Monday, October 27, 2008

Chess Study Can Be a Beach!

Greetings from Hilton Head, South Carolina. I've been having a nice time hanging out with my sisters and other family and friends. I will not be adding South Carolina to my "states I've played tournaments in" list on this trip. Maybe another time.

"No tournament down here is for the birds!"

This is the remnants of one position I was looking at from "The Seven Deadly Chess Sins" by Jonathan Rowson. This is what happens when you try to play over a game sitting on the beach on a windy afternoon. I have a small roll up board and it took off in gust of wind. Note: A little artistic license was taken by putting the white king in the clam shell. The rest of the pieces landed as is.

Since I've found Blue Devil Knight's summaries of Rowson's Chess For Zebras so interesting, I thought I'd look at Rowson's other book. I don't have the Zebra book. This first chapter is already giving me food for thought. The first chess sin is thinking. That's something I can relate to since I have a tendency to over think, or lock in on one thing without taking other parts of the position into consideration.

I did find this first position interesting. (Before the wind gust trashed the board)

Bundesliga 1993/94

Rowson asks the reader to consider the position and the possibilities for White. Like most people I'm looking at trying to break through on the king side with perhaps a move like 25. Bh3 with the idea of g4. Instead the game continued 25. a4!? Qd7 26. Qd1 (Was the queen better on h5?)Rc8 27. a5 Rcf8 28. Qa1 Qe7 29. Qa3! (I would not have considered this move because of the doubled isolated pawns after Qxa3. However that's the point Rowson is making.) Qxa3 30. bxa3 (The pawns look weak, but Black can not attack them.) ...Rd8 31. Rb2 Rc7 32. Rb5 (d5 and b7 are vunerable points in Black's position, made possible by White's doubled a pawns.)....Rdd7 33. Kf2 g6 34. Ke3 Kg7 35. Rfb1 Kf7 36. Rc5 Ke7 37.Rbb5 Rxc5 38. dxc5! (Normal thought processes would have come up with Rxc5. However the pawn capture gives White's king a place to penatrate) ...Kd8 39. a6 Kc8 40. Rb6!! Bg8 (40... axb6 41. a7 bxc5 42.a8=Q+) 41. Rf6 Rd8 42. Kd4 bxa6 43. Rd6 1-0

Rowson asked Rozentalis about how he came up with this plan. Rozentalis explained the idea of using his strategic advantange to penetrate Black's position. He felt with the closed position he needed to open the queen side. Rowson's point is how easy it is to stuck on certain ideas. "If you began by looking for combinational breakthroughs on the kingside, you made it much more difficult for yourself to see the position as a whole. This type of problem, where our mind fixes on something and can't get past it, is very typical of the way we think. We are attracted to something and then it pulls us in like a magnet before we can think of anything else."

Guilty as charged! That has been one of my biggest problems in recent losses. I get stuck on one way of approaching a position, or fixated on what I think the issue is, and can't see beyond that line of thinking.

The position above is after White's 17th move in Smyslov - Reshevsky 1948. This is a fllow up game to the Rozentalis game in Chapter 1. I solved the flying chess board issue by drawing a board in the sand. I guess it's a little hard to tell if there are dark or light square weaknesses in the position.

Until my next post, see you later....

..... alligator!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Terrible Tuesday! The Photo Edition

Better late then never, but today I'm finally posting the totally bizarre game I played in the last round of Four Rated Games Tonight! It's worthy of Wacky Wednesday status, but given the psychological havoc of the game I decided it deserved its own designation, hence Terrible Tuesday. As an added bonus you get to see some of the fun animals I saw in California last week. If you don't want to look at the pictures scroll down. If you have better captions you can add them to the comments.

"ZZZZZZZZ Maybe I should have taken a bye for round four."

"I have a bone to pick with you."

" No, you will not be the next King Kong."

"Stop yapping to me about how lousy you played."

I can't even begin to understand what happened to me in round four that night. Starting out the evening 0-3 can be rough on the psyche, but I've managed to bounce back and win the last round before. It seemed like I should have been able to do it again. I had gotten paired down against a 1600 who was having an equally rough evening. It looked like his evening was going to get even rougher when he dropped a knight on move 11. That was until a little over confidence on my part combined with a serious brain fart starting on move 13. Maybe finger fart would be the correct term since I let go of the queen a little too quickly.

