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.


10 thoughts on “Strategical Play at G/90

  1. The internet is littered with blogs of people who had little to no success with the MDLM method. In fact, outside of the original guy(who did far more than his method would indicate) is the only proven success that I am aware of. Success being defined as at least 400+ rating gain in less than a year when one didn’t start as a rank beginner to begin with.

  2. Thanks for the response, Kassy!

    I played William Shand last month in the final round. Here are his rating points stats:

    2012-11-10 1073
    2014-03-09 1902

    1 year 4 months = +829 rating points.

    I can come up with more examples, but I know what this type of player “looks like”. They see double piece-sacs instantly, entire lines – which only serves to reinforce the cliche that if most players don’t see something right away, then they don’t see it at all.

    People who get there fast, fast-tactics aside, I am not afraid of their depth of chess understanding because I feel that I can hold my own against them in that category. A lot of these quick rating-jump kids, they play G/75, G/30, and further leverage their strength/speed for yet more rating points. At that speed, they can practically hoodwink their opponents.

    The ratings thing doesn’t impress me as much anymore (although such a jump is amazingly impressive) because the time-controls keep getting shorter. The local tournaments, the big ones, most of them now have rounds 1 and 2 G/90 5 second delay. Chess is no longer about ability and achievement at the board, it’s all about wonderkinder and big ratings jumps to impress everyone, particularly those that aren’t.

    The fastest way to get better is to get a coach and a tactics book and spend time with them. The players making these jumps, they do watch chess videos and read chess books, and play a LOT of chess.

    In fact, this kid I mentioned at the top, his rise is not only bigger but a lot more impressive than MDLM’s. Why? Because MDLM had practically a luxurious access to Expert and Master opponents at his local club back in the day when this all happened. Nowadays most people shoot up to 1500 quickly, but to find a club where there are many at Expert or above to get regular games against, you almost have to go to a big city, like Denver Colorado for example.

  3. Pingback: Amos Burn: A Chess Biography | LinuxGuy_on_FICS

  4. Looking at his info on USCF, it appears that Mr Shand is a high school student who was a rank beginner a little over 2 years ago. In addition to doing tactics all the time, he also ‘watch[es] chess videos and read[s], and play[s] a LOT of chess’

    High school kids have much more time than most adults. I spent 3-4 hrs/day on chess in HS. And my rating jumped 300 points in about 1.5 years(mid 900s to mid1200s). And I didn’t have a single video. I had one basic tactics book. And I played against 800-1300 level players.

    In the intervening 5 years I was busy with school and went from mid 1200s-1400s very slowly.

    Then again, after college, I was working 3 days a week so had 2 entire week days plus the weekend free. I spent 20-25 hrs/week on chess. I played 3 games of game 30 against people rated 800-2200 a week and 7 games of G/10 against a similar crowd. Once again my rating went from from mid 1400s to low 1700s in about 1.5 years. One again, I didn’t own a single chess video. I didn’t have a coach. I had time and I used it on chess.

    After that life changed and I have ranged from 0-12 hrs/week on chess and probably averaged 3-5 for the last 15 years. My rating has gone from low 1700s to mid 1800s.

    So the biggest factor in improving is time spent seriously on chess. Kids have more of it.
    Michael de la Maza was unemployed and spent 8-12 hrs/day on chess for over a year. In addition to the tactics program that is famous, he also studied all his games, went over the opening of all his games, and played a lot against good players. So yeah, if you follow the MDLM method and spent more than the equivalent of a full time job studying chess, you’ll probably improve a fair bit.

  5. I think it’s harder to improve in a short period of time, even jobless, young, etc. It’s best to work a job, have the discipline to get some study in, and then be fresh as possible for, and commited to weekly games. One can improve like MDLM in a short period, but even he would need to start at square one, if he came back, albeit things would probably come back to him more quickly than to the average player.

    Again though, the 800 lb gorilla in the room, pink elephant in the corner, emperor has no clothes, if there is one, is the pool of rated players one has as opponents. I feel like I am the only blogger addressing this issue. If you are playing from a pool of mostly lower-rated players (which MDLM, and our example William were not), then it is more difficult to improve because ratings-wise it is more facilitative to play risk-free chess against lower-rated opponents, or you win so easily that you don’t learn as much, etc.. One stands to learn the most from playing the Black side, but then short-time controls (the other elephant in the room) prevent proper growth as a player by being able to outplay another in long games – this also short-changes one’s ability to improve.

    MDLM had a bevy of strong opponents available, and played quite a bit of rapid time-control events (many G/60ish, if memory serves), which would naturally emphasis one’s tactical ability over long, strategic encounters. Of course, the person who can play fast, strategic, and tactical at the same time is going to be that purple-squirrel, red heifer, who capitalizes on a ratings-point bonanza at any age.

