My Chess Day

I started my day with that opening monograph on the French, recalling some interesting lines in the non-..Qb6 Adv French, then a really neat, pivotal Milner-Barry game which should probably be memorized, that Black wins, two masters or GMs. Then this game:

This is also an important game, but even more so for the “finishing” tactics at the end.

If 20…NxRb3, 21.Nxd5! QxNe6, 22.Bg5! threatening the fork 23.Nc7+ RxNc7, 24.Qd8 mate.

It’s important to point out that White would also be winning with the simple 21.QxNb3, down an exchange for a pawn, yet ++- as well. It’s simply that the tactics end the game much quicker. Positionally, Black’s ..g5 was simply bad and loses, no tactical expert required, yet it is highly tactical. Of course, Black wasn’t looking at ..NxRb3 but rather Ne2+, Kh1 Ng3+, hxN QxRf1+, Kh2 leaving both Rxb7+ and Qxe7+ wide-open.

I looked at lots of continuations to that game. Later tonight something strange happened. I haphazardly picked up the book on combos and I was solving all of them, and it got easier and easier, then real easy, even the longer ones. MDLM was right about how they get easier. I think the “pattern recognition” thing is sort of rubbish now, as probably do others, but it greatly helps one’s tactical intuition, and I think it’s absolutely necessary to do one circle of 1,000 problems that covers the tactical devices. The memorization part is ridiculous, it’s much more important to solve the problems, and actually you may even recognize a problem and “remember” the answer in a foggy sort of way, but it probably won’t make sense because you probably haven’t attached actual MEANING to what you memorized. So it will seem like dejavu, but since it still won’t make sense, the answer, you probably still won’t play it or analyze why what you remembered works, unless bored.

I have completed 927 of 1150 problems from that ‘Combination Challenge’ book.

The problem with thinking that tactics is everything is that tactics will generally be avoided if the player does not feel that they can perform it in a position in a live game. Openings are unavoidable, you own what you get/did at the board, there are no two ways about it. Endgames are similar to this, but allow for more flexibility in approach, and more pure analysis over guessing.

If I went by the hearsay advice from GM Gregory Kaidanov of “Show me your last ten losses, there will be a pattern there.”, my pattern has been getting into strategic openings where I am not comfortable on how to proceed, and then being tired or only having 90 minutes to play said game, or both. This is when I usually do some crazy attack that blunders, or make overly safe moves which don’t address the position, too afraid to “hang” things the right way, and lose passively.

So really, at G/90, which is quick for me, I think openings would be the biggest improvement to my rating. Tactics are important at this time-control, but I have shored up my weakness much more in this area.

I lost a game to the Halloween Gambit online a couple days back. This is one, for example, where you wouldn’t want to face it for the first time OTB. I think how to counter gambits as Black is a great place to study openings, particularly so you don’t have face a surprise of facing one in the last round of the day at a tournament.,_Halloween_Gambit

Here is an interesting article on that gambit:

Here is the guy whose engine played that gambit a lot online:

I downloaded his db file. The text file with it says “… Although I
think that this line is not sound, it is very hard to survive for black if
he hasn’t seen this before.” Amen to that.

An honest assessment of my play is that I am best at counter-attack and intuitively judging a position. A couple of the people I play are great at sacking and tactical attacks, the problem is that they are always thinking offense, and a lot of times that really doesn’t work. I know because I do catch them multiple times in post-mortems until they find the correct attacking move (they never look to play a normal defensive move, it’s always an active defense). OTB, one of those times I’d probably catch them. So, what you want is a sound position and then catch them “attacking you badly, in some needlessly presumptuous over-aggressive move.”

I know it’s not just me thinking that this is as obvious as it is because one of the 1900 players will walk by, look at the position for 10 seconds, and tell the other player that their position is bad. Of course, this doesn’t bridle their optimism for trying to find attacking moves from unsound positions, and a lot of times they will catch an unwary opponent.


10 thoughts on “My Chess Day

  1. I am glad you are starting to appreciate openings knowledge. πŸ™‚
    I lost once to Halloween gambit online, nobody played it OTB against me.
    It’s a nice win by Brause.
    Yeah, it’s better to be prepared against everything, though not possible.

  2. I didn’t go to the Colorado Open due to funding and I didn’t like the G/90 format. Well, I called it, some provisional 1569 kid won the U1800 section with 4.5/5. First place would have been the only thing worth playing for since a bunch tied at 4/5.

