Tuesday, June 12, 2018

June 2018 - Lexington Tounament

I haven't posted in quite a while. I have been able to put aside a number of the issues that prevented me from continuing my work and striving for that National Master title. So, we are back. I recently went to a weekend tournament (5 rounds of G/30). Now, these games come down to missed tactics and are actually quite silly and useless to study in-depth. However, I have pulled out the important positions for our discussion.

Okay, this is from my round two game against Madani. I am playing with the black pieces and this is black to move. Here I played Bb4 and I have had a lot of luck with that odd move in blitz games. However, it is anti-positional to bring that Bishop into the attack. Even if you win material you create big holes in your structure when it comes off the board. Your pawns are on light squares so the dark bishop is your strongest and most valuable minor piece. Qc7 and d6 are the common moves and keep things solid and offer no immediate weakness.

The position above is white to move (CM Woodward, my round three). I am completely lost here but both of us have around thirty seconds left on our clocks and I am playing the flagging game. I would rather play down the piece and get some initiative for my rook and queen than to wait and die with my king getting checked to death. White falls for the trap and plays f4+ "winning" the bishop. However, the amazing Qe7+! is a forced mate. (34. Qe7+ Bf6 35. f4+ Kg4 36. Qxe6+ Kxg3 37. Rd3+ Kxf4 38. Qf5#) ... and from a bad and lost position I find a winning initiative.

The above is me to play as white against Sanford from round four. I played the move Kxc5 thinking that I was distracting my opponent from stealing my f-pawn (by Rb4+-Rf4) ... but this pawn is not nearly so powerful as my b-pawn which supports my passed c-pawn AND makes black's a-pawn less likely to squeeze out equality in passing. Simply Kc3 or b3 gives white the win. A silly positional mistake that almost cost me this game ... but better endgame technique saw some tricks develop to win me the game. It was much harder than it had to be.

Alright, here is my last round game against Gurley. This would have been a second place finish in the quad for me with a win. I quickly traded bishops and settled for a balanced ending which turned against me and I lost. However there is a strong shot here that requires some precision that was definitely superior to the dull trade. Black gains a slight edge here by playing Rc4! The best continuation for white then is 20. Rxd5 Ke6 21. Rd6+ Kxe5 22. Rd7 Bxd7 23. Bxc4 Bf5+ 24. Ka1 where white is not completely lost but black is surely much better. Rxc4?? is met by Bxd3+! and Bxf5 is met by Rxd4.

I lost about fifteen rating points from this event but I learned a great deal and I'll be using that knowledge in upcoming games. The rust has been shaken off and it's time to get back to the rating climb.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

2017 3 Tables - October Round 3 Anton Taylor, 1948 - CM Drew Hollinberger, 2103 Spanish: Exchange (C68)

2017 3 Tables - October Round 3 
Anton Taylor, 1948 - CM Drew Hollinberger, 2103
Spanish: Exchange (C68)

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. d4 exd4 6. Qxd4 Qxd4 7. Nxd4 Bd7 Be3 is the mainline and is far batter than this move. If black focused on attacking the knight he could have taken over the central squares with 8. Bc5 Nb3 (to avoid Bc3 or Be3 moving the bishop twice in the opening) 9.Ba7 8. Bd2 O-O-O 9. O-O h5 10. Nb3 Nh6 11. Bc3 c5 12. N1d2 f6 13. Nf3 White is playing to push e5 but black is fine with this as he simply trades and can play against white's weak c-pawn. 13. ... Bc6 14. Nbd2 Bd6 15. Rad1 Rhe8 16. Rfe1 Nf7 17. Nh4 It takes komodo a depth of 22 ply before it sees that this move is the only way for white to struggle here. The move it recommends at the same depth is the bad looking g3 preventing Bf4. Bf4 will be strong after black advances his knight pawns on both sides and this weakens the d2 square by removing both defenders (the f3 knight and the c3 bishop). I chose the more active move. 17. ... Re6? This leads to equality 17... b5! 18. b3 b4 19. Bb2 Bf4 20. Nc4 Rxe4 21. Rxd8+ Kxd8 22. Rxe4 Bxe4 and white is lost. 18. f3 b5 19. b3? I had planned this escape for the bishop but better is Nb3 giving the bishop space to roam and keeping the pawn structure. Never push pawns on the side of the board that the opponent has an extra pawn. It just helps his advance to make a passed pawn. 19. ... Nh6 20. Nf1 c4 21. Bd4?? With zero calculation I "take-over" a central square without hesitation and this move loses a potential draw. Ne3 is the way to hold everything together. as the pin from Bc5 is not fearsome. 21. ... g5 22. Nf5 Nxf5 23. exf5 Rxe1 24. Rxe1 Bxh2+ 25. Kxh2 Rxd4 26. Re6 Rd6 When I played Bd4 I actually missed this rook retreat that holds black together and keeps an advantage for him. Looking at the position now in front of me on the board it is obviously lost for white even without Rd6 but in my mind's eye I thought this was a slight advantage for white with his attack on the bishop. After the game drew admitted that he was glad to have Rd6. This tells me that he too did not see this far after Bd4. We both need to work on expanding our chess horizon to see further but for me it is worse as I deliberately played into this position thinking it was better for me when in fact the opposite is true in most variations. It feels good to look back on this and think there was something to be learned. 27. Rxd6 cxd6 28. b4 This advance just muddies the water to try for the draw in a lost position. If I'm allowed to keep my knight and get secure pawns on the opposite color to black's bishop I can at least draw even a pawn down. 28. ... d5! I liked Drew's endgame technique here and it's worth looking at. 29. c3 d4 30. cxd4 c3 31. Ng3 c2 32. Ne2 Bd7 33. Kg3 Bxf5 34. Kf2 Kd7 35. Ke3 Kd6 36. Kd2 Kd5 37. Kc3 h4 38. Nc1 g4 39. fxg4 Be4 0-1

