Tuesday, September 25, 2012

xkcd: Think Logically

I think someone else in the chess blogosphere has mentioned xkcd before.  The latest is about chess and even a mention of a chess community on-line (see the green "mouse-roll-over" text box).

Link: http://xkcd.com/1112/

*update* - it was Robert who mentioned xkcd before.

Friday, September 21, 2012

'12-13 Game 8

Moving on up the Chessmaster ladder, I played Griffin.  Griffin's passions are oil painting and chess.  He made a career out of his oil painting by becoming a graphics artist in Silicon Valley - and I can see why he chose that route :-)

He made an unsound sacrifice on move 9 (is there such a thing as an unsound sacrifice?  Maybe I should just call it a bad move.  He did get a little tempo and had me on the chase a bit.  My king was unable to castle because of his exchanging a pawn for his bishop.  But I was able to get through it and then eventually scored a nice tactic and went up another piece.  From there, I offered piece exchanges and he accepted.  I was able to gobble up his pawns, make one of my own into a queen and then mated him.

Next up is Eric.

Friday, September 14, 2012

'12-13 Game 7

I suspect I'll be playing more games against Chessmaster personalities this year and that's ok - I want to see how high I can climb the "personalities ladder" in CM.

Today I played against "Shaun" who favors an attacking style of play - since he plays football, rides dirt bikes, is learning to kickbox and is a very active teenager.

As is I've said before, some of these personalities will drop pieces early on, but then, latter in the game, kick it into high gear and play some tough moves.  Sometimes, as was the case with Shaun, they spring a very surprising attack on you.  And if you're not careful, you will be promptly mated.

I was able to defeat his wiles - especially since I was up three pieces.  The endgame was a bit tricky as I had to finish him off with two bishops and a knight - but that was a useful exercise nonetheless.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

'12-13 Game 6

Game 6 of my 2012-2013 52-Game quest was my round 7 game in the Southwest Open in Dallas.

I was paired up against a gentleman I had previously played back in July in the NAS-NAJ tournament.  I won that game in July, but lost against him yesterday.

Here is the game - I was black:

I got off to a good start - went up a pawn, but then couldn't turn that 1 pawn advantage into a win.

Both of us were under a bit of time pressure ... had about 1-2 minutes per move until we hit move 30.

I think I need to let Fritz analyze this one first.  It feels like I missed something.

So I finished with a 3.0 / 7 ... in reality, it was 2.0 / 5 since I took two byes.

Monday, September 03, 2012

'12-13 Game 5

I took byes in rounds 4 and 5 and relaxed with my wife and kids; went to church; took a long nap; ate dinner at our friends' house and played lots of card games (including Spot It!) and Wii games.

That night, I got a good sleep.  I woke up this morning, gassed up the car, went to the store to get some food supplies for the games today and then came to the hotel.

Round 6 was the most unusual game I've ever played in these tournaments.  I played w/ the white pieces.

He showed up a couple of minutes late.  When the game started, he gave a bit of a half-hearted handshake.  I moved a bit quickly.  His first two or three moves were average length in think time, but then after that, I would make my move, hit the clock and then he just seemed to mentally check-out.  He was looking off in space, sucking on the tag of his jacket, coughing, sniffling, rubbing his nose ... anything but looking at the board.

After I pinned his queen, I started getting up and walking around while waiting for him to move.

Not much to see here ... other than I had a mate earlier ... would have ended the game 7 moves quicker.

I should have played Bc7+ instead of taking the rook w/ my queen.

It is about 12:45pm now ... the next round is at 3:15pm.  Ivan won his game and is sitting here at the same table in the skittles room going over his win.

A few other thoughts

Maybe a few gentle readers can explain something to me.  Why am I not paired with more 1500-1600 rated players?  I am either paired against a 1800 or a 1300-1400 player at these Swiss tournaments.

This has been the noisiest tournament I've played in.  The playing hall is smaller than most places I've played in.  I swear, half the people are either sick or have allergies ... there is a sneeze or cough every 15 seconds.  People were constantly going in and out of the playing hall.  They finally tweaked the doors to make it a bit quieter.  LOTS of parents are hovering over their kids.  They finally started making them watch from the sides of the room in round 6.  I may have to start using headphones.

This is the first tournament I've played 30/90 SD1 w/ a 5 second delay.  Getting to 30 moves in 90 minutes was a bit stressful for me.  Especially when around moves 26-29, the positions are somewhat critical and I've got just 10 minutes on the clock.  Then after move 30, that extra hour is a relief.  But it doesn't help much if you've messed up on move 28 or 29!

Anyway - 1 more game to go.  I'll post that game when I can.

'12-13 Game 4

Round 3 was at 8:00pm.  My head was pounding and I just wanted to attack.  Not really a good combination when you're playing a player rated 1800.

There's not much really to see ... I played quite poorly.  Here's the full game - I was black.

'12-13 Game 3

Round 2 was against a player rated 1425.  This was a long game; going 73 moves.  I think this was my 2nd game I've played against a 1400+ player.  The first one I played against a 1400 player, that game went about 60 moves.  Against 1500 players, my games go into the 30-40 move range, but against 1400 rated players, the games go longer.

Anyway - here's the game.  I played with the white pieces.
The game was pretty equal; the queens game off the board fairly early; he went up a pawn at about the same time we swapped queens ... again, I failed to count well and he went up a pawn.

I kept seeing ways he could win against me, but he didn't choose those moves that would have given him an advantage.  Instead, he let me off the hook a few times and I took advantage.

I was able to equalize again by taking his pawn that was one row away from queening.

Then we came to this point.  He was threatening Ne2 forking K and R.  I responded with Kf1.  I figured he would take my bishop, then I'd have doubled pawns, thus giving him a slight advantage.  But he played f5 after which I played a5 ... I had in mind that I could take his c pawn, the knight and bishop would come off and then perhaps the rooks would come off and I'd have to figure out a way to queen a pawn without him queening first.  Now that I'm thinking of it, not sure a5 was the best move.

Anyway, after a5, he played Kf7 and then I played Bb7, he moved Rc7 and I then defended the Bishop with a6.  From there, we eventually swapped rooks.  My bishop and a-pawn stayed put and I was able to go gobble his pawns with my king and eventually queen a pawn and win.  He offered me a draw after I played a6, but I suggested we played a few more moves ... I felt pretty good at that point that I had good chances of winning.

'12-13 Game 2

Round 1 of the Southwest Open was against fellow blogger Ivan (1863).  As I type this post, he has won his first three games, lost his fourth, won his fifth ... and when I left the playing hall after my round 6, he was up in his game.

This was the first OTB game in a month for me.  I felt pretty good in the opening, even went up a pawn, but then he outplayed me in the end.  I played w/ the black pieces.  Here's the full game below.
On move 21, he took my bishop (Bxb7).  I did a bit of miscalculating and retook with my rook instead of my queen.  I was a bit concerned about him playing Nxg6 fxg6 Bxd6 (forking my rooks).  But I didn't take that line one more move ... instead of playing fxg6, I would play Bxh2 Nxf8 followed by me responding with Bd6 ... I would have been ok with that.

But instead, after Bxb7, I played Qxb7 and that allowed him to get the pawn back.

After that, I tried to expel his bishop and then get an attack going with my queen and knight, but his rooks and queen came barreling down my queenside ... and along with his bishop, he delivered a nice tactic by sacrificing his queen for a mate.

This was the first round of the 4-day and as such, it was played on a Friday night, with the playing hall about 1/4th full and with mostly adults at that.  This was the most quiet round of the tournament.  Rounds 2-7 were quite noisy for this smaller playing hall with lots of scholastic players.