Saturday, January 3, 2009

Different Year - Same Old "Stuff"! Edited

Some things never change. I ended 2008 on New Years eve playing kids in the last three rounds with mixed results (1 win, 1 loss and 1 draw), and I started 2009 on New Years Day with kids in all four rounds with crappy results (1 win and 3 losses). Boris Privman was my lone adult opponent over the two days of tournaments. He beat me for the 17th time. Sigh.

I think the thing that bothered me the most about Thursday's tournament was how poorly I played with the White pieces. In both games Black grabbed the initiative quickly and I spent most of the game on the defense. That's not supposed to happen. Lately I've been very unhappy with the positions I've gotten from both the English and the Colle. I'm starting to think I may have to do some radical like opening with 1. e4. I haven't played 1. e4 since March of 1990. Another one of those things on my 2009 "chess to do" list.

In the first two rounds I played kids who I first saw when they were in kindergarten or first grade playing the scholastic tournaments I direct. They started out with three digit ratings. Now they're teenagers and out rate me by 300 to 400 points. As what would be expected when a player is out rated another by 300 to 400 points, I lost to both of the teenagers. Before anyone says "Don't pay attention to the rating.", I don't take the attitude of "I'm going to lose because this guy is so much higher rated." In fact I have a decent record against my first round opponent. I've been 2100s before, and I'll beat a few again. However if I keep getting positions out of the opening like this one, I'm not going to beat anyone.


In round three I finally got paired down. I played a much younger kid who I had not seen before. He played way too fast, and kept hanging pawns and pieces. He's been playing in tournaments for less then three years and his rating has shot up from 100 to 1460. In the past year it's risen almost 400 points. I suspect as he gets more experience and matures, he'll catch up with me.

In the last round I played a fifth grader who I've seen around the Marshall a lot. Surprisingly enough this was actually the first time I've played him. Having played a crappy English in the first round, I decided to play 1. d4 in the last round. Again I let my initiative slip away, and his attack on the king side proved to be more effective then my attack on the queen side.

Polly-Justus 01012009.pgn

In looking at these two games I played as White, I can see that I made some indifferent moves early on which allowed my opponents to grab the initiative. In both cases I should have hit the center sooner then I did. I've noticed a tendency on my part to sit back, and allow the opponent to dictate play. I need to play with more purpose in the opening. It's time to look at some grandmaster games in my openings. I need to get out of this rut I find myself in.

PS. Everyone should be proud of me because I resisted the urge to go into NYC today and play in Steve's game/30 that he was running tonight. It was tempting to do so, because I have a tendency to try play myself out of these ruts. Eight games in two days was enough. I need a little break. No chess games for a week as hubby and I spend a few days in Chicago seeing friends. Chicago in January brings new meaning to the phrase "cold turkey".


Anonymous said...

Enjoy Chicago, it's been cold here

BlunderProne said...

Its hard. Sure, some say, " Don't concern yourself with the rating" while others suggest that knowing your opponents rating is key to how you proceed in a relatively equal position. ( Is your higher rated player "fighting" for a full point?)

My approach lately is to welcome the higher rated older player as one I can really practice good chess and see how far down I go in an opening variation agaisnt a strong player. I call it success if I make it through the opening and have a playable middle game.

Agaisnt kids who are higher rated, my approach varies. First, I have to get over the fact that a year ago I was able to beat them quite regularly. Secondly I approach them with the fact that I do have exeprience over them. They tend to be more animated when they have a good or bad position. I tend to be mroe reserved. If I drop a piece, I play it like I meant it. Overall, though, I also approach the game as a learning opportunity. But instead of looking at how far I can go. I recognize how much further THEY can go and after the game I ask them what they did to improve.

It's funny, at my club we have a good mix of young and old. It might be similar to your experience at the Marshall CC. We have enough players that we have 3-4 sections for the monthly bashings. A group of new scholastic players started coming about 2-years ago. They all started at the bottom section. 70% climbed through the mid section through last year. Now about 40% of them are playing in the top section. I felt like they were chasing me and I ducked. But playing up is how these kids get good. Also playing each other in scholastic events.

denopac said...

You've posted the Nitai game twice.

chesstiger said...

Either you need a rest (away from the chessboard) or something isn't right in the psych department.

Psych doesn't only mean problems with the wiring of the brain but also stamina, beating Murphy, ... .

Anyway, instead of living in the past just play each game as if it's your first. Enjoy chess again, even if you loose, especially when you loose because those games will learn you more about yourself. Question yourself how your attitude was during the game and try to change that if it's to negative.

Rolling Pawns said...

Why really don't you try 1. e4?
I started with Colle 16 months ago, then switched entirely to e4, never looked back. Play Ruy Lopez, or anything you like. Against Sicilian you can play Bb5, it makes play positional (as in Ruy). It is easier, I think, to find a good plan if you play e4.

James Stripes said...

You never should abandon 1.e4. Always keep it in your repertoire. To be sure, playing it more often than 10% of the time might well be a mistake unless you are Anand, Topalov, or Fischer, ...

It's a good opening.

I play it almost exclusively against the kids I coach, frequently against lower rated players, almost as often as 1.d4 online, and occasionally against players better than me.

es_trick said...

Picking up on what BP said, (but maybe running off in a different tangent) I've seen a lot of those kids that play at the Metro West CC at the Boylston CC, and at other tournaments in MA, VT, NY, & CT. I've also seen some of the NYC area whiz kids at these tournaments. They're truly amazing.

