"...a Chessmaster should be a combination of a beast of prey and a monk."

Monday, July 28, 2014

Online Playing

As far as playing on the internet goes, I am playing in a new league this time as the DHLC slow chess league doesn't have a 45 45 this time around.  There's some rules adjustments but seems to be about the same.  Still, my first game was quite crappy, I played a King's Gambit but I wasn't taking the game very seriously due to combo of opponents rating and his reply to my opening.  During the game I was thinking to myself, "Somehow I know this is going to end badly."  I left my queen on a diagonal with my King and didn't notice when he moved a pawn to setup an outpost for a bishop on that diagonal which of course led to the loss of the queen.  Just not really paying attention.  Not so subtle a move and if I had really been taking my time I would have noticed the possibility and done something about.  Just psychology at play.

I'm still playing my regular weekly Australian.  I've had the upper hand lately but it's liable to change and I know he's had some distractions lately.  I expect to see a turnaround soon. He also mentioned maybe connecting me with another player for regular weekly games. So we'll see if that happens or not.

Other than that I haven't been playing too many casual slow games.  I do from time to time.  Still, I feel my ICC membership is wasted because I rarely get a slow game there.  It was quite nice when I was in the team league and was on the server more often.  This year I just don't open the program much.  I find in general it's pretty easy to get a game on FICS but I haven't been logging on that much even though I like it in general and I like the Babaschess interface as well.  There's often interesting chat on FICS unlike both ICC and chess.com

Then, there's chess.com.  Basically, I kind of hate chess.com but at the same time I spend most of my online chess time there.  There's so much crap on chess.com.  For instance, I set up a seek for a 30 30 game.  Someone clicks the seek and sets up the game.  Then starts complaining that I am moving to slowly.  He plays super crappy and loses, and then accuses me of cheating.  It's also a mess if you try to read any forums or anything, they are all just filled with trash and nonsense.  There's good stuff in there too but you have to wade through too much crap to find it.  There are two things I like about chess.com that mean I spend my online chess time there.  First off is the leagues either at DHLC or SCLA.  One thing that I really like about these leagues is that they are primarily for individuals.  I didn't much like the team aspect of the team league on ICC because for the most part it only seemed to crop up for me in negative ways.  It often meant getting a slot as an alternate and so not getting to play, and on the other hand feeling that you are letting the team down when you lose.  I never found there to be any social aspect to any of the teams.  So I prefer these individual leagues more.

The second thing about chess.com is the "online" or "turn-based" or "correspondence" chess.  I do like this because it's free.  A lot of sites have a free trial period but then you're supposed to pay.  There's also a lot of players so that I can get a new game very quickly most of the time.  For awhile I gave this up because it seemed like I played a lot worse in these games because I would fire off moves with only a glance at the position for no good reason.  I think part of the problem is that I would start too many games and so would feel pressure to make moves and not time out.  So I made a rule for myself that I could only have 5 games going at a time.  So far that has been working better although some of the old behavior of firing off moves at odd times without much thought has crept back.  Hopefully I can find maybe one time a day and just make moves in that time and always analyze thoroughly at that time before making a move.

Lastly, I've been playing at LSS, the Lechenicher Schach Server.  It's run by a German guy but it's all in English.  This is correspondence in the new style where engines are allowed.  I've been playing with it using my Houdini 4 in Aquarium using the IDeA setup.  It's interesting in some ways, but for the most part I'm not doing much interacting with the search process, which is how it should be.  So I don't feel I'm getting much out of it.  I kind of suspected this would be the case but wanted to give it a try anyway.  I seem to be doing ok in my games.  My setup tells me I have an advantage in all of the games though none of them are huge advantages.  It also kind of irritates the wife that I have to leave the computer running for long periods of time.  On the whole seems like something I will probably discontinue after this small tournament is over.

