B is for Blunder

Thursdays Final Round

A bit of a back-story to this game.  Pete and I knew were going to face one another for a few weeks, and since we are good friends bantered about drawing this game, although by the final week I had convinced him that we couldn’t really draw at 30 second increment, and he had been preparing for this game since he knew it was so inevitable.

The other thing is that I had only gotten about half an hour of sleep the night before, and then worked 9 hours (which doesn’t include the unpaid half an hour lunch), then went to play.  The night before, four of us had been at the bar til closing time, then we went to Subway to play some more chess.  I bought a large Dr Pepper and was then wired.  I looked at my phone at 6:34am and found the sick-line # for my work, but then lied down and woke up at 7:20 am and  then went straight to work.  Work was relatively light days of calls (comparatively), and the drinking helped me be relaxed and social on the phones, but of course none of this is helping my chess.  By the time I got to Ihop, I told Pete about my game the night before, which I had shown him the night before, and then realized I was out of it.  I scarfed down a stack of pancakes and coffee (which naturally kicked in more after the game than during).

In the game, I wanted to play fun line that is not so great objectively but would give both of us a reasonable chance of drawing a messy game.  I had never played this exact line before.

5.dxc5?!  Slightly dubious here.  Plus, I saw it was premature after playing it since I cannot play b4 until I play Nf3, as after 5…Bxc5, 6.b4? BxNg1, 7.RxN Qh4+ picking up the h2 pawn.

6.f4  The new move

9.b5??  9.a3?! is indicated, as they used to say.  a3 protects b4 in case of ..d4, although 9.Bb2!? is also possible here, and perhaps already the only move.  b5 is bad because it pushes the knight to a better square, plus it is a target there on b5, so that if I trade my light-square bishop for a knight, then there goes this pawn.

9…Ne7!  Didn’t see this move at first, but did realize it’s full potential after a bit of thought.

10.Be2?  I offered a draw here, but my position is terrible.  10.Bd3 is really necessary as one knight will need to be traded off, then the king will likely have to hand-castle, but one would need to defend extremely well already to try and draw this thing as White.

10…Rc8!  Here I blitzed my next two moves in maybe half a minute, as if to prove that the position “was still a draw”.

12.0-0?? After the game, Pete showed me the line he had seen if 12.Bb2 Nf5 (I would have played 13.g3 here to stop the …Qh4+ followed by …Nxg3 that we both saw).  Although I pointed out he now has 13…Ng4 and it’s over with both knights hopping in.

Regarding draws and drawing.  It doesn’t work for me.  Every time I offer a draw, I play badly right after offering one, or will draw at best.  Pete demolished me as if his were a Bobby Fischer simul game, and after studying with me for quite a while (I like to show my games), doesn’t need help on how to beat me, that is for sure.  I believe that draws will cease for me unless my opponent offers one where I am in a worse position, just a heads-up, and this is mainly so that I don’t deceive myself with my own draw offers, which were only serving that purpose anyway.

Wednesday’s game was against a new opponent, but a long time CO player, and faced my first Max Lange Attack, I believe it is one, OTB.

Wednesday’s Final Round

After move 38 I had 4:40 remaining on my clock, and stopped keeping score here.  He was taking a while to move, so I went to use the restroom, it’s this heavy door that slams and it was about 20 ft. away from our board, and I looked at my clock before I went in, him looking at the board.  I took a quick whiz and when I came back I had 3:20 remaining, so I was upset (Pete said later he had watched me leave to the restroom) because he rattled off his next two moves, which let me know that he had been sitting on this plan when I left.  I saw that I could sac my knight for his two pawns and should win, but of course I had the human thought/reaction of “Why should I sac a piece if I don’t have to?” which is not chess, BTW, it’s just human emotion.

Then I got into time-pressure out of seemingly nowhere, and took his pawn with 11 seconds remaining to ensure that he didn’t “win” on time.  Even 39…Kb4 was probably mating.  With a 30 second increment (or a second time-control – yes they do still exist!) I would have no problem realized that I should have been marching my king toward his side of the board and not mine, but in time-pressure this self-preservation ‘just don’t lose” can sometimes kick in, it’s irrational.  I was pissed afterward that I had drawn this game.  Move 44, I seen that I had blown it and threw in the towel on the win.

