29 December, 2010

A blitz high !

After saying that I play less blitz ( which is true ), I can only be pleasantly surprised that I have now breached 1100 on ICC.

OK, it might not seem much to some, but I am not a hard-core blitz player, so to do this is an achievement !

Having averaged the low 1000s most of the year ( with a nadir of 860 ! ) personally, I feel very good about this.

I will try not to be distracted from "real" chess, but will certainly enjoy the (probably brief ) 1100+ rating.

It was also great that it was a Réti gambit game that put me there :  I enjoy playing it !

27 December, 2010

Team League 4545 : Season T47 - Playoff 1

I played a poor game.

1.e4 and a Philidor, but I just didn't seem to choose the right moves and after a mis-calculation regarding a hanging pawn ( that I thought was protected by indirect means ) I went down 2 pawns and never got back into the game.

I did fight to the end, but eventually he woke up to using his extra pawns, and I was history !

This was the incorrect move that started it all....

exd4 is better 

Here I was correct with Nf4, as the c-pawn is indirectly protected.
15. Nf4
But I didn't calculate far, or accurately enough, as Bb7 is not a good move.
17...Bb7 ?

The a-Rook isn't really threatened at all !

However, despite this loss giving a drawn match ( 2-2), because of our better forfeit rating we should go through to the next round.

I really felt a lack of sharpness and inspiration, possibly due to a lack of any chess effort in the last two weeks, so I will need to invest in some tactics practise before the next round.

26 December, 2010

Open Sicilian ( Scheveningen )

I am deliberately playing far less blitz than I used to.

I play every now and again, and have had far more consistent wins than previously.

Here's a win in an Open Sicilian, Scheveningen.

I haven't played against a Sicilian for a while so forgot my exact theory, but so, it seems, did Black.


Here he has played Bg4 attacking the Queen, but is it a premature attack ? Better moves would be b5, or exf, as Bg4 just gives White an easy response  ( not always helpful in blitz :).

It gives me an obvious attack... f5 ( to attempt the trap the Bishop ), Qg3, ( opposite the King ) , Bxh6 ( winning a pawn )...especially when helped by h6.

More thought  would probably not favour Qg3, maybe h3, g4 instead, but in blitz,  direct attack is always good as it can provoke mistakes.

12...g5 ??
Much better was to play the King to h8 or h7, as after the en passant capture, the king's protection disappears and Black resigns, having lost the exchange at the minimum.

In blitz, meeting the Sicilian head-on with the Open game instead of an anti-Sicilian doesn't always play into Black hands. He needs to know his theory, or else a mis-timed move can be just as bad for him !

16 December, 2010

Team League 4545 : Season T47 - Progress

The end of the main season sees Magnum Ignotum ( the U1600 Team I play for )  in the playoffs with 4 wins, 2 draws and a loss.

A good performance by the team and and also for me ( +4=1-1 ) . The playoff will take some time as it arrives in the Christmas holidays, so may seem to be drawn out. Our opponents contain players I have never met before, with the likelihood that I am paired with a +1700 player ! Looking forward to it.

Other points:
As Black, I played 3 games playing the Philidor in each and gaining 2 wins and a draw. I should have won the draw, but had too little time and an unavoidable interruption ( although she is wonderful :)
As White I won a Scotch (Four Knights ) and lost a Bird.

Maybe there's a message here ? Concentrate on trying to win as White  !

The U1800 team ( Chessmasters ) didn't live up to their name, suffered with forfeits and so came bottom of its section, not gaining a single match point ! However, with so many new players, I think we did OK and I hope that we will stay together for a stronger attempt next season.

My record was equally bad : played 3, lost 3.

However, in two of those games, one was mine for the taking, as I missed a clear win and the other was a well-fought, and enjoyable French Defence that I had good chances in, but missed a key move at the end. I still need to go through both of these and post them.

In the U1800s I played against the French Defence as White and as Black a strange opening ( with 1.d4 ) that switched to a Philidor by move 5 with no loss of tempo to either side ! I also lost as White in a Spanish against future Grandmaster OxidisedLizard. I'll be looking for revenge some time !

I wonder if it is worth checking if U1800 opening choices are significantly different from U1600s ?

Anyway, my intention is to play in both sections ( U1800 & U1600 ) next season, if at all possible. I find both give good opportunities, and playing higher opposition certainly stretches my chess at times.

