Endgame Blitz

Round 3

It’s never a good idea to save 22 seconds for the endgame. In fact, it’s a much better idea to save at the very least half an hour for it.

37.f4+! Looked like an easy enough win, but as I found and showed Mekonnen after the game I had to be wary of in-between shots. I showed him 37…Kxf, 38.Nxd6 (it’s this pawn that I had underestimated) Ke5, 39.NxBb7 and now the knight is pinned to the rook and the rook can only escape with check. But Fruit shows that it is winning because the White king wheels around via a4 and pushes the e-pawn with king while Black gobbles up White’s kingside pawns, but cannot promote in time (I didn’t even look that far, but it’s a deep line!). Okay, I followed the line 25 moves deep. White promotes the c-pawn and checkmates Black where Black’s king is on h1 and Black’s passed pawn is on h2, one square from queening, but actually help-mating it’s own king. BTW, 39.Rxb7 is also winning, but it’s a queen and pawn vs queen ending where there is still an equal line and a winning line.

Anyhow, I took his g5 pawn instead because I figured it’s a safe pawn and should be enough, but it still takes a delicate touch to win this ending, and that is not something which I saved any time for.

An easy win is the plan 45.Nb1, 46.Na3, 47.Nb5 with an unstoppable win, but a move like 45.Nb1 does not come off of the top of most people’s heads. Still, if there had been a second time-control at move 40 (not that I should ever expect one), it would have been a slam-dunk to find this sequence.

47.h5! is another slam-dunk win as the bishop is now baby-sitting the g4 pawn instead of attacking White’s backward c3 pawn. The h-pawn push peels the Black king away from defending the backward d6 pawn.

65.Ng5!! looks like a position I had on the board, but you don’t find this shot with 5 seconds on your clock. In fact, after 65.Nf6+, I got two minutes added to my clock because he moved his pawn instead of moving out of check, but I would take a winning position with 5 seconds as the two minutes was wasted looking for something that wasn’t there.

It’s hard to say whether I had a win or loss in the endgame because my opponent, as happened last night, stopped keeping score when I did, in my time-pressure.


Thursday’s Debacle

Round 2

A big problem for me with these never-ending weekly tournaments has become consistency. This Wednesday I was feeling well, good but not great. By Thursday I only got 5 hours of sleep (I say only because I used to catch up on sleep my first day of the week off, before my schedule change).

Anyway, I went on an afternoon movie date (first-date), which cut into my sleep, and by the time I got to the tournament I was feeling tired in my legs (when I get “bone-tired” even my thighs want to rest and not sit). Well, I forgot my vitamin B, which I usually only take when I do something this foolish anyway, and now I resorted to six cups of coffee with sugar during the game. Well, you can guess the rest. I felt the coffee/sugar high go away and I knew I needed to keep drinking to stay awake but decided not to.

When Alex played 22.Nh5, I said “aw, shoot!” under my breath, seeing the point of 23.QxRf1 immediately. Then I began to think how I could fashion a draw with 22…Rf5, but then realized that c6 would still be left week. Anyhow, I started to get really tired and don’t know why I didn’t ask for a draw because I wanted one at this point, and Alex had already offered one. So I played 22…Rh6??, took one look at Alex’s face eyeing 23.QxRf8 mate and resigned.

The funny thing is that I never remembered initially seeing that threat, and my reaction to his move, that’s how out of it I was. It was only yesterday that I thought to think about it again that I remembered that this had happened.

Anyways, after the game Alex was very gracious, but Daniel quoted Tartakover’s “I have never beaten a healthy opponent.” Incidentally, Tartakover made that statement as an old man at the end of his career.

I find it so ironic that even Spraggett on his blog delivers a smack-down to Ashley Tapp that she couldn’t perform in one of her games because her one eye was burning the whole game. The real lesson in all this has nothing to do with excuses (which has mysteriously eluded many intelligent people). The lesson in all of this is “Don’t expect to not lose a chess game if you are not healthy!!” Duh!

I took half a day off work one day this week because my health was rock-bottom. I went for two walks and then jogged back to back! Felt worlds better.

As for the game, I intentionally allowed him to play his knight to the kingside (seeing that I could have prevented it by reaching the …Ba6 move a move earlier), but I had completely underestimated his play of ..Nf5 followed by ..h5, which he had seen. Alex is very deserving, and so I am glad that my points went to him, but it was not lost on me that chess-skill is not the most important thing, your health is. G/90 is also a real crucible, litmus test of one’s health and fitness.

Perhaps a little know fact is that I beat a famous Master (who’s rating was down to may 2165 at the time) when I was a 1400 level player. It as at 30/90,SD/30 He had said it would be a house-game, and my recollection is that he said it would be unrated. Anyway, he had the flu and saw two sacs against me (I was playing C3 Sicilian as White). Computer had him up 4.65. He had one brilliant sac and one loser, saw both, but chose the loser and I won.

Another time, at that time, I won a game and a 1900 player said that “no way could I have seen the 6 move mate ahead of time” which I did see, of course, and play. I won the DeVry chess championship at my school two out of three years, never got a promised trophy because of “the school budget” – what a joke, haha.

