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29 Apr 2016

B01 Scandinavian Defense: Portuguese Variation

B01 Scandinavian Defense: Portuguese Variation

It is time once again for the last post of the week. This time it has a game that was played in a team match called You like jengkol, too? The match consists of 93 boards and it is played between LullabyVisca and I like beer and Chess. I played on board 32 for LullabyVisca in this match and lost both of my games to ovoll. The match has not yet been decided, but it is quite close to that point. The current score in the match is 77 - 90 in favor of I like beer and Chess.

When I saw that ovoll played 2...Nf6 instead of just taking the pawn with the queen, I thought here we go again with this annoying line of the Scandinavian Defense had I continued with 3.c4 that is. I think then my opponent would have played 3...e6 and I have so bad experiences from that line that I thought it best to just play 3.d4 and give that pawn back without trying to keep it. Ovoll did not take that pawn back to my surprise and played 3...Bg4 instead and we reached the B01 Scandinavian Defense: Portuguese Variation. I have no recollection of playing this variation before, but then again I have lot of games to go through that might have this line somewhere, but I doubt it. I played 4.Be2 in order to maybe cath up in development, because I did not want to be left too far behind. I was quite okay with the way I played up to move 11.Nbd2, but there might have been some better moves before that position arised. Ovoll replied with 11...h6, which I saw as a mistake, because I can just take on h6 with the bishop. My opponent then decided to take on d2 with the knight. At that moment I experienced one of those brain malfunctions that I sometimes get and took the knight with my queen... I am not sure how much time had passed between me taking the pawn on h6 and the time I decided to make my 13th move in this game. No matter how long it had been, I had forgotten my bishop on h6 and that I could take on d2 with the bishop. That was the key moment in the game, I did try my best after this blunder, but I could not get enough counterplay for the material lost. Stay tuned for other silly losses, I have one in particular coming up sometime in the future that I finished 5 days ago that shows one other brain malfunction from me that resulted in a loss after a good game. I have added one analysed game to these three posts today: E72 King's Indian Defense: Pomar System, D02 Queen Pawn Game: Symmetrical Variation and A10 English Opening: Great Snake Variation. I have also added two mate in two, two mate in three and one mate in four puzzle. Until Monday, my fellow chess and chess960 enthusiasts!

28 Apr 2016

Chess960 SP887

Chess960 SP887

64 square madness that some of us call chess... Has now 1400 analysed chess games!! The 1300th game was added March 10th, so the madness keeps growing in a decent pace! Interestingly enough then the main post was called E04 Catalan Opening: Open Defense, Tarrasch Defense, to which I added one analysed game today. I have also noticed that my statistics keep getting worse over time. I remember a time when I had over 64% win rate in the games I had added to the blog, now it is only 57.64%. That being said, also the average rating of the people I play against has been steadily increasing in my correspondence games, which probably makes me lose games more frequently than in the past. Out of those 1400 games I have been able to get 807 (57.64%) wins, 149 (10.64%) draws and 444 (31.71%) losses. Those 1400 games feature 497 different opening variations and next week we shall see what the 500th opening variation will be.

This game was played at lichess.org a few days ago. I have a really bad score against 1800+ rated players at lichess and this game did not really improve those statistics. The basic time for this game was 10 minutes and 10 seconds were added to the clocks with each move. Lately when I have played these rapid chess960 games in order to get something to post on the blog, I have played really awful games and I think this one can be added to that list. I think I played well the first six moves, but then I started to make things too difficult for me... The problem started to be the e4-pawn, which I needed to defend in an awkward way. I think it would have been an easier position for me to play, had I just played 7.Nxe6+ instead of 7.Nf3, because the knight from e6 jumped annoyingly to f4 later on. Well, actually the move N1d2 was the one that started the problems for me because it allowed Nf4. Had I played 8.Qc1, I would not have needed to worry about Nf4 because my queen would have covered that square. The positions after this continued to favor my opponent until poh59 played 13...Bf5. According to Stockfish, I could have had an equal position had I played 14.Qf1. To me it looks a bit wierd move to make, but I guess it makes some sense because the knight on h3 has no good squares to go to and adding pressure to it seems like a good idea. After 17...O-O-O, I could have played 18.Nxf5 and I may have had a fighting chance in this game, but I decided to play 18.Kf1 because I did not want to allow Re8. However, after 18.Nxf5 Re8, I could play 19.Nxd6+, which would win the game for me. So, I was worried about Re8 for no good reason. Because I played Kf1, Re8 was a good move. I continued with the huge blunder Qh6, which lost the game very quickly. I have added one analysed game to these posts: D30 Queen's Gambit Declined: General, E04 Catalan Opening: Open Defense, Tarrasch Defense, D37 Queen's Gambit Declined: Three Knights Variation. General and D60 Queen's Gambit Declined: Orthodox Defense. I have also added one mate in two, one mate in three and three mate in four puzzles today.

27 Apr 2016

E09 Catalan Opening: Closed, Main Line

E09 Catalan Opening: Closed, Main Line

Today I have posted my over the board games again and the game below is one of those games. This game was played almost eight years ago at Hämeenlinna. This is the last round game I played in a weekend tournament there. On the first four rounds I had gathered 2 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss, so I was able to get to 3 points with this draw. It was a slightly positive score and due to that my rating increased from 1691 to 1704. With 3 points I was on shared fourth place in the final standings, but due to tie-break, I was on 10th place in the final list of names in group B. My opponent also finished with 3 points, but was on 7th place in the final standings. There are still a lot of games to go through before I can get to my latest over the board efforts. I will go through all the games I have the moves written down in one way or the other in this blog sooner or later, but I think it will still take a long time to get to my latest games from all the sources. That being said, I am posting more games on weekly basis than I finish, so I will eventually get there.

My opponent went a bit astray immediately after he deviated from theoretical lines. 8...Bd6 is a small mistake and it was better to play 8...b6, 8...b5 or 8...c5. I was not up to the task of maintaining my small advantage, but instead played 9.b3, so that I could fianchetto my bishop. It was better to go for 9.e4 or 9.Re1. These are only minor improvements to the moves and I only had a very small advantage until my opponent, Jarmo, blundered with 12...dxc4. This was my best chance to get a clear advantage, but of course I was completely ignorant of my chance and just went for the move that merely equalised the material. I should have played 13.Ng5 instead of the less eventful move 13.Qxc4. I was only able to gain a small advantage during the rest of the game, but even that I threw away and draw was agreed upon after 23...Bd7. I have added one analysed game to these three posts: A10 English Opening: Anglo-Dutch Defense, A10 English Opening: Great Snake Variation and C50 Italian Game: Italian Variation. I have also added two mate in one, two mate in three and one mate in four puzzle today.

26 Apr 2016

C55 Italian Game: Anti-Fried Liver Defense

C55 Italian Game: Anti-Fried Liver Defense

This game was played in a team match called Khamûl the Nazgûl. The match is played on 17 boards between Lord Of The Rings and Cafe Jasmin - Open 24/7. I am playing on board 3 for Lord Of The Rings. This has been a quite one-sided match because the current score in the match is 22 - 7 in favor of Lord Of The Rings. Then again we did have higher rated players on most boards, so this is pretty much the expected outcome. However, there have been some upsets too to make it more interesting. This will be quite convincing victory for us as soon as all the games are finished.

The move 3...h6 is not even considered theory in all sources, but Chess.com's opening explorer does recognise this opening variation. I remember vaguely playing that h6 move when I was still relatively new to chess, but later on I started playing 3...Bc5 and I have played it many times over the years. The move 3...h6 does stop any intrusion by a knight or a bishop, for instance, but it also feels a bit unnecessary. I think the two main moves here are 3...Bc5 and 3...Nf6, both of which I would prefer over h6. I think I have also played 3...Be7, which is probably also a better alternative than h6. Basically I am saying that I do not like that move. Because I think that my opponent's third move is a mistake, which takes a bit time off from development, I thought that I should maybe play as aggressively as possible and try to finish my development as soon as possible. Therefore I started with 4.d4. That move does two things, it opens up a diagonal for my dark-squared bishop and it also has a threat to win a pawn with dxe5 attached to it. I think that exd4 was the correct way to answer d4, but after I took back with the knight, my opponent went a bit astray in my opinion. He took on d4 the second time with the knight and after I recaptured with the queen, I had two pieces developed while my opponent did not have any. I also have the center under my control and I think these things should give me a clear advantage in the position. I was not winning just yet, but the position seemed very promising.

