Fairytales do come true

….it can happen to you, if you’re young at heart.

Round 4 and Buck showed up, so I knew I was going to have to try and earn it this time. Very nice guy, older guy who is pretty much a fixture of the Colorado chess scene.

So we started with the English, which curiously enough I predicted! (he played e4 against me last time – Vienna Game). Well, I guess I am lucky that I have some actual preparation for this opening, dating back to my internet games and I personally knew a Master who played similarly as Black and recommended it to me.

Still a bit out of it, wobbly, and drained from last weekend the first thing I did was order coffee, Dr. Pepper (drinking a few cups of each), and a cookie to try and gain some energy. After that I was okay, and started out alright.

He locked down on my light-squares like a pro, but then began avoiding a queen-trade, in an obvious effort to beef up his winning chances, which got him into trouble. Before I knew it a pawn lay at my feet for the taking.

Then he really spent some time and thought about it, and threw out the nifty f4, even niftier in that I was well under 5 minutes (although there is 5-second delay). At this point I started dropping pawns like water, and could tell I was making bad moves as I was playing them.

Then, something strange happened, he traded his bishop instead of just the rooks, which would be winning. Suddenly, I have a draw on my hands. But now, just when I would expect h4, he sees that h4 is a draw yet goes for a draw by marching his king in the other direction. He offers the rook trade and I sense a win, but at least a draw, and so I trade rooks and play an endgame tactic, a pawn push.

He looks at my clock, saying something like “would you believe it?” My clock has 9 seconds left on it, and he resigns, demonstrating the win afterward. He said that I was “a good player”, and I felt speechless, an Expert resigning and telling that to me, I thanked him and was very grateful when he unexpectedly shook my hand, congratulating me.

I finished the tournament with 3/4 – two wins and two draws, tying for first with the older 1956 rated gentleman that I drew (his other half-point was a bye). Would you believe it, my rating is back above 1800? it’s at 1802 now. All this time, and all of a sudden it’s unexpectedly back to Class A again. 97 rating points gained in one month. 🙂 The last time I was rated 1802 was 1 year, 2 months, and 36 tournaments ago!! A miracle.

I guess my wish for improvement would be that, now that RollingPawns has come back down to 1800’s to give me a hand, that we could both march up to 1900 again, it would be first time for me. Tactics are where I need to improve most, for example I only did two tactical puzzles this week, one from Anthea’s game, and one from my game. My last online game was a week ago, and I have lost my desire to spend any energy playing there, it was great for openings though, some of it was anyway.

I think the thing that had helped me the most lately was reading over games from Jan Timman’s book a month back. Yes, I have been tactically weak at times, and I worry that I have enough depth in openings, particularly as Black, as probably do many others, but the Timman book encouraged me to look a bit more deeply at lines, considering what is best for my opponent and how to prevent it. Chess is not always OMGBBQ!, there’s a tactic! Sometimes the position is even, and a little murky, and so play has to be considered for both sides, and above all I think Timman was good at “not losing”, which helps tone down my crazy play. Timman will use crazy-looking lines as justification for his play, but it’s in an objective sense with an eye for positional resources and counterplay.


2 thoughts on “Fairytales do come true

  1. Couldn’t leave a comment again.
    Congratulations on your win!
    You were better until you gave up your pawns.
    He made a big mistake with 48. Kf3, you could exchange the rooks after Rf8+ and queen your pawn, probably you didn’t have much time at that moment. Same with his 53. Rxb2, big mistake.
    I hope now we both go up, not down. 🙂

  2. Thanks, RollingPawns!

    I know you are a programmer, so you will understand this, sometimes with Blogger I have to log in and don’t want to lose my comment, just in case. This is a needless step, but I will open another tab/window, login there, then go back to the original screen that was asking me to login, and then just refresh it (or press F5) and it will notice the cookie, and then just post my comment.

