Wednesday, June 28, 2017

2017 Summer Party Round 1 Anton Taylor, 2026 - Andrew Orr, 1693 "Marshall Gambit" (C70)

2017 Summer Party Round 1 
Anton Taylor, 2026 - Andrew Orr, 1693 
"Marshall Gambit" (C70)

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. c3 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Rxe5 c6 12. Bxd5 cxd5 13. d4 Bd6 14. Re1 Qh4 15. g3 Qh3 16. Qf3 Be6 17. Be3 Rad8 18. Nd2  I have quite become a bit of a specialist in the white side of the marshall. After encountering it a few times in blitz this year and twice in tournaments I have studied even grandmaster games in the variation (specifically MVL playing as white and Aronian as black). 18. ... Rfe8 This move is a bit useful but the mainline that leads to the "GM draw" is 18. ... Bg4. 19. Qg2 This is the standard idea for white after Bg4 so there is no reason not to play it here. The silicon monsters like Bf4 and Bg5 but that seems a bit over-ambitious. After all, white only needs to stabilize because he is a pawn ahead. 19. ... Qh5 20. f4? I can see a master level commentator saying "that's a horrible move. who plays like this?" and objectively that is probably correct. The bishop on e3 is terrible and made so much worse by this move. However, in my experience if black can get a pawn on f4 in most situations even if it is a legitimate sacrifice black gets huge compensation. consolidating f4 in that case is paramount to me, Also, since we are a pawn ahead we can actually give a pawn back to improve the bishop if it becomes necessary to free the "big pawn". 20. ... Bh3 21. Qh1? Qf3 or Qf2 are much better. It doesn't matter. 21. ... Re6 22. Bf2?? 22. ... Re2! would win on the spot. Bf2 is pretty bad but it is made much worse in most variation by the queen trapped on h1. 22. ... Rg6? see the previous note. 23. Be3 The bishop has to go right back to the old square. white has obviously done something wrong. 23. ... Qf5?? Black is a little better with moves like Re8 but white is starting to unravel as he is allowed. 24. Nf3 Bxf4 25. Bxf4 I did not see that Nh4 worked because I thought that Bxg6. what I missed is this variation ... 25. Nh4 Bxg3 26. Nxf5 Bxe1+ 27. Ng3!  the text is still equal25. ... Qxf4 26. Kf2? Yet another chess sin. Re2 is the drawing move and an "only" move. 26. ... Rf6?? 27. gxf4 White gives up as everything loses. 1-0 

It seems a bit of poor taste to call myself a "specialist" and then show you a game in which I begin to go wrong immediately after the book moves end. I recant of that indulgence in phrasing. However, as with my previous games in this line this game will go into my mental data bank and serve to make me better in the line as white. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

2017 Kentucky Open Round 5 Andy Porter, 2106 - Anton Taylor, 2030 English: Anglo-Indian (A15)

2017 Kentucky Open Round 5
Andy Porter, 2106 - Anton Taylor, 2030
English: Anglo-Indian (A15)

1. c4 Nf6 2. g3 e6 3. Bg2 d5 4. d4 c6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. Rd1 Even at the GM level this move is fairly common. It makes only a little sense to me. It is just a way to clear the f1 square of the rook. That's pretty much it. There is no hope for this rook to use the d-file. 8. ... Ne4 9. Nfd2? A strange looking move that doesn't really help white extricate the black knight. In fact allowing himself to play f3 makes the knight's journey even more frutiful than it might otherwise be. f3 would be a permanent weakness in the white camp. 9. ... f5 10. f3? A blunder as stated but this was the idea of moving the knight from f3 on the previous move. 10. ... Nef6 Just going back. No need to make the knight awkward by Nd6 even if it is better according to Komodo. Why complicate matters when you're positionally better? 11. c5? This move makes it even easier for black to control d5 and gives black targets on d4 and c5 so his better development gives him something to play for now. 11. ... b6 12. Nb3 bxc5 13. Nxc5?? This further concession gives black a classical center. Black is clearly winning. 13. ... Nxc5 14. dxc5 e5 15. b4 Qc7 There is no need to get complicated just guard everything and white should eventuially collapse. 16. Nd2 a5 17. bxa5 Rxa5 18. Nb3 Ra7 19. e3 Be6 20. Bb2 Nd7 21. Bf1 f4? At the time I felt this move was a lever peeling open the white king's hiding place but  realistically this opens lines for the White bishop pair that needed not be opened. The simple Rfa8 or the powerful (if a bit complicated) Rb8 are much better alternatives. 22. gxf4? exf4 opening the file for the rook and not compromising white's king position is better. 22. ...  exf4 23. e4 dxe4 I felt I was completely winning here and Komodo agrees. However I missed an elementary tactic in a straightforward variation as you will see. 24. Qxe4 Bxb3?? The losing continuation. Nxc5 is really the only move and promises better than equality after something like 24... Nxc5 25. Nxc5 Bxc5+ 26. Kh1 Qf7 27. Qxc6 Be3 25. Qxe7! When I calculated this after dxe4 I thought 25. ... Bxd1 netted the exchange. Unfortunately, with the position on the board I discover to my horror that the bishop capture is met by Qxg7 checkmate! I was mortified. I had just voluntarily given up a piece in a completely winning position. 25. ... Rf7 26. Qe8+ Rf8 27. Qxd7 Qa5 28. Qd2 Bxd1 29. Qxa5 Rxa5 30. Bc4+ Kh8 31. Rxd1 Rxc5 32. Ba3 Rg5+ 33. Kf2 c5 34. Bb2 h5 35. Bc3 Ra8 36. h4 Rg3 37. Be5 Ra3 38. Rd8+ 1-0


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

2017 Kentucky Open Round 4 NM John Marcsik, 2149 - Anton Taylor, 2030 Caro-Kann: Exchange (B13)

2017 Kentucky Open Round 4
NM John Marcsik, 2149 - Anton Taylor, 2030
Caro-Kann: Exchange (B13)

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Bd3 A lackluster move but solid. I have no problems with it but the sharpest lines (i.e. those experimented with by the 2700 club) are the 5.Ne5 lines. 5. ... Nf6 Bg4 is more common. 6. c3 e6 7. O-O Be7 8. Nbd2 O-O 9. Ne5 Nxe5 10. dxe5 Nd7 11. f4 f6?? This direct method of handling the threat of f5 is a mistake. It just creates more black weaknesses. Qb6+ and Nc5 are better options. I especially like Qb6+ because it takes over the e3 square which makes white's bishop on c1 seem rather silly and makes its development awkward. 12. Qh5 f5 White has chosen an overly-aggressive continuation and things are back in equilibrium. Black then must be better as the White pieces need to reorganize and Black gains a tempo with his next move. 13. Nf3 Nc5 14. Bc2 Bd7 15. Nd4 Ne4 16. Be3 Bc5 17. Rf3 Bxd4? This move is a very human decision. I want the b5 square and I want to play Be8 and transfer the other bishop to my king's defense. This capture perpetuates both of these ideas simultaneously but Komodo absolutely hates the idea. The problem with the plan is simple. A bishop cannot be on the king and queensiude simultaneously. Therefore, this is not a winning idea. The exchange is poor. 18. Bxd4 Be8 19. Qh3 Qe7? This move is a waste of time. Looking back on this game playing g6 earlier and controlling the a6-f1 diagonal makes a lot more sense. 20. Kh1 White finally gives up on his premature mating ideas with pieces and decides on a different method of mating attack using the g-pawn. 20. ... Bg6? Bb5 makes more sense ... countering white's kingside aggression by opening the game and controlling the mating squares while making my own threats on the queenside. That could be a winning plan if white persists too far. 21. Rg1 b5 22. Rff1 b4 23. Qd3 Rfc8 24. Bd1 a5? After a series of very strong moves and the right idea (attacking on the queenside to rob white of his time for attacking my king) I fall into this time wasting "gem". It is better to simply exchange the b-pawn and make white's lone c3 pawn a target of attack. Komodo correctly sees this as winning. Black is better even after a5 but it is much harder to convert to a win. 25. g4?? This is a howler of a mistake and I completely miss the continuation. One sample variation is 25... fxg4! 26. Qe3 (Black threatened to win the queen by capturing with the bishop after the knight checks on f2) bxc3 27. Bxg4? Nd2! 28. Rf2 Be4+. That variation is only eight half-moves deep but from the starting position moves like Nd2 are particularly hard to see as the squares are completely undefended at the beginning of the variation. 25. ... bxc3 26. bxc3 Rab8 27. gxf5 Bxf5 28. Bg4?? I was so hopelessly taken in by the idea that White had a strong attack that I failed to make a concrete observation that there was an attack to be discovered against the queen with once again this key check by the knight on f2 winning white's queen. 28. ... Qh4?? This hands the game over to white in all logical variations. A shame. 29. Bxf5 exf5 30. e6 g6 31. Rb1 Qe7? Qxf4 is better as my passer will be faster and the strong Nf2 is still in the air. 32. Be5?? Rxb1?? (Nf2+! for the third time is missed. This time winning the queen outright.)33. Rxb1 d4?? A sacrifice out of desperation and missing the saving and completely winning fork for the fourth time. 34. Qxd4 Nxc3?? A losing blunder. Komodo recommends Qxe6 as drawing but giving up the seventh rank seems a hard decision for black to make. 35. Qxc3 this wins but Qd7 is much faster. Qxe6 36. Qxc8+ Qxc8 37. Rb8 Qxb8 38. Bxb8 Kf7 39. Kg2 Ke6 40. a4 Kd5 41. Bc7 Kc4 42. Bxa5 Kb3 43. Kh3 Kxa4 44. Be1 Kb5 45. Kh4 h6 46. Bc3 Kc5 47. Bg7 Kd5 48. Bxh6 Ke6 49. Kg5 Kf7 50. h4 1-0

Friday, June 9, 2017

2017 Kentucky Open Round 3 Anton Taylor, 2030 - NM Davis Whaley, 2357 Sicilian Canal/Moscow Variation (B51)

2017 Kentucky Open Round 3 
Anton Taylor, 2030 - NM Davis Whaley, 2357 
Sicilian Canal/Moscow Variation (B51)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nd7 4. a4 I had recently seen a game or two from Magnus Carlsen in this variation last year where this odd looking move had been thrown in. It's interesting. It should be pointed out that Black scores rather well in this variation at top level but I'm a risk taker. 4. ... Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. O-O Bg7 This is where theory currently sits on this variation and where several different moves have been tried for white's 7th. The move I choose is not in the database. 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 O-O 9. Be3 Nc5 10. f3 a6 11. Bc4 Bd7 12. Qd2 Rc8 I was regretting playing Bc4 here after this move that forces me to make some kind of concession. There are three main moves here for white ... Ba2, b3, and Bd3. I didn't like Ba2 Because controlling the a2-g8 diagonal isn't really my priority. I want to solve the tension on the queenside from the g7 bishop and rook on c8 in the most efficient way. 13. Bd3 Komodo gives immediately that Nxd3 leads to a black advantage but giving up the c5 knight is difficult to human eyes. I wagered that after Nxd3 I could keep my grip on c3 and maybe even expand safely in the center leading to a small edge for white. Davis must have come to the same conclusion. 13. ... Qc7 14. Nde2 Bc6? I think this is the first real mistake. Allowing me to block up the c-file will make black's queen and rook look stupid. Sure, I have to give up the "good" bishop I have controlling the dark squares but with the file closed the bishop on d3 can come back to c4 with a more solid grip than previously. 15. Bxc5 dxc5 16. Qe3 Nd7 17. f4 White has a classic center but he has to be really careful. 17. ... Qb6 18. a5! I really liked this move. White wants to play Bc4 and e5 when he will be comfortable but in most move orders a knight ends up on b6 to ruin white's plans. This move thrown in fixes that problem. 18. ... Qb4 19. e5 c4 20. Be4 Qc5 21. Qxc5 Nxc5 22. Bxc6 Rxc6 23. Rfd1 At the time this seemed the most principled reply. Develop the pieces. 23. ... e6?? Ne6 was the only move that didn't lose on the spot. Once again my opponent and I labor under the same errors. I thought e6 was forced. 24. Rd4 f6 25. exf6 Bxf6 26. Rxc4 Rd8 27. Rd1 Rxd1+ 28. Nxd1 Kf7 29. b4 Na4 30. Rxc6 bxc6 31. Kf2? This move is still completely winning but the immediate c4! stops all the counterplay. 31. ...  c5 32. Nc1 a humble retreat to reorganize the piece. komodo sees that b5! is a winning sacrifice but I couldn't see that far. It seems obvious now that you offer a piece sac on c3 and black either "counter-sacrifices" by declining white's and losing a piece or the a-pawn marches to queening unimpeded. Fascinating. 32. ... cxb4 33. Nd3 Be7 34. Ke3 Nc3 35. Nxc3 bxc3 36. Kd4 Bd8 37. Nc5 Bxa5 38. Nxa6 Kf6 39. g4 h5 40. h3 hxg4 41. hxg4 g5 42. Ke4 gxf4 43. Kxf4 Bd8 44. Nc5 Bc7+ 45. Ke4 Bd6 46. Nd3 Kg5 47. Ne5 The last ten moves are so have been played with black having second on his clock and playing with the time delay to stay alive. The position is a draw as my win has slipped through my fingers but ... 47. ... Bxe5?!? Black takes the trade and that runs into a lost king and pawn. 48. Kxe5 Kxg4 49. Kxe6 Kf4 1-0 I don't remember the exact moves from here but it is completely winning for white. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

