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31 Aug 2016

B20 Sicilian Defense: Wing Gambit

B20 Sicilian Defense: Wing Gambit

The game I am sharing today was played at Loimaa in a weekend tournament that was held there in February 2010. This game is from the 4th round and this was my second win in a row. On the first two rounds I lost my games, so after a rough start things were looking up again. On the last round I suffered another loss and it meant that I only managed to get 2 points out of the possible 5. I have not been one to like gambits, but when I am able to refute them, I feel quite happy. I will only go through some moments of this game and you can then view the full game with the game viewer. The first position I am going to take a look at arised after my fourth move 4...Nf6. In the position below my opponent played 5.f4, which is a first real mistake of this game. 5.c4 was a better alternative.

Then just a couple of moves later I played 7...Qa5 in the position below, briefly bringing the game into balance, or at least close to it. My opponent replied with 8.Nd2, making his position clearly worse again. 8.Ne2 was the better choice. I continued with 8...Be7, which is only good enough for a small advantage, 8...b3 was the right way to go and I would have been clearly better, had I chosen to play that move.

When we reached the position below, all of my advantage was almost gone. It was my move and I played 28...Na3, after which there was nothing left of my advantage.

It did not take long, however, until my opponent made the blunder that lost the game. In the position below my opponent played the horrible 30.Ng3, after which the game is lost for White. The correct move was 30.Rc1. To the move played in the game I replied with the strongest move 30...Rc3.

The game was not even close to being over just yet, because the game ended to my opponent's resignation after 51...Kf8. I have added a mate in two puzzle 744, mate in three puzzles 668 & 669 and mate in four puzzles 531 & 532 today.

30 Aug 2016

B08 Pirc Defense: Classical Variation

B08 Pirc Defense: Classical Variation

I am taking a look at my old over the board games this week, since there seemed to be enough never before covered opening variations to last for this week. Well, opening variations that have not seen the light of day in this blog that is. This game was played in a weekend tournament at Turku in April, 2009. The tournament consisted of four groups and I played in group D with 11 other players. The game below was played on round two and it was my first loss. I had won my first round game against a player who was rated 1643. On the next two rounds I was able to win my games again, but on the last round I suffered my second loss. With a score of 3 out of 5 I shared third place in the group, but due to tie-break I was 5th in the fianl standings of group D.

The first position of interest appeared after my opponent played 6...c6. These days I would almost always castle in that position without much thought, but in this game I chose for some reason to play 7.d5, which seems a bit premature since my king is still in its original square in the center. 7.d5 was a really bad idea and the first clear mistake of the game.

It was not the start of my downfall just yet though, because a few moves and some inaccuracies later we reached the position after 12.O-O. You can see that position below. My opponent replied with 12...Rae8 after which the position was even once again. 12...Nc5 was the best option to keep the advantage.

The next clear shift in the balance came in the position below after I had played 24.Bxc4. My opponent was slightly better in that position, but then he played 24...a4, which gave me a chance for a clear advantage. Unfortunately I did not play 25.Ba6, which meant that instead of being the one in a favorable position, I gave the favorable position to my opponent with the move 25.Ne2.

The game then went on without big mistakes until we reached the position below. It is taken after my 33rd move Nxc5. My opponent played 33...Qf8, which is a huge blunder according to Stockfish 7 64 POPCNT. The engine thinks that I am in a winning position after 33...Qf8. The correct move was 33...Qb6 and the position would have been even after that. Again I missed the strongest move, which in this case would have been 34.Ne6. The move I chose, 34.Be2 is good enough to a clear advantage, so I should have been doing quite well at this point in the game.

Two consecutive blunders changed the outcome of the game. In the position below I was on the clearly favorable side, but I went to grab the a-pawn with the knight instead of the possibly winning move 36.Ne6 and suddenly the position was more even again. Especially after my opponent played 36...Qh4. The other option to keep the equality was to play 36...Qa5.

The former option was probably better for practical reasons as it seems like the harder one to make a good move against. I was not able to find a good answer to 36...Qh4 and made the game losing move 37.Bf1. The only move that could have kept me in the game was 37.g3, all other moves were losing for me. I did play a few more moves, but had to accept my defeat after 42...Rxf7. I have added a mate in one puzzle 523, mate in two puzzles 742 & 743, a mate in three puzzle 667 and a mate in four puzzle 530 today.

29 Aug 2016

B31 Sicilian Defense: Nyezhmetdinov-Rossolimo Attack, Fianchetto Variation

B31 Sicilian Defense: Nyezhmetdinov-Rossolimo Attack, Fianchetto Variation

The game below was played over seven years ago at Espoo in a weekend tournament. This game is from round 4. I played in group B and before this round I had only managed to get one draw, so the tournament continued to go downhill for me with this game. I lost also my last round game, so I only got 0.5 out of 5, which is one of my worst results to this day. My rating dropped 58 points because of this really bad result. I ended being on last place in the group of 20 players. My opponent finished 16th in the group.

It did not take long for me to be in a lost position in this game, in fact after my 8th move my position was completely hopeless. However, the position below is taken after 7.Na3. At that point the position is roughly even.

My reply was 7...a6 in order to prevent 8.Nb5. It was actually a huge mistake and the only move that could have kept me in the game was 7...Nge7. I did get another chance to hold the position when my friend played 8.Re1. It does leave White in a slightly better position, but 8.Nc4 would have been the move that has the possibility to fight for a clear advantage. Unfortunately for me, I did not use my last chance and played the horrible 8...d6 for some reason. I can't really remember the reason for that move anymore. My best option was to play 8...Nge7. After the gigantic blunder 8...d6, Tomi was able to find a strong continuation that should have resulted in my resignation, but for some reason I wanted to suffer a bit longer and only resigned after the move 22.Nc5. I have added a mate in three puzzle 666 and mate in four puzzles 528 & 529 today.

26 Aug 2016

Chess960 SP497

Chess960 SP497

The chess960 filled week is coming to its end, though I still have to publish the last video of the week after this post, but other than that I am getting very close of preparing things for next week again. Especially this week the videos I have shared to YouTube have been of games that I have shared the previous day in this blog, which is in some ways a problem. To me, it is obviously convenient to share the games in this way, but if someone who follows both this blog and my YouTube channel, things can get a bit repetitive. While I think both ways are exploring the game in different ways, I might need to do something a bit different for next week and in the future.

While I played this game, I did not really like the way I started the game, but today when I added the reference game into the notation, I saw that the game followed a game between two strong engines up to my move 3.Ngf3, which made me think that maybe the start of the game was okay after all. That being said, the problem I have with the move 2.d3 is that it blocks the natural development square of my e-knight. I actually kind of liked the way that my opponent developed his or her pieces. Especially the bishop pair that my opponent had seemed more dangerous than their counterparts. Well, my light-squared bishop was my problem bishop and maybe the dark-squared bishop for my opponent was maybe a big pawn. However, the dark-squared bishop had at least the potential of being a strong piece in case that the c-pawn advances and the bishop would then target f2. It never became a reality and I was actually the one to play c4 blocking the a7-g1 diagonal for the bishop after which it became just a big pawn. Small inaccuracies by my opponent, 10...h6 and 11...Qd7 allowed me to gain a small advantage. The position after 12.Rd1 is seen in the diagram below.

Here danishdog's position started to fall apart. My opponent played the move 12...Bc6, which is a really bad move. After the reply 13.Ne5 I should be winning according to Stockfish. I did complicate things by playing 16.Qc3 in the position below. After I had moved the queen to c3, it did not seem like a good place for it and there indeed is some problems with it. The queen can be easily driven away from c3, for instance. I should be clearly better even after the queen move because my pieces are better developed and the bishop on b6 is a really bad piece.

