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31 Dec 2015

E17 Queen's Indian Defense: Anti-Queen's Indian System

E17 Queen's Indian Defense: Anti-Queen's Indian System

Last day of the year brings a new opening variation to look at. It might not be new to you, but it is to me. The game below was played in a team match called REMATCH: Battle For Victory vs. NINJA EMPIRE ~ 忍者帝国. The match is being played on 102 boards, so it is a decent size match. I am playing on board 11 for Battle For Victory. The score in the match is at the moment I type this 79.5 - 85.5 in favor of NINJA EMPIRE ~ 忍者帝国. The match has featured both of the things you do not like to see in these team matches, timeouts and people who have the cheater badge next to their usernames. In the game below I started to go a bit wrong with the move 10...Bxd5, which allows e4 with a tempo. It was not the losing move and only gave my opponent some play he or she would not have had if I had played 10...exd5 instead. I started to drift towards a loss after I played 13...c5. I thought during the game that I could get the pawn back relatively easily which is why I sacrificed it in the first place. I thought that it would be better than to allow Nc6 which I did not like to see at all. I collapsed completely only a few moves later.

Because this is the last day of 2015, I want to take a look back on the year and see what has happened during this year in this blog of mine and in my chess and chess960 games and other stuff related to it. When this year started I was playing 270+ correspondence games and on January 12th I was playing 300 games at the same time. It only lasted for a few hours though and after that peak, I wanted to decrease my game load. I have been able to do that quite nicely and for awhile I had maybe less than 70 games in progress. However, lately I have increased the amount of games I play to some extent. I am currently playing 99 games at the same time. It has been actually easier to handle than I have previously thought. I have also started playing at the Queen Alice Internet Chess Club again where my rating peaked at 2203 September 10th this year. It is also my current rating there. I have two games in progress there, one is against a player who is rated 2267 and the other one is rated 2617. I have never before played against a player rated 2600+ before this in a correspondence game. I think I faced a GM rated over 2600 couple of years ago in a blitz tournament.

When I played more games, I was able to keep my rating higher in different sites. Recently my rating has dropped at Chess.com and Red Hot Pawn clearly under 1900. Especially at Chess.com I have been going downhill lately. The main reason for that is that I have been facing higher rated people on average than before. However, I have also been playing a lot worse than before. While I started more games, I also tried out two sites that I had not played at before, chessrex.com and lichess.org. Both of those sites I will keep on playing in the future as well. Lichess I have only played rapid chess960 games and I think that will continue be the case also in the future. While I play and have played both chess and chess960 at ChessRex, I think I would prefer to play chess960 there.

I am now playing correspondence chess in five different sites, Chess.com, Red Hot Pawn, GameKnot, ChessRex and Queen Alice Internet Chess Club. I have also played on other places this year, ICC, FICS and maybe at playchess.com too, but I do not remember if it was last year instead. I was able to get my standard rating at FICS to 2180 this year, which is my peak rating there. Lastly I would like to take a look at some statistics from this blog. I have now covered 442 different opening variations, 43 different chess960 starting positions and I have also added 2071 puzzles in total since the time I started doing this blog. If my statistics are correct, there are now 1168 analysed chess games out of which I have won 703 (60.19%), drawn 113 (9.67%) and lost 352 (30.14%) games. Out of all the opening variations I featured, I have had the best success with C62 Spanish Game: Steinitz Defense my winning percentage is 81.82% after 11 games. I only considered the variations where I had ten or more games played. My worst variation at the moment from the ones I have played more than 10 times is C64 Spanish Game: Classical Variation. Charousek Variation, I have lost half of the 14 games I have played in that variation. I have also shared 77 analysed chess960 games, out of which I have won 48 (62.3%), drawn 10 (13%) and lost 19 (24.7%).

I have also earned two official FIDE titles this year, the first one, Arena FIDE Master, I received on April 14th and the second one, Arena International Master on December 12th! I was not able to get any wins against titled players this year, but I have a game against an IM currently at Chess.com. Some sites like Red Hot Pawn or Queen Alice Internet Chess Club it is not clear always if someone is a titled player, but on both sites I face currently opponents that could be IM or even GM strength based on their ratings there. I I have added one analysed game to the following posts today: Chess960 SP50, Chess960 SP262 and E38 Nimzo-Indian Defense: Classical Variation. Berlin Variation. I have also added one mate in one, one mate in three and three mate in four puzzles. For all who have read this, happy new year!! Also big thank you to all who have followed me on Google+ and Twitter or shared my posts in these places, it is much appreciated!

30 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP458

Chess960 SP458

This is the second time when I have had the chance of using the Chessbase game replayer for a chess960 game if I recall correctly. This is of cource only possible when neither side has castled during the game. Maybe if chess960 would get more popular, Chessbase would make publishing chess960 games as easy as they have made publishing chess games.

This is another silly game that I played at lichess.org. I had a clear idea to play 3.Bxb7 if my opponent does not stop it. However, I somehow forgot it and played 3.Nc3 instead, in order to control d5... So this was the second game in a row there where I played the first few moves a bit mindlessly. I had a chance to take on b7 also in the next move, but again I missed it and instead played f4 in order to develop my bishop to f2. I did play 5.Bf2 even though I did not like my position all that much if my opponent had played d4 in reply. My opponent, milovanovic-goran, did not play that however, and instead played 5...Nc4 which has the effect of preventing me from castling no matter what I do in reply. Had I played 6.Nd3, it will be replied with 6...e4 and my knight must leave the protection of b2. Therefore I played 6.Bxd5, which I thought during the game to be nearly winning move. With the move 6.Bxd5 started a period in the game where I seemed to be awake again and I did not give my advantage away in the remaining moves. I am not sure why my opponent resigned after 12...Nc4 because had the game continued, I still have some practical problems to solve. I have added one analysed game to the following posts of mine: B01 Scandinavian Defense: Main Lines, C66 Spanish Game: Berlin Defense. Improved Steinitz Defense, C34 King's Gambit: Accepted. Fischer Defense and E72 King's Indian Defense: Normal Variation. Deferred Fianchetto. I have also added one mate in two, three mate in three and one mate in four puzzle today.

