Saturday, December 15, 2007

Slacker Chess

The Romanticism of Staunton’s school of thought on Chess produced Swash-buckling players like Paul Morphy, Anderssen and Philidor with his Book titled The Chess Player’s handbook. ( available online here:,M1) Fisher once claimed that Howard was actually way ahead of his time after studying his games. He claimed that his style was more in line with the hypermodern movement of the 1920’s. Which is pretty excited when following the romantic period was a Classical period by Steinitz and Tarrasch who had such dogmatic platitudes to chess with their books.

The first rebels of chess to challenge the stodgy boring methodologies and idioms of Tarrasch’s and Steinitz’s Classical chess were the bad boys of the hypermodern school, led by Richard Réti, Aron Nimzowitsch, and Savielly Tartakower. Chess took on an edgy appeal in this era. They challenged the concept of controlling the center with their slacker approach with wing pawns and fianchetto’d bishops. This “relaxed” approach allowed the dogmatic Classical opponent to establish a pawn center that then became a target of attack with the distance skewer’s. None of these bad boys of the hypermodern school ever achieved World Champion Status though they were still strong players. What was cool, was that they didn’t care. They were still respected and had openings named after them.

Instead of riding motorcycles, wearing helmets with spikes and leather jackets with “ The Hyper-Mods” embroidered on their backs, they all wrote books. One, I feel worth mentioning ( and you will see where I am going with this long winded intro to my lost game) is Richard Réti, who published Die neuen Ideen im Schachspiel (the English translation, Modern Ideas in Chess, was published in 1923). He brought back the ideas of Staunton as this was an examination of the evolution of chess thinking from the time of Paul Morphy through the beginning of the hypermodern school. Plus he had an opening named after himself.

In that light, here is a game I played recently at the Harry Nelson Pillsbury Memorial that I totally botched with the wrong plan.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

My ICC is in the toilet

I haven't been able to do too much lately with my game or training per se, so it comes as no surprise that my game is in the toilet. I still keep trying to play on ICC and my Blitz rating is facing an abysmal plumet. I am hanging my queen, I am missing easy tactics, wlaking into traps and I keep coming back for more.

I do the zombie routine always saying " just one more".

So What's going on? I'm still working on the more important issues outside of chess that affect the happy homestead. I suppose I can look at this as progress. This will be a long road. But I do see January coming as a month that looks more promising for chess training. In the meantime, I strive for great moments of mediocracy at best. Because of all the crap I'm working with outside of chess, my mind right now is like roullete wheel that won't stop and the marble tries to land on a number but keeps getting bumped back up onto the spinning track.

What this translates to, is I get a few moments to check into chess. I go " cool I can chess, What'll I do?" Being who I am, I want to do it all :) I quickly get caught up on a few of my favorite blogs... commenting at times. I look at the tactics I want to study and oscillate on wanting to continue my Ct-art to Fritz quest for a deeeper meaning ( Thanks to my freinds from Argentina who helped me...really, THANK YOU)... to wanting to build up speed because I read here that in order to get to 1900, I should be able to do 40-80 1 move tactics in 10 minutes. Overwhelmed, I give up ANY tactical training ( except for the 10 or so problems I do each day while on the eliptical trainer at teh gym using Lev's Pocket Chess Training).

I then jump to refreshing my openings with bookup for about 5 minutes because of my last loss with the WimpB bot on ICC who has my name and knows my damn opening rep and is well prepared for it. Then after a quick review, I pummel myslef over and over with ICC often with an interuption in the form of a crisis that has to be handled. Rating goes flush.

I'm trying to not be hard on myself... I'm just trying to hold on to my chess playing ability before it atrophies. This is disheartening that without much practice... pure playing ... mostly in the form of Blitzing... is not enough to even sustain my level of play. I really must suck. (sigh)

One of these days, I'd like to get to my true potential... and see some progress...instead of plateaus or backsliding. Lately it seems that all I do is sustain the plateau when I had the chance to train and "keep my game up" and backslide when I don't.

Some folks would give up. My personality is too tenacious ( stubborn). Some folks welcome plateaus as a welcome platform to reach while the rest of the body and mind coalesce. Not me... I have this flaw that looks at this as a failure unless I am getting better or seeing tangible improvement.

Patience....Acceptance and time... it will come. I need to learn to value the present state so I can appreciate this game entirely. Its all a process. It frustrates me at times. It seems others can pick it up with ease.

I feel like a caveman at times. This will pass.

I'm done whining. Thanks for listening.


Friday, November 23, 2007

A Small Reprieve

I’ve a somewhat quiescent point with things at home that allowed me a chess moment at the club. I had a side game with a father who was waiting for his kid to finish. It was a serious imbalance in ratings being 500 points higher than him. I admire he was still a sport for the challenge and I must admit he had a good game.

The position below was reached after:
White: Blunderprone Black: Chess Father

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bf4 0-0 6.Qd2 a6 7.Bh6 Re8 8.Bxg7 Kxg7 9.0-0-0 Bg4 10.e5 dxe5 11.dxe5 Qxd2+ 12.Rxd2 Nfd7 13.Nd5 Ra7 14.Ng5 b5 15.h3 Be6 16.Nxe6+ fxe6 17.Nf4 Nc5 18.b4 Ne4 19.Rd4 Nxf2 20.Nxe6+ Kh8 21.Rg1 Nc6 22.Rh4 Nxe5 23.Kd2 c6 24.Ke2 Rd7 25.Kxf2 Rd2+ 26.Ke3 Rxc2 27.Ng5 Rc1 28.Kd2 Ra1 29.Kc3 Rf8

The position looks threatening for me with both rooks looming on my bishop and a rook pinned. Believe it or not, I actually planned it that way as I saw a nice tactic that just doesn’t jump out in this position. Can you?

(Scroll when ready)

30.Bc4 Lose the game or lose the rook !
30...Rxg1 31.Rxh7# 1-0

I will be able to escape on Sunday to attend the Harry Nelson Pillsbury Memorial ( one of Massachusetts early champions).

I haven’t had much OTB experience and a little on line but I am looking forward to some good sparring. I’ll be playing in the Under 1900 section.

On a side note, in continuation of tactics training, I am in the process of converting CT-ART to PGN and playing it against Fritz using 3D mode since visualization is important for OTB and I am too lazy to set up a board. After the initial material gain, I find playing the game to the win isn’t as easy as it seems against Fritz. Despite the material gain, it’s a good exercise in not blowing a won game.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Thrill is Gone

Well... not entirely. Life happens and in my house we have it in spades. Something has come front and center causing me extreme reprioritizing of my "hobbies". My blogging and chess club activity have to take a back seat for the next few weeks and probably lasting through the holidays. I WILL be back in full force in 2008 to continue with my half arsed improvement activities and maybe even a surprise!

Until then I will be lurking in the back ground singing the blues.

( Well, maybe not completely in the background as my alter-alter ego Fuzzy D and the Intruders would demonstrate at a recent Local Open Blues Jam)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's OK. I'm not a Professional - nor do I play one on TV.

Q: What's the difference between a Professional Chess Player and Large Cheese Pizza?

A: A Large cheese Pizza can feed a family of four.

All this talk lately about opening preparation with chessbase ( which is awesome... and if I had the time, of course I'd like to emulate my Hero Gary Kasparov...of which it's going on 2 weeks since I washed the hand that shook the hand when he was in Boston...but enough of the digression) has me feeling YET AGAIN, that there is ANOTHER part of my game I can improve. Then I got to thinking that the tool I do use, Bookup is adequate for my opening preparation because .... not to surprise anyone here... I am not a professional chess player. I get a little annoyed by Mike Leahy ( proprietor of the software) when he comes up with a new and improved version and insists I transition. I refused the last round of updates... I may live to regret but I don't care. I also get annoyed at myself for falling into the hype being generated over "novel" approaches. Sorry, I refuse to feel left out of this one.

I go with what works for me. I am transitioning from pure Rote memorization of lines to more of an understanding of where my openings are heading. Long story short, a couple years ago I stumbled on book that was a treatise on an opening system ( the London). A system versus a full blown opening variation, is one of much less theoretical understanding and more of a positional understanding and targets piece placement. This being a simple opening to understand and learn, I learned it from the bottom up. I could see the positions that would arise from typical responses and "knew" how to handle Black's responses rather well. Last year I transitioned from that system because as "simple" as it was... it too was a simple one to defend. But the way i learned it was novel to me.

I used Bookup to import games. I found the program easy to import PGN games and all. Plus there was an actual bookup book that was on the London. I added to the "canned" data base ocncepts from the books I had and off I went. I used the training mode to first work on depth and secondly to work on variations. I liked the training mode in Bookup over chess base and stuck with it.