My opponent did go for the right idea at first by moving the knight to e4 on move 16 and harassed my queen. The queen went to d3 and after that 17...N8f6 was played. At that moment I thought that I had to go to b1 with the bishop in order to give the square c2 for my queen after my opponent plays Rd8. I was wrong, it seems and I could have actually taken the rook with my queen and with precise play I would have a winning advantage. In the game I followed my plan and played the queen to c2, giving away most of my advantage. Of course, I was not aware of that during the game. Some inaccuracies later we reached the position below. It is taken after my 22nd move h3.

For me the game became really easy because my opponent blundered with 23...Rh6. It was a desperate move in the time trouble my opponent was in. Well, danishdog had a bit over a minute left on the clock when he or she played that move. I had a bit over 3 minutes left on my clock at that time. I think my opponent wanted me to take on g4 with my h-pawn, but instead I took on e4 with the queen and had easily winning position in front of me. I think hxg4 would have been good enough for a win too, but 23.Qxe4 was the simpler way to go. I have added mate in two puzzles 738 - 741 and mate in four puzzle 527 today.

The game above can also viewed in the video below.

25 Aug 2016

Chess960 SP343

Chess960 SP343

This short game was played at lichess.org. This is so short that the reference game in the notation is actually a lot longer and perhaps more interesting because of it. There is nothing wrong with the moves 1.d4 g6, but already with the move 2.c4 my opponent gets into trouble. While the loss of a pawn might seem rather bad this early, my opponent, gftklmt, did get minimal compensation for it in view of more space. Apart from the pawn sacrifice, I think gftklmt played reasonable moves until my opponent played 5.Ne5. The move does not make any sense at all to me. My opponent can't afford to waste moves like this if he or she wants to get a good result from the game. The final blunder came in the form of 9.Ndxc5 in the position below.

Of course this game would have been quite easy to play even if my opponent had not sacrificed the queen, but since it resulted in gftklmt's resignation, it helped a lot in ending the game. I have added mate in one puzzles 521 & 522 and mate in three puzzles 663 - 665 today.

This game can also be viewed in the video below. In the video I discuss my thought process during the game and also offer some analysis after the game.

24 Aug 2016

Chess960 SP529

Chess960 SP529

This game, like the one I shared yesterday, were played last Sunday, though this one was played at lichess.org. It was also the day when I played in a simultanenous exhibition against a FIDE Master Kalle Niemi, against whom I managed to get a draw. It was the second simultaneous exhibition I had played in this year, in the first one I played against Grand Master Heikki Westerinen and that game I lost. These chess960 games I played in the evening of last Sunday and I was quite tired when I played them. When I am tired or otherwise can't properly concentrate on the games, it has a very noticeable effect on my playing strength, I play a lot worse than I would normally play.

I really struggled to find a good way to develop my pieces from the move 4 onward. I think I should have played 4.c4 and put my light-squared bishop to c2 and move my knight to c3 via e2. It seems to me the best way to handle the development at this moment. The moves I went for in the game seem overly complicated and bad to me. For instance, the move 6.Nb2 was intended to be the starting point for its journey to e3 via c4. I ended up in even bigger problems when I played 9.c4, in the position below. Had I played 9.Re1, I might have been still fighting for a draw in a slightly worse position. While my opponent did not find the strongest reply, pancake should still be favored after 9...Bc7.

On my 10th move I made an even bigger blunder with d4. It seemed like a good idea to try to open the e-file, since pancake's king was still at e8. However, I had not seen all the possible replies by my opponent and pancake had for a couple of moves a completely winning position. Until we reached the position after 12.bxc4. In the position below pancake went off the winning path by playing 12...e4.

Pancake's 12th move gave me an opportunity to seize the advantage, but horrible moves continued both from me and my opponent and in the end pancake was the one who stopped blundering first, which meant that my opponent was the one who ended up being on the better side of the board. I was in huge trouble in the position you can see below. I was down the exchange and very likely to lose the game, but then my opponent decided to play 24...b5, which gave me some much needed counterplay. Enough in fact that I had full compensation for the material lost. I continued with the correct idea 25.c6 in order to give my dark squared bishop a square on c5. Pancake replied with 25...Bd6, which I thought to be a good move during the game and lessen the impact of the move Bc5. However, I was wrong in my assumption. It was actually a bad idea to play 25...Bd6 and had I moved my bishop to c5, I could have been on the driver's seat for the rest of the game.

I went for the pawn on a7 instead and the chance to take the advantage passed me by. Then with my 27th move, Bc5, I handed over the advantage to pancake. My opponent was able to maintain the advantage until we reached this position. In this position pancake unwisely played 31...bxc4 and allowed my knight to jump to c4. I think this was already the time trouble phase of the game. It also explains the huge blunder 32...Rc8. After that I was, of course, completely winning, but I was very low on time and it was hard to make good moves.

My opponent was even kind enough to step into mate in one, one or two seconds before my time ran out. Unfortunately I was unable to find 42.Bd1. Had I seen the idea early enough, I would have had time to play that move and win the game. I have added mate in two puzzles 735 - 737 and mate in three puzzles 661 & 662 today.

This game can also viewed in the video below and you can hear my live commentary and after game analysis. There are also some comments added in the video editing phase.

23 Aug 2016

Chess960 SP626

Chess960 SP626

Last Sunday I played my 5th chess960 game at FICS in a sleep deprived state. It was not a good idea to put my rating points in jeopardy, but for some reason I thought it would go well. For one thing, I did not expect to get a clearly higher rated opponent, because it is something that almost never happens. This is not because my rating would always be all that high when compared to the ratings of other people, however, my Wild rating at FICS was 1995 before this game, which is a reasonably high rating. That Wild rating means in my case a chess960 rating, since it is the only chess variant I have played there. Due to my long period of inactivity when playing chess960 at FICS, my ratings deviation or RD had become quite high, which meant that my rating dropped 112 points because I lost this game. Maybe with the next game I can get back over 1900 and start chasing the 2000+ rating once more.

When I finally got an opponent to play a game, it seemed to take forever, I moved quite fast, so that my opponent would not abort the game. I had already at this point tried to get a game at lichess.org, but there nobody was interested in playing against me with the time controls I would have liked to play with. I spent a few minutes waiting for an opponent there and then switched to FICS. The problem with moving rather fast was that I had not properly looked at the starting position. This had the unfortunate result of me playing a horrible and ill-advised first move against 1.Ng3. The move I chose, 1...g6, is quite bad in my opinion because it blocks the natural development square of the h-knight. I played 1...g6 in order to get my dark-squared bishop to g7, but I realised after the reply 2.b3 that moving the bishop to g7 would be stupid immediately and therefore I had to prepare it by blocking the long diagonal with 2...e5. Had I played 1...e5 and developed my bishop to the f8-a3 diagonal, I might have not wasted so much time to make my silly first move to make some sense. My awful first move had made the development of the kingside pieces much harder than it should have been.

Regardless of the bad start, I should have been only slightly worse and draw could have been still within my grasp. My real problems started when we reached the position below. In that position I wanted to defend the e-pawn with my d-pawn because had I played 5...f6, the bishop on g7 would have seem like a really bad piece. What I did not realise in my sleep deprived state was that defending the e-pawn with the d-pawn can be really bad for me, since it might lead to the opening of the d-file where my king resided. Of course my opponent was more awake and took his or her opportunity to open the d-file with devastating consequences for me. Anandkvs played 6.dxe5 and at this point in the game I had my last chance of saving the game. Had I played 6...O-O-O and sacrificed the e-pawn, I might have survived.

