Rating Point Bleeding Has Stopped

Round 4

New opponent, will annotate later.

Me, Alex, and Rhett co-won the tournament with 3.5/4. 🙂 Rhett made 2000 even, Alex made 1801, and I got my rating back up to 1833.

In the game, I spent too much time on the 10…Bd7 sham-sac, which he declined and the position transposed anyway. I have always disliked this variation as Black and I had to feel my way through it to gain the confidence – this is something that a blitz game in this opening will not give you.

White didn’t find a way to continue the attack (I would have come up with sharper stuff as White), and so it was up to Black to break through.

I have not done any engine analysis of this game, but I feel the way to get to Expert is actually to shut the engines off and figure it out for yourself. You need to be that strong on your own, that’s the only way anyone makes it to Master, otherwise one could follow an openings book to Master or etc.

22.Nf3. To be a solid class A player one can’t sort of “wimp out” like this. 22.f4 was the move I was afraid to see, solidifying the center, then he can get back to his Nd2 with ..a5 business.

25.Nd2 Now it is too late for the …a5 idea because the bishop’s diagonal will be opening up.

28.Nd2 He continues to “return to the scene of the crime”. Why not grab the d-file with a rook or get some h3 luft in here. He is probably stuck on the …a5 idea, but it’s stronger as a chessplayer to be flexible. I would simply take on a5, then give up the c5 pawn for the b7 pawn after trades.

29.Rcd8 I played this move with misgivings. This was the last opportunity to play 29…Bxb2, which I almost played. After 30 RxBb2 c3 30. Rc2 (or Ra2) cxNd2 this should be winning for Black here with back-rank ..Rc1 type threats or promote on d1. After last night I decided to win this game “Botvinnik-style” instead of “Tal-style”, but really the slow positional way takes more time to flesh-out, unless your opponent cracks and blunders seeking undue activity, which is what happened in this game.

32.e4?? This is the loser in a lost position, but it stunned me because I had thought it not possible. In fact, I thought I had determined that this drops the Nd7 but in time-pressure couldn’t remember why! (…Bg5 wins). I played 32…Rd4? as a “clock-move” being down to 59 seconds on my clock, and then slapped my face, walked away from the board to curse my stupidity. Not only had I forgotten …Bg5 in response, but I had dropped a pawn as well. Like I say, the unrefuted move becomes the “good move” – I noticed this back as a 1500 player, and I’ve never heard anyone else notice this or write about this other than myself, so it’s probably just assumed at a Master level, but ough to be explicitly pointed out at the class level.

After 33.Qxf4, luckily I have an only-move which may still be winning in …Bg5, but I knew that 34.f4 was probably losing, and not the way for White to play. After the game, I insisted he must have a better move here, and he found 24.Nf6! which threatens to create perpetual chances or win back the exchange when White is a pawn up. Idea is to play Nf3-e5 next, hitting the Qd6 and coming further into Black’s king position. I don’t know how realistic his drawing chances were, but combined with his 4 minutes to my 1, his chances would have been a lot better that way.


Expert Game

Paul did show up for the last round even thogh a bye would have secured first place. He showed up for a shot at ratings, as he is trying to make 2100.

Dean said “If your oppoent is not here, you can start the clocks”, so I did so and Paul was 7 minutes lates.

In this Game, Paul varied from his Moden Defense and played the Caro-Kahn instead.

As usual, I am getting over a cold and sneezing as I type this. My call-center job/environment has been getting me sick on a near weekly basis as of late.

On move 27.Nxd5, I played this combo at 11 minutes remaining with the intent of clock management; it leads to a 0.0 position, but keeps me in the game on the clock, which is what I was looking for at my lessened energy level from the cold. I did consider 27.Nfe4, which is +2.5, but it was beyond my reach at G/90. Against a lower-rated player, I would have opted for my originally intended 27.Ng4 Nd7, 28.Rc7 Qc5, 29.Qf4 with the idea of Nf6 (attacking h7) and after ..NxNf6, QxNf6 followed by Qe7 QxQ, RxQ and the rook/s can dominate (this is not an engine variation) – but I hadn’t fleshed-out that trade on e7. Also, I considered getting the Nf7 and then to d6, but that is still a vulnerable place and takes time to prepare and calculate. At a longer time-control, this game would taken a different path here.

