Refuting the Refutor

Round 4

18…Bd6 might seem crazy, but it’s going to be loose on any other square, and if 18…Qxh2, double-attacking Ne5 and Rg1, which I was expecting to see him play, then I have the pretty 19.Qd7+ Kb8, 20.Qd8+! NxQ, 21.Nd7 mate.  I confess that I did not see this OTB (maybe he did?), but I did see it as I was putting in the moves to the game a few minutes ago.

After the game, I told him it wasn’t wise to try and refute my opening play, and that I could played sharper and possibly refuted his move-order with 6.Nc3 Qe6+ (say), 7.Be3 Nf6, 8.Nb5!, but I wanted to manage my clock and not get sharp so early (but theoretically probably should have).  We played another post-mortem game starting with a normal C3 tabiya where he once again declared that he was winning a pawn (after I told him not try it), whereby I ended up winning a piece out of it and that game, too.

A pretty finish to this game could be 19….Rd8, 20.RxN+ bxR (forced), 21.Qxc6+ Kb8, 22.Nd7+ RxN, 23.QxR Qxh2??, 24.Rxg7 followed by 25.Rg8 mate.

When Paul met us at the bar, he said he had fritzed it after the game, and Fritz was suggesting the Rxc6+ followed by Qa6+, but that line was getting messy, even after trading my dark-squared bishop for his …Ra8.  I simply didn’t want to trade off my attacking force like that, but yeah, everything should be winning, more or less.  😉

Quick-Rated Tournament

This tournament was from last Friday, and only affected everyone’s quick rating.  But I have to confess that from the moment I stepped in I was thinking that all of these strong players show up for this tournament because it won’t affect their real-rating.  In light of this, I am including people’s regular ratings in the game descriptions, since it gives a better indication of their real chess strength and understanding.

I played in this tournament to help get me to make moves more quickly, but I found out that  time-usage is all about percentage of clock remaining, when it comes to time-management.  Alex was right, the reduced time generally hurt my opponents more than it did me because I wasn’t worried about blundering –  where they suddenly have half an hour to figure out how to refute it all the way to mate.  No sir, that fear was greatly diminished at quick-chess.

Round 1

Round 2

I can’t give this game justice by the score.  I did play badly as indicated, but then it got tactical where I attacked his rook, then he somehow forked mine with this knights, and then I set up these wicked piece-sacs where he could go wrong but didn’t.  It must be indicative of more bad play on my part and creative play on his part, but I just can’t figure it all out.  I didn’t win that a-pawn so soon, and he was playing his Nc6 and all sort of crazy stuff that I can’t deduce logically from the postion.  hehe.  Needless to say it was lost for White here a bunch of different ways and there is no need to analyze the continuation any further (it takes longer to figure this much out than it did to play the whole game!).

Way too many pawn pushes and confused rook moves on my part in this game.

Round 3

Round 4

I played Aleksandr as Black and won, and will play him again as Black next Wednesday.  Any prep suggestions!? 😀  In the game, his a3 move in the opening rather passed the buck, and he only blundered from there.  The game was over after he won a pawn and thus traded rooks in the process, and then he had to sac his bishop for a passed pawn and it was all smooth-sailing from there.

7.a3?! was weak, but a scary continuation here, for example, would be 7.f5 Nd4, 8.Ng5, h6, 9.h4! A Fishing-Pole!  So….if 7.f5, then …Na5 would seem mandatory, and that is likely why he was playing 7.a3 first.

The Lucky Tournament

This was Round 4 of the five round tournament on Wednesday’s this month at G/90, Inc/30.

It’s been said more than once by elite tournament winners that you also need a bit of luck to win a tournament, and this game was no exception to that rule.

I started off playing this ridiculous looking “Five and a half pawns attack”, which isn’t so great an idea against Paul perhaps, but fortune was on my side this time.

First, 13…Qa5.  I was worried about 13…e5, when my attack stands to wither away considerably.

22.Rd6?  I wanted to play 22.Nd6, which is dominating, and should lead to a win, but instead played 22.Rd6 based on a cute tactic which doesn’t work – 22…Bd7, 23.Nf6+ BxN, 24.exBf6, and not now …Qxf6??, but simply …Qe8, when I would seem to have nothing much left to show for my attack.

27.d7  I could also play 27.Bf3, and here Paul showed me …Qd8, 28.Kh1 Qb6, and then I saw after 29.d7 he has …Bf6, and Black is much better.  As it was, I sort of swindled/hookwinked him through this part, as he missed continuations where he would have been better.

34.Nxc6  Again, at the board, I felt that 34.Nxe6 was crushing after …Bd4+, 35.Kf1 (my king is now one step closer), Bb6, 36.d8(Q) BxQ, 37.NxB, and now while Black has saved his c-pawn, it will act as a shield against his own king while I round up the a-pawn, and there is one less kingside pawn to stop.  As it was, I chickened out and played the obvious continuation, which could have easily lost.  Paul made quite a few bad moves and may have even been winning had he played it right, was at least equal for Black.