I replied with 6...Bxe5, which turned out to be the losing move. I did unintentionally make the winning easier for my opponent than I should have a few moves later when I played 10...f5. It was answered with the move 11.Bc4, which wins more material by force. I should have maybe resigned at that point, but wanted to prolong my misery for some reason, but a few moves later I had to accept that there was no way I could get even a draw from this game, so I resigned after 15.Qxe5. I have added mate in two puzzles 732 - 734, mate in three puzzle 660 and mate in four puzzle 526 today.

22 Aug 2016

Chess960 SP815

Chess960 SP815

The pawn structure I went for in this game is not something I like to repeat if I get into this or similar starting positions in the future. I have played in similar way before when my bishops have also been located in g8 and h8 in the starting position. In all of them my bishops have been somewhat out of play. Especially the light-squared bishop has been a real problem piece because I have needed to play both e6 and d5 for some reason or the other. In the future I would like to start these kind of starting positions by moving the g-pawn one square forward and the f-pawn two squares forward. I should also avoid playing d5 and or e6 if possible. It might be better to go for the g6, f5, e5, d6 pawn formation if allowed by the opponent in order to keep the position as open as possible for the two bishops.

The first move of mine that I did not really like, but played anyway was 12...Nb4. I did not like it because I thought that it would be replied with 13.a3 and I would not have accomplished anything except maybe to slightly weaken the queenside pawn structure. However, it was not really a mistake to play the knight to b4 as the position remained roughly even after that. The idea behind Nb4 was not only to attack the pawn on a2, but also protect a6, so that I could play b6 and drive the knight away. Since my opponent did not drive my knight away with a3, I was able to execute my plan. The position below is the one that was on the board after 13...b6. In that position my opponent made a bad choice and traded the knights on e4. It is a bad move because I can take back with my d-pawn and my light-squared bishop has a bigger scope because of it.

It was only the start of the problems my opponent, pancake, faced. Pancake made things worse for himself or herself with his or her next move 15.g4. I should have replied with 15...Qd5 and my position would have been the clearly favorable one, but I played the move 15...a5, which let my opponent off the hook a bit. During the game the move 18.c4 looked dangerous for me, but it is actually dangerous for the side who played it. The position below is after pancake had played 18.c4. Because I had a defensive mindset and focused on playing defensive moves, I did not even consider the correct move 18...a4. The move I played 18...e6, gave up a lot of the activity that my light-squared bishop had. I only played my 18th move, because I thought that it would be necessary to stop the advance of the d-pawn. My passive play meant that the position became more evenly fought again.

A few moves later we reached the next position. The last move played in the game was 21.c5, which was a mistake. The problem was that I made a huge mistake in reply and allowed pancake to take the driver's seat. I should know better to play for activity instead of passivity, but for some reason I still do these kind of moves. I played 21...Qf8, which was probably the worst move up to that point. Then my opponent played 22.cxb6 and I replied with 23...cxb6.

Pancake continued by playing 23.Rc1 and I did not stop playing bad moves just yet, I had to blunder once more and play 23...Rc8. I should have been quite lost and I actually waited for my opponent to play the crushing moves. We reached the position below after I moved my bishop from f7 to e8. It was a huge blunder, which I only realised afterwards. Had my opponent played 25.Nc5+, it would have ended this game right there, becuase I would be completely lost, no matter what I would have played. It was the move I expected pancake to play, but luckily he or she blundered the gave away instead with 25.Red1.

I was not actually sure during the game that I was winning after 25...Nxd4, but I thought it to be my best chance to fight for that possibility. I thought that my pieces were still less coordinated than those of my opponents and had I not moved my king to the right square after 26.Nxa5+, I would have lost this game. The rest of the game was just a matter of technique. I have added mate in one puzzle 520, mate in three puzzle 659, mate in four puzzles 524 & 525 and mate in five puzzle 187 today.

The game can also be viewed in 1080p 60fps in the video below.

19 Aug 2016

A40 Pterodactyl Defense: Queen Pterodactyl, Quiet Line

A40 Pterodactyl Defense: Queen Pterodactyl, Quiet Line

This is one of those opening variations where the name for it depends on the source you are looking it up from. The name I chose is the one that lichess.org uses. If you look this up using the Chess.com openings explorer, then the name is Modern Defense: Pterodactyl, Quiet Line. Interestingly enough they have removed the ECO codes from the opening names on the new version of Chess.com, which means that I have no longer any use for it... It was a very useful tool for me in the past and now it is completely useless. I even made a bug report of it, to which I got a quite quick reply to and the person who replied seemed to agree with my point, but because that person was not the one who can make such chances, only to pass the information to someone who can change it, it has not changed to the useful tool that it was yet. I am starting to think it never will. When I use the analysis board at lichess.org, it can detect the name of the opening, whether or not the moves are made in the theoretical order. That is a feature I like a lot. However, I do not think there is a way to check the theoretical move order anywhere at lichess. If there is and you know how to find it, please leave a comment. It is probably the only complaint that I can think of about the site, because for a site that offers you all of its features for free, is really awesome. The theoretical move order is 1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c5 4.e3.

Now for the game below. I am going to take a look at some of the key moments of the game and then you may look through the whole game using the game viewer provided by Chess.com. The position below is taken after my opponent castled on move 13. Usually castling is a good thing, but sometimes it is a very bad move, like it was in this game. Actually there have been many times in my games where playing either O-O or O-O-O has been a bad move and you may see examples of that in some of the games that I have already shared. The best option for my opponent would have been to play 13.c5 and not allow me to take on c4. After 13.c5 my bishop on e6 would have been a bad piece.

Taking on c4 with the d-pawn was the only way of taking advantage of the mistake of my opponent. My 13th move dxc4 was replied with 14.Nxc4, which could have been the losing move if not for my horrible reply 14...Qc7. The correct move was 14...Bxc4, which I did not play because I wanted to keep my bishop pair. I should have realised that the bishop on e6 is not at all a good piece and trading it to the more active knight would have been a good idea. These days I am not as afraid to give up the bishop pair if the position requires it. I still prefer to have the bishop pair over the pair of knights though. Moving my queen to c7 was just too passive. However, I still was on the better side of things after my 14th move, but only slightly. The next position of interest is after White's 17th move f5.

The idea behind the move 17.f5 is to open some lines for the rook and for the dark-squared bishop. The problem was that the move does not tactically work and I could have won a pawn by taking on d4. In the line that you can see in notation, White can't take the bishop on c4 on move 21 due to Qb6+. I did not see that possibility during the game, but my response to 17.f5 was also clearly favorable for me. Then after 20.Qe1 we reached this next position. I went for the right idea in the wrong way. I played 20...Qb6 in order to put more pressure towards the pawn on d4. The problem with the move I chose is that Nc2 is possible and my opponent may be able fight for a draw. Had I played Be4, it would have still accomplished putting more pressure towards the pawn on d4, but it would have also prevented the move Nc2 defending the pawn.

My opponent did not go for the right defense and made a huge blunder instead with the move 21.Rf4, which is a good candidate for a losing move, but it turned out later in the game that I had to make things a lot harder for me than they should have been. Everything went quite well for me until we reached the position below. This position is taken after my opponent played 30.Qg5. There was a lot of things to think about and I decided to offer a trade of queens by playing Qf6. It is a rather desperate looking move to try and make the game easier for me to play. Unfortunately 30...Qf6 handed over the advantage to my opponent and then it was me who tried to even things up.

My opponent played 31.Qc5, threatening both my knight and rook at the same time, both pieces were undefended. There was no good way to defend against the threats, but I tried my best and played 31...Nc6. Had my opponent just played 32.Qxc6, I would have been on my way to a loss. However, my opponent played 32.d5 instead, turning the tables for the last time during this game. I have added mate in one puzzles 518 & 519, mate in three puzzles 657 & 658 and mate in four puzzle 523 today. Until Monday, my fellow chess enthusiasts!

