Main Line Caro-Kann

Round 1

11.Be3  11.Bd2 is far more popular and successful, but I wasn’t sure at the time, only had a guess that it might be.

13.Ne2  13.Ne4 would have been more challenging, although my move is more familiar from similar lines of theory.

13…Ne7  Unassuming.  After 13…Qa5, 14.Kb1 Nf6, I was looking at 15.g4 here, but …Nxg4, 16.Rdg1 Ndf6! shuts this idea down.  So, 15.Nf3-d2! would be best here, since 16.Nc4 is threatened to fork queen and bishop, and is a good square for the knight.

14…Nd5  14…Nf6 is smoother.

15.Bd2  15.c4 NxBe3, 16.fxNe3 preserves initiative.  It jumped out at me, but I wasn’t sure.

14.b3?!  Too cautious.  14.b4!, 14.Nc3, and 14.Bc3 are all better moves according to Houdini.

18….a6 is best (+.5), a cautious move that I pointed out after the game.  However, OTB I’m always most worried about the sharpest lines, and showed Shirley 18….cxd4, 19.Nb5 Nc5, thinking 20.Qc2 (Qe2 would be better) d3, 21.Qc3 could be good for her, but just missing that 20.Qxd4 is safe to play, and is actually completely winning for White after 20…Qb8, 21.Bf4! BxBf4, 22.QxNc5+.

18…Nb8??  I told Shirley after the game, I had seen that this move was losing in all lines, and the eval jumps to nearly +9 for White!  So, it’s really over here, and all that’s left is to choose your color of fireworks; a lot of paths will lead to Rome.

Time-wise, I had an hour and ten minutes remaining, and Shirley forty minutes.  This means the game was approximately an hour and a half, and I did most of my thinking on her clock (for a change from all the blitzers who I play).

Shirley put her opening knowledge she had just learned to good use, and for me who doesn’t normally play this line but wants to incorporate it into my repertoire, I got a good sense from the game and Houdini as to just which moves and ideas take priority over others (or at least a bit more than I understood previously).

Impatience in Time-Pressure

The Cabin Fever Reliever is a four-round tournament held over two weeks.  The time-controls are G/45, d/10

Round 1

Clinton is a “new” player.  Actually, he is an older gentleman who apparently just started playing again this year, and that his previous rating was from before 1992, when they started keeping ratings online.

8.Nb3  8.Nf5! appears to be a strong novelty, if Black plays 8….Bxf5 (Bxg5, Nd5 and exf5 are coming), so perhaps 8…Be6 is better.

16.Rc1 A more interesting, direct try is 16.fxe fxe, 17.Bg4 opposing Black’s strong, centralized bishop.

18.Rf3?!  Not so good, since after 18…d5, 19.f5 dxe4 he hits my rook on f3.

I fell for his trap 20.Rxf5??, and naturally caught my mistake as soon as I had removed my hand from the piece (or I would have gotten checkmated), but nevertheless felt that I would win this game at that moment.  Houdini is not so forgiving and gives Black a winning advantage.  I managed to stay on course and blitz out the rest.  I finished with 7 minutes remaining to his 2 seconds.  Rest of the game is not so interesting to analyze since he let me get in everything I was trying to do.

It’s interesting how my big blunder in each of these games was by not doing a mental visual, by (visually) asking what will my opponent’s next move be(?)  Another interesting aspect of this is that I believe you should not be doing an eval in a very concrete situation such as this (I did look at the obvious-looking 20.exf5 as well) as much as making sure that you have visualized a forcing sequence far enough.  When I get nervous or too blitzy, it’s easy to stop visualizing the position and simply want to play a move quickly.


Round 2

I was down to 52 seconds in this game when I essentially pre-moved (he hit the clock and  then I made my move) a blunder, saw it after I let go of the piece, and then resigned after he made the move e4.  Because it’s delay 10, it was getting discouraging watching my time dwindle down another 2-4 seconds after each move, so I finally made an instant move to put an end to that, and it was a blunder in an equal position.  He had 17 minutes on his clock still remaining.  A couple moves before the blunder, I picked up the knight to put it on d6, and put it on f5 instead, then he instantly complained to the TD, but then let it go.

That delay is so weird, half the battle is simply to complete the moves.  I offered him a draw right before this whole melt-down happened, but he had time, so of course he wasn’t’ going to, even though his body language at the time seemed to indicate that he felt he was in trouble.

I looked at the game afterward (he left to go home without a post-mortem), and I could see that White can torture Black for a while to come, since all White needs to do to create a winning position is to manufacture a rook breakthrough.  One way to do the breakthrough would be to get an open file on the kingside for the White rook to penetrate.  On the queenside, he can defend his pawn with his bishop, but Black can’t necessarily defend his pawn with the knight.

In the future, with this opening, I’ll need to save more time for the endgame where I’ll need to push the play with my pawns more, and trade pieces less or more creatively.  Also, I’ll need to avoid stereotyped play.  At one point, I couldn’t decide between 14…Re8 and 14…Qb7+ and should have chose the former, in the game.



Limited Time

Round 5, last round

I was already running late when my windshield wiper threw it’s blade, and I had to stop at the auto parts store and buy and put on a new wiper, then I got a call from my mom letting me know a plumber was on his way to check out my hot water heater and give an estimate, so I then drove back home to let him in and explain the situation with the hot-water heater.  When I finally got to the tournament, I had 40 minutes remaining on my clock, and my opponent, who only played in this round, used only 12 minutes for the entire game, much like the Tuesday before last when I played him.

Mike showed me a different variation than he had played last time, and so I sunk deep into thought, using my remaining time mostly on the opening, which I was hoping to get out of but never did.  Once the game was over and the nerves were off, I played rather convincingly against him in the post-mortem variation.  I think if the game had gone on, and I hadn’t blundered it away, we would both have begun to trade oversights, since he simply moves too quickly.

I wasn’t seeing deeply the way I needed to in those positions, but I don’t think he was seeing deeply at all compared to the requirements of the positions.  I believe he was mostly playing for the result, and that worked for him.

While this game was meaningless in terms of the tournament result (not rating), it was meaningful in the sense that it was the last round at this venue.  We lost  the Friday day, and neither TD wants to pick up any other days of the weeks.  So, there won’t be chess three days a week next month.

I came home and played one blitz game:

You can see that I can play a normal game.  Tournament chess, though, is more like a search for the truth and the problems are generally less trivial, as online in a complex position both players would be likely to blunder through it.  I could have played my game tonight that way as well, but chose not to.

