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

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A 20th century attacking game.

"In order for you to play successful attacks, you don't have to re-invent the wheel--you simply have to amass a a number of "stock" ideas and recognize when they are called for in your position." - acz in ICC MrSpock lecture about knight sacrifices on g7.

Ravinsky, Grigory Ionovich - Ilivitzki, Georgi A

Result: 1-0
Site: Riga
Date: 1952
[...] 1.e4 c5 2.♘f3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.♘xd4 ♘f6 5.♘c3 a6 6.f4 e5 7.♘f3 ♕c7 8.♗d3 ♘bd7 9.O-O b5 10.a3 ♗e7 11.♔h1 O-O 12.fxe5 dxe5 13.♘h4 ♗d8 14.♕e1 ♘c5 15.♗g5 ♗e6 16.♘f5 ♘h5 17.♕h4 ♘f4 18.♘xg7 ♔xg7 19.♖xf4 exf4 20.♕h6 ♔g8 21.♗f6 ♗xf6 22.e5 ♘xd3 23.exf6 ♘f2 24.♔g1 ♘h3 25.♔f1 ♗c4 26.♘e2 ♗xe2 27.♔e1
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Anderssen Game 4

Here's another Anderssen game.  It's an Evan's gambit, another of the swashbuckling romantic gambit openings.  This one has more analysis than last time.  Again, I am doing this analysis by hand because I think I will gain the most from that, so the lines are my own.  I already feel that I am starting to gain from this.  It may seem I have only posted 4 games now but I have actually looked at a good number of his games and even run through variations on them but these are the four that for various reasons I have actually chosen to post to the blog.  So far I am enjoying it.  It feels very nice to be analyzing these historical games.  I have always had a big interest in the historical approach to studying subjects and I think chess is very suited to this approach.

One of the things that I was thinking about when I first started kind of researching a bit about attacking is that there are several balancing acts that an attacker needs to negotiate.  The main ones I came up with were

  • Balance between tempo gaining forcing moves (particularly checks) that keep up the pace of the attack, and quieter moves that actually strengthen attack but aren't as forcing.
  • Balance between the goal of mating the king and cashing out the attack for a material advantage.
  • Balancing true sacrifices where there is no immediate win, but there are genuine attacking chances against the urge to play soundly and not throw away material for wishful thinking.

These are probably not the only ones.  I like thinking of these kinds of balancing acts because they help to make sense of the attacking thinking process and to parse some of the decisions that are actually required in attacking situations.  It's easy to look at a successful attack someone shows you and just see how it all unfolds.  It's very different to actually be able to make good decisions about attacks while making one and these balances seem like good guidelines to those actual decisions.

In this game, it seems that the second of the above is relevant.  Again, it's not a very subtle point in this game but a clear example for a low level player where Anderssen ends up not mating the king but cashing out for a winning material advantage.  I did find an improvement where he could have won more but I still think it's an instructive example for me.

Anderssen, Adolf - Mayet, Carl

Result: 1-0
Site: Berlin
Date: 1851
[...] 1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗c4 ♗c5 4.b4 ♗xb4 5.c3 ♗a5 6.O-O I think the usual is d4 then O-O 6...♘f6 7.d4 exd4 8.e5 d5 9.♗b5 ♘e4 10.♗a3 This bishop is crucial for the attack because it prevents the black king from castling. 10...♗xc3 11.♘xd4 Sacrificing a rook for the attack. Of course the sac'ed rook is out of play so the two bishops raining down on the king position matter more. It's also telling that black's bishop remains stuck on a1 playing no further part in the game.
11.♘xc3 If white saves the rook instead... 11...♘xc3 This knight fork is annoying and forces the trade of the attacking light squared bishop. 12.♗xc6
12.♕b3 ♘xb5 13.♕xb5 This and the alternative with Bxc6+ both seem less rich for white than the game text. 13...♗d7 14.♕xd5 (14.♕xb7 ♖b8) (14.♘xd4) 14...♗e6
12...bxc6 13.♕xd4 ♘b5 14.♕b4 ♘xa3 15.♕xa3
11...♗xa1 12.♘xc6 bxc6 13.♗xc6 ♗d7 14.♕xd5 White could have won back the exchange but that makes absolutely no sense. He is committed to the attack. 14...♖b8 (14...♗xc6 15.♕xc6 ♕d7 16.♕xa8 ♕d8 17.♕xe4 White ends up a piece.) 15.e6 ♘d6 Blocks the deadly a3 bishop (15...fxe6 16.♕xe6 ♕e7 17.♕xe7#) 16.♗xd7 ♔f8 17.♗xd6 cxd6 18.♕xd6 ♔g8 19.e7
19.exf7 ♔xf7□20.♕e6 ♔f8□21.♕d6 ♕e7 (21...♔g8 22.♗e6#) 22.♕xb8 ♔f7 23.♕xh8 ♕xd7 24.♕xh7 Most of these moves are forced and this seems better. This way white ends up a rook and two pawns. In the game he ends up only a piece.
19...♕b6 20.♕xb8 ♕xb8 21.e8=♕ ♕xe8 22.♗xe8 g6 23.♘a3 ♗f6 24.♘b5 ♔g7 25.♖e1
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Anderssen Game 3