18 Aug 2016

D78 Neo-Grünfeld Defense: Classical Variation, Original Defense

D78 Neo-Grünfeld Defense: Classical Variation, Original Defense

This game was played on the fourth round of a tournament that was held at Salo almost eight years ago. On the first three rounds I was able to win all my games, so this was the first loss I suffered in the tournament. This also turned out to be the only loss I suffered in this five round tournament. I finished the tournament with a score of 4 out of 5. It was enough for me to secure the second place in group B. My new rating because of this good result was 1764.

This game featured only small inaccuracies until we reached the position below. Last move that was played in the position was 24.Bf1, the bishop moved there from g2. It was not the best move in the position either, but the move my opponent played 24...Qb6 was the worst move that had been played up to that point. 24...Qa4 would have been the right idea to go for. The problem with the move 24...Qb6 was that I can trade queens and after 25...Nxb6 I could have played 26.Bc5, forcing the reply 26...Rb7. After that my a-pawn could have gone up the board more freely.

I did not trade queens for some reason or the other, obviously I did not see the benefits it could have given me. The decision to play 25.Qc3 made playing the game more difficult for me. I think it would have been much easier to play after the trade of queens. That being said, I think I managed to play reasonable moves in the line I chose. Well, up to the point it came time to play my 34th move that is. In the position below I moved my queen to d1, which was clearly the most awful move that had been seen in the game up to that point.

The move was so bad that I should have been completely lost after that. Luckily for me, my opponent did not use the light square weaknesses around my king to full effect, so I could have ended up with a fighting chance if not for the fact that I immediately blundered and threw away my best chance to hold a draw. Then with the move 35...Nf3+ my opponent gave me a last chance to play well and hold the draw, but I was not up to the task and made the move 36.Kg2, which became the final mistake of the game and the reason I lost. I have added mate in one puzzles 516 & 517, mate in two puzzle 731, mate in four puzzle 522 and mate in five puzzle 186 today.

17 Aug 2016

A45 Indian Game: Tartakower Attack

A45 Indian Game: Tartakower Attack

The game below was played on the first round of a tournament that was held at Salo between November 1st and November 2nd of 2008. The tournament was held in memory of FIDE Master Aarne Hermlin, who had died on November 17th, 2007, while playing a game for Salon Shakkikerho (Salo Chess Club in English) in a team match against EtVaS. The tournament had two groups of 30 players and I played in group B.

The first clear mistake in this game was played by my opponent on move 9, when he played Nc3 and allowed the move 9...Qxd4 to be played, which wins a pawn. The position below is after White's 9th move. Keijo should have played 9.Nxc6 instead of the move played in the game.

While this mistake certainly helped me, it was not the mistake that decided the outcome of the game. My position was not without its weaknesses and after the knights were traded on c6, it left a backward pawn for me on c6. That pawn gave my opponent some counterplay and he started to put some pressure to that pawn with the move 13.Rc1. With accuarate play that counterplay should not be enough for the lost pawn. Actually my opponent made things worse for himself by playing 17.Kf2 in the position below.

The moves 17.b4 and 17.g4 were better alternatives. The move 17.Kf2 is understandable, since it connects the rooks and allows the rook from h1 to be activated. However, it was not what the position required. 17.b4 would have, for example, prevented me from playing 17...c5, a move that frees my position a bit. After the double square advance of the b-pawn, my c-pawn would have been stuck at c6 for awhile, making it a weakness for me for a longer period of time. Everything went well for me until we reached the position after 20.h4. I played the move 20...d4 in the position below. It was a better idea to play either 20...dxe4 or 20...c4.

When I look at that position now, almost 8 years after this game was played, my move looks horrible, unfortunately it also was a really bad move and did not just look like one. It did not fully turn the tables, it just resetted the game to a balanced state. Luckily for me and unfortunately for my friend, Keijo blundered with 21.Rc4, which turned out to be the mistake that cost him the game. The only move that could have saved my opponent was 21.Bf1. I have added mate in one puzzles 514 & 515, mate in two puzzle 730 and mate in three puzzles 655 & 656 today.

16 Aug 2016

A26 English Opening: King's English Variation, Closed System, Full Symmetry

A26 English Opening: King's English Variation, Closed System, Full Symmetry

I have decided to go through my over the board games for a change. These old games seem to be more willing to provide something new to share, in view of opening variations that is, than my latest games. The game below was played on round two in a 2nd division team match between VammSK 2 and SalSK 3. I played on board 1 for SalSK 3 at the time. This match was played on 5 boards and like you might guess from the rating difference on board 1, I faced an opponent who was nearly 400 points stronger than me, we were clearly the weaker team, in view of ratings that is. We lost the match 4 - 0, our board 5 player was the only one who managed to get a draw. Draws are not counted to the final score in these team matches.

I was able to maintain a good control in the position and it was actually my opponent, who ended up in some trouble first. In the position below my opponent played 14...h5, which is not a good idea.

The idea behind the move was to push the pawn all the way to h4 and get the h-file open. I would not have taken on h4, of course, because then my opponent could have taken back with the queen and I would have been in serious trouble. At least I am assuming that pushing the pawn to h4 was the plan, I can't say for sure, but it does seem like the plan to me. I continued with the right plan at first, but then on move 17 I played my queen to b3, which allowed my opponent to get back into the game. The blunder I made in the position below, 19.hxg4, could have meant the start for my downfall if not for the reply 19...Qb6?? It gave me an opportunity to keep the position even, but I took a step in the wrong direction instead and my opponent started to gain some advantage again.

My 20th move might have been the beginning of the end for me, but my 27th move was the one that secured a loss for me. It was positive to see that already almost eight years ago I was able create some problems for a player who was rated over 2100. The sadder part is that my playing strength has not made any significant changes for the better since those times. There have been some signs of improvement though and I do look to the future with a positive attitude. I have added mate in one puzzle 513, mate in two puzzle 729, mate in three puzzle 654 and mate in four puzzle 521 today.

15 Aug 2016

A40 Englund Gambit Complex: Declined

A40 Englund Gambit Complex: Declined

In the game below I tried something different against 1.d4 and even though things did not really work out well for me, it was not due to the opening phase of the game. This might mean that I am willing to do more testing of this opening in the future. There are some improvements that I would need to remember. For instance, on move 4 of this game, I should play Bf5 in order to prevent White from playing e4. In the game, the bishop on c8 became a problem piece to some degree, my opponent took all the good squares away from it. While the pawn storm that Kojjootti generated created him more space, it also took some time off from development and therefore I had better development, but also less space to work with. The game was played reasonably well by both players until I played 14...Qb6. Up to that point only small inaccuracies were seen. 14...Qb6 was the first move to tip the advantage clearly in favor of my friend. With two inaccurate moves in a row from Kojjootti, 15.Ng3 and 16.Nce2, would have allowed me to get a slightly favorable position with 16...b3, but I missed my chance and the position was roughly even once again. Kojjootti kept making mistakes and his 18th move gave me a chance to obtain a winning advantage. Because this was a 5 minute game, my moves were not that well thought out either and the move I chose was only good enough for clear advantage. I did get another chance for the winning advantage immediately as Kojjootti blundered with 19.g5.