4-0 is my score in this tournament as it now stands.  😀

Russian Creativity

Round 3

I’ve followed Botvinnik’s advice and analyzed my game afterward, for a couple hours.  It’s funny how Botvinnik says to wait a few days so you aren’t as emotional about it.  People call me a procrastinator, but that’s not so true when it comes to analyzing interesting chess positions!

3…Nf6.  I am already out of my book on move 3!

4.BxB  After 4.Bc4, he has ..b5, …c4, …Nxd4.

9.0-0  After 9.d4 cxd4, 10.Nxd4 (I didn’t want my queen stuck there) Nc6, 11.Be3(11. NxN QxN double-attacks g3 and c4) e5.  I didn’t want to go there so early in the game.

10.Nc3.  If 10…Nb4, 11.d4 cxd, 12.Nxd4.

10…0-0.  This might seem like a waste of time, but if you skip ahead to move 13, and put his Be7 there instead of 0-0, you see he still cannot take the d3 pawn.

13…Bb8.  He’s going in for a tricky variation later, and 13…Be7 may have been more prudent.

14…e5.  This felt like positional capitulation when I saw it, and I knew I was better now for sure (but then I got confident, stupid, unsure, uncreative, etc, the seven deadly sins, lol, and blew it).
I was expecting here either 14…h6 or 14…Ng4.  If 14…Ng4, 15.Bg5 Rd8, 16.h3 RxNf3 hxNg4 which looks a bit suspect for White until you realize that Black has to spend the next tempo moving his rook to f7.

17.NxNf6.  I knew this wasn’t right, but my biggest issue now was that I had squandered my time (easy to do in G/75, 30/inc – which will change to G/90, 30/inc next month, BTW), and this is such a technical middlegame position here that it all sort of went right over my head, given my clock status of < 20 minutes – unlike a tactical situation where I can rely on pattern-recognition mostly.

I wanted to, and thought strongly about playing 17.f3, but was worried a bit, for example, about 17…Nh5 (OTB, this is what stopped me from playing f3), and if 18…Nf4, threatening d3, then 19.BxN exB, and I felt that 20…Be5 would be dynamically equalizing for him.  Looking at this position after the game, I could see that I can simply play 19.g3 (took a while for me to find this move and to realize that it’s same) or 19.Nd5, and use my Be3 to play BxNd4, should he play his Nc6 to d4, which is what I was worried about.

So, it wasn’t until after I had seen all of this, that I realized that simply had not considered here 17.f3 Nb4! winning the d-pawn.  So by this point, I also had taken notice that simply 17.a3! is the winning plan.  Imagine all of this time invested looking for the simple strategic solution to the position!  If 17…Ng4, 18.b4 (hitting the c-pawn) NxBe3, 18.fxN.  Now White’s attack is just rolling.  bxc5 winning a pawn is threatened, and after 18…cxb, 19.axb.  Here a plan might be to play Ne4, c5, then recapture with Nxc5, and you have this knight outpost on c5, hitting the Qe6.

18.Nd5  18.Ne4 felt much more positional to me, but like I say, I could simply not find that plan of a3/b4, OTB, combining on the c5 square.

20.NxNe7+  I was happy to see this OTB, but then I realized that I was a tad clueless, let’s say, hehe, about how to play on with a backward pawn like this against his bad-bishop.

21.Bf2?? I instantly realized my mistake, but I believe this sort of mistake, combined with a low clock-time, is indicative of a position where a player feels uncomfortable with regards to how to play on from.

BTW, even earlier in the game I had planned to play 17.f3/Rd2/Qd1, so it’s not as if I hadn’t seen this maneuver, it’s that even after the game I had wondered heavily how I would continue to play on with that backward pawn of mine after say 21.Rd2 Rd7, 22.Rfd1 Qg6. 23.Qc2.

However, after looking at this position more studiously, today, I come up with the continuation 23…Kh8, 24.a3 a5, 25.b4! axb, 26.axb (problem for White solved!) cxb, 27.Qb3 Qd6 (if ..Bd6, then 28.Bxb6 e4, 29.fxe Bxh2+, 30.KxB QxB, 31.Rc2 or Ra1 activates White’s rooks – White should still have a winning attack here).  Notice how if not for 23..Kh8, I would now have available 27.c5+ Qd5, 28.QxQ RxQ, 29.cxb6.

So, 27.g3 (to stop ..e4/..Qxh2 mate threats).  Now Black doesn’t have a real plan and his pieces are bottled in.  I am threatening to play simply 28.d4, when 28…exd4, 29.Rxd4, and there is no way for Black to hold everything.  The Black queen is defending b4, b6, not to mention that White can slip in Qd3, and just own the d-file, and although material is even, those Black pawns should fall like a house of cards in the endgame.

