Wednesday Round 4 – June 2011

As expected, I was Black against Paul. I arrived a minute or two early, but everyone had started and my clock had a minute ticked by. Paul gave me a gruff sort of handshake as he usually does, and it was on. It sort of feels like that scene from the Titanic at the end where everyone is waiting for you to arrive at that moment (Titanic crew in heaven scene).

So, I am quite satisfied to be playing Paul, but I don’t really know what to expect in this game. He plays 2.e3 and it occurs to me that I will probably see a Reti, since that is what he taught his prodigy (student), Isaac to play.

I am wary that he may have something prepared, if I play the KID setup against it, which I feel best. I don’t want to be surprised, so I play the system I am most comfortable with, yet is drawish. I quickly play …b7, and it suddenly occurs to me that this game will be an acid test of MDLM’s advice on how to play – “no long thinks” as he likes to say.

I don’t want to advance my c-pawn to c5, even though Crafty says “Yes, go ahead and do it!” Reason why is the c-pawn advance is really marching into the jaws of the lion, White’s system is all setup for counterplay, so that I don’t want to disturb it.

We play on and I don’t have my first long think until 16)..f5, which I spend 9 minutes on – not smart, but what can I say, trying to break bad habits still. I had an hour and six minutes remaining after 15)…g6 (keeping with MDLM’s advice), but by move 19)..Ng4, I am down to thirty-four minutes; so, I had too many long thinks in there. He plays 20)h3, and I am slightly embarassed that I thought I had 20)…Nxe3? All the same, my plan was to weaken the squares around his king, so for that it got the job done, sort of.

I say that I was following MDLM’s advice because at first I thought to play ..h6, then quickly went with ..g6 instead with the idea of ..f5. Afterward, I thought that ..h6 with ..g5 idea looked stronger, but in this case I actually felt rewarded because it turned out that being able to think on his time by playing quickly was even better than choosing one move over another. I did this many times throughout the game.

Another voice spurring me into this direction was Walter Browne, who in his ‘The Master Game’ matches would say a whole bunch of long tactical possibilities and then end them with something like “I am just going to play Qc2 (a developing move) and see what he does.” Key phrase, just go with the plan, make a move, and see what one’s opponent does! Just as likely, it will have little to do with whatever your plan is.

I move my knight back to Nf6, and see that he has the initiative. 21)Ne5 is no surprise and I automatically reply with …BxN. Okay, I play the cheeky 22)…Ne5, surely expecting that he will capture it and I will have this version of a bad opposite-color bishop endgame, since he has worked up such a nice clamp on my position.

23)f4? What’s this, he doesn’t want to exchange the bishop for my nice knight? Okay, Ng3, my original plan, isn’t looking so hot, and I feel he may about to be turning on the grinder machine on me and grind away on my position with his space, passed pawn and two bishops advantage. Then I spot that he has played f4 a little too hastily, although he did spend a few minutes on it.

You know what’s whacky? I was thinking whether or not I had enough time on the board to play 23..Ne4-g3-h5-g7-e6 where it has a nice outpost, overlooking future operations such as ..c5 or ..Qh4. Now I’ll to run that by Crafty and see whether it’s terrible or not. I could have been thinking about something more productive, like curing world hunger, but no, I was contemplating a 5 move knight maneuver. ;-p Wow, interesting, I did have time for that maneuver, and after Rf3, Rg3…Rf8, I can get my ..c5 idea in, how cool is that? Position is rated by Crafty as dead-even. Largely this is so because the White queen also has to spend an inordinate amount of moves extricating herself from the corner of the board.

Will the exchange win for me? He seems to have a pretty good clamp on my position. But then, MDLM’s advice starts kicking in, as he has been spending too much time and letting me do most of my thinking on his time. He lets me out of the clamp, putting everything on his clock into a sleeper-mate.

