30 December, 2011

Playing against the Caro-Kann with Qf3

Its always good to play against someone who "sticks to their guns", consistently playing ( and believing ? ) in the same openings : you can look forward to a testing game.

In GM terms, a clear example must be Sveshnikov with his c3 against the Sicilian, and the same man with the Sicilian "Sveshnikov Variation" against 1.e4 !

I have no idea if my opponent is quite so principled as Sveshnikov in his chess beliefs, but he does seem to stay with the Caro-Kann against 1.e4, so when facing him. it gives me a choice of sticking to main lines ( and probably his better preparation ) or going with something different.

In this game, I chose something different ( after reading about it on the brooklyn64 site ), and played 2.Nc3 and 3.Qf3 against his expected 1...c6 and d5 and ended up here a few moves later...

11. 0-0-0
What appealed to me about the variation in question, was that it didn't seem like the normal Caro-Kann style, plus it has a long-castled king, something I am used to in other openings that I play.

I had in mind a king-side pawn attack, with the likelihood that Black would attack on the queen-side. Who would be quickest and most effective, is the question usually posed in such situations ?

26 December, 2011

T51 Summary and Openings

Team League T51 has reached the playoff stage, but Magnum Ignotum are not there, having ended in third place in their section  (congratulations to Scotch Yeti, whose team makes it again ! ).

Personally, my record this time is +3=0-5, that's 37%.  Not the best, and less than my overall TL record of 50%.  

Teacher's Report ? Could do better !

As White, I stayed with 1.e4, and ended up facing:

The Sicilian twice, one of them heavily questioned by an attack against my Queenside castling that just ran out of steam, collapsing to the counter-attack, and the other almost lost in the opening, but due to Blacks' passive play I managed to fight back to equality finally losing to a missed game-winning check-fork !

The French twice, both wins, one decided in the middle-game with Black over-looking a White capture that gives check and loses him a piece, the other an endgame grind, and most enjoyable, even including the psychological time tactics of my opponent. In both cases, I avoided mainline French lines with the fun-filled Réti Gambit.  I really don't like the French !

A Caro-Kann completed the roster, where my timidity proved my undoing, missing a neat pin in a counter attack, and putting me on the back foot unnecessarily. I missed the correct response, going on to lose.

As Black, twice I had long games in the Spanish losing one in a Rook and pawns ending, and in the other, again a timid plan lost me the initiative and the game.

Lastly, a Centre Game as Black was lost after I was surprised by an attack and just did not stay calm enough to give a good defence. I really should have done better here, and of all my losses, this one bugs me.

Conclusions for next season are evident.

How does my openings experience compare to Team League overall ?

11 December, 2011

1000 Games

This weekend, I reached 1000 games of chess played at ICC.

Not 1000 standard games, but all sorts if chess, so a large number of blitz and only 96 long games, mainly in Team League.

My 1000th game was a loss. An early mistake, but with some compensation where the back-and-forth of the game gave me another chance.

Sadly, I misplayed that and ended up on the losing side, but it was close !

That game, I will present in due course, but instead, here is a win that I needed, just to prove that I can still win !

A blitz game, but a nice mate.

It switched from a Queen's pawn game to a sort of Philidor, ( but without e4 !! )....

8... gxf6
...where I have no issue with playing a queenless middlegame : I've done it a few times now.

Normally, Bxa2 is quite safe for White, since b3 is a neat trapping move.

Unfortunately, this was an exception !

18. b3 ??
18....Ba3 mate !

If only I could do this in Team League !

29 November, 2011

T51 Round 2 - A win

My first win since August....

A French Defence turns into a Philidor,and stays fairly balanced, until we reach move 16...

16. Nf5
So many threats of exchanges to simplify.....but after Bxf5 gxf5 Nxc4 Qxe4 ( Qxc4 is bad, but not as disastrous as it appears ), Black plays Nxb2 ( expecting Kxb2 ) and misses the in-between check capture ...

19. Nxe7+ !
A piece down and with a nice White attack, Black tempts with d5...

Mess up the next moves and all is equal, but no, I find the correct combination ( Qxd5, Qxd5, Nxd5 ) and although Black plays well, the difference is too much.
42. Nd7#
Mate with Knight, pawn and King !

17 November, 2011

Suba - Raičević, 1985 : a wonderful combination

A chess game can sometimes be quite beautiful..

I wouldn't have thought of a Bishop sacrifice here...

13. Bxg6

...but it leads, eventually, to a Rook check here...
19. Rh7+

...and what a finish !

26. Bd6 Black Resigns

Now have the fun of working out what those last seven moves were.

What was the author's comment ?