2017 Kentucky Open Round 2 Mike Thomas, 1977 - Anton Taylor, 2030 Richter-Veresov System (A45)

2017 Kentucky Open Round 2 
Mike Thomas, 1977 - Anton Taylor, 2030 
Richter-Veresov System (A45)

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 I took a moment here. I have never played a tournament game against the Veresov. I have seen it many times in blitz games over the internet but I never bothered to study any of the openings's variations. As it turns out I follow a sideline but it works out. The only problem with my approach was that time was spent on the earlier moves where it might have been saved had I done my homework. 2. ... d5 3. Bg5 Nbd7 4. Qd3 c6 5. Nf3 h6 6. Bxf6 Nxf6 7. e4 dxe4 8. Nxe4 Nxe4 9. Qxe4 Qa5+ 10. c3 Bf5 There are a couple of master games in this position but in both of those white plays Qe5 and the games eventually dwindle into a draw. 11. Qf4 e6 12. Bc4 g5 Rd8 followed by Bd6 gives black a comfortable lead in development. The text was played in order to make kingside castling somewhat distasteful for white. However, it does not turn out so useful. The weakness of the black king leads to a drawn ending where there might otherwise have been a win. 13. Qe3 Bd6 14. a4 b5 15. Bb3 O-O 16. Ne5 Qc7? this is actually a mistake. b4 was better fixing the a-pawn on an awkward square and restricting white's counterattack options. 17. h4 g4 18. axb5 cxb5 19. O-O a5 20. Bd1 Bxe5 21. dxe5 Rfd8 22. Qxh6? It would be better to solidify the e-pawn and then force black to defend his h-pawn. Qxe5 23. Qg5+ Qg7 24. Qf4 a4 As is often the case in these types of positional problems I move the "wrong pawn". But truthfully the symmetry is suggestive of a draw. 25. Re1 Rd5? Useless. It is better to go ahead and play a3 to liquidate the pawn islands. The current state of things will result in white building up an attack on both the b and g pawns. 26. Be2 Rad8 27. Red1 Qf6? At a depth of 20 or so Komodo claims that the only move that isn't losing here is Kh7. 28. g3 Rxd1+ 29. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 30. Bxd1 a3 31. bxa3 Qxc3 32. Bxg4 Bd3? At the time I thought this was a saving move. My opponent apparently suffered under the same delusion. The correct white reply is 33.Bh5! when all black replies fail and he is lost. 33. Qg5+ Kh8 34. Qh6+ Kg8 35. Qg5+ 1/2-1/2 and we agree to a draw.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

2017 Kentucky Open Round 1 Anton Taylor, 2030 - Kevin French, 1800 Sicilian Moscow (B52)

2017 Kentucky Open Round 1 
Anton Taylor, 2030 - Kevin French, 1800 
Sicilian Moscow (B52)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. a4 Nf6 4. ... a6 is probably the most accurate response here. 5. Nc3 e5 6. d3 Be7 7. Bg5 This is the most logical move that develops the last minor piece. However, the position holds no real secrets. It is a pretty dead drawn position. Meaning that the only positive white can claim is that his development is slightly more useful but not enough to win. 7. ... O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bxf6 Bxf6 10. Nd5 Rc8 I expected Bg4 but I saw that as not much of a threat. This move seems like much the same as the rest of black's development. good for equality and not much else. 11. h4 I decide to stir things up and I think this is the most interesting way to do that if not particularly principled. 11. ... Be7 12. g3 Be6 Kh8 preparing f5 is probably the best way to go. the f5 break has to be where black's advnatge lies. 13. Bc4 Nd4 14. Nxd4 cxd4 15. f3 f5 16. O-O Qd7? good alternatives to this move are f4 and Rc5. Play on the two bishop files are similar plans that give black a slight edge. 17. exf5 Rxf5 18. f4 Rcf8 19. g4 R5f7 20. f5 Bxd5 21. Bxd5 Bxh4 22. g5?? In my opinion this is the decisive error. When I had calculated this variation on move 17 I missed that 24. Bxg5 can be interjected. Had I re-evaluated g5 properly when it appeared on the board I would have seen the problem. however, I trusted the earlier calculation as is my worst current habit and failed to convert a nice position. 22. ... Kh8 23. Be6?? This is a worse sin. However my previous note applies to this move as I had looked at it on move 17 and failed to recheck here. Black's reply is technically winning. 23. ... Qe7 24. Bxf7 Bxg5 25. Qh2 Qxf7 26. Rae1 Qd5 27. Re4 Rf6 28. Qh5 Be3+ 29. Kg2 Qf7?? throwing away the win. Qc6 guarding the back rank and simultaneously threatening Qxc2+ is simple and strong. 30. Qxf7 Rxf7 31. c4 Bf4 32. Rfxf4! exf4 33. Rxf4?? Terrible. Without even thinking about it I miss a mate in 2 on the back rank! For all of black's sins White's are far worse in this game. That is how an Expert can draw a low class A player ...  commit worse sins. 33. ... Kg8 34. Kg3 Kf8 35. Kg4 Ke7 36. Rxd4 g6 37. fxg6 hxg6 38. Kg5 Rf2 39. b4 Rg2+ 40. Rg4 Rb2 41. c5 Ra2 42. cxd6+ Kxd6 43. b5 Ra3 44. Rd4+ Kc5 45. Rc4+ Kd5 46. Kxg6 Rxd3 47. Rc7 Ra3 48. Kf7 Rxa4 49. Rxb7 Kc5 50. Ke7 Ra5 1/2-1/2

Friday, May 26, 2017

2017 3 Tables - May Round 3 Michael Thomas, 1998 - Anton Taylor, 2011 English: Anglo-Indian (A15)

2017 3 Tables - May Round 3
Michael Thomas, 1998 - Anton Taylor, 2011
English: Anglo-Indian (A15)

1. c4 Nf6 2. g3 e6 Oftentimes Catalan players will accept this transposition and I get into familiar territory as black. My opponent in this game (a long-time friend of mine) prefers to keep things tense and undecided. 3. Bg2 d5 4. Nf3 Bd6 Be7 is more common and probably just a bit better because the queen supports the d-pawn advance. the bishop on d6 interferes with the queen's file. 5. O-O O-O 6. b3 c5 7. e3 There are very few games in the database in this position to give a fair assessment but after my next move I give a plus to black. White has delayed his central push in favor of activity on the wings. These ideas are often countered by action in the center. 7. ... d4!? 8. exd4 cxd4 9. Re1? Bb2 seems the more appropriate reply or maybe even Ba6. This is just an inaccuracy but not a blunder. There is game left to play here. 9. ... Nc6 10. Bb2 e5 Only now does komodo running on my home pc begin to see white's problem. He has some weaknesses but perhaps just as important he has zero attacking prospects and his only plan for the next several moves is to try and develop. 11. a3? This move comes from a fear of black getting a knight outpost on c2 but white can simply prevent this with a move he will have to play eventually (d3). Therefore, this a waste of time. Also, as it turns out in the coming ending this is a decisive mistake because it leades to a weak b-pawn. 11. ... Bg4 Bf5 instead of this move was probably better. I considered it but did not spend much time on it ... not enough time. 12. h3?? This is a blunder but I failed to capitalize on it correctly. I, however did find a technically won ending from here. 12. ... Bxf3 13. Bxf3 Qd7? komodo gives the interesting sacrifice 13. ... e4!. I have to say that I did not consider that move at all. To my eyes it just seemed to blunder a pawn but with potential variations like 13... e4 14. Bxe4 Nxe4 15. Rxe4 f5 16. Re6 Qd7 17. Re1 f4 Black looks to be mopping things up nicely. 14. Kg2? Sacrificing the pawn was necessary to leave black with only a slight edge of a rook-pawn. 14. ... Qf5?? e4 once again looms in the air as the winning idea. This move allows white to consolidate and even gives him a winning game with correct play.  15. d3 Rae8 16. Bxc6?? Almost every other move on the board wins for white or at least gives him a comfortable edge to work with. This move, however, just gives up a whole set of squares to black's forces in the bishop's absence. 16. ... bxc6 17. Qf3 Qxf3+ 18. Kxf3 Rb8 19. Nd2 Nd7 20. b4 a5 21. c5 Bxc5 22. Nc4 axb4 23. axb4?? White is already lost but the game could be saved in the time trouble of the ending if white had tried Nxe5 as I expected him to play here. The text just leads to carnage. 23. ... Bxb4 24. Re2 f6 25. Ra6 Nc5 26. Rxc6 Nxd3 0-1 Mike said "that's enough" and extended his hand. I have played Mike a few times in the last fifteen years but until this game I was on the receiving end of a massive beating. It is a landmark game for me in spite of the mistakes. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

2017 3 Tables - May Round 2 Anton Taylor, 2011 - Randas Burns, 1992 c3 Sicilian (B27)

2017 3 Tables - May Round 2
Anton Taylor, 2011 - Randas Burns, 1992
c3 Sicilian (B27)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. c3 Bg7 4. Bc4 Nc6 I had followed this path as white mainly to take Randas out of his book knowledge. I fell pray to his intuition in his pet accelerated dragon in our previous encounter and I did not want a repeat. 5. O-O I'm content not to exchange on d4. Instead, I decide to stunt the bishop's diagonal and build a kingside attack. 5. ... d6 6. d3 e6? If Black intended d5 then he should have played e6 on his previous move. this idea now just wastes a tempo. 7. Nbd2 Nge7 8. Re1 O-O 9. Nf1 The common reorganizing of this knight in such positions is a clear path for white. I would argue that black has had no clear plan. 9. ... a6 10. h4 d5 11. exd5 exd5 12. Bb3 h6? This is a reflexive reaction to h4. It seems like such moves can only create weaknesses when they don't attack pieces to gain time. 13. Bf4 Just completing developing pieces until I can crack open the black kingside. The plan is to play Qd2 and start an attack on the black h-pawn. 13. ... Be6 14. Qd2 Kh7? An inaccuracy. I had expected Nf5. Talking with Randas after the game he did not think he could keep the knight on that square and so quickly decided to make the thematic king move.  15. h5 Qd7 This is an interesting position. White has one major weakness and set about a plan to eliminate it. The bishop on b3 needs to find greener pastures and control more squares. 16. d4 cxd4 17. cxd4 Nf5 Too little too late. 18. Ne5! Black would have an equal position if he could make something out of his central attack. This move and the plan to recapture with the d-pawn ensures that that counterplay goes nowhere. 18. ... Nxe5 19. dxe5 komodo feels that Bxe5 is superior and that may very well be true but I see no harm in the move. Perhaps it is best to compromise and call this a slight inaccuracy. 19. ... g5 20. Bh2 The only move. The tempting Bishop sacrifice on g5 doesn't work. 20. ... Rfd8 21. Bc2 Kg8 22. Qd3 It's interesting how badly komodo assesses white to be here. Perhaps this counterplay on the open file is exactly why the machines did not like dxe5? 22. ... Rac8 23. Rac1 Rc7 24. f4? This turns out in analysis to be foolishly optimist or at least premature. I felt I was winning here but with correct play white is just holding on and fending off black's counterplay in the center. 24. ... Qe7?? Rdc8 was both necessary and probabl;y winning. This is the decisive blunder. 25. g4 Qc5+ 26. Kh1 Nh4 27. f5 Qf2 28. Re2 Qf3+ 29. Qxf3 Nxf3 30. fxe6 fxe6 31. Bh7+ 1-0

In the face of being so much material down Randas throws in the towel. My foolish optimism in the attack could have cost me this game. My positional evaluation after 19. dxe5 was flawed and that complicated my life considerably. You can even see in the annotation that I start out liking the move and gradually come to the realization that it was a turning point in the game where I nearly spoiled the good idea of 18. Ne5.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

