View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:17 pm



 [ 237 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16  Next
flatman's training journal 
Author Message
Rook

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:43 pm
Posts: 226
Rating: 1700
Rating Class: Class B (1600-1800)
 Queen Maneuvers
I'm not usually a fan of queen maneuvers in the middlegame; I've seen too many amateurs lavish attention on their queens while ignoring the rest of their armies. When the right occasion presents itself, though, the queen must be ready to lead the army! The opening was an offbeat Berlin Defense.



1) Image 2) Image 3) Image

4) Image 5) Image 6) Image

7) Image

My analysis:

1) If white can reach an endgame, his pawn structure will be worth an extra pawn. Before the endgame, though, the gods have placed the middlegame--and black is very well positioned. His 2 bishops are active and his rook looms on the only open file. With a little preparation he can start a kingside pawn storm.

Houdini suggests 15. c3, with the idea of maneuvering the queen to e4 by way of a4. Moreover, 16. Qa4 gains a tempo because of the loose bishop on 16. Houdini's principal variation is 15. c3 Kb7 16. Qa4 Bb5 17. Qe4 h5 18. Nb3 and black will be left with only one bishop.

I played 15. Qc1?!, which isn't a blunder but puts the queen in an awkward spot.

2) With 15....g4!? black can dislodge the important white knight. After 16. Nh4 Bd4 17. Nf5 Bxf2! 18. Kxf2 Qd7 19. Ne4 Qxf5+ 20. Qf4 Qg6 black's superiority is evident, although white has drawing chances.

Instead black gave his bishop a retreat path with the queen maneuver 15... Qe6?!, which just allows white to bring his knight to d4 with gain of tempo.

3) 18. e6! and if 18...fxe6, then 19. Nxe6 and white will trade off the black bishop on f8. While this would result in a pretty dull equality, it was probably better than black's game move, 18... Bg7, which yields a very sharp position after 19. e7 Rde8.

4) White wants to move his a1 rook to d1, but his queen is in the way. So it's time for a queen maneuver: 20. Qe3. After 20... f6 black is threatening the e7 pawn, but the queen maneuver continues: 21. Qa3 protects the e7 pawn and threatens the loose a6 bishop at the same time. 21...Kb7 22. Rad1 and white has achieved his goal.

It's worth mentioning that 20....c5 21. Qa3 Bb7 would have been a better plan for black.

5) White is threatening to unleash his knight with a discovered attack on the black queen; for example, 22...Qd7 23. Ne6! Qc8 24. Nd8+ Ka8 25. Nxc6 and white has all the chips. Houdini suggests 22...Qe6 23. b4 Rxe7 24. Ne6 Qxe6!? 25. Rxe6 Rxe6, and black has a rook, 2 active bishops and a pawn for the queen and knight. White has a small edge at best.

Instead black indulged another dubious queen maneuver: 22... Qc4? 23. b3 Qc3 24. Re3 Qa5 25. Qxa5 bxa5 and black's position is tottering.

6) 27. c4! shuts black's a6 bishop out of the action for a few critical moves.

7) 28. Ne5! is a bolt from the blue that wins on the spot. But how can this be--doesn't it block the rook's protection of the e7 pawn? Let's take a look:

  • 28...Bxe7 29. Nxe7 Rxe7 30. Nc6+ and 31. Nxe7
  • 28... Rh7 (or Rhg8) 29. Nd7+ and 30. Nxf6

So black played 28...Bc8 to prevent the fork on d7, but after 29. Nxf7 he's busted.

  • 29...Rh7 30. Rd8 Rxd8 31. Nxd8 Bxe7 32. Nxe7 and white is up a piece.
  • 29...Rhg8 30. N7xh6 Rg6 31. Ng4 Bd4 32. Nxd4 cxd4 33. Rxd4 and white's on top.

After 29....Bxf5 30. Nxh8 black resigned.

_________________
Good chess and God bless,

Chris Falter


Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:47 pm
Rook

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:43 pm
Posts: 226
Rating: 1700
Rating Class: Class B (1600-1800)
 Do not worry about material!
"Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?" - Matthew 6:25

I was down 2 pawns after 17 moves, but in the post-mortem I saw Houdini's evaluation: +0.86. Wow!

The problem with an initiative like that is that it's a responsibility: you have to handle it well. And I did not. At first I felt like I must have adequate compensation and looked for ways to use my activity. But then I got worried about the material deficit, and played inferior, materialistic moves. Basically, I violated Jesus' commandment in Matthew 6:26 and started to focus on the materialistic, rather than the lively piece activity I possessed. While there may be times to convert an initiative into some other form of advantage, my position in this game was not one of them. My materialistic worries led me downhill, and even what edge I had disappeared. Just as Jesus stated in Matthew 13:12 --

"Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them."

Yea verily, the initiative was taken from me, and I was left with nothing! The game was yet another Alapin Sicilian.



1) Image 2) Image 3) Image

4) Image 5) Image 6) Image

My analysis:

1) Black has made the odd retreat Qd6 in this isolated queen pawn position, which doesn't seem especially useful as it hems in the dark-squared bishop. The quiet 9. a3 looks strong, as it threatens to embarrass black's c6 knight with the typical advance d5. After 9....e6, 10. Bc4 renews the threat of d5. Then 10....b4 and now 11. Ba2 takes advantage of 9. a3 to keep the light-squared bishop strongly posted. It can either support the advance d5 or drop back to b1 to threaten the h7 square--both are good ideas.

White played 9. Bc4?!, which simply invites 9...b5. Probably 10. Bb3 is best, although black looks fine after 10...Na5 11. Bc2 Nc5. Instead white played 10. Bd3?!, which poses the question--why not play 9. Bd3 in the first place, instead of giving black an extra tempo with 9. Bc4 b5?