" When you trust the dynamism of your position, you don't need to check all the tactical variations in order to play a sacrifice. Your opponent has to have his eyes everywhere, and this is an even more difficult task, if not an impossible one"

13 November, 2011

T51 - A disastrous start

Not too much to say.

I played two games this weekend and in both had an excellent position, but failed to win either.

The failure is in forming a middlegame plan to continue with an attack, and then, after a small mistake, floundering and making more serious ones afterwards.

Here's the worst example.

I've just played Re2, to which White has replied Bd1.

Not the worst position, but I did have a great move instead of Re2, plus another opportunity to play it, but just completely missed it, despite "knowing" the plan for Black overall : it simply slipped out of my mind.

After a badly calculated next move, I went on to lose...

To progress past this, I need a big effort around planning and attacking !

Losing games like this is not good for the team, so I really need to improve and have it under control, or I would guess that the substitute's bench is where I will end up !

08 November, 2011

Definitely Not Opening Phobia : T50 Short Games

Inspired  by a comment from ChessAdmin regarding how Nbd7 in the Caro-Kann can lead to the type of mate I showed as the shortest in T50, I searched all of T4545 for a shorter one.

It wasn't there, but I did find ones that are just as short !

Here's the original quick mate.....

Caro-Kann, mate in 6

Here is number 2, also 6 moves, also a Caro-Kann !

  Caro-Kann, mate in 6
There are a few slightly longer at 7 moves, such as this...


Quite a few short losses, usually, like the one below, because of a blunder losing a piece. Here it is the loss of the Queen, quite understandable to resign  !

Nd5...Black resigns !

But here, its the opposite : why resign ?  It seems like a match-winning move, but in reality White will lose no more pieces and is compensated by his advanced development...

Qxg2, White resigns ?

Enough, I need to make this personal ! Here is my own short loss.

After totally missing the correct defence, I end up here.....

14. Bh3#

Let's stay personal : my own short win, where White misses the threat. All patsers are similarly guilty !

Finally, no win or loss, but the agreed draw where I wish I had played on.

I suppose this is a disadvantage of team games. Once the result of the match is already decided, sometimes one, or both, players lose the incentive to play. Such was the case here where my Hanham Philidor was challenged by the same player, and in the same variation ( Larsen's with g6 ) where I had previously drawn with him.

Last time he played 12.g4 and we drew after a hard-fought game. This time he played 12.e5, and agreed a draw : I wish I had played on !

12. e5 draw agreed

Is it worth adding that these shouldn't provoke "opening phobia" in anyone?  Of course not, unless you play an early Nbd7 in the Caro-Kann, but then, you are prepared, aren't you !

03 November, 2011

T50 : Addendum

As a coda to the main show....

Total Draws ?  21 %

Longest game? Actually 3 of them, all with 106 moves : Two draws and one win

One of the draws was an opposite-bishops ending, played as such from move 38.: dedication and stamina !

Shortest game ? The three short,  "GM draws" don't count, so its the mate in 6....

Black has just played 5...Ngf6, and White does not make a mistake !  Just how the Caro-Kann should be disposed of !

White to play and win !

See also T50 Short Games.

02 November, 2011

T51 New Season

For some reason, I am quite excited by the new TL4545 season : T51 to be precise.

Not quite sure why, maybe its that I haven't played slow chess for some time, and am eager to see what I have lost ( or gained ) in the time away.

Although actual pairings aren't quite out, I can see that I will, yet again , not meet fellow blogger and ex-team mate Scotch Yeti during the initial rounds : his various teams are in different divisions to me !  Worth checking out his blog.

This time round, it's probable that I will be playing more U1800 games, rather than just the U1600.

It doesn't make that much difference in the sections.

The number 1 boards are generally quite high in rating ( and hence a bit tough ). Board 2 is also regularly a good proposition, but boards three and four can be quite variable, depending on the makeup of the teams.

In the U1800 it looks like a 50/50 chance for me, as opponents are either roughly equal or greater in rating.

For the U1600 it seems that all opponents on third board are more or less equal, so some good games ahead !

Here's to the next few weeks of good chess !

22 October, 2011

New Convetka Courses

I've not looked at these yet, but Convekta ( Chess OK ) the creator of Aquarium and Chess Assistant, have a new all-encompassing series of chess courses available.

Actually, they don't describe the course content as new, just the technology : fully web-based, and usable on any type of device, PC to tablet.

As a taster, there are two of them for free !

Anyone tried them yet ?

19 October, 2011

TeamLeague 4545 : T50 Summary and Openings

Another TL4545 is drawing to a close, and, unfortunately Magnum Ignotum are not among the championship contenders.

