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31 Mar 2016

E46 Nimzo-Indian Defense: Ragozin Defense

E46 Nimzo-Indian Defense: Ragozin Defense

I am once again going through my over the board games, so that someday I would cath up to my most recent efforts in that area. The game below was played slightly over 8 years ago on the first round of a tournament that was played during Easter at Helsinki. If my memory serves me right, this was the first time that I played this tournament and it is also the last time I have played this tournament. At the time I felt that the time controls were too long for me and it might be true also to this day. Well, too long for over the board chess that is. My longest games have lasted over a year...

This tournament was played between March 20th and March 24th and it consisted of 7 rounds. This was the second tournament that I played in 2008, the first one being a huge success for me, I won group C with 4.5 points and my rating increased 133 points. This second tournament was far from the success that I had in the first one. Admittedly the average rating of my opponents was also considerably higher, so that had obvious impact on how many points I was able to gather. This ended up being also a positive tournament, but only slightly, as I managed to increase my rating only by 5 points.

I was able to hang on in the game for about 11 moves without messing up, but after that I started to get a bit on the worse side of things and on move 16 I played the game losing move Rec8. My opponent finished the game accurately and did not give me any change to get back into the game. I have added one analysed game to the following posts: Chess960 SP76, C64 Spanish Game: Classical Variation. Central Variation, A15 English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense. Mikenas-Carls Variation and C64 Spanish Game: Classical Variation. I have also added one mate in one, two mate in two, one mate in three and one mate in four puzzle today.

30 Mar 2016

E15 Queen's Indian Defense: Fianchetto Variation, Nimzowitsch Variation, Quiet Line

E15 Queen's Indian Defense: Fianchetto Variation, Nimzowitsch Variation, Quiet Line

The game I am sharing with you all today was played at a mini team match called 1800-1900 CHESS Lounge vs TPOC. The reason why I call it a mini team match is because it was played only on one board between THE POWER OF CHESS and CHESS Lounge. I played for CHESS Lounge and I managed to win both of my games against Solomonar. I won both games on time and the only one of those two games worthy of going through is the game below. In our other game I only played two moves before my opponent ran out of time. I am not 100% sure, but I think that this was my first team match representing CHESS Lounge. I am currently part of 80 clubs, formerly known as teams at Chess.com and it is sometimes very hard to keep track on how many times I have played for them in these matches. While the result of this match was very good for us, had these two games continued past the points they were interrupted by time, the result of the match might have been completely different. The reason why I think that is mainly due to this game and how the game started to look like from my point of view towards the end of the game.

I think this game was played quite well by both players, up to my 27th move, but I think somewhere along the way it became harder for me to think of good moves than it was for my opponent. With the move 27...Kc7, I started to make playing with the black pieces in this game even harder for me because my plan turns out to be a bad one. My plan was at this point to get my king to defend against possible pawn pushes on the queenside and put my rooks on the kingside. Couple of moves later I think that my king is needed on the kingside, so I start to make my way there. I knew that I was worse at this point in the game, but I thought I should continue the game and see what happens. My position gets worse over time, but not to a point that I would see a clear win for my opponent, so I played as resistantly as I could, so that maybe at some point I could turn the game around. I usually only resign at a point where I consider the game to be lost without a shadow of a doubt. I have added one mate in one, two mate in three and two mate in four puzzles today.

29 Mar 2016

Chess960 SP499

Chess960 SP499

The game below was played in a team match called March game 32. The match is in progress at Chess.com and it consists of 10 boards. It is played between Kuda Hitam chess club and Kopaonik. I played on board 6 for Kopaonik and in addition to this draw, I lost my other game against Nathan_echo. That other game will be posted at some point, possible on Thursday this week if I have time to analyse it before then. The current score in the match is 5.5 - 5.5, so the match can still go either way. I am not happy of the way I performed in this match, but Nathan_echo was a bit higher rated than me and seems to have played more chess960 games than me, so I may not feel that bad about my result. Regardless of that I should be able to make better moves than I did in both of my games against Nathan_echo.

I played 1.e4 because it fights for the control of the important center squares. I also want to plant my f-knight behind the e-pawn to e3 where it can help secure squares like d5 and f5. I prioritise the development of the kingside pieces first because I want to castle there. My opponent replied with 1...b5, which is an interesting move that makes it a bit awkward to protect my e-pawn. Ideally I would like to play 2.Nc3 here to protect the pawn, but it would just get replied with 2...b4, which would drive the knight away. Because 2.Nc3 is not an option, I thought of other ways to defend the pawn. I played 2.g3 in order to both defend the pawn and open the long diagonal for my bishop. Nathan_echo continues playing moves that I would not play when he goes for the move 2...Qa6. It is actually a good move that both threatens to take on a2 with the queen and also Bxe4 is now available for him. I played the passive 3.a3 which is probably not the best move, but as I only saw the threat to my a-pawn and thought that I need to play a3 anyway in order to develop my knight to c3 safely without the need to worry about b4 kicking the knight away, I ended up playing that move, but 3.b4 is a better alternative. My move turned out to be ok, since Nathan_echo played the inaccurate b4 as a reply. I have a small advantage after that according to Stockfish 7 64 POPCNT. Interestingly enough, the engine thinks that 4...Rxb4 is the biggest mistake of the game during those first four moves. I think it is a natural reply to my move, it not only captures the pawn back but also adds pressure to the e4-pawn. This might be one of those times where I disagree with the engine. I do not really see why White should be favored here. I felt that my position is not so comfortable to play during the game. I think my pieces are not doing much in comparison with Nathan_echo's pieces. Apparently I was on the better side of things up to move 10.Qd2. After that the game is basically drawn by force by my opponent since I can't really do anything other than move my king back and forth between g1 and g2 because other moves lose at this point. Apparently my positional understanding is not always correct because during the game I thought that I was on the worse side most of the game and I was surprised that Nathan_echo went for the draw. I was ok with that draw as he was higher rated than me and because of the way the game had went at least to my understanding that is. I have added one analysed game to the following posts: E01 Catalan Opening: Closed Variation, C44 Scotch Game: Scotch Gambit, A36 English Opening: Symmetrical Variation. Symmetrical Variation and A15 English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense. Mikenas-Carls Variation. I have also added one mate in two, three mate in three and one mate in four puzzle.

Game number two. The game below is my other game from the match called March game 32. The match is still even, the score has changed a little and now the score is 6.5 - 6.5. There are still seven games left to finish in the match and there is no certainty yet, how those games will end. Both of these games started at the same time, so I did not have the option of getting some understanding of the way my opponent plays this particular starting position, but instead had to see it unfold on both boards about the same time. Nathan_echo had a similar opening strategy on both games and unfortunately for me, so did I. The move 1.g3 is something that I would see myself starting with as it opens up the long diagonal for the bishop. I replied with 1...e5, which might not be such a good idea because I ran into some problems quite quickly. The move itself is okay, but the way I handled the game afterwards made the pawn on e5 the center of my problems. I think I should have played 1...g6 instead and I would have been able to get an easier position to play. Nathan_echo continued with 2.b4, which to me seems like a move that I would avoid playing, but it is probably good in this position. It grabs some space on the queenside, opens up the long diagonal for the bishop, allows a rook lift later on and makes it possible for the queen to develop itself. It is hard to do more than that in one move. The game continues quite logically, I played g6 in order to protect my pawn on e5, then my opponent increased the pressure on the pawn by playing 3.f4, which I again have to defend against, so I played 3...d6. I started to really dislike the way that I had played so far and knew that there had gone something wrong.

Stockfish may consider the position after 4...dxe5 equal, but I still think that White should be favored here. Maybe not by much, but it is definitely easier to play this position with the white pieces in my opinion. Nathan_echo continued by developing his queen to a3 with a tempo. I replied with a6 and simply defended the pawn. I did not see any other alternative way to respond to the threat. My opponent continued with the aggressive approach to the game and played 6.b5. That is a bit inaccurate move and maybe 6.e4 was a better option. That does not matter all that much because I played the horrible 7...Qe6, which was the game losing move. Later on in the game I thought that I would get some play with 21...Nh3+, but it was not enough to turn things around.