29 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP672

Chess960 SP672

Today I played at lichess.org once again with the 10 minute and 10 second increment time controls. The game starts with a huge blunder on my part. I only wanted to develop my bishops and did not even look what my opponent was threatening. It was silly of me, but I did continue on because my opponent was rated 1289 and I was rated 1799... I thought that my opponent's rating had to be low for some reason or the other, so I played on and tried to take advantage of any mistakes that I could see my opponent do. After I saw the move 4.Qb2, I initially thought that I am in huge trouble and that the game will not last long. I thought that 4...Ng6 has no chance of prolonging the game because my opponent might just play 5.Qg7 though after 5...Nf6 I might barely hang on. My position looks pretty depressing after the move 6...hxg6 and the possibility for a huge upset is in the air. On move 9 my opponent finally makes a mistake I can take advantage of and get at least a pawn back. Not sure why my opponent played 8.Ng5, it does not seem to do anything. On move 9 I anticipated the move Ne3, which would have been much better than the move played in the game because that move protects the pawn on g2. That being said, my opponent has almost all of her or his pieces developed on move 10, while I have only one bishop developed.

Then on move 11 whewell blunders and I get more material back. Knights are quite weak protecting each other and I took advantage of that fact with the move 11...f6. I think whewell should have played 12.Nxf6+ next, I thought that it would have been the better pawn to take during the game. After 12...Bxd6 material is even though not the same material for both sides, I have the bishop pair in exchange for the rook and a pawn. Around this time my opponent starts to self-destruct. While 14.Rxg6 is interesting, it is a huge blunder after the reply 14...Kf7. Had I moved the bishop instead, then 14.Rxg5 would have been a good move, because whewell could have taken on g8 with a check next. I had to be careful on the game continuation because there were tactical possibilities still for my opponent. The move 16...f5 was necessary to avoid the queen h7+ which would have made the game more difficult for me again. I think that 22.e4 is a mistake though it is hard to offer better moves for white at that point. Had I just taken the pawn by 22...fxe4, it probably wins as well, but makes the game unnecessarily hard. After the horrible 23.exf5?? it is clear that I am going to win because either the queens are exchanged or I am going to mate my opponent. Both continuations are easy wins though the queen exchange at least prolongs the game for a bit. I have added one analysed game to the following posts: B84 Sicilian Defense: Scheveningen Variation. Classical Variation, C89 Spanish Game: Marshall Attack. General, C02 French Defense: Advance Variation. Paulsen Attack and C45 Scotch Game: Schmidt Variation. I have also added two mate in one, one mate in three and two mate in four puzzles today.

28 Dec 2015

C71 Spanish Game: Morphy Defense, Modern Steinitz Defense #2

C71 Spanish Game: Morphy Defense, Modern Steinitz Defense #2

This was played in a team match called Visiting Wolve's lair. It was played on 23 boards between F&R and TROY. I played on board 2 for F&R in this match. In addition to this win, I drew my other game against driso. This was quite one-sided match where timeouts played a huge part. We lost six games on timeouts, but our opponent suffered 12 timeout losses. It was also sad to see two players who ended up having cheater badges next to their handle during the match, one from each team. We won the match with a score of 30.5 - 15.5!

In the game below I think that both players played reasonable moves until my opponent played 10...Ne8 which seemed a bit odd to me. I am not saying that all my moves up to that point in time had been perfect, but at least I had not made any big mistakes. The idea behind Ne8 is I assume to prepare for the move f5. However, it does take some time for my opponent to play that move and when he eventually plays it, it turns out to be a huge mistake. I think the whole plan of f5 in these type of positions is a mistake and the player with the black pieces should play more solidly. Because I was not playing the best moves, the position got more even again and on move 22...Nxh5, the position is quite even once more. I even end up in a lost position a few moves later, then things get balanced again after which I gain the upper hand again, only to almost lose it due to inaccurate moves. But because my opponent did not use his last chance for a draw on move 51, I ended up being the one with the upper hand for the remaining duration of the game. I have added one mate in three and four mate in four puzzles.

25 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP627

Chess960 SP627

The game below was again played at lichess.org. It was played as a 10 minute game with a 10 second increment. This somewhat short game ended in a wierd way. During the game I thought I was winning and when my opponent resigned, I thought that it was how the game should have ended. However, after the game when I put the computer to analyse this game, I noticed a peculiar fact, my opponent resigned in a position where he had a mate in one. He still had over four minutes on the clock when the game ended, so if he would have just thought a little bit longer, he would have won the game. I did think that my king has very few squares it can go to, but I did not see that if my opponent just plays Na7+ it is also mate... Somehow my brain just not registered that at all and luckily my opponent did not see that either. If I ever have won a game with luck, this certainly qualifies as one example. I was happily playing the moves, thinking that I have a good position and then on move 16 I thought about either Qe5 or c5. I decided to play Qe5 because then the threat of c5 is very strong or so I thought anyway. I did not think that Bxd6 is all that bad for me, though earlier I was worried about the knight jumping to b5. Of course I was completely ignoring my opponent's possibilities. For two moves, my opponent could have played Na7# which would have been a nice mate and it is very surprising that neither player saw it. I have added two analysed games to my post Chess960 SP50 and one analysed game to the following posts: Chess960 SP33, Chess960 SP369 and Chess960 SP878. I have also added one mate in three and four mate in four puzzles. Until Monday, my fellow chess and chess960 enthusiasts!

