Happy New Year, Everyone! (…First!)

I was reading ChessAdmin’s post, here, and thinking that this is a subject we should all have some opinion on, even if it’s a subconscious one. Anyway, it’s a good “Chess Carnival” type of topic.

My road to chess improvement is rather simple, study annotated games, and where possible by the players who played them. I would also like to finally get around to studying tactics problems, and perhaps a few opening lines, if we are going to isolate specifics.

Why should this be good enough, you say? Easy, each game contains an opening, middlegame, ending, tactics. IOW, a whole game has it all. Sure, I could study something like Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual, but I am not going to. Why? Because I still have other areas that are getting some work in, and I am not a Super-GM trying to beat other Super-GM’s, I am just me.

There are some opponents who will try to drag you into endgames where they can blitz out a win with their great sense of knowledge, but I’ve found this is < half, and maybe 1/3 of opponents at best. Actually, it's surprisingly small because of the time-controls used these days.

I posted to Facebook earlier today here. Figured I should have something up, in case anyone wants to see something or respond there.

The chess book that I am reading/studying right now is Joel Benjamin’s “American Grandmaster”. I actually like it quite a bit. Somehow it drug me away from the Amos Burn book for the time being, which is an awesome book btw.

The Amos Burn book is my favorite book ever, but it’s like I am afraid I’ll read all 900+ pages and it’ll be all gone, like ice-cream. hehe.

Really, it’s your love for the game that makes you stronger at chess. Pretty simple! 🙂

How Can I Keep This Up?

Thursday Round 3, featured another game against Joe, who seemingly single-handledly has taken my rating down 18 points. On Wednesdays I played only two games, won against Spencer and lost to Joe, and _still_ lost 18 points, how can this be? it’s as if I had gotten flattened 23 rating points or so for the one loss.

Before this game, well I usually have ominous feelings before games. Yesterday I thought I would win, and tonight I felt I would lose to some tactic, feeling rusty tactically again, or perhaps it’s that I need to grow tactically more.

In our game on Thursday, I played a bad sac in a great position for me – as soon as he quickly took my Nb4 “sham sace”, I realized that I had in fact dropped the piece. At least you can give me credit for only having analyzed that variation once, as per Kotov, in order to be efficient. haha. I had spent a lot more time looking at Black playing Nb5 (threatening Nxc7) instead of QxNb4, and didn’t play my move until I was satisfied that I was doing well in that variation (which, of course, never happened).

I feel I need to spend more time studying and less time playing. Of course, the playing is helping out my instincts and ability to play more quickly, but seriously this G/90 after nearly four years of it is a little beyond ridiculous already. At the end of this game I had 1 second remaining to Joe’s 48 minutes – which is why, for instance, I missed 64.Qf2+ winning his bishop. I saw this immediately after the game and felt I needed to win it then, but his blitzing made me not want to overstep and flag.

How can a human being be expected to, let alone the history of chess behind it, play a great game at G/90? They never did it for hundreds of years, and it was always a “gentleman’s game”, but now we suddenly think we know better because we know “the openings” and shouldn’t need that much time for the rest of the game. What poppycock. I can play the first ten moves in ten minutes, that is not the issue – not that I should even have to!. hehe.

G/90, what a sell-out to traditional chess, it’s almost a sham. I offered a draw after 58…Kf4 (it’s 0.0 score). I know how he felt because I lost this way once to Rhett myself, where I made a losing move, knowing it was losing, because I felt that I had deserved to win the game. It’s all time-pressure emotions. These type of end-results were almost non-existent in classical times.

Going over this ending is almost overbearing for me, knowing that he had 50 wins that he missed, but that I had to play quickly and the best move was a meaningless concept next to the quickest move. I suppose I deserved to lose for my bad tactic, and perhaps for letting that b-pawn hang too long. Okay, I deserved to lose this game, it’s just that I know 90 minutes is not long enough for me, particularly against an opponent who can leave 48 minutes on his clock after all this, and if he had spent another minute on countless moves would have won easily where I could resign on the spot.

My only comments during this game were near the end of it where I said “It would be nice to have a second time-control” and I said “Sorry.” once when I was in check and didn’t move my king. Actually, I touched my queen and should have had to interpose it and lose it, but he never called me on it. I caught my own mistake and then moved my king, it all happened very fast but still.

Being as it is the end of the year, perhaps it is an appropriate time for these sorts of comments. I sorta feel like G/90, with only one section, 1700-izes chess, as if there were this gravitational pull taking us all toward the same ratings place. The clock, and having only one section, is the great equalizer. Like I’ve said, if a 2500 player drops a piece to another 2500 player, oh well it is only a few rating points, and statistically this should never happen, but as humans we know that it does, bad day at the office kind of thing.