13 December, 2010

Missed Opportunities II

I should do one of two things.

Either a) give up playing chess or b) improve my calculation and vision.

Here is where I, as Black, reached on move 26 against a higher-rated opponent....

How did I miss it ?!

I'm sure, dear readers, that you can see the obvious move.

I did too, but missed a vital part of the combination as it was outside my vision. [ See the comments ]

Is there a chess maxim that you should always play a check ?

Enjoyable, none the less, although I'm a little aggrieved that I made my losing move after my opponent started to talk to me and interrupted my concentration.

I would have lost on time anyway, but next time I will play in silent mode !

09 December, 2010

64 Games !

This seems a significant event : 64 standard games on ICC.

So, despite the result , I think I should celebrate it !

My opponent was OxidisedLizard, a future Grandmaster in disguise, and against me it showed !

The game was simple. I made a basic mistake, realising as soon as I had played it that I had lost a piece, and probably the game in this sort of company.

Until that point, I had been OK, although I had started an attack too early, and had effectively handed  the initiative to Black after 11. Ng5.

11. Ng5...attacking too early
 I had overlooked that Bc4 was a fine riposte, avoiding any exchange and forcing White to do something.

Unfortunately, I didn't do the right things and with a further piece threatened after h6, I miscalculated basic tactics and made my game-losing mistake !

I could have resigned straight away,  but played on, keeping the score to "one piece down" until some nice manoeuvring put my king at a distinct disadvantage.

Black played simply and well, but missed a chance to deal a death-blow on move 17.

Bc5+ !

Instead of a crushing Bc5+, winning the rook with a discovered attack (or if Be3, the bishop), Black castled and encouraged me to continue for a few moves !

I'm now on a lower board for the U1800s ( we have a new player ) so had a slightly fairer chance in my next TL outing, but overall, an enjoyable game, and with my review of it, I think I will be in better shape next time I play the Spanish.

08 December, 2010

T9030 : Frenched....

A very enjoyable game in the T9030 format today.

My opponent obviously enjoys his slow chess and played at a good pace.

An unexpected French Defence ( to both of us : he was trying something new ) as I was expecting an e4/e5 game, but I produced "The Fascinating Réti Gambit", and we were both out of book by move 3 or 4 !

I need to take some time to think and analyse this one, but this was a real gambit for me : a pawn with compensation in the form of a very good attack and long-term pressure against the d6-pawn.

This blatant pressure gave me my simple plan, and I stuck to it ( abandoning the initial g4 idea ).

He defended, while I attacked, and when I played Ne2 to "remove a defender", it was the key moment of the game ( at least in my eyes).

14. Ne2...How should Black respond ?

I think this was better than I believed at the time. I was aiming for a remove-defender play, but with the attack on f5 , the exposure of the b2 bishop, and especially the pin (crucial in the latter part of the game), Black needed to find a good response.

What would you play ?

02 December, 2010

Magnus Carlsen - No longer a teenager, describes his 'perfect weekend'

The prodigy is now twenty, and shared his perfect weekend with Telegraph readers, a rare outing for chess in a a national newspaper !

01 December, 2010

Missed Opportunities....

A tale of two halves ( or possibly more ! ) and a significant missed opportunity for me to claim an 1800 scalp.

Qf2 ! would have been a winner
 After a decent opening, a moment of blindness loses a pawn. I manage to recover to an excellent position, but miss the above opportunity to hit a winner.

 I even had another chance in a seemingly lost endgame, but it was not to be.

More later....

27 November, 2010

Chess Net Etiquette II - The Sequel

Not been too active in the chess-o-sphere, with a pathetic cold lingering on and spoiling life in general !

However, the subject of this post relates to this where I commented on being censored for my "rudeness" of having 'Handshake' as my end-of-game message.

How would we cope in the replay ?  Would we shake and make up  ? Would there be a titantic struggle at the board as neither player gives in ?

Complete anti-climax, although I suppose a consistent approach.

No reply to game offers in the  forum, so I win by forfeit, never the best way, but at least the team gains a point !

In between, I lost my previous T4545 round.

No real excuses ( not even the cold ). We both had chances, I made a mistake, but worked my way out of it, then failed to capitalise on my opponent's mistake, overlooked the strong pawn advance and although I clearly remember calculating Rf2, I actually played Rf3, which put me back into difficulty !

