Last Round Finish

This game was really busted up, but it was also exciting.

Round 4

I missed wins, and Alex missed wins. I think I was trying to have too much fun out of this game, and passed up the positional wins, and for that was losing outright many times as well. Alas, the Slav is a new defense for me, so I am playing it at least a hundred points more weakly than my general play.

The game itself lasted 70 moves or so before agreeing on a draw in a rook endgame with equal pawns on same side of the board. I lost my scoresheet and Alex has an accurate on. The last few moves are not accurate move order at all. In fact. he had a winning attack against my king as compensation for giving up his a-pawn. He had a Ng5 move which was simply winning. The blunders in this game are too obvious to bother pointing them out, or at least with an engine they are. The Slav is very live and die by tactics opening. It is the Sicilian Defense of 1.d4.

I sensed the winning moves in this game right away, but I got cute at those critical times, and really wanted an interesting game. At a tournament where there are 3 rounds in a day, I want to end a game right away if I can to save energy and usually have the extra clock time to ensure I can find those wins and not lose on time.

Losing the Thread

Round 3

Another game replete with blunders at every turn.

Once again I whip out the opening quickly – 11 moves in 10 minutes – but then White eventually gets in e4, and I am beginning to feel a bit lost at sea. I should say that I wanted to play …Bd6, not ..Bb4, but ..Bb4 looked more “bookish”.

When I played …Qe7, I was goading him into playing Bg5, but then realized that tactically, I simply can’t get in …e5 as I wanted.

His bishops got good, as did the queen. There is a book line with ..Bh5, but I guess it has to be the book line only where it is useful because after that trade, White’s queen was coming in on e6 seven ways to Sunday. My idea was to get in …f5 (after e5) having given up the light bishop to lock-up the light-squares, but I feel like at G/90 that this is where I cannot calculate a plan accurately, whether or not I have time to implement a plan. He went for piece-play first to exploit the pawn/square weakness, rather than resort to a dull pawn-push.

G/90 is a fast enough time-control where you can realize your blunders as you are playing. I was going to play …Rf6 (and could see that Bh4 skewer is not a threat), for instance, instead of …Kh8?, but played ..Kh8 because I didn’t realize that after e7…Qxe7, QxQ I have …Bb4xQ (don’t need to take with the ..Nd5). Made lots of errors like this one, but did save enough time to play until mate, FWIW. 😉

Imre was rated 2251 back in 1992. He was a state champion back in the day.

Wake-up Call

Maybe I should preface this game. I had a headache before the game (chessed out? Yeah), so I took 2 tylenol and 2 aspirin and was quite relieved that I was initially paired with Shirley because I really didn’t feel up for a game. Well, Anthea never called or anything to say she wasn’t coming, so the pairings changed and now I am playing Richard, who beat Imre 1900 last month.

I don’t know how thoughts swirl through my head without getting played, but it’s obviously due to lack of focus.

Round 3

I thought about playing 20…g5, knowing that he would have to mess up his kingside to dislodge my knight, and I could play ..ke7 as well – result? Didn’t play it. Partly, it must have been because I was playing against lower-rated, but I also realized that at G/90 I really have to be pumped to play a good game. In fact, it wasn’t until I had half an hour left on my clock that I finally decided that I needed something, sugar or coffee to get me going and purchased/drank two cups of coffee; of course, it takes longer than that for coffee to kick in.

Anyway, I was hope-chessing it big-time. I think a big part of the problem is that it is too easy to be self-congratulatory that you have saved “X” much time on the clock. For example, I had spent only 8 minutes playing my first 12 moves. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the chess board doesn’t give a damn about our clocks, yes that is truly unfortunate.

I felt like …c5 was a blunder, but I have such a hard time willing myself to sit tight and defend, particularly against 1500 player (believe me, if I had known how it would turn out against him, I would have paid a lot more attention to this game). My buddy tells me he is leaving for the East coast – well, he hasn’t left yet! (in Colorado, the rumor-patrol here likes to announce things months in advance).

I looked at the saving moves such as 26..Bh3, 27.Rd1, but wasn’t taking anything too deeply/seriously. After 27…RxR, 28.RxR Rd8, 29.e5 Nf8, 30.Rc7 Rd7 holds. Was I looking this deep? Not at all, I was too busy worrying about my clock and making moves which don’t lose right away quickly.

The whole hand-wringing over the clock thing has reached it’s apex. What really matters is that to play at G/90 you really have to be charged up before the game, like my buddy Alex was. If I don’t drink a couple cups of coffee or something, and I’m not focused, I can’t really play recognizable chess. Deep lines do need to be considered, and strong moves cannot be passed up, while pushing things off for later.

Clock-watching chess has no soul. G/90 is a sport. I didn’t want to have to drink all that coffee and now stay up all night, but it appears there is no other option unless I don’t care about winning chess games. 6pm is really a late, and unnatural start time. G/90 combined with 6pm start time is truly f*cked, but that’s just the way it is. My opponents rarely look tired, so I can’t be either.

Not only was my opponent focused, but I felt he played incredibly strong for his rating. I felt that I could have drawn with 27…Nc8? but he even knew that that was a blunder because of 28..Nb7, which would have only added to my already healthy blunder total in this game. He dropped a pawn in the opening, but after that the blunder-parade was all on me.

Ya Never Know

…which tournament is gunna turn out well.

Round 2

Some players like to play BS chess out of the opening, where every game is like a pop-quiz on how to defeat their position. Last night felt like the latter, it was all about the opening, and I should have used up all of my time just because that is what that particular opponent likes to do against me; namely, make the game primarily about the opening.

