Playing Straight-Up Chess

Round 4

After yesterday’s goofy debacle, I was not of a mind to play any weird, overly spicy moves for this game, except for late in the game where I am winning, of course.

I had realized that 19.g4 was a terrible move, but so much so that it made me lazy.  I saw his move, had a short debate between 19…Nd7 (idea of …Nb6), which should be a relatively easy and straight-forward win, and 19…b6, which I played very quickly and immediately realized I had blundered by playing the wrong move-order.  This is a classic example of trading blunders, the psychology behind why this sort of thing can happen.

So now I had to “win differently” as the GMs like to say.  After 20…gxf6, which Alex had predicted and was happy to see, he also let me know this is called the “submarine” pawn formation.  Luckily, Paul’s technique was relatively atrocious (although just as understandable) from this point forward and I bagged the win.  I’ve seen him play a lot better than this, but this is what happens when you get a bit rusty from not playing every week like so many of us do.  For example, his longest think was on 20.BxNf6, and I thought that he should have snapped that off instantly, after my 19…b6 blunder.

I stopped keeping score at some point under five minutes, and ended up with 17 seconds remaining on my clock to his half an hour, but I queened the f-pawn for example, before he resigned, and picked up his knight to boot.


The Piece Sac That Dropped A Piece

Round 2

I was very tired before this game, worked 10 hrs, but then ate a burger and drank a large coke right before the start of the game.  So then I must have still been thnking a little loopy, but felt fine and had energy, thus had a very false sense of security.  I thought about playing 13…h6, 14.Bd2 to set-up the sac, which would have blocked him from his rook lift, and kept the game winning h-file closed, but I was deluded.  Even then it would have been quite an unnecessary sac.

had asked for a bye, but then changed my mind and decided to play, knowing that I won’t get to play, most likely, in California, and one of the last chances to see people here before I go at the end of the month.  I thought I would lose when I played this sac, but didn’t know how, and actually thought in some lines that I could play Qh6; quite delusional.  Really makes you realize how it’s all about hampering opponent development, not always about your own play unless you know it’s coming in relatively unopposed.  Very, very needless loss.  I was at least happy that I got in a Chebanenko Slav – have a book on it, but haven’t read any of it.  I was more or less okay out of the opening, just decided to go psycho and “have some fun”.  Yikes!

Just Plain Lucky!?

Round 3

I should have played 17.h3 before my pawn sac, and debated it, but at the time was worried about 17..Be4, 18.Ng5 h6, 19.NxBe4 NxBe4, but then I would have the bishop pair versus the knight pair in a relatively open position, so that 17.h3 h6 is what should have taken place before the d5 pawn sac.  As it was, I was a little more limited than in the game, and perhaps the pawn sac wasn’t the right thing to do altogether as he found the refutation in 19…Qa5!, so that the game should have ended in a draw.

The reason I played 20.Be3 was to defend against 20…Nf4.

After the game, Daniel thought he should have played 27…Bd5, but after 28.e4, as Alex showed me, although I was uncomfortable with my position in the post-mortem with Daniel, and White is slightly better.  Alex pointed out that Black should simply draw here with 27…Qxa3, 28.NxN QxQ, 29.RxQ bxN,, 30.Rxc6 is dead equal, and should be a dead draw as well.

In the game, I was ten minutes late on the clock.  We played at a new location and I really liked it!  Much better than playing at Panera.  It was at Pikes Perk coffee shop.  Alex found everything seemingly instantly in my game, so that I just sucked at analyzing to have used as much time as I did.  I had just gone under 5 minutes on my clock and left the table when Daniel played the losing move.  I thought it was because of my time-pressure that he did this, but a more sober assessment is that Daniel simply doesn’t use much time on his moves, and thought he had calculated it.  Alex does this sometimes too, it’s as if they are so talented that they just know what to do, but won’t spend the clock-time, and will eventually miss one niggling detail that decides the game.

