September 2009


Yesterday I started in a new chess club.
People, who read my posts and comments, know the reason.
The old club was good, but I grew up and higher rated people stopped to come.
I got into Open section (there was also U1700), down three quarters of the rating list.
My opponent was very old guy, rated 100 higher.
I was Black, he started with Nf3. I was almost ready to play Grunfeld, but then seeng d4 and c4
suddenly decided to transform to Benko. I saw that the guy likes positional play and
didn’t want to compete with him on that ground.
He didn’t accept the pawn, eventually I got some initiative.
My position on the queenside looked good and I managed to create a weak pawn – b2.
Then he forced exchange of the rooks pair and queens.
His sudden exchange on f6 took me by surprise and his pawns attack in the center
required some measures from me. After that I didn’t see how I can strengthen my position
and forced rooks exchange, after which opposite-colored bishops made the result clear.
He offered a draw, I agreed.
I thought that I played pretty well, Fritz at home as always spoiled my euphoria.
It found that I missed a nice little tactics at the very end – 28… dxe5 29. fxe5 Bc3 30. Rd1 Bxe5
winning a pawn, though winning this endgame won’t be easy (if possible at all).
I made the same mistake as I did in the previous Benko game (“No pain, no gain” post).
I didn’t think about the line I didn’t like.
Why would I give him strong pawns in the center after dxe5 fxe5 – to  create a passed pawn?
But if would see that his back rank is weak then these pawns would look differently.

Yesterday I started in a new chess club.   The old club was good, but I grew up and higher rated people stopped to come.

I got into Open section (there was also U1700),  down three quarters of the rating list.  My opponent was very old guy, rated 100 higher.  I was Black, he started with Nf3.  Here is the game.  I was almost ready to play Grunfeld, but then suddenly decided to transform to Benko. I saw that the guy likes positional play and didn’t want to compete with him on that ground.  He didn’t accept the pawn,  eventually I got some initiative.  My position on the queenside looked good and I managed to create a weak pawn – b2.  Then he forced exchange of the rooks pair and queens.  His sudden exchange on f6 took me by surprise and his pawns attack in the center required some measures from me. After that I didn’t see how I can strengthen my position and forced the rooks exchange, after which opposite-colored bishops made the result clear.  He offered a draw, I agreed.

I thought that I played pretty well, but Fritz at home spoiled my euphoria (as always :)).  It found that I missed a nice little tactics at the very end – 28… dxe5 29. fxe5 Bc3 30. Rd1 Bxe5 winning a pawn, though winning this endgame won’t be easy (if possible at all).

I made the same mistake as I did in the previous Benko game (“No pain, no gain” post).  I didn’t think about the line I didn’t like. Why would I give him strong pawns in the center after dxe5 fxe5 – to  create a passed pawn?  But if I would see that his back rank is weak then these pawns would look differently.

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I recently played a blitz game, where for the first time ever I got this ending. I had pretty remote idea how to win, pursued his knight (ignoring the draw offer) for 48 moves until he blundered.  Of course I wasn’t quite satisfied, so I decided to learn this ending.

Dvoretsky says that it is usually drawn, but there are several exceptions:
1. If the knight separated from the king, often it can be caught.
2. If the knight is in the corner, it can be taken because of zugzwang.
3. The squares g7/b7 are not good for the knight.
So, I looked at my game and found the moment (mostly my opponent played right),
where I could separate and win his knight. It is not easy and even Fritz had a problem,
so I used Endgame Nalimov Tablebases Online. Here is the result:
What I also learned that there are typical ways of attacking/restricting the knight,
for example putting the rook nearby on the same vertical/horisontal.
Though this ending is rare, I found it useful for learning about
relative strength/interacting of the rook and knight, which should be useful
for the regular endgame (with pawns).

Dvoretsky says that it is usually drawn, but there are several exceptions:

1. If the knight separated from the king, often it can be caught.

2. If the knight is in the corner, it can be taken because of zugzwang.

3. The squares g7/b7 are not good for the knight.

So, I looked at my game and found the moment (mostly my opponent played right), when I could separate his knight and king.  Winning is not easy and even Fritz had a problem,  so I used Endgame Nalimov Tablebases Online.  Here is the position after Nf5-e3?:

RN1

1. Rf7 Ke8 2. Rf4 Kd7 3. Kd4

RN2

3. … Nc2+  4. Kd5 Ne3+ 5. Kc5 Kc7 6. Rf7+

RN3

6. … Kd8 7. Kd4 Nc2+ 8. Ke5 Na3 9. Rb7

RN4

9. … Nc4+ 10. Ke6 Kc8 11. Rb5 Ne3 12. Rb2

RN5

12. … Ng4 13. Rc2+ Kb7 14. Re2 Ka6 15. Kf7

RN6

15. … Nh6+ 16. Kg6 Ng8 17. Re8 Nh6

RN7

Though this ending is rare, it shows very well the relative strength of the rook and knight.  Also you can learn the typical ways of attacking/restricting the knight, for example putting the rook nearby on the same vertical/horisontal which should be useful for the regular R vs. N endgame  (with pawns).

