Unbelievable Thursday Round 4

I played Kevin “Gene” Lucas for the first time as White. I’ve always gotten long, exciting games from him and this one was no exception.

Round 4

He handed me my first real initiative with 11..NxNd4. I thought his idea would be to follow it up with 12..c5, but he played 12..Nc6 instead. I had a feeling he would play ..f5, but it’s not a good move.

We argue a lot about style on these blogs, and sometimes it may even take on the guise of sounding like criticism, but here I open up the position with 20.dxc6. It’s not the best move, 20.b4 is, but I was just under half an hour left and it was time to play by instinct a bit. I figured that Gene would have a more difficult time with tactical complications than simply strategic ones.

After this it felt like I was predicting his every move, but not really having enough time to find my own best ones. For example, I thought he would play 26..Ra7, and 27.Ng5 looked right, but I wasn’t sure. Earlier I had seen 27.Ng5 Ng6 stopping the h7 mate. Now I looked at it, spent one minute on the move (went from 5 minutes left to 4 minutes left after this move) and saw 27.Ng5 Rf7f8, but completely missed that Ng5 is threatening to win the exchange AND mate. Which is odd, since I found instantly such a winning move against Alex in skittles, afterward, but there is not the same pressure playing skittles.

Yes, I did see it! If 27.Ng5, then ..Bf5. Fruit likes Ng5, so I thought I had missed it, but now I remember that I had been paranoid about his light-bishop, earlier coming to g6 and now coming to f5. So yes, I did not miss something so obvious, but I had calculated so quickly that I couldn’t remember having thought it, OTB. In fact, I may have missed the mate on h7, but I did see the ..Bf5, which made the h7 mate threat irrelevant, and it was my last thought before playing Nc5. Okay, now I get it, I had played b3 first, a quick response, but then he replied ..Bd7, so that it was too late to play Ng5 FTW because then he had ..Bf5. I played b3 first to try and think more on his time before committing to the attack, but he took away the Ng5 possibility right away.

25.Bh5, a move earlier, was a really cool tactic that I had missed. If 25..g6, then Nh6+ picks up the exchange, and if we trade on f5, then I take on e8, that pawn will be escorted home after Bxc6 and then Rc8 later.

I had spent a lot of time in this attack, even though I never did pull the trigger on it. For example, I saw that 26.Bg4 could be parried by ..Rf8, 27.Ne5 Bg6!? (looks scary!), and it this time control, that was scary enough for me. But 28.Qa3!! Rf7, 29.Ng5 Qxf4, 30.NxRf7 wins the exchange for the f4 pawn. But White will win the c6 pawn back because Black’s knight is attacked twice. I am always trying to improve with my queen after a game, not simply be paranoid with it and want to exchange it to reduce such a liability.

Now I begin to play away my advantages into a lost position. I don’t know if I have some kind of E.S.P., but it seemed as if I had predicted his moves since move 13 onward, even though they are not best. Still, only enough time to chiefly guess at stuff.

I over him a draw before we trade queens, but he simply makes a move, playing quickly in my time pressure. He had 51 minutes to my 27 seconds at one point.

Now I changed my mind and decided to take the queen with my king, then see his Rf8+ threat. He does it and I figure I’m lost now. I play on in sheer desperation.

Suddenly, he is looking at my h4 pawn which I haven’t touched for a while and he says “Is this pawn on this square or this square?” It was clearly centered in a square and I say “Don’t talk to me, I only have 9 seconds left.” All the while, we are both blitzing, him in my time-pressure.

