Finding Balance

Round 4

Possibly the two strongest players of the tournament, Pete notwithstanding, faced off in this game with all the tension and prizes on the line.

18…Qxe7? (played quickly)  I made a greedy move here, trying to give myself easy drawing chances, should Daniel not punish me here, but punish he did.  I wanted the queen on e7 and then …Nh6, but that was asking way too much.  As soon as I saw 20.e6, I knew I had overlooked this strong move, and it’s “refutation-central” as Alex might say.

I almost went for 24…Nd7, and asked Daniel after the game what he would have played, and he played 25.NxNd7!  keeping the initiative so that he can follow it up with 25.bxc bxc, 26.Qf3 hitting another sensitive diagonal, when he wanted to play Qf3-e2xc4, and putting pressure on c6 as in the game.

27…Rd8??  I felt like this would be a blunder, but I also felt that 27…Nd5, 28.Nxc4 was game-over, which it would have been as well.

38….NxBd5?  A blunder, but it’s already next to helpless.

39…Qc8?? I still had two and a half minutes remaining, but the position is hopeless.  I played 39…Ne7 post-mortem, and he quickly replied 40.Qxc4, and then got his rook over onto the d-file and pinned it against my king.  40…f3, 41.gxf resigns might be a cute finish as White is in total control, and as Daniel appropriately put  it “You have a weak king!”

Walking into this game, I felt as though Daniel should be the favorite, and yet I hadn’t seen much of his games in quite a while, and wasn’t sure of how his style would be now.  I feel as if his style is a cross between Gunar and Paul Anderson’s styles.  Post-mortem he wanted to go for one speculative combo, which I could easily refute, but then said “it’s probably bad” – he used to go for those sort of things and lose games that way, but in the final round he knew not to play anything speculative.

I feel a game like this is a “maker” sort of moment, and Daniel easily played this game at Expert level, and I learned something as well.  I drank a bunch of coffee that I didn’t need because I was more enamored by the waitress than the game, and let up at the key moment on this effort, but I feel that this game was really more a “coming out” of Daniel’s chess-strength, to me anyway.


February Flash Part II – Eyes Wide Shut

Round 3

A strange game on the clocks.  We both went down to about 14 minutes together, but I ended up with 9 and 1/2 minutes remaining to Mark’s 2 seconds, which explains the finish.

24…Qb5??, trying to flag his last 2 seconds with this double-attack, not noticing that I am giving up a forced mate.

26.Qg5??  25.Qh4+, as Mark so rightly pointed out after the game, is mating.

After the game, going over the game with Earl, Pete, and Alex, I pointed out that I have a simple win here still 24….Bxf2+, 25.QxBf2 RxBc1+, 26.Kg2 Bf1+, 27.QxBf1 QxQ mate.

As a reminder, this tournament was played at G/24, d/5.  It seems crazy that Black was winning down a full-rook, but I was feeling it as soon as I gave up that d-pawn, and I felt it was a done deal after he wasted the tempo playing Bg2xb7, was very glad to see Mark fall into my traps, particularly given the time-pressure it was costing him.

Round 4

In this game, it’s rather simple, I took fruitless positional risks that added up to a busted position.

6…Bd6, 7.BxBd6.  Now, as Earle pointed out, White gets in f4 in one go, and as I noticed the queen is misplaced on d6 and much better placed on e7.

9…Nc6?!  Here I am taking a ridiculous positional risk.  I felt that …Nd7 was more solid, and makes sense after …Ne4, then …Nd7-f6.

12…Nd4.  Around this point, I couldn’t create an active nor solid plan, and my position deteriorates rapidly.  The end was predictable.

An Embarrassment of Riches

Round 3

When I showed this game to Pete and Alex (and Daniel and Sara saw it too), I said after move 8 that this looks like a practice-position.  Indeed, you could practice your tactics some here.  9.Bxh7+ wasn’t strictly necessary, as Alex showed 9.Ng5 is completely winning as well after 9….h6, 10.Qh5 or 9…BxN, 10.BxB, followed by 11.Qh5, and …g6 after trading the bishop is virtually a game-ending compromise of the dark-squares.

I guess my way of finishing the game was more picturesque, and perhaps more poignant, as we could find no refutation.   After 13…f6 instead of …g6, there would have followed 14.exf Nxf, 15.Ng5+ and 16.Nxe6 fork, and White’s attack will just go from there with continued success.  Naturally it was great that I got to spend forever on the clock before I played the Bxh7+ sac, but I imagine many strong players wouldn’t have required such time.  I told Alemayehu after the game that he shouldn’t have traded pawns on e5, as it opened up the position too much.