Next month Wednesdays are going to be G/80, delay 10 seconds.  At first I was appreciative of the 10 second delay, but it’s still losing those 10 minutes, and it’s not an increment either.  Between the debacle that happened on both Wednesday and Thursday, and the frequency, dare I say predictability of these occurances, I don’t believe that I will play on Wednesday next month.  There is a chance that I will play the G/30 10/delay Cabin Fever Reliever on Tuesday, but am mostly waiting for first G/75, 30 second increment tournament which is supposed to take place at the CO Springs Chess Club starting in March.  I asked Daniel about a match between us that Shirley suggested, but Tuesdays would be the day to do it, and Daniel wants to play in the Cabin Fever Reliever on his available Tuesdays next month.

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Botched Analysis

Round 3

I hadn’t played Anthea in quite some time.  Her rating has been up for quite some time, it was 1877 at the beginning of November, but of course whenever someone plays me it always seems they are at their ratings low.

This game almost didn’t happen.  I woke up with an aching stomach, went in to work an hour and 15 minutes late, and I was dying at work, but the two milks, and an antacid saved me just long enough to get me home where I could have milk and cereal, a cup of coffee, then felt fine enough to play.  It worked out great because I was going to get a zero point bye for requesting it too late, but then my opponent had to go back home and get her glasses, so I decided to play and we started with G/80, incr/30.

I knew that I had blown my chance after the game on move ten, but still couldn’t think about it correctly.  After I got off the phone tonight with this woman I had started talking to this week, I laid down on the sofa and thought about move ten again in my mind.  OTB, I had been thinking about playing 10…a6, then seeing 11.Nh4 Bd3, 12.c5 Bd6-c7, 13.Re1 h6, and thought after the game that this would have been better than my lame 10…h6 move, which is where I settled to wait and see what she does, hoping that she would go wrong without any provocation on my part.  However, with the benefit of a clear mind while laying on my couch, it hit me that “Omigosh, I could have played 10…Bd3 right away and taken her pawn on c4!”  Then I analyzed, blindfold, further that a likely continuation could be 10…Bd3, 11.Re1 cxd, 12.e4 Bd6-e7 (stopping Nh4 once again, as this idea happened in the game as well), then might want to insert 13.bxc4 Bxc4 14.e5 (since Ne5 could lead to a queen trade) …Nd5, 15.Ne4 and White has compensation for the pawn, if not a fearsome attack shaping up against my king.

My scoresheets were still out in the car, so I went out to get them, plugged the moves into ChessX, which I basically use only to input chess games, and naturally my analysis/opinion doesn’t change by actually looking at the position with a board.  Actually, blindfold I could think about things better such as if I did have a pawn on …a6 anyway, then that would take away a possible retreat square for my bishop on c4, which will get hit, can’t retreat to …a6, and is no longer on that h7 diagonal.

Realistically, this position is probably equal somehow, but would have been a far more lively game than what occured next.  In fact, I really like this 30 second increment because it lets us focus on endgames for a change.  However, if I had been studying tactics more, and was really more up for a wild win-loss game (which would have been wild because Anthea loves these types of games as well), then the result would have been more decisive than what followed.

On move 23, I felt initially as though 23…Qb6 was best, and didn’t like 23…Qa5 because of 24.Nd3 followed by 25.a3.  The way it played out though, with White willing to trade queens, the position would have practically transposed, had I subsequently forced the trade of rooks.  This was a real swap, swap, swap hit the showers type of game, which just isn’t possible at G/90, which is like a different game by comparison.  This game was quite enjoyable, even if I was off-form tactically.

When you are tired of seeing my GM draws, you can see my nice little blitz game.  I almost resigned this game at the very beginning as I messed up my chair when I sat down.

Blitz Game on FICS

Blitz Game on FICS II

I think RollingPawns is correct.  When I am feeling well and playing against lower-rated players in an attacking game, I just deal the blows.  I don’t even know this line, but my game looks like theory.  lol.

Blitz Nightmare

I played in the CO Springs blitz championship.  Well, I believe there were two separate groups as we were part of the breakaway group – long story.  Anyway, it was G/5/ and I got hammered.  I went 1.5/2 against Alex, but really should have lost both games.  Then I played Shirley and had to play my Fr Adv to win.  As Black, Shirely let me win a pawn for her attack, then Alex said something and next thing I knew I had moved and forgot to trade queens.  Then my queen was stuck out of play even though up the exchange, and then Shirley was just mowing me down, winning either of my rooks and she had 3 minutes to my 18 seconds when she gave me a “mercy draw”.