I had been considering 13. Qf3 and 13. Qe2. I had decided the knight on c3 was defended enough and that it was more important not to allow his rook to come to my second rank with 13...Rxb2. However when I picked up the queen I stopped at f3 instead of e2 and let go of her. That's not the losing move, but the psychological impact was tremendous. I started seeing things that weren't there, and not seeing what was there. I knew at any point he could play Bxc3+ and pick up the pawn on a2 with either the rook or the queen. The prospect of his picking up a second pawn and having two of his major pieces in my territory was causing me utter panic. Winning the second pawn doesn't help Black all that much, but I couldn't see that at the time.

I spent 6 minutes on my 14th move before deciding to break the pin with Kd1. I kept worrying about what would happen if I played Be2 and then castled. For some reason I was convinced I would lose the piece and the a2 pawn. I'm not going to lose the piece with correct play, but I couldn't look at the position objectively. Even after Kd1 I'm okay. I'm still not lost. It wasn't until I played Be2 a move later that the position went all to hell. Despite spending 4 minutes on that move, I totally missed Bg4, and all the problems that causes. Another 5 minutes was spent overlooking the mate in two after Rc2.


So what did I learn from this mess? STAY CALM! Take a deep breath after making a finger fehler move, even if it means leaving the board for a minute or two to compose myself. Trying to analyze a position when you're having a mental panic attack doesn't work. One has to get over the past and work with what is in the present position.

Monday, October 20, 2008

California Flower Power

Since LEP said he likes flower pictures, thought I'd post a few. The when I get back to cold New York I can look at these and pretend it's warm out.

Front Rose Seat

Even flowers need web access

No frogs on these lily pads.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

California Dreamin'

Greetings from San Diego! The weather has been totally awesome. I went to the San Diego Zoo on Wednesday. I took tons of pictures. The Internet here is kind of slow so each of the pictures I loaded for this post took forever! So I just a few up from the zoo. I won't bore you with my flower and cactus pictures from Balboa Park.

Finally I'm on the gorilla's back.

Zebras for chess?

"I can get that fish! No problem."

Surfin' anyone?

Today I'm going to check out the USS Midway, and then head up to San Francisco, via Los Angeles. I'm hoping I can get on the earlier flight out of LAX, otherwise I will have a long time to post more pictures, and perhaps get around to "Wacky Wednesday Deferred", AKA "Thursday Thud".

PS. I was well behaved, and didn't ditch my niece to go to the San Diego chess club that meets on Wednesday nights!

Monday, October 13, 2008

ICA Open: Battle of the Bloggers

Howdy from Texas. My tournament report continues.

Round three is coming up and I've done the proverbial castle king side on the non-existent wall chart, 0 0. I was starting to think I was having Thursday deja vu. I see Jim West and tell him he can report on the tournament from the front of the room, I'll report from the back of the room. Atomic Patzer says he'll also be reporting from the back of the room. Little did we know that we would play each other in round three.

This was one of these put me asleep, make me fall behind on time type of games. It's games like this that make me want to chuck the English and play e4. I end out playing lathargically and letting black grab the initiative. Even after I won a pawn I thought Black had some good attacking chances on the king side.


I was surprised when he offered me the draw. I had 2 minutes versus his 6 minutes, and I'm kind of playing down a piece with my rook stuck on g5 with nowhere to go. I accepted the draw with no hesitation, and said if I had been Black in that position I would not have offered a draw. He said I had a lot more confidence in my ability to try to convert the positional edge. Fritz only gives Black .44 edge. Maybe I was seeing ghosts. I was just happy to stop the losing streak at 6.

Round 4 I played one of the many Russian kids who attend the ICA. He mangled the opening by walking into a book trap against White's attempt to play the Yugaslov against the Accelerated Dragon. I mangled the middle and end game, so we drew.


So that's it on the tournament front. Look for Wacky Wednesday, and some pictures from California.

ICA Fall Open: Part I

Greetings from La Guardia airport. I'm off to California today. First to sunny San Diego and then foggy San Francisco. No chess tournaments on this trip. In fact I probably won't get to play in another tournament until November 3rd. Knowing that and still having a terrible taste from Thursday's 0-4 debacle at 4 Rated Games Tonight! (My last round game from that tournament will be Wacky Wednesday's post this week. I decided to cross the river and play in Hackensack, New Jersey at the ICA Fall Open, held at Bergen County Academy. This tournament is held in conjunction with the International Chess Academy's Fall scholastic. The Open section is limited to players rated over 1400, but that doesn't make it kid proof. The stronger kids play in the Open, not the scholastic. The Open section was quite strong with two Grandmasters and a number of masters. As luck would have it, who do you think I played in round one? FM Boris Privman. The same Boris Privman that I resigned prematurely against on Thursday because I couldn't find the knight fork combination.

