December 2008

In the last post I promised to post some game(s) from the tournament.

Since then I had some thoughts about my last games, so I decided to combine it in one post. In the last 2 tournaments I got good results, top “B” performance rating and good placement. So I am satisfied, but at the same time I see the following: in 5 games out of 8 I didn’t see the “killer” move 2 times and 4 times – saw it, but didn’t play.  Playing these moves would get me “A” performance rating – this is what I want, so maybe this is one of the things that separate me from getting to “A”.

By “saw it, didn’t play it” I mean that I saw the right move, made some calculations and didn’t like the result.

I’ll ask the critics to excuse me, but I went again to what Dan Heisman wrote.

“Definition: Board vision – your brain’s capability to interpret chess position and see what is legal and/or possible on the chess board. Board vision tells you what is possible, but does not differentiate what is good or bad. For example, quickly seeing that a bishop in one corner of the board attacks squares at the other corner is good board vision (even if the possible moves to those squares are unsafe or the attack is inconsequential).”

‘Evaluation – Looking at a position and deciding who is better, by how much, and why. Static evaluation is when you evaluate a given position without trying to move the pieces. Dynamic evaluation is done at the end of each analysis line, after you have tried to determine a potential sequence of moves.”

I am interested here in dynamic evaluation – this is what went wrong in the examples above.

I commented already the games from the first tournament in the posts “Missing the knockout punch” and “Step beyond the dogma”,  so I’ll comment the first game from the last one. I played White with the guy rated 250 higher, Sicilian defense,  Moscow variation.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Bxd7+ Qxd7 5. c4 Nc6 6. O-O g6 7. d4 cxd4
8. Nxd4 Bg7 9. Be3 Nf6 10. f3 O-O 11. Qd2 Rfc8 12. b3 Ne5 13. Nc3 a6


The following Black moves are actually the same as Crafty recommends, but I kind of started to like my position more, considering it more active.

14. Rfd1 Qd8 15. Rac1 Nfd7 16. Nd5 Nc5 17. Bg5


17. … Bf8 18. Qe3 Nc6 19. f4 Nxd4 20. Qxd4 Ne6  Computer wants Black to play f6 on moves 17-19.


21. Qf2 Nxg5 22. fxg5 Rc6 23. Rf1 Qe8.  Computer doesn’t like Nxg5 ( me too at the time),  estimate goes from 0.8 to 1.5, and 1.8 after Qe8.


24. Rc3 Bg7 25. Rf3 e6. Here is the moment, when my board vision did not work at all.


So,  I played 26. Nf6+ ( he asked me after the game, why didn’t you play Nb6?). Of course 26. Nb6 Rb8 27. Rxf7, with computer evaluation 1.9. I think, I was too much concentrated on king-side, otherwise I can’t explain it. This is exactly what Dan Heisman meant,  seeing that queen on one end of the board defends the square on another end.

26. … Bxf6 27. Rxf6 Rc7 28. h4 Qe7 29. h5 Kg7 30. Qd4 Kg8


On moves 29 and 30 I miss Rxf7. Not that I didn’t see it, I didn’t want to give up my 2 rooks for queen and pawn. What I didn’t see is that I get d6 pawn too – bad dynamic evaluation.  Also I was obsessed with threat on a1-h8 diagonal.

31. h6 e5 32. Qxd6 Qxd6 33. Rxd6. Giving up the pawn after 31. …e5 wasn’t necessary, Rf8 keeps it safe.


33. … Kf8 34. Rd5 Re7 35. Rfd1 Ke8 36. c5 Rc8 37. b4 Re6 38. a4 Ra8 39. Rd7 Re7 40. R7d6 Rc8 41. R1d5 Rb8 42. b5 axb5 43. axb5
Rc8 44. c6 bxc6 45. bxc6


45. … Re6 – decisive mistake 46. Rxe6+ fxe6 47. Rd7


47. … Rxc6 48. Rxh7 Rc1+ 49. Kh2 Rf1 50. Rg7 Rf4 51. h7 Black resigned 1-0

It was my first win against “A” class player, the game that I think I played well strategically, but the stuff in the title of the post could leave me with worse than I got result.

