Sunday, January 02, 2011

Almost trapped a Master’s Queen.

I started the new year playing the Herb Healy Open house. I ran into fellow blogger Takchess. Oddly enough I had several people asking if I was “George Blunderprone” as if I were famous. Go figure, I put up a blog and share my study topics to the world and everyone wants to shake my hand. The problem is that even though I can cover some intense topics and share some depth here on the web, in practice, with the clock ticking, I have a hard time with the follow through.

The Herb Healy Open house event at the Boylston Chess Club is an annual event complete with a food buffet. I heard at the event a little about the history behind why a Buffet is present at this event. Back in a day, the blue laws would not allow any businesses to open on Holidays. With such an all day event, there had to be provisions to feed the chess players. This was a tradition that stuck.

I blew all my brain cells in the first round against a Master. I had the white pieces and got to play a very good Saemish against the King’s Indian. I managed to make it through the opening and had some middle game action going. I gave him a chance to come in on my queen side and attack my un castled king and pick up my a2 pawn. I proceeded to chase his queen in the corner and almost had him either drawn or winning the exchange. The game is below. Before you chastise me, Keep in mid a couple things. The time control is G40, there is a 600 point delta, and about a 30 year age difference between me and my opponent. I consciously made decisions to delay castling but once I did it, it became an intoxication and fell into the stupor.

I proceeded to tank in my next couple of games. One game, as black I was disillusioned into playing an early Nxd4 ( as Black in the advance C-K) and didn’t see the trap my opponent could have played. Instead he played conservatively. I erred on the side of attacking versus development and got into trouble. I didn’t learn anything in that game and in the next round I played a very young kid and basically fell into the same opening trap with colors reversed. This time the kid knew what to do and I was down a piece. The rest of the game was an exercise in humility as I tried to keep my dignity as I struggled for a draw only to lose.

I finally broke a 7 game losing streak ( beginning in early December at the chess club) in the last round playing the C-K. I thought of withdrawing after round 3. But I am too damn tenacious to quit even if I should. It’s what’s left of a fighting spirit. It’s what drives me to be the pain in the ass player who refuses to resign to some kid despite the material advantage. I make them earn the point. Sometimes, this works to my advantage. There is some sense of clarity I get when I finally reach that point of not having anything else to lose.

I attempted to keep a mental inventory while playing these rounds. In round one, I was fresh and played cautiously but not too timidly until ¾ of the way through the game. I just couldn’t see the right solution. The second game, I made the mistake of thinking “ I should beat this guy” especially following a good game with a strong opponent. I threw all safety checks aside and instead tried to “PUNISH” my opponent too early. Given the fact that he missed the opportunity to win a piece, played into the intoxication of playing overly aggressive and not doing the basic thinking processes that Dan Heisman suggested. Round three I was still running on “ should have beat” mentality that I played into the same unconscious and reckless trap. Humility was a sobering breath for the final round which allowed me to play with caution again. Now, if I can only remember this lesson.

My rating has been in a free fall all year due to various life priorities. I am fast approaching my floor. It stings when you drop a piece and play like crap against players 150 points lower…back to back. But at least I know I played well against a Master. May 2011 be my rebound year.

My next event is at the Portsmouth Open. If you attend, come by and say hi. Ask for “George the Blunderprone”.


dfan said...

Ha, add one more to the list: I recognized you but didn't introduce myself.

Congrats on having the stamina and willpower to stick with it for four rounds even though the first three didn't go so well. I ran out of gas after two.

Good luck in 2011!

LinuxGuy said...

I don't think all of my replies end up getting approved, but I am going to be blunt.

My impression of your play is that you often think about the small picture when you should be thinking about the big picture, and vice-versa.

In this game, no need to trade pieces, checkmate his king! No need to play patty-cake with him on the queenside either, go for the checkmate!

You are doing well with your openings, and technically you are very sharp in this game throughout, no doubt. What you need is the killer instinct in the middlegame and you can get this from studying middlegame positions of modern super-GMs, even from Karpov's games.

It's probably also because you have not played enough losing positions where one has to be desperate to get the win.

Am I asking too much for a G/40? Absolutely! But who said chess was a 40 minute game? The fact that somebody wins a 40 minute game does not impress me at all, but the game might still be interesting and useful.

wang said...

Good game. I find that mental stamina is the key for folks our age. 4 games in an afternoon can be taxing.

BlunderProne said...

@Linuxguy: I do post all replies I receive from you. I value your feedback. I think the last series of replies were all maintained in the one long one ... but it appeared as two additional duplicated snipets.

As for the bluntness, I need a cold sobering slap in the face. Yes.. I need to get that killer instinct. I've been spending the last couple of years studying older GM level games as seen from my posts on the old tournaments. I tried to look at modern games prior to that and was lost. I felt I needed to understand the taxonomy of the playing styles. With the London 1851 series I became familar with the swashbuckling styles of that period. With the Hastings 1895, I learned a bit about the predictable positional play that dominted the era. The NY1924 series intro duced me to some the hypermodern era and the Zurich 1953 grounded me in a new version of positional style with imbalances.