I'm so glad I traveled to New Jersey to play one of the Marshall Chess Club usual suspects. I guess that's what happens when I wear my new Marshall CC baseball cap to other tournaments. Just like Thursday night I lost to him. Make that 0-15 against the guy. I'm not superstitious, but I was wondering if this was a bad omen to lose to the same guy that started off my 0-4 evening at the Marshall last Thursday.

We had our own little bi-state chess bloggers carnival at the tournament. Here I am with Jim West and Atomic Patzer, Tom Stanics.

Grandmasters Alexander Stripunsky and Sergey Kudrin do battle on Board 1 in round 4. I'm not sure what the final result was, but there was no two move grandmaster draw since there was another 3-0 playing a 2.5 on Board 2.

The playing room for the Open Section was very nice. The room is the classroom and restaurant for the school's culinary program students. Everyone had individual tables, and we were far away from the scholastic bedlam occurring in the main cafeteria. Ruy Lopez would have liked the layout. If you had misfortune of facing the windows you had to deal with the sunlight in your eyes and reflecting off the board.

The tournament got off to a rough start. After losing to Privman in round 1, I got paired against a middle school kid with a rating in the mid 1500s.

He spent the entire game attacking the living daylights out of me. After 26. Qe7 we reached this position.

I thought I was dead meat here. He's attacking my bishop and my f7 pawn. He also is threatening Bxg6. I kept looking for a way to resolve all my problems. First I considered 26...Ba6. However then follows 27. Bxg6+ Rxg6 28. Qxf7+ Kh8 29. Rxg6 and mate in 1 or 2.

Next I considered just giving up the bishop to defend the f pawn with 26...Kg8. That's bad too. 27. Bxg6 Nd6 28. Bxf7+Kh8 29. Be8 Nxe8 30. Qg7+

I was on the verge of resigning, but having been given to premature resignations as of late I decided to keep looking. Finally I came up with 26...Qc7. That appears to hold everything. My opponent played 27. Qb4. I was patting myself on the back for toughing it out and finding the move that seems to hold everything together. However it doesn't really since my opponent missed 27.Rxg6! Qxe7 28. Rg7+ Kh8 29. fxe7 Rb8 30. Rxf7 and goes downhill from there.

The game continued 27... Nxf6 28. Qd4 Ng4 29. Be2Bc8 30. Bxg4 Bxg4 31. Nxd5 Rxd5 32. Qxd5 Bxd1 33. Rxd1 Qf4+ 34. Kb1 Kg7 35. Qa5Qxh4 36. Qxa7 Qf4 37. Qa3 h4 38. Qc3+ Qf6 39. Qxf6+ Kxf6 40. a4 h3 41. a5 Rh842. a6 Ra8 43. Rh1 Rxa6 44. Rxh3 g5 45. c4 At this point we both stopped notating to arrive at the position below. According to Fritz, Black is slightly better. However Fritz is never in time trouble so what does it know?

With seconds left on my clock the position looks something like this. The White pawns are definitely on those squares. My pawns I'm not sure about.

Don't ask me how his pawns got up the board like that, and mine didn't. I think I made too many defensive moves with my rook. I think two factors came into play. The first was I spent the entire game on the defensive. Sometimes it's hard to switch gears so one tends to stay in defense mode even after the attack has been stopped. The other issue was the clock. This is where a better understanding of rook and pawn endings would help. I guess I should have brought Silman's Endgame Manual with me on vacation. (Too big!)

To be continued from DFW....

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Now I see it, Now I don't.

Chess can make you absolutely giddy when finding a nice combination, or utterly frustrated when you miss the combination that saves you from catastrophe. Lately I've been on the chess roller coaster where I'm soaring to new heights with good play and nice wins, and then plunging into the depths of utter frustration as hard earned rating points get pissed away by stupid moves or mental meltdowns.

Wednesday evening I reached the following position after playing 35. Qb3.

