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TicTacs1985 Training Journal 
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Knight

Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 46
Rating: 1937
Rating Class: Class A (1800-2000)
 TicTacs1985 Training Journal
First some background.

I have no official FIDE rating so I shoved my Chesscube 1937 in. It roughly corresponds to my performance in the tournaments at the British Championships, where I came 2nd in the U160 (U1900 roughly) among other achievements, and when I started the account 6 weeks before the tournament/holiday, I was in better form than at the event! I'll post a few of the utter tactical murders I inflicted later on for your enjoyment :)

As you may see from my handle, tacticality is a strength - when I'm in best form I have a better ability/fluidity to calculate complicated/globally imbalanced lines than players of my level around here. I also hold a 2100ish peak rating on ChessTempo which I'm extremely proud of, as I got that high from a base in the low 1800s in just a few months. Since then I've started regularly practising blitz tactics on Chess Emrald. Although my rating is currently just below 1500 for that, I mainly focus on using the site to refresh myself of basic tactical motifs removed from piece coordination issues that are commonly the theme at higher levels, and although I do move as quickly as I can, 95% of the time I prefer to take time to get it right and sacrifice a few points. I have no doubt that in time my rating there should progress through to 1700 - perhaps when I am in form next I will find a significant upswing in board vision fluency which I can point to as a marker for future.

My next ECF grade should be about 153, which on any scale places me at a conservative estimate in the high 1800s. During the British tournaments I very comfortably held a 177 (upper 1900s) and drew with the eventual winner of the U180, and gave a couple of people an utter battering in open games. The two games I'm proudest of are very contrasting: one a success in a mutual wing-attacks game with a very nice combination to finish (I had seen beyond even the final position in my mind when I played Nxh2), and the second, the day after a migraine(!), where I managed to impress my biggest club rival by positionally outplaying someone who proceeded to crumble in an endgame. I only entered that endgame after a hugely critical think, leaving me with about 77 seconds for thirteen moves, but Rook endgames are something of a specialty of mine so it was no issue.





If anyone has any criticism about my moves in this Knightless game, I'd be really grateful to hear it - for example, is the ...f5-f4 plan valid below a certain rating level/in general?

Since about 2010 I've been rebasing my positional chess. Ever since I started playing I was always moderately positional but inevitably over the years, bad habits/dogmatic perceptions crept in, hampering my longer rise to success. I've managed in that time to unpick a great deal of my problems, and I find I'm always very able to verbalise my problems in annotation. This year I've added a new challenge to myself by playing d4 for the first time since life as a junior! This resulted in the following effort from Monday which I've annotated moderately without any computerness.



The annotation quality satisfies me - I can do little more in such a game than identify the missed opportunities which seem to basically amount to 22. h5 and 27. f4!, and count my lucky stars my opponent didn't force a superior Rook ending where I'd even be hard pressed to win. As Black against my British travelling buddy (who I slowly outplayed in our individual game there) a few weeks earlier I'd played 5...d5 (inaccurate because it gives White a chance to liquidate his potentially weak c4 pawn) 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. bxc3 dxc4 8. Bxc4 c5 9. Ne2 e5 10. 0-0 Nbd7 11. Ng3 (the first deviation from master praxis apparently, which made me feel very intelligent indeed as I have no general experience of the Nimzo) Nb6, with a very healthy game. But what do you all think of the g4 idea in the game presented? White is of course meant to fling his pawns forward, so on that basis it seems logical, but perhaps someone as deeply positional as Deep Shredder (my current base analysis engine, playing against which in summer really helped me win the Knightless game presented earlier!) can enlighten me to any practical weakening I've undertaken that might make it a high-risk move.

I recently read Rowson's Chess for Zebras having already deeply enjoyed 7DCS, but as when I started reading SOMCS by Watson I found everything untangling in my head for games. After a couple of weeks I've let it settle and I resolved to give myself a few months without any new positional learning through books, so I can get a head of steam through my own games, whose annotation will reveal to me the more easily learned positional errors I make anyways. In January this year I drew with someone rated 172 shortly after beating a 165. My current goal is simply to play as many serious games in real life as possible, regardless of opposition strength. Against those who are rated below me (unless I have a counter reason) I will start playing 1. d4, and I will also start playing the Nimzo Indian online as Black, instead of my usual Chebanenko/a6 Slav. I have a repertoire book by Rizzitano based on the QGA which was my former opening until 2009, so once I've got some practical experience as White I can put that together on both sides, with flexibility. As Black I'm going to learn the 2/4 Knights v e4 as well, to add a bit more sharpness.