27.Nd5, I believe is most like a phantom combo, as White should first set this up with Re1 to save the e5 pawn, but after a knight move from Black the combo likely won’t exist anymore, not sure about that though. In any event, I realize that I should have continued to build the position here, and the combo was too much of a cop-out.

I should have traded queens right off the bat, and Paul makes some inaccurate moves to keep the draw within reach for me. At the end, I was going to play 62.Rf3, but it had gotten difficult for me to think quickly here, and I played 62.Rf4 instead and immediately resigned. It didn’t help that I had a cold, nor that I had 26 seconds remaining on my clock and made that game-losing blunder with 24 seconds. If I had made it past that move, it would have been 0.0, but the swindling chances then would have been more on my side than his, but really it is an easy draw at least for White, but should be for both sides there.

The Fix Is In

Whoever thought that chess didn’t have it’s fair share of drama? I say this humorously, as I could theoretically go 3.5/4 this month without getting a shot at the tournament leader. I suspect that if he takes a bye, then it will be to “punish me” for my earlier draw. It’s comical how many are taking byes. Not sure who I might play as Black next week, possibly Rebecca who has been an “upset” queen of late, and is currently rated 1420. Daniel is my other likely opponent, he’s around 1700.

Well, I played Sarah. She is a sweet and talented kid, and once rated in the mid 1300’s after one tournament, but you know how kids ratings are all over the place.

Round 3

I blitzed out the part where I won the piece on c5, as little Fabio had stopped to watch at this point. I was going to play 13.Ba3, but was feeling rather complacent at this point, playing 13.Bd4 quite quickly and then noticing my blunder. At this point, some people found the game “interesting”, but I knew that it never was in the winning sense.

Stockfish likes the c4, d5 push when I had the chance, thinks it’s a big deal, but I would have to analyze since I don’t see it yet.

Both of us played inaccurately during non-critical moves, and I played less accurately than her aside from the blunder, but we both played well during critical positions. For example, 15…NxBe3 16.fxNe3 Nxe3 17.Rf4 and Black is not winning the exchange after all; this was another trap I had calculated during the game.

Well, Sara almost had me on my second scoresheet, and had my clock down to 2:28 remaining compared to her 51 minutes, so kudos to her.

On a chess politics note, as much as it gives me headache just to bring this up, I will say that I was scheduled to play Paul Anderson on board 1 on Wednesday, and Rhett on Board 1 on Thursday. Both players are taking a last-round bye to lock in their prize money. Okay, so once a couple years ago I took a last round bye at the last moment because I was sick and had been working that day, and I don’t know what happened there but I had split first place on the bye and was completely taken by surprise when Dean emailed me about where to send the prize money check to (it was maybe for $20, tops). What’s taking place these days is planned, and the first place winners frequently even show up to these last rounds after having taken their bye.

What happened to old-school toughness? I feel if players are going to put the pressure on to go 3-0 just to make the last round interesting, then it should be an eight-round two month tournament! Zero point last round byes, which Shirley and I favor, is another a great idea. I still catch heat from Alex sometimes that I took that last round bye at the last E. Coast Deli tournament. He wanted to win the last tournament there, whereas I probably felt the last tournament there made it more of a “lame duck” tournament.

A Non-MDLM Game

Round 3

The game was agreed drawn after move 26 as we were both down to seven minutes remaining and realized that the position was too complex to be played out. I had seen all the way to move 29, but wasn’t sure what he’d do there and it looked scary how he could reposition his knight (in our mutual time-trouble). I show what seems obvious to me, the 30.d5 push, and that is around +.6 after …Qc3 coming up, but actually 30.b5 is winning (..Na8 instead of ..Nd7 had been a blunder), but this is quite difficult to see at the board, and if you had seen it you wouldn’t have enought time to analyze or play it correctly most likely – a pity, really.