Here I played what I thought was the clever Nd2, threatening the Queen. The simple Nxb2 would have been good, with Rxf8, followed by Qd2 or Nd1 and White is fine, if not a with an edge.

Nxb2 is better than my Nd2 ?!

This should have been Rf2. I thought it, I calculated it, but I played Rf3 ?  The brain works in unfortunate ways sometimes...

Rf2 gives an even game...Rf3 ?! does not 

Although I played on and defended like a trooper, I had to give up Bishop for pawn to prevent a queen promotion.
Rook, Knight and pawns vs Rook and pawns is not an easy endgame to lose, and my opponent played it well.

This week I am also in the U1800, as the team there is down its strongest player. I intend to play as best I can, but have no illusions as my opponent is consistently rated around 1800.

In local news....the first snow of the Winter arrived last night, and I am not surprised. It was bitterly cold walking home after food and drink at the local bar. Even a fine de Koninck could not keep from me the easterly wind that swept across the harbour  !

Time to settle down with Réti's best games and a chess board.....

12 November, 2010

Chess Net Etiquette

A strange occurrence...

After what can only be described as an interesting game, with some unusual and thought-provoking moves by my opponent, he allows a King/Queen knight fork on move 30, and, quite naturally, resigns.

No problem, I am looking forward to chatting about the game, but what happens...

Yes, I have an auto-reply of "Handshake", and this appears to upset him as my initial chat has the answer "I really don't like auto"handshake" wrecks the spirit of the gme YOU ARE CENSORED FOR RUDENESS "

What can I do but be polite in my message to him, despite his shouting at me !

I've heard of OTB chess etiquette incidents with the refusal to shake hands at the start of a game etc, but this is the equivalent of me offering a handshake OTB, and being refused : how would that make you feel ?

Well, we will see how the return match goes in a few weeks as it may be difficult to arrange if I am 'censored' ! Looking at his finger notes, I had to smile even more as his attitude did not reflect what he had written !

Here's the final position, move 30 from a slightly unusual Philidor...analysis later.

30...Nf3+ ....Eek ! Game over !

08 November, 2010

TeamLeague T4545 - T47 R1 : Scotch Bishops

A Scotch game : Four Knights variation, I'm White.

I won.

Why  ?

1) My opponent made at least 3 consecutive, weak moves with his bishops early in the game, losing time and giving up his dark-squared bishop anyway.
2) After his bishop was lost most of his immediate threats were gone
3) f4 is a great move to make at any stage of the game
4) I did some lucky preparation on the exact variation before the match
5) I had some good ideas from Nigel Davies and Tony Miles.
6) I'm a Grand Master in disguise.

Well, not all of those are true :)

Here's the game...

28 October, 2010

T9030 - Round 1 : Is the Caro-Kann exciting ?

A game in a new T9030 tournament last night : a win in a Queen-and-pawns endgame.

I'm not sure if it was my mood, or the Caro-Kann  opening, or the endgame or a combination, but it won't be high on my "most enjoyable games" list.

I don't often meet the Caro-Kann, and had not prepared anything, so was playing what I think are normal moves to develop and control the centre.

Black put his knights on g6 and b6, which seems a little unusual to me, but I don't think I exploited it properly, especially the g6-knight. I had ideas of exchanging Bishop for knight and breaking up Black's King-side, but instead opted for a quieter Queen-side attack.

 In retrospect, I should have both attacked sooner, and resolved the Bg4 issue first with h3, as effectively all my attack did was neutralise the Queen-side and allow Black to do the same on the King-side with Nh4 and a series of exchanges leaving a fairly drawish position ( although bishops of the same colour are not supposed to be a draw ? )

19. Rfd1

 Here, I have played Rfd1, instead of Rxc8. I felt that 19. Rxc8 Rxc8 20. Rc1 Rxc1 21. Bxc1 was probably a draw, and was trying to encourage Black to play Rxd1 instead. He didn't, but his Rc4 and subsequent exchanges gave me the c-pawn as a difficult target for an advantage.