4…exd4.  My nervousness made it difficult to concentrate.  I knew the right move was 4…Bxd4, but I did a poor visual, saw 5.c3 Bc5?? (…Bb6), 6.Qd5 winning the piece.  Luckily, I caught this error on my own as soon as I got home.

6.Bg5.  Naturally, on most of his moves he played the move I hadn’t calculated, and thus wasted my time that way.

7…Bb4+  I wanted to play the stronger 7…Bb6, but wasn’t able to calculate at the beginning of the game.  My original intention was to get some coffee before the game, but I just didn’t have time for that distraction.

8….0-0?!  8…h6 threatens to win the e4 pawn with 9…g5, so White must then trade on f6 or be worse.  I noticed after we both castled that I was a move too late to do this; he also thought that I would play 8…h6 now.

10….Bxc3?!  I still haven’t gotten a grip on the position as of yet.  I played this because it was the only way I could see to make a …Na5 follow-up move safe to play.  Again, after playing this move/idea, I now saw that ….Bg4, which would have been the correct move here, will make the …g5 push more safe for Black.  Also, …Bg4 renews the threat of taking on e4, since 10….Bg4, 11.Nd5? g5, 12.Bg3 Nxe4, and if 12.Nd5xNf6 QxNf6, 13.Bg3 BxNf3, 14.QxBf3 QxQ, 15.gxQ Nxd4 wins a pawn.  I never looked at a deep line like this!  Shallow analysis caused me to lose this game.

11…Bg4  Oddly enough, this move is in the database (#1 move), with 16 games played.  I spent a lot of time looking at 11…Be6, and this is the sort of move that I routinely blitz out over the internet, but I knew it was a concession, and didn’t get to the truth of the position; e.g., 11…Be6, 12.BxB fxB, 13.Qb3 Qd7 14.BxNf6 (to protect the e4 pawn with tempo), RxB, 15.Qxb7 Rb8.  Black is down a pawn, but has an easily playable position (I showed this line to Michael after the game).  OTB, lately, I have been trying to get away from this lazy-chess, but of course it affects my results adversely to search for truth OTB.  Although, in truth, I also realized that the analysis to it was complicated, since the best line here is 12.d5 Na5, 13.dxBe6 NxBc4, 14.Qb3 Na5 (I saw to around here), 15.Qb4 and now …c5 is best.  I though it might be alright, and he said he might have played it, but when you feel time-pressure it makes you want to go with best ideas which you know are good without analysis.

12…Bh5  This is a close second best move to 12…Re8 here.  I can only say that now time-pressure was seriously affecting my game, and I was probably already under two minutes when I made this move.  Naturally, I did have some ideas with an upcoming …Bg6, and this does make the move …g5 more safe, which prompted me to play it.

13…Na5?!   13.Nf3-d2 came as a big surprise to me.  Suddenly, I was worried about …f5, …f4, when the bishop on h5 is trapped.  My natural instinct was to play the #1 move, according to Houdini, 13….g5, but after 14.Bg3 and 15.f4 to come this proposition looked scary.  13…Bg6, the #2 move, also looked risky.  I can only say that I chose this third best move because it required virtually no calculation, although I knew it was losing a tempo!

After the game, I confidently found 13…g5, 14.Bg3 d5!  This idea had crossed my mind and I did an instant analysis of it, but in my mind this and a previous move got crossed in my brain.  Previously, I had looked at a …Ng4 move if Qe3, and I was looking for a way to open up the e5 square for my knight.  Here, it’s a different idea/position, but I had still thought, in my time-pressure, that I was supposed to be opening up the …e5 square instead of this other idea.  IOW, I was playing slow-chess in my mind, but then tried to speed it up and couldn’t keep the different positions compartmentalized in my mind.  If I had started this game thinking it was a G/40, like I should have, then this would not have happened, but it was a lesson to the wise.  This shows that I didn’t want to play …g5 until I found the follow-up idea, which I found rather quickly in the post-mortem.

Interestingly enough, in the post-mortem I played 14….d5, 15.exd Nc6-e7?, 16.Be7 Ne7xd5?, 17.Qf4 (17.f4 is crushing, but even 17.BxNd5 NxBd5, 18.Qh3, winning the h3 pawn, is +2) Bg6 (+.7) and now since he has an attack, he has a chance to screw it up, which he managed to turn into an equal position and did make at least one piece-drop blunder.

My biggest weakness is in the opening, when I am not able to complete development, which happens to me in these “trappy” attacking lines too frequently.  “Trappy” is code for I’m not analyzing deeply enough.  After 14…d5, 15.exd in that line above, Black should play 15…Bg6, 16.Qf3 Na5, and if 17.Bd3, then …Bh5, 18.Bxc7 BxQf3, 19.RfxBd8 gxBf3, 20.Nxd5, down a pawn but totally drawable.  This is an example of how deeply that you should really calculate OTB.  Without analyzing this deeply, you are merely guessing (albeit an educated one!) versus getting at the exact truth of the position.

16…Ng4??  I played this move ‘a la tempo’ or to the beat of the time-pressure, as this and my last move were virtually played together.  After 16…Nh7, I am still in the game, but he whipped out 17.h3 and I knew I could resign here down a piece.  This also sort of explains my following blunders, as I was disgusted with myself after this.

After the game, I felt this was a good learning experience, as it showed that I don’t analyze enough OTB and require too much time to do it.  Also, I don’t block out distractions like the pros do.  My opponent was sitting there the whole time, and twitching about nervously enough for me to notice (although he wasn’t doing anything unnormal), and I could hear him breathe heavy and then stop, and then do that again and it would disrupt my chain or even ability to analyze.  I have to work at intentionally blocking things out.  Lower-rated players, I know that all they want to do is move, and it makes them nervous to sit there, and so they fidget as if to say why aren’t you moving yet.  But that’s my issue that I have to work past.  I guess, if I am nervous, and then they are nervous (for seemingly no reason to me since it’s my move), then it really just makes me want to block them out somehow until I get my head into the game.

One of the most stunning realizations I got from analyzing this game with Houdini was the move 14…Nxc4.  Houdini will tell you that 14…Bg6?! is best (and …Re8?! is another try), but in the game I was afraid of 15.f5 Bh7, which Houdini will show to be losing down the road.  Without a doubt 14…Nxc4! is the best practical try.  Again, 15…g5!!  Houdini will tell you this move is not even a top choice, but 15…d5 will lose down the road with best play.