I participated in the big tournament on December 19-21.  It was affected by the heavy snow, that’s why the name of the post.

Nevertheless, it was a great event.

I played almost a section up, being close to the bottom of U2000.  I had no choice, as another section was U1600.  My last local tournament, which went well for me with 1 win, 3 draws and performance rating 1700+, kind of encouraged me to play.

The night before the tournament I woke up at 5am and couldn’t sleep anymore.  Thoughts about losing all the games, etc. were occupying me.

We had heavy snow on the first day, Friday.  Several people cancelled or took byes,  I came of course.

Before the tournament I looked at the pre-registered list,  defined a few possible opponents for the first round and looked-up their names in the DB. I found that 2 of them played Sicilian dragon,  so I decided to get more experience with Moscow variation – 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ …

I played it OTB once and lost to the higher rated player.  So, I started correspondence game with that opening, playing Maroczy bind line –  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5 Bd7 4. Bxd7 Qxd7 5. c4 …

My opponent managed to strike d5 at some point, I got worse then, but it was a very good idea to try it.

Round 1

I play with the guy about 18, rated 250 higher than me.  I think,  his name was on that candidate list.

I start 1. e4 and he plays Sicilian d6 variation.  OK,  so I play Moscow variation, Maroczy bind. He plays very confidently, I play safely, so it goes until about move 10.  Then I notice that there is actually no real danger, his pieces are pretty  passive. My pieces are centralized, my wall b3-c4-e4-f3 looks like granite, no chance of him striking b5 or d5.  I create a pressure on his e7 pawn, then I play f4.  He goes for exchanging his knight for my g5 bishop. Sounds good, Bg7 will have no opponent, but fxg5 opens the “f” line and my queen and rook are attacking his weak square f7. The pressure quickly increases.  I move my “h” pawn until it reaches “h6”, bishop “g7” exchanged before,  non-pleasant threats and he has to give up a pawn after exchanging queens. It comes to 2R vs. 2R endgame, with me having pawn majority on the queenside. Finally I get passed pawn “c”, he is defending.  He offers a draw, I refuse. After a few moves he puts his rook for exchange, it’s a fatal mistake.  Exchange follows, then I give up my “c” passed pawn and attack his h7 pawn (I have h6) with the rook, there is no defense.  Soon my “h” pawn should queen,  he resigns.

One of my best games ever. 

The guy behaves nice after, we talk next days too.  He wins 3 games in a row, don’t know about the last game.

Round 2.

The weather is still bad, my opponent is not coming. When more than 30 minutes passes and I think he will not come at all, he appears.

The guy is about 50, rated 250+ higher. 

I play 1. e4 he plays Pirc defense 1….d6.  I am doing pretty much OK until move 15, but I am playing fast, too fast.  Opponent’s remaining time on the clock affects me.  I make “attacking” move f4, it is a big, big mistake.  After series of exchanges including queens there is a blow, after which I lose a piece.  I resign. 

Round 3.

I wait again for my opponent, organizer says he called from the road. An hour passes, he is not here. I get a point by forfeit. The organizers are apologetic, offer to play rated game with one of them, I think a bit, then say I lost focus (it’s a truth) and I’ll go home.  I am not very happy, but what you can do.

Round 4. 

Sunday, 10am, thanks god my opponent is already here.  It’s a a boy, rated 200 higher. Interesting, I played him more than a year ago.

It was my first “regular time control” tournament ( I had one active before ),  I had 3 out of 5 before the last round, high hopes and in that last game with him I was tired and missed a check based on “pinned piece doesn’t defend” and lost an exchange, then game. It was very painful end of the tournament.

