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A Year in the Making

January 27, 2013 Leave a comment

I have just completed the longest chess game of my life.  The game lasted 360 days, a mere 6 days short of an entire year (2012 being a leap year and all).  Why did it take a year to complete a game of chess, you ask?  Well, obviously, this was a correspondence game.  But even at that, the time control, at 10 days/move, was a rather lengthy one.  And both Kingscrusher (my opponent) and I used a good portion of that time in making our moves.  The game lasted 33 moves before Kingscrusher, playing as white, resigned.

I am very excited about this win.  Mostly, because of who it was against.  Kingscrusher (a.k.a, Tryfon Gavriel) is a British Candidate Master who is one of the webmasters of Chessworld, the site where this game was played, and a youtube videographer featuring many instructive chess videos including running commentary on live blitz games!  So, of course, I am thrilled to win a game against a titled player.  Now, I don’t mean to imply that I am as good, or better, at chess than Kingscrusher.  Not at all.  This is a person who probably plays 100 or more correspondence games simultaneously.  While I might play 6 or 8 at the most.  Presently, I am down to 3 current games on Chessworld (it was 4 before I won this game) and 1 on Gameknot.  Therefore, I have much more time to spend on calculating my next move.  And I am certain I spend much more time than Kingscrusher.  He probably spends no more than a minute or two making each move, while I will regularly spend 10 to 20 minutes or more on a move.  But still, beating a titled player, with a rating of 2200 or more is still a worthy accomplishment for someone of my humble chess skills, regardless of the circumstances.  So quit raining on my parade, man!

But let’s talk about the game.  I, as black, played an unusual opening, the Robatsch Defense, in response to 1.e4.  The Robatsch is a hypermodern opening, similar to the Pirc, that usually starts out 1…g6, attempting to control or attack white’s center from the flanks using pieces instead of directly from the center using pawns.

Since the game began almost a year ago, I don’t know why I chose the Robatsch as my opening.  I guess I wanted to try something different.  All the time we were playing, I just knew I was going to be beaten badly.  Yet it was so fun to be able to play against such an accomplished player.  But I digress, back to the game.  Here is the game in a replayer frame so you can follow along (it should open in a separate tab/window):

http://www.chessvideos.tv/chess-game-replayer.php?id=75709

We followed the main line through 3.Nc3.  Then I played 3…c5, which is the third most popular move in this opening, according to the Chessgames database.  I think I chose it because it seemed to lead to the most interesting positions.  Kingscrusher played 4.d5, eschewing the pawn gambit.  My move 5…a6 was the initial novelty, according to Chessgames database.  I played it because I didn’t like the idea of 6.Bb5+.  It seemed rather annoying.  I also considered Nf6, preparing to castle king side.  But I thought ridding myself of the check threat was better.

I offered a pawn exchange with 8…e6.  After he declined, I exchanged pawns with 9…exd5 10.exd5.  I decided to reposition my f6 knight to e1, then c7.  After 14.Be3, I saw a tactic where I could win the exchange for a couple of pawns and open up the position a bit.  I decided to try it.  The combination went 14…b5, 15.axb5 axb5, 16.Rxa8 Nxa8, 17.Nxb5 Ba6 (skewering knight and rook).  At this point, he could either play 18.Nxd6, allowing me to win the exchange with 18…Bxf1, or he could play c4, protecting the knight.  If he did that, I calculated the following: 18…Qb6, 19.Qa4 Bxb5, 20.cxb5 Bxb2, 21.Rb1 Bd4, 22.Bxd4 cxd4, with an unclear position.

However, he played 18.Nxd6 and play continued 18…Bxf1, 19.Qxf1 Qb6, 20.Nc4 Qa6.  At this point, I felt fairly good about my position.  I was up the exchange, though down two pawns.  I was concerned about his pawn majority on the queen side and his dangerous passed pawn on d5.  I thought I could make use of the open a-file and put some pressure on his queen side pawns.  My queen was on the open a-file and my dark square bishop was bearing down on his b2 pawn along the a1-h8 diagonal.  So my position had some merits.  However, my knight was poorly placed on a8 and my rook was inactive,  while his bishops were both very active on good diagonals.

With 23…Nc7, I finally got my knight out of the corner, hoping to bring my rook over to a8 to form a battery with the queen.  He responded with 24. h5.  I felt that trading pawns on h5 would affect the safety of my king.  So, I played 24…g5.  This still opened my king’s position a bit, but allowed me to maintain a more solid pawn structure on the king side.  He played 25. d6, threatening my knight on c7 and moving his dangerous passed pawn one step closer to promotion.  I played the knight to e6, eyeing the f4 square.  He played 26. Nf5, threatening to take my well placed bishop on g7.  I considered a couple of different moves here, but couldn’t save the bishop without losing material.  So, I went with 26…Nf4, threatening a fork of his king and queen with Ne2.  Faced with that, he took my knight with 27. Bxf4.  I took back with the g5 pawn which was followed by 28. Nxg7 Kxg7.

