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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!

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!!!

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