Monday, April 09, 2007

Am I improving?

It might be that change of water or the heady excitement of receiving a monthly salary for the first time since I started at Uni over 8 years ago but I seem to be picking up simple combinations lately. Strange that I have recently started the circles (albeit not quite so intensely as de la Maza) and since then I haven't dropped a piece to a one move combo in slow or fast games. Maybe this is what he meant in the book?
Any thoughts?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A wee break

After a wonderfull break in Bulgaria and seeing how much more interest there is in chess there was compared to the UK, it was with a heavy heart I returned to start work as a synthetic chemist. Thankfully there is a club within 30 mins drive but I seem to have chosen abit of a backwater to live in.
I hope to restart my training once my thesis and viva are tied up

Friday, July 14, 2006

Tactics, Tactics and Tactics

[Event "FICS rated standard game"]
[Site "FICS, San Jose, California USA"]
[White "Magicmunky"]
[Black "chestutr"]
[WhiteElo "1651"]
[BlackElo "1648"]
[TimeControl "2400+20"]
[Result "1-0"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6
3. Bc4 Nf6

I dislike playing against the sicilian, so far I have a pretty poor record against it. Playing this variant tends to lead to equality, Joel Benjamin plays it so it can't be so utterly without any merit. But like I said it leads to equality no more, no less when white plays correctly.

4. d3 e6

Lopez style build up, e6 stops the bsihop eyeing f7.

5. Bb3 Nc6

Fritz believes that castling is better but I wonder whether d5 isn't going to wrestle in the iniative very clearly for black at some point.

6. O-O Be7

Pretty standard stuff so far, following several recent games I looked at

7. c3 O-O

Still in the most probable lines, waiting for a mistake. The guy I was playing teaches beginners to play chess, nice guy to chat to and has some interesting points about my game. Mainly said I needed to 'take a breath' before playing, sometimes when I feel I 'know' the variation the moves come fast without checking whether it's the right time.

8. d4 cxd4

Here's my first mistake, 8 Re1 is much better. Black wins a pawn and sticks me on the back foot (or in Cockney on my butt); Fritz - 0.53 (8 ... Nxe4 better)

9. cxd4 Nxe4

Following the same plan without the necessary Re1 is shown to be the error it is, this leaves me with a IQP. I spent a couple of minutes considering playing d5 then after exd5 Bxd5 the bishop eyes the f7 square and the knight

10. Re1 d5

The knight on e4 looks very nice, so I thought that playing Ne5 might be OK after Nxe5 dxe5 I have a pawn attacking f6 and maybe building up to a bishop sac

11. Ne5 Bb4

I stopped here and considered the mess I was in, playing Nc6 gives a pawn away. I didn't like the idea of giving up the bishop unless he did too so I played Nd2. Other options I only found after were Nxc6 attacking the queen but that strenghtens the black centre; Playing Re2 is generally the precursor for disaster in my games...

12. Nd2 Nxd4

Nd2 drops another pawn, Nxc6 was better. At this point I thought I was lost, and in all honesty that I could do no worse than try to get both knights towards the black king and see if I had a chance to play Bc2 then Bxh7+ at some point. I've been reading Larry Christiansen's Storming the Barricades when I have a few spare minutes here and there, something looked right to sac the exchange

13. Rxe4 dxe4

Fritz thought this move only dropped a half pawn if he retakes dxe4; Nxb3 is a 1.5 pawn blunder

14. Nxe4 Nxb3

Losing that bishop isn't what I had hoped but anyway taking the bishop allows an attack on the annoying bishop.