2) The mundane 11. Qd2 is useful and good, after which 12. a3 and the black queen may choose to post itself on b3, but it doesn't really do anything useful there. Instead, white chose to play provocatively with 11. a3!? Qxb2 12. Bd2 Be6 13. O-O and white has a strong lead in development at the cost of a measly pawn. So far white is obeying Matthew 6:25 quite nicely!

3) White has good choices here. Simplest is 15. Nxb5! axb5 16. Bxb5, and sooner or later white will win back the piece to emerge a healthy pawn up. For example, Houdini suggests 16... Nf4 17. Bxf4 Qxe2 18. Bxe2. If black tries to hold onto material with something like 16....g6, then 17. Rfb1 Qc2 18. Rc1 Qb2 19. Rab1 Qxa3 20. Rxc6 Rxc6 21. Bxc6+ and black's king will be stuck in the center, facing an open board and saddled with poor development.

Houdini suggests 15. Rac1, and if 15...Nxc3 16. Rxc3 and after Rfc1 black is about to melt down. 15. Rab1 (deflecting the black queen) Qxa3 16. Nxd5 Bxd5 17. Ra1 Qd6 18. Rxa6 is also quite attractive.

All of these choices would have been excellent, and the latter 2 display the contempt for material worries that make these kinds of positions fun. White's choice 15. Nxd5 Bxd5 is not a blunder, per se, but it certainly misses some nice opportunities.

4) Houdini suggests 16. a4, the goal of which is not regaining material but rather to bring the light-squared bishop into the attack. For black Houdini suggests giving back the material with 16...e6 17. axb5 Nxd5 18. Nxd4 Qxd4 19. Rfc1 Rxc1+ 20. Rxc1 a5 21. Bxa5, but white's 2 bishops and advanced passed pawn give him all the chances.

Instead white played the unimaginative 16. Rfb1, after which 16...Bxf3! 17. gxf3 Qxd4 allowed black enough material to fully compensate for his retarded development.

5) White's huge development lead and piece coordination give him full compensation for the 2 pawn deficit. The position is critical, however, as white cannot allow black to just develop unhindered and make his material advantage count. The immediate 18. a4! is still the move to make, as it again brings the LSB into the attack. White instead wasted a move with 18. Rc1?!, which is too slow to accomplish anything. On the next move, white should have played 19. a4 again, rather than Be4.

One thing to note: I was looking for piece play, but what I needed was a pawn break, rather than piece movement, to activate my pieces. The little guys have a lot of power; be sure to harness it!

6) Houdini still favors white slightly here, as long as he keeps playing for the initiative with 24. Qe5!. This move targets both the b8 square (for a check that will drive the king into the middle of the board) and the g7 pawn. Houdini's principal variation is 24....Qd7 25. Bc3 (continuing to build pressure against the king and the g7 square) Rg8 26. Qb8+ Qd8 27. Qxb5+ Kf7 28. Ra7+ Kg6 29. Qb7 and black can only hold with accurate defense.

Instead, I looked at the diminished material on the board and thought, "My attack is over--poor me! I'd better try to regain some of my material while I can." Disobey the Scripture with a move like 24. Ra5 and nothing good can come of it. After 24...Kf7! 25. Rxb5?! (better is Ra7+, eschewing material for initiative) Bd6 26. Ra5 black had a winning advantage, and converted it adeptly.

_________________
Good chess and God bless,

Chris Falter


Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:33 pm
Rook

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:43 pm
Posts: 226
Rating: 1700
Rating Class: Class B (1600-1800)
 A crushing victory comes back to haunt me
Maybe I'm taking this chess improvement thing too seriously; I won a blitz game in pretty routine fashion last week, but memories of the beautiful move I missed have haunted me ever since. I hope to find redemption by confessing my chess blindness to you, my faithful readers, hoping earnestly that you will learn to see what I missed. Lux et veritas, as they say at Yale!



I played my usual Alekhine Defense to 1. e4, gaining first a very pleasant position after exchanging knights on e5, then a winning one after my opponent blundered. But I had only begun my journey to esthetic disaster when I encountered this position:

Image

Black is up the exchange and two pawns, and his rooks dominate the only open file. Time to go to sleep, evidently... I missed 37...Bd4!. After 38. Bxd4 Rxd4 the win is trivial. Instead I played 37....b6?, after which white had 38. Ne4! and made me sweat for another 20 moves.

But this is a mere trifle to my conscience, a mistake of ordinary dimensions. Here is the position which I still grieve:

Image

White resigned after 55....Kxf6?? 56. Rf8+ Ke5 57. Rxf3 Rxf3 58. Kxf3 a5. Oh the horror! Oh, the shame! I must concede that the result is a trivial win in a pawn endgame, but how could I....?

Take a look again at the position, and see if you can spot a bid for chess immortality that I overlooked. I'll step aside for a minute while you examine the position. 59, 58, 57...

...3, 2, 1, 0. Okay, time's up, and the answer is...

55....Kf7!! What a fantastic zugzwang! If white moves his rook, 56...Rxf6 picks up the knight. If white moves his knight, the rook drops. Any other move by white is followed by 56...Rxf6, winning the steed--for example, 56. g5 Rxf6 57. gxf6 Kxe8.

Isn't that a beautiful move? Why did I have to be so mercenary, when such an elegant solution was at the tip of my mouse? Good thing the sun rose this morning, and I can feel that God still loves me in spite of my many shortcomings...and maybe I'll get another chance to play a beautiful chess move. Make the most of your opportunities, dear readers!

_________________
Good chess and God bless,

Chris Falter


Mon Jul 23, 2012 1:19 pm
Pawn

Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2012 1:39 pm
Posts: 19
Rating: 1600
Rating Class: Class B (1600-1800)
 Re: flatman's training journal
Good read, Kf7 is a nice move. I don't think it's strictly a zugzwang position though because making no move wouldn't help white.