24 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP21

Chess960 SP21

Another chess960 game today as I had not enough time to go through my databases and look for an opening variation that I have not covered yet. This was played as a 10 minute game with 10 second increment at lichess.org. This time I got a human player to play against. I think the game started to go a little bit wrong for my opponent after seitties played 9.Nxd5 because after 9...Nbxd5 10.cxd5 Nxd5 white has an isolated pawn on d3 which seems quite weak. On move 21, I had to make a critical choice that could either win the game or lose it. I played Rc2 because I thought that if seitties takes the pawn on b7, I could play e4 in reply and all would be fine again. I did not see that seitties would play 22.d4 instead and at this point in the game I thought that I would be in trouble because seitties threatens my rook on c2 and maybe even in some situations to take on e5. I replied to 22.d4 with 22...Qc6 and I think my opponent should have played 23.d5. Instead seitties played 23.Qg4 which I think was the final losing move in the game and after this my opponent could not recover and resigned couple of moves later. I have added one mate in two, two mate in three and two mate in four puzzles.

23 Dec 2015

B19 Caro-Kann Defense: Classical, Spassky Variation

B19 Caro-Kann Defense: Classical, Spassky Variation

After what seems like forever to me, I post a never before seen opening variation, as far as this blog is concerned that is. This post also differs from the ones I have done lately in the amount of updated earlier posts, it goes back to more crazier times, when I did added more than five games a day. This will not be happening that often, but I felt that these were games that in my earlier plans should have been previously added, so I thought I will see if I can get more work done in a day than I have been able to do recently. This game was played in a team match at Chess.com and the match is being played between CYBERMEN ELITE and CHOCOLATE II on 23 boards. I played on board 1 for CHOCOLATE II and I drew my other game that I played in the match. The draw I even had to force because I would have otherwise also lost that game. There is only one game left to be finished in the match, it will not decide the winner, only the final score. We will win the match as far as Chess.com is concerned, but if the result would be altered, so that the one point that the only cheater received would be given to the player who did not cheat, then the score in the match would be a tie at the moment. However, the score currently is 21.5 - 23.5 in our favor. Then again if I remember correctly what Chess.com's policy is in these cases, I think it was that if these cheaters wins have an effect to the winner of the team match, then they correct the result, but they will not give rating points back to the players who have faced the cheater. I have added today one analysed game to the following posts: C18 French Defense: Winawer Variation. Poisoned Pawn Variation General, B33 Sicilian Defense: Lasker-Pelikan Variation, A80 Dutch Defense: Raphael Variation, A06 Zukertort Opening: Queen Pawn Defense, A22 English Opening: King's English Variation. Two Knights' Variation Smyslov System, B92 Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation. Opocensky Variation and A45 Trompowsky Attack: Classical Defense. I have also added two mate in one, one mate in two and two mate in three puzzles.

22 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP901

Chess960 SP901

Today I did not get to play against any human opponents in chess960, so I tested the Stockfish AI level 6, which is rated 1900 at lichess.org. To be honest, when I started this game, I thought I am probably going to lose, but I thought that the AI level 6 would be a good test for me in any case. There are eight different AI levels you can play against at lichess, ranging from level 1 (1350) to the level 8 (2500). I should maybe test all of them and see if they indeed differ in playing strength. Of course the most problematic part is that the moves from this AI come nearly instantly, so without an increment of some sort or otherwise long thinking times, I would most likely lose on time. I thought I would play a game with 10 minute 10 second increment and see if the increment helps to not lose on time. Time is not what got me, it was the poor moves I made. I might have done a little bit better had I used more time, but eventually I would have been in time trouble against a computer and I would have lost anyway.

The first obvious mistake I did was when I played the stupid 10...Qe5. After I saw the reply 11.Nf3, I considered my options and thought returning to e8 would be my best option, so I had basically wasted a move. I finally lose the game on move 26 when I play Rf7 and the following move from the AI show why that move was so bad. But then it made a blunder according my chess engine that could have brought me back to the game. I did not think of it as a blunder during the game though, I actually thought it was a good move during the game. It probably was a good move when made against me, but a blunder against the best reply. Very quickly after this, I fall apart completely and on move 35 I thought my best move is to click the resign button. I have added one mate in two, three mate in three and one mate in four puzzle today.

