Finally Opening “Pandora’s Box”

Which for me, means playing a closed-game as White (whacky e5 advances in the French, aside).

Round 5

Stepping out from “baby openings”, which are ones that everyone either knows or just likes to play with predictable set-ups, I didn’t want to get tactical in a variation which Black often knows better (and Anthea can run great on auto-pilot, in openings which she is familiar with). So I was trying to take away “feel”, where such a quality doesn’t require so much analysis.

In a small tournament such as this one, getting a draw against Black even against a lower-rated player isn’t such a bad idea, because it takes them down a notch too. So, this result was good enough for clear second (Imre and James tied for first).

Anthea was non-plussed that she will probably never play against this variation again, but I can think of four other opponents I play against who really like this opening as Black. We went over in detail improvements that Anthea could have made during the game, in our post-mortem, but even Fruit gets frequently turned-around when trying to analyze this variation. There is a lot of subtle, positional chess going on in this opening. Positionally, it is dangerous for either side to play.

Thursday Round 4

Steve is an older gentleman, having come back to chess after a 20 to 30 year absence. He’s still provisional after 7 games, but already has more wins than losses, and one draw. Well, this game didn’t turn out too well for him, as it took me less than 15 minutes of my clock-time to seal it up.

Round 4

Is it a win or a loss?

I’m thinking it’s neither. 😉

Recreating this Round 3 game, that last poor pawn push at the end, he didn’t do and in fact I was the one that pushed my a-pawn down and then thought “What the heck did I just do that for (spontaneously), I just threw the game!” The fact that I cannot re-create not losing this suggests that he threw a move away needlessly somewhere as well.

After checking the ratings, I’ve just found out that Daniel lost 62 rating points in a tournament this past weekend. The ratings estimator says I lose 12 points for drawing.

Hmm, I’m really not looking at the rating points at this point, instead I am looking at whether or not I completed this game, which I did. Budgeting time is obviously the big issue for me, and if I am under 1800 and then go win some big money tournament somewhere at standard time-controls, then all the merrier. 😉

This endgame had winning chances but was objectively a draw if played well by both sides. I am going to play the board and not my opponent’s rating. The strongest players like Carlsen don’t seem to get upset over draws, but rather by losses. Also, I would like to increase my drawing percentage with the Black pieces.

I really didn’t do a great job of “completing” this game either, truth be told. I had 1 second left on my clock (5 second delay), when Daniel queens and seemingly takes 4 seconds to press down the plunger (which I surely thought was going to cost me the game), and then hovers his hand over the clock (with a piece in his hand) so that I have to put my hand under his just to press my own clock. When I queened I said “Draw!” and he shook my hand. His mother comes over later and “reads me the riot-act” for about 3 minutes that it was not yet a draw. I said to her that any king move he makes out of check, I will then take/trade his queen (and he was agreeing with me that the game was only going to last one more move). You’d think these no-brainer situations would be simple to explain! (BTW, I did still have the 1 second on my clock after the game). Oh, and his mom is also a chessplayer and plays in these tournaments – I have played her a few times and posted those games.

I should throw in that when I played James the day before that he accidentally pressed my clock during his turn (heat sensitive clock and I watched him rest his finger on it for a split second – I had left the table and was watching this from afar). I didn’t give him a hard-time about it, and he apologized, but looking back, I probably could have requested that two minutes be added to my clock if bitching about these things is going to be the rule. It’s amazing how particular things these things can be when people want to argue over results after the game.

Missing the Big Picture

…in time-pressure, of course.

Round 3 started out as an interesting game, and I was playing quite well, although balked on grabbing the initiative with moves like …f5 and …Nb4, which I did spend a lot of time considering, just didn’t have the experience to know to play them, that they were okay/better than my passivity.

Starting with move 28…Qc8, I have lost the thread of the position, and am thinking about the “small picture” like how I am pinning this pawn against his queen. You can tell I am in time-pressure because it went from a game where I had my opponent well in hand, to one where it suddenly turned into a blunder-parade, one move after the other.

On move 29 I was going to play 29…g5, which is a strong draw, but last second the hand played …Bd6, which I felt like it is losing but I played it because I didn’t see how. Well, I didn’t see how because in time-pressure I didn’t have the time to size up the big picture with everything that was going on with the board.

I feel that at 30/90, G/30, I would have played the winning 29…b4! which is great for many reasons, gets the pawns marching down, keeps White’s rook out of a7 or a8.

I really only deserved a draw for playing the game so safe, but I was doomed to lose as it was because in time-pressure, I could not size up the big picture elements. For example, instead of Qc8, …Qa5 put s a pin on the rook, and Be7 is a great blockader of the pawn, why would I want to move it? Also, I would have given king-luft some consideration. Of course, getting into time-pressure with the queens on the board is nearly always fatal, I find.

So to recap, the two problems I suffered with in this game were timidity, and not saving enough time to always keep the big-picture in front of my considerations, or just in sight.

Wednesdays Jan 2013, Round 2

In Round 2, I played Fred with the White pieces, and he went for a Sicilian Defense, instead of his normal Pirc/Modern Defense.

I felt Bc4 would have been the real test, but played it bland, more in hope-chess fashion since he gave me a4 and then when I played Kh1 (I figured I should have just played Be3), he didn’t challenge me with ..d5.

If he had played ..0-0 instead of ..h6, even his sham-sac would have worked fine. I basically didn’t do anything with this game other then let the lucky win drop into my lap. 😉 I kinda figured since he doesn’t play Sicilian much that my lackluster play might be okay for one lucky win.

RollingPawns, you should post one of your games. We are all in this 1700’s morass together. 🙂