Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fun Blitz Game

I was messing around on ICC and played a game I was proud of in the I can play cool tactics against weak opposition kind of way. After the unusual Nimzo-Larsen opening, we reached a position that could be described as a Nimzo-Indian with colors reversed. While I had planned on applying positional pressure to black's doubled c-pawns, he blundered, giving me a tactical opportunity for a quick knockout. What would you play for white in the position below? I think there are two answers that are about equally good.

Monday, April 22, 2013

America's Newest Master

Congratulations to Silver Knights Coach, and now National Master, Justin Burgess. Last weekend he beat a 2500 rated IM, but modestly decided to send me another game to share with everyone. He claims that he has had three quick wins very similar to this one in the last year. White develops aggressively, and it only takes one or two mistakes for black to fall into a lost position. My personal reaction is that this is why I don't play the Sicilian very often as black.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lessons in Practice

One of my typical beginning lessons for private students and classes covers the basic development of the Giuoco Piano. We discuss how both sides make reasonable developing moves towards the center. Usually, to put a simple end to the game, I have black allow a devastating pin. His kingside gets ripped open and after one or two inaccurate moves he gets checkmated.

Today, playing an online blitz game against an opponent near my own rating, I got to put this lesson to good use. I had black, so the game isn't identical to the lesson, but once my opponent wasted a tempo with Bg5-e3, we had transposed back into my lesson, following it all the way to resignation shortly before mate.

Next time I teach this game it won't have to be between made up opponents.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Full Game

I posted some opening analysis of my game from last Friday, but hadn't had time to process the full game. In summary, I was better for most of the struggle, but couldn't find a way to finish him off. I actually still can't, so if there is a win for black, it's fairly deep. What can I say, 2500s know how to defend. If you can find an improvement, I'd be very interested to see what you come up with. Even without the win, this was still the first time I've played black against an IM of GM in a rated game and managed to avoid a loss.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Can You Refute My Novelty?

On Friday night I played in the DC Chess League against the highest rated active chess player in the DC area, IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat. We played a complicated game, where I held most of the winning chances, but I let him escape into an opposite colored bishop endgame, where my one pawn advantage meant nothing. I'm still in the process of analyzing the game, so this post will focus just on the opening.

I was too sick last week to prepare anything against my opponent's Catalan, so the morning of the game I decided to just play the Tarrasch Defense, a relatively unpopular (maybe for good reason) opening that I have played on and off for over a decade. My lack of preparation showed itself on move 13, as we played on of the main lines of the opening and reached a theoretically important position that had occurred 45 times in my database.

I was aware that 13...Bd7 was a reasonable move, but I didn't see why I would want to weaken the defense of the b7 pawn when my opponent wants to play 14. Nc5. I thought of trading on c5 and d4, then playing Bc6, but that position looked pretty bleak. After ten minutes of thought, I protected b7 and avoid a trade on c6 by playing 13...Na5. I thought this seemed like a reasonable idea and was surprised to find out when I got home that none of the previous handlers of black's position had thought this move made sense.

My opponent thought for 15 minutes and demonstrated the awkwardness of my move by playing 14.Bf4, threatening a fork on c7. Unable to keep my knight on the edge I returned wtih 14...Nc6!? With the interesting point that his bishop on f4 is no longer able to take part in a blockade on the g1-a7 diagonal (for instance in front of black pawns on c6 and d5). White did not come close to refuting my unusual opening strategy and quickly sacrificed an exchange for decent, but not overpowering compensation.

You can see the opening of the game below, with more analysis to follow later. More interestingly, can any of you find a path to an advantage for white against 13...Na5? If not, perhaps this novelty is a tiny contribution to the theory of this variation, one where black has been struggling. A bit of my analysis is below, but so far I haven't found anything amazing for white.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My Coach on the Radio

While I learned how to play chess as a young kid, much of my success can be directly attributed to the coaching of FM Alex Betaneli, who taught me in classes, private lessons and camps from 6th grade through 12th grade. In that time I improved from 1000 to 2100 rating and I am not even Alex's most accomplished student!

If you want to hear his story and thoughts on chess, I highly recommend this recent interview on Wisconsin Public Radio:

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Unhealthy Chess

I've been home sick the last couple of days, not even playing on ICC. That should make for an interesting match if I'm ready to compete against an IM in the DC chess league tomorrow night. The one good omen about this possible game is that I have a pretty good record when playing with a fever in the past. In college I won the first board prize at Amateur Team North one year after missing a week of classes with the flu. Even earlier, when a fever hit in the middle of a tournament I was still  in contention for first place, so I played on Sunday morning. The game wasn't too bad.

Despite a shot at prize money, I withdrew after the game and spent the next few days in bed.