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