Suddenly, he is sacking a pawn and prying open the center. I think it doesn’t work, but I am wrong, he has a draw by perpetual. But, in the true wisdom of being a d*ck in the middle of your opponent’s otherwise superb tactic that he had put much time into, I decide to throw him a monkey-wrench, displacing his queen by …Rb3. He is just as expectedly disturbed by the move, but then goes for broke once again, ditching his bishop on b2.

Actually, his attack doesn’t work, but would have the way I was going to play it, exchanging rooks on d6. The correct way to play it is to end up with two rooks and a bishop for a queen – he plays ..Rd6, then Black responds with …Rxb2, followed by ..Rb1+ and BxRe6.

Then, he takes my …c5 pawn and I immediately had seen that I could trade queens with …Qb6. Actually, I could have simply taken his Be4 for free.

Later, I do not setup mate threats properly on the back rank, but we are both in time pressure. I had 3 1/2 minutes at the end of the game to his 2.

So, the verdict is that yes MDLM’s advice does work. This was just as much a clock-win as a win on the board. My scoresheet wasn’t messed up until the last couple moves, and I think I only had two inaccuracies on it other than that (Rd1 instead of Re1 sort of thing). After the game, my first realization was still “How could I play like this against those H.S. kids who are rated higher than me? Surely they don’t use all of their clock as my opponent had.”

Next week, I will have the White pieces against Dragan, which will mean a Scotch Def. We are both tied for first with 3/4 points.

I can’t believe this, I actually played a game that I could be proud of, no real errors other than not winning it more cleanly at the end. I can hardly think of a game of mine that I would ever include in a ‘best game’ collection, or more importantly ‘instructional games’, but this one actually qualifies. Hard to believe, I think that both me and RollingPawns are actually on our way to making Expert someday.

The weekend after next they are having a first tournament in my home-town, it’s only a block away from my house. EF is $30. Unfortunately, it is G/30 with 30 second delay. I feel like maybe I should play only to represent (if it weren’t close by then no way), but there would go all of my rating points, probably wouldn’t win anything, plus it’s a fund-raiser event, so not much prizes. I feel more guilty for thinking of not going, but it seems like a bad idea to me. I told Dean “It took me a year just to figure out how to play at G/90, I would have to relearn how to play at G/60.” I also told him I don’t like 30 second delay because my heart is racing for an unknown extended period of time and it is easy to blunder. It’s not his tournament, but I wanted to get my 2 cents in. Apparently, a number of uber-high-rated players didn’t show up to the last tournament because they protested the 30 sec increment, and he thought it was because “they wanted to win on time.” That’s why I had to give him the other side of the story.

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12 thoughts on “Wednesday Round 4 – June 2011

  1. Congratulations! You played this game very well. I didn’t like his Qa1, a3, b4 idea – very passive. His 32. e4 was horrible, 32… d4 was winning a piece, it looks like you didn’t have much time at this point to see it.
    Rb3 was good and his Qa5 just loses, there is nothing there.

  2. If you are looking for advanced Stoyko positions with solutions. I’d suggest looking at Aagaard’s Attacking Manuals and his book on Defense. Each one has strong analysis which you can check your ideas with. Closer to your level than mine ……. I’m finding them rather challenging .

    Regards,
    Jim Takchess

  3. Good suggestion for the Styoko exercice, he even looks like a tense attacking player on his videos. I did skim through his books once, and they are full of analysis. At the time, I wasn’t interested in those books because they were too advanced. Now, I suppose I could study them, yet studying tactics and combinations is still helpful for me.

    During the game, I could tell that I was seeing the board more quickly for simple tactics, was able to use tactics analysis defensively, and was less worried that a move may be bad, only quick tactical check, then played it, that saved me a lot of time.

    I used to get ground down, using strategy, by strong strategical players, now I see it as much safer. The Open Sicilian for example, it’s easy to make a tactical mistake and lose to a 1600 player, too easy at faster time-controls.