I was playing Andre who I had lost to a few weeks ago in the round robin. He's an older player whose rating has gone down a lot, but still can demonstrate why he once was a solid B player. In our last game I tossed a rook by overlooking a discovered check that attacked my rook. In this particular game I got my rook trapped, had to give up the exchange, and then several moves later give up a pawn. The one thing that had given me hope in this game was the knowledge that my opponent doesn't do well with time pressure, and I had a 12 minute edge on the clock.

35. Qb3 is annoying for Black, but there certainly plenty of ways to defend the pawn on b7. 35...Qc8, 35...Rd7 35...b6 or 35...b5. Any of these moves defends, and maybe I get some play on the diagonal. Truth be told it was a "hope chess" move. "I hope my opponent goes to d7." Which he did.

From this position I play 36. Qg8+ 36...Kh6 is suicidal so he played 36...Qg7. 37 Qxg7+ Black resigns because of 36...Kxg7 38. Nf5+ winning his rook. He'll have a pawn for the knight, but the big time edge and weakened pawn structure should make it pretty easy to win. I found a nice combination involving a knight fork, and managed to win a game that was pretty much lost.

The very next night I have another chance to utilize a knight fork in this position.

I'm Black, I lost a pawn earlier and my king side has been trashed. My opponent FM Boris Privman has just played 27. Ne5. I'm dealing with a few issues here. His immediate threat is 28. Qxf7+. The other threat is 29. Ng4 followed by 30. Ne3 attacking the pinned knight a second time. What is Black's best move in this position? [ 28...Nd4, 29. Qxf4 Ne2+ 30. Kh2 Nxf4] Answer in brackets. Even though Black remains a pawn down, I probably have some drawing chances since my rook is very active on the open c file.

I did not see the move so instead I played 28... Rf8? The game continued 29. Ng4 h5 30. Ne3 to reach the position below.

Can Black prevent the loss of her knight? Yes. Once again the potential knight fork allows Black to move the pinned piece to d4. Though in this position White is much better off since Black's rook is no longer on the open c file. Since I didn't see 30...Nd4 I resigned because I thought I was losing a piece and was way down on the clock.

So what makes these two games so different in terms of my ability to recognize and utilize the tactic? In one game I'm down the exchange and a pawn and in the other game I'm only down a pawn. I think the difference is that in the the first game the knight fork comes immediately after the queen trade. There was no risk in moving the knight. In the second game I had to find two knight moves to bring about the fork. The first knight move entails moving a pinned piece exposing my unprotected queen to capture. Since it appears that I'm simply hanging my queen I probably just outright rejected any knight moves including the one that sets up the fork and saves the knight.

I'm sure another factor came into play even though I may not have consciously thought about it. That being my history with these two players. It's true that I had recently lost to Andre, but overall I have a winning record against him. Also I know how time pressure effects him. I'm sure that played a part in my "hope chess" move of Qb3. Fritz thought that was my best move in the position, though it still rated the position after that move as -+ (-2.44) versus -+ (-2.62) for Qa3. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement of White's position.

My history against Privman is sad. I was 0-13 going into this game. The last few times I've played him I've come close to getting a draw, but I couldn't quite pull it off. Perhaps subconsciously I was saying "I'm playing a master, he's not giving me a way out. There is no way to save the knight." Yeh, yeh play the board, not the rating. Easier said then done, especially when you're not aware that your thinking is going in that direction.

Temposchlucker has written a number of very interesting articles this past week regarding the thinking and learning process in chess. There's been lots of lively debate in the comments section regarding different methods of studying and learning to improve at chess. When I read these discussions I start thinking more about my thought processes and how they impact my play. Comparing these two games that were played in a 24 hour period and seeing the difference in how I dealt with the two positions gave me a lot to think about. I'm not sure I totally understand his concept of active attention, but perhaps a lack of it caused me not to be able to see beyond "my queen is hanging if I move the knight, therefore I'm losing the knight because it's being attacked twice and I'm defending once."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Slow Torture

Typically when the Chess Center of New York or the Marshall Chess Club has a two day slow time control tournament I opt to play the one day schedule on Sunday with two rounds at G/30 and two rounds at the 30/90 SD/1 time controls. I do this for several reasons. One, it saves time and money only making one trip into NYC. Two, and I hate to admit this, but I get so antsy at the slower time control that I need a few games of cracktion. However this particular weekend I could not play early Sunday morning, so I had to do the two day schedule if I wanted to play.

