Final Round – March 2011

I played Mark in the final round for the U1800 prize.

You know, I came in feeling a bit tired, and I’ve come to expect nothing these days. Anyway, I was playing Mark who has done very well against me, but I guess because he lost our last game when I trotted out my C3 Sicilian (trust me, the psychological value was greater than the opening), so this time he ventured up the courage to play 1..e5 against me for the first time.

It was an interesting game, I sacked a pawn, there was something to learn from it. Both of us had some interesting ideas, probably him more so.

CO Class Championships – 4 way tie for Class B second place

Jason L*ving won with 3.5/4.

Second place was 3 points out of 4.

I played Jason three times before, but not in this tournament. First time I won, and did well against him in blitz, but second time I dropped a piece in G/60 time-pressure, and third time my clock ran out right as I was making the next to last move for the draw. So, I can hang my hat for keeping up with the Class B players.

I got to play three new players in this tournament and one that I hadn’t played in a while, but she has improved tremendously and saw a lot, more than I did in the postgame. They were all nice opponents, and gave a tough fight.

For me, this was the ideal tournament. Woke up at normal hours, didn’t over-chess in the week leading up to it. You can never predict what will happen, but it feels good to have played without those drawbacks.

I’ll post my round 3 and 4 games in a little while.

Round 3, I played the first 9 moves in 13 minutes, but by move 20 had only 18 minutes left. I made my 40th move with 2 1/2 minutes left, and I had agreed with my opponent that we had made 40 moves. But I left to take a whiz when I realized that I did not press Black’s clock before moving as White, so it was still running. When I got to the board people were watching my 33 seconds count down (though I had made 40 moves), and I instantly played Bf4 and they walked away. lol.

The critical move of round 3 was when I played 17.Ng5-f3. I didn’t want to waste anymore time, but I immediately regretted not playing 17.Qh5 after playing it. I figured Black could have defended with 17…Rf8, but I lost all initiative and knew I was going to pay a price for not having played Rc1 beforehand.

17.Qh5 should win, this is a great example of a mating attack to study. Crafty prefers 17…Nd8, but I looked at 17..Rf8 (another reasonable-looking try). White simply completes development with Rac1, if ..Bb4 then Nb3, and then White plays f5! (it’s okay to sac the Ng5 with …hxN, and mate in a few moves) ++-. …g6, even if forking pieces, is simply one more nail in the kingside coffin. This is a move I should have spent and saved more time for. Actually, I saw Qh5 as soon as I picked up the knight, but I regretfully looked at it and thought he could have defended with …Rf8.

The try 17..Nd8 in reply to 17.Qh5 doesn’t completely defend either as then White can play 18.Ng5-f3 (at least Black’s knight isn’t going to b4 now), and then if Black replies with 18…f5, which is what I was mostly concerned about during the game, then 19.g4! fxg, 20.Qxg and Black’s defense is still muddled with f5 looming (+2 position) for White.

The tournament situation dictated that I go for a win and not try to hold it, but I got all loose and blundery. Luckily, this opponent made the mistake of trying to play quickly in my time-trouble (actually, I pace myself well in time-trouble, relying mostly on experience).

Round 3

Round 4 was a pleasant surprise as I had an hour and seven minutes left after move 25, and finished the game with 26 minutes remaining. Can’t believe I actually paced a game!

Round 4

I thought that my best game was the one that I lost, I simply had a moment of fatigue, which I guess is even easier to do if you get a little tired late and think the position should be a draw.

My last game was my second best game, but I think Katherine or Katie is really talented. She played better than me and analyzed better than I did, I simply had that knack of knowing what to do at the critical moment or so.

I think it was ‘my time’. Certainly I played a lot of bad chess, and made game losing blunders in round 3, but outplayed in complications. That is the thing, when it gets all “FICS-y” and yucky postion, tactical time, I have more experience of knowing what to do.