    Alex got 3/5, Anthea 2/5 Isaac played in the Open section and got 1/5. That’s another reason I didn’t go, losing to Isaac like that last Thursday was really bad form, my worst blunder in a long time, and I hung that f2 for two moves in essence, not noticing it. That is really bad when you don’t notice a capture for two moves like that. Dean showed me that my best move was Re-f1 (at something like -1.4 even not losing material) and it boggled my mind that I played two quick moves leaving that f2 square hanging.

    Yes, openings, and when I looked hard even a monograph doesn’t cover the lines I want to look at well. For example, even OTB I had a sense of remembering that 0-0..f6xe5, Nxe5, NxN, exN was the way to go, but it was vague and from long ago. I look in the monograph, it gives that and then some vague continuation for White which I think is bad c3-c4. I think White has a lot better than that. It covers Adv Fr. yet hardly any ..Qb6 lines. Yes, it is more interesting to look at the lines that club-players don’t play, I agree Mr. Author, and I like those lines too for White. One problem, no one at my level plays those lines, even though I wish they did and could play against them well. IOW, the only playable line vs. Qb6 and Nc6 appears to be a3 or Be3 Kupreichik variation. Even though the “main” line, ala Nimzovich, was Be2 against that. Now Be2 is mainly for weird non-Qb6 move-order stuff. I think it can transpose, only thing is even if it does, Isaac plays the early …f6 as I suspected he would, but then I need ECO or something to find why that might be weak – it requires some more research, ideally.

  3. I understand your decision, we have enough G/90 to also go especially somewhere to play it. I missed a big tournament too, had to visit my relatives. Interesting, that in U2000 section I would have a second rating, everybody went to an Open section. The prizes are pretty high, $800 for the 1st place, still I am bad at winning prizes, and I would miss Open section, which is FIDE rated.
    I have provisional FIDE rating (1908) after Canadian Open – 4 games, I need 9 in total for the real one. I even got one of my games on the FIDE site – thanks God, a good one – a draw with perpetual with that girl.
    It is some consolation. After my poor play in the last tourney, my rating dropped by 45 and I also didn’t see anything.
    Let’s regain our confidence in the club by beating familiar patzers. πŸ™‚

  4. It was G/90 Rds 1-2,
    40/90, SD1 Rds3-5,

    but I figured all but maybe one game would be truly decided withing the first 40 moves, and there would be lots of quick-moving kids who don’t make f2 blunders. hehe. Okay, I figure that in 2 of those 5 games, I would win at 40/2 but only manage to draw at 40/90 because there is not enough time to find the win, and kids are going to find those obvious-looking moves quickly which sort of appear to defend. I seem to not get stumped much on openings, but with all of those new kid opponents (there are a lot of them), there is a fair chance that I would get stumped in one of my games as Black.

    Really, I should have gone but that loss did shake my confidence, even though playing two nights in a row is never good, and I am more of a day player. If the prize were really high like $800, I definitely would have played. πŸ˜€ Yeah, no World Open prize fund here. hehe. And 4/5 would probably net me around 12 rating points, less points gained than I lost for that one Thursday night blunder.

    I agree, it’s time to regain confidence by biting the bullet and trying to win on the board, even if losing on the clock, make them “show us” what they’ve got over many moves. Like Alekhine said “You have to beat me 3 times to win, once in the opening, middlegame, and endgame.” πŸ™‚

    My favorite result was that 1100 guy that I barely beat in that endgame who went on to win against Mark and Anthea and make 1405. Well, he playing in U1400, got in a 4 way tie for first with 4/5 and for doing so lost 19 rating points, so is back down to 1386. That simply makes no sense to me whatsoever unless the goal were to keep his rating U1400 until he cleanly wins it another time with 5/5. Oh, his one loss was to an 890 rated girl, and this girl’s post-tournament rating only went up to 894. haha. Does anyone see the irony in any of this? I mean how far you can trust a rating that is.

  5. I had every intention of playing in an action tournament this past weekend – woke up to a headache and decided to pass. I am not sure when or if I will play a USCF rated game again.

    Yes, I am chess addict – especially chess books.

    Found this quote for you. Soltis book – pg 16
    “Yes, 7 exf6 may grant White a nice outpost square at e5 but it gives Black too easy a development (7 ..Nxf6. 8 …Bd6, 9… O-O)/ White should make Black work for his King safety.”

