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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Some attacking specimens

 I've been a bit lax on the blogging lately.  I've got several posts I would like to make but I will try to spread them out so each gets a fair share of the spotlight :)

 I'm still thinking about attacking, and trying to get better at it.  I've had some success and some failure as I will post.  As I have said before I certainly don't want to be a one dimensional "attacking player". I am interested in and study positional chess and endgames.  However, I think attacking is a weak point for me, and I am convinced that it is a really fundamental skill that needs to be acquired.

The first game is an over the board game I played a few weeks ago.  I get an attack going but it's probably easy for black to defend if they take it seriously.  However, they make some clear blunders and also don't do much defense and I am able to win.

me - nn

Result: 1-0
Site: Taichung
Date: 2014.10.26
[...] 1.e4 d6 2.d4 ♘f6 3.♘c3 ♘bd7 4.♘f3 e5 5.dxe5
5.♗c4 is the recommended move. I was a little uncomfortable in the opening and early middle game as I am not very familiar with this setup by black. This shows in some of aimless shuffling of my pieces that goes on before I find a plan.
5...dxe5 6.♗c4 ♗e7 7.O-O O-O 8.♖e1 c6 9.b3 Went over this game with my coach Rabren on ICC just yesterday although it was played several weeks ago. He was very critical of this move. The idea is that it basically begs black to play b5 (which black does), then I have a problem finding a good spot for the light squared bishop. 9...♕c7 10.♗b2 b5 11.♗d3 ♘c5 12.♗f1 ♗g4 13.h3 ♗h5 14.♗e2 ♖ad8 (14...♘cxe4 15.♘xe4 ♘xe4 16.♗xe5 (16.♘xe5 ♗xe2 17.♖xe2)) 15.♕c1 ♖fe8 16.b4 ♗xf3 17.♗xf3 ♘e6 18.a3 ♘d4 19.♖e3 (19.♗d1) 19...♗f8 20.♘e2 ♘xf3 21.♖xf3 ♘xe4 22.♖e3 ♘d2 23.♗c3 ♘c4 24.♖g3 Basically the last stretch has been some maneuvering where black has clearly gotten the better of me, winning a pawn. With Rg3 I am at last aiming at something more definite. 24...f6 25.h4 ♖d7 26.h5 h6 A clear blunder. Rabren showed me black is fine if they don't make this move. 27.♕xh6 ♖ed8 28.♕g6 ♖d1 29.♖xd1 ♖xd1 30.♔h2 ♘xa3 Another clearly bad move. It seems that if black defends then they will be fine. My attack is not decisive. 31.h6 ♘c4 32.hxg7 ♗xg7 33.♕xf6 ♔h8 34.♕h4 ♔g8 35.♘f4 I was happy with this move. It looks like a blunder but it actually is good for me. The knight can't really be taken and now it is coming to join the attack. 35...♕d6
35...exf4 36.♖xg7 ♕xg7 37.♗xg7 ♔xg7 This is as far as I saw during the game. Just now I saw the next two moves. 38.♕g4 ♔f8 39.♕xd1
36.♕g5 ♘d2 Another clear blunder. However, I checked with Rabren and he agrees that I am winning here anyway. One thing that I find frustrating about attacking is that it seems often the only reason my attacks do succeed is because the opponent makes some clear blunder. However, to be fair to me it is true that if you put people under pressure they will make mistakes. In this case it seems black just didn't take my attack seriously at all. While it might not have been winning to begin with ignoring it let me build it up. (36...♕d7 37.♘h5) 37.♕xg7#
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The next game is a clear example of some of the things I do wrong when attacking.  I have a tendency to start playing too fast.  This works in several ways.  Here it can be seen that I play pretty superficially.  Making many checks and threats but never really putting together a real combination.  I miss things in two ways.  At one point I blunder a piece.  He doesn't notice and I save the piece but it's clear evidence I wasn't thinking clearly as I noticed it right after I moved.  Secondly, I had at least one clearly winning shot and I blundered it away.

thomaslfc (1409) - JabotScrob (1408)

Result: 1-0
Site: Chess.com
Date: 2014.11.07
[...] 1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗b5 a6 4.♗a4 ♘f6 5.O-O ♗e7 6.♖e1 b5 7.♗b3 d6 8.♘c3 O-O 9.d3 ♗g4 10.♕e2 ♘d4 11.♕e3 ♘xf3 Rabren looked at this game too. It seems that on first blush it does look better to take with the knight but a bit of analysis seemed to show that taking with the bishop was actually better. 12.gxf3 Basically I have scored a significant strategic plus in opening up his king for free. However, this went to my head and instead of conducting my attack methodically I started playing as if it was a blitz game while my opponent took the game seriously and found good defensive moves at every turn. 12...♗h3 13.f4 ♗g4 14.fxe5 dxe5 15.♕g3 ♕d7 16.f3 ♘h5 Here's where I blunder a piece. He shouldn't take the bishop with the pawn but there's no reason not to take with the queen! 17.♕xe5 ♗xf3 18.♔f2 ♕h3 I can't remember whether I was intentionally giving up the bishop on e7 or whether I was just so focused on creating mating threats that I didn't even notice I was leaving it unguarded. 19.♖g1 ♗f6
19...♗h4 Rabren pointed this move to me, and Houdini 4 confirms that it's +15 and insists the best line for white is to give up the queen on g3.
20.♕xc7 ♗d4 21.♗e3 ♗xe3 22.♔xe3 ♗g4 23.♔d2 ♕f3 24.♖af1 ♕h3 25.♗xf7 ♔h8 26.♗xh5 ♖xf1 27.♗xg4 ♖f2 28.♘e2 ♕h4 29.♕g3 ♕h6 30.♔d1 ♖af8 31.♔e1 ♕f6 32.♗f5 ♖xf5 33.exf5 ♖e8 34.♔d1 ♕xb2 35.d4 ♕a1 36.♔d2
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The next one is another clear example of overplaying my hand.  Rabren confirms that attacking is a reasonable strategy in the position given but first off I sac a bishop for no real increase in my chances.  Secondly, I completely ignore the queenside counterplay he has.  My idea was that I was using those tempos for the attack.  Clearly that was a bad strategy.

