Chess

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Alan
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

Spent some time playing Blitz and one Rapid game today. I think I need to play more time control game and do “Blitz tactics” on Chess Tempo because my brain freezes up when I need to come up with a move under time pressure.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

I had a pretty good advantage out of the opening in this Rapid 15+10 game, but panicked on move 14.
DmitriyKiev1 position 1.png
DmitriyKiev1 position 1.png (213.59 KiB) Viewed 2028 times
My Queen and Rook were forked!

According to the engine I'm actually in excellent shape and have a large advantage. The most straightforward thing to do would have been to just capture the e6 Knight with my f pawn, but all I could see was that they could recapture with the other Knight and I'd be in the same position.

Except once that c7 Knight moves, I would have had an open diagonal for my Queen to give the White King a check, which opens things up for me create counterplay to make up for inevitably losing my Rook.

Instead I spent like 5 minutes staring at the position, finally playing my Knight to d4 in a vain premature counterattack against the White Queen. That led to a lot of unfavorable trades for me and a totally lopsided loss.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

In this Daily game I was put under heavy pressure in the opening. I play the King's Indian Defense against 1. d4 as Black, but this game transposed into what is apparently called the Pirc Defense - Austrian Attack. The Pirc is actually an 1. e4 defense that leads to a similar set up to the King's Indian Defense.

The Austrian Attack is apparently White's strongest and most aggressive reply to the Pirc. Luckily, my opponent misplayed it, playing the e4 pawn break prematurely.
mqsret16 position 1.png
mqsret16 position 1.png (151.37 KiB) Viewed 2026 times
After the center was cleared, we were left in this position.
mqsret16 position 2.png
mqsret16 position 2.png (132.73 KiB) Viewed 2026 times
I think my opponent was expecting me to retreat my Bishop to g7, but I had a nice trick. Since my opponent did not bother castling before launching Their attack, the White King was completely exposed in the middle of the board. After 13. ...Bxb2 my opponent was probably salivating over 14. Bxf8 Bxa1 15. Qxa1 Kxf8 16. Qh8# but I had the table-turning option of 13. ...Bc3+! instead. This won me the initiative, because the follow up allowed me to bring my Queen out with check and some heavy pressure against my opponent's exposed King and uncoordinated pieces.

With accurate play the game would have continued for a while with a fairly sizeable advantage for me, but my opponent got tunnel vision in trying to escape via King moves rather than using their Queen to block mine which led to checkmate after a few moves.
mqsret16 position 3.png
mqsret16 position 3.png (253.44 KiB) Viewed 2026 times
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

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Re: Chess

Post by quantus »

Alan wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:51 pm
I had a pretty good advantage out of the opening in this Rapid 15+10 game, but panicked on move 14.

DmitriyKiev1 position 1.png

My Queen and Rook were forked!

According to the engine I'm actually in excellent shape and have a large advantage. The most straightforward thing to do would have been to just capture the e6 Knight with my f pawn, but all I could see was that they could recapture with the other Knight and I'd be in the same position.

Except once that c7 Knight moves, I would have had an open diagonal for my Queen to give the White King a check, which opens things up for me create counterplay to make up for inevitably losing my Rook.

Instead I spent like 5 minutes staring at the position, finally playing my Knight to d4 in a vain premature counterattack against the White Queen. That led to a lot of unfavorable trades for me and a totally lopsided loss.
Ummm, you could just exchange your c8 bishop for the 2nd knight if you didn't see the queen check? You get both Knights for a bishop and pawn? That's assuming the dude really wants to put his queen up in no man's land for initiative since you'd be in check, but there'd be no support.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

I won my most recent Rapid game. My opponent played the Scandinavian Defense, replying to 1. e4 with 1. ...d5. The point of this opening is to interfere with White's plan to establish a strong center, but by bringing the Queen out so early (after 2. exd5 Qxd5) the Queen is forced to retreat after 3. Nc3.

I've been studying this opening for the past few days as a Blitz weapon. What's nice about the Scandinavian is that White e4 players cannot avoid playing the Scandinavian lines, since you enter the opening after your first move as Black. So even though White retains the initiative and a lead in development after chasing off your Queen, they cannot play their preferred system and have to play yours.