Fast forward to what I have today. I have a separate book that I MADE for each of my 1.e4 openings, and defenses as black. I put MY OWN annotations in and check it with the "Starting out" series or even verify it with Chess base search on positions. Yes that can be tedious but since I have my repertoire base already established in Bookup, I didn't see the value add of transitioning to Chess base and re-entering all my lines again. I have to pick and choose what I do with my study time carefully.

Besides, Openings is not where I lose most of my games. I'm still tactically deficient despite the seven circles of hell and my continuing spin into further circles. I've learned that openings can provide a false sense of security but once exposed in the middle game, who's your daddy? Topic of a whole other post. Which I may continue... if I have the time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Correspondence Blitz!

I joined a correspondence chess team through my club and played my first match as part of the Correspondence Chess league of America and a match of our club versus the Greater Worcester club:

I’ve never done snail mail chess or anything like this before. I always feared I’d be playing against someone else’s computer. But I was talked into this match and felt the honor system was worth a shot. In hindsight though... too much ICC blitz made me a bit impatient. So note to self, either tapper off online blitz for a month prior to playing or decline next offer.

My first opponent was against someone who was just as impatient as I was and what transpired was a correspondence version of Blitz. We got email notification of when our opponent moved and what this meant was that both of us were sending move emails back and forth when we discovered we were both logged in at the same time.

We played two games simultaneously with opposite colors. I won my game as white with a Smith Morra and lost as black against a Slavo-Kan hack that I played too passively.

Here are the two games… I hope you enjoy them as you plug them into the PGN viewer way down the bottom of my links

(1) Duval,G - Alarie,M
Met League Metro West CC - Greater Worce ICCF, 22.09.2007
1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 e6 5.Nf3 Bb4 6.Qd4 Nc6 7.Qxg7 Qf6 8.Bh6 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Qxh6 10.Qxh8 Nce7 11.Bd3 Qf6 12.Qxf6 Nxf6 13.0–0 h6 14.Rab1 d5 15.e5 Nd7 16.Bb5 a6 17.Bxd7+ Kxd7 18.Nd4 Kc7 19.f4 b5 20.Rf3 Bd7 21.Rg3 Rg8 22.Rxg8 Nxg8 23.g4 Kb6 24.a4 Kc5 25.axb5 Bxb5 26.Nxb5 axb5 27.Rb4 Ne7 28.Kf2 Nc6 29.Rb1 d4 30.cxd4+ Nxd4 31.Ke3 Nc2+ 32.Ke4 Na3 33.Rc1+ Nc4 34.Kd3 Kd5 35.h4 Kc6 36.Rxc4+ bxc4+ 37.Kxc4 Kd7 38.Kc5 Ke7 39.g5 hxg5 40.fxg5 Kf8 41.Kd6 Kg7 42.h5 Kh7 43.Ke7 Kg7 44.Ke8 Kg8 45.h6 Kh7 46.Kxf7 Kh8 47.Kxe6 Kg8 48.g6 Kh8 49.g7+ Kh7 50.Kf6 Kg8 51.e6 Kh7 52.e7 Kxh6 53.e8Q 1–0

(2) Alarie,M - Duval,G
Met League Metro West CC - Greater Worce ICCF, 22.09.2007
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bf4 Bf5 5.e3 a6 6.Nf3 e6 7.Bd3 Bxd3 8.Qxd3 Be7 9.0–0 0–0 10.Rac1 dxc4 11.Qxc4 Nbd7 12.Rfd1 Nd5 13.Nxd5 cxd5 14.Qc7 Qxc7 15.Rxc7 Rfd8 16.Rxb7 Bf8 17.Kf1 Nf6 18.Rc1 Rac8 19.Rxc8 Rxc8 20.Rc7 Rb8 21.b3 Ne4 22.Rxf7 Rc8 23.Rc7 Rxc7 24.Bxc7 Ba3 25.Ba5 Kf8 26.Ke2 Ke7 27.Nd2 Nd6 28.f3 Nb5 29.Kd3 Kd6 30.Nb1 Kc6 31.Nxa3 Nxa3 32.Bb4 Nb5 33.a4 Nc7 34.e4 g6 35.g4 h5 36.h3 hxg4 37.fxg4 dxe4+ 38.Kxe4 Nd5 39.Bc5 a5 40.Ke5 Nc7 41.h4 Na6 42.Ba3 Nc7 43.h5 gxh5 44.gxh5 Nd5 45.h6 1–0

Life in the fast lane.... we were the first board of the match to complete both games. We sit "patiently" waiting and watching as our team-mates progress on move 10.
For those of you in isolated communities, this is a great venue to play some real chess in virtual over the board style. It's worth checking out. For me... I'm not sure I've got the patience for this due to my crippling Blitz addiction on ICC.
Enjoy, BP

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lake Titicaca

I recall back in middle school snickering over the name of this beautiful lake in Peru. It was because we could say out loud in class not one but two naughty words and not get sent home ( again) with the assignment of writing “ I will not say naughty words in class” 100 times. The reason I bring this blast from the past up is an incident at the club that reminded me of what goes on in the head of a pubescent youth. This past Tuesday, after receiving a highly coveted and hard to come by “ hardcore pawnography” sticker, I decided to place this decal on the back of my clock because it fit…. Oh so nice.

I wanted to proudly display this sticker like a race car driver with sponsor decals all over the vehicle, jacket, and hat. I consider my brainpower being sponsored by all the great chess improvement blogs out there. So naturally, when I received my decal, I immediately slapped it on my clock. Like the way I play tactics all too often, I didn’t give it much more thought because the move “looked so cool”.

Like moths to a flame, one by one, the boys had to come and check out my clock. They’d read it, cover their mouths and snicker like the little school boys that they are. I’d give them the “ What? What’s so funny” Look and they’d shake their heads tap a friend and the next would come up.

An adult, who had not seen the sticker, stopped me in the hall and had to relay a bathroom conversation held by two of the youths:

Hormonally Imbalanced Teen1 “ Did you see Duval’s Clock? That was hilarious!”

Hormonally Imbalanced Teen 2 “ Yeah, it was funny, But I thought it was bit immature.”

Having then told me, my friend realized he needed to see what the raucous was about. Upon seeing the “pretty raunchy clock sticker” ( as described by yet another teen), he grinned, shook his head and walked off. What’s so wrong about “ Hardcore Pawnography”? Even the captain of the Boston Blitz commented “ Can’t put that on the mini van.” If surfing can have “Sex Wax”, a well respected brand for surfboard wax, then I declare, Chess can have this one!

Thank you CL for put the Controversy back in chess! I haven’t seen this much commotion since one GM punched the other at a late night disco over a beautiful WGM.

In the spirit of CL, I played this game with Larry and sac’d a bishop early on like I meant it. ( I wasn’t paying attention and by move 11, after making a rote developing move I was faced with a classic central fork of my minor pieces). So I played it like I meant it…and grabbed a GOOD pawn and hung on. I whittled my 1700+ opponent down and rode it to the end game like trying to sneak a Harley home after closing time. I rode it hard and put it away wet as I pulled a miracle draw out of my ass. Below is the PGN:

I had Black and played the Slav:

1.d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bf5 5. Qb3 Qc7 6. Nc3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 e6 8. O-O Bd6 9. h3 O-O 10. Re1 Nbd7 11. e4 Bxh3 12. e5 Bf5 13. exd6 Qxd6 14. Ne5 b5 15. Bf1 Qxd4 16. Nxd7 Qxd7 17.Bg5 Ng4 18. Rad1 Qc7 19. g3 h6 20. Bc1 Qe7 21. Ne4 Rad8 22. Bg2 Rxd1 23. Rxd1
Rd8 24. Rxd8+ Qxd8 25. Be3 Qc7 26. Qc3 Qd7 27. Qd4 Qxd4 28. Bxd4 a5 29. Nc5 e5
30. Bc3 b4 31. Bd2 e4 32. Bxe4 Bxe4 33. Nxe4 Ne5 34. Be3 Nd3 35. Bd4 f5 36.
Nd6 c5 37. Be3 Nxb2 38. Bxc5 Nd1 39. Nxf5 Nc3 40. Ne7+ Kf7 41. Nc6 Ne4 42. Bd4
Nc3 43. Bb6 Nxa2 44. Nxa5 Nc3 45. Kf1 Ke6 46. Bd4 g6 47. Bxc3 bxc3 48. Ke2 Kf5
49. Nc4 Ke4 50. Ne3 h5 51. Ng2 c2 52. Kd2 c1=Q 1/2-1/2

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Lord of the Flies

At the club, this month, in my section 50% of the participants are under 15 years of age. I am playing in the U2000 section. ALL of these kids are rated higher than 1600 USCF with half of them at or over 1700.

