TommyG, your last game from a week or two ago was a pretty game.  The combination you found at the end of the game would not have been likely to pop into most players heads who are under 1700 rating.  I didn’t see that that ended in a draw either, but I knew that a sac to breakthrough the pawn-wall, most likely a pawn-sac was going to be necessary.

A lot of this type of insight comes from having played thousands of games of chess, mostly online.  I still find the hardest part of solving tactics on ChessTempo is finding the correct finish, not finding that first “killer” move.  So many won games online are lost that it’s both really funny and really sad at the same time, I lost so many totally won games while waiting for an opponent to resign.

My friend here in the Springs, Alex, moved to Denver.  He thought his chess was getting worse.  He was killing me at openings, could mate me with 2 bishops in 16 seconds, and would win almost every time against me in this king with endgame opposition which he understood so much better than me that it’s ridiculous, and I tried it against him many times.

Still, playing a game at the club is mostly about running into our old friend called “our weak points”.  Alex’s weak point is that he will blow off an ending, and lose a winning endgame to much lower-rated players.  He thinks he doesn’t understand endgames, but I think it’s mostly a discipline type issue, since he has won some endgames brilliantly against A level players.

My game last week, I needlessly over-provoked an opponent into attacking me, for the umpteenth time.  For you in your last posted game, it was not taking the opponents knight because you were worried about a pawn and piece breakthrough in front of your king – which isn’t as surprising as you might think because even Masters can sometimes be terrible defenders and try to “defend” by attacking back somewhere else.  So don’t take losses too hard.  Remember the Alekhine quote about how he learned character through chess.  😉

Also, the thing I really like about your game is that you are one of the few who has a lot of formal knowledge of the game, actually studied the games of the greats, so you are going to have a lot of feel that players who only study tactics won’t have as much of.  And you had the technique down quite well where you study your games deeply.  That sort of “book knowledge”, and the formal way in which you are capable and do analyze games (which most players don’t do as well as you!) means that you will always have the chess “base” to build from.  Someone who is as “got-it-together” chessically as you will probably never really leave chess.  And I think that software that you got recently to study tactics from (just seeing a lot of patterns) is going to help your rating immensely (particularly at club games), if get through most of it.

Heck, Master Brian Wall (he was around 2300), lost to Chris Peterson 1900, for one thing because he didn’t take a free knight on d6, but instead castled because he was worried that he might get mated. That knight on d6 blocking the d7 pawn stayed very strong! Brian should have still won but blundered on move 40 in time-pressure, the infamous move before time-control.

As for me, I don’t have actual lines worked out for Black if anyone as White plays sharply or even knows how to play a main-line correctly. I don’t have that much to pose as White against someone who has their French Defense worked out as Black. I’ve purposely not been studying openings for the most part for quite a while, and been working on my middle-game instead for the past two years. I would study that Riga Variation as Black, that Paul Cannon showed me, if I got off my duffer. 😉 I’ve also forgotten how to perform the bishop and knight mate.

King-Walks at G/90

…usually don’t end well, and tonight was one of those nights for me, as you can see.

Round 4

I spent a long time on the move 7.c4, and in fact I saw the entire line that was played all the way until 13…Nxa1, where I didn’t count the Na1 to be attacking my Qb3. I figured that I was getting two active knights for the rook in the corner.

As do most games at G/90, this game came down to psychology and emotions. I know that Isaac plays active, so instead of choosing any of the other plans I had considered such as c3 or sacking a pawn with 0-0 or Rc1 for powerful play, I instead decided to try and catch my “over-active” opponent.

What I failed to consider is how well this kid plays in concrete situations; he plays like a computer. Isaac is basically playing “chess engine moves” from the time I actually give him something tactical which is concrete. I used to pride myself on my calculating ability, but now I realize that I need to rely more on my feel for the game, and give opponents more nebulous positions to look at, which is what a lot of the super-GMs actually do to their opponents – they understand how risky such lines are.

