Sunday, August 10, 2008

U1600: 1st Place & Perfect Score

I won 1st place in my U1600 G/30 tourney this weekend with a perfect score. But to be honest, I'm disappointed with my performance.

When the games turned sharp, I danced the tactical dance, and my opponents were left panting on the floor wondering what had hit them. But some of the games were not sharp! Then I had to take risks and winning was tough.

Here's arguably my worst game:


Fellow bloggers, where did I go wrong?

1. My opening is all wrong if I suspected White was tactically weaker and I should take up the Reverse English (a.k.a. the Sicilian).


2. My opening is fine. There were better ways to play this position that I missed (and you will be nice enough to point out)!


3. You call that chess??


tanc(happyhippo) said...

Hello likesforests,

I'm not sure if 29... f6 is positionally correct. If I were White, 30. f5! looks tempting and if the Rook moves, 31. e6. I would then play Kh1 and Rg1/Rg2 next.

Glenn Wilson said...

1. ... d5!? is risky as it allows 2. b3!! -- the Wilson Gambit! :)

5. ...g6. In some lines you will want this bishop in a position to support ...c5.

Also ...e5 or ...Nc6 here are more active. Another idea is ...Bg4 which gets your bad bishop into play before it is bad. I think in the opening you mixed/combined some plans and your pieces ended up not coordinated as a result.

10. b5 how does that help prepare c5? It seems to me it makes it harder by weakening the long diagonal. Notice how easy ...c5 is if you have a bishop on e7?

15... Bxe5 seems suspect. Nd7 seems good.
"...opportunities to attack my king. I calculate that I can stop them". Calculate == hope??

Your magnificent knight may be irrelevant on c4 away from the action if your King is being attacked. Fortunately your opponent did not know how to attack.

In general your opening choice is fine. You do not need to play the Sicilian to win tactically.

Good game and congrats on your tournament!

transformation said...

fantastic result!

... up late here, to be alert for market open and sell some calls against intrinsic equity, QID... then go to bed. up for 18 hours and not tired yet... but did sleep for 20 minutes when i got home from work, so THAT'S like a half a nights sleep, as i go!...

you will see 18!00 hard work, not luck here. congratulations! dk

Blue Devil Knight said...

The opening is fine. GMs play it, so until you reach 2300 that ain't gonna be the problem.

Congrats, great performance ya' sandbagger! :)

likesforests said...

1...d5!? - The total refutation of the Scandinavian! I'm lucky my opponents don't know it. ;)

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. g3 g6 6.Bg2 Bg7 7. O-O O-O is the beginning of the model game Pereyra Arcija - Soppe, Argentinian Championship, 1996 which ended 1/2-1/2. GM John Emms writes "g6! - A slow system by White be met effectively by a fianchetto... g3 has lost much of its charm due to ... g6!"

Unfortunately, in the model game White played the unchallenging 8.h3?!, allowing ...c5 right away.

You hit the nail on the head with 'mixing plans'. c6/e6 are typical moves in the Scandinavian, but not after g6/Bg7/O-O lines.

10...b5 - "how does that help prepare c5?" - It doesn't. Gee, why didn't I ask myself that during the game? 10...Nbd7 would have been more consistent.

15...Bxe5 - "Calculate == hope??"

Sorta, but not entirely. Between my knight blocking Qf6 and my queen preventing Qh6-g2 I figured I could hold and due to my opponent's rating he must not be very strong tactically.

15...Nbd7 was of course one of my candidates but I was worried that after Nd3->c5 Black would have a well-placed knight (or we would both have well-placed knights or we would exchange knights and my chances of winning would be even less than they already were).

"Fortunately your opponent did not know how to attack."

Aye. 18.Bf4?! was mighty strange. I was expecting 18.Qf3. I checked it out with Rybka and if White had attacked correctly Black could hold, but only by choosing very accurate moves and I am likely to have fumbled sooner or later.

Thanks for the really informative analysis. I'm going to play over some master games from the 7...O-O tabiya and get a feel for how to play it more aggressively.

likesforests said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
likesforests said...

tanc - 30.f5! - Yikes, that would probably have been my undoing. That is why I'm working through My System. I hope in a year my strategy won't completely suck. :)

likesforests said...

dk - Thanks. I earned being in the top 4. I think I had a bit of luck placing first. If my opponent had by chance spent an extra 30s and seen tanc's 30.f5 for example it all might have turned out differently. :)

bdk - lol. I didn't mean to sandbag. I was thinking that since they only gave me a 1387 at the world open that U1600 would be 'playing up'.

Tommyg said...

Congratulations on the win!!

I have never actually seen the Scandinavian opening so I am not free to comment.

I think I agree with tanc's comments about 29...f6 and then 30. f5

Other than that, you won! Revel in it!

Congratulations again,


tanc(happyhippo) said...

Hello likesforests,

Dun worry too much about it.

In any case, you did a fantastic job in coming in 1st place (*envy*).

Well done!

Chessaholic said...

Congratulations man, nice job :)

Do you feel like "Chess Tactics for Champions" helped your "tactical dance"?

likesforests said...

Tommy, thanks! The ...Qa5 Scandy is like a Caro-Kann one tempo down, except White doesn't have so many interesting ways to attack it.