I was surrounded by kids last night. To the left, to the right and even behind me were kids. I felt like the odd uncle who nobody thought to invite for Thanksgiving dinner but decided to show up. I got seated at the kid table. Like the kids in Lord of the Flies, they sure figured out how to hunt a wild ( old rather) bore ( yeah... boar) like me. Once again, directly opposite of my white pieces was none other than my 60 pound nemesis from Whoville.

Last month I played 1.d4 against her. This month I played 1.e4 and faced the white side of a caro-kann. Again, I was not prepared for my fancy variation of 1.e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Nc5! .... But I was not ready... brain too pre-occupied with other things like family and life. I played 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. N1e2 I like this line because it's different. h6 7. Nf4 Bh7 8. Bc4 e6 9. O-O Nf6 10. Re1 Be7 11. Bxe6 fxe6 12.Nxe6 Qd7 13. Nxg7+ Kf7 This is an actual variation in this opening and I played it because it was cool and that I was also good at recalling the first 13 moves like I knew this line cold!

The problem was, I forgot move 14 and how to get out of this. I have a 3 for one deal leaving black with an exposed king. Had i played it right ( 14. Ne6 ) I might have faired better and possibly would have picked up the h-pawn to boot. Instead I played 14. N7h5 Bg6 15. Nxf6 Bxf6 16. c3 Na6 17. Nh5 Nc7 18.Qf3 Qf5 19. Nf4 Nd5 20. g4

That seemed cool and it did push her back to d7. But I exchanged down and gave the intiative away

Qd7 21. Nxg6 Kxg6

I couldn't find anything better than the following which really gave her back some play as she used the open files like a person fishing in a barrel. 22. Bd2 Raf8 23. Qh3 Qf7 24. Qd3+Kg7 25. c4 Bg5 26. Re2 Nf4 27. Bxf4 Qxf4 28. h3 h5 29. Rf1 hxg4 30. Re6

My position was desparate. I played this like a blitz move hoping she'd continue taking my pawns with her pawn. My demise shortly followed.

Rxh3 31. Rg6+ Kh8 32. Qxh3+ gxh3 0-1

Point goes to who-ville

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Good news

I did manage to win my last round at the club against a 1780 player trying to make a comeback after a 20 year exile from the game. This gave me a chance to end with a plus score to my rating.

I used an old friend ( The London) as I began the game doing some social engineering. " So, ( looking at my scoresheet) Bob, You are new to the club?"

Bob: " Yes, I'm coming back after 20 years of not playing in serious events." Me: " Ha Ha. SO the wife now lets you out of the house." Nervous chuckle on both our parts.

Then, in my head, the thought process began. 20 years since serious play must mean he stopped playing after Fisher left the scene and Kasparov was dominating the World. Further meaning, he probably started playing during the Fisher-mania... which meant he was probably a Sicilian player if I snapped 1.e4. I was tempted to go down a Smith-morra but then I said to myself, Hmmm, I'll be he never saw the London. Here's a chance to go "old school" on his rusty behind.

I won't shame him with the post of the game here ( If you really want to see it...ask me and I may post it in the comments). For starters, I deployed my pieces faster than my opponent. Then bob was busier than a super model at a Viagra conference. I was tactically removing the guard like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claiming he got rid of homosexuals in Iran.

But enough of that. I am taking things slow as family life takes a priority. Back in August I signed up to participate in a correspondence chess league team from our club. It's a pretty manageable pace with time limits like 30 days to make 10 moves. I get a notice on email along with a link to the game. I can view it... ponder it, then move and submit... followed by commit. Yes, a three step process.

Once a week at the club, a correspondence game and watching the Boston Blitz is about all I am signing up to do. I will blitz on ICC for some R&R. I am not doing too much in the studying realm as my time really is to my first priorities.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Whoville picks up 1.5 points

I'm in a slump. I am missing tactics. I played MC again at the club, you know, the cute but tough little nine year old girl who is rated in the 1700's. I'd like to think I can still beat her before she becomes a GM at 14. I was happily having an advantage while playing 1.d4 ( pulled an old friend out of thebag to mix it up) until I let her have the initiative and she had a killer Bishop and rook windmill fired on my hedged in king. The Previous week I got lucky and swindled a draw from another prodigy ( 1700 als0) but by all rights the kid should have won me.
I am trying not to get too fixated on this blasted game. I have a rather full plate at home. I do play a lot on ICC but I am losing a lot of blitz on ICC ( missing tactics). I play like a cave man who just invented fire but I singe myself in the excitement. I'm not doing enough "training". I train like I have ADD. I'll start CT-ART, then I'll jump to ICC, then I'll pop on to a blog or three, then I'll go back to Blitz and forget I had started a "TEST" on CT-Art. When I have 49 seconds left on my clock and a winning position, a family crisis occurs ( this could be anything from one of the kids asking to do the impossible to "will someone answer the friggin phone...I know its not for me")
I've got the "MY chess is in the sh*tter" Blues. Given all that is going on external to chess, I suppose its what I have to endure for now. I don't even have the energy to post the lost games from whoville. Maybe at some point I will in the posts.
Whoa is me.
Just staying afloat.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Breaking the cone of silence

I’ve got to stop going to the N.E, Open. It’s a tough weekend for the blunderprones in general and I never really score well. This year was no different from previous year (s).
I had to take a bye for round one as I was taking our one of our daughters up to college with a car load plus a trailer full of furniture for her apartment ( this one’s a junior). Our son, who usually accompanies me to the chess events was going up the following day with his mother. This was a pre-agreed upon arrangement because freshman entering in dorms at the State university have to arrive on a different day than the “upper classman”. Mrs. Blunderprone felt it was a good split and gave me the reluctant green light to go ahead and play in this event. Remember this, because in my experience, women do change their minds as often as I blunder.

After traveling over 180 miles round trip out to western Massachusetts with a full load and back in an old car… that I had recently serviced in the past 30 days, the car started to overheat ( again) on my way to the event ( now 50 miles away from home). I was in Merrimack with 10 minutes before the round to start driving with the heat on and the windows down looking for a car parts store that was open.. because… I KNOW.. the little piddly-ass convenient centers MIGHT have coolant… but not the pre-diluted kind… the kind you have to dump out half and find a faucet etc… I wanted the pre-mixed stuff. I was chess-survivor man... "must make round".

The Napa store was closed… a couple miles later a consumer-Auto was still ( barely) open… closing at 6… the same time my round was to start. My youngest daughter was with me. We rushed in and found the right stuff. Threw money at the clerk and dashed back to the car. I instructed Blunder-daughter to sit in the car because “this could get dangerous”. Yes. The warning on the radiator cap CLEARLY states “ NEVER OPEN WHILE HOT” in two different languages… but this was desperation calling for the same measures.

I pulled a handy towel/rag like cloth out of my overly used “cargo” area of the tired Subaru and proceeded with much caution and fast reflexes to remove the radiator with an extended left hand…. Because I am right handed and in my hasty justification as a chess-survivor man if I was going to get scalded that night, I decided to sacrifice my left hand so I could still carry on. How sick is that? I need help.

Mount fuji erupted but I narrowly escaped the hot “lava” and poured more green syrup down its throat. Now, if I was in my right mind, I would have bagged the tourney and headed home…. But NO! I am blunderprone the tenacious ( read: stubborn) and I still had 5 minutes before the round started. I put the cap back on the radiator and slammed the hood and drove off to the event.

Now… like my last rant at the NE open… I must digress a bit. In an effort to save $$ ( four kids in college and all… why am I even thinking about going to these events???), I decided that NH was close enough to commute back to Massachusetts. Since the next round was going to be at 10 AM and this round starting at 6-ish with 40 in 2 hours and SD in 60 as a secondary time control… my calculations were about as accurate as some of my tactical follies.
I was happy to have arrived only 5 minutes after the round started and my opponent not even set up. Little did I know my game was going to be a long drawn out 6 hour slug festival with the Slav. A little after midnight I won the point and drove back home with blunder-daughter asleep. I made record time and the car was not feverish. Nor did I see any blue lights...phew.

The next day, I told Mrs. Blunderprone that it made better sense ( like I was making any at that point) to do an over night at the hotel rather than risk the car breaking down and another sleep-deprived night. Again she agreed…. As I was getting dressed and ready while lacking sleep, I heard a *CRASH* in the kitchen.