I had realized that move 16.Na3?? was the critical moment of the game, and cringed when I played this move, but G/90 is a real beast for sharp positions. 16.Nd4 is the move which keeps the game alive, and I had spent quite a bit of time looking at 16.Nxa7+ followed by 17.c6, but it was simply taking too much time and I wasn’t finding all of the follow-up ideas, so decided to overprotect c4, but then realized that I can’t now play 18.Bf3 because 18..g5 wins my knight, and in any case I don’t even have that extra move because 18..g6 simply wins straight-away for Black. Even ideas like g3..Bh3+, Ng2 lock my h1 rook into the corner. A truly ugly and hopeless position. I would have been far better off playing the c3 or pawn-sac lines, and was relying too much on bad psychology for move-selection.

My opponent had also realized that after 10.Nh4?, he could also win with 10..Nxd4 -+. I guess I was right that he went after the most trappy move himself, but I simply failed to defend with either 10.Qb1 =+ or 10.Qc1 =. My defensive skills are not as good as RollingPawns are, so it’s a wonder that I try to play this way. I find it much easier to attack than defend at G/90 and faster time-controls. I now think it is easier to see the board 2D, such as online, and it is much more difficult to see 3-D unless standing up and looking down at the board of course, or away from the table where it’s easier to see everything going on at once, so that 90 minutes isn’t as much time OTB as it is online.

Oh, I looked at Isaac’s clock after I had dropped my rook and it said that he had 58 minutes left. How depressing is that? Isaac describes himself as “the most inconsistent chess player in Colorado”, but now I understand why. When Isaac plays all the time (and takes his lessons from Lee Simmons who is a “retired Expert” player) I’d say he plays around 600 points stronger than when he is only occasionally playing chess and doing more of making videos and writing music (he can play many instruments). Also, Isaac said he has been practising on ChessTempo and his rating there is 1744! Well, I just went there and solved 6/6 and my rating there went from low 1300’s to 1760. Yay! I bested his rating and only took me 20 minutes. hehe.

I understand what Botvinnik meant by “forgetting” that something was en-prise or such. If you don’t think quickly at the board and feel flustered in time-pressure, you can miss really obvious stuff. In this case I had both seen and forgotten that after 17.Bf3, the reply ..g5 is not possible because of 18.Bxg5, but here is the “sick” continuation that Black has at his disposal:
17.Bf3 Bg7, 18.Ke2 Bf6, 19.g3 g5, 20.Ng2 Bf5, 21.RxNa1 Bxb2 – wins the Na3 and Rb1 isn’t possible because of Bf5xRb1, and then even after Bxg5, Black will respond with Bxc5.

When it comes to trapped pieces, I used to think that the burden of proof lied in the hands of the trap-ee, but now I realize that it lies in the hands of the trapp-er, even more so. No wonder Fischer appeared to take Spassky’s h2 pawn with such a seemingly glib move-gesture in their game 1 at Reykjavik. Of course, I was able to show Paul Anderson and Anthea their missed wins (sometimes multiple) from their lost games because we all suffer from different chess pathologies and abilities. Anthea was funny when she said “I don’t need a chess-coach, I need a psychologist!” hehe.

There’s something more to this trapping, though. Anand deserves a Tony for his “Broadway” performance of walking away from the board, looking at Gelfand as if waiting for him to resign. But really, didn’t the trapper have more to prove?!!

GM Daniel King, add another GM to the list, doesn’t present the move 17…Nc6! (Chess Improver says that Black’s position is hopeless after 18.dxNc6 Qxc6, 19.Bg2 – but what happens after ..Qc7? Black has a rook and two pawns for the two knights, but so where is White’s mate? I’d like to at least see it) Besides, what a computer sees and a human sees can be two different things. Here is the variation I am seeing without an engine, just me calculating (if White doesn’t take on c6):
17…Nc6!, 18.Be2 (else …Qf3 when Black escapes) Nd4+, 19.Kd2 RxBd2+! giving back the exchange, 20.QxR QxRb1 (winning the exchange once again), 21.NxQb1 NxQe2, 22.KxN and Black’s position is easily won.