No matter, it was an enjoyable tournament, although for me, since I didn't play the last two rounds, it was shorter than usual, with a grand total of 4 games, all played in August.

I don't consider myself obsessed with the openings (certainly not from a Chess sense, although maybe from a statistical point of view ! ), but having started out looking at them via T47, I thought I may as well post an update and a T50/T47 comparison, ie ask the question "Have things changed much in 3 tournaments and almost a year of elapsed time ?".

However, before that , what happened from a personal point of view? and does this match the statistics overall ?

As White, I kept up the banner of 1.e4, playing it in all my 3 games, but how was I answered ?

15 October, 2011

Any ideas ?

From a recent TL game....

Black has played 45...Kf7.  White is ahead in material, and to play...any ideas ?


The game continued as below ( highlight between the brackets to see), and fizzled out to a draw, but I think White can do better.

[46.Rd8 g5 47.Rxd2 Nxd2 48.hxg5 Ne4+ 49.Kh4 Nxf6 50.gxf6 Kxf6 51.Kxh5 ]

08 October, 2011

Back Again

Although the post title could well refer to this blog, since I have been a touch inactive with updating it in recent months, it actually refers to Sverre's Chess Corner, which has been quieter for even longer !

I'm glad to see it back - sneaking under my radar whilst I holidayed - as it always has interesting posts, and Sverre Johnsen actively replies to reader comments, making it a worthwhile place to visit.

It also has a "sister blog"  of book reviews, which is updated very irregularly, but the reviews are excellent, and are just what I would want to see.

In fact, although I think I bought it before I saw the review there, his coverage of Bauer's Philidor files also has a couple of options not explored by Bauer, that I have since tried. So, not only a review, but hints too !

He mentions that his current project is a book on the King's Gambit, focusing on the Nf3 option for White ( the King's Knight Gambit, I presume ) , and is happy to point out the forthcoming competitors in the publishing world, which I find a plus point for his blog.

It will be good to see progress on this.

I don't think I am a White King's Gambit player, but who knows. If this is as good as his Dutch Defence book, then I could be converted !

Regardless, its good to see him back.

As for me, chess took a back seat while life ( in the shape of work, the past, and holidays )  interfered, caught up with, and soothed  me.

I intend to put some more posts up with (relatively ) recent games and other relevant and irrelevant thoughts, although we all know where the road of good intentions leads to.

Until the next time !

07 August, 2011

British Championship : Adams wins

This year's event went to a play-off, after both Short and Adams ended up with equal points after the classical rounds.

Adams forced a draw as Black in the first game, but as White in the second he took his advantage and carried it all the way through to a win against Short's Caro-Kann.

I watched both games live and although I didn't completely understand  the second game, it was evident when watching that White had the advantage and kept it.

A better explanation than anything I could do is on Dennis Monokroussos'  blog, where you can also see the game with his notes.

Congratulations to Adams who is British and English Champion, and also to Jovanka Houska who retains her British and English women's titles.

Did this make the media in the UK ? Well, yes, but not for the chess-played reasons.

Full results and PGNs here.

I should also add a well done to Will Taylor, who is progressing well on his Road to Grandmaster.

A credible 28th placing in the Major Open, and a Tournament performance, well above his current rating.

Looking forward to some good posts about his games and experiences there.

02 August, 2011

British Championship 2 : Short vs Adams

I wished for an interesting opening, and both GMs co-operated today to produce a club-players opening  with the Italian Game !

Personally, I always enjoy it when GMs produce the older openings. ( For example, last time I saw a Nigel Short game was a King's Gambit ! )

Doubtless there are many practical reasons why they do this. Perhaps wariness ( or even weariness ! ) of preparation and technical novelties, or maybe just a desire to play a more standard middle-game. I don't know, and I am certainly not the person to comment !

Regardless, this was an enjoyable game from my point of view.

I started following this from work and later I even managed to catch the live commentary from a rather excited Andrew Martin ( and with better sound today ).

I could establish that the first ' new'  move was probably 12...Ne7

Short-Adams 12...Ne7

Here, even I could see that White probably had a small advantage after the exchange of Bishops on a7, and by the time I arrived home and could actively follow the commentary, they had reached the following position, about which the commentators were a bit excited...

Short - Adams 31. gxh

Here, with Adams short on time, the recommendation ( which seemed good to me ) was 31. h4, with the idea of a solid positional move ' turning the screw' as Martin put it, and forcing Adams to think more, use time and find a plan for Black.

Unfortunately, Nigel Short chose 31. hxg6, and after 31,...Qb6+ 32. Kh1 Qxh6, Black seemed to gain activity and after 15 more moves of manoeuvring, they finally agreed a draw.