I've been studying the King's Gambit some lately.  I got the new chessbase Simon Williams videos about it and have been watching those, so today I purposely chose an Anderssen victory playing it.  In some ways I think there's not a whole lot to comment on this game.  It's pretty clear that black trades off his only developed pieces at some point leaving white with his pieces not having to do a lot of work to attack the king.  Still, it's I nice ending and a good example of pressing home that kind of advantage.  Again, this is the kind of thing I am looking for at my level.  Very clear examples rather than overly subtle ones.

Anderssen, Adolf - Mayet, Carl

Result: 1-0
Site: Berlin
Date: 1855
[...] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.♗c4 f5 This is one of those ancient tries for black. John Shaw's new book recommends Nc6 and Simon Williams for chessbase agrees. 4.♘c3 ♕h4 5.♔f1 ♘f6 6.♘f3 ♕h5 7.d3 fxe4 8.dxe4 ♕c5 9.♕e2 g5 10.e5 ♘g4 11.♘e4 ♘e3 12.♗xe3 ♕xe3 13.♘f6 ♔d8 14.♘xg5 ♕xe2 15.♔xe2 ♗g7 White's got a killer development advantage. Both knights close to the enemy king. The light squared bishop trained at the wide open kingside, and white's back rank clear for the rooks to get into the game together. 16.♘f7 ♔e7 17.♘xh8 ♗xh8 18.♖hf1 ♘c6 19.♘d5 ♔d8 20.♖xf4 ♗g7 21.♖af1 d6 22.♖f8 ♗xf8 23.♖xf8 ♔d7 24.♘f6 ♔e7 25.♖e8# A nice checkmate with rook, knight, and bishop.
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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Priority #1

It's clear from tonight's game that my #1 priority has to be to get a reasonable thinking process in place.  First off, lately I have been playing not so well, though there have been some nice games here and there.  But last night I played really crappy chess, and I determined that for my league game tonight, the most important thing was to at least run the checks, captures, threats routine for every move.  Well, basically I followed through and did this and was winning, and getting closer and closer to actually finishing him off.  But my "thinking process" was draining the time, and I got into mild time pressure.  That is, I was down to about 10 minutes.  I think what happened was mostly the time issue but also combined with the feeling that I was totally winning and just needed to wrap it up led me to stop using the checks, captures, threats routine.  Basically, I just started making the first move that seemed reasonable.  Quickly disaster descended.

So the first take away is just being consistent with applying my process.  But I think a second important point for me to notice was that my thinking was still pretty chaotic.  I would get distracted and back track and stuff like that.  I think the point here is that it is going to take me practice to get used to using this process consistently, but that with practice it should get more comfortable, and more efficient.  When it gets more efficient it won't drain the time as badly.

So the question is, if I believe that practice will improve my ability to implement a thinking process, then how should I practice.  Top is obviously in games.  Secondly, though I think when I am making my no engine correspondence moves.  Another idea I had though was to do the thinking process for every tactics problem I get served.  I think this is a good idea and will give me lots of practice if I do it.

I will still be practicing tactics, and looking at strategy like the attacking chess stuff.  But I think this has to be my biggest priority right now.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Anderssen Game 2

This another game for my project.  I'm learning some interesting things.  Basically, I have been looking at a good number of Anderssen games.  However, ChessAdmin suggested that I post about my progress and I thought this was a good idea.  So I wanted to post games that I actually analyzed as there's not much point in me just posting a game that anyone could find in their own database.  But there is a big difference between reviewing a game and kind of looking at a couple of variations and really trying to analyze a game.  The latter is of course much more time consuming and I've been busy particularly with studying Chinese, but also with other chess activity.  Basically my method has just been to look at the game and just start asking questions about anything I don't understand about the game and to try to answer those questions.

The other factor is that for right now, I am not using an engine.  This seems right because I feel I will learn more if I try to work out what is going on by myself.  But this means to come to conclusions I have to actually play around with the position for quite awhile, and most of the variations I try will be pure junk.  But it's only by seeing them, seeing why they are bad that I can gradually make progress to better variations.

