Bumpy Chess960 Flight with a Stressful Endgame Landing

Bumpy Chess960 Flight with a Stressful Endgame Landing

Jun 5, 2018, 3:08 PM |

Some games are pleasant. Some are fun. Some are stressful and make you want to cry and die. Today I'm sharing a tense game with a long time friend, rival, and new Chess.com Chief Operating Officer - Lee. (Here is a blog post about one of our past games.)

In this game I have to navigate a dangerous start, a bumpy middlegame, and then an endgame finish that is very hard for a non-master player like me!

Lee and I like to play Chess960. Especially against me because I have this extremely obnoxious habit of playing the SAME openings and opening systems all of the time. Chess960 makes it a little harder for me to fianchetto that Kingside bishop as I do in every. single. possible. game. 

Chess960 is enjoyable from move 1 because you really have to focus on good chess principles like development, controlling the center, and king safety. But it's so different because the pieces are not intuitively placed. And that's how my king ended up on the 6th rank within 10 moves!

Ummm... NOT a great start. And Lee knows exactly how to pounce! Luckily for me, he didn't take full advantage of the position and we ended up roughly equal.

Now we have transitioned into an endgame where I feel I have a slight advantage!

Crud. We have the classic King + Bishop + Knight vs King. And his King is exactly where it should be: in the middle of the board. At this point I just paused and tried to remember everything I could about this position - all the way back to 1996 when I was reading chess books by Bruce Pandolfini! I remembered three things: 

  1. You have to drive him to the same corner as your bishop's color.
  2. There will be one weird knight move that pulls him along. 
  3. There will be one weird bishop maneuver that cuts him off. 

I did NO studying of this position whatsoever. Even though the resources are out there, I did not feel it honorable to study this now when in the position, even if not exactly the same position. I wanted to do this from 20+ year-old memory!

I DID, however, make ample use of Daily Analysis mode, moving pieces around and looking for the winning line. I eventually found it. 

That was an intense game for me! After he sacrificed his rook for a pawn, I had to buckle in and land it. Oh, and thanks Bruce!