Saturday, December 24, 2016

The New Years Resolution

As the new year dawns I had only one wish for myself personally. I had played well for the past several months as I returned to over-the-board tournaments after a five year hiatus. By "playing well" I do not mean I was dominating my competition. I was playing poorly and skating by with barely my skin attached and blundering all around. That's how I knew I was about to improve beyond anything I had previously accomplished. If you look at your games and say to yourself "I'm such a genius" then there are two things wrong with that scenario: Firstly, your pride will hit a wall. Everyone loses, it's inevitable and secondly, you're not playing against strong enough players.

In short, over half the moves I was making in tournaments were sub-par to horrible blunders. The fact that I was playing wildly complicated enough to blunder, escape, and even win all the while tearing myself apart in home analysis was a clear indication of successful home practice and room for future improvement.

"The winner of the game is the player who makes the next-to-last mistake." - Savielly Tartakower

Knowing that you have a capacity to be or do something and proving it are not two different things. I am resolved to prove that within me is a chess master ready to emerge. The idea to do such a thing in one year when you're not even rated 1900 USCF at the start is quite crazy. But there it is, I put it in writing to seal it in ritual. I will break the 2200 barrier this coming year (2017).

The purpose of this blog is to take people along for the ride. This blog will be public but as secret as I can keep it. I want to share my experience with others, expose my training and post-mortem methods, give away the secrets of my preparation, and make a road map for you. However, I have to keep it a secret from most players, especially those in Kentucky. One of the secrets of preparation is to see previous games your opponent has played to understand them and how they think and play. If my primary competition found this work the result would be disastrous and enough ammunition to execute me OTB. Let's keep things between you and me, shall we?

2016 Taylor - Bikjump (Chess for Android App)

This was a game I played on an android device against a chess engine. The machine took the longest allowed amount of time per move (which culminated in a very long amount of playing time ... several hours in fact). It feels good to defeat a silicon monster on its home turf. Aart Bik's "Bikjump" engine is quite strong but I managed to get past its horizon in an endgame and score the point.

Taylor - Bikjump

1. e4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. exd5 Nxd5 4. Qf3 Nf6 5. h3 e5 6. Bc4 Bb4 7. Nge2 O-O
8. d3 Nc6 9. O-O Bxc3 10. bxc3 Na5 11. Bb3 Nxb3 12. axb3 Re8 13. Ng3 Re6
14. Be3 a5 15. Rfd1 Nd5 16. Bd2 c6 17. c4 Nf6 18. Bc3 c5 19. Re1 Nd7 20.
Qd5 Qc7 21. Ne4 Rg6 22. b4 cxb4 23. Bxb4 Nb6 24. Qc5 Qxc5 25. Bxc5 Nd7 26.
Ba3 Nb8 27. Kf1 Bd7 28. Nd6 Bc6 29. f3 Nd7 30. c3 Re6 31. d4 exd4 32. cxd4
Rxe1+ 33. Rxe1 b6 34. d5 Ba4 35. Re7 Rf8 36. Ke2 Nf6 37. Rb7 Nd7 38. Ke3
Rb8 39. Kd4 Rxb7 40. Nxb7 Bd1 41. c5 bxc5+ 42. Bxc5 a4 43. Ba3 Be2 44. h4
Bf1 45. Nc5 Nxc5 46. Kxc5 Bxg2 47. d6 Bh3 48. Kc6 f6 49. d7 Bxd7+ 50. Kxd7
Kf7 51. h5 g5 52. Kd6 Kf8 53. Ke6+ Kg7 54. Kf5 Kh6 55. Kg4 f5+ 56. Kxf5
Kxh5 57. Bb4 Kh4 58. Be1+ Kh5 59. Bd2 a3 60. Bxg5 a2 61. Bf6 Kh6 62. f4 Kh5
63. Bc3 Kh6 64. Kf6 Kh5 65. f5 Kg4 66. Ke6 h5 67. f6 Kg3 68. f7 h4 69. f8=Q
Kg2 70. Qh6 a1=Q 71. Bxa1 Kg3 72. Qg5+ Kf3 73. Qxh4 Ke3 74. Kf5 Kd3 75.
Qd4+ Kc2 76. Ke4 Kb3 77. Kd3 Ka3 78. Kc2 Ka2 79. Qb2++ 1-0