    Alternatively, you could try not bothering to login to WordPress, or comment on your blog and you know I’ll see it there. 😉

    You can see in the link to the game that I changed the game-score to reflect him not playing Kf3. I can’t recall for sure whether he did or didn’t play it, but I do recall that he paused between king moves, hesitated before playing his king that many moves in a row, so I believe he did move his rook over there first, pretty sure. I was under 5 minutes, of course, so didn’t write the moves down.

    I was really surprised to see his king run that way, no doubt, and if I hadn’t played …g4, he easily forces the draw.

    Yeah, I think it’s time to move on to bigger challenges, but still plan on playing on Wednesdays. I just need to play more solid/positional, like you do. I think you are on the right track with that part of your game, just take the f5 pawn next time and you win your last game. hehe.

    Tactics are great to study, and endgames would be too, but I think the main thing for both of us, or me in particular really, is:

    1) Deep planning – in the middlegame. I don’t care too much about where a piece goes in a particular opening, but I mean at the stage where the opening is completed.

    2) Not overlooking immediately forcing variations – such in Antheas last post where she missed NxBd6 followed by c4 threat. I mean, her and me both missed the second move of c4, which immediately attacks the bishop and wins material in all variations.

    A third one might be ‘not losing on time’, and I know certain opponent’s take advantage of this, but that is almost not something to worry about in a way, or at least don’t change your game, still need to play chess and not the clock. I did terrible in my last game, but I was never worried about the clock, even when I had 9 seconds left. I was just playing my game and not worrying about it all really. Yes, I shouldn’t have dropped those two pawns and should have lost, but it’s even worse to play bad chess and get mated with 45 minutes remaining.

    I think our ratings will go up, not down. 🙂 So we start at 1800 and go up from here. One important point, draws are good, ratings-wise. It’s time to stop hating on draws, since a lot of people play bad chess in the name of avoiding a draw. A lot of players feel compelled to try something crazy to go for the win. A draw is ‘OK’ attititude is probably worth a lot of rating-points, and I think me, ChessTiger, and Aziridine were really wrong to jump all over you for coming up with draws. 😉 It’s easy to think you or I should have gone for more in a game, when the next day we have more than 90 minutes to look at just one position. hehe.

    One thing about this latest game is that I really felt that he spoiled the position by not taking my queen (trading queens). I mean, it would have been interesting to see how I coped with a sort of bad bishop on g7 needing to defend both h7 and e5 and thereby being passive, like being a piece down. I was very surprised that he didn’t pick up on this subtle but strong theme, or maybe he simply rejected it. I had that outside extra-pawn, and it so it would have been very interesting, but I think White is probably better and it’s a great position for one side to outplay the other. His Qb4 was too slow, and Alex suggested Qa1 there right away, forming a battery against my e5 pawn, which also looked very effective. With his skill as an Expert, and high-level technique, I felt he really should have been playing for this rather than trying to play tiddly-winks with our queens like we did (he won that battle, but I could tell as I was playing that I should have played differently there).

    Here is a perfect example of what I mean by 1) Deep planning:
    During the game, I noticed that one of his options was to ignore my potential …f4 push, and then further go on to ignore this ..Bh3 idea, which I also saw at the board. What I didn’t see is this follow-up …Nf4 idea (sham-sac) where White has to play BxNf4, apparently, and Black is up -.87 according to Crafty. This variation works for Black for tactical reasons, because of the Rf1, White can’t recapture on g3 with the f-pawn. But if White plays 19.Rfe1 instead of a queen move, then White is okay (though the move Re1 is a bit passive, which is a victory in itself for Black) because white can recapture on g3 with the f-pawn, instead of the h-pawn. This sort of thing would be quite difficult to see in a game, but if one even glanced upon such a possibility, it might affect the direction of where the game is headed to.

    I guess that Buck was right, before he lost that pawn, that there wasn’t much to play for in that endgame, but then again it probably should have been heading for a draw at that point.

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