Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another Day Another Open

It's round three of the Cupertino Open and I'm paired up as White against a 1722 in his mid-teens who says he plays lots of bullet on ICC.

Black's playing the Old Indian. I learn after the game he knows this opening a dozen moves deep, while I'm already out-of-book. I pick logical developing moves and reach a fine position out of the opening. My opponent wins five minutes of clock time.

Eight moves later I find a brilliant sequence that should hand White a strong advantage. Can you spot White's next two moves in the position below?

It's an exchange sac! 18.fxg4! hxg4 19.Rxf5! Bxf5 20.Qxf5! Rh6 21.Qxg4 and White has a B+2P for the R. White has the initiative and Black's king is exposed with no nearby shelter.

The sad thing is, I missed no fewer than five opportunities to convert the position above. The magic sequence of moves is 30.Bc1! Rg6 31.h5! Argh. I couldn't skewer my way out of a paper lunch bag. I've got to get better at tactics. And managing my clock.

The gruesome details:


On a positive note, I won $50 for my overall performance. :)


Farbror the Guru said...

A little cash in Da Pocket is always nice. Great write-up.

likesforests said...

Thanks, Farbor. I've been thinking about what Josh Waitzkin wrote, after losing his first big tournament. "I arrived at a commitment to chess that was about much more than fun and glory. It was about love and pain and passion and pushing myself to overcome..." The same place is holding another tournament in a month. I will be back. And next time, I plan to take more scalps.

Farbror the Guru said...

Where did you find that quote? "Art of Learning"? Is the whole book worth reading?

trallala said...

Really nice E-sac, what happens after that is pretty typical. One get's a winning position and many lines seem to promise an easy win but
somehow that just isn't good enough, 'cause you've already sacrificed a rook and should be compensated at least with opponent's queen or a nice mate... You burn some clock time to keep the "status quo", waiting for the hidden brilliancy but it never happens so you trade into a drawn ending with 1 minute on your clock... (maybe too much of my personal experience speaking;-)
So I wouldn't blame tactics on this loss and as a cure I'd play won positions against a computer where positions often simplify to won pawn endgames. -just my moronic 5 cents ;-)

Rolling Pawns said...

I liked that sacrifice. What happened in the end is quite familiar story. You can't save time on calculating the moves, but these 5 minutes more you spend on the opening proved to be critical in the end.

likesforests said...

Farbor - Yeah, "Art of Learning". One could safely skip it, but I've read it a few times because it's motivational and puts me in the right mindset before a chess tournament.

trallala - But how can I not blame my tactics when I had several chances to finish off my opponent? Strategically, I made a good call looking for a sac to open up the position.

30.Bc1! Rg6 31.h5!. I think the reason I missed this finish was because the moves are relatively quiet. No checks, no mate threats, no captures. But they were still forcing. I need to work on seeing these types of tactics.

And then there's the careless move where I saw 24.Qf5+ but played 24.Rf1+. Mistakes like that cost not only material but also time (wasted calculation variations not play, wasted recovering from the mistake).

My endgame experience is why I played 29.Kg2. With that move, the endgame is objectively draw. Without it, it's a lost cause. But Black's easier to play than White--all he has to do is penetrate with his rook and attack from the flank or the rear. Still, give me five more minutes and I would very likely have drawn it.

Rolling Pawns - Yes. 14 moves in I was down 9 minutes (43 to 52) and in this game that time would've been decisive--either allowing me to draw or giving me more time to find a win. When my opponent told his brother about the win he said he 'flagged me', which is a particularly apt description. Learning more about the "Old Indian" vs "King's Indian" is definitely on my agenda this week.

likesforests said...

But I'm curious what others think.

Was this mostly a tactics problem, an opening problem, or something else

chesstiger said...

Not a tactical problem or an opening problem but in my eyes a thinking proces problem.

You saw small but not broad. You saw the normal moves but forgot to check the not so normal moves like in that position where Bc1 Rg6 h5 wins a piece. Although Bc1 isn't such an unnormal move it's for most players unnormal to play a piece backwards instead of forward.

I hope i explained it understandable what i wanted to say. If not maybe best you learn dutch so i can explain it in my motherlanguage. :-)

nemo said...

hey man thanks for the reply! and yes fatherhood is absolutely incredible. congrats on your second btw!

Chessaholic said...

Nice game man! Too bad it slipped away, I think you had a clear advantage. I would love to have the white pieces after 20.Qxf5 :) I actually agree with you in that I think your loss had a lot to do with tactics, and of course with that elusive "technique". ("and the rest is a matter of technique". Yeah right.) 12.Nxe5 and 16.Be4 are definitely tactical oversights, both of which would've gained you material and an early advantage. I love the exchange sacrifice, that was brilliant. But afterward I feel like you didn't press hard enough. I probably wouldn't have bothered snatching up the g-pawn, my first thought was Rf1 to increase the pressure.

transformation said...

a brief word on prep.

i checked my opening book, and turns out, i had a few games out of 5,511 in this line, but in my short opening book, 'masked out those games' (chessBase speak for marked for deletion to occupy a position, but left in the database, so NOT deleted).

i only play 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3. now, the normal move and indeed what i would have AT THE TIME is 2.c4. but i dont want openings to touch anything that i have NOT examined if not prepared.

i no longer go for c4 and d4 UNLESS its a slav, QGA, GGD, alapin, this takes me away from nimzo, grunfelds, KID, etc.

so bottom line, if you play d4. then c4, you need to know all the basic lines.

i have prepared all my moves for all Blk's replies, maybe not real deep but all decided and wide.

