Wednesday’s Last Round Game

Round 5

Last round of this tournament, only got about a ten minute nap in before the game, operating on three and a half hours of sleep.  Paul seemed very energetic before the game, and ironically I think this cost him during the game a bit as he played some aggressive moves in the opening that simply didn’t fit the position.  Let’s just say that I felt my blood-pressure was probably a lot lower than Paul’s, and that I aimed to take advantage of this perception on my part.

In the past, Paul has done a great job of working my clock (which works better with the 5 second delay), but this game gave me the impression that he does it by “playing in spots”.  For example, he saw what I didn’t see on move 25, that 25…RxB??, 26.e6 and the pawn races forward; he spent a while on this move.  However, 23…Kg7 was played quickly and impulsively; I assume this was a follow-up idea, since 22…g6, which I was happy to see, was also played quickly, the move before.

One odd thing about Paul(‘s rating), that you have to respect, is that he has been rated Expert before and was often over 1900 in the past.  Just four months ago he was rated over 1900 for two tournaments.  Paul generally plays in a “fighting mood”, once the clock starts.

[Event “Classical Wednesdays”]
[Site “Club Chess!!”]
[Date “2017.11.29”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Brian Rountree”]
[Black “Paul Covington”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “1828”]
[GameNo “-1”]
[WhiteElo “1838”]

1. e4 c5 2. c3 Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 4. d4 e6 5. Nf3 cxd4 6. cxd4 Nc6 7. Bc4 Qa5+ 8.
Bd2 Bb4 9. O-O Bxd2 10. Qxd2 Qxd2 11. Nbxd2 Nf4 12. Rfe1 a6 13. g3 Ng6 14. Ne4
O-O 15. a3 Nge7 16. Nd6 f6 17. Kg2 fxe5 18. dxe5 Nf5 19. Nxc8 Raxc8 20. Rad1
Nb8 21. Bb3 Rc7 22. Rd2 g6 23. Ng5 Kg7 24. Bxe6 h6 25. Bxf5 gxf5 26. Nh3 Rc5
27. Nf4 Re8 28. Nh5+ Kg6 29. Nf4+ Kf7 30. Nd3 Rd5 31. f4 Nc6 32. Red1 Kf8 33.
Ne1 Rxd2+ 34. Rxd2 Ke7 35. Nf3 Na5 36. Nh4 Nc4 37. Nxf5+ Kd8 38. Re2 Re6 39.
Nd4 Rg6 40. h3 Nb6 41. f5 Rg5 42. g4 h5 43. Nf3 Rg8 44. Kg3 Nd5 45. g5 h4+ 46.
Kg4 b5 47. g6 Re8 48. g7 Rg8 49. f6 Nc7 50. Ng5 Ne8 51. f7 Rxg7 52. f8=Q a5
53. Kh5 1-0


Tuesdays’ Last Round Game

Round 4

[Event “Tuesdays Swiss”]
[Site “CSCC”]
[Date “2017.11.28”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Brian Rountree”]
[Black “Sam Bridle”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “1854”]
[GameNo “-1”]
[WhiteElo “1829”]

1. e4 b6 2. d4 Bb7 3. Bd3 Nf6 4. Qe2 Nc6 5. c3 e5 6. d5 Ne7 7. Nf3 Ng6 8. g3
c6 9. c4 Bb4+ 10. Nbd2 O-O 11. O-O a5 12. Nb1 Re8 13. a3 Bc5 14. Nc3 Bd4 15.
Bd2 h6 16. Rab1 Qc7 17. h3 Nh5 18. Nxd4 Nxg3 19. fxg3 exd4 20. Qf2 f6 21. Ne2
c5 22. Bf4 d6 23. g4 Rf8 24. Ng3 Bc8 25. Nf5 Bxf5 26. gxf5 Nh8 27. Qg3 Nf7 28.
Kh1 Kh8 29. Rg1 Ne5 30. Rg2 Qf7 31. Bxe5 dxe5 32. Rbg1 Rg8 33. Qg6 Qxg6 34.
Rxg6 Kh7 35. Be2 Ra7 36. R6g3 Rga8 37. Rb3 Ra6 38. Bh5 Kg8 39. Rgg3 Rb8 40.
Rb5 Kf8 41. Bd1 Ra7 42. Ba4 Ra6 43. Rgb3 Ke7 44. Rxc5 bxc5 45. Rxb8 Kd6 46.
Kg2 Ra7 47. Bc6 Ke7 48. Kf3 Kd6 49. Rb7 Rxb7 50. Bxb7 Kc7 51. Bc6 Kd6 52. Ba4
Kc7 53. Kg4 Kd8 54. Kh5 Ke7 55. Kg6 Kf8 56. Bc2 Kg8 57. d6 Kf8 58. d7 Ke7 59.
Kxg7 Kxd7 60. Kxf6 Kd6 1-0

I was in luck to know who my opponent would be, from the week before.  However, I was the one to quickly get half an hour down in the opening.  Later, Sam played rather inventively, and then he got down on the clock.  In the second half of the game, I was nearly ten minutes up on the clock to his one minute remaining, pressuring him to the end.

I didn’t get nervous in this game, and got to this point where I sort of just said to myself “f*ck it”, and played mostly according to my intuition from that point, or at least took into consideration what I had calculated.