A great game, but the piece de resistance would have been on move 30, and it’s more of a combination, and not a tactic.

I am not even sure why Stockfish thought that 29.Na8 was +.9 or more. My main computer crashed (probably a bad data cable), and stockfish on an Android tablet, well these tablets are hard to navigate (I am on my laptop now).

Actually, I wasn’t worried about the 28..Qf6 variation during the game, I was worried about a 28..Nf6 variation, where the knight would like to go to e4 or g4 and it’s very difficult to account for knight like this in time-pressure, as I told him after the game. During the post-mortem, he even got in this ..Rxd4, …Rd2 followed by ..Qb2 or ..Qd4 with this mating battery against my king; this could happen for example if he simply sacs his Nc7, and then I lose instantly by playing Qxb7 after that instead of Qb6. I would have been surprised and most likely have lost if he uncorked this during the game, as one of the reasons that I accepted the draw was because I thought that my king was looser than his.

One thing I have to improve on, even in time-pressure, is simply to believe that he repositions an active piece to somewhere else that it is then attacking something else, yet undefending possibly an even more important point. I can give up d4 to take e6, which is more devastating for Black. If the knight moves back, then not only does it undefend d5 and b5, but is also pinnable to the king along the back-rank. The Nc7 sac variation would have been extremely challenging for me during time-pressure, and that is the one variation that I am still not clear on; undoubtedly, I am missing a resource which I will find, but would not have found in time-pressure.

I found the simple defenses to the Nc7 sac, and I am glad that I don’t have a computer to help me because I know that my opponent tonight for example, Rhett, would never miss these simple defenses. For example after …Rd2, Black can resign after Qc7-e5. If instead of ..Rd2, Black plays ..RxR, BxR Qd4+, Kh1 Qd2, Rf1 with Bf3 coming up if needed, and Black can resign again as White also has Qe5 to play if needed.

All this takes us back to the …Nf6 variation which I was afraid of, but mostly because of the time-pressure. After ..Nf6, Bc2, I thought that neither side had a breakthrough, and didn’t realize after all of his defensive play that he might choose to play it sharp here, instead. We both admitted that we didn’t have time to play the position out correctly, which is why we both were okay with a draw.

…Qf6 is a bad move. It is better to develop the knight instead. Intuitively, I fell this, but OTB I have to calculate refutations and often by this point simply do not have the time to do so so opponent’s can then get away with stuff, and unrefuted moves often turn into wins for the side playing them.

Amos Burn: A Chess Biography

My chess game has been steadily improving, lost among those that only watch my live-rating, which is mostly other OTB players.

I just finished this blitz game:

It’s really simple, but a blitz game is like a status check.

I have been improving my game from this awesome book on Amos Burn:

This thread on MDLM reminded me that bloggers have a shared interest in improving their play:


I separate bloggers from OTB players because I sometimes think OTB players have other motivations. Perhaps it’s simply an enjoyable, stimulating past-time, win or lose, or they want to prove their ego or something to themselves or whatever (this differs greatly from player to player, although the lcd among OTB players would have to be “rating”, moreso than improvement or even prize-money generally – which are like “consolation” prizes), whereas bloggers seem more focused on improving their chess, as a rule (which may be because their is no perceived ego-threat as their is in an OTB game, if taken as some form of “self-validation”).

Short Draw

I played Alex, for the second night in a row, with the Black pieces. Alex intentionally played this pawn sac line, and 1.e4 because he wanted one of us to win tonight. For the first time, I took up the gauntlet with 3…Bc5 to play the Guioco Piano instead of the 3…Be7 Hungarian Defense.