The part that helped me the most, chess-wise, is that I really have played more games than most Class B players that I faced. So, it wasn’t just analysis but who could better evaluate the position. I don’t think I am a better player than my last round opponent, but I have a subtle sense of what should be done when the position is still quiet, so that when it does get stormy it’s like “I knew this was coming, I could feel the position” sort of effect.

Colorado Class Championships – Rounds 1&2

After two rounds, the story so far is about how I didn’t save enough time for the later moves, and made a lot of bad ones.

Round 1 is a horrid-looking game. Crafty says he was winning most of the time, if you can believe it. His big mistake, IMHO, was taking far too long to double rooks on the c-file. I wasn’t in crazy time-pressure, but the time-pressure is all relative, if you have an hour you will make a less-pressured move than if you have 20-30 minutes, even if you spend just as long on the move, this is what I found out. I thought he defended quite well, better than I would have done in his position, but he attacked poorly, which is what let me off the hook.

Round 1

Round 2 was a completely needless loss. 1.d4 is such an innocuous opening, but that often works against me for some reason. Poor time-management made me rationalize the queen trade, and I saw that it ends with Nb6 attacking my rook, but overlooked that it was forking my rook and pawn until he played it. I knew that I would be fine instead of offering a queen trade, had I just played 21…bxa,22.axb RxR, 23.RxR h6. I could see that that was totally fine, but instead I got lazy and didn’t look hard at Nb6 after the queen trade option, saw it but blew it off.

Later, nearing time-control, I was spending about a minute a move, but the need to move fast affected my judgment. The critical move was 37…f5 and I knew this was dumb, but I didn’t have time to analyze it right. I was going to blockade the b-pawn with Nb3, which he thought that I should do, but I thought Ne4 was winning, and it actually is by 1.5, but I was so tempted to play the right move, which is ..Rc2 and there is a tactical draw in there, but I didn’t have enough time to find it, so I played crappy moves thinking I could win his pawn at b7, but his 42.Na4 dispelled that illusion.

It’s obviously an irrational line I was following, much as a person jumps off a lifeboat because they think they see a ship in the distance, but it was due to poor time management. I had three minutes to make my 40th move, which was forced anyway, but the damage from time-pressure was already done.

The draw goes something like 37…Rc2, 38 (knight moves) Ne4 Nc1, 39..Ne2+, 40.Kf1 (putting king on 2nd rank wins rook with discovered check) Nxg3+. I should have been able to figure this out, especially as I saw his attack later on before he did, which does the same thing. He spent a lot of time in the second time-control.

Round 2

One thing I found out is that I slough-off too much on defense. My opponents both played better defense than I. The moral of this story is to spend more time on own defense and opponent’s defense. They were both doing this and doing a good job of it. I went into patzer-mode where I have intuition (almost did play 37…Rc2 in round 2, but felt it would look silly if it didn’t work out and the passed-pawn queens). So, my intuition is there, but I don’t take it seriously enough to spend time on those moves, so used to blitzing them out. I feel like Polly re-incarnated. 😉

To be a good chess player, I think it requires an innate desire to play boring, if sometimes obvious, defensive moves. A lot of chess is boring defensive moves. Probably 80% of chess is boring defensive moves, and in particularl when it comes to 1.d4

I found a long line from that round 2 game where Black plays for a draw by winning a pawn with rook and another with knight, Black needs two extra pawns on the k-side to compensate for the the passer. The main thing to keep in mind is that once a pawn is carelessly dropped, the opponent is going to have 1+ hours to just sit on that position and be anal-retentive about not giving any ground. In blitz it would be easy to come back from a pawn down, but that’s not the same case with 40/2,G/1.

People from our G/90 club are notoriously bad when it comes to this time-control. We lose to people who only play at these few tournaments, and it’s because at faster time-controls there is more of a “throw caution to the wind” attitude. At slower controls it is ‘wait for a mistake, and then punish it mercilessly.’

Colorado Class Championships 2011

March 26 – 27, 2011
4 round Swiss system tournament. Time Control: 40/2, G/1

I will be playing against four other Class B players.