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

2017 3 Tables - October Round 1 Mike Thomas, 2022 - Anton Taylor, 1948 Indian (A45)

2017 3 Tables - October Round 1
Mike Thomas, 2022 - Anton Taylor, 1948
Indian (A45)

1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 d6 d5 is more common at top level but this move has been played fairly often so it isn't bad. 3. Nc3 Nbd7 4. Nf3 g6 All sorts of moves have been tried here. Probably the most direct route with 4. ... c5 is better than this but this is fine as well. 5. Qd2 e4 is better but only slightly. Qd2 is a good choice as well. White has a small space advantage in either case. 5. ... Bg7 6. e4 O-O 7. O-O-O White is already very comfortable here and has all the long distance planning. It's possible that black has just played too "solidly" and built his only coffin. There is game to play but it is tedious and precise for Black and in a human-versus-human game that might be ok but it isn't preferable. 7. ... c5 8. dxc5 Nxc5 9. e5 Nfe4 10. Nxe4 Nxe4 11. Qe3 d5 12. Bd3 It's interesting that this move is condemned by Komodo. Instead Kb1 is preferred. Neither move is a direct victory path for white so I suspect the ending is much the same. However, it is worth noting that this move takes some squares away from the white queen and makes Qb6 stronger. 12. ... Qa5 This seemed a better alternative to me than Qb6. That move was rejected because it leads to isolated double pawns and I assumed this was headed to an endgame. Komodo thinks this is drawn with a slight plus to white. I agree. 13. Kb1 Be6?? Here was my error. Nc5 or Bg4 are better choices. 13... Bg4 14. Bxe4 dxe4 15. Qxe4 Rac8 16. Rd5 Bf5 17. Rxa5 Bxe4 18. Rc1 a6 seems a good start to black's recovery from his lackluster opening. I simply missed the obvious and crushing reply to Be6. 14. Nd4 Nc5 15. Bh6 Rfc8 Things are pretty bad but this loses much faster. My idea was a double attack after Nxe3 and Qc7 when I can possibly grab the e5 pawn but this idea is far too slow and not at all backed by any sound calculation. 16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. h4 Bd7 18. h5 Rh8 19. h6+ 19. e6! Nxe6 20. Qe5+ Kg8 21. hxg6 f6 22. gxh7+ Kf8 23. Nxe6+ Bxe6 24. Qxe6 19. ... Kg8?? Already beaten ... I miss the bit of greater resistance from Kf8. More poor calculation. 20. e6 Bxe6 21. Nb3 1-0

This game is fairly humiliating. Poor results in my last several tournaments has undone most of my years work rating-wise. I am suffering burn-out and a drop in confidence. After my next game related post I plan to share some of my method of attack for solving these and other issues.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