Nikdelhossein replied to 6.Qxd4 with 6...Nf6, which is probably a decent move in the position. I continued with O-O and then my opponent played Be7, which is understandable move because he wants to castle as soon as possible and had I just allowed him to castle, he might have been able to survive better. I played 8.e5 in order to disrupt those castling plans and kick the knight to a bad square. My opponent should have moved the knight because after 8...c5, the fate of the knight is sealed and it will be lost. This is because of the move 9.Qf4, which pins the knight to the f7-square. Had the knight moved, I would have taken on f7 with the queen ending the game immediately because of checkmate. Nikdelhossein tried the desperate 9...g5, but after 10.Qf3, I will be able to win a piece. 10...d5 does not help because of the following continuation 11.exf6 dxc4 12.fxe7. This meant that I was already in a winning position after my opponent blundered with 8...c5. I may not have played the rest of the game perfectly, but well enough to secure the win. I have added one analysed game to these two posts: D13 Slav Defense: Exchange Variation, A00 Polish Opening: General. I have also added two mate in two and three mate in four puzzles today.

On a completely unrelated note, I realised today that I am at least on four different sites at my peak rating! While my games at Chess.com have not been able to produce a new peak in Daily chess since January, 2009, I am at my peak at Red Hot Pawn with a rating of 1969, at ChessRex with a rating of 1755, at GameKnot with a rating of 1810 and maybe most importantly got my FICS standard rating to 2204 on April 16th, 2016!! The last one is special because it broke my previous online rating peak that used to belong to the rating I had achieved at Queen Alice Internet Chess Club. It is now the highest rating that I have been able to get on any site. I am the first one to admit though that there is some air in that rating and that it does not really portray my true skill level. However, the way that the ratings are calculated at the Free Internet Chess Server, it has made this possible. Then again I was very close to losing my last game there and I thought many times during the game, why did I made the challenge as a rated game... Had I lost that game, I would have probably lost a few hundred points I think. Even drawing that game would have drastically dropped my rating. Now I must go back to making moves in my correspondence games and if I have some time left today, I should also prepare for an important over the board game that I play tomorrow.

25 Apr 2016

C50 Italian Game: Giuoco Pianissimo, Canal Variation

C50 Italian Game: Giuoco Pianissimo, Canal Variation

This week starts with a game that was played in a team match between LullabyVisca and ΙRANIAN. This 95 board match has only two games left to finish and the current score in the match is 93 - 95 in favor of ΙRANIAN. I played on board 16 for LullabyVisca and won both of my games against afshar_khan. We need to win the remaining two games in order to tie the match, however, as this match has featured some players, who have a cheater badge next to their username, our team has 5 of them and ΙRANIAN has 6, the current score should be changed on the boards where those players were. Both players on board 1 have that badge and the score was 0 - 2 in favor of ΙRANIAN, so that should be changed to 1 - 1. On board 8, the score is 1 - 1, but due to the fact that the ΙRANIAN player has that badge, it should be changed 2 - 0 in our favor. On board 10 the score is 1 - 1, but it should be changed to 0 - 2 for ΙRANIAN, because our board 10 has that badge. On board 14, the score is correct, because the player who cheated lost both games on time. On board 18 the score is 2 - 0 in our favor but should be changed the other way around, on board 20 the score is 0 - 2 in favor of ΙRANIAN, but should be changed to 2 - 0 in our favor. Then on board 30, the score is already correct due to the same fact as on board 14. On board 31, the score is 2 - 0 in our favor, but should be changed to 0 - 2, on board 42 the score is 1.5 - 0.5 in our favor, but it should be changed to 0 - 2 in favor of ΙRANIAN. On board 94, the score is 0 - 2 in favor of ΙRANIAN, but should be changed to 2 - 0 in our favor. After all the changes, the score would be 92 - 96 in favor of ΙRANIAN. In case that score in the match is changed, then we have already lost the match.

The game below did go in a logical way up to the move 9...Bxd4 in my opinion. Then my opponent played a mysterious looking move 10.Rb1. If I were to answer by playing Bxc3, then my opponent could play bxc3 and the rook would be in a good square, but the problem with that is that I was not going to play Bxc3 because that move would only help afshar_khan. I replied to 10.Rb1 with c6 in order to control the square d5, so that the knight could not safely jump there. After the first twelve moves had been played, I started to think that I have good chances in this game. The game was probably quite even at this point in time. The first mistake of the game was played by my opponent on move 16, when he played h3. I can't remember if I considered Bxh3, maybe I have considered it, but was not sure about the consequences, so I did not play it. Now it seems like an obvious move to play. It would have won a pawn because taking the bishop is not a good idea in view of 16...Bxh3 17.gxh3 Qxh3+ 18.Kg1 Nxg3 19.Nxg3 Qxg3 and I would have been up two pawns. The queen can't be taken because the pawn on f2 is pinned by the bishop on b6. It was the best chance so far to gain an advantage in the game. The game continuation leads to a more even position.

On my 19th move I was not sure about the best plan and ended up playing a bad move because of it. I should have played 19...Kh7 instead of 19...d5. Afshar_khan was not able to find the best move, so the position became even once again. Then on move 21, my opponent blundered and I am able to take advantage of that blunder, at least at first. The move 21.Bc2 has the idea of d4+ in some positions, but after 21...f5 that check is no longer there and the bishop might not be so well placed on c2. It was better to play Re1, so that I am quite forced to play a defensive move like Bc7 or f6. After 22.a3, I had a great possibility to play f4 and if d4+, then play e4 and I would have a really good position. However, the game continued to be played in my favor until I made the move 27...e4. I did play some bad moves earlier that lessened my advantage, but after 27...e4, the game was brought fully into balance. My opponent went astray immediately after 27...e4 and played 28.Nf1. After that my opponent's position deteriorated and I should have been in a winning position until I played 49...Kf6 and my opponent could have been able to hold the draw with accurate moves. However, my opponent blundered with 50.g4 and I could have had a winning position again, had I played 50...Bxa3. The move Bxa3 was something that I thought about during the game, but I did not play it because I thought that I did not get a chance to play it in favorable circumstances. I did not think far enough and accurately enough unfortunately, because that would have easily won the game had I understood that the bishop can't be taken because either the pawn will promote or I am able to win some material. Instead of the easily winning continuation I went for the move 50...Kg6 and the position is about even again had my opponent replied accurately that is. Afshar_khan blundered with 51.Nh2 and I was again given the chance to play Bxa3 with an easy win to follow, but I did not see how easily it wins and played 51...a5 that should be enough to win the game, but I was making things unnecessarily difficult for me.

Finally I thought that I had seen a way to improve my position and go for the win with 54...e2, but again I was wrong and this should only be good enough for a draw. Again on that move, I should have played Ba3. It is shameful that I could not find it to be winning even though I considered the move already some moves earlier... The final losing move came when my opponent played 60.fxg4, after that move I did not blunder my advantage away, but instead I was able to maintain it to the end. I have added one mate in two, one mate in three and three mate in four puzzles today.

22 Apr 2016

A13 English Opening: Agincourt Defense #3

A13 English Opening: Agincourt Defense #3

The last post of the week has a game in which I tried to play the English again. I might have been better off, had I gone for 1.e4 instead. This game was played in a team match called "LIFE'S A TRIP ! ENJOY THE RIDE 2016! ". The match consists of 56 boards and is played between SHETOS and Chess Champ. I played on board 2 for Chess Champ and lost both of my games against promoteking. Luckily these two losses did not have a serious impact on the score because the score is at the moment 43 - 66 in favor of Chess Champ! Our other players were more capable of playing winning chess than me, so big thanks to them for securing our win in the match.

I quickly went through this game and could not see anything awful about my play, except near the end. Therefore I had to see what Stockfish thought about my moves. For about 17 moves I played decent moves, maybe some inaccuracies here and there, but the fact that after 17...g5 I played 18.Nh2 is something I am a bit ashamed of. I reacted to the aggressive pawn push with a passive move, so this is one of those things that went wrong for me in this game. Had I used a bit more time on thinking about the different possibilities, I would have discovered that I should have played 18.Nxg5! If 18...Nxg5, then 19.Bxb7 and I would have been in a much better position than after 18.Nh2. I am not even so sure why I played my knight to h2, maybe it was designed against g4. After that both players played quite well, only small mistakes were seen, until I played 32.Ba3. That was the move that started my downhill in this game that ended in my loss after the huge blunder 35.Ba3. Basically the same move first tipped the advantage clearly to my opponent and on the second time it was the final mistake that lost the game. I have added one mate in two, two mate in three and two mate in four puzzles today. Until Monday, my fellow chess enthusiasts!

21 Apr 2016

C36 King's Gambit Accepted, Modern Defense

C36 King's Gambit Accepted, Modern Defense

The game below was played in a team match called Active Turn-Based Tournament Players vs The Bobby Fischer Group. There is an extra The in front of the Bobby Fischer Group, but otherwise the team names were correct in the name of the match. I played on board 15 for Active Turn-Based Tournament Players and in addition to this loss, I won my other game against Retsam100, against whom I have played 4 games at Chess.com. I have been able to get 2 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss in those four games. The match consists of 61 boards and the current score in the match is 77 - 36 in favor of Active Turn-Based Tournament Players. We have secured the win quite clearly, but then again we were able to have higher rated players on most boards, so it is not that surprising.

