Taking off the Rust at the Pillsbury Memorial.
Here is my analysis and commentary of the games I played at the recent Pillsbury Memorial Tournament.
Lately, with life in all its complications, the only time I get to play chess is on a one day event. I used to loath such events because of the G60 time controls and how I needed all the time in the world against a much younger opponent brought up on bullet and lightning internet chess. But I have acclimated since my love for the game versus my time for the game are on two separate and seemingly opposing axis’s. Time for two or three day events doesn’t fit in well with my busy schedule during school season as I teach part time.
That’s why the mnemonic memory training is important. With a little effort, I can now recall the basic tabias of my repertoire as well as some key middle game ideas based on the themes from pawn structures. This way, during a G60 gamer, I am not wasting time doubting my short term memory’s recall of move orders during the opening. I visualize a tabia I would like to reach, and prepare for the first branch away from that. Then when I am faced with the first branch, the ideas behind the pawn formations are handy to finding candidate moves. Its very efficient and maximizes my time for complex middle game positions. I found I had on average a 10 minute surplus over my opponent going into the middle game which afforded me the opportunity to complicate things on his time.
Now, where the rust was show was my tactical calculations and depth of analysis during the games. The following two games are embarrassments that I managed to get lucky. The first two games won’t go in for publication when I do the report. My last round game might.
The first game is an advanced C-K I played as Black against a teenager. He played a passive line that allowed me to free up the position. I took an unnecessary risk move 17…Nxd4. What I saw was the potential for pinning his knight ( after he recaptures) and winning back the piece with interest. Where my rust came in was that I missed the fact that White covered a key square (c5) as long as the knight on e4 remained. On a side note, IM Igor Foygel, walked by my game right when I made that move and winced. By the time he circled back around, my opponent didn’t play the strongest continuation and I was able to get what I had intended , my ROI of the material. Igor had that look of surprise. Two days later, he asked me “ Did you plan 17…Nxd4 ?” I knew I was busted, I remarked that I had chose the complicated line to take off some rust as I miscalculated White’s best move. Then he told me how some masters choose difficult lines on purpose in the first round to “wake up”. I like Igor, he’s a nice guy and very much encouraging for even us mortals.
The following round, the teenager’s dad was seeking to avenge his son’s demise at the hands of Blunderprone! Let me just comment that even at a USCF rating of 1890, he was 16 years out of practice in events. I had White and took him into a Botvinik line ( 6Bg5) of the Saemish variation of the KID with ease. This is a pawn structure I seem to be really comfortable with. Though I missed a subtle weakness on Black’s early e5 advance and could have played for a significant advantage had I played dxe4. But the long term memory KNEW the nuances of the more positional game of an advanced d-pawn chain formation over an open center with more tactical requirements. I think I chose correctly given the G60 event, and better recall of positional ideas of this variation. Black then proceeded to not challenge the Bishop on g5 and made a slow plan to advance f5. This allowed for White to complete development, castle long, and open the game up on the kingside. By this time I had a growing time surplus of 20 minutes and decided to complicate the game. Here I allowed myself to experiment with the idea of a temporal advantage ( two more pieces developed than my opponent) and sacrifice a couple pawns for a power play with pieces. One pawn opened up the King side for my pieces and the other deflected his strongest defending piece. He resigned after I snared his rook.
The last round, I was warmed up and played White against another minor. He played the slav, I challenged him into the central variation that puts the question to Black on giving up a Bishop for three pawns. I’ve had good success in the past with this line and its actually fun… as long as my tactical skills aren’t too rusty… so this was a big risk going into the last round. No guts no glory. Sure enough, my opponent remembered his moves right up until he was supposed to capture with the Bishop. Instead he captures with the knight. This avoided the other complications int eh main line. Black was able toe recover the 3 pawns for the knight but I was able to freeze his king in the center. I gave up a rook to gain initiative while I had the double bishops bearing on the centralized king, a centralized knight and Queen ready for action. Black was trying desperately to exchange Queens off the board, but I wanted it on my terms. I got my rook back which equalized material but gave me more active pieces going into a tricky endgame. Black suffered from cramps towards the last few moves as my boa constrictor started to squeeze in.
I am still working on the tournament report for the Pillsbury Memorial. I am collected some annotated games from some players in the top section. This will take some time. MY publication deadline is early January. I will post the article here on line. Until then, I am renewing my games studies with emphasis on expanding the mnemonic process. I will post on my first attempts next time.