Saturday, December 05, 2009

Inglorious Blunders ( at the Harry Nelson Pillsbury Memorial)

ACIS Update:

Do check out Harvey as he has now started a Google group dedicated to the cause which will allow a better exchange of ideas and resources as we can up/down load files and share common useful links etc.

Tourney report:
I like the Harry Nelson Pillsbury Memorial held every Fall in Massachusetts as it’s a recognized Heritage event and has been held annually for over 25 years! It’s a Grand Prix event as well but since I am not a master, that has little importance for me ( this year). The format has changed over the years. This year, it was kept to a 1 day event with four rounds of a G60’s. This meant some serious yet fast action was about to happen on this Sunday following our American Thanksgiving.

We were blessed with team members from the famous Boston Blitz featuring, GM Eugene Perelshteyn and IM’s David Vigorito who tied for first place in the open section. FM Dennis Shmelov and Ilya Krasik, also Boston Blitz players, tied for 3rd and 4th place.

There were four sections for a modest turn out of 53 players in all three sections. I played in the Under 1900 section below is my round for round account of my games.

Round one loss to a Class A player:

I played the back side to an English opening that was more like a Reti when I responded 1…c6. I should have known better as I studied Reti in the New York 1924 series. I might have faired better had I played a line with Bf5 which Lasker used regularly to avoid the cramped complications I fell into. I really need to work on the transpositions. Two major issues came up in this came. The first, looking at the position below on Black’s move 10.

I wanted to advance c5 and keep the bishop as it was my only one “out of the gate”. But I ended up with a dumb position hemming in that bishop altogether. The chess engine suggests moving the knight to f8 as this will be handy later. I think even better is to exchange on d2. Where Black’s game is cramped and I want to lock the pawns on dark squares, having a pair of knights will be better. Plus White’s dark squared Bishop gets hemmed in now.

The second issue was a bad plan to remove White’s light squared bishop. A couple moves later, I created a battery with a queen and Bishop on the c8-h3 diagonal and went after White’s Bg2. Somewhere I had a notion that getting rid of the bishop would weaken White’s king position. True, in some cases with finachetto’s this is a good plan. The exception I overlooked was that it traded Black’s Active Bishop for White’s more passive one.

Round 2 win against a Class A player:

I played the White side against a Nimzo-Indian defense. I had been studying the Rubinstein variation since my New York 1924 studies and liked the games in Zurich 1953 with Taimanov playing some interesting ideas against Averbahk. Now my problem is that I play 6Nge2 in the more traditional sense of the Rubenstein meant to keep the q-side pawns from being messed up. The idea is to follow-up with f3 and e3-e4 especially once Black exchanges the bishop. By Zurich 1953, that line was replaced with a more aggressive 6Nf3 made popular after New york 1924 and became the main line. The idea is to allow the double c-pawn and get the bishops on both diagonals ( a1-h8 and b2-h7) in preparation for opening the center. I didn’t do that… was happy to settle with remember to play the bishop to D3 first and then said Nge2 must come next.

Regardless of this, I did manage a playable middle game as I had the opportunity to test Black’s ability to play an IQP. I sort of know how to attack and/or defend such a position. I recall my lessons’ Jorge Sammour-Hasbun in telling me the fundamental is that the endgame is more favorable for the player who doesn’t own the IQP. Exchanges then become favorable and the owner should avoid it. Black didn’t do much to prevent this in the game.

Blocking the square in front of the IQP also keeps it from advancing and getting traded to equalize or worse… become a decoy as a king side attack forms. The defender will place the rooks on both adjacent files ( as did my opponent in the game and I got my knight in front of the pawn. He missed a knight forking tactic on the other weakness on d6.

Round 3 win ( I should have lost) against a Class C player

You know, I was feeling pretty damn cocky. Round one wasn’t a total loss and I just beat a class A player. When this opponent played an Advanced variation, I decided on the spot to try something I had never tried before and played 3..c5. I read through this variation back in a day ( never played it)…but felt I could “think through this” OTB. By move 11 I was humbled with a Greek gift on h7:

Sucker punched, I hobbled my king in the corner for a few moves, desperately pulling in reinforcements in when I could. Then I had a chance 11 moves later and played this:

I got damn lucky. Note to self, don’t pick a tournament to “explore” a new line I was meaning to look into when I got a round to it.

Round 4 victory against a Class A player ( cinching the Class prize):

My opponent’s third round game was the last to finish and he ended up losing in a time scramble when he thought he had set his clock to correctly allow the 5 second delay. He was rattled as he challenged my 1d4 witrh 1..c5. “Crap, a Benoni”, I thought. This time, because of my training positions, I made sure I had some from previous “lessons” and managed to survive the opening without any traps. It did give Black a slight advantage in piece mobility. I decided to handle the game as a hypermodern positioning my bishops as Black expanded in the center with pawns. Black’s d-pawn became backward and I was given a chance to exchange pieces and win the pawn.
In turn Black had the bishop pair in an open position giving me a pawn advantage if I made it to the end game. To my surprise, Black exchanges one of his bishops for my knight on b5. This gave me more mobility and then he totally hung a piece. He clearly was still rattled from the previous match.

I finished with 3 points to clear the under 1750 class prize and did a happy dance with my BIG money winnings of $75.