16…Ng4?? was game-over.  After 16…Nh7, I should be able to hold this position, and if I play well even have chances for a win down the line.  I spent about two hours going over these last two moves with Houdini, and all it did was confirm the power of intuition for me.  If anything I had to go on intuition at this point and it was _over-confidence_ that made me quickly play …Ng4?? in acute time-pressure.

A chess Master commented on the last reply in this thread about calculation, and I think he hit the nail on the head.  This was reassuring to me, because I somehow felt that I was going about calculation all wrong and wasn’t doing it right.  It is important to be able to quantify the ideas in a position, and sometimes this is done intuitively, rather than worry about how to calculate the incalculable.  There are positions that can be simply answered by calculation, and these positions are probably the best use of calculation skills; other positions are often best solved using a strong blend of intuition.  My biggest weakness is the one that I thought I had all along, threat-recognition.  I need to improve my practice of looking for threats before making a move.  If I am happy before making a move, then I need to be equally happy for my opponent’s next move (their best response), as it’s more difficult for me to have equanimity in time-pressure.

The culprit in making this game more precipitous for me was 12…Bh5?  This was the tempo robbed.  If 12…Re8!, then I can play either idea of 13.Nf3-d2 g5, 14.Bg3 d5! or 13…Na5, and if 14.f4, then NxBc4 followed by …d5 works now.  This is the important thing, not so much the calculations, but finding the right ideas, and coming to the right conclusions.  The easy way to think of this is that I missed an opportunity by not playing 12…Re8, which provided a new array of tactics for me to work with (…Bh5 was just too slow).  In chess, if you pass on, or don’t take advantage of your opportunities, it usually comes back to bite you.  I feel like the question to ask at the board is “What are the true threats in this postion?” emphasis on the word true, attacker/defender neutral.  A threat is not a true threat if it can be countered.

Sometimes, when poor moves lead to precipitous positions which only a grandmaster can defend, I call these “Grandmaster positions” because only a GM could defend them, regardless of the objective evaluation of a computer (which might call any move in a sequenced of forced moves as equal).  As a Class player, you usually don’t want to get into these “Grandmaster positions”, which are usually the result of poor or precipitous “quiet moves”.  Often, these positions are labeled as “unclear” in theory books.

My conclusion on the theory for this game is that with best play, Black is already losing after 8…0-0??  It’s beyond the horizon of the computer to tell you this up-front, but I’ve spent a full work-day analyzing all variations after this for Black, and Black is just busted.  for starters, 8….h6, 9.Bh4 g5! is good for Black, as the 10.Nxg5 sac loses here, but this line after 8….0-0?? the sac would be winning for White!  After this, White’s positional problems become insuperable.  I stole a tempo from White with 12.Qd3?, which I was glad to see in the game instead of 12.h3!! which is the only thing that made this line playable for Black.

Opening theory is a profound thing, I’ve been discovering lately, particularly with 1.e4 openings, where many lines are critical.  There used to be a time when I thought it was just fun learning openings OTB, and even thought that that’s what you were supposed to do; now, I realize “You can’t keep doing that!” if you want to maintain a Class A rating or above.  BTW, I’ve used this Houdini now so extensively that I can tell you it is weak as sh*t when you take anything it says as a long-term correct eval.  You are probably far better off looking at correspondence games for theory in an unclear position than from an engine, unless you want to spend all day working out every sub-line in a line (where it’s horizon effect causes it suddenly change it’s mind and go from +.7 to +2 all of a sudden).

I looked at the games in the DB of ChessKing where Black wins after 8….0-0.  No one over 2100 and White played weak lines in all of them (many like 1600 or 1700!)

Okay, I stand corrected, I hadn’t gone back far enough in the game.  The blunder is not 8…0-0 (which is the _only_ move), rather the game losing blunder was 10…BxNc3 because that strengthened the d4 pawn.  So, after the correct move 10….Bg4, 11.h3 BxNf3, 12.QxNf3 Nxd4 drops the d-pawn.  So after 10…Bg4, Black has little to worry about because of the weakness of d4, and can look forward to playing normal moves like …a6, or …Ba5, or …Rb8 or even …g5.  If 11.Nd5 g5, 12.Bg3 Nxe4 wins a pawn for Black, and is equal.

I’ve even got a “seconding” line for someone who wants to pop this on Michael, if he falls into it.  10…Bg4, 11.Re1 a6, 12.Re3 (White’s trick that somone in the DB tried, with idea of h3 and g4 or RxBf3) …g5, 13.Bg3 BxNf3, 14.RxBf3 BxNc3, 15.bxc Nxe4.  Black is up a pawn, but White has the bishop-pair (vs. the knight-pair).  It’s risky for Black, but at least you make it out of the opening with only scratches, and it will probably look like you know what you are doing to your opponent.  7…Bb4+ wasn’t best to begin with (although it often is best in the Italian and Scotch), but at least this makes it playable, which is mostly what I’m after.  I can’t always figure out a new opening line OTB when I show up a bit frazzled.  Learn an opening line right, and you can get back to studying your endgames!  😉














Getting Behind The Eight-Ball

Round 4, final round

Going into this final round, I wasn’t overly concerned about the result, as a win would have still left me out of the prize-money.

I wanted to get something original out of the opening, don’t know what line of the Ruy Lopez he plays and thought we might get into that, but Mark (Class A) chose the Sicilian Defense just to vary from his usual reply.

6.Be2  He played the Classical Sicilian (…Nc6), and now it has become a “four knights” variation.  I wanted to avoid playing 6.NxNc6 bxN, 7.e5 Nd5, 8.Ne4 Qc7.  Years ago, I played this all the time online.  Always tried some hack against it, and regularly got good positions.  Objectively, this is White’s best try (60% in the DB), but the engines have never liked this variation too much, say it’s around -.15 in Black’s favor (equal).  I nearly played 6.g3, just seeking some new territory, which would have lead to a lengthier game.

6…Bb4  When I played 6.Be2, I was hoping that he wouldn’t respond this way, as I don’t have the “Pin Variation” type of refutation, which is to play Qh5 or Qg4 in response to …Ne4.  I’ve run into the sort of lame line that I played online, and gotten lame results, but here I stumbled into it again.  It’s funny, I was strongly considering 6.Bf4, and Houdini still plays …Bb4, which is bad here because of the NxNc6 formation described earlier.  I figured he could respond …Bc5 or with a bunch of different moves  …Qb6 and …Qa5 I had to look at in each line.   So, in the end, I tightened up, thinking I could play my way out of any hole.