28 Mar 2016

Chess960 SP63

Chess960 SP63

This week starts with a chess960 game that I would have posted earlier if I had not faced some problems with it. It has usually been enough for me to change the variant from Chess960 to chess 960 in the pgn-file, but for some reason this game also required some other changes to the pgn-file before it was shown correctly in Chessbase 12 and Deep Fritz 14, the two programs I use to view and analyse my finished games. The problem with this particular game even made me consider other chess programs and even though I did find one that was able to show the game correctly without me changing the pgn-file, the analysis quality was not at the level I would like it to be and therefore I had to work on the pgn-file again to see if I could get it to work also on the aforementioned programs.

This game was played at lichess.org on January 15th, 2016. Before this game started, my rating was 1843 and oquzlar's rating was 1859. Unfortunately this has been the last time that I have faced a higher rated opponent at lichess. The reason for that might be simply the time controls I put in the challenge. People like to play much faster games than I do, especially those that are higher rated than me, so I usually play against lower rated players there. This game starts with both players pushing their g-pawn one square forward and by doing that they are activating their bishops on the h-file. I did notice this time that when I played g3, the bishop from h1 targets the undefended pawn on b7. When my opponent replied with the same idea, I decided not to take on b7, because then oquzlar just takes on b2 and it would have been a position that I do not like, so I developed my knight to c3 instead. My plan was to castle long and therefore I did not want to weaken my pawn structure on the queenside. Oquzlar defends the b-pawn by playing c6, which I do not like the looks of, but it is a decent move regardless. The reason why I do not like this move is that in my opinion the knight would belong on c6 instead of the pawn. I continued with 3.f4 opening the g1-a7 diagonal for my bishop. At this point I think that it should be easy to develop the remaining pieces and the opening part of the game has gone without problems. I think I am slightly better after 6 moves, but then on move seven I castle, even though I should have played e4, in order to stop the immediate d5. In the game continuation oquzlar gets to play 7...d5 and the position is about even. The center was a bit tied up, so I played h3 in order to play g4 and try to open lines in front of oquzlar's king.

Before I ended up playing g4, I moved both of my bishops out of the back rank, so that there would be room for my rooks to roam around. I was able to open the g-file and plant my rook on g1 and maybe have some play along that file. My immediate threat after 13.Rg1 is 14.Qxf5 because the pawn is pinned on g6 and can't take the queen. Oquzlar played 13...Bg7, which stops my idea for now anyway. Actually Stockfish does not like my position at this point in the game and thinks that Black is clearly better. Actually my positional downhill started with the move 12.gxf5 according to the engine, well I had been on the worse side a bit earlier, but the position had become equal again, before declining again. My difficulties continue up to the move 41...g3, after which I could have held the draw with accurate play. Around this time I was quite confident that I am going to lose, but wanted to continue the game to see what happens. It was a pity that I could not find the move 42.Re1 and I might have survived. I was not able to find it and I was crushed quite quickly after that. I have added one analysed game to these three posts today: A30 English Opening: Symmetrical Variation. General, C11 French Defense: Classical Variation. Delayed Exchange Variation and E12 Queen's Indian Defense: General. I have also added two mate in one, two mate in four and one mate in five puzzle.

26 Mar 2016

C44 Scotch Gambit

C44 Scotch Gambit

The reason for this post is to correct a mistake of the past and therefore it does not bring new content to this blog. I went through some of my games that have recently ended and noticed a new opening variation. That in itself would not have broken the posting schedule I have. The problem with this one was that it resembled a line that I had already posted in the blog, so I looked through those games and noticed that the game below did not belong there, but instead under this new opening variation. Well, new to me that is. I have noticed similar things in the past and when I have run into them, I have corrected them as soon as I can. The reason why these mistakes even occur is that not all the sources where I look openings from have the same openings listed. The openings explorer at the new version of Chess.com helps a lot because it recognizes the openings even if you go through the moves in untheoretical order, which is a really helpful thing because my games almost never follow theoretical move orders.

This was played in a tournament called 2014 September Grand Seven Fourteen III at Red Hot Pawn. This is one of the tournaments there that I have chances to win still. Four other players are still in the fight with me, so it is still uclear who is going to win. I have only the fourth highest maximum possible score, so my chances are not as good for the top spot but as long as no one exceeds my maximum possible score, I still have some chances. With this game, I was able to tie my score against Luft. For a brief moment, I did give chances to my opponent to take the win but as he did not take advantage of my blunder, I was able to not only get back into the game but maintain my advantage to the end.

Game number two. The game below is the reason why this post was created in the first place. While I looked for the opening used in this game, it was similar enough to a variation I had previosly published, so I had to make sure there were no errors there and unfortunately there was one, so I corrected it as soon as I could. This game was played in a team match called GREECE_LOVERS vs Alexander Grischuk Chess Club. It was played on 25 boards and I played on board 3 for GREECE_LOVERS. In addition to this confidence boost of a win, I lost my other game against celeron. The match ended with a score of 17.5 - 32.5 in victory of Alexander Grischuk Chess Club. They were able to have higher higher rated players on most boards, so the result was not a huge surprise.

The first mistake of the game was played by Celeron on move 8, while Bg5 seems like a good move, it develops a piece with a tempo, it does not really suit into White's plan. It was better to play 8.Qb3 and increase pressure on f7. The starting point for celeron's downfall was this 8th move. The game did last a long time after that move, but I was always on the better side even though I did play some inaccuracies that could have cost me the win and I would have been forced to accept more drawish result. I think that it was a good idea by celeron to double my pawns on move 13, because it might have given him some counterplay. He decided to undouble those pawns immediately after that which I was happy to see, so that I do not have one less pawn weakness to worry about. He does end up getting my pawns doubled on the queenside, but that is not as bad of a weakness that the doubled pawns on the f-file would have been. I played well enough to keep the advantage on my side until I went a bit astray with the move 38...Kd6, which was maybe the only chance given to celeron to draw the game after the early blunder was made that enabled me to be on the better side of the board. Celeron was not able to take advantage of his chance, and I was able to play the rest of the game without any huge mistakes, enabling me to win the game on move 79 when my opponent decided it was pointless to carry on with the game.

25 Mar 2016

Chess960 SP148

Chess960 SP148

The last post of the week will take a look at two chess960 games that were played at Chess.com. The first two games in this post (more might be added at a later time) were played in a team match called Friendly match: 960 CS vs Purple haze (960 chess) - Goodbye 2015. The match consists of 23 boards and it is played between 960 CHESS STARS and PURPLE HAZE. I played on board 5 for PURPLE HAZE and only managed to get two draws against my lower rated opponent. At the moment it seems that only on my board both games ended peacefully in draws. For some reason my opponent offered draws in both of these games at the same time. I was actually happy to get a draw in the game where I was playing with the white pieces because in that one I was in huge difficulties and had the game continued, I would have likely lost. The other game seemed like a draw, so I accepted the draw offer in that one too. The current score in the match is 27.5 - 14.5 in favor of 960 CHESS STARS and therefore they have secured the win quite comfortably.

The first blunder of the game was played by my opponent with the move 4...b6. The game could have been over much quicker had I reacted to 4...b6 in the most accurate way. Again my tendency to develop my pieces as quickly as possible hinders my ability to make good moves. While my move 5.Nb3 is a decent move, it was better to play 5.Nb4. I keep ignoring my opportunities also on my next move, after which my advantage again decreases. When I played 15.Nb3, it was the first time that I ended up being slightly worse. Inaccurate reply by Instar78 tips the advantage back in my favor. With my next move 16.Rd2, I hand over the advantage back to Instar78. Bad moves from both players shift the advantage back and forth for awhile until I make the move that should have been the losing move, 26.g4. My tactical awareness was nowhere to be seen yet again and I did not even consider the possibility that my opponent could reply 26.g4 with 26...Nxe3! I was quite confident that I am lost after I saw that move, but I stubbornly wanted to continue the game. The game lasted for a few moves more, but to my surprise it ended in a draw and not to my loss. I have added one mate in one, two mate in two, one mate in three and one mate in four puzzle today. Until Monday, my fellow chess and chess960 enthusiasts!

Game number two. Apart from few inaccuracies, the first ten moves of this game kept the game in balance. The 11th move by my opponent was the first move that can be said to be a mistake, even though I only get a small advantage out of it. That adavantage does not last long as I merrily seem to give it back with my 12th move. I never intentionally make bad moves, but avoiding them completely is impossible. When Instar78 played 15.f4, I had the best chance up to that point to seize the advantage. I was, however, unable to do so. I made this game harder for me than it should have been with my 16th move, but because I did not see a better move, I had to play 16...Rd6. Instar78 has clearly the better game for a few moves, but when it comes to his 24th move, he goes a bit astray from the right plan. That enables me a better possibility to hold a draw. After 30.Be3, the advantage that was there before has completely fizzled out. We continued a few more moves until my opponent offered the draw and I thought that I should probably accept it because there seemed to be no way that I can increase the pressure and both players should hold their positions with ease.

