Thursday, January 31, 2013

Active King Moves w/ Heavy Pieces

A win by GM Iturrizaga at the Gibraltar Masters 2013 featured active king moves with queens and rooks on the board. A really wild game. Black probably resigned at the end because the queen ending may be hopeless but possibly worth a try.
Iturrizaga - Sachedev
Iturrizaga plays the modern defense atleast on occasion. This is a win by him with the modern at the same tournament. I no longer play this line myself but this is a nice win with an exchange sacrifice that is not accepted to no avail. I think Black would be just fine were the sac to be accepted.
Kanep - Iturrizaga

Monday, January 28, 2013

Recent High Level Games Of Interest

Some games I recently looked at of interest to me:
Vitiugov - Swiercz Gibraltar 2013
A clear case of bishop pair domination in the ending. Earlier in the game I liked the idea of the pseudo pawn sacrifice and tactical rook exchange which left White in control.

Giri - Yifan Wijk Aan Zee 2013
A great exchange sacrifice by Yifan followed up by a complicated technical win. I'm still working out the details of the exchange sacrifice. How to continue for Black on 22. bxa4. Perhaps 22... Nc4!? or the more routine 22...Ra5

Adams - Tkachiev Gibraltar 2013
Of course anyone that plays the pirc/modern in a high level event gets my immediate and undivided attention! My only qualm with this game is the players seem to have agreed a draw with much to be decided. Certainly Magnus Carlsen would not take a draw here with either color.

Salgado - Navara Gibraltar 2013
The exchange down position I was sure would be drawn but I didn't know it would go down quite the way it did. I wonder if Black had an easier draw at the end without playing ...b6 which loosened the position a bit.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tata Steel 2013

Hello all. Besides trying to stay warm, I've been following Tata Steel 2013 very closely. Lots of interesting games and excellent coverage on ICC. I dare say Tata Steel 2013 is turning into a modern day Zurich 1953.
I liked Aronian's win in round 10 especially because there are some overtones to openings I play. According to Larry Christiansen, the English Opening is one of Aronian's favorites. I need to look up some games of his.
Aronian - Hao Round 10
What I like about this game is the plan Ra1-c1-c2. I play the Botvinnik structure quite a bit with White and tend to play Rb1 mostly. Now I know to look out for this other possibility.

As for my own play I've been experimenting with exchange sacrifices. What I find is that almost any tangible positional advantage can compensate for the exchange in many types of positions. An incomplete list would be:
- Bishop pair + pawn(s) or even just an advanced passed pawn not necessarily an extra pawn - Well posted knight ( on the 6th. On the 5th with other compensation ) - A generally closed position - Piece activity. All this is probably covered in many books but it's quite different to actually try out the ideas for oneself. I may be getting away with some questionable play but the best way to get a feeling for this is to lose a few games. So far I'm doing ok. I will post some examples from my ICC games when I get a chance. Overall I'm starting to become comfortable with my handling of exchange sacrifices. I now want to start understanding other material compensation. 1. Compensation for a pawn, 2. Compensation for a piece. 3. Compensation for the queen. I'm less interested in compensation for a rook for the moment.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Instructive Rook Endgame

Hi all. Karjakin - Wang Hao from round 3 of the Wijk Aan Zee tournament is well worth reviewing for the rook endgame. I learned a lot about when and how a pawn sac in a rook endgame can be utilized. link ( must be a paid member to see it all )
Free link

The idea to play Qd6 and accept an apparently weak doubled pawn in an endgame is something I would not have considered too deeply. Now I know! I'll be on the lookout for that type of transition.

The other game of interest from round 3 of this tournament is Carlsen - Wan Wely. Disappointingly, Van Wely lost on the Black side of a King's Indian. I will need to take a deeper dive here because I suspect the Averbakh which already gives me a terrible headache will now become quite popular at the club level. Daniel King's YouTube coverage of this game.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Chess Study Plan for 2013

Now that I ( finally! ) have my rating over 2000 I'm planning on playing in the open sections of major tournaments. I want to work on my openings enough that I will not end up in a passive or worse position out of the opening vs titled (FM, IM, GM ) opposition. Opening play has presented a particular challenge for me. I have difficulty rote memorizing lines. I need to get better at doing this if I'm ever to get to a master rating.

I'm going to make a concerted effort to use the opening study features of Chess Assistant to get better at it. The first challenge is to figure out how to use this feature! I've tried it a few times now and Chess Assistant already considers me something of an expert in the Pirc-Robatsch. That is not even remotely true yet. It seems the software is a bit lacking in some respects and yet this is a definite improvement to how I've been trying to learn openings thus far. I will post again on this topic in 6 months. Hopefully I will have positive feedback on this then.

Tactical play has been an especial weakness of mine. This is not to say I don't see tactics. I've actually pulled off some nice combinations in tournament games just in the last 12 months. This is more about being a level more proficient than I am now.
Focus on combinations I miss. I will work towards keeping track of the exercises I have trouble with in the numerous tactics study resources I have. I hope to build a tactics puzzle set specifically tailored to rooting out my tactical weak spots.

My minor piece endgame play needs a bit of polishing. ( My minor piece endgame play is probably a rating class lower than my general endgame ability as demonstrated quite clearly in my ICC games. Time to change that. )
Study Capablanca's Best Chess Endings ( Irving Chernev ) related to this topic and perhaps try some positions vs a computer. My goal there is just to be able to hold the position. The computer is likely much stiffer competition than any of Capablanca's opponents.

