Tuesday, March 29, 2005
What Do People Play These Days?
As white, I’ve played against:
Center Counter/Scandinavian (12%)
Caro Kann (7%)
The most interesting statistics is that I’ve played against 1…e5 only twice by a player rated over 1400, which means 2 in 35 times. The other 6 times were against low rated junior players. Grandmasters frequently play e5. At the recent Linares tournament, e5 was play in 10 of 27 e4 openings (all 17 others were Siclian.) Is there too many opening variations to learn or is it black just constantly battles for equality? I’m also a bit surprised to see how little people play the Caro-Kann.
As Black, I’ve faced
1. e4 (60%)
Queen’s Gambit (30%)
Queen’s Pawn (8%)
Monday, March 21, 2005
Beating a Master in 20 Moves
1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 e6 3. f4 Nc6 4. Bb5 Nge7 5. Nf3 a6 6. Bxc6 Nxc6 7. O-O b5 8. d3 Bb7
The game begins in reasonable fashion. Typically with the Sicilian – Grand Prix variation, White seeks to trade off his white bishop for Black’s queenside knight and double the pawns on the c-file. Black has chosen a variation to replace his queenside knight with his kingside. I didn’t think retreating the bishop after a6 was worthwhile so I traded it off anyway. I would say that this position is even.
9. Qe1 g6 White moves to begin a kingside attack and black tries to fianchetto his king’s bishop, which is common in the Sicilian, but in this variation it looks out of place. 10. e5 I was to block his bishop in at g7, but more importantly try to maneuver a knight from c3-e4-either f6 or d6. I think black may have had a better try with Nd4 here to prevent Ne4. I also could have played f5 myself with Bg5 to follow. Chessmaster (CM) rates e5 as the best move at 0.20 advantage for me. (Remember a 1.0 advantage is considered 1 pawn)
10....f5?! Better for black would have been d5 or Nd4. CM gives me a 0.86 advantage 11. exf6 Qxf6 12. Nd5! Qd8 The black queen has only one square to go to as he must protect c7.
13. f5 Nd4 I try to sacrifice my f pawn in order to put the bishop on g5. Black tries to play actively which is good. 14. Nxd4 Bxd5 These two moves are rather forced and natural on both sides, but my advantage is 2.37. 15. Qe5! Rg8? This is the only square the rook can move to, however, in hindsight foregoing the rook and playing actively would have been better. 15...Qh4 was looked at immediately after the game and CM gives 15...gxf5 16. Qxh8 cxd4 17. Bh6 Qe7.
16. fxe6! dxe6 If 16…Bxe6 17. Nxe6 dxe6 18. Qxe6+ wins the rook on g7. Also note that the bishop is hanging after fxe6, so black must do something to save it as well. Other moves also allow exd7+.
17. Nxe6 Bd6 Black cannot play Qe7 because of Nc7+ winning a piece. Now I originally thought that 18. Qxd5 loses to Bxh2+ winning the queen (and so did my opponent), but subsequent analysis shows that 19. Kxh2 Qxd5 20. Nxc7! wins the queen back. However 18. Ng7+! Kd7 19. Qxd5 Rxg7 20. Bf4 Black cannot save the bishop. If 20…Kc7 21. Bxd6+ Qxd6 22. Qxa8 wins a rook instead. 1-0
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Tournament Review - Last Round
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nc3. Here I sat and thought for a period. I wasn’t sure how sound playing my usual 4… Bf5 was in this position. I could have imagined that 5. Qb3 Qd7 6. cxd5 cxd5 7. Bb5 Nc6 could have been annoying. I’ve seen the Meran variation (4… e6 5. Bd3 dxc4 6. Bxc4 b5 7. Bd3 a6 with plans to play Bb7 and c5) but had no experience with it. However, I went with the Meran. 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. a3. Now seems to mess up my plans for the Meran. If 6… dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5 8. Bd3 a6 9. b4! Would prevent any hope of c5 and my bishop getting out. 6….a5!? This isn’t a typical move I was aiming to prevent a vast expansion on the queenside with 7. b4.
7. b3?! This was a bit strange. However, it was explained that he feared 7. Bd3 dxc4 8. Bxd4 b5 9. Bd3 b4 10. axb4 Bxb4. I decided that I need to plan for a break on e5. 7…. Bd6 8. Bd3 e5. I felt that this move was absolutely necessary. If 8…O-O 9. e4 would have permanently cramped my position. CM agrees giving it 0.24 still in favor of white. 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. dxe5 Nxe5 11. Nb5 (You can’t win the pawn with Bb5). Here is the crucial position for this game.