Tue Jul 24, 2012 3:36 am
Rook

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:43 pm
Posts: 226
Rating: 1700
Rating Class: Class B (1600-1800)
 Re: flatman's training journal
Slicri wrote:
Good read, Kf7 is a nice move. I don't think it's strictly a zugzwang position though because making no move wouldn't help white.

That's a good point, Slicri. So what should I call it? Perhaps a "waiting move"?

_________________
Good chess and God bless,

Chris Falter


Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:34 am
Pawn

Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2012 1:39 pm
Posts: 19
Rating: 1600
Rating Class: Class B (1600-1800)
 Re: flatman's training journal
chrisfalter wrote:
Slicri wrote:
Good read, Kf7 is a nice move. I don't think it's strictly a zugzwang position though because making no move wouldn't help white.

That's a good point, Slicri. So what should I call it? Perhaps a "waiting move"?

I don't know, it's a kind of fork maybe.


Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:08 am
Rook

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:43 pm
Posts: 226
Rating: 1700
Rating Class: Class B (1600-1800)
 Re: flatman's training journal
Slicri wrote:
I don't know, it's a kind of fork maybe.


It's true that on f7 the black king forks the white rook and knight. But that's also true on its previous square, e7. The problem is that if the king captures one of the forked pieces (the knight on f6), white's rook can skewer on f8. And of course the knight protects the e8 rook.

So black's task is to maintain the fork while giving the rook on f3 the opportunity to capture the knight. Since Kf7 simply sidesteps the check while maintaining the fork, I vote to call it a "waiting move."

Thanks for the interesting discussion, Slicri!

_________________
Good chess and God bless,

Chris Falter


Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:07 am
Rook

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:43 pm
Posts: 226
Rating: 1700
Rating Class: Class B (1600-1800)
 Amazing comeback falls flat
Somewhere, sometime in soccer history (that's "football" to you non-Americans), there's probably been a game in which a team has scored 3 goals late in the second half to even the score. A phenomenal comeback! Then in stoppage time, they've scored an own goal to hand the win right back to their opponents. The crowd groans, the referee blows his whistle, the match is over. But at least it was entertaining.

That's kind of what happened in today's game. I got a nice position as black in the Alekhine Defense, then gave up a piece with a gross blunder in time trouble. But I retained enough resources to pose some knotty problems, which my opponent did not completely solve. Ultimately I reached a drawn endgame in which my 2 extra pawns fully compensated for my piece deficit. Whereupon I performed the "patzer dive," which is slated to become an Olympic event in 2016....



1. Image 2. Image 3. Image

4. Image 5. Image 6. Image

My analysis:

1. I've lost track of the number of times my opponents have played 6. c4?! They don't play it more than once, though, as black obtains a pleasant edge after 6...Nb4!, threatening 7....Qxd4 8. Qxd4 Nc2+ 9. Kd1 Nxd4 -+. The game continued 7. Be3 Bf5! 8. Na3 and black has the upper hand.

2. With 26. Rac1? white led with his chin. Now 26....Nd3 27. Rb1 Nb4 28. Rab1 Nxc2 29. Rxc2 Bxc2 30. Qxd2 is a winning blow for black. But black, yours truly, was so obsessed with kingside attacking prospects that he played 26....h5, a move that, in spite of some merit, does not have the same punch.

3. With 28....Nxe6 (removing the knight from danger) 29. Qxd6 Qxd6 30. Rxd6 gxf3 31. g3 Rad8 black retains an edge. With 28....Bxe6?? 29. Qxd6 Qxd6 30. Rxd6 he simply drops a piece. Guess which move I chose in time trouble?

4. While black is still lost after 37...Rxd4 38. Bxd4 Rg4 39. Nxg2 Rxd4 40. Ne3 Rd2, but he has drawing chances due to the ability to attack white's queenside pawns. Worse is black's actual choice, 37....c5 38. Rxg4 Rxg4 39. Nxg2 fxg2.

5. The pawn on g2 is not going to run away, so white should first defend his c4 pawn with 40. b3, then eat the g2 pawn at his leisure. In the game he gave black unjustified opportunity with 40. Rxg2?! Rxc4.

6. Black scores an own goal with 54...Kc4?? 55. Rc8+ Kb4 56. Bf8+ Kb5 57. Rxc2 bxc2 58. Kd2 +-. I had thought that my king could penetrate to assist the pawns against the bishop, but I overlooked 2 resources for white:

  • The zwischenzug check 56. Bf8+ allows white to drive back the black king.
  • White's king can also assist in the defense with Kd2.

Instead, 54....Rh2! keeps the draw fully in hand. The threat is 55....a3 (56. Rxb3? Rh3+!), so white must play 55. Rd8+ Ke6 56. Ra8 b2 57. Bxb2 Rxb2 58. Rxa4=. But at least the crowd was entertained by the own goal! :D

_________________
Good chess and God bless,

Chris Falter


Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:07 am
Rook

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:43 pm
Posts: 226
Rating: 1700
Rating Class: Class B (1600-1800)
 Learning chess is like learning a language
I'm reading a review copy of Move First, Think Later by Dutch IM and trainer Willy Hendriks (published by New in Chess), and enjoying his often provocative insights. I don't always agree 100%, but the book is so entertaining and useful that I can't imagine awarding it any less than 5 stars.

One of Hendriks' points is that learning chess is like learning a language. Think of your mother tongue: did you learn it mostly by learning rules? Or did you learn it by lots and lots of trial and error? If you're not sure of the answer, watch an infant for 5 minutes and you'll know, without a doubt, that kids learn by trial and error. They acquire the rules and principles of language (essentially, the grammar) by osmosis, as it were. And most of their language acquisition, after the first year, is learning vocabulary.

