French, another Steinitz
After some break (I didn’t post my last OTB game from 2 weeks ago since, though won, I played too bad
and was ashamed to publish it), I am posting the game I played this Sunday, regular G/90.
My opponent was a boy, rated 200+ lower, I had a win against him before.
So I play French, third time. It’s probably good that I can try it against lower rated
opponents, where I can compensate later for my opening/transition to middlegame mistakes,
being still able to win/draw and getting a valuable experience at the same time.
I should admit they all played decent opening lines, as opposed to freaking FICS, where 25% play
C00, i.e. something like 1.e4 e6 2. Nf3, 30% Exchange, and another 25% – Advanced variation.
My opponents followed the Canadian (and general) OTB stats with 3. Nc3 being the most popular,
followed by 3. Nd2.
OK, here is the game.
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 a6 6. Nf3 c5 7. Ne2 Nc6 8. c3
Pic 1
8. … cxd4 9. cxd4 f6 10. Nc3 Be7 11. Be2 O-O 12. O-O fxe5 13. fxe5 Nb6 14. Be3 Nc4
Pic 2

After some break  (I didn’t post my last OTB game from 2 weeks ago since, though won, I played too bad and was ashamed to publish it),  I am posting the game I played this Sunday, regular G/90.

My opponent was a boy, rated 200+ lower, I had a win against him before.  So I played French,  third time.  It’s probably good that I can try it against lower rated opponents, where I can compensate later for my opening/transition to middlegame mistakes,  being still able to win/draw and getting a valuable experience at the same time.  I should admit they all played decent opening lines, as opposed to freaking FICS, where 25% play C00,  i.e. something like 1.e4 e6 2. Nf3, 30% Exchange, and another 25% – Advanced variation.  My opponents followed the Canadian (and general) OTB stats with 3. Nc3 being the most popular,  followed by 3. Nd2.

OK, here is the game.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 a6 6. Nf3 c5 7. Ne2 Nc6 8. c3

another1

8. … cxd4 9. cxd4 f6 10. Nc3 Be7 11. Be2 O-O 12. O-O fxe5 13. fxe5 Nb6 14. Be3 Nc4 – it was tempting to get a bishop pair, but later in the game I realized it wasn’t a good idea – leaving e4 square undefended.

another2

15. Bxc4 dxc4 16. Ne4 b5 17. a3 Rb8 18. Qc2 h6 19. Nfd2 Qb6?  I miss here 19. … Nxd4,  also it allows 20. Nf6+!  Bxf6 21. exf6 Qd8 22. fxg7 Kxg7 23. Qe4 Bd7 24. Qg4+ Kh7 25. Qh5 Rf6 26. Ne4 Rg6 – with Crafty’s estimate – 2.03.  Accepting sacrifice  –  20. … gxf6 leads to checkmate – 21. Qg6+ Kh8 22. Qxh6+ Kg8 23. Qg6+ Kh8 24. Rf3 fxe5 25. Rh3+ Bh4 26. Rxh4#

another3

20. Rxf8+ Bxf8 21. Rf1? Nxe5

another4

22. dxe5 Qxe3+ 23. Kh1 Bb7 – the “bad” French bishop becomes a very good one.

another5

24. Rf3?? Bxe4! White resigned (because of  losing a piece or getting checkmate after 25.  Nxe4 Qe1+ ).

another6

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I played this game on Sunday, regular G/90, against opponent rated 150 lower.  I had  a draw with him before.  So I play French, second time. It looked like after the first few moves it was “terra incognita” for him,  he was spending time finding the moves,  I played pretty quickly.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Nf3 a6 – second choice move to prevent Nc3-b5-d6 maneuver – I hate knight getting there. 6. Bd3 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. O-O Nc6 9. Re1 Be7 10. Bf4 O-O.   Crafty evaluates position after move 10 as equal, time  +10 minutes.

steinitz11

11. a3 Nc5 12. b4 Nxd3 13. cxd3 f6 14. d4 – I evaluated it as better for me, Crafty thinks the same – ~-0.50.