15. Qxb3 Qd5

15 ... Be7 and black maintains the nice advantage he has now accumilated. I have no centre pawns and only dream of playing Nf6+.
Ever seen a 10 pawn evaluation blunder? Qd5 is one, I saw straight away that Nf6+ winning. After a minute or two I played it having seen that 16 Nf6+ gxf6 17 Qg3+ Kh8 18 Bh6 wins easily. If Bg8 Nxf7# anything else loses to Qg7#

16. Nf6+ gxf6

16 ... Kh8 prolongs the struggle without the queen, after Bd6 the game is pretty much lost barring an error. gxf6 is a mate in 4

17. Qg3+ Kh8 18. Bh6
{Black resigns} 1-0

Which brings me to my point, black out played me in the opening and I blundered two pawns. After the rook exchange he relaxed and thought that exchanging off all the pieces and the game was won. But, in this winning position he dropped the mother of all blunders in an apparent attempt to get my queen off the board along with any chance I had to win the game.
I lost my temper with myself, sac'd the exchange and luckily my gave the game away.
Lessons learned;
1) Don't play a move before I check it twice 2) Two knights on the e file aimed at the black king is a good ploy and 3) all is not lost if you are behind a pawn (or two) never resign.
Thats what I took away from this game, that and I need to listen to music and annotate my games more, Green Day and chess go together well in my opinion.....

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Plan

Here is the plan I am going to follow, I modified several from various sources to suit where I think the weaknesses in my game are at present and to make sure I cover very basic things too.

Here goes then:

Phase 1, 1 month:

Study the Complete Idiots guide to chess

1 hour of tactics per day

1/2 hour of a game collection a day

Phase 2, 6 months:

Follow the Rapid chess improvement plan

1 Hour of Logical Chess Move by Move by Chernev

Re - read Everyone's Second chess book again

Phase 3, 6 months:

Study Modern Chess Strategy by Pachman (Might substitute this for Winning chess strategy)

1 hour of Winning Chess Tactics or Play Chess combinations and sacrifices

Study Pandolfini's Endgame Course

Study Best Lessons of a chess coach

Phase 4, 6 Months:

Study the Amatuers Mind

1 Hour of Tactics a day

Study The improvers It's your move

Study the Chess Tactics and Chess strategy for the tournament player

Phase 5, 6 months:

Study The art of attack

1 hour of Tactics a day (Chess Training Puzzle Book or Nunn's Puzzle Book)

Study The art of defence

Study Pawn power in chess

Go through My 60 memorable games - Fischer

I guess at this point I should be getting very close to 1800, writing it down again makes it look very daunting but having spent 4 years beating my head against a brick wall studying and doing organic chemistry this looks fun in a strange sort of way.

If you are want to compare the complexity of chess with Chemistry, I suggest having a browse through March's Advanced Organic chemistry.

Of the many comments I have read over the last few months the one that sticks with me the most is from by Atkins and Kreider;

"With chess, most of us skip around. For exampe, we start studying a particular part of the game and then jump to something else. Or we read the first three chapters of a book, and then start another book. We also study material thats far too advanced for us at the time."

I think that sums up the last two or three years for me, I've tried to read one of Dvoretsky's books on no less than three occaisions. Then I've read several other books and never finished any of them. Now I hope to apply some discipline to study chess the way I have chemistry.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Game 1 - the good

[White "Magicmunky"]
[WhiteElo "1633"]
[BlackElo "2042"]
[TimeControl "60+60"]
[Result "1-0"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Bc5

So far basic stuff I have been reading and looking at the Max Lange attack since in 90% of the games I have played as white with these moves it ends up in the two knights defence

4. O-O Nf6

0-0 is the classical variation move order, there is alot of interest in 4 d4 on the net but it doesn't suit my style to play it before castling. Against strong opponents (I only try to play >200 points higher than myself) it is very easy to end up on the defensive with a bad position.

5. d4 exd4

We have now transposed into the Max Lange attack of the Two knights defence, great analysis of this can be found at in the openings for amateurs notes section.
For black there are three main replies:
Bxd4 is very common and can lead to alot of fun after 6 Nxd4 Nxd4 7 f4! the Koltanowski variation (If you find some of his games against amateurs these are full of interesting positions)
Nxd4? is always listed as bad, the reasons for this are difficult to come to terms with but in essence the position becomes reactionary for black after 6 Nxe5 0-0 7 Be3! d5 the usual antidote to all ills in the Giuoco Piano does not always do the trick in this line.