I expected 29. Qxf4 which would have given him 3 extra pawns plus what looked to me to be a very good attack.  I guess he might have been a little worried about his king, but there didn’t seem to be much I could do to threaten anything.  Instead, he played 29. Qd2?.  I think this was the mistake that cost him the game.  It allowed me a tempo with 29…Qa1+, followed by 30…Qf6.  Now, my advanced pawn on f4 was protected (by the queen), my king had another defender, and my queen was poised to check again at h4, which would fork his g4 pawn.  I thought he would play something a little more aggressive here, such as Bc6 or Qd5, but he must have been concerned with protecting the g4 pawn and instead played 31. Bf3.  I think f3 was the better move here, but Bf3 doesn’t block the bishop on the h1-a8 diagonal.

I considered an immediate 31…Qh4+, but that didn’t seem to lead anywhere.  So I went with 31…Re8.  My reasoning was that it took control of the open e-file, activated my up to now very inactive rook, and if he abandoned  the back rank it gave me the opportunity to invade with another piece.  And the opportunity came immediately with 32. Qd5??.  I am not sure why he made this move, but looking at the position, I couldn’t find much better.  The finish came quickly:

32…Qh4+, 33. Kg2 Re1, and white resigned as there is now way to prevent 34…Qh1# without giving massive material.

So I obtain my first scalp in chess!  Even though it was in a correspondence game and took almost a year, I am still proud of the accomplishment.  This will always be special to me since it is my first win against a master class player.  What a way to begin the reboot of my quest for 2000!

Until next time, happy mating!

Phoenix Rising: A Warm Boot

This is my first “new” post in my WordPress blog.  As I noted in the “Author’s Note” before each of my previous posts in this blog, they were copies of posts that originated in my Blogger blog, Bathtub Gin.  Finally, after months of copying, pasting, and editing, plus trying (and failing) to get iframes to work in WordPress (turns out they are not supported, bummer!), I have caught up to myself and now must generate original material.  Let’s just hope I am up to the task.

My WordPress readers may not realize it, but it has been a while since I have written a “real” post.  My last post at Bathtub Gin was on March 12, 2012, some 9+ months ago.  What have I been doing all that time?  Well, not writing, obviously.  Nothing, really.  I mean, nothing worth mentioning.  Reality has just squeezed the life out of my virtual chess/blog world to the point where it hardly exists.  But hopefully, that’s over now and I can continue regaling my readers with stories of my Caissic adventures.

Of course, I would have to actually play some chess in order to generate adventures to regale one with.  Hopefully, I can find time to do that as well.  It’s time I rebooted my chess career (such as it is).  A new year is upon us, and now is the time to continue the fight for better chess.  But first, a quick recap of what’s happened over the last 9 months or so since I last posted.

As you recall from Episode IX, I was in the middle of a 4-player guest tournament of correspondence chess at Chessworld.  By some strange stroke of luck, I won that tournament with a score of 5.5/6.0!  (Yea, me!)  I was so enamored with my great skill that I immediately entered another guest tournament.  Unfortunately, I didn’t fare so well in this one, although I did finish second with 4.0/6.0.  I finished several other correspondence games as well.

So far I have done much better than I could ever expected.  My record on Chessworld is 16 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses.  On Gameknot, I have won 4, lost 1.  And I also won the single correspondence game played at Chess.com.  But lately, like the other areas of chess, I have cut back severely on correspondence.  I am down to 3 games presently, all against Kingscrusher on Chessworld.  Partly because I just haven’t been spending much time on chess, and partly because I wanted to free up some more time for live chess.  I need to work more on my over-theboard(OTB)/live game.  I need the action of calculating under time pressure.  I want to figure out where my weaknesses are and live chess is the best way to do that.

The one area where I have continued to work on at least a semi-regular basis is chess tactics puzzles.  I have been working them as often as possible on Chess.com, Gameknot, and Chesstempo.  Just for the sake of laying a foundation for my great return, I present my ratings for all chess sites and formats:

The Rating Game

Chessworld:  2201

Chess.com

Live: Blitz: 1141, Standard: 1268

Correspondence: 1362

Tactics: 1588

Gameknot

Tactics: 1836

Correspondence: 1200 (provisional)

Chesstempo

Blitz: 1505, Standard: 1729.5

FICS

Blitz: 1019, Standard: 1398

Chesscube

General: 1488, Tournament: 1488

As for the future, since the Mayan apocalypse was a colossal failure, I figure I should get back to basics, put my shoulder to the wheel, my nose to the grindstone, get back on the horse, and any other stupid cliche one can think of, and start playing some damn chess.  That’s right.  And in that spirit, and in the spirit of Christmas, I have given myself the gift of chess by finally renewing my premium membership to Chessgames.  My user name is BishopofBlunder.  Stop by my profile and post in my personal forum.  Let me know that I am not the only one reading this crappy blog.  Join the site while you are at it.  Basic membership is free.  With it, one can search a huge database of chess games and kibitz in the game forums, or even the player or member forums.  It’s great fun!

That’s all for now.  If I can remember how to play this silly game, I am going to go play some chess!

Until next time, happy mating!

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