27. Ke4
 I really think this should be a draw, but my opponent never offered one, and since eventually I won the c-pawn, and Black made a mistake when running out of moves, I tried, doggedly, to win the Queen-and-pawn endgame that arose, as I felt I was ahead.
33...h5 ? 34. g5 Black's Bishop will be trapped

 Next time I will offer the draw myself as it was a hard slog, and in fact checking this position ( EPD: 1Q6/K7/8/1P3k2/8/8/8/6q1 w - - ) when the two pawns were promoted, against online endgame tablebases, it is in fact a draw ! Maybe its lucky that I don't have these tables built into my head?!

I guessed the key was to exchange the queens, but that involves putting your queen in a position where it must be captured, ie interposing to stop a check, and giving a check at the same time : difficult !

Not sure if my opponent just gave in or I won, but after move 68 ( and 17 moves of painful Queen manoeuvring ) he resigned.
Interestingly, my clock was at about 20 minutes and his was 1 hour and 25. This time control certainly reduces mistakes, but may be a bit too long overall.....
68.Kc8 ...Black resigns
 I will either find ways to avoid the Caro-Kann or else I need a suggestion from readers on how to enliven it !

Looking forward to them.....

27 October, 2010

Réti Endgame Study 1 ( Solution )

Here's the solution to the first Reti Endgame Study that I published a few weeks ago !

Use the "Show Answer" button.

26 October, 2010

T9030 : Round 3

A good win in my latest Chess 9030 tournament game from a slightly different Philidor variation, and with what could be called a Queen sacrifice as part of it !

White varied in this Philidor game by playing an early a4 and omitting Re1 completely. In theory, ie in GM games, this will transpose back to mainlines, as Black doesn't really have much more than the usual c6, b6 etc and White's moves of Qe2 and Re1 are fairly standard as well.

However, this time I had a line that I experience in blitz quite a bit, but not often in standard.

25 October, 2010

New High at ICC

Following my win in the latest game of the Chess9030 tournament I've reached my highest rating at ICC so far, a huge 1607 !

No, not Master-strength but after a decline in the past three months its good to show some progress again.

My previous high was 1597, back in July, and with my poor results in T46 I dropped points regularly ( although not too many, as my opponents were usually much higher-rated than me. )

Happily for me the game that put me over 1600 was a Philidor( the defence I have stayed with all this year ) , and involved a Queen sacrifice.

Here is almost the final position, with Black poised to capture White's Queen. Although it is effectively all over, a mistaken move of Kf1, instead of Kf2 sped up the resignation.

The full game is already in the Games Library, and I will try to annotate it this week.

My next T9030 game looks like being a forfeit win, so that puts me joint top of my group, with the crucial match in the next two weeks !

22 October, 2010

Chess Humour..

Its a weak chess connection, but British newspaper the Daily Telegraph has published a list of 50 jokes suggested as "the best".

Humour is quite personal, but I enjoyed them...clean and short.

One chess joke, in at  number 28:

" 28. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. "But why?" they asked, as they moved off. "Because," he said "I can't stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer."   "

 Yes, not side-splittingly funny, but there you go.

The rest  are here, and most are better than the chess one : enjoy !

Anybody know any other chess-related jokes ? There must be funnier ones than the above ?!

Here's my contribution.....

"A pawn comes home from work one day driving a fancy new car. His wife is astonished and says, "Darling, I don't think we can afford this nice new car on your salary." The pawn replies, "Relax, I'm about to get promoted!"

20 October, 2010

Team League 4545 : Season T47 - Chessmasters still alive !

It seems that the Chessmasters team is still alive !!

Keen to play Team League chess, the high-rated board 1 from T46 U1600 is taking the mantle into U1800, and I am joining as a backup player, ie fourth board at the most.

A step up for me, but looking at some of the other board 4s, they also play in U1600 as board 1 or 2, so I may be roughly equal on some occasions.

17 October, 2010

Team League 4545 : Season T47 - Magnum Ignotum

A new team for this season.

Chessmasters has mutated into Magnum Ignotum - the Great Unknown - as Chessmasters  board one player is really so highly-rated now that the remainder of us would not be able to play together and stay as U1600 !

I remain as the default board 2 and am looking forward to some good games again.

This time around I will be concentrating on removing blunders, tactics ( and/or calculation ) and endgames.

Openings will remain the same, with 1. e4 as White and for Black attempting to play 'classical' lines given the chance. Doubtless the Philidor will figure strongly in some form or other !

