October 2009


Yesterday I played in the last round of the Swiss tournament going on in my club.
I was pretty high in standings,  so got a master. I played with him about a year and
a half ago. He was White, played English opening and strangled me in 30 moves,
finally I was in complete zugzwang and resigned.
It was a different game now.  I lost in 40 moves but put up a good fight before
blundering under pressure on move 32.  Here you can see the game.
I was White and it was Sicilian, Moscow variation – 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5 .
He played 3. … Nc6,  I never had it before, usually it was Bd7. I transformed it into Rossolimo variation by Bxc6. He started to press me on the queenside, then played f5. It was played twice before against me with no positional ground, I won both games. Here it was sound. Soon he moved all his kingside pawns, I got counter-play in the
center. I won a pawn, he got attack, Fritz considered it equal. Then feeling strong pressure I thought about relieving it by sacrificing exchange for the pawn in the center (Fritz absolutely didn’t like this idea,  giving -2.70 evalution after 5 moves). By the way, Fritz  didn’t see any reason to panic and evaluated the continuation without sac as equal – -0.30. But I am not Fritz …
After spending quite some time,  I decided to give that sac up and instead,  quickly played general defending move by the queen. Time was pressing, we had about 30 minutes left and it was intense middlegame. He moved g3 right away and to my horror I realized that my knight has nowhere to move.  After losing the knight the position started to deteriorate.  He sacrificed the bishop on g4,  I couldn’t take it because of check on “h” and mate on diagonal a7-g1.  Then he sacked the bishop again on h3 and it was over.
I still feel upset, the result wasn’t surprise for me,  of course,  but maybe I could do better.  Anyway, the tournament was good, I got 4.5/8 and ~2100 performance rating
which hopefully will raise my rating over 1800.
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Running up the ladder
Yesterday I played with an expert and won. It was a 16 year old boy.
I thought he is rated 1900+ until I came home and found out that after the last big tournament
he got 2001 rating. After I learned about my opponent I got nervous, first because I thought it’s the guy to whom I lost a year ago in Sicilian, Moscow variation.
He effectively finished me off, first with a pawn, then with queen sacrifice.
It wasn’t him (it was his brother), nevertheless I was still nervous since there was that feeling that my lucky streak (+1,=2) should somehow end.
OK, so I am White, Sicilian, my favorite Rossolimo –  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5.
Here is the game. I decided to counter his f5/f4 with d4 and got a pretty good position.
Recent reading of an excellent “Predator on the Chessboard” book on http://www.chesstactics.org
affected my play in this game. As soon as he played Ba6 I told to myself – this piece is loose.
I could actually win a pawn right away, didn’t see it. Later I also noticed that his back-rank is weak, Ne5 is threatening with dangerous Nf7+, etc. So, these tactical motives were kind
of on the backgound. I still missed a few chances to win a pawn related to Qb3+.
Anyway, his 27. … Nc1 was a mistake and 29. Ra3 finally used that looseness of Ba6, giving me advantage. I missed winning a piece after 30…. Ne2+ 31. Kf1. Trying to counter-attack he didn’t play good moves, his position deteriorated, then he blundered under pressure.
He resigned after double-check 36. Ng6++, it was a mate in 2 – 37. Qh8+ Kf7 38. Ne5#.
So, I got revenge an mafia style, good.
I am going to update my DB of missed tactics with few “gems” from this game and
definitely will return to that tactics.org site. This is definitely the way to go.

Yesterday I played with an expert and won. It was a 16 year old boy.  I thought he is rated 1900+ until I came home and found out that after the last big tournament he got 2001 rating. After I read the pairings I got nervous,  because I thought it’s the 1900+ guy to whom I lost a year ago in Sicilian, Moscow variation. He finished me off  with a queen sacrifice.  It wasn’t him (it was his brother),  nevertheless I was still nervous since there was that feeling that my lucky streak (+1,=2) will somehow end.

