Only two games played in the last two weeks, both on FICS. Both were also losses. I have now lost 4 straight games on FICS and 5 out of 6 games since I began my quest. A very inauspicious beginning indeed. However, these last two games were the first played at a standard time control (15min./game) and were both against higher rated opponents. And, in one of them, I had created a very formidable attack that left me one move from mating my opponent had he not played correctly and had I not blundered (big surprise). Let's discuss that game first.
The first game I played as black against a player named jmnovff, rated 1591. I played a Scandinavian defense (1.e4 d5). I went down a piece early, but had a good attack with doubled rooks on the h-file. Unfortunately, I missed a tactic and allowed my opponent to trap my queen. On the 21st move, I missed a tactic of my own that would have allowed me to get the queens off and be up the exchange (2 rooks and a knight vs. a rook and 2 bishops) in the endgame. The move I did make cost me my queen and the game. My standard rating dropped from 1583 to 1475. Still, despite losing and missing some tactical shots, I did manage to garner an attack against my opponent's king in one of my favorite king pawn openings.
I played the next game on the same day about 30 minutes after the end of the first one. It was also standard time control of 15 minutes per game and my opponent was named Tornek, rated 1714. I, again, had the black pieces.
- A quick rant: Am I the only player on the internet that doesn't choose "white" as their color of choice when seeking a game? Am I ever going to play chess online, be it live or correspondence, with the white pieces? I mean, really. Can it really just be coincidence that out of 11 games started, I have gotten the white pieces once? And that was against a computer opponent. It's not that I don't enjoy playing the black pieces. Actually, I often prefer it. It gives me the opportunity to stifle the opponent's attack and counter with my own. But 10 out of 11 games??? This is ridiculous. I know, I know. I could ask for white when seeking a game, but I don't like that. I feel it should be random. That is part of the fun. If I did that, I would be no better than all the others. I guess I should just shut up and play black. This rant hasn't turned out to be so quick after all, has it? Well, maybe if you read it really fast...
As of now, my standard rating on FICS is 1438. My blitz rating, with no activity, remains the same at 1011.
I am back up to 4 games of correspondence chess. Quite by accident, really. On Chessworld.net, I clicked a link looking for information about their Pyramid Chess. Basically, this is a ladder-style challenge system where one can challenge (as white) a player on the same level or one level up on the "pyramid." But apparently, the link automatically signs you up for play. I wasn't sure if I wanted to add another game yet, so I abstained from challenging anyone. Of course, that doesn't stop other players from challenging me, which is what happened. So I am playing another correspondence game, as black of course. This brings me up to 4 games, all with black (Must...fight...urge...to...rant!).
The first game is the only one I am presently playing on Chess.com. It is against xadrezenico, rated 1210, and I am not sure how I stand so far. On move 10, I checked with my queen. He blocked with his queen, offering a trade. I decided to take it because the continuation, while very sharp, looked dangerous for me. So, for once I took the safe route. Now I don't know. The position seems equal. I am not sure how to proceed now.
My first game on Chessworld is against Dodger, rated 1400. In this game, I am a pawn down, but I am about to at least win the exchange, or possibly win a whole rook, by forking his king and rook with my knight. Unless, of course, I have missed something. Anyway, the queens are off and if I can go up a rook or the exchange, I feel I have a good chance to win this. Plus, he will lose castling privileges, thereby leaving his king vulnerable in the middle. Things are looking up here.
In game two, I am playing Kootenays, rated 1794. I am up a pawn through 13 moves, but I have doubled pawns on the c-file and he has a strong looking pawn storm on the queen side. My position is cramped a bit and my light squared bishop is blocked in. I need to find a way to neutralize the pressure and open up the position to provide counterattacking opportunities.
My last game on Chessworld.net is against Mukanya, rated 1320. The position here is a bit strange. My opponent has his light-squared bishop (LSB) blocking his d-pawn. I have tried to develop normally, but I am just not sure of the position. But, we are only on move 6, so there is still a ways to go (hopefully).
One other thing about Chessworld: all the games I am playing are unrated. I am not sure, but I think you have to be a paying member to have rated games. I will have to find out.
So that's it for this week. I'll try to get back to posting an update every week now that the holidays are over. I'll also try to play more live chess. I am also studying when I can. I do several tactical problems almost every day. I am also working through the tutorials and drills in Chessmaster 9000. But I think I really need to play more games and perform analysis on them to learn where I am making mistakes and where I can improve.
After all, that's what this quest is really about. Improving my chess game, not increasing my rating. Although, being successful in the former will, without a doubt, affect the latter.
Until next week (or two), happy mating!