Chessaholic, I've done 6 passes through Heisman's Back to Basics: Tactics and 1 pass through Chess Tactics for Champions. I can't say how much each one's helped. I aim for 100% accuracy at the expense of averaging 30s/position.

My tactics aren't sharp, but they certainly aren't dull. I spot and punish dullness swiftly. After a few passes through CTC and then Understanding Chess Tactics maybe they'll finally be sharpened.

Tommyg said...

Hey Likesforests!

Do you live near TN? You had mentioned that one of my opponents had family near where you live. She does indeed! Her brother was the highest rated player at the tournament a few weeks ago.

likesforests said...

I meant nearby her not nearby me. :)

Incidentally, Rybka thinks ...f6 was correct in spite of f5, which means my position was already terrible. It wanted me to play ...f6 earlier. I'm still working on a detailed analysis of all my games, like tommy's doing.

Tommyg said...

So I believe that I am starting to have Rybka engine envy! I have only had Shredder for three months and I think it is plenty strong enough for me to play against. But there is this nagging sensation in the back of my brain that I should get Rybka 3 for analyzing games! I checked and I can use it with the Shredder interface which I Really LIKE!

As a sort of salute to the upcoming presidential cycle I am definitely "waffling" on this! Is Rybka 3 that awesome?


Tommyg said...

OR should I wait for Rybka 4? :)

tanc(happyhippo) said...

Wow. Rybka?

Speaking of Rybka, it now comes in different flavours including a "humanised" engine version.

Me? I'm still holding onto Fritz for dear life. It's not the smartest engine in the world but hey, it did checkmate Kramnik. :)

Interesting to hear that Rybka thinks f6 was the best move. I wonder what the evaluation of the engine was for this game.

likesforests said...

"Is Rybka 3 that awesome?"

We're talking 3200 elo vs 3000 elo, they're probably both fine! But you can download Rybka2.2n2 for free now if you're interested.

I'm actually more excited by the new Aquarium interface, specifically a feature called IDeA which creates a human-readable tree of all the analysis that the engine's performed. I'm also able to direct its analysis towards lines I find more interesting and away from lines I don't like. :)

likesforests said...

"Speaking of Rybka, it now comes in different flavours including a 'humanised' engine version."

Larry Kauffman's "human" version's my favorite. It gives a bit more weight to long-term factors (such as pawn structure and better pieces). At fast time controls it's maybe 20 elo weaker, but at long time controls it's stronger. In any event, its move choices are easier to understand. :)

logis said...

A player in our club plays the skandinavian and he has succes with it since he knows how to play it. I guess the difference between your opponent and my friend is the rating, my friend namely has 1979 elo points. A little bit more then your opp. :-)

likesforests said...

Logis, I'm more comfortable with the Scandinavian if my opponent is 1900-2200. The positions have a 'drawish' feel and it seems like if either player wants to win they have to take significant risks.

The King's English is precisely opposite. It's sharp, and I tend to put away lower-rated opponents very quickly, but by the same token higher-rated opponents tend to do the same to me! The games have a more decisive feel.

Obviously Antoaneta Stefanova is able to prove wins in the Scandy against lower-rated opponents, so I just gotta work at this problem 'g3' line a bit more so the next time I can be more aggressive. :)

likesforests said...

The inherent characteristics of the openings sometimes make me wonder if it would be better to have more than one choice. eg, 1.Nf3 for White for higher-rated players and 1.e4 c5 for Black for lower-rated players. That's why I posed the question... but the wise Glenn thinks that's not necessary and I bet he's right. :)

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Glenn Wilson said...

[Oh, and that reminds me. Do not play moves against any player based on thinking they will not know the best response. Always assume your opponent will play well. Doing otherwise leads to bad habits and losses. An exception is when your position is totally lost and you have nothing to lose and you try one last swindle.]

Re: learning multiple openings for different situations (higher rated opponent, lower rated opponent, need a win, need a draw, just ate a big lunch, playing a youngster, playing an oldster, playing a strong tactician, playing an endgame specialist, early in the morning, late at night, etc).

To reach master (something I have not done so take this with a grain of salt) it is far more important to learn one opening deeply and well first before learning multiple options. Play over games in that system and understand them. Memorize entire games.

It is not just about the opening but about the rest of the game that tends to arise from such openings. Learn typical tactics, middlegames and endgames. Then (and only then!) prepare and memorize your opening book.

On the other hand knowing every common opening a couple of moves deep and its name is also useful and fun but is not the same as "learning an opening."

erad1288 said...

I would say that in my experience that the way to win against lower rated players as well as equal opposition and even higher rated players is to try to play the objectively best move. Like in this game you decided on b5?! and Bxe5? purely based on the fact that you wanted to put psychological pressure on your opponent, not because you had a very specific idea in mind which is what you must learn not to do. Playing offbeat moves is fine as long as it can be justified by the plan in any given line. Think about it this way, the reason that players of most strengths lose to GM's is because the GM simply plays for a specific plan and with a more objective assessment of the position. Both GM's and amateurs are humans playing the same game with the same rules and yet GM's beat most amateurs easily. "WHY!!??" because a GM comes up with a plan every x number of moves (say 5)and then executes it (i.e try's to meet the objectives decided upon at move y) In this way, GM's frequently beat most other players regardless of what imbalance occurs in the position.

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