OK, so I am White, Sicilian, my favorite Rossolimo –  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5.  Here is the game. I decided to counter his f5/f4 with d4 and got a pretty good position. Recent reading of an excellent “Predator on the Chessboard” book on chesstactics.org site affected my play in this game. As soon as he played Ba6 I told to myself – this piece is loose. I could actually win a pawn right away, didn’t see it. Later I also noticed that his back-rank is weak, Ne5 is threatening with dangerous Nf7+, etc. So, these tactical motifs were kind of on the background of my mind all the time, not just appearing at some moment. I still missed a few chances related to Qb3+ to win a pawn .  Anyway, his 27. … Nc1 was a mistake and 29. Ra3  (Fritz’s choice)  finally used that looseness of Ba6, giving me an advantage.  He thought for about 15 minutes,  it erased his advantage in time,  still couldn’t find a good answer, not that there was one.  My nervousness at this moment disappeared,  I realized that I can win. I took on e5 with the knight, thinking that I don’t want to play the endgame.  Fritz would prefer to win an “a” pawn,  but again I wanted to use my chances in the middlegame,  having a bit more than 30 minutes left.

I missed winning a piece after 30…. Ne2+ 31. Kf1. Trying to counter-attack he didn’t play good moves, his position deteriorated, and he blundered under pressure.  He resigned after double-check 36. Ng6++, it was a mate in 2 – 37. Qh8+ Kf7 38. Ne5#.

So, I got my revenge in mafia style, good.

I am going to update my DB of missed tactics with a few “gems” from this game and will return to that chesstactics.org site. This is definitely the way to go.

Yesterday I drew with an expert. It was a guy 25-27 years old.
I was Black, he started d4 and it became Benoni without d5 – 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. e3.
My first 7 moves were intuitive, still very good, then somehow delayed development of my queenside got me under pressure. I played 14. … Qb6 instead of Qc7 and after 15. Rb5 Qc7 16. Be7 lost an exchange. It looked like familiar scenario with much higher rated players – getting positionally overplayed, then missing a tactical blow. There were, however, 2 big differences.
First, I had 2 strong bishops, no weaknesses and thought that the position is defensible.
Second – his clock. He spent about half of his time on the first 15-16 moves (it was G/90), I spent ~30 minutes. I thought it will be a factor. Both my suggestions were right.
I missed winning exchange just after a few moves (try to find it). Eventually after 24 moves I got my exchange back, trapping his rook with my 2 bishops. I could play Nxd5, but was afraid of the pin. As the guy rightly pointed after the game I had Nf4 avoiding it. So I played Qxd5 and had to give up the pawn on g6. He was thinking a lot on every move getting in real time trouble. I decided to keep tension on the board, do not exchange queens and see what happens. Soon I made a wrong move allowing him to win an exchange with decisive advantage, but he didn’t notice it. After 35 moves he had I think less than 5 minutes, I had 20-25. Then it became 2 minutes, he started to play faster. When he had about 30 seconds on the clock ( I had ~10 minutes) he made a move forcing me to exchange queens. After the exchange we got an opposite colored bishops endgame, him up a pawn. Suddenly I felt like blown air balloon, I realized I don’t want to win on time this drawn endgame. I offered him a draw, he agreed, of course. The guy was very nice and friendly before the game, I felt like he didn’t deserve to lose and I to win (I didn’t actually show GM’s 2550 performance in this game).
I will post Fritz annotations later, as always Fritz spoiled my eyphoria :).

Yesterday for the first time I drew with an expert.  It was a guy 25-27 years old.  I was Black,  he started d4 and it became Benoni without d5 – 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. e3.  After the game I said I would play b5 if he played 3. d5,  he smiled and said he doesn’t like this stuff,  prefers pure positional play.  My first 7 moves were intuitive,  still very good, then somehow I delayed development of my queenside and it got me under pressure. I played 14. … Qb6 instead of Qc7 and after 15. Rb5 Qc7 16. Be7 lost an exchange. It looked like familiar scenario with much higher rated players – getting positionally overplayed, then missing a tactical blow. There were, however, 2 big differences.