That's the theory anyway. My opponent seems to enjoy the Scandinavian (based on their match history they play it in every e4 game as Black) but did not know any of the theory. There are really only 3 legitimate replies to 2. Nc3:

2. ...Qa5
2. ...Qd6
2. ...Qd8 (returning to the original square!)

What I've mostly studied is the third option; on the surface that seems the most passive but leads to pretty intuitive positions. Qa5 is considered the mainline option but is more complicated and difficult to play.

My opponent chose 2. ...Qe6+. While this is a check it leads to me developing a piece, and there is no follow up they could play to sustain any further pressure. They continued to play aggressive moves but first hung a pawn then blundered their Queen by allowing this discovered attack.

11. Bd3+
playagiz1 position 2.png
playagiz1 position 2.png (168.45 KiB) Viewed 2020 times
Moving my Bishop out of the way of my Rook uncovered an attack on the Black King by the Rook while simultaneously attacking the Queen with my Bishop, guaranteeing that their Queen was lost. After a couple more moves my opponent typed in chat that they had to go and abandoned the game (without resigning, so I had to wait 2 minutes for them to time out...)
playagiz1.gif
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Alan
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

quantus wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 12:13 am
Alan wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:51 pm
I had a pretty good advantage out of the opening in this Rapid 15+10 game, but panicked on move 14.

DmitriyKiev1 position 1.png

My Queen and Rook were forked!

According to the engine I'm actually in excellent shape and have a large advantage. The most straightforward thing to do would have been to just capture the e6 Knight with my f pawn, but all I could see was that they could recapture with the other Knight and I'd be in the same position.

Except once that c7 Knight moves, I would have had an open diagonal for my Queen to give the White King a check, which opens things up for me create counterplay to make up for inevitably losing my Rook.

Instead I spent like 5 minutes staring at the position, finally playing my Knight to d4 in a vain premature counterattack against the White Queen. That led to a lot of unfavorable trades for me and a totally lopsided loss.
Ummm, you could just exchange your c8 bishop for the 2nd knight if you didn't see the queen check? You get both Knights for a bishop and pawn? That's assuming the dude really wants to put his queen up in no man's land for initiative since you'd be in check, but there'd be no support.
Good point, that would have been another logical and perfectly good response. I honestly didn't even look at that Bishop, even when I was looking at the position afterward. And as you point out I would be both winning material out of the sequence and gaining the initiative.

The gist of the whole situation was that I was actually completely fine but froze up, thought I was in a terrible bind, and wasn't able to see the board and all the options I had. While that was happening time was ticking by and I kept telling myself that I just had to make a move or else I'd lose no matter what due to running out of time :lol: Even now looking at that position I have trouble evaluating it with any kind of objectivity. It's like my brain just immediately reverts to "I'm completely losing!" despite it being objectively an excellent position for me.

After that game I realized that I needed to give myself more practice (and games) where time mattered. I'd gotten used to being able to look at a position, think about it for minutes (or even hours), coming up with a bunch of options and calculating them through.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

In that other Rapid game, a few moves before winning the Queen I actually had another sneaky tactic available. On move 9 I could have left my Knight apparently undefended and played 9. Re1. If my opponent then played 9. ...Qxe5 I would have 10. Bb5+ with a discovered attack on their Queen, effectively winning the Queen for my Knight.

So while my Knight appears to be hanging, it would have been defended by a tactic and completely untouchable.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

I have settled on an opening repertoire.

As White I play 1. e4. If Black cooperates I prefer to play the Italian, and my response if they mirror me is the Evans Gambit, where I gambit my b pawn in order to speed up development. If they allow me to play the Italian but don't mirror me, then I strike in the center with 4. d4.

Against every Black response that is not the Italian (other than openings that force me to play something else, like the Scandinavian or the Alekhine), I play the King's Indian Attack but with a transposed move order, with 1. e4 instead of 1. Nf3. Primarily this is my response to Black trying to play the Sicilian, French or Caro-Kann. I don't know the theory for any of those openings (I know some Sicilian lines but am less comfortable playing on the White side), whereas I know what the plan is in the KIA. By choosing to play KIA I make the choice to not go for a definitive opening advantage in exchange for knowing what my plan will be no matter what they play.

