On Sundays I play a 1hr per side game with a 30s increment per move – a 60/30 game (I will use the x/x terminology from now on in this blog). The competition was set up to allow younger players to get used to playing longer time controls and for them to also get used to playing adults. Yesterday I was in the unusual role of the young wiper-snapper as I faced an older man who I would guess is in his mid eighties (addendum – he is 93!). I have played him before an enjoy playing him because he is a bold attacker. Here is the game, I am black.
The last time I played him we ended up in a drawish endgame but unfortunately he blundered which, like this game, was a sad way to finish. On that occasion too he smile, tilted his head and shook my hand before walking off with his cane. I’m sure it would be frustrating for such an experienced player to make these mistakes but I’m equally sure he accepts these concentration lapses as part of aging. I’m also certain that he is slowing down his aging by actively playing.
At 7:15pm I had to start the clock for my Monday evening tournament game despite the fact that my opponent hadn’t arrived, he had 30 minutes to do so before his game was forfeited. While waiting I read from a comical book called ‘My 60 Most Memorable Columns’ by a Chess columnist called Chris Depasquale. In it he wrote a piece about drugs in chess, more specifically caffeine and steroids for athsma. In the writing he quoted Luis Ramirez de Lucena c.1465 – c.1530 who is supposed to have said “Try to play after your opponent has eaten or drunk freely.” Well as luck would have it my opponent turned up with 15 minutes to spare and he had clearly drunken freely, very freely and resembled the man in the above picture with the tankard – only more subdued. A warm smile, a long handshake and we went to our board.
On a celebratory occasion like this I can think of no better opening than the King’s Gambit. Risky for all and requiring sharp, clear thinking to avoid the many pitfalls this opening can throw at you. Here is the game.
And while this was the kind of punishment the tax office might have metted out to Al Capone it was still flawed. Being so far ahead I became lazy and missed 2 mate in one opportunities! My second problem was to do with piece activity. I started my attack early to maintain pressure and didn’t develop some of my pieces, I felt this during the game and was worried that if my attack petered out I would be vulnerable. My 19th move fxe5 was an attempt to bring my rook into the fight – the computer says it was the right thing to do. In the end it seemed to be a tempo vs. development game with tempo and sobriety succeeding on this occasion.
I haven’t posted for nearly a month but chess has been happening. In that time my son was in the state junior competition where he didn’t do a s well as expected and that, combined with my own recent thrashing (see ‘Getting Over Getting Thrashed’), has possibly meant a ‘down’ period and reduced blogging. But I did go to my Tuesday club where I won an incredibly attacking King’s Gambit – I gave away a Knight and then a Rook early on for positional advantage, and won – and that was fun. My son and I have also had a couple of games at home where he has enjoyed beating me and that pleased him so we’re on our way up again. I have been playing online a bit and using the Kings Gambit as white and the Scandinavian as black. In both cases I am playing very attacking and somewhat careless chess moves but the games are enjoyable.
Speaking of enjoyable games here is a recent beauty reviewed by one of my favourite online chess commentators.
I have been struck by a cold and I am recuperating in bed. I have been watching chess videos and playing blitz games and I’m happy to report that my rating has been climbing. Today I past the 1300 mark for the first time since the beginning of 2014 with this bold miniature against a player rated higher than me. At least my chess is recovering – I suspect it’s to do with quantity at one sitting.
I was away on holiday with my family so my son and I have been away from chess for about a month. On our return my son had to play in a competition so I thought it would be good to watch a couple of chess videos before the tournament. One chess video was an analysis of a King’s Gambit game played by club level players. The analysis was by an IM called Danny Rensch who is no fan of the King’s gambit. He kept saying that the King’s Gambit was refuted by the move d5. This is in line with my earlier post that suggests the black defense of 1.ea e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 c6. Regardless of this supposed refutation I chose to play the King’s Gambit in my second game on my return to my Tuesday club. I chose to do this because my first game was very rusty; full of errors, badly recorded and with time pressure – I felt out of sorts and I wanted to sharpen things up a bit. Two good tips I had heard about for the King’s Gambit were ‘be aggressive’ and ‘aim for the f7 pawn’. I followed these principles without too much other information and it’s amazing to see how dangerous the King’s Gambit can be. Here is the game.
Following on from this I decided to google ‘King’s Gambit’ and discovered this great computer match won by white.