When you look at any of my games posted above, the more brutal your positional criticism the better. Please supply variations where you can! I'll be happy to discuss these with you. In a few days I'll post some of my strongest ever games from over the summer/form periods in the past couple of years, with annotations for each to give you an idea of how I think.


Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:45 am
Knight

Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 46
Rating: 1937
Rating Class: Class A (1800-2000)
 Re: TicTacs1985 Training Journal
O'Dowd-Moorcroft



I had decided that this will be the season which marks a new open maturity in my play, and decidesd to forego my usual e4 to play a new opening against Christine. We needed 3.5/4 just to win, and I tried to instil some Carlsenesque pushy pushy philosophy into my team ahead of the match. Generally noise was a bit ridiculous, especially at the end, when people clearly felt it acceptable to just go along with it since there was already so much. I felt like I was in a thought fug, playing more like an elder statesman than a dynamic youth, and wasn't being especially deep with anything. That said, since switching to Deep Shredder as my main engine, I can see positional errors in greater relief and my calculation skill is still there in open positions.

1. d4 Nf6
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 Bb4


The NID has become once more topical for me recently. First it featured in a game with Neil Jones, my travelling buddy to the Britishes and long time sparring partner, where I played a very strong opening and was better as Black by the early middlegame. Now I'm playing it as White after my first d4 for about ten years! I decided to play the Rubinstein so that if the opportunity arose I could play the same position as I had with Neil, but colours reversed. I used to play the Rubenstein against my Chessmaster as a junior. The reason I stopped playing it was the Qc2 variation. I was always a fundamentally simple positionalist player, unexposed to deep calculation or tactical operations, so the Kingside attack that White players often wrought was simply something I struggled with.

4. e3 (88) O-O (88)
5. Bd3 (87) d6 (87)


...d6 was new to me in this position though I was aware of it as a valid idea in the Bogo-Indian. It's probably an option that at lower club level requires more observational precision from Black, who effectively commits here and now to Bxc3. This is one reason I had delayed the development of the Ng1, since I may wish to advance the Kingside pawns.

Instead,
5...d5
6. a3 Bxc3+
7. bxc3 dxc4
8. Bxc4 c5
9. Ne2 e5
10. O-O Nbd7
11. Ng3
was Jones-O'Dowd, Cumbria League Division 1 2012, where Black has a very happy and dynamic position.

Image

6. Nge2 (81) Nc6 (86)

Black can't be stopped from playing ...e5 and White just takes time out to improve his structural concerns, keeping a classical hold of the centre.

Black could just play through anyways: 6...e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. a3 Bxc3 9. Nxc3 h6 10. d5 Ne7 with tension. Rybka and Houdini suggest 6...c5 but if Black had wanted a Benoniesque structure she could have done this much earlier.

7. a3 Bxc3+
8. Nxc3 Ne7 (85)


After the exchange on c3 I was very happy, since Black has a slow burning position. In contrast, 8. bxc3 gives Black a plan of attacking c4 for all she's worth, with Na5 easily thrown in already. The Knight will also keep tabs on the light squares centrally. But ...Ne7 felt very slow! Surely 8...e5 9. d5 is called for or perhaps 8...b6 procluding what comes. It's the sort of position Black might feel uncomfortable in, but suspending emotion, it's clear she has a fair share of the centre, and no problem pieces. Here I had a ten minute think looking at some positional considerations and decided on a dynamic move that my engines seem to think is playable.

Image

9. g4!? (73) Ng6 (79)

My team mates felt g4 was a nice idea, since it's easy for Black to play a little fencing move like ...h6 but be weakening herself too. It seemed to me that Black was indicating Kingside play with ...Ne8, ...e5 and ...f5, though this latter isn't rated at any point by my engines, is it too weakening? Part of the idea here is that if I can block off the Kingside, I stand a much greater chance of
unprohibited success on the Queenside if I can close the centre. However, if I can push ahead and gain space, I may be able to attack later and squash Black a bit. It's easy for Black to weaken her position here. My feeling a day later is that unless I'm missing some moderate ply positional bust, this is valid here. Is there a validity in saying that a make-or-break move like this renders a critical moment for positionally unfluent players post-opening? Deep Junior recommends b4 instead, ignoring the Kingside threats and going for the jugular Queenside instead with our quicker play.