13 October, 2010

Team League 4545 : T46 Playoff 1 : Checks help you out of nasty situations

This was a good game for me, with lots of interest.

It was probably only the second player I had met in this TL season who was close to me in ratings, so even though I had Black I felt that this would be more of an even chance.

His game history told me that he was an e4-player, which was good : I could try the Philidor again !

On to the game...

12 October, 2010

Becoming a Grandmaster

Not me, I hasten to add, but see here.

I tip my hat to him in and his "ballsy" attitude: a direct statement, putting his money where his mouth is.

I, for one, wish him the best of luck and will follow his adventures with interest !

He's already added to my sidebar of links.

Good Luck, Will. Go for it !

11 October, 2010

Active Play gains results !

The past couple of weeks I've been suffering with a cold, so I shouldn't really have playing chess, but it is for enjoyment after all !

Here's a blitz game where the Black player ( in a Sicilian ) isn't really playing as actively as he should and effectively ends up lost by move 16....

Black has lost loads of tempi by moving his Knights around ( f6 to d7 to b6 as well as b8 to d7 to f6 ! ) and I can already see the 'Greek Gift' ideas around h7, which I put into place.

Further slow moves, in response to my active ones, put him completely out of it and I end up with a totally won game ( despite missing quicker mates ).

Mate is inevitable !
 Enjoyable to say the least, especially against a Sicilian !

29 September, 2010

TL4545 T46 Playoff Update

We didn't make it :(.

Although we managed to draw 2-2, overall we went out on forfeits incurred during the season....just 1 too many was enough.

Not quite going out on penalties, more like fouls made !

Regardless, a good season for the team although my stats were an unimpressive played 7, lost 5, won 2.

No real excuses although I will say that most of my opponents were my rating+200/300 so I don't feel that bad about it.

I will also add that at least 2 games I lost on very stupid blunders which didn't help.

Here's to next season and better chess  !

26 September, 2010

T46 Playoffs 1

Only my second win in TL45 this season, but an important one, as it levels the score at 1-1 !

In both remaining games Chessmasters have White, so, the advantage should be with us.

I will post the game in full later, but this was the decisive position after White's 23.Nd4....

23. Nd4

24 September, 2010

Endgame 7 ( Study 3 )

Berlin, 1922....

Herr Schmidt arrives home in Elisabeth Strasse,  from another long day at the office, kisses his wife, ruffles the kid's hair as they run around him, happy to see Papa before bed-time.

He sniffs appreciatively at the fine smells wafting from the kitchen where Gertrude, the cook, is preparing the evening meal ( Sauerbraten Klopse and Kartofelsalat : you have to economise in these dark Weimar-days of hyper-inflation ).

The newspaper contains reportage of the latest "art": moving pictures, kinema, called Nosferatu: Eine Symphonie des Grauens  and he wonders at the decadence of the modern age...

Luckily, there is still the eternal truth of chess, and in dismay he sets down the Berliner Zeitung and reaches for the just-delivered  Nueste Schachnachrichten  from Bernhard Kagan, and is happy to see another endgame study from the victor of the Teplitz-Schönau tournament, Richard Réti ( although only a Third prize winner in this magazine...surprising ! )

"Ach", he thinks, as he ponders the smudged diagram..."It's quite an open position on the board, but Réti has a note referring to that idea of zugzwang that has been written about...this isn't so straightforward..."  maybe after dinner, and the children are in bed, when Mathilde is sewing, and with a refreshing Weisse beer, inspiration will come..

Réti, Berlin, 1922 : White to move and win

13 September, 2010

Chess on the BBC

This has been mentioned on a few blogs, but since its rare enough to have any media coverage, I give it here as well.

Yes, its radio !

As an extra there is also this ( news report ) about Armenian chess in general and, related to it,  this ( Radio ) on how Armenian chess conquered the Chess Olympiads recently ( with Aronian and pals ) and of course where would we be without the fabulous Lewis Chessmen.

Radio isn't everyone's 'cup of tea', but it takes all sorts...

12 September, 2010

TL45 46 - Round 6

Finally, and given the rating of my opponent, the fact that he plays 1.d4, and that I have Black, perhaps surprisingly, I gain my first win in T46.

I have admit that this week I have not played blitz to any extent (I checked : 3 games on Sunday) and spent the time instead on tactics training, reviewing some Master games, the analysis of my previous loss and some investigation into what to expect today.