Mark thought the best move here for White was 6.Ndb5 (with a3 to come) …d5, but Black has simply 6…Nfxe4 with 72% success in the DB.  I told Mark the computer will probably say that 6.Qd3 Ne5, 7.Qg3 is best.  Bingo!  I won that mock bet.

8.e5  Chess can be frustrating.  I looked at Houdini’s #1 continuation of 8.0-0 BxNc3, 9.bxB Nxe4, 10.Qd4 d5, 11.Qxg7 Qf6, 12.QxQ NxQ but figured I was giving up an e-pawn for a g-pawn.  Apparently, this is the line +.38, and White has been successful in the two tries given.  I mean, without seeing some previous games, how would I have known this?

8….Nd5  Around here I was realizing that “the struggle is real.”  I was much more afraid of the superior 8….Ne4, when I saw that 9.Qd4 Qa5, 10.QxNe4 BxNc3+, 11.bxB Qc3+ should be winning for Black.  Houdini and the DB here both recommend 10.a3, which simply gives up a pawn, but is only =+ in Black’s favor.  Keeping the pawn with 10.Bd2 NxBd2, 11.KxN Bc5 is -1 in Black’s favor “What does a cracker(uh) gotta do?”

10.BxNc3 Objectively, I thought that 10.bxNc3 Be7 or …Bc5 is equal, which it is, but failed to notice until immediately after my move that now Black has both …Qg5 (winning a pawn) and …Qa5.

14.Qf4.  I felt that objectively, 14.Bc4 would be strongest, which it is, but spent most of my time here deliberating between this move, and the more solid but less aggressive positional move  14.Qe3.

18.Rg3?  After the game, I told Mark, correctly, that 18.Ra1 followed by Ra4 was probably a stronger way to get the rook into the game.

18…Ba6?  I immediately felt this was a mistake, that he should have played 18…Bb7 with 0-0-0 to follow would have been better, but this would have been even weaker, nearly equal, because we apparently both missed the stronger idea here of 18….a5, pushing that passed pawn! (although I considered this later, coming up, when I decided to try and bail out of the position.

19.BxB  I played this move with the sole intention of pulling his queen off the defense of the weakened dark diagonals (which was my trump in this game).

20.Qf6  Houdini says that 20.Rb1 is the most accurate, but at this point in the bail-out mindset, that looks insane, a computer-move (but is probably right).

21.Rxg6?  Houdini indicates this is just losing, -1.65, and indeed this is where I was worried that he wouldn’t take my rook and would play something else.  Indeed, after 21…Qa4, 22.Rg7 Qxc2, 23.Qf3 a5, 24.Qd3 QxQ, 26.RxQ a4, Black is simply winning.  Luckily for me, he made this move 21…fxR?? without too much thought.

Even at the end, he could have played on with 23…Rf7, 24.Qg8+ Ke7, 25.QxRb8 =+, when my hopes wouldn’t have been too high at first, with his passed a-pawn, but I could sense that his nerves had had enough, and that he had instead chose for me to find a way to lose the position, which I wasn’t about to comply with.  It’s funny, in three of my last four games, I’ve went down a rook, in material, at some point.

Well, after getting bloodied just to maintain a 1500 rating on, I went over to FICS to make an assault on the 1600 summit, of which I was successful.  Here was the final game that got me to 1603 blitz.  I was playing at 5 min, 5 sec increment.  I was down a rook for a pawn (a familiar refrain as of late), when I was forced to play for an exciting win in full coffeehouse-mode.  Here is that game:

First Time For 1.d4

Round 4

I had never played 1.d4 before in a classical rated game before today.  I can’t even recall ever playing it even in blitz, quick, or unrated formate OTB; as far as I know, I’ve only tried it a meagre amount of times online, probably less than twenty.  Before I was a rated chess player, and played casually, I always opened with 1.d4 until I began learning about Bobby Fischer and his Sicilians.

[Event “Thursdays Swiss”]
[Site “Smashburgers”]
[Date “2017.03.23”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Brian Rountree”]
[Black “Dean Brown”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “1505”]
[GameNo “-1”]
[WhiteElo “1832”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Nc3 b6 5. Bg5 O-O 6. e3 Ba6 7. Qc2 d5 8. b3
Nbd7 9. Bd3 Qc8 10. O-O Bxc3 11. Qxc3 Ne4 12. Qc2 Nxg5 13. Nxg5 g6 14. f4 Qd8
15. Rf3 Nf6 16. Rh3 Bc8 17. Nxh7 Nxh7 18. Bxg6 Nf6 19. Rf1 Re8 20. Rff3 c5 21.
Rfg3 Kf8 22. Bxf7 Kxf7 23. Rh7+ Nxh7 24. Qxh7+ Kf6 25. Rg6+ Kf5 26. Rg5+ 1-0

8.b3?  Not just because of 8…h6, 9.BxNf6 forced, but 8…c5 is even stronger.

17.Nxh7? I saw his 18…Nf6 move right after starting this attacking sequence, but there was no backing out now, not that I wanted to in any event.

Second Time With 1.d4

Fridays Round 4

[Event “Fridays Swiss”]
[Site “IHOP”]
[Date “2017.03.24”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Brian Rountree”]
[Black “Joe Reininger”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “0”]
[GameNo “-1”]
[WhiteElo “1832”]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nc6 3. Nf3 Bf5 4. Bf4 e6 5. e3 Nb4 6. Na3 c6 7. Be2 dxc4 8.
Bxc4 Qa5 9. O-O Nf6 10. Rc1 Nbd5 11. Bg3 Ne4 12. Nc2 Nxg3 13. hxg3 Bg4 14. Qd2
Qxd2 15. Nxd2 h5 16. f3 Bd6 17. Ne4 Bc7 18. fxg4 hxg4 19. Kf2 f5 20. Nc5 b5
21. Nxe6 bxc4 22. Nxg7+ Kd7 23. Nxf5 Raf8 24. e4 Nf6 25. Ke3 Re8 26. e5 Nd5+
27. Kf2 Rhf8 28. Kg1 c5 29. Nfe3 Nxe3 30. Nxe3 cxd4 31. Rxf8 Rxf8 32. Nxc4 Ke6
33. Rf1 Rd8 34. Kf2 Kd5 35. b3 Rf8+ 36. Ke1 Rxf1+ 37. Kxf1 Bxe5 38. Nxe5 Kxe5
39. Ke2 Ke4 40. Kd2 d3 41. b4 Kd4 42. b5 Kc4 43. a4 Kb4 44. Kxd3 Kxa4 45. Kc4
Ka5 46. Kc5 Ka4 47. b6 axb6+ 48. Kxb6 Kb4 49. Kc6 Kc4 50. Kd6 Kd4 51. Ke6 Ke3
52. Kf5 Kf2 53. Kxg4 Kxg2 54. Kh4 Kf3 55. g4 Kf4 56. Kh5 Ke5 57. g5 Ke6 58.
Kh6 Kf7 59. Kh7 1-0

