Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I finally got a copy of this book by Rashid Ziyatdinov.

So far, I have made it through the King and Pawn endings as well as the Rook and Pawn endings. I thought I knew the Lucena Position (building the bridge) until I ran into the last few frames of the R+P+K vs R+K

The position of the defending King and how far the Rook is can turn this position into a draw ( depending on who's move it is).

A look at position 45 :

White to move, its a straightforward win. 1.Rg1+ Kh8or7 2. Rg4 and on to the Lucena. But with Black to move, Black can draw with Perpetual check on the ranks. 1... Ra8 + 2. Kd7 Ra7+ and the king can't stray too far away from the pawn to go after the Rook.

If Black's rook were over one file, its a win either with white or Black to move. If the Black king were up one square, it makes 2.Rg4 problematic and harder to force the win. ( with the black king at g7, 1.Rg1+ Kh6 2. Re1 allows white to go after the the black rook when checked from the ranks.

I started to look at the middle game positions too. I set up my board and set my clock for 20 minutes and analyze strategies for both white and Black. I try to focus on my thought process I outlined in a previous post .

My goal for this year is simple. I plan to become "BlunderLess" instead of my notorious BlunderProne Moniker.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Thought Process in Action recently

All was not lost at the Eastern Class Championship last weekend. My first round victory was anything but boring. I actually wasa rook behind and I pounced all over my oponent. So I thought I'd share this game and some of the thoughts that went on as I faced 1.d4 as Black.

My opponent was a solid class C player from Connecticut. The game started out as an exchange Slav: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 ( I actually thought of throwing him the Baltic with 2...Bf5 but decided not to get "fancy" and stick with my tried and true). 2...c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Nc3 e6 Uusually in the Slav I like to get my bishop out before locking it in. Although I have been studying the Meran variations latey and liked the idea of Keeping the Bishop home since the c-file was opening up. 5. a3 Nf6 6.Bf4. I thought about playing my queen to c7 instead of Nf6 so as to prevent his Bishop from coming to f4. But I decided I wanted to develop my king side and castle early before trouble comes. With the c-file open, I would have been chased by the rook eventually and he would still have gotten in Bf4. So I saw this instead:
6... Bd6 7. Bxd6 Qxd6 8. Rc1 0-0 . This was a mistake. I underestimate the potnetial of the open c-file and his knight. Here is one of those moments that I didn't look hard enough at my opponent's Checks captures and threats. Instead I said " Yeah, good time to castle." This would have been one of those times where an a6 would have been handy.

(white to move)

I was wrapped in castling and running for safety for my king I failed to look at 9.Nb5! Qb6 10 Nc7.

I did a deep think here. I used the law of tenacity and the fact that I had the initiative and development I saw some central play and gettign my Knights and queen in "scoring position" and I played 10. ...Ne4 11. b4 Nc6 12. Nxa8 Qd8 13 Nf3 Bd7 14. b5 and this is what the position looked like:

(black to move and a rook down)
First, look at the dynamics. I am developed and castled. I have control of the central squares and I have the intiative. White's King can't move ( seed of a tactical destruction) His bishop is 2 moves away from developing and his knight is becoming trapped. b5 was a blunder that started to turn things back my way. This allowed:
14... Qa5+ 15 Nd2 Nxd4 and for the life of me I didn't know why he played 16 Rb1 allowing me 16...Nc3 to gain back material with a winning position.

(white to move after 16...Nc3)
Prior to Nc3 I was threatening the crushing Nb3 to put pressure on d2. So probably giving back material was the best choice of survival. Again, i want to point out.... I had the initiative and development. I made strong use of these as I also saw a weak king position still stuck in the center. I got my knights in scoring position and went for teh jugular.