21 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP384

Chess960 SP384

The game below was played at lichess.org and it was not a rated game, but instead a casual game. Both players had 5 minutes as the basic time and with each move both players received additional 8 seconds to the clock. The game started with both players activating their bishops that have their target set to the enemy king from the start. On move three we start to get different ideas and while my opponent also puts his or her queen on the a1-h8 diagonal, I activate my knights. Kirill1986 starts to get a great position with more space and an attack and is probably close to winning after my blunder 15...Qg4. I was surprised to see on move 19 that my opponent played Nxf6+ instead of taking the rook on f8. Even though the rook is passive on f8 and is a couple of moves away from activating, it would have been better to take the material advantage instead of the positional advantage. After that I felt I can hang on in the game again especially because I started to get my pieces more active than my opponent. After the exchanges on f5 that allowed my opponent to play 33.Re4 I face rather problematic situation again because I must put my king on f8 to prevent the rook from getting into my side of the board. After that I can only move my own rook for the most of the time. When Kirill1986 played 40.Kf2 and allowed me to play g5 in response, I started to get some activity to my rook again. I thought it to be probably insufficient counterplay, but I had to see how the game would progress. After I saw the position after Kirill1986 had played 48.Rxc5, I thought that I would lose the game now. It did turn out to be easily drawn endgame for me instead. I offered a draw to my opponent somewhere earlier and he or she was probably right not to accept the offer at that point as Kirill1986 was on better side at that point in the game. I have added two mate in three, one mate in four and two mate in five puzzles today. I have also added one analysed game to my post C41 Philidor Defense.

18 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP11

Chess960 SP11

The game below was played as unrated 10 minute game at lichess.org today. This indeed was a casual game in many ways because this has been the only game for many years where my opponent has asked to take back a move. I actually did allow that takeback because it was really bad move and quite obvious misclick. Had the game been rated, I would have thought about granting that takeback maybe a bit more. The game went ok for me until I ended up playing the silly mistake 3.Nd3 which loses a pawn on d4. On move 9 my opponent blundered by playing a4 and I was able to get the pawn back with 10.Nc5. The takeback move came when my opponent first played 16...Qb5 and after I allowed the takeback traded the queens. It was something that I was ok with because I had thought about it before the takeback and considered it bad for my opponent. The idea was that after the queens are traded, I play my knight on d3 and then play Bxc6. My opponent allowed me to take on b4 without needing to trade my bishop for the knight, so on move 19 I already was up a pawn and had an easy game to play. Two moves later I was two pawns up and my opponent seemed to sacrifice pawns for no good reason in my opinion. The rest of the game did not pose any real problems and I was able to play the moves without much thought. I have added two mate in two, two mate in three and one mate in four puzzle today. Until Monday, when I may get back to posting also analysed chess games again.

17 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP447

Chess960 SP447

Well, I messed up another chess960 game at lichess. It all went horribly wrong quite quickly because for some reason I did not use a similar plan in the opening than I did on a game I played there two days ago. In the starting position 495, there are also bishops on g1, g8, h1 and h8. In that game I developed my bishops by moving both g and f pawns. I should have done that in this game as well because my dark squared bishop ended up being locked on g1. I really do not know why I played some of the moves in this game. The move 2.d4 I already felt was a mistake during the game, because it makes the development of my dark squared bishop rather difficult. Better pawn structure would have been with pawns on d3, e4 and f4. The problem is that I would like to castle long and I would like therefore keep the queenside pawns intact, so after black plays g6, the black bishop eyes on b2 and I need to somehow react to that and I would probably need to defend the pawn with Nd3. So it is probably best not to move the d pawn originally at all. The losing move was 9.d5 which I did think about a bit, I knew it probably does not work the way I would like but could not think about anything better, so I played that move. I did not even consider the move that my opponent played as a reply, I thought quickcastle would take on c3 with the bishop and then on the next move take on d5. The move played in the game 9...Nb4 was of course much stronger than the sequence I had thought about. I could not recover from this blunder, but on move 12, had I played f4, I would have been quite close of getting a decent position where I have some chances for a draw. I have added one mate in two, two mate in three and two mate in four puzzles today.

16 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP753

Chess960 SP753

This was played yesterday evening at lichess.org. It was a 10 minute game with 10 second increment. The first move that I did not like from my opponent was 6...Ng6, which seems like the wrong idea to protect the pawn on e5. I may have preferred the move 6...Bf6 and develop that knight later on to e6. My first longer think came on move 8, up to that point I think I moved relatively fast. I considered whether or not I should play my knight on e1 to g2 or just play h4. I rejected the knight move because I thought that my opponent could play f5 in response which would make my position quite bad. The doubled pawns that came after 8...Bxe3+ are not that bad in my opinion, they control the center quite well and restrict the movement of my opponent's pieces nicely. On move 10 I had no clear idea on how do I want to proceed, I wanted to move my queen next but I was not sure where I want to place it. I was not sure if I should bring the queen to the queenside and maybe generate an attack towards the enemy king or should I instead keep it on the kingside and try to make something happen there. I decided to do something on the kingside because I could not see an easy way to generate an attack on the queenside. The biggest problem at the moment for me is how to get my knight from the back rank into play because I thought that I could not play it to g2 in view of f5. So I wanted to prevent that move.

I think I started to get a good grip on the position around move 18 because my pieces seemed a bit more active than those of my opponent's. On move 20 I considered for a while the moves 20.e4 and 20.Rdf1, I chose the latter but almost immediately after my opponent played 20...Be6 I thought that the other alternative would have been better. After my opponent played 23...Ng7, I thought that maybe I had misplayed somewhere because my opponent seems to get some play now and improve his or her position. Then I saw the Bf7 to Be6 maneuver which held my position together and I was more confident about my chances again. I made some inaccurate moves and my opponent was able to get back into the game, but then on move 29 I think my opponent lost the game, mb22 should have taken the bishop on e6 instead of playing the retreating move 29...Nd8. After my move 35.Bc1 all of my opponent's pieces are really badly placed in my opinion. The game continued in my advantage until I get into my 47th move and with that blunder, the game could have been drawn. I did think of that 47th move quite awhile without coming up with a good move and ended up playing 47.Bc1?? which I knew could lead to a draw, but somehow I could not think that e1 is a much better square for the bishop. For some reason my opponent did not play the drawing line and ended up choosing the line that gives me winning chances again and this time I hold my advantage to the end, though I did have some minor technical difficulties. I have added two mate in one, one mate in two, one mate in three and one mate in four puzzle today.