3…Bf5?  I was so nervous playing 1.d4 again, and this time against an unrated who is probably playing a line that he plays online, that I didn’t want to mess this game up.  Still, I was rather out of it before this game and figured I’d probably miss stuff.  During the game, I figured after 4.cxd5 he’d have …Nb4, which is impossible due to 4.Qa4+  It’s +- after 4.cxd5.  He has to play 4…BxNb1 because 4…Qxd, 5.Nc3 Qd8, 6.d5 Nc6b8, 7.e4 Bg6 is a surpring (for an 1.e4 player) +2!

4.Bf4  A lemon.  4.cxd5! is almost winning, but 4.Nc3 is also stronger.

5.e3?! Another lemon, allowing …Nb4.  I made this move unprovoked in my last game as well.  I looked at 5.c5, but figured he could play …b6??, not seeing that 6.e4!! Bxe4 (or dxe, 7.Bb5), 7.Bb5 refutes it.  5.cxd5 and 5.Nc3 are both better moves.

8…Qa4?!  Not a strong move, but the trappiest one!  Luckily, OTB, I spotted 9.Qd2? Nd3+, 10.BxNd3 Bb4 skewering king and queen, although 11.Nc4 holds the edge to only -1 for White.  I nearly played it at first, as if Black instead plays 9….Nc2+??, I win a piece with 10.Na3xNc2 QxQ, 11.KxQ and now my king defends c2.

11.Bg3?  This move is plain weak, but it shows how I am not a 1.d4 player (yet!  😉 )  11.Be5 is preferable as if a knight captures the Be5 it is replaced by Ne5 recapture, but on g3 if it is taken, it just messes up White’s pawn structure in front of his king.  If you want to get a sense of what you are missing with 1.d4, plug in the move 11.Bxd3.  11.Bxd3 is not the best move because of 11…exBd5, but every other recapture gets smoked by White!  Using an engine, check it out!

Here is the difference between intuition and calculation.  My intuition told me, correctly, that the best move was 12.Nb1, when it can reposition itself harmoniously on d2 or c3.  My calculation told me “No way man, that is some nasty sh*t!” after shocking continuations such as 12.Nb1 b5, 13.Bd3 Nb4, 14.BxNd3 (forced) BxB Black has won the minor exchange, White’s treasured light-squared bishop, so I stopped here, but if we are to continue, then 15.Nc3! Bd5, 16.NxBd5 cxN, 17.a3! Na6, 18.b4 Qa5, 19.Qc2 Qb6 (to stop 20.Qc6+ forking Ke8 and Ra8), 20.Qc6+ (anyway) QxQ, 21.RxQ and now the Na6 is trapped and lost (if 21…Nb8, 22.Rc8+ and 23.RxNb8 picks up the knight).  These queen pawn game tactics are totally different than in 1.e4 – they are much more positional!

12…NxBg3?!  I was glad to see this, as he is finally relieving some pressure from White’s position!  After 13…Be7, I now would have had to make the protracted maneuver 14.Nc2-e1-d3.

13…Bg4  This is interesting, but 13…Bd6 and …Nb6 or …Nf6 totally equalize.

15…h5?? Picked up that this was dropping a piece, right away, but now comes the slops-ville quick play from me.

21.Nxe6??  I literally saw this blunder as I was moving my knight, it’s just too bad that my attempt to speed up the game lead to such a blunder.  21.BxN followed by 22.Nxe6 was so obvious in hindsight that I can hardly explain why I did it.  Daniel walked up to the board, and then I moved, thinking I had blunder-checked this move.  The one good thing is that the quick moves meant that I had enough time in the endgame, not that that justifies blundering.

22.Nxg7?  Objectively, my intution told me that 22.NxBc7 must be preserving the advantage, and indeed I would follow up with 22…NxNc7, 23.Na3, 24.Nxc4 and then Nc4-e5, when the c6 pawn is still backward.  This continuation flashed through my mind when the greedy-whore-calculator part of me suddenly decided “Hey, you can’t beat two pawns! (except when they are right in front of your king, doh!), and I played this bungling move instead.

23…Raf8?  This was a big mistake, and it’s actually losing now.  Here is an endgame position for the big-boys.  The best move is 23…Nf6, taking the e4 square before I do (note that the greedy 23…Nf6, 24.Kg1 Nh4?, 25.e4 Nxg3, 26.NxNg3 BxNg3 wins a pawn for Black, but is +1 for White).

At the board, I was more worried about 23…Rab8, but White doesn’t have to defend, as a line like 24.e4 Nf6, 25.e5 Nd5, 26.Nce3 Rxb2+, 27.Kg1 Rxa2, 28.Rxc4 is nearly +1 for White.  Once again that materialistic whore calculator component of my chess brain was wrong about how to assess (or at least think/worry about) a position.  In the future, I should really test these assumptions by looking at longer variations.

26…Nd5?  I thought he would play this, as it was a quick move, however 26…c5 is more testing, and White needs to play a Rd1 so as to recapture on d4 with check (which prevents the e5 pawn from falling).

27.Kf2?  (+.7) This was my longest think of the game.  I thought that 27.Ke4 Nf6+, 28.Kf4 followed by 29.Kxg4 was over optimistic, that perhaps I wanted his g4 pawn to be there as a shield-for my king, but this was over-thinking it.  This line is +2 for White.

This was a sloppy game on my part, and I am lucky/fortunate that the endgame was winning, although objectively it probably would have been better to lose this game to give this kid rating points as it is his first tournament and would have left my rating virtually unaffected.  I just wanted to win to get a better pairing in the last round.

