Open Martorell, group B

Dec 30, 2015, 9:10 AM |

Recently I played my third slow OTB tournament. This was an U2000 tournament with 67 players in which I was the 56th of the startink ranking.

It was the first time I do not play at the last group so my opponents were a bit stronger. Also, it was the first tournament since I decided to study some openings and having a (narrow) openings repertoire.

My first opening repertoire has been the London System as white, and French (vs e4) / Dutch Stonewall (vs d4) as black.

I've done the analysis and this article for my own use and reference. I doubt they can be useful for anybody else, so you're warned.

Now the games.

First round (0/0), table 23 as black vs 1926

This is my first stonewall game, and I didn't play it very well.

Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • I did not know how stonewall ideas to face d3, or in general positions where white doesn't commit his d pawn to d4. Some general plans are written now in the game comments.
  • I played the opening without paying attention to my opponent setup, as it was an universal playing.
  • I thought in the stonewall as if it had a fixed pawn structure (f5-e6-d5-c6) and these pawns should have to stay there for the complete game. Pawn structure is flexible and one must pay attention to possible pawn levers.
  • I mindless created undefendible weaknesses in my pawn structure (see move 22th).
  • Doing a pawn break in the side of the board you have space advantage doesn't automatically gives you an advantage. Before the pawn break you need to use your space advantage to prepare your pieces and place them in their bests squares, and only then open the position. Otherwise position is just open with the pieces "as they are" and space advantage is gone with the pawns granting it. See comments to 15th black move.
  • In the stonewall white threats along the open diagonals from the queenside are very dangerous. Frequently pawns are pinned or discovered attacks can be done. See white's 19th move.
  • When trying to open lines by exchanging pawns... be aware that the enemy pawn can advance and block the position! See black 28th move.
  • Although the game was lost I missed an easy tactic at moves 41th and following.
  • I panicked after my attack at kingside was blocked and was about to losing a pawn at queenside, doing a very bad move.

Second round (0/1), table 24 as white vs 1898

After losing the first match I played my second one with white. My first London System game.

Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • The London System is a system, but that doesn't mean that you can completely ignore the opponent moves.
  • After an early d6 black has the option of the e5 lever, so control of e5 square is critical. More ideas in game comments.
  • I was unaware of some important squares in the game. For example d4 square (and thus the importance of the knight at f3) at moves 12th-14th.
  • When trying to block the position in one side I should look better at possible pawn breaks by the opponent. At move 16th I didn't think in the consequences of c5 pawn break by black.
  • In general I need to spend more effort in assessing resulting positions after changes in pawn structures.
  • Do not hurry when your opponent is in time trouble. It's he who must hurry!
  • I was too superficial when evaluating my opponent plans. After 27th move I assumed that my opponent was mindlessly exchanging pieces and did not ever considere other possible moves.

Third round (0/2), table 28 as black vs 1932

I faced the third round a bit worried by the fact that opponents were thougher than I was used. Up to now I had always played the last group, and I feeled that I had to do something more to get something positive from my games.

Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • Again, I played the opening mindlessly, without paying attention to opponent moves or even my own forces. It shows clearly after my own 6th move, where I continue to build the stonewall pawns chain even with my king's knight has been exchanged and it's not easy that I can use that e4 square.
  • I ignored feasible opponent plans. The minority attack (see moves 11th and on) was pretty obvious, but my bishop move (Bd7, just because I knew Bd7-e8-h5 is a common plan in the stonewall) is making the minority attack easier.
  • I analyze badly my own pawn levers. I do them because I know many successful plans include a pawn lever, but I do not prepare them nor analyze the resulting position. f4! (see 20th move) opened lines for my pieces and gave me a very good position.
  • I missed a couple of easy tactics. See comments after 27th and 38th move.
  • I allowed my "bad" bishop to be buried... by myself, for the whole game. In the positions from 31th move on the entry of my bishop through f7 would give me an outstanding attack. I thought the bishop was just bad and blocked, and did nothing to bring it into the game.

Fourth round (0.5/3), table 27 as black vs 1907

Fourth round and only half point. This tournament is being harder than I expected and I feel as I'm losing confidence in my play. I finally got to win this game but it was too hard that, even after the game, I began to doubt I was able to get good results at this level.