Long, ‘standard’ time-controls. I imagine that if I play well there will be some really long games. I will attempt to use my clock well and go deep into games whether winning, losing, or a long-winded draw. It will be nice to get some long games in for a change. My endgame has gone to h*ll from so many G/90 games. ;-D

I will post the first two rounds tomorrow night. Hopefully, two long interesting games.

Max Lange Attack III

Okay, so in this game I am playing against Dean’s Max Lange Attack for the third time and am up for it. That is the good news.

The bad news is that I was back to my old tricks, hemming and hawing over meaningless subtleties like “Do I want cherry-pie or do I want apple?” Namely, for example, my 16th move …BxN. Now my blitz move would have been ..fxN, which Crafty also liked better, but I was concerned that it may be too drawish, and not dynamic enough. This is my big mistake, spending forever on moves to avoid a draw, not respecting my opponent’s game enough, and should just ‘go with the flow’ as I do on FICS, and let my opponent trade.

Well, I played 18..Bd7 and immediately regretted it. I was planning on playing 18..Bf5 and if 19.g4, then Bc8 and Crafty agrees with that, but instead I played a move that put me in “no-man’s land”. I didn’t like his Qg4, but Crafty does.

So with 8 1/2 minutes on my clock, he plays 28.h4 and offers me a draw, and I said naturally “Let me think about it”, but after shades of last week I decide to play on, especially after I looked at my score-sheet and remembered that ChessTiger has a rule that he will not accept a draw before move 30.

So on move 30, of course, if he had played Kh3 I would have offered a draw, not realizing that my position was better. Unfortunately you guys probably would have written me off as a lost-cause, and would have been right to do so.

It just so happened that he did not make that move, and events turned otherwise. He only spent 45 seconds on move 30, as he noted after the game, and well he had over 40 minutes on his clock in any event, by games end, and I had approximately 3 minutes and 40 seconds.

If he had played 30.Kh3, Crafty points out that Black has 30…c4, 31.bxc Bxa3, giving Black a passed a-pawn (approx -.80 score), but that is not something I am likely to see while blitzing.

My idea was to trade queens on g4, but afterward I did not like this idea, and Crafty says it’s bad, White is around +.60 advantage. I figured I would try and give him a bad bishop, but the play is really on the queenside, and Qg4 would only give me doubled g-pawns that he could get at with f5 if my rook were not there.

I had been studying tactics lately, and this fact helped to bail me out in a major way, but really fate decided this game, his 30th move. There was no need for him to play this way in my time-trouble, I thought; he could have simply sat back and played solid defense. I feel very lucky, fortunate, how events turned out.

I played the endgame out with Crafty and it was only a draw, even though Black was up -2. at times. But as I got under 10 minutes in the actual game, I realized that I need to simply keep making moves as he is making moves that even I wasn’t able to predict. So, keep that up and eventually I will know what to do to take advantage of it. I realized I should have been blitzing in an effort to see more moves of his. Ideally, I would have had around 45 minutes left by move 30.

If I had drawn that game, my estimated rating would have been 1689, a loss 1676, but with the win it is 1702. Barely still 1700!

Drew an 1100 rated player

Never met him before, but I got him mixed up with another guy who is 1600 (I had never seen either of their faces before until tonight), wasn’t til after the game that asked his rating.

Anyhow, he defended nicely in this game, but made one game losing blunder which I failed to notice. I had determined to attack on the kingside, playing 20. Rbe1, so didn’t see the 20. cxd5 cxd5, 21, Bb5 skewer on the queenside. I was in time-trouble, which probably explains it, and other than that he played a good game. I had exactly 3 minutes left and asked for a draw since I liked his pawn structure plus queen and bishop better than my own. We played a few moves after and he did well, trading queens.

I couldn’t tell that he was 1100 level other than for that missed tactic I see with Crafty. Other than what should have been a game-losing blunder, he defended well. He said he’s been playing for 40 years, and had good composure at the board.

