Let me start by echoing a popular sentiment: I dislike playing Black against the Colle and London setups. You know what I’m talking about: some White players play the exact same set-up every single game, getting a fairly dry, sterile position. You know, a snoozefest.
In particular, I dislike when I get ‘tricked’ into playing d5 against said lines. White has a normal, weakness free position, and if he doesn’t do anything silly the position will remain even, the pawn structure symmetrical and very little winning chances for the second player. I can be against a much lower-rated player and find it hard to win just because White’s position is so solid and his play so unambitious. I can play very well and yet never have more than a draw, and that feels like it happens far too often.
This game is a good example. Most of the game I play very well. I’m better out of the opening, I’m better as Queens come off and I’m better in the endgame. The entire time, though, I have only slight winning chances, and in the end, when I might have won after my opponent slipped up, I made one imprecise move and lost all winning chances.
In most GM games, if one side loses a piece, he then resigns. In most tactical puzzles, if you win a piece the puzzle ends. In a real game, though, your opponent might play on. That’s perfectly in his or her right, and that can lead to some practical difficulties.
I have seen many amateurs, myself included, struggle when up material, even a whole piece. Somehow, even though you know you should be winning, it doesn’t feel that way. Things aren’t so simple. If you know the general strategy of simplifying into the ending, though, then things can become very simple.
That’s what happened in today’s game. I won a piece very early on, and then spent the rest of the game single-mindedly focused on the endgame. In the end, it was a pretty easy win. Let’s take a look. Continue reading →
For 25 moves, I played near perfect. I had a good position, then a better position, and then the tactics worked and I had a winning position. Then I had a less winning position, then merely a drawn position … and then I managed to lose a King and Pawn endgame despite being up a pawn. It’s pretty incredible, really. Seriously, how do you lose this?
Well, here it is, my first loss of the new year, and my first loss in months. Most of that is because I’ve only played a handful of games in those months, but still, that’s a good streak. Time to start another one.
I believe in studying your own games, and this is especially true of your losses. As such, this analysis is more directed at me personally than as for educational or entertainment value. I need to learn from this game, and so the content is presented differently. Mostly the information is concentrated in the critical positions, where I’ve made mistakes, and so there is less general analysis in other places.
If you dare to look anyway, though, you’ll see a smashing game from my opponent: he bravely sacrifices material for a devastating attack, and he then converts after a tough endgame. A lovely game, one I wish I could have played as Black. Alas, I was the victim, but I learned a great deal. Let’s take a look. Continue reading →
If you’ve seen any of my chess games before, you’ll know I tend to favour fairly calm, logical positions. I’m much more of a Karpov than a Kasparov, if you will. Sometimes, though, logic goes out the window. Sometimes you just have a mess and have to deal with it the best you can.
That’s what happened here. We had a weird opening, where I won a pawn but got into a messy position. This then lead to a weird middlegame, where both Kings were displaced and major weaknesses were everything. Things then settled down in the endgame, but even here there was a mess that needed cleaning up.
It took me over a week to analyze this game. Due to its messy nature, both my opponent and I made many mistakes, and it took a long, computer-assisted look to determine best play. Those mistakes also make the game longer and, honestly, perhaps somewhat bloated, but there’s a lot to learn. Let’s take a look. Continue reading →
On my chess.com account, I currently have 8 losses out of just over 100 games. I should have many more, but I have a few miracle draws and swindles to my name. The one I show today, though, might take the cake.
I should have known this game would be a tragicomedy when, somehow, I ended up playing the French defence. I play well and win a pawn … and then I start hallucinating and think White has major threats. I overreact to these threats, and the next thing you know I’m in a losing endgame where White is up several pawns, one of which is two moves from Queening and mating.
And I escape. Beware, I evidently possess dark mystical powers, because that’s the best explanation for what you are about to witness. Continue reading →
There are three types of draws in chess. The first where all the pieces get traded by move eight and the opponents just shake hands. You know, the grandmaster draw we all know and love. Second, there are the games when one side has a small advantage the entire time but can’t quite convert it into a win. Such games are frustrating for both sides and are barely better then the GM draws.
Finally, there’s the epic saves, the miracle defences, the unbelievable twists of fate. Today I share one such game.
This was my fourth game since coming back to chess, against a much higher-rated opponent, and he was winning by move 18. I spent 40 moves doing everything to stay afloat, but he crushed me with the precision of a Swiss watch … until one careless move saved the day for your’s truly. Let’s take a look. Continue reading →
Let me start by saying this: I don’t understand the KID and I’m terrible at endgames.
The King’s Indian Defence is one of those openings I’ve never understood. I mean, I get the basics. Black gives up the centre so he can counter-attack with pieces and pawn breaks later. When I play it as White, no matter how well I play, Black always ends up with active counterplay. When I play it as Black, I lose in 12 moves.
The KID appeals to aggressive players, but it’s a high-risk opening. What’s the worst possible scenario? You don’t get to attack and you get stuck in an endgame. I’m not the best endgame player, but if I can end up in a no-risk position with decent winning chances, I take it every time. That’s what happened here.
My opponent played much stronger than his rating, and this game was quite intense. Let’s take a look. Continue reading →
First, let me celebrate. I recently reached the 2100 rating mark … and then immediately lost a game to fall below it … then had a few draws … then I won and now I’m back over 2100! It’s by exactly one point, but I’ll take it.
Just a few years ago, I had been stuck at 1800 most of my life. To have my rating now over 2000, let alone over 2100, is like a dream come true.
When I broke the 2000 barrier for the first time last year, I wrote a post examining exactly how I did it. That is, I looked at every single victory and classified it by type. For instance, sometimes I won by a mating attack, sometimes by an endgame advantage, and sometimes my opponents just hung material and I took it. It was a good experience, and quite eye-opening. I learned a lot about myself…
… and then I wondered, if this were so useful only looking at one year’s worth of games, how much more insight would I get from looking at ALL my games? The thought never left my head, and after nearly three months of work, I present to you my findings. It’s pretty awesome. Continue reading →
April has not been the kindest chess month for me. It should have been my best, as I was one move away from beating a titled player … and then I blundered. I threw the game away in the most heartbreaking, disappointing way possible. Seriously, I spent about three days wondering whether I should just give chess up rather than dealing with such disappointment.
I rebounded, in a way. I beat two players with rating over 2000, one over 2100, but I still felt unmotivated. I stopped studying and took a break. That time off seemed to energize me, as I’m back to normal now, more or less. That loss will forever haunt my dreams, though … Continue reading →