    At G/90, clock-management is a big part of the story. I would be really surprised if my opponent had played f4, dropping the exchange, at 40/2, G/1. I sort of doubt he would have missed it. OTH, even at that time-control, if I were a blitzer and he was thinking most of the game on his time, it is still possible. My feeling is that MDLM probably got faster and faster with his clock over time, and this would have exaggerated the effect of his training even more. This is what kids do, and is why they are typically over-rated because of big holes somewhere in their game that they can typically speed past on the clock and then get to their strengths.

    Looking back, this game was determined by a very simple tactic. The biggest difference between a tactics book and OTB is that in a tactics book, you not only expect but know that the opponent had made a mistake. OTB, sometimes you don’t expect a mistake from a particular opponent, so that you are encouraged not to even look for one until you feel that your own position is getting kind of desperate.

    As soon as I saw the tactic, I realized that it had been set up by the odd position of his Qa1 and his refusal to develop his Rf1. Development issues like this should be sensed intuitively before venturing out with a move like f4, or upon seeing ..Ne4. Leaving his Rf1 was a powerful idea to save a tempo for his queenside attack, which is exactly why he shouldn’t have been considering a kingside pawn move there and been trying to give more scope to his Bb2 somehow, determine the play over there first. He has enough pieces on the queenside already, simply needs to increase their scope of activity. Well, Rc2 followed by Rfc1 was something I was half-expecting for much of the game; it would have solved this problem. Crafty prefers Rfe1, so that if Black plays ..c5, then Bb5..Bc6, Ba6..Rc7 is a clever little tactic, but the position is still even with a miniscule advantage to Black, but it’s not hard to see that the Ne4 is doing more in that position than the Ba6. For if Rc2, Crafty found in reply ..Ba4! Rc2c1, c4! and now the Ba6 is either trapped or out of play.

    23.BxNe4 wouldn’t have done more than achieve an equal position, so that Black really “won the opening” for getting an equal, yet comfortable position out of the middlegame.

  4. I just played a game on FICS that I feel is representative of what I have learned from my tactics study, the MDLM thinking process (which he says to try for 200 games).

    http://ficsgames.com/cgi-bin/show.cgi?ID=279924234;action=show

    It’s a very balanced attack by Black. He could have played b4 early and forced me to play Na3-b1(-d2), but Black should be holding the balance here, while not playing in too passive a style.

    I find the simple tactics. I increase my positional grip where possible, while not ignoring either defense nor attack. A pleasing game, and hopefully one that could be played at G/30, with 30 second increment OTB 😉

    I had that site analyze the game. I missed two tactical shots:
    28. Rfc1 Nb3 29. Rxc5 Nxd2 30. Rcc1 Nxb1 31. Rxb1
    I had actually seen part of this line and was hoping for 28.Rfc1 so that I could respond with ..Nb3, realizing that a pawn protects my queen, but not his. Then I decided against it as I was keeping my options open against his king (f3 sacs). This is the sort of thing where it ruins one’s best chances to be playing fast. I cut off analysis too quickly for sake of the clock and didn’t go with the most concrete variation/attack.

    Here is a perfect example of a missed tactic:
    38. … Rxf3 39. gxf3 Qxg1+ 40. Kxg1 Nxf3+ 41. Kf2 Nxd2

    I had examined 38..Rxf3, but not with the idea of following it up with 39..QxRg1+, then a royal fork on f3 with the knight and Black is up a knight. This is exactly the sort of tactic that MDLM was harping on.

    The interesting thing is that at G/90, I know that I would have found both of these shots, which really brings home the point that half of the purpose of tactics study is to be able to find the tactics at lightening speed.

  5. It was a good game. Those missing combinations are nice and simple, classical fork theme ones, I hope we at least see them in G/90. 🙂

  6. I watched a video of The Master Game last night Miles vs. Schmid and the ending, if you didn’t see the queen sac royal knight fork, and the knight and queen mate where they leapfrog together, supporting one another as advance to the king (this one should probably have a name, too), then one wouldn’t understand the point of the resignation.

    I still think that this is the best training, and most tiresome, too, which means it offers the most growth.