2017 3 Tables - May Round 1 NM Davis Whaley, 2352 - Anton Taylor, 2011 Nimzo-Indian 4.e3 (E41)

2017 3 Tables - May Round 1 
NM Davis Whaley, 2352 - Anton Taylor, 2011 
Nimzo-Indian 4.e3 (E41)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 c5 5. Bd3 Nc6 6. Ne2 d6 This is a bit of a sideline. I honestly could not remember the mainline (cxd4) or how I was supposed to play there. d6 is a nice idea giving white a bit of space to close the center and get in e5. I will probably play this line again but I will be better prepared the next time. 7. O-O e5 The silicon monsters absolutely hate this move but it is the only clear idea after d6. My chess sense tells me that it is hard for white to prove a direct winning method here. However, at a ply greater than 20 komodo gives +- 0.78. 8. d5 Ne7 9. f4 exf4 I hated to play this move but I saw no reasonable alternative. It is rough equality with white being a bit better. The main problem practically is that the Bishop on c8 has very few squares and zero attakingt prospects. 10. exf4 Bg4 11. Qc2 Ng6 12. Ng3 O-O 13. f5 Ne5 14. h3 Nh5 15. Nge4 Bxh3 16. gxh3 Qh4 17. Kg2 f6 18. Bd2 Bxc3 19. Qxc3 Rae8 20. Rae1 g5 21. fxg6 Nxg6 22. Bc2 Nhf4+ 23. Bxf4 Nxf4+ 24. Kh2 Kh8 25. Qg3 Qxg3+ 26. Kxg3 Nh5+ 27. Kh4 Re5 28. Nxd6 Rg5 29. Rxf6 1-0
 The remainder of the game is interesting with a lot of alternatives and a lot of potential pitfalls for white (even though he is a piece up at the cost of a pawn). However, it seems more efficient for time for me to go back and look at the opening again and draw some positional conclusions before the tactics came into play. Once again I have trouble in a Nimzo based opening line (I recall a game from last month where I played against Michael Johnson and lost right out of the opening as happened here.

Friday, April 28, 2017

2017 3 Tables - April Round 3 Anton Taylor, 2017 - FM Matt Hassen, 2288 Pirc (B07)

2017 3 Tables - April Round 3 
Anton Taylor, 2017 - FM Matt Hassen, 2288 
Pirc (B07)

1. e4 d6 I never know what to expect from Matt. 2. d4 e5 3. dxe5 dxe5 4. Qxd8+ Kxd8 5. Bc4 Be6 6. Bxe6 fxe6 7. Nf3 Bd6 8. Bg5+ This is the first deviation from mainline theory. There are maybe a dozen games on chessbase and the results vary meaning that it is probably just as equal "with chances" for both players. 8. ... Nf6 9. Nbd2 Nd7 10. O-O-O b5!? Ke7 is the database recommended move here but there is nothing wrong with the text exactly. It just looks bizarre. 11. c4 I felt as though this was the most direct way to challenge the b-pawn and since black can't capture without weakening his a-pawn and c-pawn it seems awkward for him. There is no path to victory in this complication and the more conservative moves like c3 or h3 just passing the turn over to black work just as well. 11. ... a6 12. Kc2? Rhe1!? seems to be a better path to follow. It isn't groundbreaking but it can be underestimated. the plan is something like Rhe1-e3-b3 or d3 depending and white has a wrokable edge. Moving the king closer to the action for the endgame isn't bad though. 12. ... Ke7 13. a3? This is just a useless move. Komodo recommends either h3 or Rhg1 as interesting moves. 13. ... c5 14. h3? Now Nb3 is possible which I missed and is probably winning. It certainly offers a decent edge for white. I missed that 14. Nb3 bxc5? 15. Na5 Nb6? 16. Nc6+! Had I seen that result of bxc5 I would have played Nb3 here. 14. ... Rhf8 15. Rhe1? Be3 and Nb3 both look appealing for white in this position as Komodo points out. However, that makes me curious. Does this mean then that Bg5+ was not particularly useful even if it forced black to make a certain kind of development (which he may have played anyway)? It is worth consideration, thought, and experimentation. The text is only good enough for equality now. It should have been played much sooner. 16. ... Nb6 16. cxb5? b3 was far better but the text still isn't losing. 16. ... axb5 17. Nh2 h6 18. Bxf6+? This is the concession that starts black on a downward spiral. Bh4 holding onto the bishop and planning to attack e5 is the best way to hold everything together. Truthfully, I had always planned to make the trade and never really considered anything else. Mistakes were made. 18. ... gxf6 19. Re3 c4 Matt told me afterwards that after he freed the bishop to go to c5 he felt as though he was winning. He is absolutely correct. White is completely lost here. But perhaps the real mistake then goes all the way back to white's move 16 ... unblocking the bishop by trading pawns instead of the solid b3. 20. Rg3 Rg8 21. Nb1 Bc5 22. Rd2 b4 I expected Rxg3 here because it is hard for white to hold onto his isolated e-pawn and I assumed it would be lost. Black chooses and more aggressive looking but less precise method (but perhaps a more practical and easily calculated line). 23. axb4 Bxb4 24. Re2 h5 25. Nf1 h4 26. Rxg8 Rxg8 27. f3 Rd8 28. Ne3 Kf7 29. Nd2 Rc8 30. Nb1 Going back where the knight came from can't be productive. However, I felt there was nothing better and Komodo agrees. 30. ... Kg6 31. Ng4 Kg5 32. Nc3 Rd8 33. Na2 Be7 Even up to this point komodo's evaluation is rough equality. I felt the king march was winning for black and it is clear that Matt did as well but it just doesn't seem to be enough to win. 34. b3?? Here is the losing howler. There are numerous winning paths once the position inevitably opens up. 34. ... Kf4 35. bxc4 Nxc4 36. Nc3 f5 37. exf5 exf5 38. Nf2 Ne3+ 39. Kb3 Bc5 40. Na4 Ba7 41. Kc3 Nxg2 42. Nd3+ Kxf3 43. Ra2 Bd4+ 44. Kc4 Ne3+ 45. Kb5 e4 46. Nf2 Nd5 47. Nd1 e3 48. Nxe3 Kxe3 49. Nc5 Nc3+ 0-1 There is some exceptionally poor technique in the last several moves but the game is lost regardless. Move 34 is the real loser for white. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

2017 3 Tables - April Round 2 Michael Johnson, 1983 - Anton Taylor, 2017 Neo-Indian (E10)

2017 3 Tables - April Round 2 
Michael Johnson, 1983 - Anton Taylor, 2017 
Neo-Indian (E10)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 This move is my attempt to create variety in the game. Normally I play the Queen's Indian (b6) and go from there but I have been trying to vary the repertoire. Both moves are seen in top master games. 4. Nc3 Bb4 This is my attempt to transpose into a Nimzo-Indian. The simple and conservative Be7 seems better. 5. Bg5 c6 White is considered better after this move and it is very strange to me that after the energetic Bb5 I elect to play the timid c6. A counterproductive warring within I suppose. 6. Bxf6 gxf6 This move is clearly inferior but I'm interested in creating an imbalance. Perhaps this is once again the warring within myself to play aggressive or to play conservative. From this point on aggressive has to win or there is no cohesion and black loses quickly. 7. e3 Qa5 8. Qc2 Nd7 9. cxd5 Qxd5 Positional suicide as it turns out. there isn't much of a chance in cxd but that is the recommended move. Black is just lost. He has to play aggressively and complicate to have any hope here. 10. Be2 e5 More errors in the center. This move "threatens" to open the center to black's own king. I can't even justify any of this. I am at the mercy of posterity on this one. 11. O-O Bxc3 12. e4 Qe6 13. bxc3 Nf8 This is more ambitious aggression in a completely lost position. 14. Rfd1 Rg8 15. d5 Qh3 16. Ne1 Bd7 17. Kh1 Qh6 The wrong square but any square still leads to black losing. His "attack" is foolish optimism and leads nowhere as the white king is sufficiently defended. 18. Rab1 b6 19. dxc6 Bxc6 20. Rd6 Bd7 21. Qd3 Ne6 22. Qd5 Rd8 23. Rxd7 Rxd7 24. Bb5 Nc5 25. Rd1 Qf4 26. Bxd7+ Kf8 27. f3 Nxd7 28. Qxd7 Qe3 29. Qd2 Qc5 30. Qd6+ Qxd6 31. Rxd6 Ke7 32. Rd3 Rc8 33. Kg1 Rc4 34. Nc2 a6 35. Kf2 b5 36. Ke3 a5 37. a3 Rc5 38. Ke2 a4 39. Ne3 1-0

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

2017 3 Tables - April Round 1 Anton Taylor, 2017 - Maxwell Boakye, 2028 Modern Defense (B06)

2017 3 Tables - April Round 1 
Anton Taylor, 2017 - Maxwell Boakye, 2028 
Modern Defense (B06)

1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. Nc3 a6 5. Be2 a4 may be more accurate but even at the top level the conservative Be2 seems to have been played frequently. 5. ... b5 6. a4 b4 7. Nd5 a5 8. c4 bxc3 e.p. seems to be the better move than what black chooses in this position. 8. ... Bb7 9. Qd3? Qc2 makes more sense playing to control the c-file (or essentially forcing c5, etc.) 9. ... Nd7 10. O-O c6? e6 makes more sense leaving the bishop's diagonal more open. 11. Ne3 c5 12. d5 Ngf6 13. Nd2 Ne5 Ironically, this would not be even a threat had white played Qc2 on move 9. 14. Qc2 h5 15. h3? Here is, I think, the point where White begins to go wrong. This move is completely pointless. g4 is not a proper outpost for the black knights. The immediate f4 gives white an edge to work with. 15. ... Qc7 16. b3 I take the opportunity to develop my bishop and it does seem to get me into the game. 16. ... O-O-O 17. Bb2 Kb8 18. f4 Ned7 19. Nf3 e5 I had not considered this move over the pastseveral moves as I analyzed. It seemed good for white. However, I could not work out the details of refuting it at the board. 20. fxe5 I eliminated dxe6 e.p. far too quickly. I missed that after the forcing move (Bxe4) that black's g-pawn could become a target. Had I seen that I would have followed that line of thought. 20. ... Nxe5 21. Nxe5 dxe5 22. Rf2? Komodo recommends Bf3 or Nd1. Those moves are difficult for me to see how they lead to progress. As I go through the line Bf3 is probably winning by a tiny edge. The move I chose is terrible because it just wastes time. I missed the knight maneuver to d6 that holds everything together. 22. ... Ne8 23. Raf1 Nd6 24. Bd3 Bc8 25. Qe2 Rdf8 26. Nc2 Qe1! is the komodo recommended choice. In retrospect I have to agree. The threat of sacrificing to open lines on the kingside, playing Qa1 hitting the e-pawn, and hitting the weak c5 pawn after reorganizing the pieces is enough to shred black's defenses. 26. ... Re8 27. Ne1 Rhf8 28. Bb1 Kb7 29. Qe3 f6 I felt very strong here and I analyzed Nd3 but I determined itled to almost bothing. Komodo confirms that it is actually the best move. I couldn't see it. 30. Qg3 g5 31. h4?? This maneiver forces black to close things up and the result is likely a draw in that case. 31. ... g4 32. Qe3 Bd7 33. Nd3 Kb6 34. Bc1 Rc8 35. Qe1 Qd8 36. Bd2 Qe8 37. Qe3 So, after some distraction I hit on the right plan (basically the same idea as Nd3 on move29. There is no defense for black. I thought Nb7 held everything together but white has a free hand in the center in that case. We analyzed this position after the game and neither of us saw the hopelessness of black here. 37. ... Bxa4?? 38. Nxc5! 38. ... Rxc5?? 39.Qxc5! kxc5?? 40. Be3# 38. ... Nxc4 39. Nxa4+ Kc7 40. Rc1 Kd6 41. bxc4 Qxa4 42. Qb6+ Kd7 43. c5 b3 44. Bxa5 Rb8 1-0 45.Qe6# is to follow so black resigns.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

