G/90 – The Defects of It

….is very limiting.

After I went over the Game with Paul, I berated myself to my friends that I had not found the winning 26…Rf6 ++-. I spent time considering it and the more “postional” looking …Rf7. Incidentally, I though after the game what a crock that the word “positional” is, it’s really just a wise-@ss way of saying what move one should have been played with hindsight – apart from that, the word “positional” is really a fabrication and very harmful to the experienced player, I now feel.

With my 40th move …g5?? I knew that I had blundered the moment that I had instantly played it. I had 1 minute and 21 seconds left after trading queens, plenty of time to make a 40 move time-control, avoid that blunder and draw the game with a seconds time-control. [BTW 37…Qc3 holds onto the pawn]

They say that chess is a game, as in just a game, but it’s really just a game for weaker players. If I had won this game I would have won $40, that’s like half a day’s work after taxes for me, so it’s not really “just” a game anymore than my going to work each day is just a game. Paul was very happy to have made his Expert rating back, and it seems more than likely that he won’t be playing next month.

I looked up after playing 47…Bb4 to see that I had just flagged. It wasn’t a difficult move, and I was just double-checking, having a quick look around the board.

The thing of it is that in this day and age of digital clocks, there is really no excuse for not having an increment as part of the time control. Another thing is that we don’t have a second time-control, and yet everyone has enough time to stand around and shoot the sh*t for an hour after their games, including mine. So, we don’t have an increment, and we don’t have a second time-control

So what then is G/90, with 5 second delay? G/90 is horrible combination of both classical and blitz chess. One needs to be composed enough in the opening to find an advantage, and then in the middle-game maintain that advantage, while still having enough energy and crack-addicted like reflexes to shoot out saving moves in a time-scramble.

I was very composed today, didn’t even remove my sweater, but did not flip that switch of being like a person on speed in my time-pressure. Why should I have to, why should this be part of classical chess? My point is that I knew in my heart immediately after losing on time that even had I not dropped the b7 pawn that I would have lost on time in an even position just because I was being a little too “casual” making my moves – and why should this be such a chess sin? A major feature of chess is it’s subtlety, and should be more of a feature than the frailty of humans to hold onto their material in time-pressure.

Funny thing about this opening is that I just played the exact same line this morning in this Blitz Game that happened in our game last night. It’s weird how the opening in the blitz game was played so much more believably. I guess online, the faster the game, the more people know their openings. It’s uncanny how I flagged on move 40 taking his pawn – the postion should be a draw. See, even blitz needs a second time-control! Where was the ending? 😉

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The Secret of Chess

…appears to lie in endgames.

I played this 5 minute blitz Game on FICS yesterday. I finished with 2 minutes on my clock and he had closer to 3 minutes. Still, it’s remarkable in beauty because had he not resigned, I found this beautiful clincher after the game (no engine help BTW, as that would have defeated the whole point of what I am saying anyhow). 26…Kh8, 27.Rxc7!! putting the question to the knight, when it would be perfectly safe to win the exchange after 27…Nd5 because the important Bf3 doesn’t get traded off in this line. Even cute-r is 27…Ne2+, 28.Kd1 Ng1, 29.Bg2, trapping the knight.

I am reading the book “Endgame Strategy” by Sherevsky. Best book evuh! Some books are amazing. “Timman’s book on Chess The Adventurous Way” was so because of his knack of understanding positional compensation for material (why did I ever donate that mint hardcover to the library, they probably sold it for five bucks. doh!).

Sherevsky’s book is filled with remarkable games and annotation in words. Here is just one example, one of the best chess games I have ever seen (Lasker played a lot of these, and probably would have “dusted off” Morphy playing like this):

Blackburne vs Lasker 1892

I think a lot of sub-Class A players write off endgames as boring, but I believe that endgames define the essence of a position (successful, forcing mating attacks aside. hehe).