Yesterday I played someone that couldn’t be further from Thursday’s opponent described in my recent ‘Bloody’ post. This was at my Sunday 1hr + 30s competion and accross the board from me was a seven year old boy – a tenth the age (I’m guessing) of Thursday’s popponent. He started playing when he was four or five and during this time he has been getting lessons on a weekly basis as part of a group and entering many competitions. More recently he has had occassional individual input from a chess tutor. But it’s still only two or three years compared to my six years of casual play and my four years of more structured play. This was a very tough game for me and although there are mistakes from both sides it shows how well kids learn. The game went:
I saw two other games with kids, both eight year olds and both against older, experienced, active club players. In both cases the eight year olds won.
The first is a very sharp kings gambit game. The eight year old missed snatching a free queen on move 20 but the attack was strong.
And a more positional game which shows good combinational style, especially the coup de grace in this case.
Finally I’m adding a game by a 13yr old Australian, Anton Smirnov, who played at the recent Olympiad in Norway.
I mentioned that I read a great intro to the King’s Gambit in my Fundamental Chess Openings Book. An excerpt reads ‘The King’s Gambit is without doubt the most fascinating of all openings. Surrounded by an aura of mystery, courage and heroism, it is this classical opening which comes closest to the eternal myth of the hero who leaves all earthly pleasure behind…’.
So when I saw the King’s Gambit book at the chess sale I bought it and was excited by its possibilities. The book was written by Victor Korchnoi in 1974 and this pedigree gave me confidence that the opening could be a dangerous weapon. I have only flicked through the book quickly at this stage but the diagrams throughout show extremely loose positions with lone pawns, exposed kings, and dynamic pieces. The positions look very unlike positions I normally associate with good play so I was excited.
I decided to have a look at a video about the opening (slipping from Luddutism) and the most accessible one I found was called ‘Opening Traps for Beginners: Countering the King’s Gambit’ by a fine video author called IM Valerie Lilov. In it Valerie seems to show how the opening can be completely overturned which wasn’t what I was expecting and which took the wind out of my sales a bit.
His approach was
or the ‘King’s gambit declined: Nimzovitch counter gambit’. The video lasts just under 20 minutes but it did seem convincing. On the games explorer it shows the King’s Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4) being used 4920 times, the move 3. …c6 is played 213 times but shows a 42% win for black with 21% drawn and 37% won for white. (I guess this isn’t a refutation but it’s not a great start for white). The most popular sequence is 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 with 3. …g5 being played 694 times and with a white win percentage of 42% and a black win percentage of 45%. I should add that percentages seem to bounce around from move to move so they aren’t particularly instructive and it also seems to me that many games are decided after the opening but it has been interesting to look at this opening in the light of chess history and modern theory. Whether a player is black or white the opening does seem dynamic and interesting and I’ll look into it more and try it as white and, f4 willing, as black.
Here is my first attempt at playing the King’s Gambit. This was in a 10 minute game on chess.com. I was rated 1234 and my opponent was rated 1233 but it seemed to catch them off guard.
And the computer analysis shows our game to be riddled with mistakes and blunders:
On the weekend a chess shop was having a clearance of all it’s older stock. This included chess books. I went along and bought five for $25. They were: ‘Chess, The History of a game’, ‘Bobby Fischer goes to war’, ‘The Best of Chess Life’, ‘Kings Gambit’ and ‘Wining With The Scandinavian’. I also bought a chess clock (that I need to return because only one side works) and was given free photocopied work sheets; one on the Grunfeld defence and one on the Marshall attack.
I have almost finished the chess history book and it’s been interesting so far. It starts by looking back to the earliest origins of chess which can be proven back to around 600AD and intimated at around 450AD. The history starts in India then moves to Persia (Iran) before spreading first to Sicilly and Spain via Islam and then spreading through Europe especially to Paris and London. Later it moves to Russia but I haven’t read that far. I’m glad I also read the Chess Queen by Yalom (see earlier post) because this fills in what I consider to be an omission – the changing value of the pieces, particularly the queen, and the changing rules of the game.
I have also been reading ‘Fundamental Chess Openings’ (see earlier post). This is a great book in that it runs through all the well known openings and gives a bit of history and background to openings. It talks about the shift from 1.e4 to 1.d4 in history and then continues to discuss modern flank openings. One opening paragraph inspired me to buy the ‘Kings Gambit’ book by Korchnoi at this sale but I’ll go into that more in my next post.