Monday, April 25, 2005


Club Battles

I had been playing rather well recently and have had some good luck on my side. Here we see another game against a regular club opponent. Although, I’m +3-1 against this opponent, we are closely matched and I enjoy playing him. My loss, I should have drawn (he offered and I declined!) and one victory, he blundered in a won position. Only recently learning the game, this 14 year old has gone from his first provisional rating of 970 in June 04 to 1937, 10 months later!

1. c4 c6 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Bg4 5. O-O dxc4 6. Ne5 Be6 7. Qc2 Nbd7 8. Nxc4 g6 9. d3 Bg7 10. Nc3 O-O 11. e4 Bxc4 12. dxc4 e5 13. f4 Ng4 14. f5 Qb6 15. Kh1 Ne3 16. Bxe3 Qxe3 17. Rf3 Qc5 18. Na4 Qa5 19. Raf1 Nf6 20. h3 Rad8 21. Nc3 Rd4 22. b3 Qd8 23. R1f2 Qd6 24. Bf1 Rd8 25. fxg6 hxg6 26. c5

When you play in tournaments, you never know what your opponents styles are. When you play in a club, you get used to different opponents and their openings. Here, this particular teenaged opponent changed from his customary d4 tot he English. I tried to force him back into a Queen's Gambit Slav by playing c6. d4 is logical good move. The result is a rather interesting position and white has just played a forceful move. White is calling bluff.

26…Qxc5 27. Rxf6 Bxf6 28. Rxf6 Rd2 29. Qc1 Qe3 White has gotten two pieces for the rook and pawn, but he’s allowed the rooks to penetrate. Notice that black is now threatening the pawn on g3 and trapping the rook with Kg7!

30. Ne2 Kg7 31. Rxf7 Kxf7 32. Qc4+ Kf6! The King goes to f6 to keep the queen out of the back area and scoring a perpetual check draw. I looked at this before playing Kg7. 33. Kg2 Rxe2 34. Bxe2 Rd2

I was able to sacrifice the rook back to break apart his king protection. Notice 32...Kf6 is the square that keeps the queen out of the back area. The rook had covered the g8 square and the king covered e6 and f7. Now the queen is tied down to protected the bishop and against mate.

35. Kf1 Rxa2 36. h4 Qxg3 37. Qg8 Ra1+ 38. Bd1 Rxd1 39. Ke2 Qd3+ 0-1

Monday, April 11, 2005


The Streak Continues

My streak continues, as I’ve gone 15 games without a loss at +12 =3 against a median rating of 1846. My last 12 games (the most I can calculate on the rating calculator) has produced a performance of 2479! However glad I am, I say this all with humility. Certainly several of my games have been won through missed opportunities of my opponents. A few of them have been noteworthy, but many have relied on opponent mistakes after they had a better position. This particular game is against a 1890 rated opponent.

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. f4 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bb5 Nd4 6. O-O e6 7. d3 Ne7 8. Be3?! O-O 9. Qd2? Qb6! 10. Bc4 Qxb2 11. e5 Qxc2 12. Nxd4 Qxd2 13. Bxd2 cxd4

I’ve certainly made some poor moves. My 8th and 9th moves were made as I wasn’t completely sure of a plan, so I decided just to develop instead. My 11th move avoids 11. Rb1 Nxf3+ 12. gxf3 Qxc3 winning a piece. So here my mistakes have cost me two pawns. My only compensation is being slightly more developed. I have to activate all of my pieces in order to save the game.

14. Nb5 Nc6 15. Nd6 f6 16. exf6 Bxf6 17. f5!! Ne5. Utilizing the pinned pawn, I can attempt to open the kingside or gain a pawn or two back.

18. fxe6 Nxc4 19. Nxc4 dxe6 20. Bb4!! Bd7

There is no way to save the exchange or the bishop because with 20…Rf7 21. Nd5 wins it anyway. It is best forego the exchange and get his pieces active. Although I gained the exchange, I feel the potential power of his bishop pair and extra pawns. I still feel he is winning, and I need to make my knight powerful. I can’t honestly say I saw bishop move until about move 18. However, I think that if your pieces are well placed, sometimes, tactics will appear and make themselves available.

21. Bxf8 Rxf8 22. Nd6 Bc6 Our resident master had suggested afterwards for black to forego a pawn in order to activate bishops or play b6 instead to allow the pawn to defend the pawn. Luckily, for me, as white, he didn't! 23. Rae1 Bd5 24. Ne4 Bxe4 25. Rxe4 e5.

