Monday, May 28, 2012

Game 32

Game 32 (replayed here) was the 4th of 4 games with tommyg.  I won the game and the series.  I'm not sure if tommyg was playing at 100% or not.  His kingside pawns were all down the side and I was able to slip my white-squared bishop in the middle, fortified by a solid pawn chain.  He had a chance of whacking this bishop with his knight, but did not.

Later he played 14. Qa4+ and I had to place my knight between his queen and my king on d7.  His knight was also bearing down on d7 and he could have easily traded knights and queens and then it would have been a bit more difficult to get my rooks out and my king safe.

After he played 25. Raf2?, I took his bishop ... again - not sure what he saw when he made this move.  Then he followed up with 26. R2a6 and then I delivered the knockout punch with 27. Qf2#.

I now have 20 games left to play before August 6.  I should get a few extra games in during the week of June 21-28 during a family reunion.  My nephew plays chess and hopefully we can get a few long games in.  Then the weekend of July 15 there is a local tournament and I should get a few games in over that weekend.  So, in the mean time, if I can get 1-2 games per week on FICS, I should reach my goal of 52 games in 1 year.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Bad" Pawns Can Be "Good" (HTRYC 3rd)

Isolated, backward or doubled pawns are often weak; however it is also true that sometimes they are not - other factors outweigh their potential weakness.

Doubled Pawns
a doubled pawn gives its owner an extra open file for coverage of critical squares that would not be possible if the pawns were un-doubled and 'healthy'.

Said Brent Larsen of this game, "In this variation, many endings are won with the aid of the seemingly humble [doubled] center pawns."

A pawn is only weak if the enemy forces can get to it.

Isolated Pawns
an isolated pawn is potentially weak because no other pawn can help defend it.  Since now pawns can stand by its side, the square directly in front of it also tends to be vulnerable.  However, it can control squares that might turn out to be useful homes for your pieces; there are open files on either side of an isolated pawn - a place for your rooks which can strive for activity.

An isolated pawn doesn't have to remain on a sickly square; it can advance and become a 'battering ram.'

If you advance and subsequently trade an isolated pawn, then the supposed weakness was nothing more than an illusion.

The most common type of isolated pawn tends to be the d-pawn.

Piece activity is key when trying to make use of an isolated pawn.  Don't trade pieces when you have an isolated pawn - you need them to defend and advance the 'iso.'  If you have an 'iso' and no minor pieces, try to swap rooks and queens.

Backward Pawns
the weakness or strength of a backward pawn depends on the following questions:
1. It is sitting on an open file?
2. How well is it defended?
3. Is the square directly in front of it adequately defended by pieces?
4. Is it serving a useful purpose defending the pawns that have gone ahead of it?
5. Can it successfully advance, thereby ridding itself of the 'backward' label?

If a backward pawn can safely advance then its weakness will turn out to be more illusory than real.

Passed Pawns
passed pawns are usually thought of as huge assets, offering great chances in an endgame, but they can also be a disadvantage.

You don't want a passed pawn if it can be blockaded, unless you have play elsewhere and the passed pawn acts as endgame 'insurance.'  The best blockader of a passed pawn is a knight, since its strength is no diminished by having a pawn in front of it.

Center (HTRYC 3rd)

The first responsibility of the owner of the big [pawn] center is to make it indestructible.

Conversely, the responsibility of the player facing the pawn center is to apply constant pressure to it, and to try to prove it to be a weakness instead of a strength.

A center is only good because it restricts the opponent's pieces.  If it has to advance and give the enemy pieces good squares, then its whole purpose has been negated.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Game 31

I missed the last of our 4 games with tommyg on Friday night - it was a hectic day.  We are trying to work out a time to play that 4th game.

Tonight I played game 2 with gatoruss (replayed here).  The first game last week was pretty ugly.  I replayed that game a few times today and it was painful.  But tonight's game had a different outcome.  It was pretty interesting in the beginning and then he played 18...Nxe3?  I'm not quite sure what he was thinking.  But from then on, I just worked to try to trade pieces.  He made a second blunder with 24...g4.  My knight was pinned to my king by his queen and then he advanced the pawn attacking my knight.  But that left my queen to deliver check and then retake the pawn at g4.  At that point, I was up a bishop and knight.  He tried a few checks, but I secured the king and he resigned.

Game 3 with him may be next week, but being Memorial Day, we may delay game 3 until June 4.

Hey you Europeans ... check out my post on brunch and chess!  I'm up about the time you guys are having a late breakfast or early lunch - why not play a G/60 with me?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

European Brunch May 21-25

So I had a thought on my 4-mile walk the other day ...

I need something to motivate me to get up and get going in the morning.  The answer: a G/60 game of chess.

But who plays chess at that unseemly hour?  The answer: Europeans.

So, each week, I'll post which days I can play a G/60 and people can sign up by posting a comment on that post.  I may not get much response, but it's worth a try.

If you're rated between 1500-1800 on FICS (standard rating), feel free to sign up for a game or two with me.

Monday: no games
Tuesday: open spot - G/60 at 02:45 FICS time
Wednesday: open spot - G/60 at 02:45 FICS time
Thursday: open spot - G/60 at 02:45 FICS time
Friday: no games

First come first serve - leave a comment to let me know which day you'd like to play.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Space (HTRYC 3rd)

Space, as defined by Silman, is the "player's territory usually determined by the positioning of one's pawns."  It's the area of property behind the pawns.

The reason it's important: if you have more territory, you also possess more room in which to move around.