Nowadays, it’s getting close to where rating=speed. You don’t need a coach to get 1700 if you have access to all of the “Open” section tournaments like we have here, because playing itself is like getting free chess lessons from 1700+ players.

I wish I only played at these big events for money (the new prestige, right?).

The Boxer:

How The West Was Won

It wasn’t pretty, I dropped my queen for no reason other than greed, but in the end providence took a foothold.

Final Round

I was winning, then I was losing. It was the best of times, it was the worst of time [from “A Tale of Two Citites”].

The moment he play Rxh7+ I said the f-word, because I knew what that meant, and I had never cursed during a game before. Actually, I can win the Nf5 safely by taking with the bishop (and Black’s queen still nicely covers h7). Well, he immediately returned the favor since Ke1 was about the only possible way for him to throw away the win after that, and then he gave me that same look that I had just give him a move before, and I said to him “We’re in time-pressure, both of us are going to make blunders from here!”. Whereupon he fortunately was so upset at himself (later realizing on his own that Kf1 or Kf3 was winning), that he immediately went from perpetual-check draw to a lost position all in one move.

So, as we have seen so many times before, the win became a draw, and then a loss all in two moves. How may times I have done this same exact thing as he did myself!

I had over 7 drinks and 5 beers at the bar after the game (Alex works at a bar), don’t hate on me if I can’t make it to play today (Thursday), hang-over. 😀 Butterscotch shnapps, strawberry rum, 1 1/2 bloody marys, hazelnut whiskey, rum (four of us picked up a shotski board that makes you all drink together at the same time), two pina coladas, a taste of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, large pitcher of Redd’s apple-ale.

Speaking of ratings, there was this one pool player that was lights-out amazing, and he was drunk and drinking coffee. I asked why he doesn’t go pro, and he said because “In pool anyone can win.” It struck me that chess is the same way, but we play on all the same. It’s easy to say woe is me, 1800, but my rating is in the 92 percentile, even though any player is a threat to win against me. I guess what we mean is that want to be international superstars, 1% baby, yeah! 😀 hehe. That _would_ be nice. 🙂

BTW, I also comment on RollingPawns blog: http://rollingpawns.wordpress.com/
We are both trying to make Expert, but now I would like RollingPawns to make it there first. RollingPawns, you deserve it more because you lose less and have a higher “class” of play in general. I am probably more dangerous in some ways because I study chess all the time, but I think that you have a more profound positional understanding of the game.

In that game last night, I was able to live up to my “big brother” RollingPawns, what he has taught me positionally. Excluding the blunder at the end, it was really a positional win, which is all the player of the Black pieces can hope for when playing the Hungarian Defense, anyway. 🙂

If this were a Chessgames.com Game of the Day, I would title it “Shaken, not Stirred”. hehe, pithy title required.

In the post-mortem, I pointed out that I didn’t need to capture his Nf5, could have played …Raf8, and after Nh4 e3+, Kf1 QxQ, RxQ the win is not in doubt, as I won the post-mortems from there, the only question is how beautiful/positional the technique is from there on out.

This Week’s Games

I suppose that it was a “tough chess-week at the office”, but nevertheless productive.

Wednesday’s Game

I cam back from the restroom with 3 1/2 minutes remaining on my clock, and absent-mindedly played 26.gxBf3 instead of the planned 26.Rd7!, but even after 26.gxB Re7?, White is still winning by force. I knew Rd3 was dumb, but it’s obvious I was making moves just to make moves because I couldn’t figure out any of the positions in time, although did find wins for White immediately in the post-mortem for some reason.

Thursday’s Game

I accepted Alex’s sudden draw offer, and although the majority of chances lie with Black, both sides have chances to go wrong. Clock times – Alex 33 minutes remaining, me 24. By contrast, in Wednesday’s game, Joe had about 74 minutes remaining, as he didn’t give me much of his time to think.

Both games were a great learning experience to go over with Fruit, in terms of what could have been improved from the critical point in the first game and the endgame of the second game. 🙂

The way to finish the second game in Black’s favor would have been to press forward the queenside pawns all the way to light squares in order to restrict the White bishop, then to trade rooks, then minor pieces, and then try to win the king and pawn ending.

Objectively, the king and pawn ending is drawn, but there are about 3 out of 5 ways for Black to win it, 1 out of 5 for White to win it, and 1 out of 5 for the game to end in a draw. I should have spent at least 10 minutes contemplating the draw offer, and playing on. I thought maybe Alex didn’t want to play anymore, but the truth is that he liked my position better and had plenty of energy to pal around with friends at the restaurant for the better part of another hour, and our game was the last to finish, so I should have kept playing for no other reason than to simulate the stress of a “real” tournament.