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.