The *CRASH* in the kitchen was a resentment landing in full armament like a troop surge in Iraq ( not that I approve of either… but you get the picture). “Why is it these tournaments always end up on Holiday weekends? You’re never around” and then “ I HAVE A RESENTMENT.”

A few more things were said by Mrs. Blunderprone who also refers to herself as a chess widow. Risking castration by a dull antler, I sheepishly said we would have to continue this “discussion” when I get back. Now, that will help me stay focused on my thought process in NH…. Again if I were in my right mind….

Another 6 hour marathon as Takchess mentioned was awaiting me in NH. I ventured a Scotch Gambit and only mustered a draw in a tough endgame with me having two rooks and fewer pawns against a rook and bishop with more pawns. That took the wind out of sails. Had it not been for the wonderful Knight-hood dinner encounter with Jim ( Takchess) the weekend would have been a total waste.

The next game, my brain was turning into a gooey substance often seen with salt-water taffy left out in the sun too long. I lost to someone who I’ve beaten time and again. The next morning I lost rather quickly to a 1300 player in a miserable game where I should have paid more attention. But my mind was back in Massachusetts trying to salvage the rest of the weekend and my poor wife’s state. After the first two children went off to college, she fell into a deep depression that winter. I should have known… with the fourth heading out that things weren’t about to change.

I finally came to my senses and put an end to the madness in NH and withdrew for the rest of the event and was home by Noon. I didn’t even go to the club on Tuesday. The first time I looked at a board was when I was watching the USCL games on Wednesday evening.

One thing is for sure, I realized I need to right my priorities and not get too carried away with this game. After all, its only a game. So, for the rest of the year, it will be only one night a week at the club…I’ll maintain that. I’ll wait until next year before I see a weekend event. Plus I need to tone down my practicing… I have diminishing returns as I am still on this plateau... and as my wife points out... quite bit... there are others who need my attention... and she is at teh top of the list. Balance... I was never good at that.

As for my car dying on Labor-day weekend, Tuesday morning at the shop I was looking at a blown head ga$$$ket. Long story short on this epilog… I have a new car. That was the most expensive tournament I went to.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Meet my friends ...Smith and Morra.

I believe it was both Reassembler and to some extent Globular who commented:

“But now that you have mastered the 7 Circles and conquered de la Maza’s terrain and memorized all of CT-ART, I believe that you should start using your hard-won tactical acumen for good and not for evil, i.e. start wheeling out some crazy openings and throwing down some monster sac attacks.”

Well, last night I was white and played my-now-year-old opening system 1.e4. and faced the Sicilian at the club by a relatively strong 1700 player. The game was OPEN, full of tactics, a positional advantage and allowed me an opportunity to sac a Bishop first then sac a rook before my opponent resigned.

The PGN of my game is here ( cut and past into the PGN viewer down the list on my side bar) :

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 e5 6. Bc4 h6 7. O-O Bb4 8. Nd5 Bc5 9.
b4 Bd4 10. Nxd4 Nxd4 11. Bb2 Nc6 12. Qg4 Kf8 13. f4 d6 14. Qg3 Nf6 15. Nxf6
gxf6 16. fxe5 Nxe5 17. Rad1 Nxc4 18. Bxf6 Qb6+ 19. Bd4 Rg8 20. Rxf7+ Kxf7 21.
Rf1+ Ke7 22. Qh4+ Kd7 23. Bxb6 axb6 24. b5 Rxa2 25. Rf7+
08/27/2007 August Swiss at MCC Round 4 1-0} 1-0

Mind you, I spent Monday night intently watching the Lenderman lectures on the Smith-Morra gambit on ICC. I think my opponent was one of the few I’ve faced recently at the club that didn’t have any idea how to handle it. I was glad for the lucky break.

Black’s move 5… e5 was OK and implies a Bb4 to follow. The idea is to go after my Nc3 which can be a pest on b5-c7 or d6. Instead he played the weak 6…h6 to prevent any f7 attack via Ng5. All this did was put him further behind in development.

I spent a lot of time before “settling” on castling which seemed really lame. But after 7. Qd5 Qe7 ( forced) 8. Nb5 Nf6 ( the best response) I really couldn’t see much more other than a retreat back to d3 with the queen. Its still a good position and all. Then there was the line with 7.Qb3 which puts a lot of pressure on the f7 square. I wanted to mobilize the knight and getting my king out of the way was a good idea ( although it does give up some initiative).

The following series of moves had me opening the center even more and swallowing anything that my opponent threw at me like Nibbler on Futurama. The sweet move was on my move 17:

I liked the bishops beaming on the diagonals. I really wanted the a1-H8 diagonal opened up and f-file was now ripening like a tomato in my garden.
So I dropped the Bishop intentionally and played out a couple scenarios in my head. Bxf6 is obvious but Black does have some “in between” moves with a Queen check on b6 and a rook attack on my queen on the semi-open g file. To top it off, once his knight grabs the c4 bishop e3 is vulnerable once the queen stops defending it. So I had to find some sharp play in this position.

17. Rad1 Nxc4 18 Bxf6 Qb6 19 Bd4 Rg8 and now the shocking Rook sac 20. Rxf7+! Kxf7 21. Rf1+ Ke7 22. Qh4+ and I looked at this line way back before I moved on 17… if Black plays Rg5 to block, I get the queen with 23. Bxb6 ( takes back with either the knight or pawn and I grab h6 with a good attack. True it’s a tough endgame but with the two extra apwns on the king side and his undeveloped queen rook I felt it was well worth the chance plus he had to watch for double attacks. All my pieces are primed on the king side ready to attack the open king and his lonely rook.

Instead he moved the king 22.. Kd7 23. Bxb6 axb6 24b5! Seal in the king in his tomb and now he played the greedy yet fatal capture with Rxa3 and I had mate in 2.

I hope that had enough fire for those wishing I played less positional chess ;)


PS. I picked up 47 USCF rating points this month at the club! I sure needed them as my rating was bleeding since the World open.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A strong cup of coffee in Seattle

Mrs. Blunderprone and I made it to Seattle to help our daughter pack after her summer internship at Microsoft. Besides packing tape and trips to UPS, we managed to see a few sights and do the usual touristy things ( Pikes market, Museums, and Boat rides). I didn't get much of a chance to play any chess since my business was for other things... our anniversary was in celebration during the trip...meaning " Put the chess away, dear".
The closest to chess I came was a brief encounter with David K., the DK-Transformation of the Chess Improvement Blogosphere. DK is like a blast of espresso made with Arabian Mocha Sunani. One small cup delivers the full essence of an entire pot of coffee. The brief encounter on the Harbor steps had us all fully caffeinated. The man is as intense in real life as he is on the blogs. He is also very much in tune with all verbal and non verbal cues. My family was well accommodating in amusing me while I had to investigate this curiosity for real. DK met us as we were finishing a Sushi outing nearby and provided a good segue to our early evening adventure. David picked up on our daughter's discomfort and was forward enough to address it in a non threatening way. The Ladies wanted to go have a mom and daughter chat and excused themselves while Dave and I connected with our different approaches to CT-ART, Seattle and Stocks.

Chess has taken the back seat over the last couple weeks. I saw my folks the week prior up in Maine and had a wonderful time at my sister's house. My father commented that I need to stop thinking too much. He reads my blog regularly and laughed about how I am training "too hard". Yet, he has a slight touch of jealousy since I have access to a lot more chess resources in Massachusetts than he does. So the last couple weeks have been a good break. I've been doing some on line work but not with the same intensity.

I might make it to the New England Open next weekend.... but I have to help move our other Daughter to school first. I'm thinking of taking a first round bye. I'll be ready to get back in the ring after the moving "work out".



Wednesday, August 08, 2007

On Application of knowledge and Consistency

It has been my observation ( and a culmination through much discussion with other players) that most of us players “stuck” in the class ratings ( below 2000 USCF) are here because of inconsistencies in our ability to apply our knowledge base. We work feverishly to expand that knowledge and even attempt to apply through practice. Why is it then, some days we can be on top of our game and other days have our “chess period” as CL put it once?

I’m a Class B player. I play in tournaments and against Class A players I can hold my ground often enough. Other times I play class C opponents and I am hanging a piece. These two scenarios are fundamental insights into the problem of consistency. I think my ability to play well consistently takes on many components. I can only speak of my internal observations but I am sure others will identify. I list them as follows, feel free to add to them… in no particular order.