I was clearly in the driver's seat after that until I had to blunder with 27...Nf8. Due to that move the game became even again for a few moves. Then on his 31st move, Kojjootti played 31.Nf5, after which he should have been completely lost. However, I suffered some sort of brain malfunction at this point and did not take the knight with my pawn. I honestly can't remember what was I thinking. I either did not see that my pawn can take the knight or I thought that I saw some dangerous line if I take the knight. Whatever the reason, I made a really horrible move as a reply to Nf5. I played 31...Qa6 and I was on the losing side of the board. I was not going to give up the fight though because it was a blitz game and things can change quite dramatically in time trouble. My fight was rewarded first with an even game when my opponent played 42.Kb1. One might think that it is easy to hold the draw here, but when players try to find ways to win the game, there might be problems. The first move to take the wrong direction after 42.Kb1 was 45.Bc8. It was replied with 45...Rb6, a move that I must have regretted almost immediately after moving the rook. The rook is very badly placed at b6 and I can't understand why I moved my rook there. Then my friend played 46.Be6, after which I remain on the better side of the board to the end of the game. The only thing that saved my opponent was my time running out. I have added mate in three puzzles 651 - 653 and mate in four puzzle 520 today.

12 Aug 2016

E82 King's Indian Defense: Saemisch Variation, Double Fianchetto

E82 King's Indian Defense: Saemisch Variation, Double Fianchetto

The game I am sharing today was played on the third round of the 2014 October Long Haul Split I tournament at Red Hot Pawn. The tournament started on October 24th, 2014. On August 10th, 2016 the tournament finished and it was decided that my opponent, caissad4, won the tournament. This tournament could have ended on the second round if we had not tied in points. If me and caissad4 would have kept getting one win each, we would have continued to play this tournament until one of us would have had at least one win and a draw. I am, in a way, glad that it stopped the way it did, I would have liked to be the winner, of course, but unfortunately I was not able to do that this time. Caissad4 certainly deserved to win as I was compeletely destroyed in this game. I should have probably played the opening I played on the second round as it was the game where I was victorious, but I wanted to change things for this round. Obviously that was a bad idea.

It was rather sad that already on my 7th move I played a move so horrible that it sealed my destiny. I can't believe I played 7...c5 without properly judging the consequences of the move. If the game was not lost after my 7th move, it certainly was after I moved my queen to c7 on move 9. I should have just moved the knight, but I thought that I will prevent losing a whole rook this way. In the game continuation I was only able to get a pawn for the knight, which is clearly not enough. I did try to fight back for awhile, but on my 20th move I decided that resistance was futile and resigned. I should, of course, be able to offer a better play in a correspondence game, but lately I have not been as interested in using as much time to think my moves as I used in the past. Maybe I need some time off from correspondence chess and maybe come back later with more enthusiasm. These days I am much more interested in playing games in one sitting. I have added mate in one puzzles 511 & 512, mate in two puzzle 728, mate in three puzzle 650 and mate in four puzzle 519 today. Until Monday, my fellow chess and chess960 enthusiasts and other people who do not fit in that category!

11 Aug 2016

C44 Scotch Game: Lolli Variation

C44 Scotch Game: Lolli Variation

It has been what seems to me like a very long time since I last shared a correspondence game in this blog, but that time has come once again. The game below was played in a clan challenge between Metallica and The White Hats. I played on board 1 for The White Hats in this clan challenge that consisted of three boards. I was able to win my other game against Johannes Goethe, but it did not help our clan all that much and with a score of 4 - 2, Metallica won the challenge. It was interesting that out of the six games played in the challenge, in five of them it was the player with the black pieces who won the game. The variation of the Scotch that was played in this game, I do not remember playing ever before and the evidence I have gathered from the games I have analysed support that fact. There are of course hundreds of games that still wait to be analysed, so therefore I can't really be certain that this was the first time that I faced this variation. Then again there are also a couple of thousand over the board blitz games that I can never analyse afterwards, so I may never know the truth for absolute certainty.

I am reasonably happy with how I played the first six moves of this game. The move 6...Bd6 was a bit odd looking move in my opinion and I did not know how to best reply to it. The idea behind the move is to put the bishop to e5. I ended up playing 7.c3, which does not look like a good move. The other option I had in mind was possibly Qxf6 and in case I ever get into this position again, it is likely the move I am going to play. I avoided that option in this game because I did not want to help my opponent to develop his pieces. Had I taken on f6, I think that it would have been easier to play that position. When Johannes Goethe played 7...Be5, I had to decide where to place my queen. For some reason I thought that moving the queen back to d1 was the best thing to do. I may have thought that from d1 the queen is not restricting the movement of my other pieces and it controls quite a lot of squres. It turns out that I went one square too far and I should have stopped the queen's journey to d2. It seems like the obvious move to make at the moment and maybe I remember to do it when I end up in a similar position next time.

Not much happened in the game until it came time to make my 15th move. I decided to go after the h7-pawn and played 15.Ng5. I thought that it would give me some play, but it seems to be like a bad idea. Had my opponent replied with 15...Nd5 and continued accurately, I would have been in some trouble. However, Johannes played 15...Bf5, which would lead into an even game with accurate play. I was not up to the task of even playing one accurate move after 15...Bf5 and instead I blundered with 16.Qc2. The problem with my move is that it would have been a waste of a move had my opponent taken on d3 because I would need to take back with the queen. I would have basically used two moves to capture the bishop that could have been done with one move. Even though Johannes did not take the bishop, he remained on the better side of the board in the game continuation. Then on my 18th move I made a huge blunder that could have been the losing move, but my opponent made a mistake on move 19 that would have allowed to get back into the game. Unfortunately I let my chance go by and played the move 20.Rae1, which was the final nail in my coffin. I have added mate in one puzzle 510, mate in two puzzles 726 & 727, mate in three puzzle 649 and mate in four puzzle 518 today.

10 Aug 2016

Chess960 SP548

Chess960 SP548

I played two chess960 games at lichess.org today and the game you can view below was the latter one. The reason for it is obviously that the starting position featured in the first one was something that I had already covered in this blog. I did record both games while I played them, so those two games will appear on my YouTube channel next week. I did something in this game that I do not normally do, I started the game by pushing the c-pawn two squares forward. I did that in order to activate my bishop. Had I looked at the starting position more clearly, I would have noticed that the my queen was on g1 in the starting position, meaning that I am unlikely to castle short. My first move made it also a bad idea to castle long, so my king stayed at the center for longer than usual. My opponent's response to c4 was f6, which opened the a2-g8 diagonal for the queen, so that it attacked the c-pawn immediately. I protected my c-pawn by playing 2.b3, which I think is the best defensive option, since 2.d3 would block the path of the light-squared bishop and playing either knight to e3 seemed to also limit my options. On move 4 I did block the path of my light-squared bishop as I thought playing e4 and controlling the square d5 was necessary. The problem with the move 4.e4 is that it allows my opponent to post a knight on d4, which I can't drive away with a pawn. This is something that DAV-5000 noticed and began moving one of the knights towards d4. When a knight landed on d4 on move 5, I was not all that worried about it because it did not really threaten anything, it just controlled some squares. However, it also prevented me from moving the g-pawn as long as the queen was on g1 and the king was on e1. I was not sure how I should continue, but I played my bishop to a3 with the idea of placing my pieces to squares where they control as many squares as possible. It was something that Stockfish does not seem to like and it seems to prefer f4.

