An interesting week for me in chess. I played two live games and added another correspondence game to my list. For those keeping score at home, I am now playing 5 correspondence games, all with the black pieces. Four of the games are on chessworld.net and the other is on chess.com.
In addition to playing games when I can, I am also continuing chess study. I work tactical puzzles almost daily. Some online at different sites, such as chesstempo.com, others from a book I own titled, Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games, by Lazlo Polgar, father of the famous Polgar Sisters. This is a massive tome containing over 5000 tactical puzzles and games. I have been working on this book for years (off and on) and still haven't reached 1500 puzzles yet. I highly recommend this book for beginning and intermediate players. It will develop your tactics and keep them sharp.
Also this week, in the area of study, I obtained a public library card. I used to love going to the library, but it's been over a year since I have had a card. A little over a year ago, we moved from Mckinney back to Dallas. Since then, I haven't bothered to get a card, until now. But I digress. Anyway, I checked out the book How to Reassess Your Chess, by Jeremy Silman. I have the expanded third edition, but there appears to be a fourth edition published now. I have heard great things about this book, so I decided to give it a try. I love learning things from books. So, I will see how it goes and, of course, report my reaction.
But enough of that, let's get to the games!
My first game this week was a blitz game (5 minutes/game) on FICS. My opponent was Drawitz, a 1120 rated player. My blitz rating was 1011. Now, I suck at blitz. I know it, you know it, everybody knows it. So why do I keep playing it? Well, I want to try to get better at calculating quickly. I think playing at the faster time controls will help with this. If I can calculate and analyze more quickly at the lower time controls, then when I have more time I can calculate deeper in the positons and make the better moves. So I want to keep trying blitz as well as playing standard chess.
So, it was a 5 minute game and I had the white pieces for a change. I played 1. e4 and he responded with 1. ..c5, the Sicilian defense. I like playing against the Sicilian as White because it can be very sharp tactically. I haven't tried it much as black, though, due to a lack of understanding. After 2. Nf3 Nc6, 3. d4 cxd4, 4. Nxd4, he played 4. ..e5, threatening my knight. Now, the recommended move here is probably 5. Nb6, but I like to do things a little different. I played 5. Nxc6. Why? I don't know. It seemed more ambitious. Besides, if he takes back with his d-pawn, I can play 6. Qxd8, forcing him to take back with the king, forfeiting his right to castle. Chess theory states that this is not the best move, but sometimes you can get away with unusual moves in blitz.
He took back with his b-pawn. I continued developing my pieces, queen knight to c3 and queen bishop to g5. The latter move pinning his king knight, on f6, to his queen. He played 7. ..Bb4, pinning my knight to my king. I played 8. Be2 preparing to castle and he played 8. ..d5. The game continued 9. Bxf6 Qxf6, 10. exd5 Qd6?!. This loses a pawn (although 10. ..cxd5 appears to as well) and gives me (after 11. dxc6) the opportunity of a queen exchange that will give me the initiative and a rook on the open d-file.
I took his pawn on c6 and he traded queens with 11. ..Qxd1, 12. Rxd1. He then castled king side and I played c7. Here, I really expected Bb7. It is a developing move and puts pressure on my g-pawn, pinning it to my rook. But instead, he played 13. ..Re8?. This allowed me to play 14. Rd8, threatening mate.. Again, moving the bishop was probably good here. But he moved his king to f8, guarding his rook. I played Bb5, attacking the rook again and threatening mate. Now, he plays 15. ..Bd7.
Practically any move I make here I am winning at least a minor piece. And I do end up winning one. But, with the right move, I knew I could possibly checkmate, or queen my pawn, or be up a rook and a minor piece. But I couldn't seem to figure it out. There were so many good moves that I had trouble picking one and ran into time trouble. I ended up playing 16. c8=Q, which was not the best move. Rxa8 looks like the best move. It would have left me up a rook, knight, and pawn. Instead, I was merely up a knight and scrambling to keep from losing on time. His rook was more active than mine (I still had not castled) and I just ran out of time. But it was good game for me. I took advantage of my opponent's blunders and had a winning attack.
With the loss, my blitz rating on FICS dropped to an abysmal 957. But I have a feeling it is going to get better.
