Strange Positional Game

My Final Round game of Thursdays was a real oddity. There is so much room from improvement over this game, that one could spend hours doing some post-mortem analysis, stokyo-like, looking at actual possible lines.

If I analyzed this game thoroughly, I could come up with major improvements for my play. This is the sort of game that at G/90, with two relatively weak positional player at this time-control, most of the possibilities are humming right over our heads, OTB. Relatively, I was the stronger player positionally, but the key word here is “relatively”.

I lost points on Thursday, but gained points on Wednesday, so somehow I have clawed my way back from the 1600’s to 1750, and it would have been more had the CSCC City Championship been rated. So, overall I am back to that original country-road crossroad; kind of like in that scene at the end of the movie “Cast Away” with Tom Hanks.

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A Part of History

So I go to Panera, thinking I’d probably get paired with Fred S., somehow thinking that Paul A. and Imre, the top two players would be playing, but then I found out I was getting to play Imre as White – thank heavens it was with White.

I got there right before pairings were announced, so I was caught off guard a little bit about what to play against Imre. Of course, I should have played the Open Sicilian because Imre is going to be super-strong positionally, but what to do, one has to play moves and I was fine with c3, particularly after seeing his …Nf6 rejoinder.

Well, I did my level best, but nothing came of it until the very end. Imre is tough, and one sharp-cookie, positionally.

No lie, on move 14, before playing d5, I thought to myself that Paul Anderson would probably play 14.Rc1 here, and win in some unspecified manner. Guess what? Fruit loves Rc1! I don’t even know what the move does other than it’s not a marginal move like the one I played.

I had offered Imre a draw earlier, once it became apparent that we should both keep our rooks on our second-rank and call it a day, but he wanted to play on a little longer. So, after I played 38.b4 he said “Okay, it is a draw then!” waving his hands. He was right that the position was 0.0, but I wasn’t strong enough to know that! and so played on, thinking that I was winning when I was not. Nevertheless, Imre quickly threw out …38.a5?? which I knew was losing (I knew that …Kc5 was losing too, but didn’t realize that ..b5 was not losing), and I blitzed out the win.

At one points, Imre had around 54 minutes to my 12 minutes. I got down to 2:33 on the clock and then seemed to make my last 15 moves without spending any time. He was blitzing me in my time-pressure, which was obviously only exhausting and frustrating him a bit, but not myself. Are you kidding, I love it when people do this to me!

I didn’t even realize that this was the final round until Dean Browne was shoving money in my face – I love when he does that. hehe.

Anyway, Imre was on the cover of Chess Life or the Colorado Chess Informant back in 1964 when he was state co-champion. That was before I was born! 😉

Chess Exam Score update

After doing 30 problems, my rating is at about 2100.

Supposedly, you can take 20 minutes per problem (which is completely unrealistic for G/90 unless you want to purposely blunder in time pressure, so for that it would be useful to), but I am averaging less than 10 minutes.

Honestly, at first I was blowing through them, so if one of the choices was not a move I would have made, then I quickly chose one of the moves given. Well, after dropping a piece en-prise on move 1 I paid more attention to the choices given.

I don’t think that I am doing great, am being rather superficial about it, really wanting to get the lesson out of it, so I am surprised that I would be rated so high since last time I took the Tactics Exam, my rating came out to be below 1600, and I thought I was on top of it back then…hmmm.

Also, I want to say thanks to Paul Anderson for including a nice shout-out in his blog about my website. 🙂

This post isn’t modest, and may seem sickening, but I am just saying this is the score that the book is giving me, and I am not trying to fudge anything or not deduct points. I think it’s probably just a nice book and I should ignore the ratings, since I burn through chessbooks mostly to get the knowledge or skill from them.

In this last set of problems, my rating dropped down to 1816. Curiously, if I had “preferred” the same way as the author does, that would have gotten me 19 more points, or 2116 rating. For example, one problem white is up a pawn in rook ending with pawns on both sides; I see winning ideas, but he says that White is only better, so I lose out on 5 points, then for Black “1…Rd7 is ok (1 point), but I prefer 1…Rd8 (5 points).” So, I just got 1/10 on that problem, because my perception was somehow off. This can happen quite a bit on these problems.

Repeat Miniature

The ironic thing about this Round 3 game is that I consider Isaac to be my most terrifying opponent, so this was a big moral victory for me.

5.Be3? Bad because it’s not only premature, but because after 5…BxN, 6.gxB (my idea), he then has 6…e5! Anyway, he played Nc6 quickly, to my relief.

8…e6? I had been worried about this position for a few moves now, where he plays 8.e5! -+, but instead is now +-. I couldn’t believe he had just walked into the same line from when the last time we had played.

9…Bxh3?? Coming back from the restroom, I was astounded to see this from a distance, knowing that the game was now won. I had figured that his new idea was to play the forced move 9..BxNf3, but White is still better.

10…Qg3?? Last time, we had played, he played the best move 10…Qf5, 11.Bd3 Qh4, 12.QxQ NxQ, 13.NxNc6 gxN, 14. gxB and being down a piece for a pawn did resign shortly thereafter.