17…Nh5?  I was supposing he would mark time somehow.   My idea went something like 17…Rc8, 18.Rfc1 followed by 19.Be3, when I could go to work on his queenside.  His move wasn’t a surprise, but I had only planned to play 18.Kh2, and that’s when I noticed that he left me with this other option.

18.Nxd4!  Here, I calculated to 20.Qf2, which is the move he said he missed.  I was relaxed, he had spent so much time that the thought crossed my mind for the first time that I could potentially fall asleep I was so relaxed.  I felt that I had decided on this move quickly, and that it felt intuitively right enough for me to simply play it, and trust that it would work out.

20…f6  An anti-climax, giving up the piece.  I said after the game that 20…Ne5 had looked most interesting (was expecting 20…Rf8, though).  He said he didn’t play it because of 21.Bf4, but I told him that I was going to play 21.Ne2! NxBd3, 22.Qxf7+ Kh7, 23.Bxh6+! Kh6, and then probably 24.g4? (draws) Kh7, 25.Rf5 (but here he has …Re5).  Well, at least I told him that I might also play 25.Rf6+! gxR, 26.Rf1, which is winning, but said I might not have enough time (on the board) to make that work.

The funny thing is that I had seen that 20…Ne5 would block his queens path to g3, but that I felt confident playing for the mate, in either case, because I could tell just by looking at the position that his other pieces weren’t getting back on defense in time.

The more prosaic mate I had found, OTB, was 20…dxNc3, 21.Qxf7+ Kh7, 22.e5!, and takes the …Ng6 next.  Apparently, the queen sac 22.QxNg6+! also mates.  Also devastating in that line is 21…Kh8, 22.QxNg6 Re5, 23.Bxh6! (Houdini) gxB, 24.Rf7 mates on h7.




The Longest Think

Before Tuesdays game, I felt I would lose on Tuesday to Mike, and win on Wednesday versus Sam.  Monday, as usual (it’s been my high-energy day as long as I can remember) I had lots of energy.  Tuesday, I went for a little jog before the game, and felt out of it by time to play, not enough of that chess type of endurance left in the tank.

After Tuesday’s game,  I was zonked, and couldn’t believe I missed 26.Nxe, but it was worse than that.  I think I did see it, and he made a sound like he had blundered, saw the move I played first, then I think I saw Nxe (realized he had no intermezzo), then looked at RxN, and I was so tired of thinking that I played the losing knight move, even though I had a couple minutes remaining – can’t really remember doing something like this before.  My b4 pawn sac was also silly, Nb2 was best, but I had realized Kh1 would be fine, but missed that I was simply giving away the b-pawn with check, for free.

There were four people gathered around the board from the beginning, and I thought the game he was showing them before our match, was some novelty …f5, that he was going to try on me.  I almost asked Matthew “Is this what you guys were looking at before the game?” but instead I said/did nothing but focus on lines.  Turns out after the game he had never even seen the Fantasy Variation before and …f5 was improvisation at the board.

This is what I blindfolded.  The variations are all mine, before checking with Stockfish.  I saw more lines during the game.  It was difficult making a decision, holding all of those lines together and mentally deciding on them.  Some of those lines I blindfolded after the game, but there were more that I saw during the game.  Of course, I realized that if I were wrong, I would be losing a piece.  Also, I had to get myself up for all of these calculations, as it wasn’t what I was looking forward to before the game, but enjoy doing once I get warmed up during a game.

I spent one hour on move 7, 60 minutes,  The longest think of my entire “chess career”.  Neither one of us left the board for that full hour.

[Event “Tuesdays Swiss”]
[Site “CSCC”]
[Date “2017.11.21”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Brian Rountree”]
[Black “Michale Evers Smith”]
[Result “0-1”]
[BlackElo “1588”]
[GameNo “-1”]
[WhiteElo “1829”]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 dxe4 4. fxe4 e5 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. Bc4 f5 7. c3 Bxf3 8.
Qxf3 Qh4+ 9. g3 Qxe4+ 10. Qxe4 fxe4 11. O-O Nf6 12. dxe5 Nd5 13. b4 a5 14. a3
axb4 15. cxb4 Bxb4 16. Bb2 Bc5+ 17. Kh1 Nd7 18. Bxd5 cxd5 19. Nd2 Ke7 20. Nb3
Bb6 21. Bd4 Ke6 22. Bxb6 Nxb6 23. Nc5+ Kxe5 24. Rf7 g6 25. Rxb7 Rac8 26. Nd3+
exd3 27. Rxb6 d2 28. Rd1 Rc2 29. Rbb1 Rhc8 30. Kg2 Rc1 31. Kf2 Rxb1 32. Rxb1
Rc1 33. Ke2 d1=Q+ 0-1

Here are the lines I wrote down (not looking at a board) before I stopped from exhaustion:

7.Nc3 Bb4, 8.dxe QxQ, 9.KxQ fxe4 -++
7.Nc3 Bb4, 8.Bf7+ (8…KxB, 9.Ne5+ with 10.NxBg4 +-, 8…Ke7, 9.BxNg8 RxN, 10.Bg5+ ++- ) Kf8, 9.Ng5 BxQ, 10.Nd6+ KxB, 11.NxQ Ke8 –+
7.Nc3 Bb4, 8.0-0 fxe, 9.Bf7+ Kf8, 10.Ng5 BxQ, 11.Nd6+ Ke7, 12.NxQ KxN, 13.RxB Ke7, 14.Bb3 +=, +-.
7.Nc3 Bb4, 8.0-0 Nf6, 9.Bg5 fxe, 10.fxe QxQ, 11.RaxQ BxNc3, 12.bxBc3 fxg2, 13.Kxg2 Nd7, 14.f7+ Ke7, 15.RxN KxR, 16.fxQ RxQ ++-
7.Nc3 Bb4, 8.Qe2 fxe, 9.Qxe Nf6, 10.Qxe5+ +=/+-
7.Nc3 Bb4, 8.Qe2 Nf6, 9.exf e4, 10.h3 BxNf3, 11.gxf3 Qh4+, 12.Qf2 QxQ, 13.KxQ e4xf3, 14.Kxf3 unclear, but 11…Qe7, 12.hxB exN, 13.QxQ KxQ, 14.gxf looks =+.
7.Nc3 Nf6, 8.Bg5 fxe4, 9.dxe5 QxQ, 10.RxQ exN, 11.exN f2+, 12.Kxf2 BxR, 13.fxg7 Rg8, 14.RxB Nd7 =+/-+
But best is
7.BxNg8 RxBg8, 8.Nxc3 Bb4, 9.Qe2 BxN+, 10.bxB Rh8.

Stockfish says 7.Nbd2 is best (saw this right away, but didn’t want to block in bishop). Perhaps, I should have played this sort of move on sight as it helps cover e4 at least until I can castle, but d4 still hangs and can hang with check, dropping the Bc4)

7.0-0 BxNf3, 8.RxB Qh4+, 9.g3 Qxe+, 10.Re3 Qxd4+, 11.QxQ dxQ, 19.Rxe+ Kd7, 20.Rxd+ or 19…Be7, 20.BxNg8 RxN, 21.Bg5++-
7.Nbd2 BxNf3, 8.BxN
7.Nb2 Qxd4, 8.NxQ BxQ, 9.Ne6 with idea of 10.Nc7+ or KxB. ++-
7.Nbd2 Nf6, 8.dxe fxe, 9.Bf7+ KxB, 10.Ng5+ and 11.Qxg4 or 9…Ke7, 10.fxN+ followed by 11.Nxe4 ++-
7.Nbd2 Nf6, 8.exf d4, 9.Bf7+ Ke7, 10.Qe2. +-
7.Nbd2 Nf6, 8.Qe2 Qxd4, 9.NxQ BxQ, 9.NxBe2 ++-
7.Nbd2 Nf6, 8.0-0 fxe4, 9.Bf7+ Ke7, 10.dxe5 exN, 11.exN+ gxf, 12.gxf (bishop retreats) White has open files against Black’s king 13.Qe1 for example. This line is equal because I missed a …Qxd4+ move.
7.Nbd2 Nf6, 8.0-0 fxe4, 10.gxf3! Bf5, 11.exNf6 gxf6, 12.Re1+ around +2 due to the open file pin on the king; e.g., 13.Qe2.

My ability level has gone up, so I am seeing more now, but it’s difficult to adjust when I don’t have the commensurate amount of energy to go with it.  Wednesday night, by contrast, I managed my clock quite well, by my own standards.

I also wrote some more about this game here:

I think this variation is funny, yet insightful:  7.c3 fxe4 8. Bf7+ Ke7 9. Bxg8 exf3
10. Bg5+? (representing the wrong path, 10.gxf3 is +.5, and Black can and probably will easily go wrong and get much worse here, as the calculations are still very complicated) Ke8 11. Bxd8 fxg2 12. Qxg4?? (Kf2) gxh1=Q+ 13. Kf2 Kxd8 – +9 for Black.

The game, from move seven, can get very “super-computerish” IMHO, and one does need to calculate rather well, or simply take an easy way out with, for example 7.BxNg8, which is what my opponent was expecting.  Even here, one would need to find a line, but position after move 6…f5 was going to be a very tactical one, no matter.

6…Nd7 is the engine move, which Paul A. happily told Mike after the game.  I like how this is a position that makes people want to say “What does the (super) computer say, boss?”  It’s worth noting that

Of the nearly 6 million game GigaKing database, there is only one game where this opening position was played:

[Event “Verbandsliga Baden North 2009/10”]
[Site “Baden (Germany)”]
[Date “2009.10.11”]
[Round “1”]
[White “Kammerer Christoph”]
[Black “Zjajo Almir”]
[Result “1-0”]
[Annotator “”]
[BlackElo “0”]
[Classes “0”]
[ECO “B12”]
[GameID “0”]
[Remark “”]
[Source “”]
[WhiteElo “0”]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 dxe4 4. fxe4 e5 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. Bc4 f5 7. Qd3 Bxf3 8.
Qxf3 Qh4+ 9. g3 Qxe4+ 10. Qxe4 fxe4 11. dxe5 Nd7 12. Bf4 Bc5 13. c3 g5 14.
Bxg5 Nxe5 15. Be2 Nf3+ 16. Bxf3 exf3 17. Nd2 h6 18. Bf4 f2+ 19. Ke2 Nf6 20.
Be5 O-O 21. Bxf6 Rae8+ 22. Kf1 Rxf6 23. b4 Be3 24. Nc4 b5 25. Nxe3 Rxe3 26.
Rc1 Kf7 27. Kg2 Re2 28. Rhf1 Rxa2 29. c4 a6 30. cxb5 axb5 31. Ra1 Rb2 32. Rab1
Re2 33. Rb3 Ke6 34. Rbb1 Kd5 35. Rfd1+ Ke4 36. Rf1 Kd3 37. g4 Kc3 38. Rfc1+
Rc2 39. Rf1 Rb2 40. Rxb2 Kxb2 41. Rxf2+ Rxf2+ 42. Kxf2 Kc3 43. h4 Kxb4 44. g5
hxg5 45. hxg5 Kc3 46. g6 b4 47. g7 b3 48. g8=Q b2 49. Qg7+ Kc2 50. Qg6+ Kd2
51. Qb1 Kc3 52. Ke2 c5 53. Qd3+ Kb4 54. Kd2 1-0