2017 Unc Fraud Round 4 Jason Skaggs, 1954 - Anton Taylor, 1966 Sicilian: Hungarian/Accelerated Dragon (B27)

2017 Unc Fraud Round 4
Jason Skaggs, 1954 - Anton Taylor, 1966
Sicilian: Hungarian/Accelerated Dragon (B27) 

I was very interested to see how this game would turn out. I had not played Jason in many years so I was anticipating a tough battle. Unfortunately, what I got was my most humiliating loss in this entire year. I got the short end of an unfamiliar variation and then allowed a checkmate out in the open in less than twenty moves. Let's look at the game:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 cxd4 I have played several games this year in this variation but the majority of those games continued 4.Nxd4 with a slow buildup by both sides. I decided to go for a sharper continuation. 4. Qxd4 Nf6 5. e5 The sharpest "stab". Nc3 has also been tried here at top level. 5. ... Nc6 6. Qc4 and here I depart from the mainline due to my inexperience in the variation. After some study it seems the main variation continues 6.Qa4 Nd5 Qe4 with a slight plus for white. The Qc4 line has been tried but isn't as tasteful as Qa4 to me. 6. ... d5 7. exd6 Qxd6 8. Nc3 Be6 9. Qe2?? Nb5 or Qf4 are better options but both lead to a small advantage for black. 9. ... O-O-O This move gives white the opportunity to play against the coming g7 bishop by 10. Nb5 followed probably by 11. c3 and the bishop "bites on granite". The control of the long diagonal becomes an important theme in the game as well as a number of variations that did not occur. 10. Be3 White develops a piece but misses the equalizing method of the previous note. 10. ... Bg7 11. g3?? The decisive blunder. Once again white has the opportunity to play Nb5-c3 and get a good game. 11. ... Qb4 12. Qb5 Nd5 13. Bd2 Nxc3 14. bxc3 Bxc3 15. Qxb4 Nxb4 16. Bxc3 Nxc2+ 17. Ke2 Bc4# 0-1

This game sets in motion several further hours of study in this variation I was caught completely unprepared in comparison to my opponent and the worst part is that I went willingly. The variation was the result of my choices in this case. I will be better prepared the next time.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

2017 Unc Fraud Round 3 Andy Porter, 2106 - Anton Taylor, 1966 English: Anglo-Indian (A17)

2017 Unc Fraud Round 3
Andy Porter, 2106 - Anton Taylor, 1966
English: Anglo-Indian (A17)

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. Nf3 e4 is more energetic but this is fine. 3. ... d5 4. d4 Bb4 5. Bg5 Bxc3+ Here is an inaccuracy. The top level variation in this position is 5. ... h6 6. Bxf6 Qxf6 7. e3. 6. bxc3 c6 better is Ncd7 developing a piece and making the pin awkward for white (because he will either have to trade with anothe knight coming to the f6 square to control the same squares). 7. e3 Qa5 8. Qc2 Ne4 9. Rc1 Nxg5 10. Nxg5 dxc4 11. Ne4 b5 12. Nd6+ Ke7 13. Nxc8+ Rxc8 14. Qxh7 Nd7 Komodo likes Qxa2 but navigating the complications afterward are easier for a computer than a human and it determines the advantage is small enough to not be significant and therefore not justify the pawn grab. Whereas, if white goes grabbing with Qxg7 the open lines for the rooks are very big compensation. 15. Qc2 Rh8? The immediate c5 with the idea of creating a comfortable outpost for the black knight either on d3 or d5 makes a lot more sense. The half-open rook file is not quite as relavent as that central control and black has more pieces ready to join the central fight. 16. Be2 Rh6 this again is "chasing the ghost" of the half-open file and doesn't lead anywhere. It isn't losing but it is wasting dynamic action opportunities in the center. 17. Bf3 Qc7 18. h3 Rah8? This move comes up against a brick wall on h3 that isn't going to crack in a very long time. If white plays 
19. a4 a6 20.axb5 axb5 21. Ra1 I'm certain it is black who will be in a tough spot. 19. Ke2 White for his part throws away a golden opportunity to swing the game in his favor. 19. ... Nb6 20. e4 Na4 21. Qd2 f6? Komodo spots the right move immediately because it is supported by a series of simple tactics. Black should simply admit that Rah8? was a mistake and play Rd8 in which case he still has more dynamic play available in the center and will likely win the battle there because of his more active rooks. 22. Bg4 g5? It's never a good idea to move pawns where your opponent has more pawns. I realized this but I thought that the piece activity I gain on the queenside and the potential open lines would make my rooks better. I did not calculate anything and perhaps that was my real downfall here. Again Rd8 followed by opening the center is the best plan. 23. g3 Qd6 24. f4 gxf4 25. gxf4 c5 26. Rhd1 f5! I felt this move was winning and komodo sees a very big black advantage (+2 for black) but it is a long calculation and my time is ticking away. 27. exf5 exf5 28. Bxf5 Rf6? Stronger is Kf6 when after: 28... Kf6 29. Bg4 Rxh3 30. Bxh3 Rxh3 31. Rh1 Nxc3+ 32. Qxc3 Qe7+ 33. Kd2 Rxc3 34. Kxc3 Qe3+ Black is winning29. Bg4 Rxf4?? and with this final blunder I lose in a time scramble although I am certain my opponent did not find the best replies either after this. The problem with Rxf4 is that it allows Qe3+ when black's pieces become awkward as he tangos around white's central square control. Better is Qxf4 when 29... Qxf4 30. Qxf4 Rxf4 31. dxc5 Nxc5 32. Rd5 Nd3 presents a problem to white ... he either plays something useless like 33. Rb1?? Rxg4 34. hxg4 Nf4+ winning for black or Rg1 and the best he seems to get is a draw by something like 33. Rg1 Kf6 34. Rxb5 Re8+ 35. Kd1 Rf2 36. Bh5 Re4 37. Rg6+ Ke7 38. Rb7+ Kf8 39. Rb8+ Ke7 1-0