For me, it was interesting to watch, and very interesting to hear the advice, ie in time trouble, make moves that, although they may not be the best, force the opponent to use clock time and also to think. Simple tactics ( or checks ) just help the opposition and allow him to gain time.

So, possibly not the most important theoretical struggle between Grandmasters, but an enjoyable game.

The other games that excited the commentators were Hawkins-Conquest ( where Stuart Conquest's play was described as 'unorthodox' and 'Réti-like', although he made a mistake and crashed out quickly ) and Houska-Pert.

Here, the excitement of finding a win ( or certainly a winning combination ) for Houska, was replaced by disappointment when she didn't follow through, later putting herself almost in zugzwang, and so effectively slipping into a losing ending of Rook + pawns vs Knight + pawns. She resisted well, but Pert's technique was more than good enough to win.

Again, the interesting comments as to why she played as she did, was that it was her style to play more quietly and solidly. A more active or attacking player, they thought, would have played the winning continuation.

Great players, they observed, are able to switch styles of play to suit the position : surely a good attribute for any chess player !

Looking forward to the next round tomorrow, with the leaders Adams and Short probably meeting the third and fourth players, Gawain Jones and Nick Pert respectively. I reckon the Pert-Short game ( if that is the pairing ) will be the interesting one, as both are playing well at the moment.

By the way, for those bloggers following the Road to Grandmaster's Will Taylor ( Oxidised Lizard to T45 Leaguers )  he is also playing, but in the Major Open.

A great start saw him matched against higher-rated opponents in the last three rounds, and his early wins have switched to draws .

Even so, he is putting in a good performance with a Tournament rating much higher than his current. Good luck to him in the next round, and here's hoping we see some of his games analysed on his blog !

British Championship

Finally, after 7 rounds Nigel Short and Michael Adams will meet in round 8 today, after they both won their 7th round games to place joint first in the 2011 Championship

Short has White, and I hope he pulls out one of his less mainstream openings to give us an interesting match tomorrow, just as he did in round 1, with a Caro-Kann as Black.

David Howell is keeping up with them ( he also won today ) but is half a point behind.

Among the peleton following them is Jovanka Houska, known for her excellent book on the Caro-Kann and also Nick Pert, who redeemed himself today, after a shameless 9-move draw with his brother in the previous round.

The live commentary has not worked for me so far : no sound, or very poor. However, the game of the day videos are well worth watching ( although again, the sound isn't perfect :)

30 July, 2011

Summer Time

Here it is Summer, fewer people at work, edging into komkommertijd.

Not much chess going on for me personally, but quite a few events.

I was particularly taken with the British Championship.

This time around is the first time Michael Adams and Nigel Short have been in it at the same time, and it looks like they will face each other fairly soon as they are currently second and third after David Howell.

Apart from the usual live games, and pgn results, there is also the excellent daily video of game of the day, commented by IM  and renowned trainer, Andrew Martin : well worth a look

06 July, 2011

An endgame lessson ( from another blog ! )

An interesting post with a good endgame position to work out, as well as a fine learning point. The comments contain a good view on a solving thought process as well.

As the answer is also on the post, I reproduce it here, so you can have a think before dropping into the excellent  Gregg's chess progress.

White to move [6k1/8/4K1p1/5p1p/5P1P/3R2P1/1b6/8 w - -]

03 July, 2011

Winning against the Caro-Kann

I played the first match of my new T9030 tournament and after a long and tough game, I came away with the win !

Although slightly lower-rated than me, I certainly gave him all due respect as not only does he know his opening ( he seems to play the Caro-Kann exclusively as Black ) but I also saw some of an earlier game with him against fellow blogger Scotch Yeti, and was impressed by the way he fought back, and then held on for a draw.

More details on the game later, but it can be summed up as White missing an early tactic to go up a pawn, then undergoing a long period of pressure as Black attacks the opposite-castled white king.

Finally, Black perhaps presses just too hard, mis-calculates and loses the exchange.

This gives white far more space and activity, and leaves Black with practically no counter-play.

A further mistake cost him his Rook and the game.

Here is the critical position, where I correctly calculated the exchanges and gained the pawn..

White to Move after 25...Rb6

A satisfying game, that I will enjoy analysing and will post later.

A nice combination

I go through blitz phases, and at the moment I'm playing fewer games....

Here's a position from a very recent game. Arising from some variation of a Modern Defence, the game has been more-or-less level so far.

Black has just played Nb4, leaving White with a nice combination, which I actually saw and played !

White to play
What's the move ?

02 July, 2011

Chessvibes Training : Sample PDFs

Chessvibes have been publishing their training magazine for about 2 months now and at least one blogger expressed an interest in it

I am also tempted, but there is already so much chess information available through the internet ( numerous blogs, as well as semi-commercial sites and videos ) and I haven't seen any reviews from the blogosphere about it.