1) The Psychological component takes on several forms. There’s the sizing up one’s opponent that often leaves me with a predisposition on what the outcome should be. This will either make me play timidly or over aggressively in certain circumstances. Learning to play the board versus the rating is a tough transition. Another issue is the psychological state I may be in due to external issues outside the 64 squares ( Life worries etc). I try to set my worries aside once I enter the arena but its hard. Lastly, my psyche can get broken during a game when the position suddenly changes direction either in my favor or against. If it’s a win to a loss transition, I am fighting anxiety over the loss of the point. If it’s a point in the game where it looks like I might win, I have a different kind of anxiety over whether I will blunder it away and not get the point.

2) Physiological needs are the next factor. Did I get enough sleep? What did I eat? Did I eat too much? When is the next break between rounds? There are others, but the bottom line is that these are basic survival needs and if I don’t take care of them, they will get in the way of my consistent application of knowledge.

3) Chessloser was talking about “mindfulness”. Being in the present. My wife insists I have adult ADD because I am driven to distractions.( I love the fact that I have someone to look after my well being). Staying focused means I have to get up and walk about sometimes so I can come back and be one with the board. It’s a tough call for me. I practice meditation to center myself but even with that, I am inconsistent.

4) Finally, the mechanics of gather the knowledge in the first place plays an important role in my consistency. What I study, how much I study, where and when I study…all have bearings on this component. This is the essence of the CIB ( chess improvement blogs) I try to journal my trials and errors in my improvement process. I used to never believe in over preparation until my results suggested otherwise. Learning to learn… not memorize. I liked the notion of self speak brought up by BDK to reinforce concepts because it was something I was not doing regularly while doing a ridiculous amount of tactical problems. Then I’d wonder why I still sucked at it. I was under the “field of dreams” method of training. Cram it and the knowledge will come eventually at the subconscious level. But if I don’t stop and take the time to give the necessary memory tags, retrieval is like looking in the filing cabinet under one folder called “tactics”.

My bottom line is that with these components of inconsistencies, improvement lies in minimizing them as much as possible. I don’t think its ever possible to get rid of these idiosyncrasies. I do feel its important to learn about them on an individual basis and see where you can make the most improvements. Awareness is the first step.

The difference in my ability to be an 1800 player ( or higher) or where I am now, is rooted in how I can resolve this part of the process. The knowledge is there. These are the blocks to the application of that knowledge.

Thinking out loud… hope it makes sense.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Une Conversation en Français

I played against the French again tonight. I’ve had a pretty good score against it lately. I’m not sure if its because I am taking up the morning commute to work time by listen to The Pimsleur French lesson series on tape ( trying to relearn stuff I once knew too long ago) or the fact that I’ve played the French in the past. But every time I am paired against this person at the club, we always seem to have this same conversation in French:

Blunderprone – Club Prez
August swiss 2007
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.Bxe7 Qxe7 7.f4 a6 8.Nf3 c5 9.dxc5 Nc6 10.Qd2 Qxc5 11.0–0–0 b5

Its white to move ( that’d be me) Normally the book says 12 Bd3. I knew my opponent was in the same book and used his memory as a crutch. I also knew that in order for white to get an advantage, pairing down the pieces on the queenside was in order…especially the queens. So I continued:

12.Nd4 Nb6 13.Nxc6 Qxc6 14.Bd3 b4 15.Ne2 a5 16.Nd4 Qc5 17.Nb5 Bd7 18.Nd6+ Ke7 19.Kb1 f6 20.Rhf1 a4 21.Nb7

Where should the queen go? I am attacking the b4 pawn. ( 20…a4 was weak). He would have been better off dropping back to attack my knight on b7 and drop the pawn. nInstead he played into my trap:

21...Qd4 22.c3 bxc3 23.bxc3 Nc4 24.cxd4 Nxd2+ 25.Rxd2 Rab8 26.Rb2 a3 27.Rb4 Bc6 28.Ba6 fxe5 29.fxe5 Ra8 30.Nc5 Rhf8 31.Rxf8 Rxf8 32.Rb6 Be8 33.Rb7+ resigns 1–0

I missed an opportunity to mate even earlier. Instead of 30.Nc5 playing 30. Nd6 and allow him to take my bishop. Mate follows after 30...Rxa6 31. Rf7+ Kd8 32 Rb8#. Oh well, I still won.

My opponent then feared my blog. He said" You aren't going to post this on your blog are you?"

It's been a while since I had a good win against a higher rated opponent I told him... but that I'd go easy on him and leave him anonymous... to an extent. After all, it was the club president I played ;)


Sunday, August 05, 2007

I hate dropping pieces

I still have a lot to learn. The last couple of games I played at the club I lost due to an abysmal error of not seeing a fatal double attack on a piece after having made my move.

For instance:

I had black against an 1800 player. I didn’t even consider the potential double attack with white’s Qd4+ because I FORGOT my king was on an open diagonal. Instead I was considering Qc7 to be a weakness because of WHAT? Rxb7? I was tired and not seeing straight. I wanted to move b6 in this position to support the knight. I thought moving the Q to a6 was a safe bet… not even thinking about the the looming double threat. After I dropped the piece, I trudged onward… and made him say checkmate in a 58 move endgame pawn race with a piece down.

On ICC, I am beating up the highest rated WimpB bot and my rating climbed to 1399. It took a nose dive as I challenged myself to the U1500 2 8 blitz tournament. I lost 3 of the 4 games I played… to dropping pieces… after being up material. Should have…could have … would have…Oh well.

While playing the bot repeatedly, it provides for some consistent training. For instance, I learned with WimpB, if I don’t play too erractically, I can usually win in the end game. I also have a chance to throw a tactical shot in the late midgame and pick up material. If I play to forcefully, I drop a piece and get crushed. Its all good. WimpB also gives me opportunities to hone my defense against d4 as it tends to play that a lot.

What transpires though as a I play “real” virtual opponents, is the predictable nature goes away. My opponent may not be too adept to my opening, but is rather sound positionaly or tactically ( or both). The endgame struggles are more challenging.

This all lead me to a great “AHA!” moment. The revelation I had is that I tend to play OTB games better at the club. There is a predictable nature about it very much like how I train with the ICC Bots. I see the parallelism here. Going to a weekend event where my scope of opponents has increased outside the predictable norm, I am adjusting to new styles of play. In those instances I tend to have a poorer OTB performance. Much like what I experienced last night on ICC during the online Blitz tournament.

So what can I learn in all this?
1) My Opponent is faced with the same issue if they never played ME before. I should put any fears or anxieties aside and remove the psychological block preventing my creativity and tactical vision.
2) I am still trying to make stuff happen that isn’t there. ( My funk at the world open). This is BIG for me. This is my greatest stumbling block. I get to thinking, that I MUST do something rather than listen to my inner Nimzovitch make a positional move in quiet positions.
3) Real chess… it all boils back down to the great chess prophet Mr. Dan Heisman. Checks, captures and threats …OH MY!

This is my path. I am destined to repeat the same mistakes until I learn. I’ll be given plenty of learning opportunities I’m sure. For all three of the above, the only way for me to improve is through more “conscious” play. Blogging about this revelation helps keep it in the top of the stack.

Hope you all are well.


Sunday, July 29, 2007


With all the discussion happening on BDK's site about the benefits ( or perils) of Blitzing, I've been blitzing. My rating is not stable on ICC ( my blog... blunderprone case you want to find me). I went through this phase a while back and felt it was affecting my slow games.

What was happening was I was playign as wreckless as a blitz game. I've since learned to "dial it back" when playing at slower time controls and found blitzing to be a good alternative to tactical training.

My reasons ( justifcations) are as follows:

1) Its fun. ( period... I don't care if I go blind... or my spin curves... or hair grows on my ... wait that was a different myth)

2) I was board with CT-ART... on the 11 th circle of hell... I wanted to practice tactical vision training in a pseudo real game. .. This is working.

3) I've had more practice playing against d4 and honing my defense ... At the club I get a lot of 1.e4 and when I go to a tournament, I'm like " Crap... how does the slav go again?" So the need to review my opening repertoire books wains as I get more practical and varried responses.

4) Its a training tool. I'd rather play an opponent 100+ points higher. I lose more games ( Like DK-Transformations. I practice with the bots... play the bot over and over until my win ratio starts to improve and my rating climbs back up. The I jump to the next higher rated bot and do it all over. As a result, my rating fluctuates 100-200 points on a given weekend.

5) Its a measured improvement as I work on tactics.

6) Many tournaments in the area are 1-day four round grinders. I used to avoid them because I was an "old timer" meaning I used to only want to play "slow". Now I have a sense of more confidence... play in G60, G30 and G10 events with new sense of passion.

