Black to move and force checkmate. (Answer at the end of this article)
I was recently watching a chess video about dynamic play by GM Melik Chachnian who was coaching an American team in the World Youth and Cadet Championship. In it the GM reviews one of his protégés games and describes the under 12 section as the most brutal section because ‘they have no fear’. I agree – they are fearless, creative and tactical players who are improving their knowledge of positional, strategic and dynamic play. This combination, along with the chance of blundering and high emotions, makes the under twelve section seem like the Wild West – guns for hire that take no prisoners.
The under 12 open category is also the most hotly contested division of the competition with 70 players competing from every state except the Northern Territories. The players ranged in strength from mid 1700’s to players with no ratings at all, but as we know from the under 10 category (where an unrated player came 2nd) ratings can be misleading in junior competitions and every game had the potential to be won or lost.
The games started on Wednesday morning and over 5 grueling days they played 9 games, one at 10am and one at 3pm. The games were 60 minutes long per side with each move gaining a 30 second increment. Typically games lasted between one and two hours and this in itself is a big shift from the more junior divisions where play is faster. I think it is this ability to slow down that creates such improvement in this group. They are able to calculate better and further and this allows long tactical combinations to be played. The following game from the competition is a good example, it is between a NSW player as white and my son as as black.
In the end he won five games, drew two and lost two – which was a good result.
The only downside of the event was the result notification which I’ll touch on in my next post. This was a small frustration in an otherwise excellent tournament.
I played 2 other games in the competition. One was against a weaker player who is improving quickly, the other was against the 13 yr old opponent I lost to in my post ‘A Missed Opportunity’. This game was after my ‘Slowing Down’ game that I recently posted about and I was playing more slowly and deliberately. My annotation comes after analysing the game with my son’s chess teacher.
Later computer analysis shows this to be a good game but my moves 33 through 36 were all bad and I was lucky that black didn’t play 36. …Kg7
Of course I would have liked to have won but my opponent was rated 1580+ and my rating is at 1315 (down from my opening rating of 1370) so I felt I played well. After the game I was walking past my opponent who was playing on an iPad surrounded by his friends and he asked me ‘How I got so good?’. He was genuinely surprised that I played so well in his game and in my games against a couple of his friends. I thought ‘what a polite boy’ but I was happy with my play in the competition, I had good chances in all my games and I felt in the zone. To cap it off I came away with a cash prize for my rating group and the person giving away the prizes remarked that it was good to see an adult win! (Kids ratings are often undervalued because they improve quickly – consequently they usually win the lower rating group prizes). Hopefully I can continue to play well and start to minimise my blunders and pounce on other peoples mistakes.
In my final round I faced another strong opponent, an adult this time, rated close to 1800. Again I felt I played well and I must have been ahead with 2 Rooks and 2 Knights vs his 2 Rooks and extra pawns. I’m not used to concentrating so hard for so many days and I think that my brain just shut down towards the end of this game. Another title for this blog might be Pawn Power but I’ll leave that for my opponent. Here is the game, I am black.
It’s not often that a Scotsman would thank the English but I have to thank Englishman GM Simon Williams for making a series of videos about ‘The English Defense’. Obviously it is not a defense I would be drawn to given that I’m Scottish but I’ve always struggled to find good responses to 1.d4 (I haven’t entered the world of 1. …d5 yet) and this defense looked like it would take many positional and defensive d4 players into unhappy waters. My opponent was a very talented girl who is currently fourth in Australia for her age and the only reason she didn’t do better is because the opening is very dangerous and easy to get caught out in. Here is the game and I am black.
My next game was against a very talented 13 year old with a FIDE rating approaching 1700 and who is probably beyond 1800 given the rating lag. In the past I have drawn with him once in a very closed game. In this game I tried to slow down my thinking given the horror of my previous game in which I could have easily been in a winning position against an 1800+ player (see previous post). This game is one of my favourite all time games (until I ran it through an engine) and I wish I could have won. I felt that my Bishop sack on move 36 gave me a good attack but I couldn’t convert it and when the attack petered out it was all over. In this game I recorded the time I took for each move and it was a great way to help me slow down. My longest move was only seven minutes long so I have some way to go before I really slow down but the longer play rate allowed me to discover better moves and to spot threats that were fairly complicated coming from my opponent. In the end I had 9 minutes left on the clock, my opponent had 2 minutes – the game lasted nearly 4 hours.