He plays Centre game – 1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Qxd4.  I carefully develop my pieces and wait how he will castle.  He castles queenside and already has e4, f4 pawns.  I am not playing these games, no way I’ll have the same attack, so I castle queenside too. 

He tries to attack my king there with  a few pieces, I defend, then counter-attack in the center.  His queen has to move, so it moves to stay right across my rook.  This is really funny,  now he misses “pinned piece doesn’t defend” strike !!!  I check everything, then take a pawn. I look at his face, yeah, he blundered. 

He can get 2 rooks for the queen, but loses another pawn and 2R vs. Q endgame doesn’t look good for him because I’ll have strong passed pawns in the center. 

He decides just stay pawn down. I move pawns on the queenside and develop a strong attack on his king, but can’t find a winning strike.  The position there closes and suddenly he counter-attacks on the king side.

Finally the whole position kind of dynamically locks.  I can’t advance or regroup, he too. He has about 18 minutes until end of the game, I have 10 minutes more, but I start to worry about my usual deterioration of the quality as the time goes further. Suddenly he offers a draw. I think for few seconds, then agree. I feel it was a right decision and walk down the street to get rid of my tension. 

Round 5.

I play with boy’s father, rated 150 higher.  I am White and he plays Sicilian, e6 variation.  I am actually prepared only to Nc6 or d6.

OK,  I play some general Sicilian moves, then his queen on b6 gets Bc5 company. I realize that I can lose b2 pawn or f2 pawn, etc.  I start to calculate all possible defenses, throw out all of them ( though one of them was good, I just didn’t see it clearly).

Finally I get e3, e4 pawns pair, also lose b2 pawn.  I spent a lot of time too,  somebody will tell me the opening knowledge is not that important. The game continues,  at one moment  I have to exchange queens or lose e3 pawn. I prefer to sacrifice e4 pawn and get some counterplay.  Few moves later he misses a simple threat, I get one pawn back. But queens exchange soon is forced, other exchanges follow.  So, we have R+N vs. R+N, my “a” against “b” and 3 vs 4 on kingside. I hope that after “a” and “b” pawns will disappear, I can get a draw.

OK, I get pawns only on the king side, long, grinding endgame.  One of my pawns is isolated, I finally lose it, then lose another one and resign.

I am tired, but satisfied with the result, it should be 1700+ performance rating and place in the middle.  I played with the people staying where I want to be,  so I saw they are human too and make mistakes, but of course it was tough to play with them.  I never played such intense games,  I didn’t see anything around me.  There was Russian GM there, I talked a bit to him half a year ago. This time I didn’t even see how he played.  OK,  next time.

I”ll post one or more games later.

This Sunday I realized that my time management needs improvement.

I played my regular G/90 game.  I equalized with Black in declined Blackmar-Diemer Gambit and we went into middlegame, where I managed to counter-attack and after queens exchange won a pawn, then another one. Also my opponent had at least 10 minutes less.

Everything looked good, then strange things started to happen. We had R+B+N vs.R+B+N (plus pawns) when he tried to complicate things.  I had about 15 minutes left at that time. After miscalculating,  I lost an exchange and 5 minutes were remaining on my clock.  Still computer evaluated my position ( N+ 3P vs. R+P) as a better one,  but after another wrong move I eventually lost a pawn,  got worse and had to accept the draw offer with both flags hanging (his a bit more).

So, what happened ?  I followed pretty well the Botvinnik rule – spend 20% of your time on the first 15 moves.  I really like that rule, but looks it’s not enough when you play 50+ moves game.

I thought maybe Dan Heisman can help me and found something:

1. “In a sudden death time control, speed up a little if the game is very even and it looks like it is going to be a long game.  You may need that time later if things get complicated or it does become an exceptionally long game”.

2. In a sudden death time control, start speeding up when most of your time is done (but don’t wait until almost all of your time is done).  For example, if you are playing G/90 and you are getting down to less than 20 minutes and the game looks like it is far from over, start speeding up then, and not when you have 3 minutes left.

