Positional play against the Sicilian Defense

C3, or the Alapin variation, is a nice way for White to play against the Sicilian Def. In the Open Sicilian, the positional nuances are more or less all known by Najdorf players, for example, or at least those who crack a book open on openings once in a while – and thus it becomes more about deep tactical nuances that are difficult to perceive at the Class-level.

I won a game this morning using the C3 Sicilian, as White (much like the snow that covers my yard). I’m sure the game was even at some point, but I should have played it both better OTB at G/90, and worse at blitz, so it’s all relative.

In other tournament news, I thought it funny that Gene, the guy I’ve beaten the four times I have played him, beat the 1800 level player (who gets into time pressure a lot) that I never got a chance to play; meanwhile, my OTB rating dropped down to 1735 for those two time-management lapses (which were more than just a lapse). I mention that, but the rating doesn’t mean much to me other than to say, yeah someday it will probably reach 2000, assuming.

Here is another positional win, this time in the Alekhine’s defense. Back when I used to play Alekhine’s defense, I quickly learned that Black needs to play ..a5 in the ..cxd variation, to avoid getting constricted on the queenside. It’s amusing how effective that a small piece of positional knowledge can prove to be.

The difference between Blitz and Standard play

I played a FICS game this morning and I think this game illustrates precisely why I have a much lower blitz rating (which someone commented about last night, suspecting I must be cheating at Standard) than Standard rating. Even someone at the club thought that people cheat on the internet, but I think they think that because their “game” is to play fast.

In this game, my lower-rated opponent sort of brought his “blitz game” (disregard how much time was spent on the moves) and I brought my “OTB game” – granted, the game only took me around 20 minutes to play.

In the opening, I see c4 preceded by Nf3 so seldom that I didn’t realize that it takes away my standard …e5 response and offers a Catalan for Black instead. I “tried” to play a King’s Indian, and yet thought I had “goofed” with …Re8 (since you normally see it on f8 in the KID), and yet I still apparently got a comfortable, reasonable, interesting opening position (granted that his Qb3 next to the apparently useless c4 is not so hot and that he blundered a few times).

In sum, it’s not that my blitz game is so bad (it is) but rather, IMHO, that blitz is simply bad chess all-around. Lots of brilliant moves and positions occur in nearly every blitz game, but if you can’t slow down to extract the most out of every position, then it is simply not quite the same game.

I just played a blitz game that I really like. It shows that a simple positional win is possible in Blitz, even as Black, even if blitz is hopeless for me when it comes to more complex, open positions – not because I don’t play them well, but there is too much to look at to avoid hanging pieces, pins and forks.

Tournaments end

I was going to play tonight (Wednesday), but car wouldn’t start, so I decided to pull out of both tournaments. If I were 3-0 instead of 2-1, I would simply take a bye and play the rest of all the games, but that it isn’t the case. This is one thing I could sort of see coming as being a problem with club play, sort of like getting disconnected during an internet game.

Queen’s Indian

Here is a game that I just played on FICS.

I blundered by not “bothering” (typical for online play) to evaluate Rg3, Qg5, even though I had seen this before he even played Rg3. With ..Rd7 instead of ..b4 it goes from -3 to -.5. Then, he blunders back just as shockingly with f6.

But, okay, I show this game to show how playable that the Queen’s Indian is.

Here is how this game “could” have gone, with the help of Crafty.

I post this game/opening because RollingPawns might want to see it. I, however, will probably see just as many “Colle” type systems as I see 2.c4, so may not get to utilize this system as much.

Round 3 – Thursdays December 2010

I played Gene in this game for the first time as White. The opening was a variation that you’d think I would know as White, but instead had to figure it out over the board. Luckily, I was only up against a Class C player, as White, so I was afforded that luxury even if he did have around 70 some minutes left at the end of the game.

Well, it was an interesting game, but he played inexact when it came time to possibly transition to the endgame. I think he sort of went based on looks, and this is where analysis trumps, and of course since the line of play is so narrow I can do this very quickly.

Before the game they said that Gene was on a roll. He does seem to be improving his results, but what I see is that there is enough of a bottom for him to find someone to beat. To get the opponents that I should be playing, I have to virtually not lose a game. One loss doesn’t guarantee that I get to play someone close to my level, in fact it’s more the opposite. I will have Black in the last two rounds should I play all of them. I am not complaining so much as stating a fact. In essence, even though it is a “five-round tournament”, I maybe get two or three real rounds out of it, from the big-picture perspective.

Round 3 – Wednesdays December 2010

I played Dean as Black, our second game with me playing Black, and once again a Max-Lange Attack. Last time Dean followed the book a little deeper with 8.BxNc6, but this time he decided to deviate with 8.Nc3? I didn’t play the strongest response which was 8…Nxd4, 9.Bxd7 Qxd7, 10.Qd4 Bc5 where the queen is skewered against the upcoming 11…Bxf2+ (protected by the Ne4).