Lessons I learned:
1) Learn your openings enough to get to a middle game you can play.
2) Recognizing and being comfortable with certain middle game themes like IQP and minority attacks can be beneficial if I come out of the opening a little less than equal.
3) Don’t try anything new.


Lauri said...

Congratulations on your success!

Somehow this "don't try anything new" struck me as dubious. You see, you sit at board and you pick certain vibes and energies from your opponent, from the board, from the surrounding, from yourself, and it is not intellectual but combination of instinct and thought. And then to take the game to some territory - I would dismiss strong intuitions. As I don't see intuition as something overnatural but an ability to compare patterns from your memory to what you see around even you wouldn't be able to name the patterns if somebody asked you.

Scheming Mind said...

Great Games! Glad to see that you did well and earned a little money to boot! That sounds like a really awesome tourney. I have to say im a bit jealous. Anyway it looks like the hard work is paying off for you so keep it up!

LinuxGuy said...

In that game 1, I can think of a whole bunch of plans for Black there "after spending an unreasonable amount of time for G/60" looking at that position.

Addressing the immediate need of that position, though, if you want to keep your bishop then ...a5! and if a3, then I like ...Bd6 (Bf8 also looks playable), but definitely not ..c5. Nc5 is the only piece for Black that could use that square in passing.

In theory, I'd be more tempted to allow a c5 (which doesn't look all that doable to me, anyhow), and respond to it with ...Bc7.

...Nf8 looks too passive. I'd rather play ...h6 as passive kingside moves go, in that position. It weakens the g6 square, but then again who exactly is kicking butt in this position? Probably Black!

I briefly went over the other games a couple days ago, and they did look G/60ish, as far as your opponents not really finding all the resources.

Nice wins!

BTW, my position on playing the crazy/unprepared opening lines, and losing the game because the other guy was more familiar with it, falls on the side of "do it, try it!" You may lose, and yet become better prepared next time.

Ratings tend even out over time, since most games I'm guessing will not fall into the category of experimental lines. If you are really playing for the BIG money, hehe, then yeah I guess play conservative. But even there, a draw is half a loss, so that can start to backfire as well.

LinuxGuy said...

Game 2, he blundered with 20..Qg4 of course. Perhaps he was low on time and picked the wrong time to try and bail for a draw, but you kept up the positional pressure all the way up to that point. I kind of like 20...Qd7, then 21...Nc4, but I may have already tried to bail the move before with NxN.

Game 3, you chose to transpose into the French Advanced a tempo down, ouch, I wouldn't advise that (at least ...Bf5 first gives Black something in return). After that, your opponent appeared to have found the attack button and pulled his finger off too late, instead of patiently developing. Nice counter for the win!

Game 4, you deserve credit for beating him positionally, even though he did make a blunder which wasn't an obvious one. Pushing ...e5 probably wasn't exactly the best idea for Black, either.

chesstiger said...

Game 1: I had played 5. ... e4 instead of d4 so that his just developed knight has to move again and you gain tempo and a + in development.

7. ...-Bb4+ ? 7. ...-Bd6 looks a tad better to me especially with a timely e4 push.

10. ... Bd6 a move i suggested on move 7 :-) is here kinda a waste of time since the Bc8 is still hemmed in. So Nf8 looks indeed better here.

11. h3 ? waste of time now the bishop isn't at b4 anymore.

12. e3 is indeed better, eating at black's overwhelming centre. Now it also locks in the g2 bishop, its activity is narrowed immensly.

12. ... Nf8 Did i just hear somebody yell "atlast" just now? :-)

13. ... Bd7 Did you look at 13. ... b6 followed by Bb7 and a timely f5 pawn push?

18. Kxg2 Dont agree fully with your assessment about the kingsafety since black also lost his white squared bishop which would be a good attacker here.

Game 2: Well played although your opponent mismastered the opening. I guess his Slav setup needs a ... dxc4, Bxc4 b5, Bd3 Bb7, ... move order instead of his e5 pawn push.

Game 3:5. ... e6, strange move order to come to a french opening setup. :-) Opponent started well but his level dropped once past the opening stages. I guess he's well booked but lacks the creativity and knowlegde to finish you off.

Game 4: i guess your opponent was still to much busy with his previous game. Not A-class worthy his play.

All by all a well played tournament.

LinuxGuy said...

"13. ... Bd7 Did you look at 13. ... b6 followed by Bb7 and a timely f5 pawn push?"

I like your thinking, Chesstiger! Control e4 with the Bb7 and break in the center.

Actually, I like dxe! after White belatedly pushed e4. White's bishops are in the center and Black's weakness is right down the pipes.

It was predictable that he would try to give you that bad dark-squared pawn chain, hem it in with some queenside moves, more for practical endgame (zugzwang) purposes than for middlegame purposes.

He defended very nicely, have to give him credit. His last move was a bit suspect (this is G/60, of course). Nh3, controlling the dark-squares looks better than Ne2 - as it is you had threats of invading on the dark squares with your queen and going pawn gobbling (if you can get Qg5 in).

Nh3 and if ..Kh8, Rg1! looks nice ..rook move, Ng5 looks interesting with the possibility of ..gxh, Ng5xf7 mate.

But he didn't play that, so assuming you had some time, you could have played on a bit more. I feel that both of you played well during that forced sequence of play.