44…bxa4?  Not the most testing line.  I was pleased to see this move, OTB, and was far more worried about 44…c4, 45.bxc4 bxa4, 46.Bd6 Kxc4, 47.Ba3 Kb3, 48.Bc1 Bb2, 49.Bg6 a3 is just a loss for White, and if I trade bishops my king is too far away, so I really did dodge a bullet there.  I felt that 44…c4 was winning OTB and he spent quite a bit of time on it that I was relieved to not see him play it.

All in all, this game felt like a loss because I really dropped the ball in the middlegame, and then should have lost the endgame from seemingly out of nowhere.  There was no doubt in my mind after the game, that this Russian gentleman was a very strong endgame player.

Too Insistent

Round 3

I feel as though I won this game because, while I may have been a little too insistent on playing for a win, my opponent was even more insistent, too insistent, in playing for a win, and that is really the reason for his c4 blunder at the end of the game.  It wasn’t just that one move though, it was other moves as well, and interestingly enough that’s why I also won against his sister.  Themes might run in families because I beat Rhett’s dad Dwayne on Friday, in a different theme, yet it was possibly thematic of why I should have won against his son on Tuesday as well.

Poor Clock Management

Round 2

I played a new opening variation response against Rhett’s standard system, and then really began to wonder, after his a4, how I was going to defend my e-pawn after Nc4 and b5.  Luckily, the answer was after exchanging on b4, to play Bxf2+ and then Ra8xRa1 – once he plays Bb2, this rook will no longer hang, but he was reticent to play that, and from going to this “How can I possibly defend?” and “Help me, I forgot how the pieces move!” sort of feeling, I pretty much deciphered this opening system and then got a winning advantage.

I spent a really long time on my moves, and contemplated 17…Nd3, being simply up a pawn with still the better position as well, but I wanted to simplify in my time-pressure.

26…Qxd4?!  h6 might be better.  I was just in over my head in this position with the amount of time I had available.

35….Nxb4.  I wanted to lure him with the perpetual here, desiring a draw because of my lack of time.

37….Kf8?? I had just under a minute and half here, and told myself to really look at this position when I look up from writing down my move.  But instead, I was too tight, looked up and made the move, then immediately resigned after his move.  No doubt he would have continued to work my clock with his 15 remaining minutes.  We looked at 37…Kh8, 38.Qe3 Nc6, 39.Kh3.  If I continue with …Qg7, he has 40.Bc3 Ne5, 41.Qd4 f6, 42.Qd8+ Qg7, 43.Qxc7, threatening Qb7.  He could have definitely made my life miserable in my time-pressure and likely wins with his clock advantage still, since I have the much looser king.  He plays the opening defensively, usually, but then is the best swindler later on.

I had 25 seconds more than I would have had it been G/90 – but I’m also required to write down my moves – so basically I lost a G/90 game to an Expert, as Black, so I take a little of a moral victory there, but I also know where I need to make big improvements, later in the game.  BTW, Tuesdays are G/75, 30/inc.

Late addition:  Expert Paul Anderson gave my a good ribbing for not winning this game, pointing out for instance that 16…Qg3 is instantly winning, based on Qxg3.  He joked “Once you win a pawn, you should sac for his un-developed pieces” (the f2 sac of mine was pretty terrible).  Then, given the continuation at the end of the game I showed above after Qd1+ and Qxc2, he played Queen to h-file check, and then mated me as White with Qh1 mate (after a few more checks) – IOW, he found the queen and knight mate that I felt did not exist OTB.

I’ll post my Wednesday game when I get home.

The Veresov

I played my Round 2 game, after all, and I’m glad I did.  I wanted to be up there for Alexander in case anything terrible happened to his grandma, who is still in the hospital since earlier in the morning.  As it turned out his Mom came down to Denver to meet him at the hospital, so I just went straight home.

This game is one of those that looks a lot more lopsided than it really was.

10…Bxg4?  I should have played 10…dxe4, as she can now play 11.exd5.  Being not as comfortable as her with this opening, my timing of …dxe4 was possibly two moves later than it should have been.

11.Rg1??  It’s now a forced win for White.

14…f5.  She gave me plenty of time on her clock to find everything after this move.  If 15.Ng5 Bb4+, 16.c3 Bxc3+ (I discovered that 16…Re8+ doesn’t work, or at least not in terms of the quicker victory, so I changed the move-order), 17.bxc3 Qxc3+ and then 18…Re8+ or …QxRa1+ as appropriate, is winning rather easily.

16.Nf3??  I was hoping for this, and let her know that 16.Rh8 was forced, after the game.

18.Kd2??  Walking into one of two forced mates.  She had to play 18.Rd1 if she wanted to play on longer.

Actually 11.Rg1?? is losing because it allows an unfavorable “pull move” as I call them, or removing the defender.  I was expecting 11.Nf3-d2, which is why I didn’t take on e4 first.  It’s funny how so much analysis gets crammed in during a game that it can be difficult to keep it straight.  She saw as much as I did during the game, but she had less focus, and you can see how at this point I had done a better job OTB of refining the principal variation.  I could add more analysis that I saw behind the opening moves, but don’t have time to blog here what I saw OTB yet.