Ng6 however felt artificial. Instead I was looking at

9...e5
10. g5 Nd7
(or ...Ne8 gambiting the pawn, since after 11. dxe5 dxe5?? loses the Queen to 12. Bxh7+)
11. h4 when Black can react classically in the centre according to Rybka with 11...exd4
12. exd4 c5
13. Be3 cxd4
14. Bxd4 Nc6
with a good dynamism.

Image

If Black tries to shore up with 9...h6?, 10. h4 e5 11. g5 Nh7 12. gxh6 simply accelerates the pawn on pawn contact that White desperately wants in order to open files toward the Black King.

Perhaps more to the point would be 9...b6 10. Qf3 Rb8 11. O-O, where Black's extra information from my moving first has helped her retain a flexible and good structure, with nice potential on the long diagonal.

Black's problems in this game stem from failing to act concretely against a critical position - after all, White has left his King in the middle.

10. g5 (71) Nd7
11. h4 (68) d5 (76)


I felt ...Ne8 would keep better communication between the pieces. Christine played d5 intentionally as a gambit, but in the end, she can't break down my central pawn wall.

12. cxd5 (65) exd5
13. Nxd5 (60) c6 (74)


Not energetic enough. I expected the challenging 13...Nc5 whereupon I intended to plunge us into a well of murky dynamism with 14. Nf6+ gxf6 15. dxc5 Ne5

Image

and at least Black has some pull for the pawn, having narrowed the path between me and victory. I'd be happy with White there though: Two Bishops, an extra pawn. If instead White allowed 14. Nc3 Nxd3+ 15. Qxd3 Re8, he has the pawn, but Black has a healthy looking position.

14. Nc3 (58) Nb6 (72)
15. b4 (54) Nd5 (71)


Again, ...Re8 was called for. b4 Was perfectly playable unless Black found some way of being super accurate to punish my every temporal lapse: we simply stop ...c5 from ever being played, but it seems I could just push forward with 15. h5 Ne7 16. Qc2 and still be clearly ahead.

16. Ne2 (53)

Image

My board one team mate who plays at about 150 asked why I didn't just take the Knight? My reasoning went thus:

It seems clear my Knight is stronger:
. It defends the King against possible intrusions of a Knight on f4 or d4.
. It can swing to g3, accelerating my h5 push and defending further against an already difficult ...f5.
. Black's Knight has only a target on f4 as a tactical longshot: asides this it does nothing special, even blocking some scope of his Bishop.

Indeed, Rybka prefers this as best after a long search. That said, Bg4 looks nice over the board. Thankfully, I'm not the sort of player to start panicking about such moves.

16...Bg4 (69) 17. Qc2 (51) Bh5? (65)

After this it's very difficult for Black to save herself. Interestingly, the normally tactically sedate Deep Shredder (as well as Rybka) saw a transformation of advantage line here: 17. h5 Bf3 18. hxg6 Bxh1 19. gxh7+ Kh8 20. Ng3 Bg2 21. Qg4, but I wasn't in my best pure assessment form, so I saw no reason to go for mad stuff.

Black can try 17...Bf3 but 18. Rh3 Bg4 19. Rg3 seems fine.

18. Be4 (47) Bxe2 (62)
19. Kxe2 (44) f5?? (61)


As mentioned before White appears to have a solid wall for his King to hide behind. Meanwhile he is one step closer to connecting Rooks. Allowing 19. Qxe2?! Nc3 20. Qd3 Nxe4 21. Qxe4 Re8 felt unnecessary. If you wanted to take with the Queen, ask yourself: how can Black possibly open the position up at the moment?

20. Bxf5 (42) Qe7

Black could play 20...Nc3+ 21. Qxc3 Rxf5 22. Qc4+ Rf7 23. h5 but it's all boiling down to the same cabbage of death. Kd1 looks insane but concretely my Bishop is so strong that not much else matters. I could have played 21. h5 Ngf4+ 22. Kf1! Rxf5 23. Qxf5 though.

