Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Palooka V tayhk Match: Game 3

Hi fans of The Palooka.

This posting features a long, tough, endgame. I am proud of my play, because, despite errors in the opening, I rallied and played very well - I had to be very careful and played a series of ‘only’ moves to win. These kind of intricate, aggressively played games, have become the standard fare in The Palooka-tayhk match.

The Palooka Versus tayhk

Irregular/tayhk-style Opening

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d6 3. Nf3 Be7 4. Bc4 Bd7 (tayhk certainly goes his own way in the openings) 5. Nc3 c5 6. dxc5 dxc5 7. Ne5 Bf6 8. Bf4 Ne7 9. Qd2 Nbc6 10. Nxd7 Bxc3 11. Qxc3 Qxd7 12. Rd1 (I thought at the time 12. Qxg7 Rg8 13. Qxh7 0-0-0 gave my opponent too much counterplay for the Pawns, but in hindsight maybe I was wrong: 14. Qxf7 Rdf8 15. Bxe6 Rxf7 16. Bxd7+ Kxd7 17. 0-0-0+ Ke8 18. Bg3 and the extra Pawns are worth the win; I now win a Pawn in a different way) Nd4 13. Be5! (we have a highly original position, partly from the 19th Century and partly from the 21st ) Rd8 14. Bxg7 Rg8 15. Bxd4 cxd4 16. Qh3! (he did not foresee this way of protecting the King-side Pawns) Qc6 17. Bd3 Ng6 18. g3 (18. 0-0 was playable; I was still nervous about tactical counter-chances like this: 18. Qxh7 Rh8 19. Qg7 Ke2! 20. e5 Rdg8, so I decided to hang onto my spoils and consolidate) Ne5 (the tactical shot 18...f5 19. exf5 loses for White to Qxh1+ but White only needs to reply19. f3 and retains a winning advantage) 19. Qxh7 Ke7 20. Qh4+ Kd6 21. Qf6 Qb6 22. f4 Ng4 23. e5+ Kc7 24. Qxf7+ Kb8 25. b3 Qc6 26. Kd2 (there is nothing better with Knight forks and Rooks on files attacking my Pawns, so I give up the exchange – a mere hiccup on the road to victory) Nf2 27. Rhg1 Rdf8 28. Qe7 Nxd1 29. Rxd1 Re8 30. Qb4 (White still has a winning advantage and now tries again to consolidate) Rc8 31. Re1 Rgd8 32. Re2 Rd5 33. Ke1 a5 34. Qd2 Qc5 35. a4 Rg8 36. Rg2 b6 37. g4 ('time to get rolling, boys' if The Palooka is to have any chance to win) Rd7 38. h4 Rh8 39. Qf2 Qd5 40. Rh2 Rf8 41. Qg3 (I thought it was possible to defend f4, but I was wrong; maybe I advanced my K-side Pawns too early?) Rdf7 42. Rf2 Rxf4! 43. Rxf4 Qxe5+ 44. Kd1 Rxf4 45. Qg2 Qg7 46. g5! (if Rxh4; Qg3+) e5 47. Qg3 Qc7 48. Bc4 e4 49. Qh3 Rf2 50. Qe6 e3 (an amazing position, typical of games in my match against tayhk; thank goodness I have a white-squared Bishop) 51. Kc1 Ka7 52. g6 Qg7 53. Bd3 e2 (I told you he was cunning) 54. Bxe2 Rf6 55. Qd5 Rxg6 56. Bf3 (and so am I) b5 57. Qa8+ (axb5 Rg1+ and after 58. Kd2 I was worried about Qh6+) Kb6 58. Qb8+ Kc5 59. Qxb5+ Kd6 60. Qc6+ Ke5 61. Qe4+ Kd6 62. Qc6+ Ke5 63. Qe4+ (just trying to force an error) Kd6 64. Qd5+ Ke7 65. Qxa5 Rg1+ 66. Kb2 d3+ 67. c3 Qg6 (still an amazing position, more typical of master games rather than pugilists at our level; maybe sometimes we average players play well) 68. Qc7+ Kf8 69. Qd8+ Kg7 70. Qe7+ Kh8 (he cannot allow The Palooka to swap Queens or allow a Bishop check my moving to the white squares) 71. Qe5+ Kg8 72. Be4 Qg3 73. Qe8+ Kg7 74. Qe7+ (finally!) Kg8 75. Qh7+ Kf8 76. Bxd3 Qe1 77. Qf5+ (White must not allow Black even a hint of a sniff of a whiff of attack or perpetual check) Kg7 78. b4 Qd2+ 79. Bc2 Qc1+ 80. Kb3 Rf1 81. Qg5+ (now it is easier to win, but Black had no real chances anyway) Kf7 82. Qxc1 Rxc1 83. h5 Rh1 84. Bg6+ Ke6 85. Kc4 Kd6 86. Kb5 Rg1 87. c4 Rg5+ 88. Kb6 Kd7 89. c5 Kc8 90. b5 Re5 91. a5 Re6+ 92. c6 Rf6 93. a6 Kb8 94. a7+ Ka8 95. Kc7! (if Kxa7; b6+ and b7 win) Re6 96. Kd7 Re5 97. c7 Rd5+ 98. Kc6 1-0
Completed May 29, 2004

A difficult 'won game' to win. I learned a lot about Queen endings with Bishop versus Rook, the importance of controlling key squares, diagonals, and not hurrying. The White Bishop, his weaker King and my Queen checks, were the critical factors. The strategy involved trying to balance safety, nudging my Pawns forward, and aiming to swap Queens.