This wasn’t even my best sac of the night.  My best sac was when Daniel thought his sister Sara, who was playing against and lost to him, insisted she made a good move with d6.  Then I pointed out she should have traded pawn and knight on e5, and then played d6, and sacked the queen for mate, and he didn’t believe it and then got mated, and even Isaac got a chuckle out of it.

Chess and Hollywood

For all the talk about chess not being a sponsor-worthy sport in the USA, I’d offer this link.  It really got to me that there was a picture of James Dean in it, playing over a pocket-set.

Chess and Hollywood

This song always makes me think of Hollywood.  If you’ve never heard this song by the Kinks, you need to hear it.

My G/24 game were not well-played by me, but they were instructive as to what I am doing wrong.

Round 1

From afar, it would appear that Black did not deserve the brutal shellacking that was received, but in the seeds of defeat there were many positional concessions that lead up to this.  I would say that Expert Paul Anderson is a Master of strategic play.  He can play like this at blitz too, and has this Capablanca-esque talent for finding and playing strategic moves with seemingly little effort.

After the game, we played a blitz game where I was Black and played this same line but without …g5, and I fared only a little longer as he played Ne5xNd7, then Bg5xNf6, and then Qh7+ …Kf8 which turned out to be more than just an annoyance after his f4-f5 push like in this game.

3…d5?!  White is going to play a Torre Attack (c3 and e3, so this move is not as good here because I will have nothing to take with; i.e., ..dxc4 or ..dxe4), better here is …b6!? (with the idea of …Ba6) or …d6

6…dxc?!  Even a c4!? idea is better than this – it can’t be played yet, though – as White is slowly getting this one-way street of a strategical game/attack.

10…h6?! Dubious in this position, pawn formation, because Black has no dynamic play and no counter-attack available, so it is a pure weakness.  Even the less cheerful looking 10…Qc7!? would be better as after 11.BxN gxB with the idea of 12…Bf4, Black is controlling some ground, and can reduce the number of attackers by one, if needed, or play …e5.

11…g5?  I didn’t want to play …Be7 or …Qc7, but either move is better than this.   11…Be7, then 12…Ne8 looks like a better defense than what I played.

12…Qc7?!  it’s one sub-standard move after another.  Here I should have gone with my first instinct to play 12…BxBg3, 13.hxg Qe8, and then he won’t have a healthy pawn-structure to attack my king-side with.

16…Na5?  Fiddling while Rome burns.  16….Ne8 with ….f5 and …Ng7 would be a better plan.  At this point, I couldn’t come up with a plan, as I was not familiar with this position and had little time to contemplate it.  My “counterplay” was a joke, non-existent, and I knew it OTB as well.

Round 2

Here is my embarrassing win.

13.Nd5  I thought about playing 13.e5 here, but didn’t want to waste time looking at it, as I was still not sure of myself at this time-control (which is, incidentally, G/24, d/5).  After the game, Paul A wanted to see my game and didn’t think this worked.  What I see now is 13.e5 dxe, 15.dxe Rc6, and it’s a bit unclear, but would appear that Black is just up a piece for a pawn.  Right after I played my move, I could see that 13…Nb6 would give him a decent attack.

15.Be3?  I strongly contemplated 15.b3, but again lacked the confidence to play it at this time-control.

17…Qb6?!  I was happy to see this move, as I felt that 17…Nc4 would have been more or less winning.

22…Qxa2?  “Yes, drop the chalupah!”  It would have been a witch of a game to play after 22….Qa4 in time-trouble.  Thankfully, he made it very easy on me, so that I will have at least one point going into rounds 3 and 4 next week.

Fascinating Game

I took the day off from work as I was feeling exhausted with a backache, and stomache, and didn’t get my weekly jog in during my “weekend” (still haven’t).  I still have this chronic stomache problem that plagues me a bit at work, and not sure what’s going on there, but I cut out energy drinks as I think that was likely what started it, long-term drinking of those things (I don’t think it’s caffeine, more like it’s the guarana or whatever is in those things.

I was supposed to be paired with Daniel, but he took a bye.  I think he was exhausted from all his chess activities, and then has to play scholastic on the weekend on top of that.  So instead, I got paired with young Eugin, who is sort of under-rated like myself as he was consistently rated over 1500 during one stretch.

Round 2

Unfortunately for Eugin, he went wrong during the critical moments of the game, and that is where his rating showed.

I spent a long time looking at 5…Bg4 and we all kind of went over it after the game (Alex, Earl, Peter and I).  I went for a more solid-looking system instead, where I am keeping the bishop-pair instead of the knight-pair.