Car Problems

No Thursday final round game for me tonight. I was set to take on Isaac (1998) with the White pieces – bit of a bummer, but mostly a lost opportunity.

It’s 17 degrees and we got 3 inches of snow last night, but the culprit is that my defroster (which has been temperamental, but mostly working) would not turn on. I thought I might have messed up my front end when I ran into a curb, but the car seems fine. I basically drove down the street before going back home. Problem was everyone else lights would cause all kinds of glare on my front window, blinding sort of. I couldn’t scrape off all the ice (no enclosed driveway, and I made the mistake of not putting a cover on the window), so when someone’s headlight came in from the side, my window looked like black ice, that’s when I hit the curb.

I’ll get this fixed, but I’d really like to take a step back from these winter tournaments for the next few months. I have to consider not playing because I don’t want to drive in traffic with Colorado Winter weather any more than I have to. It was pitch black at 5 pm, and was dark all day because obviously there is a ton of snow still left in the clouds. It’s just not worth driving through all of that stuff at night any more than one has to. If it were some big tournament where I could play more than one round or at a longer time control, then that would make more sense of a reason to go.

Turns out all this worry was for nothing. Isaac took a last round bye. In fact, I would have gotten paired with a 1400 or 1500 player, max.

Responsible Play

…but perhaps overly so at times.

This Game between me and Mark was for first place, but I was Black against 1.d4 and often don’t trust my play OTB as much as against 1.e4 openings.

I almost played 8…Nb6 to get it interesting and lively, but Mark is a respectable opponent, and I didn’t want to get into a guessing-game against him. Also, Fruit thinks I get an edge with …h5 in the endgame, not enough to win but to give him some losing chances with weak play. I had 10 minutes remaining at the end of the game to his 20, but he was oddly blitzing me for the last 15 moves or so and did not take my draw offer until it was an obvious 3-fold repetition.

It was a respectable result, as I should have White in the final round – and it’s always nice to get a challenging opponent in the final round.

Fascinating Endgame Loss

In Round 2 I was faced against Anthea, who is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get. Well, I was wary that the real Anthea would show up for this game, and she did. Actually, she is one of those those players that plays well, but can lose from winning or drawn positions.

It would be easy to say that my 15th move, ..Bh2+ was the cause for the loss, as I did spend 32 minutes on it(!) However, the endgame is lost after I failed to find the move 32…b5! Her move 34.g4? is not good because it gives me the opportunity to chip away at her pawns with ..h5, which the best endgame for Black is to trade off all pawns and have 2 bishops vs, knight, which would still lose in time-pressure as I had an even 2 minutes when I blundered my knight (all move lose except for ..h5, which still basically loses). I believe she did have her bishop on d7 in this position (I was still keeping score but badly at the end), so that I could not even play ..h5 because of Be8+!

Even with 32…b5! it is still quite easy to lose for Black. It doesn’t take a Magnus Carlsen to find winning chances from here, particularly in Black’s time-pressure. It’s like +.3, but Black has to watch out for more things.

Incidentally, 41..Nd1+ is losing not only because the knight can be trapped in some variation, but because a pawn does queen, except for a piece sac. White can trade a pawn for the b7 pawn and still promote a pawn.

Don’t take my word for it, you can check it against an engine to see that it is +2. She was up +2 in the middlegame at some point as well, so she was certainly outplaying me in every way in this game, all three phases plus the clock. I knew things were going wrong when I played …g5, but it was already too late except for with “hanging around chances”.

Her whole thing with the bishops getting in sort of stunned me, as I had undervalued her idea at first. It’s something Black had to see ahead of time. Also, I had been uncomfortable with the idea of limiting my own bishop with that move.

I played out the position from if I had played …b5, and in the lines where I am not letting my bishop get trapped, White is quickly up +.75, and thereafter every move is like a blundercheck for Black against the two bishops.

She had somewhere between 38 and 43 minutes at the end of the game.