The end is ironic: the mighty Bishop still stands proudly (he had God on his side), in control of critical squares; Black has to look on in horror as the White Pawns advance inexorably; the brave Black Rook can do little to help his Lord and Master.

The score in this match was now 2:1 in favour of The Palooka.

More in the future, when it's The Palooka's turn to get belted around.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Match of the Century The Palooka-tayhk Match: Games 1 and 2

What did you expect? Another boring reprise of the Fischer-Spassky match? Endless Karpov-Kasparov matches?

We can do better than that, here at Pawn's Progress.

You will also learn all about a new syndrome afflicting chess players everywhere, which I have finally identified: PSSD. You can see my discussion of it in the first game below. Nominate me for the Nobel Prize and more importantly, the money that comes with it. I needs it.

Playing chess online via the Internet is a lot of fun. I have played in 'real-time', used servers and by email.

I play as 'George Eraclides' on IECG. This 'chess club' is full of very strong players, with all the skills that come from using chess databases and the knowledge to use them effectively. As you can gather, I have been duffed up a few times on IECG, although occasionally I get lucky and play a good game. I will post some in the future.

I use the web site servers and, where I use the identity 'The Palooka'. I also play occasionally on other servers, using various 'identities'. Drop in and challenge me to a game. Please email me first so I know the challenge is coming, and take it up. If I have a lot of games on, I refuse challenges because of time constrains. Alternatively, put 'Pawn's Progress' in the challenge message, so it rings some bells in my shrinking brain mass.

The chess servers have some real advantages: You nominate a time limit and then play. Most players at the basic, free levels, are relatively unskilled.
Occasionally you find someone who is very good, and with luck, you can get to play a lot of games with them.

For aspiring players, it's a chance to practice openings and just have some fun, while you build up your pattern recognition skills. For the rest of us who only want to play a few good games we can recall and replay in the great twilight to come, it's an easy medium to use; the server gives you a chess board, manages the score and communications, and maintains a record of your games.

I found the opponent tayhk by chance on ‘’, and he has turned out to be excellent. ‘tayhk’ is from Singapoer and has a tactical style, but with poor knowledge of openings and positional play. He is very creative and dangerous. Just the sort of player who can test your skills.

The motto when playing him is: ‘Never relax’. We are continuing to play until one of us gets bored. I have assumed he is male and Chinese. He plays a lot of games online and tells me his specialty is Chinese chess, which is very tactical but prone to short moves; it is not common to move a piece across the whole board or make many long moves, as we do with pieces in Western chess. I suspect he is probably a better player than myself tactically, but then chess is more than just tactics, so we end up having very interesting games.

We have played about 21 games so far, all of them very difficult and unusual, with my good self slightly ahead. I am going to treat the first 24 games as a mini-match (similar to world championship matches from the good old days). Hopefully we will keep on playing a number of matches in the future.

I am giving light notes to make them more enjoyable. In the future I will analyze them more closely and 'publish' them as a match-book. When you play over some of them, you will see they deserve closer analysis. If you want a copy of the games palyed so far in pgn format, let me know and I will send them to you.

Game 1

In this game The Palooka lost to a Marshall-like swindle from tayhk. I felt like Fischer must have felt, as his superior position crumbled to a sucker punch from Tal.

I missed the lone pawn move to g6 in my analysis and resigned.