29.Nfe3?!  This move leaves his d-pawn on the board.  Much better was 29.Na3!, when the Nf5 is still available to recapture on d4.  After this, I got lazy for not capturing his rook for the sake of playing quick moves; I have to admit that I guessed correctly that he would also return the favor by not trading them – by the time I traded rooks, I was sure it had been right for both of us to trade them all along, and since I traded first, I got the significant advantage, although only +.5.

34.Kf2?!  This move only draws.  I also looked at the winning move 34.Rf6+, but without seeing deeply into each line it would have been difficult to know.  Ironically, in the winning line you are pinning the Black king, and in the drawing line the White king is the one getting pinned, in a number of moves.  34.Rf6+! Kd5, 35.b3 Bxd5, 36.Rf5 Re8, 37.Kf2! (37.RxB+ only draws) Ke4, and now 38.RxB+ wins, as it transposes into the game continuation.

34…Kd5.  34…Rb8, 35.b3 a5 (with the idea of …a4, bxa Rxa4) is already a draw.

35…Rf8+?!  35…Bxe5 is a draw.  Now the rook trade is forced, else my king gets in close with 36.Ke2.

36…Bxe5??  I had that instant feeling that this move was losing, and that feeling is almost never wrong unless I’ve walked into a trap.  Unfortunately, my ability to analyze usually falls behind in backing up my intuition, and in this case it was clock-time and luck that came to the rescue.  Clock-time allowed me to eliminate all of the alternatives, and luck that the only line that didn’t lose also happened to win.  😉

Black has a likely draw here with 36…d3!, 37.Ke1 Kd4, 38.Kd2 Be8! and it’s difficult to see how White can make progress.  He had plenty of time, but played this quickly.  Chess, and endgames in particular, are not trivial, but are rather exact!

My first time playing White against the Dutch Defense:

[ECO “A86”]
[Event “Live Chess”]
[Site “”]
[Date “2017.03.26”]
[White “linuxguy1”]
[Black “Sallustius”]
[WhiteElo “1515”]
[BlackElo “1591”]
[TimeControl “300+5”]
[Result “1-0”]
[Termination “linuxguy1 won – game abandoned”]
[CurrentPosition “2rn1r1k/1p2q1pp/2N5/3B1p2/3P4/4P1P1/3Q1P1P/1RR3K1 b – – 0 22”]

1.d4 e6 2.c4 f5 3.g3 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Bg2 O-O 6.e3 d5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Bd2 Nc6 9.Nxd5 Bxd2+ 10.Qxd2 exd5 11.Nf3 Be6 12.O-O Qe7 13.Rfc1 Rac8 14.a3 a5 15.Rab1 Bf7 16.b4 axb4 17.axb4 Nd8 18.Ne5 c6 19.b5 Be8 20.Bxd5+ Kh8 21.bxc6 Bxc6 22.Nxc6  1-0


A Balanced Education

Round 3

I got or let myself get outplayed in this game.  Mike is a strong tactician with a provisional rating, and he is much stronger than this rating, but either way I can’t let that be my excuse.

Obviously, I had no business hanging around in this game, per se, and could have resigned but sometimes it pays to know your endgames as well.

I spent half an hour on move 5…Ne5.  I was ready to blitz this out the moment he played 5.Ng5, and oddly I ended up playing this game much as if it were merely a blitz game.

It’s not until I fire the computer up that I realize that my thoughts at the board were completely valid, as I was looking at lots of lines which did exist under the two principle first moves 5…Ne5, and 5…d5.  I considered all of the moves here listed in the database.

It’s true that this stuff should be thought out at home, but it’s just as fascinating the conclusions these lines lead to.  Of course, once he played 6.Qxd4, which I figured he might, all of my half hour spent went out the window at that point.  I’d been playing so much blitz the past couple days that time actually seemed to have slowed down OTB, and the clock wasn’t moving as fast.  Eventually, I got down to a minute and 27 seconds when he had an hour and 7 minutes, that was was sort of funny to look at.  The bigger issue than time was that this half an hour spent sapped my energy for the rest of the game.  I need to get into physical shape as I haven’t had a physical workout in about two weeks.  If I played more energetically, I think I would have had a decent shot at playing for a win.  It probably wasn’t even the half hour spent so much as I went in there with low energy to start with.

Here was one of the epiphanys that I suffered through OTB, and at first it seems …Ne5 and …d5 will transpose anyway.  Okay, so his line seems objectively best in retrospect, but OTB I was worried about 5…Ne5, 6.Bb3 (with the idea of 7.f4), so 6…d5, 7.exd (I also had to look at 7.Bxd, of course) Bb4+, 8.c3 dxc (jettisoning this pawn before he wins it with his queen), 9.bxc Bd6.  Here, Black is okay on material because he has traded his d-pawn for White’s b-pawn, but I overlooked this part when counting material.  I was seeing the #1 way to play this for Black , but didn’t realize the eval here is =+, in Black’s favor.

The other part of this equation/line that I was contending with was 7.Qxd4, in which case the scary part OTB was that White is simply up a pawn after 7…Bd6, 8.e4xd5 0-0.  However, Black has a bit of an attack, and is actually a little better here.  So, although down a pawn, the Black position is the more desireable one to have!

Okay, that may be well and good in that line above, but how about capturing with the bishop 8.Bxd5(?), which I was also looking at OTB.  Now, mind you I could have blitzed out 5…Ne5 OTB, and only analyzed after 6.Bb3, but I had been putting the analysis of this line OTB off for years (despite having played tens of Scotch Gambits), and felt it was time to figure it out now.  Besides, at the board I didn’t know and couldn’t “remember” why it worked, but that’s because I never understood it for one thing.

Okay, so here goes, 5…Ne5, 6.Bb3 d5, 7.Qxd4 Bd6, 8.Bxd5 0-0, 9.f4 (Ne5 is hanging, and 10.e5 would fork Black’s Nf6 and Bd6) Nf6xBd5, 10.QxNd5 (if taking with the e-pawn, then White’s pawns are broken up and the e5 fork doesn’t exist) 10…Ng6! (the critical move because Black is trying to get the lost pawn back in this line) 11.0-0 (to protect f4) h6, 12.Nh3 c6!, 13.Qb3 BxNh3!, 14.QxBh3 Qb6+, 15.Kh1, and looking at this with Houdini the thought crossed me “Oh, no, Black can take on f4 here!” 15…Bxf4!, 16.BxBf4 NxBf4.  Black has gotten his pawn back at long last as 17.RxNf4?? loses to 17…Qxb2 eyeing both Qc1+ and QxRa1, can’t stop both threats.  White is now the one with the isolated pawn; one look tells you that Black is better here.  This is exactly what I love about chess, these sorts of lines; in fact, it’s what drove my love for chess before I ever had a rating!