Alex had to work his two jobs today and didn’t get the 10 1/2 hours of sleep that I got last night. I could have played a long, great game, but when he offered the draw after 12.Bxf7+ ( we both knew Black had a sizeable advantage here), I felt like our energy levels were a mismatch, and he had generously accepted my last two draw offers, so I accepted his draw offer here.

At first it looks like Black should be winning, but I tried a couple continuations against Fruit and was either equal or losing as Black. I included a solid continuation for Black, trading to a same color bishop continuation where you’d think Black would be winning, yet still isn’t. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been too difficult to wear Alex down, but then that wouldn’t have been a win for chess reasons, but rather for off the board reasons.

I had plenty of time, but these open positions are always tricky tactically. For example, I looked at the board for about 12 minutes before I spotted 10…Ba5?? (counting only on 11.Qa4), 11.Qd5! forking knight and bishop and thus winning a piece.

Round 2, Thursday

I love this, yet another brilliant draw for White. I’ve looked at so many different draws now, since I’ve looked at those ones. It would have taken White to make another mistake to fall off of the precipice, but it is not a winning position for Black yet, and of course Black can still blunder and lose. I am learning quite a bit from this type of post-game analysis.

Strategical Play at G/90

….I find is a very difficult thing to pull off.

The Game ended after White’s 22nd move, so I included some of the analysis we looked at, with the help of Fruit.

I offered a draw with 21 minutes on my clock to Alex’s 58 minutes, and he accepted (because he saw 22..a6 coming, with advantage to Black, but not winning).

I find these strategic types of positions so difficult to play at G/90, with just a += or =+ eval, because there is really more to analyze from a strategy viewpoint.

So hard to believe that at 75 ratings point difference, the ratings calculator wants to give me 14 points for a win, 21 points for a loss! and a mere 4 points conceded (as Black) for a draw – that’s cheap!

Here is a line/ending where Black gets an advantage, but look how difficult it is just to grab some of the momentum as Black. That …f5 idea is mine, naturally, after seeing how the previous line didn’t work out. The moral of the story, however, is that in strategical positions the person with the bigger amount of time on their clock can have a marked advantage in the outcome because of that. I was relieved to avoid having to watch my ever step/mistep for the next 30 move or more.

In that second line, looking at it after waking up this morning, I’d rather be White with the time because White is up a pawn and can play Kg2. Fruit suggested …Qf5 (to control c2) because …Qh3 is met by Rh1+ and Rg2.

If anyone is reading this post, I want you to look at this Third Example. This is awesome because in the first go through of the post-mortem I found the right moves, but because I needed to start moving faster I had become more nervous, and hence suddenly scatter-brained, and could not find these moves in the right order, which is hard to understand now, but easier to understand when you are in that position of being “slow-minded”, and then hurrying up the same thinking process.

I told him after the game that I had wanted to play …cxd, and I felt that NxB (not g4 as Fruit suggests – I was looking at this more out of desperation of needing to stop playing chess and go for the king because of time-pressure), but I saw that it gives him a tempo to play Bg3; however, I didn’t realize that this just transposes as per the line shown in this example.

Now on move 30 of this third example, Black is =+ better, and really the Black knight belongs on e6, not f6. Watch how this makes a difference in that example, and if Black starts playing quickly (I did this as a for example), that White is going from the -.5 position on move 30 to an easily winning endgame.

The MDLM method is virtually a self-fulfilling prophecy; i.e. it nearly always works because you are either finding tactics faster than your opponent, or you are making simple moves quickly, which don’t hurt your position, and then ending up with a huge clock advantage which again statistically should prove decisive with decent play.

So he spent just under a minute and half per move, and I spent approx 3:10 on each move (my ending time was 21:59 since I had 22 when reaching for the clock on my last move). That’s all it takes to become perhaps hopelessly lost on the clock, barring some easy to take advantage of blunder from one’s opponent. My biggest think was after his f3 in the opening, because I have been studying like 95% 1.e4 games.