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.

Here is probably the worst blunder, losing the Queen and game in rapid fashion, after re-capturing incorrectly and automatically with dxe5, rather than thinking.
After 6...dxe5 7. Ng5 Qe7 ?? 8. Bxf7+ Ke8 9. Ne6+ the game is over !

Why did I do so ?

I can only say that on move 4, I realised fully that I needed to keep the d-pawn so that d5 is available to block the Bishop, but by move 6, this solid rationale seems to have slipped out of my  "goldfish-memory" , dominated now by the f7 threat and possibly also hard-wired to Philidor-style moves, rather than realising that the position is a different one, arising from the King's Gambit !

The better move would be 6...Nxe5 when the situation is defused, since the threat of Nxc4 must be addressed either with an exchange of knights or a retreat with Bb3. Obvious, and also an alternative option in the Philidor as well.

The strange thing here was that even though I decided to play on for a few moves after the loss of the Queen, because White did not actively attack me ( after all he had a huge advantage ), I actually felt I had possibilities and played for significantly longer, with a couple of simple possibilities.

This was in sharp contrast to a later game, where after I blundered, the opponent came on very strong and active, taking away any decent chance of counter-play within a couple of  moves !

This, for me, proves the chess "truth", that active play , in whatever situation is far better than passive play. A key learning point this season.

Another major effort was attention to piece placement and pawns : thinking before moving pawns, thinking of correct squares for pieces.

Here was a position where I felt that I was doing well, and had all my pieces activated and aimed at the king.


I don't think his 13...h6 was the best move here, and with the threat of Rxe8, I really didn't expect Qxe8 and then Qf8, but active pieces proved their worth as the threat against a3 is easily turned about with Nb5.

Capitalising on  less strong responses, a few moves later sees White in a winning position...
19. g5

...which this time, I manage to keep for a win.

Overall, I feel satisfied with my performance ( apart from my appalling Queen blunder ) although my TL rating dropped a few points.

To keep up with a regular long game in before the next TL, I have now signed up for a T9030 tournament, so look out for updates when it starts.