Now, back to 8.exd5, which is a surprisingly critical line for White.  Houdini shows 8…0-0, 9.0-0 h6, and now the obvious 10.Ng5-e4 is better for Black, as after …Nf6xNe4, 11. QxN Qf6 (or Re8) Black’s attack is rolling.  Best for Black is to give up the pawn with the shocking 10.Bf4 Re8, 11.Ng5e6! fxNe6, 12.BxNe5 BxB, 13.QxB e6xd5, 14.Qd4.

This is analysis which you can actually use to win games as Black (OTB, White will be hard pressed to play so exact).  In the game, he played what I figured was the objectively best, and equal line, which has the advantage is being clear and simple for White to play.  He probably knew that he would play this line all along.

10…Bg4 (47% success rate).  After I played it, I thought that perhaps I should have played instead 10…h6, 11.Nc3 Qd8, (45% success rate) which is incidentally the #1 continuation chosen int he DB.

11…Be6  OTB, I felt this was a “give up” move, but I was already feeling exhausted.  I wanted to make 11…Bf5, but felt I couldn’t find the justification at that (low) moment.  Ironically, it works because of a tactic I had seen OTB, but just didn’t have the energy here to put it all together since 11…Bf5, 12.Re1 0-0!, 13.QxNe7?? Re8.  Since I had seen this OTB before this point, I can hardly explain why I didn’t see it now.

17…Kb8.  This is Houdini’s #1 move, and seems rather obvious, but in retrospect simple equality after 17….b6 would have made life easier for Black (that however, is another subject).

20…Ne3  After the game, I said that I should have taken on c2, after all, taking one pawn not directly in front of one’s king is not all that dangerous.

21.Rfe1?!  I felt this was a mistake due to 21…Nxc2, but it’s too bad that I didn’t chance it, and here I began noticing the clock as well.  I knew that I was throwing away my advantage with 21…Ne3-f5, and I sorely wish I hadn’t made this decision.  After all, after 21…Nc2, 22.Rac1?? (22.Rec1?? fails to 22…NxRa1 which I figured out as soon as I saw the computer’s eval, which tells me that I must have simply been out of gas OTB.) fails to 22…NxRe1.  Again, as soon as I saw the eval I figured this must be the line and saw the whole neat line.  So, a little more will and gas and I see this line OTB as well.  It’s almost inexplicable that I could be this lazy OTB, but I seem to do it in every game.  The funny thing is that even if I don’t see these tactics I could follow up with …Rd5, as I saw in the game, since the pin on the c-file is not so important here.  This occurred to me as soon as I reached this position in analysis, seeing the game again.

24…Nd6  Here, I wanted to play 24…e5, and can only say that time-pressure factored into my decision not to.

25…Nc4? (…e5).  In time-pressure, I am drifting.  After passing up my chances to be better earlier, I am now on my way to losing this position.

26.Qh4!  A bolt-from-the-blue for me.

26…Nc4-d2?  26…Nd6, 27.Nxe6 Rd7 is best.  Also there is 26…Qd5 (I had seen this idea, but it seems mind-boggling to calculate out 27.Nxe6 Rd7, 28.Nf4 Qf7, 29.RxRe8 QxR mostly because there are so many alternative, cheeky tries for Black which fail.  Ironically, a lower-rated player may defend better and find this line more easily because they don’t have the skill-level to try to pull off all the crazy-sh*t that a higher rated player can often pull off.  IOW, a higher-rated player has more lines to eliminate to get to the only move.

26…Nb2  I felt like this was a strong, important move to consider as well, but I didn’t know why.  It seems amazing that after 27.Reb1 b6 (what else?), 28.RxN bxN, 29.bxc+ that Black still has a holdable position, which is something you wouldn’t think so much ahead of time.

27…Nxf3??  Now, I was simply in full coffee-house mode, as it’s so much easier to see an attack than it is to figure out an accurate defense to a position.  Also, you have to have the will to look for some long forced line which is a pawn down and leads to your only drawing chances.  Here, 27…Qd5, 28.Rae1 RxR, 29.NxR Rc8, 30.Qd4 QxQ, 31.NxQ is that line.  Instead, I played my move, left for the restroom, and when I came back I said to him “I was hoping you’d take my knight!” which of course would have given the advantage to Black, as I figured he had some loose rooks, which he does.  I looked at other lines such as 27…g5, and noticed that even the simple 28.RxQc6 gxQ, 29.Rc6-h6 appeared winning, and it’s +2.  That shouldn’t mean that I don’t look for a defensive line, but when a couple of sharp moves are unexpectedly thrown at you like this in time-pressure your eval of the position doesn’t have a chance to catch up with what’s going on in the position either.

29…Nd4?!  I should have taken his rook, but then his Nc6 becomes a monster, and my back rank and queenside pawnside structure looks hopelessly weak.  Plus, since I’m dead lost, I also wanted to keep more pieces on the board.

46.g6??  46.Rc5! wins, as it drives the knight away so that the pawns can no longer advance, plus it sets up 47.Rb5+ winning the b-pawn.  I often say that missing one simple endgame tactical idea like this is the most common culprit for holding an 1800 player from achieving a 1900 rating.

51…Kd5  And here it is my turn to miss that little tactic that holds the balance, 51…Ng8!  Of course, this king move looked so pretty that I wanted to play it and not calculate at all.  He never considered that allowing me to take his knight would lose for me, so 52.h6 would thus win after all because now it will be the g-pawn that promotes, not the h-pawn, and so it is with check!  Again, I should have lost this game so late, as I have done so frequently to Experts and Masters because the game all comes down to finding such a simple tactical device in the endgame.  All the preceded can come to naught all due to missing one tactical idea, one endgame slip-up!

I hope it goes without saying that Michael (provisionally rated) is also under-rated.  He beat Dean (1500) with a nice tactic just last week.  He said he was once high-rated a long time ago (but apparently picked up a new USCF id when he started playing again recently(?)).


















Having a Cold, and Focus in a chess game

Round 3

So, I’ve had this terrible cold all week, but by the time I was on my way to the club had finally stopped sneezing.  Essentially, I’m now over the usual sympoms, except that I couldn’t focus on chess all day (and have had next to zero energy all week), and wanted to see how it would affect my game.

