Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Out of the Archives- My First Expert

No games this weeks, but I think one of the best milestones in chess improvement is the first time you beat an Expert and subsequently when you beat a Master, etc, but there is something about that 2000 rating that seems to divide the men from the boys. The first time I beat an Expert, was no "barely expert", but a 2126 rated virtual opening book. I played this about a year and a two months ago, right before I started blogging, so it's never been posted it on the blog.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006


Inching Up

I won the last game of the monthy tournament last night as black against a venerable Class A player. So I finished 2nd= out of 16 players, which is good because I was only seated 9th or 10th. It's a strong tournament. My calculated new rating should be 1948. It started out as the English, but turned into a Caro-Kann Panov Attack or a Queen's Gambit declined Semi-Tarrasch position. It's an interesting and common position of which to study. White has the isolated d-pawn, which is an endgame weakness, but he has attacking chances against black king. So my job is to trade and his job is to attack.

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Monday, March 20, 2006


Deja Vu All Over Again.

I played Saturday and it was a flashback to the previous Saturday where I beat two lower rated people and lost as black to the same 2173 rated guy playing the Caro-Kann. First a note on kids, my first game was against a 1322 rated twelve year old, the same one I played the week before. He plays a LOT better than 1322. Kids play a lot on the internet or against friends, but do not play many rated games, so their rating stays artificially low. So I have to expend a lot of energy to win, take almost the full 2 hours, to only get one 1 rating point. Not to mention if I lose or draw, my rating drops tremedously.

Against the 2173 I did manage to get a better position via a decent tactic on move 18, but then I got greedy and blundered it away two moves later. At the end of the day, even though I beat two people and only lost to someone 250 higher rated than I, I still lost 2 ratings points.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006


Happy Birthday (and Victory!)

Last night's victory was dedicated to resident Pundit Emeritus, Danny, who celebrated his birthday yesterday. I sent an e-card to him in the afternoon, telling him that I would win in spectacular fashion for him, so the pressure was on! My opponent was a talented nearly class A player.

The opening was kinda funny. I started with e4, he played the Modern, I turned it into the King's Indian Defense, and then it turned into the Marorczy Bind of the Accelerated Dragon Sicilian. (The position also can arise from the symmetrical English.) See Dan, I'm playing the Accelerated Dragon! (Dan's recent advice to me after my repeated Caro-Kant failures as black has been to start playing the Accelerated Dragon...which I will look into, but it takes a while to learn a new opening.)

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Sunday, March 12, 2006


Is it the Caro-Kann or Caro-Kant?

First the good news, my latest 'unofficial' rating has me at 1930, my highest ever. The Caro-Kann is a defense to which I've been loyal to for the past 2 years. However, there are a lot of lines tricks and variations that I seem to only learn when I play. These "lessons" are costing me lost of ratings points. First let's look at the Classical variation, main line. According to the chessgames database (which has less game but is easier to use than chessbase), there are 322 master level games which the first 12 moves reach this position.

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This is a variation which I faced against a 1700 player in Scotland. I was lucky enough to draw it.


Today I faced a yet new variation, which i got hammered in. I almost though it was similar to the previous variation but it wasn't. I almost got back in the game with a cool tactic, but it was too little too late.

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In the Advance Variation, this variation can be quite dangerous to the unsuspecting. Moves like the below has actually convinced me to give up 3...Bf5 in lieu of the pawn sacrifice 3...c5.

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Finally, Fri

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Two Questions Arise from the US Championship

The US Championship finished and a detailed report is here. They combined the men and the women's events into one event, where the top female gets the Women's crown. Surprisingly, there was a 1667 rated player, Kelly Cottrell-Finegold, wife of IM Ben Finegold in the mix. Unfortunately, she went 0/9. In this thread here, Cottrell-Finegold is criticized for playing a rook down against rook down against a GM. This leads to two questions.

First Question: (the easy one), is it rude not to resign heavily down, especially against a much higher rated opponent?

Chess Pundit's take: Everyone has the right to keep playing. Unless you are a beginner, I say, go ahead and resign, especially if you are in a tournament when you have games to play that day or the next day. I feel it's best just to cut your losses and rest. It is foolish to play futilely down, expending energy, then have to jump right into another game. Of course there is one player who never ever ever resigns at my club. I also feel it is perfectly acceptable to get 3 queens before checkmating him.

Second Question: What's your opinion of gender segregation in chess? Top ten ranked Judith Polgar is known for refusing women's only events (see question 11). However, that strong attitude is far from universal.