10…Rxd4?? Playing for tricks, but I did not really expect to see this move. It did catch me off guard, but one can only feel so bad about missing something in a still superior position.

11. NxNc6!! Here I had seen the mate, but I don’t believe that Isaac had seen it yet. Isaac resigns here as he will be down a rook for two pawns at best.

My opening preparation and home laboratory post-game analysis is so horrible, but it appears his was worse because he had simply blitzed through this position last time, much like this time, and must not have studied his own game in the least, or I think he would not have repeated this calamity.

Night games are weird. It appears that whoever is “pumped up” and not playing like a tired zombie has a big practical playing-strength advantage. In the case of the kids who play, a bunch of them go to this chess-camp tournament, as they did recently, and play G/30. How is G/30 good practice for looking deeply at the board? I mean, when I want to speed up my decision-making, I’ll play blitz, but that is the only reason I play blitz.

Some people say that 1.d4 is superior to 1.e4. It is possible that e4 is not as strong, but e4 has tremendous miniature potential as compared to 1.d4. Against 1.e4, the game can end quickly for either side, particularly at the class level where we don’t study our openings diligently. I am lucky that most class players don’t study their openings much, because I don’t study them much myself.

4.Bb5+! is the only way to get an advantage against this Portuguese variation of the Scandinavian opening. It’s +- after that move, but my variation played only lead to equality.

RP has told me this before, but I think it’s only after observing Alex opening preparation, and how he gets wins from it almost walking into the game, have I really begun to understand how powerful this can be. I helped Alex prep in a match against James, essentially I’ve been his “Second”. I never realized how powerful it can be to have a second before. I’ve given him some really good tips on postgames as well. In his latest game, I told him a move in a variation I felt certain that James Powers would play. He plugged into an engine and we both missed that White wins a pawn. Well, James played the exact move that I had predicted he would play in this variation, and immediately dropped this pawn!! Alex said this happens to him all the time, and that got me thinking, particularly so for e4 when my opponents try and wrest the initiative from me right off the bat.

Books

I got some more new books, quite a few. I began going through Yermolinsky’s book, but I am going to through the Chess Exam book first. I left this comment on Blunderprone’s blog, since he is also going through it:

I am starting on this book just now. I feel that my biggest challenge while going through this book will be “Evaluation”. My biggest weakness tends to be in evaluating positions – i.e., should I defend, attack or whatnot. This is one of those things which throws my game/results off-kilter, and it’s also a big time-killer at the board.

It will probably take two months to finish this book. I am taking more for the lessons than the exam, but both are quite useful.

Disappointing Week

I saw things during this game, but lacked the confidence at critical times to play those moves, mainly due to the psychological factor behind the ratings differential. So that’s all I am going to say about this game because Paul found this blog, and I don’t want him reading about my game with him that we just played.

What particularly stung is a comment he made post-mortem to me of “That’s why you are a 1600 player”, which he didn’t mean in a negative way, but this is what has become of my once 1876 rating because all I play now are G/90 tournaments because my company has not approved time off for a weekend tournament since I’ve been there in over a year.

Round 2

By Thursday I was burned out, two hours of sleep and my brain just didn’t want to function during my game with Alex. He created a nice attack, in any event, but I had made a losing blunder if he had seen it even earlier in the game.

I was so disgusted by my game with Alex that I didn’t even save the game, only the analysis line from Fruit for how I should have played. Here is how it should have gone according to Fruit:

Round 3 Thursday

On move 20, I played 20…c5, partly because my brain and energy level just couldn’t cope with the new tactical situation on the board – it was my way of saying “I’m beginning to get a headache looking at all of his possible attacks, I have 15 minutes on my clock to his hour, and I just want his attack to ‘go away’ already.” I was proud of Alex, but not of myself. Black is still in the opening through move 22, and I needed to continue to confidently develop my pieces, which I had been doing until I saw his attack and threw in the towel.

After 20…c5??, see if you can find the mate. BTW, in that analysis continuation given Black’s final move would be 25…Qg5, which is dead-even if White plays into that line.

On The Cusp

After this game, I thought the only takeaway was playing hideous in time-pressure, thinking about all of the mistakes that I made at the end. Now I realize that just getting to play stronger players is the reward.

Round 2

I did make lots of mistakes on the clock. I could have played Bd3 (pawn-doubling) about 10 minutes before I did. At one point I hit the clocks so that they stopped for 5 minutes on his time, while I was away from the board (noticed it when I came back).

And yet for all my crazy moves at the end, half knowing I was doomed on the clock in any case (I could have finished with quite solid moves at 30/90 or 40/90, but knowing the game is about to end induces crazy moves even more), I flagged and he finished with under 2 minutes on his clock.

In the final position, material is equal, but Black is easily winning. My last move may have been Rxh7, I am not sure because I spent all of my time looking at ..Rc7, but may have thought that Rxh7 was a quicker move to play and switched to that at the last instant. He didn’t notice I had run out of time for a few seconds, but he never played another move after it happened.

Here is a picture of me playing Alejandro (goes by Alex) in the last round of the City Championship (Dean Brown is seated in the background).