steinitz21

14. d4 fxe5 15. Bxe5  Ncxe5  16. Nxe5 Bd7 17. Rc1 Rc8 18. Qg4

steinitz3

Now I realize that I am in trouble – there is a threat 19. Nxd7 Qxd7 20. Rxe6. I can play 19. … Rf6 – but I see right away that it’s not good – 20. Nxd7 Qxd7 21. Nxd5 …  ( and I found out later that I lose e6 pawn too) .  Still I don’t think  I have a choice and hope that my opponent wouldn’t see it. Advantage in time disappears. Of course, Crafty found here an excellent counterattacking move  –  Bf6, and also there is Rf5,  in both cases I am OK. So, again, it’s not opening/endgame knowledge, not deep calculation – just seeing  the right move. But that’s what masters are about – they see it, we don’t. Anyway, I play Rf6, luckily for me my opponent plays 19. Ne2.  So,  19. … Bd6 20. f4 Bxe5 21. fxe5 Rg6 – better Rf7, 22. Qh3 Qg5?  Crafty says another bad move – 23. Rxc8+ Bxc8 24. Rc1 Qd8  25. Qc3 Bd7 26. Qc7 Qxc7 27. Rxc7 Bc6 28. Nf4 Rh6 29. Re7 Kf8 30. Rxe6 – 1.46.  But White plays 23. Rxc8 Bxc8 24. Rf1

steinitz42

24. Rf1 Bd7 25. Qf3 Qe7 26. Qc3 Bb5 27. Rf2 Bc4 28. Qc2 Rh6 29.
Qa4 Bxe2

steinitz5

30. Rxe2 Rh4 31. Qd1 Rf4 32. Rf2 Rxf2 33. Kxf2

steinitz6

Draw agreed. Looking on the bright side,  I got out of the opening OK and with more time than my opponent.  Still need more experience in playing these positions.

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.

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

evans1

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

evans2

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

evans3

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

evans4

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

evans5

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

evans6

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

evans7

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.”

I am slowly recovering from the devastating loss that I had this Sunday.
I played in my local club, it was a guy about the same age as me, rated 250 lower.  I had White and he played Scandinavian. I don’t quite like to play it, because usually it gives kind of easy piece play for black, also they bother my d4 pawn.  Though, I held my own well playing my only OTB game with it against almost 300 higher rated guy and getting a draw.
Getting back to Sunday’s game. The guy played Portuguese variation, here is what Chess Central says about it:
“The resulting play is sharp and trappy. An added benefit is the newness of the line,  which came into prominence only in the early 1990s.
Therefore many players of White can still be caught unaware, falling victim to an early knockout”.

This is exactly what happened. I spent a lot of time on the opening, finding the right moves.  The guy moved fast, looks like he played quite a few games like this one,  I spent essentially more time then him.  I was fighting on the enemy’s territory.  When I thought it’s time to attack, he suddenly created a mate threat.

I didn’t like h3 because of possible Bxh3 (not sound, of course, but I don’t like to defend such positions), so I played bad move g3, of course right after that I saw obvious Nbd2.

After 14. … f5, White were -.77.

The move looked like a placeholder, just putting the pawn on important square, so I thought I got a break, played Rac8 and was shocked by f4!. I don’t understand why I didn’t see it, as I made same move myself in the past (see for example post here about Marshall attack). It didn’t help, of course, that I didn’t have enough sleep the whole week and probably played too much correspondence chess, so I didn’t feel “fresh” when I came to play.

After that I lost a piece and the game went downhill. I resigned after 28 moves.

So, what can I do rather than just feel awful? I learned about that variation and I am playing a correspondence game with it right now.
Also, I realized that you shouldn’t be trying to find good moves in the opening  your opponent wants you to play. I actually did what Kramnik did twice in a row. Try to shift the game into the familiar direction, if possible.

My rating got stuck at a plateau for the last 5 months and it worries me.

Yes, I need to study endgames, improve my calculation skills,
get better in positional play ( openings look OK ) – I know all that, but it’s a long story.
I need a quick fix right now to boost my confidence, let’s say 50 points increase.
It’s not a matter of points, just can I play better?
So,  is there any kind of a magic pill?

I look at the last 2 tournaments I played, 9 games.  What I see is 3 missing opponent’s combinations in 2-3 moves, 2 of them decisive.
By the way, I know these combinations, can do it myself too, but …

For some reason from here I get an idea that if I memorize a few sharp openings, try them online,  then try OTB, it can bring me the result that I want. By the way, it could be worse first, but it will disbalance that freaking straight line, so maybe next time it would be better ( like Carlsen tries to disbalance the position ).
So, a few openings to force me to look for the tactics all the time and to get advantage of some unprepared players ( though some person rated 200-300 points higher would probably get advantage of me ).
Marshall attack I already tried OTB and got a winning chance, then missed it (got a draw), played online about 40 Benko gambits ( still have to analyze that ), tried recently Two Knights Defense (with pretty good results), Blumenfeld gambit (won twice) and Albin counter-gambit (lost once). 

Immersion system works well for the languages, why not for chess?