Playing the one day schedule has had its' own perils of late. There was the the Marshall July Grand Prix where I started off 0-3 and then waited around for over three hours to see if I'd play the scariest 1300 or get a bye. Anyone who's been a regular reader knows how that turned out. I barely escaped with a draw in that game. Then there was the New York September Open. I never got around to writing anything about that tournament. The short of it. I went 1-1 in the fast schedule. In round three at the slow time control I played one of my worst games of chess as of late and was done in less then an hour. Maybe I'll put up as a Wacky Wednesday item sometime. It was that type of game. The only saving grace was I had requested a last round bye so after my humiliating loss I left the club and walked from W 10th St. up to Grand Central on 42nd St. I had an hour to kill since the trains run hourly on Sundays and I had missed the 1:30.

So how bad could it be playing the two day schedule and playing all slow games? I had been invited for brunch on Saturday so I took a 1/2 point bye for round one. That was probably the best part of the tournament. I arrived in plenty of time for round two and got paired against a kid rated 1890 who had also taken a first round bye. This game reminded me why I don't really like long time controls. The game was boring, and my opponent was taking forever on what seemed to me pretty straight forward moves. After 20 moves and an hour and half we had reached the following position:

I had just played 20...Rxf4. I was expecting him to play 21. Qxf4 and things were going to get really ugly really quickly. He's threatening 22. Qxc7. A possible continuation would be 21. Qxf4 Rc8 22. d5 Nb8 23. Qf7 Qxf7 24. Rxf7 Rg8 25. e5 Ba4 26. e6. Black's position is very cramped, and the passed pawn is looking rather strong.

After almost 10 minutes of thinking he played 21. Rxf4. That move is not as powerful because it allows me time to challenge white for the f file and keep his rook off of f7. So instead of being put out of my misery fairly quickly the game went on for another two hours. 21... Rf8 22. Qf2 Rxf4 23. Qxf4 Be8 24. d5Nd8 25. Qf2 b6 26. Kh1 Bg6 27. Qd4 Nb7 28. e5 Bxd3 29. Qxd3 Nc5 30. Qf3 h6 31.Bc3 Kg8 32. e6 a5 33. Bd4 Nb7 34. Qf4 Nd6 35. Be5 b5 36. Kg1 Ne8 37. Qc1 b4 38.axb4 axb4 39. Qc4 Kf8 40. Bd4 Kg8 41. Bc5 Qg5 42. Bxb4 Qe3+ 43. Kh1 Qe5 44. Bc3Qd6 45. Qb5 Nf6 46. Bxf6 gxf6 47. Qe8+ Qf8 48. Qd7 Qc5 (I'm trying for Qc1+ followed by Qf4+) 49. Qf7+ Kh8 50. Qxf6+ Black Resigns. With Qxf6+ he's covering the crucial f4 square. That stops all my cheapo checks and there's no stopping the e pawn without giving up my queen. We were the last game done, and it gave me plenty of time to make the 10:30 train home. Sunday was another day.

Is this a bad sign when driving to the train station Chopin's Sonata for Piano #2 is playing and the last part you hear before leaving the car is the Funeral March movement?

Given my warped sense of humor I actually got a chuckle out of hearing it. Was I going to my own chess funeral? Considering how recent attempts at slow time controls have gone, it was kind of fitting as send off music to day two of the tournament. By the time I got to the club and sat down for the 3rd round I had forgotten about Chopin. I was paired against a 7th grader rated 1520. He played very solidly but on the conservative side. I felt at one point in the game he could have put his rook on the h file and his q on f3 and made things very difficult for me. Instead he allowed me to trade down considerably and we ended out in a rook and pawn ending. We each had 6 pawns. It didn't look like either of us could do much with the position so I made one of my rare draw offers which he accepted.

Even though we had played for 2 1/2 hours it still left a lot of time until the next round. I spent time just talking to parents that I knew and then went and watched one of my former students execute a nicely played ending against his higher rated opponent. He gave a series of checks that forced the opponent's king to a square where a queen trade would be forced. Then he promotes his pawn. His opponent didn't want to trade queens so instead he sac-ed it thinking it was going to be a stalemate. At first glance I thought it was stalemate, but he had one square for his king after white takes the free queen. After the game I went out for a bite to eat with him and his dad. The good thing about leaving the club for an early dinner is that it gave me no time to obsess over who I'd play in the last round. I had no idea whether I'd get paired up or down.

