A Beautiful Game

…okay, so the bar _is_ set a little lower for G/90. 😉

Round 5

This game was a rematch of last night’s game, and we both sensed this possibility coming.

Perhaps my “grandmaster draw” game of last night, when I had less energy helped for tonight, or perhaps it was the fact that both coffee machines were down at work and I had to drink one of those Starbuck’s double-shot energy drinks at work instead, but this was finally one of those games that got fully played out. I had but 11 seconds left at the end of it, which probably isn’t too surprising knowing how I play.

Did I miss any simple tactical shots? Of course I did, but it was still a nice struggle that could use some further middlegame study. For example, I missed the rather simple 28.Rxf6 Rxf6, 29.Rc7 skewering queen to the king, for a more assured win. I could tell my endgame was winning all along though as soon as the queens came off, although I had a brief doubt toward the very end.

This game score isn’t exact. For example, on my 47th move where I push 47.c5, he actually had a pawn on ..h5 in this position, so perhaps he had played ..h5 straight away, or I had probably lost a tempo somewhere. In any case, it’s even worse for Black to have the pawn at ..h5! Either way, it’s losing for Black, no bones about it. There is even a clever trick how White can win the a-pawn, because White will have a tempo to play a5 afterward, and the Black king has to step out of the opposition and lose. I did not notice this over the board.

RollingPawns, I replied to your comment about last night’s game with some of what happened in tonight’s game.

This opening is a little perplexing to play as White, with Black always threatening to get in a ..Nd5 and possibly ..NxBe3, which can be temporarily sidestepped with Ne4 reply, but then if c3, ..NxBe3 is still a possibility, d4 sac possibility aside, and then I was going to try focusing on the center, with rooks then perhaps focus on f7 weakness which is iffy since my queen is exposed as much as attacking on the f-file.

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Quiet game as White

Final Round

For once, I ran into a player close to 1800 that just wanted to play a solid game and knew their opening. I was more tired than energetic, and let my opponent get an hour up on the clock against me (his 1hr 14 min vs my 14 min). I hadn’t played him before as White, and didn’t have any preparation, so if a draw was all he was after I was going to give it to him. In the post-mortem, I realize after a few minutes that I should try h4-h5-h6, and I can tell he was unsure and struggled with it, but in the game I simply didn’t come up with the h4 idea. Objectively, it’s equal and tough for both sides to play but especially for Black. I wished I had another half hour, I think I could have won, but I had to credit my opponent for his openings devotions.

Like he said after the game, I should have castled 0-0-0 (he also thought White should play Bd3). There is also an idea that Fruit showed me, play Bd3 and sac the d4 pawn for a big win. Be2 is mysteriously also strong according to Fruit and it did seem right to me for an advantage, but I was more impatient.

If there’s one weird note to this game, my opponent won $32 for drawing me. Of course I won nothing, don’t know my score in this tournament (because I don’t want to waste 2 minutes thinking about it), and probably wouldn’t have won anything anyway. No wait, I would have come to think of it, had 2/3 score. That’s what sucks, someone gets rewarded for a draw, and I didn’t even think about what was at stake if I had won. I think Isaac didn’t show up because he was basically out of the winning. That’s what sorta sucks, you gotta to play to the tournament score somewhat, or at least be aware of it, rather than simply play “a nice game of chess.”

Couldn’t put it all together

…during Black’s critical move of the game.

Round 4

I still had close to 40 minutes left by the end of this game, but I didn’t put together all of the elements of my attack when the critical opportunity arose. I “took a pass” on the position, thinking I was winning a pawn anyway with 8..Bf5, but it’s actually only equal.

Move 8 was my longest think of the game by far. I saw the obvious 8..Bg4 and felt it was winning, but couldn’t quite determine how. I had seen 8..Bg4, 9.f3 Bc5+, 10.d4 (amongst a myriad of other responses such as 10.Kf1 Qf6, 11.Nd2) Bxd4, 11.QxB Bxf3 and now White does not need to recapture. Or 11..Nxf3, 12.gxN Bxf3 and ..Qf2 is a possible defense if necessary. It all looked unclear or possibly not working out for Black. I was onto it, but missed the critical move. After 10.d4 Qh4 is winning because fxNe4 drops the queen, and now 11.g3 does fail to defend due to the idea of Bxd4+ (key point is that it is with check), 12.QxB Nxf3+ and mates (13..Qxh2+ is next).

It was a fun game, but I could expect more resistance from a higher-rated player, especially as I did not cash in on the opportunity that I was given. Granted, at this time-control I simply chose to move on and not let the game be determined by this one move, whether that be on the board or on the clock.

Balancing attack with defense

Round 3

I played Isaac, who has been keeping up his rating over the last tournament, and can be quite the calculator in tactical positions.

