22 February 2015

Annotated Game #141: A long struggle

This second-round tournament game is not particularly long in terms of the total number of moves, but the struggle involved certainly felt long-lasting and intense.  As the middlegame kicks off on move 16 with White and Black playing on opposite wings, my opponent and I engage in a tense maneuvering battle which builds to a flurry of tactics around the move 40 time control.

This game is a good illustration of how important it is to spot key ideas and play them in a timely fashion.  In my case, spotting the idea of using an exchange sacrifice to clear the way for my advanced a-pawn should have been the winning one, but it was initiated one tempo later than ideal, a fact which gave Black his own advanced pawn on d3 that eventually won the game for him.

Despite the eventual disappointing result, I still felt that this type of game, which revolved around an exciting strategic struggle and tactical clashes, was a great experience and central to why I play chess.

17 February 2015

Annotated Game #140: The lessons of drawing twice in one game

After the disappointing results of the previous tournament (which finished with Annotated Game #139), for my last OTB tournament I was looking more to stabilize my results rather than hoping for a big breakthrough.

In this first round game, as Black I successfully neutralize my opponent's play out of the opening, a Classical Caro-Kann.  My opponent commits a touch-move fault on move 21, which however I offset by not pushing my (correct) claim for a draw by repetition a few moves later.  I play some sub-par rook moves and allow a small advantage and some pressure, but my opponent overpresses and nearly gets his rook trapped (which it should have been, with a neat little tactic).  Finally material is exchanged off into a drawn rook endgame.

Despite the goofs, I ended up feeling psychologically strengthened by the game.  The failure of my opponent to acknowledge the early threefold repetition I took as an opportunity to play out the position, in keeping with the "no draws" mentality I try to foster.  I was also able to learn more about the concepts involved in trapping a piece, through the missed sequence on move 37, which in this case would have involved sacrificing a pawn to lure the White rook to its doom.  In practice, this was not a bad result and I felt better about my play in general than I had in the previous tournament.

16 February 2015

Still playing after all these years

I've always been entertained by Viktor Kortchnoi as well as learning from his games (with a lot of learning still left to do).  He's currently playing in the Zurich Legends event, in this case a rapid match against fellow legend Wolfgang Uhlmann.  As noted in this ChessBase article, Kortchnoi also has the most recorded games in the ChessBase database, a testament to his staying power and love of the game.

Viktor Kortchnoi: My Life for Chess, Volume 1

Viktor Kortchnoi: My Life for Chess, Volume 2

01 February 2015

Improvement Program list - February 2015

In keeping with the eclectic training program format I am following, here is the list of chess resources that I am currently working on.  Once they are all completed, I'll generate a new list.  As I finish them, I'll be posting my "completed" thoughts for each, as I have in the past with other books and DVDs.

The Diamond Dutch by Viktor Moskalenko (openings) - completed

Improve your chess with Tania Sachdev (Fritztrainer DVD) (middlegame strategy) - completed

Improve your tactics with Tania Sachdev (Fritztrainer DVD) (tactics) - completed

Essential Endgame Knowledge with IM Dr. Danny Kopec (DVD) (endgames) - completed