Last Round for this Month

Round 3

This morning I’m flying to California for the funeral of my step-sister, and then staying over for Christmas.  Thanks for all of your condolences on her passing, and well-wishes!

This game that I played Thursday evening with Paul was once again, a tale of two cities.  First there was the middlegame where I was doing well, then blundered a pawn and immediately noticed it (told Paul after the game since he didn’t see it).

13…dxc4?!  I meant to win a pawn with 13…dxc4, 14.Qxc b5 traps the queen, or so I thought until I moved, and then immediately realized my c6 would just be hanging, so I should have set it up with …Rc8 first.  Miscue #1.  I was trying to move faster in this game at times, and that is the main motivation for the blunders that followed.

18…b6??  Again, it was maybe ten seconds before I noticed he has 19.Rxc6 Qxc6??, 20.Nf6+ winning the queen, therefore I was going to respond with 19…Qd7, told Paul afterwards.

41…Rc2?? I had spent a lot of time further weakening his position, and then made the mistake of seeing what I wanted to see.  Never saw 42.Nd5+, but he played it right away.  If I had blunder-checked this move thoroughly – i.e, seen this tactic – I would have played 41…Ke8, and if 42.Ne4, then I would have played 42…Bg5, followed by 43…Bf6, when he has to take on one of these squares.  I had already had this in mind when I was surprised to see his 41.Ne4-c3, setting up the trap.  This plan above would have been an easy win because I had weakened his back ranks to his king, so that if he plays b4, then …BxN, followed by …Rc3+ would pick up the a-pawn (or even better force-trading rooks).

43.RxRc2?  Surprisingly, he did not win my bishop and instead took the exchange.  This takes us to the infamous 0.0 ending against Paul Anderson.  With my remaining clock time, and my endgame abilities compared to his I never seem to escape these things alive!

45….d3?  At this point, I sensed that I was “crossing the Rubicon”, as did he, but I simply didn’t have sufficient time to figure out this ending, based on my current abilities.  It’s almost a different endgame, as I push the pawn, and have to play it differently after each push.  This endgame wasn’t losing, but his side was easier to play, and he played it much better than I.  Most of my moves were mistakes, but it was difficult to figure out what I should or could be doing as most things I looked at simply didn’t work as far as I could see.  Disappointing way to lose a game, but you have to play a lot of blunder-free moves to beat anyone over 1900, in my experience.  Funny how my blunder on move 41 could have been after a 40 move time-control.  In a way, that is a good thing, making only one serious blunder in the first 40 moves.  For me, this represents some progress, but perhaps not to most players these days who regard 40/2 as a thing of the past.  Technically, at 40/2 I still would have had ten minutes on my clock, as compared to the speed we played at at G/90, Inc 30.  I had less than two and a half minutes on my clock when I made the move 41 blunder.  No, it was a four and a half minutes, but I spent two minutes realizing there was nothing I could do to not lose a piece, and contemplated resigning.

The Lot Of Games From This Week

Quick Chess tournament

Round 1

Flagged.  I missed the tactical idea of trading rooks to weaken his defense, which is the same idea that I missed in  Thursday’s game.

Round 2

Round 3

The punch-drunk round.  When I came home and plugged it in and saw the engine’s eval, I immediately figured out how I don’t lose a piece, and Black stands no worse than White.  This is the problem with Quick-Chess is you play so many rounds that there are later rounds in particular where you are not fresh.  I got tired at this point, and didn’t even see his Bd2 in response to Nxa5.  Playing to the tempo of the clock in the opening, can lead to a disasterous position.  I kept seeing everything late.  Janet Jackson’s “Controversy” song (the restaurant music was playing loud) was bothering me in Round 1 when I was trying to calculate, but I also realized that it’s hard to find the time and energy to calculate something difficult in Quick-Chess.  You either have an understanding and immediate grasp of the tactics or you won’t be able to “learn/solve” anything you don’t previously already understand before you showed up.  There is zero room for learning, outside of losing (which nearly always qualifies as not learning during the game, for me).

