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Archive for November, 2011

Last Saturday was another test for my Ruy-Lopez as White. The rest of the family was at home baking cookies and I would have loved to join them but my chess club needed me. My opponent made some dubious moves and finally even lost a piece. He didn’t give up though, pushed his pawns and without any reason I blundered a piece back and finally lost. Unbelievable, you can replay the whole desaster here. When the chess heavy season is over I will take out all the endgames that I have lost and play them against a computer to understand them better. This will boost my confidence so that I am not scared anymore once someone is starting to move a pawn here and another there.

X-mas is getting close and I decided to upgrade my old Aquarium to the latest version 2011. A really neat feature is that you can store the evaluation of different engines in different trees now, so a possible configuration looks like this (the position is taken from the game above, a variation where Black plays 11…f5):

If the position was already played in other games, you will see a CAP entry as well, a database with millions of computer evaluations. IDEA is an Aquarium specific feature that allows interactive, computer-assisted exploration of variations. There are a couple of articles on the webpage if you want to know more.

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Just a quick update from my side. The OTB tournament finished last sunday. I struggled in round 4, losing against a 2020er who finally came in second, and drew the last game against a 1560er. It was an interesting Scandinavian game where I managed to outplay my opponent and even got a winning position:

c5 was the last try from Black to achieve something. In time scramble I completely missed that I had an easy win by pushing my g-pawn. Taking the pawn is bad, and not taking is bad either. After some more exchanges and a final mistake from my side the game was drawn. As a conclusion, I need to work on my time management and on my endgame skills, especially simple pawn  endings.

In the Team4545League I got a surprisingly easy win after an early mistake from my opponent. Last night I played another game and I must confess that this was one of the most boring games ever. Drawing with Black is okay but chess should also be fun and of course I play to win, not to draw. In the post-mortem analysis the computer came up with a nice idea: push the g-pawn and start a kingside assault. This is something I could try out next time but I will rather choose a different setup against the English opening where I have better winning chances.

Tomorrow is another OTB league game (I will have White) and on Tuesday the next TL game (I will have Black). Wish me luck. 🙂

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Weekly progress report #26 – 2011

My OTB tournament goes very smooth. I scored a win against a 1800er player and will now play against my first 2000er. I am thrilled! I expect that my opponent will try something aggressive in the opening so he might play the King’s Indian. My last guess was the Sicilian but we started with a Caro-Kann which transformed into a Queen’s Gambit Accepted. So much for my forecasts!

In my game I missed a great chance for an attack:

Position after 13...Bb4

What would you play? 14. Be3 is a calm, positional move but with so many pieces pointing to Black’s king the correct move was 14. Nxf7. I looked at this move but obviously not deep enough. If I ever want to reach ELO 2000+ such moves must become second nature.

One day later I let my opponent escape with a draw in a league game. He played the Bird (1.f4) and I quickly got the better position in the middlegame. Being low on time I missed a mate and later forced a draw in a better position:

Position after 35. Qf3

I don’t know if I would have found the mate during the game. At least I should have tried to reach the 40th move safely to get another hour on the clock. After 35…Qd2+ 36. Kb3 b6?! the threat was gone and I quickly called it a day instead of playing another hour for a win.

After this hot streak I lost my first game in the U1800 division of the TL. A successful king side attack won me 2 pawns but then I played like a robot and finally lost. I already did a first analysis and my anger quickly vanished. This was a great lesson in chess strategy and time well spent. Some crucial points are clearer now and this will be helpful in my future chess career.

http://team4545league.org/pgnplayer/pgnplayer.php?ID=50024

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TL51 is on the way

The 51st season of the Team4545League is finally on the way and, as pointed out by my team mate, yours truly had the honor to play the very first game. Having white I even made the first move and scored the first point. 🙂

Looking back at my league history, I’ve never lost the first game of a season so unfortunately this is no indicator for my performance in the future. You can replay the game here.

I missed a big chance at move 21:

Position after 20...Ng6

21. Nf5 would have been a great move with a big advantage for White. I was so concerned about my bishop that I didn’t even look at this move. There were further inaccuracies in the endgame from both sides and at one point Black had a great chance to win a pawn. I will have to analyze the game to learn more about the ideas.

There was a nasty stalemate trap in the end, which shows that it’s always worth playing on:

Promoting the pawn is now a bad idea. b7 leads to a mate in 3 but I played the ultra-safe Ba1 and my opponent resigned 2 moves later.

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Long live the Benko

The time last week was well spent. In the second round of my OTB tournament, my opponent played 1.d4 and after some shuffling in the opening we reached a rather normal accepted Benko Gambit position. My opponent burnt a lot of time and, being a smoker, this was a real handicap at the end. He blundered and I won. 🙂

You can replay the game here. My next opponent is 22 and has a national rating of 1802, international 1940. With the white pieces more preparation is necessary. There isn’t much that can shock me in the Ruy Lopez,  Caro-Kann or in the Pirc but I need to look at some Sicilan lines and also at the French. Considering the age my guess is that I will have to face a Sicilian.

And now something completely different. Austria’s current number 1 in the Charts is the very popular Hubert von Goisern. Folk music goes pop and although I’ve been living here for 7 years I can hardly understand every 2nd word. Being a native speaker doesn’t help much when it comes to dialects.

The rest of the weekend I tried to buy a prepaid PSN (Playstation Network Card) for a US account. I liked the old japanese roleplaying games like Chrono Triggers a lot and was happy when I heard that it’s available for the PS3. Unfortunately it’s completely unclear when it will make its way to Europe so I created a US account. The big challenge was to put some money into it. I couldn’t use my credit card because I can’t change the country of the billing address. No problem, I thought, there are some dealers around who sell the codes for a small activation fee. For whatever reason these guys are rather paranoid. They need a photo id, or a picture with you holding your photo id, and they want to call you before doing business. The phone call turned out to be a big problem, I never got one and all orders were cancelled. 😦

Finally it worked (here) and I can start playing. Maybe not this week as I need to prepare for my chess tournament but the long and cold winter nights are not far off…

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The Benko Gambit

My weapon against 1.d4 is the Benko Gambit but I almost never have the chance to play it and its pure form. On ICC at my level, people prefer offbeat openings like the Trompowski  or they don’t accept the gambit. OTB it’s not much different.

What is so scary about the gambit?

In one word: piece activity. You immediately get open lines for the rooks and the queen with the simple plan to put pressure on the queen side. There are some manoeuvers that one should know but that’s about it – no myriads of theory, it’s all very concrete and Black needs to play actively with every move. Otherwise White will blockade the queenside and eventually promote a pawn. That’s not what you want.

I have looked at some games this week and the conclusion is that it will take some time to master the opening. It will surely help to improve my skill to play with pieces, especially the rooks, and I am ready for many losses. 🙂

You may wonder if it’s still played on the highest level (Kasparov, Topalov, Carlsen all played it) and to my big surprise the answer is yes! It arrived on the board in yesterday’s game between Iordachescu and Grischuk (see here). It ended in a draw and one can see some typical plans in the fianchetto variation.

Tonight I might have another chance to play the Benko. Stay tuned.

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