While DAV-5000's knights on d4 and f4 were annoying and a bit restricting, they would still need the help of other pieces to do something dangerous for me. I did have a plan of getting rid of the knights before that happens. First I targeted the knight on d4 by playing 8.Nc2. The idea was to take on d4 and when the pawn takes back, play my other knight to e2 and either trade also the other knights or drive the knight from f4 away. DAV-5000 replied with 8...d5, which was the worst move up to that point according to Stockfish, however, my next move was even worse. So, instead of taking the advantage, I gave it to my opponent. My idea behind 9.d3 was that I wanted to keep a pawn on c4 and on e4, so had my opponent taken either pawn, I could have recaptured with a pawn. For some reason I did not think that taking on d5 would be a good idea. My position kept going downhill with my next move, 10.Bc5. After that move I should have been lost according to the computer analysis. The idea behind Bc5 was to take on d4 and maybe win a pawn by doing so. It might have looked quite bad for me, but after a couple of moves when DAV-5000 played 13...c5, the position became close to even again. At that time, my bishop on c2 was like a big pawn and not really useful. However, I could have activated my bishop a bit by playing 15.b4. That move would have also given my other bishop something to do. It is unfortunate that I did not realise this fact during the game. My opponent should have stopped the b4 idea when he or she had the chance because it was my best chance to get my bishops into play. It did not matter because I did not find the right plan and instead operated on the center of the board with my queen and pawns. My failure to understand the importance of the move b4 meant that my opponent eventually ended up being slightly better. After 18.fxe4, I had a protected passed pawn on e4, but I had to activate my pieces in order to make use of the pawn. I tried to accomplish the activation of the bishops by rerouting them towards the kingside. It came clear to me quite quickly that my opponent does not want to allow it to happen. The move 21...g4 made sure that my light-squared bishop will not get to h5 or to other good squares. The position should be roughly even after g4, but then I made a bad move and I was in trouble once again.

I did get my opportunity to even the position again after DAV-5000 played 23...Bd6, but I missed my chance, not only once but twice in a row. Bad moves by both players kept the game roughly even. Then with the huge blunder, 31...Rh2, my opponent gave me the best chance up to that point to win the game. Obviously I missed my chance and played something stupid instead. Then after 32...Rg7, the move 33.e5 seems like an obvious move to make, but for some reason or the other, I did not do it. I missed the move e5 again on move 34 and made a horrible move that could have lost the game for me. I should have been lost, but the fact that my opponent had less time than me, not that either of us had all that much time left on the clock, made the moves difficult and therefore I managed to get a draw in the end. I have added mate in one puzzle 509 and mate in three puzzle 648 today.

Here is the live commentary of the game that I have done.

9 Aug 2016

Chess960 SP48

Chess960 SP48

The game I am sharing today was played earlier today at lichess.org. This was played as a 15 minute rated game. Due to this game, my rating climbed to its newest peak of 1918. The first mistake of the game in my opinion was when my opponent decided to play 4.Nc3. The reason why I think it is a mistake is that it makes the bishop on b1 a horrible piece for quite some time. It would have been more logical to play 4.c4, so that the light-squared bishop has a better chance of doing something useful in the game. I replied with 4...Nc6, which I thought was the most natural developing move. MouseSlip then played 5.Nd5 in order to get the knight to a better square and allow the c-pawn to advance to c4, so that both bishops are a bit more active. The downside of the move is that it is the second time in a row when my opponent moved the knight. While in some situations the knight can be a bit menacing on d5, I do not think that it does all that much there just yet. I think my next move 5...Qd6 was a very important move that allowed me to get my pieces as active as possible. Had I played my knight from c8 to e7 first, then it would have been more difficult for me to get my pieces developed. The queen would have been stuck on f8 for a longer time and that would have disrupted the activation of the rooks. My opponent obviously had different ideas on how to handle the position. MouseSlip's queen went to e2 on move 6, enabling castling and also preparing to move the queen to g4 and generating some threats against my king.

I thought about two moves on my 6th move, 6...Nd4 and 6...N8e7. I ended up playing the latter move because I did not think that Nd4 would accomplish anything useful. The move 6...N8e7 is an actual threat against the knight on d5. Therefore, at long last, MouseSlip played 7.c4. After the c-pawns double square advance it would be a bad idea for me to take the knight on d5, so I went with my other knight to d4 and tried to keep the initiative. It was answered by 8.Qg4 with the idea of getting something aggressive done on the kingside. However, the queen is a bit susceptile to attacks on g4, like we see in the game a bit later on. Had I not been careful, the move Nf6+ might have been a problem at some point during the game. Seeing that there was no problem as long as the queen or something else other than the pawn covered f6, I just castled short, without any real fear of moves like Nf6+. Then it came time for my opponent to play 9.O-O, which interestingly enough could have been the losing move. Had I gone for the right plan that is. The move I played 9...f5 was a good move, but 9...Nxd5 would have been much better. MouseSlip continued by playing 10.Nxe7+, which I thought was a mistake. Then again the reason why my opponent took on e7 was that MouseSlip wanted to keep the material balance. Unfortunately for my opponent, it was no longer possible to do that. I took back with my rook, which was replied with the losing move 11.exf5. I did think about different moves before I realised that 11...e4 wins at least a piece for the pawn, but because MouseSlip retreated with the knight to c1, I was able to finish the game with 12...Qxh2#. I have added mate in one puzzles 506 - 508, mate in two puzzle 725 and mate in three puzzle 647 today.

I have also made a video where I did a live commentary of this game and it can be seen below.

8 Aug 2016

D01 Richter-Veresov attack

D01 Richter-Veresov attack

On last weekend I played at the Finnish Championships of Team Blitz Chess and discovered that I am very slow at over the board blitz. Even though I thought that I was moving around the same speed or sometimes faster than my opponent, the clock was still adamant that I had less time than my opponent. I played on board 1 of the team I represented and on day 1, the average rating of the people I faced was 1967. The lowest rated opponent on day 1 was 1425 and the strongest of the 25 opponents I faced that day was a player whose rating was 2521. Before the tournament started I was very confident that I can most of the time keep a level of play that I am happy with. However, when the games started it almost seemed like I have not played this game before... It did not help that the chairs we were sitting were really horrible. I was also the one in our team that needed to write the results of each game. It was of course not that hard, but it was a thing that distracted me a bit and I could not really concentrate on playing the games. Now that the explanations are done, I can type about my score. I was only able to get 8 points out of the possible 25, which I was not satisfied with. My rating performance was 1828, which meant that I was not really playing as well as my rating of 1872 would suggest. It was not a horribly bad performance from me, but I was certainly disappointed with it.

On the second and last day of the tournament we played 20 games in the group we got into based on the way our team ranked against other teams on day 1. On day 2 I was able to get more out of myself and ended up getting 10 points out of the possible 20 against opponents, whose average rating was close to my rating. The lowest rated player I faced on day 2 was rated 1757 and the highest one was rated 2088. The highest rated player I was able to win during these two days was rated 2041. My best draw was against a player rated 2023. Both my best win and my best draw happened on the first day interestingly enough. Unfortunately I was not able to maintain a good level of play in all my games. In some games I just gave material too freely and in one particular game I missed a mate in one that my opponent could do... In that game I was up in material and I was only concentrating on keeping my attack going and did not see the counterplay opportunities from my opponent.

Okay, enough for the unrelated stuff and now it is time to concentrate to the game below. This was part of the 100 game practise match I played against a friend of mine. I think we both played reasonable moves until Kojjootti played 6.h4. I am not sure about the purpose of this move because it seems like a bit premature aggression towards my castled king. The move 6.h4 is not a horrible one, but certainly not something I would recommend. I played 6...b6 with the idea of trading the light-squared bishops off the board. The plan was simple and not a good one, but in order to prove that Kojjootti would have needed to play accurate moves, which he was not able to do at that time. I should have played either 7...c5 or 7...Nbd7 instead of 7...Ba6, but because I was able to trade the bishops on my terms, the position was even. Had my opponent played 8.Bxa6 instead of 8.h5, he might have been slightly on the better side of the board. The game went on without any big mistakes until we reached the position below after 15.Bf2.

