Showing posts with label games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label games. Show all posts

Friday, November 25, 2011

Playing for Time

I am not especially proud of this win. I feel that Black played better moves on the whole, but he was too slow in our timed 15 minute game. This game showed me some of the vulnerabilities of the Polish (Sokolsky).

[White "igor"]
[Black "anon"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "1868"]
[BlackElo "1887"]
[TimeControl "1200"]

1. b4 c6

A most unusual response to the Polish, but as a Caro-Kann advocate I respect it.

2. Bb2 a5?!

A typical move that many players believe to be effective against Flank openings. It aims to create an isolated White pawn on the a-file, as well as gaining an open file for the Black rook. These supposed advantages often prove insignificant, and I feel that it wastes time on the whole. I would advocate developing a piece as being more in keeping with hypermodern theory.

3. bxa5

a3 may be better, but I did not see any future for the b4 pawn once Black has unleashed his dark-squared bishop. It seemed to me I would have lost time trying to defend the b-pawn in order to avoid a relatively small weakness in my pawn structure.

3. .. d5!

Black demonstrates savvy about the Polish, anticipating that I want to play c4. I begin to sense there will be no easy gotcha's for me in this Polish.

4. e3 Nf6 5. c4!

If Black takes, my bishop can recapture, obtaining a decent development. If he doesn't, then cxd5.

5. .. e6!?

Hemming in his light-squared bishop. While this is solid, I have my doubts.

6. Nf3

I'd love to play Bc3, supporting a5, but that confounds the development of my Queen's knight. Furthermore, it seems rash to delay development of my other pieces. Better to cede the pawn than delay development to such an extent.

6. .. Bd6

Aiming at an eventual e5.

7. Nc3?

Not an ideal square for my Queen's knight. Better may have been 7. Na3?! aiming for Nc2 and tempting Black to exchange his active bishop for a passive knight.

7. Qxa5

Might as well scoop up the pawn now and begin applying pressure to my weak Q-side.

8. Be2?!

Dismayed by Black's awareness of the Polish, I play a passive move out of character for me, with an eye to rapid castling. Stronger I think is 8. d4.

8. Nbd7 9. O-O dxc4

Black forces my bishop to move twice, emphasizing my waste of a move. Black prepares for an eventual b5. However, he does not realize that I can prevent that move if it is not played immediately.

10. Bxc4 O-O

Although Black neglects an immediate b5, he obtains sound, solid development. I see nothing amiss in Black's position and cannot come up with a plan, so I simply defend.

11. a4

With an isolated pawn, it is better to advance it, and a4 seems like a safe square. It also prevents the much-dreaded b5. It is at this point I notice that Black is taking far too long on his moves. He is not managing his time wisely and that suggests an alternative method to victory--time. I need only defend, not attack, and his clock will run out at this rate.

11. .. e5

Black liberates his light-squared bishop and threatens e4.

12. Qc2

Necessary to prevent e4.

12. .. Nb6!

Black gains a tempo and increases the pressure on a4.

13. Bb3 Bg4!

Black gains another tempo.

14. Ng5

The only reasonable move.

14. .. Nbd5 15. Nge4 Nxe4 16. Qxe4?

I should have recaptured with the knight, attacking the bishop and gaining a tempo. The Queen has no business moving.

16. .. Nf6?

16. .. f5! is stronger by far, forcing my Queen back and seizing control of the center. Perhaps Black fears the resulting pin of his knight, but his King could simply move to h8 and he'd be okay. Black's knight has an excellent post at d5, and there is no reason to move it.

17. Qc2 Bh5?!

A bit passive, although I sympathize with the goal of improving the bishop. Black could have developed the idle rook on f8 to e8, preparing for Be6 to get rid of my strong light-squared bishop.

18. Ne4?

I'm careless--nothing else to say about that move.

18. .. Nxe4 19. Qxe4 Bg6!

Black gains a tempo and a pawn.

20. Qc4 Qxd2

Chomp! Ouch.

21. Bc3?

I was hopeful this move might win some material, but no dice. As a matter of fact, it makes my position worse. Counter-intuitive Ra2 may have been preferable.

21. .. Qd3!

Black forces the trade of Queens and gains a powerful light-squared bishop. This should be the end for me, but should and is are two different things in chess. My opponent is behind in time by about a minute, and I hope to expand that time advantage through quick, skillful defense.

22. Qxd3 Bxd3 23. Rfd1 e4 24. Bc4? Bxh2+!

Ouch! I make my second goof. Black wins another pawn. I saw this shot immediately after Bc4, and premoved Kxh2 to save a few seconds. Time, I think to myself, is the only way I can win this game. Not pretty, but a fact.

25. Kxh2 Bxc4 26. Rd7!

If I expect Black to eat up his clock, I need to get some counter-play in this game, even if it ultimately leads nowhere.

26. .. Ba6?

Passive. The post at d3 is stronger and protects the e4 pawn. Better is 26. .. b5.

27. Re7

Not a good move, but a quick one. Speed is its only virtue. Black ponders one minute, far too much for my juvenile move.

27. .. Rfe8 28. Rd7 c5? 29. a5!

Now it is going to be difficult for Black to play b5. Black banked on the goal of capturing my a-pawn, and that dogma obstructed his reasoning.

29. .. Rac8 30. Rad1!

Now Black can no longer attempt a trade of rooks. It is not in my interest to simplify. I want the position to remain locked down and as complicated as possible.

30. .. h6

Black consumes thirty seconds to come up with a fairly humdrum move. He is ahead in material, but needs time to plan a breakout. I do not intend to give him much time.

31. Kg1?

A pointless move, but so what? Black spends twenty-two seconds pondering his next move.

31. .. Kf8

Black is desperate to trade rooks, and who can blame him? Time is running short.

32. g4

Probably unnecessary, but again, so what? I'm spitting out moves that are fairly innocuous, but Black ponders them like I'm Kasparov.

32. .. f6

A continuation of Black's cumbersome plan to trade rooks. I ignore it. I just want to get my King into play somehow. I found that Kg1 did not help me at all.

33. Kg2 Rc6?

I'm not sure what Black is doing here. He probably isn't sure either.

34. Kg3 Re7 35. Rd8+!

I decline the trade of rooks, of course. Too simple.

35. .. Kf7 36. R8d7!

Now if he takes my rook, I force his King to the last rank and positional Limbo, a prospect he doesn't much like.

36. .. Bd3!

Black imperils my rook and obtains a superb post for his bishop, but is it enough? I don't bother thinking about it, I just make the obvious move.

37. Rxe7+ Kxe7 38. f3!

I fear pawn and bishop chains. This one is much too threatening to tolerate, even though it can be replaced by another.

38. .. Ke6!

Effectively preventing me from playing Kf4 for the moment.

39. fxe4 Bxe4 40. Kf4 Bc2 41. Rd2 g5+ 42. Kf3 Bg6

Black blew another forty seconds coming up with that easy move.

43. Rb2 Kd5?

With less than a minute left, Black drops an important pawn.

44. Rxb7 f5 45. gxf5 Bxf5

Black has less than ten seconds left. I have four minutes. I could go take a bathroom break and still win. There's no point in notating any of the other moves. I could have played anything at all.

46. Rd7+ Rd6 47. Re7 Re6 48. Rxe6 Kxe6 49. a6 1-0

No, not a pretty win, and my play wasn't brilliant, but I was cunning and used time to my advantage.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Alekhine's Defense

Perhaps it's the lingering traces of chess romanticism obtained from studying the games of the old masters, but I'm in favor of White's push to e5, attacking the Black knight in Alekhine's Defense. It seems a bit passive, not to mention unromantic, for White to give Black's knight a pass. At any rate this is what my opponent did in the following game, which I like because I feel I played strong moves, relative to my ability. In truth, if my opponent had found better moves, he could have easily drawn the game or even won the game, but he played too passively and lost as a result of that and a blunder involving a knight-and-bishop combination of mine.

[White "anon"]
[Black "igor"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "1857"]
[BlackElo "1870"]
[TimeControl "900"]

1. e4 Nf6 2. d3

Had White pushed the e-pawn, I would have retreated my knight, choosing the Brooklyn Defense, which most players believe cedes an advantage to White. Perhaps it does. I am curious to find out. If GM Joel Benjamin favored it, then it cannot be that bad, in my opinion, and the regular Alekhine's isn't all that great, either, with the King's knight exiled to Siberia on b3.

It is better to lose than to play boring chess.

2. .. e5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Bd2 O-O 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. a3 Ba5 7. b4 Bb6 8. Na4 d5 9. Nxb6 axb6 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Be2 Bf5 12. O-O e4 13. dxe4 Bxe4 14. c4 Nf6 15. Bg5

My Queen is in a sticky situation here. I spent a lot of time on the next move, a quiet move intended to avoid the trade of Queens and permit a rook to be placed on e8. I suspect that with better moves, White may have obtained an advantage over me, because he has a potential pin of my bishop.

15. .. Qe7

16. Re1 h6

I sense danger. A trade would be to my advantage, so h6 does not lose time. I planned to follow up with g5, if necessary, to drive the accursed bishop away. However, g5 weakens my King position.

17. Be3?

White obliges me and negates the need for g5 by placing his bishop on a passive square. This is clearly a mistake, handing me the initiative.

17. .. Rfd8!

I seize an open file.

18. Qc1 Ng4

I begin my attack using the unpinned, idle knight.

19. h3?

I do not understand why White wastes a move in this way. I blogged recently about my detestation of such moves.

19. .. Nxe3!

Eliminating that pesky bishop and along with it White's two-bishop advantage. The knight on f6 had been too passive.

20. Qxe3 f5!?

I am not altogether sure about my aggressive f5 push, but it proved extremely useful later. White salivated at the idea of trapping my bishop, but did not find the right moves. Perhaps such a trap was possible, but I did not see it on the immediate horizon.

21. Nh2

I believe the safer route for White would have been to initiate a trade of bishops and knights. It is commonplace to trade down in order to neutralize an attack, and this situation is no different. In an end game, White might have a small advantage due to my doubled pawns.

21. .. Nd4

Threatening a deadly fork of his Queen and rook. White does not view this threat with sufficient urgency.

22. Rac1

The trap White lays is transparent and easily countered. He expects me to launch the fork immediately and risk my Queen. I think not.

22. .. Qe8

Now my lady is secure.

23. f3?

My opponent figures a bishop and knight for a rook is a good deal, but he neglected to note that my knight has a suicide attack.

23 .. Nc2 24. Qb3 Nxe1 25. fxe4 Nxg2!

This is the pivotal move that launches a killer attack against White's King, which is no longer safe.

26. Kxg2 Qxe4+

White has already lost, but does not know it yet. All of the pieces are already in place, and there is no possible way he could win. It is almost like magic how all the pieces are aligned perfectly to my advantage. I must confess that I did not foresee everything unless it was by intuition. I am not clever like a computer. I wouldn't say the win was luck, but I just aimed for general positional and material advantages, and somehow everything lined up to my advantage.

27. Bf3 Rd2+ 28. Kh1 Qf4 29. Bg2

White defends his King in a competent manner, but it only delays the inevitable.

29. .. Rxg2 30. c5+ Kh8 31. Kxg2 Qxc1 32. Nf3 Rxa3

My material advantage is mounting in sync with my positional advantage.

33. Qf7 Qc2+ 34. Kg3 Qe4 35. Qh5 f4+!

Now the f-pawn serves a most valuable purpose.

36. Kh4 Rxf3 37. Qg4 g5+ 38. Kh5 Qe8+ 39. Kxh6

I spent over two minutes studying the next move, because I was well ahead in time and did not want to make a careless error that might lose my game, as I have done in the past through overconfidence and a desire to press a time advantage. It is better to play slowly and carefully when one has the time available to do so. Arrogance does not win games.

39 .. Qf8+ 40. Kxg5

White does not have a better move than this.

40. .. Rg3 41. Qxg3 fxg3 42. h4 g2 43. h5 g1=Q+ 0-1
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

a3 & h3 & a6 & h6

Too many chessplayers are infatuated with unnecessary pawn moves. The purpose of the opening is development. I see too many players fiddling and farting around with a3 and h3, if White, or a6 and h6, if Black. These moves have two motivations. One is to complicate the development of the other side's bishop. That's okay in some positions, where the opponent's bishop is not likely to find a better post, and if the knight that would otherwise be pinned is deemed useful to the position. The other purpose is preparation for a flank attack. That's okay too, in certain positions such as those common to flank openings such as the Grob or the Polish. However, nine times out of ten, I feel contempt for these moves, because time is being lost with little gain. In too many games I have watched, one side has some pieces loitering on the back rank due to this sort of negligent behavior, and their opponent has obtained a superior position with attacking chances.

Due to this bias of mine, this urgency I assign to development, I was extremely reluctant to play h3 in the Grob. It was only after literally hundreds of games that I determined it was sometimes necessary to prevent the pawn at g4 coming to grief. I will postpone or avoid it altogether if possible, but I will play it if need be.

One of the problems with White's position in many games where Black plays Alekhine's Defense is that he has squandered so many moves on his pawns, whereas Black, if he is wise, has developed enough pieces to mount a counter-attack.

The ideal in the opening is two pawn moves, the minimum necessary to develop all minor pieces.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gedult's Opening

After further practice, I'm willing to concede that Gedult's Opening, if challenged with competent play by Black, proves to be a passive opening. It's not my favorite anymore. White's King position is just too precarious for my taste, and White's development is retarded. However, Wikipedia really goes overboard dumping on it. The truth is White can play anything at all on the first move and be okay. That simple fact is hard for chess snobs to swallow. Black's options are limited by White's first move.

Gedult's has value to chessplayers as a surprise weapon and a novelty that explores different lines. I fall asleep watching the Sicilian. To me, it's boring. Everybody plays it. I hate it. I hate the Sicilian, the Ruy Lopez, Guicco Piano, and Queen's Gambit. What's wrong with them? Nothing. Nothing at all from a theoretical perspective. They are solid, sound, and strong. Unlike Wikipedia, I won't dump on openings I don't care for. They're just commonplace. Old hat. Boring to the point where the first eight to twelve moves are pretty much known beforehand. I've played those openings for decades.

Chess needs bizarre openings. Every single possible first move can and should be fully explored. There are many I've not tried yet. My favorites so far are the Grob, the Polish, & Gedult's for White. For Black, I am currently exploring the Brooklyn Defense, which seems to me the optimal line of the Alekhine Defense.

Chess needs to be stimulating, fresh, and challenging. Bizarre openings may even come with defects that require extra care and patience, but that's okay. I think it is good exercise to play a difficult opening, and it may even be a way of giving a weaker opponent a small advantage.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Alekhine's Defense

One secret that players of the White pieces seldom grasp when playing against the Alekhine's Defense, Caro-Kann and other openings is that, by erecting a pawn wall, they inhibit their own pieces as well as Black's. I see no reason to solve White's problems for him by exchanging pawns within that wall, at least until such time as I have completed my own development. In my opinion, wall-builders waste time with their excessive pawn moves and have an unfocused game.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Grob

Today I was amused by the 'refutations' of the Grob (1. g4) offered by a Mr. Silman on his web site. I have played the Grob a long time and have encountered all of the little tricks that Silman finds devastating against 1. g4. I do not find any of his ideas particularly threatening. I have seen online players pause for two minutes in order to check out one of the 'refutations' online. I know they're checking the book, and it doesn't bother me. I have seen players borrow one or several of his ideas and use them in our game, but they often lose anyway, if they're near my rating or below. The truth is there is no refutation.

My win ratio is high with both the Polish (1. b4) and the Grob. The Grob boosts my strength considerably against chess snobs by taking them from their cozy memorized lines and forcing them to think from the first move on, so I'm more than satisfied with it and have no intention of abandoning this sound, solid, and safe line of attack.

Some claim the Grob is unsound. I don't know why, but they do. Detractors have a tall task before them. They must first overcome their arrogance, not an easy thing for a chess snob who believes the opening must involve the c, d, or e pawn or else a knight. Even if snobbery is overcome, the Grob's underlying principles continue to mystify outsiders. No amount of memorization will ever prepare them for the Grob. International Master Basman summarizes the strategic theory in a few paragraphs in his excellent book, "The Killer Grob", which is recommended reading.

There is an advanced lesson in the game of chess. Most players think they must castle. But castling is not always a good idea. It is not always necessary. One must evaluate the situation with great care. Castling is a major operation, forever changing the configuration of two key pieces, a rook and a King. For my part, I am not sold on castling as something to be done automatically. There are positions where the King is better off in the center. In Grob games, this is often the case.

Many players fret about the weakening of White's King position, as though it is a fortress where every brick must remain in place. That is okay if you have a defensive mentality, if you believe you must hold your fort against the mighty barbarians. The player who plays the Grob does not have the bunker mentality. He is not a defender, but an attacker. He perceives a fluid and dynamic nucleus from which he launches attacks in all directions. He is not overly concerned with King safety because it is felt that the other player should worry about his King safety instead.

By 1. g4, White enables superb and safe development of a Bishop. He prepares an attack on Black's knight, if developed to f6. He may complicate the development of Black's Queen bishop. And he seizes control of two squares at the frontier. Thus, 1. g4 is more aggressive than 1. g3 and for that reason preferred. As an added bonus, he tears his opponent out of book from the first move, which is always, always a very good thing to do. So many players have memorized the first ten moves that chess openings do not always involve much thinking. Openings like the Grob change that. Thank goodness there is not an overabundance of theory surrounding this precious obscure opening.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Polish

When I first heard of the Polish, I thought it was pronounced pahlish, as in scrub in order to let shine. It's a very good surprise for White to spring upon an unsuspecting opponent. I like it better than Gedult's Opening (1. f3) which is slow at best and dangerous against higher-ranked players. Gedult's is good for a surprise, but not much more. It seems to be neutralized by 2. e4 f5! which presents several problems for White.

With the Polish, many of White's moves are intuitive, at least to me, because I am accustomed to playing the Grob as well. Here is one of my games against a good player who seemed to be winning all through the game--up until the end, that is. Unlike him, I had a long-term plan and stuck to my guns.

[White igor]
[Black anon]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "1804"]
[BlackElo "1811"]
[ECO "A00"]
[TimeControl "1200"]

1. b4 d5 2. e3 e5 3. Bb2 Bd6 4. c4 c6 5. c5 Bc7 6. d4 e4 7. f3 Qh4+ 8. g3 Bxg3+ 9. Kd2 Bc7 10. Nc3 Nf6 11. Bg2 exf3 12. Nxf3 Qf2+ 13. Qe2 Qxe2+ 14. Nxe2 Ne4+ 15. Kc1 Bg4 16. Bc3 a5 17. bxa5 Bxa5 18. Bxa5 Rxa5 19. a4 Na6 20. Ng3 Nf2 21. Rf1 Nd3+ 22. Kd2 Nab4 23. Ne1 Nxe1 24. Rfxe1 O-O 25. Kc3 Na6 26. Reb1 Bc8 27. Bf1 f5 28. Bxa6 Rxa6 29. a5 f4 30. exf4 Rxf4 31. Rb6 Rf3+ 32. Kb4 Rf2 33. h4 Rf3 34. Ne2 Rh3 35. Rxa6 bxa6 36. Rb1 Rxh4 37. Kc3 Rh3+ 38. Kb4 Bf5 39. Rb2 Rh2 40. Ka3 Bd3 41. Rb8+ Kf7 42. Nc3 Bb5 43. Nxb5 cxb5 44. c6 Rc2 45. Rb6 Rc3+ 46. Kb2 Rc4 47. Rxa6 b4 48. Rb6 Ke7 49. a6 Kd6 50. a7 Rxc6 51. Rxc6+ Kxc6 52. a8=Q+ 1-0
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Friday, November 11, 2011


Those who know chess tend to know nothing else. Art, literature, philosophy--all blanks. Chess tends to attract narrow souls, one-note Charlies with no discernible sense of humor. It is often thus with war games.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gedult's Opening

Recently, while watching other people play, I discovered a bizarre and fascinating opening known as Gedult's Opening, which begins 1. f3?! Nobody in their right mind would play it, of course, or so conventional logic would have it. I have found it to be a surprisingly effective weapon. From the first move, one's opponent is knocked out of book, and Black must ponder each and every move, consuming much more time than usual in the process. Meanwhile, a player such as myself accustomed to the difficulties posed by 1. f3 can sail along in comparative ease, consuming little time to make what have become intuitive moves. The truth is that although 1. f3!? seems wrong (and in fact the Wikipedia page slams it as "White's worst possible opening" which I thought reactionary), it disorients a significant number of human players who make less than optimal moves in response. I often obtain a strong center from the opening and good fighting chances, although the king position is typically less secure as a result of a weak f2 square, and White must take care not to fall victim to an early King-side attack.

Here are three of my better Gedult games:

[White igor]
[Black anon]
[Result "1-0"]
[TimeControl "1800"]

1. f3 d5 2. e4 dxe4 3. fxe4 Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 5. d4 Bf5 6. c4 Nb6 7. Nf3 e6 8. Nc3 Nc6 9. Bd3 Nxd4 10. Nxd4 Qxd4 11. Bxf5 Qxd1+ 12. Nxd1 exf5 13. b3 Bb4+ 14. Kf2 Bc5+ 15. Kg3 O-O 16. Rf1 g6 17. Bh6 Rfe8 18. Nf2 Bd4 19. Rad1 Bxe5+ 20. Bf4 Bxf4+ 21. Kxf4 Re6 22. g4 fxg4 23. Nxg4 Rae8 24. Kg3 f5 25. Nf2 Re3+ 26. Kf4 Re2 27. c5 Nc8 28. Rd7 Rxa2 29. Rxc7 b5 30. Nd3 a5 31. Re1 Rd8 32. Ne5 Rd4+ 33. Kg5 Rg2+ 34. Kf6 Rd8 35. Rd1 Rf8+ 36. Nf7 Re2 37. Rdd7 f4 38. Kg5 Rg2+ 39. Kh4 Rxh2+ 40. Kg4 h5+ 41. Kg5 Rg2+ 42. Kh6 Re2 43. Ne5 Re8 44. Rg7+ Kf8 45. Nxg6# 1-0

[White igor]
[Black anon]
[Result "1-0"]
[TimeControl "120+12"]

1. f3 d5 2. e4 c6 3. d4 e6 4. e5 Qh4+ 5. g3 Qd8 6. Be3 Ne7 7. Bd3 Na6 8. Ne2 Nb4 9. a3 Nxd3+ 10. Qxd3 Nf5 11. Bf2 Qb6 12. b4 a5 13. c3 axb4 14. cxb4 Be7 15. O-O Bxb4 16. Nd2 Bxd2 17. Qxd2 O-O 18. Rfb1 Qc7 19. g4 Ne7 20. f4 b6 21. h4 Ba6 22. h5 c5 23. dxc5 bxc5 24. h6 g6 25. Ng3 Rfb8 26. Rc1 c4 27. Rc3 Rb7 28. Bd4 Rab8 29. f5 Nc6 30. fxg6 fxg6 31. Re1 Nxd4 32. Qxd4 Qb6 33. Qxb6 Rxb6 34. Ne2 Rb1 35. Kf2 Rxe1 36. Kxe1 Rb3 37. Kd2 Rb2+ 38. Ke3 Rb1 39. Nd4 Bc8 40. g5 Rh1 41. Rc2 Rh3+ 42. Nf3 d4+ 43. Kf2 Rxf3+ 44. Kxf3 Bb7+ 45. Kf2 Bd5 46. a4 d3 47. Rc3 Kf7 48. Ke3 Ke7 49. a5 Kd7 50. Kd2 Kc6 51. a6 Kc5 52. Ra3 Kd4 53. a7 Kxe5 54. Ra5 Kd4 55. Rxd5+ exd5 56. a8=Q c3+ 57. Kd1 1-0

[White igor]
[Black anon]
[Result "1-0"]
[TimeControl "120+12"]

1. f3 d5 2. e4 d4 3. e5 c5 4. Bc4 e6 5. d3 Nc6 6. Bf4 Nge7 7. Nd2 Ng6 8. Bg3 Ngxe5 9. Bb5 Bd7 10. Ne2 Bd6 11. f4 Ng4 12. Ne4 Bc7 13. Bxc6 Bxc6 14. Nxd4 Bxe4 15. Qxg4 O-O 16. dxe4 Qxd4 17. Rd1 Qxe4+ 18. Qe2 Qf5 19. O-O Rfd8 20. c4 Rd4 21. Rxd4 cxd4 22. Rf3 Rd8 23. Qd3 Qa5 24. a3 f6 25. b4 Qa6 26. c5 Qxd3 27. Rxd3 e5 28. fxe5 fxe5 29. Kf2 Kf7 30. Kf3 Ke6 31. Ke4 b6 32. cxb6 axb6 33. Rd2 Rd7 34. Rc2 g5 35. Rc6+ Rd6 36. Rxc7 d3 37. Rc1 d2 38. Rd1 Rd4+ 39. Ke3 Kd5 40. Rxd2 Rxd2 41. Kxd2 e4 42. Bf2 b5 43. Kc3 h5 44. g3 Ke5 45. Be3 g4 46. Bf4+ Kd5 47. Be3 Ke5 48. Kb3 Kd5 49. a4 Kc6 50. a5 Kb7 51. Kc3 1-0
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

High Hopes for Chessmaster 9000

I have high hopes for Chessmaster 9000, ordered a few days ago for a laughable $8 from Ebay. Somehow it doesn't seem right that a world-class chess program sells for so little. Nowadays, even computer programs running on desktop PC's are beating grandmasters. The day of the human is over, I'm afraid.

And good riddance. I hate to say it, because I like playing against friends in real life, but many of the chess players I've encountered online are poor sports. Maybe it is because they are anonymous. Part of it is because the game is so cutthroat. When humans compete, a sizable percentage do feel the temptation to turn nasty and take winning or losing personally.

I like to play Chess960, which I believe is the same as Fischer chess. Chess Cube does not permit players to specify their preference concerning Chess960, so many idiots novices join my Chess960 games unawares. They abort the game after staring at the Chess960 board for 1-2 minutes, making me wait on the "Duh...?" to be processed by their Celeron-powered, single-core, .1 ghz noggin. When they abort, the system does not penalize them and does not reward me, so it's all-lose for me, just a continual irritation. The ratio of abortions to playing games is an incredible 4:1.

When I first started playing chess online, I thought it would be neat to interact and chat with human players. The reality is that few people want to discuss chess, few even want to talk, and only a handful are even willing to say hello. Most players, if they do chat, talk about the few women they have identified online, because they are lonely, str8, and sexually frustrated. Chat is inane. Lowered expectations cannot even begin to describe the chat scene.

I'm looking forward to the arrival of Chessmaster 9000, so I can play old-school, on my computer, without an ill-mannered, impatient, unsociable, uninteresting and under-skilled human opponent. I've already downloaded the No-CD crack from that wonderful site, From what I've read, copy protection is the chief complaint against Chessmaster 9000. I'll be taking a long and much desired vacation from the online chess jungle. Enough with the mosquitoes, pythons and pygmies with the poisoned arrows, I say.

Computers are superb opponents. They don't abort games. If something comes up, and you have to leave, they are willing to wait and play later, or never, whichever you prefer. They don't change moods, whether they win or lose. And they permit a large variety of configurations. Chess960? No problem. They will play every time, without aborting the game. I'm looking forward to that special package in the mail. And I do plan to leave positive feedback for the ebay seller.

Update: After reading reviews of Chessmaster 9000, I discovered it does not support Chess960. Fritz 12 does, so I bought a copy of Fritz 12 from Amazon for $20. Fritz 12 also seems to be a much stronger chess engine. One reviewer stated that Chessmaster is for children, and Fritz is for adults.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Is My Play That Good?

On occasion, particularly when I'm just plain lucky or passing through one of my keener moments, I'm accused of cheating in online Scrabble or Chess. Players suppose that I must be using a computer program to assist my play. They persist in their accusations with bitterness and a sense of moral outrage. Sometimes they even quit the game. I should not take it amiss. It is a great compliment. I receive my most sincere compliments from my enemies. Only my enemies can fully appreciate my strength. With friends, I am soft and pliable. Friends are not in a position to observe my strength.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Friday, August 5, 2011


I've decided to stand firm against the winds of the times and insist upon long games in both Chess and Scrabble. I'd rather not play at all than be slave to a ticking clock that tells me to stop thinking.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Taking a Break from Chess

I decided to quit chess tonight. Just can't seem to recover my old groove. Chess at the higher levels, in my case defined as 1800+ online, requires enormous intellectual resources, at least for me. I'm not the sort that can pull good moves out of thin air with little effort. I recall a bartender who could do so. He could work the bar and play outstanding chess at the same time, and it was quite humbling to see how fast his mind worked. He beat me playing the Danish on one game, because I didn't remember when to make the d5 pawn sacrifice, and King's Gambit on another, but I finally beat him with the Grob, which he had never seen before. That made me feel a little bit better, but then again I was concentrating on the game, and he had customers to serve.

Right now, I feel taxed by my job-hunting activities and other serious matters that are consuming much of my thinking power, and that is only right. A better game for me is Dungeon Crawl, because it's more forgiving and less exact, especially with good old regen.bat backing up my saved games for me.

Truth is, even if I were to play master-level chess, which I can't do, but for the sake of argument if I were, it would get me nowhere. Chess is a big zero in terms of rewards. I don't even much care for other chess players that I encounter in chess clubs and online. They tend to be antisocial to put it mildly. Of course I've got a bit of that too. But at least I don't cuss out people that defeat me, or abort games just because I didn't get the white pieces, or cheat in a game, accuse the winner of cheating, or crow when I'm winning or have won, or announce that all liberals need to be shot, or declare that liberals are traitors, all things that I've observed other chessplayers doing in chess clubs and online. Chessplayers as a whole tend to be more conservative than other sorts of people, in every sense of the word from style of dress to speech and views about society and politics. I've gotten banned from an online chess site just for playing the Grob, which is a ridiculous thing for a mod to do, because FIDE never ruled 1. g4 was an illegal move.

How'd I get into chess in the first place? I didn't seek it out, but it sought me out, so to speak. My brother and father were enthusiasts, so I naturally got recruited into playing around the age of five or so. It is a fascinating game, but one quickly finds his plateau. For me it seems to be around 1800 or so, if I limit myself to playing when I'm fully energized and in prime condition. I think I'll call that good enough and move on to other pastimes--if I even find the time for pastimes anymore.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Hard-Fought Victory in 15 min.

I dropped two pawns in this game due to my own carelessness, but managed to muster an attack in the middle game that led to checkmate. I'm proud of the latter portion of this game. Other than the first ten moves, I think I played well, planning far in advance for an attack on my opponent's King side using my Queen's rook.

Perhaps I stumbled upon a gambit of my own making. I harvested some tempos from my sacrificed pawns. I've noticed that dropping a pawn or two in the opening tempts one's opponent to be lazy and look for nothing other than opportunities to trade down. By the time I checkmated Mr. 1895, he had a whopping 9:23 (out of 15:00) remaining on his clock, while I had only 2:59 on mine. That smacks of lazybones. Perhaps he was contemptuous of me because of my lower rating and opening blunders.

[White Anonymous]
[Black me]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "1895"]
[BlackElo "1797"]
[ECO "A45"]
[Time "11:19:18"]
[TimeControl "900"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. e3 d5 3. Nf3 c5 4. dxc5 Nc6 5. a3 e5 6. Bb5 Bxc5 7. Bxc6+ bxc6 8. Nxe5 O-O 9. Nxc6 Qc7 10. Nd4 Ba6 11. Nc3 Rfe8 12. Nce2 Rab8 13. c3 Ng4 14. h3 Ne5 15. O-O Rb6 16. b4 Be7 17. Nf4 Rd8 18. Bb2 Bxf1 19. Qxf1 Nc4 20. Qe2 Bg5 21. Nd3 Rg6 22. Kh1 Qc8 23. Rg1 Rh6 24. f4 Bf6 25. Bc1 Bxd4 26. cxd4 Qf5 27. Ne5 Qe4 28. Qd3 Rxh3# 0-1

It is always good to develop mating threats, whether or not they are serious, because in time-controlled games a player is apt to overlook them. My opponent should have played 28. Qf3, forcing a trade of Queens. My attack fizzles after that. We were even in material. He had the better pawn structure and an excellent knight, while I had active rooks. Whether I could have won the end game is doubtful, given his tremendous time advantage. I gambled with Qe4, and my gamble paid off this time. Was Qe4 the best possible move for me? Probably not. Nevertheless, it won the game.

The trouble with long games--considered to be as little as 15 min. per side--is that some players do in fact cheat. It's too easy using a computer program in another window. It seems pathetic, and I disapprove of the practice. A few players in the online chess community are suspicious of inconsistent players like me. More than one has accused me of cheating, and I've had a regular spectator who is rated 2200+ and never makes any comments. It makes me wonder whether I'm being investigated. I've never cheated, and I don't even have a chess program installed on my computer. I've never even looked up an opening on the Internet to find good moves during a game--that, too, is cheating. It is my policy to only use my brain. The purpose of chess is to exercise the mental faculties.

I can certainly understand those who think I am cheating. Sometimes I play like I'm 1650, and other times, 1950. It just depends on the cycle of the Moon. I play better sober, obviously, but also, any disturbance reduces my quality of play. Lack of sleep, unwelcome news, insufficient exercise, inadequate diet, lethargy, depression--these things have an impact on my concentration. Chess is an intense and demanding intellectual sport. All the cylinders have to be firing at the right time. A misfire here or there loses a pawn, a piece, or the game.

I do consult sites on the Internet in order to research chess openings. But I don't use a chess program at all and feel myself to be in the minority in that respect. I'm old-fashioned. My way is to set up my chess board on the kitchen counter and analyze openings myself. From long experience, I've gotten good at that, and it is how I have refined my responses to certain opening lines. Although a chess program offers many advantages, I feel it is the lazy man's way, and I prefer to do things the hard way. After all, the chess program will not be there to help during an actual game, so one should not get used to relying upon it. Besides, it is quite pleasant to get away from the computer and operate in three dimensions for a change.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Somebody Played Drunk

On my favorite online chess site, I played a high-ranked player who seemed impaired, judging by his choice of moves. If a player take too much time, then the inebriant may be weed, which impairs the brain's tracking of time. If a player makes lousy moves, then alcohol may be the culprit. I suspect alcohol was the culprit with this 1900-ranked player.

[White Anonymous]
[Black me]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B02"]
[TimeControl "120+12"]

1. e4 Nf6 2. Nf3 Nxe4 3. Bc4 d5 4. Bb5+ Bd7 5. Bxd7+ Nxd7 6. d3 Nef6 7. O-O e6 8. Re1 Bd6 9. Nc3 O-O 10. Bg5 h6 11. Bh4 c5 12. Nb5 Bb8 13. d4 a6 14. Nc3 cxd4 15. Qxd4 Ba7 16. Qd2 Qb6 17. Rab1 Rac8 18. Ne5 Nxe5 19. Rxe5 Ng4 20. Re2 Qd6 21. h3 Qh2+ 0-1

Notice how he drops a pawn on the second move, having zero compensation for it. That told me right away I might be dealing with an intoxicated person. I don't mind. I've been on a losing streak, and games like this bolster my dented ego. I've been known to play impaired on occasion myself, although I'm on a sobriety kick now.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Friday, June 10, 2011

On and Off in Chess

In chess, I'm on some days, off others. Besides general knowledge of the game, playing well requires lightning-fast processing of tactical calculations, because the better players are all very fast themselves at finding good moves. The standard of play in the modern chess world is much higher than it was a hundred years ago. (Although I wasn't alive then, I have studied games that date back over a hundred years.) Also, most games have tight limitations on time, and there is never enough time for a slow poke. On some days, I'm just too slow, and all my knowledge and experience bears little fruit. Knowledge alone just won't cut it in chess--never has and never will.

On my good days, when my brain's really humming, I am fast enough to score upset victories against higher-ranked players, the same ones, in fact, who trounce me on my off days, but my days of glory make the inevitable slow days that much harder to bear, making me wonder if I'm losing my edge. Even in my prime, I was never able to maintain a superb acuity. That's why I never bothered chasing after the dream of so many other serious chessplayers, becoming a FIDE-recognized master. A title would give me bragging rights, and I wouldn't mind it, but I really don't think it is at all realistic, given my modest ability. Like my brother, I consider myself a chess dabbler only. One has to be born with the right DNA to become a chessmaster.

Fortunately, in online chess there is an option to play unrated games. When I sense that I am having an off day, I quit playing rated and play unrated instead. I've at least learned to manage my inconsistency in order to preserve my rating. In time, I will be able to climb back up into the 1900's, where I prefer to remain. In my heart, I know that I have not lost my edge at all--it only seems that way today. Tomorrow may be a different story. Then the other guys had better watch out!
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chess Openings

I studied chess openings when I was a young man, but still feel ignorant about them. The trouble is that there are so many. I thought I knew them all until I browsed an online resource tonight and discovered three dozen different variations of the Sicilian. Argh! Yet the reality is that most players confine themselves to the most popular lines. I hardly ever encounter anything unusual, and that's just too bad. When someone does play something out of the ordinary, I respect that and appreciate being given the opportunity to learn.

The truth is I am a generalist. I know the first four moves of most openings, but little more than that. Despite my mediocre knowledge of chess openings, I find myself more than capable of holding my own against most players. My online rating has been hovering around 1900 of late, which I think is good enough for me. I think that if it had been in the cards for me to become a master, that would have happened already. And besides, there's no financial incentive, and getting very good simply means fewer people can enjoy a game with you.

My pet peeve with online chess has to be sore losers. Other than that, I love online chess. But every once in a while, one encounters a player who is drunk and spoiling for an argument with a stranger. My policy is to ban 'em and forget 'em. Life's too short to devote any time to buttheads.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Dropped a Piece, But Won Anyway

Playing the Gran Prix against a strong player, I goofed in the middle game and lost a piece, but found a tactical gimmick that saved the day.

[White me]
[Black Anonymous]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B21"]
[Time "17:35:48"]
[TimeControl "600"]

1. e4 c5 2. f4 e6 3. Nf3 Be7 4. Bc4 Bh4+ 5. Nxh4 Qxh4+ 6. g3 Qd8 7. d4 d5 8. Bb5+ Nc6 9. dxc5 a6 10. exd5 exd5 11. Ba4 Qa5+ 12. Nc3 Qxc5 13. Qe2+ Ne7 14. Be3 d4 15. Ne4 Qa5+ 16. Bd2 Qxa4 17. Nd6+ Kf8 18. b3 Qa3 19. Nc4 Qc5 20. O-O-O Bf5 21. g4 Be6 22. Ne5 Qa3+ 23. Kb1 Nb4 24. Bxb4 Qxb4 25. f5 Bd5 26. Rhf1 Re8 27. f6 gxf6 28. Nd7+ Kg7 29. Nxf6 Rc8 30. Qe5 Bf3 31. Nh5+ Kf8 32. Qxh8+ 1-0

At move 30, my opponent asked to take back his previous move (Rc8). Sometimes I do allow weaker players takebacks, especially if I'm ahead in material and in a good mood, but when playing opponents that have a similar or higher rating than me, my answer is no in blitz games like this one. I define a blitz game as less than 15 minutes per side per game. Furthermore, in this case, I felt like my opponent had a lot of gall to ask for a takeback when our ratings were similar, and he had a killer position otherwise and was a piece ahead in material. No way, Jose! This was a rated game, after all, and I work hard to keep my rating high. I lose many games as it is due to my own carelessness, but I almost never ask for takebacks. I take my defeats in stride and try to learn from them. Sometimes I lose ten games in a row, but you know what, that's just the way it goes! News flash: chess is a game of mistakes! If no one made a mistake, the result would be a draw.

I was mean. I neither declined nor approved the takeback. He let his time almost run out waiting for me to approve it. With less than a minute left on his clock, he moved his bishop, an ineffectual move. Then he ran out of time. He had a lost position anyway.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Monday, June 6, 2011

Another Quick Win with the Center Game

I've had good luck with the Center Game in blitz. Here's a recent victory against a player ranked 1915:

[White me]
[Black Anonymous]
[Result "1-0"]
[TimeControl "600"]

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Nf3 c5 4. c3 dxc3 5. Nxc3 d6 6. Bc4 h6 7. O-O Bg4 8. Qd5 Qd7 9. e5 Bxf3 10. Qxf3 dxe5 11. Rd1 Bd6 12. Nb5 Qc6 13. Nxd6+ Kd8 14. Qxf7 Nd7 15. Bb5 Qc7 16. Qe8# 1-0

I believe it is a mistake for Black to try to hang on to the pawn. 3. .. c5 does nothing for Black's position. I am more than happy to offer up another pawn for Black's consumption in order to gain a substantial lead in development.

This was my quickest victory yet with the Center Game. I'm not sure why so many players have trouble meeting 2. d4.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Smith-Morra Gambit

Played a good game of chess today with victory in 18 moves. My worthy opponent played reasonable moves with clear justifications. He didn't blunder in any obvious manner, such as dropping a piece outright. But I think he was too aggressive. He postponed developing his King's bishop and never castled. The opening is a race for development. It is not the time to piddle around with the Queen in a speculative attack. What seemed to be an oversight on my part was planned. I still don't know if mine was a solid plan--this was speed chess, after all. But it worked.

[White me]
[Black anonymous 1980]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B21"]
[TimeControl "300+3"] (5 minutes plus 3 seconds per move, one of my favorite settings along with 120 + 12)

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. Nxd4 d6 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. Bb5 Bd7 7. O-O e6 8. f4 Qb6 9. Be3 Ng4 10. Qxg4 e5 11. Nf5 Bxf5 12. Qxf5 Qxe3+ 13. Kh1 exf4 14. Nd5 Qc5 15. Nc7+ Kd8 16. Qxf7 Kc8 17. Ne6 Ne5 18. Qe8# 1-0

by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments
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