Saturday, December 10, 2016

2016 Free No More Round 3 FM Matt Hassen, 2286 - Anton Taylor, 1865 Caro-Kann Breyer Variation (B10)

FM Matt Hassen, 2286 - Anton Taylor, 1865
Caro-Kann Breyer Variation (B10)

1. e4 c6 2. d3 This is an interesting option for white. I have played a few blitz games treating it like a King's Indian Attack as white with some success. 2. ... d5 3. Nd2 e5 4. Ngf3 Bd6 I was playing out of book from this move forward, I know nothing about what to do here as black. 5. d4 Here I began to feel like a bleeding fish in shark infested water. I had obviously fallen into some kind of preparation. Not against myself specifically but it's going to be effective against me since I have no idea what to do. 5. ... exd4 This made sense to me at the time that I played the move. It turns out to be the mainline. 6. exd5 Bc5? Here is my deviation and it isn't very good. cxd5 is the mainline where Black plays with an isolated pawn. 7. dxc6 Nxc6 8. Bc4 Qe7+ 9. Qe2 Bf5 10. Nb3 Bb4+ This move is a little over-ambitious. The simple Bb6 causes Komodo to say Black has a slight edge.11. Kd1 O-O-O 12. Qxe7 Ngxe7 13. a3 Bd6 14. Bd2 Ne5 15. Nxe5 Bxe5 16. Bxf7 Nd5? This move is the real error. There is no plan in this move. After White captures the pawn Komodo determines that things are equal. A little hint for those who don't know, if a computer determines that you have an equal position when you're down a pawn your position is pretty good. However, after Nd5 the evaluation drops. It is interesting to see that there are three different plans for Black that seem to work: Rhf8 developing a rook with an immediate attack and eyeing to invade into the white position, Nc6 keeping things solid and e5, and lastly d3 aiming to either create a passed pawn or opening lines for the rooks. These moves all seem to appear in some order in each variation and are all interesting plans. The rest of the game is a struggle for Black to survive and is mostly not worth analysis as I've determined to my satisfaction the reall error of this game. 17. Re1 Bf6 18. Be6+ Bxe6 19. Rxe6 Rhe8 20. Rxe8 Rxe8 21. Nc5 Be5 22. Nd3 Bxh2 23. g3 Nf6 24. c3 Ng4 25. cxd4 Bg1 26. Be1 Kd7 27. Rc1 b6 28. Rc2 h5 29. Re2 h4 30. Rxe8 Kxe8 31. gxh4 Bh2 32. Ke2 Bd6 33. f4 Ke7 34. Kf3 Nf6 35. Ne5 Ke6 36. Nc4 Be7 37. Ne3 Nd5 This move I will give a small comment to here. this was innaccurate. As soon as I made the move I realized that 37. ... g6 made for a more stubborn defense. 38. f5+ Kd6 39. Bg3+ Kc6 40. Nxd5 Kxd5 41. Be5 Bxh4 42. Bxg7 Be1 43. b3 Bd2 44. a4 a6 1-0

2016 Free No More Round 2 CM Jerry Baker, 2152 - Anton Taylor, 1865 English Opening, by transposition (A17)

CM Jerry Baker, 2152 - Anton Taylor, 1865
English Opening, by transposition (A17)