Taichung Tournament

I played in my second real life tournament this last weekend.  I took the train down to Taichung which on the slow train I took is 3 hours away.  There's a high speed line but its a bit pricey.  I had a good time and am glad I went but played super crappy chess.  Well, I went 2-2, this time so I broke even again.  The first game I dropped a piece in the opening to a simple pawn fork.  Last tournament my friend advised me not to resign in rapid games like these just down a piece so I played on.  The opponent is an older fellow who is of similar strength to me, but his son is quite strong.  Anyway, I was trying to develop something or other and at one point it looked like I might win my piece back, but then I realized he had a mate threat he could use to get out of it.  I threatened his queen with my pawn (also answering the mate threat) while his knight was still hanging to try to keep up the little pressure I had going, and he just totally blundered and let me take his queen with the pawn.  He played on for a bit, but it was too easy for me then and I soon won his knight anyway and he resigned.  When he blundered there were literally several moves, shown to us by a stronger player that got him out of that little pressure I had.

The second game was much better.  I played a reasonable game and he kept trading pieces till we ended up in an end game and I won a pawn and soon my extra pawn was passed.  Still, I still had work to do and could easily have blown it but I was in a good situation.  Simply put he dropped his queen to, moving it to a square controlled by my pawn and I took it.  He too played on for awhile but again, it is just too easy to win with an extra queen.

The third game was a reasonable one too.  He played the Scandinavian and I traded bishops opening up the h-file with his rook controlling it leading directly to my castled king position.  I kind of neglected to take that into my calculations and he sacced a bishop for an attack and was basically winning from there on out.  I held on and forced him to go to an endgame but he was always in control of the game and there was never any real doubt about what would eventually be the result.  Still, I felt happy that I did as well as I did defending against a stronger player.

Fourth game I lost in within 10 moves in a Ruy Lopez exchange.  I left my e-pawn hanging to develop my g-knight thinking I could just take his if he took mine and at worst he would get a check.  Unfortunately I missed the fact that the check could come simultaneously with an attack on my queen, and I resigned, not wanting to play a queen down.  So, basically I felt I played the two middle games at a reasonable level, and the first and fourth games shamefully.

Back to Wednesday Club

Been playing a good bit recently in various ways, but a lot of it has been pretty crappy.

Over the board: I've been going back to the Wednesday night club the last two weeks.  I feel slightly mixed about it, but on the whole it's been pretty enjoyable.  One new thing is that we play with the clock, though not always.  So far in the couple years of my recent chess career I have been pretty anti-blitz.  It seems to me to just reinforce the very things I'm trying hard to work on eliminating, such as not thinking and playing moves for bad or superficial reasons.  On the other hand, Dan Heisman who many times speaks up for slow chess has said several places that it's good to get a balance of both slow chess and blitz and that there are things you can learn from blitz as well.  Secondly, for me to participate in a social setting like the Wednesday club it seems it's pretty necessary for me to play blitz.  So I started playing some 5 minute games mostly against a player about my level.  It's a much different game but it does seem to have some fun aspects to it.  I just have a hard time playing that fast though and I have been up material several times then lost on time.  The thing I tell myself, is that is the name of the game, and certainly if my opponent used more time he would be less likely to leave that material hanging, so it's a trade off.  It's fun enough that I have played a couple of games online in 5 minute also.  I even managed to win a couple of games.  I may get the hang of it yet.  So far at the club I seem to be holding my own with respect to the couple of players at my level which is good, because I know one these players puts in a fair bit of effort to get better.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Anderssen game 1

I decided to start pretty early with Anderssen's 1848 match with Daniel Harrwitz.  This seems to have been Anderssen's big step up, for it was his performance in this match which propelled him toward the front of the German chess scene at the time and thus earned him the invitation to the London tournament in 1851.

Game 1 was won by Anderssen but it's not really an attacking game, and I had difficulty understanding why the game ended where it did.  I may run that position in the computer as I did spend a good amount of time trying to figure out why the position would be resignable and couldn't come up with anything.

