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Volume II: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

(Author’s Note: This article was originally posted on my old blogspot blog, “Bathtub Gin“, on December 23, 2011.  It is the third of 10 articles that I named “The Patzer Chronicles”.  I plan to move the rest of the articles to this blog before continuing the series here.)

This was a sobering week in my quest for 2000.  I played 3 live games online while also continuing with my correspondence games.  Here’s how things panned out:

First, correspondence.  One of the four games I am involved in got aborted by my opponent.  A player can abort a game within the first 10 moves without affecting the ratings of either player.  The other 3 games are still in progress, all in the opening phase.  I think I have an advantage in one of them.  My opponent appears to have blundered with a bishop move.  He now has had to move the bishop back to avoid losing it.  That has given me, as black, a tempo and a lead in development.  I also have a stronger pawn center.  I haven’t found any tactical combinations that he could use to hurt me, so I think I may be alright.  Still, I can’t help thinking it’s a trap.  Yes, I’m paranoid, but is it paranoia if they really are out to get you?

In the other two games, things are looking very dicey.  I am black in both the games and I think my position is solid, but any inaccurate play could doom me.

Which brings me to the next aspect of correspondence play.  I seem to be spending a considerable amount of time evaluating my next move.  Is that normal?  How much time does the average player spend?  I’m not talking about how quickly I make my move.  I mean the amount of time spent looking at the position and calculating variations.  Should I be spending that much time on it?

I am not really concerned (much) about spending too much time on it.  This is simply my curiosity about how I compare to other players in this aspect.  I am enjoying the time that I spend analyzing.  It stimulates my brain and, hopefully, increases my education in chess theory.  But I am still curious about the amount of time.  So any correspondence chess players out there, please comment on how long you spend (just guess if you have to) on calculating your next move, especially in the opening phase of the game.

Now for live chess.  I played one 10 minute game, with black, on FICS and was unceremoniously crushed.  This dropped my blitz rating to 1011.  The other two games were played on Chess.com.  The first game I played, a win with white, was against a computer opponent rated 1188.  It was a 5 minute game, which I won in 29 moves and achieved a rating of 1361.  However, that was short lived.  My next game was with black against a human player in a 10 minute time control.  I lost in 27 moves and my rating plummeted to 1180.  So now I have a record of 1 win and 1 loss on Chess.com.

The losses have really started to hurt my confidence.  And the one win this week really doesn’t help much because it was against a low rated computer opponent.  At this rate, the quest for 2000 could run into my retirement years.  Oh well, if it was easy everyone would do it.

I have the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s day off from work.  So I am going to try to play more chess, especially at longer time controls.  I would like to play a minimum of 15 minutes/game and see what I can do with my standard rating.  I may also get in on some tournaments.  They have several every day at Chess.com.  The time controls vary from 1 minute up to 15 minutes per game.  The tournaments run from 3 to 7 rounds.  Most likely, they are Swiss system or round robin type of tournaments.  I think it will be a good way to test my skills and get some seasoning in the online chess world.  Plus, it will be fun!

So until next time, happy mating!

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