I considered that 7.Qd3 was a principled move (+=) because there is no …Nc6 in this position, but still didn’t analyze it correctly OTB (basically left it un-analyzed for the most part because it kept looking too “scary”, though it’s actually quite straightforward for a decent calculator); e.g. 7.Qd3 Nf6, 8.Nc3 (8.Nbd2 is also possible) Bb4, 9.Ne5! is equal.  Also, after 7.Qd3 Nf6, simply 8.dxe5! (this is possible because now if Black trades queens it will be on d3, and reinforces the pawn center, rather than on d1 when the pin from the …Bg4 would still exist) Nxe4, 9.QxQ is +=  Finding a nice, positional continuation such as this one, is what I struggled with, OTB.

It’s interesting to note that in the DB game, both players lose the thread on moves 12 for Black, and move 13 for White, respectively.  Black later finds, and decides on the …g5 idea, and by move 15 the position is equal.  After that, Black begins to go wrong.  I suspect that White found and played 7.Qd3 rather quickly, which is a common move from the pattern-perspective of the position, and in this game it was more likely that Black was the one going into time-trouble.  Probably Black spent a lot of time on …f5, unlike my opponent.

To my credit, I did figure out OTB that 7.Qd3 was a wasted tempo for White, in the 7…Bxf3 line, which is best in both variations, so 7.c3 was actually a superior move, and I almost played it maybe 15 minutes earlier than I did.  However, I played it in an inferior manner with 9.g3, when 9.Kd1 Qxe4, 10.Nbd2 is best.   9.Kd1 isn’t so surprising considering it avoids where White is the one being forced to trade queens, as it relates to the pawn structure situation, but I determined OTB that I simply didn’t have the clock-time to investigate this position further.

I looked up the player of the White pieces, and he was rated 1896 FIDE at the time of this game.  The correct way to determine the “ultimate solution” in this position is in fact to try to make a line work where …BxNf3 is least beneficial to Black, and even OTB it was obvious to me that 7…exf5 was that line where it would be worst for Black.  OTB, I did look at 7.exf5 BxNf3, 8.QxB Qxd4 (8…Qh4+, 9.Qf2), 9.Qh5+! g6?? (…Kd8), 10.fxg QxBc4??, which ironically I just stopped at this same place right now (while not trying to blindfold it), which is tragicomical since White has g7+ (discovered check).

It’s funny, after the game I told Michael “Well, at least if someone plays 6…f5 against me again, I’ll probably just crush them.”  If I ever see this position in a quick-game it will help me even more because I won’t have to waste time on it.


Tuesdays, Round 3



Wednesdays, Round 4

Late November Quick-Chess

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

My only loss, but even this game was lost then winning, then lost again.

[Event “Quick Chess”]
[Site “Club Chess!!”]
[Date “2017.11.17”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Alexander Bozhenov”]
[Black “Brian Rountree”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “1829”]
[GameNo “-1”]
[WhiteElo “1983”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Bc5 5. Be3 Qf6 6. c3 Nge7 7. Bc4 Ne5 8.
Bb3 d6 9. O-O Bd7 10. Nd2 Ng4 11. h3 Nxe3 12. fxe3 Qg5 13. Bxf7+ Kd8 14. Ne6+
Bxe6 15. Bxe6 Bxe3+ 16. Kh1 Bxd2 17. Qf3 Ng6 18. e5 Nxe5 19. Qxb7 Ke7 20. Bf5
Bf4 21. Qxc7+ Kf6 22. g4 Rhd8 23. Rad1 Nf7 24. Rfe1 Be5 25. Rf1 Bf4 26. Be4 g6
27. Bxa8 Rxa8 28. Rxd6+ Nxd6 29. Qxd6+ Kg7 30. Qxf4 Qh4 31. Qc7+ Kh6 32. Kg2
Rd8 33. Qf7 Rd2+ 34. Rf2 Rxf2+ 35. Qxf2 Qe7 36. Kg3 Qd6+ 37. Qf4+ Qxf4+ 38.
Kxf4 1-0