My original intention was to simply play 9.Bd2 NxBd2 and then win the e5 pawn, which is also strong, but the Nxf2+ looked like more fun and is actually best if played right. In any case, it only took a single innacuracy for the game to really fold. Looks like Bf4, and then Re1 was best, but played in the reverse order had catastrophic results for White.

The more interesting game turned out to be the ending between Mark and Dragan. Mark was up two pawns in a rook ending but Dragan even managed to sac a pawn to split up his pawns and from 3 pawns down came back to create a winning position – I showed him where he passed up a win, after the game, but he had only 9 seconds. Dragan forced the stalemate draw with 9 seconds on his clock to Mark’s 20 odd seconds. hehe. Crazy. Needless time-presssure for both sides. Interestingly enough, Mark switched to Grob’s Attack (g4) for that game and seemed to have some understanding of it.

Dean took as much time as I did and since it was so few moves, it wasn’t difficult at all to finish the game with still half an hour on the clock. I made the first 8 moves in 5 minutes, but slowed down radically after that as there was no pressure on the clock or board.

After the game, I explained to him how to play that variation as White, and now that I look at the book play, if he simply follows what I explained to him, he should be able to draw against me as White with not much problem. hehe. Sort of funny, but yeah, that line requires at least that much homework, not much but enough to know the idea behind the line (marching the f-pawn down the board f3,f4,f5,f6).

Round 2 – Thursdays December 2010

I played Jason for the third time. I was White in this game

My chess goal was to pace myself on the clock. I didn’t even play my best line, but it seemed like it could be interesting. He played for fast development, so my h3 was probably a mistake.

Like I say, I was pacing myself and he had over an hour for most of the game, and didn’t take long on moves. For the first time I can remember I was writing legibly on my scoresheet, only left the table once, and didn’t have any nervous mannerisms – was calmly losing, lets put it that way, like a calm “FICS” game.

My big mistake was to play Bd3 after he played …Qc7. I had momentarily considered Qe2, but moved too quickly because as soon as I had moved I realized that I had made a big mistake by not spending more time on that move and realizing that Qe2 was virtually forced.

There was a great defensive tactic that I missed on move 18. I figured that if he played 17..e6, which he did, that I would play 18.Bg5, then saw he has 18..f6, so 19. Bf4 Qc8 and now 20. Rfe1 threatens to “remove the defender” of the capturing rook on d5. 20..exd, 21.cxd Rxd, 22.Re8+ RxR, 23.QxRd5+. I was vaguely looking at bank-rank possibilities, but didn’t put all of this together. That is real chess. That is also hard to find at G/90 unless one gets proficient at finding and calculating these ideas.

It felt like my opponent was playing G/30 against me, so yes that makes it more a feat to find that on one’s own time. The only reason my opponent spent as much time as he did is that he frequently left the table during moves, not because he had any lack of making a response in under a minute. Quite a few moves were instant. I even made some instant middlegame moves where I could see that the clock’s time had not changed.

Anyhow, I saw that he was winning my bishop with …Qa5, but played …Nb4 instead, and naturally I traded my bishop for it.

Then, on different moves he really let off the pressure he had built up, in the endgame. My technique was stronger than his.

Move 70, I made the move, hit the plunger and just as I was taking my hand off my clock it beeped. Play would have continued …h3 then Rxf+ followed by Rxh, KxR and there is no material left. When he played Kg2, it made me think for a moment since I thought he would play the drawing ..h3, but then I realized I can’t move my rook anywhere or he will queen immediately. I wasn’t trying to time it close like that, it just happened that way.

When I had a minute left, I did spend half a minute counting rook and pawn endgame but played the same move I would have played since it seemed forced. At one point I had 5 1/2 minutes and then noticed it was at 4 minutes and still running during his turn, so I pressed it and then he quickly moved.

I had asked him for a draw earlier but he didn’t reply, probably because of the clock times but I had almost 6 minutes left when I asked. After the game he said that he would have given me the draw had my clock not timed out, which I suppose was being nice but it didn’t matter since there is no time for me to ask for a draw in that situation. People say “It’s your clock!” to me. That is frustrating because I ask people if I can use their clock and my set and even asked him. No, he did not bring a clock and we used his set – this happens to me very frequently. Anyhow, it’s not the clock’s fault, I simply took too long. Of course, I wish the delay were longer than 5 seconds, but that is not what the rule is. I could cheat and set the delay to 7 seconds, nobody would know, but I won’t do that.

That was the closest I’ve ever come to getting a final move in on my clock and not getting it, but I wasn’t even aware of how many seconds that I had left, I was simply playing chess. My opponent could have asked for a draw at any moment, so I don’t know why he said that at the end, maybe it made him feel better, but he definitely wasn’t “giving” me the draw and was instantly beaming when my clock beeped. I was thinking to myself “You saw me press the clock.” but I don’t expect any handouts and didn’t.