Tuesday, January 31, 2006

2006 Twin City Championship, Round 2

Well, my Internet play may suck right now, but I'm having continued success over the board. Tonight, I faced the winner of last year's tournament. This is the same person who I beat back in November while he was Class A. He's dropped down to Class B with a rating of 1765. Nonetheless, I managed to extend my winning streak against him to two games....

NN (1765) - CelticDeath(1568)
2006 Twin City Championship Normal, IL (2), 1/31/06 (g/45)
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nxd5 4.Bc4 Nc6 5.d3 Bg4 6.h3 Bh5 7.g4 Bg6 8.a3 a6 9.Nc3 e6 10.Nxd5 exd5 11.Ba2 Qd7 12.Qe2+ Be7 13.Bf4 0–0–0 14.0–0–0 Rhe8 15.Qd2 h5 16.g5 Bc5 17.b4 Bf8 18.Qc3 Qf5 19.Qd2 Qd7 20.Nh4 Bf5 21.Qc3 d4 22.Qb3 Be6 23.Qb2 Bxa2 24.Qxa2 g6 25.Qb3 Re2 26.Bg3 Bg7 27.Rd2 Rde8 28.Rxe2 Rxe2 29.a4 Qe6 30.Qxe6+ Rxe6 31.b5 axb5 32.axb5 Na7 33.Kd2 Nxb5 34.Ra1 Nc3 35.Ra8+ Kd7 36.Rg8 Be5 37.f4 Bd6 38.Nf3 Re2+ 39.Kc1 Ba3# 0–1

So, with this win I'm inches and goal for achieving Class B (and by my own calculations have already achieved it with a rating of 1604 - but this could change if I don't maintain the streak). The tournament skips a week (1st Tues of every month is blitz chess), and resumes the following week.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

2006 Peoria Winter Tornado

Well, some good news. My 1st round was a win against an unrated player - no big deal. My 2nd round was a loss against a Class A player. My 3rd game was a draw against an Expert. Now, what was great about that 3rd game is that I believe I had a chance to win it. Unfortunately, I didn't play the best at the end, and he was able to get a three-fold repetition against me (which, with seconds on the clock, I was happy to agree to!)

Here are the moves from the game:
NN (2011) - CelticDeath (1556)
2006 Peoria Winter Tornado 1/28/06

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Nbxd7 5.c4 Nb6 6.b3 Qd7 7.Nf3 Qf5 8.0–0 0–0–0 9.Qe2 e6 10.dxe6 fxe6 11.Re1 Bc5 12.Nc3 Rhe8 13.Qe5 Bxf2+ 14.Kf1 Bxe1 15.Qxe1 g5 16.Kg1 e5 17.Qe2 e4 18.Ne1 Ng4 19.Ba3 Qf4 20.g3 Qf5 21.Rd1 e3 22.dxe3 Rxe3 23.Rxd8+ Kxd8 24.Qd2+ Kc8 25.Nd1 Re8 26.Nc3 Ne5 27.Kg2 g4 28.Qe3 a6 29.Ne4 Re6 30.Qd4 Qh5 31.Nf2 Nf3 32.Nxf3 gxf3+ 33.Kf1 Qxh2 34.Qh8+ Kd7 35.Qd4+ Kc6 36.Qc5+ Kd7 37.Qd4+ Kc6 38.Qc5+ Kd7 39.Qd4+ ½–½

I think I treasure this game even more than my other recent first - my win against a Class A player.

So, with one round to play, and wanting to leave on an up-note, I withdrew from the tournament. True, if I would have stayed and won my last round game, most likely I would have won some money. However, I wanted to enjoy the moment and the feeling of success.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Scylla and Charybdis

Well, unfortunately Lliamah must have missed my comment on his blog to the effect that I could not play in Round 6 of the current Teamchess tournament, so I'm forced to play this round. Also, I'll be playing in an OTB tournament on Saturday as well as Round 1 of the Winter 2006 OCL tournament at Chessville most probably as 1st board on my team. Add to this my oldest daughter's request that I take her around the neighborhood to sell girlscout cookies this Sunday, and I'm set for a very stressful few days here.

Wish me luck....

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

2006 Twin City Championship, Round 1

Today, I played a 548 rated opponent and, although she played a solid opening, she unnecessarily hung several pieces, giving me an easy win. I don't expect to have such and easy time next Tuesday. On a side note, I'll be playing in a local tournament this Saturday, and I'll post the games afterward. I don't imagine any of those will be very easy, either.

Strategy in Action, Even in an Imperfect Game

CelticDeath(1536) - NN(1591) [C02]
TCCC Normal, IL, 1/17/06

C02: French: Advance Variation 1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.cxd4 d5 5.e5 e6 And so the 2. c3 Sicilian has evolved into an Advance French Defense. I'm comfortable with either. 6.Nf3 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 Nge7 8.Bd3 Nf5 9.Bxf5N exf5 10.0–0 Be6 Fritz: Blocks the pawn on e5 11.a3 Ba5 12.b4 Bb6 13.Be3 Shoring up the d4 pawn, which tends to be weak in this variation. 13...0–0 14.Na4 Continuing the battle of the minor pieces. So far, I'd say both white and black are equal as far as minor pieces go. 14...f6