I evaluated Nxd3, but saw that if 11…Nxf3 12. Qxf3 Bb5 then the Queen would be trapped. I was disappointed to see the 13. Nxd6+ would have ruined the trap. Then I noticed the quite in between move. 11… Nxf3 12. Qxf3 Be5!! Now white has a choice of losing a rook or getting his queen trapped. I notice by my opponent’s reaction was that he saw the queen trap, before his 12th move, and saw the Nxd6+, but obviously failed to see the quiet move. What makes this trap good is that it is the best move anyway. White’s other option is 12. gxf3. While this doesn’t make White lose by any means, it hampers White from ever castling. While this is a perfect acceptable position to resign, it did take some thought to save the bishop. Being up a rook is an easily won game, but a mere exchange can be challenging.
13. e4 Bxa1. I briefly looked at dxe4, but sometimes simplicity is best. 14. Bf4 O-O The bishop move eliminates any retreating square for the bishop and threatens Nc7. 15. O-O Bg4 16. Qg3 dxe4. Up a rook, I am happy to trade any knight for bishop combination. 17. Bxe4 Nxe4 18. Qxg4 f5. 19. Qe2 Qf6. My bishop had been en-prise for 4 moves. However, it is possible to keep attacking pieces until you can secure it.
White tries one last tactical try. 20. f3 Bd4+ 21. Nxd4 Qxd4+ 22. Be3 Nc3! This marks the end of white counterplay and his demise.
23. Qe1 Qd3 24. Qd2 Qxd2 25. Bxd2 Nd5 26. Rd1 Nf6 27. Bc3 Rad8 28. Rb1 b6 0-1
Happy to put this tournament victory under my belt, I look forward to playing in the next tournament, this time in the Open Section.
Monday, March 14, 2005
Tournament Analysis - Round 3
It started out to be similar to my last game. Although I tried not to be over-confident, I felt the need to win decisively rather than just win. I think, if possible, it’s best not to look at someone’s rating before you play them. 8. e5 was a weak move that I didn’t make in similar situations against other opponents. So why did I play it here? No idea. I was quite fixed on now capturing his c5 pawn. There is nothing wrong with leaving the pawn alone. Black shouldn’t capture, he has double isolated c pawns and I would have controlled the f5 square, penning in his knight.
10. b3 Nf5 I was aware of the knight moving to Nh4 and doubling up on the pin 11. h3 Bxf3 12. Qxf3 Be7. I later regretted playing h3 (because it weakened the dark squares on g3 and h4, the tactical machine Chessmaster 9000 recommends it anyway. It does give black a -0.22 advantage. 13. Na4 O-O 14. Ba3 Qa5. A Queen being able to move to e1 now would have been advantageous. 15. c4 Rfd8 I wanted to lock his pawn on c5. 16. Qf2? dxc4. Oh the humanity! I think I stopped concentrating on any potential black plan. If the logical 16. Rad1 d4, CM lists the game as -0.07.
17. dxc4 Rd2! 18. Qe1 Rbd8. 19. Bc1 Bh4. The immediate 18… Bh4 would have been better for black. 20. Bxd2 Rxd2 21. Qe4 Nd4. 22. Rfd1 Ne2+. Things are getting dodgy for me. 23. Kh2 is forced 23… Bg3+ 24. Kh1. Here black can go for a repetitive check draw 24… Bxf4 25. Qxc6 Ng3+ if he wants it. Even consider. 24… Bxf4 25. Qxc6 h6 26. Qxc5 Qxc5 27. Nxc5 Bxe5. In post-game analysis, black said that he feared losing the c6 pawn. 24… Nd4?! Is almost a retreat. Now there are no check threats.
25. Nxc5! If 25… Rxd1 26. Rxd1 Qxc5 27. Qxd4 and white is forcing a queen trade by threatening mate. 25… Qx3 26. Rac1 h6! White cannot take. 27. Nd3 Rxd1.27… Ne2 fails to Qxe2. 28. Rxd1 a5? 29. Rc1 Nc2
30. Nc5? Qb4. Why did I miss Qe2 winning the piece with ease? I failed to be able to simply exploit a pin? 31. Na6 Qb6. I aim to lure the queen into a more obscure square. 32. Qxc2 Qxa6 33. Qd2 a4?? 34. Qd8+ 1-0.