21. Kd1 (39) Qf7 (59)
22. e4 (29) Nde7 (58)
23. h5 (27) Nh8


This seemed the only move to keep a hammer lock. If instead 22. h5, things get wild and Black has reasons to be cheerful:

22. h5 Qxf5 23. Qxf5 Rxf5 24. hxg6 Rxf2 where Black has excellent compensation.

Meanwhile, something dogmatic like 22. Bd3 Qxf2 23. Qxf2 Rxf2 24. Bd2 is nice enough, but Black has an open file to whistle down with his Rooks.

After Nh8, a rush of blood to the head lead to a very dodgy liquidation of a strong position.

24. Bxh7+ (25) Kxh7
25. g6+ Nhxg6 (51)
26. hxg6+ (24) Kxg6


Image

If I'd seen the very pretty 27. f4! All my dreams are come to fruition, as a big centre comes to squelch Black.

27. e5+? (23) Qf5
28. Rg1+ (22) Kh7 (50)
29. Rh1+ (21) Kg8 (49)


I missed the simple 29. Qxf5 Nxf5 30. Rg4 Rad8 31. Bb2 as a means of solidifying my gains.

30. Qxf5 (16.12) Nxf5
31. Be3 (14.37) Nxe3??


Black in her turn misses a big turning point. If 31...Rad8, White has to find 32. Kc2 Nxd4+ 33. Kc3! to get anywhere other than a Rook endgame which is better for Black.

Image

As it is, the resultant Rook endgame would be easily won for any strong player. Look at the island of White pawns clogging up the centre files. They're almost invulnerable which gives White plenty of time to build his position.

32. fxe3 Rf3 (missing her last chance with Rf2)
33. Ke2 Raf8
34. Raf1 Rxf1
35. Rxf1 Rxf1
36. Kxf1 Kf7
37. e4 a6
38. Kf2 b6
39. Kg3 Ke6
40. Kf4 c5
41. dxc5 bxc5
42. bxc5 g5+
43. Kxg5 Kxe5
44. Kg6

Image

44...Kxe4 45. c6 1-0

The extra material simply proved too much in the end.

So, what can we say about the game? White made a bold opening choice with 9. g4, and Black failed to react critically to it. When she made a gambit in the centre she failed to find the correct dynamic continuation, allowing White to solidify and constantly threaten an attack. When it did come, Black's pieces were so tangled around each other that White benefitted from a forced liquidation, but as in any game below master level, slipped up. Black again missed her chance at the big turning point and it was game over.

Lessons:

-If you're facing a very strange/aggressive move in the opening, the situation calls for a calm head and a critical hand! Sometimes even the strongest moves have drawbacks which MUST BE FOUND to keep you in the game. If you play around weaknesses, your game should improve naturally.

-White played some very demoralising moves for Black (b4, Kd1) and didn't worry about going for the jugular on every move. He also missed the critical moment though on move 27, having taken a bit more time in general than he should on verbalising and rationalising decisions that were binary. Either I can play g4 and get an interesting game, and either be taught a lesson or make the most of it, or I can play something else. Even top players sometimes miss the critical moment. It often comes about when one side has been pushing for a while but natural moves (like e5+) fail to maintain his balance. When this comes you should take all the time you need to work things out!

-Before ever ever exchanging into a pawn ending, you should be able to tell at a glance whether it's won/drawn/lost. It sounds hard to do but if you play through simple pawn ending positions with an endgame book (I recommend Fundamental Chess Openings by Muller/Lamprecht) and then test yourself against an engine, you'll find your calc ability goes up and your vision does too.


Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:15 pm
Knight

Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 46
Rating: 1937
Rating Class: Class A (1800-2000)
 Re: TicTacs1985 Training Journal
Before I post any more games, I'm curious to know - is there something wrong with my annotation? I haven't had a single reply yet! I work very hard on annotating my games and providing a balance between explanation quality and avoiding too many long lines of analysis, but if people do have issue with the way it's posted or done, please tell me - I won't know otherwise!


Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:41 pm
King

Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2009 3:48 pm
Posts: 626
Location: Germany
Rating Class: Expert (2000-2200)
 Re: TicTacs1985 Training Journal
I can't speak for other users, but for me it's easier to follow the game and the analysis in a chess program. If you could provide everything in .pgn, I'd definitely take a look.