Tonight, I was playing against a player who is more talented than myself in some respects, so that he sort of “did my homework” for me. Although we blitzed a sort of post-mortem game where I really took him to task with a nice piece sac for connected passed pawns (which he refused), and he just did find the draw by perpetual (which I let him know ahead of time that he probably had).

Here is an example of what I am talking about. He saw that if he plays something safe-looking like my suggestion of 10..0-0 (he played 10..Nc6?!), 11.Rd1 Qc6, 12.Bb4! Re8, 13.BxN RxB, 14.Rd8+ (he saw this line, which I didn’t see, but he missed that he has now ..Rd8) RxR 15.QxR Qxe4, and now White is +-.

I felt that his …Qxa2 move was a blunder (although Fruit prefers it) and that he should have played ..Qe6 and is fine, but maybe he isn’t because of that Bc4 diagonal does not allow ..f6 to be easily played.

In any case, because Gunnar is a strong player he did some of my homework for me at the board, and admitted he shouldn’t play a loose variation like this OTB and not expect to get burned sometimes. He said it in an admission sort of way.

Gunnar is a class-act, admits when he does something wrong. So many weaker players make you do their homework for them, that you really may as well do Stoyko analysis with tactics puzzles because that is what you mostly need to beat them.

The Morass of a +- Position

Round 2

Move 13, White to play and win…

My initial instinct was the same as Alex’s, as soon as I saw …f6 I knew this was a blunder and g4 should win, but then comes the grinch who stole Christmas – namely, the analysis to back that up!

I did not like 13.g4 Bc2, 14.BxB NxB, 15.QxNc2 fxNe5, but I never looked deep enough to calculate the in-between move 15.Nb5 (duh, I don’t need to take the Nc2 yet), followed by Q-moves, _then_ QxNc2 threatens Nc7+ fork, so ..Rc3, Qb3..fxNe5 Qxe6+ is ++-.

I looked at virtually anything you can think of on this move, but I couldn’t calculate deep enough in all of the lines. Ultimately, I simply missed his …Qb4 when Black has the advantage.

I looked at all kinds of stuff like NxNc6 followed by Nb5xa7 threatening Qxc6+, getting a Nb5 and Nc4 to hit Nd6+, and even playing g4 only after playing Nb5 (which is incorrect, around +.7 but not winning since the knight should come back to c3).

I played Ne3 quickly to the tune of the clock, sensing that my d4 pawn would drop and I could hold the draw as long as I get rid of the bishop pair advantage (I saw his Bd3, but missed that Rd1 holds the d4 pawn as well). I guess I didn’t want to get tied down into only-move territory but I had 6.5 min to his 2.5 min. I blundered the exchange, spending less than half a minute on the move. I kept playing but resigned once he was down to around 17 seconds. I finished with around 5 minutes. So, I tried to keep some clock pressure on him, but that didn’t work either as I was too tactically rusty.

The thing that sucks about this time-control (put aside that one needs to save time for the ending) is that each of these lines I mentions really needs to be seen like 8+ moves deep, but there are so many to look at in so little time that you end up looking at 5 or 6 variations 4 moves deep instead of looking at all of them deeper. The clock time-limit literally cuts the depth in half.

Tired Thursdays

Round 1

It’s exhausting to play after work. I’m probably a hundred points stronger when I don’t have to go to work. Little wonder I was rated a hundred points higher back in California, even though I am a better player now than I was then. I simply put more into the game back then.

Do Computers Really Understand Chess?

I don’t believe they do, but they can calculate stuff out better than nearly all humans can.

As I told Fred after the game, the purpose of 9..h6 was to prevent White’s control of the d4 square (such as after 10.BxNf6 QxBf6). So the reply 10.Be3 was really forced, but 10.Bd2?? was the decisive mistake, in my opinion, as I mentioned to Fred afterward.

After Fred’s mistake, Black’s game really plays itself, although Fruit wants to keep throwing in …Rb8 for a while. ..Rb8 was so yesterday’s news by this point that it really makes me wonder.

The points of 11…f5 wasn’t just that it was opening the f-file, but that I was planning on following 12.exf up with 12..d5, not stopping to capture the pawn first, but rather to control the e4 square first.

I was kicking myself a little bit right after playing 18…Raf8 because I noticed right away that 18…Bxe2, 19.QxB Rxg3+ also leads to mate (Qxh4 mate), but even then I am missing the faster mate with …Ne3+ (I can also simply win his queen for knight here).

The weird thing about this game was that I was nervous, had only studied chess for maybe 5 minutes during my two days off, and didn’t feel like I “had game” going into it, but I was pleased to be matched up with Fred and his nice Zagreb style pieces (mitres of opposite color). This was my favorite set/style I have played on.

I guess that in the end, it’s difficult to know how a chess game will turn out because who can predict a blunder? Eugene P. (lower-rated) offered a draw to Paul P (higher-rated) in a completely winning position. Paul was under 2 minutes and Eugene had 50 minutes. That is just as baffling to me as it is unpredictable. And Rhett kept playing on his game, dead lost, with only the mate to follow. Ken, who mated me last month, couldn’t find a win against 9-yr. old lower rated Sarah, and Dean lost against U1000 rated Shirley (missed a 1-move mate). A lot of madness happens in chess!

As it was for me, I had to get my car out of the shop, so was 21 minutes off my clock to start, but wound up with about 16 minutes remaining. Unlike endgames, these mates don’t take that much time! 😉