7) I play slow games and my worries about time preasure have subsided. Blitzing has helped me think quickly on my feet.

8) I play at work over lunch. I play G5 games with some folks who pose some challenge. So far I am undefeated and I never lost on time.

I will get back to tactical training regimine eventually. I am going over whole games ... and will continue. For now, I will Blitz to my hearts content...because I can... and its a free country... Huzzah!

Have a good day and be kind to yourself... and let others own thier opinions free of charge!

Friday, July 20, 2007

I've been tagged too

1. How long have you been playing chess? Have you played it consistently since you started, or were there lulls in your play? How did these lulls affect your performance?

By the time I was six, I knew the chess board and how the pieces moved. .I grew up in a chess household in Maine, where the royal game was the antidote to cabin fever in the winter . My father ran the local club. On occasion, our household would be invaded with the chess team as Brunswick was preparing to rival against Portland. I wanted to join my father’s club but he warned me that the competition was fierce as they played for blood ( ratings). I was 13 before I could finally give the old man a good game and prove my worthiness to join the club. By the time I was in high school, I was playing on the Brunswick team club matches. I also started a chess team at the high school and by the time I graduated I was the top student in the State of Maine ( by some fortune of good luck, there was only one other competitor at the time… this was back in the 70’s)

I played a bit in my post college days and even tied for third place in the Down east open back in the mid to late 1980’s…. then life hit. I took a hiatus while settling into a career, wife and kids. I briefly resurfaced while coaching chess in Worcester but went back under during other life events ( divorce). As life settled out, I came back in 2004 only to discover the competition was fierce and I was rusty. I’ve been removing the rust ever since.

2. Aside from playing games, what is your primary mode of training?

My primary mode of training is to do tactical training with CT-Art 3.0. I’ve done the seven circles and continue with this method as a means of staying sharp. I am starting to use Studies 2.0 by the same folks who do CT-Art 3.0 as I am doing more studies and training with end games. For openings I generate table bases in chess base and port them to Bookup to practice variations.

3. What is the single most helpful method of improvement that you have ever used?

Today? I’d have to say the tactical training with CT-Art 3.0. That’s why I still do the circles. I jumped 250 rating points after doing them. Now I seek to get off this plateau by doing endgames and self annotating my games.

4. What is your favorite opening to play as white? As black against e4? As black against d4?

Secrets…. Hmmm… I like the Sodium 1. Na3…. But I play 1.e4 these days. I used to be a 1.d4 player and have “crossed over” almost a year ago now. For black, I play the Caro-Kan and Slav.

5. Who is your favorite chess player and why?

Aaron Nimzovitch, I liked his positional style of play.

6. What is your favorite chess book?

Jonathon Rowson's Chess for Zebras: Thinking Differently about Black and White

Made me realize I had too many books and not enough practice. I stopped searching for new books ( unless specific to my opening) and started more on the practical approach by learning through application of these ideas locked in myhead.

7. What book would you recommend for a friend who knows only the rules of chess?

Aaron Nimzovitch's My System: 21st Century Edition

8. Do you play in in-person tournaments? What is your favorite tournament experience?

Yes… World Open 34

9. Please give us a link to what you consider your best two blog posts (on your own blog).

Fear and loathing...


10. What proportion of total chess time should be spent studying openings for someone at your level?


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tour De World Open 35

For those who hadn't made it I took some very amatuer-level pictures ( as well as handing the camera to my kids to take some snap shots of the event). Mind you I didn't bring a digital camera. These were taken from a disposable "fun saver" type.

Here is a picture of the HUGE hall we were all in

When the pairings went up a flurry of activity occured outside the hall as each section had its own table associated with the pairings.

There was a vendor selling sets, books and everything chess. They had 21 Chronos clocks stolen at this event. I guess even at a chess tournament you can't trust everyone.

A snapshot of a few of the players closest to me ( although I didn't get all) My daughter Nika, fellow blogger, Steve . David P. ( ICC SatanicKitty), My step son, Tyler in a rare moment caught smiling, and of course yours truely.

All this chess has left me tired.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Fixing the Leaky boat.

In reflecting over the self analysis of my games at the World open, I’ve benn making myself more aware of the 4 major areas where I seem to have leaks in my vessel. The four areas are:

1) Forcing Tactics that are not there
2) Getting too fancy in the opening
3) Not knowing the opening
4) Not reading the position correctly

On item 2 and 3, I hear other knights following the suggestion of Dan Heisman to look in the book at the point I went astray. I have been doing that. What I was doing at the World was trying to come up with my own novelty like I was some GM or something rather than stick with the plan. I think I am cured of that ailment. As for new openings I still need to familiarize myself with things like how to play against the Pirc, and odd variations of the Caro-Kann. I am working a new database for these.

As for item 4, this will come slowly over time as I practice going over and analyzing more master-level games. I can understand that one. Its item 1 that rears its ugly head and pours water into my boat more often than not. Here is a position I reached with a 1700 player at the club on Tuesday where I had white and played the Smith-Morra ( or as I call it for myself.. Smith-Moron) :

It is white to move and I couldn’t help myself with the beauty of this setup. Take my rook, Please. I wanted to move that Bishop so I push 32.h4. What followed was his push 32..f5. So I played 33. Qd1 Bxc1 34 Qxc1 Rd8 35 Qxh6+ Kg8 36. Qe6+ Kh8 and I offered a draw which my opponent graciously accepted and a BIG sigh of relief. I should have made my rook safe instead of h4 but I was bold and didn’t see the f5 push.

That hole is a big one to patch.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Blunder's Wrap up at the World.

Final Score: BlunderProne: 3.5 World: 5.5

Steve gave a good account of the facilities at this post so I will not duplicate. ( as well as a report on his scoring)

I will comment on how some of the other club members faired. I won't name names... but there was one other person who scored EVEN worse than Steve. ( Go easy on DH, Steve ;) ) Denys scored 6/9 in the under 2400 section from the club. My step son scored 5.5 in the under 1400 and David P as well in the U2200. A bunch of us scored 3.5/9. Included in this bunch in ascending order of sections: My daughter, BlunderProne, Robert H, and Bennet P in the U800, U1800, U2000 and U2200 sections respectively.

My last round was lost because I was "trying something" again. You'd think I have had enough negative reinforcement so I'd stop doing this. But I guess I had a problem stopping myself. I saw a fianchetto'd bishop and thought I'd go after it agressively following some pointers from a 14 year old the previous day about handling the pirc. Now, this was NOT the pirc, rather it was a Queen Pawn game and I just felt like experiementing. I had nothing to lose. I accomplished my goal rather quickly but it left my queen in an awkward spot, lost a tempo then started dropping pawns. Oh well.

Then I participated in 10 rounds of sheer madness... BLITZ! I love it. I prepared with several rounds on ICC and a can of redbull. At 11:45PM the first pairings went up. By 2:30AM it was all over.... in a blurr. The excitement was hot. At one point, Nakamura on the top board was fighting it out with someone when at 3 seconds to go, his opponent hits the clock so hard, the clock went blank! OF COURSE NAKAMURA still one...despite the GIANT coors can someone gave him ... Hmm is he of age? Well, his father was looking the other way.

Yes, I had TONS of fun. I watched many great games. I re-connected with folks I met last year and made many more new friends this year. I even got to personally congratulate Mr. Nakamura on the 9 way tie for first ( resolved with a single). He smiled at my shirt ( I wasn't wearing a chess shirt...instead my maxwell's equations shirt that starts with "and god staid" " and then there was light")

Well back to the real world, new job, tactics and endgames.

See you all on the otherside of the board.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Don't play the French against THIS frenchman!

This will probably be my last post on the road. I'll do a wrap up tomorrow in the comfort of my own home and not "chilling" poolside at the hotel.

Tornado warnings are being broadcast in for the area until 10PM. How fitting in preparation for the last round and a late night blitz tournament. Both of which I am gearing up for with great enthusiasm.