1. b3 Nf6 2. Bb2 e6 3. c4 d5 4. e3 b6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Nc3 Ba6 This pawn offer to prevent white from castling is me going for blood. This is the first game I played against Jerry after deciding to earn my master title. I AM out for blood. 7. Qc2 Nc5 8. d3 Be7 9. Be2 Bb7 10. O-O O-O 11. Rad1 c6 12. e4 Qc7 13. e5 Nfd7 14. d4 Na6 15. Bd3 g6 16. a3 f5 This is a howler. Black's position is borderline lost (after fxe6 e.p. Black's backwards e-pawn comes under fire and Black lacks the coordination to defend adequately) 17. exf6 Bxf6 18. Rde1 I thought it was better to play Rfe1 but the Candidate Master is having no f-pawn attack shenanigans. Rae8 19. Re2 e5 I was very optimistic about this position. The problem is that all of Black's minor pieces are inferior and lacking in a clear future. The only way for black to hope for anything is to create complications. 20. dxe5 Nxe5 21. Nxe5 Bxe5 22. h3 d4 This equalizes. At the time I played the move I flattered myself thinking that the passed pawn gave me an advantage. The clerical problem is still the minor pieces. They are in no position to escort the pawn to queening. However, it is a "criminal" as Nimzo put it and White will have to keep watch over the pawn giving Black the needed time to coordinate something. 23. Ne4 c5 24. Rfe1 Qc6 25. Bc1 Nc7 26. b4 Bf4 27. Bxf4 Rxf4 28. b5 Qd7 29. Qd2 Ref8 30. Ng3 R4f7 31. Qg5 Qd8 32. Re7 I took a lot of time here looking at Rxf2. For some reason I did not see what wins the game now that I see it with fresh eyes. White is simply lost after the rooks and Bishop start eating decisive material. BUT, alas I did not play that way and chose to complicate my king's safety instead. As I sit here looking at this tragicomedy of a game I winder how much of these annotations Jerry saw during the game. Given our meandering blunder trading I would say he and I probably saw about as much as one another. The decisive factor in this game was not my brilliant play, it was not my opponents mistakes, it was a blundering about stabbing at each other in the dark. I am overjoyed at the richness of tactical opportunity home analysis gives you from the use of computers but I am also saddened that I saw so little sitting at the board. Rxe7 33. Rxe7 Rf7 I also missed 33. ... Ne6 which would have netted me the rook. But the time scramble is coming and I'm going to win it as history knows. 34. Nf5 0-1 The final score in your favor covers a multitude of sins.

2016 Free No More Round 1 Anton Taylor, 1865 - Jeff Broughton, 1599 Sicilian (B20)

Anton Taylor, 1865 - Jeff Broughton, 1599
Sicilian (B20)

1. e4 c5 2. d3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. c3 d6 6. Ne2 Bg4 7. f3 Bd7 8. Be3
Nf6 9. Nd2 Ne5 10. Qc2 Qc8 11. h4 Nh5 Alright so after this strange game of hedgehog-like movements we come to a position that is far better for me after this knight move that attacks an already defended piece. This gives me a free hand to plan an assault with an extra tempo or two. I like these King's Indian Attack positions. They can be used against the Sicilian, The French, The Caro-Kann, basically everything. Very strong defensive shell and now ready to uncork as long as my king stays safe in the center. 12. g4 Bxg4 Once again I find an attacking player that is not content to die a slow positional death. He craves action and wants to trade three pawns for his piece. The computer assesses this as completely lost for black but it's still a pretty scary sacrifice to face. 13. fxg4 Qxg4 14. Bh3 Qxh4+ 15. Bf2 Qf6 16. Rf1 Bh6 It's worthwhile to note here that lots of paths are clearly winning for white. The candidate move pool as I navigate the computer's analysis shows the richness of the options for white. 17. O-O-O Komodo sees the position as equal if black responds Qf3 here (disturbing the white piece harmony a bit). I saw this move but I felt that it wasn't enough to save black from my extra piece and I wanted my king far away from spoiling any calculations from an intermediate check somewhere. My king is getting safe before anythign else. 17. ... Qg7 18. Kb1 Totally safe and ready to outplay my opponent with my extra piece AND my more active pieces. 18. ... Nf6 19. d4 cxd4 20. Bxd4 Nc6 21. Bxf6 exf6 22. Nc4 O-O 23. Rxd6 Rfe8 24. Rdxf6 Re7 25. Nd6 Ne5 26. Qb3 Rf8 27. Nd4 Bg5 28. Rxf7 Rfxf7 29. Nxf7 Rxf7 30. Be6 Bf6 31. Qxb7 Kf8 32. Bxf7 Qxf7 33. Qb8+ Kg7 34. Qd6 Nd7 35. Ne6+ Kg8 36. e5 Qe7 Here I was running low on time and decided to simplify into a clearly won ending. 37. exf6 Qxd6 38. f7+ Kh8 39. f8=Q+ Nxf8 40. Rxf8+ Qxf8 41. Nxf8 1-0 My opponent went on after this game to lose a second game and then withdraw from the event. I think that was due to this game. The calculations involved I think proved too much for him and his brain had become fatigued. This is the most common problem among class C+ players. They play well most of the time with some inaccuracy but mostly just do not have the acuity and stamina necessary for mastery. I used to be like that and as you have seen previously I still suffer from it. Through hard work things are getting better but it may be that I still will crack in later rounds.