This is game 2 from the match and its short and sweet.  Unfortunately, my model player is on the losing end.  It's a Bishop's Gambit.  One of the problems for black can be that despite taking away white's ability to castle by Qh4+, the queen can cause a loss of time for black when it gets chased away.  In fact Black gets chased into a corner in this game.  This is a nice study in taking the initiative and going directly for the win.

Harrwitz, Daniel - Anderssen, Adolf

Result: 1-0
Site: Breslau
Date: 1848.02.01
[...] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.♗c4 ♕h4 4.♔f1 ♗c5 5.d4 ♗b6 6.♘f3 ♕e7 7.♘c3 ♘f6 8.e5 ♘h5 Maybe Ng4 is better. There don't seem to be many options for black past this point. 9.♘d5 ♕d8 (9...♕e6 10.♘xc7 ♗xc7 11.♗xe6 dxe6) 10.g4 fxg3 The knight is trapped so this is forced, even though it allows the next move. 11.♗g5 f6 12.exf6 gxf6 13.♘e5 O-O (13...fxg5 14.♕xh5 ♔f8 15.♕f7#) 14.♕xh5 The game is clearly lost by now. 14...fxg5 15.♘f6 A beautiful move. Blocks the rook check and gives double check to the black king at the same time. 15...♔g7 (15...♔h8 16.♕xh7#) 16.♕xh7 ♔xf6 17.♘g4#
Powered by Aquarium

One other note: I successfully memorized the Immortal game yesterday. It was much easier than I expected, but I guess there's not too many moves and the intent of them is all pretty clear so easy to remember.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Adolf Anderssen Project

I think one of my most glaring weaknesses in chess is a lack of attacking ability.  I think in some ways this is quite crucial because I believe attacking to be one of the most fundamental skills in chess aside from making safe moves.  I think this because really it's the point of many other skills.  That is many times, the value of accumulating other advantages is that it should give you a good attack.  However, if you aren't skillful at attacking then those advantages will go to waste.  Think of the dictum that when you have the advantage you not only have the opportunity but also the obligation to attack.

I also am interested in studying chess through historical games.  However, to study Kasparov's games is for me quite futile unless I have a thorough commentary.  On the other hand, to study the early players is more reasonable.  I would like to proceed gradually through chess history.  Right now combining this with the above.  I have decided to make a study of Adolf Anderssen's games as something that seems appropriate and comprehensible to me at my current level.  The hope being that I will learn to attack better by studying examples.

One point I want to make is just that I don't intend to limit myself to masters of attacking play.  Rather, I will try to proceed with the development of the game as much as possible.  So I look forward to studying Steinitz for example when I get there, and on.

Another thing I would like to do is to memorize some famous games.  I think having the games stored in memory is an interesting idea.  For one it gives practice with visualization.  I also think holding such models in the mind is productive for our brains to digest ideas.  So I will try to memorize the "Immortal" and the "Evergreen" games.

So far in the last couple of days I have studied about 10 Anderssen games.  Some more carefully than others.  My goal would be to go through and annotate them as much as possible, examining moves I don't understand and trying to bring out the tactical ideas that I am able to see.  I am sure that I will miss plenty of things.  However, I think these games are easily comprehensible enough that I will still be rewarded.

Of course, I have a very long history of coming up with exactly these kinds of great projects and then failing to follow through but let's see what happens.

Game 5

I'll comment it later...

me - NN

Result: 0-1
Site: Banqiao First Stadium, New Taipei City, Taiwan
Date: 2014.07.13
[...] 1.e4 e6 2.d3 d5 3.♘d2 d4 4.♘gf3 ♘c6 5.g3 e5 6.h3 ♘f6 7.♗g2 ♗e6 8.O-O ♗e7 9.♖e1 h5 10.♘f1 ♕d7 11.c4 ♗xh3 12.♗xh3 ♕xh3 13.♘1h2 ♘g4 14.♘xg4 ♕xg4 15.♔g2 h4 16.♖h1 O-O-O 17.♘h2 h3
Powered by Aquarium