15 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP495

Chess960 SP495

This is the 34th different starting position that I have played, so most of them are really unexplored territory for me. Well technically it is the 35th if I consider SP518 a proper starting position for chess960 because it is also the starting position for chess. Then again if I do not, then it could be called chess959, but I prefer maybe to call it chess960 even with there being a starting position that is the same as in chess. The game below was played at lichess.org and it has become the main place for me to play rapid chess960 games. This is mostly because I can get a game there reliably fast or so it has seemed up to this point anyway. I could get a game of chess960 quite fast at the Internet Chess Club as well, but probably not with the time controls that I am comfortable with. There are also other sites where I could play rapid chess960 games though not that many where I could play a game reliably fast with the time controls I would like. Admittedly, I have not played chess960 in all that many sites. I think the only sites where I have played chess960 are Chess.com, lichess, ICC, Free Internet Chess Server and ChessRex.com. I have arranged those sites in order where I have played most chess960 games to the lowest amount of games played. However, there is no telling for sure if that will remain in that order and it is possible for it to change as time goes on. There might also be other sites that I may or may not try from time to time that will add to the list. I like the diversity of the sites which keeps them interesting to me.

The game below was played as a 10 minute game with 10 second increment. It was a challenge that I had issued. I issued a challenge that had increment because I wanted to avoid the problem I had in the game yesterday. I noticed a problem again in this game, I started moving too many pawns again in the beginning of the game. It was ok I guess because my opponent did a similar thing and moved pawns rather than pieces in the first few moves. The first mistake of the game was seen already with thekillermoves 3rd move f4, which was played in the position below. It was a better idea to play 3.b3 and activate the queen on the long diagonal. It would also attack the undefended pawn on e5. I could have taken a clear advantage, had I played 3...e4 in reply. I would have more space in the center and therefore an easy development ahead of me. Contrary to me, thekillermove would have had a harder time of developing his or her pieces. Instead of being clearly better, I played 3...g6, which gave the advantage slightly to my opponent. The difference in the position is that the game continuation allows White to develop his or her pieces rather easily and the bishop on h1 is very active on the long diagonal.

Thekillermove played another bad move, 4.Nf3, in response to my 3rd move g6. It allowed me to play 4...e4 again and this time I used my chance and I was clearly better. The move 4...e4 attacks the knight on f3, blocks the long diagonal for White's light-squared bishop and prevents my opponent playing b3 by opening the long diagonal for my dark-squared bishop. Thekillermove should have prevented me from playing 4...e4 with the move 4.b3. It would prevent it because I would lose my bishop for free due to the fact that the queen could have taken the undefended bishop on h8. While my opponent was clearly worse, thekillermove was not in a losing position until he or she played 6.Bf2 in the position below.

Better options for thekillermove were 6.a4 and 6.b3. Despite of them being better moves, it may not have been enough to save my opponent. I then played a bit inaccurate move 6...b6, but even then I should have been clearly better. Better moves would have been 6...Ng4, 6...b5 and 6...Nd6. Then thekillermove made another blunder 7.h3, which removed the last safe square from the knight that resided at g5. After that the game was rather easy for me. The next mistake that I noticed during the game was 9.dxe4 and I thought that the better move was 9.fxg5 even though I do not think that it saves my opponent in any way. The move played in the game allows my knight to jump to e4 and it is very well placed there. Later on I placed my queen on e3 and for a moment I thought that it would be trapped there. Then I noticed the move 15.Bc4 and all lines seem to be in my favor after that and I think my opponent agreed because thekillermove resigned after that move.

Game number two. My second attempt in this starting position and the second time with me moving the black pieces. In both of these games my opponents started the game with the move 1.g3. In the first game I replied with the move 1...e5, but in this game I went for the move 1...g6, which might be the better alternative of the two moves. The first position in which one of the players made a clear mistake can be seen below. Poh59 played the move 7.Bf2 and I was clearly better. The problem with the move is that it gave me a chance to get the initiative with the move 7...Bd5. The move 7...Bd5 would not have been as good, had my opponent's bishop not blocked the rook's path to f3. In the game continuation poh59 had to move the bishop a second time in a row in order to keep the material balance. However, moving the bishop to e1 and later on to c3 was probably what my opponent planned on doing anyway.

A few moves later it was my turn to play a bad move. In the position below I played 11...Nd7. It was a passive move that allowed my opponent to trade the dark-squared bishops and get an equal position. I should have gone with the more active move 11...e5. When only taking a brief glance at the position, one might think that e5 is unplayable because White controls the e5 square with four pieces and Black only with three, but thinking the position a bit more reveals that one of White's pieces, the knight on f3 can't move and that makes the move 11...e5 possible. The knight can't move because I would be able to take the bishop on h1 for free as it is inadequately protected. After my 11th move Nd7, the game was evenly fought once again.

The game continued to be evenly fought until poh59 played 18.Rhe1 in the next position. Better moves for poh59 are 18.Nb5, 18.e4 and 18.g4. After my opponent's 18th move Rhe1 I should be on the clearly better side of the board with correct play. I replied by playing 18...Nf3, which was not the best idea and it did give some of my advantage away. Moving my knight from d7 to f6 was a better idea as it would have improved the location of perhaps the last badly placed piece that I had. However, my move was not really horrible either and it did have a clear idea behind it. The game continued with the moves 19.Nxf3 Qxf3. After my 19th move poh59 played 20.Nd4, which could have cost my opponent the game.