BTW, I have tried noise-cancelling headphones in the past.  Earplugs work best for me, so perhaps I could find a pair to buy.  I do think having to wear earplugs in a restaurant, to play chess, is a bad idea in general however.  By the last round, I had tuned out the music, but it’s the same thing as telling yourself that there is a bunch of babbling commotion that you need to block out; you are still aware that it is there as some active background distraction, even if no longer listening to it.  But I’m just as happy that the staff there don’t seem to yell, and talk, and laugh as loud as they used to, it’s been much quieter in that regard.

Round 4

Thursday’s Game (Round 6)

I was going to try to put in pgn annotations, but I feel like it’s not gonna happen unless I challenge myself by saying that, at least.  My Step-sister, who was in town last week, passed away on Friday in California where her daughter lives (sudden stroke), so I can’t focus much on chess at the moment.

The easy way to understand how to win this chess game is by pushing the passed pawn before trading knight for bishop, or trading a pair of rooks, which is what I missed in the quick-chess game against Daniel as well.  Trading rooks is an advanced chess concept, to my mind, because it causes other things to hang like the other rook or back rank weakness, etc.  Other than that there are multiple rook endings that win that I missed, and the computer won’t necessarily tell you these are wins until you play them out (it’s eval will steadily increase).

Here’s how Thursday’s game looked like when I went over it with Houdini while showing lines that I mostly came up with while analyzing with Stockfish:

[Event “Thursdays”]
[Site “Denny’s”]
[Date “2016.12.15”]
[Round “6”]
[White “Brian Rountree”]
[Black “Alexander Bozhenov”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “1961”]
[ECO “C67”]
[EventDate “2016.12.15”]
[TimeControl “G/90, Inc 30”]
[WhiteElo “1810”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5
8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Nc3 Be7 10. Ne4 h6 11. b3 Be6 12. h3 b6 13. c4 Kc8 14. Bb2
Rd8 15. g4 Nh4 16. Nxh4 Bxh4 17. f4 Kb7 18. f5 Bd7 19. Rad1 g6 20. e6 fxe6 21.
Bf6 Bxf6 22. Nxf6 Be8 23. fxe6 (23. Rxd8 Rxd8 24. Nxe8 (24. fxe6 c5 25. e7 Rb8
26. Rd1 Kc6 (26… c6 27. Rd8 Kc7 28. Nxe8+ Kb7 29. Nd6+ Kc7 30. Rxb8 Kxb8 31.
e8=Q+ Kc7 32. Qe7+ Kb8 33. Qb7#)27. Rd8)24… Rxe8 (24… exf5 25. Re1 fxg4
26. hxg4 Kc8 27. Re6 h5 28. gxh5 gxh5 29. Nf6)25. fxg6 Rg8 26. Rf6 e5 (26…
Kc8 27. h4 Kd7 (27… h5 28. gxh5 Rh8 29. g7)28. h5)27. h4 e4 28. h5) 23…
Rd6 24. Rxd6 (24. e7 c5 25. Rde1 Kc6 26. Nxe8 (26. Nh7 Kd7 27. Rf8 Re6 28.
Nf6+ Kxe7 29. Rxe6+ Kxe6 30. Rxe8+ Rxe8 31. Nxe8 Kd7 32. Nf6+ Ke6 33.
Ne4)26… Rxe8 27. Rf8 Kd7) 24… cxd6 25. Nxe8 Rxe8 26. Rf6 g5 27. Rxh6 d5
28. cxd5 (28. Rh7+ Kb8 29. cxd5 cxd5 30. e7 (30. Rd7 Rxe6 31. Rxd5 Rg6)(30.
Rg7 Rxe6 31. Rxg5 Rd6)30… Kc7 31. Kf2 Kd7 32. Ke3 Rxe7+ 33. Rxe7+ Kxe7 34.
Kd4 Kd6) 28… cxd5 29. Rg6 Kc6 30. Kf2 Rh8 31. Kg3 d4 32. Rxg5 (32. e7+ Kd7
33. Rxg5 Kxe7 34. Rd5) 32… d3 33. Rf5 (33. Rg7 Rd8 34. e7 Re8) 33… d2 34.
Rf1 Rd8 35. Rd1 Rd3+ 36. Kf4 (36. Kg2 Kd6 37. h4 Kxe6 38. Kf2 Rd4 39. Kf3 Kf6)
36… Kd6 37. Ke4 (37. Kf5 Rd5+ (37… Rf3+ 38. Kg6 Rf2 (38… Rxh3 39. Rxd2+
Kxe6)39. h4 Kxe6)) 37… Rxh3 38. Rxd2+ Kxe6 39. Rg2 (39. Rc2)(39. Rf2) 39…
Kf6 40. Kf4 (40. Rf2+ Kg6 (40… Ke6 41. g5 Rg3 (41… Rh4+ 42. Rf4 Rh2 43.
Kf3 Rxa2 44. g6 Ra1 45. g7 (45. Kg4 Rg1+ 46. Kh5 Rg3 47. b4 Ke5 (47… a5 48.
bxa5 bxa5 49. Kh6 Ke5 50. Rc4 Kd5 51. Ra4 Ke6 52. Rxa5 Kf6 (52… Ke7 53. Ra7+
Kf8 54. g7+)53. Ra6+ Ke7 54. g7 Kf7 55. Ra7+ Kf6 56. Kh7 Rh3+ 57. Kg8 Rg3 58.
Kf8)48. Rg4 Rh3+ 49. Kg5 Ke6 50. Re4+ Kd5 51. Rh4 Rg3+ 52. Kh6 (52. Rg4 Rxg4+
(52… Rc3 53. g7 Rc8 54. Kf6 Rd8 55. g8=R Rxg8 56. Rxg8 a5 (56… Kc4 57. Ra8
Kxb4 58. Rxa7 b5 59. Ke5 Kc4 60. Rc7+ Kb3 61. Kd4 b4 62. Rb7 Ka3 63. Kc4 Ka4
64. Rxb4+)57. bxa5)53. Kxg4 Ke6)))42. Kf4)41. Rd2 Rh7 42. Kf4 Rf7+ 43. Ke5 Kg5
44. Rd4 Re7+ 45. Kd6 Rf7 46. Kc6 Rf6+ 47. Kb7 Rf7+ 48. Ka6 Rf2 (48… Rg7 49.
b4 Kg6 50. b5 Kf6 51. Rd8 Kg5 52. Rb8 Kxg4 53. Rb7 (53. Rxb6 axb6 54. Kxb6
Kf5))) 40… Rd3 41. Ke4 Rd1 42. Rc2 (42. Rf2+ Kg6 (42… Kg5)43. Ke5 Ra1 44.
Kd6 (44. Rc2 Rb1 (44… Rd1 45. Rc7 Rd2 46. Rxa7 Kg5 47. Ra6 b5 48. Ra5 b4
(48… Kxg4 49. Rxb5 (49. a3 Rb2 (49… Rd3 50. Rxb5)(49… Ra2 50. Kd4 Kf5
(50… Kf4 51. b4 Kf5 52. Kc5 Ke6 53. Ra6+ Kd7 54. Kxb5 Rc2 55. a4 Kc7 56. Rb6
Rh2 57. Ka6 Rh8 58. Ka7 Rh7 59. a5 Kc8+ 60. Ka8 Kc7 61. b5 Rh8+ 62. Ka7 Rg8
63. Rc6+ Kd7 64. a6)51. Rxb5+)))49. Ra4 Kxg4)45. Kd6)44… Rc1) 42… Rd7 43.
Re2 (43. b4 Kg5 44. b5 Kxg4 45. Ke5 Kf3 46. a4 (46. Rc6 Ke3 47. Rd6 Rc7 48.
Kd5 (48. Rc6 Rh7 49. Kd6 Rh2 (49… Rh5 50. a4 Rh4 51. Rc3+ Kd2 52. Ra3 Kc2
53. a5 Rh6+ 54. Kc7 Kb2 55. axb6 Rh7+ 56. Kc6 Kxa3 57. b7 Rh6+ 58. Kc7 Rh7+
59. Kb8 Kb4 60. Kxa7 Kxb5 61. Ka8 Rxb7 62. Kxb7)))) 43… Kg5 44. Kf3 Rd5 45.
Re3 (45. Re7 Ra5 46. a4 Rc5 47. Ke4 Rc3 48. Rxa7 Rxb3 49. Kd5 Rb4 50. Kc6
Kxg4) 45… a5 46. a4 (46. Ke4 Rd2 47. a4 Kxg4 48. Rd3 Rc2) 46… b5 47. axb5
(47. Ke4 Rd8 48. axb5 Rb8 49. Kd4 Rxb5 50. Re5+ Rxe5 51. Kxe5 Kxg4 52. Kd5 Kf5
53. Kc5 Ke6 54. Kb5 Kd6 55. Kxa5 Kc6 56. Ka6 Kc7 57. b4 Kc8 58. Kb6 (58. Ka7
Kc7 59. b5)) 47… Rxb5 48. Rc3 Rb4 49. Rc5+ Kg6 50. Rxa5 Rxb3+ 51. Kf4 Rb6
52. Kg3 Rc6 53. Kh4 Rb6 54. Ra8 Rc6 55. Rg8+ Kh7 56. Rb8 Kg6 57. Rb4 Ra6 58.
Rf4 Rb6 59. g5 Rc6 60. Rf6+ 1/2-1/2