My second game was played at Chess.com with a 15 minute time limit for a change of space as well as a change of pace. My opponent was a 1038 rated player named Tural2b. Again I had the white pieces (two in a row! shock! horror!). The game started 1. e4 e5, 2. Nf3 Nf6. This is known as the Petrov, or Russian, defense. It has a reputation as a timid, drawish opening. I believe the main line is for white to play 3. Nxe5. But I don't know why, or how to continue from there, so I just played 3. Nc3, protecting my pawn. The game continued 3. ..d6, 4. d3 h6, 5. Be2 a6, 6. 0-0 Be6, 7. b3 Nc6, 8. d4. Here, my opponent made a dubious move that may have cost him the game. He played Qd7. This allowed me to play 9. d5, forking his knight on c6 and bishop on e6. He decided to sacrifice the bishop with 9. ..Bxd5, although he might have created some counterplay with 9. ..Bh3!?. I am not sure. I will have to analyze that to see if there is anything there.
The game continued 10. exd5 e4, 11. dxc6. I thought this move won me a second piece. But after he played Qxc6, I saw that if I saved the f3 knight, his queen simply grabbed the c3 knight, also threatening my queen rook. So I played 12. Bb2, protecting the knight. It continued 12. ..exf3, 13. Bxf3 (threatening the queen) d5?. A blunder. After 14. Nxd5 Nxd5, 15. Bxd5, the queen must move and both my bishops are on the long diagonals pointed at his rooks and his king is still on the open e-file.
The game went on 14. Nxd5 Nxd5, 15. Bxd5 Qc5, 16. Re1+ Be7, 17. Bxg7 Rh7, 18. Bf6!. This wins either a piece or the exchange (queen for rook). But the next couple of moves were the killer. 18. ..Rd8, 19. Bxe7 Rxd5??, 20. Bxc5 with discovered check, losing the queen, and black resigned.
I win! I win! (yay, me!) OK, I don't want to sprain my arm patting myself on the back. But it is nice to get a win in against a human opponent after 6 straight losses. This was my first standard game on Chess.com, so my initial rating of 1200 jumped to 1318 with the win.
Overall, I would say I am pleased with my live play this week. I had good chances to win both games and managed to pull one of them out. Hopefully, things are looking up.
First, we'll discuss the new game that I added. Yeah, I know, I was just complaining about spending too much time on correspondence and not enough on live chess. But, I like correspondence and I wanted to try out the French defense. Besides, who's bloody quest is this anyway? Just kidding. I love you all like family. Maybe even more. But I digress.
The new game I started is against my "welcomer" on Chessworld.net, Joe Wurdak. He is rated 1892 and has many awards and honors on the site, so I am a little intimidated. Plus, this is my first rated game on chessworld.net. If you recall, last week I wasn't sure if one had to be a full (paying) member to have rated games or not. The game is just starting. I am playing the French defense, but there's nothing to report yet.
My game against Dodger is going well. I am up a rook and bishop in this game and he appears to be in real trouble. He cannot castle his king.and his pieces are not very active. I cannot see any compensation for his lost pieces. This may be over soon.
In the game against Kootenays, I am still up a pawn and the queen side is really starting to open up. The position still looks very dangerous for both sides. I am waiting now to see if he wants to trade bishops, trade rooks or perhaps some other nefarious doings.
The game against Mukanya is anyone's guess. I have a feeling I am about to go down in flames, but I just can't see how. I think my position is solid.
My game on Chess.com, against Xadrezenico is still up in the air through 19 moves. I am up a pawn and I have created a passed pawn. He has also made a couple of questionable moves, giving me the initiative. Not that I know what to do with it. But I am about to get the rest of my pieces developed, connect my rooks and, hopefully, begin a successful attack. I think I have played well in this game. Here is the current position:
I am black. It is white to move. My last move was 19. f6. Depending on what he does, I plan to develop the knight on the next move and possibly bring the queen rook over to threaten the backward pawn at d3. We shall see.
Alright, that's enough chess for one week. Sorry I got so wordy in the Live section. But I was just happy to finally win a game and play well enough to win the other one (damn time pressure!). I'll try to be a bit less verbose in the future. And now that I have figured out a way to post board graphics, maybe that will be possible.
Until next time, happy mating!