3. Practice at a mixture of time controls.  Play slow games to pace yourself and to learn good analysis techniques.  Play fast games to practice your openings and get time pressure experience.

Even more important is thinking on your opponent’s time.
Dan Heisman says, that of course you use opponent’s time to “to drink, eat,  go to the bathroom, and stretch your legs” and you need all of it.
But, “you should keep these extraneous activities down to a moderate amount”.  Let’s say you get up and walk after every move, looking how other people are doing, etc.  Even if you catch the exact moment your opponent punches the clock (virtually impossible), it still will take about 10 seconds to get back and see what move was played.
In 40 move game it will be 400 seconds, or almost 7 minutes. And walking on the half of the moves still will take 3 minutes.
So what you should be doing while waiting for opponent’s move?

“The classic suggestion is to think specifics and tactics during your move and generalities and strategy during your opponent’s move”.
You can think about the pawn structure or what would be the ideal square for the knight, etc.
This is a most common practice, but not the only one.
Let’s suppose “your opponent only has one legal move, but for some reason he (erroneously) is not making it”.  You “can assume that move will be made and start to decide on your reply, just as if it were already your turn.”
I know  that some bloggers criticized in the past overusing Dan Heisman, but I can’t help it.  His guidelines/advices are  really useful for me,  so I hope sharing it can help other people too.

I played this Sunday my regular OTB game.  I got to play Black with a guy rated 300 more than me,  never played with him before. The opening took unexpected turn after  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bc4 Bc5  4. b4

I played a few times Evans Gambit with computer and online (as Black),  never OTB.  Saw quite a few old games with it, of course, but it was long time ago. After 4. Bxb4 5. c3  I chose less popular line  – Be7.  Funny, that not knowing it, I played a few book moves – 6. d4 Nf6 7. dxe5 Ng4 8.  Bf4


then went on my own – 8….O-O 9. h3 Nh6 10. Nd4 Nxd4 11. cxd4 d6 12. O-O dxe5 13. dxe5


Here I played 13. … Be6, computer thinks queens exchange is better. 14. Bxe6 fxe6 15. Bxh6 gxh6 16. Nc3 Qe8 17. Qg4+ Qg6


and here computer thinks that White shouldn’t exchange queens – 18. Qxg6+ hxg6 19. Nb5 Bd8 20. Rad1 a6  21. Nd4 Re8 22. Rb1

Computer definitely does not like Rb1, giving estimate -0.90 ( for white) after that


22. … c5 23. Ne2 b5 24. Rfd1 Bc7 25. f4 Rad8 26. Kf2 Rxd1 27. Rxd1 Rd8 28. Rxd8+ Bxd8


I went into B vs. N endgame, rightfully thinking that I should be better there, computer estimate  -1.39.

29. Ke3 Kf7 30. g4 Bb6 31. Nc3 c4+ 32. Kd2


Here I thought about 32… g5,  but that @#$%ing dogma, that you shouldn’t put pawns on the squares of the same color as your bishop  affected my vision.  Computer for crying out loud wants me to do this move – 32… g5 33. Ne2 gxf4 34. Nxf4 Bd4 35. Ne2 Bxe5 with estimation – 2.52!

32. …Bc5  33. Kc2 Bb6 34. Ne2 Bc5 35. Kc3 Ke7 36. Nd4 Bxd4+ 37. Kxd4 Kf7 38. f5 gxf5 39. exf5 exf5 40. gxf5 Ke7 41. h4 h5 42. a3 Kd7 43. Kc3 Ke7   1/2 : 1/2


It’s a first time I had the opportunity  to win the game against “A” class player.

As Jeremy Silman says:  “I recognize that ALL rules are meant to be broken. … It’s this ability to step beyond dogma that makes chess endlessly interesting.”