24 Mar 2016

B07 Pirc Defence: Miscellaneous Systems (7...e5)

B07 Pirc Defence: Miscellaneous Systems (7...e5)

It is time for some action from Red Hot Pawn again. This game ended my good streak of games that enabled me to get my peak rating of 1967 at Red Hot Pawn. The game below started the unfortunate losing streak that is still in progress for me. This game was played on the first round of the 2015 October Grand Split Three Seven I 1800+ tournament. I have gathered 39 points so far and I can get to 51 points if I manage to win the 4 games I have still left to finish in this tournament. My opponent, InvaderOfRome has gathered 35 points, but he has a maximum possible score of 59 and it is likely that InvaderOfRome will be ahead of me in the final standings. I am currently in 6th place and it is possible that it will be also the place I found myself in the final standings, but it is not at all certain yet. InvaderOfRome is currently on 9th place, but can get to 4th place if all goes well for him in the remaining games.

I may have experimented a bit too much in this game, first I went to 4.Bc4, which I had not played in that position before and then later on I castled queenside, which is something I usually do not play. Actually, only the move 8.O-O-O put me in trouble, everything up to that move was ok. The position after 8.O-O-O can be seen below.

The game continued pretty much I had expected 8...exd4 9.Bxd4 Nxd4 10.Rxd4. While I did notice when I castled that the rook would end up in a square that is a bit awkward, I did not think that my position would be horrible as a result. Stockfish thinks in this after game analysis that InvaderOfRome is just clearly better after 10.Rxd4 and I may know why that is. Even though I am ahead in development, my pieces are located quite badly, my knight is pinned to the queen and the rook on d4 is not well placed. InvaderOfRome's pieces are on the other hand well placed. My opponent did not find the best move and by moving the knight to h5 gave me a chance to get the game in balance. I was not able to play the move 11.e5 that could have gone towards a draw, but instead made a mistake by playing 11.Rdd1 and it made my life more difficult for several moves. Only after InvaderOfRome played a bad move 28...f5, I was getting closer to draw the game again. By playing 28...f5 in the position below, my opponent enables me to get rid of one of my doubled pawns, improving my pawn structure a bit.

It is something that he should not have done. My position quickly falls apart again due to some mindless moving on my part starting with the move 30.Rhg1. I was only slightly worse after 30.Rhg1, but with my 31st move I went to a clearly worse position. I played the biggest blunder of the game with my move 36.Kc1, after which there is no point to continue the game, especially when I saw InvaderOfRome's reply 36...Nc3. The position where I played 36.Kc1 can be seen below.

I considered for awhile what to do after 35...Ne4+ and I saw that I can't go to d3 or e2 because I would lose a piece to the knight fork. I honestly can't remember what went on my head when I decided that c1 is a better square for the king than e1. Of course after 36...Nc3 it was obvious to me how stupid I was again able to be. Then again my position was already quite hopeless and I should have gone towards a loss even if I had played 36.Ke1. I have added one analysed game to these two posts: C18 French Defense: Winawer Variation. Classical Variation and C11 French Defense: Classical Variation. Burn Variation. I have also added one mate in two, one mate in three and three mate in four puzzles today.

[Event "Grand Split Three Seven"] [Site "http://www.redhotpawn.com"] [Date "2015.12.21"] [Round "1"] [White "Vierjoki, Timo"] [Black "InvaderOfRome"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B07"] [WhiteElo "1951"] [BlackElo "1989"] [Annotator "Stockfish 8 64 POPCNT (30s), TV"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Bc4 {Pirc Defense: Kholmov System} (4. Be2 Bg7 5. g4 {Pirc Defense: Chinese Variation} (5. h4 {Pirc Defense: Bayonet Attack})) (4. Be3 c6 5. h3 {Pirc Defense: 150 Attack, Sveshnikov-Jansa Attack}) 4... Bg7 5. Qe2 Nc6 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. Be3 e5 {B07 Pirc Defence: Miscellaneous Systems} 8. O-O-O (8. dxe5 Nxe5 9. Bb3 O-O 10. h3 Nxf3+ 11. gxf3 Be6 12. O-O-O Nh5 13. Qd2 a5 14. Ba4 Bxc3 {0-1 (14) Hernandez Fierro, R (2200)-Taulbut,S (2405) Mexico City 1978}) (8. Bb5 exd4 9. Bxd4 O-O 10. Bxc6 bxc6 11. h3 Bxf3 12. Qxf3 c5 13. Be3 Qb8 14. Rb1 Re8 15. O-O Qb7 16. Rfd1 Rab8 17. Nd5 Nxe4 18. b4 Qc6 19. Bg5 Qd7 20. Bf6 Bxf6 21. Qxe4 Bg7 22. Qf4 Re5 {Masio,A-Tatenhorst,V (2280) Germany 1996 0-1}) 8... exd4 9. Bxd4 Nxd4 10. Rxd4 Nh5 $146 {White has a very active position} (10... Nd7 11. e5 Bxf3 12. Qxf3 Nxe5 13. Qxb7 O-O 14. Bb3 Nd7 15. Rc4 Nc5 16. Qc6 a5 17. Rd1 Ra6 18. Qd5 Qf6 19. f4 a4 20. Bxa4 Nxa4 21. Rxa4 Rxa4 { 0-1 (21) Thiel,T-Altunbas,A Dortmund 1986}) (10... O-O 11. Rdd1 $17) 11. Rdd1 ( 11. e5 Bxf3 12. Bxf7+ Kxf7 13. Qxf3+ Kg8 14. Qd5+ Kf8 15. Qf3+ Kg8 16. Qd5+ Kf8 17. Qf3+ Kg8 $11) 11... Bxc3 (11... Nf4 $5 12. Qd2 Nxg2 $17) 12. bxc3 $15 Qf6 13. Qe3 (13. e5 Qf4+ 14. Kb2 O-O 15. exd6 Rfe8 $15) 13... Bxf3 14. gxf3 O-O 15. Rdg1 (15. Rhg1 Rfe8 $17) 15... Qf4 16. Rg4 Qxe3+ 17. fxe3 Nf6 18. Rg2 Rfe8 19. Kd2 Rad8 20. h4 (20. Rgg1 Re5 $17) 20... Kf8 (20... d5 21. exd5 Nxd5 22. Bxd5 Rxd5+ 23. Ke2 $19) 21. Rb1 (21. Rg5 a6 $17) 21... b6 (21... d5 22. exd5 Nxd5 23. Bxd5 Rxd5+ 24. Ke2 $17) 22. Bb5 Re5 23. c4 (23. Rg5 Re7 $17) 23... Nd7 ( 23... Rh5 24. Rh1 Rc5 25. Rg5 $19) 24. Rg5 Nc5 25. Rbg1 f6 26. R5g3 Ke7 27. Bc6 Rf8 28. Rh1 f5 (28... Rh5 $142 $5 $17) 29. exf5 $11 Rfxf5 {White has new hanging pawns: e3+f3} 30. Rhg1 (30. f4 Re6 $11) 30... Rh5 {Black threatens to win material: Rh5xh4} 31. Rg4 (31. Rh3 Rh6 $15) 31... Nd7 $17 32. Ba4 Nf6 33. Rf4 Ref5 34. Rxf5 Rxf5 35. f4 (35. Ke2 $5 $17) 35... Ne4+ $19 36. Kc1 $4 { sad, but how else could White save the game?} (36. Ke1 $142 Rc5 37. Bb3 $19) 36... Nc3 (36... Nc3 37. Kd2 Nxa4 $19) 0-1

23 Mar 2016

B16 Caro-Kann Defense: Finnish Variation

B16 Caro-Kann Defense: Finnish Variation

The game below was played in a team match called Rise Of The Daleks. It is played on 34 boards between Daleks of Skaro and TriBaL KnighT's. I am playing on board 9 for Daleks of Skaro. The current score in the match is 22.5 - 31.5 in favor of TriBaL KnighT's. While the winner of the match is still not been decided, TriBaL KnighT's is already too close to secure the match in their favor, from our point of view that is. It is still possible to turn things around and that is what we need to do in the remaining games and we can only handle two more points to be lost if we want to win the match.

