Crushing Masters(Blitz)

So here in Atlanta, there are weekly blitz tournaments at the famous Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Atlanta that are held on Friday evenings. One of the games I played a couple of hours ago was pretty interesting and thought some of the ideas in the blitz game are instructional for quicker chess games.

Vishal Balyan-Dipro Chakraborty 1-0

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1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nh3 Nd7

So here we are in the opening, I was playing white against my opponent Dipro Chakraborty who is 2334 rated USCF. From the opening, the most common move for white to play in this position is usually Nf3 but usually in blitz sidelines can tend to favor the opponent that is faster, quicker in tactics, and has played dynamic positions. Many players that play the Karo-Kann get confused since this is not a familiar response from white’s end.

 

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8. Nf4 Bh7 9. Bc4 e6 10. O-O Ngf6 11. Re1 Be7???

A couple moves fast-forwarded and we reach this position where white has a critical decision to make, is it best to sacrifice the two pieces for the pawn on e6 immediately or slow play the position and use the space advantage to further increase the winning chances for white. In blitz, I would almost always recommend the first option, which is sacrificing in such a position for lots of play, better-developed pieces, and hopes of getting a time advantage over the opponent. The move Be7 in any such positions always entices the sacrifice on e6 square.

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12. Bxe6 fxe6 13. Nxe6 Qa5 14. Nxg7+ Kf7 15. Ne6 Bg8 16. c3 Qb6 

In this position, I had approximately 4 and a half minutes to my opponents 2 minutes and 45 seconds because he had used a significant amount of time in the opening trying to calculate the outs from the messy position black received from whites sacrifice. The goal for white is to keep the king close to the center and make it tough for black to coordinate its pieces into an attack on whites king.

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17. Qe2 Re8 18. Qc4 Qb5 19. Qxb5 cxb5 20. Nc7 Rc8

In the last couple moves, I completely threw away my whole advantage and I realized it during the game exactly a second or two after I played the move. My move Qe2 and then Qc4 were both horrible because they helped black develop and with a slight tempo as well. Also, Qc4 allows the automatic trade of queens which is decent but personally I would have been better off if I could keep the queens on the board.

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21. Nxb5 a6 22. Nf5 axb5 23. Rxe7+ Kf8 24. Re2 Bc4 25. Re1 Ra8

After a forced queen trade because of a couple poor moves that I played, I figured out a way to force black to have a bad pawn structure and get my pieces active. The move Nf5 saves my position from many worries because if I were to play Na3 here, it could be shaky after blacks bishop takes on a3 and then my c3 pawn would be hanging.

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26. b3 Bd5 27. Bxh6+ Kf7 

I set up a nice trap here because some players playing black might take on b3 with the bishop but the in-between move of Bxh6 allows me to pick up the bishop on b3 for free or material one way or another.

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28. Bg5 Ne4 29. Rxe4 Bxe4 30. Nd6+ Kg6 31. Nxe4

After this position, my opponent had only about a minute and blundered this simple tactic where white plays rxe4 and then has the knight fork on d6. We played on for a few more moves, but a large number of pawns and a low amount of time for my opponent made it tough for him to play on. He ended up resigning soon after. A good moral for blitz tournament games or just blitz, in general, is to keep in mind to make moves that others would take time to think for or try to find ways to keep the position complicated. Just a short analysis for a blitz game… I ended up winning a small amount of money(just enough to make back the entry fee and a little more). Also gained some rating and beat two masters.

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Play Chess With Energy

Have you had afternoons when you feel like napping for the rest of the work day in the office after lunch?

It’s not a pleasant feel when there are 10 more important tasks to take care of.

Similarly in chess, we want to bring our optimized energy into each game to play the best chess and also provide entertainment value to the spectators.

Which means nutrition is an important aspect, and many tournament surroundings does not have the most energy-boosting food options. But that’s for another article.

Back to chess. I played in the early April’s Titled Tuesday and had a sub-par overall result.

While comparing the games, I can see where I played with energy, and where my pieces were being hit left and right due to lack of energy.

Hope you’ll enjoy the games below and remember to bring more energy into you games!

No Energy

https://www.chess.com/analysis-board-editor?diagram_id=3986616

TT1

Energized

https://www.chess.com/analysis-board-editor?diagram_id=3986616

TT2

 

K-1 Nationals: I love playing chess

I love playing chess, I play all the time on chess.com.”

This is the quote by 2017 K-1 Grade Nationals Champion Andrew Jiang.

Here is the full analysis of Andrew’s clinching game.

As kids grow up playing chess, at least in the beginning, many kids are more excited to show up than caring about the results.

However, as we grow, the pressure of winning becomes a baggage.

sunset-3225828_960_720

What differentiates kids and adults tournament is often the Excitement vs Result Spectrum.