In the same way, argues Hendriks, learning chess mostly involves learning to recognize and use the basic patterns--you know, that "vocabulary" of about 100,000 typical moves and positions that the grandmaster has at his fingertips. And there's no way to learn them other than by lots of effort, just like the babbling infant who's learning a language. (It's hard work being a kid!) On the other hand, says Hendriks, the attempt to short-circuit the effort by learning rules and principles directly, and attempting to use them in your chess thinking, is doomed to failure.

So which approach do most chess books (other than opening theory books) take? More often than not, the titled players who write them try to present rules and principles, and claim that if you follow the principles, you'll find good moves. I'm thinking of Nimzovich, Kotov, and Silman here, among others. This is like trying to master a foreign language by just learning the grammar, according to Hendriks.

By and large I agree with Hendriks, based on my experience both with chess and language learning. I was a star pupil in my high school German classes, but I never learned to use the language very effectively. Put me in the center of Berlin and I'll starve, but not before I pee in my pants because I don't know how to ask where to find a bathroom. (Unless I find someone to translate for me, of course!) I spent much less time learning French and Arabic grammar in college, but I am far more fluent in them because I later spent 5 years in North Africa conversing with friends, asking them how to say things, thanking them for their corrections, etc.

I do think that Hendriks has overstated his point, though. In fact, learning the grammar of a language can make your real learning--the trial and error part--more effective. It's like a shortcut. So the books by Silman, Kotov, and friends do have some value.

As you're learning chess, though, remember that pondering positions and discovering the winning moves and plans that masters made (and patzers like me missed) should constitute the bulk of your reading. This is why my training journal entries always have plentiful diagrams, and focus on providing analysis more than platitudes. Not that I consider myself such a fantastic teacher, but I am finding that my strength is slowly growing as I digest, ever so slowly, the many patterns that each game provides.

_________________
Good chess and God bless,

Chris Falter


Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:54 am
Rook

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:43 pm
Posts: 226
Rating: 1700
Rating Class: Class B (1600-1800)
 "No one ever won by resigning"
Or got a draw. If you just overlooked a killer reply to your blunder, let your opponent play the winning move before you resign! Think about it, instead of just despairing: if you overlooked the killer move, maybe your opponent will also overlook it.

In today's game, I got a wonderfully active game out of the Alekhine Defense, which has been happening a lot. With accurate play I could have turned it into a miniature; nevertheless I wound up a pawn to the good with by far the better bishop in a R+B vs. R+B endgame. I was completely focused on figuring out how to trade rooks when my opponent suddenly resigned. What? His endgame was lost, for sure, but I still had a lot of work to do. Or did I?



1. Image 2. Image 3. Image

4. Image 5. Image 6. Image

My analysis:

1. It looks like black can present white with a cruel dilemma with 9....Bxf3: mess up the pawn structure with 10. gxf3, or drop a pawn with 10. Bxf3 Nxc4. Why not play it right away? Hmm...let's take a look at what can happen after 10. Bxf3 Nxc4:

11. Bxc6+ bxc6 12. Qa4! and black has severe heartburn from eating the pawn! Best is 12....Nb6 13. Qxc6+ Kd8, but black's king is stuck in the center and white has regained his pawn. Always look for strong replies by your opponent before grabbing material.

So best is just to develop with 9...Be7, with the idea of castling before trying to undermine the white position.

2. Why let your pawn structure get shattered unnecessarily? 11. Bxf3 is fine 11....Nxc4 can leave black in a mess after the continuation discussed above (12. Bxc6, etc.). But fearing the loss of the c4 pawn, white played 11. gxf3?! and later regretted it.

3. Black plays for an initiative with 11...d5!? (a thematic idea in the Alekhine) 12. c5 Nc4!? 13. Bxc4 dxc4. It looks like the c4 pawn is very weak, but on the other hand black can get terrific play against the d4 pawn with O-O-O. I have no idea whether 11....d5 is truly best, but it does lead to an interesting adventure.

4. Note that white's Qa4, threatening the c4 pawn, has not turned out very well after 15...Qxf3 16. Rg1 (better is 16. Rh2) Here I played the more than sufficient 16....Nxd4 and got a pleasant edge. However, I missed 16....Bh4!, which is a truly killer move. As the ficsgames engine points out, the e3 bishop is loose because its protector, the f pawn, is pinned. White can try to salvage everything with 17. Kf1, but then the savage 17....Rhe8 and now the bishop is still dropping--it must stay to protect the f2 pawn, but the f pawn is now pinned by the queen. So 18. Qd1 Rxe3 19. Qxf3 Rxf3 and the game is over already. I've gotta stop missing moves like 16....Bh4!

5. The simple 17....Bxc5 holds any white counterplay at bay, while preserving a mammoth advantage for black. I guess I'm no good at playing simple chess; I preferred 17....Nc6, which isn't a blunder but doesn't score the point as effectively. Hmm...second bishop move in a row that I missed. Is that a trend I need to address?

6. I was still thinking about how to trade rooks here. So I played 37....Ke7, with the intention of playing ...Rh4 next. But the server wouldn't let me play it; was the connection broken? No, the game was over and I had won. What happened?

Well, it turns out that 37....Bxd4 wins on the spot! White saw this one mover and resigned without further ado. Maybe he shouldn't have, though. He should have at least let me play the winning move, don't you think?

It's embarrassing for me to admit I didn't see the one mover, but every now and then my alertness slips. Gotta keep training.

_________________
Good chess and God bless,

Chris Falter


Tue Aug 07, 2012 12:23 pm
Rook

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:43 pm
Posts: 226
Rating: 1700
Rating Class: Class B (1600-1800)
 Mediocre endgame technique destroys 2 club players
Playing the black side of the Trompowsky, I reached a truly fantastic position. In spite of overlooking several winning tactics, I managed to reach a pawn-up endgame that any master could win blindfolded. Alas, this wretched patzer still wanders in the desert, hoping through pluck, faith, and hard work to reach the land of milk, honey and masterdom. With time running short on my clock, I miscalculated and threw away my winning chances. But I did have one final trick up my sleeve...and my opponent fell for it!