So, obviously I'm not offering this as a definitive analysis.  There may well be big holes.  The point is of course just to get practice analyzing and to extract understanding for myself.  On the other hand, constructive criticism of my analysis is always welcome..

This is another game Anderssen lost.  It seems he was ok up until white offers a knight and a pawn.  It seems black would be ok if he took the knight and then retreated.  The problem seems to come when he insists on taking the pawn with his king.  After that he is chased across the board and losses become inevitable.  I think this may have had to do with the style of the times.  Maybe he saw that he could give up the knight but decided he was just going to hang on for the win.  The attack that follows is pretty nice.

Harrwitz, Daniel - Anderssen, Adolf

Result: 1-0
Site: Breslau
Date: 1848
[...] 1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.c3 Ponziani 3...d5 4.♗b5 dxe4 5.♘xe5 ♕d5 (5...h6 6.♘xc6 bxc6 7.♗xc6 ♗d7 8.♗xa8 ♕xa8) 6.♕a4 ♘ge7 (6...♕xe5 7.♗xc6 bxc6 8.♕xc6 ♔d8 9.♕xa8) 7.f4 exf3 8.♘xf3 ♗e6 9.O-O O-O-O 10.d4 ♕h5 11.c4 ♗g4 12.d5 ♘f5 13.♗f4 (13.dxc6 ♗c5 14.♔h1 ♘g3#) 13...♗c5 14.♔h1 ♘ce7 15.b4 ♗d4 16.♘xd4 ♘xd4 17.♘c3 ♔b8 18.♗e3 ♘xb5 19.♘xb5 a6 20.♘xc7 ♔xc7 21.d6 ♔xd6 This is suicidal and white proves it.
21...♔b8 Giving back the knight seems to solve blacks problems. 22.dxe7 ♖c8 23.b5 possible continuation but 23...♗d7 24.♕a3 ♕g6 Black ends up a pawn down. Maybe this line isn't much in the style of the times though.
22.♗f4 ♔e6 23.♖ae1 ♗e2 24.♖f2 ♘f5 25.♖exe2 ♔f6 26.♗e5 ♔g6 27.g4 ♕xg4 This is a little puzzling. I think the point is that here black goes down a queen for a rook and a pawn. That's about the same as down a piece. The problem is that if black tries to save the queen with like Qg5, he ends up losing both the knight and then will be forced to give up the queen for a rook anyway. So it's better if you're going to keep playing to trade the queen in right away.
27...♕g5 28.gxf5 ♔h5 forced 29.♖f3 ♕h4 (29...♔h4 30.♖ee3 ♔g4 (30...♕g4 31.♖f4) 31.♖g3) 30.♖ee3 ♔g5 (30...♔g4 31.♖f4) 31.♕c2 (31.♖f4 ♕h5 32.♖g3 ♔h6 33.♗xg7#)
28.♖g2 h5 29.♖xg4 hxg4 30.♕c2 ♖h3 31.♕e4 ♔g5 32.♕f4 Game ends here. The rest is just showing why black resigned. 32...♔g6 (32...♔h5 33.♕xf5 ♔h4 34.♗g3 ♖xg3 35.hxg3 ♔h3 36.♖h2 ♔xg3 37.♕f2#) (32...♔h4 33.♕xf5 ♖h8 34.♗xg7 ♖h5 35.♗f6 ♖g5 36.♕xg5#) 33.♕xg4 ♔h6 (33...♔h7 34.♕xf5 ♔g8 35.♕xh3) 34.♕xh3 ♔g6 35.♖g2 ♘g3 36.♖xg3#
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A Good Valeri Lilov video

Today I watched a half hour video by Valeri Lilov called "Mastering Romantic Chess".  I thought it was a very good video.  He analyzed an Anderssen game so it worked in with my projects on this front in several ways.  He basically laid out several keys to playing in the Romantic style.  I think his main point was that "The combination is the tip of the iceberg."  His idea here is that even someone known as a "combinative player" was someone who had to build his attack before it would work well, and that he used some positional ideas in this regard.  The point is that the combination such as a mating combination or what have you is the result of a plan.  It's the final stage of the plan.  It's the fruit of the labor that went before, it doesn't just spring out of the blue.  Again, like many times, this is not an original idea.  I certainly basically knew this already.  However, the value comes from the skill with which he explains it using a concrete example, this time a game Anderssen played against Zukertort.  I thought he did a very good job showing what he meant and putting his ideas into language.  This kind of thing is helpful toward organizing one's knowledge or understanding of a topic.