I'll get there... I'm just a little "slow". Not sure why I'm having a hard time with grasping the big picture of the game. I get tripped up with the details I feel remiss about in the positional side.

I find what I really am trying to do lately is just PLAY chess. I am learning to let go of the dogmatic styles that seem to keep me held back. So if I were to reflect back. I guess developmentally chess wise, I am still stuck in Hastings mode... I need to skip the hyper-modern era and start playing more like the post modern Z1953 and later. A part of me still feels like I am missing something of the 1970's but you are not hte first to recommend studying modern games. That's what I am missing. I just hope I can comprehend them.

LinuxGuy said...

Blunderprone, my internet connection goes down several time a day, so the posts on the Caro-kahn probably didn't go through. Thanks for your response :-)

I like that you sacrificed the a2 pawn in this game. Overall, it probably didn't do much in this position and wasn't correct, but you are on the right track.

I just wanted to chime in that you didn't actually "lose" this game, you lost on time.

A rating is not a strict reflection of one's playing strength. In most games of yours that I have seen lately, your opponent is either running you out of time, or you resign in a position where you are down but not out. The exception to this is that Caro-French where you achieved a winning position, but then didn't make the transition from defense to a no holds barred attack.

The book stuff has helped you a lot. I can tell you that many other players, if not most, do not have this sense of what a Master should be doing in a position like you do. But, the higher rated ones will spot any killer tactics quickly. IOW, they can play the opening, positionally, development, king-safety like a complete patzer, but if they can wallop you with that one killer-tactic, then it's game over. And actually, their type of positional play will support their tactical ideas, which means that it works, if you don't refute it.

I am going through this book, for example, 'Chess at the Top 1979-1984' by Karpov:
Even when I simply go through these games, I learn a lot, and occasionally I will use Crafty to see how a continuation would have gone. I used to be put off by the notes, then went through them, then realized that notes are about some other game that isn't being played anyway (okay, a little laziness on my part, but it's more efficient this way). I do refer to the notes going through it a second time, particularly the gist of them or useful ones.

I much prefer to play out games from a book using a board, but sometimes at the end of a book I guess I want to speed it up and get to the next book, so I stop using the board in some cases.

Oh yeah, with that one reply to that post it said it didn't go through (but it did), so I split it into two replies. You can delete the other two replies. hehe. ;-D

There was a time back when I was 1300's, much lower rating than your's, I know. I got winning positions a lot, but lost them. I studied a lot of books, so my sense of what to do wasn't so bad, but my opponents kept posing new tactical problems for me to solve instead of resigning, and then I got flustered on the clock and wasn't used to solving difficult tactical problems.

It is interesting what a rating doesn't say. For 600 rating points difference between you and your opponent, you made it look more like 100 rating points difference. ;-)

There is probably a part of you that understands the game at a much higher level, perhaps even Expert, but all it takes is one little hole in a players knowledge to trip them up in any particular game. So part of your game could be 2000 level, but the part that is at 1400 level will be the part that will cost games.

Sometimes, it seems you have switched styles in the past. At one time you are tactical and miss some strategic things, then you switch to strategic and miss some tactical things. When those two parts of your games come together, your rating should go up.

BlunderProne said...

LOL Linuxguy, It's the story of my life... so much to learn so little recall. It seems like when I study one concept, it pushes the other off the stack. Damn this thing called age.. I will beat you!

On my mirrored blog at ( ) one commentor asked why on move 34 I traded queens. Time pressure and fear... simplify " get rid of his big bad queeny" IDK... But I sdhould have known better. I once posted about the concept of trading Q's being a MAJOR decision. That notion was just flushed out of the mind OTB. Funny how these mind tricks are played during a "real" event.

Following your advice, I am going through modern games off my data base and I am back to do "the circles". I really hope I can turn this trend around and finally put this all together and be a force to reckon with...given my low rating. :)

takchess said...

Nice to see you. A great time at the HH as usual.

If you move some studies to some modern attacking games, I'd suggest:

This is a collection of modern attacking games from the book " on the Attack" by Jan Timman.

A little advanced for me but I'm sure right at your level.

Anonymous said...

Another great game. It would have been a nice win.

IMO in this game you get a few positions that really look good.

I think in these positions if you concentrate on continued simple winning tactics (keeping tempo, space, good pieces vs bad pieces, etc.) you'll end up OK.

One example, it looks to me that on move 37 one simple plan that probably keeps the advantage is checking with the knight and closing the kside and getting rid of the h file bishop.

Then you can concentrate on getting your bishop into the game via d3 and b5 and letting your rooks work on the qside pawns.

I think going over some of Capablanca's and Fischer's games show good examples of how continued small advantages can win. For instance, a famous one is the seventh game in the Fischer-Petrosian match in 1971.

LinuxGuy said...

My response sounds like Sheardp's over there. I would have looked to play g4, for sure.

The other line someone gave, letting his queen take on b2, but in any case appears to be a forced win whether he takes it or not. That line takes a little more calculation than intuition, but is the reason for the non queen trade more so than trading queens is "bad".