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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!

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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!

Volume IV: A Much Needed Booster Shot for My Live Game

September 18, 2012 Leave a comment

(Author’s Note: This article was originally posted on my old blogspot blog, “Bathtub Gin“, on January 15, 2012.  It is the fifth 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.)

An interesting week for me in chess.  I played two live games and added another correspondence game to my list.  For those keeping score at home, I am now playing 5 correspondence games, all with the black pieces.  Four of the games are on chessworld.net and the other is on chess.com.

In addition to playing games when I can, I am also continuing chess study.  I work tactical puzzles almost daily.  Some online at different sites, such as chesstempo.com, others from a book I own titled, Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games, by Lazlo Polgar, father of the famous Polgar Sisters.  This is a massive tome containing over 5000 tactical puzzles and games.  I have been working on this book for years (off and on) and still haven’t reached 1500 puzzles yet.  I highly recommend this book for beginning and intermediate players.  It will develop your tactics and keep them sharp.

Also this week, in the area of study, I obtained a public library card.  I used to love going to the library, but it’s been over a year since I have had a card.  A little over a year ago, we moved from Mckinney back to Dallas.  Since then, I haven’t bothered to get a card, until now.  But I digress.  Anyway, I checked out the book How to Reassess Your Chess, by Jeremy Silman.  I have the expanded third edition, but there appears to be a fourth edition published now.  I have heard great things about this book, so I decided to give it a try.  I love learning things from books.  So, I will see how it goes and, of course, report my reaction.

But enough of that, let’s get to the games!

Live Chess

 

My first game this week was a blitz game (5 minutes/game) on FICS.  My opponent was Drawitz, a 1120 rated player.  My blitz rating was 1011.  Now, I suck at blitz.  I know it, you know it, everybody knows it.  So why do I keep playing it?  Well, I want to try to get better at calculating quickly.  I think playing at the faster time controls will help with this.  If I can calculate and analyze more quickly at the lower time controls, then when I have more time I can calculate deeper in the positons and make the better moves.  So I want to keep trying blitz as well as playing standard chess.

So, it was a 5 minute game and I had the white pieces for a change.  I played 1. e4 and he responded with 1. ..c5, the Sicilian defense.  I like playing against the Sicilian as White because it can be very sharp tactically.  I haven’t tried it much as black, though, due to a lack of understanding.  After 2. Nf3 Nc6, 3. d4 cxd4, 4. Nxd4, he played 4. ..e5, threatening my knight. Now, the recommended move here is probably 5. Nb6, but I like to do things a little different.  I played 5. Nxc6.  Why?  I don’t know.  It seemed more ambitious.  Besides, if he takes back with his d-pawn, I can play 6. Qxd8, forcing him to take back with the king, forfeiting his right to castle.  Chess theory states that this is not the best move, but sometimes you can get away with unusual moves in blitz.

He took back with his b-pawn.  I continued developing my pieces, queen knight to c3 and queen bishop to g5.  The latter move pinning his king knight, on f6, to his queen.  He played 7. ..Bb4, pinning my knight to my king.  I played 8. Be2 preparing to castle and he played 8. ..d5.  The game continued 9. Bxf6 Qxf6, 10. exd5 Qd6?!.  This loses a pawn (although 10. ..cxd5 appears to as well) and gives me (after 11. dxc6) the opportunity of a queen exchange that will give me the initiative and a rook on the open d-file.

I took his pawn on c6 and he traded queens with 11. ..Qxd1, 12. Rxd1.  He then castled king side and I played c7.  Here, I really expected Bb7.  It is a developing move and puts pressure on my g-pawn, pinning it to my rook.  But instead, he played 13. ..Re8?.  This allowed me to play 14. Rd8, threatening mate..  Again, moving the bishop was probably good here.  But he moved his king to f8, guarding his rook.  I played Bb5, attacking the rook again and threatening mate.  Now, he plays 15. ..Bd7.

Practically any move I make here I am winning at least a minor piece.  And I do end up winning one.  But, with the right move, I knew I could possibly checkmate, or queen my pawn, or be up a rook and a minor piece.  But I couldn’t seem to figure it out.  There were so many good moves that I had trouble picking one and ran into time trouble.  I ended up playing 16. c8=Q, which was not the best move.  Rxa8 looks like the best move.  It would have left me up a rook, knight, and pawn.  Instead, I was merely up a knight and scrambling to keep from losing on time.  His rook was more active than mine (I still had not castled) and I just ran out of time.  But it was good game for me.  I took advantage of my opponent’s blunders and had a winning attack.

With the loss, my blitz rating on FICS dropped to an abysmal 957.  But I have a feeling it is going to get better.

My second game was played at Chess.com with a 15 minute time limit for a change of space as well as a change of pace.  My opponent was a 1038 rated player named Tural2b.  Again I had the white pieces (two in a row! shock!  horror!).  The game started 1. e4 e5, 2. Nf3 Nf6.  This is known as the Petrov, or Russian, defense.  It has a reputation as a timid, drawish opening.  I believe the main line is for white to play 3. Nxe5.  But I don’t know why, or how to continue from there, so I just played 3. Nc3, protecting my pawn.  The game continued 3. ..d6, 4. d3 h6, 5. Be2 a6, 6. 0-0 Be6, 7. b3 Nc6, 8. d4.  Here, my opponent made a dubious move that may have cost him the game.  He played Qd7.  This allowed me to play 9. d5, forking his knight on c6 and bishop on e6.  He decided to sacrifice the bishop with 9. ..Bxd5, although he might have created some counterplay with 9. ..Bh3!?.  I am not sure.  I will have to analyze that to see if there is anything there.

The game continued 10. exd5 e4, 11. dxc6.  I thought this move won me a second piece.  But after he played Qxc6, I saw that if I saved the f3 knight, his queen simply grabbed the c3 knight, also threatening my queen rook.  So I played 12. Bb2, protecting the knight.  It continued 12. ..exf3, 13. Bxf3 (threatening the queen) d5?.  A blunder.  After 14. Nxd5 Nxd5, 15. Bxd5, the queen must move and both my bishops are on the long diagonals pointed at his rooks and his king is still on the open e-file.

The game went on 14. Nxd5 Nxd5, 15. Bxd5 Qc5, 16. Re1+ Be7, 17. Bxg7 Rh7, 18. Bf6!.  This wins either a piece or the exchange (queen for rook).  But the next couple of moves were the killer.  18. ..Rd8, 19. Bxe7 Rxd5??, 20. Bxc5 with discovered check, losing the queen, and black resigned.

I win!  I win! (yay, me!)  OK, I don’t want to sprain my arm patting myself on the back.  But it is nice to get a win in against a human opponent after 6 straight losses.  This was my first standard game on Chess.com, so my initial rating of 1200 jumped to 1318 with the win.

Overall, I would say I am pleased with my live play this week.  I had good chances to win both games and managed to pull one of them out.  Hopefully, things are looking up.

Correspondence Chess

 

First, we’ll discuss the new game that I added.  Yeah, I know, I was just complaining about spending too much time on correspondence and not enough on live chess.  But, I like correspondence and I wanted to try out the French defense.  Besides, who’s bloody quest is this anyway?  Just kidding.  I love you all like family.  Maybe even more.  But I digress.

The new game I started is against my “welcomer” on Chessworld.net, Joe Wurdak.  He is rated 1892 and has many awards and honors on the site, so I am a little intimidated.  Plus, this is my first rated game on chessworld.net.  If you recall, last week I wasn’t sure if one had to be a full (paying) member to have rated games or not.  The game is just starting.  I am playing the French defense, but there’s nothing to report yet.

My game against Dodger is going well.  I am up a rook and bishop in this game and he appears to be in real trouble.  He cannot castle his king.and his pieces are not very active.  I cannot see any compensation for his lost pieces.  This may be over soon.

In the game against Kootenays, I am still up a pawn and the queen side is really starting to open up.  The position still looks very dangerous for both sides.  I am waiting now to see if he wants to trade bishops, trade rooks or perhaps some other nefarious doings.

The game against Mukanya is anyone’s guess.  I have a feeling I am about to go down in flames, but I just can’t see how.  I think my position is solid.

My game on Chess.com, against Xadrezenico is still up in the air through 19 moves.  I am up a pawn and I have created a passed pawn.  He has also made a couple of questionable moves, giving me the initiative.  Not that I know what to do with it.  But I am about to get the rest of my pieces developed, connect my rooks and, hopefully, begin a successful attack.  I think I have played well in this game.  Here is the current position:

I am black.  It is white to move.  My last move was 19. f6.  Depending on what he does, I plan to develop the knight on the next move and possibly bring the queen rook over to threaten the backward pawn at d3.  We shall see.

Alright, that’s enough chess for one week.  Sorry I got so wordy in the Live section.  But I was just happy to finally win a game and play well enough to win the other one (damn time pressure!).  I’ll try to be a bit less verbose in the future.  And now that I have figured out a way to post board graphics, maybe that will be possible.

Until next time, happy mating!

Volume III: A Losing Battle (Two, even)

September 17, 2012 Leave a comment

(Author’s Note: This article was originally posted on my old blogspot blog, “Bathtub Gin“, on January 7, 2012.  It is the fourth 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.)

I had intended to post once in week in my Quest for 2000, but we all know about good intentions.  Somehow, despite having the entire week from Christmas to New Year’s Day off from work, I couldn’t seem to manage much time to devote to chess.  Well, live chess anyway.  I still spend an inordinate amount of time on correspondence chess (more about that later).  But my live chess activity is almost non-existent.  Here’s how the last two weeks have laid out:

Live Chess

 

Only two games played in the last two weeks, both on FICS.  Both were also losses.  I have now lost 4 straight games on FICS and 5 out of 6 games since I began my quest.  A very inauspicious beginning indeed.  However, these last two games were the first played at a standard time control (15min./game) and were both against higher rated opponents.  And, in one of them, I had created a very formidable attack that left me one move from mating my opponent had he not played correctly and had I not blundered (big surprise).  Let’s discuss that game first.

I played the black pieces against a player named jmnovff, rated 1591.  I played a Scandinavian defense (1.e4 d5).  I went down a piece early, but had a good attack with doubled rooks on the h-file.  Unfortunately, I missed a tactic and allowed my opponent to trap my queen.  On the 21st move, I missed a tactic of my own that would have allowed me to get the queens off and be up the exchange (2 rooks and a knight vs. a rook and 2 bishops) in the endgame.  The move I did make cost me my queen and the game.  My standard rating dropped from 1583 to 1475.  Still, despite losing and missing some tactical shots, I did manage to garner an attack against my opponent’s king in one of my favorite king pawn openings.

I played the next game on the same day about 30 minutes after the end of the first one.  It was also standard time control of 15 minutes per game and my opponent was named Tornek, rated 1714.  I, again, had the black pieces.

  • A quick rant:  Am I the only player on the internet that doesn’t choose “white” as their color of choice when seeking a game?  Am I ever going to play chess online, be it live or correspondence, with the white pieces?  I mean, really.  Can it really just be coincidence that out of 11 games started, I have gotten the white pieces once?  And that was against a computer opponent.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy playing the black pieces.  Actually, I often prefer it.  It gives me the opportunity to stifle the opponent’s attack and counter with my own.  But 10 out of 11 games???  This is ridiculous.  I know, I know.  I could ask for white when seeking a game, but I don’t like that.  I feel it should be random.  That is part of the fun.  If I did that, I would be no better than all the others.  I guess I should just shut up and play black.  This rant hasn’t turned out to be so quick after all, has it?  Well, maybe if you read it really fast…

Okay, back to the game.  This started out as a Guioco Piano, or Italian game (1.e4 e5, 2. Nf3 Nc6, 3. Bc5).  For some reason, I went a little nutty and played 3. ..b5?.  While this move attacks white’s bishop on c4, all it really does is blunder away a pawn for no compensation.  After he took my pawn, I then played 4. ..a6, allowing him to play 5. Bxc3, completely destroying my queen side pawn structure.  He then took my e-pawn as well.  Before I knew it, I was 4 pawns down and couldn’t stop his marauding band of pawns from storming my queenside.  So, I resigned.  On the plus side, since he was rated 1714, I didn’t lose many rating points for this loss.

As of now, my standard rating on FICS is 1438.  My blitz rating, with no activity, remains the same at 1011.

Correspondence Chess

 

I am back up to 4 games of correspondence chess.  Quite by accident, really.  On Chessworld.net, I clicked a link looking for information about their Pyramid Chess.  Basically, this is a ladder-style challenge system where one can challenge (as white) a player on the same level or one level up on the “pyramid.”  But apparently, the link automatically signs you up for play.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to add another game yet, so I abstained from challenging anyone.  Of course, that doesn’t stop other players from challenging me, which is what happened.  So I am playing another correspondence game, as black of course.  This brings me up to 4 games, all with black (Must…fight…urge…to…rant!).

The first game is the only one I am presently playing on Chess.com.  It is against xadrezenico, rated 1210, and I am not sure how I stand so far.  On move 10, I checked with my queen.  He blocked with his queen, offering a trade.  I decided to take it because the continuation, while very sharp, looked dangerous for me.  So, for once I took the safe route.  Now I don’t know.  The position seems equal.  I am not sure how to proceed now.

My first game on Chessworld is against Dodger, rated 1400.  In this game, I am a pawn down, but I am about to at least win the exchange, or possibly win a whole rook, by forking his king and rook with my knight.  Unless, of course, I have missed something.  Anyway, the queens are off and if I can go up a rook or the exchange, I feel I have a good chance to win this.  Plus, he will lose castling privileges, thereby leaving his king vulnerable in the middle. Things are looking up here.

In game two, I am playing Kootenays, rated 1794.  I am up a pawn through 13 moves, but I have doubled pawns on the c-file and he has a strong looking pawn storm on the queen side.  My position is cramped a bit and my light squared bishop is blocked in.  I need to find a way to neutralize the pressure and open up the position to provide counterattacking opportunities.

My last game on Chessworld.net is against Mukanya, rated 1320.  The position here is a bit strange.  My opponent has his light-squared bishop (LSB) blocking his d-pawn.  I have tried to develop normally, but I am just not sure of the position.  But, we are only on move 6, so there is still a ways to go (hopefully).

One other thing about Chessworld:  all the games I am playing are unrated.  I am not sure, but I think you have to be a paying member to have rated games.  I will have to find out.

So that’s it for this week.  I’ll try to get back to posting an update every week now that the holidays are over.  I’ll also try to play more live chess.  I am also studying when I can.  I do several tactical problems almost every day.  I am also working through the tutorials and drills in Chessmaster 9000.  But I think I really need to play more games and perform analysis on them to learn where I am making mistakes and where I can improve.

After all, that’s what this quest is really about.  Improving my chess game, not increasing my rating.  Although, being successful in the former will, without a doubt, affect the latter.

Until next week (or two), happy mating!

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