The score so far:

Blunderprone: 3.5 World: 4.5

This the the PGN to my round 8 game ( feel free to use this PGN viewer to cut and paste the game):

[Event "35th World Open"][Site "?"][Date "????.??.??"][Round "?"][White "Duval, George"][Black "Dusza, Richard"][Result "1-0"][ECO "C14"][PlyCount "93"][SourceDate "2007.06.30"]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e5 Nfd7 6. Bxe7 Qxe7 7. f4 a6 8. Nf3c5 9. dxc5 Qxc5 10. Qd2 Nb6 11. O-O-O Bd7 12. Qe1 Nc6 13. Qg3 Qf8 14. Qf2 Nc815. f5 b5 16. g4 Na5 17. Qd4 Nc4 18. Bxc4 bxc4 19. Ne4 Qb4 20. Nc5 Nb6 21. a3Qb5 22. Nb7 O-O 23. f6 Rfb8 24. Nd6 Qa5 25. Ng5 Na4 26. Nxc4 Qb5 27. b3 Nc5 28.Nd6 Nxb3+ 29. cxb3 Qxb3 30. Kd2 Qa2+ 31. Ke3 Rb3+ 32. Rd3 Rb2 33. Rd2 Rab8 34.Rhd1 Qxa3+ 35. Rd3 Qb4 36. Qxb4 R2xb4 37. Rd4 Rb3+ 38. R1d3 Rb2 39. h3 a5 40.Ngxf7 a4 41. Ra3 R2b3+ 42. Rd3 Rxa3 43. Rxa3 Rb3+ 44. Rxb3 axb3 45. Kd2 d4 46.Ng5 Ba4 47. f7+ 1-0

The family team is scoring as well : Nika 3/8 in the U800 and Tyler is 5/8 in the U1400 !

To BDK: Yes there are those in the lower sections who are "sandbaggers" despite CCA's best effort for anti-sandbagging. PLus, there are those who are CRAZED with the prize fund as if they are going to vegas or foxwoods. Come on BIG money! Ha! These are the same ones who don't have any fun and are way too serious. They drop out after 4 rounds when they realize that they won't win.

I hope to see you at next year's event.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Breaking a perfectly good losing streak

First, I want to thank all for the words of encouragement. I needed to get that last rant off my "chess". Steve, saw me this morning at the pairings and was worried about me jumping off a bridge after last night. I assured him that the rant was more of a carthetic process that I had to get out of my system.

Now: Blunderprone: 2.5 World: 4.5

( the 0 and 4 tally on the 3 day mistep is discounted in this tally)

I lost round 6 because I didn't know how to handle the Pirc with 1.e4. A 14 year old kid ( who looks like he's 18) who is taking lessons form Ivanov and I knwo rather well, helped me understand what to play when faced with the Pirc. He use to play it regularly and was rather helpful.

Recall in my tenacious response to the bemoaning rant... that I likened this journey being at sea in a leaky ship where I am trying to plug these holes. Aside from the tactical, and over agressive play that hampered my rough start ( easier holes to plug ... just play "real" chess), the harder ones to control for me were the positional and opening related ones. Despite, the loss in the 6th round, I was happy that it wasn't because I was trying to force somethign that wasn't there. Rather, I simply didn't know what hit me. Next thing I knew, I was losing pawns left and right and couldn't stop an attack.

I bounced back for round seven with this game:

[Event "35th World Open"][Site "?"][Date "????.??.??"][Round "?"][White "Washington, Willie"][Black "Duval, George"][Result "0-1"][ECO "D12"][PlyCount "64"][SourceDate "2007.06.30"]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 Bf5 5. Nf3 e6 6. Nh4 Bg4 7. f3 Bh5 8. g4Nxg4 9. fxg4 Qxh4+ 10. Kd2 Bxg4 11. Qe1 Qxe1+ 12. Kxe1 Bf5 13. c5 b6 14. b4 Nd715. Ne2 bxc5 16. bxc5 e5 17. Ba3 Be7 18. Ng3 Bg6 19. h4 h5 20. Kd2 exd4 21.exd4 O-O 22. Be2 Bf6 23. Bxh5 Bxd4 24. Rae1 Bf2 25. Re7 Ne5 26. Rh3 Nc4+ 27.Ke2 Bxg3 28. Bxg6 Bxh4 29. Bh7+ Kxh7 30. Rxh4+ Kg8 31. Bb4 Rae8 32. Rxe8 Rxe8+0-1

The position after move 8 was a familiar one I had seen before so I knew the tactic was solid.

I had black to move here:

Last two rounds tomorrow and then I plan on playing in the Blitz tourney after.

I also took Joshua's advice and enjoyed myself while watching some of the "big" games live in person. I watched Perelshteyn beat Isoria. I also watched Nakamura draw Stripunsky in ROund 7. WOW... what a dynamic battle. I thought for sure Nakamura was going to win.



Monday, July 02, 2007

Good Grief: A failed Experiment

WARNING: A bemoaning RANT about to begin.

I SUCK! I totally SUCK at chess. No matter how hard I train, study and doll out money for a coach, I STILL SUCK at chess.

In an exercise in futility, I re-entered the event in the 3-day schedule. I lost the first game because of the insanity of the previous two days were continuing. A definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Well.. in the first round I played an unsound tactic and ... LOST ...big surprise. I took an existential break and walked off the first G45 loss. Meditated, went for a walk and cleared my head. Round 2 I lost in an opening trying to defend a 2.Nf3 variation of the C-K that I was not familar with. I deicded to take a half point bye and sync up with the kids for a relaxing dinner to be refreshed for round 4. With a WINNING position ( Q versus Rook) I managed to lose on time. Then came the 8 year old with a 1690 rating in the G45 round 5. I pulled more insanity with the same version of the C-K in round 1 and I squandered a perfectly sound position with a quick tactical shot that backfired because I didn't see the inbetween check.

Good grief.

I finished with a WORSE score... a WORSE SCORE AAAAUUUUUUGH! I asked the TD about using my previous score from the 5 day schedule. They allow such things. Use the better score of the two and I take a 1/2 point Bye for the round 5 ( from the 5 day schedule) that I didn't play. So instead of the really bad score of a 1/2 point ( from the bye) after 5 rounds) I get to use the OTHER craptacular score of 1.5 points.

If there is a book out there titled " How not to SUCK at chess" , I want it.

I can't believe it. It feels like I can't even put coherent sentences together.

I'm sure I will rebound. I realized that this is a tough tournament. PLus I am rated in the lower half of the section. It's foolish of me to think I could win money. But its not foolish of me to think I cna score better than I have. Especially with some of the players I have faced. I have played MUCH stronger opponents at the club and scored rather well. How is it that my OTB performance is so different and inconsistent at such events? This really baffles me.

I really need a break. I'd like to think that all this studying and preparation isn't in vein. Maybe it is? I mean really, I am STILL struggling with openings ( lost a couple games right away in the opening.) I still mis calculate tactics. I castle on the wrong side. I am quite sick of sucking at chess after putting so much into it. I am not seeing any positive results.

Oh well ... on to rounds 6 and 7.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Rounds 3 and 4: More "Practice"

My brain is not working.

Blunder Prone: 1 World: 3

Here are the two games today in pgn. ( You can cut and paste them into this viewer.)

[Event "35th World Open "][Site "?"][Date "????.??.??"][Round "3"][White "Duval, George"][Black "Pena, Joel"][Result "1-0"][ECO "B06"][Annotator ",gduval"][PlyCount "109"][SourceDate "2007.06.30"]
1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 c5 4. c3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 d6 6. Bc4 Nc6 7. O-O Nf6 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9. e5 Ne4 10. exd6 Qxd6 11. Qf3 Nf6 12. Bf4 Qc5 13. Nd2 Bg4 14. Qe3Qxe3 15. Bxe3 Nd5 16. Bc5 Rb8 17. Nb3 Bf5 18. Rfe1 e6 19. Bxa7 Ra8 20. Bd4 O-O21. Bxg7 Kxg7 22. Nd4 Ne7 23. f3 c5 24. Nxf5+ Nxf5 25. Re5 Rfc8 26. Rd1 Ra4 27.Bb3 Ra7 28. Re4 Rac7 29. Bc4 Ra8 30. g4 Ne7 31. Rd2 Nc6 32. b3 Kf8 33. a4 Na534. Kf2 Rb8 35. Rb2 Rcb7 36. Bb5 Ke7 37. b4 Rxb5 {I'm not sure Black needed to lose the exchange here. Then again, the knight is trapped on a5.} 38. axb5 Rxb539. Ra2 Nc6 40. bxc5 Rxc5 41. Rc2 f6 42. f4 e5 43. Ree2 Rc4 44. fxe5 Nxe5 45.h3 Kd6 46. Ke3 Kc5 47. Rf2 Nd7 48. Rf4 Ne5 49. Rxf6 Nxg4+ {Better Might havebeen 49... Rxg4 then if I take back with the pawn 50. hxg4 Nxg4 with a checkand a rook. The game would then be harder for me to win with the two connectedpawns and a knight holding. I think he had drawing chances. Instead this flatout gives me the game.} 50. hxg4 Rxg4 51. Rh2 h5 52. Kf3 Kc4 53. Rf4+ Rxf4+ 54.Kxf4 Kxc3 55. Kg5 1-0