2017 CC Spring Open Round 4 Anton Taylor, 2033 - CM Josh Suich, 2062 Scandinavian, Portuguese Variation (B01)

2017 CC Spring Open Round 4 
Anton Taylor, 2033 - CM Josh Suich, 2062 
Scandinavian, Portuguese Variation (B01)

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. d4 Bg4 4. f3 Bf5 5. g4 Bg6 6. c4 e6 7. dxe6 Nc6 8. exf7+ As it turns out this is an error. Based on my research after this game I have abandoned the f3-g4 line ... but it is playable if you like sharp firework fights like this. 8. ... Kxf7 9. Be3? There is no good alternative but this is probably one of the worst development moves. 9. ... Bb4+ 10. Nc3 Re8 11. Kf2 Qe7 12. Qd2 Nxg4+ 13. fxg4 Qh4+ 14. Ke2 Rxe3+ 15. Qxe3 Re8 16. Nf3 Qxg4 17. Rg1 Nxd4+?? RxQ+ is winning for black. This needless complication makes black's life harder. 18. Kf2 Qf5?? Another mistake. White has slowly gained ground through inaccuracies but after this move white is just winning. Failing to convert this game though is not such a big deal as it is such fireworks that calculating becomes prohibitive at my current level. This kind of game is how you grow. 19. Qxd4?? It's my turn to play a bad move. 19. Qd3 Bc5 20. Qxf5+ Bxf5 21. Ng5+ Kg8 22. Na4 and white comes out of the fireworks a rook up. 19. ... Bc5 20. Rd1 Bxd4+ 21. Rxd4 Bh5 22. Bg2? Rg3 is the path to keeping pieces on the board and take advntage of the exposed queen. Bg2 is considered by Komodo to be a draw. 22. ... Bxf3 23. Bxf3 Qc2+ 24. Ne2 Qxb2 25. Rd7+ Kf8 26. Rgxg7 Qxg7 27. Rxg7 Kxg7 28. Bxb7 Rb8 29. Bd5 Kf6 30. Nd4 Rb2+ 31. Kg3?? The problem with this choice of endgame on my part is that it requires a high degree of accuracy and According to Komodo the only way to really keep a draw is Ke3 and that is so counter-intuitive. I honestly would have to sit and calculate for a very long time in this one position to even scratch the surface on that calculation. Amazing. 31. ... Rxa2 32. Nb5 c5 33. Nc7 Ke5 34. Ne6 Kd6 35. Ng5 a5 36. Ne4+ Ke5 37. Nxc5 a4 38. Nd3+ Kd4 39. Nb4 Rb2 40. Nc6+ Kc5 41. Ne5 a3 42. Nd3+ Kd4 43. Nxb2 axb2 44. Kf4 b1=Q 0-1

Friday, April 21, 2017

2017 CC Spring Open Round 3 Farnood Farmand, 1708 - Anton Taylor, 2033 Benko Opening (A00)

2017 CC Spring Open Round 3 
Farnood Farmand, 1708 - Anton Taylor, 2033 
Benko Opening (Nimzo-Larsen) (A00)

1. g3 d5 2. Bg2 Nf6 3. d4 c5 4. e3 This move is considered just weakening. Better is Nf3. 4. ... Nc6 5. Ne2 e6 Bg4 is far more ambitious. This move is born from my fear to move the bishop. I vote instead for a French-like structure. 6. O-O Be7 7. b3 b6 8. Bb2 O-O Every result seems possible in this position. 9. Nd2 Since white delays c4 I was confident in my victory. also, the knight are not optimally placed both on the second rank. 9. ... Bb7 10. a3 Rc8 11. c4 cxd4 12. exd4 Na5 13. Rc1 Qd7 14. cxd5 Bxd5 15. b4 Nb7? In general moving backwards is the wrong method. Nc4 was the better "forward" movement of the knight. This is not losing but i'll call it an inaccuracy. 16. Nf4 Bxg2 17. Kxg2 Nd5?? This makes the win a lot harder. 17... Rxc1! 18. Qxc1 Rc8 19. Qd1 Nd6 20. Qb3 Qc6+ 21. Nf3 Qc2 22. Qxc2 Rxc2 is a winning line. 18. Nxd5 Qxd5+ 19. Qf3 Nd6 20. Qxd5 exd5 21. Rxc8 Rxc8 22. Rc1 Rxc1 23. Bxc1 Nc4 24. Kf1 Bf6 25. Nf3 Kf8 26. Ke2 Ke7 27. Kd3 Ke6 28. Nd2 Nxd2? Once again I make a poor exchange. b5 is obviously just better. 29. Bxd2 b5 30. f3 h5 31. g4 g6 32. h3 Be7 33. Bf4 Bd6 34. Bxd6 Kxd6 35. Ke3 Ke6 36. Kf4 Kf6 Well, the same color bishop ending that was only slightly in my favor has dwindled down into a drawn ending ... 37. g5+?? until this blunder that gives me the full point. 37. ... Ke6 38. h4 f6 39. Kg3 fxg5 40. hxg5 Kf5 41. f4 h4+ 0-1 computers are always quite interesting in their evaluations. Here for example there are two main lines that both end in forced mate in 23 moves. Can you see it? Yeah, me either. haha

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2017 CC Spring Open Round 2 Anton Taylor, 2033 - John Stoughton, 1629 French Classical (C13)

2017 CC Spring Open Round 2 
Anton Taylor, 2033 - John Stoughton, 1629 
French Classical (C13)

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e5 Nfd7 6. Bxe7 Qxe7 7. Qg4 Every move up until this one has been the mainline classical. Qg4 is one of those moves that I'd call interesting but not the right move. I could not remember the correct move at the time this game was played but I now know that the most common and frequently tested line starts with f4 instead. 7. ... O-O 8. Bd3 f5 9. Qg3 exf6 e.p. is the move that several engines seem to agree on but it is only good for equality. Qg3 might be over-ambitious but here it is as played. 9. ... c5 All of the handful of games played in this line in the database are black victories and there are zero master games. I'd say whiteis lost but it is more a matter of having a lack of winning prospects than losing. 10. Nf3 Nc6 11. Nb5?? A tactical blunder which I clearly see is a problem now, even without the computer showing me c4 followed by Qb4+. The games on the day of this event seem to be full of these kinds of mistakes. It is a wakeup call to action and retraining my internal tactical engine. 11. ... cxd4 12. Nbxd4? an inaccuracy (or really a blunder) ... 0-0 instead gets rid of the queen check and the pawn isn't going anywhere. 12. ... Nxd4 13. Nxd4 Qb4+ 14. c3 Qxb2 15. O-O Nc5 16. Rfc1 Nxd3 Black would be winning if he had applied more pressure to the squares the knight is headed for with moves like Bd7. Instead he trades away his better minor piece and helps me (the defender). 17. Qxd3 Qb6 18. c4 I considered Nb5-d6 but I thought the open c-file and a weak second rank of my opponent would lead to something better for me. That did not materialize. 18. ... dxc4 19. Qxc4 Rd8 20. Nf3?? Again I play passively and miss a killer tactic ... Nxf5! is clearly winning. I did not even consider it. Obviously I need to rework my tactical training process. 20. ... Rd5 21. Ng5?? not only is this a wasted move but realistically there is a real chance for white to play for a win here by playing Rd1 taking advantage of his lead in development. Yet another chance to win in this game thrown away. 21. ... h6 22. Rab1 Qd4 23. Nf3? Here I failed to see a pin. After 23. Qxc8+! Rxc8 24.Rxc8+ Rd8 Nxe6! and Qd1+? is met by Rxd1!. In my head that line lost for white because the rook could recapture (but in reality it is pinned). 23. ... Qxc4 24. Rxc4 Bd7 25. a4 Bc6 26. Kf1 Rad8 27. Ke2 Ra5 28. g4 fxg4 29. Rxg4 Rxa4 30. Rxa4 Bxa4 31. Rxb7 a6 32. Ke3 Bb5? Volunteering to put the bishop on a square white's knight can attack immediately helps white to equalize. 33. Nd4 Bc4 34. f4 Ra8 35. f5 exf5 36. Nxf5 a5 37. Kd4 Be6 38. Nxg7 Bc8 39. Rc7 a4 40. e6 Bxe6 41. Nxe6 a3 42. Rg7+ Kh8 43. Rg1 a2 44. Ra1 Kh7 45. Nc7 Ra4+ according to Komodo white is convincingly better here. however, with my time now dwindling down to nothing I was very unclear how to convert the extra material. This requires study. 46. Kc3 Kg6 47. Kb3 Ra5 48. Ne6?? Here was a slip, giving black time to get his king into action to attack my distant pawn. The simple and forced 48.Kb4 Ra7 49. Nb5 followed by likely Na3 wins the pawn and preserves the h-pawn. 48. ... Kf5 49. Nd4+ Kg4 50. Nc2 Kh3 51. Na3 Kxh2 52. Rxa2+ Kg3 53. Rc2 h5 54. Nc4 Rf5 55. Kc3 Rf3+ 56. Kd4 h4 57. Ne3 h3 58. Ke4 Rf4+ 59. Ke5 Rf2 1/2-1/2

There were so many chances to play much better in this game and I made so many blunders it is actually quite miraculous that I did not lose. It is time to give myself a tactical bootcamp so to speak. I have fallen behind in my study of that aspect of chess. To come this far and yet slip back into old lazy habits. It is a strange development to play moves like 45. Nc7 that require fairly precise calculation and takes some 15-20 ply for engines to actually think more of than other knight moves and then to fall for simple tactics like 21. Ng5?? or missing 23.Qxc8! or 20.Nxf5. Perhaps we are once more talking about gaps in my focus during the games as well. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

2017 CC Spring Open Round 1 Scott Lacy, 1419 - Anton Taylor, 2033 Nimzo-Indian (E41)

2017 CC Spring Open Round 1 
Scott Lacy, 1419 - Anton Taylor, 2033 
Nimzo-Indian (E41)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 c5 I spent entirely too much time thinking before playing c5. I couldn't remember any of the Nimzo lines in that moment. My two candidates were c5 and the odd looking Nc6 (which I thought was an old sideline recommendation of GM Roman Dzindzichashvili but I couldn't remember any of his analysis so I went with the thematic c5. The correctness of the move in the database is not really relavent as it is pure luck that I made an appropriate room as I got there through a fumbled means. 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 O-O 7. Bd3 Nc6 8. Nf3 d6 9. O-O e5 Black is actually really happy here and has achieved quite a lot.At least equality but optimistically a little more. 10. dxe5? Not at all the right move and probably a bankrupting one. d5, Qc2, and Nd2 are all superior moves. A move I'm surprised hasn't been played much is Be2. 10. ... Nxe5? An inaccuracy that gives white a little more freedom than he would otherwise enjoy. Obviously better is dxe5 when this keeps the knight on the board and threatens e4! 11. Nxe5 dxe5 12. Qc2 Qe7 13. f3 Be6? I thought for a long time before playing Be6 and I really thought about e4! Komodo confirms that this move is just clearly winning. For some reason I could not come to a definitive conclusion and it seems silly now that I did not play the simple temporary sacrifice. 14. e4 Nh5 15. g3 Rad8 16. Be3 Bh3 17. Rf2 Rd7 18. Be2 f5? I was very excited when I played this. I had determined that opening the position benefited me. Komodo thinks this is losing and it is correct but it takes at least ten more moves (20 ply) to prove that point and with the complex branching of the variations it wasn't really possible for me to see that far ahead. 19. f4?? My opponent fails to find that challenge to f5 with the simple exf5 and instead commits a blunder. 19. ... exf4 20. gxf4 Nf6 21. Rf3 Bg4 22. Rg3?? A bad position just got a whole lot worse. 22. ... Nxe4 23. Bxg4 Nxg3 My opponent sees the Bishop is en prise and rather than trying to defend it and play down a rook he throws in the towel. 0-1

