Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Call Me Chocolate Chip, 'Cause I'm Goin' Semi-Dark

I've decided to curb my chess activities somewhat until I complete my endgame circles. I still plan to play in online tourneys like the OCL and Teamchess 45 45, and I still plan to go to chess club (although it may not be as regularly as before). I will not play in any of the local non-club tourneys, though, until I've had a chance to complete the circles AND gone through the normal digestion process of the information (i.e., following the normal slump in playing performance after crossing a significant learning curve like completing the circles).

Openings: Expanding the Repertoire

Lately, I've been taking an increased interest in openings. I'm beginning to expand my repertoire. Part of this is also due to the fact that by having many systems at my disposal, it will be more difficult for my opps to prepare against me. So, I am evolving my repertoire to include more Benoni's and Queen's Gambit games against 1. d4. For now, I'll stick with my Scandy, but I've started to take an interest in the Caro Kann and the Sicilian against 1. e4. The problem there is that I haven't settled on a system for those two openings that I really want to pursue. For white, I'll stick with 1. e4 for now (and maybe indefinitely), although I really want to look into the Evans Gambit, Kings Gambit, Sicilian Yugoslav Attack, and Sicilian Sozin. I'll wait a bit on those, though, as I digest more responses to 1. d4.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

New (Old) Plan

Time to begin learning again. Now, I have been working on improving my strategic play with Chess Mentor. I plan to continue that. However, my endgame play is very weak, so I need to address that shortcoming in my game. I've lost too many "won" games recently due to botching the endgame that I really need to do some serious work. So, it's time to pick up where I left off last year when my son was born. Time to resume the 7 Circles of Death. I plan to go back to the method I used with my tactics circles. So, for each theme (e.g., pawn endings, rook endings, etc.) I will do 7 mini-circles using Chess Endgame Trainer by Convekta. Once I make it through the problem set in that manner, I will then do 7 macro-circles over the whole 2500 or so problems.

It's Official!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

2006 Twin City Championship, Round 6 - The Streak Ends

Man, do I suck against the Stonewall. I blew it today and the streak has ended. I share the championship with the person that beat me today. My rating will now be 1646 by my calculations. I simply MUST find the right way to meet this system.

NN (1492) - CelticDeath (1568) [A45]
2006 Twin City Championship Normal, IL (6), 21.03.2006
1.d4 Nf6 2.e3 d5 3.f4 c5 4.c3 cxd4 5.cxd4 Bf5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.a3 a5 8.Qa4 Qc7 9.Bb5 Rc8 10.Bd2 Bd7 11.Nc3 e6 12.0–0 Ne4 13.Rac1 Bd6 14.Nxe4 dxe4 15.Ne5 Bxe5 16.fxe5 b6 17.Rc3 Qb7 18.Rfc1 0–0 19.Bxc6 Bxc6 20.Rxc6 b5 21.Qc2 Rxc6 22.Qxc6 Qxc6 23.Rxc6 a4 24.Rb6 f5 25.Rxe6 Rc8 26.Bc3 b4 27.Bxb4 Rc1+ 28.Kf2 Rc2+ 29.Kg3 Re2 30.Re8+ Kf7 31.Re7+ Kg6 32.d5 Rxe3+ 33.Kf2 Rb3 34.Bc3 1–0

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

2006 Twin City Championship, Round 5

An embarrassment of a game. I played some of the worst chess I've played in a long time. I simply could not calculate during the middlegame. I was down a rook in the endgame, but I had 4 pawns to the good. opponent...stepped on a booby-trapped pawn and...I went on to win.

CelticDeath(1568) - NN(1644)

2006 Twin City Championship Normal, IL (5), 14.03.2006
1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bg4 5.h3 Bh5 6.g4 Bg6 7.d3 e6 8.Be3 d5 9.exd5 exd5 10.Bb5 a6 11.Bxc6+ bxc6 12.Nh4 d4 13.Qf3 dxc3 14.Qxc6+ Nd7 15.Nxg6 fxg6 16.Qxc3 Rb8 17.0–0–0 Nf6 18.Rhe1 Be7 19.Bc5 Nd5 20.Qxg7 Rf8 21.Qxh7 Kd7 22.Bxe7 Nxe7 23.Rxe7+ Qxe7 24.Qxg6 Rxf2 25.Qe4 Qxe4 26.dxe4+ Ke6 27.b3 Re2 28.Rd4 Rf8 29.g5 Rff2 30.Rc4 Kd6 31.b4 Rh2 32.h4 Rxh4 33.e5+ Rxe5 34.Rxh4 Rxg5 35.Rh6+ Ke5 36.Rxa6 Rg4 37.a3 Rc4 38.Kb2 Kd4 39.Rh6 Kd5 40.Kb3 Rf4 41.a4 Rf3+ 42.c3 Rf5 43.c4+ Ke5 44.b5 Kd4 45.Rc6 Rf7 46.a5 Ke5 47.Kb4 Kd4 48.b6 cxb6 49.axb6 Rf8 50.Kb5 Kc3 51.Ka6 Ra8+ 52.Kb7 Ra3 53.Kc7 Kb3 54.b7 Ra7 55.Kb8 Ra4 56.Kc8 Kc3 57.b8Q Rb4 58.Qg3+ Kc2 59.Qf2+ Kc3 60.Qe3+ Kc2 61.Kd7 Rb3 62.Qxb3+ Kxb3 63.c5 Kc4 64.Kd6 Kb3 65.Rb6+ Kc4 66.c6 Kc3 67.c7 Kd4 68.Rb4+ Ke3 69.c8Q Kf3 70.Qc3+ Ke2 71.Rb2+ Kd1 72.Qd2# 1–0

So, this means that I am assured of 1st place and the title of 2006 champion. Next week, I will play somebody who has been itching to play against me. This is an opponent who's known to play odd, closed games like the Stonewall System, among others. I must prepare well against him, because he did manage to beat me last year. So, he is very dangerous. Also, he has only lost once in this tournament, so if he does beat me, then he will share the title with me. If I draw, or if I win, I will be the sole champion.