Here is a good example of a Rapid game I played using the KIA.

This is the structure I am going for, with a nice corridor for my pieces leading to a Kingside attack on the Black King.
naderazzahar position 1.png
naderazzahar position 1.png (132.25 KiB) Viewed 1977 times
My plan is pretty clear. The center is closed, so I can attack on the Kingside flank; I need to mobilize my pieces along that corridor and dismantle Black's defenses.

At move 20 I was still attacking, Black went for a series of trades to try to keep me from sustaining pressure but I had my Queen in a good position.
naderazzahar position 2.png
naderazzahar position 2.png (122.15 KiB) Viewed 1977 times
My opponent blundered on move 23 with g6. I was under time pressure so I missed the best move, but went for a massive series of trades that left me up a piece.
naderazzahar position 3.png
naderazzahar position 3.png (90.9 KiB) Viewed 1977 times
From there it was pretty straightforward to win by pushing pawns carefully.
Last edited by Alan on Sat Oct 03, 2020 1:29 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

As Black against 1. e4 I play the Scandinavian. This ensures that I will be playing the game on my terms with an opening that I understand and my opponent may not.

The only good response to 1. ...d5 is to play 2. exd5 as White. Everything else gives Black an advantage within the first 2 moves.

These are two Daily games in which my opponent played other moves. In the first they played 2. e5 which allowed me to gain a big center, and when they tried to counterattack with their Bishop and Knight I was able to trap the Knight and played the entire game up a piece.

In the second game they tried defending their pawn with the Queen which allowed me to just gain the initiative and develop more quickly. I was in a better position heading toward the middle game, but made a mistake on move 11, pushing e4 and missing that I was vulnerable along the h1-a8 diagonal.
Pakkeoss position 1.png
Pakkeoss position 1.png (216.4 KiB) Viewed 1975 times
This was a pretty big threat that I wasn't totally sure what the best way to counter would be. My undefended Knight on c6 was a big liability so I elected to just defend it. Luckily they had two pretty bad mistakes within the next 3 moves that totally threw away their advantage, leading to an endgame where I had two Rooks and two extra pawns vs a Rook and Bishop.
Pakkeoss position 2.png
Pakkeoss position 2.png (80.84 KiB) Viewed 1975 times
On Move 33 they allowed me to pin their Bishop to their Rook, effectively ending the game.
Pakkeoss position 3.png
Pakkeoss position 3.png (75.77 KiB) Viewed 1975 times
Last edited by Alan on Sat Oct 03, 2020 1:30 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

Against everything other than 1. e4 as Black I play the King's Indian Defense.

Actually I could basically play the King's Indian Defense against 1. e4 as well if I start with 1. ...d6 (it is then called the Pirc Defense) but it has the same set up as the KID.

The nice thing about having the KID and KIA in my repertoire is that they play pretty much the same and have the same strategic ideas.

[Here is a Daily game where I used the KID against 1. d4. My opponent blundered a few times early on and once it got to this position it was hopeless for them.
ninjajay24 position 1.png
ninjajay24 position 1.png (130.3 KiB) Viewed 1974 times
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Alan
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

Stats as of today:

Daily
Rating: 1193
Record: 21-1-1

Rapid
Rating: 1035
Record: 6-3

Blitz
Rating: 751
Record: 7-7
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

Two interesting games for totally different reasons.

I played the Evans Gambit in this Daily game.
sickcoyote position1.png
sickcoyote position1.png (156.34 KiB) Viewed 1935 times
Up until Black's move 9 we were playing one of the main lines, I think at that point my opponent was no longer sure what to do. The most common move in this position is 9. ...Na5 which would trade off my very active light squared Bishop for their active Knight. At that point I would still have a lead in development but my attack would be a little slower since I am no longer targeting the weak f7 pawn (after retreating my Queen and trading off the Bishop).