The move 4...h6 is an interesting one and I probably did not reply to it in the best possible way. I just tried to get to a more familiar position and played 5.h4, but it probably is just a useless move because the bishop can retreat to h7 in one move after Ng3. I should have maybe played either 5.Nf3 or even 5.Ng3 with the idea of preventing the bishop from coming to f5. The position starts to look a bit like the Caro-Kann Defense: Classical Variation, Lobron System or the Caro-Kann Defense: Classical Variation, Seirawan Variation with the exception that both players have one pair of moves missing, White has not played h5 and Black has not played Bg6. Up to my 11th move, both players follow similar ideas as in those two opening variations I mentioned, but then letranknight goes for 11...Qc7, which is a decent alternative to moves like 11...Be7 or 11...Bd6. This game was played with only small inaccuracies until letranknight played 36...Kb7. I was quite confident about my chances at this point in the game, but I chose the wrong plan and had to face a position where my winning chances had gone down the drain and needed to accept the draw. I think this was a good game from both players and the only real chance I got in this game, I was not able to use properly. I have added one analysed game to these two posts: C00 French Defense: Knight Variation and D43 Semi-Slav Defense: General. One mate in two, three mate in three and one mate in four puzzle today.

22 Mar 2016

Chess960 SP373

Chess960 SP373

It is time again for some chess960 and this post contains two games when it is first published. Both of these games were played in a team match called 4.) 1/3/2016,Chess960, Happy New Year 2016=Sretna Nova 2016.Godina. It is played on 15 boards between MY FRIENDS, International, Moji prijatelji&Φίλοι μου and ISK Crvena Zvezda. I played on board 7 for MY FRIENDS, International, Moji prijatelji&Φίλοι μου. The current score in the match is 23 - 2 in favor of MY FRIENDS, International, Moji prijatelji&Φίλοι μου. There are only 5 games left in this very one-sided match and even if we lose them all, it would be only a small consolation for our opponents.

This game starts like the French Defense, but obviously the starting positon differs a bit from the usual. The moves e4 and d4 also open up diagonals for the bishops in this starting position like they do in chess. The difference being that the light-squared bishop starts from d1 instead of f1. Bishop starting from d1 is maybe slightly worse than the one that starts from f1, but there is probably not that big of a difference between the two. The first move that seems a bit off to me is 2...c6 because it may further restrict the scope of Black's light-squared bishop. The problem with how vogar1 has handled the first two moves is that it is quite difficult now to develop the black pieces to good squares, at least in my opinion. The knight from a8 would be most likely ideally placed on b6 but before it can go there, vogar1 would probably want to play b5, so that the light-squared bishop can be developed to a decent square. That is because I do not like its prospects on the c8-h3 diagonal because the pawn on e6 blocks its path. Maybe 2...d5 would have been a better try than 2...c6.

I am able to continue the game with logical developing moves while my opponent chooses a passive way to play. After 8...O-O-O vogar1 has catched up a bit on piece development, but honestly both vogar1's knights and the light-squared bishop seem bad pieces to me, when comparing them to their counterparts. I played 9.Qh2 in order to get my queen a bit more active as it goes to the h2-b8 diagonal and eyes on the undefended pawn on d6. The way vogar1 reacts to my threat makes his light-squared bishop an ever worse piece than it was before moving it to e8. I think vogar1 should have just played 9...d5 to which I would have probably played the inaccurate reply 10.exd5. Had the game actually proceeded in that way, the result of the game would have been much less obvious. 9...Be8 is probably the mistake that enabled me to win the game, though vogar1 makes a more concrete mistake on move 10 with Ng6, because that gives up the pawn on d6 for free. I am able to convert the advantage into a win on move 25 when vogar1 resigned seeing that he will loose too much material to offer any resistance or end up being mated. I have added one analysed game to the following posts: C41 Philidor Defense: Exchange Variation, C88 Spanish Game: Closed and C34 King's Gambit: Accepted. Fischer Defense. I have also added one mate in two, one mate in three and three mate in four puzzles today.

Game number two. In this game vogar1 had chances for a draw a lot longer than in our other game. I was not able to use my chances to take the advantage when I was first given the chance to do so. Only after the blunder 16.Nh3, I started to play accurately enough that I was able to keep the advantage the remainder of the moves. I was not sure about the best way to continue after 16.Nh3 and I was not really sure if I am going to win even though I certainly felt that I should be on the better side of things. Had my opponent not blundered with 23.f4, this game might still be in progress.

21 Mar 2016

B32 Sicilian Defense: Franco-Sicilian Variation

B32 Sicilian Defense: Franco-Sicilian Variation

This game was played on the third round of the Sarah's Mini Cooper Tournament (No 52). I am playing in group 4 and I am also currently on 4th place. I have 2.5 points at the moment and if I win my two remaining games, I will end up sharing second place and that would mean that I will advance to the fourth round. My opponent, DocOrtho, had a very rough time on this round, he lost all of his games. Admittedly, all his opponents were higher rated than him. Group 4 was won by erimus (2195), who won all of his games. He is the highest rated player of the group by over 300 points, so it is not a huge surprise that he managed to get such a good result. I have been the second highest rated player of the group, but I have really struggled with my games because mostly my opponents have been able to create me some problems that have made the games challenging to play, which is obviously better than winning games without any resistance at all.

This particular opening variation is something that should not be played with the black pieces. By playing 3...e6 Black allows White to reply with 4.d5, which gives White a clear advantage. It is much better to reply 3.d4 with cxd4. This is just one example of many variations that may have been named in theory, but are not all that sound ways to play. While DocOrtho was clearly in a difficult position after 3...e6, it was not perhaps the losing move. The losing move of the game was 6...Nf6. It loses a piece one way or the other and makes the rest of the game quite easy for me to play. Even though the game was decided so early, it took me quite a long time to convert my advantage to a win as only after the move 56.Qd6+ my opponent resigned. Today I have added one analysed game to my post C16 French Defense: Winawer Variation. Advance Variation General. I have also added two mate in two, two mate in three and one mate in four puzzle.

18 Mar 2016

Chess960 SP100

Chess960 SP100

For the last post of the week I share a chess960 game that was played at lichess.org on March 6th, 2016. Like usual, the time control for this game was 10 minutes with a 10 second increment. For some reason I have really liked to play with that time control at lichess. Recent results also show that this time control has been very successful for me, because I have won 10 games in a row at lichess. Two of those were really short, so 8 proper games were included in those 10 games. Then again, the rating difference between me and my opponents has been clearly in my favor during this win streak, so it is not that amazing of a result. This is also my latest game from lichess. Funnily enough, this is my 100th chess960 game to appear in the blog, so convenient that the starting position is also 100. In those 100 games I have 66 wins, 11 draws and 23 losses.

This game starts with both players wanting to take the center of the board in control. Already on move three my opponent makes a questionable decision. Mjbelieve plays e5, which sacrifices the e-pawn for nothing in my opinion. After three moves I have developed a knight and a bishop while my opponent has not moved any of his or her pieces. Mjbelieve does have open file for the rook and open diagonal for the bishop. Both pieces can, of course, influence the game from their starting squares as well. Maybe it is actually then wrong to say that mjbelieve has not developed any pieces by move 3. The idea that a piece must be moved before it can take part in the game may be slightly hindering me when I play chess960. I am just so accustomed to certain opening principles that when someone does not play what I could call normal moves, I tend to be in trouble. Not all the time, because I am able to take advantage of some of the unconventional moves that my opponents plays.

On move four my opponent plays Be4 with the threat of removing the defender of my bishop on e5 by playing Bxc6 in the next move if I do not stop that idea. I was awake at the time, so I was able to see the threat and therefore moved my bishop to f6. Both players keep making natural looking moves, at least to my eyes, but on move 7 I am not liking my position that much even though I am a pawn up in material. My problem piece is the awkwardly placed bishop on f6. Even though I noticed that 8.Nd5 is rather annoying move, I still played 7...Ng6 and allowed that move to be played. This was because I saw that I should be able to handle 8.Nd5 with 8...Qc8. Then mjbelieve played a move that I had not expected, 9.Bxg6. I had expected 9.Nxf6+ to which I would have probably replied with 9...exf6 and tried to keep my pawn structure as good as possible. I took on g6 with the f-pawn because I thought that after castling short, my rook would be on the half open f-file. I also considered hxg6, which would activate my rook on the h-file. I honestly was not sure which was the better move, but after fxg6 I could have also repaired my pawn structure had mjbelieve taken on f6 with the knight next. I guess the possibility to undouble pawns made me lean on fxg6 over hxg6.

