Saturday, January 3, 2015

Tactical Resources

This blog probably isn't really back from retirement, but I just came across an interesting resource in an online blitz game. I had white in the position below against a higher rated player.

Positionally I should be doing well, with active pieces and an exposed black king, but I couldn't find a way out of the pin on my bishop. After 20 seconds (remember, it's blitz) I played Qe5 and went into a lost position, which I won only after a horrific blunder by my opponent.

The computer pointed out to me, that not only am I OK in the diagrammed position, but I'm probably winning. Can you find a way to save the bishop? Please post answers in the comments. That's where I'll post the solution later.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

DCCL Regular Season Finale

It has been a tough DC Chess League season for me this summer. I started by losing the first game against a 2200 in a long endgame at the company office. Then I had to return there just six hours later to run our summer camp training meeting the following day.

After I missed one match (we managed a lucky draw with the Arlington Argyles), and the season took a month off, I came back and lost to a lower rated player again in one of my worst games in a long time. Somehow, my team has overcome my incompetence and won both of the matches that I lost. That meant that going into last Friday's season final we were at 2.5/3 and in need of a win to qualify for a playoff match against the Argyles. First we needed to get through Ashburn, meaning that I was playing Anton Paolo Del Mundo, a strong FM and former Co-Champion of the US Open.

A month before this tournament I had prepared the Catalan for black, as an alternative to my Tarrasch defense, and decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, I completely forgot my preparation and just didn't remember to play Be4 on tenth move. Instead, my 10... Qc8 was bad and almost a novelty (had only been played once 800 previous opportunities in my database). Fortunately, once I realized my mistake, I was able to use the urgency of my position to help focus, rather than to panic. Bit by bit the position improved and it kept improving past the point of equality until gained a large advantage and won the game. Despite the opening error, it's the best game I've played in a few months. Even better, our team won the match 3-1 to qualify for a championship playoff next week. Stay tuned and enjoy the game.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

One Minute Miracle

It might be a bad sign that I've sunk to blogging about my bullet games, but this one was too cool to pass up. Out of respect for the position, I won't present the game, just this puzzle. It's white to move and win. I think it's a pretty tough, but I expect a few of you can do it. Please answer in the comments.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

1 Minute Gem

I've been doing some tactics recently to prepare for the final match of the DC Chess League regular season. Despite my 0-2 score, the Silver Knight's team is tied for the league lead at 2.5-0.5 and I'm hoping to provide something positive before the end of the season.

Since the match isn't until Friday, I've been wasting my good tactical form on fast Internet Chess Club games. Mostly I play 3 and 5 minutes, but I occasionally dabble in 1 minute matches. The following was one of my better efforts.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Creative Solution

From a recent blitz game: White has just played e6. How should black respond? Scroll down for the solution.

1...Kf3 wins.
The game ended
2. e7 Ra1+
3. Bc1 Be3

White resigns.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hard Work

My most recent DC Chess League game was a disaster. I spent about an hour looking for mates that weren't there on the way to blowing a good position against a lower rated player. Fortunately, the team won and we are still in contention for first place despite my best efforts. On a happier note, here's some footage from my all day simul last week, while trying to recruit students at George Mason University to work for Silver Knights Chess. I think I scored about 100 wins to go with 2 draws and no losses.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Washington International Wrap Up

The end of Washington International was a blur. Round 8, my opponent no-showed, but I was lucky enough to get paired with a house player, 2331 rated John Rouleau. We played with a slightly shortened time control - game in 90 with a 30 second increment. In that time control, my slightly overconfident pawn sacrifice worked well. Black's position was sound for most of the game, but unpleasant to defend in time pressure. Eventually he cracked, giving me my second win of the event.

The coffee I drank to stay awake for round 8 came back to haunt me as I slept poorly before the final round. I had considered withdrawing, but with 2.5/3 in the last few rounds, I was now in prize contention. I played an uninspiring last round game against IM Roberto Martin Del Campo. I was doing well for most of the game, but didn't concentrate well in a couple of critical moments and found myself in a lost endgame.

This result left me at 3.5/9 for the tournament, and a performance nearly identical to my pre-tournament rating. I gained a single rating point to reach 2325, an easier number to remember than it had been before the nine-round marathon.

I'm planning on taking a few critical moments from the games so far and making a quiz, so please check in again later this week.