahead of time and calculate part of the sac, but it’ll be how long before I finally realize “Oh yeah, this piece can simply move back to stop the threat, I forgot to even think about that piece – doh!”

  7. “I tried to leave a comment yesterday, “submit” didn’t work.”

    I think the problem is that the WordPress site can be slow. I’ve had that sort of thing happen to me particularly when my internet connection timed out and needed to be reset – slow sites can do that at times, it appears, or at least on my end it does.

  8. 16…Bc7 is first perceived as equal, by Crafty, but after playing 17.Bxh7+ gxh6 18.Qxh6 Crafty eventually finds the defense 18…Bd6 where White is up +1, then 18…c3 isntead and it’s only +.24,

    But if Black choses the plausible looking 18…Nh7??, looks winning for Black right? Wrong, it is +10.34 for White after 19.Nh5 suggesting …Qf6 sac as the best defense (to the Qg7 mate threat).

    But, I had to play Bxh7+ first and play those two moves until Crafty figured out that it wasn’t Black who was winning. 😉

    In fact, 18…c3 is forced. 19.bxc Bd6, 20.d4 (White can’t capture the d4 pawn with pieces without losing the exchange) Nh7, 21.dxe5 Bf8, 22.Qh5 Qc7, 23.Nf5 and Crafty says it’s +.71, in favor of White – probably an appropriate position to further analyze from that point.

    White is easily +- here as 20…Rd8, 21.Qh4 Rd7, 22. Rxd7 Qd7 is .96 for White. Perhaps Fritz could hold for Black here, but it is a position that takes skill. Black can easily go wrong and get further behind. I finally found a line where White, being up five pawns, chooses to force a draw – after the rook trade on d7, Black crashes through on the queenside to give that rook some initiative (with passed …a3 pawn).

    I should have played …h6 earlier, where …an eventual f5 could bring some initiative. Also …b5, Na4 is okay for Black (once White plays a3, but even then White gets an edge), I shouldn’t have tried to prevent it as it gave up other things to White.

  9. Have you considered simply annotating the PGN files? This will force you to organize your thoughts and make it easier for readers to follow. 🙂

  10. I have, but I’ve never gotten around to it, figuring out which software to do it with. I could probably do it in Chess Assistant and unpromote the lines which I don’t use. I’d still probably have to heavily edit whatever I do as it easily gets trashed-up with sublines of sublines.

    And yet, I am actually now looking forward to playing this line against him again, as I have a better idea about what to do now, play …h6 early and look for …c4 at the right moment, when ..b4 can also help to mash up White’s queenside.

    Online, defense may be easier and attacks sloppier, but it isn’t such a good thing to do OTB, IMO, hunker down too much that is.

  11. I’m finished with my Dvoretsky books and am working on my tactics now, and will be for quite some time to come as far as chess goes.

    ‘Chess Tactics for the Tournament Player’ has some of Kasparov’s combos in it. I’m noticing something:
    1) If I look three moves ahead, materially it’s almost caught up and intuitively good enough, but then he sacs more. IOW, I don’t think you need to see 12 moves ahead so much as three moves at a time.
    2) Branching. Often, the first move, there are three possible replies but only one of them is playable. What would most of us say? “Why should I consider that silly looking move, there are three possible recaptures for crying out loud!”

    Studying tactics is different than calculating in depth. Tactics is width and often the first move gives away the idea. It may be hard to notice a tactic even though it is not deep, often starts with a sac but uses one or more other tactical devices, or mate, to make it work. The key is usually to spot the other devices, not the first move, per-se.

    I’ve also figured out the answer to the “zen moment” phenomena of seeing something after a move is made. When selecting moves we think “I don’t get it” or “Nah!”, but once the move has been made in your mind or on the board as if it has really happened, then it is easier to try and place how it fits into the bigger picture and suddenly see something obvious that was missed before. IOW say “I’ve made this move, it’s done, now what happens?” Otherwise, up til that point it will be colored by one’s opinion of it. Once it’s played, it’s no longer just another opinion subject to change, it is a fact.

    Here is an interesting link to blindfold chess:
    http://www.blindfoldchess.net/introduction/

    And speaking of “blitz”, I got back to 1800 on FICS by playing blitz at Standard time-controls over a few games. I used to always lose against people who blitzed it at Standard. I won against an 1800+ player, we both blitzed, I blitzed him more, we both used under 5 minutes for the game. 😉 Don’t tell us that we are not “real chess players” because we cannot also blitz. 😀

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