Two Game Match with Stockfish:

Match Game #1

Match Game #2

Tuesdays Round 2

Round 2

I told Dan, after the game, that I like playing the King’s Gambit because of the novel positions that I get from it (versus a Lopez).  You can almost count on getting a unique position when playing the KG, and sure enough we got one.

I have a 6 million game (ChessKing) database, and I want to show how unique these positions are.  2..Nc6 was a really interesting line to get into.  3…d5 looked a bit dubious at first.  3…d6 has been played 730 times, but 3…d6 only 58 times.  Surprisingly, OTB I was most worried about the move 4…Nd4!, which Stockfish says is the #1 move, and curiously has never been played before!  52 out of 54 times, 4…Qxd5 was played;  …e4 and …Bg4 were the other two tries.

After 5…Qd8, this position has been reached a total of 8 times.  My blitz reaction was to play 6.fxe5, but after half a minute, I really wanted to try 6.Bb5.  It took me a solid twenty minutes or more to finally convince myself to play 6.Bb5.  I figured taking the pawn was wasting a tempo, when he could just get in …Bc5 and …Bg4, the pawn may fall anyway, and it looks like I might be playing d3 in that line, or at least Qe2 which I did consider on a couple of positions.  6.Bb5!? attacks the center right away, and leads to that great pawn center I get later on.  If 6…exf4, I figured 7.d4 was an important move to get in.  I felt that 7…Bd6, 8.0-0 would be the follow-up, but I liked my practical chances here.  Interestingly, 6.Bb5 has never been played before (of the 6 million games)!  So, after only five and a half moves we have reached a unique position!

On move, 6.Nxe5 for example, I did finally realize that my Nc3 was covering e4, so …Qh4+ variations are not a threat, but figured after 6…Bc5, 7.Bc4 (attacking f7) Be6 he might be okay, not considering that I had the threat of 8.BxBe6 fxB, 9.Qh5+! threat.  Still, it (Houdini now) gives 7.fxe5 as best, probably because 8…NxNe5 in that line above is messier.

When I saw 6…a6, I figured instantly that 7.BxN followed by 8.Nxe5 would be winning, but then I started to worry about 8…Bc5, preventing d4, but the refutation is then 9.Qe2! when best is 9…Qh4+, 10.g3, Qe7.  9…Ne7?? doesn’t work because 10.Qc4! forks both the f7 square, and the loose bishop on c5.

I looked at 10.Bg5, but figured there was no reason to bother with it, and played the best move 10.0-0

After 12.h3, 12…Nf5 caught me off guard because I was intending to lessen the strength of that move with what I had played, but I’ve studied way too many chess positions to trust that his move was not premature.  13.Bf2 was sort of my plan, anyway, and if 12…Bh4, I had intended 13.Nc3-e2 eyeing f4, and preparing 14.c3 to control the center.  Apparently 13.Qd3 would have been a touch stronger, and that was my second choice.

14….Nxd4?  This move is not solid, but 14…Ne7! is.