I was fairly certain that I would get paired down (at .5/2, I was more or less out of this tournament) and wanted to practice moving more quickly.

Matthew is a strong up-and-comer, very under-rated, so this would be a good test.

I was surprised that when I calculated lines on my turn, I was very efficient, and generally pretty accurate.  On Matthew’s turn, however, I wasn’t able to focus so much.  Matthew’s weakness in terms of rating, shows up in time-pressure, but it was obvious that this game he was very determined to move quickly other than for on a few moves.  When I made a move, he would immediately put his food down and come join the board.

My strategy for time seemed to be to calculate definite tactical threats on my turn, and then consider general strategy on his turn.  This strategy had a major flaw in that I would see/find/consider non-forcing, developing moves typically on his time rather than my time.  So I was always seeing his actual next move only on his clock but never on my own.

(sneeze – I spoke to soon).  In this post,  I want to illustrate the difference between accurate, effective calculation and focus.

13…Ne4?!  Not such a great move, as the trades will speed up his attack, and are strategically good for him.  This crossed my mind as soon as I moved, but here is where my lack of focus began to hurt me.  I thought …b5 would be a better move, even before making my move, and definitely after, but somehow the poorer move was more calculation oriented, so I went with it.

16…Nf6.  …Nb6 and …Qd6 are reasonable moves here, no worse, but my move was the one easier to calculate (the same could be said for many of my opening moves as well).

17…Be6  This as an easy move to go with, but 17…dxe4, 18.dxe4 Qd(any) was the more creative move/idea to look for.  Hitting d4 occurred to me, but this creativity did not.

18…Nd7  Here, I resorted more to generalizations, wanting counterplay with …c5, supported by the Nd7.  18…Nh5 was also interesting, and I gave it some thought, but didn’t look critically at any lines, only looked for ideas.

19…g6.  Didn’t think this was going to be necessary until now, when I should have calculated more correctly earlier.  I saw 19…c5, 20.f4 cxd4, 21.fxB dxN, 22.e6xN (missed this one until I was here).

20…Nf8?  I didn’t really want to play this move, but it’s the result of settling on an obvious-looking move in terms of future eventualities, almost like choosing a move “by committee”.  I figured he would play this move, but spent my time in the bathroom and walking around waiting for him to move.

I looked at 20…c5, 21.Rg3 cxd4, 22.Ne2 (#1 continuation by Houdini) but then wanted a move which covered more eventualities – again, this sort of thinking covers for a lack of focus.  Next, I really wanted to play 20…Kh8, that was the move I wanted to play, but wasn’t sure and kept missing on and off that I had the Bd7 covering the h3 square.  Even …Qh4 is a move, but somehow I forgot countless times about my bishop covering that h3 square, so in the end played the blunderously passive 20…Nf8? move.  Of course, I couldn’t decide OTB, and actually wasted a lot of time not calculating anything, but sort of in a fog, and immediately regretted not playing 20…c5 after playing my move.

22…c5?  I did consider the better 22…f5, (and 22…Nh7, but only seriously after the game).  Again, that …Qh4 move was floating in and out of my consciousness at best.  I should also mention that before making this move, and had taken my second and final bathroom break (mainly to get away from the board) and paced the room until he moved, and didn’t really consider the game while doing so other than that he would probably play that move, and I’d double-check 22…c5.

After the game, Expert Earle pointed out that he thought I should have played 22….f5, only move, and only now do I see the computer’s line of 22…f5, 23.exf Qxf, 24.Bxg6 Qxd4+! (I can’t believe I rested my opinion during the game, half a ply short of this move!).  The thing is that Earle was probably looking at the board for only half a minute.  Master Josh and Expert Daniel also see things and conclude much faster than do I.  I really need to step-up my OTB habits of analyzing.

23…c4?  When I played this move, I wanted to double-check the capture line on g6, but told myself not to as I should have had the discipline to check it fully when playing …c5.  Well, five seconds after this move I saw that 24.fxg6 c4xBd3 would be met by 24.g7+ followed by 25.gxNf8+ winning a piece.  Here, I figured I was probably busted, missing the 24.g7+ line (only considering 24.gxf7 before I made my move).

26…Qh4.  I already saw his mate before I played this move, but knew it was time to resign and this is how I choose to do it.

In the end, I wish I had played 22…c5 in time, as I saw the ideas of taking on d4, opening the c-file, getting a check with …Qc5+.

I had seen some other lines accurately, and OTB was surprised at how well and efficiently I could calculate, but it only came in bursts and as you can see my real problem was/is not in calculation (except where I didn’t do any of it), but in focus.  I was not focused during this game.  It even took me a while just to get into the mood where I could focus enough to write this post.  I sounded like I had a cold, and Matthew said that’s why I won.  I don’t want to take anything away from his victory since it was completely legit, and it’s not like was dropping pieces except for missing that g7+ move in that one line.  Actually, I was totally, obviously out of it, just as I was when I went to grocery shopping afterwards, but that’s because of the cold not because of chess.

The point I wanted to have come across is that when you lack focus, decision-making is harder to come by and sometimes irrational.  Certainly, I should have done more calculating on some key moves while in doubt, but it’s almost as if the lack of focus is what caused me to not want to calculate so much (sneezing again now).

Focus is what helps with your game-management, when and what you choose to calculate or not calculate.  There was too much in this game that I didn’t calculate or more importantly stopped short on.  I need a more efficient algorithm when it comes to choosing a move, and I need to calculate more.  I can calculate way more than I am OTB, I just need to tell myself to do so, and practice doing it more so that it becomes more a part of what I do OTB.  Looking back, my focus was super-sloppy during this game, and I need to reprimand myself for looking deeper into lines and then comparing them.  If you can’t tell yourself, then no one else will get inside your brain to tell you to do it either.

I arrived with 13 minutes off my clock, mostly because it was hard to drag myself out the door, and could have resigned with 14 minutes on my clock.  This was more like a G/60, 30 increment for me, the way I chose to approach it.  It made me realize how dependent I’ve become on having the full 90 minutes, and the differences in my play, and more aware of some of my very substandard analytical habits.

After taking three motrin for my thumb pain, I fell asleep near the fire and slept for eleven hours.  I feel so much better, have finally beat this cold; I heard Alex come home late sneezing, however, so maybe he picked it up late.  My thumb is doing a good job healing; I can only hope that months from now the nail will grow back in straight like it was.

Here is a nice game that I just played on, as if to illustrate my inconsistency: