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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!

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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!

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