AncientKnightBob (1397) - JabotScrob (1265)

Result: 1-0
Site: Chess.com
Date: 2014.10.18
[...] 1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗c4 ♗c5 4.c3 ♘f6 5.d3 d6 6.h3 h6 7.O-O O-O 8.♖e1 a6 9.a4 ♗d7 10.b4 ♗a7 11.♗e3 ♗xe3 12.♖xe3 ♘e7 13.♘h4 ♔h8 14.♘a3 ♘g6 15.♘xg6 fxg6 16.b5 ♘h5 17.♕e1 ♕g5 18.♔h2 ♕h4 19.f3 ♕f4 20.♔g1 ♗xh3 Rabren confirms this sac gives me nothing. 21.gxh3 ♕g5 22.♔h2 ♖f4 23.♗e6 ♖h4 24.♗g4 ♘f4 25.bxa6 h5 26.axb7 hxg4 27.bxa8=♕ ♔h7 28.fxg4 ♖xh3 29.♖xh3
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The last game is another win by me.  Again it involves a clear blunder by black.  (Rg8 completely neutralizes my attack while Kg8 loses for him.)  It seems that many times, my judgment about when to attack is reasonable, its just that I go about it in the wrong way.  However, I am much happier with this game because I took my time and calculated and really tried harder to play well.  Even though I didn't play the attack in the best way, I didn't really overplay my hand in the way I did in the last game.  Also, as I said before, people will make mistakes when you put them under pressure so it's not totally unfair for me to have won.

JabotScrob (1442) - lrmall01 (1511)

Result: 1-0
Site: Chess.com
Date: 2014.11.29
[...] 1.e4 e6 2.d3 I'm quite familiar with this setup vs the French as I play it every week against my online friend. 2...d5 3.♘d2 c5 4.♘gf3 ♘c6 5.g3 ♘f6 6.♗g2 ♗e7 7.O-O O-O 8.e5 This is a key move which drives away an important defender. 8...♘d7 9.♖e1 ♕c7 10.♕e2 b6 11.♘f1 ♗a6 12.h4 ♗d8 13.♗g5 ♘e7 14.♘1h2 ♕b8 15.♘g4 ♖e8 16.♕d2 ♗c7 Basically black has given me a free hand to build up my forces for a kingside attack. I felt quite confident that the situation was ripe for an attack now. Houdini 4 gives me about +1.3 here. 17.♘f6 I debated quite a bit about which precise move I should do. I ended up picking this because it is a check, and forks the rook so it seemed more forcing than Bf6. I did look at Bf6 but not for very long. My main alternative was Nh6. I just decided it was better to trade off on the f6 square as it would be easier to clear the bishop for the queen.
17.♗f6 Houdini 4 strongly prefers this move. The main reason in looking at the variations seems to be that it would prefer to have the knight available for attacking rather than trading it off.
17...♘xf6 18.♗xf6 Houdini thinks he should have played gxf6, but given that he played Nxf6 it thinks I should take with the pawn instead of the bishop. It seems that after I trade off the two attacking pieces and he gets to play Nf5 his situation isn't so bad at all. 18...gxf6 19.exf6 ♘f5 So far things have gone according to my calculations. Here however I believe I had briefly looked at this move but it seems I very much underestimated it. I looked mostly at Ng6 which of course is more favorable for me. 20.♕g5 The main alternative is to just push the g-pawn to kick the knight and resume my threats but I was worried it was too slow and that the king would slide out into the center. This seemed to give me some more chances. 20...♔h8 I had discarded this possibility as seeming to trap the king and just make him more vulnerable. I expected Kf8. Again I analyzed a variation that was better for me instead of what was really good for him. 21.♕h5 ♔g8 This is a huge blunder. Here I had actually seen Rg8 and Houdini confirms that Rg8 completely neutralizes my attacking chances. However, as he will have to give up the exchange, I will have two pieces for a rook and a pawn which is fine material balance. However, it would have been a psychological blow to completely defuse what I felt were great attacking chances. 22.♘g5 h6 23.♕xf7 ♔h8 24.♕h7#
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Sunday, November 16, 2014

An interesting endgame study

This is from the van der Heijden endgame study database that I recently got.  Here is a nice one that is not too difficult but is interesting.

White to move and win