Another variation of the King's Gambit and bad results stay the same, I lose more often than not. I thought I would try 3...d5 for the first time in this game instead of the more common reply from me 3...d6, which would signify the opening as C34 King's Gambit Accepted, Fischer Defense. Maybe it would have been more appropriate to play the Fischer Defense, considering our opponent in this match. Since this was my first game in this line, I was not at all certain how to best develop my pieces. I did play 4...Nc6, but it seemed during the game that it was not a good choice because the pin by the bishop later on became quite annoying. I guess I could have gone for the greedy 4...g5, but I have tried to play against the different varitions of the King's Gambit in a less greedy and more solid way, so I did not go for that. However, it may have been the best option. The move 4...Nc6 is also a decent move, but my 5th move is maybe not so good anymore. I probably should have played 5...g5 and not give that f4 pawn so easily. I am not so confident that the best square for my bishop is on g4, I may need it to go to d7 later on. During the game, the move Bg4 looked like a good move and I wanted to get myself castled as soon as possible to the queenside. After 6.c3, I should have definitely replied with 6...f6, but such a move I did not even consider because it is usually a bad idea to open the center while your king is on the center. When Retsam100 played 8.Bb5, I started to consider moves like e6, followed by Ne5 for my opponent and therefore traded my bishop to the knight. The idea that I was thinking was not going to happen anytime soon, so I may have traded off those pieces a bit too early, especially since that trade seemed to only benefit my opponent...

After 9.Qxf3, I quickly ran into trouble. The move I chose in reply was the starting point of my final downhill in this game. I did my best to hold the position and the material balance, but after 19.h3, I just could not think of any useful moves and played the horrible 19...Bxf6, which loses a pawn from d5 because my opponent took back with a pawn, which kicked my knight that defended that pawn away. Maybe I could have played 19...h5, 19...Kb8 or something and just waited what my opponent does. Those two moves probably would have kept the material balance and the possibility of me turning things around alive. I guess the reason why I played Bxf6 was that I wanted to reroute my knight from e7 via f5 to d6. The idea might have been bad, but atleast I got my knight to a better square or so I thought anyway. However, it was not worth it to get my knight there and lose that pawn in the process. Then again after 21.Qxd5, I could have played 21...Nxb4 and I might have been able to hold that position. I traded queens instead and after that the game was pretty much over, I was only able to make my position even worse by playing 23...Nd6 and allowed 24.Ne7+. I maybe should have resigned around that point, but I wanted to see a few more moves and maybe come up with some counterplay. I was not able to do so as my opponent played well and I had to accept that my resistance was futile after 36.Re5 was played. I have added one analysed game to my post Chess960 SP39. I have also added two mate in two and three mate in three puzzles today.

20 Apr 2016

D21 Queen's Gambit Accepted: Rosenthal Variation

D21 Queen's Gambit Accepted: Rosenthal Variation

The game you are about to see was played in a team match called "A Live Wire Static Thematic". This thematic match is played on 14 boards between LIVE WIRE and The Night's Watch at Castle Black. I am playing on board 4 for The Night's Watch at Castle Black. The current score in the match is 15.5 - 9.5 in favor of LIVE WIRE. We have lost four games on time, which is too much, especially in a small team match such as this. LIVE WIRE has lost two games on time and the difference of even those two timeout losses is the matter of winning or losing this match, which is quite disappointing. This game does not have the usual reference games because the game started from Black's second move.

If I were to play this game again, I would probably play 4.Nc3 instead of 4.Qa4+. It is actually not so bad of a move, but I do not really like the way that the game continued after that. There are also other moves later on that I would not play now. The next move I would like to change is my 7th move, instead of e4 I would prefer to play Bg5. After the bishop is out of the pawn chain, I would continue with the plan e3, followed by either Be2 or Bd3, depending on what my opponent does and then castle short. I think that way of playing would have saved me from some of the trouble I faced in this game. In the game, my dark-squared bishop was not an active piece. It would have been much better posted on g5 earlier in the game. Not only was my bishop badly placed on b2, but my queen did not find a good square either and I had to move it a lot of times during the first 15 moves. Playing my queen to g4 on move 15 was asking for trouble as the queen seems to be low on squares. I had a plan of taking on g6 with my bishop after I had played 17.e5, but for some reason I was a bit afraid to do that after 17...Bb7 because after 18.Bxg6 I thought that my opponent would play Bxf3 and after I take back with the pawn, Iacopo could play Rg8. I missed a very important in-between move that would have made the line work. After 18.Bxg6 Bxf3, I could play 19.Bxf7+ and it would be an easy win after that. I know that I should look these kind of moves, but I am maybe a bit too lazy to go deep enough in the different possibilities. I may rely too much on my intuition, even though I know it is more often than not wrong and I would find much better moves if I just spent more time thinking about the moves. I think that the continuation starting with Bxg6 was my best and only chance during this game to take the full point.

My idea of Ne4 to c5 was not as good as I had thought, after 19...Bxc5, I end up with a backward pawn on d4 because I did not want to play dxc5 in view of Ndf4. I did end playing the losing move soon after that on move 21. I was too protective of my bishop and did not consider that Ne2+ in reply to my move Bc2 would be so strong. I shoud have, of course, just defended the bishop with Rfd1 and I would have been in an okay position. I have added one analysed game to the following posts: Chess960 SP180, C64 Spanish Game: Classical Variation, A30 English Opening: Symmetrical Variation. General and B00 Nimzowitsch Defense: Kennedy Variation. Linksspringer Variation. I have also added one mate in two, two mate in three and two mate in four puzzles today.

19 Apr 2016

C25 Vienna Game: Max Lange Defense

C25 Vienna Game: Max Lange Defense

This game was played in atadros's mini-tournament V at GameKnot. This high-stakes mini-tournament consists of 11 players. I am currently on 10th place with 2.5 points. My opponent in the game below, john_wr, is on 7th place with 6 points. I have three games currently in progress in this mini-tournament and 7 games have not even started yet. If I win all of those 10 games, I will be able to tie in points with the player who is currently on 2nd place, but it would mean that the player who is on 2nd place could not get a single point out of the 5 remaining games he has left. It would be very unlikely for me to win all of my remaining games due to the fact that I am one of the lowest rated players in this mini-tournament. Actually only two players are lower rated than me at the moment. A player called foogie1 (2251) is currently on 1st place with 14 points and he has three games left to finish. The only threat to foogie1's mini-tournament victory is desaparicidos (2056), who is currently on second place. Desaparicidos can actually overtake foogie1 by a half a point even if both players win all of their remaining games.

I felt that this game started to go wrong for me as early as move 3. I regretted the move 3...Bb4 almost immediately as I started to see what my opponent was up to. While the moves 4.Qg4 and 5.Qf3 were certainly annoying, I did not think that I would be in huge trouble just yet. Admittedly I was somewhat worried of the move Nd5 at a convenient moment, well convenient for my opponent that is. I think I should be okay after 6...O-O, but the moves d3 and 8.Bg5 were constantly on my mind, because getting the bishop to g5 could have caused really big problems for me. I was somewhat happy to see my opponent play 7.h3, because it did not seem as dangerous to me as 7.d3 would have been. I replied with 7...Nd4, which I thought might lead to some beneficial trades from my point of view. However, I am not so sure if Nd4 was such a good move. It does basically force my opponent to play Nxd4 and I obviously need to play exd4 in order to maintain the material balance, but the problem is that I have now doubled pawns on the d-file. The doubled d-pawns are not my biggest problem though. It is the continuation d3, Bg5 and e5. I think I should be able to defend against that but it seemed quite bad for me during the game. After 8...exd4 john_wr played Nb5, which is better than Nd5 because to Nd5 I would have replied with Nxd5, after which I should be okay. Nb5 does cause me some problems. I thought about Bc5 and c5 during the game as a possible answers, but rejected Bc5 because I thought that the bishop is needed on b4 to pin the d-pawn so that the idea d3, followed up with Bg5 would be delayed at least for the time being. C5 has a problem attached to it as well, it blocks the diagonal for my bishop on b4, so that it can't go back to e7 for defensive purposes.

I think I defended reasonably until I played 16...Nh5. The purpose of the Nh5 move was to stop my opponent from playing f4 and Bg3 ideas. Then again I am not sure if there was anything better to play. I know though that my 17th move was the move that cost me the game, without that blunder I might have had chances for a draw. After the moves Bxf6 and Qxd7 I felt that I was quite lost, but continued on even though my position was not all that promising in view of counterplay possibilities. The game went further and further down the drain for me and I had to accept the loss after 24.f6+ because I saw only easy wins for my opponent at that point. I have added one analysed game to my post B58 Sicilian Defense: Classical Variation. I have also added one mate in two and four mate in three puzzles today.

