Tuesday, June 07, 2011

To err is human, to then still win, is absolutely divine

Hi Pilgrim,

Once again, my apologies for being so late with my posts.

Since we moved into our rebuilt home in Kinglake I have been extremely busy with landscaping, gardening, and painting the outside of the house. I am still painting and estimate I shall be doing so for most of 2011. The reason is that the outside is made of Hardiplank, and painting it is like painting a sponge – it sucks up the paint and progress is very slow. I am also doing the gardening of my partner’s house in Melbourne (she does not want to live in Kinglake permanently) and also trying to resuscitate my writing.

My crime novel is finished and I have been trying to interest publishers in it. I also write a column for the CCLA website called ‘Ramblings’ at http://www.ccla.asn.au/ as well as for Kinglake’s Mountain Monthly. These are ruminations on chess from the POV of an average player with some capacity to think.

We have had the wettest year on record in Victoria and the gardens have been lush instead of dying-back in summer; hence so much gardening. At least we had no major bushfires.

My chess-playing skills have become patchy and I have been troubled mainly by my opening play. A review of all my recent games has revealed that my weakness is in the opening where I end up after a few moves in variations that either do not suit my style or which are of questionable soundness.

I recently undertook a review of all openings and defences by going through the main lines in Modern Chess Openings 15. I was trying to see what I felt comfortable playing these days. Not surprisingly, I still seem to be more comfortable with a defence that gives me counter-playing chances rather than just a passive but safe position, however, any complexity has to be manageable; sheer speculation is out of the question in this age of computer-chess, where even amateurs of modest ability are thoroughly prepared, or in correspondence chess where players have access to massive databases.

I like an opening with White where I will not be surprised by a latest innovation from some GM’s research team thrown at me by an amateur not stronger than I but just better prepared or resourced. My time is at a premium these days. It has to be sound, strategic, play with any tactics arising out of a sound position.

I have had some good fortune as ‘The Palooka’, in my second match of 24 games against ‘Tayhk’ of Singapore, playing on www.itsyourturn.com. I have gone up 5-2 with 2 Draws and it is up to him to pull back the deficit with better play. Currently I have a Nimzo as Black, and a crazy Philidor as White.

A recent win of mine against him, was as Black playing a Dutch Defence.

I should have lost the game. I made a gross blunder in the opening, losing a pawn. My opponent then became greedy and fanciful, imagining he could get more out of the position. He made a dreadful mistake in return. After that, we ended up in a Queen-less middle-game and ending, where the themes of prevention, centralisation, restriction, and blockade predominated as strategy on my part.

The pressure got to my opponent and he made a final, terrible blunder. Thus the game I expected to lose was turned into one of my most memorable wins, because of the strategic play I was able to execute. Not bad for an amateur. It shows that some of my studying over the years has been absorbed and used creatively.

The game is instructive for a number of reasons: it shows how you can frustrate your opponent by continuing to create problems in an inferior position; it demonstrates the value of the Nimzovich stratagems of prevention, restriction and blockade to immobilise an enemies position; it proves the claim that the one who makes the next to last mistake, wins the game; and it is an example of chess-optimism as exemplified in the statement ‘Nobody ever won a game by resigning.’

I hope you will enjoy this flawed but instructive game.

Tayhk versus The Palooka
Dutch Defence

1. d4 f5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. e3 e6 4. Bd2 Be7 5. h3 b6 6. Nf3
Bb7 7. a3 O-O 8. Bc4 d5 9. Ba2 Nbd7 10. Ng5 Re8 11. Nxe6
Qc8 12. Nb5 c6 13. Nbc7 Rb8 14. Qf3 g6 15. O-O-O Nf8
16. Nxe8 Qxe8 17. Nc7 Qd7 18. Nxd5 cxd5 19. g4 fxg4
20. hxg4 Qxg4 21. Qxg4 Nxg4 22. Rdf1 Kg7 23. f3 Nf6
24. c3 N8d7 25. Rh3 Re8 26. Rg1 Bd8 27. f4 Ne4 28. Be1
b5 29. Rh5 Ndf6 30. Re5 Bc7 31. Rxe8 Nxe8 32. Kc2 N8f6
33. Bb3 Bc8 34. Kd3 Bf5 35. Ke2 Nd6 36. Bh4 Nc4 37. a4
bxa4 38. Bxa4 Nxb2 39. Bb5 Nc4 40. Ra1 Bb6 41. Ra4
Ne4 42. Bxc4 Nxc3+ 43. Kf2 Nxa4 44. Bxd5 Nc3 45. Bc6
Be4 46. Bd7 Kf7 47. Ke1 Ba5 48. Kd2 Nd5+ 49. Ke2 Bb4
50. Bg4 a5 51. Bf3 Nc3+ 52. Kf2 a4 0-1

Until next time, may your games be full of genius on your part and blunders for your opponents.

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