Younger age: Excitement to play chess is 90%, results matters about 10%

As we get older, the reverse becomes true.

Many adults, including myself, would have nerve wrecking moments before the round, given the stake at hand. But for the K-1 warriors, it might be just another moment of an exciting chess day like any other.

Learn from kids, be excited to SHOW-UP.  Enjoy the process.

 

Game Analysis: How has Computer Changed Chess

Imagine learning to drive a car today versus learning to operate self-driving cars in the next 20 years.

And now compare how top level chess are played today versus when it was in 1995.

We are just at the inning 1 of this evolution. And the speed of change will only increase.

In today’s game analysis, we’ll look thru a sharp game played between two strongclass B players.

Here is the COMPLETE GAME annotation, and below is two interesting moments I’ve been pondering about.

Ambition Everywhere

comp1White has just played 12.g4

In 1999, I would have said this is a crazy move. White’s king will have nowhere to castle, all black has to do is break through the center and then game over.

Today I say this is a very interesting move, black will need to struggle a bit to break through the center, and if white has to keep the king in the center, so be it.

King Safety

comp2

White has just played 24. 0-0

The 1999 me and myself today will agree on this position. And that is I have no clue which king is safer in this position.

That is the agreement. The difference would be

1999: How can this position happen, the players must be out of their minds.

Today: Just another day in the chess world, and I should study this position a bit more closely.


So how could I study chess today with the help of computers

1.Play more tournaments

Experience matters a lot. If you have seen complicated games like the above many more times than your opponent, you have an edge.

2.Question dogmas

From the first diagram, my 1999 dogma was don’t go crazy on the wings if my own king is not settled yet. There are some truths to that, and I’ve learned about these from Kotov’s Play like a Grandmaster book.

However, because more examples are practiced and the computer gives us more insights, the exceptions are increasing so fast, that when we hear any new ‘rules’, the first reaction is to ask are there counter examples.


That’s all for now. Here’s to another week of entertaining chess adventures!

What can you learn from blitz games?

There is an interesting debate on the value of blitz tournaments and games.

Whether it’s useful to play blitz games to improve your chess, or from a broader point of view, does blitz attracts more audience to the chess game.

My answers to both of these questions are resounding yes. I’ll leave the debate and my own opinions for a different time.

However, regardless your opinion, what you should definitely consider is to review and learn from your own blitz games just like a standard game.

We’ll review three snippets of my recent blitz games played both over the board (at CCSCATL) and online. Below are three themes we’ll discuss in this post:

  1. Learning to thrive in Complications
  2. Improving Intuition
  3. Searching for unexpected tactics

Complication

blitz1

White to Move

After an unsound sacrifice in the opening, I got into the above position.

Here I can feel there are compensations, as black’s king is not able to castle, thus hard to connect the rooks. Plus all of white pieces are ready to jump in for any impeding attack.

White has two choices:

  • Bxg7
  • Rxe7

I took on e7, because I wanted to keep the dark square bishop. However, with closer inspection, possibly Bxg7 is a more objective try.

After a few more moves, we reached the next critical point.

blitz2

Black to Move

Question: would you play:

  • Bb5 or
  • Bg4

Blitz games give many opportunities to make mistakes. And it’s helpful to train your own tolerance of complications.

Intuition

In the position below, I pushed my pawn b3-b4, feeling good about the sacrifice.

blitz3

Black to Move

Here I thought Bxb4 is not possible due to Qa4. But my intuition failed and I missed the critical variation.

Question: can you calculate the variation to the ensuing endgame after all the trades and evaluate why black is clearly better in that position?

Unexpected tactics

blitz4

White to Move

I was playing black and feeling confident about the position. The game continued with Rxd2 exd2, and then Qe3 winning white’s e2-bishop.

However, when I entered the game into the computer, to my surprise, Stockfish told me it was +0.4 in this position.

Question: what did both side miss for white to counter attack?

———-

There are many instructional moments in blitz games, and the value is in understanding the nuance just like reviewing standard games.

Next time you get a chance to play blitz, make sure you can extract value from these games.

P.s. Feel free to answer the questions in the comment section.

Quiet Struggle in Orlando

Welcome to the 2018 Chess^Summit Journey!

To start off, we’ll take a look at a game from the K-4 Grade Championships in December.

A contrast to the chaotic roller coaster game analysis last time, this game is a quiet struggle between two up-and-coming young scholastic players.

You can find the game Annotations HERE. Below are a two quick diagrams.

1                                          Avoid creating long term weaknesses (b7-b5)

2

Black to move. Rfd8 or h6?


To summarize, below are two take away from the game:

  1. Avoid creating long term weaknesses from short term attack (15…b5)
  2. Look for prophylactic moves when the position is calm

Hope you enjoy! Happy New Years!