However, this week Chessvibes have made available some sample pages from a couple of published issues and at first glance they appear to be useful enough with diagrams and plenty of written explanation and not just reams of variations : great for us amateurs.

Definitely worth taking a closer look.

UPDATE: Dennis Monokroussos reviews the original and now latest training pages with a recommendation !

24 June, 2011

Team League T49 Season Summary

Blogging during this last TL season has , for various reasons, not happened.

So, now that the Team is out ( sadly, we didn't reach the playoffs this time ) I will review my season in general here, and discuss a couple of interesting games in subsequent posts.

Overall, my record was 3-0-4. A great improvement over the previous season (1-1-4), when I came close to wins, but only delivered once ( and that as White against the Philidor ! )

Surprisingly, two of this season's wins were with Black, and both of them against the Spanish ( Ruy Lopez ), as this season I switched away from my normal Philidor Hanham, to more classical Open games.

In general, I can say that I paid more attention to three main areas:

1) Time Management.  Not perfect, but no time scrambles, and a good feeling overall.
2) Piece placement/pawn structure
3) Reducing blunders.

The latter is most important.

There were at least two games where I blundered terribly.

25 May, 2011

Fun against the Sicilian

There is an enjoyment as an e4-player in beating the Sicilian.

It's probably in-built, a cult memory, like Northern Europeans drinking beer in preference to wine.

If ( maybe, when ? ) I play the Sicilian, this is the option I would choose : an early e5 and the Lasker/Pelikan/Labourdonnais variation, challenging in the centre immediately, just like a recent opponent.

  Wonderful ! Lasker variation and no pesky Sheveshnikov !!

I can play Nd5, expecting Nxd5, but wait : Black plays the very bad Be7 and there follows a downward spiral of exchanges for Black, with Nxe7, Nxe7, Nxd6+ .

He drops a piece, and finally we end up here, with a Queen check.

13. c3 is too provocative...why not offer the b-pawn ? He won't fall for it....

Oops...next move, 14. Qd8 mate....sometimes you make your own luck !

12 April, 2011

Endgame Adventures In Team League 4545 : Where we ended in T47

Partly, I wrote this post to offset against this one on T47 openings ( I wouldn't want to be classified as an openings freak :)  and to continue my exploration of T47, but also because I was interested in just what sort of endings are played in TL games ( especially compared to 'professionals') and maybe just a bit on trying to identify what endings I should concentrate on, to shortcut trying to work on them all.

Presentation was an issue, since, although endgames are classified, they aren't as straightforward as openings ( ie not recorded in the game notation ), but I used a 'standard' classifier in my database, so at least I present some sort of consistency.

Straight into things.

26 March, 2011

Swindling for Amateurs, again....

In this position, the correct move ( apart from resignation on Black's part :)  is Kg6.

However, since the game is technically, well actually, completely lost for me, there is only one move for the swindler : Kh5.

Happily, a greedy White player falls into the trap !

Rxf6 ??

Stalemate : its a brilliant last weapon, and so irritating in positions that are completely lost  !!!

T48 - Playoffs

Magnum Ignotum fell at the last hurdle...the last result deciding the playoffs was the expected one that left our chance of the wildcard spot at the mercy of the rules.

We were level on match point, games points and forfeits with the next team ( King, Pawn and Rook ) who had led their section prior to this game, so I guess it was the fourth board reduction rule that we lost out on. Good luck to them in the playoffs.

Shame, but at least some sort of chess break before the next T4545 !

24 March, 2011

Swindling for Amateurs

Black is lost. After a slip that lost his Rook advantage we have this position....

...where White is preparing to finish things.

I can see no hope, only a vague swindle, after White mistakenly moved off the a8-h1 diagonal, allowing a 'spite check', to which White is forced to play Kh2 ( since Re4 is met by Nf2+ ! )

So what is Black hoping for ? what should White NOT play after Black's next move of h6 ?

23 March, 2011

White to move and win

From a recent blitz game : White to move and win

[1r4nr/3p2pp/p2Nk1n1/1p2pR2/8/1N6/PPP3PP/3R2K1 w - - 0 1]

21 March, 2011

Team League 4545 - T48 - R6 : Playing the other side

It's been a while since I blogged : business travel occupying me, with many thousands of kilometres now clocked up, mainly because of  two 12-hour flights, halfway across the world !

However now that I have all that behind me, I'm back into the last chess games of the present T4545 season.

The Magnum Ignotum U1600 team has not quite made the playoffs. We have to rely on other team's favourable results as well as winning ourselves, and , although there are still some games to finish, I think that we are out.