11.a3!?  Already, he has spotted that if 11.Nf4, then …Ba6, and the knight has to go back to e2, 12.Ne2, for example, so he plans to do something about that.

12.Qa4!?  I missed this move and will soon find myself threading the needle on the kingside.

13….Nf5!  The star-move of the game.  If instead 13…Ng6? then it’s not too early to start talking about White’s mating attack.  13…Ng7, 14.Qh5 h6, 15.Bxh6 gxh6, 16. Qxh6 followed by 17.Ng5.  Black would have to find a constructive, and like a “computer-move” defense here as I stated to Earl that 14…Ba6 that he was interested in looking at is not going to work because White can sac the exchange on f1 and has four pieces attacking the kingside starting with 15.Ng3 or 15.Ng5.  However, Earl seemed to have found the precise blow with 15.Bg5! Qd7, 16.Bf6! (I had seen his idea as soon as he tried Bg5, but this is unstoppable – not to mention that if White every needed more firepower, which he doesn’t, he also has the Ng3-h5 hitting f6 and g7 maneuver).  So I was glad that I was playing this game very slowly and precisely, or at least by my own standards.

14.  Qh5?  A bit of the “…and fools rush in”, taking up the gauntlet type of move; trading queens, followed by playing Nf4 seems more prudent here, and White is fine.

19.Ng5?? This is the move that really drops the ball, as now White will be playing a piece down, and the result should be assured with careful play.  Evidently, he missed my simple reply of 19…Qg7! rather than 19…Rf7?.

The scary move to face was 19.Bg5!, when possibly there could continue 19…Qxb2, 20.Rae1 Ba6 (or …Bf5 which seems more solid), 21.Re7 Rf7, 22.RxR KxR, 23.Qxh7 Qg7 and queens must trade as Rf1 is hanging, so instead there follows 23.Rfe!1 and Black cannot defend that I can see with either 23…Rf8??, 24.Qxh7+ Qg7, 25.Re7+ winning queen for rook, nor 23…Qg7, 24.Qh4 (threatening 25.Re7+) Re8? Qf4+ will win the rook on e8.  This is where it looks better to have played the more solid 20…Bf5, so now 24…Qf4 is without check, and even g4 is too slow because White must move his rook first and then Black can get his king out of the pin, and if the rooks get traded Black can move his king to the other side of the board.

I think the moral to this game is that when your sloppy kingside attack is no longer there, it is a wiser choice not to insist on it, and instead play more positional, or even crazy-positional with 14.QxQ RxQ, 15.Bg5 Re8, 16.Nf4 h6, 17.g4 looks fun for White, which naturally shouldn’t occur as well because Black could play 16…Bb7 instead (stronger positional play), and now White’s pieces look silly after 17…h6.

Log Cabin Fever Reliever – Part II

Round 3

Crazy game where lost on time.  I tried to wait until I had on second on my clock before moving, but that doesn’t work when you only have two seconds, so I captured his pawn with one second, and then called my own flag.  Biggest surprised there was that after the game, even with his 46 seconds or so remaining he said “I don’t know what I would have done”.  I clearly saw the queen trade on d4 straight away; for example, 25.Qxe3 Qd4, 26.QxQ (forced) BxQ+, 27.Kh1 Bxb2.  Now if 28.Rd1 then Bd4, and if 28.Re1, then Bf6, the rooks have no entry and it’s game over from an objective standpoint.  Although, if I had been looking at this more subjectively, I would have figured that I had blitzing chances still, but that didn’t really occur to me.

A lot of tactical tricks in this game.  For example, 18…NxBe3?, 19.Rf6 draws, I calculated OTB.  I should have played

I should have played 19.Bd2, but it’s a wacky time-control.  My emotions tend to help me in slow-rated games, but they’ve nearly always hurt my play in faster games.

After the game, Jeff said that I should have played (the respectable-looking) 16.h3.  Actually, I was not considering that move as 16…Ba6 comes next, and 17.Rf2 isn’t something I wanted to stoop to in this position as I felt that I had something and wanted to take a risk.  16.Qd3?! in all likelihood was the wrong risk.  The other move I was looking at was 16.RxNf6, and if this had been a slower time-control, no doubt would have played it.  I am looking at my board in ChessX and noticing/calculating that I have this pretty line:

16.RxNf6! (leaving Black no time for defense or development, and removing a defender of the king), BxN, 17.Qf3 (…Bg5, 18.BxBg5 and Black will get checkmated in a couple moves) Bg7, 18.dxe5 Qc7, 19.Rad1  Nd7?, 20.Rd6 Kh7?, 21.Rxg6 KxRg6??, 22.Qf5 mate.  Also in this line Nd7-f6 is not available because of exNf6.  Incidentally 19…Ba6? is shooting in the dark as after 20.Rd6 that whole Rxg7 followed by Qf5 mate is available again.  So 19…Na6, 20.Rd6 and after 20…Bd7 (blocking the queen on c7 too) comes 21.Bxh6 or 21.Bxg6, take your pick.  Meanwhile 19…Bb7 once again gives up the diagonal, so we are left with 20…Kh7 or 20…g5.  20…g5?, 21.Rg6 (threatening 21…Nh5) and if …Kh7, 22.Qh5 with 23.Bxg5 coming next (even his queen cannot succ defend this square).  So 20…Kh7 is the move to look at, but then 21.Nf5 is the spanner in the works, and …BxNf5, 22.e4xNf5 (threatening 23.Rxg6) ..gxf5, 23.Qxf5+ Kh8, 24.Rd7 Qc8, 25.Bxh6! BxBh6, 26.Qf6+ Kg8, 27.Qxg6+ Kf8, 28.Qf7 mate.  So instead. 24…Rf8, 25.Qe6 Qc8, 26.Qe7 Rg8, 27.Qf7 Qf8, 28.Bxg7+ QxBg7, 29.Qh5+ Qh7, 30.QxQ mate.  Whew!  I calculated all this by only looking at the initial position.  I knew he was messing up in the complications but didn’t have time to find the right line.

Alternatively, after 18….Qd8!, 19.Rad1 Qe7, 20.Rd6 Kh7, 21.Bd4 this position is looking very computeresque, and non-human, or unclear.  Let’s say we continue with 21..Nh6, 22.h4 Qxh4 (the queen is overworked), 23.Qf7 QxN, 24.e5 Qe1+, 25.Kh3 Qh4+ is a perpetual.  Or 21.Bf4 Na6, 22.Nf5 now or play another move first is as clear as mud.

Round 4

I’ll admit, I was howling after putting this game into the computer, it’s pretty funny that I lost it, but my results aren’t funny at all, rather pathetic, and I probably won’t get any sleep once again for Thursday’s game where I play Daniel, which is not a great situation to go into.  Nevertheless…

My fastest move of the game was 15.0-0-0, which I somehow hadn’t planned and yet still played it instantly.  This is where Peter came over, and I gave him a look like I wanted to thump myself over the head.  After 15.0-0, the mate is practically drawn up already with Qf4, Ng5, Qh4, Qh7 mate.  Naturally, this won’t happen, but he will have to weaken his kingside irretrievably to slow my attack down, and he has nothing over there to defend against it.  Sad, pathetic, true that I didn’t play this line, but now you see what happens at G/30.

I saw his …Na4…Nc4 maneuver as soon as I castled as well, although he was slow to play it.

31. Kb1? Obvious blunder, should have played 31.a2, which I had considered but was in serious time-pressure already with < 1 minute on my clock.

38.b4??  I told myself not to play b4 because it drops a4, but in time-pressure I was so nervous that I played it anyway, probably down to 6-12 seconds by now.

44.Rc4??  44.Rf6 probably draws, maybe, maybe not, but now he is moving faster than I can think and the rest of the game looks like a Bugs Bunny cartoon (he had done this before to me, previously, and it’s the one thing I wanted to but wasn’t able to avoid).  In my mind, I had given up, thinking he could escort his pawn with this rook anyway, but then of course I could take his f7 pawn and wasn’t even seeing that far ahead, conceptually.

The sad part is that I was easily better in the ending before I played Kb1, but went downhill from there.

Here is a lesson on how to sac the exchange by Anatoly Karpov:

Any questions?  ;-p

The Double-Scotch Opening

Round 1

I asked after the game the name of this opening, and Daniel said “it’s a nothing opening”, so I feel compelled to name an opening this time – I’ll call it “The Double-Scotch” as White plays a Scotch Game, and then Black follows in suite, keeping the symmetry.  I feel like I may have seen this looked at in a book by Larry Evans, and I recall a Nxe5 recommendation and so played it, avoiding playing into Black’s hands with the capture on d5 – sidestep one trick and you get a good game as White.

Oh, this kid’s rating is actually 1171.  Same difference.  These kids, their rating averages literally a hundred points increase a month.  One of the two brothers took out a near 1800 player last night, and the other brother may have beaten an 1800 player.  I don’t know, so many upsets.  Even Shirley tonight managed to blow a dead won position against Alemaheyu, but it was like a 90 move game where she collapsed at the end.