I probably need more discipline in my study than I have previously exhibited. To this end I plan to devise a study schedule. I've heard good things about this approach from a friend of mine that got good results from doing this. He is now probably a solid 2300 player although his rating is conveniently lower by a hundred points or so.
Build a study chart and ensure consistent rotation of study topics. I am lucky I have time during my commute to work on some tactical puzzles. That's about 10 hours+ per week I have potentially to study tactics. Unfortunately commute time is not the best time for other types of study. I will try my best to get other types of chess study incorporated into my travel time. Besides that 10 hours of travel, I probably have another 10 hours per week for study + play. I tend to waste a lot of that time on ICC. I will cut back a bit on play and dedicate more time to working on openings etc.

I think I can measure my progress by playing in tournaments. I will play in a few single day events between now and mid-summer. I hope to play in atleast 2 full weekend events during the second half of the year.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cheating Scandal at the Zadar Open

KingsCrusher video analysis
From my experience at tournaments I conclude that a large swath of 1700-1900 players take computer moves on every move during the opening and then atleast look at the analysis score of a computer thereafter. There are honest players out there and I want to find you all. I want to organize tournaments just for you. No prize money. Just chess and fun with like minded friends.
I'm concerned for the future of chess and what it means to be a chess player. I refuse to let chess player be synonymous with cheater.

My plan is to get my tournament director certification and then find a convenient hall to rent out to run a tournament at. I will cover the cost of the hall rental myself. Entry fee is just the rating fee and any donation to defray cost of the hall rental. $5 per player would be greatly appreciated but not required. I would hope I can find 20 or 30 players who are interested enough and care about an honest game and commit to playing an honest game to make this feasible. No cash prizes but perhaps some small gifts to the winners.
Players will be required to discuss their games and their ideas behind moves played. I think this type of post mortem is a great way to improve, builds camaraderie and decreases the likelihood of engine use. I hope to introduce an arbitration scheme which all players would agree to in the event cheating is suspected.
An analysis session will follow immediately after each game. I have not worked out the specifics of how this would work but it ought to be open to all participants of the tournament
All games played will be kept on file in a database which will be available to all tournament participants for future reference and study.
Now to address the Zadar issue specifically: I looked at the KingsCrusher video and another analysis by FM Lilov also on YouTube. Of course nothing is conclusive since no specific method of transmitting moves has been discovered. I do find it difficult to give the player in question at the Zadar open the benefit of the doubt. Yet I have to restrain myself and hear more from that player directly. If he has an ingenious training method that can make me play an honest game at GM strength consistently I'm all too ready to sign up.
I hope to have my tournaments up and running not later than summer 2013.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Exchange Sacrifice

I've heard that Tigran Petrosian developed the theory of the positional exchange sacrifice. Here's an exchange sacrifice by Petrosian that I think is in-between purely positional and tactical:
Petrosian - Estrin Moscow 1968
What I like about this game is that it seems the exchange sacrifice wins immediately but a series of semi-quiet moves follow the exchange sacrifice which leads to a dominating position for White. Another point about this game is that I play a similar opening with White and have some hope of pulling off something similar in my own games!
Here's another game I'm very impressed with although it's not strictly an exchange sacrifice game. The idea of surrendering material to recompose a damaged pawn structure is not something I've seen before:
Anand - Wang Hao Wijk Aan Zee 2011
This game was covered quite well by Daniel King and KingsCrusher on YouTube. Search for Anand Wang Hao on YouTube to find the videos.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Endgame Practice

Korchnoi (Black) resigned in the following position vs Petrosian (White). Given what I know of Korchnoi this position must be absolutely crushingly strong for White. Looking at the diagram I do not sense that. If there's a winning tactic here It is not obvious at all to me.

It is White to move. If I had this position as White vs anyone I'm confident Black would not resign. Not remotely. My goal is to find a convincing continuation here. I'm doing all analysis from this position without moving the pieces and certainly without the aid of a silicon beast. I will post my answer within a week.
Answer: My variations are now in the diagram. What this exercise showed me is that I really should try and look for a better move after finding a good one. In this case 1. Qg4 is stronger than 1. Qe4 although both moves and possibly others are winning.

Endgame Idea in a Closed Position:

A nice game by Spassky. I am not sure how to continue after 2...Qd6 though. I will analyze and post my answer within a week.
3. Qxd6 Nxd6 4. e5 and here if Nxc4 5. bxc4 b3 6. Be4+ is a key point and White is winning. White will follow up with Nf5 pressuring the h6 pawn. Seems easy enough when its just 3 moves away but Spassky must have considered that when he sacrificed the piece.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Beyond 2000

Happy New Year everyone. My chess goal for 2012 was to reach 2000 and I did just barely achieve that by obtaining a respectable result in the U2200 section at the Empire City Open.
I cannot say I have a rating goal for 2013. As I told FM Nathan Resika I'm going to take a bit of time off from competitive chess and enjoy being a 2000 player for a bit before considering making an active push to obtain a master rating. I do not see myself playing in as many tournaments this year although I certainly hope to play in at least 2 major events for the year.
My chess goal for the year is more social. I feel strongly that chess is a solution to violence by youth in America and I second all the key points of Jim West's open letter to the VP. I want to become more involved in a volunteer capacity with promoting chess. I hope to obtain a tournament director certification and perhaps even run a tournament or two this year. Numerically, my goal is to teach chess to 5 people who currently do not play chess.
This is not to say that I will not be working on my game. I want to improve my endgame technique in 2013 and become better with tactical play.
This is a nice rook ending I found:

In addition to studying exchange sacrifices I hope to look into more rook endings such as the above. Good luck to everyone with their chess goals for the year.