The position after 20.Nd4 can be seen below. I do not remember the reason why I answered by playing the horrible 20...Qb7, but for some reason I played this very passive move instead of taking a pawn on g3. Maybe I thought that the queen had to remain on the long diagonal and had I taken the pawn, I could not have easily relocated my queen back to the long diagonal. After my 20th move the position should be roughly even. That is if my opponent had played 21.Nc6, for example. In that case I could not have taken the pawn on e3 with my rook because of the continuation 21...Rxe3 22.Rxe3 Rxe3?? 23.Qh8+, where the reply Nf8 is needed because 23...Re8 will allow mate on the next move. I would not have needed to take the rook back, but in that case I would have lost a rook for a pawn and I would have been clearly lost in that case too.

Poh59 played the passive 21.Qd2 in the game, which allowed me the opportunity to seize the advantage once again. I did get a small advantage after 21...Ne5, but I lost it with my next move 22...Qa6, which was a reply to 22.Qf2. A couple of moves later I made my first huge blunder of the game, which could have been the reason I lost this game, had my opponent played the correct move in response. The position below is the one where I made the horrible mistake of moving my rook to f7 on move 25. The moves 25...a6, 25...Qd5 and 25...Kb8, for instance, would have kept the position equal. Luckily for me, poh59 did not see the winning idea 26.Qxf7! Poh59 played 26.Qe2 instead and I survived for awhile longer.

Actually I got one more chance to get a win from this game when my opponent played 34.Re8 in the position below. It made the queen to be overloaded, which would have allowed me to get two free pawns and possibly an easy win. Unfortunately I did not go for the winning continuation 34...Nxd4 35.Qe4 Qxc2+ 36.Qxc2 Nxc2.

Instead I went for the forced mate, or rather allowed my opponent to play a forcing sequence of moves after which I would have been mated, had I not resigned before the checkmate was seen on the board. I played 34...d5 in order to guard the e6 square with my queen and prevent the 35.Qe6#. When poh59 played 35.Nc5+ I understood that I can't avoid the mate and resigned.

14 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP873

Chess960 SP873

This game was played today at lichess.org as a 10 minute rated game. I think this was another good game from me, unfortunately I just moved too slowly and ended up losing on time. I did offer my opponent a draw when I had a bit over a minute on the clock, but my higher rated opponent thought to try and win on time instead... I guess I can't blame my opponent for doing that but had the situation been reversed, I would have accepted the draw. Maybe in my younger days I would played on and tried to win on time as well, but not anymore because I do not try to win clearly drawn games but instead offer a draw and if it is accepted, I move into other things. The game below was my second loss at lichess and I have played 11 games there so far, all of which have been chess960 games.

I was able to finally play enough games Saturday at the FIDE Online Arena that I am now Arena International Master!! It took a little bit too long in my opinion to get that title, but I am very happy to finally receive it. However, in case the diploma for the title take as long to receive as it did with my first title, it will be March or April next year that I have the certificate for the title. I mean surely it can't take so long to send those via e-mail. I have added one mate in one, two mate in three and two mate in four puzzles today. I added yesterday one more analysed game to the following posts: A36 English Opening: Symmetrical Variation. Botvinnik System, A30 English Opening: Symmetrical Variation. General, D37 Queen's Gambit Declined: Three Knights Variation. General, A10 English Opening: General, C45 Scotch Game: General and A20 English Opening: King's English Variation. General. I also noticed yesterday something that I thought was impossible before, I found a duplicate game in the blog... I did remove it when I noticed it. In my post called A17 English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense. Hedgehog System there was previously two games, now there is only one. I was only able to notice it when I started to create a database that has all the games I have published. The reason I did not realise it when I posted that other game is that the names of my opponents were different and so was the analysis done to the games.

11 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP673

Chess960 SP673

This is the second game of the two games that I played at lichess.org yesterday. The game below was played with 14 minute time controls, no increment this time. This one did not last long in view of moves played or with the time used because the game ended after my 19th move and I had used 3 minutes 41 seconds for those moves while my opponent used 4 minutes 49 seconds to the game. Sometimes when I play either chess or chess960 I have thought about the moves that my opponent is going to play and have a good counter to them. In the game below my opponent played quite a lot of moves that I had looked and thought what I would do in reply. This is not something that happened in the past for me, then I was only considering what would be a good plan for me and I usually was not able to anticipate the moves of my opponent at all. Dare I say that I have much more knowledge of the game now than I had back then, so anticipating the moves that my opponent is going to play has become easier. I have added one mate in one, one mate in two, one mate in three and two mate in five puzzles. Until Monday, my fellow chess and chess960 enthusiasts!

10 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP196

Chess960 SP196

This is one of the rare games that I have played unrated online. The game below was played at lichess.org and it had 10 minute and 10 second increment time controls. I was really happy to the way that the game went in the early part of the game and after my opponent played 12.Bxe4 I thought that I am going to win for sure now. As the game notation shows, I was wrong to think that. Actually Anonymous was clearly better at that point and had my opponent played 13.d5, I would have been in huge trouble. That is because I can't take the pawn on d5 in the view of 14.c4+ and it would be time for me to resign. The move chosen by my opponent 13.dxc5?? made things really easy for me. I played 13...N6xc5 quite fast as a reply, but then my opponent stopped moving for several minutes and I thought that he or she would let his or her time run out, but when my opponent had less than one minute left on the clock he or she played 14.Ne5 and said that the reason for the long think was a telephone call that happened. No matter what the reason was, this game felt a bit unfinished to me as only 15 moves were played, but I am obviously always happy to win a game. After this game I had played 9 games at lichess and I had won 7, drawn 1 and lost 1, so my stats so far are really good. I did play another game there today as well, but I will share that tomorrow. I have added one mate in one, one mate in two, two mate in four and one mate in five puzzle today.