The latter was a distinct 1.d4, which I have played against only once in my previous 15 TL games. As well as that, I don't really have a 'repertoire' against it, so it was a interesting opportunity.

On to the game...

11 September, 2010

Finally : a win !

Finally, after 7 straight losses, a win !

For a change my opponent made a couple of small mistakes  ( yet again a Knight move to g3 was involved ), and later an outright error to let me take the point.

I'll post the full game later, after I've looked through it.

It also might put the team through to the play offs, if I read the table correctly.

Here's the final position...

White resigns : 31...Qh3+

08 September, 2010

Endgames 6 ( Study 2 )

A second Réti endgame study, this time published in the Teplitz-Schönauer Anzeiger from 1922, a newspaper from Teplitz-Schönau in Sudetenland ( now in the Czech Republic and called Teplice ).

This was the location for the Teplitz-Schönau tournament in October 1922, so possibly Réti had it published because of, and during the tournament period.

He came joint first at this tournament ( with Spielmann ) managing 5½ out 6 against other prize winners, with victories over Spielmann, Tartakower, Rubenstein, Kostic and Teichmann, and a draw with Grünfeld.
Chessmetrics estimates this as the third strongest tournament of 1922 ( London was the top ) including 6 of the top 10 players in the world at the time.

Interestingly the brilliancy prize was won by Heinrich Wolf  for his victory over Réti.   He was the player involved in a 1902 match with Bernhard Kagan, mentioned in my previous Réti study post !

The pre-amble courtesy of Harry Golombek (who wrote most of the first chess books I read ! ).

"The danger of stalemate is the unexpected theme of this remarkable composition. White's opening move is indeed a paradox in which the King, instead of seeking centralisation, tries to escape from the field of action."

A handy hint for us patzers !

White to play and win : Réti, 1922
Look for the solution later in the comments....

07 September, 2010

TL45 T46 Round 5

My 7th straight loss, but despite this I had an excellent opening and middle-game,  although mis-calculating in the endgame to lose.

Another Philidor, and I have to say that I handled it very well to reach a fine middle-game position, where not only did I know what I was doing, but also had the advantage....

05 September, 2010

T9030 (Round 1)

I played the first of my T9030 games last night.

Overall, enjoyable, but I continued my losing streak with a misguided early h3 ( intending to support g4, but not really correct ) and a pretty bad blunder.

Qf3 ?? White loses immediately 
The position wasn't best before this, but I really shouldn't miss such tactics.

Not an excuse, but the time limit should not be under-estimated. Not being at my peak to start with doesn't help after 2,5 hours of play.

Endgames 6

Bizarrely ( or maybe not, I would need to think about it :)  I seem to reach the endgame in Blitz quite often these days. Perhaps, its because I play a lot of King pawn games and simplify ?

Regardless, they are a useful exercise if examined afterwards.

Here's a Knight & pawns game, that White is ahead on. There is a killer move ( which I missed ! ) to end it quickly, rather than the additional 20 moves I took. Seems so obvious afterwards, but lack of time doesn't help when playing.

I'm sure such endgames are simplistic once past a certain chess level, but to me, they still require significant thought, be it in Blitz or standard. I think its the fact that you know that being just a pawn up should be a win, but you have to prove it, especially in Blitz and against the clock !

35...h4 : White to move and win

04 September, 2010

Endgames 5 ( Study 1 )

A famous endgame study, and one of the first by Richard Réti, published in Kagan's Neuste Schachnachrichten in 1921. This was a  chess magazine, published by Bernhard Kagan in Berlin from 1921 to 1932.

Bernhard Kagan was a German chess player, but better known as an organiser, editor and publisher.

You can see 3 games of his here, which match the three in my database, so these are probably the best known of his from a 1902 match versus Heinrich Wolf, which he lost 4,5 - 0,5.  Considering that Wolf was estimated to be in, or close to, the top 10 in the world at the time and Kagan somewhere near the bottom of the top 100, that's not too bad !

At the time, the key players were names such as Lasker, Maróczy, Janowski, Schlecter, Tarrasch, Chigorin, as well as Pillsbury and Atkins, so both were in good company.

However, back to the endgame. The idea is straightforward ( after thinking about it ) , and the first move is also easy to work out, its what happens after that is intriguing.