Mistakes & Lessons learned

  • Fight for e5 is important when facing a London System with the Stonewall, and Bd6 a must. I shouldn't fear the exchange of bishops as long I can do the e5 advance to free the light bishop.
  • Blindless development doesn't work. Moves like Be7 or b6 just looked forward to develop my pieces as soon as possible but following no plan at all.
  • I still panic when facing an unexpected move.
  • I should add the minority attack to my strategic tools repertoire.
  • I played some non-sense moves, without any plan nor concrete analysis. For examplen when moving my rooks between f and c file I should have done a deeper analysis to visualize the resulting positions, tempi needed, etc.
  • After four games I got my first win in a B group tournament :)

Fifth round (1.5/4), table 23 as white vs 1928

Well, I arrived to this round after bad results and 3 of 4 games playing black, but not so far away of scoring the 50% of the points. I prepared to play my second London game, but a blunder in the opening decided the game in my favour.

Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • I need to work further the best placements for my pieces. In my 13th move I place my queen at c2 just because I wanted to clear d1 and this seemed the most natural square to me. b3 was a lot better square, and it should be easy to spot when you have a clear plan.
  • Lazy calculations. For example after black 13th move I just saw a threatened pawn and defended it. A not too deep calculation had showed me that the pawn could not be taken at all.
  • I feared too much the power of the g7 bishop, and this fear conditioned too much some important decisions.

Sixth round (2.5/5), table 13 as white vs 1939

I reached the sixth round with half the points and playing white as second consecutive game. I didn't played a good game, but black was a bit passive and I got the initiative.

Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • Winning positions have to be won. I did very lazy calculations towards the end of the game, with plenty of time at my clock.
  • I have to improve my concrete analysis. Ngf3 (7th move) was done in autopilot mode, missing the fact that it made possible Nh5. At 12th move I feared f5, when actually the resulting position was favorable to me even after f5. More on, I exchanged a good piece for a bad one. And the analysis of the position after Rxd4 (26th move) was extremely superficial.

Seventh round (3.5/6), table 12 as black vs 1926

Surprisingly, after a very bad start of the tournament I entered the last two rounds in a very good position, with chances to enter the prices positions and the tie-break result (first tie-break value was number of wins).

Sadly my opponent forfeited because a domestic accident and we could not play the match. As for the tournament, I got the point but I lost my tie-break advantage.

Eight round (4.5/7), table 7 as black vs 1931

I reached the last round with chances to enter the prices positions (first eight players) in the tournament, something I had never thought when I was with 0.5 points after 3 rounds.

It was also the first time I could face e4 as black, so I played my first french game. I won a pawn in the opening and slowly got free from white preasure to reach a won endgame that I played very badly... but I won despite all.

Mistakes & Lessons learned:

  • The light bishop is not bad just because you're playing a french game. I should judge the actual position and not base my evaluations in foolish rules like "i'm playing a french as black, I should get rid of my light bishop". At move 18th I forced the exchange of my better bishop for an inferior one just because it was the light bishop.
  • I played an easy ending badly. I should train it against computer.
  • Even 30 seconds are more than enough to do a quick blunder check. I even missed a mate in 1 in the ending!

And at the end...

Finally I finished the tournament at 8th position with the same points as the 5th one, which results to be the best position I never get in a tournament (I was 9th at Sant Boi and 11th at Badalona) the first time I play do not play the weakest group in a tournament. My ELO rating increased 47 points, up to 1891.

This was also the first time I had prepared an opening repertoire (London + French/Stonewall) and it worked well. I misplayed them, too, but it also helped me to understand these openings better.

I played in a more solid way, with less blunders. I'm still too passive (I hope I can solve that) but, in general, I'm happy with the games.

As I did in the previous post, I'll put together the mistakes of all my games we find that most of them repeat along all the games:

Laziness: again lazy calculations handicaped my game. That make me to play sometimes in auto-pilot mode, or to choose some moves just because they were more natural.

Strategic motifs are absent from my play: mainly in this tournament, the minority attack. This is a motif I've never taken into account. I have to work on that.

Blindless play of the opening: I played the opening without concrete analysis and with too fixed ideas, as the pawn structure in the Stonewall or the idea of the bad bishop in the french. Also I went too far in the idea of the London as a system, and I played it as if opponent moves were completely irrelevant.

Do not improve my position: in some games I do a break because I'm supposed to do so without preparing the break before. Sometimes (may times) quiet improvements of own position are needed before opening the lines.

Anyway, I'm happy that some of the weaknesses I found after Badalona tournament are not in the list.

Filling the holes: homework

Now it's time to make a work plan to fill the holes. I just will continue the previous work.

I'm studying some books at once: de la Villa's '100 endings you must know', opening books and videos on the Dutch, French and London, and some strategy books (I've to start one about Zurich '53 candidate tournament that was recommended to me at the shop).

Also I'm working in training. Appart from chesstempo and the tactical training at, I'm collecting positions from de la Villa's book and play the endings against the computer to fully understand them.