Also losing for White is 19.QxNd4 cxd, 20.RxQh1 cxNf3. But even more decisive for Black in this line is 19..QxRb1+ followed by 20…c5xQ and Black is up a full rook, plus a pawn.

I did play a game on FICS the other night and lost, but immediately after the game, with no computer analysis required, I calculated that 20.Nxf7 is crushing, whereas 20.Nc6 was really a time-pressure move where I was fishing. I felt happy about that, but it’s not that complex compared to Nezhmetdinov’s games. 😉

Here is the original king-walk line which I was going to play, had spent most of my time on, and had thought that it all calculates out for me. My opponent said after the game that he still gets the Nc2+ in. Yes, but the refutation was tricky and I didn’t see Black’s final move.

11.Qa4 QxQ, 12.NxQ Nc2+, 13.Kd1 and now NxRa1? would be a mistake. Unfortunately I had not seen 13…NxBe3+, 14.fxNe3 Bd7!! and now both my Na4 and Nf2+ (winning the exchange!) are hanging. In the end, I gave 11.Qb3 even less of a look, but it felt more right positionally, which is why I had only looked cursorily at his 11.Nc5 sac reply, didn’t take it as seriously or give it as much of a deep look, and had sorted of blended the lines together in my head.

I still hadn’t calculated this _second_ king-walk (two king-walks in one go!) out correctly in any case, thinking I had an advantage if he had played 14…Nf2+ in the line above, but either continuation doesn’t work.
15.Kd2 NxRh1, 16.NxBf5 Nf2, 17.Ng3 h5!, 18.h3 h4!. So 18.Bxh4 Ne4+, 19.NxN RxB, 20.h3 and Black is +1 because he has the exchange for only a pawn. Line 2, the line I was planning on playing is:
15.Ke1 NxRa1, 16.NxBf5 (why is White not winning here) e6, 17.Nh4 Bb4+, 18.Kf1 Bd2!!, 19.Bd3! Bxe3, 20.Ke2 Bxd4, 21.Ra1xNh1 g6 and Black is up -+ .78, even though two pawns and a rook for two knights is more or less even material.

These king walk lines are too tricky to calculate at G/90, but even worse is that it’s easier to find the bust, 14.Bd7!! (-1.45) -+, which I am rather sure that Isaac would have found OTB, than it is to walk the tight-rope as the trapper.

Last update: I’ve gotten 8 out of 8 correct and my rating on ChessTempo is now 1811 (‘ChessAnalyst’ is my handle there). These are easy, simply need to calmly find the answer. This “Aarrgh!, I’ve got to look at 100 tactics an hour until I am blind and know the answer without thinking!” stuff is nonsense. All this, and my game, tells me is that is much easier to be destructive, by finding a tactical refutation to a plan, than it is to play good chess!

In regards to getting a “good” ChessTempo rating, I did not spend “an hour” on these problems, probably spent under 4 minutes on each one of them. Isaac seemed to think our game was about tactics, but I told him that it was more about calculation. I shouldn’t have put myself into that situation however.

9/9 – 1836, but now I spent 12:29 on this last problem. It wasn’t the two move cheapo, that someone could have blurted out thinking they are special for doing so, it’s the long sideline which I had to calculate, that trading pawns opens up a rook check once you force the king to step in front of it’s rook. 10/10 – 1856. I see the answer in 1 minute, but spend 4:48 because I was scared of an obvious, easily solved sideline. 11/11 – 1875, 2:29. Haha, this one you could win queen for rook straight away, but a knight check wins it for free. This problem is rated 1727. I can only imagine people taking a quick guess and then wanting to pull their hair out. Tactics books puzzles are much, much harder than this.

This is why I don’t agree with school of thought that it is better to see easy problems quickly. Yes, that may be true in time-pressure, but if chess in the modern world weren’t so crack-addicted to fast time-controls in order to placate the lower attention-spans of kids, then this wouldn’t be as much of an issue. Perhaps the part that should scare me more of what Isaac told me is that he is now spending a lot more time (with his coach, no doubt) studying endgames.