Here is the game, I am black
Running the game through an engine was a bit disappointing. We both missed many chances and it shows a number of blunders and mistakes.
I lost against a six year old last week. That concludes the loss segment of this post.
I also won against a player with a FIDE rating of 1600+ in a long format competition game. This is my best result to date and I was happy with how I played. I later went through it with an engine and there were no glaring errors. Often I chose a move that wasn’t listed by the engine but this only ever dropped my evaluation down by 0.4 or less (1 being the loss of a pawn). I also felt I was ahead for most of the game but I couldn’t convert it until I managed a little tactic. Here is the game.
It was a holiday today but rather than enjoy the beautiful sunshine I decided to take part in my first blitz competition. It was a round robin competition and there were 12 of us taking part. We each had to play five 5 minute games with each other meaning that we each played 55 games! My theory was that here was an opportunity to develop some pattern recognition.
My first opponent was a FIDE master (FM) and of course he won all the games. I then played someone rated around 500 points higher than me (as opposed to 900) and again I lost all my games, then another FM… It then dawned on me that I could conceivably come away without winning a single game. Thankfully I did play a couple of people roughly my level and won 2 out of 5 against them both, giving me a grand total of 4 wins out of 55 games – the competition started at 10am and continued till 7pm! I felt I deserved a slightly higher score because I did play some great games against tough players but a loss is a loss and that’s all that counts.
Did it improve my pattern recognition? I don’t think so, I feel like I learn more from tactics. Was it fun? I enjoyed some games but when there is a big rating disparity then only a blunder will even out the score and a blundered game is never a good game. I think I’ll stick to casual blitz games with friends.
Studying the Dutch for last weeks game proved to be lucky because my opponent this Monday night, playing white, played 1.d4 followed by 2.Nf6 – exactly the lines I was looking at! And again the opening went well considering I’m new to it, it went well because it brought me into a solid middlegame and allowed the kind of dynamic play I enjoy. Here is the game.
It was a great game for me, I felt like I regained control around moves 18 to 21 and later when I fell behind after my poor 26.Qe5 I felt I continued fighting hard until my blunder move number 59 when it all collapsed. When I look back on this game I am most happy with the pressure I maintained against my opponent despite being behind, I enjoyed the never say die spirit of this game as much as I’m guessing my opponent didn’t like it. Here is the analysis graph.
This post is about game 3 of my weekly long format tournament. The best players in the world prepare for their matches and you hear of great players being excellent at preparation – Anand being one such player. By preparation it seems to mean knowing what your opponent is likely to play and often this means what openings are they comfortable with. So I decided to get into the spirit of competing and I looked up my opponents games. He is rated in the mid 1600 and was primarily a 1.d4 player often followed by a 2.Nf6 and this was a problem for me because I don’t have a clue how to play against this. His openings also seemed to turn into ‘London Systems’ – see my tab under ‘Analysis’ on the home page. I’ve almost never played 1.d4 myself and the games I play against 1.d4 seem closed and frustrating although I probably win as many as I lose. So I had a week to prepare against my opponent and as luck would have it one of my favourite chess.com video makers, a GM called Simon Williams, had just prepared a video series on attacking ways to play against 1.d4. In his series he was advocating the ‘English Defense’ which goes something like this.
I went through the 5 videos on this opening but in the last video GM Williams talks about alternate responses from white and includes the possibility of 2.Nf6 and in this situation he advocates a similar defence called the ‘Classical Dutch Defense’. This defense goes like this.
The ideas are that the Knight moves to e4 the Bishop to f6, the Knight swaps of and the d, e and f pawns move forward to allow the Bishop on c8 to come into the attack. I studied this a bit and thankfully my opponent played his favourite opening. Here is my game.
I enjoyed the game and the opening seemed to have worked but I was let down by tactics (Qxh3) and my positional play was scrappy later on. Next week I play as black against someone rated 1417, other than that I haven’t been able to find any of her games but at least I have more armour against 1.d4.
I am taking part in a weekly 90 minute plus 30 second increment tournament. I lost my first game and it was such a pity because I started with my Sicilian Gambit – see my ‘Messing With The Sicilians’ post – and it was working beautifully until I missed a move that I should have remembered, a move that I’d played before and which would have been victorious (see the diagram above). My opening advantage slowly slipped away during the game and in the end I was a pawn down and I blundered another pawn. Here is the game.