I am not sure why Kojjootti played that passive move. The pawn on h5 is not under a real threat, because Nxh5 will be answered with Bxe7 and White wins. My opponent played an even worse move on his next move and after 16.Qe2 the position should be completely winning for me. I was able to proceed with the right idea at first, but then I played a couple of sloppy moves that enabled my friend to get back into the game. One huge blunder on my opponent's 21st move made things really bad for him again. After that I was on my way to victory until I made a huge mistake and played 39...Qb2. You can see the position below.

Kojjootti could have won the game in three moves, 40.Qxe6+ Kh8 41.Qxf6+ Kg8 42.h7#. Had I gone to b1 with the queen, I would have had an easy win. It did not matter that Kojjootti was not able to find the fastest mate in the time trouble because in the end he was able to find the checkmate. I have added mate in two puzzles 721 - 724 and mate in four puzzle number 517 today.

5 Aug 2016

B06 Modern Defense: Two Knights Variation, Suttles Variation

B06 Modern Defense: Two Knights Variation, Suttles Variation

The week ends with a closer look at a 5 minute chess game. Looking at one of my blitz games seems appropriate, considering that I am going to play roughly 50 5 minute games over the weekend. In the post I am going to do on Monday, I will type more about the tournament I am going to participate in. Or rather have participated in by that point in time. Since most of the weekend is consumed by the tournament, I will not have as much time to prepare for the next week as I would normally have, but as I have done some preparations for next week before the weekend, the content might appear normally in this blog and at my Youtube channel next week.

Now for the game below. This game was part of a hundred game practise match that I played against a friend of mine. The move order played in this game differs a bit from the theoretical move order for this opening variation. The theoretical move order is 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Nf3 c6. I usually play a certain line as long as it seems to be working and I am not bored of it. I think I have tried something else on my 5th move other than Bc4, but I felt that it worked against my opponent, so I kept playing it during this match. I mean I am fairly certain that I reached the position after 5.Bc4 a few times during these hundred games. I have not actually gone through all of the games yet, so I can't be 100% sure of the openings played in them. The purpose of the reply 5...h6 is obviously to prevent the move Ng5. The problem with it is that it makes castling kingside somewhat difficult if I can form a battery with my bishop and queen towards h6 before my opponent can castle. A better idea would have been to play 5...Nf6 and follow it up by 6...O-O. The problems that my friend faced in this game started already on move 5. Those problems became even worse when Kojjootti played 12...Nf6 because it would have allowed me to take on e5 with my knight. Kojjootti could not have taken the knight with the queen due to Qd8#. Unfortunately for me, I did not think of that possibility during the game, however, my move 13.Qd6 was reasonably strong too. Things looked very dire for Kojjootti for most of the game, but near the end I gave two chances for my friend to even the game. Both were unintentional bad moves from me. The moves 37.f3 and 38.gxf3 allowed my opponent to take on d5 with the knight in a way that I could not take back because of Be3+ and I would have needed to accept the loss of a rook. Because Kojjootti did not take his chances, I was able to maintain a position that was completely winning for me. I have added mate in two puzzles 718, 719 & 720 and mate in four puzzles 515 & 516 today.

4 Aug 2016

Chess960 SP37

Chess960 SP37

The game below was played today and because of this game my chess960 rating climbed its way to 1911, which is my new peak rating in this variant. The game began with normal moves 1.e4 e5. Then my opponent tried to play d4, so I tried to make it as difficult as possible for Martolod. However, after 4.Qe3, it became clear that I can no longer prolong the fight against d4. On move 5 Martolod would be able to finally play d4. I played 4...d6 in order to both open the diagonal for my light-squared bishop and also to add more protection to the e5 square. I had planned that when d4 comes, I will take it with my e-pawn, so that my bishop on f6 might control more squares than it would when the e-pawn blocks its path. Then on my 6th move I was forced to play Nb6, in order to prevent the move Qxa7 after d5. When my opponent played 8.f3, it seemed very hard for me to come up with a good plan. I would have liked to open some lines, but it seemed to me that there was no good way to do that. I ended up playing 8...Qe7 with vague ideas of playing Bg5 at some point and clear the way for the f-rook and move the rook so that I would have the option of castling short if need be. I did not want to castle long as that seemed very risky. On my next move I finally moved my light-squared bishop, only to see the reply Na5 and back to c8 my bishop went. I basically allowed my opponent to freely get his or her knight to a5. I should have played 10...c5 instead because taking the b-pawn would have been a huge blunder for my opponent as you can see in the notation.

Losing a move in this closed position was not luckily all that bad and I remained in the game even after the bishop moves. The first really bad move came when Martolod played 16.Na4. It would have allowed me to play 16...Nxd5 and I could have been on my merry way towards winning the game. I think I was down on time at this point in the game and could not think of a proper plan. Therefore I played the horrible 16...Nxa4 and allowed my opponent to get back into the game. The position after 18.Rc2 started to look so awful for me that I thought that I might lose this game. I was not going to resign anytime soon though. Had my opponent been able to get a decisive material advantage or been close to delivering checkmate, then I could have resigned. When I saw the move 19.Qa7, I started to see some possibilities for me to generate some play starting with 19...Bxd2 and following it up with Qg5 and Nf4. The unfortunate mistake of moving the f-rook to f2 began the downhill for my opponent from which there was no coming back. However, it was not the losing move. The move that lost the game was 22.Nxb7 because it allowed my queen and knight to run rampant on the kingside. I have added mate in two puzzles 716 & 717, mate in three puzzles 645 & 646 and mate in four puzzle 514 today.

3 Aug 2016

Chess960 SP695

Chess960 SP695

This game started to go down the drain for my opponent quite quickly. There was really nothing wrong with the moves 1.d4 d5 2.g3, but then my opponent, Chandu71, played 2...Ne6 and the problems could have started for him or her. The reason why the move 2...Ne6 is bad is because it leaves the pawn on d5 undefended. I could have taken the pawn with my next move, but I was more concerned of my own d-pawn, which was attacked by the knight. Had I taken the pawn and Chandu71 would have taken on d4 with the knight, then I could have taken the pawn on f7 and after Rf8, I could have taken the knight on e8. It would have allowed me to protect my f-pawn, so that I would be up a pawn. I clearly should have used more time on my second move, so that I may have seen that continuation. My third move was maybe a bit too automatic response to what my opponent did. Chandu71's third move was a horrible blunder that could have been the losing move, but again I was not seeing the right ideas in the position. I played the horrible 4.c3 in order to get the queen into play and take an aim on the undefended h7-pawn. If I recall correctly, I noticed the Ne5 possibility after I had moved my pawn to c3 and before my opponent replied to my move. I did get another chance on my next move to play Ne5 because Chandu71 made a second huge blunder in a row by playing 4...Ba6. It was all over for my opponent after this because I replied with the obviously strong 5.Ne5. The remaining moves are maybe not that interesting as the game became quite one-sided, but I have to mention that after 22...Kd8 I went for the unnecessarily long mate with 23.Qf7. A brief moment of thought might have been necessary to see the mate in two starting with 23.Qe6. I have added mate in one puzzles 504 & 505, mate in two puzzles 714 & 715 and mate in 6 puzzle number 93 today.

2 Aug 2016

Chess960 SP347

Chess960 SP347

I have wanted to add reference games to my chess960 games for some time now, but it seems I occasionally forget to do that. For this game I chose to put in the notation a game between the two engines Stockfish 200815 64-bit (3503) and Critter 1.6a 64-bit (3292). Among all the chess960 games that the engines had played, this followed the game the most, which is not saying a lot as you can see. There were a few choices of engine games after 1.g3, so I chose the one that had the highest rated engines playing. I basically do the reference games check for my chess960 games by searching a position from my reference database and the game that follows most the game I played, will be selected. In case there are multiple games, I will choose the one that has the highest rated players. Because that reference database only includes games played by engines, there will be only engine games shown in these notations as reference games. If I had a large database of chess960 games that were played by humans, then I would use that instead. Then again I could combine the two together and make an even bigger database.

