Before I start to analyze my game, I’d like to apologize for not getting a blog post at my usual 9 AM time. With the craze that is college exams before Thanksgiving and preparing to take off to Philadelphia for the National Chess Congress, I’ve been extremely busy.
That being said, this will be my only post or video this week on chess^summit since most of my Thanksgiving holiday will be consumed by the National Chess Congress, my first GoFundMe sponsored tournament appearance. After a month, my GoFundMe Campaign has raised over $500, and will go a long ways towards preparing me for the US Junior Open this summer. I’m really thankful to everyone who’s donated, and I look forward to sharing more quality games with all of you for the next few months to come.
My match-up tonight at the Pittsburgh Chess Club lasted only an hour, but I thought that there were some instructive points about dynamic play that were worth sharing.
Prokhov – Steincamp (19th Robert Smith Memorial, 2015)
An interesting game where my opponent took unorthodox measures to try to get an advantage. While he caused some structural weaknesses, moving the queen around the board and not completing development effectively ultimately lead to my opponent’s demise. This was not a “pretty” win by any means, but it’s definitely another reason to be confident heading into the National Chess Congress’ Open section on Friday.
I’m not exactly sure what to expect, but it would be nice if for my next post I could be an official Candidate Master by earning my last norm!
Faced with a worse opening set-up, I managed to equalize in a G/15 ICC match after trading my weakest pieces for my opponent’s best pieces. At the critical moment, I used an idea from Yasser Seirawan to earn the half point – watch the video and check it out!
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been playing in a bi-monthly ladder at the Pittsburgh Chess Club, and if I have to be honest, the change in tournament format hasn’t been the smoothest for me, as late night Tuesday rounds has pushed my mental endurance. Despite winning the first round, I made an early mistake in the opening, which made most of the game an uphill battle. Round 2 proved to be much more difficult. Despite taking a material advantage in an endgame, I underestimated my opponent’s counterattacking chances and lost in a rather embarrassing fashion. So this last Tuesday was round 3, and to say the least, I needed a win – badly.
My opponent, a much older player, had just drawn a strong expert despite his 1800 rating, and knowing some of his other recent results, I knew that this would be a tough fight. As always, I got to the board insanely early, ready to play the most important game I would have played since moving to Pittsburgh.
Steincamp – Schragin (19th Robert Smith Memorial, 2015)
I was really happy with the quality that I brought to this round, and it’ll be a big boost going into the National Chess Congress next weekend in Philadelphia. Black helped me along the way, but it’s difficult for me to find significant improvements for myself throughout the game.
Over the weekend, I decided to play a G/15 quad, and even though I was easily able to reach a score of 2.5/3 (my quick rating is low, so I played mostly inferior opponents), I saw a game in the top quad that inspired me to write today’s post.
Rea – Feliachi (G/15 November Quads, 2015)
Just as a disclaimer, I was in my second round game as this one was developing, so the move order may not be exact (the critical position will be reached regardless).
2.Nf3 b6 3.e4 Bb7
4.Bd3 Nf6 5.Qe2?!
6…c5 7.c3 Nc6 8.Nbd2
8…cxd4 9.cxd4 Nb4!
11.Qe3 Rc8 12.Nb3 Nc2+ 13.Bxc2 Rxc2
I remember watching this game and being really impressed with Black’s ability to punish White’s desire to play c2-c3. Though this …Nb4 and …Ba6 idea was clearly researched by Black before the game, it still made for a very instructional victory over a National Master.
With this inspiring opening play out of the way, I figured I might as well share Richard Rapport’s game at the European Team Championships last Sunday for team Hungary in their match in France. At only 19, Rapport has established himself as one of the world’s elite, specifically for bizarre opening preparation. In his game against Fressinet, he chose to open his game with 1. f4, giving the Bird’s Opening a rare showing at the Grandmaster level.
Rapport – Fressinet (European Team Chess Championships, 2015)
A great performance from Rapport, as his result was critical in securing a tie with the French in Round 3. After 4 games, Rapport has secured 3.5/4 for the Hungarian team in the European Team Chess Championships.
Make sure to check out other games from the event, as there have already been several heavyweight clashes. After Russia’s dominating win over Ukraine, will they be the favorites to run away with the event, or can Azerbaijan or Armenia catch up to the leaders? You can visit the event webpage here.
For today’s video, I wanted to try something new, so I thought it might be interesting to go over a Grandmaster game in ten minutes as to not get too bogged down into theoretical or tactical lines, but still highlight the most important moments of the game. It’s a new format, let me know if you like it!
The game I chose really caught my eye when I watched it live, as Magnus Carlsen, the defending World Blitz Champion, nearly fell to a relatively unknown Grandmaster, Daniil Dubov. Dubov missed a tactic that would have won the game – can you find it?