I have to admit, that in blitz, as White I would probably lose !

Note it is a drawing endgame for White and not a winning one.

White to move and draw
7K/8/k1P5/7p/8/8/8/8 w - - 

03 September, 2010

Tactics 4

Not winning material, but probably a game-winning move....

Black to play......

Black to play

02 September, 2010

Tactics 3

Removing the guard is one tactic, and here's a different one, from 1959, courtesy of Martin Weteschnik....

White to move : Krogius - Sergievsky 1959

Solution   [ Ng6 ! A discovered attack on the Queen. If QxQ, then Nxe7+ forking the Queen.Other moves lose the exchange at the minimum ]

01 September, 2010

Tactics 2

A queen-side attack in the Philidor....

For some reason, White has played Kh2. This gives Black an opportunity to win a pawn.

16. ...Kh2 loses a pawn
There follows 17.... Bxd3 18. Qxd3 ( Bxh6 19. Bxe2 ) Bxf2 19.Rxf2  axb 

The b-pawn cannot now  be captured because of Rxa1 !  An example of removing the guard : a double guard in this case.

31 August, 2010

Endgames 4

Another interesting endgame.

Yes, its from blitz, so maybe not the best play to reach it, but an intriguing position, showing that best play and a key move will draw, but missing that ( even if given many opportunities ) can be disastrous.

46. Kc6
Black continued f5.  Nothing wrong with that, but he didn't  played the key move in the next few moves either and his mistake was game-losing !

28 August, 2010

Tactics 1

I have cut back on blitz since I am not quick enough for it !

I don't think its bad to play, but you need to take care not to overdo it, and ( if using it as part of chess improvement ) review the games as well.

Here's one from today, interesting for me as I am White vs a Philidor, a defence I love to play myself.

I'm confused by 7...Nc6, as I don't play this myself and probably fall into a small trap...

7...Nc6 : threats
...as Nc6 actually transforms into an Italian game motif rather than a continuing Philidor ! Hence the threat vs f3 which I don't consider too much. Understandably, I should have met Bg4 with f3, and not worry about pawn structure !

 However, the subject is tactics, and I miss this blitz-winning move...

After 17...Bg5 18.Rxe5 : a Rook skewer would win material

...since there is a discovered check after 18.Rxe5 f3 19.Nxf6 Kg8 20. Rxg5 (or Nxh5

Although, finally I win with a discovered check that Black evidently doesn't see..

34.Rb6! wins the Rook & game 

I'm going to attribute this to my current re-reading : Martin Weteschnik's Understanding Chess Tactics, to encourage myself to keep reading it !

22 August, 2010

TL4545 T46 Round 3

Another loss, this time in a Sicilian Scheveningen ( maybe, with 2...Nc6, a Taimanov ), although not in the opening, which I play in a competent, if not inspired way.

An over-looked response, and then an inability to find a proper response after that, was the direct cause, although I think it has more to do with a failure to find a plan, and a concentration on tactics as an end, rather than a means.

So two moments of blindness, failing to see Black's response 17...Bd8 and then not finding the saving move to attack the d-pawn and  defend the Bishop with 20.Qd2,  Losing the Bishop was really the end of the game, and although it took Black some time to break through, once he did ( 35...b4), I had few opportunities left, being a full rook down !

Although it was a vain hope ( ie waiting for a mistake ) , I feel I played the endgame well, finding moves to ensure that Black had to think to win. Admittedly, though, he played it adequately and had plenty of slack with the mistakes he made, being so far ahead on material !

Critical Moments

Move 8. I chose Be2, but I think Nxc6 is equally good.

My choice is an example of not really playing the position, but rather sticking to what  I know are accepted opening moves. Lazy, really.

8:  Be2 or Nxc6 ?

Move 17. h3 ??
Move 18...Bd8

What was I thinking of with 17.h3 ? To prepare g4 with some idea of threatening the Queen. Entirely focused on my  tactics rather than thinking what my opponent can do to upset me !

Much better was 17.Qd2, attacking the d6 pawn and  ensuring the subsequent exchanges are not terminal for White.

