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.


Monday, June 25, 2007

White to move and win... YEAH RIGHT!

I’ve been spending a week going over this game by Lev Polugaevsky against Henrique Mecking which occurred back in 1971.

Polugaevsky,L (2640) - Mecking,H (2540) [D45]
Mar del Plata Mar del Plata (1), 03.1971

1.c4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.b3 Nbd7 6.Bb2 Bd6 7.d4 0-0 8.Bd3 Re8 9.Qc2 e5 10.cxd5 cxd5 11.dxe5 Nxe5 12.Nxe5 Bxe5 13.Ne2 Qd6 14.Bxe5 Qxe5 15.0-0 Bd7 16.Nd4 Rac8 17.Qe2 Qd6 18.Qb2 a6 19.Rac1 Ng4 20.Nf3 Qb6 21.Rxc8 Rxc8 22.Rc1 Nf6 23.Rxc8+ Bxc8 24.Qc3 Bd7 25.Nd4 Ne8 26.a4 Qc7 27.Qxc7 Nxc7 28.a5 Kf8 29.Kf1 Ke7 30.Ke2 g6 31.Kd2 Ne6 32.Nxe6 fxe6

The following position occurs on White’s move 33.

What’s important to note here, is that in this game, white is winning …theoretically. Black’s bishop is “bad” in the "Silman" sense, while White’s bishop is active. Plus, Black’s pawns are all on the same color as the bishop. But here is where theory and practice part ways.

My coach had me set this position up and try to win it against the computer.

What should white do? What is the plan and what is Black’s counter plan? In the real game white won ( continuation posted below). It seems that fixing black’s pawns and getting all of white’s pawns on black’s squares was a strategy. Then, getting the bishop active behind Black’s fixed pawns was in order before an exchange of a king side pawn for a central one. White queens first and eventually, Mecking resigned.

Now, in my world, playing the same position against Fritz, my first three attempts were failures. I started with the fixing of the pawns, but I discovered Black’s first and foremost priority was to free the bishop with a central advance. I finally figured out a way to hold that off during my fourth attempt but the game ended up a draw with 3 fold repetition and bishops off the board and no way to penetrate.

Finally, I was able to 1) Fix the pawns, 2) hold the center, 3) eventually get my bishop to the other side and 4) advance my king to Black’s camp and get a passed pawn to queen.

Here are my moves:

33.f4 e5 34.g3 Kf6 35.Kc3 Bg4 36.Kb4 Bf5 37.Bf1 Be4 38.Bh3 Bf5 39.Bg2 Be6 40.Kc5 e4 41.b4 g5 42.h3 gxf4 43.gxf4 Ke7 44.h4 h6 45.Bf1 Kf6 46.Be2 Kf5 47.Kb6 d4 48.exd4 Bd5 49.Kc5 Bf7 50.d5 Kxf4 51.d6 Be8 52.Kb6 Ke3 53.Bg4 Kf4 54.Bd1 Ke3 55.Kc7 Kd2 56.Bg4 e3 57.Bh5 Bc6 58.d7 Bxd7 59.Kxd7 Kc3 60.Kc7 Kxb4 61.Kb6 Ka4 62.Be2 Kb4 63.Kxb7 Kxa5 64.Bxa6 Kb4 65.Kc6 Kc3 66.Kd5 Kb4 67.Ke5 Kc5 68.Kf5 e2 69.Bxe2 Kd4 70.Kg6 Ke4 71.Kxh6 Ke3 72.Bb5 1-0

Final position:

The rest of the “real game is here:

33.f4 e5 34.g3 Kd6 35.Kc3 Be6 36.Kb4 exf4 37.gxf4 Bg4 38.Kc3 Bf3 39.Kd4 Bg2 40.h4 Bf3 41.b4 Bh1 42.Be2 Bg2 43.Bg4 Be4 44.Bc8 Kc7 45.Be6 Kd6 46.Bg8 h6 47.Bf7 h5 48.Be8 Bc2 49.Bf7 Be4 50.f5 Bxf5 51.Bxd5 Bc8 52.e4 Ke7 53.Ke5 g5 54.hxg5 h4 55.g6 h3 56.g7 h2 57.g8Q h1Q 58.Qf7+ Kd8 59.Qf8+ 1-0


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Grinch 2.5 Whoville 0.5

Another week at the chess club and I am sitting at the kid table again. This week, I was white and played my favorite Smith - Morra against the Sicilian. I took this boys' firetruck (rook):

1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 Nf6 This is a lame way to decline the S-M Gambit. It allows for Alekhine transpositions.
4.e5 Nd5 5.cxd4 Nc6 6.Nf3 d6 7.Bc4 I was continuing the plan to develop and attack. I anticipated Nb6 where I would drop back to Bb3.

7...e6 8.Bg5 I considered doubled isolated pawns in exchanging the Knight. Then I saw that would actually free up his Light squared bishop and get mine off the board. I didn't like not having a light squared bishop in that position and felt Black had compensation and enough material to bolster the IQP. Once d6 x e5 the Dark Bishop had freedom and the game becomes wide open for Black. Not a place I wanted to be with one Bishop with Dark pawns blocking the center. So , I moved here to entice an exchange.