I was playing blitz yesterday and got a position, where I delivered mate in 3 moves. Afterwards I ran the game through Fritz and Fritz said that my opponent didn’t chose the best continuation ( I knew that) , anyway there was a mate in 8  ( I didn’t know that). I found it interesting and made a calculation training exercise out of it.  I almost solved it, it was a wrong order of moves on the end. I offer you to try it, the answer is in the first comment. White to move:

matein8

The idea to title the post about the tournament where I just played “No pain, no gain” got quick approval after reading an excellent article
in Wikipedia about this expression.
First it was introduced by Jane Fonda in her aerobics workout videos and it was regarding
working out past of experiencing muscle aches. Bodybuilders liked it, they think (and it’s true) that muscles grow only if they suffer
and you can’t become professional if you avoid this.
And the origin goes back to the beginning of the second century.
Rabbi Ben Hei Hei said, “According to the pain is the gain.”
So, it was a big tournament, 3 days, 6 games, 40/2, SD/1.
I decided to play in U200 section and was in the bottom of the rating list.
There were 4 games for me because I had to take 2 byes on Sunday.
The result was 2 draws, 2 losses, that explains the title.
I was better or equal after all the openings, never was in the time trouble, but it wasn’t enough.
I see some things that went wrong, but I would appreciate any opinion, as well as long-term advice.
You can bypass first Fritz’s comments to get your own general view.
Game 1 –  I am White, playing with young guy, 20+.
Scandinavian. People that follow my posts know that I hate it, but I learned a few things.
He plays Qxd5, Qd6 variation and after Nf3/Bg4 I use the advice from my friend linuxguy
(given after discussion of one of my losses) and play h3/Bg5, g4/Bg6 and then Ne5.
I like my position, Fritz 11 too, but then I start to miss the good moves,
one of them – +2.79! He gradually equalizes, but his king is still in the center.
I make pawn sac to open the lines, which I thought after the game was too aggressive,
but it’s actually Fritz’s choice, though it doesn’t give any advantage.
I play the bad move, then soon another one and my position deteriorates, his kingside pawn majority becomes decisive.
I am in the bad endgame, which I step by step lose.

The idea to title the post about the tournament where I just played  “No pain, no gain” got a quick approval after reading an excellent article in Wikipedia about this expression.

First it was introduced by Jane Fonda in her aerobics workout videos and it was regarding working out past of experiencing muscle aches. Bodybuilders liked it, they think (and it’s true) that muscles grow only if they suffer and you can’t become professional if you avoid this.  And the origin goes back to the beginning of the second century.  Rabbi Ben Hei Hei said, “According to the pain is the gain.” (The Ethics of the Fathers 5:21).

So, it was a big tournament, 3 days, 6 games, 40/2, SD/1.  I decided to play in U2000 section and was in the bottom of the rating list. There were 4 games for me because I had to take 2 byes on Sunday.  The result was 2 draws, 2 losses,  that explains the title.

I was better or equal after all the openings, never was in the time trouble, but it wasn’t enough. I see some things that went wrong, but I would appreciate any opinion, as well as long-term advice.

I posted all the games,  you can first bypass Fritz’s comments to get your own general view.

Game 1 –  I am White, playing with young guy, 20+.  Scandinavian defense. People that follow my posts know that I hate it, but I learned a few things.  He plays Qxd5, Qd6 variation and after Nf3/Bg4 I follow the advice from my friend linuxguy (given after discussion of one of my losses) to play h3/Bg5, g4/Bg6 and then Ne5.  I recently remembered it, found it in DB, it’s called Lasker variation when it’s played after Qa5, but it’s also played after Qd6 . Funny that the same variation was played afterwards in the blitz game between my opponent and Russian GM and GM played h3, g4, Ne5 too!  I liked my position, Fritz 11 too, but then I started to miss the good moves, one of them – +2.79! He gradually equalized, but his king was still in the center.  I made pawn sac to open the lines, which I thought after the game was too aggressive, but it’s actually Fritz’s choice, though it doesn’t give any advantage, just equal.  I played a bad move, then soon another one and my position deteriorated, his kingside pawn majority became decisive.