I just played it out to a 98 move draw with the engine, but that’s only because I forced the engine to not keep checking me different ways with those bishops for another hundred moves before I could claim a draw by 3-fold, because of course I am writing these moves down and can spot where the positions repeated three times, twenty moves apart. haha.

Regarding the World Championship, that kills me how Anand played such a wonderful defense with the Black pieces, finds all the hard moves seemingly forever, only to miss a simple tactic which must have been out of sheer exhaustion. Instead of 45…Rc1+, Kg2 followed by …Rg1 and …Rxg2, Black saves a tempo with 45…Rh1 and if 46.Kg2 (which Houdini doesn’t do), and now ..Rh2+ followed by either Rxa3 or Rxg2 saving a tempo over the game continuation. Houdini says it’s 0.0 after 45…Rh1. Just about anyone would find that move except out of fatigue. All the other moves up to that point seemed much more complex.

Carlsen’s style seems to be to tweak with drawn positions until he wears his opponent out, more or less. It’s sort of sad for chess in a way, but that is what chess is anyway, a precision game.

Chess is different from other sports in that in chess you frequently have to beat your opponent at their own game. During the first few games, I felt that Anand should have played on and tried to beat Carlsen ala Carlsenesque. Alas, Anand felt the pressure of expectations and didn’t follow this route.

While game nine of the 2013 World Chess Championship match did live up to the hype, my own feelings at the board today were much more sedate. Paul Anders*n, the Expert player I will be playing next week, wanted to know what other people were listening to before the game. He likes “Kill The King” by Rainbow, but I like “Rainbow in the Dark” and “On the Street of Dreams. RollingPawns listened to the last song I posted here, so this week I listened to good ole Glen Campbell.

Now I’m going to go really retro. 40 years ago, when I was a child, this was my favorite song (I also liked Neal Diamond back then, what a great era for music).

Radioactive with the White Pieces

In Round 2 on Wednesday, I faced Justice for only the second time, and the first time with the White pieces. Since he is 600 points lower and had Black, this probably wasn’t supposed to turn out well for him.

This was a great Game to go over because I missed a lot of tactical subtleties for White (but I saw a lot of them for Black). I should be trying to increase my tactics comfort level, but I managed what I do know, at least, quite well.

The single fianchetto was risky enough, as I thought to myself that RollingPawns might have chosen the continuation for White 5.Bb5+ Bd7, 6.BxB+ QxB, 7.c4, and now White has traded his bad bishop for Black’s good bishop. Fruit much prefer the continuation that I went for, goading Black into playing ..c6. In fact, Fruit rather amazingly gives it +1 or more already. The double-fianchetto is upwards of +1.25 for White, rather remarkable.

I remembered a game where this same idea occured for White and Steinitz said that the …c6 was bad for Black. I was actually recalling games while I was playing, like the pros do. The idea I played to play Bb5+ and then Be2 or similar like this is not original to me (although I don’t use databases, just books), this is part of the old 19th century Romantic style of chess.

I was looking at ending the game with the convincing continuation 30.QxQ, 31.RxQ+ Kf6, 32.Re2, but I was glad to see it end right there. 😉

World Championship Match 2013

Game 1 was far more interesting than could have been predicted. While Carlsen was busy giving his best Amos Burn imitation, Anand was trying to “stick it to The Man” (The Man being Carlsen in this case).

Anand had a lot of interesting possibilities, but went for this …Nd5 playing for eventualities line instead of the straight-up ..e5 line, or the intriguing …Qa5 line. He should have played one of these other two lines (the ..Qa5 line seems hard to resist, because the minor exchange could be meaningful, although …e5 is more thematic).

Perhaps Anand should have played on with the …b5 he was considering, but I was looking more at NxNc3 after a while. Those lines seemed more consequent to me in a way.

I found myself rooting for Anand, and yet also wanting Carlsen to show us the best defense against all Anand attacks (after all, I want to learn something from watching this! 😀 ).