Free Game Analysis: Putting it All Together

In one of my earlier articles, “Analyze This”, I discussed a basic, multi-dimensional approach to analyzing a game. This method discussed physically replaying the game on a board as well as leveraging an engine to confirm decisions or show alternatives then comparing the two. In my last article of 2017 I will go through a brief but illustrative example of putting this method into action.

This game was recently submitted for analysis at Chess^Summit, a game between myself and someone I have been playing with for some time. The game took place back in September and is brief at only twelve moves, but in those moves I can showcase the tools made available in the framework I have discussed for self-analysis. First, let’s take a look at the scorecard and run through the game.

card1

I first played through the game on a board and made some notes as I progressed. I played from each side of the board and considered alternate moves, what my idea was, what my opponent’s idea was or may have been, and where the advantage rested. Being as the game is a few months old, my ideas and playing style have changed a bit. That being said, going over older games is a great way to gauge progress as well as observe bad habits or positive trends. Now that we’ve put the board away, let’s load the pgn into an engine and compare our observations to the database.

chessbase0

I have been doing much of my analysis in the free version of ChessBase Reader 2017. This free but powerful software is a basic version of the industry standard and has a very user-friendly interface. I’ve highlighted the Kibitzer option at the top of the screen. This feature will show where an advantage lies and which moves are traitionally best. I have also highlighted the opening bar. If you are unsure what opening you or your opponent are playing or choosing a variation from, look no further than this bar. Now, let’s explore this game…

chessbase1 After the move e4, we can observe the Kibitzer in action at the bottom of the screen. As you can see there is little in the way of an advantage after this first move, (0.01) denoting a miniscule advantage to white if black were to play e5. You can also see a very common continuing line.

chessbase2Alright, now we are five moves into the game and we can see the Kibitzer thinking. We can see from this position that white is making a supported threat to the King with a minor piece. We can also see the control the pair of Knights has on the center of the board and that white has a fair lead in development. In the opening I compare development, King safety, central control or possession, and pawn structure. White is one step away from castling whereas if black  wants to castle short they must deflect the attack by white, use two tempi to move pieces and a tempo to castle. While both sides are missing a strong central pawn, black has had their piece routed to the side by capturing and white has many avenues to protect the King while exerting further pressure on black.

chessbase3

Following the scorecard, we can see that move 10 is where the noose starts to really tighten for black. White identifies the weak f7 square and looks for a way to exploit it. Offering the Bishop, white could either try to compensate and recapture or go further into the enemy camp and end the game. Black’s Bishop attempts to threaten the Queen on move 11 with …Bf6, but with that move it is too late, Qxf7#.

While it worked for white in this example, looking back and knowing what I have learned from my coach, studying, and much reading, I have to embarrassingly admit I violated some fairly basic principles in pursuit of a relentless attack, something that admittedly was very much my style in the past. Instead of Nc6, if black played Bd7 it would have been a very different game. Another opportunity black missed was move 11; Qe7 would have undermined white’s attack on f7. While many observations and notes could be and some have been made for every move in this game, for the sake of this article I will sum up my analysis with three key observations for both sides:

My top 3 takeaways for white in this game, good and bad, are:

  1. Sometimes you might get lucky, but loose or poorly supported attacks in the opening can be easily countered and put you at a significant disadvantage or cost you the game.
  2. White developed their minor pieces quickly and attacked with all the pieces.
  3. White kept consistent pressure on their opponent and didn’t leave much breathing room, but some of these moves could have crippled white’s further attack if black had countered or responded in a different way.

My top 3 takeaways for black this game are:

  1. Look at the whole board when considering your next move. Try to think WHY your opponent made that move or attack and consider what if any other pieces may be teaming up to take down the King.
  2. Identify weak squares and maintain awareness of them; again, multiple attackers were focused on that pesky f7 square and had significant firepower directed at it. A position such as this should send up some red flags
  3. When the Queen and a minor piece are in your camp and eyeing up your King, you may need to exchange or counter to survive. Options to artificially castle are present even if you need to exchange Queens and capture with the King.

I hope this brief example of leveraging technology in tandem with using your brain and growing situational awareness has helped. I’m happy I can utilize this game between a chess.com friend and myself as an introductory example of self-analysis. I feel this is a nice follow-up to my prior article on analysis and should give you all the tools you need to being your journey. As you progress and analyze your games you will begin to see trends and have data to back it up. The immense power of modern chess engines is incredible and much of it is absolutely free; I’ve attached a link to ChessBase Reader below if you’re interested.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday! I promise we at Chess^Summit will be growing and are excited for what 2018 will have to offer you. I can’t wait to share the future, our future and the future of this game we love with you!

xmas

See you in 2018,

-Dan

https://en.chessbase.com/pages/download