Magnum Ignotum U1800 is a different story. We are second in our division, but might go through to the play-offs as "best second place" or similar. Again dependent on final results of other teams In my own case though, 3 games played in the last week for the U1600  : 2 losses and finally, a win, which I will show here since it is the freshest game.

A surprise for me. Reconnaissance had prepared me for a Sicilian ( my opponent's recent outing ) a classical e5 reply ( the most likely ) or, from very old games, a French.

Imagine my surprise when 2...d6 was wheeled out after e5 and I was White facing the defence I play most as Black : the Philidor !

14 February, 2011

Under Promotion in T47

I seem to have carried on looking at T47 games after my brief exploration of openings played.

If I manage it, I hope to give details of some of the endgames reached, but while assembling this, I saw a number of under-promotions in a few games ( 11 of 1377, to be precise ! ).

Most of these are irrelevant, ie under-promotion makes no difference to the result, as the 'promoting side' was in full control. I suspect, in fact , that a lot of under-promotions are just to allow practise in unusual mating, especially if the opponent doesn't resign.

There was only one that was a necessary under-promotion, since creating a Queen would be an instant checkmate next move.


The knight promotion giving check should only have saved Black temporarily, as mate still follows rapidly with 119.Kf3 Nf2 120. Qxf2+ Kh1 121. Qg2#

Amazingly, Black must have thought his luck was in, as White played Kh4,  and it took until move 160 before mate happened. Doubtless time trouble, and the "forking ability" of the knight is something to be wary of.

After this I had a quick look in other Team League games and found these two examples....
 From T24 - 2004

Straightforward, but still nice to see 52... e1N#

But here is a very useful under-promotion to gain a draw...

From T41 - 2009

Again, promotion to anything but a Knight will result in mate, but 64...c8N+ is a great way to gain a draw, and on the magic 64th move !

Interestingly, go back to move 63 in the same game, and White misses the chance of a win. It wasn't time trouble as both players had plenty of it, but I think it was an assumption on White's part that the win was guaranteed.

Move 63....decision time

Does it matter which move you choose ? Kxe4 ? or Rh2 ?

11 February, 2011

Fast-tracked French

Dave Regis gives a 10-minute guide to the French Defence at the Exeter Chess Club Blog.

Its a simple and effective guide to the main lines of the French ( but happily omitting the Réti Gambit ! )

This great site contains lots of simple and sound chess advice and is highly recommended.

On the same defence, but taking a distinctly 19th century view of it, are these two posts from the Kenilworthian, that make interesting reading.

I have to admit Labourdonnais seems to have played some interesting chess all those years ago. He has a line in the Sicilian named after him and I have seen his games in the Queen's Gambit Accepted ( especially in the match against McDonnell ) also quoted as being good examples.

08 February, 2011

Drawing the Won Game

I played in the Monthly Standard at ICC this week, and had a see-saw ride, ending up with drawing a game I should have won easily.

My opponent was rated 300+ points above me, which I guess is why he elected to exchange Queens early against a weaker player. However, I've been there in the Philidor a few times before, and it is no longer scary !

Here he has the advantage of me, but misses a simple winning tactic, focusing on the complex combination of R + B vs f7...

White to play: Rxe5! wins
...instead of Rxe5, guaranteeing a win !

Following Rxf7+ he exchanged Rooks on d8, but misses the deadly Black Knight fork riposte on d6, as well as the recovering White moves of Bd3 or Rf3 ! Not matching his rating in his tactics.

However, even though I play accurately and solidly to take material and move further ahead, I miss a few tactics myself, and return the blunder deep in the endgame....
Ouch ! Ke5 is bad
I should have played Kg5 losing the Bishop, but defending the pawn for another chance.

Although I had further opportunities, with time running out I managed a draw against his much more effective technique.

Disappointing overall, but good to see higher-rated players making the same mistakes as me.

Improve my tactics, formulate and follow a plan ( in this case creating a second weakness ), practise the endgame, and there is hope !!

05 February, 2011

February Chess Blog Carnival...

...is hosted here on Brooklyn64.com.

Just like like the January, some interesting posts to view. I had forgotten about Mark Weeks' blog ( as opposed to TWIC, which I visit regularly ) and he has a good post entered.

I should also mention that this blog has an entry for my post on T47 Openings :a lot of visits happened yesterday !

03 February, 2011

Peshka Training Course....

My weekly ChessOK RSS feed tells me that a free course "Play like Botvinnik" is available at Chess OK.

I own the similar Lasker offering ( in the Play like a World Champion series )  as an 'old-style' Convekta course, not the new Peshka version they are offering. I suspect the content is the same, but the interface will be different.