18 Apr 2016

Chess960 SP39

Chess960 SP39

This week starts with a post that contains at the moment one chess960 game, but will have another game later this week. The game below was played at lichess.org and it had 25 minutes as the basic time and there was a 10 second increment. The time controls were longer than I am used to playing chess960 on one sitting. This was because I accepted the challenge that was offered by my opponent. For some reason or the other I could not really make myself think about my moves in this or in the rematch that was played after this game for a long time. It did not really have a negative effect on the results, because I won both games, but I did not really feel that I was in the best possible shape.

This game started so badly that I was convinced that I will end up losing this game. I think the game went well for me until I played 6...Qd6. I did look at some of the knight moves from my opponent as a reply, but for some reason did not realise how annoying move 7.Nb5 actually was. I wanted to castle queenside, but I would have needed to play a6 before Qd6 because without a6 I am forced to waste a couple of moves. 7.Nb5 basically forced me to go back to d8 with the queen because all other squares are even worse. Then my opponent played 8.Bf4 and that forced me to play my knight back to a8 in order to avoid material loss. I was really annoyed at that moment of the way I had played up to that point. Actually I should be very close to losing after 8...Na8. There should not have been a way to climb back to the game, but sometimes I just get lucky. RUSSLAN2014 continued with Qd3 with the intention of castling queenside. I replied with a6 in order to drive the knight back and get my knight back into play. For some reason or the other, after my opponent had moved the knight away, I castled and not developed the knight from a8 to b6. I am actually not sure if castling short in this particular position achieves anything useful. It probably does not make much difference if the king is on g8 and the rook is on f8 or vice versa. After both sides had castled, I finally planted my knight back to b6 where it was a few moves earlier. Somehow I was able to get into a decent position after the horrible start.

By the way, I am not looking at the computer evaluations while I type this and neither did I look them when I typed about the other games that I have posted today. I feel that looking what the engine thinks restricts me too much and what I type is not so interesting as a result. I think I will keep doing posts like this in the future too. What I type before the game is based on my thoughts and what the engine thinks can be found in the replayable game. I should have adopted this way of doing things from the beginning of this blog, but back then it was not so clear to me how I want to make these posts. If I had the time, I would redo my older posts and improve them. Anyway, back to the game. RUSSLAN2014 played the mysterious looking move 12.f3 in response to the move Nb6. I have no idea why my opponent played that move, it does not seem to have any purpose on what my opponent does in the remainder of the game. It may prepare the move e4, but for some reason RUSSLAN2014 did not play it. I replied with g6, in order to get my bishop developed. After Bh6 and the trade of bishops, it seems quite clear to me that when I played O-O, it was just a waste of time because I would have ended up in a similar position had I played g6 instead of O-O. After I recaptured the bishop with Kxg7, my opponent started to push the h-pawn aggressively towards my king. Then I played Qd6 for the second time in this game, this time the queen was not to be kicked back because the b5 square was covered by the pawn on a6. RUSSLAN2014 continued with pushing the g-pawn one square forward preparing h5, I guess. Moving the g-pawn does weaken the f4-square where I planted my queen with a check as a reply. That check should not have been that dangerous, but the way RUSSLAN2014 answered it made it the beginning of the end for my opponent. RUSSLAN2014 played 17.Nd2 without realising that the queen on d3 has no squares to which it can go. I took advantage of that fact and played Nb4. After I saw that move, I knew that I was going to win this game. The rest of the game was just matter of technique. I have added one analysed game to the following posts: E24 Nimzo-Indian Defense: Saemisch Variation. Accelerated, B32 Sicilian Defense: Kalashnikov Variation, C25 Vienna Game: Vienna Gambit and B40 Sicilian Defense: French Variation, Normal. I have also added one mate in one, one mate in three and three mate in four puzzles today.

Game number two. This is my second game against RUSSLAN2014. This was a rematch offered by my opponent. Even though I only wanted to play one game with these time controls, I accepted the offer for a rematch because I thought that as the first game did not last that long, maybe this will not last that long either. At the end of the first game, my clock showed 18 minutes 53 seconds still left and RUSSLAN2014's clock showed 11 minutes 41 seconds left on the clock. At the end of this game, my clock showed 21 minutes 59 seconds, while RUSSLAN2014's clock showed 6 minutes 47 seconds. More often than not if I use less time on the moves than my opponent, then it usually has a negative effect on my results, I have noticed this especially in over the board games. This time, however, it did not matter. I opened this game with 1.g3 because in our first game I noticed that the check on h3 or h6 is really annoying in this starting position, so I thought it best to prevent it by opting to immediately open the long diagonal for my bishop. Had my opponent replied with 1...d5, I would have played 2.Bg2 and prevented Bh3 causing annoyance. RUSSLAN2014 played 1...Nc6 instead, so I thought that I can now play 2.d4 and play Bh6+ in case of g6 and trade the dark-squared bishops. RUSSLAN2014 played 2...d5, so I played the move that I had planned against it, Bg2. RUSSLAN2014 continued with g6, which I replied almost immediately with Bh6+ and traded the potentially dangerous bishop after Bg7 was played. I think the position remained quite even until my opponent played 8...Nxe5. It loses a pawn, but I am not sure how bad that loss is because the engine seems to think that RUSSLAN2014 has sufficient compensation for the pawn and that the position is dead even.

During the game I was happy to get that extra pawn and thought that it could be enough to win the game, but as the following moves showed, it was not going to be easy. That is because after 11.Qd4 Qxd4 12.Nxd4 it seemed that I will lose a pawn back. There was, of course, the funny possibility of Ne2# as well, but I luckily did spot that move and did not lose the game. The best reply to Nc4 was in my opinion O-O-O, but even in that case I will lose the e2-pawn due to c5 kicking my knight away. I thought that my best option after c5 was to play b3, in order to have the ability to play Rd2 in response to Rxe2. The knights were traded off and I had to double my pawns on the c-file. I was not that confident of my chances, but I thought that I might get that d4-pawn and maybe be up a pawn again. I might not have been able to get that pawn had my opponent played 16...Rxd2, followed by Rd8. I thought that it would have been RUSSLAN2014's best chance, but my opponent did not agree with me. After I played Bf3, RUSSLAN2014 moved the rook to e7, which I was happy to see because I could take on d4 and be up a pawn once again. Maybe Rxd2 here was a better alternative and not give the pawn for free. After I won the pawn, the game became much easier to play and after 20...Bxd5 21.cxd5 I was quite confident that I can win the game. RUSSLAN2014 resigned after 40.h4 because I will either get to promote my h-pawn or my d-pawn while my opponent has no real counterplay.

15 Apr 2016

Chess960 SP251

Chess960 SP251

I am not sure why I kept playing this game for so many moves. I guess I was hoping that my opponent would mess up, but it never happened. Also it was hard for me to believe that someone rated nearly 600 points less than me can be crushing me in this game so badly. I expected to see at least some horrible blunders by my opponent to justify the low rating of 1273, but those blunders never happened. You can judge for yourselves, but I think juozaskaz played much better chess960 than a player of that rating usually plays. Then again, I did play some really bad moves that were not that hard to take advantage of. I am probably happy with the three first moves that I made, but after that my decision making was far from ideal. I mean 4.Ba5 is a rather silly move to make. It is probably just a waste of time after the reply 4...b6. When it came time to consider what to play on move 6, I was not at all certain what I should do. I was rather disappointed with my decision to play that Ba5 move and now there did not seem to be that great moves to play. I ended up playing Bg2 for no other reason than have the possibility to play Bh3 maybe some day and that the bishop is slightly better placed at g2 than on h1, but most likely no real difference between the two. I should have gone for the more active looking e4 and maybe I even consider it, but for some reason rejected the idea. Already after 6.Bg2 my opponent started to be slightly favored.