9 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP703

Chess960 SP703

I played in the Chess960 pool again today at the Internet Chess Club and of course I lost yet again. I should stop playing in that pool because I am just not playing fast enough to get any good results in there. I can maybe play well for some time, but then I just blunder the game away, like I did on move 24.b3? in this game, which loses the game immediately. Up to that point I can be quite happy with the way I played. After my blunder I could have just resigned because my position is really hopeless. I have now played five games in that pool with a grim score of one win and four losses. I guess tomorrow I will play some games at lichess again to get different starting positions to post for the rest of the week.

Yesterday I went to play some games at the FIDE Online Arena again in order to get my next title and I am happy to say I was able to play seven more games out of the title requirement, so I only need to play nine more games there to get it. Obviously I can't lose too much because otherwise I may fall below the rating requirement again. I am really confident about my abilities to hold the rating above the requirement this time because I am further above it than I was the first time that I was close to the game requirement for the Arena International Master title. I think I had less than ten games to go and then I dropped below the rating that is required for it. If it happens the same way this time, I will be really annoyed. I also noticed that FOA had changed since the last time I played there, now you need to show your real name while playing games there because they are official games. I do not mind the change that much, but as it also created now a different pgn-file where it stored the games and becasue of that I did not find them at first because I only looked in the previous pgn-file the client had created. Therefore I had to check if my settings had changed there too and then I noticed the different file it had put the games in. I think there were also other minor changes in the way you challenge people to play a game, but the main look of it remained the same. I have added one mate in two, two mate in three and two mate in four puzzles today.

8 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP295

Chess960 SP295

I think my posts this week will be mostly about different chess960 starting positions once again, but next week the latest I am planning on starting going through my chess games again. The game below was played as a 10 minute game with no increment at lichess.org. Even though I have not played this exact same starting position before, it is similar that I have played before, so I was able to play it with some confidence. I have played in some starting positions where the bishops or the queens are on the corner 1.b3, 1.g3, 1...b6 or 1...g6, but when I have done so, I have noticed it is not always the best plan. Usually it is better in my opinion to just control the center if possible like in chess.

In the first few moves we see a different way of handling the opening phase by both players. I play so that I try to take control of the center and develop my pieces as fast as possible. My opponent, however, moved the knight that started on b1 three times during only six moves which can't be a good thing to do. It is true that I did move my knight two times during those six moves, but at that point I already had some initiative. Actually I think my opponent's 6.Nc3 was already the losing move or at least close to it and indeed like it says in the notation of this game 6.Na3 was correct as it protects c2 efficiently. I may not see tactics so well all the time, but I am happy that I noticed the 7...Bxd4! possibility. After that the game went quite effortlessly and the only thing I really had to notice was that I had to play 20...Ne8, so that I will not lose easily. After that my I think my opponent just self-destructed even more and made my win easier. I was also surprised earlier when my opponent played 12.Ke1, I thought that MAHONY1 would take the knight on b5, to at least give me doubled pawns, admittedly you should not generally trade pieces when you are down in material, but in my opinion, it would have at least make my position a bit worse. The game continuation did not pose any problems for me, it actually went like I wanted. I have added one mate in two, one mate in three and three mate in five puzzles.

7 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP611

Chess960 SP611

This game was played in the Chess960 pool at the Internet Chess Club today. I needed to play a quick game of chess960 reliably and I think the pool at ICC delivers just that. Today there was a chess club at high school where I was supposed to go teach some chess, unfortunately there was no one to teach... That club has been somewhat disappointing so far, it has been been held four times now and half the time no one comes there and the other half only one student comes there, so not really a success. I think there is no point continuing that club next year. Of course I needed to stay there until the time for the club ended, so it was necessary time wasted... Anyway, as I do not seem to get almost anything useful done these days, it may not have been that disruptive to my schedule. But had I been able to use that time I wasted at the high school differently, I would have at least had a chance to do something useful in that time.

As I have recently played mostly rapid games or longer games, I have not really used to the blitz time controls that they use in the pool. This meant that I used too much time on the early part of the game, so I was able to get into a better position than my opponent, but as I noticed my time running out, I started to play some fast moves to gain some time, well not that much as the increment is only one second. I had only few seconds left by move 36, so I pretty much self-destructed at that point. I have added three mate in two and two mate in three puzzles.

4 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP476

Chess960 SP476

I played again today at lichess.org, this time only one game because my opponent did not want to play a rematch that I offered. And this game was different also because of the time controls, this game was played with 7 minute and 10 second increment time controls. This starting position is one that I am not sure how to best develop the pieces, already after a couple of moves I knew that this is not going to go so well for me, too many pawn moves at the start and the development of my pieces was quite slow. The biggest problem that I have in this particular starting position is how to get the bishops developed. I think in the starting positions where the bishops are on b1, g1, b8 and g8, the bishops are in the worst possible positions. I would not want to play both c4 and f4 to get the bishops out, in this SP476 I would prefer to develop my bishops by placing the bishops on the b-file to a2 and a7 respectively and get the bishop on the g-file into play by moving the f-pawn. Because the queens reside in h1 and h8, I would also like to castle queenside if possible. This was the first loss I suffered at lichess, so after seven games there I have won five, drawn one and lost one. I have added three mate in two and two mate in five puzzles today. Until Monday, my fellow chess and chess960 enthusiasts!

