Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christimas to All

And the very best to you in the New Year.

Friday, December 23, 2005

New FICS Ratings Barrier Broken

I wish it were an achievement in my OTB rating, but I have just breached the 1800 barrier in my standard rating on FICS for the first time. Using the surveybot feature*, I was able to obtain an estimate of what that translates to in terms of a USCF rating. According to FICS, my rating is equivalent to about 1680 USCF (obviously take that with a grain of salt).

*To use this feature at FICS simply type "tell surveybot ratings USCF analyse", and it will return a list of FICS ratings with corresponding USCF ratings determined by regression analysis from USCF ratings submitted by the users of FICS. You can also do this with other ratings like FIDE, for example. Type "finger surveybot" for more details.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Mystery Game: Lost, but I'm Noticing a Positive Trend

My opponent turned out to be the wizened, solid Class B player (USCF 1747) with LOTS of experience. He won fairly and squarely, but I can say that it wasn't the tactics that lost the game for me. It was, again, a poorly played opening.

My opp is a 1. d4 player, and I've only recently taken up the King's Indian to play against that type of opening. So, I made some strategic errors like moving my king's rook from f8 and developing my queen's knight to the wrong square.

So, I'm beginning to actually see the need to begin studying the opening. I've avoided it for so long, because there were so many other areas of my game that needed my attention (especially tactics). I've spent much of my time on strategy and endgames, but no real opening study.

Therefore, I have to conclude that although I still lose some games, it's beginning to appear that (judging from my last 2 OTB losses, at least) that I'm losing them for strategic reasons that go back to lack of opening knowledge. If I can work on that area a little bit, then my results should improve.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Mystery Game

At tonight's chess club, I will be playing someone strong. I have no idea who that person will be, but I have a feeling I'll be playing the 1800 rated kid again. Once again, I'll have the black pieces. However, this time I'm sure he'll be better prepared to meet my Scandinavian defense.

Or, it could be the fellow that beat me last month and rose once again to Class B status.

Or, it could be the real estate guy who's only lost to me twice in long time control tournament games.

Or, it could be the wizened guy who ran the club for many, many years and is a solid Class B player.

Or, it could be the Class B player that I've never beaten before, but who seems to be struggling of late.

Or, it could be the near-psychotic and near-Class A player who I managed to draw in our only encounter.

Perhaps it will be someone new. Perhaps it will be the Expert who used to play in our club, but who I haven't seen in a while.

Why did I stay up so late playing Doom 3 and drinking beer? Well, let's see how it goes....

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Tell Me It Ain't So!!

Looks like I'll get the match up I've been wanting to see tomorrow. Kamsky vs. Carlsen. Now, that will be some awesome chess.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What a Lucky Dude!!

Here's yet another reason to envy top Norwegian player Simen Agdestein, participating in his country's version of the USA's Ballroom Bootcamp. Yum, yum!!

November Increase

Well, I effectively recovered (and then some) all the points I lost at the Midwest Class tournament. My rating went up 43 points and now stands at USCF 1536. Last night's win over an 1147 rated play won't affect that number much (puts me at about 1540), but now I'll be playing the tough opps in my club for the rest of the month. On the other front, my FICS rating stands at its highest ever (non-provisional) at 1774. I'm beginning to like this trend. It always appears to amaze Tempo Schlucker that my rating can be so low when I do so well with tactics. Again, my weaknesses have been my thought process and risk-taking attitude. This past month, with a couple exceptions, my thought process has been on target. So, what I'm experiencing is the result of that.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Gamble

There seem to be two schools of thought in chess: those who believe that you should never sacrifice unless you are absolutely sure you have compensation and those who believe that just because you cannot calculate all the possiblities in a position doesn't mean that you shouldn't play a move that's risky but appears to be called for in that situation. Here's a position from tonight's club game. My opponent is rated only 1147, but he gained over 200 rating points in his last tournament, so his true strength is hard to determine.

White to move

I spent nearly 10 minutes analyzing this position in this g/45 Round 1 game of my club's December tournament. Unable to fully calculate the consequences of the move, I felt nonetheless that I had adequate compensation from the sacrifice 1. Nxe5. Was the sacrifice sound?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Make or Break Game: Analysis

It's a little late, but I've been a little busy! Anyway, here's my analysis (with Fritz' input as well). My failings in this game can be attributed mainly to a combination of misplaying the opening and not looking hard enough for my own resources in the position.