The game continued: 17. Qc1 Nxb1 18. Qxb1 Rxa8 19. e3 Nxb5 ( now I am up two pawns too) 20. Bd3 g6 21 h4 h5 then it went down hill form here for White 22. Rh3? e5 23. Bxg6

Position after white's last ditch effort 23 Bxg6
I saw the series of upcoming queen checks But without any supporting members from the cast, his majesty just takes a casual stroll.
23... Bxh3 24. Bxf7+ Kxf7 25 Qh7+ Ke6 26 Qg6+ Kd7 27 Qg7+ Kd6 28 gxh3 Nc7 29 e4 Ne6 30. Qxb7 Rg8 31. exd5 Rg1+ 32.Ke2

I have to watch out for check mate. I did see Ne4# and Qc6 is troublesome. But again I had some initiative on my side so I played 32...Nd4+ 33. Kd3 Qxa3+ 34Qb3 and I took with the knight on a quick move. Better would have been to take with the queen and be up in teh exchange with a Knight. but it continued a few more moves: 34... Nxb3 35. Nc4+ Kxd5 36. Nxa3 Nc5+ 37 Ke2 Ra1 38. Nb5 e4 39. f4 exf3+ 40 Kxf3 a5 41. Kf4 Rf1+ 42 Kg5 Ke5 43. Kah5 a4 44. Kg4 and then I saw the mating net:

44... Rf4+ 45. Kg5 Ne6+ 46. Kh5 Rb4 47. Na3 Kf6 48. Nc2 Ng7+

and black resigns.

This guy was so worked up over this game that he was 55 minutes late for his next round the next day. He claimed he was up until 6 AM playing over the move 14.b5 over and over.

I had my share of bad mistakes that weekend... but none I never lost sleep over.

I hope this gave some insight on how I attempted to apply the thought process of my previous post.



Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Evolution of a Thought Process

BDK asked me if I practice any thought process. Also, with recent chatter on the other Chess Blogs on the same subject, I thought I'd shed some light on what goes on in the head of the troubled knight known as Blunder Prone.

First of all, my thought process has evolved over time. In the beginning, it was very rule of thumb oriented based on axioms of Reubin Fine and Aaron Nimzovitvh. You may know them, these are the "Knights before Bishops", "few Pawn moves in the opening" , " Don't move the same piece twice", " prophylaxis " " Rooks on open files" etc. These carried me through scholastics ( back in a day).

Then I tried the brute force rote memorization of openings until I got thrown out of the book... which I would then rely on these trusty rules of thumbs again. This got me into Class D. I then started to bump up against the "what's the" for middle games and that took me on a quest for knowledge of what i thought was the holy grail.

I read up on Kotov's middle game planner as well as how to think like a GM. I got Lost in the trees and took a different route. So I built up new axioms based on Siman's HTRYC and tried to practice imbalances and recognizing them. The rudimentary rules from Fine and Nimzovitch finally had caveates that Silman was abel to articulate. This brought me to class C.

Dan Heasiman's "real chess" philosophy rings true to me. I practice looking for Checks, Captures and threats at the least... for the most part. But for me to have a complete list of checks and balances per move will render me time trouble every game.

Realistically, I find that my thought process depends on what stage of the game I am in. I am working on a consistent method. I have to mention that part of my problem is consistency. I make make some great moves for 39 out of the 40 moves played... but then i will fall prey to human nature, let my guard down... move that piece and hit the clock only to realize it was not the best. I used to be able to write the move down before playing it and "catch" myself before I pull one of those. Since January, I am practicing the law of the land ( that is intended to accomodate the Monroi).

During the opening, its all memory. I do a cursory check to make sure its not out of the ordinary and make sure I know I recognize that my oponent made a move in line with the "book" and that I know which variation was planning to follow in my preparation. This works until about move 2... Ha... Kidding aside... I've been "thrown out" of the book by move 4 often.

When I am "thrown" I change pace now. I look at the position and say " I don't recognize this move ... is there a way to exploit it since its not part of the main line?" I ask what makes it inferior or superior ( "Crap! a novelty... my lucky day"). I follow a process like this:
- I look deep into my game for any tactics at this point focusing on Checks captures and Threat My oponent can give. ( I don't always do this and this is a fatal flaw...let's just say I'd like to do this everytime)
- If none exist, I look for the same that I can do ( I've gotten to the point where I do this rather consistently)
- If no tactical shots exist then I look for a normal developing move ( since I am still in this phase of the game)
- I look to see if I can survive the move
- I ask myself if there is a better one.

For the next few moves as I transition to a middle game, I also start to look at making a plan. This requires the Silman imbalances and looking making a decision to close the center or open it up in most instances. Since I am still in the opening... this is mainly all I got. It helps decide piece placement for me and whether I can take the time to move another pawn for protection or as a supporting role.