On move seven it was starting to be really hard to think of anything decent to play. I played e3 because I needed to defend the d-pawn and at the time it seemed like the best way to do it, even though it makes it very hard for me to develop my knight. At this point I would have really liked to play 6.e4 instead of 6.Bg2, because it would be much easier position for me to play. I did not have a clear plan and played 8.Qf3 knowing that the queen is akwardly placed there, but could not think of anything better. At this point I did not even consider the possibility that my queen could get trapped. Only later on I discovered how low on squares my queen actually was. I was able to save my queen, but only by giving pawns, so that my queen would have squares to go to. I can't understand why I did not play 10.h4, but instead played the horrible move Bc3. After 10...Ng5 I knew that I am most likely going to lose this game. I did continue on because of my opponent's low rating. After 11...Nge6, I could have just gone for Qf3 and I should be happy at this point to get a draw by repetition, not that my opponent would go for that. I was actually thinking during the game that 11...Nce6 would be extremely annoying move to meet, so I was somewhat happy to see Nge6. I would have played 12.Qf3 had I seen what my opponent is going to do next. After 12...Be2 I was pretty certain that my queen gets trapped, at which point I would have seriously considered of resigning this game. For the rest of the game I was waiting for a mistake from my opponent that could allow me back into the game, but juozaskaz played very well and did not give me any chances to get back into the game. This game was pretty much lost after 10...Bf3, but the game lasted 41 moves, much longer than it should have, considering how much material I was down before move 41. I have added two analysed games to my post A20 English Opening: King's English Variation. General and one analysed game to these two posts: C64 Spanish Game: Classical Variation. Charousek Variation and A15 English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense. Mikenas-Carls Variation. I have also added one mate in two, two mate in three and two mate in four puzzles today. Until Monday, my fellow chess960 and chess enthusiasts and huge thank you for all the people who have come here to view this blog!

14 Apr 2016

Chess960 SP93

Chess960 SP93

After I had updated three of my old posts, I realised that I did not have the chess960 game ready for this main post. Then I thought that I will play some quick games in the chess960 pool at ICC, so that I have enough time to analyse the game before this day ends. I spent a few minutes on that pool queing up for a game, but was not able to get a game fast enough, so I thought that I would give the live chess section at Chess.com a try and see if I can get a 10 minute game of chess960 played there. The game you see below was my first rapid chess960 game at Chess.com. Most likely more will come later on, but the chess960 game that I am sharing tomorrow was played at lichess.org. I think this was a good game from me, there were only a couple of moves of mine I did not like after I made them.

I started the game with e4 and I did consider that move almost too long as I noticed that there is a timer on these games that if a player does not make the first move quick enough, then the game is aborted. That timer is for both players and actually my opponent moved basically on the second that the game would have been aborted. Luckily nVaynard moved just in time so that the game did not end on move 1. The move e4 opens up a diagonal for my bishop and takes a precence in the center. My opponent replied with 1...d6, which to me looks a bit wierd and I do not really understand the reason behind this move. I continued with a normal developing move 2.Nc3, which it seems I thought about almost 17 seconds. Nowadays they show much time players use for their moves in the live chess section of the site. Well, on the newer version of the site, you can still play on the old version too if you like, but I have switched mainly to the new version. Anyway, back to the game, nVaynard played 2...f5, which may be a small mistake even though I did like it during the game. I continued with f4, though I also thought about just taking on f5 as well. I thought that it is better to open a diagonal for my other bishop than take on f5 and lose a bit of the precence in the center. My opponent took the pawn on e4 next, which was probably a good idea. After I took back with my knight, I thought that the move 4...g5 would be good for my opponent as it threatens two pawns at the same time, the one on f4 and the one on b2. I thought that I would lose a pawn here because I can't play fxg5 due to Qxb2 is too strong and annoying. I was very happy to see 4...Bd5 because there I could just play Nc3 and there were no immediate problems anymore.

Sometimes the after game analysis reveals some really silly mistakes and this game is one example of those, because it seems I just merrily played 6.Bd4 without realising that I could have just taken on a7... I guess the fact that I mostly play chess has a negative impact on my chess960 games. In chess that a7 pawn is protected this early on by a rook, so the idea that there are starting positions where that is not the case, sometimes eludes me. I have played a few chess960 games where I have been playing with the black pieces and allowed my opponent to take a free pawn on a7. I think some things are just so rooted in my mind that I can't seem to shake them off in these chess variants. For that reason I should increase the amount of chess960 games I play and train my brain to look beyond the old patterns. Okay, after seeing the mistakes I made in this game, I am not at all happy with the way I played this game. Not taking on a7 I might still accept, but not the fact that I did not see that 7.Bh5+ just wins the game... I did move the bishop on my 7th move, but passively instead of aggressively. I think I saw the Bh5+, but dismissed the idea because of g6 as a reply... I forgot that my other bishop makes that move very undesirable. I really should start to pay more attention to the board and think my options more thoroughly. I did have a few times after that where I was able to gain an advantage and lose it again until nVaynard blundered with 20...Qe8. With that move nVaynard went from an equal position to being clearly worse. I was able to handle the rest of the game with enough accuracy to take the full point. I have added one analysed game to the following posts: C44 Scotch Game: Scotch Gambit. London Defense, C45 Scotch Game: Classical Variation, D00 Queen Pawn Game: General and A36 English Opening: Symmetrical Variation. Symmetrical Variation. I have also added one mate in one, two mate in two, one mate in three and one mate in four puzzle today.

13 Apr 2016

Chess960 SP182

Chess960 SP182

The game below was played at lichess.org on April 10th, 2016. This is my latest win I have been able to get there and the last game that was part of my winning streak there. That streak lasted for 12 games, which is also the longest winning streak I have had there. I have now played 46 games at lichess and all of them are chess960 games. I might start to play other chess variants there too, but I do not think that it will happen any time soon. The game below had a basic time of 10 minutes and with each move 10 seconds were added to the clock. This game had a peculiar start. My move 1.d4 is still a normal looking move, but my opponent's reply 1...h5 is not. I am not sure what the point of the move is. It may later on help to develop the queen, but other than that I think it is a bad move. I replied with 2.g3 in order to open the long diagonal for my queen. Considering what my opponent played on move two, I might have been better off had I played 2.e4 instead. Lucianolop played 2...g5 and if I had played 2.e4, I could now play 3.Be3. Then again, I could have played 3.Nb3 in the game continuation and leave the e-pawn free to go to e4 next turn. That might have been better than playing 3.e3, because the pawn now restricts the scope of the bishop a bit. Lucianolop continued making moves that I would probably never play in these kind of positions, 3...g4 and 4...Bh6.

I think the way I developed my pieces is a more natural one than the way my opponent did things. That being said, I think 7.Bg2 was not a good idea from me and maybe I should have played my bishop to d3 instead. Also castling long was certainly a good option on move 7. One reason why 7.Bg2 might be bad is because it allows 7...Bf5. Had I played 7.Bd3, then 7...Bf5 would not have been an option. I think I continued a bit too much on the trade pieces line, because around move 20 I felt that I have simplified the position a bit too much to have good winning chances. The position looked quite drawish already. On lucianolop's 21st move something strange happened that reenabled my winning chances, lucianolop played 21...d5 and did not even try to take that pawn back. I was now up a pawn and it seemed to me that I can hold on to that extra pawn and make something good of that pawn. The move 21...d5 was the starting point for my opponent's downhill in this game. While the way I handled the game on the remaining moves was not ideal, I was able to play accurately enough to ensure my victory. I have added one analysed game to the following posts: C88 Spanish Game: Closed, B83 Sicilian Defense: Scheveningen Variation, Modern Variation #3, C50 Italian Game: Italian Variation and Chess960 SP33. I have also added one mate in one, one mate in three and three mate in four puzzles today.

12 Apr 2016

B19 Caro-Kann Defense: Classical Variation, Seirawan Variation

B19 Caro-Kann Defense: Classical Variation, Seirawan Variation

Chess960 may have been the dominating feature of these posts of mine lately, but now the center stage belongs to chess at least for today. The rest of the week and early next week these posts will contain more starting positions from chess960. The game you can view below was played in a team match called Match Name: TMCL 2016 R1 Sub-Div. A2. It is played between Chess Unlimited and LATINO on 136 boards. I played on board 21 for Chess Unlimited and in addition to this win, I lost my other game against mchang1229. The current score in the match is 106.5 - 151.5 in favor of LATINO, so even if I had also won my other game, it would not have made much of a difference to the score and the winner of the match would still be LATINO. However, it all adds up to the grim score from our point of view.

The game below featured its first mistake when my opponent played 20...gxf6. Taking with the pawn is the incorrect capture because now I can play my rook to g4 and get the g-file under my control and even in some case threaten to play Rg7 after I have kicked the knight from d5 with c4, for instance, and I would be close to winning the game. Mchang1229 blunders a second time in a row with 21...Rdf8 and after 22.Rg6 I should have the winning advantage and even during the game I was feeling confident of my chances to win after I saw that the pawn on h6 will fall. The position goes further down the drain for my opponent with his next move, but I did not play the best reply 23.Bxh6, but I instead took with my rook. My move should be good enough too, but taking with the bishop would have been better. The remainder of the game went firmly in my control and the only real possibility for me losing the game would have been on move 40, had I foolishly played my king to b5 and allowed a mate in one. I have added one analysed game to these two posts: A45 Trompowsky Attack: Classical Defense. Big Center Variation and B54 Sicilian Defense: Modern Variations. I have also added one mate in two, one mate in three and three mate in four puzzles today.