Master Josh had no problems putting me away on both board and clock in both games.  My games with Expert Paul were most likely draws, but he also was way up on time and won them on time.  Well, the last game I blundered the game right as I lost on time anyway.  At one point I wanted to play …Bf5 in the slav and saw that my pawn was on ..e6, but didn’t even remember putting it there (guess I do now), so there was no chance of coming up with a coherent plan.

Against Daniel I lost both games on time even after being up a full rook in one of them.  The whole experience, rather than giving me any confidence whatsoever with playing at a blitz place, instead reminded me of why I take so much clock time to begin with, which is to avoid this nightmare!

Spotting 700 Rating Points To Draw A Kid

This is another reason you don’t want to play G/90 d/5 against kids – they will eat you for breakfast, and spit you out.  lol.

Round 1

I drew this game with 1 second left on my clock.  Mark McGough, who is a little higher rated than me these days, drew his brother with 3 seconds on his clock.  That is “boss”, having 3 seconds instead of only 1, haha.  Both of these kids don’t look a day over 13, and probably aren’t.  lol.  I just looked up Jesse’s rating.  his rating has gone up over 300 points in only a month and half – MDLM, eat your heart out.  ;-p

Of course, during the game I figured I was playing some 1100 kid,  and could probably afford to do just about anything, and at least hold, but that’s about as good as that prediction got.

Against a “stronger” player (whatever that means, right!?), I would have played 3…e5 instead of 3…d5, but I felt free-spirited enough, plus wanted to try this variation that I had mentioned before in a post, but now had suddenly distrusted OTB, but then decided “What the heck, I can afford to lose a pawn against this guy, worst case scenario!”  Well, at the time I didn’t really want to get into some weird variation(?) such as 3…e5, 4.Nf3 Qc7, 5.d4 exd4, 6.Qd4! Bb4 (which could lead to …Bb4-a5-b6 at some point).  This line is a little out there, but at least avoids the predictable nature of play which I got in this game.

Well, at move five e5, I had already seen the writing on the wall and decided to sac the pawn rather than to play 5…Ng4 or 5…Ng8, but both of those moves are probably quite a bit better than the pawn sac.

After 7…Nc6, I thought he would simply nab the pawn with 8.Qxd4, and then would follow 8…g6 with 9…Bf5, where White is simply better, but there are dynamics in play.  As was shown, he gave me a choice of whether I wanted to accept this variation or not, but my “plan” was to outplay him from an equal position, which is the real reason I played this hyper-active line (which is more well suited to two Masters playing for a draw than for someone trying to beat a lower-rated, which suits a more quiet style, were you let the other player go wrong).  If I had known my opponent, I would have avoided the queen trade and simply let him take the pawn and be better, but with lots of active play possibilities.

17…e6?  I hated playing this move, knew it meant giving up the bishop pair, but I saw a dreadful alternative in my planned variation.  I showed Paul A. this line (he’s Expert rated, around 2050) after the game 17…Rd5, 18.Nxe4 (in fairness to Paul he found this move, then I found the rest of the moves for White) …Bxe5, 19.Bxe5 RxB, 20.f3 Rfd8, 21.Nc3! RxR, 21.RxR Rxd2? (…e6), 22.Rxe7 Bc6, 22.Rxa and I went on to win that post-mortem against him a pawn up rather effortlessly against his multiple takebacks, which only shows that a lost technical position is still a lost technical position against someone of Class A strength.  Anyhow, I should have navigated that line as Black nevertheless instead of taking a downright losing position the way I did.

Actually, it was at this point that I was going into the second phase of the game, surviving the clock and making practical moves.  I had gotten overheated from my analysis, took off my jacket only after playing  the dreaded …e6? move, but felt worlds better once I had taken it off, and instantly cooled down.

It’s ironic how right when I started playing passive and asked him essentially to “prove it” is where he started to go wrong and sort of just let me have the draw, at which point I wasn’t looking too hard for more than a draw anyway so was well focused on it.

33.Rxd7?  Here is where I felt that I was hopelessly lost against a 1900 player, and felt White should win.  For example, just looking at this now, after  33.Kd3, 34.Ra6, and 35.Ree6, this is not going to end well for Black, as the White queenside pawns and king will simply march up the board at some point, and Black has no counterplay.  This should be almost a yawner win, given a modest amount of clock time, for a stronger player.