Round 4


This Week’s Games

Round 2, Tuesdays

Round 3, Wednesdays

[Event “Classical Wednesdays”]
[Site “Club Chess!!”]
[Date “2017.11.15”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Teah Williams”]
[Black “Brian Rountree”]
[Result “0-1”]
[BlackElo “1829”]
[GameNo “-1”]
[WhiteElo “1665”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 a6 6. Bg5 d6 7. Nbd2 h6 8. Bh4
Qe7 9. h3 Be6 10. Qb3 b5 11. Bxe6 Qxe6 12. O-O O-O 13. Rac1 Bb6 14. d4 Qxb3
15. axb3 Nh5 16. dxe5 g5 17. exd6 gxh4 18. Nxh4 Nf4 19. Kh1 cxd6 20. Nf5 Nd3
21. Rc2 Nxf2+ 22. Kh2 h5 23. Nxd6 Bc7 24. Rxf2 Bxd6+ 25. Kh1 Bg3 26. Rf5 h4
27. Nf1 Bc7 28. Rg5+ Kh7 29. Rh5+ Kg6 30. Rxh4 f5 31. exf5+ Rxf5 32. Rg4+ Kf7
33. Ng3 Rd8 34. Rg7+ Kxg7 35. Nxf5+ Kf6 36. g4 Ne5 37. Rf2 Kg5 38. Kg2 Nd3 39.
Ng7 Nxf2 40. Ne6+ Kh4 41. Nxd8 Bxd8 42. Kxf2 Kxh3 43. Kf3 Bg5 44. c4 Bc1 45.
cxb5 axb5 46. g5 Bxg5 47. Ke4 b4 48. Kd3 Kg3 49. Kc2 Kf3 50. Kd3 Bf4 51. Kc4
Bd2 52. Kd3 Be1 53. Kc2 Ke2 54. Kc1 Bd2+ 55. Kc2 Bf4 56. Kb1 Kd2 57. Ka2 Kc2
58. Ka1 Kxb3 0-1

4.c3  It’s important to have your early pawn-breaks memorized in 1.e4 e5 openings.  Here, 4.d4 would need to be met by either the unpopular 4…Bd6 or by 4…dxe4, 5.cxd4 Bb4+ (with …d5 to follow) to avoid giving White a material advantage.

6.Bg5  This looks sort of automatic, but perhaps more successful tries are 6.0-0 with 7.Be3, or 6.Bb3 (to remove the bishop to the other diagonal at the right moment).  Both of these options give Black one more chance to play …h6, when White can then get in Be3 with a sort of gain of tempo.

Believe it or not, Black can already play …h6, …g5, and after a bishop trade on e6, if White castles queenside, then Black can also castle queenside, for a slight advantage, versus kingside, which would only be equal.

5…d6.  Playing this move instead of …h6 here may seem insignificant, but White could now take the game into a very different direction with 7.e4 instead of 7.Nbd2.

9…Be6.  9…Bd7 would be a decent waiting move, to see which side Black castles on.  9…Bb6 is another fine waiting move, but the DB prefers …Ba7 in all 7 tries, so either way.

10…b5?!  Better here, for Black, is 10…Na5, 11.Qa4+ Bd7, 12.Qc2 (12.QxNa4? b6, 13.Qxa6 RxQ, 14.BxR b5!, which is close to +1 for Black).

13.Rc1  White aims at winning the c7 pawn after a d4 push, but this ignores the reality of the situation.  Not only should Black now play 13…Nh5, but White’s more valuable e4 pawn would also come under fire, after trading on d4, in the game continuation.

16.dxe5  During the game, I was expecting the best continuation, 16.d5 Nb8, which I was still pleased about.  After the game, I suggested to Teah that she could have avoided my trappy play with 16.Kh2, but even here Houdini shows Black gets an advantage after trading on d4, and then playing …Re8, where playing Rfe1 to guard the e4 pawn could end in a fork to …Nh5-f4-d3.

17…exd6. Houdini considers 17.g4 to be the better line, which surrenders the exchange for a pawn. I had seen this line before playing …Nh5, but judging by the speed of her reply, I would guess she did not look at this continuation. In any case, it’s not an easy determination, OTB.

18.Nxh4? This loses +1.5 of score, according to Houdini. Best was to take on c7, which deflects the bishop from it’s diagonal, or requires two moves from a rook to recapture, and the knight was going to take on h4 and then play to f5 anyway. I think she moved too quickly here, not seeing a potential knight skewer on the d-file (if her knight recaptured on d6) until after she had moved. Perhaps more importantly, though, Nxh4 ignores the reality of Black’s next move.

18…Nf4 Here, I did look at 18…Ng3, 19.Rfe1, but missed that 19…Ne5! will then win on exchange after …Nd3 or will win the d6 pawn outright, as well as the f2 pawn. It’s worth noting here that the …Ng3 controls the f5 square that her knight wants to jump to, and if her king moves, then …Bxf2 will also protect the Ng3, and the two here offer interlocking protection as well, the …Ng3 controls f1. Even more amazing is that if White plays a Rc2 followed by say b4 and Nb3, then …Ng3xe4 will defend the …Bf2, which is now attacking the Nh4, and in between all those moves Black would already have a rook protecting the won d6 pawn.

It’s worth noting that 18.Kh2, instead of 18.Nxc4 would have stopped this tactic, although this one move hesitation, would have allowed Black to successfully defend both d6 and h6 pawns by playing …Rfe8-e6.