    When I am at the board, I can feel the difference between me and an opponent, if I have been doing this study. They might find some grandiose stuff, but I will spot the quick tactical opportunities more easily. Just about every tactics is a sac (except for easy double-attacks), so the key point of studying tactics is to get used to sac possibilities. Sacrifices are like the “backstage pass” versus trying to get in through the front-door, which is the long way. Sometimes the only way out of a (good) jam is to continue on with sacs of multiple pieces, particularly if you spot a mate with only two pieces, then use the other pieces to simply displace or threaten opponent.

  7. Hey Linux Guy!

    Tomorrow I am going to my first OTB tournament in a over a year!

    I am very excited! I miss OTB chess. In fact I know the biggest thing holding me back from improving is that I just don’t get enough experience playing real chess at real board against a real person! 🙂 Ever since I took up chess almost four years ago it is has been very difficult to get to tournaments.

    As a musician and college teacher the scheduling hasn’t always worked

    The fact of the matter is my schedule is so wacky during the college school year (especially as a jazz music teacher!) that it is almost impossible to get to tournaments until summer. But I have mapped out at least FOUR tournaments I will go to before the middle of August! WOOHOO

    There is nothing like real Over the Board Chess.

    I will let you know how it goes. And I will definitely post the games!

    Oh and I have been checking out knight endgames! Kind of cool!

  8. TommyG, Good Luck tomorrow!!! 😀

    Take your time without losing/blundering on time, that seems to be the best kept secret to playing well. 😉 If you can make a quick move here or there that you know is good, it will allow you to think on your opponent’s time, and it affects some people’s confidence when they have to spend too much time thinking on their own clock (probably because they are a bit rusty).

    I am going to post a FICS game that I lost, further demonstrating the importance of tactics. I play 20…Kh7?? (..Kh8 is obviously better because it avoids the upcoming queen-check), not even dreaming that he would play 21.RxBe6. In fact, I was so shocked that I forgot to play …Rg8 instead of …Rf7 at the end, which dropped the rook:
    http://ficsgames.com/cgi-bin/show.cgi?ID=279982818;action=show

    The strange thing is that I could sense even before playing my queenside push that it felt like it should be a blunder because I haven’t played …Qd7, and ..Bd6 yet. It’s like I felt “a disturbance in The Force”, but didn’t see the particularities of it coming, and was curious.

    OTB, one can really bear down and find these shots. It’s amazing to me when someone finds then online, playing quickly, good on my opponent for finding that.

  9. Daily tactics. Another goal of these exercises for me is to go over them “blindfold” once done. I’d like to be able to play or see the board blindfold, else one will have always have the excuse “the squares were too small for the pieces, the matt was ratty”, etc.

    One thing I like is not just finding the first move, and it usually also involves a secondary measure to avoid the idea being defused by the opponent’s reply, but also finding/examining subsequent moves. It’s hard for me to find the subsequent tactics, “what if the opponent defends this way, how about this way?” etc. This is why I can’t simply point to the first move and then move on to the next tactic, as that would still leave an enormous gap in my tactical ability level.

    Caro-Kahn Fantasy variation. This one was close to becoming a miniature. This game just goes to show that ‘I still have it’ as long as I don’t have to worry about defense. lol.
    http://ficsgames.com/cgi-bin/show.cgi?ID=280039087;action=show

  10. Hey Linux Guy!

    I went 0-4!

    It was a tough but good experience. I wrote a post at my blog about it. But basically I need to PLAY more, get broader and longer at calculation and NOT play internet chess ever again. 🙂

    I will be posting the games as the week goes on.

    My next tourney is two weeks! I am going back for more. Nothing inspires more than getting my butt handed to me and being the worst one! I love challenges like that. 🙂

  11. Tommy, that’s great that you played! 🙂

    Internet chess is great, that’s where I get to lose all of my games! hehe. I was once addicted to that, but now hardly play there, last games I played on FICS I posted here. It’s definitely not the same thing as OTB play where one gets more time, and thank goodness for that. If I didn’t play another game online, it wouldn’t really bother me.

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