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Game 4

NN - me

Result: 0-1
Site: Banqiao First Stadium, New Taipei City, Taiwan
Date: 2014.07.13
[...] 1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗b5 a6 4.♗xc6 dxc6 5.♘xe5 This was the second time I had a player try to grab one of my pawns in the Ruy Lopez. Thankfully both times I actually knew how to regain the pawn. I thank Paul van der Sterren's "Fundamental Chess Openings" probably my favorite chess book, and definitely my most used book. 5...♕d4 6.♘f3 ♕xe4 7.♕e2 ♕xe2 8.♔xe2 ♗e6 9.♖e1 O-O-O 10.♔f1 ♗c5 11.♘c3 ♘f6 12.d3 ♘g4 13.♗e3 I'm pretty much always happy to trade a knight for a bishop. 13...♘xe3 14.fxe3 ♖he8 15.d4 ♗d6 16.♖ad1 ♗g4 17.h3 ♗h5 18.d5 cxd5 19.♖xd5 ♗g6 20.e4 ♗b4 21.♖xd8 ♔xd8 22.♖d1 ♔c8 23.♘d5 ♖xe4 24.♘xb4 ♖xb4 25.b3 ♗xc2 26.♖e1 ♔d7 27.♖c1 ♗g6 28.♘e5 ♔c8 29.♘xg6 hxg6 30.♖c3 ♖f4 31.♔g1 c6 32.a4 ♔c7 33.♖e3 ♔d6 34.g3 ♖f6 35.♖e8 ♔c5 36.♖b8 b6 37.♖a8 a5 38.♖g8 ♔b4 39.♖c8 ♔xb3 40.♖b8 c5 41.♖g8 ♔xa4 42.♖xg7 c4 43.h4 c3 44.g4 c2 45.g5 c1=♕ 46.♔h2 ♖f2 47.♔g3 ♕f4 48.♔h3 ♕f3#
Powered by Aquarium

Game 3

NN - me

Result: 0-1
Site: Banqiao First Stadium, New Taipei City, Taiwan
Date: 2014.07.13
[...] 1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.d4 exd4 4.♘xd4 ♕f6 This is a move I play because it makes sense to me and doesn't seem to have any too obvious drawbacks. One reader did scold me a while back for not practicing proper development. There may be something to that criticism, but so far I'm ok with this move. I think most of the time it will transpose to the main line. At least that's what I remember when I looked at it before. 5.♗e3 ♗c5 6.c3 ♘ge7 7.♗c4 O-O 8.O-O ♕e5 9.♘xc6 ♘xc6 10.♗xc5 ♕xc5 11.♗b3 ♖e8 12.♘d2 ♘e5 13.♕h5 d6 14.h3 ♘g6 15.♕xc5 Not sure why some players are eager to trade everything off. 15...dxc5 16.♖fe1 ♘e5 17.♗c2 His e-pawn is attacked zero times and defended three times. This last move seems to be just putting himself in a passive position. 17...♖d8 18.♖ad1 ♗e6 19.b3 ♖d6 20.c4 ♖ad8 21.♘f1 a6 22.♖xd6 ♖xd6 23.♖d1 b5 24.f4 ♖xd1 25.♗xd1 ♘d3 26.f5 ♗d7 27.cxb5 axb5 28.a4 bxa4 29.bxa4 ♘b2 30.♗b3 ♗xa4 31.♗xa4 ♘xa4 32.♘e3 ♘b2 33.♔f2 c4 34.♔e2 ♔f8
34...c3 My friend talked to me a bit about this afterwards and I think this is the point where he meant. The knight and the pawn create a "wall" on d1 through d3 that the king can't come through and so has to go around. 35.♘c2 (35.♘d5 c2 36.♔d2 ♘d3) 35...c5Adds d4 to the wall.36.♔e3
36.e5 ♔f8 37.♔e3 ♔e7 38.♔e4 ♔d7 39.♔d5 ♘a4 40.♔c4 ♔c6 41.♔b3 ♔b5 42.e6 fxe6 43.fxe6
36...♔f8 37.e5 ♔e7 38.♔e4 ♔d7 39.♔d5 ♘a4 40.e6 fxe6 41.fxe6 ♔e7 42.♔c4
35.♔d2 ♘a4 36.♘xc4 ♔e7 37.♔e3 ♔f6 38.♔f4 ♘c5 39.♘e3 ♘d3 40.♔f3 ♔e5 41.♘d5 c6 42.♘c3 ♔d4 43.♘e2 ♔c4 44.♔e3 ♘e5 45.♘c1 ♔c3 46.♘e2 My idea was to advance the king to a square that defended the road for the pawn to queen. Here I have to retreat though because otherwise the white king could slip through and capture my pawn. 46...♔c4 47.♘c1 c5 48.g4 ♘c6 △ Na5 and Nb3 49.♘d3 f6 To keep the knight out of e5 was the idea that the time. I think the better idea would be to play Nb4.
49...♘b4 50.♘xb4
50.♘e5 ♔b3 51.♔d2
51.♘xf7 c4 52.e5 c3 53.e6 ♘d5 (53...c2 54.e7 c1=♕ 55.♔e4 ♕c6 56.♔f4 ♕e8) 54.♔e4 c2 55.♔xd5 c1=♕ 56.e7 ♕d1 57.♔e6 ♔b2 58.e8=♕
51...♘a2 52.♔d3 f6
50...cxb4 51.♔d2 ♔b3 52.♔c1 ♔a2
50.♘f4 ♔b3 51.♘e6 c4 52.♘d4 ♘xd4 53.♔xd4 c3 54.e5 fxe5 55.♔xe5 c2 56.♔e6 c1=♕ 57.♔f7 ♕c7 58.♔e6 I stopped recording here because of time issues, but it's obviously won for me.
Powered by Aquarium