26. Rc1? Bg5! After all the effort to contain his pieces, I rushed the 26th move and didn’t notice his threats. Luckily, I was able to win due to my constant threats and his dwidling time. 27. Rce1 Be3+ 28. Kh1 Rf2 29. Rxe5 Rxa2 30. Re7 b5 31. h3 b4 32. Rf1 Bf2?? Black gives up his control of the c1 square and loses. Afterwards he said he was planning 32…Rf2, which is better, but changed his mind at the last minute, which leads to 33. Rxf2 Bxf2 34. Rxa5 Be1 White’s extra pawn on the kingside would probably prove decisive anyway. However, my thoughts of 32… b3 33. Rf7 Bh6 looks better for black. In hindsight, perhaps for me 32. Rb7 would have prevented this by slowing down black. Nonetheless as Savielly Tartakower said, "The winner of a game is the one who has made the next to last blunder" 33. Rc1 Kf7 34. Rxh7 Re2 35. Rc8+ 1-0.

Friday, April 08, 2005


Rating Intimidation

A young player I know sent out his game, which quickly ended in a repetitive check draw. He wrote wondering, if he should have played on. He was white rated 1250 facing his 1688 rated opponent. Here is the final position

Here's what I wrote:

Of course you should have played on! I hope you weren’t intimidated by the rating gap. The position is crying out for it to be played. In a position like that, there HAS to be something, even if it only involves picking up a pawn or two and then trading down to a won endgame.

Here’s my 2 p analysis:

17. exf5 Nxf5 18. Ne4+ Ke7 (18…Kf7 19. Qh7 Ng7 20. Rh6) 19. Qxg6. Now Rh7+ is threatened. You have a lot of possibilities. The knight is only protected by the bishop and the bishop is only protected by the king. Allowing Rxh7 would pick up the bishop. If 19….Qe8 which may be black’s best move here, 20. Rh7+ anyway and 20… Kd8. If 20…Rh7 21. Qg5+ Kd7 22. Nf6+ wins the queen. After 21. Qg5+, you are up a clear pawn and his position is in shambles.

If 17… Bxf5, but 18. Nf3 Rh8 19. Qg5+ Kf7 (19…Ke6 20. g4 traps the bishop) 20. O-O-O and you have a substantially better position.

Ratings can either be intimating or make you relax too much. I think it’s best not to know if you can. In high school, I played a teenager sensation who was a master and I was so intimidated I lost before I even moved a piece. On the other hand, I recently played a 1300 and although I actively tried not to be overconfident, I still didn’t evaluate as much as I should have, so I got in a bad position. Luckily I was able to win, but it wasn’t pretty.

Play for fun first, winning second, and rating third. Always be eager to try to beat a higher rated player.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Caro-Kann learning experiences

Expanding on my earlier 2/22 post regarding Caro-Kann lessons learned, I had another “learning experience.” This game was played about 2 months ago against a player rated 1867. The good news is that this game, touched off an unbeaten streak which has now lasted 12 games with a performance of 2235. My opponent 1 e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. Nf3 Nd7 7. Bd3 Bxd3 8. Qxd3 Ngf6 9. O-o e6 10. Re1 Bd6? 11. Nf5!

Crap! I wanted to prevent Bf4, but missed the knight move. I knew I was in for it now. Now I know that Qc7 or Be7 are the two acceptable moves.

11… Bf8 This move is forced. 12. Bf4 Nb6 13. Nd6+ is threatened. 13. c4 g6 The bishop has to get out and the knight is a pain 14. Ng3 Bg7 15. c5 Nd5 16. Bd6!

Ne7 The problem with having played both e6 and g6 is that the white dark bishop has two ways to prevent me from castling. 17. Qb3 b5 18. Ng5. There are many knight sacrifice threats possible now. 18… Nfd5 19. Qf3 O-O I was taking a pounding, but so far staved off his threats. I couldn’t move my f8 rook and my e7 knight was still pinned. On top of all of this, I had spent time thinking and was down to about 20 minutes.

20. h4?! Bxd4 21. Rad1?! Bxb2. 22. Qe2 Bg7. He sacrifices two pawns for not much. The quiet 20. Rad1 would have been much better. There’s no immediate rush for him as I am with many opportunities. I was thinking to sacrifice the exchange somehow to alleviate my position. His attack fell apart after this and I even had some winning chances. However, without sufficient time, we both ended up in a time scramble and we both had to settle for a draw.

The main idea here is to the potential danger of Bd6 and to show the power of pins. Generally, it's a good idea to break a pin regardless of whether it is threatening anything. Here psychology comes into play. There was a chess saying that in order for my opponent to beat me, he needs to beat me in the opening, the middlegame, and the endgame. Here, my opponent won the opening. It is easy to fall apart at this point. However, you need dig down and make it as difficult as possible for your opponent to win. You can turn the psychological tables on him. If you thwart threat after threat, he may get frustrated and begin to make mistakes. Perhaps 20. h4 was a psychological need to crush me, instead of being patient. I know I’ve made that mistake before.

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