For today’s post, I would like to show an online game that shared with me from a young player out of Virginia Beach. If you too would like your game analyzed by me, make sure to send them to email@example.com, and I’ll feature it in the next post!
In a rather one sided game, we learn a lot about mentality and attacking chess. Let’s go over the key points:
“Patzer see a check, patzer play a check” – In this game, White lost time with an early Bb5+ when a move like Bc4 would have been much more practical. Only check your opponent if it helps you make progress.
Don’t weaken your own pawn structure! – The move 12… h5 alone may have cost Black the game as White had a lot of counterplay as a result. Look for ways to activate your developed pieces once you’ve finished the main opening ideas.
Don’t consider point values when analyzing – Trust your own intuition when calculating the differences in piece value. Knowing that a piece covers key squares and another piece serves little to know function might be enough for you to make rational over the board decisions.
“When you are losing, go crazy!” – This was something one of my former coaches taught me when I was ~1800. If you are worse in a position, you have to seek counterplay and contest your opponent’s desires. Black failed to make a serious push for the advantage in the endgame and thus failed to stay in the game. Simply making his g-pawn promoting a threat may have helped him get back to a more tenable position.
I’ll be looking forward to more game analysis posts in the future! Send me games!
Last Saturday, Nicholas N. asked “Is there a chance you have a game with the French Defense winning?”
Unfortunately, I’m not a French player, and because I haven’t played 1 e4 since I was in elementary school, I don’t have any quality games for any up and coming French players. But I know someone who does.
I met Grandmaster Akobian at Castle Chess back in 2011, and while I haven’t kept in contact, I have followed his games over the past few years. For those of you who only started following top-level chess recently, you may recall hearing Akobian’s name from this famous incident:
[Courtesy: D K Chess]
But Akobian has his own achievements too. A gold medal winner at the 2013 World Chess Team Championships, Var has a legacy of strong opening play with both the French and Bg5 systems against the King’s Indian Defense. To answer Nicholas’ question, we’ll look at two games in the French from Akobian.
A strong showing from Akobian in this game against a top level Grandmaster! This game showed us a couple of lessons:
1) While theory doesn’t win games, it can play a significant factor in deciding the result. In this game Khachiyan wasn’t familiar with the Bxh7 line, and because of that, could not acquire positional resources to slow Black’s play.
2) In winning positions, positional advantages may mean more than winning material! Var could have played …Ne4-f2 but waited, because he realized that it would actually be harder to win up the exchange than taking full control of the weak queenside first.
3) Use all of your pieces! White traded a lot of pieces, and while theoretical, didn’t find a way to effectively use his h1 rook. This may seem irrelevant to the game, but in the final position, White is basically playing down a rook as all of Black’s pieces are going into the action.
This game was short, but shows us that the French can be a sharp opening and White must know theory to challenge Black’s queenside thrusts. Let’s take a look at a more positional game where Var makes use of an isolated queen’s pawn.
I liked this game because Akobian showed that playing with the “dreaded” IQP isn’t actually that bad. By making advantageous trades, he simplified into an endgame where he could play for two results, and then slowly outplayed the International Master.
The French is a versatile structure, and learning it can help you understand the Dutch and the Nimzo Indian at the next level. While I personally would never choose the French as a first choice, it is a great way to build an opening repertoire.
Today’s game has a little more fire than usual. Rather than opting for a positional game, I took some risk playing …c5-c4 (I could have just …a7-a6) and sacrificing the exchange to get a massive kingside attack. Hope you enjoy!
No matter how much you study theory, someone will always find a way to get out of your opening knowledge against you in a tournament game. How you handle those positions will largely determine the outcome of the game, not the fact that you had read an entire book in preparation for the match.
While some club players may disagree, when your opponent chooses to go out of “book”, he is not necessarily making a mistake, but rather making a less battle tested move. As the player, its your job to figure out why. Let’s look at some games where I was put in this situation.
24…Qd7 25.fxe5 Bg7 26.Qf2 Rf8 27.Qf1 b5 28.Bh3 Qa7 29.Kh1 White went on to win on move 41.
This game was instructive, because while Black opted for a less favorable line, he was by no means losing. By playing to improve my own position, Black ran out of active options and grew impatient, creating weaknesses with …a7-a6 and …e6-e5. The next game was from last April’s National High School Chess Championships where after a long day, I needed a win to play for a spot in the top 30 the next day.
Steincamp – Golias (National High School Chess Championships, 2015)
This game was a much easier win than the first game because Black took drastic measures and refused to follow opening principles. However, just like the first game, I was able to take away my opponent’s resources without creating any weaknesses of my own.