Monday, July 14, 2014

Game 2

me - NN

Result: 1/2-1/2
Site: Banqiao First Stadium, New Taipei City, Taiwan
Date: 2014.07.13
[...] 1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗b5 a6 4.♗a4 ♘f6 5.O-O This looks at first sight like it hangs the pawn and my opponent seemed to think so. 5...♘xe4 6.♖e1 ♘g5 7.♘xe5 ♘xe5 8.♖xe5 ♗e7 9.d4 O-O 10.♘c3 d6 11.♖e1 I'm not sure about this one. At the time I wanted to play Re3 instead. This seemed to kind of be undeveloping my rook. However, I had a recent game where I moved my rook out in front of my king position and it ended up getting trapped and I had to give up the exchange. So maybe I was a bit timid about leaving it in harms way. 11...♗d7 12.♗b3 ♗e6 13.d5 ♗d7 The last 3 ply seem to be a clear gain for me. 14.♘e2 h6 15.♕d3 c6 16.c4 c5 Not sure why she chose to play c5 in two moves instead of one. (I was a bit worried about 16...cxd5 17.cxd5 ♗b5) 17.♗c2 g6 18.g3 ♗f5 19.♕d2 ♗xc2 20.♕xc2 ♘f3 21.♔f1 ♘xe1 A nice tactic by my opponent. 22.♔xe1 ♗g5 23.f4 ♗f6 24.f5 ♔h7 25.fxg6 fxg6 26.♘f4 ♕e7 27.♔f1 ♖g8 28.h4 h5 29.♘xh5 ♗e5 30.♘f4 ♗xf4 31.♗xf4 ♕d7 32.♔g2 ♕g4 33.♖e1 ♖ae8 34.♖e3 ♖xe3 35.♗xe3 ♖e8 36.♕d2 ♕e4 37.♔f2 ♕xc4 38.♗f4 ♖f8 39.♕e3 ♕c2 40.♕e2 ♕xe2 41.♔xe2 ♖e8 42.♔d3 b5 43.♗xd6 c4 44.♔c3 ♖d8 45.♗f4 ♖xd5 46.♗c7 ♖d7 47.♗a5 ♖d3 48.♔b4 ♖xg3 49.♔c5 ♖g2 50.♗c3 I stopped recording here. I believe her next move was g5 which seems like a big mistake to me because she should be able to just take my h pawn and then force me to give up the bishop for her g pawn and then queen or just checkmate me. In the end it turned into a draw with me kind of making a fortress type position with the king, bishop, and pawns. In the end we just traded everything off. She was in time trouble at least at the point where I stopped recording and maybe earlier. She was down to just a minute or less.
Powered by Aquarium