After showing that game, I am tempted to make the joke that this is how a “real” 1100 player plays.  hehe.  Actually, Shirley spent about half her time doing her TD duties, and half her time at the board.  Compared to Jesse’s level of concentration against me, she was barely paying attention to her game, in all fairness.

Round 1,  Thursdays

14…b6??  I had wanted her to play 14…Qd8 to make the game very interesting and unusual, but it was such a game in any event.  Actually, Daniel sort of admonished me for not refuting her move 7…f6?! with 8.f5!  Of course, I was happy to try out my more positional idea to see where it lead, since I didn’t feel the pressure of needing to play the most forcing continuation with a 30 second increment to back me up.

I was going to castle queenside, and wanted to play a more positional game, but decided that I couldn’t let the perfect opportunity to play 15.Bg5! slide, since it had the potential to be decisive, and indeed it still would have been had she responded with best play.  Before I played 15.Bg5, I had already calculated out ..RxB, 16.RxR Qxh2, 17.Qf4! h6 (..g6 is mate in a few), 18.Qf7+ (actually I found this intermezzo later, but it’s not strictly necessary) Kh8, 19.Qf3! (trapping the queen) hxBg5, 20.Rh1 QxQ, 21.NxQ, when White should be able to mate without too many difficulties.  I saw this line, minus the 18.Qf7+ finesse part, before I got up to go to the restroom.  How cool is that?  But yes, no one but the dear reader and those I showed after the game (Shirley, Daniel, Pete, Paul A) will know that the game would have taken that path in the other event that it had occured.  Sometimes, the Wednesday game just primes you up for Thursday’s game.  😉

Incidentally, I also calculated OTB and showed them the line 15…RxBf1+, 16.KxR not 16…Ba6+?? Shirley played and I showed 17.Kf2 Qg4, 18.h3 winning the queen, but rather instead Black can play 16…Qg4, 17.Kf2 h6, 18.h3 QxBg5, which is why I “decided” not to play this variation, realizing that her queen was not getting trapped in this line.

Overextending

Botvinnik vs. Euwe 1934-35 Hastings Christmas Tournament

I’m not entirely clear on what Botvinnik’s mantra was, but for Euwe it was trying to get his opponent (or waiting for it) to overextend.  He actually uses that word to described Botvinnik as overextending as White in their 1934 Leningrad game (which was a draw).

I’m coming to the conclusion that the greatest player of all time was perhaps Emanuel Lasker, at least if you judge him among his contemporaries.  In some regards I could say the same thing of Karpov since Kasparov was not his contemporary, but was rather much younger than him – people forget these sort of details, but Karpov dominated his genre even more than Kasparov did his.  Really, Karpov up 5-0 against Kasparov should have put that baby to rest in 1984 when he had the chance.  Kasparov is 12 yrs younger than Karpov!   Incidentally, Karpov is 8 yrs younger than the late Fischer.  Kasparov has a higher winning percentage but Karpov has been playing for 54 years!  The only reason people have overlooked this is because Kortchnoi has been playing for 70 years!  Gee-Zus!

Anyway, Lasker was the sin qua non of getting his opponents to lose by overextending, while he knew how to more safely extend his position than his opponents (and so probably got the benefit of having his opponents “believe” his moves more often as well).

First, I like how Black completely equalizes against this e4 English opening.

16.f4  I think White is already going wrong here as even f3 would be better, but I really like 16.Rfd1!? with the idea later of possibly playing Bxh6 gxh6, Qh6 and Rd1-d3-g3

17. Nxd5?! This can’t be right.

18. f5? Even 18.Bf2 with idea of 19.Bh4 looks better than this

18…Bd6! Winning a pawn.

Now watch what Euwe does next with that …Nf6.  He’s one of the best grinders that I’ve ever witnessed; even Botvinnik and Alekhine were no match when it came to try to survive against Euwe’s grinding ways, from a pawn deficit.

One last yet important note:  The highest winning percentage on Chess.com of the biggies is Capablanca at 74%, then Alekhine at 73.2%, Fischer at 72.2%, Lasker at 71.4%, Kasparov at 69.9%.  By comparison, Karpov is at 64.9%, and Kortchnoi at 62.4%.

In Kasparov’s defense, he would say that his opponent’s were the toughest, and also Kasparov is known for offering draws in advantageous positions in order to clinch a match or tournament, as he did with Karpov on more than one occasion, for example – in contrast to Carlsen.  Incidentally, both Kramnik, Carlsen’s, and Anand’s winning percentage are only at 61.5%!  Aronian’s is at 61.2%.