First,  I had 2 strong bishops, no weaknesses and thought that the position is defensible.  Second – his clock. He spent about half of his time on the first 15-16 moves (it was G/90),  I spent ~30 minutes. I thought it will be a factor. Both my suggestions were right. I missed winning exchange just after a few moves (try to find it). Eventually after 24 moves I got my exchange back, trapping his rook with my 2 bishops.  I could play 25. … Nxd5, but was afraid of the pin. As the guy rightly pointed after the game I had 26. … Nf4 avoiding it right away. So I played 25. … Qxd5 and had to give up the pawn on g6. He was thinking a lot on every move getting in real time trouble. I decided to keep tension on the board, do not exchange queens and see what happens. Soon I made a wrong move allowing him to win an exchange with decisive advantage, but he didn’t notice it. After 35 moves he had I think less than 5 minutes, I had 20-25. Then it became 2 minutes, he started to play faster. When he had about 30 seconds on the clock  ( I had ~10 minutes) he made a move forcing me to exchange queens. After the exchange we got an opposite colored bishops endgame, him up a pawn. Suddenly I realized I don’t want to win on time this drawn endgame.  I offered him a draw, he agreed, of course. The guy was very nice and friendly before the game, I felt like he didn’t deserve to lose and I to win (I didn’t actually show GM’s 2550 performance in this game).

Also, there is an interesting FIDE rule:

Article 10: Quickplay Finish

10.1 A `quickplay finish` is the last phase of a game, when all the (remaining) moves must be made in a limited time.

10.2 If the player, having the move, has less than two minutes left on his clock, he may claim a draw before his flag falls. He shall stop the clocks and summon the arbiter.

If the arbiter agrees the opponent is making no effort to win the game by normal means, or that it is not possible to win by normal means, then he shall declare the game drawn. Otherwise he shall postpone his decision or reject the claim.

Would be just moving the pieces and advancing the pawns in this endgame  ( I can’t win of course) qualify as “making no effort to win the game by normal means”?  What do you think about that?

I posted the game, raw pgn. I will post Fritz annotations later.

Here is the game annotated by Fritz.

I played yesterday in my new club, G/90. I am not satisfied with my play,
I think I wasn’t fully concentrated, also my chronic undercalculating.
Anyway, the result was good – I won.
It was another +100 rated guy, it’s like I am playing in U2000 tournament.
I was White and it was Ruy Lopez, Classical variation, 3. … Bc5.
I never played against this variation OTB, a few correspondence games that I don’t remember.
It showed, as I missed winning a piece at the very early stage and got under some pressure later.
At one moment, I made a wrong move, allowing my opponent to win an exchange, but he missed it.
Than we got a position, where I deliberately allowed his rook on the 1st line (following queens exchange)
to relieve the pressure on “d” line. It actually brought me even bigger dividends,
as we exchanged both rooks and went into the knight endgame, where I clearly had better perspectives.
I played pretty well this part, except made a stupid mistake losing a pawn, which he didn’t notice.
My “a” and “b” passed pawns decided the game, sacrificing themselves but distracting Black’s knight and king.
I’ll let you to find the tactics, consider it like a tactics exercise.
I will post Fritz annotations later, Fritz had his day on this one :).

I played yesterday in my new club, G/90.  I am not satisfied with my play.  I think I wasn’t fully concentrated, also my chronic under-calculating and maybe I played too fast, I had ~25 minutes left when it finished on 52nd move (my opponent actually had more) .  Anyway, the result was good – I won.  It was another +100 rated guy,  it’s like I am playing in U2000 tournament.  I was White and it was Ruy Lopez, Classical variation, 3. … Bc5.  I never played OTB against this variation ,  had a few correspondence games that I don’t remember.  It showed,  as I missed winning a piece at the very early stage and got under some pressure later. At one moment I made a wrong move allowing my opponent combination winning an exchange, but he missed it. Then we got a position where I deliberately allowed his rook on the 1st line (following queens exchange) to relieve the pressure on “d” line. It actually brought me even bigger dividends, as we exchanged both rooks and went into the knight endgame where I clearly had better perspectives.  I played pretty well this part,  got  “a” and “b” passed pawns. Then I made a stupid mistake losing a pawn, which again he didn’t notice. The pawns eventually decided the game, sacrificing themselves but distracting Black’s knight and king.  I posted the game, raw pgn,  you can consider it as a tactics exercise,  try to find missing stuff.  I will post Fritz’s annotations later, Fritz had his day on this one :).  OK, here is what Fritz says about the game.  I could win a piece with 6. d4 and  22.  …  Nd4 was winning exchange.   46. a5 was losing  a pawn due to 46.  …  Nxa5. 

“The winner is the player who makes the last but one mistake” – Savielly Tartakower