    I went through my (french advance) collection – Soltis, Collins, Kosten, Pedersen, Psakhis, Moskalenko, Lane, McDonald, Sveshnikov.
    I skipped looking at the McDonald book since you mentioned it.
    I think that was the only text commentary mentioned of the line that I found. Most books reference one another and you get the same lines. There are mentions of a game stem Ganguly-Satyapragyan 2002 where white is better.

    As for the c3-c4 line – I am not sure but I think the line is attributed to Zaitsev – the only french advance books that actually contain those games are by Sveshnikov – the others may mention it – but do not include any games by Zaitsev.

    What is “scary”? the only time I play the French is when White plays c3 in the Sicilian. I do enjoy opening books – but right now I am reading mostly strategy books.

    I find it interesting to see various ideas when is Nh6 (good/bad) – corollary when is Bxh6 good/bad, when is dxc5 (good/bad), how/why did 6 a3 come into history compared to 6 Be2 or Bd3?

    Also, it is interesting to me is to see the “black” exponents discuss their ideas and evaluations versus the “white” experts.

  6. Paul, thanks! πŸ™‚

    I am looking at the game you cited:

    ..g6 looks new (and bad), but against the more expected ..Ng8-e7-g6 maneuver the move b3 with Bb2 idea is starting to appeal to me. b3 Ne7, Nc3, Ng6 and now I am looking at the Nxd5 exNd5, Qxd5 sac, wild position. Not that I would play it but it is a germane sac toward understanding the position.

    Anyway, after Bb2, the problem for Black appears to be that there is nowhere that the Bf8 really belongs. On ..Be7, White can play for h4-h5 and now the Ng6 has to move to h8 typically, which does not bode well for Black in this position, since White will play Qd2 (and Nc3).

    The problem with ..Qb6 in this line is that the Bf8 probably belongs on c5, but after 9..Bc5, 10.a3, the ..Qb6 is blocking the bishop from retreating to either b6 or a7.

    I can see and think this because there is no engine telling me that everything is bad for White and thereby short-circuiting my thought-process. Fruit could tell me that I am all wrong, but my opponent has to be the one to tell me that! I could spring this on Isaac, assuming he is not reading my blog! But he is like 13 yrs. old, and my blog is for old fogies like myself! πŸ˜€

    Heck, he’s gone 1/5 in each of his last 2 tournaments. How much could the kid possibly care? haha.

    960 tactics/combinations completed.

    I think that studying the combos will pay off in my next games. The main thing is to be “performant” when the game happens. I feel pretty good right now, but you have to be so at that very time-frame during which you play. It makes a huge difference, just as you wouldn’t want an Indy500 race to start at 2AM for obvious safety reasons. So, theres 1) Being in chess shape, and 2) Ready for a tournament game. It’s best to have both but especially #2, when you are in the moment and up for the occasion.

    It’s probably best to not play any chess on the day of a night-game. That way you are psyched, spirited, and will have fun. And even if you play terrible, it will expose your chess flaws, not simply the fact that you showed up in burn-out mode on move 1. There’s probably a temptation to only study before or after a game, but that’s like completing the mid-term paper on the day of the final exam, cramming too much in. When I do this, the games run together, but the next game there is a good chance it will be quite different than the previous game, so need to have a fresh, unassuming mindset.

  7. Paul, the McDonald book does throw out one line on why Be2 is no longer favored, and one book line of supposed Be2 equality which both Black and White should know by heart, but….

    ‘Beating the French’ by Gary Lane is a book about winning with the Advanced Variation, I simple hadn’t gotten to it yet! This is why you want to get rid of books no longer needed, it’s to get to these gems. Lane’s book is 11 out of 10, it’s off the charts, gives games where White wins against these “drawn” variations. A must-have for Advanced var. players as White.

  8. I recommend the 2 books by Sveshnikov – French Adv.
    The first book has 70 “quiz” positions.

    The Soltis book is also good as a “white to win”. Soltis books usually contain good illustrative games and good annotations.

  9. I read the Soltis book before I gave it away (to keep from endlessly going over the same things).

    I have the Lane book for right now, and still not really time at present to read it. I would read all three of Sveshnikov’s books (C3 Sicilian, Adv Fr), if I had the time.

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