I'm glad I didn't think about pairings because it would have ruined the rest of what was turning out to be a pleasant afternoon. When I got back the pairings were up already and I found my name almost at the bottom pairing sheet. I had just made the break so I was paired all the way down against the "scariest 1300". Once again I would have Black against him. I'm not sure if I would have been happier playing the kid rated 1000 who was on the board next to me. He got crushed by his 1748 rated opponent in about an hour. If I had managed to win that quickly against him I could have gotten my cracktion fix by playing in the 7:30 game/30 quads.

I don't know what it is about playing Black against Ken that causes me to get so rattled. On move six I made a notation error on my Mon Roi. I had put 6. Nce2 instead of 6. Nge2. A little mistake like this causes the position on the unit to be different then what's on the board. After he plays 7. g3 I'm looking at the unit and notice in that position his pawn on e4 is no longer protected by the knight on c3. I pick up my knight on f6 to prepare to play 7...Nxe4. Fortunately before I had a chance to grab the pawn, I noticed the discrepancy between the Mon Roi position and the actual board position. I put the knight back on f6, fixed my notation and then tried to figure out where I wanted to move the knight. I moved it to h5 since the other choice was putting back on g8. The knight move was not fatal, but it did lose a tempo.

I think being forced to move a piece that I normally would not have move at that point took a toll on my psyche. My psyche which was already on edge having to play Black against this guy. It also didn't help that I was sitting at the "nervous energy" table. The two middle school aged kids sitting on my left had the very annoying habit of tapping the buttons on their Chronos 3 or 4 times on each move. So every move I'd hear a piece slapped on the board followed by "tap, tap, tap, tap". That why I like the touch sensor Chronos when I'm playing compulsive clock tappers. They can tap the button as many times as they want and I won't hear anything. My opponent tends to mumble to himself while playing, and the guy to his right is in constant motion with facial expressions and head movements. A lot of times I can tune out the external things going on around me. This particular round I couldn't. Even my most mellow classical music wasn't soothing me. It showed in my play.


Friday, October 3, 2008

Endgame Lesson

It's Thursday night at the Marshall, and I'm ready for my weekly cracktion fix. One week I'll go Whole Foods, get Indian food from the hot table, sit upstairs, eat dinner and watch the world go by in Union Square. Another week I'll get a salad or sandwich from Cosi and take to the club and eat in the back room before the round starts. When I'm feeling cheap or on a later train I'll bring a sandwich from home. This week I went for the salad at Cosi and brought it to the club. The usual cast of characters is there. Steve's busy taking entries, Jay's schmoozing with people, Asa's sizing up the competition to see if it's worth his while to enter, kids are playing blitz and various chess teachers are giving lessons.

One teacher has been working with a adult beginner for the last couple of months. She's made a lot of progress from "this is a bishop and it moves diagonally" to basic checkmates, pins, forks, and this week her teacher was working from Silman's "Complete Endgame Course". He was showing positions using a knight against a lone pawn. Since they were sitting next to me I couldn't help but to listen in, watch what he was showing her, and come up with the answers in my head before her. Little did I know how useful this information would be in awhile.

These positions all come from Part Three - Endgames For Class D Minor Piece vs. a lone pawn. The basic premise with a knight is that's it's a short range piece but if it can get in front of the pawn or control the square that the pawn needs to land on the position is a draw. The first example is the knight against a bishop pawn.

The draw is pretty straight forward. In this particular position it doesn't matter whose move it is. If it's White's move 1. Nb4+ Kc4 2. Nc2 Kb3 3. Nd4+ Kb2 4. Kg7 c2 5. Nxc2. In this sequence the knight checks the king and then gets in front of the pawn. It doesn't matter which side the Black king comes in to the knight White has a check.

Take the same position with Black on move. 1... Kc4 2. Na5+ Kb4 3. Nc6+ Kc5 4. Na5 c2 5. Nb3+ Kc4 6. Nc1 Kc3 7. Kg7 Kb2 8.Nd3+ Kc3 9. Nc1. Once again the knight dances around the king with checks or covers the queening square.

An advanced rook pawn gives the knight more trouble because there is only one side to work from. Depending on whose move it is, the pawn may be able to get through.

In this particular position if it's White's move he draws. 1. Nb5 a2 2. Nc3 Kb2 3. Nxa2 Kxa2 1/2 - 1/2

If it's Black's move he wins. 1...a2! (all other moves draw) 2. Nc4 Kb1 3. Na3+ Kc1 0-1

If White's king is closer then it's a draw.