Here, I play sort of a general principles move. I remembered playing through a Nimzowitsch Advance French game where when the opportunity to exchange the e-pawn for the f6 pawn arose, he took it with the idea of opening up the center. 15.exf6 Qxf6 16.Nxb6 Getting rid of black's strongest minor piece by exchanging it for my minor piece. The difference is that I've now created another pawn weakness, which should come in handy in the endgame. 16...axb6 17.Bf4 Now, my bad, passive Bishop heads for a more active post. 17...h6 18.Be5 Qe7 19.Qd2 Rf7 20.b5 Keeping up the pressure, but this move has to be premature. Now, white can grab the strong c4 post. 20...Na5 21.Qb4 Qd7 [Fritz: ¹21...Nc4!?= is noteworthy] By retreating my bishop, I, of course, threaten the fork on the queen and rook. But, better than that, I remove the sting from Nc4 and ensure that I will be left with the better, remaining minor piece. Strategic objective achieved - minor piece battle is over. 22.Bf4±

Nc4 23.Ne5 Nxe5 24.Bxe5 Fritz: White can be proud of that piece 24...Rff8 Fritz: Manoeuvre Rf7-f8-c8-c4 25.f4 Not sure if my last move was accurate, but I wanted to lock in my opp's bishop and make it difficult or impossible to get outside of the pawn chain. 25...Ra5 26.Rab1 Rc8 27.Qd6 [Fritz: ¹27.Rf3!? Rc4 28.Qe1 Rxb5 29.Rd1±] 27...Rc4 Fritz: An ideal square for the black rook. 28.Qxb6 Rxa3 29.Bd6 Raa4 30.Bc5 Bf7 31.Rfe1 Qc8 [Fritz: 31...Ra2 32.Rb3 Rcc2 33.Rg3=] 32.Re7 Qa8? [¹32...Rc2 33.Kh1 Qb8=] 33.Rxb7?? A mistake, but my opp didn't see how to capitalize on it. Fritz:ruins a very nice position [33.Qxb7 Qxb7 34.Rxb7 Ra2+-] 33...Kh7 [33...Ra1 34.Rb8+ Kh7 35.Rh8+ Kxh8 36.h3 Rxb1+ 37.Kh2 Qa1 38.Qd8+ Kh7 39.Qe7 Rc3 40.Qe3 Rh1+ 41.Kg3 Qe1+ 42.Kf3 Rxe3#] 34.Ra7+- Passing on the proferred bishop for now.... [Fritz: 34.Rxf7? may look interesting but has some grave disadvantages 34...Ra1 35.h4 Rxb1+ 36.Kh2 Rcc1–+] 34...Rxa7 35.Qxa7 Qe8 36.Qe7 Qa8?? Fritz: the pressure is too much, Black crumbles [36...Qxe7 37.Bxe7 Rc7+-] 37.Qxf7 Qa2 38.Qxf5+ Kg8 39.Re1 Qa8 40.b6 Qd8 41.Qg6 1–0

1. e4 c5 2. c3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. cxd4 d5 5. e5 e6 6. Nf3 Bb4+ 7. Nc3 Nge7 8. Bd3 Nf5 9. Bxf5 exf5 10. O-O Be6 11. a3 Ba5 12. b4 Bb6 13. Be3 O-O 14. Na4 f6 15. exf6 Qxf6 16. Nxb6 axb6 17. Bf4 h6 18. Be5 Qe7 19. Qd2 Rf7 20. b5 Na5 21. Qb4 Qd7 22. Bf4 Nc4 23. Ne5 Nxe5 24. Bxe5 Rff8 25. f4 Ra5 26. Rab1 Rc8 27. Qd6 Rc4 28. Qxb6 Rxa3 29. Bd6 Raa4 30. Bc5 Bf7 31. Rfe1 Qc8 32. Re7 Qa8 33. Rxb7 Kh7 34. Ra7 Rxa7 35. Qxa7 Qe8 36. Qe7 Qa8 37. Qxf7 Qa2 38. Qxf5+ Kg8 39. Re1 Qa8 40. b6 Qd8 41. Qg6 1-0

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Strategy in Action, Even in an Imperfect Game: Preview

I'll post the game later, but I won a game against a 1591 USCF-rated player last night, which, according to my calculations, now puts me at about 1556 USCF. So, I'm only 44 pts away from Class B.

What's interesting about the game was that I actually used strategy to win it. True, in Fritz 8's analysis afterward, there were some flaws in my game (and even one opportunity if my opp had seized it would have won him the game). Nevertheless, I was proud of myself for actually coming up with a strategic plan and then successfully implementing it.

The theme of the game, which I will post later with some analysis by both Fritz and me, was active, bad bishop vs. inactive, bad bishop. I won the minor piece battle and then found a way to leverage that into a win.

*Incidentally, if you have been following my blog, you might remember me talking about a fellow at chess club who used to win every game against me and who told me that I would never improve. Well, with this win, I have a 2-game winning streak against him.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Books I Am Reading

I've got 3 chess books going at once now. I'm learning a lot from each of them. Here, I've listed them in order of focus, where the book I spend the most time reading is listed first.

Pawn Structure Chess by GM Andy Soltis - This book has shown me a LOT of things about strategic play based on pawn structure. Unfortunately, although I'm nearly finished with reading it, only a little has really stuck with me. Therefore, I plan to re-read it upon completion before beginning the next book in line in my strategic studies. That book will either be Kmoch's Pawn Power in Chess, which I read years ago, but need to refresh the memory on, or Watson's Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy, which I had begun earlier, but it was over my head at that point.

Imagination in Chess by Paata Gaprindashvili - This book is for all you MDLM graduates out there. Give this book a go. Over 750 tactical puzzles of Expert difficulty and higher. I've only completed about 25 of these and each one has taken me from 15 minutes to about half an hour to fully solve.

Play the King's Indian by Joe Gallagher - This one is specific to a personal weakness of mine; playing against 1. d4. This opening seems to provide versatility (can be used against 1. c4 and 1. Nf3 as well), as well as lots of tactics (which I love). However, I need to learn a lot of the ideas behind it to use it effectively.