Thursdays Mar 2012 – Final Round

Round 5

My opponent, who only a couple of months ago was rated 1861, seemed a little tired and chessed-out from his chess lessons earlier in the day. It happens though, some days you just don’t quite have it. That, and a teency bit of opening preparation seemed to go a long way. If I really studied openings with the energy of a teenager on coffee, I would play with “no sweat” all the time. 🙂

Like I told him after the game “After a3, I was White. After h3, I was White with an extra tempo.”

Chess Training

James Stripes and Temposchlucker have been on a roll lately, with this blogging theme, and I wanted to offer my own take.

I am trying to analyze positions here and there from a blindfold perspective. I too missed Temposchulker’s easy problem, though rated 1900 because so many missed it. I started out that problem with …BxNa5, and then …Be5 because queen is pinned to pawn. But when I set up the position in my head (which does take a long time for me, since I am somewhat of a baby at this blindfold stuff), then the answer is much quicker to find.

Blindfold, a person is forced to know which squares are open and which squares are closed, and not just rely on temperamental, transitory, visual sight of the board.

TS makes one key assertion which I can’t agree with, but fully understand. He says that their is no time during a game to examine your conscience (fully). While this may be true, it’s not at the heart of chess either.

MDLM, IMHO, was successful because of the speed of tactical analysis of his system. He basically made his brain think like a chess computer more or less, and us being his “human” opponents were due to make a tactical mistake somewhere along the line.

Actually, I agree with James that he had mostly stronger players to play against, no lack of stronger opponents, and he kept to his quick tactics regimen. MDLM was really outcome oriented (which means rating-points and prize-money, rather than merely for the enjoyment of studying past masters, etc). Before these “big” prize-money tournaments, you saw how he studied hundreds if not thousands of tactics in a single day (most tactics are more than one move long, so he is also practising his analysis at that rate of speed too). This would be like going to work tomorrow and doing 500%+ more than you would have normally gotten done during that one day of work. And a chess tournament is not your day job, so you only need to keep that up for one or more days. Over the course of a 4 or 5 day tournament, this sort of masochistic practice regimen would have probably clobbered any normal mortal who would be making tired mistakes from Round 2 onwards.

Anyway, I think blindfold and this “memorizing games” suggestion are closely related. It forces one to think about where the pieces are placed on each move. I think that blindfold chess is closer to the “G*d part” of the brain. When visually looking at the board, it’s like a Rorsarcht test, you throw mud at the canvas and see what sticks.” When looking at a position blindfold, you are forced to know where the pieces are and which squares are being controlled. Which squares are being controlled becomes much more of a physical reality when playing blindfold than when one is merely looking at the board and trying to randomly apply their past patterns to the board.

I used to think that because someone became a Master, they could play blindfold. Now, I think it’s more likely that because they can play blindfold that they become a Master. Note that even MDLM didn’t become anything more than a fledgling Expert who quit after his peak result (ratings usually go down after playing “normal” club games after a sort of highly tactically prepped super-tournament result such as he had). MDLM’s rating was very performance driven, as ratings usually are, but not usually to this extreme. Who could normally practice a couple thousand tactics before a tournament, even if they didn’t have a life?

I couldn’t even post anything to TS’s blog because I couldn’t get past his verification procedure. I don’t post to TommyG’s blog for same reason, it won’t let me usually, so it became too much of a hassle to get something posted that usually I couldn’t get to have it posted. It’s insanity if you want my opinion. I let anyone post to his blog, including spam.


Round 4

The losing move turns out to be 18.RxNa5??, and actually it’s a losing idea rather than simply a losing “move”. For example, if 20.c4?? (what could appear more natural?), then 20..Bxd4, 21.exB Qxd4+, 22.Kh1 QxRa7.

18.Nb5!! gives White a tiny edge, almost equal, but against Alex I would then be favored in an equal endgame. For example 18..axNb5, 19.RxNa5 and Black could now easily go wrong in this endgame. 19..b6 is Fruit’s move, and then 20.Rxa7 gives White’s position with still a bit of bite left to it. The big idea with 18.Nb5 in terms of stopping counterplay is that Black no longer has support for playing …Nd5.

In my last two games, my will to win hasn’t been there, I am simply playing for fun and not stressing over the game, but in hindsight this was probably the best game of many over the last few months, lots to analyze and too much for a G/90 to do it any justice. Anyway, Alex spent roughly 15 minutes on the game according to his own estimate, so that didn’t help either.

Alex’s 11..Qb4 was a blunder (although strong enough if Black had castled first), and 12.Bd2 was the correct response. This was my feeling as well, but it appeared to be too much to analyze for all the time I had spent already. Also, I could have played a nice 14.c3, 15.Rd2 idea which I didn’t notice, but it’s not winning, just +=.

During the game, the move 18.Nb5 did leap out at me, in order to prevent an upcoming ..Nd5 move on his part, but then I forgot all about it in my time pressure, simply looking for which move would give me the best attacking chance and forgetting how critical that it would still be to defend against an invasion in the center.

I corrected the game score at the end because he did not impatiently play a Nd5 as soon as I was hoping. I noticed right away tonight that I should have played 26.c4 to give him an isolated queenside pawn. I am down two pawns, but with time and care I know that this is the sort of ending where I probably draw against Alex, even though I am two pawns down. So this was yet another missed opportunity. Alex took advantage of my defensiveness to regroup with defensive moves himself, when it was I who had to keep up the attack and not wait for eventualities. I was stuck on this Be4 idea rather than play the correct c4.

A lot of G/90 players don’t see much of endgames or it’s just not the right time format to win technical endgames for them, so I need to be thinking about drawing two pawns down, not about resigning a lost position.