German Engineering

Round 1

This was Round 1 of the annual Colorado Springs Championship, which has a recorded history starting in 1966 and then every year played since, but I believe Paul said it goes back to 1947.  My opponent was a German boy/young man, looked 17 or 18, and spoke with a German accent,

At some  point during the game, I remembered that the Germans/Europeans, are known for playing different than Americans, they play this very solid style, and I was thinking that this background must have influenced his style of play.

Well, my American coffee-house style was dropping that pawn on d5.  I felt the d5 pawn might go at some point, yet never saw his shot, else I may have played Na4 a move sooner than I did, and possibly even gotten in c4 to defend d5.

I think he felt the game was going to be his, saw that look in his eye, but I was too cagey and battle-hardened – the grizzled veteran – not to know that the real struggle would lie ahead.  I knew while playing that any result with an unrated player (his first rated game, if I’m not mistaken) would not affect my rating much, and so really the pressure was on him.  I also realized that I could simply drop out of the tournament with no qualms, but the turnout was grand and it’s a nice ambience being with all of our other local players there.

Drew a Master with Zukertort’s Idea

Round 2

For once, the tables were turned and I wasn’t the only one crazy enough to spend half an hour on a move in the opening, which Josh did on 7.d4 because he thought that there might be a way to punish my inaccurate move-order.  I still prefer my move order of playing …b5 before …Nxe4 because it cuts down on White’s possibilities, and it only allows Bd5, but then no one ever decides to play that.

Johannes Zukertort thought that the best move for Black in the Open Defense to the Ruy Lopez was not 8…Be6 (which he knew was the main line), but rather 8…Nc7-e7.  I wanted to try this idea, but not against a Master, so I fudged the move order to play …Bc5 – which doesn’t seem so hot as I am offering to trade my good bishop for his bad one – so that I could get in the 10…Nc7-e7 move/idea.

Knowing Josh, I had an inkling that he might decide to give up the exchange for an attack, but I was still surprised to see it played on the board as it is obviously not best here.

I had never drawn Josh before, so when I played 17…Nxd4 I offered a draw, which he immediately said no to, to the effect of a “no way, Jose”, while recapturing on d4 at the same time.

It should have been intuitively obvious that attacking his strong point with 20…Bxg4 should not work for some reason, but I had thought that it was winning until he played 22.Qf3!  Note that even 22.Bc2 would not work because of 22…Rg6 anyway.

There probably wasn’t anything better for Black than to play for a draw since …f6 can’t be prepared because of 21.f4  and playing it immediately looks unclear as 20…f6, 21.exf Bf5, 22.Qd5 Be4, 23.fxg Qxg, although I’ll leave it for a chess engine to decide who is getting the better of that.  And if I do play on the queenside, then it is risky how I am leaving my kingside, as Josh said after the game.

At the end of the game I had 31:59 remaining to his 8:27.

Book Report:  Sure, I’ll say that Jimmy Adams book on Zukertort is as much a must-buy book as there is one, if such a thing exists, and it probably does for a chessplayer.

One player I like is Tartokower, and I am going through his best games right now.  He has this sort of tactical technique which mirrors my own, except that he is naturally even better at it, so I feel his book is the ideal coaching for me at this time.

Here is the perfect test position to test your chess skill.  Guess White’s 22nd move as it is White to play and win.  Your two choices here are to A) pee your pants and play 22.Rg3, which was my choice, or to play the winning move.

The easy finish is 35.Re8+ RxR, 36.g7+ Kxg7, 39.fxR(Q)

The Should Have Been

Tuesday, I got off work late like last week (after being at work for 11 hrs), and so decided to play chess at the club, since it was on the way home.

Round 1

In the first round I played the TD, Earl.  Earl is around my age and has been coming to Panera off and on all year, but finally decided to play last month, whereupon his regular rating fell from 1920 to 1894.  Interestingly is Quick Rating was only 1 point off his regular rating, and he won the tournament to improve to 1936 Quick.