11 Apr 2016

Chess960 SP482

Chess960 SP482

Today I will share two chess960 games in this same post. Both of these games were played in a team mach called 2.) 1/2/2016. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016. It is played between MY FRIENDS, International, Moji prijatelji&Φίλοι μου and ♦♦ Respect ♦♦. The match consists of 11 boards and I played on board 2 for MY FRIENDS, International, Moji prijatelji&Φίλοι μου. I did end up winning both of these games, but the only reason I was able to do so was the fact that my opponent lost both games on time. Had the games continued, the result of these games would have been much grimmer from my point of view. The results of these two games did not have any impact on which club would be winning the match after all games have finished, because that had already been decided in our favor. The score in the match is 16 - 4 in favor of MY FRIENDS, International, Moji prijatelji&Φίλοι μου.

The game below started with both players making reasonable moves up to White's 6th move. My opponent, athistamravindran, did play the first few moves quite aggressively, which occasionally can be a good way to play against me. However, the move 6.Rc3 is no longer a good idea because the rook lift does not help my opponent in any way, actually it is just in the way of the bishop that is located at a1. I had some good replies to 6.Rc3, but I did not play any of them. Qc7 was an okay move, but not the best option. 6...Ne7 or 6...b6 were better alternatives. Athistamravindran chose to play 7.Ne3, which is a small inaccuracy. I was maybe slightly better until I went astray with 8...Be7 and the position became more even again. The advantage shifted back to me immediately as my opponent blundered with 9.h4. I do not really understand the reason why my opponent chose to play this move. Maybe the idea was to push that pawn all the way to h6 and maybe open the h-file for the attack, but at the moment that idea is easy to stop. I replied with h6 because I wanted to drive that annoying knight away and maybe castle short. I thought that castling long would be the riskier option. Athistamravindran moved the knight to h3, probably to avoid trading to one of my knights, but this is not a good decision, it was better to move the knight to e4 where it is more centralized. In the game continuation I have a clear advantage according to Stockfish in this after game analysis. The game went on in my favor until I made a huge blunder on my 16th move. For some reason I did not consider the possibility of 17.Nf2, which shows the error of my ways. It was really silly of me to go for 16...Qxh4+, but these things happen when I do not have enough time to look at positions in my correspondence games. For the rest of the game, my opponent had the winning advantage, but for some reason or the other did not move on time. I have added one analysed game to these three posts: E44 Nimzo-Indian Defense: Fischer Variation, B84 Sicilian Defense: Scheveningen Variation. Classical Variation and C11 French Defense: Classical Variation. Delayed Exchange Variation. I have also added two mate in two, two mate in three and one mate in four puzzle today.

Game number two. In this game we see a different approach to play with the white pieces than in the first game. There is nothing really wrong with this one either and actually I was able to get some advantage after a few moves had been played. Actually after 6...Qd6 I should be clearly better. For some reason my opponent wants to bring the queen early into the game, which usually does not work out that well. With either 7.Nc3 or 7.Ne3 I could have gotten more out of the position than with the passive 7.d3, but I am just trying to maintain material balance and not give my opponent pawns, even if I would get some compensation out of it. My opponent followed with two bad moves in a row, 7...Qe6 and 8...Qg4. Athistamravindran is just trying to attack with a queen and a knight and perhaps with the bishop if the long diagonal opens up. The h-rook can also join the attack if the h-file is opened up. After Qg4 I could have been in a winning position if I had played accurately, but instead I played slightly into my opponent's hands with Nxg5. After 9.Nxg5 the position is only slightly favorable to me.

The next noticeable shift in the advantage came when my opponent played 11...Nf6, after which I should be clearly better. During the game I did not really feel that my position is all that comfortable to play as I felt that I am on the defensive side of the board. Couple of inaccurate moves later the position is even again after the move 13.Bxf6. For the first time during this game my opponent starts to be on the favorable side after my move 14.Ng4. It is a rather silly move, but I could not come up with anything better, my other option was to play Qb2, but I thought that it would not be as good as Ng4, so I played that instead. I was, of course, wrong in my assumption. I did end up in a losing position after 18.Kh1, but like in our other game, my opponent did not make another move in this game and lost on time. Therefore I was very lucky to win both of these games that I could have just as well lost.

8 Apr 2016

Chess960 SP391

Chess960 SP391

The last post of the week features a game that was played in a team match called Total 960 vs Kopaonik. It is played on 85 boards and I am playing on board 19 for Kopaonik. The winner of the match has already been decided as the current score is 86.5 - 72.5 in favor of Total 960. The game below started with me pushing the e-pawn to e4 again prefering to take a presense in the center with a pawn instead of opening diagonals for my bishops. I could have just as well played 1.d4, I am not sure which one I prefer as both moves have their downsides. Maybe 1.g3 would have been also an option I would have gone for as my first move. My opponent replied with 1...g6 and it is somewhat annoying move because it stops me from playing b3 for awhile and getting my queen activated on the long diagonal. That being said, also 1.b3 might be something that I consider of playing in my future games in this or similar starting positions. I continued with 2.Nf3 because I want to play d4 and try to restrict the scope of the dark-squared bishop that resides in h8. My plan of playing d4 on my next move is halted by KingsBishop's reply b6, which opens the diagonal for his queen, which attacks the e4-pawn. At that moment I thought that my handling of the first moves might not have been the best. I played 3.d3 in order to protect e4 because there really is not a better way to protect that pawn, Nc3 might be answered with Bxc3 followed by queen taking on e4. On his third move KingsBishop played Bb7, which is not an ideal move, because it allows me to play 4.Bh6+ and trade the dark-squared bishops. That is true in case my opponent does not want to play 4...Ng7, which looks very bad and can't be recommended. After the trade of the bishops, the position is about even.

Maybe for the first time during this game, the position started to slightly favor me after my opponent castled on move six. Or it would have been favoring me, had I played 7.Ne5 in response to castles. I just played 7.g3 in order just to open the diagonal for the bishop. I was given the opportunity to play Ne5 again on the following turn, but again I did not see its benefits, so I played the more passive Nd2 instead. The game continued without any major mistakes up to my 25th move, which actually gives my opponent a clear advantage. I guess I was playing with too much of a risk, because KingsBishop could have played 25.Qh5+ and I would have been in bigger problems than in the game continuation. Admittedly I did not see Qh5+ possibility during the game or if I did, I did not see the danger that would have been related to it. The game started to look an awful lot like a draw to me after the trade of queens, but of course there was still some problems to be solved. I guess the king and pawn ending showed that I need to get more familiar with these kind of endings because I had chances to win this, had I played it correctly after the blunder 27...d5. I am a bit ashamed that I did not see the possibility to play 30.c4 or first play g4 and then c4 and be winning in that position. I should have even considered that move, but for some reason I did not and even was happy to get the draw after I offered it on move 31. If I were to make excuses for this sloppy ending, then I would mention that the time of day when I make moves in my correspondence games has been mostly a little bit before I go to sleep. It really is not the best time to do that but I do not see it changing all that much in the near future because other things in my life seem to take most of the day. I have added one analysed game to the following posts: B27 Sicilian Defense: Hyperaccelerated Pterodactyl, E24 Nimzo-Indian Defense: Saemisch Variation. Accelerated, D02 Queen Pawn Game: Symmetrical Variation. Pseudo-Catalan and C18 French Defense: Winawer Variation. Classical Variation. I have also added one mate in one, one mate in three and three mate in four puzzles today. Until Monday, my fellow chess960 and chess enthusiasts!

Game number two. This game is my other game against KingsBishop from the team match that is currently in progress between Total 960 and Kopaonik. The score in the match at the moment I type this is 91.5 - 72.5 in favor of Total 960. KingsBishop started the game with an immediate bishop activation 1.g3 to which I would consider the following moves as decent replies, 1...g6, 1...Nf6 or the move I played in the game 1...e5. KingsBishop continued with 2.b3, which opens the diagonal for the queen to attack my pawn on e5. I defended with 2...g6, opening the diagonal for my bishop on h8. Then my opponent put more pressure to the e5-pawn by playing Bb2. I replied with 3...d6 because I think it is the best way to defend the pawn. KingsBishop could have continued the pressure towards my e-pawn by playing 4.f4, which would have been annoying move to meet as I would have been forced to play f6 and that would have made my knight on e8 a very bad piece. It would seem then that somewhere during my first three moves I have made a mistake. Maybe the mistake was to play 1...e5. KingsBishop did not go for 4.f4, but instead he played 4.Nc3, which I was happier to see because I was able to develop my pieces more freely. On his 5th move KingsBishop played a wierd looking move Ng2, but I guess the idea of playing it to e3 later on is a decent plan. I replied with 5...Bc6 and therefore moved my bishop for the second time. The idea behind the bishop maneuver was that I could then play b6 safely and get my queen involved in the game.