And then, well, I can’t make this stuff up as you well know by now, he gets up and turns his back to the table and right after he mumbles something like “You got it now.” after I push the pawn to b8. I grab the nearest queen and place it on b8. Big problem, the nearest queen is your opponent’s color. So Paul A., a 1950 player, immediately blurts out to the TD, as I change it for the right colored queen, something like “Hey, he promoted it to the WRONG color! What happens now?” I am thinking to myself “*#!&* Thanks a whole freaking lot Capt. Obvious, the spectator. TD is not supposed to rule unless an aggrieved player complains.” but immediately blurt out no sooner than he finishes his sentence “He resigned before I promoted.” and the TD immediately replies “No need to rule, he had already resigned.” Whew! that was a close one, folks. 🙂

I want to disagree with the observation made after my Wednesday win. You do not want to feel like you have played a game of chess in G/90, since even after 90 minutes you don’t feel as if you have played one, if the opponent spends around 40 minutes himself. It’s a backhanded-compliment to tell someone they won too fast at G/90, since someone either wins too fast or it gets down to blitzing at the end, take your pick. Blitzing is not preferable to a quick win. These aren’t 4 hour games, more like 2 hour games in total. Still, I was very pleased that I got a long game with him which combined opening, positional, tactical, and endgame play. We both enjoyed it.

His comment immediately after the game was “I should have known not to get into an endgame against an 1800 rated player.” My h4 and b4 had taken him by surprise. I made one game losing blunder. 42.Ke2, irrationally playing this in the event that he doesn’t trade rooks; but he can trade as he wishes, and 42..d3+, 43.Ke1 d2+, 44.Ke2 RxR, 45.KxR d1(Q) wins for Black.

My rating at the end of this month will be around 1795. Which basically means that two months from now I will be in-line for any Under 1800 prizes, since they go by the two month old rating. I gained approximately two rating points for those two tournaments. Thanks mostly to the loss that should have been a win to a 1400 player and a draw to another one. Even Josh, the Master, had a long game against the guy I drew last week, and I warned him that the guy was good at tactics.

Wednesdays July 2011 – Round 4

Round 4

Before the game, I told Buck “This is the first time I will have played you as White”.

It started out as a Scotch, which I was more glad to see than the French Defense. He played the ..6.Nd5 variation instead of ..Qe7, which is more drawish. Then he plays this weird ..Bc5 move, which I am thinking “This can’t be right”.

Later, in my exuberance, although I spent plenty of time on the move, I drop my e-pawn, but it doesn’t look so bad if he takes since I get in Nf3 and Re1.

I had around 48 minutes left at the end of the game. It’s two pawns for a rook compensation, which we both saw.

After the game he said “Well, now I know how you play as White!” I didn’t play 13.Bg5 until I had calculated that 13…Qxe, 14.BxRd8 f5, 15.Qg5, h6, 16.Bf6 looked alright. On the way home I calculated that it wins two exchanges (for a pawn). But then I decided to look for something better once he took on e5 with the queen.

Instead of ..g6, I pointed out that he looked okay if he had played 0-0-0. I was then expecting ..h5 and if I go Qf4, then …g5, Qe4, when I still liked my position due to the a3,b4 threat. I pointed out that Qxg7 didn’t look so hot to me because after Rdg8, Qf6 QxQ, e5xQ Bd4 he has equalized, and that I had originally played Qg4 merely to prevent the ..Bd4, ..c5 plan which he appeared to be setting. But as Fruit shows me now, I waited too long to play Qg4, he could have played ..Qxe5 earlier in the game. When he noted how much I had seen during the game he said to himself “I must have been in a dreamworld.” 🙂

This game didn’t last too long, so I spent more time watching the draw between Alex and Mark, and then me, Ken and them analyzed it together in their post-mortem. I took second place, as Paul had taken first with a last-round bye.

New Opponent

So I show up for Thursday Round 3 and I am pitted against a new opponent, he’s Ethiopian.

I play a bookish (I think) line against him from the Nimzo-Indian Defense. This is the first time I ever remember playing this line of the Nimzo-Indian, online or otherwise.

He says he’s rated around 1500, but he’s only played in 9 games, provisional rating, so I don’t know how to take him so I try my best to simply focus on chess. I notice later he lost to the one 1100 kid that I beat in Round 1, but I think he’s beaten Dean (1500) maybe twice already, and lost to higher-rateds. He’s actually like 5 wins 4 losses, but has had to play in a lower quad, that sort of thing.