1) Image 2) Image 3) Image

4) Image 5) Image 6) Image

7) Image 8) Image 9) Image

10) Image 11) Image 12) Image

My analysis:

1) White has gained central space and a better pawn structure, but black has the 2 bishops and open lines on the kingside. If black just develops his pieces normally, white may consolidate his central mass and gain a huge advantage. Thus black should strike immediately in the center with 5...c5.

2) White needs to keep his queen well-posted and his important e5 pawn guarded with 10. Qe3. Instead he grabbed a pawn ever so briefly with 10. Qxh4? Qxh4 11. Nxh4, but after 11.... Nxe5 black had better development and a better pawn structure.

3) White's dark squares are weak and he has no bishop to defend them, so this is no time to play timidly. With 12....Ng4!? black prevents white from castling (13. O-O? Nf2) and hopes to plant an octopus on e3. White cooperated with 13. h3 Ne3!?

4) While 14...Be7 is not bad, black could provoke crisis in the white camp with 14....Bh6!, threatening 15...Nc4. After 15. Rb1 b5 (giving the light-squared bishop room to develop while hemming in white's d2 knight) 16. Ne4 Ke7 black would stand very well indeed.

5) Grab the g pawn or maintain the monstrous octopus on e3? I figured that knight had to be worth at least a pawn, so I played 15.... f5 (so as to follow up with 16....f4). I was gratified to discover after the game that Coach Houdini agrees with my choice.

6) Houdini suggests activating the dormant queenside pieces with 16....b6 followed by ....Bb7 and ....Rc8. My choice of 16....a5 and 17....Ra6, though not a blunder, is slower and not so great for black's pawn structure.

7) White has just blundered with 24. Kf3??, putting the king on the same diagonal as the h1 rook. Black can settle the issue with 24....b5! (opening the long diagonal for his bishop, with tempo) 25. Nxe3 Bb7+ 26. Kf2 fxe3+ 27. Kg1 Bxh1.

8) After 27....Bc5 black's minor pieces will rule the board and he is up 2 healthy pawns. It may look like white can capture the e3 pawn with 28. Nxe3??, but in fact it drops the knight after the deflection 28....Rf7+. Unfortunately, I missed this and played 27...Rf7+ instead.

9) Black can patiently round up a pawn with 32....Rh2 33. Kd1 Bxd2+ 34. Rxe2 Rxh2, after which even I can win with ease. Alas, I was too eager to simplify to a won endgame and exchanged immediately on e2. Indeed black is winning after 32....Rxe2+ 33. Rxe2 Bxe2 34. Kxe2, but there's plenty of work ahead.

10) Houdini suggests 43...Bg5!, pushing white backwards. The knight has no productive moves (Nd2 is out of the question, as the pawn endgame is a trivial win for black after an exchange of minor pieces). So 44. Kc2 e5 45. Kd3 e4+ and white is on the ropes. This idea of using the bishop to constrain the knight is an important theme in minor piece endgames; alas, I overlooked this and played the weaker 43....Bg7 instead.

11) Once again the winning idea is to push white back with 44....e5 and 45.....e4+. I thought I saw a way to penetrate with my king and reach a winning endgame 2 pawns up via 44...Ke5? 45. Nc6+ Kf4 46. Nxb4 Kg3. White's final pawns must drop and black will be winning, right? Nope! White also has a king, and it's centralized enough to come to the rescue: 47. Ke4 Kxg3 48. Kf3. Mediocre endgame technique destroys the club player with the black pieces.

I groaned inwardly, as the pawn configuration should allow white to establish an insurmountable blockade on light squares. For a moment, I thought of offering a draw, but then decided to play on for a bit. Perhaps white would not find the draw, or perhaps he could blunder into a trap. Why not give it a go?

12) White quickly decided that he could reach a trivially drawn king and pawn endgame with 66. Nxg5?? hxg5, and then had a long think. He should have had his long think first! He had achieved his light square blockade, and all he had to do with keep shuffling his knight until I offered a draw. But after the erroneous trade on g5, 67. Kg3 e4! and black promotes. So white went for 67. Ke4 Kg2 68. Kxe5 Kg3 69. Kf5 Kh4, and now black has reached the well-known mutual zugzwang with white to move:

Image
Mutual zugwang: whoever is to move loses!

I had been playing on only the 10 second increment for about 20 moves, so I had had to calculate very quickly before playing the trap 65....Kf1. I saw the variations listed above, but I had no time to double-check my calculations! I took a deep breath and decided to trust the endgame patterns I recognized, and play it. Whereupon mediocre endgame technique destroyed another club player--this time white.

Study those key endgame positions, my friends!

EDIT: Dennis Monokroussos has analyzed this endgame in his latest "Viewer Games" video. He mentioned a few ideas I had not seen, so I offer a few more positions based on his analysis. Dennis keeps producing excellent videos, and I hope you have had a chance to view them. And I hope we will continue to have them as a resource: he is not sure whether he'll keep producing them here (or under which terms if he does).

13) Image 14) Image 15) Image

Dennis' analysis:

13) 35...b4 keeps pressing white backwards.

14) 38...exd5 and white's king will come to f4 with an easy win. The knight cannot easily come to c3 to threaten the pawns, and the bishop and pawns keep the king at bay. 39. Nb3 Bb6 is no help to white.

15) 52. g5+! Bxg5 53. Nxe6! Kxe6 54. Kf3=. The white king will get to the h1 corner, and black cannot break the blockade of the h-pawn because his bishop is the wrong color.