8...Be7 9.Bxe7 Ncxe7 10.Qc2

Why c2 and not e2 now? I move there 6 moves later anyway. Qe2 is move thematic with the S-M.

1) I didn't like Black's knight going to f4 and attack my queen.

2) I wanted to set up prospects on h7 and my knight on g5.

10...dxe5 11.dxe5 Nc6 12.0-0 Nb6 13.Bd3 Bd7 14.a3 True, Bxh7 was tempting. I didn't like 14... Nb4 because after 15 Qe4 I thought the queen would be too exposed. But looking at it now, I think it would have been a winning position. on e4 she threatens the Knight on b4 and the only other piece that could attack the queen is the bishop.

14...Rc8 15.Nc3 h6 16.Qe2 0-0 17.Ne4 Rc7 18.Rfd1 Qe7 19.Rac1 Nd5 I didn't want to jump too soon. I reached a point where I was all developed and I wanted to keep the f4 square and a few dark squares on the king side covered. I still like g5 if I can get it.

20.Qd2 Rb8 21.h4 I liked g5 so much I was willing to open up my king side for it. With the center locked up and the dark squared bishops off the board, it was worth the risk.

21...a6 22.g4 f5 This creates a weakness for Black I thought. An isolated king pawn. I was willing to exchange down at this point.

23.exf6 Nxf6 24.Nxf6+ Qxf6 25.Qe3 I am sacrificing the b pawn as I build up the pressure in the center and threats on the king side. 25...Qxb2 26.Ne5

I am actively trying to trap the queen.Ne5 threatens several things.

1) I want to gain the Bishop on d7.

2) If Nxe5, I gain a rook on c7.

3) If he tries to save the Bishop I go after teh queen with Rb1 followed by Bc4

26...Rbc8 27.Nxd7 Nd4 28.Rb1 Qc3 29.Nb6 Rc5 I had no idea why my opponent played this. I saw the cheap shot 31... Re5 32 Qxe5 Nf3+ 30.Nxc8 Re5 31.Ne7+ I decided to play the following: 31...Kf7 32.Qxd4 Re1+ 33.Bf1 Qxd4 34.Rxd4 Rxb1 35.Nc8 Ke8

I am up two whole pieces. The end was near. All I had to do was try to force the exchange of rooks.
36.Rb4 Ra1 37.Rxb7 Rxa3 38.Rxg7 a5 39.Bb5+ Kd8 40.Nd6 a4 41.Rd7# 1-0

I know, I know, why don't I pick on someone my own size. Well. his rating is 1642 and on par with mine. Next week I am tentatively paired with this 1790 kid:

So far I have beaten him everytime ( 3 times) ...I hope I can continue this trend.

Best regards,


Friday, June 15, 2007

R + P Endgames: Rule of Three Squares

I think I mentioned that when Jorge was 11 ½ , he was living in Spain. His FIDE rating was 2250 and was being trained by none other than Tal. This was about a year prior to Tal’s death. I had my first official lesson the other night, and I Jorge showed me another side of Tal. When Jorge was being trained, and eager like me to learn sharp tactical openings etc…. he was brought back to reality by understanding the need to learn endgames. Jorge informs me that his predecessor commented that the ability to play endgames makes the difference between weak and strong players.

If you don’t know how to play an endgame, the weaker player will draw a won endgame and lose to a theoretical drawn one. While the stronger player tends to win drawn endgames and draw lost ones!

This week the main focus was on the rule of 3 squares ( Either side to move...DRAW).

The premise of this RULE is that when the defending king is cutoff, the other king cannot leave the pawn to go “hunting” the rook. Even if he brings the rook to the same rank as the pawn, then it gives the defending side a chance to catch up. As long as he keeps his rook 3 squares distance from the pawn.

Two squares and the position is a win for White ( move the Pawn and King up a square).

The exceptions to the THREE SQUARE rule is if the defending King is cut off on either rook files. On the short side, White can create a mating threat and advance the pawn to the 2-square position. On the long side, the King and rook can work together and advance before the defending King can come back.

The critical position is this one with Black to move… Ke7 or Ke6? One is a loss one is a draw:

If you think you know hte answer, feel free to leave me a comment me on which is the better move and why.

The long side versus the short side rule of rooks in the end game always eluded me due to a feable attempt to memorize the rule. What I learned the other night was that this Long/short rule is due to the King’s ability to hunt the rook. SO … irregardless of the placement of the rook in front or in back or on the side of the pawn … the rule still applies. Light bulb moment ( for me)

Have a good weekend …enjoy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A pre-lesson with Jorge!

First, again, with only a few days before the world open, like last year, my crap top lossed it again. Fortunately, this time I have a 500GB external drive I was storing all my chess database material. I’ve been building up a new laptop since I had spare parts from my college kid’s debris pile…Seems like I have a side business of restoring laptops abused by fraternities and other college related accidents.