Certainly worthwhile, especially as its gratis !

Update:  See the comments for a note on how Peshka works, as it doesn't seem intuitive ....

02 February, 2011

Chess Cafe Book of the Year

Yes , I guessed it even if you didn't !

I should have placed my bet, as Yasser Seirawan's "Chess Duels" was the winner.

Scarcely more information here.

You can see a blogger's short review, a slightly longer Chessvibes one, or grab it for yourself at a discounted price here from my favourite online book store.

31 January, 2011

Réti Endgame re-visited

Not being a serious student of the endgame, I was unaware that the Réti endgame puzzle that I gave here  (with
solution here)  is actually much more than famous, its seminal !

Relatively recently, I discovered Lubomir Kavalek's blog on the Huffington post ( itself an interesting amalgam of newspaper-style reportage ).

He's interesting , with a colourful past, and writer of one of the longest-running newspaper chess columns [ from the Washington Post ( 1986 - 2010 ) ].

In this older post he gives the endgame puzzle with a bit more on the solution than me, showing the 'queening square' that the study is based around, and augments it with others from composers that used Réti's fine idea.

Worth a look, along with his other posts.

As an exercise, its worth setting up the position and playing as White against an engine...educational, and excellent practise.

In addition here's one of my recent endgames.

White to play and win
The same theory of the 'queening square' applies ( modified of course by the f2-pawn). In the game White played the wrong move, and after Black's d4 realised too late that he could not stop the queening operation : a successful swindle on my part !

Can you win as White ?

Update: highlight the brackets [ The simple Kg4 stops Black queening. White played Kh4 and lost ! ]

30 January, 2011

I'm just a normal Teenager !

When I saw the headline "Chess Protegé : I'm just a normal teenager", I thought this was another story about the relatively 'normal' Anish Giri, or even more likely, a focus on Ray Robson, the teenage American who, at 15, had his biography published !

I knew it couldn't be about Magnus Carlsen, as he is no longer a teenager !

However, it was a very pleasant surprise to read about Hou Yifan, at 16, the most recent Women's World Champion.

You can never really tell with journalists, but here Hou Yifan comes across as a real person who has succeeded simply because she loves chess, and has worked hard to nurture her talent in it.

25 January, 2011

Book of the Year - Time to vote !

I might have predicted the winner !

Final voting round here.

I go for the Chess Queen, on the basis that we have enough 'strategy guides', Seirawan is bound to win something else, and its written by a World Champion !

Shame that my nomination, Colin Crouch's "Why we lose at Chess" didn't make it through, as its an excellent educator, and a decent "real games" collection as a sideline, mainly of Colin Crouch's own, which, since he was analysing after a period away from the game as a way of re-assessing and re-gaining his own chess strength, is extremely useful for any aspiring chess improver.

For a better review than I could give see here. It is probably fair to say that it could be a better book, but as its about my sort of games, and improving from them, I am happy to accept it as it is. Make your mind up and then go and buy it !

However,  if I was a betting man, my euros would probably be placed on Chess Duels, whose author needs no promotion from me !

23 January, 2011

Indian Adventures

"Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom time wasted"

Well, true, but sometimes, you just wish your opponent would follow the same plan as yourself !

In checking out the opposition before playing this back in March last year, I could guarantee that my opponent played 1.d4, a move that I don't particularly enjoy meeting.

Mostly, I have responded 1...f5, the Dutch, which has been relatively good to me.

However, I recognise that its not quite as flexible as some opening moves, and can also be quite particular and precise, so its probably better, at this stage of my playing, to aim for more main-line openings.

When I played chess as at school, the King's Indian was the opening that we all wanted to play. No sensible "chess reason", but mainly because it consisted of a 'fianchetto', which sounded incredibly exciting, let alone the "Indian" part, which was exotic too.

I can't recall if this was also prompted by players at the time, or, as is more likely, it was based on the influence from the school chess club teacher, whose name I can't even remember !!

Mind you, I must have inherited a cult memory, or 'desire' to use it, as I have played it a few times over the years, but never really invested time in learning what it was all about.

I used to play the Old Indian variation, probably because of either romantic notions or a (wrong) belief that it was so obscure that no-one would know it: how many of us amateurs do that ?

Crazy, really. At my chess level opening knowledge is fairly irrelevant ( mine is aimed at reaching the middlegame without losing ! ) , most things are decided by a mistake in the middlegame, and even then, there's a chance of redemption through a future opponent  mistake...

Enough of memories, and onto the game in question.

17 January, 2011

Do you have an Opening for me ?

Currently running in the chess blogosphere, is a variation of the eternal and probably unresolvable "Use of Opening Theory" discussion : Super-GMs vs the rest.