With 9. ...Nf6 my opponent developed the other Knight but allows me to open things up in the center with 10. dxe5. At that point, it becomes a mistake for my opponent to take back due to 11. Ba3, where now my dark squared Bishop prevents them from castling. My opponent did subsequently play ...Na5 trading off my light squared Bishop, but now their Queen and King are both vulnerable in the middle of the board and there is no easy way to get the King to safety.
sickcoyote position2.png
sickcoyote position2.png (152.92 KiB) Viewed 1935 times
My opponent then played two blunders in a row, Nxe3 followed by f5, setting me up to win very quickly.

A fun note, in this position, my c4 Knight looks like it's hanging, but it is tactically protected: if Black takes it with their Queen I have Qe7#.
sickcoyote position3.png
sickcoyote position3.png (129.79 KiB) Viewed 1935 times
My opponent ended up blundering checkmate a different way.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

My next game was against the Sicilian. I played the King's Indian Attack, but on move 5 my opponent surprised me with 5. ...g5.
SirSchmev position1.png
SirSchmev position1.png (162.05 KiB) Viewed 1934 times
I had never heard of that being played against the KIA, where the main plan is for White to attack on the Kingside. I thought that it was likely that advancing the g pawn weakens Black's pawn structure too much. Since in the Sicilian they open by advancing the c pawn, castling Kingside is pretty much assumed, and by moving the g pawn that makes castling Kingside more risky as well.

But in the moment I became unsure about continuing with the KIA, because I thought my opponent's plan may then be to castle Queenside and pawn storm the Kingside, at which point I was concerned that I would be under pressure.

As the analysis points out it turns out that 5. ...g5 is considered an inaccuracy. It's an imaginary threat, which in this case was good enough, because it led to me deviating from my intended line. I delayed castling by one move, and the overall effect was that it allowed my opponent to close the position with 7. ...e5.
SirSchmev position2.png
SirSchmev position2.png (164.18 KiB) Viewed 1934 times
From here I didn't really know how to proceed. I shuffled my Queen around in response to several threatened attacks/pins, and on maneuvered my pieces around to allow an f4 pawn break on move 13. Of note on move 12 I made the decision to avoid a trade of my light squared Bishop for my opponent's very active Knight; this turned out to be pretty important later on.
SirSchmev position3.png
SirSchmev position3.png (152.92 KiB) Viewed 1934 times
I was able to get an open f file for my Rook, but still felt pretty cramped.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

From this position
SirSchmev position4.png
SirSchmev position4.png (151.05 KiB) Viewed 1932 times
I wasn't sure what to do. The engine apparently thinks the best thing to do is double up the Rooks on the f file; I had looked at that but wasn't sure what I would do after that.

In this kind of situation you need some kind of a plan. To figure out what plan to develop, you can look at imbalances in the position.
Superior minor piece, which refers to the relative strength of the knights and bishops
Pawn structure
Spatial control
Material; in his Chess Life series The Art of Planning, Silman called this the most important imbalance because it affected every phase of the game;[4]
Control of open files, diagonals, and squares
development
initiative; Silman notes that this (along with superior development) is a dynamic imbalance that must be used quickly if the advantage is not to fade away
In this game, I probably could have just taken advantage of the half-open f file by doubling my Rooks (which turns out to be the best move). But while analyzing the position during the game, I was focused on two things.

1. my light squared Bishop vs Black's dark squared Bishop
2. my opponent's still uncastled King

I went for a string of minor piece trades which resulted in this:
SirSchmev position5.png
SirSchmev position5.png (183.79 KiB) Viewed 1932 times
I had a passed pawn protected by my light squared Bishop, and saw that my opponent's f7 pawn remained weak, was on a light square, and my opponent's uncastled King was still adjacent to it. I came up with an idea to reposition my Queen to target that pawn, and hoped that the combination of doubled Rooks on the f file and the light squared control my Bishop and Queen would have could exploit that weakness.

Unfortunately, at move 21 I miscalculated.
SirSchmev position6.png
SirSchmev position6.png (135.49 KiB) Viewed 1932 times
I hadn't realized that since my Queen was being x-rayed by the dark squared Bishop, that my f2 Rook's protection of the c2 pawn was imaginary. Because after Rxc2, I have to move my Queen which allows my opponent to trade off one of each of our Rooks, and the overall result is that my opponent goes one pawn up.