tayhk Versus The Palooka

King's Indian

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. d4 d6 5. e4 O-O 6. Bd3 (Be2 or Be3 are better)
c5 (Black has to play something like this in the KI otherwise his game remains very cramped) 7. dxc5 (better is d5) dxc5 8. Be3 b6 9. Qc2 Bb7 10. O-O-O (White plays ultra-aggressively; if 10. e5 Ng4 is good for Black) Ng4 11. h3 Nxe3 12. fxe3 Nc6 (now we have an interesting position; structurally Black has superiority, but White has dynamic chances through the open d and f files. The endgame will favour Black with his two Bishops and better Pawn structure; but as Tarrasch famously said, 'before the endgame God has placed the middle-game') 13. a3 (to stop Nb4) Qb8 (attacking the black squares and getting the Q out of the d file, without losing a tempo to Nb5 – Qc7 Nb5; both sides now maneuvre) 14. Nd5 e6 15. Nf4 Qc7 16. g4 Rad8 (critical was 16...h6 in order to play 17...h5 if g5 was tried, neutralising the attack on the K-side, and with control of e5 Black should be better off; even better may have been 16...Ne5 to clarify matters. The Palooka is getting complacent) 17. g5! (thinking outside the box) Ne5 18. Nxe5 Qxe5 (better was Bxe5; the Q is not placed well here and later has to be reorganised, wasting time) 19. Rhg1 Bc6 (looking at controlling a4; White reacts well) 20. h4 Rd7 21. Rd2 Rfd8 22. Rgg2 Qb8 23. h5 Be5 (You get the impression that for all of Black's strengths, he lacks 'dynamic potential' i.e. opportunity for attacking his opponent; of what use is a strong structure if it is static and you cannot do something with it? At this stage I had forgotten Lasker's maxim for playing these kind of positions: 'Do nothing, but do it very well') 24. hxg6 hxg6 25. Nd5! (a brilliant 'Tal-like' counterstroke. It took me by surprise but in hindsight Black had it coming for his unimaginative play. For a while I knew what it must have felt like to be knocked around by a Tal or Alekhine) exd5 (if I play my King to g7 to avoid the fork, then after 26. Nf6 Bxf6 27. gxf6+ Kxf6 28. Qc3+ Qe5 or even e5 should hold and maybe win; 25...Bg7 is riskier as after 26. Nf6+ Bxf6 27. gxf6 White builds up his forces on the h-file. I was surprised by 25. Nd5 but thought I could take it and win. I was wrong. I call this syndrome POST SACRIFICE STRESS DISORDER – PSSD – you read about it here first; it's the the thinking you do and do'nt do, when you are in a state of shock after a devastating surprise move by your opponent; from here on, I am playing under the influence of PSSD. Enjoy the rest of the game as I get pummeled) 26. exd5 Bb7 27. Bxg6 fxg6 (Kg7?!) 28. Qxg6+ Rg7 29. Qe6+ Kh8 30. Rg1 Bc8 31. Rh1+ Rh7 32. Rxh7+ Kxh7 33. Rh2+ Bxh2 34. Qf7+ Kh8 35. g6 1-0 It's all over red rover: Qb7, g7+ wins everything.
Completed February 2004

A sparkling finish, I think you will agree.

At one point, even close to the end, I could have tried 27...Kg7?! and maybe hold the game or even win; but PSSD and tayhk's brilliant play did me in.

At least I had found a good, strong opponent, on a chess-server; I could play the kind of chess I like to play and see played – aggressive, with interesting strategy and tactics.

My revenge came in the next game.

Game 2

The Palooka Versus tayhk

Vienna Gambit

1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. f4 Nc6 (one of the worst replies to the Vienna Gambit; White swiftly gets a classical centre and quick development) 4. fxe5 Nxe5 5. d4 Ng6 6. e5 Ng8 (the ersatz Alekhine experiment has failed; tayhk now squeezes all that can be got from his poor position) 7. Bc4 d6 8. Qf3 Be6 9. Bxe6 (9. d5 was worth investigating; the logical reply is Bd7) fxe6 10. exd6 c6! (he saves a Pawn and manages to nearly complete his development and balance the position – amazing) 11. Nge2 Bxd6 12. Ne4 Nf6 13. Bg5 Be7 14. Nxf6+ Bxf6 15. Bxf6 gxf6 (I was trying for a better ending, but tayhk avoids it) 16. c4 Rf8
17. O-O-O Qa5 18. Kb1 O-O-O (is Black really so badly off? White has an initiative, the better structure of Pawns, space, and opportunity; but Black has enormous reserves of cunning) 19. Nc3 Nh4 20. Qe2 Qf5+ 21. Ka1 Rfe8 (but this is too much cunning and not enough sense. A few checks and linked Rooks do not an attack make, as my old Grandmother used to say. Better was Ng6 – or even e5 – although White is still better after Rh1f1 and g3; Black is driven back but there is still much play: 21...e5 22. Rh1f1 Qg5 23. g3 Ng6 24. dxe5 fxe5 or 24...Rde8 25. e6; Rook exchanges are also possible. In all these cases White is only slightly better and must take great care to consolidate his advantage; tayhk plays with too much cunning, presuming I will cave in like the previous game) 22. g3 e5 23. dxe5 (gxh4 exd4) Nf3 (23...Rxd1+ 24. Rxd1 Rxe5 25. Qd2 and Blacks' Knight is still en prise) 24. Rhf1 Rxe5 25. Qxf3 Qxf3 26. Rxd8+! Kxd8 27. Rxf3 Re1+ 28. Nb1 Ke7 29. a3 (White has a piece and will win despite inconveniences brough about by Black's cleverness) Rc1 30. Rf4 Ke6 31. Ka2 Rc2 32. h4 Rg2 33. Nc3 (White is not above a little cunning of his own: if 33...Rxg3 34. Rxf6+ Ke5 – if 34...KxR 35. Nxe4+ - 35 Rh6! and Black cannot do much with King and Rook) f5 34. Rf3 h5 35. Re3+ Kd6 36. Ne2 Kc5 37. Nf4 Rd2 38. Nxh5 Kxc4 39. Nf4 1-0
Completed April 2004

And a jolly good time was had by The Palooka, exacting some revenge.

So it was one all, and the match continues well into 2007. I will show you an incredible stoush next time in game three, and then sprinkle more games into future postings.