My unofficial rating is now 1690. If I win next week, I will finish the tournament with a rating of 1703 or an increase of 135 points.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

And Now, My Round 4 Game

NN (1553) - CelticDeath(1568) [B01]
2006 Twin City Championship Normal, IL (4), 28.02.2006
B01: Scandinavian Defence

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.Bb5+

My opp has successfully played this variation against me before in a tournament game. However, I have since learned how to properly play against it!

3...Bd7 4.Bc4 Bg4 5.f3 Bf5 6.Nc3 Nbd7 7.Nge2 Nb6 8.Bb5+ Bd7 9.Bxd7+ Qxd7 10.d4 Nbxd5 11.Nxd5 Qxd5 12.0–0 0–0–0 13.Bf4 e6 14.b3 Bd6 15.c4 Qf5 16.Be3

There is a general principle that I have recently discovered that addresses a move like this. It states that you should never avoid an exchange of minor pieces if moving the minor pieces makes it inferior. My opp has certainly reduced the power of his bishop here. 16...Rhe8 17.c5 A small blunder.

17...Bxc5 18.Ng3 Qg6 19.Rc1 Bd6 20.Bf2 h5 Although this pawn advance works out for me, I'm still not convinced that it was the correct strategy. Perhaps it was, but perhaps it wasn't.

21.Re1 h4 22.Ne4 Bf4 I move the bishop, because I feel I need to keep it on the board. 23.Rc4 h3 24.g3 A pseudo attack against the bishop. The bishop stays where it is for the rest of the game.

24...Nd5 25.Kh1 f5 26.Nc3 Nxc3 27.Rxc3 e5 28.d5 e4 29.fxe4 fxe4 30.Bxa7 e3 I really wanted this clearance move to work, and it does. However, Fritz has shown me that White has a save in 31. Qf3 31.Bxe3 Qe4+ 0–1

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Bc4 Bg4 5. f3
Bf5 6. Nc3 Nbd7 7. Nge2 Nb6 8. Bb5+ Bd7 9. Bxd7+ Qxd7 10. d4 Nbxd5 11. Nxd5
Qxd5 12. O-O O-O-O 13. Bf4 e6 14. b3 Bd6 15. c4 Qf5 16. Be3 Rhe8 17. c5 Bxc5
18. Ng3 Qg6 19. Rc1 Bd6 20. Bf2 h5 21. Re1 h4 22. Ne4 Bf4 23. Rc4 h3 24. g3 Nd5
25. Kh1 f5 26. Nc3 Nxc3 27. Rxc3 e5 28. d5 e4 29. fxe4 fxe4 30. Bxa7 e3 31.
Bxe3 Qe4+ 0-1

Monday, March 06, 2006

My Round 3 Game - At Last!

Here is my 2006 Twin City Championship game with some brief annotations.

CelticDeath(1568) - NN (1631)
2006 Twin City Championship Normal, IL (3), 21.02.2006
C02: French: Advance Variation

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.cxd4 Nh6

My opponent has played this variation against me before in blitz. Fritz shows it as an innovation. It's a trappy move, but perhaps nothing more. 8.Nc3 [8.Bxh6 Qxb2 9.Bd2 Qxa1 10.Qb3=] 8...Bb4 [=8...Nf5 9.Bxf5 exf5 10.Nxd5; ¹8...Bd7] 9.0–0 Bxc3 10.bxc3 Ne7

Now I have a unique opportunity that I will lose if I don't act immediately. I can trade off a bad bishop for a slightly better knight and inflict doubled h pawns which may prove to be useful targets in an endgame. 11.Bxh6 gxh6 12.Qd2 A tempo move. 12...Bd7 13.Rab1 Another tempo move. 13...Qc7 14.Rfc1 Now c4 is a strong threat. 14...0–0–0 Castling right into it. 15.c4 dxc4 I thought for awhile here. I wasn't sure which would be stronger, taking with the bishop or the rook. Fritz has them nearly equal. 16.Bxc4 Bc6 17.Qd3 Kb8 18.Ba6 b6 19.a4 Rd5 20.Qc3 Qd7 21.a5 Kc7 22.axb6+ axb6 23.Bb5 Rc8 24.Qd2 Kd8 25.Bxc6 Rxc6 26.Qxh6 Rxc1+ 27.Rxc1 Nf5

Now a tactical shot clinches the win. 28.Qf8+ Qe8 29.Rc8+ 1–0

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Qb6 6. Bd3 cxd4 7. cxd4 Nh6 8. Nc3 Bb4 9. O-O Bxc3 10. bxc3 Ne7 11. Bxh6 gxh6 12. Qd2 Bd7 13. Rab1 Qc7 14. Rfc1 O-O-O 15. c4 dxc4 16. Bxc4 Bc6 17. Qd3 Kb8 18. Ba6 b6 19. a4 Rd5 20. Qc3 Qd7 21. a5 Kc7 22. axb6+ axb6 23. Bb5 Rc8 24. Qd2 Kd8 25. Bxc6 Rxc6 26. Qxh6 Rxc1+ 27. Rxc1 Nf5 28. Qf8+ Qe8 29. Rc8+ 1-0