_________________
Good chess and God bless,

Chris Falter


Last edited by chrisfalter on Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:27 am, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:35 pm
Rook

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:43 pm
Posts: 226
Rating: 1700
Rating Class: Class B (1600-1800)
 Victory in a Queen and Pawn Endgame
The queen endgame is quite tricky, because you have to calculate so many possibilities for the queens, which have a lot of options. You can very quickly exceed the limits of human calculation. In today's game, in which I played the Alekhine Defense as black, I saw a promising plan, and managed to score the point.



1) Image 2) Image 3) Image

4) Image 5) Image 6) Image

7) Image 8) Image 9) Image

Analysis:

1) 14....Bc2, forking the white queen and rook, would have won on the spot. I did see it (and play it) a move later, and managed to gain the upper hand.

2) Black is up 2 exchanges, and he can preserve his comfortable margin with 20....b5, which gives the bishop room to retreat and removes the threat of cxb7. The c6 pawn would not be a factor for a long time, if ever. However, black insisted on recapturing on c6 immediately (20...bxc6?), under the theory that chess is like checkers. This is terrible, because now the c5 bishop is pinned because of the deadly fork threat (Qxc6+).

3) White played 21. b4, which isn't bad but allows black to extract some compensation for his desperado bishop after 21....d4! 22. Qc4 Rxa3 23. bxc5 Ra1+ 24. Bf1. Black has picked up the a-pawn, established a very active rook, and tied down the white light-squared bishop. Instead, 21. Be3! Rxa3 (a desperado rook move, better than 21....O-O? 22. Bxc5 Qe8 23. Bxf8) 22. bxa3 Bxe3 23. Qxc6+ Kf8 24. fxe3 Qxa3 and black will have to fight for the draw.

4) Black is applying strong major piece pressure down the d-file, but white can maintain the balance with by repositioning the knight with 30. Ne2 Rd8 31. Ng3 ... 32. h4. Instead, he panicked over his king's position and gave up the knight with 30. h4? Rxd4. Now black should win handily.

5) White has blundered with 34. Qxc6??, which black can punish with the deadly 34....Rf5!, and white's position must collapse. But I was thinking only of the c-pawns, and played 34....Rxc5?.

6) Which white punished with the clever 35. Bd3+!, the point of which is that any king move will result in mate with 36. Qe8#. Thus I had to give back the exchange into a materially equal endgame with 35...Qxd3 36. Qxc5.

7) With best play this *might* be a draw, but white has some problems to solve. If black can trade queens, his outside passed pawn will likely win the ensuing pawn endgame. Or black can try to march his passer down the board in a queen endgame, as white's king cannot help the queen slow the pawn's march. 36....Qd6 sets things in motion; after 37. Qf5+ Kg8 38. g3 c5 black is already making progress.

8) White has been trying to give a perpetual. If black is to make progress, his must not attempt to shelter his king on g6 (which is no shelter at all), but must head for the white queenside, where his advancing pawn and queen can provide adequate protection. Thus 49....Ke4!? is the right move.

9) With 67....Ke1! black's king threatens not only the f-pawn but the existence of white's king, which might perish in a mating attack. White tried to hang on with 68. Kg1, but then 68....Qf1+ 69. Kh2 Qxf2+ forced the trade of queens. Now the c-pawn saunters in for the touchdown, so white resigned.

_________________
Good chess and God bless,

Chris Falter


Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:19 pm
Rook

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:43 pm
Posts: 226
Rating: 1700
Rating Class: Class B (1600-1800)
 Tricks in a Rook Endgame
I had the uneasy feeling during the game that I had missed something, but I was still surprised by the number of resources that I (and my opponent) missed when I consulted with Coach Houdini. Man, those rook endgames are slippery! So you, my readers, will learn a lot as you look through this with me. (Or if you're a titled player, you'll have a few laughs.) In either case, you'll enjoy.

The opening was a Cochrane Gambit in the Petrov Defense (aka Russian Defense). How often do you get to sac a whole knight on move 4 and realistically expect at least an equal game against sound defense?



1) Image 2) Image 3) Image

4) Image 5) Image 6) Image

7) Image 8) Image 9) Image

10) Image 11) Image

My analysis:

1) 5. d4 frees the path for the bishop to join the fight, and claims central space. The e-pawn is poisoned; 5....Nxe4? 6. Qh5+ Ke7 (...g6 7. Qd5+) 7. Qe2 and black will be down a pawn with his king stuck in the middle of an open board.

2) White must play energetically or lose his initiative (and with it, the game). On his previous move he played 9. f4 so that after 10. e5 on this move, 10...dxe5 could be met by 11. fxe5 with an enduring initiative. After 10...Re8 11. O-O black had to retreat his knight with 11....Nd7 to save it.

3) After mulling over 12. Qf3 for a good bit, I decided to continue the attack with 12. f5!? It seemed to me that opening the file a move earlier would be sharper, and Coach Houdini agrees with me. The problem with 12. Qf3 is that black can retreat his king to the corner with 12....Kg8 13. Qd5+ Kh8 and now 14. Qxb7 Nb6 and black is maybe a bit better.

4) Time for white to cash in his chips with 13. f6, which forces an exchange on f6 (any bishop retreat is met with the vicious fork 14. f7+!). After 13...Nxf6 14. exf6 Bxf6 15. Nd5 white emerges with equal material but a pleasant edge.

5) 16. Qg4 would have threatened to trap or win the black queen after 16...c6 17. Bg5 (e.g., 17...Qc8? 18. Ne7+!). So 17....Qd7 18. Qxd7 Bxd4+ 19. Kh1 Nxd7 20. Nc7 forks the rooks, although black can stay in the game with 20....Re5 21. Nxa8 Rxg5. My choice, the timid 16. c3, isn't really a blunder, but it allows black to achieve a comfortable equality.

6) The immediate 24. Nf4 is not bad, per se, but it allows black to defend with 24...Bg5 25. h4 Bxf4. Better is the prophylactic move 24. Rf3, which prevents any black tactics on e3 and enables a doubling of the rooks on the f-file.