We’ve been 1800, we’ve done it, don’t need to prove it. Need to prove we can stay healthy and fit! That would appear to be the new challenge.

Defense by Blitz

Round 3

Once I got my last attack in at the end of the game, it seemed as if Katie began blitzing her moves. Clock-time is the oxygen of attack (and at mile-high altitude, I should know). I saw my blunder at the end before she moved, and resigned quickly, with a minute and half to her twelve minutes remaining.

She whipped out moves such as …b5 like lightening, and I felt it was bad, but didn’t have time to decipher the correct attack.

31.Bxc4!! is equal according to Fruit, for example, just to point out one decisive line which I missed. It must be a hairy line because otherwise I have two passed pawns and a lot of pieces to cut off, plus a loose king to attack.

31.Bxc4!! bxB??, 32.Qa8+ Kc7, 33.Nd5 mate.

I feel like the time control is “40/90, flag” because you are driving toward a cliff with your opponent, playing “chicken” like in the movie ‘Rebel Without a Cause’, the person bailing out first and not going over the cliff (as in the movie) is the winner. I would have lost an equal position, in fact I did, just because I wouldn’t have had the time to find the resources in the position.

It’s funny, Katie all she has been studying is tactics. All I have been studying are endgames, but endgames are what that hypothetical second time-control is for. For G/90 all you need is a copy of MDLM’s Rapid Chess Improvement and Chesstempo. Some endgame players like Paul Anderson, however, will budget their time for endgames.

The second time-control is not just about endgames, it really does allow one to take all their time to come up with the best shots in the position before move 40, so you can find that big shot on move 32 or move 35 or 38, etc, and not wonder about how to finish the game.

The problem with endgames at G/90

…is that they can’t really be played unless you save time for them.

Round 1

I saw his 28..f4 coming as it was his only desperado to try, then I realized I could ignore it and play 29.Nd3 anyway, and after 29..fxe, 30.Ne5+ NxN, 31.RxRc8 e2, Re1 (and showed it after the game, kicking myself that I didn’t play), but I didn’t want to play too presumptously and felt that 29.Kf2 would be a safer endgame win.

I saw his continuation as well, after I played Ke2, but felt I could still win (and it’s still winning, yes).

After the game, I felt that 33.Nc6 is where I went wrong, and 33.Nb3 does win (I had only looked at 33.Nc4 during the game), but it’s a tricky win because 34.Rc5, trading rooks is the only winning continuation.

The natural looking 39.Kd3? is the move that throws away the win, and this is unfortunate since a second time-control would have saved me here as I only needed to get this last idea of 39.Kf3, and I would maintain the win (and have time to win the won game).

After this point, I was in extreme time pressure, such that I saw that 44.Rxb4 would allow him to cutoff my king with his rook, but I didn’t want to check his king toward my pawns, and having have 44 seconds or less at this point, I just couldn’t make a rational decision, which also explains my moving my king to the a-file.

This game should have been a win for me, but the ridiculous moves brought about by my time-pressure proved decisive. It’s my own fault though as I wanted to prove to myself that I could win it the endgame way, and should have kept bolting out the tactics with 29.Nd3. He spent a long time on 29…f4, and I hadn’t finished calculating it when he played it, so I over-respected his decision to play it since it is a move which either works or is a blunder, and he hadn’t tried any real shots of his own during the game up to this point. With more time, I would have simply played 29.Nd3.

I do realize that online chess is online chess, and OTB chess is OTB chess when it comes to time-pressure, but I was pleasantly surprised to play this game in just 2 min, 11 sec:

I spent 21 seconds finding the key move of the game …6.d5!

Speaking of time-pressure, I saw Life Master Brian Wall’s time-pressure meltdown/loss to Joe Ford <1900 from a superior rook endgame position, overlooking a move where he needs to guard his pawn with a rook, sort of a ??? move for a Master. So I know that I am not alone in time-pressure "the (sea-diver) bends" type reactions.


Round 2

This song was me in High School, and it came out during the time I was in Jr High. In intermediate school, I would walk home from school, skip the bus (I did this a lot as a kid, walked a lot all over town), stop in a pizza joint or liquor store and play video games (Tempest was one of them). The part that piqued my interest was that this video was shot in Scarborough, Ontario. RollingPawns, you may know some where some of these locations are. 🙂

There is also an hour and 46 minute documentary on Rush:


Round 1

So I forgot to bring my traditional Wednesdays cup of tea that I bring with me in my car, and didn’t really need it anyway, but started drinking coffee when I got there. IOW, I’m not usually this alert even for Wednesdays. 😀

Interesting game. Ken brought his new blue ZmartFun clock, but the thing spontaneously reset itself about 20 minutes into the game, and then I pulled out my clock. I was looking at getting that same clock, but then figured the DGT North American would probably be more reliable, and then this confirmed my suspicion (you know us software/programmer guys 😉 ).

Ken resigned after 24.Qxb5+, but I wanted to show how I was planning on finishing the game, and actually I was looking at the less accurate 28.Qa5 instead of Qa4, which still would have won a piece and the game.