Okay, he is playing fast and his pieces are not even landing on the squares but literally half on one square and half on the other, so that I have to ask him once “Which square is that on?!” rather curtly. He seems completely casual. This guy is definitely another “50 minute-r” (finishing with over 50 minutes on his clock).

At one point I get back from the bathroom and he says “It’s your move”, while my clock (his clock actually) is ticking. So I am thinking to myself “Is this guy really a duffer or what?” I slowly sort of outplay him, but then can’t help but notice that he suddenly brings his arm up from below the table to look at his watch, and I think “I can’t believe it, this guy is totally bored and is not even paying attention to what he’s doing!?” BTW, he played his last few moves instantly, and then without missing a single beat looked at his watch.

Shazam! Right when this is happening and I am thinking this, after he has just looked at his watch, I make a game-losing blunder! And he was playing for it! (another example of a game where MDLM was right, a missed simple tactic). He played Rxd6 with no hesitation, after I had played fxe4. This guy is hardly a 1400 player!

Well, I have no alternative but to play into it even though I see that I have been swindled nicely – lost my focus for one move, was starting to think that he was making random moves or something. I played the blunder quickly, even though I still had nearly half an hour on my clock.

Now I realize keeping the queens on with something like 26..Qf6 loses to 27.Qxc5 defending against mate, winning a pawn, and my king should prove nearly undefendable, so I go for a rook ending, just hoping.

And the rest? Well, like the saying goes, “..this is why they play the game.”

This guy had lost games to players like Alex, Rhett, Anthea. His game to Alex, he clobbered Alex’s king position, but then botched the endgame and lost, supposedly. Thank goodness for endgames, huh?

I blew it on move 13..Qc7. I didn’t notice that after 13..Bxc4, 14.Bxc4 Nxc4, 15.e5 Black has ..Nd5 and is up a pawn. With the c4 pawn gone, Black has the ..d5 square available to the knight. I did not visualize this possibility. I saw it from the perspective of “winning a pawn” and not from one of “removing the c4 pawn in order to free up the d5 square.” Even that pawn is not winning. Forget rating, I am thankful that I got a draw as Black in a middlegame position that I wasn’t familiar with. Not something I normally think or say, but with these provisionals, you don’t want to be the opponent who proves how good they really are.

I only spent 5 minutes on the ..Qc7 move, it was like taking a pass on the situation and simply developing my queen out of harm’s way. I had been looking (dreaming) about the ..Bb3 possibilities, but my instincts were actually right about having so many of my pieces offside there, while he may have a shot at my king.

13..Bc4, 14.e5 (I was worried about this, but Fruit initially gives it nearly -2) ..Bb3, 15.Qd2 BxR, 16.exNf6 Qxf6 (something like ..Bd1xNf3 doesn’t work because of the attack on Black’s king), 17.Qxd1 Qxc3, 18.Bxh7+ KxBh7, 19.Bd2 Qc4, 20.BxNa5 Qd5, 21.Qc2+ Kg8, 22.Rad1 then it gives Qf5, 23.QxQ fxQ, 24.Rxd6 (White has knight and bishop for rook and pawn, but Black’s pawns are split up) it’s close to +1 here according to Fruit.

This draw cost me 12 rating points. That’s too funny. On the bright side I will perennially be in contention for U1800 prizes. Anthea tied for first in Wyoming in U1800 last week and probably made two hundred bucks or so.

Back to resuming daily tactics study for me. I’ve barely touched the critical sections on Discovery, Diversion, Clearance, Attraction. I’m still on Knight-Fork right now. I missed a critical tactic in this game.

Wednesdays July 2011 – Round 3

Round 3

I played James for the second time. He ruined my tournament a while back that kept me from serious prize money, and I know he is a good player since his rating is around mine. I knew that he likes to give me an isolated pawn, but that feeds in my like to get activity, so we both got what we wanted. I don’t know what is objectively best for Black, but I also know I could spend hours looking at a computers analysis of “theory” and get nowhere just as well.