_________________
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Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:58 am
Site Moderator
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User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:39 pm
Posts: 2859
Location: Maryland, USA
Rating: 1698
Rating Class: Class B (1600-1800)
 Re: TicTacs1985 Training Journal
You could consider using your obviously extensive preparation to make a video instead. This is primarily a video site after all, so a lot more people would surely watch and comment.

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illigetimi non carborundum.


Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:03 am
Knight

Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 46
Rating: 1937
Rating Class: Class A (1800-2000)
 Re: TicTacs1985 Training Journal
Fox wrote:
I can't speak for other users, but for me it's easier to follow the game and the analysis in a chess program. If you could provide everything in .pgn, I'd definitely take a look.


To be frank this smacks me of utter sloth (: I already provided you a game replayer in the post and it would be perfectly easy to input the game yourself into your engine just as you would one of your own.

That said, I have started a Youtube channel (aBetterMove) and I should have a video uploaded on there of a different (more recent) game in the next few hours. I will be producing more videos to upload tonight including the game I went through in the earlier post. I am brand new to making videos so if you have any technical issues/tips do please share them. Likewise I am looking for constructive criticism of my annotations from stronger players, AND of the ease with which lower rated players can learn from these videos, since their instructional value is only proportional to the way I'm presenting and I'm sure I can improve that every vid. :) If I am able I will upload all the videos here as I produce them as well, but please check the youtube channel first since then you will definitely get them :)


Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:31 am
King

Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2009 3:48 pm
Posts: 626
Location: Germany
Rating Class: Expert (2000-2200)
 Re: TicTacs1985 Training Journal
TicTacs1985 wrote:
Fox wrote:
I can't speak for other users, but for me it's easier to follow the game and the analysis in a chess program. If you could provide everything in .pgn, I'd definitely take a look.


To be frank this smacks me of utter sloth (: I already provided you a game replayer in the post and it would be perfectly easy to input the game yourself into your engine just as you would one of your own.


The difference being that I'm already spending my time helping a stranger who thinks he's entitled to free analysis.

_________________
- OK. I'll do a damn lot count.


Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:01 am
Knight

Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 46
Rating: 1937
Rating Class: Class A (1800-2000)
 Re: TicTacs1985 Training Journal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmpNLJ0urZ4

is the first vid in the series, and as soon as I figure how to upload it here I will.


Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:35 am
Knight

Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 46
Rating: 1937
Rating Class: Class A (1800-2000)
 Re: TicTacs1985 Training Journal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJjWivFD2Ns&feature=plcp second video, I'll do a third tonight or tomorrow by when I should have ironed out issues with uploading here :)


Wed Dec 05, 2012 4:39 pm
Rook
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2011 6:14 am
Posts: 183
Location: London, UK
Rating: 1500
Rating Class: Class C (1400-1600)
 Re: TicTacs1985 Training Journal
Your Microphone is kind of messed up, lots of bumping and background static.

You can try buying a better microphone, or if you can't afford that then try downloading Audacity and fixing the audio

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It is better to follow out a plan consistently even if it isn't the best one than to play without a plan at all. The worst thing is to wander about aimlessly. - Alexander Kotov


Thu Dec 06, 2012 3:18 am
Knight

Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 46
Rating: 1937
Rating Class: Class A (1800-2000)
 Re: TicTacs1985 Training Journal
Xmas update! I seem to be in trampoline form at the moment. I got smashed last Saturday in a league match, but then on Sunday I held a slightly worse endgame comfortably despite a highly improper intervention by the opposing county team's captain, claiming his player's draw offer was invalid. This is not only impossible, but highly distracting, since I was playing a blind player, so when I turned around again to contemplate my 41st move, we were in the middle of an exchange, and so seeing only one reasonable move, I declared it without thinking. It was still drawn though so it was okay.

What I've done since then is start to cull all strategic endgame positions from all games I've ever played that are playable for one or other side. Accordingly my intention is to play these positions out at long time controls against Deep Shredder 11 (which seems to be the most reliable strategic engine I have). On my initial think I can take some time to sketch out some features/plans, and write them afterward, and just keep playing these positions until I understand them far better. Once I get down to anything approaching a theoretical endgame, I can reference it in my bible, Fundamental Chess Endings (Muller/Lamprecht), and learn that from there, practising any to play and win, or draw, position, against tablebases or Houdini as required. I hope to start doing some of my videos on this sort of study too, but if anyone has any stronger advice on how to learn to play such endgames, since I'm sure engines are hardly strategic paragons, then please tell me :)


Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:07 am
Knight

Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 46
Rating: 1937
Rating Class: Class A (1800-2000)
 Re: TicTacs1985 Training Journal
Update for February! I seem to have worked through some trouble and since last post, have scored 1.5/2 in the Tynedale League, which is the one my videos are showing. The draw was comfortably held against someone rated 170, which is about 1965 I guess in elo terms, or possibly higher. The win was against someone in our club who hasn't had the best of years but it was a remarkable game since it featured SIX separate endings!! I managed to fluff the pawn ending but shhh, I hardly ever do that :P

Then since xmas I've been doing my endgame training with the engine and today did my first session with sarciness in a lively position, so it looks like that will be a success, especially if I keep finding good stuff to play against the engine. I stopped doing any reading of Rowson, Silman etc, after I did a brief look at some Watson (Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy) and until the summer at least I'm going to give the thought process a rest. I've been working and teasing at it for 2 yrs solid, and I want to see if I can maintain consistent fluency of thought and form in the next 6 months because it's very frustrating being so susceptible to media influence on my game, where if I watch the London Classic commentary my play becomes handwaving and superficially deep positional, if I read botvinnik I get overly analytically dogmatic, etc etc. So I just want to be :) Online I've had a great boon too, scoring highly against those rated much higher than me relatively, and going on a winning streak! I intend to do some videos this week but I want to make sure they're of good games, so perhaps I will put a few games together on a theme.

I feel in good form and as if that wasn't enough I have a huge week coming up in a fortnight, since the Tynedale League climaxes with matches on a Thursday and Monday but in the intervening weekend I have the Open County Championship to play, so that's possibly 26hrs of chess in 5 days :D My tactical vision has become a bit better, observation increasing, and I'm not so worried right now about my level being lower than this time last year since I'm playing far fewer positional blunders. :)


Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:41 pm
Knight

Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 46
Rating: 1937
Rating Class: Class A (1800-2000)
 Re: TicTacs1985 Training Journal
It's saddening to see the tumbleweeds in this thread. If nobody gives a damn or doesn't want to offer any advice, share stories or support, I can just close it.

My online form has stayed good, even though I've been watching the highly addictive coverage of the Candidates Tournament. Usually, commentary dulls my play, since it leads my thought process down a hand-waving route and devoids it of depth of analysis. This time, that hasn't really happened. The week before the county championship, I won a nice game in the Tynedale League which generated a very interesting position to train with against an engine, with both sides having a/b/c/d/ pawns, and a Rook, but White having an extra Knight alone. At the Championship itself, my arbiting went really well, and the pairings weren't at all monstrous. I beat my biggest rival in the first round in an untypically scrappy game from both sides. Well, I say that, really it was just a very sloppy opening, but the point was fully deserved as I played a precise middlegame and garnered a surprisingly early resignation since Dave was just a pawn down, perhaps he felt sure I wasn't going to slip up as I had all the positional trumps too.

In round 2 I played our county champion, whose grade converts to something in the region of 2200 and more probably these days. In an offbeat Sicilian Dragon, I plunged into an early endgame, after falling behind a pawn due to some inaccuracies. Robert's incredibly strong toothache had a perverse benefit on me: I resolved out of honour to match him roughly on the clock the whole way, so as to minimise his pain - since I predicted that though confident, I may lose quickly. This however was not the case, and somehow, I clawed back the positional deficit gaining a perfectly playable Rook+Knight v Rook +Bishop endgame, having a passed a-pawn all of my own. Unfortunately, I missed my one chance to push it and win - clearly Robert was off form as he usually doesn't allow such calculatory simplicities - but I was delighted to resist for over 50 moves and he himself was later scratching his head as to where his endgame grip had gone! :)

In round 3, I faced 1. b3 - the game quickly developed along reverse Owen lines, White playing to fracture my standard centre and a double-edged position developing. White had the static plus of control of the c-file, targeting my backward c6 pawn, but his plan would take a long time to implement. Meanwhile, Black had good piece coordination and played an f5-f4 break, gaining a strong position. I missed a neat tactic that would have won but entered what was a very comfortable Rook endgame, and drew sometime later, despite at one point losing the a-pawn I held in the R+a+b v R+a battle, and being in severe time trouble. White didn't make use of his time advantage, ran himself deliberately low, and stalemated my King, allowing me to eat the b-pawn with check, and perpetually harass his King around the edge of the board. Draw agreed with 11 seconds left and a claim that I was the second coming from one of my car-buddies! :lol:

In round 4, the game was somewhat spoiled by excessive noise in the playing area despite my polite requests. I played the White side of a Smyslov Spanish, and, as belies my low understanding of transformations in such an opening, I played on the wrong side of the board, and promptly entered an endgame a pawn down. After exchanging into a King and pawns ending, I was shocked to find Black, the right side of a 1900 player, having no clue how to win it, and was eventually offered a draw (in a position winning for him!), which I gratefully accepted. The spectators who had now witnessed me wriggle out of two endgames in a row were rather stunned!

Round 5 pitted me against my travel buddy for the British Championships, and a cagy Sicilian Kan followed. I Ulfed it as best I could, keeping everything on, but allowed Black a useful ...b5 break with some pressure. I kept composure but fell behind on the clock, failing to find a resource to win the exchange, and in mutual time trouble from a complex position, I resisted for as long as I could but eventually lost. This game in fact directly affected the winner of the event, due to Sonneborn-Berger. Overall I scored 2/5, which was slightly disappointing, but in the light of the two endgame saves, was a successful event. Afterwards I started to play even stronger online again, and am heading towards 2000 quite patiently on Chesscube as we speak, still targeting 2100 as a final resting place.

Given the volume of games I've played in March, I intend to completely change tack this April. I will resolve to play zero games except in real life in the league, instead driving a focus onto the endgame again, and playing out positions against my engines as many times a day as I need, to just do some sheer learning. I also intend to make a repertoire change, and have promptly rejected the Closed Spanish. I don't play the KID, so it makes no sense to play the RL except when I'm aware of someone playing non-a6 lines, which I still revel in. Instead, following some advice on here and my own book collection, I will take up the Scotch, and Four Knights systems, but also the Exchange Spanish will return to my play after 3 years out. This time however, with my new-found endgame confidence (You wouldn't believe how often I've Ulfed in games online against players rated 2000+ and had them fluff elementary technical endings, or outplayed them), I'll use the Barendregt-Fischer Variation, as championed by Eduardas Rozentalis among others. This will give my play a bit of variety, as I hopefully head towards the higher echelons, making me harder to prepare for.

The crunch match in the Tynedale League is next Monday. We have to win, and hope our rivals Monarchs, fail to win their final match against Austins. If they draw or Austins win, we will take the title by virtue of points scored on tiebreak. Our average score per match has been close to 2.75/4, which is head and shoulders above anyone else. As if that wasn't enough; already assured of the board 2 prize, I can try to stretch my score to 6.5/7 score even higher. My previous high score was 8.5/10 on fourth board, back in 2001-02, so to replicate this feat on board 2/1 is a great achievement. What's more, my team-mate Jason is really coming of age: as a junior (already graded where I was only 3 years ago!) he already has 5/6 on board 3 this year, so we've really been the engine of the team, and can be for a long time to come. :D


Mon Apr 01, 2013 12:27 am
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 Re: TicTacs1985 Training Journal
Well I read 'em. I enjoy seeing the approach that different players take in the search for self-improvement. As to tumbleweeds, well that is a site-wide problem starting with the absentee owners. At any rate, good luck in the Tynedale League! :)

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Mon Apr 01, 2013 5:47 am
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Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 46
Rating: 1937
Rating Class: Class A (1800-2000)
 Re: TicTacs1985 Training Journal
It's only been a couple of weeks but I've had a couple of interesting games. I have also formally been diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder. This is a good thing: diagnosis means treatment, and I'm due to start counselling soon. I've already been keeping a sleep hygiene and food diary for a fortnight, doing great so far. :)

On Monday I played on board 4 in the Tynedale League, having decided with the stats that putting out a superteam was our best chance to pressure our rivals into ceding the title. Accordingly, I played Bruce Reed, who I've had battles with a few times over the years, and, who like Christine in a previous post, is very emotionally detached during a game.