Re1 (instead of doubling up my Rooks) would have preserved pawn equality, because my Queen would be able to capture on d4 (with my Rook pinning the Black e5 pawn).
Last edited by Alan on Tue Oct 13, 2020 7:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

After losing my c pawn, I was in a situation where I would be at a disadvantage going into an endgame. Not only would my opponent have an extra pawn, they have a better pawn structure, and I wasn't sure how I could keep my passed d pawn. I went Rf6 on move 24 with the idea of protect it when I advanced it to d6. According to the engine this was a mistake. After Ke7 I had to retreat my Rook back to f1.
SirSchmev position7.png
SirSchmev position7.png (124.23 KiB) Viewed 1929 times
Here, I think my opponent was trying to figure out how to use their dark squares, but didn't seem to be coordinating their pieces very well. My King is vulnerable to a check eventually, but I didn't see how they would get their dark squared pawns out of the way so I didn't really consider that threatening enough to consider a King move. My plan was still to get that d5 pawn out of the way of my Queen at some point and maneuver my light squared Bishop to threaten the weak f7 square.

My opponent did not see my threat, and on move 25 played a5. With their King still on e7, this allows me to play d6 with tempo, since that is now a check, and I will be able to follow up with Rxf7 with tempo (either a check or attack on the Queen).
SirSchmev position8.png
SirSchmev position8.png (120.46 KiB) Viewed 1929 times
I didn't play it as precisely as I could have (some moves I played out of order, which allowed some counterplay), but did end up winning. My opponent resigned when it was Mate in 4.
SirSchmev position9.png
SirSchmev position9.png (111.12 KiB) Viewed 1929 times
This was the most interesting game I've played so far. I was convinced I was going to lose after dropping the pawn, and according to the engine I played very inaccurately. I think the reason I won was because I did have a plan (even if it wasn't the best one), whereas I'm not sure that my opponent did (I think they were mostly just responding to what I was doing).
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

I have been playing 10 min Rapid games these days.

The "meta" is a quite a bit different from Daily games, where you're trying to find the best move in each situation. In 10 minute chess you are:

1. Trying not to make a major blunder on your move
2. Trying to stay ahead on the clock
3. Capitalizing on opponents' blunders
4. Trying to simplify when you're ahead and complicate things when you're behind
5. Playing good moves

roughly in that order.

Here is an example of the above. My opponent played kind of a nonsense 4th move and I felt like I should be able to take advantage of it somehow, and was considering gambiting a pawn with d4 (which would have been a strong move) but then suddenly though, "Hey, I could do a Fried Liver Attack!" and moved my Knight to g5.

Well, that only works if I have moved my d-pawn allowing my dark-squared Bishop to protect the g5 square. So I ended up blundering my Knight.

On move 8, I played Qd5, which is not a good move but also not a blunder. It threatens to take Black's dark-squared Bishop with 9. Qe5+ as well as checkmate with 9. Qf7#. The reason it's not a good move is because Black can defend against both threats with 8... Qe7, but I decided to gamble a little since I was down a piece after my blunder.

My opponent played 8...Nc6 defending the Bishop, so I won with 9. Qf7#.

This game I lost via a blunder as I dipped to around 30 seconds remaining on my clock. We were even, then my opponent played 35...Ng5, which was a mistake since it allows a series of trades that leaves me up a pawn. But I blundered badly with a spasm of Chess Blindness and just didn't notice that I could capture my opponent's Knight with mine.

Sometimes I do play a game that I win mostly playing good moves. But that seems relatively rare compared to Daily chess.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

In the past two months or so I've noticed an evolution in the way I can see the board; rather than looking at individual pieces and what they are attacking or defending I am recognizing patterns much more frequently. I have developed a second way of solving problems; for more difficult or complex problems I still use the systematic approach of looking at

1) Capturing checks
2) Checks
3) Captures
4) Threats

But with increasing frequency, I am able to see the right first move immediately. Up until October my solve % was around 65%. My Standard puzzle rating on Chess Tempo was around 1500, and my Blitz puzzle rating was around 1350. In the past couple months my solve % has gone up to 80%, and my ratings have increased by 200 for each puzzle type. Generally, I am starting to develop a "feel" for whether I am on the right track to solve a problem.

