Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thinking during the Opening.

I’ve been asked to show a couple wins once in a while. Today I will showcase a couple of recent games that weren’t all too blunder-full. First. a little insight on the training update. Aside from a ridiculous dose of daily tactical puzzles, I believe I found a coach I can afford which equates to a stronger player than myself who recently went through a fairly sharp rise in playing strength as a class player ( now expert) after some coaching from another friend and candidate GM Dennis Shmelov. We had one online “discussion” covering one of my losses at the recent Eastern Class championship where I was just thrown out of the opening and left to my own failing devices to find the right ideas. My play resembled more like a chess board version of the science channel’s show, Survivor-man but without the battery and steel wool to create a fire. The new coach showed me how I could have created some fire had I rubbed two pieces the correct way and watched for the direction of the wind.

The first game has an interesting tactical exchange in the middle after I take a deliberate risk. I played white into an orthodox QGD. I found my opponent moving the Q-bishop 3 times which allowed me time to get into a good position. I really didn’t want to squander it. I anticipated Black preparing to castle Q-side so attempted to shift gears in that direction but then he consciously decided to leave his king in the center. Despite a splitting headache in the last round of the weekend swiss, I was feeling pretty excited about the new prospects by move 16.

I had a choice of creating a battery with Queen and Bishop and target a knight tossed in the corner or shoring up the center with the f-pawn which created risk. My headache wanted more pain as I took the more risky approach of 16.f2-f4 instead of the safer 16. Qc2. I had gulped a couple of advil around move 7 and the throbbing hadn’t quite subsided. Now, when I do tactical training, I make sure I do this under ALL conditions. When I am tired, I will do tactics. When I had a great day, I will do tactics. When I am sick…When I am under attack by all kinds of distractions… you get the picture. You never know what the conditions will be like at a tournament. So I saw if playing 16 f4 black had the response 16..d4. But here I calculated through my headache. 17Ne4 to 18Nc5 with Black’s counterplay 18..Qc5 ready to create a discovered check as I drop a pawn and he forks my rook and queen. WHY, you might ask do I play such risky lines? Its what makes me blunderprone. I am a RISK taker and I also saw beyond the discovered check with a 19 Nxe6 e2+ 20 Nxd4 exd1=Q 21Rxd1 and I am up a piece! That was the line played BUT I SAW THIS BEFORE I PLAYED MOVE 16!

Next up, is a recent win at my chess club. The game ended in my opponent playing a blunder that I have played all too often. Blinded by a strong attack he dropped a rook. Before that howler, the game was pretty solid and what was different for me was that I had spent several hours watching a series of videos by David Pruess on Development and the finer points of counting tempi, how it is in closed versus open positions and how to turn it into an advantage. I played this game focused on these principles instead of playing blindly by rote in the first few moves. The first few moves of the game has been a slippery lazy slope for me as I tend to move quickly and snap moves according to a bad memory. Having something to *think* about during the opening stage gave me a chance to snap out of zombie moves. I consciously weighed the benefits of entering against an IQP on the Black side of a C-K Pannov variation. I played cautiously and deliberately played a couple extra pawn moves mid way through as I focused on blockading the IQP on d5 with my knight. Without utilizing or mobilizing the d-pawn, I knew my opponent didn’t have a target in the closed position and really could not open it. Exchanges were in my favor too. The only area he could open was on the queenside and I was ready for that and it allowed me to regain tempi once the position opened.


LinuxGuy said...

Those were some nice tactical wins. I am going back over tactics again, as it had been too long and I was beginning to miss too many simple tactics.

It's like another part of the brain. I get tired at first studying tactics (studying openings is the most tiring, I find), but then I get warmed up and used to the sacrificial concepts.

It's hard to believe that tactical play can dis-improve and get rusty, but it sort of can. Kids can spot most tactics, but older players are usually better at what I call "lock-down" chess.

If I can play the tactics part right, I should be okay.

LinuxGuy said...

My impression of the second game is that you were playing solid positional chess at a high level, and your opponent was looking for tactical shots the whole way.

The first game, that was nice how you saw that sequence, but he blundered the piece by not recapturing the knight. You likely win his advanced pawn and the game though just because your f4 idea of shutting out his knight(!)

Black should have prepared ...d4 with ..Nf8 or ..f6 first, but on ..f6, Qh5 is worth looking at.