They changed it to 3-round quads. G/30, 30 second increment.
I had a lot of fun, but I was out of the running for prize-money right off the bat. I went 0-3 because in the last round with Isaac, I had an easy win but decided it was time to practice my fledgling combinational skills. I often refer to Isaac as being like “Rybka”, tactically, and I was once again proven why in the post-mortem analysis. He said that he thought my combo was good but by the time I played it he said “it was nothing.” Great post-game analysis of it with him and then with Paul. I should have played Nb3 before sacking a piece, but I didn’t understand the power of his queen. I’ve been poor with queens my whole chess-life, so this was a good lesson for me. The best part was not “having to win”, since all my opponents were higher-rated. My rating will take a dive, but I needed to try some tactics OTB in a rated-game. It’s just not enough to see them with a computer, and yet be too nervous to contemplate them OTB. I needed to step backward to help me step forward in the future. It’s probably more important right now to improve, since my rating is like a ballast anyway, stays near the same spot against the people that I typically play against.
Rounds 1 and 3 were G/55 5 second delay. So when I messed up the combo in game #3, I didn’t have enough time to recover to find that Qd4 that would have gotten me out of the jam, although I should have tried it. I was pretty much done on the clock, and had stopped writing down my moves.
I missed 27..Qxc3, which he played immediately, I had only figured on him taking the knight and didn’t realize he could take on c3 because his rook was also covering it.
This combination does work, as me and Paul determined afterward. I simply needed to dispense with the false bravado of attacking before finishing development. My blitz move would have been 25.Nd2b3, I was going to play that, but thought it would cost his queen more tempos by taking on b2. I was wrong about what a great defender that the queen could be from all the way down on my queenside. The queen can defend from c3, a2 (defending f7), and it also hits g2.
If you think there was no basis for that combo, here is the basis:
Round 3 Combination
Unfortunately, Black can apparently sidestep this by trading queens after I play Nd2b3 with …Qd8 immediately. Normally, I would have traded queens back on g4, but I resisted the urge so that I could practice playing for a win with the queens still on.
An even sweeter finish to that combo above is 32..Rc6, 33.Qg5+ Kh8, 34.Rd8 Rcc8, 35.Rd5! (I found this move before Crafty showed it, but it’s hard looking away from it’s analysis because it’s right next to the move)..Rg8, 36.QxRg8+ KxR, 37.RxQ and White is up a knight and pawns.
It’s hard to explain why I played 14..Be6 in my round 1 game, goading him into a combination that didn’t work out for me, rather than play the obvious 14..Bg4. I did look at both, but I feel that the time-control affected my decision somewhat. I wasn’t looking globally enough at the position. As Paul later pointed out, I had ..Ng6-h4. Of course the ..Ng6 part was obvious, but not the ..Ng6-h4! which turns an obvious attempt to grab back the pawn into a real attack on f3 and g2. Of course, White can avoid this, as Paul also pointed out. The ..Bg4 idea was very strong because it kicks around the knight. I thought after Nf3-d2 White looked strong on the e4 square, but that was a bit of a red-herring apparently, the fact that the queen is controlling the 4th rank appears to be a bigger deal (which of course, I completely missed, being not so hot with queens positionally, quite frequently).
In Round 2
I faced the tournament winner (she won her 3 games), an Expert from Georgia the country, ex-USSR. I missed a chance to get a +1 against her with 18.Nd5, but I was amazed at her powers of self-control/concentration for looking off taking a pawn with 18..Ne4??. Naturally, I didn’t see what she saw, 18..Ne4, 19.NxN BxN, 20.f5 Nh8, 21.Bc4. I must have not been, well okay I just wasn’t calculating this correctly at all, not noticing that Black cannot play 21..d5 for “counting” reasons as Heisman might say, White has that square covered tactically (winning the exchange on d5).
I should have seen that I was fine with Bd3 on my next move (her queen is not a good defender of a piece on e4), but instead continue to lash out in my time-pressure with f5, then Nd5. She misses that she can win a pawn cleanly with 20..BxNd5, 21.exB Qd7, 22.Bd3 Nxd5 (we both missed this).
I guess that my endgame was a real train-wreck. Crafty’s analysis of it goes like this “Equal, repetition, equal, equal, EQUAL BUDDY!, Arrghh, crash into the chasm, there goes Speed-Racer.”
So, it’s not only combinations, I need to have something left over for the endgame as well. This is how well I played that ending (terrible reproduction, the funniest part was Toonces expression when going over cliff):
There’s so much subtlety to endgames, that I think modern time-controls ‘throw them under the bus’. One really has to save the time and mental-energy for later in the game. I can take comfort in the fact that I thought OTB that 41.Rd4 is probably winning, but I don’t have time to look at it as I can immediately force the sac of bishop for two pawns anyway. The difference is that White wins the b-pawn instead of Black. Another development was that in my first round game, where I always seem to make a bad tactical mistake against Jason in our rated games, but he appreciated my endgame insight in the post-mortem as I was able to hold an endgame that he had thought was winning.
I had a training session with Anthea the other day. It amazed me how effortlessly she found the follow-on tactics from a puzzle out the encyclopedia of middlegame combinations. She did miss it on the first try, but would not have had a worse position. I was impressed by the pure speed which she found mates at, with virtual disregard for material. Then she tells me…drumroll…That she read all but the last section out of Combination Challenge (it is entitled ‘smorgasbord’ so she didn’t realize it had a theme – I told her that it does, interference, but she did find an interference move right away from a Karpov game, nevertheless)
So, this means that she solved 834 puzzles from that book, whereas I have only solved around 200. This makes me understand that I need to solve more of these puzzles. Plus, I am just not at home looking for the killer tactic in the last round of the last hour of a tournament. This stuff has to be like snap-your-fingers fast, and I’ve noticeable improved I think just from the short studying time with Paul and then with her.
In fact, the big thing for a tactics player is to learn how to slow it down. If they don’t see something right away, they may not think that something is there, unless they suspected something must be there from the start.
In sum, what I have learned from my chess-career is that if you are booksmart from lots of study of Master games, you are the laughingstock, rating-wise. If you’ve played a lot of games online in addition, then okay you maybe hit 1800 once or twice. If you have studied tactics, a lot, and know basic endgames, and are booksmart, and have tournament experience, then you are the one that should be feared, by anyone below Master level.
I left out one more thing, also have to calculate well and not be lazy whether in openings/middlegames/endgames OTB, and okay you also have to go for the win and not try to force a draw unless it’s required. If you have everything but one of these, you can lose just because the other player has that one thing that you are not as proficient as.
The big thing with booksmarts is that it allowed me to be patient and put a lot of effort into my games. Others may know where to put in the effort, which moves, but the person putting in the most effort is really the one that should be feared or should win the game.
I went over “The Master Game” between Quinteros and Browne again last night, one of my favorite games, until I understood all of the moves and why other moves weren’t as good. Right around ..Ra6, I think the game could possibly be studied more, but at least I understood all of the threats and the reasons for all of their moves, none of it was over my head between their explanations, rewinding to hear them again, and my own calculations.
The biggest problem with my game the last few years has been threat recognition, taking too long to notice immediate captures. Ironically, blunders have not been a big issue for me recently, those errors were more of not calculating well enough, not seeing all of the moves. Against Jason, I played a long tactical sequence quickly, and against Isaac I simply wasn’t good enough to spot all of the possibilities (which comes back to threat recognition). A blunder is an immediate fork, skewer, en-prise, but beyond that it is a skill-error, not a blunder, IMHO. Even missing a check is a skill error, IMHO.