When I missed that tactic and played Re1 instead, it’s obvious that I was thinking there should be something there on the kingside, but he just kept defending, and so finally I just took the pawn, satisfied with a draw since I saw nothing better. It wasn’t until I looked at it for another couple minutes that I realized I did not like my pawn formations and pieces as much as his, even though I was up a pawn.

I had been hoping to get him to lash out with …g5, but he played patience defense with ..Bf5-e6-f7, which took me by surprise. A lot of times 1100 players can play great defense, and that is often an aim, and I don’t even find their defense, because I am looking at more active moves.

I almost played 13.cxd, moved my hand toward it, instead of a3. 13.cxd was the right move and I saw the Ng5 follow-up, but didn’t calculate it far enough after 14…Rc8. White trades e-pawn for c-pawn but then wins the b7 pawn at the end of it, winning advantage, but I didn’t look that far ahead. Petroff is so drawish, one has to look far ahead for the chances.

I went over that ending again and it confirmed what I suspected at the time, that my opponent had dragged me into the one endgame I should know, but don’t. Queen endings are a weakness of mine, but queen and bishop in particular. Going over it with Crafty I can now see there were lots of ways to win, I was just completely oblivious and needed to be shown what to do.

I had 3 minutes and he had 12 when he agreed to the draw. Ironically, the 1600 player came over and suggested a bad move for me g3, which allows him to force trade of queens (I could tell it was a bad move right away though), but my opponent was playing sound attacking and then defensive moves in the post-mortem, so I really would have needed to know what to do and not just wait to get lucky or unlucky, shuffling pieces around. He’s provisionally rated, BTW, and 6 of his games were from G/60 and a while back. This was maybe his 12th game.

The 1600 player suggested he should have played on because of my time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I win against someone like that. Sure, get cocky in my time-trouble and see what happens, that would have been a more typical game, but this guy was cool-headed, I thought.

This endgame would have been a skills contest. Objectively, it’s drawing, but White can outplay Black if Black is weak at this ending and White is strong at it (or has lots of time). The draw takes an extraordinary level of skill for a class player.

Bobby Fischer’s 68th birthday

Someone sent me an email that it would have been Bobby Fischer’s 68th birthday today.

They sent a link to this old video:

and I saw some comments regarding Fischer-Karpov, who would have won. It suddenly occurs to me that I have a better understanding of how that match would have gone.

Karpov would not have succeeded in breaking Fischer, much as he did in his two matches against Kortchnoi, where Kortchnoi falls apart in equal positions just as I did against my opponent last night. This strategy also worked, at first, against Kasparov in their first match.

I think that Karpov would have had to go with 1.e4 to get some wins, and that those would have been interesting games. I don’t know what would have happened in such a match, who wins, but one thing about Fischer is that he doesn’t break. Maybe he goes for a bad combo in some of his games, and mostly he played against weaker opponents before it got all international tournaments for him, but he doesn’t break in simple positions.

For this reason, I think Fischer had equal, if not better chances. It’s hard to imagine Karpov not winning some endgames, but Fischer was difficult to stop himself. He probably needed to learn Karpov’s weaknesses, however, OTB. So Karpov would have had some advantage from studying Fischer more than the other way around, but as we know the studying Fischer thing didn’t help the soviets all that much.

Another thing that tends to get glossed over is that in Karpov’s prime, a big advantage of his, besides his inimitable style, was that he moved fast. This worked surprisingly well against Kasparov (some of the weak or losing moves, Kasparov bought into), but I think it would completely fail against Fischer. Fischer was not the type to buy into the whole “Oh noes, my opponent moved fast, it must be part of his opening preparation” schlock. Karpov would have to wear himself out with best chess, and for this reason it would appear to me that Fischer would win.

Even if Fischer loses the match and wins the return match, as Spassky had predicted, I think it would have been good for chess as Fischer, in that video, states his interest in having the next World Championship match in the USA. As it is, we were left with the historic match in Reykjavic, but chess would likely have become much more commercialized if Fischer had played another match, in the USA.