Sunday, June 19, 2011

ACIS Notes 008 -- MetroWest CC June 2011 -- Round 2

After Eastern Class earlier this year, OTB chess took a backseat, while work ramped up. I still did my correspondence chess praxis as per usual.

Correspondence Chess Praxis

Below are a couple of miniatures from a correspondence chess CCLA section played on the ICCF server. You can view the section here. I have one loss, four wins, and one game still in progress (I'm about to win an exchange). For the record, my loss was a great example of lazy, sloppy play on my part. I "woke up" in my other games.

The first example is a rout of the opponents King in the center:

The second is opponent hesitation punished with a Queenside attack. I'm still analyzing this game. I have some comments from other players at MetroWest CC. If you have comments, please send them in:

MetroWest CC June 2011 -- Round 2

The object of this post however is to get back in the saddle with my OTB play. I will be playing at the Continental Open in Sturbridge MA, and would like to have an even better performance than at Eastern Class earlier this year. Below is my June 2011 Round 2 game played at MetroWest CC:

Here is the un-annotated game, followed by:
  1. My thoughts during the game
  2. My home analysis
  3. What Fritz said...
Please note that the game was "reconstructed" from approximately move 64 on. The major piece movements are there, but there is a mystery on 68.Rd7, why didn't the White King capture the pawn? 

My Thoughts During The Game

Since I have been reading a ton of Silman, plus doing tactics when I can (skills and drills), I was in good spirits, a bit of good nervous energy, and looking forward to the game. I hadn't been to the MetroWest CC in a while (although still doing my volunteer activities in the background), and I looked forward to a good old fashioned chess battle! I found my opponent, Clark Ewer. We used to play each other a while ago, and during the late 90's we sometimes rode the commuter rail together. I'll highlight the points in the game where I thought I had to make a major decision. As opposed to the points where I really needed to make a decision - which are hopefully highlighted in my home analysis and with Fritz assistance below this section. As usual, your comments are welcome:

  • 2.Nf3 - "Either (a) he does not know the French and is trying to throw me off, or; (b) he does know the French and this is some killer line". Of course this is all crap. I should just play what I think should be played to the best of my ability. I played 2...d5 seeking a French, knowing it'll likely go into an Exchange Variation.
  • 5. Bd3 - "Hmmm... now we can break symmetry, and possibly I'll be a fraction of a tempo to the better", and played 5...Bg4 prompting 6. Be2. I get a tempo back.
  • 10.Ne5 - "Gees, I mentally prepared for this, but why does a Knight on e5 feel so oppressive?". Of course more crap. Brush it off, and start exchanging to relieve the cramp.
  • 15. Qd2 - "Feels quiescent. I think I've heard that word used before in chess books". The "pawn chain" indicates I should play on the King-side. I decided to try and induce a weakness with 15...Qc7.
  • 19. g3 - "I'm conflicted. Am I in a better position (because of the pressure on e-file) or can he blockade, and maybe this is a draw?". You don't win by resigning, so I continued to put maximum pressure down the e-file with 19...Rae8.
  • 23.Kh2 - "Hmmm, so I contradict myself (lose focus on the e-file pressure) and find out I'm making no progress with direct action against the King". I think here I'm losing the plot, and can't figure out how to assess the position and formulate a coherent plan. Then I follow-up with 23...f5 thinking "if my opponent exchanges, I get a passed pawn". This line of reasoning is faulty and violates Silman's guidelines. Never wish that your opponent will make a good move for you! Each move must be judged on it's merit for what it does for your position.
  • 27.Rxe4 - "Wow, my opponent did exchange, and now I get a passed pawn! But... with which pawn should I capture?". DOH. I mentally debated between taking with the d-pawn (which I thought made me vulnerable to a d-pawn push), and the f-pawn which concedes a King-side pawn majority to my opponent. I decided to take with the f-pawn to reduce counter play with the d-pawn. 27...fxe4.
  • 30.f5 - "Am I going to regret taking with the f-pawn and leaving White with a King-side pawn majority?". Such are decisions in the rear-view mirror. I decide to not mull on the past, but look ahead.  30...Rf6.
  • 36.Rh1 - "Why am I still fooling around with direct action on the King, when I should be nursing my protected passed pawn?". Re-deploy. 36...Qe7.
  • 42.Re3 - "I'm thoroughly blocked. I need to either go around (attack from behind) which is not practical, or open up another file to assist.". 42...Qg5.
  • 46.Qe5 - "I now have an open file adjacent to the file my protected passed pawn is on. If I trade Queens am I in a superior endgame? Or is this yet another Rook/Pawn endgame that is drawn?". Without answering that basic question in detail, I played 46...Qf6.
  • 49.Ke3 - "Hmmm... Should I super-activate my Rook with 49...Rf1?". Nah. Play on. 49...h6.
  • 57.Rc3 - "Wow, I wish I activated my Rook earlier. I'm getting more passive each move". 57...Rc6.
  • 63.Ke3 - "I need to try to activate my Rook, clear the King out a blockade position of my protected passed pawn". 63...Rc6.
  • 67.Ke5 - "White's King blocks any attack by his Rook on my e-pawn. It's now or never...". 67...e3.
  • 73.d5 - "One Rook vs. two pawns. No I need to work for a draw". 73...Rc3+
  • 74.Kb7 - "Gift! Now I can get a draw". 74...Rc5
My Home Analysis

The game viewer below has my game analysis, with comments and variations in the viewer. Variations are in blue, and comments are displayed in the comment window, directly below the board, in the game viewer. In the comment viewer, you can see forward/backward VCR controls. Use those to quickly scan where I made comments. The current move is highlighted in yellow.

