The Chess Theme Which Seldom Goes Away

…is one the in which the higher-rated player wins a game from a losing position.

Round 4

I had thought my last round game was a nice tour de force, but actually I made some embarrassing gafes against my lower-rated opponent.

After 15.Nf1! White is not losing a pawn.

20.Rg3? Simply 20…Qxe5 is now effectively the end of the game’s real challenge.

24…Bxd4?? Now 23.Rf4 c5, 24.Rh4 is crushing.

Oh well, I did the best I could in a G/90 game, but my tactical weaknesses are evident in this (yet another) game.

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Hard Truths

Wednesday

In Wednesday’s game, Rhett offered me a draw after I had missed completely winning tactics. The final position is still winning for White, as he was going to play ..Nc5, but then instead of Bd4+ (still winning), I was going to blitz out Re3, and after the reply …e4 Black is better.

He had 7 minutes remaining, and I had 3 minutes. I was missing all of the tactics where I had blitzed out my last moves.

Thursday

Thursday’s game was more of the same, except that it was an all-time low for me. I missed 50..Bb1+ winning his bishop. This is made all the worse because I planned this exact tactic when I had played ..a5, setting it up. At this point I had only 15 seconds on my clock and my opponent was blitzing out his blunders. All I was thinking on this move was where to put my pieces without dropping them and was mortified in the post-mortem to learn that I had reached this position without realizing it in the time-scramble.

He played 52.Rf2 to stop the …Bb1+ followed by …Bc2+, but now Black simply has 52…Bb1+ 53.Ka1 Bc2+ winning the Ba4 anyway, or 53.Kb3 Re3 mate.

67.Rc4?? And now instead of playing the winning 67…Rh5+!, I foolishly play a line I had thought would draw, but did not calculate it far ahead enough to see that it was losing, with of course 2 seconds on my clock and only a 5 second delay.

Quite a frustrating week due to poor time-management and rusty tactics skills.

On the tactics front, I now realize or at least agree with the notion that tactics problems need to be memorized. Have to know them to the point that they can be “solved” in a flash.

I would go so far as to say that if you have to solve a tactic, then you don’t know what you are doing on some level, but you may figure it out given enough time. One has to “know” tactics, not merely solve them.

Besides simply “memorizing” tactical positions, the key to tactics is to visualize the position from the minds-eye, and not by physically looking at the chessboard. The reason for this is because the mind can comprehend concepts in the minds-eye, and exact positions, but just looking at the board is a lot like looking at eye-candy.

I am going to attempt to solve again, and this time memorize the answers to the 1100 odd tactics problems from the Combination Challenge book. At a sudden-death time-control, it is ultimately and extremely important to be able to blitz out tactics, there is simply no way to understate this fact; especially as one can easily lose on time or board trying to blitz out a long endgame versus finding a tactical blow earlier on in the position.

New Clock

The DGT North American clock. It’s very nice and easy to program so far, so I would definitely recommend it. I played with it in two games so far, but this is the first one with my own clock. I’m 3 for 3 with this clock. hehe.

Round 2

In this game, I “outplayed” Mark in his time-pressure. To be honest, he did what I did last weekend, played better chess than I, didn’t play the move he saw which gives him a large advantage; namely, 18.Ne4 instead of 18.e4., and then lost in time-pressure from a better position (hey, I didn’t say I didn’t learn anything last weekend!) Really, at our level you just have to play these moves and figure out how it can work later, otherwise the clock whacks us all in the butt.

11…c5 instead of …Rc8 is the apparent improvement for Black.

Pikes Peak Open 2013

If you watched some of my games from this tournament, you might have wondered if I had _taught_ Ivanchuk how to lose on time! haha.

Round 1 The most aesthetically beautiful game.

Round 2 Flagged on move 35 (no delay in the first time-control) after being up over +2 at one point. It was only equal after his gambit, then I outplayed him to gain the advantage…for a while.

Round 3 So, I saw 20.c4, the easy win, but then began feeling tired, or my allergic reaction to rating points kicked in. Anyway, I found a way to draw this still winning position, and then promptly flagged – wait for it…it was on move 35.

Round 4 Mike is the nicest guy a person could play against. I definitely felt lucky to escape such a horrible Bg7 position.

Round 5
There is a long story behind this game. We got to move 18, I knew he was going to play 18.Nf5, and that I was then going to win with 18…Bxe+ (saw the follow-up of 19..Qf4 and the other lines as soon as I got home and simmered down a bit). Well, the TD announced at this point that if it were up to him he would stop the tournament now, not count the remaining games in play, and send us home, but that the fire dept said we could keep playing until the mud-slide (air-raid) sirens went off because a storm was coming in.

We were in Manitou Springs where a mud-flood had just inundated the town (we also had a mud flow in my work parking lot that went over the curbs, that’s how bad it was, and it’s very slippery).

Well, my car was parked on soft earth on the edge of an embankment overlooking a ditch, so I played the safe 18..Qe6, and played as fast as I could to get the heck out of there. I had 75 minutes still remaining on my clock, when I spent another 10 minutes shaking my head, taking the perpetual, and no sooner had the game finished than the sun came out.

Yes, I stupidly tried to trade a rook at the cost of a pawn, and then was flat-out losing, and was lucky to make a draw. I did spend nearly four hours going over this endgame at home, far more than the other games put together. I have to give the kid a lot of credit for keeping both rooks on the board, which I have been historically terrible with.

This was essentially all but the end of this time-control here. Future tournaments are switching to the G/90 with 30 second increment (FIDE-ish) control. The next six big tournaments in Colorado all have the 30 second increment from move 1. The TD even announce this is the plan at the beginning of the tournament. Nice. 😉

Mistake of Going for a Draw

Round 2

It’s disturbing for a an 1.e4 player such as myself, but 17…d4 is just flat out winning for Black in all variations.

It was quite apparent, thematic, and was my original plan, but I couldn’t see the too big of deal, and besides Fruit always takes a cr@p on my games and says that I am never winning my games until just before checkmate. So, I figured there was probably a defense to every move. Not true, it’s just flat out winning, not +-, not ++-, just won in the hands of a stronger player.

33…Rxa4 would have been the best practical chance to play on for a draw.