Oddly, I had much more time than him, but made my attack far too complicated for the time-control, and basically flailed around in the waning couple of seconds like an animal that needed to be put down, but resigned in a position where I gave up …Qxf2+ rather than lose my knight.  I recorded the game up to 32.h3, the rest is how I remember it as far as I can.  However, it’s funny to look at it now, because for example 35.Nf3 would simply win Black’s queen.  You can see how crazy I play, though, even in time-pressure, since I was originally planning 30.g4 Qc1+, 31.Kg2 Qg5, 32.h4, but realized that this was just way over the top.  hehe.  Yes, any sane person would have simply played 30.g3, and White is at least better with a comfortable edge.

My original plan was to play 22.Rd1, and I had figured this when I played 21.Rad1, and even saw his reply 22.Rd6 Qc7, but I got overly cute with the position, not even using more straight-forward play such as doubling or tripling on the e-file, and my hanging back-rank finally got the better of my position.

Round 2

Possibly the strangest game.  Jefferey is an older gentleman, his standard rating is 1966, and he doesn’t play at the Panera tournaments.  I may have played him once before and lost or drawn, can’t remember hardly at all, but it would have been at the Colorado Springs City Championship one year, if I did.

The opening, I just made that up.  hehe.  It was like a Declined Budapest, which is interesting since I’ve never even played the Budapest accepted before.  hehe.   I don’t know why he went in for that massive central piece exchange, which I was tickled pink to see.

Later, I goaded him into playing e4, without seeing that I was dropping the g5 pawn, and luckily he didn’t see it either!  Actually, I moved quickly and he saw he missed it right after had played it.  I exchanged the favor by noticing that 23…RxR would be totally winning, right after I had just moved my king.

He actually resigned because he had illegally played Kf5, then realized that that square is in check, and he will still have to move his king, allowing me to play …Ke5.  I wasn’t so sure what I was doing there, or was probably  just as sure of the wrong thing.  As it turned out from the post-mortem, which he understood better than I, but I am just spotting this for the first time, Black has to win, in general, not by winning the a2 or c4 pawn, per se, but by boxing out White’s king and advancing the f-pawn!

Round 3

This game is so sadly played that if you aren’t laughing by the end of it, you probably aren’t breathing(!)

10…Be6 probably shouldn’t be played until after the central pawn capture.

12.Bxd5?  This is evidently wrong, and played after a long think.  A better try might be 12.e4 dxe, 13.Ne2 (completing development!) e3, 14.Ne4 with idea of NxBd6+, or instead 13.0-0-0 e3, 14.Ne4 and whether …Kb8 or …Rhe8 is played, this 15.Bh3 idea will save Black, but 14…exf, 15.Nh3 and White may yes still be holding on!

On move 21 and 22, Black has a mate in two starting with …Qd2, and …Re1 mate, as Alex was quick to point out after the game.

27.Kh3.  NxR?? would have dropped the Rh1.

28…Re5??  I forgot to take my glasses off before this game, as I don’t wear them anymore when I play, and it’s easier to see the whole board that way (made this mistake on my Wednesday game as well when I missed …Qb6+ because I came back from the restroom with my glasses still on – I don’t know how Botvinnik did it!?).  My glasses had slipped down on my nose in the time-scramble and I was trying to look through them as they were slipping and simply missed that his pawn was there.  Well, it’s obvious now that my losses _were_ due to time pressure after all.

Simply 28…Re2-d7, 29.Qf5+?? (Qh3) Re6, and now 30…Qg2 will win White’s rook.  It’s surprising how easily I can find this stuff at home, without the aid of an engine even.

The Queen Trade

Round 1

I played Ken again, in the first round as White, same as last month.  I suggested he might want to try …Nf5 instead of …Ng6 next time.  Of course, I also forgot to mention the huge hole on d5 that he needed to watch out for.  hehehe.  Okay, so I was expecing an improved Milner-Barry Gambit, had he simply played …Bd7 there instead.

I believe that Ken still could have made a game out of it had he traded queens earlier on.  By the time he did trade queens, I had actually missed the …Qb6+, but found it before he moved, and that Qd4 would be decisive, but actually I felt that something would be there once I noticed the check.

I have about 18 minutes remaining at the end of the game, recorded my times, and this game looks like such a simple win in hindsight, but OTB winning a “won” position does take quite a bit of time from the clock.