[Event "35th World Open"][Site "?"][Date "????.??.??"][Round "4"][White "Hooks, Jerry"][Black "Duval, George"][Result "1-0"][ECO "E06"][Annotator ",gduval"][PlyCount "97"][SourceDate "2007.06.30"]
1. c4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. g3 Nc6 5. Bg2 Nf6 6. Nf3 e6 {Bf5 would havebeen MUCH better here. I really didn't know what I was doing. } 7. O-O Be78. Nc3 O-O 9. Bf4 a6 10. Rc1 b5 11. Nxb5 Bb7 {I was not thinking clearly here.11...axb5 12 Rxc6 Rxa2 would have equalized. I wasn't thinking clearly in thisposition. I was too worked up on the English g3 position that I was unfamiliarwith.} 12. Nc3 Ne4 13. a3 Rc8 14. Qd3 Na5 15. Nd2 Nxd2 16. Bxd2 Nb3 17. Rb1Nxd2 18. Qxd2 Bg5 19. e3 Qa5 20. Rbc1 Rc6 21. Nb1 Qxd2 22. Nxd2 Rfc8 23. Nb3Be7 24. Rxc6 Rxc6 25. Rc1 Rb6 26. Rc3 g6 27. Bf1 Bd6 28. Be2 e5 29. Kf1 exd430. exd4 Be7 31. Ke1 Kg7 32. Kd2 Rf6 33. Rf3 Rb6 34. Kc2 Bc8 35. Rc3 Bf5+ 36.Bd3 Be4 37. Na5 Bf6 38. Nc6 Bxd3+ 39. Kxd3 Rxb2 40. Rc2 Rxc2 41. Kxc2 a5 42.Kc3 a4 43. Kb4 Kf8 44. Kxa4 Ke8 45. Kb5 Kd7 46. Kb6 Kc8 47. a4 Bxd4+ 48. Nxd4Kb8 49. a5 1-0

As can be seen. I am sucking much wind here. The win in round three was against a kid. The loss in round four was just my brain not working. I have had the chance to go over my follies with MUCH strong players and close friends who are generally concerned with The Blunderful one. I have lots of encouragement and some better clarity.

I chocked up the last two days as experience and practice for some real chess. Why not have 4 real slow games in two days to warm you up for 5 rounds of G45! Yes, you guessed it. I am re-entering the event in the 3-day schedule. This means I will have 5 rounds of insanity only to sync back up with everyone on Tuesday. Call me insane, call me a fool, but most assuredly you can call me a Knight Errant.

This is fun. The kids are have a good time. Nika has 1.5 points ( thanks to a full point bye in round 4) and Tyler is all done practicing since he won both his games today.

I plan on making a comeback. Its a good think I've been practicing Blitz and G15 on ICC. I knew it would come in handy... See BDK? There are good reasons to play Blitz on line... after you suck wind for the first few rounds you doll out more money to play faster rounds and re-enter!

Stay tuned... I'll be running on adrenaline and espresso for tomorow's 5 rounds of insanity.


Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rounds 1 and 2 : Caro-Kan't

Blunder Prone : 0 World :2

Round 1 I was on the white side of a Caro-Kan. I think my over confidence got the best of me as I tried to get fancy ( off the mainline) by move 9:

Duval,G - Barreul,I [B19]35th World Open (1.171)[,gduval]
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.Nf3 Nd7 7.h4 h6 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bf4 Book is 9Bd3 Bxd3 10 Qxd3 which is what I was contemplating. But I wanted to create some dynamics with bishops posted on f4 ( to prevent Qc7) and Bc4 to put pressure on the f7 square.
Hindsight, Stick to the mainline. Who do I think I am, Beliavsky?

9...Ngf6 10.Bc4 e6 11.Qe2 Oh How I wanted to do a Bishop sac on e6. 11...Qa5+ 12.c3 Nd5 13.Bd2 This is where ths Bishop needs to be in the first place.

13...Qc7 14.Ne5 Nxe5 15.Qxe5 Qxe5+ 16.dxe5

I looked at this position before the exchange and thought I had a good end game prospects. The Pawns on e5 and h5 fixes blacks pawns but I was so far behind in tempo I could not make this work.

16...0-0-0 17.0-0-0 This was bad. Castling King side or staying in the center would have been a more promising game. But in the heat of battle, I was worried about the a7-g1 diagonal. My pieces were not well coordinated and I was hoping to getting some play. 17...Bc5 18.Rhf1 Moving the Bishop to e1 might have faired better. Then I could have made use of the rook luft on the h-file. Despite my central space advantage, my position was horrbly cramped. 18...b5 19.Be2 a5 20.a3 b4 21.c4 bxa3 22.b3 Nb4 23.Bxb4 axb4 24.Bf3 Bd4 25.Rd2 Bb2+ 26.Rxb2 axb2+ 27.Kxb2 Rd2+ 28.Kc1 Rc2+ 29.Kd1 Rd8+ 30.Ke1 Rc1+ 0-1

Game 2. I played the balck side of the Caro-Kan. Another Mainline vairation and I got "fancy" again. The 60-move battle was a treatise on the imbalance of my opponent's Queen versus my Rook, Knight and 2 pawns. I lost the endgame because once again I was castled queen side when I shouldn't have and my opoonent had compensation in teh form of a pawn attack on the queen side. I won't post THAT game... unless you folks really want it.

On a side note, my daughter drew her second game in the U800 section and my step son has the same score as me. We are all saying " Today was a nice practice session. On to the wins now!"

We are having fun though... the main reason why we do this. I see a lot of familiar faces and I have been taking some pictures... a later date I will post some of these.

I have to comment on some of the fashion statements being made. There are those like yours truely sporting the chess Tee-Shirt du jour ( Mine said: " Note to self, Hit the clock") Kids where vintage rock shirts of bands that broke up LONG before they were born. Then there are the true geek shirts ( Linux penguin spotted) and a man wearing a reservoir dog tee shirt with a suit coat and slacks... go figure.

More later. Thanks for putting up with me... and sorry to let folks down in my early rounds. I still have time to catch up.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Knight Errant's Journey begins...

"You don't frighten us, English pig dogs. Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called "Arthur King," you and all your silly English K-nig-hts. "

Huzzah! I am off to the world open. I will be in the U1800 5 day section. I will be keeping track of a few of my Club mates as well. If there are any other Knights Errants attending... let me know and I will try to find you. I will blog on the road of my progress and other general silliness at this big event.

I plan on having fun and hope to score better than last year.



Wednesday, June 27, 2007

WhoVille Picks up a Point

For those keeping score: Grinch 2.5 WhoVille 1.5

Last night was the last round of the “Summer Solstice” monthly swiss. I mentioned in my last grinch report who I suspected I was to be paired against. I was victorious against this little guy thrice before and I knew the law of averages were against me. On top of being tired, my coach was there to watch me go down in a blundering blaze.

I was black and played the caro-kan. He had prepared a gambit line I never seen before:

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Bc4 Bf5 5. Nge2 Nf6 6. 0-0 Bg4 7.Qd2 e6 8 Ng3 Bb4 9.Qf4

Black to move

My coach suggests NOT to take on d4 …but greedy ole’ grinch wanted the second pawn. This created problems on my king side:

9…Qxd4 10. Ncxe4 e5 ( note: I can’t take the Bishop because of the crippling knight check on d6 with my queen en-prise) 11. Nxf6+ gxf6 12. Qxf6 Rf8 13. Bb3 …and then … here is where I pulled this howler: 13…0-0-0??????????? thinking of king safety and if he goes Qxh7 I had some play on Rh8 etc… all things below the Mason-dixon line of the board… Had I gazed my sights north and played some “real” chess I would have seen the demise. 13...Be7 was the better alternaitve.

14. c3 OUCH! I played a few more moves before I resigned and spent the rest of the evening with my coach. The grinch needs a full serving of humble pie filled with crow in order to keep his perspective. I never played against this C-K gambit before and I was impressed. I need to fix this hole in my armour.

I am off to the WORLD OPEN!!!! I plan on blogging on the road periodically on life in the trenches of the U1800 section. Which to me will be MORE important because it will be about…well… ME :) and how well or how bad I am doing. I also plan on relaying the untold stories of life in the class sections… this is where the “real” everyday chess players are.

If you are expecting how Nakamura is standing or others playing in the rafters…I suggest following along Mig’s website or watching the games in the controversial Mon Roi site.

Well, enjoy. I'll catch you all on the otehr side.