Dennis Monokroussos and Dana Mackenzie, are debating the process/benefits/methods of opening theory ( or "Opening Theory" as they have now re-defined it) and particularly how non-Super-GMs, including Amateurs, should, or should not, use it in our chess games: self-discovery vs re-use of previous experience (in a nutshell) plus a few more complications.

Happily, it seems much more of a discussion than a serious spat. Here's the original 2008 post and the recent response, both to keep you entertained, and thinking.

I have to say I agree with parts of both arguments.

My games rarely follow established opening lines for long, so, yes, I would probably be better off with sensible developing rules (does that mean 'classical' ? ) rather than slavishly trying to remember a variation in my opponent's chosen line or sideline. This should enable me to spend more time on what matters, ie playing a decent middlegame and spotting tactics and combinations !

Definitely, I should also look in more detail at the opening moves. Not necessarily to find novelties, or to derive my own opening moves, but more that I understand reasons behind the 'theory' moves, so can eventually begin to appreciate why "Opening Theory" is there, and how to use the benefits it brings ( ie how to hack into and re-use all the exploration and thought that previous players have bequeathed to us ).

One area that I do think is useful ( and enjoyable ) is the re-discovery ( or re-use ) of old variations. Such lines, probably unplayable at GM level these days, are highly suitable to us Amateurs. Rolling out a 'forgotten' 1890s move in a supposedly modern opening is very satisfactory.

So, what do we Internet amateurs play ?

Since I  find it interesting knowing what openings to expect in my next TL4545 match, I spent a morning looking at the recently finished T47 season in the Team4545 League.  ( Note that I also carried this out a few months later for T50 )

What would you think to be the most popular ? Have a guess before reading more !

13 January, 2011

Book of the Year ?

The Chess Cafe web site is running its Book of the Year contest.

My nomination is for Colin Crouch's "Why we lose at chess", which I enjoyed last year.

Another nominated book that I read was Karpov's "Find the Right Plan". Its not had the greatest reviews, but I was fine with it. Most other books nominated, I haven't read.

My guess is that, if he doesn't win this Chess Cafe vote, Yasser Seirawan will win someone's book-of-the-year for his "Chess Duels",  as there seems to be too much "groundswell" about it.

I've not read it, nor any other of his, so I have no opinion to state !

Looking forward to the votes and next round.

12 January, 2011

Team League 4545 - T47 - Final

Its now official, as the last playoff  round 2 game is over, and Magnum Ignotum slipped at the penultimate fence ( let's not mention forfeits again ! )

A round up of my T47 season is here and I have little to add, except that I enjoyed all the games, particularly those in the U1800.

My league rating has dropped a small amount from 1600 to 1592, which implies that I am probably playing at an appropriate level over the past 4-6 months.

I feel I can do better, so, along with many others will state the intention to try to do more 'chess study' with the idea that I do actually improve, either ratings-wise and enjoyment or even in some other unmeasurable way !

The obvious route is tactics and calculation, as I plainly miss many combinations.

Other areas are general endgame knowledge and technique, and what I will call positional "know-how".

In practice this 'know-how' may boil down to learning some standard positional plans and techniques, such as the 'minority attack', or 'playing against an Isolated Queen Pawn', with the intention of actually understanding what these mean !

As to posting a regular update...I will have to see how it goes. I have many good intentions, but as we all know, sometimes all these intentions do is pave the road to hell.

11 January, 2011

Team League 4545 : Season T47 - Playoff 2

Well, that's it for T47....

In the end a bit of an anti-climax, as my game was redundant, since no matter the result, the team would be out : the effect of one too many forfeits in the main rounds.

I again pulled out a Philidor, but as my opponent was not that interested in playing, after 12 moves we agreed a draw.  Not very honourable, but when someone doesn't want to play, there's not much to do !

Here is the final position...

12. e5 
In his parting comment White suggested that he was ahead, but I disagree.

I'm sure there is an edge to White, but Black has either dxe ( with some interesting forcing options ) or Ne8 ( with a slower game ).

I had decided on Ne8, but now I think that the more direct dxe is the better move.

Previously, in fact against the the same opponent, I had seen 12.g4, which I'm not sure is much better than e5, but I made a mistake and allowed a dark-bishop move hitting my rook on f8, that also uncovered an attack on d5, forcing me to lose a pawn.

The same bishop-move threat is present here, but I think dxe defuses it.

Plenty to think about, but for now, the next move is to recruit a reliable 5th ( & 6th ? ) team member so we don't suffer forfeit losses in T48.

I intend to play both U1600 and U1800 next season, so we will see how it goes.