12/12 – 1895, 22:30. A five-mover, this one scared me because it was a long variation. Still, I think it is better to get tactics right than to be thinking “I am okay, missed them all, but at least I got my patterns in.” That is such a defeatist attitude. One thing realistic about this is that they give you problems rated close to 150 pts. lower than your current rating. I’d say that that’s about right that nearly 150 rating points can come just from consistency – look at what’s happened to my OTB rating, it’s exactly that, loss of consistency! The reason it’s important to get it right, IMHO, is because calculations are more important than tactics, thus we just crossed over from MDLM to Stoyko!

13/13 – 1910. Went to sleep, woke back up and solved it. Had to find two mate in threes, and realize you had three moves since moving first – hardest one yet.

14/14 – 1934. Eight move king-walk, while avoiding the opponent’s king and cheapo mate. I still had to spend a lot of time after the end of the problem because it could have gone on for yet another eight moves.

BTW, I am going to do a whole series on Nezhmetdinov’s games, perhaps even setup another blog for it.

Rashid Nezhmetdinov

After reading three of the games, I can say I find this guy even more accessible than Jeremy Silman for instance, just to give an idea how great this book is for the club player.

Three games, all with Black and ending in mate. For instance:
Nezhmetdinov vs Kosolopov 1936

No winning endgame mularkey here!

The notes are fantastic and geared to to the club player. He even explains openings fundamental variations/ideas, and would have been a superb high-school chess coach for example.

He points out, for example, that he had a forced mate as early as move 20 with 20..Qxh2+ queen sac instead of 20…Nh5, and that he had a quicker win by playing 14..Rh6 instead if White plays 15.Qb3+, 16.Qxb7.

This trap is sick
Rashid Gibiatovich Nezhmetdinov vs Alexander Ivanovich Konstantinov

Rashid points out that 10..Bc3+? also fails to 11.cxB Qxc+, 12.Qd2 QxRa1, 13.c3 d4, 14.cxd (14…Qxd4?? Bb5+) 14…Nf5, 15. Nb5 0-0, 16.0-0 a6, 16.Nc3 trapping the queen (18.Bb2). I mean, do most books go out of the way to point out other win in 8 type moves? This was pre-computer era. I mean, it’s in his own words these variations, and this was before the personal computer era!

Chris Peterson

…won the Bobby Fischer Memorial Tournament in Monument CO, on tie-breaks, ahead of visiting GM Bakre from India. 

Here are two of Chris’ games:

Game 1
Game 2

Here is a podcast interview of Chris:


I am just kind of floored by these games, what a gorgeous style!  In this podcast interview, his mention of Zhiatdinov’s influence on him is what purchased me to buy that book which just came in the mail today.

Interesting update on move 10. I am skimming through Brian Wall’s notes of the game and he says that 10…Bf8! is winning for Black, which is what I what would have played, but figured he must know he is getting mated in that line because he is a Master, but no, Masters can get psyched out too, apparently.

Don’t overlook this instructive video where Chris gets a winning position against GM Fishbein.

It’s interesting how Brian Wall was pressured on the clock, even at classsical time-controls, had 31 seconds to make his 40th move, and blundered on it. He says either 40..Qc4 or 40..Qh3 were both strong moves. Black does seem to have the better position, and I too was thinking White had gone astray with not finding a decisive win earlier.

This book (100 of Zhiatdinovs games), first impression is that it was listed as ‘acceptable’ but is actually in new condition, paper only slightly off-white from sitting on a shelf. Second impression of this book is that it is too tactically advanced for me and that I need to study tactics more and do some of that Stoyko analysis on these positions and even his sideline comments, much as TommyG has been meaning to do! 🙂 


My thoughts on the World Championship match so far: A rest day every two days, really? You are getting paid that much money, IMHO you should play M-F and get Sat-Sun off like the rest of us. So far, it seems they trot out their preparation and then fashion a draw. IOW, the real game must be played with their trainers and then they more or less show up at the board to compare notes and hope for blunders. Gelfand can “draw you under the table” (as in drink you under the table – American expression), that is my summation of this match so far, and Vishy is more or less content with the preparation side of things. I would think that Anand would slaughter Gelfand in any rapid situation, but either way the loser gets 40% of the purse, so the result is just as much for ratings and prestige! No draw odds to worry about either, I don’t believe.