When mjbelieve does play Nxf6, I decided not to undouble the pawns, but instead keep the f-file open for the rook. I thought that it would be the more aggressive way to play and the one with better winning chances. However, the move 13.Bg5 does demonstrate that White gets some play after Rxf6. When mjbelieve played 14.Ne4 I kind of regretted my decision to play 12...Rxf6. After the two aggressive moves from my opponent, mjbelieve's initiative stops and I start to be the one who has the iniative. I was fairly confident that I can win the game when my opponent failed to react to my move 15...Ne5 in a proper manner. Tactical idea won me a second pawn and after my opponent also blundered on the next move with 17.Rd1, the game ended shortly after that. I have added one analysed game to the following posts: C03 French Defense: Tarrasch Variation, C42 Russian Game: Classical Attack, E20 Nimzo-Indian Defense: General and C45 Scotch Game: Schmidt Variation. I have also added two mate in two, one mate in three and two mate in four puzzles today. Until Monday, my fellow chess960 and chess enthusiasts!

17 Mar 2016

C42 Russian Game: Classical Attack

C42 Russian Game: Classical Attack

The game below started with a position that arises after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4. Therefore the first move that could be played in this game was made by my opponent, Levimitch, who controlled the black pieces. This was played at Chess.com in a team match called 12/30/2015 , Rusian Game : Classical Attac. The typos were in the match name, not added later by me. The match is played on 12 boards between MY FRIENDS, International, Moji prijatelji&Φίλοι μου and CALABARZON CHESS TEAM. I played on board 5 for MY FRIENDS, International, Moji prijatelji&Φίλοι μου in this match and I won both of my games against Levimitch on time. It annoys me a bit sometimes when I face a new opening variation, my opponents will time out and the games are a bit unfinished because of it. Mostly this has happened at Chess.com for some reason, but it has happened on other sites as well. I guess it is a good thing that this game at least lasted this long so that there is something to look at. Sometimes these timeout wins last less than 10 moves and are therefore not that interesting.

The current score in the match is 13 - 7 in favor of MY FRIENDS, International, Moji prijatelji&Φίλοι μου, so we have secured the win in the match already! CALABARZON CHESS TEAM has suffered 8 losses on time, which made a huge contribution towards our win. The first mistake of the game is the move 13...Bxf3. I am not sure why my opponent chose to take on f3 because it only helps me to get my pieces into better squares. Maybe Levimitch thought that a continuation starting with c4 harassing the bishop would be problematic for him, but there really is no threat yet. If Levimitch thougt that only options to answer c4 would be either taking on f3 or Be6, then of course the former is better because the latter loses a piece for a pawn due to the fact that by playing d5 after Be6, the pawn forks the knight and the bishop. The move 13...Bxf6 started a downhill that my opponent was not able to recover from. Levimitch actually makes things worse by playing 14...a6 after which I should go on to win the game. Even though I am not able to make the most accurate moves in the remainder of the game, I am still able to maintain a minimum of clear advantage on my side. I have added one mate in one, three mate in two and one mate in three puzzle today.

Game number two. This is my second game against Levimitch and this is from the same team match as game one. The score in the match has not changed from yesterday, it is still 13 - 7 in favor of MY FRIENDS, International, Moji prijatelji&Φίλοι μου. This is a wierd match in some ways when I look at the board results. On boards 1, 6, 7, 8 and 12 the lower rated player has outperformed the higher rated opponent, at least so far that is. It is almost in half of the games this has happened, then again on board 12 the lower rated player won both games on time, so it may distort the statistics a bit. Unlike in our other game, in this one I was never on the better side of things and I was actually slightly worse for the most part of the game. Levimitch even had a chance to get a clear advantage at one point, but was not able to take advantage of my mistake.

16 Mar 2016

B03 Alekhine Defense #3

B03 Alekhine Defense #3

The games from Red Hot Pawn keep featuring opening variations that I have not previously covered in the blog, but as I have almost catched up to my latest finished game from RHP, games from other sites will take the center stage for awhile. Due to the fact that our ratings were so close at the time this draw was agreed upon, it did not have any effect on my rating. I have finished only one game after this at Red Hot Pawn and it was also a draw, but that did have a positive effect on my rating, though by only 3 points. That means my new peak rating at Red Hot Pawn is 1967!! While on other sites I struggle to even keep my rating where it is, at RHP I have had a really good streak of games lately. The lowest my rating has been during the past 90 days is 1851 and because that was my rating close to the start of that 90 days, the time period after that has been mostly been spent increasing the rating.

This game was played on the first round of the 2015 October Grand Split Three Seven I 1800+ tournament. I have finished 22 of the 28 games that started with this tournament and I have gathered 39 points in those games so far. Red cloud has finished 24 games and has gathered 50 points so far. Red cloud is currently on 4th place while I am on 6th place. Even though I can still theoretically get more points than red cloud, it is unlikely because I would probably need to win all my remaining games and red cloud could only win two of the four remaining games. As I have not looked at the positions in red cloud's games, I have no idea what the result of those games should be. Even if red cloud would lose all of those remaining games, it would not be at all certain that I would overtake him or her in the standings because it would still require a good result from me in my remaining games. However, it is no longer all that important to me where I am in the final standings of the group because I can't advance to the next round anymore. Despite of that I will obviously play the remaining games as well as I can. I have added one mate in one, three mate in two and one mate in four puzzle today.

15 Mar 2016

B01 Scandinavian Defense: Schiller-Pytel Variation

B01 Scandinavian Defense: Schiller-Pytel Variation

This is now the second day in a row when my main post features a game that has a bit unfinished feel to it. That is because in both games my opponent, joesheppe, lost the game on time in a position where he was clearly better. This game was played on the first round of a tournament called 2015 December Quartets I 1800+. It is being played at Red Hot Pawn and I play in group 3. I have only one game left and I am on third place in this four player group. Because my opponent decided not to continue moving in these two games against me, he ended up being 4th in the final standings of this group. It is very likely that if these two games had ended normally, I would have lost both of them and I would have been the one on last place with 0 points. In case I somehow manage to win my last game against Pattrick06 (2283), I will tie on points for the second place in the group. It does not matter all that much as far as the tournament is concerned because neither of us will be able to advance to the second round no matter what happens in that game. That game is also the last one in progress in the group I am in.

The game below featured some inaccuracies from me that over time decreased my small advantage first to a drawish position and then to a position where I was worse. After the move 11.Ne4 I started to lose control of the position and my opponent was on the better side of things. That move could have been the initial point for my downfall in the game, but it was not because the timeouts saved me from the losses. I have added one mate in two, one mate in three and three mate in four puzzles today.

14 Mar 2016

E20 Nimzo-Indian Defense: Romanishin Variation #2

E20 Nimzo-Indian Defense: Romanishin Variation #2

The game below was played on the first round of the 2015 December Quartets I 1800+ tournament. The tournament is played at Red Hot Pawn and the first round is still in progress. I am playing in group 3, which was the first group to be decided, in other words it is the only group of the five where the person who advances to the second round is already known. The player who won our group and will get to play on the next round is called TheBigKat (2473). It was not a huge surprise because TheBigKat was clearly the strongest player of the group. I have been the lowest rated player of this group of four players all the time and I probably will be the lowest rated player to the end of the tournament. I only have one game in progress and after that is finished, this tournament will be just another memory to me. Despite being the lowest rated player of the group, I will not be on the last place in the final standings. That place is secured by joesheppe, who lost all of his games in this tournament. To be honest, I was quite certain when this tournament started that I would finish on last place, but I guess I got a bit lucky in my games against joesheppe because I won both of my games against him on time. Those two timeout wins also increased my rating nicely and after I had claimed the timeout wins, my rating had climbed to 1964! It is not only my current rating there, but it is also my peak rating at Red Hot Pawn. If I can get similar timeout wins, my rating might get over 2000... My current rating means that I am the 298th highest rated active player at Red Hot Pawn. If I could get into top ten someday, it would be really awesome, but it would require a lot stronger play from me. Those who know me, know that I would prefer to win by outplaying my opponents and not win on time, but I will take these wins too when I can get them. It is true that I was in trouble in this game and had my opponent just kept making moves, I would have most likely lost this game. Today I have added one analysed game to these posts: C16 French Defense: Winawer Variation. Advance Variation General, D04 Queen Pawn Game: Colle System and C45 Scotch Game: Schmidt Variation. I have also added two mate in two and three mate in three puzzles.