6. e5 d5

Standard Max Lange theory so far, I know this by heart now until move 9 where white has moves which are not forced. Recently I have seen Ng4 a fair bit, the analysis for this is Bf4 being strongest, and as yet I haven't got to grips with this line.

7. exf6 dxc4

Black happily eliminates the bishop attacking f7, the 'book' move ' next is Re1 but ....

8. fxg7 Rg8

Horowitz's line from chess review 1957, I have had two reactions in long time controls to this 1) a long think eating time from their clock and 2) a confused attempt to counterattack. This forces black from the easy equality of the mainline into murkier waters.
Rg8 is forced so no shock there.

9. Bg5 Be7

The whole point in this opening variation is fast development, get at the king in the middle and keep going until there is nothing left. If he castles you are likely to be in trouble with the d4 and c4 combo he has. This is still all theory.

10. Bxe7 Nxe7 N

Taking the bishop with the king is the best move, however it took me a while to figure the position out during and after the game. I saw two possibilities to continue the attack 1) Pin the Knight with Re1 to keep the king in the centre for abit longer 2) Take the d4 pawn with either the Queen or Knight

11. Qxd4 Qxd4

Looking at the position (and the rating of the opponent I have to admit) I wanted to continue to force the game with the iniative rather than let him get a hold in the game. Taking with the knight looks sensible but the Rook still takes the pawn on g7 and my original idea for the position 11 Nxd4 Rxg7 12 Nf5 isn't as good as I first thought unless the rooks are connected.

12. Nxd4 Rxg7

Retaining the iniative I hope to keep hitting the knight on e7 with everything but the kitchen sink (which I have reserved for the king I hope...)

13. g3 Bd7

One of my all time pet hates is to be back rank mated, these days it happens less and less but all the same giving the king some room is always good according to Pete Tamburro, Dan Heismann etc.
At the time Bd7 looked a waste of a move, but in retrospect it is not so bad to prepare for castling. Fritz likes a6 giving 14 Nd2 Bg4 15 f3 = ; black offered a draw which I happily refused because I would learn nothing from 13 moves, even if I lose then there is much more merit in playing the whole game out to see where your weaknesses are. Personally my endgame planning is pretty bad, I seem to rarely reach one before either losing or winning.

14. Re1 f6

Finally getting around to pin the knight, and prevent black castling at the moment. I wanted to provoke f5 or f6 to get the e6 free for the knight, the analysis being that after 0-0-0 Ne6 forks the rooks and forces Bxe6 to remove the white bishop. I did this to prevent the bishop covering the g2 square in the castle in the future.
Fritz thinks 14 ... c5 15 Nf3 = but I don't think I would have bothered to retreat the knight, hitting one rook and preventing black castling isn't necessarily a bad thing.

15. Nc3 O-O-O

Nc3? I think Nc3 is warranted here, I want black to castle now to exchange the bishop off. I like the position, black has two connected pawns and the pawn on c4 looks weak. Playing c4 restricts it for a while and generates some nice threats. Fritz thinks 15 Nd2 c3 16 Bxc3 Kf7 +-; I happen to think allowing my pawns to be doubled now is abit strange but opening lines is always good right? In this position I want to reach a good endgame, there isn't masses of material on the board and once the bishop is off I fancy my chances.

16. Ne6 Bxe6

Running through my plan

17. Rxe6 Rd2

After Rxe6 I'm hitting the f6 pawn and hoping to double the rooks to attack the knight, black deceides he should invade the seventh rank and hoover the queenside. He spent along time thinking about this move so I spent along time working out the complicated mess after Rxf6 and deceided to take the pawn. Fritz happened to actually agree with me for once...

