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Archive for June, 2011

Another week with not much chess is over. My results in long games are at the moment quite poor and I was frustrated. Looking back at the games it’s easy to notice that I finally have the typical amateur games where the advantage goes back and forth. There wasn’t a single game where I didn’t have a chance. Tactical opportunities are lurking everywhere and the next blunder sits around next corner.

After another extremly frustrating loss against a 1500er player I started to notice some important things. Part of my personality is perfectionism. My strategy to fight the evil world is to prepare thoroughly and to be perfect. A chess game is like a test that shows how much you know – and as a beginner I have huge gaps in my knowledge. On a good day I can win against a 1700er and on a bad day I lose against a 1400er. A loss is like heavy critic (“You are so weak!”) and painful. Nevertheless it’s part of the game, one has to expect to lose a lot to become a better player and it’s important to find a way to deal with it.

There is no general receipt what to do, everyone is different. What I have learnt now is that I should treat every game as a chance to learn something and not as personal critic. Even weaker players are superior to me in certain areas because they too spend time on studying chess. Sure, I want to win against them. Looking at the rating difference it’s the only logical result but losing doesn’t mean that I should stop playing chess because I can’t even win against such a weak player. It’s nothing personal and definitely not a test. It’s better to look for mistakes and the factors that decided the game – and then to change my own way of playing to not make the same mistake twice.

If you want to read more you can look at this article.

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Don’t play when feeling sick

I didn’t feel well at the beginning of the week but couldn’t resist playing chess. You can imagine what happened, enough said. I don’t care about the rating. If you are really as good as the rating indicates, 5 or 6 won games easily give back the points. The bad thing is that poor games have no trainings value. You play like a zombie and hang a piece. Or just lose concentration and the game.

People with a feel for tragedy can have a look at my latest TL game. I completely messed up the opening, got a position that was okay. Then I found a nice shot but missed the best continuation after the exchange of minor pieces. The endgame was drawish, but unclear. I decided to play on. My opponent only needed a draw for his team to enter the TL playoffs but why give it to him so easily.

Rook endgames need a lot of practice and I don’t get them often. Unfortunately drama kicked in, I lost concentration and missed a simple tactic. This happens if you only think about your own plans and don’t look what your opponent can do. One blunder doesn’t come alone (the game was still drawn), and I lost.

Conclusion: I am still in the blunder zone. It takes longer before it happens, but the point is that I will never reach 1800 unless a blunder check gets second nature. Fortunately this can be trained, and this is what I am doing right now.

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The weekly progress report is back. After my trip to the USA I had to wrap up things first and it took me some time to return to normal study mood.

  • I have created a new set on Chesstempo for puzzles between 1300 and 1600. These are the ones that I usually get right quickly but that also require at least some thought (which is not the case for the 1200er puzzles).
  • Played a 45+45 TL game, which I lost. Another Sicilian and another small step to understand this opening better.
  • Studied 2 GM games.
  • Picked up the trainings games with my chess buddy Paul. We played two Ruy Lopez and I benefit a lot from the opening preparation that he does and from his insights.

For your pleasure, here is a tactical puzzle from one of my games with Paul. Can you find the combination? (In the game I missed it.)

White to move.

What is the best move for White?

This week I have planned three long games and I will continue to look at GM games. I played too many Blitz games in the last weeks and will try to avoid them.

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No fun with 90+30

After my long vacation I looked forward to some long games. For Monday and Tuesday, a 90+30 game was scheduled but in both cases my opponents forgot the date. This brings me to clear first in this tournament, however, I would have prefered to play the game.

I used the chance to join the STTourney after a long time. My opponent was krankenstein, who has beaten me some time ago. This time I had White and we played a Ruy Lopez. I was out of book very early and lost a pawn early. My position was good enough and after a mistake from my opponent we ended up here where I had a bishop for 3 pawns:

Position after 21. Qxb3

This looked pretty good now. Black’s queen and rook lineup can be exploited by White’s dark bishop. In addition, opening the position will favor White and if the knights can be exchanged it will be very difficult for Black to make something out of the pawns on the queen side. Soon we ended up here:

Position after 28. Rxc4

Now after 28…Rxc4 White replies 29. Qxa8 (not Qxc4) and it was soon over. Looking at the huge rating difference of more than 400 points anything else would have been a big upset. After my inconsistent results lately I was nevertheless happy.

Talking about results, something has clicked and it shows in the games. I played some quick 15min games last night to improve my opening play. I lost a won game against a 1400er (missed to deliver a smothered mate and played an unsound sac instead) but won two games against 1700er so the potential is definitely there. In the past I almost had no chance against 1700+ players in 15min games, now I am closing the gap. Here is a puzzle from one of the games for you. White cleverly played 21. Qxa7 and Black replied 21…Ra8:

In a 5min game I probably wouldn’t have found the answer, here it took me 1 minute to come up with the solution.

This can only happen in a Sicilian game. Black wastes too much time and gets under attack by White’s heavy pieces. If I would see such a puzzle in a book or on a tactics site, I would think: nice but I will never get this position in my own games. Great to see that it is  possible. :)

Ok, I guess you found the solution yourself: White plays 22. Rxd6! and soon Black gave up.

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Welcome back

I am back. After a long roadtrip (almost 3000 miles) through California, Nevada and Oregon I am still fighting with the jetlag.

Our route was

San Francisco – Monterey – Santa Barbara – San Diego – Las Vegas – Klamath Falls – Florence, OR – Corvallis – Portland

An amazing trip and I will post some pictures when I have more time.

I played no chess and the first TL game last Friday was an interesting test about my current strength. It went suprisingly well although some weak moves at the end took away a deserved win.

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