Monday, September 29, 2008

Lessons From A Fellow Blogger

I am so happy to see Blue Devil Knight back from his extended hiatus. I know most of my regular readers follow his blog too. If you haven't read any of his stuff, I highly recommend you do so. In his post of 9/24/08 he shows a position from a recent game where he missed a simple combination, but still won. The discussion that followed in the comments was more interesting then the post itself. In the comments he referred to two posts that he made last year on "Blunderstanding" and "Things to remember before I play". I had read both posts last year. At the time I'm sure I said to myself "those are really good things to apply to my own games."

Almost a year has passed since those posts were made. Have I applied what I learned from them? Errr, umm, well..... Rereading them today it was like I was reading them for the first time. Probably intuitively I know this stuff, but rereading them gave me a fresh perspective on trying to analyse my games. I've printed them out, and will look at them more and see if I can think about this stuff when I'm playing. Too bad I didn't click on those links Saturday when I read the post. Maybe my last round game on Sunday wouldn't have ended the way it did.

There are three crucial positions in the game.

Position #1 after 19. Nd6 Nxg2. I've forked the rook and the bishop, and Black has just sac-ed his knight on g2. I'm not sure why I was afraid to take the knight right away. Instead I debated about winning the full piece (20. Nxb7) or the exchange (20. Nxf7, Kxf7). Both moves threaten the queen. What I wasn't looking at with either move is where is the queen going? This is where #9 Reason we blunder comes into play. I'm ahead in material (after the capture on b7), but I'm not looking close enough at Black's threats.

I opted to win the full piece with 20. Nxb7. Better is winning the exchange 20. Nxf7 Kxf7 21. Kxg2 Ne5+ 22. Kg3Nxg4 23. Kxg4 Kg8 24. Qf4.

The game continued 20... Qh4 21. h3 h5 22. Kxg2 hxg4 reaching this next position.

Here I have to be very careful. If I play 23. hxg4?? That loses horribly with black getting mate in 3. Answer in the brackets. [ 23... Qxg4+ 24. Kh2 Rh7+ 25. Qh6 Rxh6# ] I found what I felt was the best defense in 23. Rh1. Also I have attacking possibilities on the h file once the h pawn is traded off. After 23...Ne5 I have to worry about Reason #10 Knights in enemy territory.

Technically the knight is not in my territory but it is controlling 4 squares in my territory. I should have challenged the knight by attacking the knight with my queen. 24. Qd4, 24. Qe3, or 24. Qc3. Any one of those moves puts black on the defensive by having to protect his knight. I was too anxious to open up the h file and try to get play there. I played 24. hxg4 Qxg4+ 25. Kf1. This where I really needed Blue Devil Knight's "Thing to remember list." These things come to mind:

"9. When ahead in material, keep your cool. It is easy to get overexcited, start moving quickly when you are ahead. Your opponent is doing everything possible to make sure you don't get the full point. You still need to think. You still need to use the time on your clock."

Too anxious to trade pawns and open the h file.

"14. Defend with threats. You will need to defend against attacks and other threats in many of your chess games. Often there are multiple moves that meet the same defensive goal. Try to take back the initiative by playing the defense that generate the biggest threats against the opponent. Sometimes it is even possible to ignore a threat by making an even bigger threat that your opponent must deal with."

Attack the knight with the queen. Make him deal with the threat.

"16. Play the board, not the rating. If he is rated higher than you, play the board in front of you. If he is rated lower than you, play the board in front of you. You can win this game if you just slow down and think."

I tried to ignore the fact that his rating was 1173, especially since he had beaten two 1600s in the first two rounds before losing to a 1750. However some of his earlier moves didn't impress me, so perhaps I took him a little lightly at this point.

Now we arrive at crucial position #3 where Black has just played 25...d6?

Here's where reason #7 on blunder list comes into play. "When I'm thinking about potential complicated tactics I often miss simple captures I can make." DUH! 26. Nxd6 covers some key light squares. Light squares are black's only entry points into my king.

Instead of the simple capture on d6 I go for the mate threat of 27. Qh8# with 26. Qh6?? The problem with my plan is I've taken my queen away from the defense of my exposed king. Now he has perpetual check on the light squares c4 and g4 with 26...Qc4+ I had totally missed the check on the diagonal. This could be added to the blunder list as 5a. Queen moves sideways but attacks on the diagonal. This is why it's so easy to miss queen forks since the forked pieces may be on the same diagonal and rank (file) as the queen.

If I had tried to avoid the perpetual I would find myself losing. 27. Ke1 Nf3+ 28. Kd1 Qd3+ 29. Kc1 Qc4+ 30. Kb1 Nd2+ 31. Qxd2 Qe4+ 32. Kc1 Qxh1+ 33. Kc2.

The game ended with 27. Kg2 Qe4+ 28. Kf1 Qc4+ 1/2 - 1/2

Thanks BDK for such wise advice. Next time I'll read it before I play.


Rolling Pawns said...

Polly - I wanted to say, that your last mistake does not correspond to your level of understanding the game, but then remembered, how in winter I had similar case, where I won the rook, was happy for 30 seconds, just to see then that he does a perpetual check, because I did it in a wrong way. So who am I to judge you? We all make mistakes. By the way I got rid of these missing checks (hope so) by playing online. It happens pretty often and you get punished (punish) right away.

Polly said...

Pawn: I think what irritated me about my mistake was I over focused on his queen having only a small range of squares to work with. I kept thinking his only check was on h3, but as long as I had the rook or queen on the h file I was safe. That's where the narrowing of vision that I spoke of in the Chess Survival post comes into play. I was stressed by the tension of needing a win to put myself into 2nd place, (Screwed up in 2nd round vs other 2-0)and I have to admit this; worrying about the rating.

chesstiger said...

After this post i definetly have the feeling that the archive of BDK is a place where one can find gold.

I too think you underestimated your opponent. You may say that knowing his rating didn't influence you but one way or the other i am sure it did influence you.

Polly said...

Tiger: I didn't say that I didn't let the rating influence me, I said I TRIED NOT to let it influence me. Trying and doing are two different things. Even if I didn't outright think to myself this guy is a patzer, deep down I was probably expecting him to fall apart, especially since the knight sac on g2 was probably not sound, and d6 was also a mistake. I just didn't take advantage of these mistakes, and it cost me a 1/2 point, and a piece of 2nd place.

KnightFork said...

Polly - I haven't played any OTB tourneys yet, but when playing some blitz games at, I do have a tendency to play the rating and not the board. I will be heading over to BDK's blog and reading the entire thing cause I need all the help I can get! Thanks for the info!

Blue Devil Knight said...

Hey, thanks for the kind words, and it is so nice to see your annotations with the analysis of the common mistakes from the lists. I'm going to have to re-read it more closely now with a better eye for the chess.

I appreciate the kind words, coming from someone so much better than me at chess it means a lot.

Polly said...

BDK: My rating may be better, and I have many more years of playing experience, but I don't have the gift of explaining how I go through the process of improving. The beauty of our little space in the blogosphere is that we can throw things outs for others to see and work with.

I could probably find a position in any of my games that would be applicable to to each one of those statements. Unfortunately I would end out showing a bunch of losses, because I can't speak for my opponent in trying to pin point his mistakes.