NN(1598) - CelticDeath(1493) [B01]
TCCC Normal, IL, 11/29/2005

B01: Scandinavian Defence 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.d4 Bg4 4.Be2 Bxe2 5.Qxe2 Qxd5 6.Nf3 e6 7.0–0 Nc6 8.Rd1 0–0–0 9.Be3

I struggled with the correct place to put my bishop. I didn't want to cut off the communication between my queen and rook, but apparently (and counterintuitively, d6 is the best spot for the bishop to go.

9. ... Be7 [Fritz: 9...Bd6 10.c4 (10.Nc3 Qh5 11.Qb5 Qg6 12.Qb3 a6; 10.Bg5 Qf5 11.c4 Be7 12.Be3) 10...Qf5 (10...Qh5 11.Nc3 Kb8 12.h3) 11.Nc3] 10.c4 Qh5 11.Nc3 Kb8 12.Ne5 Nxe5 13.Qxh5 Nxh5 14.dxe5

Here, I make another 2nd best move that gets me into trouble. I never even considered Fritz's recommended move.

14. ... g6 [Fritz: 14...f5!? is worthy of consideration] 15.g4+- Ng7 16.Bh6 Rhg8 17.Rxd8+ Bxd8 18.Rd1 Kc8 19.Nb5

Now, my position is difficult, but tenable with accurate play. Unfortunately, I blunder.

19. ... c6?? Fritz: the position is going down the drain [19...a6 20.Na7+ Kb8 21.Bxg7 Kxa7] 20.Nd6++- Kc7 21.Bxg7 Be7 22.Bh6 g5 23.Bg7 Bxd6 24.exd6+ Kd7 25.Bf6 Rg6 26.Be7 e5 27.Kg2 h6 28.Kf3 Re6 29.Ke4 b6 30.b4 f6 31.Rd3 Rxe7 32.dxe7+ Kxe7 1–0

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Ju-jitsu Musings #2

One thing I've noticed about myself is that I'm simply lacking in the personal drive category. My ju-jitsu classes are 1 hour and 45 minutes long. The last 15 minutes are grueling and consist of sparring rounds of varying length (usually 3 or 4 minute rounds). I was a big wuss last night, and I have been on some other nights as well. Now, I'm not the most conditioned person in the world, but there are others in my dojo who aren't much more fit than I am. However, when it came down to the last couple minutes of my round last night (we only did one round last night, because we had done some other conditioning drills earlier), I just about didn't complete the round. On other nights, when we have had multiple rounds, I have actually sat out when I felt too exhausted to continue. What I should have done was push myself in those instances to continue through the exhaustion.

The same is true in chess. If I get into an inferior position, there are times when I give up or quit much too soon. When I finish my analysis of my recent OTB loss, you'll see where I make a tactical blunder (in an already inferior position) and then continue to play in an inferior manner culminating in an exchange sac that effectively gives up the game for me.

Ok, I have stated the problem, so now I have to attempt a solution. For ju-jitsu, I simply have to get in better condition. Also, now that I have advertised this weakness, perhaps I will now strive to push myself harder in practice to build this mental toughness. For chess, I need to play just a little more carefully in inferior positions. In general, I need to avoid exchanges, but also seek as much counterplay as I can generate. Finally, I should force myself to play until I'm mated (for at least a while) to help cure my resign early attitude.

In Other News

Some other chess-related things happening with me:

-Fege has asked me to join his U2000 team for Teamchess 45 45's T29 tournament. I have accepted. So, now I'll be playing for two teams in T29, Fege's team and the U1800 Checkmate! You Are Dead.

-I've ordered 3 supplementary courses of the now-defunct Aficinado's Chess Mentor series. These are composed of 2 modules of strategy and one module dealing with mastering chess technique. I won't be able to use these until Christmas, though.

-There is an upcoming OTB tournament on December 10th in nearby Springfield, IL, but I haven't made up my mind whether or not to attend. There are other tournaments coming in January and March of next year which I may play in instead. Achieving 1600 may or may not happen this year, but (as is my usual failing) I will probably achieve it after my set goal date of December 31.