19.Kh1? At the board, given the time she spent (not a quick move), I somehow suspected this move, and yet it is a gross mistake. Best is to move the Rc1 to get out of the fork, but even 19.Kh2 is -1, whereas her move is -2. The immediate problem is that she avoids one fork, but now allows Nxf2+, and that check represents an extra tempo for Black. The fear of putting the king on the h2 diagonal was a very far-off threat, and not so pertinent. At the board, it’s easy to get a bit paranoid and to fear the far-off threat; a Master might refer to these as “ghost” threats.

19…cxd6? Not accurate. 19…Nd3 should be played now, with the reason given in the next note – 19…Nd3 would prevent White from stopping the …Nd3, …Nxf2+ line.

20…Nf5? Returning the favor. 20.Ndf3 should be played now to avoid the variation where Black plays Nxf2+. After 20.Ndf3 Nd3, 21.Rc2, f2 is protected and Black can’t take it with check, either. After 20…Ndf3, 21.Rc2 Rad8 (..Nc5 is better), 22.Nh4f5 Kh7, 23.N3d4! White has protected all of it’s loose pawns, but in doing so made sure Black can trade off a night, have a great unnattacked pawn center, with a monster Nf5 and rooks without worries. So, by just protecting everything, our hero the Class A player, could end up with a lot less of a position, as Black. What’s worse is that White’s pieces are much more interconnected here, easily able to defend all of it’s practical weaknesses. The key is that White is not focused on material, but rather on consolidating his/her position – “playability” in a nutshell.

22…h5 This move is not as accurate as 22…Kh7. For one, the pawn is more a liability than an asset (pushing it considers it to be an immediate asset), and two the king is brought into play, covering a couple third-rank squares that could deny the knight or rook access. It should be noted that the “weak f7” pawn is obstructed by the good knight on f5. After 22..Kh7, f7 could be viewed an alarming weakness (not defending the second rank with the king, with check), but here we have to say “ghost threat” as not only is the …Rf8 defending the square at the moment, but so is the …Nf2, and …Nf5, too many obstructions for White.

23.Nxd6? It’s amazing how much, we as human beings, love pawn-counting. Better ideas were 23.b4, to mark Black’s a6 pawn as a permanent weakness, and it also mobilizes White’s mass of pawns, which is better for later attacking with it, and defending it. Taking the d6 pawn mostly opens up the d-file for a Black rook, it doesn’t improve White’s pieces by comparison at all, since White is not asking the question “Darn, if I only had a knight on d6, all my other pieces could strike immediately!” This fall’s under the principle given by Timur Gareev “Don’t be the one to open up the position if your position (piece-development) is worse!” The other idea, given by Houdini, is to play 23.g3 with the idea of Kg2, where the king adds its control to f2.

23…Bc7?! Inaccurate. It’s easy to see this move is a product of the trading of pieces in time-pressure, to gain a more manageable position. 23…Rad8, followed by 24…Rfe8 is the stronger plan here. It’s easy to fear White playing Ra1, taking that pawn, and skewering the pieces on the third-rank, but by then Black is trading the a6 pawn for the more valuable e4 pawn, and also can step out of this skewer with …Bc7+, followed by …Ne7, attacking Whites Nf5.

25…Bg3 A miscalculation in time-pressure, not seeing that White could eventually win Black’s …g3 pawn with Rg5+, a few moves down the road. Two top moves here are 25…h4 (a far more accurate move-order than …Bg3), and …Re8 (best). I considered …Re8, as well as …Be5, and …Ne5. I could see that …Re8 ties down White the most, but I was as impatient as my clock to find something more definite seeming, in terms of a forcing-sequence.

It’s critical, for our chess-development, to look at 25…Re8, to “gain the idea” of why it is so strong; e.g., 25…Rfe8, 26.Rc1 Rad8, 27.Ra1 Bg3, 28.Rf5 RxNd2, 29.Rg5+ Kf8, 30.RxBg3 Rd1+, 31.Kg2 Rxe4, 32.Rxa6 Ree1 (threatening …Ra1 mate), 33.Ra8+ Nd8, 34.Rg5 h4! shutting the door on a mating-trap, where White must give up the exchange on d8 in order to buy time to eat the h4 pawn, stopping the mate.

27…Bc7?? This is just panic in time-pressure, not wanting to lose a pawn on g3. The bishop could be moved to e5, and if 28.Rg5+ Be5-g7, and then centralizing the rooks, is just fine for Black, and still winning. Also, there was no need to fear the “loss of the g-pawn” as in the variation where the bishop goes to g7, White hardly ever has time to recapture that pawn, her position is too bad, and in any case it can be given up for a relatively easily winning position in the line 27…Rfe8 (or 27…Rae8), 28.NxB hxN, 29.Rg5+ Kf8, 30.Rxg3 Rxe4! 27…Rfe8 is more accurate than 27…Rae8, because you want to be able to defend that f7 pawn, and even it press it forward to …f5. I wasn’t sure about what to do with the knight, OTB, but besides attacking in the center, the move …Na5 attacks White’s weakned pawn-structure, where b4 could follow, then …Nc4, and …Nc4-d2, attacking the backward b3 pawn is something to look for.

30.Rxh4?? Ironically, the thing that probably saved me is that I was blitzing my moves, which perhaps got her to believe me as she blitzed back, even though she had 30 minutes on her clock to my 2 minutes. 30.Rc5 skewers my minor pieces, and wins one of them.