When faced with this sort of position, where Black makes what is obviously a positionally unnecessary move such as ...f6, I have trouble knowing where the delineation is of 'I'm going to punish this with aggression' and 'I'm going to punish this with strategical precision'. This game is a very good example of that. I also noticed that I have trouble dealing with positions where there is no pawn contact across a void. Not specifically hedgehogs, where d6 is weakened, but these sorts of positions where Black is able to play for any of a number of pawn breaks. It disrupts the flow of my fluent calculation because I'm doing 3-4x as much calculating. When I'm in top form, which I could reasonably describe as being able to sustain roughly 2100 performance at the absolute peak, I will be interested to see what I retrospectively write on this game and a few others like it, for future-Dan. Right now though, I'm in that level where I have the attitude of a Grandmaster in refusing to chalk up points because of positionally inferior moves, and am determined to calculate thorough and fluent resistance from a Black in such a position. For the record, Black lost an exchange in a time scramble a few moves after the end position, by when I'd long since stopped recording, having slowly slowly outplayed Bruce to reach a slightly superior late middlegame position but very low on time. However, my concentration was through the roof, and I was calculating a great deal in general!

This was very pleasing, as was our match win which put max pressure on Monarchs to win the following night. Although they did win, consigning us to 2nd place and their fifth :o consecutive title, we had some consolation: I got the board 2 prize for 7.5/8 against an average opposition of 121, so perhaps that's about 1675 give or take; and our junior team member got the board 3 prize for an also excellent 5/6. My own score betters my previous record set in 2001-02, when having jumped from 1050 to 1450 overnight, I scored 8.5/10 on board 4, the new score is now the highest in living memory for an 8 game season, beating the previous record of Colin Davison from a few years back in scoring 7/8 on board 1 all year (so I know what I must do next year xD), and is my first ever unbeaten season in this league across this many games. So I'm delighted :D

Yesterday I played for the city B team in Division 1 of the county league, against someone rated precisely the same as me. Our only previous encounter, colours reversed, was a dull draw in the first round of the Major County Championship in 2005. This was very different!



Note that the last 20 or so moves are also currently missing of this one.

There seems to be an aphorism developing locally. All Rook endgames are drawn, one or two pawns down - if your name is Dan. :lol: I did it again! The opening proceeded very well for me. Indeed I've had several people play it with ...h6 Be3 chucked in first online recently. The last person to play this order against me was Derek Blair, the strong captain of Monarchs (mentioned above) in 2008, where I won a very scrappy game. I haven't dug that out yet, but it struck me that Black missed the boat here to complicate with ...h5 at some point. Given this, he seemed strategically to be in a typical poor position, deprived of his breaks and unable to conjure anything concrete. Then White in turn having seen the thematic sac earlier, missed ...Nxe5 tactics with h5? instead of f4. I then spent 35 of my remaining 48 minutes on Ke2, which sounds exorbitant, but I was seeing poorly and having to constantly repeat lines in my head because of a lot of coin jangling from my opponent, and general odd form. That said, I was deeply surprised not to see him follow the strong ...Ke7 with either ...c5 or ...f5, willing to complicate the game in his favour. Perhaps he's not used to such tense struggles developing, though it's clear to me that Black has all the play. Consequently, he started to play the complete wrong way. Allowing the exchange of his superior Knight was a major sin, removing major pieces was another, and entering the Rook endgame with 30 minutes to my 5, I thought it would be fairly simple for him to make progress, and grind out the win. But yet again I have seen an example of someone rated probably near 1850, unable to show elementary technique! After a long time spent checking and shuffling, Black felt unable to make progress, and once his time had gotten down to 90 seconds, mine now 34, he offered the draw which I gratefully accepted.

It isn't that I'm Byzantinely strong in any way at Rook endings - I just seem to exude this calm and willingness to wait forever for someone to try stuff. We lost the match 1.5-2.5 but really helped our sister A team in their quest to end 23 years of hurt and bring the championship back to our fair city.

There is no chess for me for a while now except for playing online (I couldn't hack a whole month of just endgame stuff, though I am still working on elementary theory little by little by little - too little really, since I lack ways to make it fun and don't have the discipline I used to about 6 years ago), so I'm going to try to make this Peter Shaw game one of those where I don't use an engine for help at all. If anyone can give me specific master-level thought process/attitudinal advice on how to handle defensive wall of pawn structures as in the Reed game, that would be really appreciated. I know some of it is confidence of the ability to outplay someone positionally from a worse position though. :)


Sun Apr 14, 2013 12:18 pm
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