1... Kb1 (1...a2 Kc2!) 2. Nb5 a2 3. Nc3+ Kb2 4. Nxa2 Kxa2 1/2-1/2

In this position black has only one move that gives him any possibilities. 1...a2. (1...Kb2 2. Nc4+ or 1...Ka2 2. Nc4 these lines draw) White still plays 2. Nc4. (2. Nb5?? Kb2 and White can't prevent the promotion.) 2...Kb1 3. Nd2+ Kb2 4. Nb3 1/2 - 1/2)

This is all pretty straight forward but for a beginner it's easy to go wrong by putting the knight on the wrong square and not being able to cover the square the knights going to land on. I found interesting watching the student working out all the different knight moves and telling her teacher why the move works or fails. Listening and watching these exercises proved very beneficial during my first round game.

I played Yevgeni Margulis in round one. He's one of the old Russian guys who frequents the club on a regular basis. He bounces around between 2150 and 2230. I've played him seven times before. Lost six, and nicked him for a draw once. He showed up almost 10 minutes late, but I've learned the hard way that one can not take a large time advantage for granted. I had given most of the time back when he decided it was time eat something and smoke a cigarette outside. So by the time he came back I had 7 minute advantage. We ended out trading off all the major pieces and ended out in this position after 47 moves.


I was concerned I would not be able to get my king over in time to prevent him from promoting the a pawn after he takes my a pawn. However the Knight vs. Rook Pawn lesson came to mind and I was able to resolve the problems of the position and hold the draw.

Organized Bedlam Done! Another Milestone Reached!

It's over, done, finished, completed, ended, and did I mention it's finally through? Yes the 12 player round robin from hell is over. In principle it was a nice idea. Give the lower rated players a chance at playing some of the guys they don't normally get to play because their score isn't good enough. However the next time somebody says "Let's run a round robin." I'm going to say "Quads!" The first round was July 9th and the last game was completed on October 2nd. In between we had 3 kids drop out once school started, and one adult who was never sure whether he could make it or not so he eventually dropped out, and played less then half his games.

When it was all over the Top 3 looked like this:

1. Isaac Sherman 10-1
2. Duncan Foster 5-3 (2 unplayed games)
3. Silvio Rosato 5-6

One would think going 10-1 would rack up of massive amounts of rating points. Nope he only picked up 31 points. (Heck, I even picked up 29 points last night for scoring 1.5 - 2.5, but the average of my opponents was 2045.) The problem was his pre-event rating was 1799, and the average of his opponents was 1543. I guess he needed that 11th win. The big winners in the rating gains department were Sivio with +63 (opponent average 1568) and Dario with +61 (opponent average 1624).

Because this tournament was played out over the course of three months, I officially broke the 4,000 games played mark after submitting the event. Technically I probably played my 4000th game about 2 weeks ago, but because I didn't put the results on my monster spreadsheet until the tournament was completed, the games odometer didn't turn to 4,000 on the exact day I played #4,000. In fact when I put the results on my spreadsheet my total was up to 4,005. I can't even tell you if I won or lost my milestone game. (Note to self: Make sure you're not in the middle of some drawn out tournament when you go for 5,000.)

As for my results; well let's say this wasn't one of my better tournaments. 3 wins, 5 losses, 2 draws. My tournament ended the same way it started, losing to somebody with the last name of Dell'Orto. Unlike our last game, there were no early draw offers followed by horrendous blunders. Instead there were horrendous blunders on both our parts, that unfortunately I failed to take advantage of. Not only did I fail to capitalize on his mistakes, I turned around and made an even bigger one. Time read Blue Devil Knight's list again!

#7 Don't respond to phantom threats.
In this case slam dunk phantom threats.

#8 When under attack, keep your cool.
Plain and simple, I had a meltdown. I thought there was no way I could accept the sacrifice, I was sure I was getting mated if I accepted, so I spent very little time analyzing it. The real danger was from the bishop that he offered me, not from his rook. I couldn't see that so instead I looked at the lines that either lost material or lead to mate.


I chose the line that lost material. After I played the move, and saw how my position was going all to hell I thought to myself. "You didn't really analyse what would have happened if you took the bishop." Too late. I could only do the "what if" with my buddy Fritz later.