What Fritz Said...

Fritz analysis highlights are in the list below, tactical comments in red:

  • Game is even up to 10...Bxe2
  • Black has advantage starting at 16...Nf6
  • Black's advantage continues through 27.Rxe4
  • 28.g4?? blunder, allowing 28...Bxf4
  • 28...Qf5? Black still has advantage, but missed tactical opportunity
  • 29.Bg3 Black still has advantage
  • 42...Qg5 Black has slight advantage
  • 46.Qe5 Black still has slight advantage. Instead of 46...Qf6 (game) Fritz suggests 46...Re8 keeping the Queens on the board, and maintaining a Black advantage
  • 47.Qxf6, game is equal (same as home analysis)
  • 51...Kg5, Black has advantage, due to 51.Re3
  • After 53.Re3, Black had an opportunity for 53...b5 for a major advantage
  • 54.gxh5 Black still has slight advantage, dwindling to equal
  • 65...Rc3?? Blunder. Fritz suggests 65...Rb6 as keeping equal game
  • 66.Kf4 White has big advantage
  • 68.Rd7 Black should capture pawn with King. I'm not sure if this is an error in reconstructing the game
  • 68.Kg3, Fritz suggests 68...e2, Black with a big advantage
  • 70...e2, Black has big advantage
  • 71...e=Q?? equalizes. Blunder, Fritz suggests 71...Re3 preserving a small advantage
  • 72.Rxe1 Equal

My thoughts during the game, home analysis and Fritz all highlight gaps in my understanding, as well as momentary tactical lapses. My goal is to continue to use this as a praxis technique, and to show improvement over time. As usual comments and critiques are welcome!


  1. ( I ignored Fritz's notes... I believe in self annotating is the road to improvement. Only use fritz to answers questions like "why can't I move here?")

    First, if my opponent is stronger than I ( or not ) I go over the game and make sure I jot down their notes and lines.

    Then, I look at the three phases of the game. The opening moves I review with MY book to see who veered off the path first. In this case, White on move 2. Nf3 is dubious but he could have played 3.e5. A move order variation of the advanced French. Judging by his move 5. Bd3, he probably was used to playing double king pawn games, and by rote reached for the 2.Nf3. This is not really a strong line for this game. White is best to challenge the center right away with pawns. Going into an exchange variation of the French takes care of the problem child. You played this well.

    The next several moves was developing. It’s good that you recognized early on that “he who owns open file first has better middle game” and played 8..Re8 I might have played 8…Nbd7 first as e5 is becoming weak. But this was fine. In looking at middle game plans, I look at the pawn structure first. Symmetrical pawn formations are difficult and tend to be drawish as both sides have equal weak squares and strong squares ( your e5 is weak for Black and e4 is weak for White. The trick is who can do something with it first.

    That is why, the critical move 12…Nh5 is a cheap shot. As a French player, you must be used the pressure in the center. The build up of forces that leads to a final break through ( levers c5 or f6/f5) should be familiar ground for you. The same mentality needs to be held here as well despite the open e-file. With the light squared bishop gone, you limited your chances of capitalizing on White’s weakened e4 ( too eager to exchange the light bishop early on… the position opened up and it could serve you well as a king side attacker. So with the light squared bishop removed for Black, the position’s logic needs to focus on e5. That’s why, …Nbd7, …Bd6…Qc7 and …Re8 are all in the right spirit. Pissing off White’s Bf4 with Nh5 before creating the diagonal battery of …Qc7 and ..Bd6 gives White a chance to strengthen the dark squares.

    Sure, you grabbed an open file and got to play 18…Ne4 eventually doubling the rooks on the file, White had the home base covered. Nimzovitch mentions that “occupation of an open file is only good if you can penetrate the enemy line…occupation of the 7th ( or 2nd) rank” ( paraphrased but you get my drift).

    The gift of the protected passed pawn on 27 should have triggered something in you. “ Ah! I have endgame insurance. Before the pieces are to be removed what do I need to do to create a second weakness?” Again, I point out the pawn structures. You have a pawn majority on the Queenside versus White’s smaller majority on the Kingside. Since both Kings are on the king side this is tricky. Since your Queen and rook are already active and mobile on the King side, creating a “minority attack” with 28…h5 is interesting ( instead of poking with the Qf5 move). Why not simply take 28…Qxf4 and provoke the exchange of queens with a pawn up, a more active rook and control of f4.

    On move 68, why not simply advance the pawn to e2? What were you scared of?

  2. Blunderprone,

    Wow. Nice. Thanks.

    For the record, I look at Fritz last only after I do my home analysis. I marked stuff in red that I missed in home analysis. And since we were the last people playing last week in the "lion's den" (as you put it) we didn't have a chance to go over the game. I really do like go over games afterward, especially when there are a number of other people around to get different opinions... :-)

    I appreciate the commentary around 12...Nh5? You're right, I needed to keep the tension, and I think the open file threw me off (plus I am still not very experienced wit the French). Not seeing 28...Qxf4, or maybe even 28...Bxf4 is a complete blunder, as well as not seeing 68...e2, or even 71...Re3...

    Finally I really appreciate your tips on studying. I really agree with not using Fritz except to double check at the end.

    How is your chess going lately?

    From the looks of things, you're on fire! You bagged Harris in the first round of the Open section? Nice... Then get routed by a Master in the second? Not bad, you got a better opening out of it... :-)