Trompowsky Attack

Round 2

I knew that I could have played 16…BxN, but had decided that he surely wouldn’t agree to a draw, so I’ll play for a win. Unfortunately, I made this decision in time-pressure.

When he played 21.Nh4, my original idea had been to counter this move with 21…Bg5 (with ..f6 to follow) but somehow played ..Qd7 (because my mind was on where to put the queen) first and was then stuck with the chore of defending ..f7.

I flagged just barely, but he had achieved a dominating winning position by then.

I didn’t notice he had the Qf6 move winning a piece until move 23, when I would have replied 23…Rh8-c8, sacking the bishop. I didn’t see Qf6 a move earlier, but now I am in time-pressure and he is playing quickly, and is looking at my clock now and then during the game. If I had played ..Bg5 when I had meant to, then his g4 could have been met by ..Bf4. I had intended to sac my h-pawn for some counterplay, but had bungled the whole affair starting with my ..Qd7 move.

Paul showed why he is such a great endgame player, just keeps building the position and doesn’t let out the tension with a NxB trade. He had over 50 minutes at the end of the game. This is one thing I find unfortunate about G/90, the chance of one endgame mistake (not playing ..Bg5 at the crucial moment) and it becomes an entirely different endgame, not even counting the piece he could have taken.

The big mistake I made in this game was a psychological and time-pressure one. In time-pressure, I decided I liked my position enough to play for a win instead of a draw, even though I knew as soon he had played d5, that strategically it would be best for me to trade my bad bishop for a knight, but I tried for something tactically instead when I had a great big nothing of a position, and a draw would have been a great result against him as Black from this opening position.

Duffered Endgame

Round 2

My opponent managed his time better than I, I think that’s what this game came down to. Starting with 32.Rh5??, getting caught up with an errant strategic plan, I missed my opponent’s coming Nb4+. At this point I was getting a lost endgame, and then making further blunders, starting with b3 instead of b4; I figured b4 was stronger but chickened out and played b3. I lost the thread of the endgame completely, and it mostly had to do with my poor time-management.

Here is a sample continuation of the complexity of this endgame, whereas there are voluminous chances for both sides to go wrong.
43. Rh4 is a draw in the above variation – mainly because the bishop and rook threats against Black’s king, and the h-passer is under control (unless Black wants to make some losing or further drawing try).

I pawned the middlegame off onto the ending, but then didn’t save enough time for the ending. I would do better to try and win the middlegame, unless I were up on time against a slow player. I wanted to 32.dxe5, but then was scared off thinking after …dxe5, then 33..Nc7, but that would drop the pawn on c5, although Black can get in the c4+, which White should prevent with 33.Ke2 or Kc2, then Black is in a bind and it is equal, but White can lose by trying something which doesn’t work out. Black can play ..Rd6 and scurry the king to ..g7.

These were the sorts of games that I held or won at 30/90, G/30, but without that second time-control or disciplining myself to play 30/60, G/30, there isn’t enough time for that endgame.

17.Ke3? was losing to his 17..Nf6!!, and when he played 18…Ng4 I made some comment like “Whoa, crap, I never saw that coming!” he chuckled. He spent a lot of time on that move (the …Nf6), but played all of the follow-up moves and even winning moves quite quickly. Very strong player, he can outplay my Fruit engine, as can I at times oddly enough – engine thinks I should play Qxg7 variations, then I refute the engine with ..Rh8-g8. I am starting to think than the engine is better in technical positions rather than the other way around!

17.Ng3 was correct, which I almost played, but thought Black could get a bind with …g5, after trading queens, but White can play f6 and Nf5 in response, and since 17.Ke3 drops a pawn anyway, and Ng3 is +=, I should have just played that.