Middlegame is muddy waters. Sometimes I get excited because I see an opportunity to attack. Like being ahaed in development means I should really turn it into a tangible long term gain by opening the position up. This means I may launch a hit on my opponent before I complete the development. The trick, I learned the hard way, is to be able to fully calculate it out before I launch it. The other trick...even if it looks to not act on it if I can't see it clearly. I still have trouble with this. In those instances I fall back to normal developing move orders.

Let's say my game has me fully developed, I am now in the middle game. I look for weakness to go after and weigh the possibilities. I go back to the Checks captures and threats routine for both sides, and force myself to ask for a better move before acting on it.

If I am in the position with an advantage, I have learned to not get too excited since I squandered too many "won" games. I've learned to step back and make a new plan. Draw back and regroup is usually in order. I will usually try to pair down the pieces to simplify...but I don't do this often enough.

Now, being Blunderprone, when the tide has turned the other way, I apply the rule of tenacity on my opponent. I make teh little bugger say "check mate" in other words. I become the biggest pain and obstacle to my opponent drooling over the point they think they will mark. It has saved me on several occasions. I had a great swindle last year at the Eastern class. Last weekend, all was not lost, my first game was a come from behind win ( I was a rook down!) That game I will post later. Last night I played with a pawn down out of the opening and ended up winning. Initiative is usually on the side of the loser at the instant the material loss has occured. Thus my cautious approach to a "won" position.

So, all in all, I have a thought process that I've internalized over the years. ( and still refining) Why don't I win more? The answer mainly has to do with the fact that I will forget to check my oponents threats captures and checks because I get ahead of myself and move before I think. The other times is that while in the middle of the battle, I see a fork in the road. I have a hard time properly assessing the pros and cons of each. I make a bad plan in those cases. Plane and simple. Lastly, I've put too much trust on my memory. The openings have killed me in the past. I've since taken a different tract and try to understand the opening as it applies to the whole game rather than rote memory.

Good luck ( I will post a couple of those games I mentioned in a day or two).

Blunder P.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Diminishing Returns

I study....I practice... I am on my second tour of circles.... I am the top seed in a section at a Class championship... and I STILL LOSE!
One was due to an opening failure. I simply made the wrong plan because I was trying to follow a sharp variation as white against the Winnawer French. I got tripped up on move order and thought I could transpose to a classic setup. A friend tells me later that had I simply stuck with the main line rather than try to pull a tricky move from the repertoire book of Perhestyn, Dzindi and Alburt, I would have done better. Of course, when the clock isn't running and I am not clouded with "performance anxiety" because I am the top seed... I can't seem to think clearly.
Then there was the loss with the player rated 150 points lower than me. I had a won position but lost on time in a sudden death because I can't think in 5 second increments.
AND THEN... the one that was "broadcast" because I got to play with the monroi toy....
A Caro-Kann... advanced with an interesting exchange... I had three freeking connected passed pawns ... and I screwed THAT up!
I get to the point where I reach that fork in the road in a chess game. I try to carefully map out a plan... and the voices in my head tell me ..." Yeah! This is the move that'll show my oponent that I am a *KNIGHT* ( errant) " ... and yeah... I am ... and live up to my moniker "Blunderprone" and I become a self fulfilling prophacy.
I am so freeking tired of dumping so much effort into improving uet I seem to keep slipping backwards ever since last summer.
My wife thinks we can afford a coach for me... time to do some shopping.
licking my wounds.... BP

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Caro-Kann-can

Applying the knowledge I’ve collected thus far is the hardest transition. ( where Applied Knowledge= experience). In this week’s quest, I was playing the black side of a caro-Kann and made a conscious decision mid game to follow a plan ( turned out to be a bad one…but a bad plan is better than none). The game was a classic mainline “chase the bishop” type:

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6, h4 h6 7. h5 Bh7 8. Bd3 Bxd3 9. Qxd3 Nf6 10 Nf3 Nbd7 11. Bf4
I am black against a 1700 player. I thought of playing 10... Qc7 to prevent 11. Bf4 adn prepare for caslting but I realized I should have developed the Nbd7 befor the Ngf6 and was doing a little a "course correction. Vulnerable is e5 and I needed to get my defenses into gear.