Just ran my recent results through the 'Rating Estimator' at the USCF site. In my last five events, my performance rating against adults is in the 1800s, but against kids it's in the 1400s. Yikes!

I did stop the bleeding a bit last weekend. I was losing to a 12 year old from CT who was rated 1648. I was on the verge of resigning when I did one last search of the board for anything that could give me hope, and noticed the possibility of a stalemate, if I could lure him into it. Five moves later I got him to take my rook, leaving me with no legal moves. His reaction was worth the price of admission.

Polly said...

Anon: Yes it is cold out here. Spent the day holed up in the Museum of Science and Industry today. Barely scratched the surface. Going back again tomorrow.

BP: According to math geeks who work on the rating system, rating is an predictor of future performance. I think when playing an adult who's been playing awhile the number has more meaning then when you're playing kids who are relative inexperienced. AS you pointed out, kids' inexperience can work against them, and they are clearly more animated. I tend to be more like the kids, and have to stifle my emotions when I make a horrible move.

Den: Thanks for pointing out my error. That's what happens when I upload two games in one session. I fixed that, so now both games are being shown.

Tiger: In these two games it wasn't so much being negative. It was more playing on auto-pilot and being oblivious to threats. In the first game I just went through the motions of play on the queen side, and ignored what was going to happen after the d file was open.

Pawns & James: My reluctance with e4 is having to learn a bunch lines against stuff such as the French, Sicilian, etc. I guess it's time I stop being so lazy.

ES: Sweet!!

wang said...

Well I'm not so sure about switching Polly. I mean if you think it's time to switch then by all means, but with the exception of allowing black to exchange off the Colle Bishop in the second game (I think c4 followed by Qb3 is called for no?) I don't see a big deal with the opening.

I play e4 and I will play with a lack of urgency also, switching my repertoire won't help.

But then again you're playing in a really strong chess town, so maybe something a bit more combative would be in order.

I would just caution you about switching unless you've really thought it through. Do you really know what you did wrong in this English and Colle?

Sometimes I start playing a certain "variation" because I rembered it incorrectly. Then if I get a positive result in the game, I pick up the bad habbit of playing it over and over again. Sometimes it takes me a couple of poor performances for me to go back and check my books and make sure that I am indeed playing the Kengis variation and not the wang variation. Most of the time when this happens, it turns out that I made up my own (inferior) variation.

Just my two cents.

Blue Devil Knight said...

If you play e4 then you get to trot out the Smith Morra gambit!!!

Happy New Year Polly. Doing any triathlons this year? I'm planning on doing two sprints.

likesforests said...

"In both games Black grabbed the initiative quickly and I spent most of the game on the defense. That's not supposed to happen. Lately I've been very unhappy with the positions I've gotten from [...] the English"

The English is played even at the super-GM level, so of course your opening system isn't responsible for handing over the initiative.

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 -

I play 3.Nf3 Nc6, the English Four Knights. I like that on move four White has many options--eg: 4.g3, 4.e3, 4.a3. This gives me room for surprises as each line has its tactical intricacies.

3...c6 - The Keres System. Black is threatening 4...d5.

4.Bg2!? - One move that popped out at me was 4.d4. The mainline goes 4.d4 exd4 5.Qxd4 d5 6.Bg2. What do you think of this position?

4...d5 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.d3?! - Black's 4th and 5th moves were almost forced, so I'm surprised you're out-of-book so early. Maybe you could learn your opening a bit deeper via a book that explains the concepts and illustrates them with some master games.

likesforests said...

Although really, you lost due to a trap tactic, 14...e4!, more than due to your opening. It looks like Black could have sprung that as early as move 11 with similar consequences. Just like my games--tons of hard lessons to take from it. ;)

Polly said...

Like: You're absolutely right. As soon as I played 11. Re1 he can push e4.

Thanks for all your suggestions about different approaches to the English. I have to look at things again. I think I've just gotten away from the proper moves.

Wang: I've been wrestling for awhile about switching back to e4. It will be a big undertaking if I do so.

BDK: Me play the Smith-Morra? LMAO!! Though maybe it would force me to learn it as Black instead of whimping out by transposing to a c3 Sicilian. In terms of triathlons I'm scheduled to do St. Anthony's in April. That's Olympic distance. However I got to get my sorry butt on the bike, and start running again.

Wahrheit said...

Aww, don't go all 1. e4 on us--2. c4!! Fuhgeddibout the Colle, though it has its charms.

I'm half joking, of course. But it sure works for me. You probably have your own reasons for avoiding the main line QGD but to my mind nothing else puts pressure on Black's position from move 2 like it.

I think James has a good point, too. Despite my love affair with 1. d4 I need to whip out the king pawn from time to time to keep me fresh and a little on edge.

Aziridine said...

In the first game, you didn't do anything to challenge Black's centre - Like's suggestion is definitely an improvement.
In the second game, you could also have fought for the centre more aggressively. Have you ever considered 5.cxd3? I would've also preferred 6.c4 followed by 7.Nc3 instead of the standard Colle Nbd2+e4, which is less strong when the bishop on d3 is gone.

Polly said...

Like: Now that I'm back home and have had a little more time to look at your suggestions I think 4. d4 would have been a much better try then Bg2. That line makes Black work harder to grab the center from White.

Azir: Your suggestion of cxd3 is an interesting try. It gives White nice support for e4. I agree that Nd2 and e4 isn't as eefective without the bishop on d3. I think it's too slow and gives black too much time to counter attack.

Chessaholic said...

1.d4 rocks, but that's just me :) enjoy Chicago!