Friday, April 14, 2017

2017 Red Bull Round 5 Anton Taylor, 1999 - CM Billy Woodward, 1990 Ruy Lopez (Spanish), Schliemann Variation (C63)

2017 Red Bull Round 5 
Anton Taylor, 1999 - CM Billy Woodward, 1990 
Ruy Lopez (Spanish), Schliemann Variation (C63)

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5 Billy hesitated briefly before playing this move. No doubt he remembered the last game we played in this variation and assumed I had done my research after that loss. Once more I have a horrible confession to make. I did look at the opening after that game but I did not come to a concrete conclusion or approach it in any kind of systematic way to put it into my memory. So, once more I was in the awkward position of playing by my own calculation ability right out of the opening. 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. exf5 e4 Here is where I particularly diverge from the strongest continuation against this variation. By far the best move here is Ng5! 6. Qe2 Qe7 7. Ng5?? This move is not only inaccurate but losing. Fortunately, my opponent failed to find the winning line. 7. ... Nd4 8. Qd1 h6? NxB followed by d5 is just clearly better for black here. 9. Nh3?? Nd5 is an interesting choice as after Nxd5?? Qh5+ wins. However, white in that case in merely "better" as the capture on d5 isn't forced. 9. ... c6 10. Be2 d5 11. d3 Bxf5 Black is just better here for all kinds of reasons. It boils down to the fact that white's pieces lack mobility and he has no clear target to attack. In theory black should just ground white into dust given enough time. 12. Nf4?? O-O-O? 12. ... g5! followed by d4 likely wins a piece or at the very least leaves white's king out in the open to be hunted. 13. Be3 Nxe2 14. Ncxe2 exd3 15. Nxd3 d4 16. Bf4 g5 17. Bg3 Re8 18. Kf1 Rd8? Although this move wastes time black is still winning. That fact demonstrates his superiority in the position. 19. Qd2 Ne4? I thought b6 might be necessary as Qa5 seems to be the only path to white's salvation. 20. Qa5 Nxg3+ 21. hxg3? I played this far too quickly. the knight recapture is far better. Komodo spots far off tactics but the move just looks "messy" and the knight recapture looks "clean" to my human eyes. 21. ... Bxd3 22. cxd3 Bg7? The simple Kb8 removes all the complication white can muster. 23. Qxa7 Rhf8 24. Qa8+ Kc7 25. Qa5+ Kb8 26. Rc1 Rd5 27. Qd2 I thought this was a nice way to deal with black's threats but it turns out there is a hidden "cook" that wins for black here ... 27. ... Qe3! and all of white's replies lead to a losing position. It's the sort of tactic that a computer program spots easily but a human has great difficulty seeing. 27. ... Rdf5 28. f3 Re8 29. Kf2 Qd6 30. g4 Rfe5 31. Ng3 Rf8 After all the rook shuffling around White emerges having made quite a bit of improvement for himself. Komodo recommends that for his move 32 white could move either rook to the e-file and be winning. I play an equal but interesting move. 32. Nf5 So, it turns out that sacrificing a rook for this knight is a likely road to equality for black. Or at least his best chance for it. The longer he leaves the knight on f5 the worse it gets for him. 32. ... Qg6 33. Rhe1 Rb5 34. a4 Rbxf5 35. gxf5 Qxf5 36. Qb4! the best way to play for the mate as well as prevent black from making any unraveling maneuvers. The threat of Re7 constructing a mating net is impossibly strong. 36. ... g4? This loses quickly but all roads get white to the W. 37. Re7 b5 38. Qd6+ Kc8 39. Qxc6+  Qc7 and Rxc6 are both mate in 1 but I had a sense of humor. 1-0

I decided to do some preparation since it is obvious I'm going to see this variation again from Billy. I came across an interesting little game from several years ago played by one of my long-time facebook chess friends Jacob Aagaard.

2010 49th Denmark Team Championship Round 9
GM Jacob Aagard, 2534 - GM Jonny Hector, 2576
Ruy Lopez (Spanish), Schliemann Variation (C63)

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. exf5 e4 6. Ng5 d5 7. d3 h6 8. Ne6 Bxe6 9. fxe6 Qd6 10. dxe4 Qxe6 11. O-O dxe4 12. Bf4 Bd6 13. Bxd6 cxd6 14. f3 e3 15. Qd3 O-O-O 16. Bxc6 bxc6 17. Rfe1 Rhe8 18. Qa6+ Kb8 19. Qxc6 Rc8 20. Qb5+ Ka8 21. Rad1 d5 22. Rd3 Rb8 23. Qa5 Qc6 24. a4 e2 25. Nxd5 Nxd5 26. Qxd5 Qxd5 27. Rxd5 Rxb2 28. Rc5 Rb4 29. a5 Rd4 30. Kf2 Rd2 31. Rc7 g5 32. Rc6 Kb7 33. Rxh6 Rxc2 34. Rh5 Rc5 35. h4 Rxa5 36. hxg5 Rae5 37. g4 R5e6 38. Rh6 Re5 39. g6 a5 40. Rh5 a4 41. Rxe5 Rxe5 42. g7 1-0

This game will be saved as a reference for a later encounter with this variation.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

2017 Red Bull Round 4 Jerry Baker, 2130 - Anton Taylor, 1999 Nimzo-Larsen Indian (A01)

2017 Red Bull Round 4
Jerry Baker, 2130 - Anton Taylor, 1999 
Nimzo-Larsen Indian (A01)

1. b3 Once again Jerry uses his primary Larsen weapon. I naturally respond with the "Indian Knight" move as I have had success with it against b3. 1. ... Nf6 2. Bb2 e6 3. c4 d5 4. e3 c6 This move seems solid but not particularly energetic or challenging to white. I have to be careful of falling into slav lines that I do not know well by transposition. Jerry stays in Larsen territory so he probably doesn't know the Slav lines either from his side. 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Nc3 Bd6 7. d4 O-O 8. Bd3 Re8 9. O-O e5 I was very uncertain of this natural advance during the game. As it turns out there are some Grandmaster games in the position after e5. On the shoulders of giants here. 10. dxe5 Nxe5 11. Nxe5 Bxe5 12. Qc2 There is a game between Karpov and Gelfand where Karpov plays 12. Be2 here. This doesn't seem to change the assessment much. It is an equal position with chances for both sides. Jerry's Qc2 is also in the database but here we begin to diverge from masterful chess together. 12. ... Qc7 13. h3 dxc4 14. Bxc4 b5!? Black must find a way to get the pawns rolling or his majority will mean very little. Komodo of course thinks the idea is inferior to other moves but I like it from a practical and energetic viewpoint. 15. Be2 Bb7 16. Bf3 a6 17. Rac1 c5 18. Nxb5?? A terrible miscalculation. This game came immediately after Jerry had taken a beating in the previous round. He was moving quickly and I'd say with a great deal of certainty he was experiencing what you might call a "blow-up". It was not his day. 18. ... axb5 19. Bxe5 Rxe5 Now he sees that he will not regain the piece (as he would have had I played 19. ... Qxe5??). 20. Bxb7 Qxb7 21. Rfd1 h6 Not the greatest move but a good practical move to remove all the back rank ideas from white's head. It would be sad to play well as get back rank mated in time trouble at the end. 22. Rd3 Rc8 23. Rcd1 Ree8 24. f3 c4 25. bxc4 bxc4 26. Rd4 Qb6 27. Kh1 And in a time scramble we play on for several more moves and I hold things together. 0-1

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

2017 Red Bull Round 3 Meghan Waters, 1736 - Anton Taylor, 1999 Caro-Kann Panov-Botvinnik Attack (B13)

2017 Red Bull Round 3 
Meghan Waters, 1736 - Anton Taylor, 1999 
Caro-Kann Panov-Botvinnik Attack (B13)

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Bd3 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. a3 Meghan has done some studying in this variation I think. If my memory serves me (I could look back to check but I'm fairly certain) Meghan played a different move in this position and this was my recommendation from my analysis of our previous game. 9. ... dxc4 10. Bxc4 Na5 This move was one I criticized in my previous analysis but I had a change of heart even in this version of the position after a3 has been played. The mainline recommendation is a6 but I'm not clear what black is doing after a4 (preventing the b5 advance at least for the moment and that development is very annoying. I prefer this lesser used method. 11. Ba2 b6 Out of only three master games each with lower rated black players (significantly) Black scores an impressive two draws and one loss here. The position is "equal but unbalanced" ... the perfect way to play for a win. 12. Re1 There is nothing inherently wrong with this move as it is a development of the rook. However, I am indeed curious about moves like Qe2 preparing to put a rook behind the isolated pawn and playing d5 at some point in the near future if allowed. The textbook recommendation is probably Bf4 here connecting the rooks after eventually moving the queen as well (perhaos Qe2 in that case as well). 12. ... Ba6 I remembered from our previous encounter that a trade on c4 (which I had avoided) was actually a key maneuver. I gambled a little that it could be important here as well. 13. Ne5 Rc8 14. d5 This seems to equalize in the eyes of the silicon monster but I'm not entirely convinced. sure, the main weakness is now gone after the pawns get traded but surely black must be slightly better due to his better development. Bg5 was probably slightly better (but as I said this move is just fine, it just isn't to my taste). 14. ... exd5 15. Nxd5 Nxd5 16. Bxd5 Bf6 17. Ng4 I did not consider this move when I calculated after d5. I think it is slightly inaccurate. True enough, it is given an equality score by komodo BUT the move allows black to take over c4 which was part of his original plan by playing Na5 and Ba6 anyway. The knight just moves away from guarding that square. again, black must be slightly better. After the knight trades for the bishop what is white's plan? I don't think he has one here. 17. ... Bc4 18. Nxf6+ Qxf6 19. Qf3? This concedes to black the control of c4 and leads to a loss of material as a result. 19. ... Qxf3 20. Bxf3 Nb3 21. Rb1 Bd3 22. Bg5 Bxb1 23. Rxb1 Nd4? h6! instead planning after Be3 or Bf4 to play Rfd8 and threaten the Nd2 fork was the correct path. Sure, this is winning too but it is far more difficult. 24. Bg4 f5 25. Bd1 f4 26. f3 Rf5 27. Be7 Kf7 28. Bb4 Rb5 29. Ba4 Rxb4 Several of the moves I have made since move 22 are inaccurate. I am floundering trying to make something of my material advantage and it just isn't working out. Add that to the time trouble I'm starting to feel and you see why I want to eliminate the bishop pair. The simpler endgame is much easier for me to calculate as I get low on time and it is winning as well. 30. axb4 Rc4 31. Kf2 Rxb4 32. Bd1 a5 33. g3 fxg3+ 34. hxg3 a4 35. Ke3 Nf5+ 36. Kd3 Nxg3 37. Kc3 Rf4 And I go on to win the clearly superior ending with the extra two pawns. 0-1

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

2017 Red Bull Round 2 Anton Taylor, 1999 - NM Davis Whaley, 2336 Sicilian Taimanov (B44)

2017 Red Bull Round 2 
Anton Taylor, 1999 - NM Davis Whaley, 2336 
Sicilian Taimanov (B44)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Be3 The previous month we played a game with the same colors and I chose the slightly dubious Nb5. This move was my improvement on that game after a little bit of study. 5. ... Nf6 6. Nc3 Qc7 This move in itself is a small sample sideline. My reply then is a sideline of a sideline. There is a ton of theory ... more reasearch will be needed. 7. Ndb5 Qb8 8. Qd2 a6 9. Nd4 Bb4 10. Nxc6 This is an annoyinf choice to make. This is where I diverge from theory. It's a horrible move positionally, it concedes d5 most of all. 10. ... bxc6 11. Bd3 d5 12. exd5 cxd5 13. a3 Be7 14. O-O O-O 15. Bg5 Komodo dislikes this move but gives black only a slight advantage. The alternatives it offers are odd moves like Na4 and h3 that basically just waste time and "pass". For future reference that means that white is probably lost here. 15. ... Bb7 16. f3 Qc7 17. Qf4? This move is a blunder and as it happens neither my opponent nor myself saw the refutation. (17. ... e5! 18.Qf5?? ... the intended move threatening mate and the point of Qf4 ... 18. ... Bc8! a backward move that's difficult to see from the position on the board.) 17. ... Qxf4 18. Bxf4 Nd7 This isn't a very large black advntage after Nd7 but it was an annoying move as I did not see it when I played Qf4 (anticipating the queen trade, which as we saw was a mistake anyway but Davis went along with me). 19. Rae1 Rac8 20. Nd1 Nc5 The rest of this game was played in time trouble ... 21. Be2 Na4 22. Bd3 Nc5 23. Be2 f6 24. b4?? Most of the last moves are bad but this is just a horrible move designed to create a complication and drain Davis' time. 24. ... Na4 25. Bd3 e5 26. Bd2 Rc7 27. b5 Nc5 28. bxa6 Nxd3 29. cxd3 Bxa6 0-1 In a time scramble I manage to salvage the position by trading and get a favorable two pawn ending versus bishop and one pawn. However, through a mistake in calculation (which I cannot seem to reproduce) I lost both pawns and his bishop was of the queening color so I resigned in that common lost position.

