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.