Variation after 17. Qd2. If 17..Bd8 18. Qxd6 Bxc7 19. Bxc7 Qc6

In fact even after the terrible 17.h3 Bd8, 18.Qd2 still is a redeeming move

18.Qd2 Bxc7 19.Bxc7 Qc6 20.Qxd6 ef 21.Qxc6 bc 22.Rxf4 

Overall, not my best chess moment, but still something to take away, and a need to concentrate on plan-forming and blunder-checking next time around.

Here's the full game....

14 August, 2010

TL4545 T46 Round 2

A second loss in the tournament, but overall a satisfactory game.

I felt a little angry with myself for losing this one, after I had fought back so well. I thought I had done enough for a draw and was surprised when my offer wasn't accepted, as we were both short on time. This resulted in a drop in the 'chess factor' , and the inevitable blunder happened : unfortunately, mine !

Regardless, here is the game, a Philidor again, although with a very passive White approach in the opening in my opinion.

13 August, 2010

Endgames 4

Maybe I am obsessed with endgames....

I watched the Rising Stars vs Experience and was fascinated by the Howell - Gelfand match.

Gelfand's Petroff proved less than boring and Howell took it right to the end.

Unfortunately, in time trouble, he selected the wrong move, and although we saw 4 Queens on the board, it was already lost.

h8 was played
 The better move was Qg8+, which keeps him in the game and maybe chances of a draw.

A few moves later it was over....

White resigns : Mate in 4

... even Grandmasters make mistakes.

12 August, 2010

Endgames 3

Am I becoming obsessed with endgame mistakes ?  There are worse things...

This was a strange game. White seems to have his own 'system' based on loads of pawn moves, setting up a white-square bind ( maybe its a hedgehog-opening ), which seems to rely on White gaining lots of time, and waiting for a Black mistake.

Inevitably, I obliged, losing Rook for Bishop, but fought back , provoking a similar mistake and equality.

NxN, and the Rook goes

Other missed opportunities on both sides ( this is blitz ) and although I considered BxN in the next diagram, didn't play it. It looked right and results in White losing his King-side pawns eventually, but I couldn't calculate quickly enough. ( it should be something like 51... Bxf4 52. Kxf4
Rb3 53. h4 Kd6 54. Ke4 Rg3 55. h5 Rxg4+
to give Black a winning advantage)

..but further exchanges leaves a classic R vs R + P ending.

You'd think we should know these, but in this case my opponent makes the most basic of mistakes, allowing his rook to be skewered.

 Although he plays on, I make sure that I don't make a similar error and his pawn falls.

He resigns, not giving me a chance to practise a Rook and King ending ;-)

NH Amsterdam Tournament ( Rising Stars vs Experience )

This excellent annual tournament has just started.

Last year was a good one, so I am hoping for the same.

Opening games include Nakamura – Ljubojevic, which definitely meets the experience criteria, and Giri – Svidler which scores high on Rising Stars ( & relatively local talent in Anish Giri ).

See this for a direct link to the live games that appear to have live commentary from ICC.FM ! Currently commenting on Caruana - van Wely, which seems to be heading for a Caruana victory (update: it was a draw - so much for chess.fm and my opinions ), and now Howell - Gelfand which is a main-line Petroff until White's 17th move, when g4 is played.

17 moves ? I'm lucky to make 10, and that requires a lot of co-operation from the opposition !

I will probably go along on at least Saturday and/or Sunday to see how many other chess-heads are there and indulge in the press room commentary. In fact its tempting to go today/tomorrow as Genna Sosonko is commenting, which will probably be very good....

11 August, 2010

Endgames 2

Another interesting endgame...

A long time manoeuvring ( when my silicon friend tells me that Black is way ahead ! ) and we reach a point where the Knight sacrifice that I don't see is winning ....

Nxc3 is a win !     

But I stay focused and eventually play my own Knight sacrifice...

Ng4 finishes things off

...which leads to the obvious win....

No escape..Kxg2 and the White King is not in the Queening square 

An enjoyable game.

09 August, 2010

Endgames 1

It is probably true that endgames are the weakest part of amateur chess.

I have made a mistake here and am a piece down....

25. Rf2

...but I always play on a couple of moves in blitz just in case, and here, I realise that White does not know what to do.

In endgames, not only do you have to play to defend, but you must always keep checkmate in mind when many pieces are on the board.

Thus, 24 moves later, despite White still being ahead greatly and after barely an attacking threat, he does not spot the impending mate at all...

...and falls to a rook and lowly pawn.


Its only blitz....