3 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP369

Chess960 SP369

I played two games of chess960 at lichess.org again today and below are the games I played analysed. These were played with 10 minute time controls without increment. That being said I think my opponent played too fast and only used 3 minutes 27 seconds for the game and by comparison I used 6 minutes and 23 seconds for the game. I am not afraid to use the time to make the moves even in these games without increment, because if I just blitz out the moves, I am very likely to play really horrible moves. I have noticed in these 14 years or so that I have played chess more or less actively that I am much more likely to win if I use more time than my opponent to the game. Of course the time usage should be concentrated on the critical positions and not so much on the opening phase necessarily, well in the case of chess that is. In chess960 it is useful to take a look on the starting position you are facing and plan out how you are going to develop your pieces, to me that may take a minute or two depending on the time controls. Maybe with the time controls that were used in the games below, it may be 30 seconds or so. Well, long enough that I know I should be able to develop my pieces to relatively good squares. Some pieces, like the queen are sometimes in positions where it is quite hard to get them into the game. So I try to take all that into consideration when thinking about what my first move should be. I also consider the side that seems better to castle on. In some starting positions I think that castling on the queenside is far better than castling on the kingside, like in this particular starting position I would prefer castling on the queenside mainly because the queen is located on h1 and h8, which means I am likely to open the long diagonal for the queen by playing g3 or g6 depending which side of this I am. If I have learned something about chess, it is that it is not a good idea to have that diagonal open on the side that you have castled if you have not fianchettoed your bishop. I have added one mate in two, two mate in three, one mate in four and one mate in five puzzle today.

Game number two. This was a rematch offered by my opponent which I accepted without much thought. I think in the case of chess960, it is a good idea to play on both sides of the starting position in order to give your opponent a change to play on the favorable side, though I am not sure if this particular starting position clearly favors either side. In some starting positions I have prefered to play with white and others I have prefered to play with the black pieces. This is the 26th or maybe 27th different starting position for chess960 that I have encountered. The reason I am not sure because I have no idea what the starting position was when I played chess960 over the board. Though the likelihood that it would have been something that I have played online is quite small, at the moment anyway.

Game number three. This was played at lichess.org. It was a 5 minute game without increment. As you might notice from the name of my opponent, I faced a random opponent in a game that was not rated. Because of that I can't really tell anything about the playing strength of my opponent. I think Anonymous played rather well, so definetely not a beginner, but instead an experienced player. The first clear mistake that I can see from Anonymous was when my opponent played 30.c5 which loses a pawn. Actually before that moment came, I was maybe somewhat on the worse side. After I got that free pawn, my game become much easier to play. My opponent tried to get some tactics work on me, but I did notice them quite well in my humble opinion. I think we both started to be quite low on time at this point and my opponent blundered again in the time trouble when Anonymous played 37...Qc7, which gives up yet another pawn. I was in a solid position with two pawns up, so I was very confident about winning the game. Not only that but I was also up in time. On move 40, my opponent ran out of time. I had 1 minute and 19 seconds still left on my clock.

2 Dec 2015

A37 English Opening: Symmetrical Variation, Botvinnik System Reversed

A37 English Opening: Symmetrical Variation, Botvinnik System Reversed

This was played on the fifth round in a tournament that was played at Turku in 2005. On the first four rounds I gathered three wins and one draw, which meant that I was fighting for the win of group C and had I won this game, I would have won the group on my own. The same goes for my opponent as well, he could have won group C without anyone sharing the win with him. Actually the win of group C was also possible for two other players in the group. One of them could have won the group on his own or shared the win with either me or my opponent, but the other one was only able to share the win if the game below was drawn and it indeed ended up happening, so the win of group C was shared among three players. The tie-break put the final standings in a way that my opponent was on first place and I was on second place. The fact that I am able to play the tournament without losing is always nice to me, because it does not happen all that often. Even though I managed to get 4 out of 5 points, my rating only increased by 20 points because I mainly played against people who were rated 200 to 300 points lower than me. I have added one mate in two, two mate in three and two mate in four puzzles today.

1 Dec 2015

Chess960 SP839

Chess960 SP839

Yesterday I was almost too distracted to be able to make the post. So, I decided today to change the way that I planned on doing the post because I thought I might be a bit too distracted today as well to get the planned things done. I think I will also do the posts for the rest of the week a bit differently than I previously thought. Main difference will be that I am unlikely to update my older posts at least this week, I will do that again when I know that I can concentrate properly again. Maybe this does not make that much sense to those who are reading this, but it makes sense to me. Anyway, today I played two more chess960 games at lichess.org. These were played with 14 minute and 8 second increment time controls. The first game especially was played way too fast considering the time limits. I maybe used only slightly over 8 minutes for the 35 moves in the game and my opponent used even less time for the game. This is my only draw that I have played at lichess.org. I was the one who offered the draw in this game because I thought that win was not possible anymore. I have added one mate in one, one mate in two and five mate in four puzzles today.

Game number two. Once again, it was my opponent who challenged me to this game. I used more time on this game than on the first game because I knew that I have to play better moves and only way to do that is to use more time on the game. The game below is my fourth game on lichess.org, which all have been chess960 games. After four games I have won 3 three games and drawn one game. So far it has gone quite well, but undoubtedly I am put to my place as I play more games there.