I decided that 15.BxN doesn’t do anything because, for example, I saw this whole line OTB: 15… Bxd4+ 16. Kh1 O-O 17. Rad1 c5 18. Ne2 Qe7 19. Nxd4 cxd4 20. Rxd4 Qxe5, which is still +=, but I wasn’t so sure of that at the time.  15…Qd4+ was another way to try and go about this as Black, but I have some e6 try in that line.

I chose 15.Qg4 because it seemed so direct, but more to the point was 15.Qe4++-, which I considered but didn’t see the point of, but here example 15…Ne6 is not possible because 16.Qxc6+ is winning quickly.

15…Nxc2??  I had calculated 15…Ne6, 16.BxBb6 bxB, 17.Qf3 (earlier, I had considered Ne4 followed by Nf6+ in this sort of situation, but somehow had forgotten to try it here) 0-0, 18.Qxc6 Rc8, which didn’t seem to promise much (I said to Dan after the game), but actually I missed 18…Qd4+, 19.Kh1 Qxe5 which is why 17.Rad1 is the move, cutting this out.

But after 15…Nxc2?? I knew he was toast, and played quickly 16.Qxg7.  One can practically play this line on the increment: 16… Rf8 17. Rad1 Qc8 18. Bxb6 cxb6 19. Ne4 Qe6 20. Nd6+ Ke7 21. Rf6 Qxa2 22. e6.  16…BxBf2, 17.RxB NxRa1, 18.QxRa8+ Ke7, 19.Qf6+ Kd8, 20.Qxf7 mate was another line I had calculated, but I had cut off my analyses right before seeing that it was mate, although I had seen that mating idea on f7 already because I knew Black had nothing to stop me with in this line.

Dan seemed disappointed by his loss, that he was paired up, but he gave it a great try, and personally I feel like I am one of the strongest players there in these types of positions, so it wasn’t like it was a simple lack of effort that caused his loss.  A short, but very interesting game.  I can feel that Dan is much stronger than his (unfortunate) rating would indicate.







Sometimes, You Just Gotta Believe

Round 1

I got paired with a brand new opponent whose first rated games have been played in the still ongoing Thursday tournament, which will be rated before this one, and therefore I stood to lose a lot of rating points should I have lost this game.

Mike is a guy around my age, new to tournament chess, but plays casual chess at the Mate Factor, along with many other locals.  It’s been a famous hangout for the last few years where new players are recruited by Pete.

Alexander F. had won his game against Mike on Thursdays, but I had the feeling from the start that this game could go either way.

I played the not so hot 5….a5?! which led me into this 8…Bxe3, which I had never tried before in a rated game.  I didn’t like the position I got, and so played the opening in a very definite, and circumspect manner.

I liked the result of the opening, but in the middlegame I simply used to much time searching for a workable plan.  Nerves lead me to not calculate well.  I was worried he might have a double-exchange sac on f6 for a perpetual, but as long as a rook isn’t on f8, I can run that way, and I could also capture with a pawn on f6, as long as my king can run.  The fact that I didn’t calculate this correctly was a big part of why I didn’t attack well on the other side of the board.  I got down to half a minute when he had over 70 minutes remaining.

I tried an exchange sac, but simply didn’t see his move.  Then I just panicked and played my knight move, letting him take on f7 even though I knew his rook could get away.  Then I went after his king and was dropping my knight should he play 46.g4.  He said he saw this, but thought my b-pawn was more important – I let him know he could have taken that pawn later.  After surviving that hairy ordeal, I calmed down and played very matter-of-fact.  Now it was up to him to either find a win or offer a draw.

He sacked a pawn for what he thought would be mate, but he missed that I had 64….Nxc5.  After realizing he had missed this, it was now his turn to feel a demoralized sense of panic.  He still had around 66 minutes by the end of the game, but appeared to have lost his sense of control of the game, once I survived his mating-net.

Like I told him after the game, 36…bxa4 was simply a dreadful mistake (played in time-pressure).  36…b3 was much better.




Fall Classic Tournament

….also called the Winter Springs Open, but apparently since it’s not “Winter” yet….