11 Mar 2016

C45 Scotch Game: Horwitz Attack

C45 Scotch Game: Horwitz Attack

The last post of the week features a game that was played in a tournament at Turku over eight years ago. The game below is from the third round. At this point in the tournament I had won two out of three games and lost one. The last two rounds did not go so well for me as I lost one more game on round four and drew the last round game. 2.5 points was not enough to make this a good tournament tournament for me, but it was not a huge disaster either, just slightly on the negative side. The combined effort from the two tournaments that I played in 2007 ended up being on the positive side and maybe the need to prove to myself and others that I was not reached my potential as a chess player, I activated myself a bit more on the following year on over the board chess. It had a very drastic change to my rating all through the year, but I will type more about that when I cover games from that year.

This game started unlike any game I have ever played that I can recall at least. I have mostly played 4...Nf6 and 4...Qh4 I just played because I was curious to see what happens and I thought it would not matter much when playing against a lower rated opponent. This game could have gone very wrong for me quite early on because I made a too greedy pawn grab on move 5. My greedy play pays off because Ilkka does not play the accurate 6.Be2, but instead 6.Qe2, which makes my game a bit easier and I am actually on the better side of things for the first time in this game. With his 9th move c3, Ilkka covers the squares b4 and d4 in order to prevent my knight jumping menacingly to those squares, not that d4 would be available to me at the moment anyway. It was better to just castle, for instance, or play 9.Nd2. I was able to keep the advantage until the move 22...Ne6 and that move could have cost me the win. Ilkka would have had the excellent reply 23.Nxe5! which would have resulted in an even position. My opponent was not able to use this chance, but instead played 23.a4 which hands over the advantage back to me. I am able to play the rest of the game accuarately enough so that I do not give any more chances for my opponent and instead I am able to convert my advantage to a win. I have added one analysed game to the following posts today: A10 English Opening: Anglo-Lithuanian Variation, D02 Queen Pawn Game: Chigorin Variation and A15 English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense. Mikenas-Carls Variation. I have also added one mate in two, three mate in three and one mate in four puzzle today. Until Monday, my fellow chess and chess960 enthusiasts!

10 Mar 2016

E04 Catalan Opening: Open Defense, Tarrasch Defense

E04 Catalan Opening: Open Defense, Tarrasch Defense

Today I hit another milestone in the history of this blog, I posted the 1300th analysed chess game!! The game below is actually game number 1301 to be featured here. Even though every week that amount increases faster than I finish games, I should not run out of games to post for a long time because I am intending to go through all the games I have notation for sooner or later and that means maybe 2000 - 3000 games I have not yet posted. The current amount of 1301 games feature 758 (58.26%) wins, 128 (9.84%) draws and 415 (31.9%) losses. There has also been 474 different opening variations seen in those games. The most featured opening is A20 English Opening: King's English Variation. General with 47 games. The reason for that is of course that I played the English Opening mainly for several years and did not really know more theoretical variations. The most successful opening that I have played in these 1301 more than at least 10 times is C41 Philidor Defense with 10 games and winning percentage of 100. My worst opening that I have played at least on 10 occasions in these 1301 games is B92 Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation. Opocensky Variation if I look at my losing percentages and for that opening it is 47.06. My lowest winning percentage in the openings that I have played at least 10 times in games that have been published in this blog is C34 King's Gambit: Accepted. Fischer Defense with a winning percentage of 35. Because C34 King's Gambit: Accepted. Fischer Defense also has a very high losing percentage 45, it is the worst opening for me to play. It is good to see from time to time what openings I have done well at and what are the more problematic ones for me, so that I know what to play in my future games.

The game below was played on the fourth round of a weekend tournament that was held at Salo between November 3rd and November 4th, 2007. On the first two rounds I was able to win my games, but then on the third round I suffered my first loss. Unfortunately this fourth round game added to the losses I have suffered, making my performance in the tournament more like meh than good. On the fifth round I was able to win again, so this tournament did end up going slightly positive for me. With three points I finished third in group E and due to this result my rating increased by 37 points. It was nice to get finally a positive score in a chess tournament, since it did not happen even once in 2006.

The game below went in a reasonably evenish manner until my opponent made a huge blunder 13...Rac8. It could have been the losing move, but I was not able to take full advantage of the situation. Or rather I was able to play accurately first, but then on move 19 I make a very bad decision which takes away my advantage. However, Keijo blunders with 20...Ng4 and I am on the better side of the board again. The game went well for me until I played 26.Nf3 and the position was quite even again. The bigger problem for me, actually the game losing one, is created by the move 27.Qf4. After that it did not take long until I had to resign. I have added one analysed game to the following posts: A20 English Opening: King's English Variation. General, D55 Queen's Gambit Declined: Modern Variation. Normal Line and C64 Spanish Game: Classical Variation. Charousek Variation. I have also added one mate in three and four mate in four puzzles today.

Game number two. The game below was played on the first round of a weekend tournament that was held at Kurikka in 2008. I got my first chance for a clear advantage or even quite close to a winning advantage when my opponent played 7...Qb6. I can't really remember certain if I thought of playing 8.e4, but if I did and rejected the move because I could not calculate to a desirable outcome, then it is a shame that I wasted this opportunity. Maybe if I would reach this position again, I would play 8.e4 with a confidence that something good will happen after it. The move I chose, 8.dxc5, tries too keep the position as simple as possible so that I do not need to calculate that well... The next chance to get a clear advantage I was able mess up as well. Instead of 11.Nc3, I should have played the more aggressive looking 11.e4. It was the move I should have played twice now, but again I was playing too passively. Even though I kept playing some sloppy moves, the advantage mostly was on my side. I was able lose it many times during this game and one of those times was when I played 23.Rab1. I even started to slip towards a loss with the horrible move 29.Kg2, from which I should not have survived, but Mickei Sandor blundered with 29...hxg3 and I got another chance to hold the game.

I generously gave my opponent another chance to win the game after I blundered with 33.f3. However, he was not able to keep that advantage and the position fizzled out to a more even position after 38...Qe6. Even though my opponent sacrificed the exchange on move 41, it did not make the life of either player any easier. The problem for me was that my king was really exposed. Despite of all that I was able to get to a winning position after the blunder 49...Qf4. The game was very difficult for me to play and I did end up giving one more chance to Mickei to win the game when I blundered with the move 54.Re2. Both players kept making even more bad moves and the game deciding blunders came from my opponent with the moves 58...Qh2+ and 59...Qh1+. After those two moves the game became easy enough for me to play and finally get the win on move 63.

9 Mar 2016

A36 English Opening: Symmetrical Variation, Botvinnik System Reversed

A36 English Opening: Symmetrical Variation, Botvinnik System Reversed

While I prioritise the posting of my latest correspondence games, I need to go through games also from other sources from time to time. This is one of those times and the rest of the week I will go through some of my over the board games as well. Next week I should have a decent amount of correspondence games to go through, but I am not sure if all of the week is spent on those. The game below was played in a team match between EkSK and SalSK 3. This was a third round match in 3rd division, group 4. I played on board 4 for SalSK 3. The final score in this match that was played on five boards was 3 - 0 in favor of EkSK. There were two draws played in the match, but draws are not counted in these team matches. The game below ended my horrible year of 2006 and after this game I did not play in any over the board tournaments with long time controls until about a year later. I spend that time mostly recovering from the disaster of a year and did other things than chess for awhile. The interest towards chess never really dies for me, but it can sometimes get very frustrating if I can't win constantly and mostly lose games, like I did in 2006.

The first inaccuracy of the game is played by my opponent on move 12. Had I played 12...Bxd5 and followed that up with accurate moves, I could have been slightly better. I did not play the best move and after 12...Rad8, the position is about even again. Now that I look at this game with the knowledge I have gained since this game was played, I would not play 13...e4 anymore. Then again I would play something different earlier also, but definetely not e4 in this position, because it seems to close things up a bit too much to my liking. It is only a small inaccruracy though and does not decide the game. The biggest shift in the advantage comes with the huge blunder 17...h5, which is also the losing move. I can't believe I was so tactically blind that I did not see that my opponent can play 18.Nxe4 in reply to 17...h5. I played a few more moves, but there was nothing I could do to avoid losing the game. I have added one analysed game to the following posts: C69 Spanish Game: Exchange Variation, Alapin Gambit, C64 Spanish Game: Classical Variation, A13 English Opening: Agincourt Defense. Catalan Defense Semi-Slav Defense and C44 Ponziani Opening: Jaenisch Counterattack. I have also added one mate in two, three mate in four and one mate in five puzzle today.