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Tournament Review - Round 2
1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 d6 3. f4 Nf6 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Bb5 a6 6. Bxc6 cxb6 7. d3 g6 8. O-O Bg7 9. Qe1 O-O 10. Qh4 Bg4!?
I had actually looked at a variation like in my home preparation, so I was completely comfortable with my first ten moves. At this point I believe I had a small advantage and was making plans to attack on the kingside. However, Chessmaster 9000 (CM), my analysis tool calls it -.018. Bg4 was an interesting move, one I hadn’t seen. Well, do I try to keep the knight? My plan was to play f5 and then Bg5 or Bh6. I decided to forego the knight and continue with the plan.
11. f5 Bxf3 12. Rxf3 Nh5. CM liked 11. e5 Bxf3 12. Rxf3 Nd5 Ne4 giving a 0.16 versus my -0.20 score. Here I sunk into thought. Do I play 13. g4 or 13. Bg5. So I thought 13. g4 Bf6 14. Qh3 Bd4+ 15. Kh1 Nf6 versus what I played. I didn’t actually prefer this position although CM gives it a 0.38, the better score. I, instead played 13. Bg5 Bf6 14. fxg6 fxg6. With 14…Bxg5 15. Qxh5 wins a piece. 15. Raf1! Qb6! First I pin the bishop, but black effectively counterattacks. Coincidently CM liked the immediate 13… Qb6 and gave me a small advantage after black's 13th move. However, I can feel the tide of the game turning against me. I had considered black playing Qb6, but the possibilities of the position didn’t quite sink in until he actually played it.
16. Bxf6 Rxf6. His bishop is better than mine and it’s time to trade it. CM agreed but recommended continued with a trade of rooks. 17. Rxf6 exf6 18. Na4 Qc7 19. b3 (0.57). However, I was still thinking attack and wanted to keep pieces around. 17. Na4 Qb4 18. b3 Qd4+. Here I considered 19. Kh1 Rxf3 20. gxf3 Re8 21. f4 (CM says -0.03) or 19. Qf2 Rxf3! 20. gxf3 Nf4! 21. Qxd4 cxd4 (CM says -0.52). Why I played Qf2 was that I decided to simplify into the endgame and try to attack black’s weaker pawns on the queenside. However, black is better here. His knight is well placed on f4.
22. Kf2 (preventing Ne2 and the knight wandering over to the queenside) 22…Rf8 23. Re1 e5. Here I wanted to force e5 so my target pawns were on c6 and d6 instead the chain ending on e7. Otherwise, I would have played e5. 24. Nb6 (getting my knight active) 24… Nh3+? Here is black’s first major mistake. There is no reason to pull his well placed knight off of f4. 25. Kg3 Ng5. Now black’s knight has maneuvered to an inferior square. Better was to start moving the king in and rolling the kingside pawns. 26. Rf1 Rf4?? The move looks natural but really is a huge mistake. This loses a pawn by force for black. Who was it that said “The person who wins a chess game is the one to make the second to last mistake.” 27. Nc8! Kf8 29. Nxc6+ g5. Now I am eyeing Nxd4 30. a4 which stops the a-pawn so I can attack it without it going to a4 and ruining my pawn structure. 30…g4?! was the move I was hoping for.
31. Nxd4! Ke7. It’s surprising that CM recommends g4, but followed by Ng5. 32. Nf5+ I also looked at Ne2 followed by f4. 32… Kf6 33. Rf2 h5 34. Ne3 . This threatens a fork while allowing me to play fxg4, without black playing Rxg4+ 34…Kg5 35. fxg4 hxg4 36. Nd5! Obviously trading rooks right away would allow him to pawn fork my king and knight.