For example, with this puzzle:
chesstempo g4.png
chesstempo g4.png (71.52 KiB) Viewed 1609 times
the g4 square immediately jumps out as underdefended, so the solution kind of writes itself

1. Rg4+ Bxg4
2. Qxg4+ Ke3
3. Qxh3+

Where at the end of that sequence White is up 2 points (Bishop for a Pawn).

Then the only thing left is to make sure that a move that doesn't seem logical (1. ...Ke3 or 1 ...Kf3) doesn't work (it doesn't, because of 2. Qd3#), and that there isn't an even better move (eg some kind of forced checkmate).

Something else that's interesting is that there are some days where my puzzle solving ability is much worse than others. It's like my pattern recognition just disappears, I just can't visualize moves anywhere as clearly, and I have a hard time seeing what the goal of a puzzle is. But then the next day I'm back to normal.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

Mostly doing the Blitz tactics on Chess Tempo and studying two books on Chessable, 100 Endgames You Must Know and The Art of Attack in Chess.

My Blitz tactics rating is mostly fluctuating between 1550-1600, and my focus there is to hone my pattern recognition and improve the speed of my calculation ability. I try to calculate through the problem completely to the solution before making each move, but because I am trying to do it quickly I am still sometimes missing alternate lines. Generally speaking though, at this point I am able to recognize what I need to accomplish within in the problem within the first few seconds (eg if it is a mating attack, winning material, or a defensive problem), and when I am initially wrong I can usually realize that pretty quickly.

Pattern recognition is really a huge part of chess, and it's been said that the acquisition of chess patterns is the main ingredient for chess mastery. It takes too long to calculate each possible candidate move; while doing so can work for Daily Games you absolutely cannot rely on pure calculation for timed chess games, even those with longer time controls.

So, currently my chess study time is geared mainly toward pattern recognition, both through practicing Blitz tactics and using Chessable, with its spaced repetition learning model to help me learn new patterns in order to be able to apply them.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

I finished the 100 Endgames book, and decided that the Art of Attack book was a bit too advanced for me at the moment.

My Blitz tactics rating has slowly increased. Over the past 6 months the center-point of my fluctuating rating rose from 1550 to 1600, at this point my rating is generally around 1580-1620 or so, depending on whether I am having a good day or bad day with tactics. My tactically improvement has slowed down a lot, which is unsurprising.

I did go back to practicing openings. I've found that with my increased knowledge I have an easier time learning them, and can make reasoned guesses about appropriate moves a lot more frequently than I used to. The first time I tried learning openings I just had to try memorizing them, now I have at least some sense of what each move is trying to accomplish. My repertoire is the same - Italian Game when I can with white, and King's Indian Attack when I can't do the Italian Game. With Black against e4 I play the Scandinavian (though I switched to the 3...Qa5 version from the 3...Qd8 version bc it is more interesting. Against everything else I go with the King's Indian Defense.

I picked up a new Chessable book, Chess Structures. This focuses on the pawn structures that result out of the common openings, and teaches the plans for each side coming out of the openings.

I won a game with Black. They played 1. e3, which I've never seen before. I just went with the KID, and since they just gave me the center I took it. On move 11, I should have taken with exd4 instead of advancing the e pawn, because if they retake with the c pawn I win a pawn, and if they retake with the e pawn the are unable to castle (11...dxe4 12.exd4 Qe7 and if 13.O-O then comes 13...Qxd2 14.Qxe2 Rxe2) and White's position is completely cramped. I played 11...e5 advancing the pawn, because I was interested in fixing the center of the board in order to launch my Kingside attack. After my opponent castled Queenside on 15.O-O-O I should have started a Queenside pawnstorm with 15...a5. But, I was still focused on my Kingside attack. With the position closed, I then maneuvered my Knight over to the front lines, and was able to plant it in a great spot with 27...Nf3, where it was pretty dominant. My opponent was eventually able to trade it off but I came away with a passed pawn. After trading everything, my passed pawn was unstoppable and my opponent abandoned the game on move 42.
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