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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!

Volume IX: Almost Live

December 2, 2012 Leave a comment

(Author’s Note: This article was originally posted on my old blogspot blog, “Bathtub Gin“, on March 12, 2012.  It is the tenth of 10 articles in a series that I named “The Patzer Chronicles”.  Going forward, all posts will be original as I begin anew on my quest for a 2000 ELO rating)

Prologue

For the second consecutive week (in a row, even) I have not lost a single game of live chess.  The fact that I haven’t played any live games in that time is completely irrelevant.  To put it another way, on the subject of my chessical skill, the week stands mute.  But I have been working tactical problems quite a bit this week, as I put my new study strategy (see some vague details about the strategy here) to work.

Looking back, it is hard to believe that I have not posted about my games since February 17th.  That’s almost a month.  I have been busy with life outside of chess and, frankly, I have lost some of the burning passion to play all the time.  I am still keeping up with my correspondence games.  Although, even at that, I managed to lose a game on time.

But I am still determined to continue my quest for 2000.  This is just a temporary lull.  I know the passion will return.  I was discussing chess with a co-worker of mine yesterday and it started to get my juices flowing again.  Growing up and living in Dallas, Texas, it isn’t easy to find a lot of people interested in chess.  I don’t really think the person I was talking to was greatly interested in it.  But he had been playing some against his computer.  Unfortunately, being at work, I couldn’t just run off a play some quick games online.  Nor could I manage any time to play after work.  I started to play a game or two today, but I thought it might be a good time to post an update instead.  Even if it is a rather limited update.

So let’s take a look at how I stand.

Study

All my study time since my last post has been tactical problems.  I have been tracking my rating on the websites that allow me to do so.  And I will be summarizing my rating on each site, and the change from the last episode, at the end of each post in The Rating Game section.  Here is how my tactical problems are going.

On chess.com, where I am only allowed to work 3 problems per 24 hours, my rating went from 1482 to 1487, a gain of a mere 5 points.  I haven’t worked any problems since March 1st.

On chesstempo.com, where I do most of my problem work (they allow unlimited problems for free), my blitz rating went from 1528.1 (on 2/25/2012) to 1538.1 (03/10/2012), a gain of 10 points.  It is interesting to note that, when working blitz problems, you can solve the problem correctly and still lose rating points.  This is due to the time factor.  If you are too slow solving a blitz problem on chesstempo, or any problem on chess.com, you lose points regardless of whether you found the correct solution or not.  I sometimes like having the time pressure built in to the problems.  I have a tendency to lose blitz games on time or blunder in time trouble.  Hopefully this will help me to learn how to manage my time better during games of short time controls.  My standard rating on chesstempo rose from 1705.1 to 1744.7, a gain of 39.6 points.  I shouldn’t get too excited.  It tends to fluctuate up and down a bit.  But hopefully, I can continue to improve it little by little.

I started a new tactical problem rating on Gameknot, another correspondence chess site.  Here I am allowed 10 tactical problems per day (with a basic, free membership).  My rating here started at 1200 (on 02/19/2012) and has risen significantly to 1633 (on 03/02/2012), a difference of 433 points.  That is to be expected though, because of the low, default starting rating and my experience and skill with tactical problems on other sites.  I don’t expect to continue rising at anywhere near that rate, of course.

That’s all for the study section this time.  Now on to the actual games.

Live chess

I got nothing.  But I will be getting back into it soon.

Correspondence Chess

Quite a bit has happened since the last report on correspondence.  On chess.com, I won my game against xadrezenico.  I mated white in 45 moves.  The win increased my rating to 1362.  The opening was a Caro-Kann defense, my first in a game.  It was a slow developing game where I felt I had a good position all the way through.  I took great advantage of my opponent’s mistakes and claimed victory.  Here is the game:

As I last reported, on chessworld.net, I joined a 4 player guest tournament.  This is a double round-robin tournament with a time control of 3 days per move.  All games are played simultaneously, meaning I am playing 6 games at once just for the tournament.

One game has been decided.  I agreed to a draw with Artsyhimself on move 22 in the game where I had black.  I wasn’t certain I wanted to accept the draw, but I couldn’t see any way to obtain an advantage and I was afraid I would screw up the endgame.  Yeah, not exactly what you would expect from someone named DissidentAggressor.  The draw dropped my rating to 1960.  Here is the game:

In my game as white against Artsyhimself, we are 27 moves in and material is equal.  It is down to a rook and knight (me) vs. rook and bishop.  I think this is heading for a draw as well.

The other games are at varying degrees of progression.  I am in trouble in my game as black against keepin on.  He has a battery that is bearing down on my queen side.  In the game as white against keepin on, I have his position very cramped, but I am not sure I can break him down.  We’ll have to see.

The drawn game along with the two wins on time give me 2.5/30 in the tournament; good enough for 2nd place at the moment.  Artsyhimself leads the tournament with 4.5/5.  He only has one game left; his game, playing black, against me.  If I can manage a win in this game plus wins in my other two games, that would win the tournament.  Not that I am getting ahead of myself, right?

I also have a pyramid challenge that I initiated, against mr. booze.  I am playing white and I am up by two pawns through 26 moves.  But the game is wide open and anything can happen.

My game against kingscrusher is going slowly, as expected.  It is 10 days per move, so it’s going to take a while.  We are 8 moves in and, so far, I have no clue as to how I am doing.

I have begun a new game on chessworld as well.  This is a pyramid challenge from horacio340 (I knew him well).  I am playing black and decided to try the Caro-Kann again.  We will see if I can snatch another victory in my new favorite opening (of the moment).

Now for the game I lost.  I started a correspondence game on a new website: Gameknot.  I signed up here because a group of people from chessgames.com have a team on here that play in tournaments.  I would like to join them.  First I have to complete at least 5 games.  Well, I completed one in almost no time.  That’s because I somehow lost track of time and, well, lost the game on time.  The game was against gilbert99 (rated 1249).  I played the Danish gambit and had his queen on the run.  My rating (default 1200) did not change.  I don’t know if that is because the game was unrated (I don’t think it was) or because my rating is still provisional.  Perhaps you have to play a certain number of games before your rating changes.  In any case, I haven’t begun any new games yet.  But I will.  Hopefully, I will be a little more diligent about making moves on time.  It sucks to lose.  But it really sucks to lose on time.

The Rating Game

Here is a summary of my current ratings for all types of chess, on all sites.  The following shows the site, type of chess, rating, and delta (change) in parentheses.

Chess.com

Blitz: 1216 (unchanged)

Standard: 1268 (unchanged)

Correspondence: 1362 (+162)

Tactics Trainer: 1487 (+5) [03/01/2012]

Chessworld

Correspondence: 1960 (-160) [03/10/2012]

Gameknot

Tactics: 1633 (+433) [03/02/2012]

Correspondence: 1200 (unchanged, provisional) [03/02/2012]

Chesstempo (tactics)

Blitz: 1538.1 (+10) [03/10/2012]

Standard: 1744.7 (+39.6) [03/10/2012]

Epilogue

That’s it for this episode.  Tune in again next time when, hopefully, I will have actual live games to report.  Until then, happy mating!

Volume VIII: The Rating Game

November 25, 2012 Leave a comment

(Author’s Note: This article was originally posted on my old blogspot blog, “Bathtub Gin“, on February 26, 2012.  It is the ninth of 10 articles in a series that I named “The Patzer Chronicles”.  I plan to move the rest of the articles to this blog before continuing the series here.)

Since I have not played any live games this week, I have decided to discuss my training strategy (yes, I really do have one).  The strategy  is centered around solving tactical problems, since this is where players of my level need the most improvement.  So, how does one know if one is getting better at tactics?  Well, one way is to play chess and notice if there is any improvement in tactical ability and/or results.  This is fine, but I prefer something a bit more quantitative.  Fortunately, there is such a method available (God bless the internet).

On websites such as chess.com or chesstempo.com, one is awarded a rating, much like the rating garnered from playing games, by solving tactical problems.  Chesstempo is the site I use most often for tactics training.  This is a free site (although a premium membership is available) that offers unlimited tactics problems.  It also separates its problems into “blitz” and “standard”.  So you get two separate ratings based on the type of tactical training you work on.  Chess.com has a tactics trainer as well.  As a basic (free) member, I am only allowed to work three tactics problems per day.  Premium members get unlimited problems.  The site tracks your progress, shows a history of problems worked, with results, and shows a nice graph of how your rating has changed over time.  Three problems per day is not much, but with my cheapskateness and other sites with free tactics play, it is sufficient.

Armed with these resources, I am going to track the changes and trends of my tactical ratings along with my playing ratings.  I will post my tactics ratings in the Study section of blog entries.  I have already been reporting my playing ratings for each site which I play on (both live and correspondence games), and I will continue to do so.  But I am going to report the change in rating as well as noting any historical trends.  I may even share some of the more interesting puzzles in my blog.  What fun!

So, with that in mind, here is the list of my current ratings (as of 2/25/2012):

Chess.com

Tactics Trainer:  1482

Live chess:

Blitz: 1216

Standard: 1268

Correspondence:  unrated

Chesstempo:

Blitz: 1528.1

Standard: 1705.1

Chessworld:

Correspondence:  2120

FICS:

Note: At present, I am unable to retrieve my ratings from FICS.  I bought a new laptop and I haven’t downloaded the BabasChess interface yet.  I tried logging in to the FICS site at freechess.org but I can’t seem to remember what password I used.  I have disconnected my desktop computer which had my information on it.  So, until I get it reconnected, or find something with the correct password on it, I am S.O.L. when it comes to my FICS ratings.  I considered starting over with a new account, but I am not sure I want to do that.  I would hate to lose the games I have already played.  For now I will continue playing elsewhere and start tracking my rating at FICS when I figure out how to log in, or start over.

That’s about all for now.  I should be posting another update in a day or two.  I have some news on the correspondence front.  Or, perhaps I will wait until next week when I have (hopefully) some live games to report.

Try not to let the suspense kill you.

Until then, happy mating!

Volume VII: A Lot of Work, But Few Results

October 28, 2012 Leave a comment

(Author’s Note: This article was originally posted on my old blogspot blog, “Bathtub Gin“, on February 17, 2012.  It is the eighth of 10 articles in a series that I named “The Patzer Chronicles”.  I plan to move the rest of the articles to this blog before continuing the series here.)

Author’s Note (the Sequel): I cannot insert the game replayer in my wordpress blog because they apparently don’t support iframes.  So, instead, I am just placing a link to the replayer at chessvideos.tv or chessworld.net.  It will open in a new window/tab so you can follow along with my commentary while you play through the game.)

Prologue

It has been 11 days since my last post (02/02/2012) and chess has just about taken over my entire life.  Well, other than working, eating, drinking, making exciting underwear, etc.  But I am spending time every day on chess.  I am checking in on all my correspondence games, of which I had as many as 9 going at one time.  I also am playing more live chess online.  I played 12 games (11 rated, 1 unrated), all rated games being blitz time controls, by participating in 2 tournaments on chess.com.  I won’t be discussing the one unrated game, partly because it was unrated and partly because I was rather drunk when I played.  Fortunately, I wasn’t drunk enough to play a rated game.

Anyway, chess has become a big part of my life.  This is something I should have realized would happen when I took on my quest for 2000.  I guess I did know that focusing on chess would take more of my time.  But I thought more time would be spent on studying and improving than playing.  Whereas, just the opposite seems to be true.  Little of the time spent on chess is spent studying.  More time is spent playing but I think that’s because I have found a lot of enjoyment playing in tournaments on chess.com.

So, without further ado, let’s see what this episode brings.

Study

As I stated, little of my chess time is spent studying.  I still have “How to Reassess Your Chess” from my local library.  But I have hardly progressed on it at all.  I would put analyzing my games under the category of study, but the majority of the time I do that either immediately after the game is played or when I am examining it for my commentary here.  I work tactical puzzles on chesstempo.com, chessgames.com, and chess.com. But I don’t do that every day or spend a set amount of time on it.  I also watch videos by kingscrusher on youtube that he does live commentary on his games.  But that is mostly for enjoyment.  I am not sure how much I actually learn from them.

What does this mean?  I don’t know.  Should I spend more time studying?  Probably.  But, until my rating stabilizes, how will I know where to focus my study?  I realize tactics are always a good thing to study and that is where I spend most of my study time.  But where else does my game need help?  I won’t really know until I see where my rating is and analyze my games for weaknesses.  So for now I am just going to stick with studying tactical puzzles and using my correspondence games to study opening theory and positional strategy.

Live Chess

Eleven rated games played this week, all of them blitz time controls.  There were seven, 5-minute games: two single games and five played in a tournament.  The other 4 games occurred in a tournament with a 10-minute time control.  All games were considered blitz and affected my blitz rating.

In the first game, against sriniav, rated 1243, I had black and played the Dutch Defense, Leningrad Variation.  This is an opening I haven’t played much, but I enjoy because it can give plenty of counterplay for black.  It can also be a death sentence if you make a mistake.  I won a piece early on but let my king get exposed and couldn’t stop his attack.  I resigned after 27 moves.

The next game was against Martin81, rated 1106.  I had the white pieces.  This started strangely.  The game began 1.e4 e5, 2. Nc3 Qf6!? 3.Qf3[figuring trading queens wouldn’t be bad] Qc6.  I then went on a queen hunt as I chased his queen around the board.  I sacrificed a bishop to keep the attack going.  After 9 moves, though, I don’t know what happened.  I don’t know if he got disconnected, or if his house caught on fire, or if he just remembered an important date he had, but he stopped moving and his clock ran out.  So I won on time.  Here is the final position:

Martin81

Me

The next 5 games were part of a 5-minute blitz tournament for players rated 1200 to 1500.  I didn’t particularly play well.  I lost the first 4 games.  The first with the black pieces against bubjas, rated 1440.  I played a Scandinavian and was two pieces up with a strong attack.  Unfortunately, I used too much of my time achieving this advantage and lost on time in 26 moves.

The second game was against sujikp, rated 1225.  I had white.  I lost this game in 26 moves as well, but not because of time.  I was down two rooks.  I played a Vienna gambit, but didn’t play it very well.

In the third game I had black against carchi, rated 1309.  I played a Two Knights Defense  against his king pawn opening.  And I lost in 9 moves.  Yes, really.  Here is the game for your replaying pleasure.  Try not to laugh too hard:

http://www.chessvideos.tv/chess-game-replayer.php?id=71562

Yeah, I fell right into his trap.  Oh well, live and learn.

I then lost my next game in 35 moves.  I played white against PRAMODPAHADI70, rated 1472.  Once again, I was ahead in material but lost on time.  I was up a knight and two pawns, but the clock ran out on me again.  I guess I could look on the bright side that I achieved an advantage in a couple of the games I lost.  I just need to work on my time management if I am going to continue to play in short blitz time controls.

My last game in the tournament was against makatozi, rated 1474.  I had white and, with nothing to lose, I decided to play the dreaded Danish Gambit.  Here is the game:

He opened up a pretty good attack on my kingside.  On move 17, I sacrificed the exchange to help squelch the attack.  He blundered on move 26 by pawn munching with Qxd4?.  This allowed me to take his pawn on h3 with check, setting up the king and queen fork with 29.Nf6+.  He resigned shortly after.

The moral of this story?  Play those speculative openings!  It’s fun and educational.  If nothing else, you can learn a little about how to defend a losing position.  So I might lose a few games.  Rating, shmating.  I may have to try the Danish again.

I also played  a 10 minute tournament which consisted of 5 rounds also.  One round was a bye due to an odd number of players, so I was guaranteed at least one point.  I gained another point by winning my first game, playing as black, against Fiurex, rated 1314.  After 19 moves, my opponent abandoned the game.  I was ahead a rook in the game and had an easy win.  I lost the other 3 games in the tournament and finished in 6th place with a score of 2/5.  I had an opportunity in the game against chesshole, rated 1459.  We got down to a king and pawn endgame.  I offered a draw, but he refused.  Unfortunately, I showed how poor my endgame skill is and resigned when he was about to queen a pawn.

After these games, my blitz rating on chess.com is now 1216.  My standard rating remained unchanged at 1268.

Correspondence Chess

Another good episode on the correspondence front.  I added two more wins to my total since my last post.  I won my game against Kootenays.  He resigned after 35 moves when I was about to win a knight, which would put me a rook up.   This was another unrated game, so there was no effect on my rating.  Here is the entire game for your viewing pleasure:

I also recorded a win against Joe Wurdak.   I feel I was lucky to win this game.  He blundered away his queen when he had a vicious looking attack going on the king side.  This was a rated game, my first, and the win jumped me all the way up to 2120.  It looks really good to see that high number by my name.  Of course, it won’t last.  It’ll come back down to my actual rating, whatever that may be, eventually.  But it makes me dream of the day when I will reach the goal of this quest: a rating of 2000+.  It is nice to dream.  But until then I have a lot of work to do.  Here is my game against Joe:

joe wurdak vs. DissidentAggressor

He graciously allowed me to play it all the way to checkmate, which is unnecessary, but fun nonetheless.

My game against kingscrusher is still in the opening stages, so nothing to report from there.  I have added 6 games to my total by entering a 4 player guest double round robin tournament.  I am playing two games each (one as black, one as white) against Artsyhimself (rated 1635), keepin on (rated 1795), and tolasaria (unrated, set at 1400).  Actually, only 4 of the games are still active.  I claimed a win on time in both games against tolasaria, as he/she never made a move.  A shame, really.

I also added one more game by putting in a pyramid challenge.  After my first win raised me to level two, I decided to challenge a level 3 player, the preposterously named mr. booze (rated 1496).  This game is unrated, while the tournament games are rated.  I don’t think that any games that I initiate on chessworld.net are rated.  It seems that only games initiated by members or tournament games are rated.

My game on chess.com against xadrezenico is going swimmingly.  I promoted two of the three past pawns I had.  Although one of them was sacrificed to win a knight.  I also won the exchange, winning a rook for a knight.  I now have a queen, rook and knight against a knight and bishop.  This game should be over shortly.

Epilogue

 

Not a very good week, results-wise at least, in live chess.  But I didn’t really play all that badly.  I won a couple of games and had a material advantage in a couple more before losing on time.  So, some good moves, just bad time management.

The episode was better in correspondence, where I recorded two more wins (four if you count the wins claimed on time) and my first rated game success.  Of course, with the tournament adding 6 games to my load, I have to spend more time on correspondence chess (or less time on each move).  This doesn’t leave as much time for live chess, or study for that matter.  I think I need to play more live chess.  It will help my tactical and positional experience, as well as my time management.  I should probably stick to longer time controls (standard 15 minutes), but I like playing in the live tournaments and the shorter time controls are easier to fit into my schedule.

That’s all for now.  So, until the next episode, happy mating!!!

Volume VI: One Stumble Forward, Three Stumbles Back

October 8, 2012 1 comment

(Author’s Note: This article was originally posted on my old blogspot blog, “Bathtub Gin“, on February 2, 2012.  It is the seventh of 10 articles in a series that I named “The Patzer Chronicles”.  I plan to move the rest of the articles to this blog before continuing the series here.)

It appears the “weeks” are getting longer here.  But I am not sure how to designate the time between posts.  I am attempting to do one per week, but it just isn’t working out.  So anyway, since the last episode (there we go, I’ll use episode, just like they do on TV) of the Patzer Chronicles, I have been very busy, though not in a strictly chessical manner.  I have been working overtime at my job quite a bit and spending most of my free time trying to catch up on all the things I didn’t get to because of the extra work.  But hey, I’m not the kind of guy to make excuses (as far as you know) so let’s just get down to the chess, shall we?

Study

This category suffered the most during my busy time between episodes ( I am really liking the way “episode” sounds).  I haven’t spent any time studying with :”Reassess Your Chess”.  I solved a few tactical puzzles, but that was about it.

However, I did find a study plan for beginning (ratings < 1400) and intermediate (ratings 1400-1800) players on chess.com.  It is located here if anyone would like to check it out.  Although I haven’t examined the entire course, it appears to have some great stuff.  And much of it is free.

Live Chess

I played 4 live games since my last post: two 5-minute games, and two 15-minute games.  The 5-minute games were played on chess.com.

The first game was played against sakibv, rated 1403.  I had the white pieces and played 1.e4.  He responded with the Scandinavian, which I play quite often as black, but rarely play against as white.  So, oddly enough, I didn’t know what to do.  I decided to try the 2.e5 line that has been played against me quite recently.  18 moves into the game, I was two pawns down with each player having two rooks and a knight.

After I played 23.g5, this position looked like this:

sakibv

Me

 

My opponent played 23…Rc3??.  I am thinking it was a slip of the mouse, if not a slip of the mind.  As that just loses the rook.  He immediately resigned after I captured.  So I probably should have lost that game, but fate smiled upon me.  Sometimes that’s just the way it goes.

The next game was against stamat77, rated 1441.  This time I had the black pieces and played the Scandi against his 1.e4.  He played 2.exd5 which I followed with 2…Nf6.  He played 3.c4 to guard the pawn and for some reason I played 3…b5.  I was thinking that was a good way to remove the defender of the pawn, but he just played 4.b6.  3…c3 would have been more common.  But, in the end, it didn’t matter because I lost on time after only 13 moves.  I just didn’t have it that game.  I don’t know what happened.

My blitz rating on chess.com is now 1302, with a 4/4/0 record.  My standard rating remains unchanged at 1268, with a 1/0/1 record.

The two 15 minute games were played on FICS about an hour previous to the time I am writing this.  Well, more than an hour now, because I went to bed right after writing that sentence.  But I digress.

The first game was with the white pieces against ChettyY, rated 1503.  He played the Scandi with 2…Qxd5.  Through six moves we had this position:

ChettyY

Me

 

Here, for some unfathomable reason, I played 7.Bc4?, thinking if he took with the queen, I would take his knight with tempo.  Unfortunately, this loses a piece to 7…Nxf3+!, 8.Qxf3 Qxc4.  Of course it also loses a piece to the more straightforward 7…Nxc4!.  I probably should have resigned right then, but I wasn’t quite through embarrassing myself yet.  I lost another piece before letting myself be mated and put out of my misery.  I played horribly.  I didn’t think, I just reacted.  That is not good chess.

I was determined that I had to do better.  So I sought another game immediately.  This game was against IsmailN, rated 1287.  This time I had the black pieces and decided to play a simple 1…e5 which led to a Ruy Lopez.  I have decided that I suck at the Ruy Lopez with black.  Actually, let’s face it, I suck at all openings regardless of color.  I make this big deal about playing my “favorites” like the Scandi and the Vienna Gambit, but really I don’t know what I am doing in the opening most of the time.  I like gambits because they are aggressive and surprise people sometimes.  All I basically do in the opening is develop my pieces and try not to lose material.  If I can do that, then I feel I have a chance.  But I digress.

Back to the game.  We played the exchange variation with 4.Bxc6 dxc6.  I castled queen side, which is probably not the best plan, but it gave me a rook on the open d-file.  And his queenside looked pretty weak.  Unfortunately, my pieces weren’t coordinated well enough and my attack came to naught.  Running low on time, I blundered away a piece and a couple of pawns and resigned.

So, two straight losses in standard time control which brings my standard rating on FICS to 1345, while my blitz rating remained unchanged at 1019.

I seem to be making a big deal about tracking my ratings and their roller coaster progression.  Really, the volatility of them is due to a lack of games played.  I haven’t played enough to have a stable rating.  FIDE, the World Chess Federation requires that you play at least 20 rated games before they remove the “provisional” label from your rating.  I don’t even know what level I am yet.  Sometimes I think I am underrated and sometimes overrated.  I need to play more to find out what my class is.  Then, I can begin to work on raising it.  Right now, the best thing I can do is try to improve my technique through training, play, and analysis.  My rating is more for reference than anything else.

Correspondence Chess

 

It was an exciting week in correspondence chess.  I won another game!  Unfortunately, it was another unrated game, but I’ll take it.  Dodger finally threw in the towel.  Here is the final position after 26…Rgg2:

Me

Dodger

 

I had a mate in 5 with 27.Be5 Rad2, 28.Bc3 Rd1+, 29.Be1 c4, 30.b4 Bxb4, 31.any Rxe1#.  So far, I am 2/2 in correspondence chess on chessworld.net.

In my game against Kootenays, I am up the exchange (rook for knight) and two pawns.  I lost a pawn earlier in the week, but I should be about to get it back.  After 33 moves, here is the position:

Me

Kootenays

 

I should have no trouble converting this win, but I need to be careful.  I have already squandered away one pawn in the endgame.  I can’t afford to be careless.

In the game against Joe Wurdak, my opponent somehow blundered away his queen!  I know it is only a trap, but I can’t believe it.  One moment I was worrying that I was about to get mated, as he had a devastating attack aimed at my castled king, and the next moment I am capturing his queen with my knight.  Here is the position right before that after move 22, with white to move:

Me

Joe Wurdak

 

Looks pretty bad for me, right?  I was expecting 23.Bxh7, ridding me of my last active piece.  I really had no idea what to do to improve my position.  Then I logged on and saw that his move was 23.Ng4??.  I must have stared at it for thirty minutes trying to figure out what was wrong or how I was going to lose.  I thought I was dreaming.  But I guess not.  The game continued 23…Nxg5, 24. f4 Ne6.  This game is rated, so hopefully I can convert to get my first rated win!

Last time, I mentioned another game invitation I received that I was very excited about.  It came from the great Kingscrusher himself!  I have mentioned him before.  His real name is Tryfon Gavriel.  He lives in England and holds the title of Candidate Master.  He plays quite a bit of online chess  on the Internet Chess Club (ICC).  And when he plays, he records the game and does live commentary.  He actually comments on his games while he is playing them!  I really enjoy his videos (see kingscrusher on youtube).  His commentary is very insightful and a lot of fun.  He really seems to enjoy chess and doing live analysis.

So anyway, he challenged me to a game.  Although, it is 10 days per move, so it may take a long time to finish.  But, I’m not going anywhere.  It is also a rated game.  At the present time Kingscrusher is rated 1961 (good year).  The game has just started.  I have black and decided to play the Pirc/Robatsch defense.  This is a hypermodern type of defense that attacks the center using the flanks.  The game began 1.e4 g6, 2.d4 Bg7, 3.Nc3.  However, I decided to play 3…c5, just because it seems interesting, transposing the game into a variation of the Sicilian Dragon.  Having seen Kingscrusher play, I am expecting to be unceremoniously crushed (pun intended).

My correspondence game on chess.com, against xadrezenico, is going very well.  Through 31 moves, I am up 3 connected passed pawns and should be promoting one or more of them soon.  I think I am about to sacrifice one of them to win a rook.  Then it will just be a matter of promoting the other two.

Epilogue

 

That’s about it for this episode.  I’ll be back next time with more exciting news from the world of patzer chess.  So, until then, happy mating!!!

Volume V: V for Victory, er, Sort of…

(Author’s Note: This article was originally posted on my old blogspot blog, “Bathtub Gin“, on January 25, 2012.  It is the sixth of 10 articles in a series that I named “The Patzer Chronicles”.  I plan to move the rest of the articles to this blog before continuing the series here.)

This has been a busy, and good, week for me, chessicly speaking.  I somehow found time to not only play more than my usual two live games this week, but I entered a live blitz tournament as well.  I also managed to keep up with my correspondence games and score my first correspondence win.

I am now trying to split my worship of Caissa into three specific categories: study, live chess, and correspondence chess.  I am not necessarily spending equal amounts of time on each one, but I at least try to spend some time on each category every week.  The actual ratio of time spent between study and play is dependent on several factors, including how much time I have to spend on chess and what I feel like doing during that time.  Sometimes I feel like a game, some times just a tactical puzzle or two.  As for correspondence chess, it’s pretty much ongoing.  I either spend time on it (which I do enjoy) or I forfeit the games.

Here is my report for volume V:

Study

 

As I reported last time, I borrowed a copy of “Reassess Your Chess” by Jeremy Silman from the local library.  I haven’t had much time to crack the spine on this classic work, but I have started it.  The beginning of the book is on basic endgames.  So far, I have studied about the opposition, which is essential in king and pawn endgames.  I am now in the chapter on rook and pawn endgames.  I have been using Chessmaster to practice the positions.  I set up a position from the book and then play it against the Chessmaster (rated 2699 according to the software).  Doing this has shown me just how weak my endgame is.  I need to spend much more time with this book.

Live Chess

 

I played three games this week on FICS, winning two and losing one.  The first was on Wednesday against josephandrew, rated 1249, in a 10 minute blitz game.  I had the black pieces and played a Scandinavian in response to 1. e4.  Yes, I know, the Scandi is an inferior opening for black (in theory).  But I just love it.  He rejected the gambit of my queen pawn with 2. e5 and we played on until we reached this position:

ME

JOSEPHANDREW

 

Looking at it now, I think I should have played hxg5.  The queen can’t take the rook because it is guarded by the knight.  So I would gain the white knight for free.  However, at the time I thought there was a tactic that would lose material for me.  But for the life of me, I can’t see it now.  So instead I castled right into the lion’s den.  A few moves later, a strange thing happened.  At this point, I had 5:10 left on my clock and my opponent had 7:39 left.  Suddenly, my opponent wasn’t moving.  I waited and waited and waited, all the time watching his clock.  I didn’t know if he had been disconnected, couldn’t decide what to do, or had a heart attack.  As the minutes frittered away I waited for a move, but none was coming.  I didn’t want to win on time, but I was willing to accept it if that’s how it came.  I mean, a win is a win, right?

Finally with 0.7 seconds left on his clock, he played 13. b3.  I thought, well, here’s an easy win.  So I played 13. ..Bb6, a move I had been thinking about earlier, but not one I would have played immediately if I had not thought his time was about to expire.  He then played 14. g4, threatening my knight on f5.  He still had 0.6 seconds left on his clock.  So I moved the knight to e7 out of harm’s way.  That left this position:

ME

JOSEPHANDREW

He then, inexplicably (perhaps because of obvious time trouble) played 15. Bxg6??.  This is a horrible blunder because after 15. ..fxg6, the white queen is trapped.  He played 16. g5 and his clock ran out.  Or so I thought.  The game seemed to continue with his clock continuing to run in negative numbers!  I didn’t know what to do or think, but I figured I had better get on with the game, so I took his queen.  After losing his queen, he battled on valiantly, but it was too much to over come.  In the end I sacrificed the exchange to get a strong attack and win a rook and my opponent resigned.  I still don’t understand why he was allowed to go over time.  But, what the hell.  It is always better to win the game on the board and not the clock.

Almost immediately after completing the first game, I received a challenge from a player named bingopm, rated 1087.  This was also a 10 minute blitz game but this time I played the white pieces.  I was holding my own in this game, with some decent chances at winning, when I became a victim of a mouse slip.

After move 22, this was the position:

BINGOPM

ME

I was cruising along fine, albeit a bit overextended, and my intention was to make the move 23. Qb3 to guard the bishop and prepare 24. Bxb4.  Unfortunately, a slip of the mouse caused me to drop my queen at d3??, which neither protects anything nor threatens anything.  My light square bishop was gone.  Then, to make matters worse, I brainlessly played the unfathomable 24. Ra1??.  This allowed my knight to be gobbled up by the black queen as well.  Needless to say, I lost that game.  Oh well, shit happens.  That is all the blitz games I played on FICS.  My blitz rating there is back over 1000, sitting at 1019.

On Friday night, I played a 15 minute standard rated game on Chess.com against JefUNIX, rated 1139.  I had the black pieces and eschewed my fave, the Scandi, when my opponent pushed his king pawn to e4.  Variety is the spice of life, right?  So I went with the tried and true (and dull) 1. ..e5.  And speaking of spice, my opponent’s response was to play 2. Qh5!?.  I’ve heard of players, even master level and above, playing this type of opening before.  But normally, one plays this in bullet games and such.  This was supposedly a favorite of Hikaru Nakamura, who became a legend playing bullet games on ICC and is now a super grandmaster.

In any case, once I got over the shock of this move, I developed my pieces rationally, eventually being up the exchange.  In the endgame, I won a knight, leaving me up a rook and a pawn.  However, my opponent had a passed rook pawn that I lost track of for a moment.  On move 49, with me to move, I had this position:

ME

JEFUNIX

Unfortunately, not only did I miss the winning combination, 49. ..Bc1!, but I played 49. ..Ra5??.  This loses the rook to the knight fork 50. Nb7+.  I eventually neutralized the passed pawn, but was running short of time.  Still, I had yet another chance to win when my opponent played 62. Nf6+ in this position:

ME

JEFUNIX

But, no.  I didn’t play 62. ..Bxf6.  No, I played 62. ..Kf4?.  But I probably didn’t have time to queen my pawn and trap his king anyway.  So, despite the fact that I ran out of time, the game ended in a draw since he had insufficient material to mate.  This was my only live standard game on Chess.com this week.  My standard rating there is now 1268.

I played one more standard, 15 minute game on FICS against Brucerchess, rated 1274.  I had black in this game, which started out as another king pawn game.  There were a lot of early exchanges and after 15 moves we had traded off the queens and both of our knights.  I was up a pawn, but it was a doubled rook pawn, so I was unconvinced of its worth.  I quickly won another pawn and had a good attack forming on the king side with an open g-file.  We exchanged off one of the rooks and that is where I started to take control.  I then brought my light-squared bishop around to the king side, sacrificing a pawn to win his light-squared bishop.  I won another pawn while trading dark-square bishops.  Plus, I had a passed rook pawn (one of the doubled ones) that was rolling down the board toward promotion.  My opponent put up a valiant defense, but he was overwhelmed.  I eventually sacrificed the rook pawn to win his last rook and my opponent resigned.  This bumped up my standard rating on FICS to 1482.

Then came my first online live chess tournament!  It was an open blitz (5 min./game) tournament on Chess.com.  There were 6 players, including myself, in a Swiss system format.  We played four rounds and I won two and lost two, coming in 4th place in the tournament.  I missed out on a medal by 1/2 point.

In the first game, I was up material and he had an exposed king, but I lost on time.  I had a good aggressive attack and should have won.  But, my time management needs some work.  All games, even many casual ones are timed and if one is to become an advanced player, one must learn to manage the clock as well as the board, regardless of the time control.

In the second game, I had black and played the Scandinavian.  Yeah, baby!  Unfortunately for my opponent, he blundered away his queen on move 14, and was checkmated on move 19.  That’s what I love about the Scandi, it’s open and sharp.  Yeah, I lose with it quite a bit.  But win or lose, it is always dramatic.

The 3rd game of the tournament was another win, this time with white.  I played the Vienna Gambit, another of my favorites.  Like the Scandi, it can be very sharp and always interesting.  Of course, one can also crash and burn rather easily when playing against someone who knows the opening and its weaknesses.  But I still like it.  Besides, I really don’t know that many openings.  And I abhor queen pawn games.  I won the exchange early (bishop for rook) and then went on a king hunt, dealing death in 20 moves.  The black king finished the game on the c2 square and his king bishop, queen, and queen’s rook never left their starting squares!  It’s one of those games I am proud of.  Yes, my opponent blundered quite badly, but one must take advantage of those mistakes and make the opponent pay, and I did that.

So now I am feeling rather full of myself and here comes the next lamb for the slaughter, my fourth and final opponent.  I got this one.  Well, maybe not.  I had black and this game started 1. e3 e5, 2. Qh5!.  WTF??? Twice in one week.  Well, I just developed casually.  I traded queens early, which probably wasn’t the best idea because I was already two pawns down.  Yet, I continued to trade off my pieces and quickly found myself down 3 pawns.  He had a formidable center and his pawns just came marching down the board like barbarians storming the castle.  There was nothing I could do except resign.

I think for my first tournament, especially a 5 minute blitz tournament in an open section, it went fairly well.  I feel good about my live chess this week, both wins and losses.  I enjoyed playing in the tournament.  My plan is to play in at least one every two weeks.  Maybe more if I can.  It is hard enough to find time to play single games much less multi-round tournaments.  I will probably stick to shorter time controls, such as the 5 minute tournament that I played in.  Chess.com has tournaments going on constantly.  Drop by and join one!

With the two wins and two losses in the tournament, my blitz rating on Chess.com is currently 1256.

Correspondence Chess

 

This is the problem with playing more games during the week.  I am tired of writing about it.  So, I will just give a cursory update of my correspondence adventures.

First, and foremost, I’m a winner!!  The good news is I have recorded my first win in correspondence chess.  The bad news is I had to claim a win on time.  It was in my game against Mukanya, which is a 5 day per move time limit game.  After only 7 moves, though somehow it seemed like more, Mukanya was nowhere to be found.  I waited for 5 days after the time limit but he still did not move.  I was going to wait longer, but in the rules it states that if no move is taken after twice the time limit plus one day, then the game will be considered abandoned and no result will be given.  I hated to call time on someone, but I didn’t want all the hard work to go to waste either.

I tried to send Mukanya a message apologizing, but since I am only a guest member, I am not allowed to send messages to other players.  So, it is still a win, but one that is tempered with a bit of regret.  Oh well, the world moves on.

In my game with Dodger, my opponent is on life support and fading quickly.  He is now down two rooks and a bishop, but seems intent on playing it out to checkmate.  I don’t know how long that will take, but I have time.  It’s all fun.

In the game against Kootenays, I have won the exchange (rook for knight) and another pawn to put me two pawns and the exchange up through 25 moves.  True to my self-doubting nature, however, I am sure there is some combination I am missing that will take me down.  He is just biding his time.

In my newest game, against Joe Wurdak, we are still even through 15 moves.  This game was my first attempt at the French defense.  My opponent has some very active pieces on my king side (where I castled).  It’s got me a little worried.

In my correspondence game on chess.com, against xadrezenico, things are heating up.  I have grabbed another pawn and now have 3 passed pawns on the queen side along with an open a-file.  It looks like he is started to make a move on the king side.  I need to consider how I am going to handle it.  I think that I should have no problem queening one of my pawns or winning big material.  I just have to make sure I keep my king safe and don’t allow too much counterplay.

So that’s it for this time.  It was a busy week.  I don’t think I can keep up that kind of pace and I don’t plan on it either.  It was a good week for me as well.  I dipped my toes into the tournament pond and found it inviting.  I won my first correspondence game.  And I played some decent live games.

I have also received another game invitation that I am very excited about.  I will discuss that next time.

So, until then, happy mating!

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