Reaching the next Level

Oct 2, 2016, 9:58 AM |

Last July I had the opportunity to play yet another otb tournament. As real life is getting a bit crowded these days my prep wasn't ideal and even during the course of the event I was unable to fully concentrate on chess.

Accordingly the games didn't go just as well as in the former tournaments - I lost from positions I didn't have to lose and failed to convert some advantageous positions. Even so, I had reason to be satisfied with the quality of my play in a lot of instances, too. And even so, I managed to finish ahead of expectations based on my elo rating. So I think I'm safe to say I have reached another level since it seems I can play above my former quality even when things aren't all going my way. Ironically I believe this is the case just because I don't have much time to spend on chess otherwise: When I'm sitting at the board I'm simply grateful for the opportunity to enjoy some - hopefully - good chess, and I'm much less occupied with having to win.

Below I am going to present two games from that tourney, one instructive loss and a beautiful win (or so I hope).

So here I play a FIDE-Master in the penultimate round. I have had every reason to assume he'd go for a KID, where the Sämisch has become my main weapon, and an excessively successful one at that. Just compare my King's Indian games as White on this site, if you like. However, I have to admit this is in no small extent due to the fact that hardly any of my opponents actually played the critical 6...c5 line, where it can be a bit hard to assign the white king's knight a useful role.

When I first came across the modern possibility of playing 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3!?, I was mainly intrigued by the prospective of severely cutting Grünfeld theory: After, say, 3...d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Black can't exchange his knight but has to retreat it - both the f6 and b6 squares have their disadvantages. Sharp and unusual play ensues, which likely may not be to the taste of a player filled up with theory to the brim. Not playing 3...d5 however is likely to lead to a Sämisch King's Indian, which I play anyway.

Even in that case the move order with 3.f3 has its merit, as in the case of the modern mainline with 6...c5 it is useful to place the king's knight on c3 rather than the queen's one - see the comments in the game.

I got to play my prepared line and we arrived at a position where I had a definite pull. After missing a very promising continuation, which I had even spent some thought on during the game, I misplayed the position and lost in an instructive manner. Enjoy the game:

Two rounds before this one I had played one of my best games in this tournament.

The decision to take up the Queen's Gambit Declined as my main weapon against 1.d4 one year ago had been a difficult one for me because that meant dropping the Modern Benoni - a defence which has brought me a lot of joy. Also I was afraid about having to play a larger number of dryish positions leading to endgames which could be hard to win or worse, having to defend endlessly. What should I say? Yes, defending patiently features more prominently in my games, but to my surprise I find these games to be quite enjoyable and interesting. Also the results speak for themselves - just compare the former posts in my blog. The following game continues the trend:

I hope you enjoyed the games, so long and good chess to you!