One cool idea which I missed was to play Qf1 instead of Qg1, then after …Qh4+ White has Kg2, Rg1, and Kh1 when suddenly White has the +- if Black doesn’t play actively, such as with ..Nc5 instead of ..c5.

15.f5?! 15.fxe was much better , but I didn’t calculate it right.

13.Qe1? White has a strong edge after 13.Kg2. +.6

10. Bg3?! Other moves giving White a big edge are the surprisingly simple 10..0-0, and 10.a3 d5, 11.Bb3 Na6 (I had been considering this before he played …Bg4xNf3) 12.Qe2.

8. Bc4? was once again a mistake because of the same idea, but enhanced with what I was seeing as a reply, namely …d5, but then 9.exd Bxg4!, 10.gxB = 8.Be2! which I thought was possibly too passive, is the right reply here, covering f3. I completely missed the continuation after 8..d5, 9.a3! Na6, 10.Nxd5 winning! I can’t believe that after 9.a3, I rejected it at the board because I saw 9..exd?? threatening ..exNf3, followed by ..fxBe2, overlooking that 10.axNb4 and the Black queen is hanging. Doh!

That’s the thing, I should be getting a satisfying openings advantage against Rhett, but I have to accept that it will be from a weird, slightly complex-looking position; it’s not going to resemble any opening theory in the slightest.

Something Positive

Round 1

Fruit likes 10..e5 a touch more than my 10..e6, but my move gave my opponent more of a chance to go wrong, as in the game continuation.

12.Bd3 (instead of 12.Qd4?!) is the move, and then 12…exd followed by ..c6 gives Black a pleasant equality, and my opponent probably rejected it for this reason.

20…Raf8? A blunder played quickly. Needed to hit the queen immediately with 20..Rf3 instead, but the game continuation transposes.

22…Nd3!? I figured OTB that this was probably not the strongest continuation, and actually 22..e3 is stronger, but I could see that it was winning, and my quick play all of a sudden had caught my lower-rated opponent off-guard.

34…Ra1?! I had seen that simply 34…a5 was winning, and would prevent my opponent’s bind, but this is the part where I get bored and spice things up to make it interesting. This habit tends to backfire badly on FICS, but I felt in control here to the very end. My friend Alex thought I was allowing a draw with my idea to sac the exchange, but I was calculating rapidly at the board and had found the wins when we went over the game afterward, and Fruit agrees. I was sort of “on” at this point because I saw that I could triangulate his king in the endgame, and also found that …h5 to weaken …f5 is a winning idea as well (had it played on me before online, naturally). But I just wanted to point out that 35…b5!! is a beautiful pawn sac here, as Fruit found it, with 36..Ra4 being the follow-up idea.

Anyway, I really wanted a win to cheer us all up from our losing streaks. An Expert lost to Anthea in a silly way, with a silly sac, so that bad play can happen to anyone from time to time. Jason is almost an Expert, and I was able to show Alex that he was winning in his game against Jason, not to fear Jason’s attack. I didn’t study any chess all day before the game, simply wanted to be there the real game. It was a nice day for a chess game. 🙂

The funny thing about this chess game is that before it I saw this video where Boris Becker plays Nigel Short. It’s a Ruy Lopez, but then Short replies with ..f5 rather quickly. Boris plays exf and Short once again quickly replies ..e4. So basically I used that same idea to win this game; now how funny is that? 😀

One neat thing that I pointed out in Alex’s game, I mean Jason was playing awful but Alex couldn’t find a win, I showed Alex that he could sac his extra passed pawn (which he thought was the jewel of the position) in order to trade down into a winning ending (Jason’s center pawns would fall and that Black could (but doesn’t need to) even sac wing pawns because a center-pawn will queen first, comfortably, while attacking the opponent’s king. He also missed another pawn sac to get at opponent’s king when all of Jason’s pieces were horribly tied down the queenside. So Alex gained even more space on the queenside, then couldn’t finish the deal, but could have sacked to go after what should be a winning attack against the king.

All of this is to say “Don’t be greedy!” The important thing in chess is to consume the position, all of what’s there, and not to go after material as an end-goal.