On a basic level, the main takeaway should be to follow the chess opening principles. When your opponent deviates from your theoretical knowledge, ask yourself if your opponent failed to accomplish one of these goals. If this is not the case, try to pinpoint what your opponent’s plan is, and find creative ways to eliminate the threat!
As some of you may know, I take a lot of pride in what my high school chess team was able to achieve in the three years I served as team captain and coach, which is why I’m extremely happy to have the opportunity to analyze some of their games from this season today!
One aspect of the MLWGS team that makes it unique from other schools in Virginia is that during practice, the players play rated games against each other to improve their openings and tactical knowledge. While its extremely difficult to gain points in these once-a-week ladders, it gives the players a lot of tournament experience and confidence when they play in competitive events. For the first game today, we will analyze a rated game between Vishnu Pulavarthi and Trey Johnson.
27.Rxd5 exd5+ 28.Kxd5 Kd7 29.Rc1 Rb6 30.Kc5 Kc7 31.b4 axb4 32.Kxb4+ Kb7 33.Rd1 Rf6 34.f3 Rf4+ 35.Ka5 Under 5 minutes, White stop notating, and went on to win the game. 1-0
A very back-and-forth game, as both sides had winning opportunities in each phase of the game. Considering that both players at the time were rated under 1100, I would say that both players played a little bit better than their level. What can we take away from this match?
Putting your pieces on the right squares is crucial. In this game, White missed a lot of opportunities because the bishop was on d3, and not on e2.
Don’t oversimplify. Trey cost himself a win when he put his knight on d4, offering White a pawn up endgame for no compensation. Just because its easier to calculate, doesn’t mean its better for you.
Be active in the endgame. I think this game demonstrated the extremes of this before Black fell apart in the endgame. White took a really simple position and made it difficult by not developing his rooks and trading the bishop, his only developed piece.
Lastly, tricks are for kids! I can’t stress this enough. Trey was practically lost when he played 25… a5?, but this cheap trick (which Vishnu saw immediately) cost him the key tempo to put his rook on d2, and really complicate the matter. Chances are, if the trick is simple and there is an easy way out, its not a move worth playing.
Wow, the most instructive analysis game so far, and we haven’t even gotten to the second game!
Our next game features the current MLWGS Chess Team Captain, and reigning MLWGS Chess Champion, Jeffrey Song. I’ve worked with Jeffrey since he joined the team as a freshman, and in recent months, his rating has skyrocketed, going from the low 1300s to the mid-1500s. As always, with every major rating jump comes a big adjustment to survive at the next level. Here’s a game from the high school junior from a tournament this past weekend.
Song – Phillips (Kemps Landing Scholastic and Quads, 2015)
1…d6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d3 g6 4.e4
4…Nc6 5.Be2 Bg7 6.O-O O-O 7.Qe1
8.Qh4 Bg4 9.c3 Qd7
10.h3 Bxf3 11.Rxf3 e6 12.g4 b5
14.Nd2 a5 15.f5!
15…exf5 16.gxf5 Ne5 17.Rg3 Qd8 18.Bg5 c5
19.Nf3 Ned7 20.d4 cxd4 21.Bxb5?!
21…Qb6 22.Nxd4 Nh5 23.fxg6??
23…Bxd4+ 24.cxd4 Qxd4+?
This is a difficult game to assess because after White’s preparation panned out, Jeffrey was not the most effective in the conversion process, nearly costing himself a win. Black on the other hand, played passively for most of the game, but was at least willing to take some chances before the game was over. Considering the game was at a much higher level than the last one, the takeaways are also a little more complex:
Don’t just count on opening preparation! This game felt like a cookie-cutter attack gone wrong, as White lost objectivity when he took on b5, opening the game back up. Furthermore, with Black opening with 1… d6, White missed some opportunities to transpose into more challenging lines by playing quickly.
Don’t waste tempi. Black moved the same pieces multiple times throughout the game, costing him an opportunity to play for the initiative out of the opening. I can commiserate with Black having to play against an unfamiliar opening and not knowing what to do, but playing a few tempi down is always going to be difficult.
The …d5 ‘priyome’ against the kingside pawn storm is definitely an advanced idea that was much needed in this game for Black to stay competitive. If you’re interested in other such positional concepts, I highly recommend Soltis’ book. With the exception of the quizzes, this book is easy to read without a chess board, and really instructive!
The game is over when the opponent is checkmated, runs out of time, resigns, or agrees to a draw. I’m definitely not the one to be saying this as I’ve fallen prey to late mistakes in winning positions, but White needed to see this game out before making artificial decisions. Taking on b5 and relieving the tension on the kingside were both moments that let Black into the game, really showing how it takes only one mistake to lose a game – even at this level.
These were some great games, and I hope to see more next week for my next game analysis! Make sure to send your games to firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you’re lucky, I’ll choose your game to be featured next week.