I played this game positionally, and basically just let him go for too much, such as with his Ng5 move, which I suggested after the game was premature (should develop first). Then with ..Rd1-f1, okay he has an attack, but his development has been very haphazard.

He played BxNc6, and I should have recaptured with the Bd7 – yes, he can play Re1+..Kf8, but I would have two pawns for it.

I did not play attack or defense the best, but I did balance the two better than with what he was doing. I sort of slipped him a bogus attack, which was my preferred idea all along, along with simple positional play. Even Isaac could have played Black’s final attack much better than I, but the difference was that I had accumulated all of those tiny positional plusses, the kind that meant I could play the finish sort of lousy and still stagger over the finish-line first.

I didn’t want to accept the gambit at first (and play ..e6 instead and try to win positional/endgame, but then I knew he would get an attack still. Actually, I realized that he could then turn it into a French Advanced with f3-f4, but that seemed more boring at the moment, so I took the pawn instead), and spent a long time debating over whether I should, but then I got the idea that perhaps he will get a little over-optimistic, which is exactly what happened.

This was a little bit on the “gift-win” side, as he could have hung tough with better positional play, and not figuring on my being a sucker so much.

Easy come, easy go

Round 2

I played Paul A., for only the second time. This time as White. Okay, so it’s the Modern Defense, and I play four pawns attack. Alekhine played this line as White before.

I saw ..Rd8 or ..0-0-0 coming, but seemed to discount it’s importance until it was too late. I saw that I should have played ..c5 earlier when I had the chance, but now Black has ..Nxc are the 0-0-0 move. Well, I was right that I had missed playing this move.

I grabbed my queen, and said something like “I can’t move this.”, but it was too late, no real defense other than giving up a pawn, but giving up the c4 pawn would have been a better choice.

Then I blundered again with ..Qf2. Immediately realizing I should have played 0-0 instead, and almost did. In fact, after the game, we played out a whole skittles game where I did play 0-0, and for some reason he still played ..Bh6 (which I was trying to avoid in the other line), but now I pointed out that I am only one pawn down after Bxh7. The problem with this line is that it is still losing for White, and he clobbered me very convincingly, checkmated me with rook, knight and pawns. It was hopeless. Makes me feel that I didn’t resign too early in this game, after knowing how well he played the skittles game with only the one extra pawn.

Paul, I knew he was an endgame player, but he was even better than I thought he was.

The good news is that this entire game lasted only about an hour. I wasn’t killing myself over it, just dumped a game as White like it was nothing. He showed his strength, and I don’t usually go down easy as White like that, but I did this time.

Hitting the open road

Round 2

I played Daniel for the second time. Surprisingly, Daniel Drew Kurt in a G/40 game this weekend. Kurt was just below Expert level, high 1900’s. Kurt lost around 50 rating points, probably because he hasn’t been playing as much either, and the fast time-control is not such a good thing for him.

I didn’t expect this game to be much of a contest, and in fact it was one of my easiest games. I’m glad that Daniel’s rating has been improving though. He is a kid who likes to play, and has a devoted mom.

On move 15, he initially played Bh3, dropping his queen, but I let him take it back after seeing his look of disappointment/frustration with himself – I made quick work of it after that point, anyway. Afterward, we played a C3 Sicilian skittles game (I was White). It was a positional game that didn’t look so bad for Black at first glance, but in reality was just as one-sided as this game here.

Chess is still enjoyable

I’ve been playing with the pressure off, recently, having fun with the game. In this Round 2 game, I blundered a pawn impatiently, not seeing that if I play this ..Bf5 skewer, that he can check my king to get out of it.

I was losing when I played ..Qh4 and I knew it. He plays Qe1..QxQ, and White will win another pawn. Instead he let me back in it and I knew that BxNc2 is winning, but I tried to play for tactical tricks and then noticed that they don’t work, he can defend. Then I let him weave a mating net around me with his king and three pieces, but somehow I managed to walk out of it.

The end position is not right because his pawn was like one square further up the board and mine was like one square further back it seemed. I actually managed to squeek out a draw with one second left on my clock for the last few moves. He offered my a draw when he was down to one minute left and all we each had was a rook and a king.

I am still not back to my former senses. Should have taken his knight on c2, I was just trying to have way too much fun with this game, and I let weave the mating net.

Forgot to put Dan’s rating down. His rating is currently 1699, but that’s at a low for him. We talked afterward about other stuff, his home situation. My buddy Alex lost his game and left early. It’s nice to play a long, interesting game, and then just hang out afterward and talk about stuff other than chess even. I’ve become more chilled out with my chess game, still not serious like I once was. Just imagine how much better this game would have been with a 2hr time control. 😉