Monday, April 10, 2017

2017 Red Bull Round 1 Lu Zhang, 1617 - Anton Taylor, 1999 Caro-Kann, Advance (B12)

2017 Red Bull Round 1
Lu Zhang, 1617 - Anton Taylor, 1999 
Caro-Kann, Advance (B12)

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 This move is a recommendation from GM Nigel Davies as an effort to avoid the heavier theory behind Bf5. 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. Be2 e6 7. O-O cxd4 The more common move is Bxf3 with the idea of then trading and after Qb6 white has problems. I could not remember that line because in the majority of games people avoid allowing Bg4. 8. cxd4 Qb6 9. Nbd2 Nh6 I thought of this move at the board and it happens to be the number one candidate in the position with a number of games (and mostly black victories). 10. Nb3 Nf5 11. Be3 Be7 12. h3 Bxf3 13. Bxf3 O-O This position is roughly equal. I liked my position until White's next move. Truthfully, I was not certain how best to meet the move ... 14. Bg4 Komodo recommend Nxe3 followed by a queenside expansion but this seems hopelessly equal with little counterplay. 14. ... f6!? There is an edge given to white here but it is very small and more than the bland Nxe3 this provides black with chances to win (and lose) ... eliminating the undesirable third result and leaving a complicated position on the board. 15. Bxf5 exf5 16. f4?? I did not look at the position long enough to see the winning idea 16. ... fxe5 17.fxe5 Nxe5! 16. ... Rac8?? 17. Qd3? Once again I miss a great move in 17. ... Nb4! when Qxf5 is met by Nc2! 17. ... g6? 18. a3 a5 I thought I was doing okay here and at least keeping equality with chances but Komodo very much dislikes this turn of events. Mainly the problem is that the threats on the white b-pawn are illusions. Black's own b-pawn would fall as well in most variations and allow White to penetrate into the black position with a rook. Fortunately, white thinks he has to defend this pawn and gives black tempo. 19. Rab1? Nd8? This of course is a mistake. As I looked at the position I completely underestimated the power of Nc5. My opponent seems to not have even considered the knight move if his eyes were an indication of his thoughts. 20. Bf2? Doing nothing. 20. ... Ne6 21. g3 Rc4 22. Rfe1 Rfc8 23. exf6? White's major trump is gone after this blunder. Black feels some relief and no pressure afterwards. 23. ... Bxf6 24. Qe2 Nxa4 is komodo's idea but after Nxf4 it leads to nothing. however, any other white move seems to give black an advantage. 24. ... Nxd4 In time trouble I miss Nxf4!. 25. Nxd4 Bxd4 26. Qe6+ Qxe6 27. Rxe6 Bxf2+? Rc1+ wins the b-pawn at least ... the mainline is 27. ... Rc1+ 28. Re1 Rxe1+ 29. Rxe1 Bxb2 The line I choose is winning anyway. 28. Kxf2 Re4 29. Re1 Rc2+ 30. Re2?? Rcxe2+ 0-1

My opponent resigns the game after slamming his palms on the table. I guess he thought he was winning the endgame until he blundered the rook but the endgame is completely lost. This game is a good example of my round one performances. Always a comedy of error where my calculations are too short and it is as if my mental chess engine needs to "boot up" to start running. Overall a terrible way for me to play and something that I need to work on.

Friday, March 31, 2017

2017 3 Tables - March Round 3 Daro Mott, 2043 - Anton Taylor, 2001 Caro-Kann, Short's Ne2 (B10)

2017 3 Tables - March Round 3 
Daro Mott, 2043 - Anton Taylor, 2001 
Caro-Kann, Short's Ne2 (B10)

1. e4 c6 2. Ne2 d5 3. e5 c5 4. d4 Nc6 5. c3 Bf5 6. dxc5 e6 7. Be3 Nxe5 8. Nd4 Bxb1? A mistake on several fronts but I was completely out of my book knowledge already so I wanted to shake things up. The simple Bg6 is preferable and the advanced c-pawn becomes a target for black to play against. 9. Rxb1 Bxc5? This is borderline suicide but my opponent misses the correct continuation Bb5+ followed by the immediate Nxe6! 10. Qa4+ Kf8? This is the third move in a row that I miss crucial moves. Is it a wonder that I lost this game? The simple Nd7 seems to hold everything together. 11. Nxe6+ fxe6 12. Bxc5+ Ne7 There is no good move so everything loses here. Black's long-term problems are more pressing than the threatening attack on his king. There is no good way to protect black's e-pawn. It is here that I determine to simply play aggressively to off-balance my opponent. 13. Be2 Nd7 14. Ba3 Kf7 15. O-O Nf6 16. Rfe1 Re8 17. Rbd1 Qb6 There was no clear target in white's camp until he moved the rook and now f2 is the lone target. I settled on this developing move to connect my own rooks and aim at the pawn. 18. Bd3 Nc6 19. Qh4 e5 20. Re3 So it turns out that this "attacking" move is actually weaker than the quiet 20.c4! asking immediate questions of the awkward center pawns and exposed black king. 20. ... e4 21. Bc2 Ne5 Working on the only plan that holds promise ... trapping the white queen. 22. Bb3 Ng6 Rad8 apparently would have equalized but that seems passive and black still has chances to crumble. The text is weak but it is difficult to see why without komodo pointing the way at a depth of 20 or so. It may be simpler to see in a few moves. 23. Qg3 Re5 24. h3? C4! would once again deliver a killing blow to black. White will either win by a tactical shot or simply gobble black's central pawns for a huge advantage. 24. ... Rc8 25. Rd4? Once again the c4 advance hangs in the air with deadly effect and both players miss it. 25. ... h6? Komodo sees a road getting paved to equality for black playing the odd looking Qe6. Such a move might be easy to find if you see the danger and the need to control c4. I did not. 26. f3 h4 and Rb4 are much better candidates than this move and Komodo agrees. However, during the game I could not figure out how to play here. The next few moves I played from the analysis I did in this position. 26. ... Rg5 27. Qd6 I was mentally exhausted and I could not focus enough to calculate Rc6. to some extent Rc6 was the reason for playing Rc8 much earlier so throwing it in here makes a lot of sense to me now but I could not justify it. I thought perhaps the queen trade alleviate some of black's problems but it turns out a bishop controlling the diagonals from d6 is actually a lot worse for black than a queen there. Nh4 is alsop a candidate which komodo rates highly but I don't have the calculation skills to see the continuation. 27. ... Qxd6?? 28. Bxd6 Nh4 29. fxe4 Rxg2+ 30. Kf1 Rxb2 Alright, confession time. Once again here is the fruit of my laziness, or rather, my inability to calculate to a sufficient depth. I calculated to this position on move 27 but I did not see the killing reply. 31. Bg3! From this point on there is no real need to analyze. Black is completely lost. 31. ... Ng6 32. exd5 Rxb3 drumming up complications in mutual time pressure. 33. axb3 Ne7 34. Rf3 Kg6 35. d6 Nf5 36. Ra4 a6 37. Rb4 b5 38. Rbf4 Nxd6 39. Rxf6+ gxf6 40. Bxd6 a5 41. Ke2 a4 42. bxa4 bxa4 43. Kd2 Rd8 44. Rd3 Kf5 45. c4 Ke4 46. c5 f5 47. Kc3 f4 48. Rd4+ Kf3 49. Rxf4+ Kg2 50. h4 1-0

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

2017 3 Tables - March Round 2 NM Davis Whaley, 2324 - Anton Taylor, 2001 Sicilian Taimanov (B44)

2017 3 Tables - March Round 2
NM Davis Whaley, 2324 - Anton Taylor, 2001 
Sicilian Taimanov (B44)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nb5 d6 6. N1c3 I now know that c4 is the right way to continue ... or the interesting Bf4. 6. ... a6 7. Nd4 Qc7 8. Be3 Nf6 9. g4 g4 is a common move against the taimanov but not in this move order. This of course fails tactically. 9. ... Nxd4 10. g5 komodo dislikes this move and gives it an almost completely lost score. In fact the loss of the center pawn is fairly hopeless but practically speaking g5 is the only way to drum up complications and try to justify the sacrifice. 10. ... Nxe4 11. Bxd4 Nxc3 12. Bxc3 e5 13. Bg2 Be7 14. Qd2 Bg4 15. O-O O-O 16. Rae1 Be6 17. f4 exf4 18. Qxf4 Qc5+ 19. Bd4 After quite a bit of interesting maneuvering white has some compensation for the pawn and in this position there is a complex calculation. Which is better Qxg5 or Bxg5? Also, what about Qxc2? At a depth of 28 komodo finds that the best move is Bxg5 but that move seems cosmetically incorrect to a human. Black's main problems stem from the weakness of his b-pawn. 19. ... Qxg5 20. Qxg5 Bxg5 21. Bxb7 Black is only slightly better so (as I felt in the game) white is close to equality here. Technically he is lost but with even one moe tempii he could equalize. 21. ... Rab8 22. Bxa6 Rb4 In my analysis of Bxb7 I did not even see this move. 23. c4? This was the only way I could see to keep things undecided and complicated. After the game Davis mentioned that he thought after 23.c3 and an eventual a4 I was finding a way to equalize. I was disapoointed that I did not even consider this continuation. As it turns out that is the move recommended by komodo. Poor calculation once again robs me of a potential chance. 23. ... Ra4 24. Bb5 Rxa2 25. Ra1 Rfa8 26. b3?? trading rooks was the right way to try and salvage the position and I automatically played this obvious blunder. this again is my weakness in calculation ... I planned b3 when I played c4. I played too quickly. 26. ... Be3+ 27. Bxe3 Rxa1 28. Rxa1 Rxa1+ 29. Kf2 Ra2+ 30. Kg3 Ra3 31. Bf4 Rxb3+ 32. Kf2 Rc3 33. Bxd6 Bxc4 34. Bc6 Be6 35. Be4 f5 36. Bb7 g5 37. Bf3 Rc2+ 38. Kg1 Kg7 39. h4 gxh4 40. Be7 h3 41. Bd6 Kf6 42. Bf4 Bd7 0-1 I finally throw in the towel. This game is a good excuse to study the Taimanov variation of the Sicilian and as a result of this loss I will win games in the future. That's the best way to look at it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

2017 3 Tables - March Round 1 Aaron Dean, 2019 - Anton Taylor, 2001 Caro-Kann, Short's Ne2 (B10)

2017 3 Tables - March Round 1
Aaron Dean, 2019 - Anton Taylor, 2001
Caro-Kann, Short's Ne2 (B10)

1. e4 c6 2. Ne2 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. d4 Bf5 6. Nd2 e6 7. Nf3 Nge7 8. Ng3 Bg4 9. Bb5?? This game has gotten very far out of book (starting with my odd looking Nge7). This move however is too much for white to survive and black should have a comfortable win after 9... cxd4 10. Qxd4 Bxf3 11. gxf3 a6 12. Bxc6+ Nxc6 13. Qe3 d4 (Komodo10) However, I completely missed this continuation and follow a drawish line. 9. ... Qa5 10. Qa4 Qxa4 Every other move for white besides Qa4 leads him to a losing position and every move for black but trading the queens off is losing for black afterwards. I should have seen and avoided this exchange to play for a win. 11. Bxa4 Bxf3 12. gxf3 O-O-O 13. Be3 cxd4 14. cxd4 f5 exf6 en passant might be white's best try after f5 but I considered it good for me for white to have isolated d-pawn and isolated doubled f-pawns. 15. Ne2 a6 16. Nf4 Kd7 17. Nd3 Ng6 Komodo recommends instead the very provocative b5!? here sacrificing a pawn to open a key file. the evaluation of course is roughly equal and taking the pawn is not mandatory. I mention it because it is worthwhile to me to note that just on principle I did not consider moving any of the pawns. Perhaos I should have rather than playing Ng6 which seems to be going nowhere and just a weak move. 18. Bxc6+ Kxc6 19. Rc1+ Kd7 20. Nc5+? I had anticipated Bg5 asking uncomfortable questions to black and making life hard for him in terms of controlling the open file. My reply to this premature knight move was immediate as I had calculated Nc5 as no good for white. 20... Bxc5 21. Rxc5 Rc8 22. f4 Ne7? I miss a winning continuation. 22. ... Rxc5 23. dxc5 Kc6 and black can comfortably apply pressure to the wayward advanced c-pawn and enjoy a passed d-pawn. It seems obvious now and I did look at this line but I determined it led nowhere due to the seeming passivity of the remaining rook ... but this is actually true of both rooks to some degree so it was simply a case of chess blindness. 23. Ke2 b6 24. Rxc8 Rxc8 25. Kd3 Nc6 26. Bd2 b5 27. a3 a5 28. Ra1 Kc7 29. Be1 Kb6 30. Bd2 Nd8 31. Rc1? White wants to trade down into the minor piece and pawn ending. He seems blissfully unaware that this should favor black with the knight and better pawn structure. 31. ... Rxc1 32. Bxc1 b4 33. a4 I'll be honest. I completely missed this move. the whole point of black playing b4 (or at least a key point) is that afterwards the b5 square is open for the knight. With this move white deprives the knight of that square and probably draws. 33. ... Kc7 34. b3 Kd7 35. Ke2 Nc6 36. Be3 Ke8 37. Kf3 Kf7 38. Kg3 Kg6 39. f3 Kh5 40. Bf2 h6 41. Be3 g5 42. fxg5 hxg5 43. f4 gxf4+ 44. Kxf4 Kh4 45. Bg1? Bf2+ immediately is the drawing resource. Now black has time to guard a key pawn. 45. ... Nd8 46. Bf2+ Kh3 47. Kg5 Kxh2 48. Kf6 Kg2 49. Be3? White falters again. Perhaps all of this is just due to his time trouble? 49. ... Kf3 50. Bg1 f4 51. Ke7 Kg2 52. Kxd8 Kxg1 0-1 White resigns as he cannot queen his pawn to counter black's coming queen. 