36…Rxf2. With the rooks off the board, I can start moving the queenside pawns. Up two queenside pawns, the rest is just a matter of elementary technique. 37. Kxf3 Kh4 38. Kg2 Ng5 39. b4 Nf3 40. b5 axb5 41. axb5 Ne1+ 42. Kg1 Kh3 43. Ne3 Nf3 44. Kh1 Nxh2 45. b6 Nf3 46. Nxg4 Nd4. Although I could have immediately played 46. b7, with only 8 minutes left, I wanted to remove any hope of black getting any play. 47. Nd4 b6 Nc6 48. Nf6 Nb8 49. Ne8 Kg3 50. Nxd6 Kf3 51. Nc4 Nc6 52. Nxe5+! 1-0
Although I won this game, I made several 2nd best moves. This is the game I feel I needed some serious analysis. I wonder where my attack exactly went wrong. I can’t find one particular blunder using Chessmaster. It’s somewhere between move 11 and 15. Should I have allowed the knight to get traded? Perhaps I didn't look far enough into the 13. g4 line. So again 13. g4 Bf6 14. Qh3 Bd4+ 15. Kh1 Nf6 is what I evaluated and the position looks "okay" for black.
now perhaps 16. Ne2 Be5 17. gxf6 fxg6 18. Bh6 Re8 19. g5 Nd7 20. Qe6+ leaves white with a much better position. I think I may see a position like this in the future, so it is a valuable learning lesson.
Game Anaylsis of Round 1
This is the post game analysis fo the the first round of the recent tournament I played in. In the U1800 section, I was matched with the #1 seat and I was playing black. This particular teenaged opponent I had played once before and lost as white, so I know he is a very talented player.
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Qc2 dxc4 5. e4 b5. 6. a4 a6 7. e5 Nd5 8. axb5 cxb5 9. b3 cxb3 10. Qxb3 Bb7. 11. Bd3 e6
4. Qc2 was a less typical move. It's designed to keep my bishop off of f5, but it doesn’t help white to win his pawn back. Typically, with 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 black forgoes his pawn in order to develop. This is why it is more important to focus on the principles of the opening as opposed to memorizing lines. Here, I'm out of my book knowledge. 10….Bb7 removes any threat of a take on b5 with a pinned a-pawn. Black has a well placed bishop and knight, has two passed pawns, up a pawn, and white’s d4 pawn is weak.
12. O-O Be7 13. Nd2 I see white’s knight aiming for d6 via e4. So I was also considering Nd7, Nc6 or O-O. With Nf4, I either knock out his light squared bishop which makes me great on the light squares or I can play Ne2+ and win his dark squared bishop. Hence if he plays Nd6 eventually, I can take on d6 with my dark squared bishop, without having weak dark squares.
13… Nf4. 14. Ne4 Here, I missed the tactic 13… Bd5 15. Qc2 Nxd3 16. Qxd3 Bc4! skewering the Queen. 14…Nxd3 15. Qxd3 Nc6 My several candidate moves for this last move also included Bxe4, O-O, and Nd7. I’ve delayed castling, because 15. Ng5 would force an unpleasant 15… g6 16. Ne4 with intentions to go to f6. I decided my light square bishop was too important and Nd7 was too passive. 16. Rd1 Nb4! 17. Qb1 Nd5 The knight makes it way back to it’s best square on d5 with tempo! 18. Bg5
18…. f6!? I felt forced to play f6 here. I didn’t want to take, and was still a bit wary of castling. Chessmaster 9000 is my main analysis tool. Perhaps not as good as Fritz, it still is a solid program. It did slightly prefer castling giving it a score of 0.96 versus my 0.9 for f6. 19. Bd2 O-O 20. Ba5 Qb8 This is the only square that protects d6 and avoid the pin following 19…Qd7 20. Nc5 Bxc5 21. dxc5. I also value my light squared, “bad” bishop more. 21. Re1 f5 This is forced as 21. dxf6 Bxf6 22. Ng5 threatens both the pawn on e6 and mate on h7. 20… dxe5 21. Ng5 threatens the pawn on e5, e6 and mate on h7. 22. Nc5 Bxc5 23. dxc5 Qe8. Now I’m aiming to go to the kingside. I also looked at playing the immediate Nf4, but I thought the white queen would have an chance to chase away the knight. I was looking at tactics like 23…Nxg2 24. Kxg2 Qg6+. Chessmaster preferred the immediate Nf4 giving it -1.00 but my move only -0.53. 24. Nd4 Nf4 25. f3 Qg6
26. Ra2 Bd5 27. Rd2 Rfc8 The f -rook is blocked by the f- pawn and I want to keep the a rook on a8 so I can start rolling the passed pawns on a moment’s notice. Again, Chessmaster preferred the other rook, giving it a -0.44 versus my -0.19. 28. Qb4 Bc4 threatening a fork. If 28. Red1 then Nd5 and my pieces are all better placed than the previous diagram. Moves like f4 and Ne3 can follow.