8 Mar 2016

A25 English Opening: King's English Variation, Reversed Closed Sicilian

A25 English Opening: King's English Variation, Reversed Closed Sicilian

The game below was played in a team match called GREECE_LOVERS vs Alexander Grischuk Chess Club. There is only game left in this match consisting of 25 boards and that is my other game against celeron. That last game does not matter as far as the match is concerned because the winner of the match has already been decided. The score in the match is 16.5 - 32.5 in favor of Alexander Grischuk Chess Club. Which is a bit unfortunate for me and the team I represent in this match, because I play on board 3 for GREECE_LOVERS.

Even though I mainly start my games with 1.e4, when I am contolling the white pieces, for some reason I decided to go for 1.c4 this time. I guess I needed a bit of a change because my rating had been slowly, but steadily going down and I had to try something else. Obviously it did not work against my higher rated opponent and I dropped my rating to 1802. The last time I had my rating this low was in the latter part of 2014. Then my rating was actually going up. I still have not dropped my rating below 1800 and I actually am slowly climbing back up again. While I suffered a lot of terrible games in a row at Chess.com, at Red Hot Pawn I have been actually improving a bit. For awhile now I have been able to maintain a 1900+ rating at Red Hot Pawn and my current rating there is 1920, only 15 points away from my peak rating there. At Chess.com I hit my peak rating in Daily chess in January, 2009. Actually I am not sure if I can break that record anymore unless I find some time to improve tactics and my play in the endgame. I think I would desperately need that, especially since in recent games I have struggled quite a bit in both areas.

This game went without any major mistakes until I played 25.Ng2. At this point in the game I was not sure what my plan should be and I chose rather poorly. I wanted to reroute my knight to c6 and maybe to e5 later on. I thought that my knight would be better placed in either of those sqaures than on f4. Obviously my plan would take a long time, but I did not think of anything better, so I went along with that plan. I should have played 25.h4 instead. After the move played in the game, I am slightly worse. 29.Na3 is probably the losing move, after that there is no real possibility for a draw anymore. I think celeron accurately takes advantage of my mistakes and does not give me any counterplay opportunities in the remaining moves. I have added one analysed game to these two posts: B01 Scandinavian Defense: Main Lines and C97 Spanish Game: Closed Variations. Chigorin Defense. I have also added one mate in three, two mate in four and two mate in five puzzled today. Happy International Women's Day!!

7 Mar 2016

Chess960 SP780

Chess960 SP780

It is time once again to share a chess960 game that was played at lichess.org. My games are going very well there at the moment, I have won ten games in a row. However, it is a bit misleading statistic because two of those games lasted only a move or two. That good winning streak has meant that I have broken my previous rating record there and my current chess960 rating is 1873, which means I am in the 80.1 percentile at the moment. If I compare my statistics from lichess and Chess.com, I notice that a lower rating at Chess.com still means a higher percentile compared to lichess. At Chess.com my Chess 960 rating is 1722 and with that I am on the 97.6 percentile, which is at least interesting to me. One of the problems I face at lichess is that I have not been able to get anyone around my rating to play against recently and very few times I have even faced anyone higher rated than me. I am aware of the fact that my "easier" opponents are mainly due to my rating increase, but if I could get higher rated or similarly rated opponents to play against, I would prefer to do that. That being said, I will only play with certain time controls, so if it means that I have to play against lower rated people, then so be it.

As I get more experience from different starting positions, I tend to try different approaches to the opening phase to see what best suits for the current starting position or similar ones. I used to prefer the idea of making sure the bishops can be easily be developed first and only then focus on other development issues. While I still have that on my priority list, I have gone towards the idea that I should occupy one of the center squares with a pawn on my first move regardless where the bishops are initially. Unlike in chess, in this starting position playing e4 on the first move does not really help with the development of pieces. It does fight for the control of the central squares, which is also very important. Juanignaciov86 replies with c5, which not only fights for the control of important central squares, but also opens up a diagonal for the bishop. We are also in some wierd form of the Sicilian Defense where none of the pieces on the back rank are not where they should be... Anyway, I develop my h-knight next because I know that the best square for it can go from its starting square is g3. I also like to prepare h3, followed up with Bh2. I am of course intending to castle short. This is also one of the chess960 starting positions where you could play 1.O-O-O!! It is probably not a good idea to commit your king to one side of the board so fast, but because the option is there, I might do it someday just because I can. I actually did not realise this opportunity until I saw the Stockfish analysis. I am too trained in the idea of clearing the pieces out of the side where I want to castle before castling that I do not realise that in chess960 you do not need to clear all the pieces away on the side you want to castle, only those that are on the way of the castling.

I follow up my development plan while Juanignaciov86 takes more space and maybe makes my position a bit more uncomfortable. Juanignaciov86 also plays for aggression, while I just focus on development and preventing the threats that my opponent creates, for instance with 4...Nf6 to which I just reply with 5.d3 and my position should be ok. My opponent keeps up the pressure with 5...d5, so I have to play 6.c3 in order to defend e4. I do not like to take on d5 because the queen would likely take back and I would have just helped my opponent to develop a piece. On the next move Juanignaciov86 develops a second piece to the game, but places it on a bad square and I could have already taken advantage of that fact, but instead I just continue with development. Playing 7.Nf5 would have been obviously better. Juanignaciov86 gives me a second chance in a row to play Nf5, but again I just get my king to safety. When Juanignaciov86 still did not prevent Nf5, I finally play that move after missing it on two previous turns. There is no good answer to my threats, Juanignaciov86 does try with Ne8, which I had missed, but then I saw the game continuation 10.Nxd6 Nxd6 11.Nxe5 and I am a pawn up. The reply 11...f6 is as good as clicking the resign button because after 12.Nxg6 the game is over. I have added one analysed game to the following posts: C96 Spanish Game: Closed Variations. Closed Defense, C45 Scotch Game: Classical Variation, A38 English Opening: Symmetrical Variation. Full Symmetry Line and D00 Queen's Pawn Game #3. I have also added one mate in one, one mate in two, two mate in three and one mate in four puzzle today.

4 Mar 2016

C28 Bishop's Opening: Vienna Hybrid

C28 Bishop's Opening: Vienna Hybrid

The last post of the week features a game played over nine years ago, on the first round of a weekend tournament that was held at Salo. I played in group D at the time, due to the fact that the year 2006 meant a downhill for my rating everytime I played chess over the board. This tournament was not the much needed exception for the rule. This was already the second loss in the tournament and it did not get much better on the following rounds either, I lost the third round game, then somehow managed to win on round four and the fifth round brought me the most familiar result of the year again, a loss. I had started the year with a rating of 1760 and after this tournament my rating had already dropped to 1522. Unfortunately this was not even the last time of the year that I went to play over the board chess, I had to play one more team match later on in the year, which I of course lost and dropped my rating to 1514. At that time I decided I had to stop playing over the board games for a long time. It took me about nine months before I was ready to play over the board chess again. The break had done me good and I was able to get a positive score again.

Before I get too distracted from this game and type more things that are unrelated to it, I think I need to focus again on the game below. The move order in theory differs slightly from the move order used in the game and the theoretical move order is 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nc3. I played the first mistake of the game on move 9. Instead of Qd7, I should have either castled or played 9...c6. This one mistake was the starting point for the things to come. My position just got worse and worse over time and my opponent finished the game quite nicely with 20.Bxh6. After that I saw the forced mate and therefore I resigned. I have added one analysed game to these two posts: C48 Four Knights Game: Spanish Variation and C99 Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Chigorin Defense Panov System. I have also added two mate in three and three mate in four puzzles today. Until Monday, my fellow chess and chess960 enthusiasts!