Game 2 – I am White again, playing with the old guy. I knew he will play Caro-Kann and he does. I play Tartakower (fantasy) variation that GM Bareev suggested,  I played quite a few blitz games with it, liked it and it looks to me like a less common variation. The guy confirmed that after the game,  saying it was a first time he got it. Good!  Nevertheless, he chooses the best answer e6 – 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 f3 e6, then in a few moves he gives me 2 bishops. I feel I am better, but can’t decide what plan I should pursue. Meanwhile he counters in the center and I get some calculation work to do. Pawns get exchanged, then queens. I am a bit underdeveloped, so I try to fix it without giving up any material or position. Still, has to give back the bishop, position becomes completely equal, he offers a draw, I agree. Fritz’s estimated this position as 0.00. Interesting, that as opposed to the first game, Fritz doesn’t find anything to criticize me for at all, “perfect game” :).  

Game 3 ( 5th round) – I am Black, playing with the guy 45-50 years old. He starts 1. c4 Nf6 2. d4. I decide to play Benko gambit, it resurrected in my blitz play recently after a year of absence, I found that it’s easier than Grunfeld, where there are too many variations and some of them I don’t quite like.  In total I counted ~100 Benko blitz games,  so good time to try it. I think it took him by surprise, nevertheless he accepted it, and for some time played it quite right. But the time he was spending was 1.5 times more than mine. I played all the book, then all the typical moves. He was almost suffering under pressure. Suddenly, after thinking for 20-25 minutes, he makes the move I was afraid of – 22. Qa4,  forcing the queens exchange . Yeah, they say that even after that the Black in Benko gambit still has the initiative, but I didn’t feel like that. So, I retreat, but finally queens are exchanged. He has about 12.5 minutes for 16 moves, I have about 40, but the position became pretty simple and another rook exchange is coming up with his next move. He makes that move and suddenly offers a draw. I think for 5 seconds, weighing my 2 bishops and time against his spare “a” pawn and agree. He points at his pawn with some gesture, meaning it’s not worth much and hurries away.  I realize later, that the max I could get was his “a” pawn, the rest was on the kingside where 2 bishops wouldn’t be such a big advantage.  Fritz evaluated this as – -.27, just quarter of a pawn for me. And he would probably make his moves in time in such a simple position. I don’t know.  I saw how FM whom I know very well, grinded down one guy rated 270 lower than him in completely equal R+B endgame, cornered his king – something like Kh1,  R at g2 and B on the same diagonal and made a pawn break. The guy having just 30 seconds left until end of the game to think about it simply resigned. They both agreed that the guy screwed up and it should be a draw. But my guy was rated 100 higher than me, not 270 lower. Still, here is the professional approach. Funny that at home Crafty finds that his best move was the worst one, losing a piece in 3 moves. “Meaningless” queens exchange , then my nice bishop for knight? and boom! I attack his knight and he has nowhere to go. OK, exchanges are looking absurd when I am a pawn down,  but it’s a forced line, right?  So, I have to calculate it, no matter I like it or not  and evaluate the arising position. I didn’t do it, so didn’t get rewarded for the lots of time spent for the opening preparation and for actually well played game.

Game 4 ( 6th round) – I play with an old guy, Black again, 1. e4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 transpares to French, Classical. I am OK after the opening, but then chose the wrong plan 15. … f6.  I just don’t see f4 coming, which refutes my plan with Bg6. I miss the possibility to counter-attack on the queenside and don’t find the right defense against his maneuver  Nc1-d3-c5  (though I see it) with the purpose of attacking a6 and e6. I lose a pawn, but it’s not the end of it. My bishop is really bad and the pressure becomes stronger and stronger. Finally I miss his rook penetrating to the 7th line with the forced mate in a few moves. Painful loss, and I leave the tournament being pretty upset. I calm down later after running the games through Fritz and seeing that I had my chances and not everything was bad.

I feel that something important is missing from my preparation. The ability to find the right plan, to see the right move and calculate doesn’t come with blitz, so blitz will be essentually reduced. I don’t actually know how you learn it – by l0oking at GM games, playing slow games? I don’t quite like artificial exercises and don’t feel anymore that playing correspondence games gives me much. Maybe I should try to play longer games on the Web?  One of my thoughts before the tournament was that  I should play more OTB with the stronger opponents and I saw how right it was.