However, perhaps the psychology of the position became a factor and a blundered followed 29. Re3? Nd5 0-1. It’s interesting to watch how Chessmaster’s evaluation fluctuates during the game. It gives the subtle 29. Qa3 a rating of -0.09, almost an even game although I have a secure extra pawn. My opponent ended up winning his next four games and finishing second.
Friday, March 11, 2005
A Bronstein Annocdote
Bronstein played the first two moves of the King's gambit on the display board. "This is what you should play," he said. "This is what you can learn about chess. Play for fun. Play the King's gambit." As for openings popular with grandmasters, he said, "They're boring. Look at this. Nowadays they play something like this." He played out the first three or four moves of a Nimzoindian defense and an English opening. "This is popular with the grandmasters. But it's boring."
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Linares - Final -& Kasparov Retires
In the final round Gary lost to Topalov blundering away the draw, Adams beat Anand with black, and Leko drew. Leko drew all of his games.
Final vs Predicted
1. Kasparov 8 vs 8
2. Topalov 8 vs 6.5
3. Anand 6.5 vs 7.5
4. Leko 6 vs 7
5. Adams 5.5 vs 6
6. Kasimdzhanov 4 vs 4
7. Vallejo Pons 4 vs 3
My round by round predictions were 21/38. There were 26 draws in all fourteen rounds, a 63% ratio.
Linares - Round 12
Topalov - Kasim - 1-0 - Haven't had much of a chance to see the game
Anand - Vallejo - 1/2 Anand misplayed and Vallejo blundered an easily won endgame sparking rumors that
Adams - Kasparov 0-1 Great counterattack by Kasparov. Truly amazing.
Predicitions -Round 13
Vallejo Pons-Topalov 0-1
Why oh why would anyone predict anything but a draw for Leko? Kasparov is on a roll and unless Vallejo gave Anand a "gift" he'll still be reeling regarding this blown opportunity to win.
Leko - Vallejo 1/2
Topalov - Kasparov 1/2
Anand - Adams 1/2
Monday, March 07, 2005
Victory is Mine!
It looks likely that my rating will surge over 1800 by the time the ratings finally get updated and my 15 games since the start of the year are rated. Future tournament, I plan on playing in the Open section looking to play higher rated players.
Linares Round 10 & 11
Anand-Leko 1/2 - 24 moves
Adams-Kasimdzhanov 1/2 - long draw
Kasparov-Vallejo 1-0 - Nice win
Kasim - Anand - 0-1
Leko - Topalov -1/2 okay so why do i bother predicting anything but a draw for Peter Leko?
Round by Round my predictions have been 18/30. Actually if I just predicted every game to draw, I would probably be right around the same value. My overall prediction from February 21st is doing well. Kasparov leads with +4 ahead of Anand's +2.
Round 12 -Predictions
Topalov - Kasim - 1/2
Anand - Vallejo - 1-0
Adams - Kasparov 1/2
Friday, March 04, 2005
Let the Tournament Begin
---I had a chance to follow this game live online (as with some of the previous games) but this was one of the most exciting. Kasparov's exchange sacrifice was great.
Leko-Adams 1/2 - Adams grabbed a repetitive check draw.
Topalov-Anand 1/2 - Opposite color bishop ending
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Linares - Round 8
I will be occupied with a tournament this weekend. I'll be spending the next two days preparing.
Here are the predictions.
Rd9 Kasimdzhanov-Kasparov 1/2 Leko-Adams 1/2 Topalov-Anand 1/2
Rd10 Anand-Leko 1/2 Adams-Kasimdzhanov 1/2 Kasparov-Vallejo 1-0
Rd11 Vallejo-Adams 1/2 Kasimdzhanov-Anand 1/2 Leko-Topalov 1-0
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Vallejo versus Leko went a whole 13 moves! Vallejo had a slightly better position and there was no reason to draw so early! While hard fought draws are an aspect of chess, I tire of "Grandmaster draws." The problem is that an even position isn't necessarily a drawn position. There's a difference. What will we see next? 1. e4 e5 draw.
Hence, I am disallusioned and am predicting all three games to be drawn tomorrow.
Adams-Topalov 1/2 Kasparov-Leko 1/2 Vallejo-Kasimdzhanov 1/2
I'm actually busy preparing for a tournament of my own this weekend. My openings needed work so I've been brushing up on them. I've now worked my way up to the U1800 section, so the competition gets increasingly harder.