21..Rf6 was a real howler, should have spent another half minute on that move I figured, but I guess I had already missed my best chance with 17..Rxf2 (double-check), courtesy of Fruit; not that I didn’t look at it for perhaps half a minute, but that is only enough time to say that I looked at it.

21..Qf7 is the move, and Black still has decent winning chances. 17..Rxf2 is only winning a pawn after 18..Qe3. A strong player I supposed would play such a saving move and then continue to work my clock at G/90. He had 51 minutes left at the end of the game – a higher rated player would probably not end up having not spent a lot more of this.

During the game I began to count on him getting caught up in his “strategical advantage”, whereas I might be ahead in piece development, and that is obviously what happened. It’s curious that even 18.e3 will lose a pawn after the tactical 18..Be7. Of course I wanted to play this, but the time to look at such a move is not as in place as much as it would be at G/2 or longer. But the game has already gotten weird with all the queen moves, so it’s no longer a normal game by this point, either.

Kasparov Position

This game is annotated in “The Test of Time” by Kasparov. I did a sort of “Stoyko” analysis of this position, but not really because there is no need for fantasy analysis as the position is very concrete. It felt like I studied this position for 30 minutes, but it was probably closer to 45 minutes.

All kinds of lines, I was completely amazed by the grandeur of Kasparov’s conception. My final conclusion is that b4 by White is simply a mistake. I didn’t even look at the rest of the game! Here is what I was looking at, Kasparov says “Things hardly would have changed by 20.Rfd1 Rfd8, 21.b4 Nxc3, Rxc3, 22.d4!” and so I analyzed this position, all of the lines, and Kasparov is right it is good for Black after b4, was just so hard to believe and OTB most people try to avoid complications that are wide/many sidelines.

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1069797

The line given in this note is more complicated than the game continuation where Black has an easy ..Qd7 out. In the line given above, sometimes Black plays ..Bxf3 followed by ..Qb7 and sometimes doesn’t. Taking away a defender of d1 at f3 allows for c5 pawn recapture to pin a Bd4 to unprotected d1. There are also longer lines involving a back-rank check. Kasparov didn’t like his ..Qc7 so much, but he made it work.

One other tidbit that I want to add to when I play OTB from now on is to state a definite conclusions to myself as to why I don’t like a line. It’s too easy for me to calculate, then forget and ten minutes later I am re-calculating that line because I had forgotten why I didn’t like it in the first place, and then actually miss the move, the reason why I didn’t like it before. I am still doing that too often, and in many games it seems. It’s even easier to make this mistake in G/90 because there are often more distractions than one would have when playing in a hall where everyone is just playing chess, and the importance of time becomes even more exaggerated.

Also, here is what happens thinking during a game. “Okay, that line surely sucks, definitely I will play this other one!” Then it’s like “Well, what if he simply plays this and that, surely this must be good for him, I don’t have time for this maneuver and am actually making his position better!” then “Okay, now why was that first move I had looked at so bad after all? You know, the move I had forgotten all about because surely I would never play and need to remember my analysis, yeah that move. Okay then, time is running short, I’ll throw him off by going with that first move that I thought/forgot why was bad. Doh!” If only I remembered my conclusions, I should be able to quickly find and settle on a third candidate move, at worst.

Thursdays July 2011 – Round 2

Well, I just played the stupidest game. If you want to see what stupid looks like, it looks like this game:
Round 2
The only chess thought I had before the game, driving up to there was “I should really study my openings, I hardly even know them.” Well, you really want to know your openings at G/90, or at least in my case it turns into a “FICS game” whenever I play a higher-rated player.

Okay, so it’s an Alapin Sicilian. Later I found out he used to play it as White, before he switched to 1.d4. I get good openings against him with the Open Sicilian though. It’s the darndest thing, Open Sicilian works better for me against higher-rated opponents.