Last night was my first glimpse of a lesson with Jorge Sammour-Hasbun ( I Norm away from an official GM title from FIDE). It was more of a warm up to the up coming Wednesday evening session. In getting to know me, he feels he wants to focus mainly on the endgame. I am being completely open minded since my previous methods seems to yield only so much. We talked goals and other things. He’s going to help me warm up for the WO and then help train me to get to Class A. A tall order I’m sure.

He went over some basic endgame fundamentals with me with King and Pawns like knowing the exception to the rule of opposition. Opposition doesn’t work when your opponents pawn is on the fifth rank for instance.

The highlight of the pre-lesson was going over an endgame he studied when he was 11. It’s one where Capablanca , playing Black in the following position:

First, Capablanca saw something in the Pawn at b4. I guessed… not really what it was all about.

Jorge asked me three questions:

1) Is Rc1 a good move for White? ( which was played)
2) If not, What is Black’s correct plan?
3) Can Black force a win?

At face value I knew offering the rook exchange wouldn’t be good for white. Pawn Islands make the position weak. After the exchange 1…Rxc1 2. Kxc1 I saw the first plan was to go after the weak pawns on the King side. 2…Kf6 3. Kd2 Kg5 4. Ke1 Kh4 5. Kf1 Kh3 6. Kg1 Then What? ( I was lost...I admit...but my instructor shown some light)

First part of the plan was correct. But Capablanca also believed in simplification. The best way was to exchange the pawns down on the king side.

However you chose to do it, white will basically rock the King back and forth on h1 and g1 with a passive defense. So, for instance:
6… e5 7. Kh1 f5 8. Kg1 g5 9. Kh1 h5 10. Kg1 f4… now if white exchanges, what happens is Black can gain the upper hand ( 11. exf4 exf4 12. Kh1 g4 and after 13.fxg4 hxg4 14 Kg1 g3 15. fxg3 hxg3 16 hxg3 Kxg3 ….) Passive defense prolongs it to some extent but the simplification will still come.

The end result at about move 16 or 17 deep into this study is the kings are in opposition with white to move. Using what Dvoretsky calls “shouldering” The Kings head over to the other side of the board. Say: 17. Kf1 Kf3 18. Ke1 Kf3 19. Kd1 Kd3 20 Kc1 Kc3 and now White loses these pawns 21. Kb1 Kb3 with Kxa3 and Kxb4 to follow and two connected passed pawns. The AMAZING thing is that Capablanca SAW this 20 moves deep when White played Rc1. He knew he could exchange rooks and win that endgame on b4 since the pawn wasn’t on b2 to protect the shouldering technique.

Blows me away…. I’m enjoying this.

Later…stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

You’re (still) a Mean one Mr. Grinch

Last night, as the dawn of a new month presents a new club tournament round, I was paired with…yet again… my version of Little Cindy-Lou.

Ready for a rematch from last week, I had white this time. First off, I found myself surround by all the children from whoville. So, here I am cuddly as a cactus and charming as an eel ( you have to know the song) towering with no remorse over these little ones.

Before I could get a handshake and clock started, Little Cindy Lou asks to get a drink of water. “There! There! My dear, Shall we start now?” 1.e4 c6! Oh how cute! Last week I played the Caro-Kann against her. I suppose the best flattery is imitation. I was flattered. With all the termites showing, I smiled and proceeded down the mainline path. 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 …. I paused for a moment, thought about throwing her the 5.Nc5 move I was preparing a while back against the possibility of playing a 1900 player. But, since that was 2 months ago, and my brain was full of spiders, I decided to see how far down the path of the mainline I could take her.

Continuing, 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 and now 7. Nge2 Nf6. At this point she’s riffling out move after move not consuming even 1 minute on her clock. It was as if she had to be home by 8:30 or something. I played slow and deliberate. 8. Nf4 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 Nbd7 11. Ne6.

I played this “bad banana with a slippery black peel” move because at this point she only consumed 2 minutes on her clock firing off rote responses to my garlic laced soulful moves. I must say, this slowed her down. She wasn’t touching my Knight with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole. If 11…fxe6 12. Qg6#. Instead she cautiously played 11… Qb6. 12. Nxf8 Rxf8 13. Nf5 0-0-0 14. Nxe7+ Kb8 15. Bf4+ Ka8 16. 0-0-0 and then she made a miscalculation…. 16…Nc5. I won the exchange. 17. dxc5 Rxd3 18 cxb6 Rxd1+ 19. Rxd1 I think the Ne6 move rattled her and threw her off track. She made a series of missteps after this and resigned after Move 28.

The rest of the game went as follows ( complete with me willfully hanging my knight for several moves with a mate threat).

19…g6 20 Bxh6 Rfe8 21. Bg5 Nh7 22. Be3 a6 23. Bf4 Nf8 24 Bg3 ( was looking at a mating threat starting with Nxc6 and ending with Ra7# but I had to set it up) 24.. Ne6 25. Rd7 Rh8 26. Nxc6 Rf8 27. Bd6 Rc8 28. Na5 …she resigned. Yes, I have the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile.

I hope you don’t mind my colorful annotations from the evil mind of a chess Bully.