Houdini 4 analysis of game 1

NN - me

Result: 1-0
Site: Banquiao First Stadium, New Taipei City, Taiwan
Date: 2014.07.13
[...] 1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 g6 3.♘c3 ♗g7 4.e4 d6 5.♘f3 O-O 6.♗e3 ♘bd7 7.♕d2? +0.15 (7.h3 b6 8.♕c2 ♗b7 9.♗e2 ♕e8 10.O-O e5 11.d5 a5 12.♕d2 ♘c5 +0.36) 7...♖e8 8.♗h6? -0.10 (8.♗e2 ♘g4 9.♗g5 h6 10.♗h4 c5 11.♖d1 cxd4 12.♘xd4 ♘c5 13.f3 ♘e5 +0.26) 8...♗h8? +0.29
8...♗xh6 9.♕xh6 e5 10.d5 a5 11.♗e2 ♘g4 12.♕d2 ♘c5 13.O-O f5 14.exf5 -0.10
9.♗e2 e5 10.d5 ♘c5 11.♘g5? +0.00
11.♕c2 ♘h5 12.♗g5 ♗f6 13.♗xf6 ♕xf6 14.b4 ♘d7 15.g3 ♕e7 16.O-O ♘df6 +0.17
11...♘fd7? +0.76
11...a5 12.h4 ♗g7 13.♗xg7 ♔xg7 14.h5 ♕e7 15.hxg6 hxg6 16.♕e3 ♖h8 17.♖xh8 +0.00
12.b4 f6? +1.34 (12...♘a6 13.♖b1 ♗g7 14.♘f3 +0.76) 13.bxc5 fxg5 14.♗xg5? +0.62 (14.cxd6 cxd6 15.♗xg5 ♗f6 +1.34) 14...♗f6 15.♗h6? +0.38 (15.♗xf6 ♕xf6 16.cxd6 cxd6 17.♘a4 ♕h4 18.♕e3 ♖f8 19.O-O b6 20.g3 +0.62) 15...♘xc5 16.g4? -0.20
16.O-O ♕e7 17.♖fb1 b6 18.♖b2 ♗h4 19.♗e3 ♖f8 20.a4 a5 21.♖ab1 ♕f7 +0.38
16...♗h4 17.O-O? -4.14 (17.♗e3 b6 18.O-O ♕f6 19.f3 ♗d7 20.♘b5 ♖ec8 21.♘c3 ♖f8 22.♘d1 a6 -0.20) 17...♘d7? +0.82
17...g5 18.♗d1 ♕f6 19.♘a4 ♕xh6 20.♘xc5 dxc5 21.f3 ♖f8 22.♖b1 ♕f6 23.♗a4 -4.14
18.f4? +0.49 (18.g5 +0.82) 18...♘f6? +2.98 (18...exf4 19.♖xf4 +0.49) 19.g5 ♘g4 20.♗xg4 ♗xg4 21.♕g2 ♗c8 22.f5 gxf5 23.exf5
Powered by Aquarium

The biggest takeaways here seem to be that Bh4 actually isn't a bad move.  I had expected to be scolded for it.  Also, Houdini hates 17. O-O.  The idea seems to be that it allows me to play g5 and then win the bishop.  By the same token, Houdini hates my knight maneuvers because they are totally failing to win the bishop or hold back the pawn storm.  The two knight moves after 17. O-O swing the evaluation from -4 to plus 3.  Houdini also seems to be ok with Nc5 which was the move that I pointed out in last post as possibly the root of my troubles.