Boston University Open -- November 2011 -- Round 1-4
This is my first weekend tournament since March 2011. My only other OTB game of any kind was the Tuesday night before at MetroWest CC. I'm coming back after a 6 month hiatus, due to work schedule and travel. Fortunately I have also been studying, mostly SIlman and tactics. Also, I recently purchased two opening books to finally start serious study of opening. They are a great format for me, practical and easy to read with plenty of diagrams:
- White: http://www.amazon.com/Chess-Openings-White-Explained-Winning/dp/1889323209/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1320620859&sr=8-1
- Black: http://www.amazon.com/Chess-Openings-Black-Explained-Repertoire/dp/1889323187/ref=pd_sim_b_1
A note about opening analysis... You won't find any in this blog. I am busy trying to switch over my repertoire to the above books, and all the lines I played in this tournament will be shelved once done. My future posts will discuss my experiences with my new openings.
Picture of me playing/thinking courtesy of Robert Oresick. Complete BU Open album here:
I played in the U1600 section (under 1600 ELO rating section) in the Boston University Open, which is four rounds of "G/60" meaning that each player has 60 minutes for the entire game. The clocks were also supposed to be set with a 5 second delay each move, however I know of at least one case where the players didn't check to make sure the delay was on, and one of them got into time trouble and lost (presumably the opponent of the player who set up the clock...). My "usual" format is either 40/90, SD/30 for the MetroWest Chess Club, or 40/2, SD/60 for weekend tournaments. For a good explanation of chess time, see this article: http://monroi.com/chess-blog/chess-experts/chris-bird-blog/119-chris-bird-blog/899-chess-clocks-understanding-time.html
All my opponents were young "up and coming" chess players, one of whom I think traveled up from New Jersey, and very friendly and courteous. The only inconvenience is that the tables were a bit small, so the clocks were right up against the board, and there was very little space to put captured pieces, water bottles, score sheet, etc. The overall venue and TD staff were awesome. Many thanks to Robert Oresick, the BU Associate Dean of the College of General Studies, Bernardo Iglesias TD, and the Boylston Chess Club!
My score? Win, lose, win, draw, for a total of 2.5 points out out 4.0 possible points.
Chess is 99% Tactics!
My practice of tactics gave me confidence to press my opponents, although as the Fritz analysis shows I still missed a lot. More room to improve. All games are shown with Fritz analysis so you can see all my mistakes. I put all of my extra commentary in the text above the game viewer in each round.
Round 1 - I lose a piece by move 7, nice going... but fight back and win
Opening: Albin Counter Gambit. Do I know this opening? Heck no! I knew I better take 3. dxe5 or I will get rolled. However a few moves later, I crack and missed that Black can trap my Bishop with 7...d3. When I realized I lost a piece, I was really bummed... Here I was only 7 moves into my first game since March... and I was lost. But... was I ready to sit on the sidelines and stew over an embarrassing loss? This is the quintessential chess question. Either you have the fight in you, or you don't. Chess in practice is far from perfect, mistakes - sometimes huge ones, will happen and you need to decide -- do you want to fight it out and show you have what it takes or not. This happens at every level, so I'm sure that even I fight mightily, that Nakamura could take me out every time. However, within our own chess level, those with fight will succeed, and those without fight will get rolled.
I had to decide - do I fight back, and if so how? I had serious problems, but on the other hand:
- Black's Bishops are both unprotected
- Black's Knight on c6 could be pinned
- White is castled, but Black's King is still in the center...
All I need is to figure out a way to get Black's pieces uncoordinated, pinned, and gang up on the pinned pieces. After some ensuing kerfuffle, on moves 8-10, Black made a serious error, 11...Nb4 which allowed me to equalize with 12.Qa4+ (double attack of Black's King and Knight). There is no choice for Black (if Black does not want to lose the Knight) other than to retreat the Knight to c6, setting up a pin. This pin of the Black Knight on c6 with the Black King on e8 sets up the next phase of the game (moves 12-26) culminating in heavy material losses for Black. In the Fritz analysis you can see many missed opportunities on both sides. The point here is that I was pressing, making every move as complicated and difficult as possible, and eventually she cracks, leaving me with material. The rest of the game is not as interesting, because she dropped her Queen on move 29. I'm convinced that was in part due to mental stress from being up in material (move 7) to losing large amounts of material through move 26.
Round 2 - take a "quiet" opening and wade through four blunders in a row, only to emerge with an advantage - then prematurely resign the game to an imaginary tactic - doh!
Opening: French Exchange. On the one hand it's supposed to be "boring" which is ok, I can handle boring chess, and try to gradually build an advantage. On the other hand, even though I do not know this opening (I do not know any openings, see list of opening books above that I recently purchased) I do know that Kasparov was virtually undefeated using this opening as White. My opponent had White pieces too. Is there a connection? Will he play as well as Kasparov? We'll see...
We managed to stay "in book" (following accepted opening practice) through move 6. By move 9 Black is doing ok, maybe equal position more or less. However, with 10.Ne5 White gets his Knight on e5 which is following the theme of the position, Black now has a very cramped position. With 12.f4 I am starting to feel the pressure, and spot two "loose" pawns, one on b2, and one on d4. I immediately start thinking about a double attack with my Queen on b6. Better is to simply push the c6 pawn to c5 which is a classic move on Black's part in many openings to remove cramping. However in my quest to out-tactic my opponent, I move 12...Qb6 which Fritz gives a double question mark "??", meaning a real stinker. The interesting thing is not my blunder, but that Fritz gave me and my opponent four "??" blunders in a row! 12...Qb6?? 13.Bxf6?? 13...Bxf6?? 14.Nxd7?? culminating with 14...Bxd4+ (check) with advantage to Black. So I got the d4 pawn like I was planning, but played with a lot of fire along the way. I need to review the tactics of this exchange to make sure I can calculate these kinds of positions better in the future.
By 16...Qxc3 I have a rather large advantage, both material and psychologically. Which is actually dangerous for me, since that is exactly when I could let my guard down, and when my opponent will be as sneaky as possible... At this point I am simply trying to exchange material so my 2 pawn advantage will go from irritating to overwhelming. The salient point in this position is that White is trying threaten back rank mate on me, and I am trying to keep up as much pressure on White as I can, while keeping an eye on my back rank.
Through 22...Qc3, so far so good. Fritz gives me a "6 pawn advantage" meaning 3 pawns actually ahead, plus my position is worth 3 more. Quite overwhelming, so I should look around and see what I can do besides just trade material.
At this point I should have thought about breaking the connection between White's Queen and his Knight. Make White's pieces even less coordinated than they already are. One move along these lines that Fritz suggests is 23...h5. White has to move his Queen back else: 23...h5 24.Qxh5 Re1 25.Rxe1 Qxe1 26. Kh2 Bg1+ 27. Kh1 Bf2 28.Kh2 Bg3 # mates. I was looking at a variety of sequences like this which is why I was so focused on getting White's Rook out of the way. But instead of 23...h5 I play 23...Re1, seeking to exchange Rooks, and heading for the kinds of lines leading to mate. However, White plays 24.Nf6+ which I always saw as a possibility, thinking, no worries I'll capture with my Bishop. However, now, my Rook is not protecting my back rank, so if I take the Knight with my Bishop, White mates with the Queen. So I resigned. What I missed is that I can move my King to f8, lose my Rook, etc. but no mate. However my 6 pawn advantage is maybe down to one pawn advantage but in a real game it'll feel like I am way down, which gives my opponent a huge psychological advantage. I'm thinking after the game "at least I am getting over my jitters coming back to chess after a while, the next game will be great!". I am striving to maintain a positive attitude...