I think that I’ve been spending too much of my clock time thinking about how to win rather than being tougher to beat. I win and lose too much, but somewhere inside am thinking that a draw is the worst result. In a way, a draw is the most disgusting result to me, but I have to accept that many more games should be ending this way, and a lot of it due to endgame abilities.


I felt angry and a little dispondent over the Tim Tebow trade coming into this game, so I knew that my focus wasn’t going to be quite what it normally is.

Round 3

That being said, I sort of like the chances that I got in this game, but I still am not seeing the remove the defender and maneuvering even though game after game I have been studying of Paul Keres’ games seems to go this way.

After the game, I felt my losing blunder was to play Bc3 rather than Na7 back to b5 immediately before he played Na6-c7. I was in time-pressure and lost the thread of the position.

When I played d5, I saw his exact defense but knew there were ways for him to go wrong and even after ..c5 that I would have an attack. I debated playing Rg5 instead. Well, I figured win or lose I would attack instead of waiting for Rhett to make a mistake. I figured I’d probably win rather easily that way, but it’s also sort of wussy chess and not the way to improve against tougher players, really.

It was my defense that failed, a sort of maneuvering defense which I am a bit oblivious to, so that this game was a good learning experience for me.

I recognized that move 16 was the critical position of the game and spent my longest think there before finally taking a pass with 16.Bd5. My initial instinct was to play 16.Bb5 Re7, but I completely failed to spot the follow-up idea of Bd2-e1-h4, for example, which would have been very strong for White.

Here is what maneuvering could achieve:
With 26.Bf7, 27.Bd5 winning the exchange as a follow-up. Somehow my brain doesn’t even dream of finding some gem like this one.

Nb5 instead of Bc3 (which also prevents a Nc3 retreat or c4 to defend the d5 pawn) is something one would see no problems playing slowly, but blitzing it out that is like too much to notice, too deep for blitzing out. I also got too defensive, like choosing to trade rooks instead of playing f5.

Here is another example of maneuvering to win:
example 2

Just crazy how such a win is possible, but it all starts with the 16.Bb5 followed by 17.Be1 idea, which I failed to find, and even during the game knew that it is anathema to my thinking to move pieces backward like this. I got caught into a game that was not my style, but I knew this going into it, simply trying to learn and grow from a game against a similarly rated opponent.

I actually resigned in a final position where I had two connected pawns vs his queen, they were on fifth and sixth rank, but it was not enough as I could see how he was going to win one of them by force.

I played a Master

Round 3

I lost on time, never blitzing or even trying to, but leave it for the strangest part to come after the game. I actually flagged myself and said that he was winning after 37.Nxd5 whereupon he said “No, I got nothing.” So, we skittled it out, and even Paul A, an Expert didn’t think White is winning, and I was incredulous that they could think such a thing.

Anyway, it is just skittles, but here is how our skittles continuation went:

I pleaded my case that simply 44.Rb5+ and 45.Rxa is winning, and he was like no I would play this, and it ends up a draw. Then he agrees and says I am right. This is like one of those moments where you think you are dreaming in one of those dreams where you know it is only a dream. Then he says that I would be a Grandmaster if I didn’t keep losing on time. I am completely flattered since he didn’t even laugh when he said it. BTW, completely winning is 44.Rf7, it’s like +2.5, and 45.Rxa is also winning easily like I had thought.

Obviously, he outplayed me and outclassed me during this game. I should have gotten a b5 sac attack in there instead of 10..Qa5? (which I didn’t realize that the combo was bad for me until after the game). I had looked at 10..b5, 11.exd b4, and me and my buddy agreed that I should have played it in the game. Even later, Brian W. suggested that I should have played …b5 instead of ..Nb6. I played that too tamely and simply let him squeeze me with his super-slow pawn push against my kingside strategy. So I just now looked at it with Fruit, and yes Black does get a tiny edge plus initiative. Too bad that I wasn’t so bold until after the game, since there is really no drawback to it, and it avoids the squeeze that White later put on my with pawns. I should have garnered more initiative. So not only was his sac a good one, but it was mainly so because it won him initiative, and not because of material considerations. I simply wasn’t valuing the initiative as much as I should have been.

The endgame is pretty easy for White to win, I even lost a couple moves to show that it is not sharp play required. White can even let Black queen because White will have queen, rook and pawn against rook and knight which wins very quickly for White, after the pawns promote (Black will have to blockade a pawn by sacking bishop in order to stall White). Sacking bishop for pawn also loses.

Another weird thing about this game, yes I called my own flag, and that is because my clock went to 59 minutes and blah and blah seconds instead of running out and I questioned him about this. He said “Oh yeah, that was the last time control that Dean had set with this clock.” During the game, towards the end naturally, I felt certain that the 5 second delay had not been set and so this is probably why. I could have used my own clock and set, but since his clock had been set properly the week before (assuming it was the same clock), I didn’t suspect anything. So really, I was going to lose on time no matter what, but no one watching said anything about it after the game. It’s one of those things you can feel during the game, that the 5 second delay was not set, but I should have checked it at the beginning, although I have always been trusting of others.

Still Tebowing

…because I can only describe it as an act of God that I do not lose these games on time, as I continue to play as if the time-controls were 30/90, G/30. I am doing really well for that time control, let me tell you, but not for G/90, particularly considering that my opponents routinely have well over an hour left by the end of the game.

Round 2

My opponents get impatient in my time-trouble, or they needed my time to think…or something! It’s otherwise inexplicable, those are the three possibilities and I am leaning toward the first one for now.

My opening ideas of ..Be6 and ..Bf6 were bad ones, I simply didn’t get called out on them. Even ..Nc6xNd4 was not as strong as simply playing ..Nf6.

I don’t know what I am doing as Black besides purely winging it, this is my problem. I need some more discipline when playing Black, and some more confidence.