30…f5?! Blitzed. This is a concession in time-pressure, even if it doesn’t look like it and makes Black’s position seem more manageable. …Ne5, …Re8 and …Rd8, sitting on the position are all more sensible moves (not relieving the tension), but again it’s hard to sit in time-pressure when one gains more feeling of control by taking measureable action. Also note that …Na5 can be met by Ne3 where Black walks into a perpetual.

31.exf?! Again, 31.g3 would aim for a rook perpetual on the g and h files, if Black takes on e4 when a White rook is on f2, which could happen when White doesn’t capture right away on e4. 31.g3 also allows the king to get to g2, and recapture of the pawn on e4 with a rook, versus letting Black capture on f5 with a rook.

33.Ng3?! I figured this was a mistake the moment I saw it. I was starting to look at 33.Nd2, as 33.Ne3 didn’t look so challenging, but is in fact best, as White will get the more active piece outcome from this variation. The problem with 33.Ng3 is that it cannot be simply played. For example, I was prepared to play 33…Rad8, 34.Rc1 BxNg3, 35.RxB Rd2, 36.Ra1 a5 (…Ne5 is a little better)

35…Kf6! Instinctively played, even after considering that …Rf2 likely follows at some point. A …Kg6 move could be met by a …Re6+ move, at some point.

36…Ne5?! Not accurate, as a 36…Rd3! move, after 37.Kg2 Ne7, 38.NxN KxN, 39.Re2+ Ke7 with …Rg3+ to follow will win the h3 pawn or the g3 pawn.

37.Rf2?? 37.Nd4+ can keep Black’s position afloat a while longer (-1 for White).

37…Kg5 I figured this was a mistake when I played it, but felt it would challenge her more in my time-pressure. I was preparing to play 38.Ng7 Kh4 (-.7 for White), but missed this idea of 38.Nd4 (-.24), since after 38…Kh4, 39.Kg2, White threatens to mate with 40.Nf3+!, so Black would be compelled to sac his knight for the g and h pawns to stop this threat (+1.16). After …Nd4, 39.Kg6 is the move.

The real reason 37…Kg5 is so bad, though, is that Black is winning a rook after 37…Rd1+!, 38.Kg2 (Kh2 walks into discoveries like …Nxg4+) Nd3, 39.Rf1 (Rf3 gets forked by Ne1+) Nf4+, 40.Kg2 Bb6+ (Black can take on h3 first, then repeat this position) wins the Rf1.

38.Kg2? Given she had a long think here, I figured she was trying to set up Ng7, rather than pull the trigger on it immediately.


39.Ng7? 39.Rf1 Nf4+ 40.Kf3 Nxh3 wins the h3 pawn, but the game continuation is worse.

41.BxNd8?? I felt 41.Nxh3 was better, but this move is the epitome of the classic time-pressure “game management” concession. After 41.Nxh3, I am gaining both the g and h pawns, and have a bishop for a doubled-pawn. In the game continuation, I am playing into the unknown, not knowing I have walked Black’s position into a simple draw.

43…Bg5 The kicker is that she offered a draw here, which I said I would consider, but quickly made my move anyway with just under two minutes remaining. I’d come to realize that draw offers are defeatist, particularly in time-pressure, which is largely about confidence. The other thing is that by offering a draw, in a position probably only she felt was equal, caused her to lower her guard, which has ironically also been the source of many of my defeats.

44…Bc1?? Losing, because she has two protected passed pawns she can push, not just one, but she evidently didn’t work out a variation for this draw, as she traded pawns after not too much time spent on thought. 45.c5 Bxb2, 46.c6 Be5, 47.Ke4 (probably what she missed) Bc7, 48.g5 wins.

45.cxb?? Draws, 45.c5 wins.

46.g5 46.b4 either here, or on the next move, draws.

47.Ke4?? A drawing line here could be, for example, 47.b4 Be7, 48…Ke4 Bxb, 49.Kd5 Be7, 50.b4 Bxb, 51.Kc6 Ba5, 52.Kxb5. In the game continuation, Black needed only avoid a simple stalemate trick of capturing on b2 while the White king is on b1 and the Black king on b3.

This probably just looks like a lot of analysis over just another chess game, but I think I have found the secret of chess, at long last.  Maurice Ashley once said that the secret of chess was “drawbacks”, as in what is the drawback of a particular move.  I would extend this further and say that the secret of chess is “comparative analysis”; i.e., comparing one variation to another, one idea to another.

I studied tactics patterns (still forget them), how to attack (and hopefully defend), how to calculate, blindfold a bit, but in all of these you can still lose to an otherwise passive (or active) strategic player, if you let them win the battle of “comparative analysis”.  This is why study of one’s own games, in depth, is the key to improving in chess.  If you don’t get better at this one trait, OTB, then it will be easy to find ruin at any turn in the game.

I guess another way of saying this is to go ahead and study all of these different parts of chess – endgames, openings, etc, etc, but once that is what it is, it’s the comparative-analysis which determines how well one synchronizes all of these abilities into one coherent whole during the course of a game.  That is your yardstick for improving your chess during a game.




Friday Night Quick Chess

Round 1

This was a CK Fantasy variation against a new player.  I seem to have misplaced the scoresheet at the moment

Round 2

Round 3

This game is quite sad, as I forgot to press my clock, and it was only after four minutes that I caught this mistake.  I seemed to have had some better ideas in my head than the moves I played, but played quite wobbly instead.