Chess Pundit's take: It's good to encourage girls (and all kids) to play chess. (There are a lot of valuable lessons for kids in playing chess...for another post). For girls to take interest, they need role models, and perhaps women's only events are needed to help push it into the "spotlight." However, unlike basketball, chess is not a physical activity, so women do not have some natural physical disadvantage. It can create the appearance that women cannot compete with men because they aren't as smart and need their own special events.

Recently making a buzz in the "chess world" was Jennifer Shahade's "controversial" book "Chess Bitch." She decries gender disparity, but uses the same disparity to sell a book and write articles for newspapers... something that a 2350 rated male could never do. I can see leading to a discussion of why women generally aren't as good at chess, and I think the Susan Polgar beautifully answers that question in #10 of this interview. In closing, I think of the due course of time, a woman will eventually win the world championship and then gender segregated events will naturally fade away.

I'd love to hear your take on these questions.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Getting Outplayed

Have you ever played a game where you lost but just can’t figure out where you went wrong? Well, one of those games was last night. I was black against a 2029 player, who at one point in his life was a master so he’s no slouch. Facing e4, I played my shaky Caro-Kann defense. Versus 2000+ players against e4, I am lousy 0-4-2. So I did some game preparation, but it was to no avail.

The first 13 moves are popular book moves, so there is no real point in discussing them. I just can’t pinpoint what I did wrong. I’m not too mad at myself. I reviewed the game with my Chessmaster program afterwards. It didn’t help. I would make the moves that it recommended, but it’s evaluation of my position just kept getting worse. There were tactical mistake, but an earlier strategic one perhaps. I would really need a high rated master to look at the game.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Using the PGN Viewer

For all those interested in incorporating a PGN Viewer into their blogspot, here's how to do it:

Step 1: Go to this website
Step 2: Enter your game in pgn format. An example is here. You don't need all of the lines in brackets at the top, but you do need two....typically the white & black player. Remember no notations or exclamation points. There needs to be spacing as shown. Hit Submit.
Step 3: Right click on the page off to the right (not on the game itself). Go down to "view page source"
Step 4: Highlight and copy every line from "applet codebase" all the way down to near the end of the page where it says "applet" again. Include all the diagonal brackets around the words applet as well. (I tried to copy the exact text for this tutorial but then starts trying to make a java script)
Step 5: Go to blogger and create a new post. Click on "edit html" at the top right of the page (as opposed to "compose". Paste the script
Step 6: This is the "tricky" part that was giving me problems. Delete every line break after each line... all the way down the page. The keys "end" & "delete" should be repeated very often. The whole page should look like one giant paragraph.
Step 7: The pgn viewer should work after step 6. You can add some customizing which is detailed here.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Master Struggle

My other real game from Saturday was against the club Life Master. Surprisingly this tournament got rated immediately and will be included in the April rating supplement, but my February Wednesday tournament has not been rated and will not be included.

The first 5 1/2 moves were the same, but he opted for another major line. In the beginning I had a bit of advantage, but he managed to take the lead after I misplayed a combination. During the rook & pawn ending, down a pawn, I manage to crawl back. At the very end, I accepted the draw rather (too) quickly. I didn't want to win purely on time, but I didn't sit and analyse the position properly. There are likely psychological reasons (excuses) for the draw. When you are down and fighting for a draw, you are constantly thiinking about how to draw, not win. A win doesn't even seem possible. I kick myself a little, but not too hard. I am happy about how I played the rook & pawn ending. Of course the difference between a win and a draw against this opponent was 22 points. I finished the mini-tournament (3 round G/60) in clear 2nd of 16 players.

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Sunday, March 05, 2006


Chess Pundit Goes Advanced!!

Thanks to help of my first chess teacher, latest Chess Pundit contributer, & family resident computer expert (Dad), I am now able to have a pgn viewer. On Saturday, I had a good day at chess at a 3 round G/60 club tournament, beating a 2124 and drawing a 2200. The below game is the win, one of my best games because I have a good attack and I see it through. Sometimes, I make a mediocre move and the attack falls apart. Coicendentally, the first 6 moves of both games are the same. (I was white twice). This game was against one of the top under-18s in the country. I played him 2.5 years ago and lost, when I just first started playing again. Back then I was experimenting with what to play against the Siclian and played the Alapin. Since then, I've settled on the Grand Prix and it has done well for me. Scroll through the game and the comments appear. I'll add a post explaining the PGN viewer for anyone who wants to try it (It took a wee while to iron out the bug.) I also updated my last post with a pgn viewer.

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Thursday, March 02, 2006


The Road to Expert

The long road to an expert rating goes through many wins against experts themselves. The new monthly tournament started yesterday and I was seat in the top of the bottom half, so I played the #2 seat as White to which he played the Pirc defense. An English master I knew in Scotland had distain for the Pirc, calling it a Dragon Sicilian without the queenside counterattack. Very true when you think about it. In the game, I maintained a slight advantage. Several times, I felt as if he caught up but then I’d find a move to regain my advantage.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006


My First Sac - from the Archives

Out of the archives….this game was played in Scotland. They have various chess leagues and teams of four play against each other. This was the 2nd round of a league tournament match against another city. The main significance of this game was that is was my first positional sacrifice. I think a player reaches another step in ability when he can really see the importance of the usefulness of pieces in a given position more so than the point value itself. These are my original annotations when I sent the game to my Dad.

1. e4 d6 2. d4 g6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Bg7 This is the Pirc defense. I knew I had a choice of f4, Nf3, & Bg5 5. Qd2 c6 I want to eventually play Bh6 and I was toying with castling queenside 6. Bc4 Nxe4 This is one of those opening novelties I didn't know. With 7. Nxe4 d5, black does fine. 7. Bxf7+ Kxf7 I got his king out and prevented castling for losing a bit of my center and my good bishop. It was quite fine by me. However, I think this novelty works better if he is already castled. 8. Nxe4 Qf8 I think he was trying to prevent Bh6, forcing the trade of his good bishop 9. Ne2 Nd7 I play Ne2 because 9. Nf3 Bg4 looked annoying and I also wanted to play f4 sometime soon. When someone's king is exposed, you want to "break things open" and attack. I still wasn't sure which way to castle, though. 10. O-O h6 After some thinking I went kingside because I thought it would take several moves to get my pawns moving on the kingside (I would have to move my bishop too) and I didn't like his bishop on g7. I'm still not sure which way would have been better, but probably queenside as other pieces were uncoordinated.

11. Be3 d5 I really needed to move the bishop anyway. I went to e3 because I wanted to cover the g1-a7 diagonal. Bf4 block the pawn and Bh4 leads g5, which is fine since he isn't castled. 12. N4g3 Nf6 The knight on g3 now covers e4 and supports f5. 13. f4 Bf5 14. Nxf5 gxf5 The bishop on f5 was too strong - it was supporting e4, and attacking down to c2. I had to trade and make a new plan. I guess if I had castled queenside, I could have played h3 and g4 to remove the bishop. Now my bishop is blocked in and I have to look for a way to get it to a better spot. 15. Ng3 Ne4 16. Qb4 Nd6 Now tne b7 pawn is also under attack. Taking the knight would have given him a protected passed pawn on the "4th rank" which would be quite powerful. He doesn't want to trade his better knight for my weaker one anyway 17. Rae1 h5 The rook on e1 covers a lot down the e file. I also looked at playing b3 with and eventual c4 to attack, but it looked slow and it didn't have a clear followup 18. Ne2 a5 Okay, so h4 and h3 are coming shortly. Also Ne4 is also coming soon. He'll want to bring his other rook onto g8 as well. I want to get my knight to e5 via c1 and d3. There, my knight will be equally as powerful. 19. Qd2 h4 Any other queen moves took the queen out of the game. I also had to watch Nc4 and Ne4 as Nc4 attack the e3 Bishop as well. Qd2 was a good central spot. 20. Nc1 Nc4 21. Qd3 Nd6 He attacked, but retreated without any benefit for either side. He certainly wasn't going to take my crap bishop. Btw, 22. Nxb2 Qxf5+ 22. Bd2 b5 I have to get the bishop to a better diagonal. Somehow the a3-f8 diagonal was my goal. With b5 he gets more space, but his a5 pawn now need protecting. The c6 pawn is also now weaker. With most pawn moves, you gain something, but give up something as well. 23. Qe3 Ne4 Qe3 threatens Qe6+ and give the spot of d3 for me. 24. Nd3 Rh6 Still continuing with my knight plan. I think with Rh6, he was trying to bring is Queen over to g8 or f8… or bring his other rook over eventually too 25. Ne5+ Bxe5 He is forced to take because the c6 pawn is hanging. 26. fxe5 Rh5 Okay, so I've gotten the f file open again. Rh5 is forced because of the dual attack on the f5 pawn by the rook and the black rook itself. 27. Rf3 e6 Although his rook is a weird spot on h6, it was safe from an reasonable attacks. 27. Qf3 Qh8 gains nothing while the d2 bishop is hanging. Rf3 prevents h3. 28. Qd3 Qe7 At this point, I realized I had no clear plan. I couldn't find an effective way to get my pieces moving. Pretty soon, he would regroup his pieces and they would start bearing down on my king. His knight was overwhelmingly better than my bishop and I would be completely defensive.

29. Rxe4 dxe4 The big sacrifice. This is the first time I've sacrified only for positional benefits. I noticed since his f pawn was pinned, I could get a knight and a pawn for the rook. I would break up his center and would be on the offensive. 30. Qxe4 Ra6 With black's a5 and c6 pawns hanging, both needed protecting. Now his rooks are completely uncoordinated and rather defensive. 31. Qe1 b4 I have to maintain the offensive and not let him have a chance to regroup. Now I attack a5. 31…a4 protects the pawn but allows Bb4 32. c3 Rb6 I maintain the pressure to attack the pawn and get an active bishop. 32…c5 may have been slightly better for him. 33. cxb4 axb4 34. Rb3 Qa7 I thought I would win a pawn, but nope… Now I have to watch my d4 pawn because it would be unprotected with check if his rook moves. 35. a3 bxa3 The best continuation. Black taking is forced 36. Rxa3 Ra6 37. Qe3 Rxa3 Qe3 protects d4 and the a3 Rook. After the rook trade, the new A pawn blocks the file 38. bxa3 Qa4 Black threatens Qd1+. 39. h3 Qd1+ I played h3 giving my king a space and preventing black playing h3. Now I can play h3 though. When his knight was around, playing h3 would have given him g3. 40. Kh2 Qf1 Black is eyeing f2 for g3, and/or f4. His queen getting to g3 was dangerous.

41. d5 cxd5 I was looking at some sort of way to attack, but still needed to cover f2 and f4. I also saw with my pawn on e5 and his on e6, it sorta boxed his king in, so I thought if I could check him on b7, that would be great. Then I saw that playing d5 allowed my queen to go to a7, plus another problem. What's another pawn sacrifice if i can get my queen back there. Another move for black, such as Qa6, allows me to play 42. d6 instead giving me a very powerful protected passed pawn. His queen would be stuck on the defensive for several moves, while is rook is out in limbo. Still in hindsight is was probably better. 42. Qa7+ Kg6 Any other king move for him is futile. At this point I didn't see a clear win, but I knew I would win the pawn back as well as secure a draw. However, with a draw, I knew we would lose the match as a team because the other 3 games were long finished. A win and we would advance 43. Qe7 Qe2 Now I threaten, Qxe7 or Qf7+. Threatened was also 44. Qf7+ Kh7 45. Qg7+ Kh8 46. Qxh5 since h6 is covered by my bishop 44. Qxe6+ Kh7 45. Qf7+ Kh8 Now I see an obvious draw, but I didn't see a win…. Until….. 46. Bc3 f4 Ut oh for black. 47. e6 is mate and his rook also needs protection. Black also has no checks. 47. e6+ Re5 48. Qf6+ Kg8 Simple move to win a rook 49. Bxe5 f3 Now I have mate on f7, g8 & h8! 50. Qg7#

1. e4 d6 2. d4 g6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Bg7 5. Qd2 c6 6. Bc4 Nxe4 7. Bxf7+ Kxf7 8. Nxe4 Qf8 9. Ne2 Nd7 10. O-O h6 11. Be3 d5 12. N4g3 Nf6 13. f4 Bf5 14. Nxf5 gxf5 15. Ng3 Ne4 16. Qb4 Nd6 17. Rae1 h5 18. Ne2 a5 19. Qd2 h4 20. Nc1 Nc4 21. Qd3 Nd6 22. Bd2 b5 23. Qe3 Ne4 24. Nd3 Rh6 25. Ne5+ Bxe5 26. fxe5 Rh5 27. Rf3 e6 28. Qd3 Qe7 29. Rxe4 dxe4 30. Qxe4 Ra6 31. Qe1 b4 32. c3 Rb6 33. cxb4 axb4 34. Rb3 Qa7 35. a3 bxa3 36. Rxa3 Ra6 37. Qe3 Rxa3 38. bxa3 Qa4 39. h3 Qd1+ 40. Kh2 Qf1 41. d5 cxd5 42. Qa7+ Kg6 43. Qe7 Qe2 44. Qxe6+ Kh7 45. Qf7+ Kh8 46. Bc3 f4 47. e6+ Re5 48. Qf6+ Kg8 49. Bxe5 f3 50. Qg7#

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