make a chessBase file for all the key lines and keep adding to it, and apportion your time according to frequency.

or, if you dont, take a big set of GM games and remove everything NOT in your line, and after 2 or 3,000 games, you will have an opening book. i have 3,312 games. much slav, much Caro, now a lot of work on the QGA, which was a hole.

let me know if you want me to email you examples.

transformation said...

in chessBase, fifth move for Wht most commonly 5.e4, then 5.Bg5, then g3.

i meant to say, i would have: 1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 so that already it is over to MY prep.

i ck chessBase, and see 2.Nf3 is the second most common line, and is very playable. whatever it is, i dont want to be in someone elses stuff unless they know it.

if someone plays 1.e4 c6, 2.f4 e5 and takes the pawn 3,fxe5 Qh4+, they are gonna get crushed, as i have Fritzed this very deep and have all the moves. just five moves and lost!

i also have prep for declining the pawn... be prepared!!

Aziridine said...

19.Rxf5! was very nice. I probably would've picked the more prosaic 19.e4! but that's only because I never have the courage to play the flashy sacrifices :-) Kudos on finishing in the money!

tanc (happyhippo) said...

very nice combo on the exchange sac.

not to worry about the silent Bishop move Bc1.

Moves like these are hard to do. It's quite normal that when you're pressing for an attack, it's hard to find moves that makes your pieces go backwards. I myself would have found it difficult to find such a move as well. It's really counter-intuitive.

But you did get a nice little pocket "change" for your efforts. Well done! :)

likesforests said...

Thanks for all the brilliant analysis.

chesstiger - Yes, that's it. My thought process is supposed to be: (1) checks, (2) mate threats, (3) captures, (4) threats to gain material. I tend to stop at step 3 and overlook moves that threaten a more valuable or loose piece unless I sense a familiar pattern. Something to work on... thanks!

nemo - Thanks. :)

Chessaholic - I also didn't like 21.Qxg4, so I investigated several alternatives (5 minutes), mainly 21.Ne4. This brings a new piece into the battle--strategically a good idea. (21.Rf1 I discounted due to ...Qd7 and I didn't like redeploying a piece that already helped the assault when there were pieces not joining in.) After 21.Ne4! Rd8 I couldn't see a good continuation. It's 22.Rf1! and now Black is lost. Clearly I need more practice solving complex positions.

dk - Thanks for taking a look... point taken. Waltzing into a line my opponent knows intimately where I have to calculate/evaluate every move is not how to win tournament games.

I keep my lines in Chessbase, similar to the way Grandpatzer suggested (I recall you read his article and liked it, too). Philosophically I've always believed in a small repertoire I know well. But my 60-position White repertoire ain't small, it's positively anemic since the English is not particularly offbeat. I'm working hard now to flesh that out to 300 positions, writing lots of annotations, and then I will use Bookup to help remember them, and some blitz and model games to reinforce them. Then I'll have another small edge in my favor.

likesforests said...

Aziridine - I rarely play sacs either, but the position called for it. It was nice to find at least one good move. :)

tanc - Pocket change is good! But I have to worry. It's only difficult because of the model we (most amateurs I've shown this to) use to solve tactics. For me this painful position is cause to break down my old model and create a new one so that I can rack up more tournament wins. :)

My next tournament is in one month. If I can become a stronger tactician and know my openings better by then I expect a wholly different result.

Aziridine said...

You know, I don't think your openings are a problem. Your opponent may think he "knows" this opening twelve moves deep, but you just completely outplayed him over those twelve moves (in fact you had a forced win on move 12!). It's natural to fall behind on time in an unfamiliar opening, but it's just something one has to get used to. Trying to memorize how to handle every sketchy sideline is probably more trouble than it's worth. It might be another year or two before you see an Old Indian again, and how much do you think you'll remember then if you study it now? And since you said you were only five minutes down, it seems to me that you used your time really well (remember, you had a forced win).
Of course, you didn't actually see the forced win, so perhaps more work on tactics is in order :)

Blue Devil Knight said...

Aziridine speaks the truth. Say it, brother.

Banatt said...

Congratulations, that's a nice dinner right there.

John aka Endgame Clothing said...

Money won is twice as sweet as money earned! Congrats.

likesforests said...

Aziridine - You make a very good point. He must have meant he plays similar moves every time (system-like). I would hope his opening book doesn't include blundering a pawn!

BDK - Heh. :)

Banatt - In fact, I did take my wife out to dinner last night. She deserved it for putting up with my tournament prep and worries!

John, thanks!

BlunderProne said...

It is better to attempt such exchange sacrifices and fail than to face stagnation in a position.

You learn from it. I was faced with a similar idea the other night at the club. Either I jump in and sac a knight for 2 pawns to open up a position and favor my bishops or fall back into a passive game. The arenalien was pumping and I felt it was not only in my nature to attempt fate, but it was what the position called for.

I had the initiative, he had an exposed king and his "extra" piece was hemmed in. But I didn't quite have the technique and exchanged one of the bishops at the wrong time instead of keeping the pressure.

It's hard when there are no clear wins to be calculated, only a temporary positional advantage. I wanted to play aggressively, but had to defend while attacking as my opponent played the best possible moves. Five moves into the E-sac I got nervous and thought I'd be better simplifying the position. I forgot a fundamental rule by Reubin Fine: When Behind material, avoid exchanges.

I may post that game soon on my blog area.

The retired pawn said...

Hi my fearless leader! The Retired Pawn is still alive. I like your series about your chess coach.