The game followed: 11... Nd5 ( playing Qa5+ is a suggestion from the book.... did I really have the luxury of moving this piece again?... well at least I am making him move HIS piece again too) 12. Bd2 e6 13. c4 N5f6 ( interesting would have been Nb4 the move I chose was a little too passive). 14. 0-0-0 c5 15. Bc3 cxd4 16. Nxd4 Rc8 and now he played this move 17 Nxe6 !
Up to this point, My plan was that i saw a way to open up the c-file ( thus the push with c5 and Rc8 ). I've gotten sucker punched several times on the minor piece sac on e6 in the CK ... you'd think I'd learn. This was strong... I knew I was hosed if I take the piece ( 17... fxe6 18 Qg6+ Ke7 19 Bb4+ and I lose the queen .. becuase my only defense is the knight blocking). I knew i had to dance around this and I focused the next series of moves on grabbing the initiative and working on the exposed c-file and I almost pulled it off:
17...Qb6 18. Nxf8 ( Which way to go... king x might have been best but I wanted to get my other rook in the game all costs) 18...Nxf8 19. Rhe1+ Ne6 20. Bxf6 ( saw that...again I didn't want to settle for passive play) 20...0-0 21. Bd4 Qb5 22. Kb1 Rxc4 23. Bc3 Rfc8 24. Ka1 Nc5 25.Qe3 Na4 26. Be5 Re2 27. Qb3 and then I saw this looked great... I thought I was back in the game 27... Qxe5?!
If white takes the queen I have a forced win! ( 28..Rc1+ 29. Rxc1 Rxc1#) I saw and dismissed 28. Qxc2 because of the recapture with my rook ... and again had the drool on my beard thinking I pulled off a good decoy tactic. But White indeed played the redeeming in between move and the game continued miserably down hill from there:
28...Rxc2 29 Rxe5 Rxf2 30. Re2 Rf6 31. Red2 Nc5 32. Kb1 Re6 33. Rd5 b6 34. Rd8+ Kh7 35. b5 Na4 36. R8d3 Rc6 37. Rc1 Re6 38. Rd7 a5 39. bxa5 bxa5 40. Rd4 Rb6+ 41 Ka1 and having made the first time control ... I resigned.

I want to thank Steve for the FEN diagram utility.
I am off to the eastern class championship this weekend! I hope to apply more knowledge and less blunders


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Experience versus Knowledge

Below is a 10 point list from the Kenilworthian blog site where you can find more elaboration on each of the points here. The premise is gaining experience over the knowledge you have aquired. ( and not buy any more damn books...for a while at least)There are lots of books out there but getting to the point where you can apply the concepts regularly and consistently is a matter of experience in order to improve. There are more adn more books now promoting this idea too ( Rowson's Chess for Zebras is an example)

I have been looking at my plateau that I am currently on. Over the past couple years I have mainly focused on bullets 1-3. I’ve recently tried to fold in a means to start working on 4-6 in my time commitment (bullet 9) but this is where it gets complicated. I finally have gotten to a balance with 1-3 so that if I focus on openings I am not slacking in tactical training. Its like plate spinning.

1) Study tactics, tactics, and more tactics.

2) Do a limited amount of focused endgame training.
3) Commit to a single solid repertoire as Black and one as White.

4) Play through lots of games.
5) Read on strategy only as it relates to your openings or problems you have in your play
6) Decide how to make decisions and practice it.

7) Get experience, and lots of it.

8) Find a coach or mentor.
9) Make a time committment.
10) Find a partner.

I do get a lot of experience by going to a club regularly and playing in a weekend tournament about once a month. I want to get 1-6 worked into my regimine to a point I feel balanced. This is a goal I have set for myslef by summer. I have several game collections to review and am going through my own annotation process on each. I check it with fritz only after I have gone through the entire game as thoroughly as I feel possible. I believe that this is the only way for me to develop proper positional evaluation and a deeper understanding of the game. Otherwise its just a “read and nod” session. I have to struggle with the understanding in order to intrernalize it.

I want to bring in a coach at some point… but money is a factor and I do have strong players at the club who are willing to let me exchange ideas and pick their brains.