Sunday, February 08, 2009

It was the Bagel's fault.

I played in an online G/45 tournament this weekend and scored a win, a draw, and a loss. I completely blame my so-so performance on a toasted sesame-seed bagel.

A few people have approached me about continuing the My System series, but I don't feel up to it yet. What business do I have teaching others strategy at this point? On the weeks I don't meet with my coach, I'm coaching a 700 USCF who loves chess and has been studying and playing for over a decade without the rating points to show for it. We meet at a coffee shop and play some blitz or study her games... that's also helping me keep up my pace. :)

Round 1: 1703 vs likesforests
A bagel would cost me this win. Really; it wasn't my fault!


  • Bring extra food so you never end up playing on an empty stomach.
  • 4-6 ply into a calculated line, review your calculations.

Round 2: likesforests vs 1942
Inattention and redemption, followed by time-trouble bumbling.


  • Focus! I can't afford to let Black equalize on move three.

Round 3: likesforests vs 1658
A demonstration of how not to play the King's Indian Defense.


  • My tactical ability is still mediocre.
  • My live sparring record the past two weeks was +8, =1, -2. I need stronger sparring partners (like these) who are more likely to reveal my flaws.


Aziridine said...

I agree with your assessments in games 1 and 3, but in game 2 I would've drawn some very different conclusions.
3.d4 definitely doesn't deserve a "?"; this is a well-known line whose status hovers between equality and a slight edge to White. But 5.Qd2 is the main move, intending b3 and Bb2.
8.Nd5?! does not impress me - White, who is already behind in development, spends two moves to exchange a good knight for a mediocre bishop. 10...d5! would've been the appropriate answer - it seems to me Black would be slightly better in that case.

likesforests said...

Aziridine - "But 5.Qd2 is the main move, intending b3 and Bb2."

I wouldn't have even thought to look 3.d4 up in my opening books since it loses a tempo--surprise, surprise, it's there. Qd2 does look like a better way to support b3/Bb2. I only briefly checked Qe4+?! and Qe3+?! before moving the queen back to her home square.

Aziridine - "10...d5! would've been the appropriate answer"

Frankly, I was surprised to see a 1950 waste time with 10...h6.

Aziridine - "White, who is already behind in development, spends two moves to exchange a good knight for a mediocre bishop."

I don't know. The knight hits alot of squares on d5 and indirectly protects c4. I'm thinking my error was more the follow-up 9.Nxe7. Instead maybe I should've played 9.Bg2 and reserved the option to trade N for B later.

Thanks for taking a look. :)

Aziridine said...

Agreed - 9.Bg2 is much stronger, so it should be 9.Nxe7+ and not 8.Nd5 that gets the "?!".
Thanks for sharing!

chesstiger said...

You are proud to have found a drawish line?

Once you spotted that line did you look for your remainig time for a win or did you play the drawish line immediatly?

likesforests said...

"You are proud to have found a drawish line?"

I was proud that I had calculated moves 11-15 plus repetitions. My opponent missed 11...Qa5, and also missed the perpetual.

"Once you spotted that line did you look for your remainig time for a win or did you play the drawish line immediatly?"

Before playing 11...Qa5 I spent five minutes calculating it out. And yes, I considered lines with Rh8-Rf8-Rxg5, Qxa1, Nxf6, and passive defense. it seemed like all the alternatives gave my opponent better chances. Given I was playing Black and lower-rated I decided my opponent should be the one taking chances to win.

I spent ZERO clock time (remember the 5-second increment) playing the remaining moves--I has already decided it was a draw and was imagining that bagel since I had missed breakfast. That was the silly part. If I had looked after 14.Ke2 I would certainly have seen 14...Qb2+ 15.Ke1 Qxa1+ with the win. Even 14...Qxa1 looks winning due to the passed c-pawn which I missed in my early calculations.

I'm serious about chess. I study alot. And yet my brain has so many excuses for disengaging at key moments.

BlunderProne said...

In game 1, 8...g5 is too committal.

I look at the position and see a few things after white plays 8. e3

1) The need to free the Knight at f6 from the pin.
2) The fact that 8.e3 walls off white's Queen bishop from defending back home
3) After white plays a4 ( a natural response to dxc4), the dark squares are weak on the queen side.

So what seems more accurate that addresses all three above is 8...Qa5 with an immediate threat. White is forced to play a defensive move like either 9.Qd2 or 9.Nge2 ( blocking the development of the bishop). Otherwise he's faced with losing either a rook or give up castling.
The Key follow-up is Nd5. But I am at work and not in front of my chess engines for proper analysis.

BlunderProne said...

woops... forgot the king's knight already deployed to f3... so 9.Nge2 is not even an option ...leaving 9.Qd2 being White's only defense.

likesforests said...

BlunderProne (it seems silly calling you that when your rating is higher!), that's a good find.

8..Qa5 9.Qd2 just loses to 9...Nd5, so I would expect 9.Qc2. And then:
9...Nd5 10.Kd2 and the attack begins to fizzle.
9...Ne4! 10.Qxe4 Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 Qxc3+ 12.Ke2 Qxa1

Let's see what Fritz 10 says: 9.Qd2 (-2.87), 9.Qc2 Ne4 10.Rc1! and White survives. 9.Bxc4! Bxc3+ 10.bxc3 Qxc3+ 11.Nd2 and White survives.

"Theory" says ...b5 is best but we didn't know that, clearly these are lines I should've considered.

Aziridine said...

Surely 8...b5 is best - Black is playing a Noteboom with an extra pawn (White wishes he hadn't played Bg5).

Chessaholic said...

damn that toasted sesame-seed bagel! how dare it?

Not a bad performance man, I've done worse than +1 -1 =1 :) A few tactical oversights here and there but I thought pretty solid games overall.

BudMan said...

I once lost a morning game due to corned beef hash, two poached eggs (with runny yolks!), four pieces of buttered toast, a waffle, and a gallon of black coffee.

likesforests said...

Chessaholic, I grant that I gave none of my opponents easy wins, and when I did calculate I was accurate to 7-ply. That makes me a solid class C player. But I only have 5 more months to move up a class if I want to be in the same group as Blunderprone at the World Open! :)

BudMan, yup, that will do it every time! I believe diet and psychology do play a role in chess, most often when the players are similarly matched.

likesforests said...

A little older, a little wiser...

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 d6 3.d4? -

d4 was totally fine. At first glance, it loses a tempo due to 3...exd4 Qxd4. But if you look a bit deeper you'll notice Black eventually needs to play ...d5 to free his position and then he loses a tempo! d4 only temporarily loses time.

8.Nd5 was a strong move. The point was not so much Nxe7, as preventing the advance of the d-pawn. Which explains why 9.Nxe7 was such a bad move.

* Qd1?! wasn't so hot as it didn't support the Bb2 idea like Qd2.

* Nf3?! wasn't so hot. Usually Nh3/Nf4 is better, although the knight deployment could simply be delayed until g3/Bg2, focusing on d5.

Next time. :)