    It’s just as useful to ask the question “How does one improve at long, slow, big tournaments with many rounds and large prize-funds” which MDLM also finally achieved, rather than the singular obsession on rating points. I always look at my G/90 experiences as to how I could parlay them into a serious tournament struggle. I’ve played sick, tired, blown-rules, etc, and at a big tournament, all of this “non-chess” type of chess experience can prove useful in terms of staying-power.

  6. Many teachers suggest playing people stronger than you. Heisman is probably the most currently famous but I have heard for years(decades now in fact) that you should play a large percentage of games against those 50-200 above you. The secret to improvement is simple:
    1) play regularly against competition rated +/- 200. Regularly may mean one game of G/90 a week, or a 5 game weekend Swiss a month, or STC tourneys on ICC/FICS every week or some combination of the same or whatever works for a particular person’s schedule.
    2) review those games by yourself, without a computer. Then with a computer or a coach/ stronger player if you have the resources.
    3) play over annotated Master games that are annotated for education. Some examples include the books by Giddens, Nunn though there are dozens of examples. Spend 20-60 minutes going through the game
    4) go through hundreds or even thousands of master fans quickly. 2-3 minutes a game. The goal here is to see patterns of play repetitively.
    5) For openings Find a good book/coach that can explain concept/goal/typical plan for a given opening. Review the theory briefly and then rapidly play through a few dozen master games in the lines you interested in.
    Then play some blitz games in the computers can be nice because you can force the opening. After the game look up the line played to see where deviation occurred and learn what to do next time.
    6) For endings, you have to learn/memorize a number of concrete endings(estimates range from a couple of dozen to Dvoretsky’s 200+. There are several books or more that are good for that: Silman’s endgame course, Jesus De Villa 100 endgames, Nunn’s books, Dvotetsky’s book are all options. Then you will pick a lot up from the master games in 3 and 4 above. Also solving studies it’s excellent practice for calculation and reviewing sine endgame themes.
    7) Solve hundreds of very easy tactics problems until they are automatic and review them regularly. Also solve some 3-5 move tactics, without a board, regularly. Most tactics in real games are of this length. The 13 move multi-sacrificial combo happens but it’s really quite rare web-based at the GM level.

    Do all of this regularly and you will almost surely improve significantly. It requires 5+ hours/day but if you can put that time on, you will improve dramatically over a year or two.

  7. I had a strange feeling after looking at this game. It is like a movie you watch, but then get interrupted somewhere in the middle and you only can guess what would happen…
    I understand your reasons, but still …
    Frankly, 3 minutes per a move is a lot, you spend 45 minutes – half a time on the first 15 moves and then of course 45 minutes for middlegame and endgame is not enough.

    Regarding the position, I would prefer the Black’s one.
    Your third example looks like an attempt by Black to lose deliberately… 🙂

    About chess improvement – I saw one example when boy’s rating went +1000 in 10 months – from 950 to 1950. I played with him 4 times and every time he played better, not just tactics, but everything. I won first two times, then lost and was happy to get a draw last time.
    I guess he has a natural talent and if he doesn’t stop now, I would be proud years later that I beat him.

  8. Don’t worry about the talent, Rhett beat him and then William dropped out of the tournament. I was beating Rhett in a 3 minute game, two rooks vs. rook and bishop when I lost on time as Black (although he beat me in the other 3 minute game when I was White).

    Sure, it’s all fun and games untill you reach 1900. haha.

    Speaking of coaches, my “coach” at this moment is Larry Evans. That’s the great thing about books, legends of the game can still coach from beyond the grave.

    I would like to say something about Putin. Okay, couple months back I told my mother that I admire him more than Obama. Since day one of the Crimean crisis I felt that he had some kind of endgame strategy and I believed he would come out looking like a genius and Western pundits like fools. I could go on about how predictable all of this is, although it’s sad and quite humorous how we don’t respect this gigantic landslide of a victory voted by the people of the Crimea.

  9. Crimea in the USSR was the same thing as Florida in USA.
    Thanks to the Black Sea it was a hugely popular place for vacation, I was there several times.
    It was Russian for hundreds of years until stupid Khrushchev gave it to Ukraine.
    It didn’t matter much while it was a USSR, but after its disintegration I was very
    surprised to find out that now it’s Ukranian, it felt like a loss.
    Russian blood is spilt over ever stone in Crimea in numerous battles.
    I don’t like Putin and I respect international laws and boundaries, but not in this case.

    I am still very stressed and busy and not playing, hope it will improve.
    I will go through your posts and comment on them today/tomorrow.

  10. Don’t worry, yoiur situation will improve at some point.

    Thanks for your thoughts on Putin and Crimea. I forgot all the bad stuff that happened to some Russians to get the Olympic games all set up. He really gets stuff done, in the soviet tradition. hehe.

    I played last night, and was a little disappointed to get a much lower-rated player as White. I’ll have to play Rhett in Round 4 as Black now, if he doesn’t take a bye. I think he might take a bye just to spite my short draw with Alex, if you can believe that. I could still win against someone else and split first place, though, if I can pull it off as Black.

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