I think both players continued to play reasonable moves up to my move 7...b6. The reply 8.Ng4 does threaten Nh6, but as I would have likely played Bg7 anyway, KingsBishop's 8th move might be a bit waste of time. Then on move 10, he played a mysterious looking move f3, the point of which I am not sure about. In the game continuation it seems like a waste of a move. Despite the difficult start to the game, I think I was able to get to a good position and I thought that after 19.f4, I am on the better side of the board. However, I was not sure about the right plan at this point. I wanted to reroute my knight to e3 via c7 and d5 and I thought that if I can manage that I would be in a really promising position. The problem was that the knight maneuver took a lot of time. It took maybe a bit too long because I think I made game losing decisions before the knight could actually jump to e3. I think starting from 24...Qf3 I started to follow the wrong idea. The idea was to put pressure on the knight that can't move from e2. The better way to do that would have been to double rooks on the e-file. I could have also moved the queen somewhere and continued with plan of placing my knight to e3. While I think that 24...Qf3 was a bad move, it does not compare to my next move 25...Qg4, which is even worse. Placing my queen there meant that it was out of play for the rest of the game and the biggest reason I lost this game. The queen stayed pretty much trapped in the kingside without any hope of getting back into the game.

7 Apr 2016

Chess960 SP958

Chess960 SP958

It is time once again to explore the wonderful world of chess960. This game was played in a team match called open challenge. The match is played on 15 boards between Geto-Daci and CHESS960 SOCIETY and I play on board 3 for CHESS960 SOCIETY. The current score in the match is 11 - 14 in favor CHESS960 SOCIETY. We may be closer in securing at least a draw from the match, but Geto-Daci can still turn things around and win if we are not careful.

I am not sure what the best plan of developing the pieces is in this particular starting position, but I kind of like how my opponent started the game. 1.g4 opens up the long diagonal for the queen, which now eyes on the pawn on b7 in front of my king. Now that I looked at this move, I started to think that maybe one could follow up g4 with h3 or h4 and plant the dark-squared bishop on h2, so that both bishops and the queen would eye on menacingly towards the enemy king. The problem with this plan is that it can be handled simply by blocking the paths for the bishops with pawns in a same way I did in this game. B7 is not actually that weak of a square from the start either because it is defended by the king and the knight, so the queen and bishop battery will need more help in demolishing the defences. The way I played the first two moves is not really ideal because playing both e5 and f6 block the path for my queen potentially for a long time. Then again, I do not want to bring my queen too early into the game, but obviously I want to make it easy for the queen to come to the play when she is needed. On his third move, dragos_paul_visan, played Nf3, which to me seems a bit off because why he would want to block the diagonal for his bishop and queen. After White's third move, I am slightly on the better side of things. My slight advantage disappears a bit according to Stockfish after 4...Bc5. The reason why I played that move is that I like fast development of pieces instead of making lot of pawn moves. I thought that c5 is the best square for my bishop and I wanted to develop it before I move my knight from e8 to d6 after I have played d5, so that the knight does not block the pawn. However, 4...Nc6 might have been a better move.

My opponent played 6.Na4, a move that I do not really understand. Well, maybe the idea is to drive the bishop to a square where it is not so well placed or if I do not move it, then trade the knight to the bishop. The problem with the relocation idea is that the knight is also badly placed after it has gone to a4. I chose the wrong square to go to and placed it to e7 instead of d6, which would have been somewhat better square. I chose the square e7, so that I could put my knight to d6. I was pretty much following a plan at this point and I had some idea on how to develop my pieces. Dragos_paul_visan continued with 7.d3, which is a bad move because it allowed me to play 7...d4, which I did not play for some reason. Instead I played 7...Nd6, which is not good because it allows Nc5 because the bishop that covered that square is now blocked by the knight. The game went on evenly until my opponent played 11.Nf3, interesting part of that move is that the knight lands on f3 for the second time during this game and neither time has been a good one, on both occasions the position has gone from equal to favoring me. However, the balance is immediately restored with the move 11...b6. The balance does not last long and after the move 13.Nd4, I should be on the slightly better side of the board.

The next turning point is when my opponent for some reason decided to castle short, even though in this starting position it does not really look like it as the king goes from one side of the board to the other. Maybe it appeared as the safer side even though the pawns in front of the White king are far from protecting pawns. My reply to 16.O-O was less than ideal and after 16...g5 my opponent may have hold on to a draw had he played accurate moves in the remaining part of the game. He went astray immediately with 17.c3 after which the position went more and more downhill for him and could not get to a more even position again. I have added one analysed game to the following posts: C18 French Defense: Winawer Variation. Classical Variation, D02 Queen Pawn Game: Symmetrical Variation, C44 Scotch Gambit and C45 Scotch Game: Schmidt Variation. I have added two mate in one, two mate in three and one mate in four puzzle today.

6 Apr 2016

C33 King's Gambit Accepted, Bishop's Gambit, Cozio Variation

C33 King's Gambit Accepted, Bishop's Gambit, Cozio Variation

The game I am sharing today was played on the second round of the 2014 October Split II tournament that is being played at Red Hot Pawn. I advanced from the first round by sharing the win of group 1 with two other players, NN Cheap and aukermdr (1933). All three of us were able to get 56 points out of the possible 66. It was a bit of a surprise for me to tie the win with these two players. I was quite confident at some point that I will not be able to make it, but somehow it all worked out for me. Interestingly also the winner of group 2 managed to get 56 points. Based on these things one might think that the second round group would be evenly fought, but it is not. While the winner of the second round group and with it the winner of the tournament has not been decided yet, NN Cheap is very close in securing at least the shared win of the tournament. NN Cheap is the highest rated player in the group, so it is not a surpise that he or she is leading the group. I may be currently the second highest rated player of the group, but my chances to get the shared win of the tournament are lower than those of the other three players.

I have never really liked the positions that arise in the King's Gambit and this game was not going to change my views about it. Already on my 5th move I went a bit astray because I was not playing aggressively, but instead I played the slow move 5...g6, with the intention of planting my dark-squared bishop to the long diagonal. A much better alternatives would have been 5...Bg4 and 5...Nf6. Even after the move I played, the game is still not over yet, the position only slightly favors NN Cheap after the move 5...g6. The move that made my position go downhill even more came when I played 7...c6. I just can't afford to play so many pawn moves and get behind in development so badly. The reason I played 7...c6 was that I wanted to prevent moves like Nd5 and Nb5. That being said, it was better to play Be6 and develop one piece to protect d5 instead of the pawn move. Be6 would have also protected against Nb5 because after that I could have taken the bishop with a check and on my next move I could take the knight on b5 with my bishop as well. Therefore 7...Be6 prevents the immediate Nb5. If White takes on e6, I take back with a pawn and if now Nb5, then Na6 and White has nothing. My 7th move was far from the losing move, because even after that I could have ended up in a decent position after 9.Bxf4, but my 9th move was already the losing move. After that I just try to hold on as best as I can. I struggle with the game quite awhile, but after the move 26.dxc6+ even I have to admit that I am completely lost and there is no point in continuing the misery this game had ended up being for me so early on. I have added two mate in two, two mate in three and one mate in four puzzle today.

5 Apr 2016

B01 Scandinavian Defense: Bronstein Variation

B01 Scandinavian Defense: Bronstein Variation

Second day in a row when the main post of the day features a game from GameKnot. This is even from the same mini-tournament as the game in the post yesterday. The mini-tournament is called dim_weasel's XIV. My position in the standings is the same as it was yesterday, I am on last place with 1 point and I have finished three games. The difference to the game I shared yesterday is the opponent and how I played the game. In this one I was able to play better than in the game against dim_weasel. This is far from perfect, but I was never in the risk of losing this game. My opponent, ichthus, has played seven games and has only one game left to finish and it is against me. Ichthus has gathered 2 points so far in this mini-tournament.

The first turning point of the game came when ichthus played 8...O-O-O. During the game I actually thought that I am worse after my opponent castled long and it took some time to find the move 9.Ng5, which I thought at the time to be my only rescuing move. In my mind I was playing against the possible loss of a pawn, which I think explains some of the decisions I made on the following turns. All my moves up to 11.Bc4 were aimed to keep the material balance in the game. I am not really comfortable in playing in a situation where I am down on material, even when I have some compensation for it. The reason why I played 11.Bc4 was that if ichthus takes the pawn on d4, then after some exchanges I can take on e6 with the bishop. My move is not the strongest move in the position and I should have played 11.Bf3 instead. My opponent replies badly to the move played in the game, but I am not able to take any advantage of ichthus' mistake and instead I made a bad move 12.Be2. After my 12th move, the position is equal. Ichthus blunders with 12...Qb4, after which I should be winning, at least according to Stockfish in this after game analysis. The problem with the move 12...Qb4 is that the queen is misplaced at b4 and does not even threaten to take on b2. That is because I could have replied 12...Qb4 with 13.a3 and if now 13...Qxb2, then 14.Na4 traps the queen. Even though I have seen similar queen traps before, I did not consider the possibility of it during this game. Instead I played the passive 13.Qc1 and defended the pawn directly. Even the move I played in the game gave me a clear advantage, but had I played 13.a3 I could have had a winning advantage.