Monday, March 27, 2017

2017 Lakeway Spring Open Round 4 Farnood Farmand, 1711 - Anton Taylor, 1950 Nimzo-Indian (E20)

2017 Lakeway Spring Open  Round 4
Farnood Farmand, 1711 - Anton Taylor, 1950
Nimzo-Indian (E20)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Bd2 c5 5. e3 cxd4 6. exd4 Nc6 7. Nf3 O-O 8. Bd3 d6 9. O-O e5 The plan of d6 and e5 works occasionally in the Nimzo to build an alternative center and make some of white's preparations to expand his center look a little silly. In this case it is not the best idea but a bad plan is better than no plan at all. 10. d5 Ne7 11. Bg5? I thought this move allowed me to get a good handle on the game and in a sense gives me a free hand to get rid of some annoyances with a bit better moves than white will have at his disposal. 11. ... Bxc3 12. Bxf6 Bxb2 A huge mistake but my opponent misses the tactical shot 13. Ng5! which isn't winning on the spot but presents black with very uncomfortable questions and is at least good enough for white to force a draw. 13. Bxh7+? A tempting sacrifice that does not have its normal sting because black controls the g4 square (so a white queen can't go there to deliver annoying checks, etc.).  Kxh7 14. Ng5+ Kg6 15. Qc2+ Bf5 16. Qxb2 gxf6 17. Nf3 Rh8 18. Qxb7 Kg7 black is finished unwinding his pieces from arround one another and is almost ready to prepare his own assault. 19. Rac1 Ng6 20. c5 dxc5 21. Rxc5 Qb6 22. Rb5 Qxb7 23. Rxb7 Be4 24. Rd1 Nf4 25. Rb5?? allowing a final strong blow with the threat of forking the rooks. Ne2+ 0-1

Friday, March 24, 2017

2017 Lakeway Spring Open Round 3 Anton Taylor, 1950 - CM Joshua Suich, 2063 Scandinavian (B01)

2017 Lakeway Spring Open Round 3
Anton Taylor, 1950 - CM Joshua Suich, 2063 
Scandinavian (B01)

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. d4 Bg4 4. Nf3 Qxd5 5. Be2 Nc6 6. h3 Bh5 7. Nc3 Qd7 8. Ne5 There are many alternatives in this position. I consider most of this to be book style moves for the scandinavian. Ne5 is not considered by the computer to be as ambitious as other moves but the exchanges give white a little bit of an edge. That is enough for me. 8. ... Nxe5 9. dxe5 Qxd1+ 10. Kxd1 O-O-O+ 11. Bd2 Bxe2+ 12. Kxe2 Nd7 13. f4 e6 14. Ne4 h6 15. Be3 Nb6? This move I think is the beginning of black's problems. 16. Rad1 Be7 17. g4 f6? The exchange of bishops is good for white. f6 also allows white to exchange the pawns but I could not decide if that is good. Komodo confirms that it is in fact better for white. 18. Bc5 Bxc5 19. Nxc5 Rde8 20. Rd4 When I could not decide if the exchange favored white or black I decided to allow a trade on e4 and then guard the f4 square from rook intusion. 20. ... Rhf8 21. Rhd1 Nd5 22. Nxe6 I completely missed the reply 22. ... Nxf4!  when black isn't winning but is definitely back in the game. 22. ... Rxe6 This passive recapture leads to the lost endgame. 23. Rxd5 Rfe8 24. Kf3 fxe5 25. f5 e4+ 26. Ke3 Rc6 27. R1d2 g6 28. fxg6 Rxg6 29. Rf2 Rd6 30. Rxd6 cxd6 31. c4 b5?! with his time running low black is trying anything. Many paths win for white in this endgame. I choose a simple path that doesn't grab the b-pawn but it is possible to take it and win. 32. Rf4 Kd7 33. Rxe4 Rxe4+ 34. Kxe4 bxc4 35. Kd5 Ke7 36. Kxc4 Kf6 37. h4 Ke5 38. g5 hxg5 39. hxg5 Ke4 40. g6 d5+ 41. Kc3 Ke3 42. g7 d4+ 43. Kc2 Ke2 44. g8=Q d3+ 45. Kb1 d2 46. Qg2+ Ke1 47. Qg1+ Ke2 48. Kc2 Since we are both short of time here I think black is wise to play on in the lost position. After all, there is a chance I may have played Kd1?? here giving black a comfortable queen and pawn draw. 1-0

Thursday, March 23, 2017

2017 Lakeway Spring Open Round 2 Anton Taylor, 1950 - NM Alan Kantor, 2027 Caro-Kann Panov-Botvinnik Attack (B13)

2017 Lakeway Spring Open Round 2
Anton Taylor, 1950 - NM Alan Kantor, 2027 
Caro-Kann Panov-Botvinnik Attack (B13)

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 e6 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. Bg5 Be7 7. cxd5 This exchange is considered an equal position with not a lot of poison for either side. I considered it a good way to provoke the opponent. After all, who wants to draw against a player 70 rating points their junior and not a National Master? 7. ... Nxd5 8. Bxe7 Nxe7 9. Nf3 Nbc6 10. Bc4 After I had seen several games during preparation where Alan played the Panov (on both sides) I decided to play for an immediate d-pawn exchange if i'm allowed. Also, this move discourages Nd5 because of the symetry after NxN. 10. ... O-O 11. O-O Nb4 This is probably the best try to control the square d5 and actually offers me the chance for a perpetual. 12. Qb3 Nbc6 13. Qd1 returning to the previous position and asking black if he'd like to repeat. There are other moves but they involve awkward bishop or queen moves to avoid the knight fork Na5. 13. ... Qa5 Here was the chance I was hoping for. Black makes an aggressive but not dangerous move and allows me to gain a small advantage in the center. 14. Qe2 Rd8 15. Rad1 Nb4 The bishop on c4 is bothering black in trying to control his center (d5). so he makes this odd move once more. It is far less powerful here than in the previous incarnation. 16. Ne5 Qb6 and c7 are among the top candidates for komodo here for black. Qa5 was obviously useless if the queen has to move again. Black is losing. 16. ... Nbd5 17. Ne4 This move signals a move in the direction of the black king but Black has no alarm bells anbd quickly goes wrong. 17. ... a6 18. Rd3! I spent a lot of time on this move and the calculations are fairly monstrous in my opinion. the Nf4 fork is not sufficient so yet another white piece joins the fray. Komodo considers black as fine by playing the simple Rf8 but only starts to see black's difficulties at a depth of 22 ... an eleven move calculation.  If I were a Grandmaster or World Champion I would declare mystical knowledge of how things would go ... but truthfully I only calculated about four favorable lines and Black seemed bad in all of them. 18. ... f6 19. Qh5 fxe5 20. Ng5 Nf6 21. Qf7+ Kh8 22. Qxe7 Re8 23. Nf7+ Kg8 24. Nh6+ Kh8 25. Qf7 Rg8 1-0

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

2017 Lakeway Spring Open Round 1 Allen Feng, 1061 - Anton Taylor, 1950 English, Anglo-Indian (A17)

2017 Lakeway Spring Open Round 1
Allen Feng, 1061 - Anton Taylor, 1950 
English, Anglo-Indian (A17)

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. g3 d5 4. cxd5 exd5 5. e3 c6 6. Bg2 Bf5 7. Nge2 Na6 This move popped into my head as a way to set the knight on a path to occupying e4. In hindsight I do not think e4 is quite so valuable as all those "gymnastics" (Na3-c5-e4). 8. a3 Qd7 Here I have the option to go ahead and play Nc5 continuing that path but it seemed that the extra moves of a knight wheel by Na6-c7-e8-d6-e4(or c4) is no better or worse that the thematic Nc5. The text is played against White's only active bishop and develops another piece to a good square. Black is a bit better due to the pathetic dark knight on white's side. 9. O-O Bd6 10. d4 O-O 11. Bd2? The immediate f3 poses more questions to black. 11. ... Bh3? I respond with a mistake of my own designed to make a quick attack on the enemy king but it is a positional mistake. My piece is far better and needs to be kept to hold things together. This is where Black begins to go wrong. 12. Re1 Rfe8 13. Nc1?? There are so many reasons why this is a bad move. There is no doubt that the knight is headed for the e5 outpost but that square is a bit shaky and not really in white's control. As it turns out this move is the fly in black's ointment because it's awkward position leads to mistakes in my calculations. Ironically it is easier to figure variations when pieces are on "normal" squares than on odd ones like this. 13. ... Bxg2 14. Kxg2 Black struggles here to find a continuation for his "attack". There just isn't one at this premature stage. As I said, the bishop exchange actually helps white here in some sense. In fact the only move here to play for a small advantage is the immediate Ne4 ... and it's ugly. I did not even consider it as a candidate during the game. 14. ... Qf5 15. f3 h5 Still wanting that non-existant attack on the king to work. 16. Qe2 When the right moves are such a narrow path it is easy even for a low rated player to find the right answers. 16. ... Re7?? A huge blunder and potentially a losing move. There are several roads to equality here. It is worth noting that Qd7 is one suggested move meaning that Qf5 earlier is porbably deserving of a ?. 17. e4 dxe4 18. fxe4 18. ... Qg6 seems to hold things together with a worse position but I go chasing ghosts and losing pieces. 18. ... Nxe4?? 19. Nxe4 Rae8 20. Qf3 Qd5 21. Nxd6 Qxd6 If not for the knight on c1 Black would have the queen winning trick Re2+! ... I notice in this position that what I had calculkated several moves earlier didn't work. The knight on the abnormal square cloaked himself in shadow in my mind's eye. 22. Rxe7 Rxe7 23. Bc3 c5 24. dxc5 Nxc5 25. Ne2 Ne4 26. Bb4 Nc5 27. Nc3 b6 28. Ne4 Qd5?? This final blunder should have lost my queen but white misses the tactic. 29. Bxc5 Rxe4 30. Be3 Qe5 31. Bc1?? Black gets back into the game with his activity with this move. Bf2 is far better. 31. ... Re2+ 32. Kh3?? I expected Kf1 when Re1+ snags back the extra piece (i.e. 32.Kf1 Re1+ 33.Kf2 Rxc1 34.Rxc1 Bxb2+) 32. ... Qe6+ 33. g4 hxg4+ 34. Qxg4 Rxh2+ 35. Kxh2 Qxg4 36. Be3 Qe2+ 0-1 I escaped with my skin but after such a horribly ugly game I expect that the rest of the days games would be complete disasters. I said laster that I was simply asleep during this game and woke up after it.