Round 1

I saw 24…Qc4 with half a minute left, but was looking for anything better 24…Bxb4! –+.  When I saw I was at five seconds, I played my move and pressed the clock, but somehow it said 30 seconds and flag light was on, so I must have been a tenth of a second too slow, when I was expecting to have made the move with two or three seconds still left.  In the post-mortem, I was mating or winning several different ways against Rhett’s various tries.  he did eventually play the best 28.Nc4, giving up two pawns for the piece but tried 28.Nc4 bxN, 29.Qxa3 Rf7, 30.RxR BxR, 31.bxc? (Rhett and Expert Daniel both chose this capture, which I didn’t see the point of since b1 is controlled by my bishop).  31.dxc is the only way to play on (neither one could hold it after 31.bxc?) with three pawns for the piece.

Round 2

Again, this time on move 40, I played 40…Kf3?? (naturally not seeing the saving move 40…Nf1), knowing that 40…f4+ would be winning for him.  Well, again and this time I was watching the clock when I pressed it, and his clock flagged me as soon as I had pressed the button.  I asked him what his move would be, since I wanted to know if he would have played …f4+, and after some thought he did play that move and won the position easily post-mortem.  We were both nervous during this game and probably both having trouble concentrating (he is closer to my age) compared to Round 1, when a mind is fresh, and we both got under a minute, so neither had any extended time to think and we both had to rattle off moves.  If this had been 40/2hrs time control, there would theoretically be ten minutes left for my 40th move.

Over the years, time-controls for weekend chess tournaments (What happened to “Chess Congress”es?) have gradually gotten faster, and I can’t see how this would benefit people who both study chess books and play in these tournaments unless they are gifted young kids whose parents drag them around to every local tournament (there are many in Colorado – but not in most states!).

Anyway, I may get a bye for Round 3 because I have such a low-score – which sucks, particularly for that reason!.  One thing is for sure that I will get little sleep yet again.

Getting back to the game, I wanted to play 23.Bc1 followed by 24.Ng5, which is winning, but didn’t trust it because it looked anti-positional, and I just didn’t have that much time left to risk missing something.  Also, earlier, I strongly considered 16.c5 pawn sac, as I had been setting up for it for many moves, and figured on 16.c5 bxc, 17.Rb1 Qc6 which opens line against his king, and gets me a great game, but I went for the more positional continuation, and he defended better than I had expected him to.

Funny thing about this game, I forgot to bring a pen, and I used the only junk pen left at the table, and it literally fell apart, and it was taking me a long time to write the moves as all I had to write with was that little skinny plastic ink cartridge the width of the ball.  Despite about five players and the TD watching, no one offered me a pen to borrow even though I kept dropping it as I tried to write my moves.

Round 3

Despite flagging in the two previous games, I got into time-pressure in this game as well, making quite a few moves with 15 seconds remaining, and wisely not letting the time ever drop below that point.

Round 4

Started this game out slow, as if an another flagging would be impending.  She played this …d6-d5 dragon variation, which I had always wanted to play against as White.  Stockfish says her queen trade was a mistake, she should play …Qc7 instead.  Most theoreticians frown on winning the d5 pawn, but I wanted to, and have never thought it too cool that Black was giving up a pawn like that.

After 7.f3, I had 1 hr and five minutes remaining, as I was looking at lines where Black plays 7…Qb6? instead of 7…0-0.  It was her not playing of …Nc6 that threw me off.

When I played 10.exd5, seeing the variation in which I would win a pawn, I had 53 minutes left.  This might seem freaky of me, but from this point on I played on the increment and actually finished the game with that same 53 minutes remaining on my clock!  I had anticipated her moves, so the game felt like it played itself, and it was sharp, and concrete enough that no second-guessing was required.

On a lighter note, funniest flagging I’ve seen, the game was barely started.

New Opponent, Veteran Player

Round 4

Wow, the USCF ratings go back 25 years, and 25 years ago Larry was rated 1815.  He’s literally been bouncing around just below 1800 and 1850 for at least a quarter of a century.  People have lived and died in less time than Larry’s rating has moved.  hehe. (all in jest).  I’ve noticed that this is sort of how my rating has been going, so I can kid around since it maybe a sad truth, but he has probably accepted it long ago, and I sort of accept it as well, can’t control the future when it comes to a chess rating.  I wasn’t nervous at all like I usually am; had less than half a glass of water, and didn’t seem to sweat at all, no real nerves.