I don’t know his repertoire but he plays the dreaded ..d5 response. At G/90, to not know how I should open a game is lethal against a higher-rated. I was going to play 11.h3 with 12.Bf4 (and the bishop can retreat to h2 if need be), but then I changed my mind and played Bg5, thinking that if I trade bishops on e7 it will be via the maneuver Nf6-d5xBe7, but he captures with the other knight, which completely took me by surprise and ruined my plan. This will be the theme, bad moves I would not make at G/2 I do make at G/90.

I played Be2, but as soon as I grabbed it I wish I had played g3 with Bg2 (even Bd3 is better according to Fruit).

I play 19.Qe4, then before I let go move it back to e2 because I realized he would respond with …f5, but then played it anyway.

The attempt to win his e6 pawn doesn’t look like it’s going to be happening, so I play Qh5 and it gets tongue-in-cheek like for me from this point forward. Oh yes, after I played it I was like “Shoot, I hope he doesn’t play ..Nf6” because I didn’t see it until after I had moved.

24.Ne2 was an instant reply, but also the losing move. He plays 24..Qd5 and I didn’t see it coming, thought he would put a knight on d5.

For the last 45 minutes of the game I had been looking at the g2 mate, but not once did I consider a mate on h1. G/90 can be such a hokie game for me against 1900 rated players. I could have played the Open Sicilian against him alright, but this Alapin Sicilian I am just guessing too much. Even online people play the …Nf6 system far, far more often than ..d5, which practically equalizes for Black.

After the game, he told me that g3 was a blunder, and I agree with him, but this is what you get when all you play against are other ignoramuses online who rarely ever play this variation, and then you try to “figure it out” OTB. Sad, sad, sad.

After looking at this opening with Fruit, I realize that White has to play for minute static advantages rather than any real sense of dynamic play, and then try to accumulate such advantages. I don’t like to play this way at G/90, so this is not a good opening for it, but I have a better sense of this rather passive opening now. I should have played Bf4 instead of Bg5, right away, but it’s a bean-counter’s opening for sure.

Wednesdays July 2011 – Round 2

Being down 0-1 in the tournament, I got paired with Dean Brown and had the White pieces.

Round 2

I could have played against his Accelerated Dragon, but I really wanted to improve my positional play in the Alapin Sicilian, and I’ve got good variations against him in the past. At the end of the game, I had 38 minutes left on my clock.

For the first time, I am posting this from my Linux machine and am using the Fruit engine.

During the game, I thought that 17)Rc1 was my dumb mistake. I wanted to play Qd4, but I figured that he would respond with ..Nbd7 and then ..Bg4. So I was going to play Nd4, but then played Rc1, thinking for a moment that he couldn’t play ..Nc6, but he can and does.

I played 19.Rfe1 because I didn’t see anything better, but, I still thought that he had equalized and was possibly/probably better. I could have been “freaked out” and played something different out of fear, but I am here to play chess and if he is better so be it, just don’t let him beat me on the clock (We both used about the same amount of time throughout, though).

What I saw was 19.Rfe1 Nf5, 20.Qf4 Qxb and then if 21.Rc7 he has ..Nd6 covering the f7 square. But what I didn’t realize is that by going 21..Nd6, he has uncovered the f-file to my queen. Now after 22.Ng5!, I suddenly have three attackers on the f7 square. So what about 22..Qg7 then? I just looked at it and yes the sham-sac 23.Nxf7 seems so obvious now. I was worried that he could play a ..Rd7 move, but the sham-sac on f7 deflects his knight from covering e8 (23..NxNf7), so that if 24.d6 (I was looking for how to push or sac this pawn) ..Rd7, then 25.Re8+ Qf8, 26.RxQ. And if 24..Bd7, then 25.Re7 puts two attackers on the Bd7 with only one defender. Bishop moves and there goes f7 again.

But this isn’t even the line Fruit chooses. Fruit chooses the yet even more sacrificial 24.RxNf7 QxN, 25.d6! pinning the queen to the king. Wow, doesn’t seem to win much material, but there is a mating attack with queen and rook, so Black must give up the bishop. Then is forced to trade rooks and White’s queen will march that pawn down to promotion.