7) 49. b4!? gives white the potential outside passer at the expense of conceding a passed d-pawn for black. Since this is a rook endgame, it's still equal, but black must be careful about trading rooks, since white might be able to win an ensuing pawn endgame.

8) Coach Houdini suggests 53. Rc2!?, threatening to bring the rook to c6 with strong play. Black must respond 53....Rc4 54. Re2+ Kf6 (54...Kd6? 55. Re8 and the black h6 pawn is in serious trouble) to maintain equality. My choice of 53. Kf3? allows black to improve his pawn structure and king activity.

9) Houdini suggests 57. Rc2 to threaten Rc7 and the creation of a powerful queenside steamroller. Black must respond 57. Re7 58. a5 Rb7 (to prevent a6 followed by an eventual Rb7) 59. a6 Rxb5 60. Rc7 =. My move, 57. a5?, looks aggressive but it yields nothing.

10) 68....h5 is the best move because it allows white the most chances to go wrong. However, after 69. gxh5 Rxh5 70. Rd6 white would still be able to draw, according to the Nalimov tables. The tempting 70. Rg3+? is the kind of mistake I might make; it would lose to 70...Kc2 71. Rg2+ Kc3. 68...Rh1+ is definitely a mistake, as it allows an easy equalizer a couple of moves later.

11) 70. Kg2! either chases the black rook from the h-file or yields an interesting "perpetual" (70....Rh4 71. Kg3 Rh1 72. Kg2, etc.). After 70...Re1 71. Rxh6 the draw is trivial. Unfortunately, I erred egregiously with 70. g5??, and after 70. hxg5 71. Rxg5 71. d3 it was all over.

_________________
Good chess and God bless,

Chris Falter


Wed Aug 22, 2012 11:24 am
Rook

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:43 pm
Posts: 226
Rating: 1700
Rating Class: Class B (1600-1800)
 Review of "Think First, Move Later" by Willy Hendriks
Published by New In Chess, 2011

In this collection of miniature essays, International Master Willy Hendriks presents the implications of recent advances in cognitive science for chess players and trainers. Hendriks is the little boy who, observing the parade of standard chess pedagogy, cries out that the king is in fact naked. While he is not afraid to name names, this is no diatribe; his playful wit and pithy phrases make this book a fun and instructive journey. (I don't think his cat really got to expert level after a year of chess lessons, but it was a fun way to talk about how talent might prevail over deliberate practice!)

Hendriks aims his empirical fire at several deeply cherished notions in the chess community:

* The right thinking process over the board will make you strong.
* Develop a good long-range plan before you think about specific moves.
* Follow adages, such as "respond to a flank attack with a central counterattack."
* Trainers know the right methods of chess improvement.
* Anyone can become an international master with 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.
* Pay attention to your recent results to figure out where you are and what's working.

Citing the research that shows grandmasters don't analyze more deeply than experts, but use their memories much more intensively during a game, Hendriks concludes that our subconscious engages in matching candidate maneuvers to a reservoir of patterns to find a good move. This is why a chess player does not really engage in rational thought, or long-range planning, before looking around for good moves. After the game he might provide a narrative for what happened, but the ensuing narrative does not necessarily reflect his actual thinking during the game.

Hendriks draws a helpful analogy between playing chess and having a conversation; just as you do not draw up a long-range plan in the middle of a conversation, you do not draw up a long-range plan before examining candidate chess moves. You might have some idea of where you want to go (as you do when you speak), but it's not easily verbalized in the midst of the game (or conversation). Moreover, just as a 7 year-old can speak quite competently by virtue of having absorbed the details of language without any training in the rules of grammar or punctuation, you grow in chess ability primarily by absorbing, via play and training, thousands of typical maneuvers.

Thus if you want to play better chess you must "feed the beast," your chess-playing subconscious brain, with a steady diet of chess patterns from master games and analysis of your own games. Hendriks provides a wealth of novel and really useful training ideas for this process, any one of which would justify the price of purchase. My favorite, and one that I've started using, is the practice of entering into the game score the candidate moves you (or your opponent) didn't play so your chess engine can provide an impartial, expert evaluation of the moves' soundness.

Hendriks illustrates his ideas with a wealth of positions and game fragments, so you're developing more chess skill while you learn about the process of developing chess skill. Nice!

Like pretty much any author that challenges long-held paradigms, Hendriks occasionally overstates his point. Hendriks disparages the advocates of plans and adages because verbal protocols don't really help us find good moves during a game. True enough, but on the other hand they might serve very effectively as meta-patterns that help our chess-playing brains acquire and make use of thousands of specific maneuvers/patterns. Here Hendriks' analogy to language learning is apropos, because familiarity with grammar, verb conjugations, and noun declensions (the meta-patterns or rules of language) can help you master a language. As high school language courses demonstrate, mastering the meta-patterns does you no good without putting in the hard work of using the language in live situations--listening to native speakers, asking them questions, and getting feedback on your mistakes. In this sense Hendriks' cautions about verbal protocols in chess are correct. But as I discovered when I was mastering Arabic, knowing the rules of the language when you hear a new word or phrase helps you recognize what's going on, and helps you use that word or phrase in the future. The same applies to chess, I think: knowing the language of tactics, evaluation, and typical plans (the meta-patterns) can help you categorize, absorb, and make use of the specific bits of chess knowledge you encounter. Thus the works of planning and adage advocates like Kotov and Silman can have real value, as long as you apply them with a substantial grain of salt.