18. Rxf6 Rxc2

A pawn exchange but he has more pawns to attack, checking now makes things interesting

19. Rf8+ Kd7

Forced move

20. Rd1+ Kc6?

I had thought Ke6 was OK for black, Fritz agrees after black plays Nc6 (almost even)

21. Rf6+ Kc5

At this point I could smell blood, black's king is in the wrong place on his own

22. Rd7 Rxb2??

Rd7 threatens to take c7 with check. Blacks response is an utter blunder

23. Na4+ Kb4

Forking the King and rook to win the game, time was getting low now so mistakes were always possible to lose.

24. Nxb2 c3

Taking the rook with utter glee! c3 shows that blacks new plan is based around getting a new queen ASAP, this often happens in this opening if you are not careful.

25. Rf4+ Ka3

Nd3+ is better, I found this after the game then 25 ... Ka3 26 Rf4 Rg6 27 Rxc7 Nd5 +-

26. Nd3 Nf5

Securing b4 for the rook and defending the queening square. Nf5 is an attempt to exchange the rampaging rook on d7 off, to quote Frankie Howerd "Not on your nelly!"

27. Rd5 Kxa2

Attacking the knight twice and threatening Rb5 with mate to follow

28. Rb5 a6

Devoid of options my opponent drops the final blunder into the game, Ka3 stretches the game for a few more moves

29. Ra4#

{Black checkmated} 1-0

After the game my opponent logged off, and I sat very happily going through the game for 20 mins afterwards. Running things through Fritz is always alittle distressing but then again how many people can outplay Fritz?


This is an attempt to document my progress towards my target of getting a FIDE rating of 1800 in the next two years, which I guess isn't a terribly high target but one step at a time.

I must have spent litterally hours reading stuff on the internet about "How I became a Class A player or Expert" and have come to the conclusion that alot of it is pure crap. The blogs here have been the exception from this 'rule' as I can actually find some stats to back up what been written here. One favourite example of this is here:

If you take the time to check the USCF rating site his rating never went above 1525! And his FQE rating is currently around 1650, not quite as he states but then again if you read his website then he is some sort of motivational speaker type of person.

I want to discuss two games, one that I am proud of and one which I think sums me up as a player:

[Event "FICS rated standard game"]
[Site "FICS, San Jose, California USA"]
[Date "2006.06.27"]
[Time "15:15:46"]
[Round "-"]
[White "Magicmunky"]
[WhiteElo "1633"]
[BlackElo "2042"]
[TimeControl "3600+60"]
[Mode "ICS"]
[Result "1-0"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. e5 d5 7. exf6 dxc4 8. fxg7 Rg8 9. Bg5 Be7 10. Bxe7 Nxe7 11. Qxd4 Qxd4 12. Nxd4 Rxg7 13. g3 Bd7 14. Re1 f6 15. Nc3 O-O-O 16. Ne6 Bxe6 17. Rxe6 Rd2 18. Rxf6 Rxc2 19. Rf8+ Kd7 20. Rd1+ Kc6 21. Rf6+ Kc5 22. Rd7 Rxb2 23. Na4+ Kb4 24. Nxb2 c3 25. Rf4+ Ka3 26. Nd3 Nf5 27. Rd5 Kxa2 28. Rb5 a6 29. Ra4# {Black checkmated} 1-0

[Event "FICS rated standard game"]
[Site "FICS, San Jose, California USA"]
[Date "2006.06.24"]
[Time "15:54:50"]
[Round "-"]
[White "Magicmunky"]
[Black "Foyan"]
[WhiteElo "1592"]
[BlackElo "1482"]
[TimeControl "1800+10"]
[Mode "ICS"]
[Result "0-1"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bc4 h6 5. O-O c5 6. Re1 Be7 7. c3 dxc3 8. Nxc3 Nf6 9. Be3 a6 10. Qd2 b5 11. Bb3 Bb7 12. Nd5 Nxe4 13. Qc1 O-O 14. Bxh6 gxh6 15. Rxe4 Bg5 16. Nxg5 Qxg5 17. Nf6+ Qxf6 18. Rg4+ Kh8 19. g3 Qf3 {White resigns} 0-1

I will go through these games in the next posts