3 Mar 2016

Chess960 SP692

Chess960 SP692

This was my second game on February 28th at lichess.org and I was more awake from the start of this game than I was in the first one. The first game of that same day I shared yesterday which involved a silly mistake from me in the opening. The game below was my 6th consecutive win at lichess and it brought me quite close to my peak rating of 1854, which I was able to get on January 12th, 2016. My current rating in chess960 is 1851 there, so in the next game I can break my previous rating record on the site. I think the first move from both players is a reasonable way to begin the game, galaxie-500 opened up the diagonal for one of his or her bishops while I bring my knight to the game. Already on move 2, however, my opponent went a bit astray with the move h3. The move h3 does not make much sense to me, it would be much more natural to play 2.d4, for example. Because of the passive move h3, I am able to reply with 2...c5 and open up a diagonal for the queen and for the bishop. On move 3 galaxie-500 plays d4, but now it is not as good of a move as it was on the previous move. This is mainly because I could take the d-pawn and follow-up with Ne6 gaining an important time for development. Because I value fast development quite highly, it would be quite clear to me that after the move 5.Qd1, I have to be better to some degree due to the fact that I have two pieces developed while my opponent has none. That being said, the fact that galaxie-500 has more space, balances the position to some extent.

I think the game continues with both players making reasonable developing moves and the next position where I need to be careful is when galaxie-500 plays 11.b3. My opponent intends to follow that up with Bb2 and maybe take on f6. Had I not seen this idea, the game could have been over quite quickly. Because I saw that idea, I decided that the best way to handle it is to locate my e6-knight to f8 and not worry about any mate threats on h7. For some reason galaxie-500 does end up taking on f6 with the bishop even though there is no clear follow-up anymore. Had I been playing with the white pieces, I would not have taken on f6 because there really is no benefit in doing so. Sure, the pawns get doubled, but it is not that dangerous. It actually just opens the e-file for my rook, so it can now take more active part to the game. Trading the bishop for the knight also gives me the bishop pair and the bishops are better in this position than the knights in my opinion. Especially when I open up my light-squared bishop with the move 14...dxc4. My opponent took back with the pawn probably because galaxie-500 wanted to avoid the pin that would happen if he or she took with the knight. I can't actually take advantage of that pin fast enough so that it would win material and maintaining the pawn structure was the better choice compared to pawn takes, which weakens the pawns a bit. I continue by pinning the knight on d4 and I maybe threaten to take on d4 twice and win a pawn. Galaxie-500 makes the game losing mistake as a reply to my threat and played N2f3. The better alternative was N2b3 which at least avoids the game continuation. I have added one analysed game to the following posts: C18 French Defense: Winawer Variation, Advance Variation #2, A00 Polish Opening: General, A20 English Opening: King's English Variation. General and A10 English Opening: Anglo-Dutch Defense. I have also added five mate in four puzzles today.

2 Mar 2016

Chess960 SP333

Chess960 SP333

For a change I share a chess960 game that was played at lichess.org. The time control for this game was 10+10, ten minutes as the basic time and 10 seconds were added to the clock with each move. This game starts with a shameful blunder from me and it was only due to me going for a desperate attack that ended up saving me from a really short loss. Had I looked the starting position more carefully, I might have started the game with 1.f4. The reason for choosing f4 over e4 is quite simple, with 1.f4 I would have opened up the diagonal for my bishop on g1, which would have also targeted the unprotected pawn on a7. Still, playing 1.e4 is not that bad, it does open the d1-h5 diagonal for my other bishop. Even after my opponent played 1...f5 I did not see the threat to the a-pawn, so I foolishly played 2.exf5. This has not been the only chess960 starting position where I have not only missed similar threat to the a-pawn but also been forced to give up the exchange as well. Despite those really bad starts, I did not lose either game. The first game where this happened ended up being a draw.

After I lost the exchange, I tried to develop my pieces as fast and efficiently as possible and maybe generate some attack while I am doing that. It was quite clear from the early moves that ephome would need to castle queenside as the kingside had been ripped to shreds. In case my opponent went to the queenside, the fact that the a-file is open and my bishop at h2 can actively eye on the queenside after the knight moves out of the way, gave me some play for the exchange. My compensation was quite good, but not enough and with correct play ephome should have won this game or at the very least drawn the game. There was also one akward thing in ephome's position, the knight on h8 could not come to the game so easily as long as my queen eyed on g6, or this was my assumption during the game anyway. It might have been too risky to take that pawn and open up another line of attack for my opponent. Luckily I did not face the choice between taking and not taking because I might have taken it just to balance the material a bit. It is interesting to me that Stockfish thinks that I have full compensation for the exchange by move 12. The problem piece for my opponent, the knight on h8 never moved from its initial square, which probably contributed to my compensation and for the fact that I won the game.

It was the moving of the other knight from b6 to c4 that cost ephome the game. The knight does not seem to be doing anything useful on c4, so I really do not understand that move. Maybe it wanted to continue to e5, but it was needed in the defense of the king. After my reply 14.Ra1, the game was pretty much over. There are two points in the remainder of the game that I want to point at. I was really happy to be able to make a move like 17.Nxb7 and realising that even though I am down the exchange, I can still seemingly offer more material for my opponent. Of course ephome could not take the knight or it would have been curtains at once with Qxa6+, Kb8 and Qa8#. It was better to take the a-pawn with the knight though, but my move is good enough. The other thing I wanted to point out from remainder of this game was the last move of the game. I do not remember anymore if I saw the possible reply Qb7+, but I should have won the game with relative ease even if the game had continued like that. I have added one analysed game to the following posts: D11 Slav Defense: Modern, C01 French Defense: Exchange Variation. Svenonius Variation, B59 Sicilian Defense: Boleslavsky Variation and B00 Owen Defense: General. I have also added one mate in two, three mate in three and one mate in four puzzle today.

1 Mar 2016

Chess960 SP17

Chess960 SP17

These two short games were played in a team match called FRIENDS OF CHESS 960 vs Chess960 RandomChess at Chess.com. The match is played on 22 boards between Friends of Chess and Chess960 RandomChess. I played on board 5 for Chess960 RandomChess. If my memory serves me right, this was the first time that I played in a match for Chess960 RandomChess. I am glad that I won both of my games, but the way these two wins came is not to my liking. These were timeout wins, caused by the fact that my opponent had the cheater badge next to his username. I am not sure how Chess.com has determined that my opponent has cheated, but I do not think that he cheated in these two games. The current score in the match is 6 - 19 in favor of Chess960 RandomChess. Even though the win is still not secured, the likelihood that we will win the match with ease should be quite high if the games that have already finished give any indication to the way this match is going to end. Admittedly predicting the final score to be in our favor might be a bit too premature.

I think this starting position is quite a nice one because it would seem that the development of the different pieces should be easy. Therefore I think that one could castle on either side though castling short is of course much easier. Both players start the game by opening diagonals for their bishops on d1 and d8. Then my opponent played 2.b3 and the bishop on the long diagonal is opened up. It also immediately attacks my pawn on e5, which I protect with the somewhat clumsy looking Bf6. My plan is to later on play g6 and put the bishop on g7. Maybe after the bishop has relocated itself to g7, I could play my knight to f6 depending on the situation on the board. I do not have time to play the g6, Bg7, Nf6 idea because JosephHmingsanga plays Nf3 increasing the pressure on the e5-pawn, which I now need to protect. I chose to protect the pawn by playing Nc6. It seems much better than playing d6, which would make the development of my knight on e8 a little bit more difficult. The next few moves are spent on logical developing moves until I play the move 8...Nf6. While my move does not lose the game, it was much better to play Qd8, for instance. The remainder of the game does not offer much for either player because my opponent did not play the correct reply to 8...Nf6, which would have been 9.d4. I have added one mate in one, two mate in three and two mate in four puzzles today.

Game number two. The game below started with the same first moves as my other encounter with JosephHmingsanga, but already on my second move I differ from the other game by playing Nf3. We end up in a Philidor Defense like position with the exception that the pieces behind the pawns are all messed up, except for the h-rooks and the b-knights. If this were a normal Philidor Defense position, I would continue with 3.d4, but as this is chess960, I played 3.b3 instead and opened up the long diagonal for my bishop. I think the first move that really does not look like a good idea to me is 4...c6. The reason for this is that it makes the bishop on a8 look more like a pawn than a bishop and it also occupies the square where I would like to place my knight if I were playing with the black pieces that is. It is probably not as bad of a move as I make it sound like, but it just does not seem right to me. The first mistake of the game is 5...exd4, which gives my knight a nice square on d4 from which it can jump to f5 and start to be a menace on the kingside. I do get my knight on the excellent square f5 on move 7, after which my opponent makes what should have been the losing move. For some reason I did not see far enough at this point and did not see the forced mate starting with 8.Qg5 instead of the game continuation. I am able to maintain my advantage until the end but I could have ended the game sooner with correct play.