The game went on in my favor up to my move 22.Qd3, which brought the game back into balance. Ichthus played two inaccurate moves in a row that gave me a clear advantage again. I threw that advantage away again with my 29th move. Sometimes I am unintentionally generous in that way... Ichthus gave the advantage immediately back with interest, but I was not able to see the best way to take advantage of my opponent's move, so I was only slightly better after 30.Rc1. I had a plan at this point that involved me pushing the queenside pawns to weaken the pawn structure in front of my opponent's king. I played Rc1 in order to pin the pawn on c6, so that when I play b5, it can't be taken with the pawn on c6. Of course this plan would not have been the winning idea, had my opponent played the most accurate replies to my moves. With the move 34...h6 my opponent goes from an equal position to a lost position. While I replied to that blunder with the correct move 35.Qa8+, after ichthus' reply Bb8, I went a bit astray with Ba7 that gave my opponent chances to hold the draw again. Luckily for me, ichthus made a huge mistake on his 36th move, which also turned out to be the losing move of the game because even with my poor technique, I was able to win the game. I have added one analysed game to my post Chess960 SP499. I have added one mate in two, two mate in three and two mate in four puzzles today.

4 Apr 2016

B27 Sicilian Defense: Hyperaccelerated Pterodactyl

B27 Sicilian Defense: Hyperaccelerated Pterodactyl

Despite of the fact that I have played some of the most horrible games lately at GameKnot that I have probably ever played there, somehow the games have mostly gone better than before. So, when I lose, it is because I played like a huge idiot but some of the wins show very good play from me, at least in my arrogant opinion. Feel free to disagree with that one. The game below is an example of one of those games where nothing seems to go my way and in a difficult position I ended up playing the mindless 25.Nc3... Which obviously resulted in my resignation after seeing dim_weasel's reply 25...Rxc3.

The game below was played in a five player mini-tournament called dim_weasel's XIV against the creator of the tournament. I am currently in last place with 1 point, which came from a win I got in one of the three games I have finished so far. Dim_weasel has not been able to do much better as he is currently in 4th place with 1.5 points. He has finished 5 games so far. A player called jug_head (2040) leads the tournament with a perfect score of 6 out of 6. If jug_head loses both of his remaining games and I win all my remaining games, I share the win of this mini-tournament with jug_head, but something tells me that it will not happen.

Apart from some small inaccuracies, both players play decent moves up to my move 14.Rac1, which turned out to be the starting point for my downfall in this game. The problem with this move is that after my opponent replies with 14...Nf5, he threatens two things, taking on d4 and playing Bh6 and due to the fact that my queen and rook are on the same diagonal is a problem. The move 14.Rac1 is because of those two things, just a waste of a move. I just aimlessly placed my rook on c1 in order to contest the open c-file without realising the problems attached to that move. These days I just try to play my correspondence chess games in a reasonable time, so I have started to decrease my response time to my opponents moves, but it occasionally results in really stupid moves. That being said, I have been able to get my ratings up again in nearly every site I play. In fact, I am currently at my peak rating of 1794 at GameKnot, for example. At Chess.com I have gone towards 1900 again, only missing 39 points from that and at RHP I am going towards my peak again, I am currently rated 1951 there and my peak there is 1967. At ChessRex I have also been able to get my rating to its peak almost every time I finish a game, but then again the opponents I have faced have not been able to take advantage of my horrible moves with the accuracy they have been able to do on other sites. The reason for that is that the average rating of people I face at ChessRex is lower than on other sites, at least at the moment anyway. I guess I should directly challenge higher rated players instead of just making an open challenge that anyone can take. I am playing 82 correspondence games at the moment, which is not a horrible amount, I can handle that amount of games quite well in my opinion, but I think I should get that game load as low as possible as fast as possible in order to have better time to do other things than chess related stuff. I have added one analysed game to the following posts: B54 Sicilian Defense: Modern Variations, C23 Bishop's Opening: General, A30 English Opening: Symmetrical Variation. General and C89 Spanish Game: Marshall Attack. Modern Main Line. I have 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 tournament called EXPECT NO MERCY - NAZARETH TOUR!!! I am playing in group 7 and I am currently on 2nd place with 4 points. As I have also finished four games, I am doing really well at least for now. Only the winner of the group will advance to the next round and because I want to fight for the win of the tournament, I need to at least share the win of this group in order to advance to the second round. My opponent in this game, marcverkinderen, has only one game left to finish on this round and on this tournament and that game is against me. Marcverkinderen is on 4th place with 3 points.

This game started like B06 Robatsch (Modern) Defense which consists of the moves 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7, but then transitioned into this B27 Sicilian Defense: Hyperaccelerated Pterodactyl after the moves 3.Nf3 and c5 had been played. The theoretical move order for B27 Sicilian Defense: Hyperaccelerated Pterodactyl is 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 Bg7. The first move of the game that seems to be a clear mistake was 7...Bd7. The reason for this mysterious looking bishop move might be that my opponent has some problems of developing his knight from g8 and he wanted to play e6, followed by Ne7, but not when his bishop is on g4, because it might run out of squares. My opponent also does not want to trade the bisop to my knight, so the only option for him seems to be Bd7, but this is not such a good idea. With that move he moves the bishop for the second time in a row, making one of the moves just a waste of time. Some inaccurate moves later, the position seems to be about even again after 14.Bd1. With his 16th move, marcverkinderen gave me a chance to get a small advantage again, but I did not find a good enough move to get the advantage, but instead with 17.b3, the game became evenly fought again. My idea was to play Bc2 and maybe trade my bishop for the knight on f5. That is why I needed to play b3, so that my opponent could not take the pawn on b2 after I play Bc2. My opponent went for a risky play and played 17...O-O-O. I guess the idea behind that was that he can now push the kingside pawns and try to get weaknesses in front of my king faster than I can do anything on the queenside. That being said, with the move 17...O-O-O marcverkinderen puts his king on an open file, which can't be the safest location for the king. It was better to castle short. While 17...O-O-O might have been a bad move, marcverkinderen's next move was even worse and resulted in me taking the full point after a few more moves.

1 Apr 2016

B35 Sicilian Defense: Dragon Variation, Modern Bc4 Variation

B35 Sicilian Defense: Dragon Variation, Modern Bc4 Variation

Last post of the week, unless something unexpected happens, features once again over the board game that was played a bit over eight years ago at a tournament in Helsinki. This is a fifth round game of the Easter tournament that was held there. At this point in the tournament I had won one game, drawn the game below and lost three games, so things were not going so well for me. If nothing else, at least this draw ended my losing streak that actually never even properly started. That is because I had only one loss between a win and this draw. I was able to get a draw and a win from the remaining two rounds, so I finished the tournament having scored 3 points in 7 games. It was enough to barely increase my rating, due to the fact that most of my opponents were higher rated than me.

I do not remember the reason anymore why I chose to play 1...c5 instead of 1...e5 because I almost never play the Sicilian. It might have something to do about the fact that I faced Otto Mäkinen also in my previous tournament and on our previous game I had played 1...e5 and did not get a position that I would have liked to play again. I very rarely change the openings I play because of the opponent I play against, unless I play a longer match against that same player, then I may change things quite a lot. Now that I look at this game, it feels a bit strange seeing myself playing the Sicilian and not being completely awful at it. I think it may have something to do with the fact that I watched quite a lot of chess videos at the time where titled players commented their games or went through games of other players and commented on them. I think those were really helping me to play the game better. I sometimes watched a chess video and immediately after it played some blitz games and tried to take advantage of my newly acquired knowledge. Sometimes the games seemed easier, but maybe more often than not I could not get into similar positions, so the knowledge acquired was not that useful.

The game below is one of those wasted opportunities that I can't believe ended like the way it did. Already on move 10 I started to gain a small advantage, which increased over time, though occasionally due to inaccurate moves, my advantage dissipated a bit. Despite of all this, I did keep my advantage almost the full game, I only stumbled near the end, on my 40th move. It was hard to accept a draw after such a good game, but one mistake is all it takes to spoil even the greatest of games. I am not implying that this would fall under that category though. I have added two analysed games to my post A20 English Opening: King's English Variation. General and one analysed game to these two posts: C64 Spanish Game: Classical Variation and A11 English Opening: Anglo-Slav Variation. General. I have also added one mate in one and four mate in four puzzles today. Until Monday, my fellow chess and chess960 enthusiasts!