Oh I have missed the excitement so much. I hadn't realized it has been almost 6 months till I have played my last slow live game on FICS. This game made me remember what I've been missing the whole time, and I can confidently declare that I'm back on the hook. (If that's an actual phrase).
A reason I've stopped was that it was getting more and more drudging to find opponents close to my level for slow games on FICS (which is heavily blitz oriented), I had to literally spam people in a certain rating range with challenges and hope to see one of them accept it. Even that stopped working after a while, and I decided to move on to another server.
However, the main reason was that in the mean time, I decided to ditch my whole opening repertoire and get into some "real" chess stuff, you know, the type you can see in GM play everyday. I had never in my life played 1.d4, or the Petroff, or reply 1.d4 with 1...d4 etc. This basically made me feel like a fish out of water, I didn't know what to do after move 3, even 2 sometimes, and I decided to postpone live slow games (which I take really seriously) until I get at least a little familiar with my new openings. After a long & miserable blitz mania in the few days, I think I've reached a level where I'm not that freaked out after move 3.
So, when a familiar face (marvellosity here in Chess com) brought this idea of playing live, I was game for it.
Enough talk, let's move on to the game:
OK, white is threatening several things here, and black has one "defensive" move that leaves him with a comfortably winning position. What is it?
Lessons & Self-Assessement:
Well, things went pretty bad as you can see. Missing Nxc4, although it's not more than a pawn, is just, well, ugly. You are not supposed to miss one movers like that. It's something to lose with a flashy combination, or be ground in a positional battle, but this, it's... ugly. The worse part is, I had seen the move in prior positions when it was a threat, when playing Rxf4, or Qf1.
Besides that, my opponent was clearly superior than me in every phase of the game, he saw all the important moves I missed, and punished white for the mistakes accurately, finding a few only moves when necessary.
One of the only 2 positive elements of my play was being able to survive the opening in my first time. Eventhough Bb2 is considered inferior to the mainline (by being literally absent in theory), it's holding, and we then just played chess. The second is that I played Nd2. Maybe it's not a big deal, it's no brilliancy by any means, but I'm happy when I play such nice retreating moves.
After the game, we had a conversation with my opponent, and he gave me a few insights about my play.
I clearly use way too much time in non-critical positions, and it's not that I calculate a lot of deep stuff, although I kind try to do that, I just wander around the board with a terrible inefficency. I'm certanly not looking broadly enough, and blunderchecking needs to have a higher priority in my thinking process.
mentioned in post-mortem, accurately calculating short but wide 2-3 move variations is more important than wasting time to reach some hypothetical ultimate truth about the position. And this reminded me Bareev's words about technique and Kramnik's style of play:
"What is technique in chess? It's not when you intuitively make a good move. Technique is the precise calculation of short variations. Not blundering with elementary tactics, constantly keeping the pressure on, calculating a short line, two or three moves ahead, but broadly, and without losing sight of all your opponent's resources." (From London To Elista).
I definitely need to work on that.
2) All About Tactics
Here's a game where a couple of puzzle like situations came up that I failed to take advantage of.
OK, here I completely bailed out and threw away a very nice puzzle-like win. There are two winning variations here, try to find them. White to play and win.
Lessons & Self-Assessement:
Well, I thought one of my strenghts in online correspondence chess was that I wouldn't miss puzzle-like wins when they came up, because, I don't want to sound like I'm bragging but, when I do have all the time in my hands, as opposed to live games or blitz type of tactics training, I'm pretty decent with calculation and problem solving.
However, they keep coming up in my games and I keep missing them. I should not refrain from going deeper when I spot an opportunity, and not play these games half-heartedly if I want to take every single point home. And that's what I want to do.
In the next weeks, I'll be playing against stronger opposition (2000-2200 chess com official tournament) and they certainly won't let me get away with these all the time.
Here are two Kramnik games that featured the openings of the two games above:
Thanks to all my opponents for the games, and thanks for reading, hope I could make it worthwhile. All analysis here and in my previous blog posts is done with the help of mainly Firebird 1.0, sometimes Rybka 3 Human and in rare cases Deep Fritz 11.
I appreciate feedback & comments!