Round 4

23…Qc6??  Quite sad, simply 23…Qc7 holds the e5 pawn.  I went to on lose this game in a rook and two pawns versus rook and three pawns, got cornered into a checkmate.

I played against Sean, who is originally from S. Africa on three separate blitz sessions – very informal, though, since I couldn’t keep up with him at blitz, and he allows take-backs, and we are just trying to have some interesting games.  That said, we’ve played for around seven hours or more since Friday.  I can definitely say that my style is improving.  Most of our games are draws, and he’s won more games than I, but we’ve been getting much closer in strength this last time (past two days).  Before that, he was cleaning my clock, so I had to start playing more prophylactically, and we’ve been playing many interesting endgames.

We’re both strong enough that anything which isn’t some absolute, obvious win, with a big material advantage, will likely turn into a draw, as he can find study-like endgame draws, and I was playing somewhere close to that myself.

I would say that Sean is borderline Expert strength, but clearly in the high 1900’s in strength.  I played this one game, which is not representative of our games by any stretch, but it was a slick enough stand-out tactical win that I wanted to preserve it.

Brian vs Sean

I didn’t write down the moves, so the move order in the opening is not correct, but the position where the tactics begin is correct.  20…Ne5.  If he had played 20…Kf8, I was going to play 21.Qe7+ Kg8, 22.Qe8+ Nf8, 23.Ne7+, where he has to give up his queen to avoid mate.

By no means have I been feeding him a constant bevy of Open Sicilians; if I did that, I would lose most of them!  I’ve played C3 sicilians, 1.d4, and 1.c4.  The English, 1.c4, provides some crazy endgame, and at first I had no idea how to play it, and he was thrashing me, but then I settled down and did better with it.  My best success has been with 1.d4 against his Gruenfeld, I’ve gotten winning positions nearly every time.  I’ve barely even played this opening online, but I seem to have a good feel for it with White, although in fairness I’ve noticed in this opening that it’s not so forgiving for Black.  If he misses one thing, one move, then White’s position can steamroll, and it’s much easier to play than 1.e4 in the sense of expertise required to win a game.  I even won a Benoni as Black, but was losing – Benoni is just a great opening for swindles from the Black side, possibly the best opening for that.

Most of our games are these staid affairs, but we do have a lot of exciting games (not as boring as the pros though, IMHO.  😉 ).  I wish I could remember this one game I played not long before end, but it was so many moves, and I really only remember it from the middlegame onward.


Didn’t See It Coming

Round 2

6.Be3  I play the Kupreichick because it’s the easiest to understand, particularly for blitz.  I wasn’t looking for an opening duel, but I got one anyway.

8.Be2  I spent 8 minutes on this move, and then regretted not playing 8.Bd3  When I force myself to move before I really want to, for sake of time, it usually means I don’t play the move I really wanted to.  Naturally, my troubles came from not finding deeper ideas in subsequent positions.

9.dxe5  An idea I missed here was 9.Nxd5 (an easier game for White) Nxd5, 10.dxe5 Bb5?!, 11.c4! Bc6, 12.cxd tears at Black’s pawn center a bit.  +=

10.b4?!  I looked at 10.0-0 Nf5, 11.Bf4, but then 11…d4? looked scary to me, since I thought my Nb1 would then be shut out, but I wasn’t understanding that position, since 12.Na3, and it’s in no danger of …Bf8xNa3 now that …d4 has been played.

11.bxc5?  Panic, desperation.  I didn’t realize the strength of Na3.  For example 11.0-0 Nxe5, 12.NxN NxN, 13.Na3 a6, 14.Rfe1 is equal, and Black can go wrong; e.g; 14…Be7, 15.bxc5 Bxc5, 16.Bxc5 Qxc5, 17.Bh5+ g6, 18.RxNe5 QxNa3, 19.Bg4 0-0-0, 20.Bxe6 Bxe6, 21.Rxe6 +=.

13.0-0  At first, I was prepared to play 13.Qf4 0-0, 14.Qg3, hence why I decided to play this line starting with move 11, however I hadn’t seen 13…0-0 at that point, and sticking my queen on g3 scared me off it, but it’s Houdini’s #1 move.

21.Bxd3  Here, I offered a draw, and it is essentially equal.

22.Qc2  In time-pressure, I start to drift.  22.Qe3 was equal.

23.Nd6??  This move was mostly a reaction to 22…Rd4, which I didn’t expect, nor did I understand.  I figured at least I’d have a chance to trap his rook, but then it dawned on my that he had something bigger planned, and I chose the best move 23.f3, in the post-mortem.  This is what happens when one doesn’t budget their time well.  Essentially, I “lost the thread of the position” here.

24.f3?!  No sooner had I played this than wished it had been 24.g3, but they are both losing, like -7 or more, and Earl had no problem with winning against both lines in the post-mortem.

26.Qb3??  Made with 6 seconds on my clock.  Earl said he had planned 26.QxR Nxf3+ followed by NxQ, which is best, and still winning for Black.

Sometimes, the most difficult type of position to deal with is a very “wide” one, where you need to be aware of four or five or more different continuations, and not simply two or three.  I think the stronger one gets at analyzing, the more this becomes apparent.