  1. the side with less space should initiate exchanges so that he will have more room in which to move around.
  2. alternatively, the side with more space should avoid exchanges and instead focus on increasing the space advantage.
However, there is a "dark side of space"
  1. the further a pawn advances the less space it can potentially control
Other rules
  1. in closed positions with locked centers you must attempt to get open lines on the wings by breaking with pawns

Monday, May 14, 2012

Game 30

Game 30 was game 1 in a new series - this time with gatoruss.  Not much to see in this game - just total crap on my part.  I guess one shouldn't multi-task when playing a game.  On the bright side, I had a pretty good night on ChessTempo.  Once I knew the game was lost, I logged on to CT and got a small bump in my blitz rating.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Playing Chess Playlist

I've found that certain pieces of music enhance my concentration.  Over the years, my "Concentration" playlist has grown.  I've noticed that a few of the pieces are a bit up tempo than most, while the majority of them are slow or relaxing.  Here's my 107 minute playlist with links to the songs on youtube.

Bach's Persia by David Darling
Progeny by Hans Zimmer
The Wheat by Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard
Earth by Hans Zimmer
Sorrow by Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard
Zucchabar by Hans Zimmer
Esptesicus by Hans Zimmer and James Howard
Evenstar by Isabel Bayakdarian
Minas Tirith by Ben Del Maestro
The Long Night by Oystein Sevag
Egypt by Lakki Patey
Piece in the Old Style 1 by Henryk Gorecki performed by William Orbit
Piece in the Old Style 3 by Henryk Gorecki performed by William Orbit
Opus 132 by Beethoven performed by William Orbit
Anytime, Anywhere by Sarah Brightman
Our Breath Shall Intermix by Symbion Project
Instrumental by Rob Dougan
9999999 by Valve - Mike Morasky - Aperture Science Psychoacoustics Laboratory (Portal 2 soundtrack)
One Simple Idea by Hans Zimmer
Dream Within a Dream by Hans Zimmer
Waiting For a Train by Hans Zimmer
Time by Hans Zimmer

There are lots more tracks in my library that could be on this list.  I've noticed I can go through this playlist twice in one 75 15 game.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Game 29

Game 29 was the fourth with Nygren.  Full game here.

In our postmortem, he asked me what I was thinking when I moved 9...c5.  My thought, at that point of the game, was to try to open up the middle or move it along to c4.  I also wanted to get my rook on the c file.  He said that it wasn't a good move because it created an isolated pawn (on d5).  He was right.  I could not defend it well after.  He also noted that I should not have have been trading pieces with an isolated pawn; but that I should be supporting it and trying to advance it.  So, I was going about it all wrong.  But I really welcomed the feedback.  After doing a full analysis with Fritz 11, it didn't have any feedback for me on that move.

The next part I wanted to look at was 12...Nce4.  Fritz 11 gives me a =+, but I didn't quite pull off the pawn capture like I was thinking.  He responded 13. Rc1 followed by my Bg4.  Instead of Bg4, I should have captured his knight with 13...Nxc3 14. Rxc3 Rxc3 15. bxc3 h6 16. Bxf6 Bxf6 and I'd still be slightly better ... I could still attempt to capture the c-pawn with Qc7.  But instead of playing 13...Nxc3, I played Bg4 and you can see this resulted in the opening of my castled king as well as going down a pawn.  From that point on, I struggled to stay in the game.

The game continued - his rook and queen were playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with my king.  I was trying desperately to get my queen back into the thick of things.  It was looking pretty clear he was going to win, and so I decided to try to last for as many moves as I possibly could; even trying to get a perpetual check so as to draw the game.  He was able to trade rooks with me and win my other glimpse of hope - a pawn with a wide-open file ahead of him.  Now he had a pawn in the middle heading to be queened.  My king was stuffed to the side and I was trying to get a perpetual check.  After moving 37...Qc5, I was expecting him to play either h4 or Qh8+.  After that, His pawn could just saunter on down.  But he played g4+ after which I played fxg3+.  39. Qxg3 would have been fine, but he played Kxg3?? after which I finished it off with Qg1#.

I felt badly for him.  The game was his except for that blunder.  He was very gracious in the postmortem and I was very appreciative of him playing me those four games and going over them.

My pool of people to play is about to dry up.  I need more players to play!  I'd prefer to play a 4-game series of 75 15 games, but one-off games are perfectly ok too.  G/60, 45 45, G/90 ... whatever ... just that it's a longish game.  I'll play pretty much anyone ... I think I'd have to draw the line at 1875.  If you're around the 1875, give or take 25 rating points, I'm not sure I'd be of any use other than to be utterly humiliated :-) ... but if you're 1875 or below, I'd  be willing to take a shot.

Leave a comment if you want to play; or shoot me an email at hotmail dot com.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Game 28

Game 28 (replayed here) was against Tommyg again - our third of four.  I'm up 3-0 now.  It was a fairly even-keeled game ... no exploding fireworks.  I had a couple of long thinks on move 13 and 29.  But besides those, my thinking was fairly quick and concise.

Towards the end, I felt I had it wrapped up a couple of times, only for Tommy to pull out another move that made me pause and ponder.  He put up a really good fight.

I had to delay my game today with nygren ... my son's friend and his dad invited us to see the new stadium the Houston Dynamo are playing in.  We had to leave a bit early this morning and I wasn't sure if I started the game with nygren if we'd finish in time before we had to leave.  So that game is tomorrow morning.