Friday, March 17, 2017

2017 Lutz, Get Out Round 5 LM Davis Whaley, 2321 - Anton Taylor, 1928 Catalan (E00)

2017 Lutz, Get Out Round 5
LM Davis Whaley, 2321 - Anton Taylor, 1928
Catalan (E00)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 The Catalan move order makes deciding to avoid the pitfalls of b6/Bb7 easier. 3. ... d5 4. Nf3 c6 5. Bg2 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Ne4 7. O-O Be7 8. b3 O-O 9. Ba3 f5 10. Qb2 This move I did not expect and it seems strange to offer to trade queens here. In fact trading at all seems wrong with such a rating disparity. I suppose I should feel honored to get this kind of respect from Davis. then again there is quite a bit of history between us where he is consistently higher rated and yet I have managed several draws (before he broke the NM Title, just to be clear). 10. ... b6 11. Bxe7 Qxe7 12. Qa3 Qxa3 Technically, black has an advantage playing c5 here but I would be happy with the queens off ... assuming greater safety. In retrospect I'm uncertain objectively which is better. I probably will investigate c5 further but will take the trade for practical reasons in our next encounter. 13. Nxa3 Ba6 14. Rac1 Rac8 15. Rc2 Kf7 16. Rfc1 Ke7 17. e3 Kd6 18. Bf1! I am still unclear as to whether c5 at some point would have been good for me. Davis seemed to think so after the game but i am not convinced that it offers black anything. However, this king meandering (especially the last move) is a complete waste of time. When I formulated the plan several moves earlier I had completely missed the counter-intuitive "backward" move Bf1. It leads to black difficulties. 18. ...  Bb7 19. b4 Ndf6?? This move leads to problems for black. The most important of which is that it allows Ne5 ... positional suicide. 20. c5+ Ke7 21. Ne5 b5 22. Nb1 Ng5 23. Nc3 a5?? I missed the power of a6. If instead I had played Nf7 the game would continue. 24. bxa5 Ra8 25. a6! 1-0 The game continued for several more moves that I played in time trouble. Essentially 26.a4! is a knockout after Rxa6 and Nxc6 is coming after Bxa6. Nasty.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

2017 Lutz, Get Out Round 4 FM Matt Hassen, 2292 - Anton Taylor, 1928 Reti: King's Indian Attack (A05)

2017 Lutz, Get Out Round 4
FM Matt Hassen, 2292 - Anton Taylor, 1928
Reti: King's Indian Attack (A05)

1. Nf3 As with our previous encounter I had expected 1.e4. I'm uncertain what this change of repertoire means. I prefer to think that Matt is taking me more serious than in our first game but it may just be that he likes to play a lot of different things. 1. ... Nf6 Before this tournament I had been meeting Nf3 with f5. I have lost a little faith in the Dutch defense in many of its forms and that includes those positions arising in this move order. So, I keep my options open. 2. g3 b6 There are many Black moves in this position. I choose a counter fianchetto. It's hard to say what possessed me to adopt this. I do have some experience in the Queen's Indian. But I cannot say that it makes sense here or has some edge over the other options. The simple d5 could signal an even slower game with fewer tactical issues to consider (it is possible in some central exchanges to lose the bishop on b7 if it is unguarded whereas White's bishop is always protected by his king). 3. Bg2 Bb7 4. O-O e6 5. d3 Be7 It is worthwhile to note that in the almost 500 games in the database for this move it seems to swing generally in white's favor. c5 and even d5 fair much better. This leads me to the conclusion that my previous note is correct. b6 runs into a lot of tactical problems that make the fight for the center awkward for black. 6. e4 c5 7. Nbd2 Nc6 8. Re1 d6 9. c3 O-O 10. h4 This strange looking move makes some sense grabbing the space but d4 and a3 are the more common alternatives. In any case it is made to provoke a black response at some point to weaken his king (with moves like Ng5, etc.) 10. ... Ne5 This move could be a future key to uncorking Black's structure at some future time but here it allows the white knight to gain a tempo off attacking the undefended pawn and makes Qc7 awkward (because of the threat of Bf4 in some lines). In retrospect here is where things started to go wrong for me in this game. 11. Nxe5 dxe5 12. Nc4 Nd7 13. a4 Keeping his annoying knight there on c4 for one extra move. 13. ... Rc8 I played this move to deter d4 and move off the diagonal. However, there is no readily available plan for black and white is gaining more and more ideas and plans. That is why I think this position is completely lost. Komodo seems to think black is fine but as a human give me white here any day above black. 14. Qg4 f5?? A drastic overreaction that just leads to pawn weaknesses in all variations. Kh8 is a much cleaner solution to the threat of Bh6. 15. Qh3 Qc7 16. exf5 Bxg2 17. Qxg2 exf5?? I made this move automatically because I had calculated the variation on move 14. The problem is that in my mind's eye I did not see the queen able to give a check (as she is on g4 when I looked at it). Rxf5 creates a sharp struggle and had to be tried after committing to f5. 18. Qd5+! Kh8 Rf7 is recommended by komodo but is still fairly lost. The main drawback of that move is that it leads to a greater number of exchanges and I preferred to have a worse position with the pieces on. The rest of the game has a little sharpness to it but white's technique is clear enough to win. 19. f4 e4 20. dxe4 Nf6 21. Qxf5 Rcd8 22. Qe6 Rd3 23. Be3 Qb7 24. Bf2 Nh5 25. Ne5 Nxf4 26. gxf4 Rd6 27. Nf7+ Rxf7 28. Qxf7 Rg6+ 29. Kh2 Qd7 30. Rad1 1-0

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

2017 Lutz, Get Out Round 3 Anton Taylor, 1928 - CM Jerry Baker, 2144 Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack (B13)

2017 Lutz, Get Out 
Round 3 Anton Taylor, 1928 - CM Jerry Baker, 2144 
Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack (B13)

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Nf3 e6 7. Bg5 Be7 8. Rc1 Rc1 is also one oif the main moves against the conservative Be7 bishop development. It turns out to be a great counter to black's play here. 8. ... O-O 9. cxd5 Nxd5 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 The knight capture is far more common but I see little wrong with this (except if the center gets resolved by a forced exd5 then black has made things symmetrical and drawish). 11. Be2? As I suspected this is a positional mistake. the square is needed for the knight to guard the d-pawn when it comes under fire if d5 isn't possible to trade off the weak pawn. Bc4 is the book move and makes far more sense. 11. ... Nf4 12. O-O Rd8 13. Re1 Qf6 14. Ne4 Nxe2+ 15. Qxe2 Qf5 Komodo likes to avoid all the queen gymnastics and simply retreat to e7 but if that is the result of Qf6 that means the f6 move was just a mistake to start with. It is worth noting that with the c-file open Rc1 is powerful ... it keeps development moves like b6 impossible for the moment. 16. Rc5! A critical test of black's aggression, thank Caissa for Rc1 here. All lines lead to an advantage for white. black's best try against this move is Qf4 and even that is difficult to justify in the face of the coming build-up by white. 16. ... Rd5? Loses immediately. 17. Ng3 Rxc5 18. Nxf5 Rxf5 19. Qe4 Rd5?? As soon as his hand left the piece Jerry's face gave away the tactic. I didn;'t need him to break his poker face as this is why I played Qe4 to begin with. 20. Qxd5! Jerry played out the mate instead of playing on without a rook. 20. ... exd5 21. Re8# 1-0

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

2017 Lutz, Get Out Round 2 Gene Lewter, 1700 - Anton Taylor, 1928 Nimzo-Larsen, Indian Variation (A01)

2017 Lutz, Get Out Round 2 
Gene Lewter, 1700 - Anton Taylor, 1928 
Nimzo-Larsen, Indian Variation (A01)

1. b3 Nf6 2. Bb2 e6 3. e3 Be7 4. g4 This move is interesting but probably premature. The only real advantage to the move is that it forces black to castle kingside. 4. ... O-O 5. Nc3 d6 6. g5 Nd5 7. Ne4? White invests too much in keeping this knight active when he gets a small plus trading it off. 7. ... f5 8. gxf6 Nxf6 9. Ng5 It is strange that after one mistake rescuing a knight my opponent makes an aggressive move with another knight that turns out to be even worse a mistake. It seems that My opponent is becoming more and more invested in this attack on my king that is doomed to failure by a simple rule of thumb. Three pieces are best to attack a castled king with in general. White has two so his attacking moves are premature by principal. 9. ... Nc6 Komodo dislikes this developing move. It prefers playing against the knight in black's territory with moves like d5 and h6. The list of moves that test Nc6 is relatively small. in fact there is only one move for white to hope for anything ... Bh3. I was not at all afraid of that move and even Komodo admits that black has an advantage in that case as well. My only weakness is my lack of development in my opinion so I set about to solve that first. 10. Bd3 e5 11. Ba3 d5 12. Bxe7 Qxe7 13. h4 e4 14. Be2 Ne5 15. d4 I couldn't decide whether this was a good time to take en passant or not. I decided against it but playing it as a way to start opening things against the White king stuck in the center is probably the best idea. What I played isn't bad though. 15. ... Neg4 16. N1h3 Nh6 17. a3 Bg4? This move was the idea behind Nh6 but trading off the bishops leaves d6 a little weak. It would have been better not to offer this counterplay in spoite of the fact that the computer gives black a won position in any case. 18. Nf4 c6 19. Rg1 Bd7 20. c4 Nf5 21. Bh5? I'm guessing I was supposed to take this Bishop but it is better to just leave it alone and with this swing in tempo white is completely lost when he was just on the brink to it. 21. ... Nxh4 22. Bf7+? Rxf7 23. Nxf7 Qxf7 24. Rh1 Nf3+ 25. Ke2 Bg4 0-1 I hit my clock and watched his flag fall in the face of losing his queen no matter what. 


Monday, March 13, 2017

2017 Lutz, Get Out Round 1 Anton Taylor, 1928 - Bradley Charles, 1545 Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack (B13)

2017 Lutz, Get Out Round 1 
Anton Taylor, 1928 - Bradley Charles, 1545 
Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack (B13)

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 e6 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. Nf3 Bb4 7. Bd2 Nc6 8. Rc1 This is the move I had done some home preparation in this line with. I like this classic sort of development and lkeaving the tension. The common moves in the position are cxd5 and a3 leading to general liquidation and no hope for anything but equality. I prefer something else. There is a little trap here as well if the opponent looks to win a pawn (as my opponent here does) 8. ... dxc4? 9. Bxc4 Allowing White to get ahead in development might even be worth almost a pawn here even if the pawn weren't complete poison. 9. ... Nxd4? 10. Nxd4 Qxd4 11. Qa4+ Nd7 When I saw this move I realized an even further mistake my opponent was getting ready to make. 12. Qxb4 Ne5?? 13. Bb5+ 1-0 Black had enough and threw in the towel. I had a long chat with the young man about the Caro-Kann in general and as is normal after a loss like this he was disheartened. I told him about some older games on this blog where I lost similarly horribly against the Panov. That seemed to help him a little. 

Not a bad first test of Rc1 but also not a challenge to the move. This means I will have to play it again.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Mistake Check-in #2

In the previous check-in I mentioned several of my crucial mistakes. Let's revisit the old mistakes

Poor Concentration - I have had a much better time maintaining my focus lately. I increased my stamina through a recent trend toward martial arts practice (specifically the grappling arts as these build greater stamina than the other martial arts I have practiced for years).

On the negative side I have noticed two problems in my concentration. Firstly, I tend to play online games in a "for fun" frame of mind. I divide my attention by multitasking and then lose games for silly reasons. This could lead to very poor play in the future due to bad programming. At the very least it is time spent goofing off when I could be growing in skill instead. Secondly, my internal calculator is still a slow starting engine. This means that in early rounds of day tournaments I'm not "firing on all cylinders" as it were. I'm not sure quite how to "flip the switch" to the on position. GM Igor Smirnov and some other masters I have listened to or read have said to do a few puzzles before a round (meaning a single round in a day of course). To me this just leads to a waste of effort, a use of brain cells that could be better used aimed at an opponent. But is there no other way?

Playing Without a Plan - To put it simply, I have been exposing myself to various opening schemes and the resulting variety of middlegame plans. The result has been a far richer view of chess and at times the formulation of winning plans. I will continue doing this moving forward.

Time Management - I have found a happy medium place in blitz games where I simply play the opening quickly until I need to think and then I tend to use the time efficiently conserving only a small portion to finish the game if an endgame is necessary. We will see if this trend continues in the upcoming G/30 tournament I will be playing in in Lexington, Kentucky.

King Safety - I do not know by what means but somehow this has not been an issue any further. Perhaps I have now developed a sufficient amount of skill in the so-called "Blumenfeld Rule" ... checking to see by habit whether or not a move I want to make falls into a basic problem (checkmate, checks, etc.).

"It often happens that a player carries out a deep and complicated calculation, but fails to spot something elementary right at the first move. In order to avoid such gross blunders, the Soviet master B. Blumenfeld made this recommendation:- When you have finished your calculations, write down the move you have decided upon on the score sheet. Then examine the position for a short time 'through the eyes of a patzer'. Ask whether you have left a mate in one on, or left a piece or a pawn to be taken. Only when you have convinced yourself that there is no immediate catastrophe for you should you make the planned move." - GM Alexander Kotov

Pawn Weaknesses - Alas, this one still plagues me. I have studied very few endgames and have not reviewed pawn structure since the last check-in. Most often when I lose in blitz it is due to this weakness. Thinking back on my tournament this was the case as well in two games and the third game was a closed position and difficult for my opponent to drum up a structural complication. It should also be noted that in that game (against Bob Faust) I played on my experience rather than needing to find a new idea (except in the end fighting for the draw and most of the newer ideas were based around piece play not the pawns). I have finished an interesting book by GM Andy Soltis called "What it takes to become a chess master" and I am now free to find another source of information (a book, article series, or perhaps video series) that addresses this specific weakness.