In addition, Hendriks' insists that talent is just as important as deliberate practice without providing any empirical evidence. Upon first reading, I thought that Andersson's study of Berlin music students, a fine empirical work and the basis of several popular works on deliberate practice, must carry the day against Hendriks. But with a couple of hours of googling, I discovered that Campitelli and Gobet's 2007 study of Argentinian chess players had clinched the point for the importance of talent. Hambrick and Meinz' 2011 study comparing the influence of "working memory" (native brain capability) with that of deliberate practice on music sight-reading could also be cited. Hendriks could have made his point much more clearly and successfully if he had cited these studies.

In spite of these imperfections, though, Hendriks' work is so refreshing, novel, and useful that I must give it my highest recommendation for anyone who enjoys chess. You may purchase Hendriks' book here.

Note: The publisher provided a copy of this book to me in exchange for my honest review. My ratings of the publisher's books have ranged from 3 stars to 5 stars.

_________________
Good chess and God bless,

Chris Falter


Thu Aug 23, 2012 9:00 am
Rook

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:43 pm
Posts: 226
Rating: 1700
Rating Class: Class B (1600-1800)
 Tactical Macular Degeneration
I'm getting a little older than I used to be, so my optometrist says my risk of macular degeneration, a blinding disability, is increasing. I didn't realize it would affect my chess tactics, though! The tactics I missed were mostly on the novel side for a club player like me, so they warrant further study. And I didn't even lose! The result was a draw in this Ruy Lopez.



1) Image 2) Image 3) Image

4) Image 5) Image 6) Image

7) Image 8) Image

My analysis:

1) White is threatening to rip open black's kingside with 15. Nxf6, so 14...Nd7 is essential, after which white has only a slight pull. Black erred with 14...Bd7?, which gave white an interesting choice...

2) ...build an attack with 15. Ne3, or damage black's kingside pawns with 15. Bxf6? Houdini rates the latter better than the former by a third of a pawn, although the silicon coach suggests trading on e5 first (15. dxe5 dxe5 16. Bxf6 gxf6 17. Ne3) and white's superiority is unquestioned. He can aim to create another weakness in black's camp with 18. a4, or just plant a knight on f5 after 18. Nh4. It looks so obvious now, I can't really tell you why I chose 15. Ne3, when my previous move was so clearly aiming at 15. Bxf6. Senility maybe?

3) White can win on the spot with 18. Nd5! Qc8 (18....Qb7 19. Bd2! and black must drop a knight) 19. Nb6 Qc6 20. Nxa8 hxg5 21. gxh5. Alas, I played the inferior 18...Bh4. I often have trouble spotting backwards attacking moves with a bishop.

4) All white's pieces are coordinating beautifully to attack, and black is on his heels. Time to bust things open with 37. e5! If I can keep finding moves like this, maybe there's hope for me.

5) Yet another pawn break, 38. f6!, crushes black outright. Look at everything it does:

  • Attacks the black rook on e7
  • Brings the white bishop strongly into the attack--in fact, it threatens mate in 1 on h7!
  • If black tries to defend with 38....gxf6, the black king is hopelessly denuded. 39. Qxf6+ and dropping the queen with 39....Rg7 only delays mate by one move! (40. Qxd8+ Rg8 41. Qxg8#)

So black must defend against mate with 38...e4, which drops a whole rook to 39. fxe7 +-.

Instead I played 38. Rxd6, which is not so bad but nowhere near the wrecking ball of 38. f6. I guess it never occurred to me that 2 pawn breaks in a row might be twice as strong as a single pawn break.

6) I had played 41. Rd8+ Kh7 so as to line up a discovered check, but I saw that black could block the check with 42....e4 (for example, 42. Rg1+ e4). So I decided to get a pawn for my trouble with 42. Rxf6+. Not until I checked with the silicon beast at ficsgames.org did I realize that I had missed a mate in 7! The key move is 42. Bf5!!, quite possibly the deadliest quiet move that has been within my reach. The idea is that it slips past any attempt to block with ...e4, so the black king must perish. 42...Rg7 only delays mate slightly--43. Rg1+! Rg6 44. Rxg6 h5 45. Rg1+ (beautiful, the way the rook keeps bobbing back and forth!) Kh6 46. Rh8+ Rh7 47. Rxh7#. Shazamm!

7) 43. Rg6+ Kf7 (...Kh7 44. Rc6+ +-) 44. Rc6! and black suddenly has no good moves.

  • 44....Nd7 45. d6! Re6 (45...Re8 46. Bg6+! Kxg6 47. Rxe8) 46.Bf5! is complete annihilation.
  • 44....Nb7 45. Rh8! and the threat of back-rank mate causes black to shed pieces.
  • 44....Rec7 (relatively best) 45. Rxc7 Rxc7 46. d6 Rd7 (...Rc6 or ...Rb7 47. fxe5! and white's pawns are a mortal menace) 47. Rc8 Ne6 (47....Nb7 48. Rc7 Ke8 49. Bf5! Rxd6 [...Rf7 40. Bg6 +-] 50. Rxb7) 48. fxe5 and the white pawns rule.

You know, this analysis was so deep, and took me and Houdini so long, that I'm not really ashamed of missing the maneuver. It's definitely a titled player kind of sequence....but worth admiring after the fact!

EDIT: The maneuver Rg6+ followed by Rc6 is readily accessible, even if all the complications are not, like this: 43. Rg6+ forces the black king to f7, which makes the threats from Rc6 stronger, since in addition to the loose knight and white's mobile central pawns, black must also worry about checkmate threats from Rh8-h7 with Rc8. The addition of that last threat is the straw that breaks the back of black defensive camel.

8) On the other hand, I have no excuse for missing the simple deflection 49. Rge8+! Kf7 50. Rxd5 Kxe8 51. Rxc5 +-. I played the meek 49. Rxd5 Kxd5, after which black had an edge but I managed to keep the draw within hand until only the bare kings stood on the board.

_________________
Good chess and God bless,

Chris Falter


Thu Aug 23, 2012 12:20 pm
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
   [ 237 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16  Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by STSoftware for PTF