Actually I did not even intend to play a game when I logged in to lichess, but when I saw that a 2100 rated player was looking for an opponent with time controls I could play with, I had to accept that challenge and test myself against a higher rated player. Based on the way the game went, I was happy that I accepted the challenge. The first move that made me consider the position a bit more was 4...Bb5. It had a surprisingly paralysing effect to my position. It made moving the e-pawn impossible for me for a few moves. Not only that but it made the development of my queen a bit more problematic, which in turn made sure that I was not castling anytime soon. Because I thought it was a good idea to put the bishop to the b-file, I replied with 5.Bb4. It was answered by baykus with the move 5...c6, the point of which is to get the queen out of the back rank and prepare castling short. I then played my knight to e5, so that my bishop would eye on e4. I did not want to play Qd2 immediately because it would likely be replied with Ne4. In this way I had at least made it a little bit less convenient to place the knight to e4 after Qd2. Both players then continued on with their plans to castle.

Next I wanted to move my rook so that the e-pawn could finally move, preferably to e4. This was not, however, the most crucial thing to do and I would have been better off, had I placed my knight to c5 instead of 9.Rfe1. The game continuation lead to the trade of knights, which I was okay with especially because baykus took back on c4 with the bishop. I thought during the game that taking back with the pawn would have been more annoying move for me to face, because the knight would have needed to retreat into a bad square. Then on move 12 I made a questionable decision by moving my queen to c3. The reason why I played my queen there was that it prevented my opponent of creating doubled pawns for me and had baykus played Ne4, I would have just taken the knight with my bishop. Then baykus would have needed to play Bxb3 because the move dxe4 would have lost a piece. In the game continuation both players made small mistakes until it came time for my opponent to play his or her 16th move. It was the worst move of the game up to that point. I replied with the move 17.f3, which is an okay move, but pushing the f-pawn two squares forward would have been a better alternative. My opponent replied with 17...Ne5, after which I was not really happy with my position. I did not want to play 18.f4 in response, because I did not want to allow the knight to retreat back to g4. Obviously I had misjudged the position and the knight on g4 would not have been as dangerous as I thought it would be. Due to that I played the weird looking 18.Nd4 in order to protect f3 and attack the rook on f5. Had the knight not attacked the rook, then obviously Nd4 would have been out of the question due to c5, forking my knight and my bishop.

With my 20th move I went more astray and played f4, a little bit too late. I was again too worried about the safety of my king that I was even willing to sacrifice some material because of it. The moves that followed my blunder were quite interesting and surprising to me. Well, at least the reply to 21.Bxd4 I was very surprised to see. I was very happy that my opponent decided to move the rook instead of the knight. It made it much easier for me to get back into the game. Had my opponent moved the knight, I would have been in some serious trouble. Due to my opponent's 21st move I went from being clearly worse to being clearly better. I continued to be on the better side of the board until I played 36.Rxe8 in a position where both of our times were starting to be very low. I did get another chance to fight for the win when baykus played 37...Rb2. At first I was able to play towards the advantage, but then after the blunder 40...Rc2, I played in desperation 41.Re2 because I was worried about the move a4, since I could not take it with my pawn because if I did, then I would lose my bishop on c4. I did not see the position clearly in time trouble and therefore did not see that 41.Rf1 is strong enough move to win the game. I did get a very good chance to win the game a few moves later when baykus played 44...a4. Unfortunately I did not see the winning plan this time either and instead I was too worried about the a-pawn and the position of my bishop. I could have also lost this game because of the horrible blunder 46.Rb2. Luckily for me, baykus did not see the winning idea and the game continued evenly until the end. After I had played 49.Kf2, I decided to offer a draw and my opponent who had less time than I did, accepted the offer. I have added mate in two puzzles 712 & 713, mate in three puzzle number 644 and mate in four puzzles 512 & 513 today.

The live commentary for this game can be heard in the video below.

1 Aug 2016

D00 Queen's Pawn Game: Levitsky Attack

D00 Queen's Pawn Game: Levitsky Attack

Learning the names and the ECO codes of openings can be a very time consuming process. I would not recommend learning all of them, it is probably mostly waste of time. The way I learn the names, the moves and the ECO codes is by doing this blog. Over time I have learned some of them and the more games I look up openings for, the easier it is to remember these things. The problem I sometimes face is that not all the sources agree to the name of the openings, which of course adds to the confusion. Not only that but not all of the sources even have the same named openings. These things may not be all that problematic to most people, but people like me who want to organise their games based on the openings used in the games, this can be very frustrating at times. There have been times when I have needed to change some of my posts because I have found a source that recognises an opening that goes further in the line seen in the game than the source where I have looked openings for that post originally. Then there is the problem with move order that also complicates things. Luckily these days the sources I look these things up from, also understand different move orders and can therefore recognise the openings much better than before.

The reason I played 2...g6 is that I wanted to move my bishop to g7 before I developed my knight to f6 and avoid the possibility that my opponent takes on f6 and creates doubled pawns for me. The first move that I do not really agree with my opponent is 4.c3. It is a playable move, but not the kind of move I would make these days. I would have preferred to play 4.c4 and be as agressive with my moves as possible. Probably the second decision that I do not agree with my friend is the move 7.g4. It just seems a bit risky to do that. However, had my opponent castled queenside earlier than he did, then the pawn storm against my castled king would seem more appropriate. The move 7.g4 is not a bad move though, as long as White can follow it up correctly. It was something that Kojjootti unfortunately was not able to do. His next move 8.Ne5 could have lead him into some trouble, but that would have meant that I would have needed to reply with either 8...Nxe5 or with 8...Qd6. The former option being the better one. My choice to play 8...Ne4 did not accomplish what I wanted it to. The game continuation resulted in a position where I have doubled pawns on the e and c files. It is a thing that I usually try to avoid at all costs. However, in the position after 10...dxe4, the doubled pawns are not enough to give White an advantage, at least according to Stockfish's evaluation of the position. I was slightly ahead in development, so that compensated for the weak pawns for the time being.

I wanted to get rid of the doubled pawns, so when Kojjootti played 13.Qb3+, I blocked the check by placing my queen to d5. At that moment I wanted my opponent to take on d5, so that I can take back with the c-pawn, so that one of my doubled pawns would cease to exist. The move that my friend played was something that was even more favorable to me, he retreated with the queen back to d1, basically giving me a free move. This time I poorly took advantage of the free move and did not play the rook to a square where it would have actually attacked something. The correct square for the rook would have been b8. With my next move I continued the plan of improving my pawn structure with 15...c5. It also threatened to win a pawn, unless Kojjootti played something to stop that. He did not find the best reply and that meant that for a little while, I had the more favorable position. A couple of moves later I made a bad decision with 18...Bf6 and that turned the tables. Then on move 20 Kojjootti exchanged the bishops on f6, making this game even once again. I had managed to get rid of my doubled pawns and the position seemed promising to me, I was happy of the way things had gone. In order for me to win, it would still require a mistake from my opponent, which did came in the form of 26.h5. It was far from easy to me to convert the advantage into a win. Still, I was able to increase my advantage so that I should have been winning this game, unfortunately time was also working against me and I ran out of time on my 42nd move. I have added mate in two puzzles 708 - 711 and mate in three puzzle number 643 today.