Monday, 15 September 2008

Leek Congress rd 4&5

I had a much more enjoyable day on Sunday at the Leek Congress (not sure why we in England call tournaments congresses). Even though I lost both games, they were good and competitive against stronger players with lots for me to learn.

The first game was against Alan Millward (95ECF) who plays for Macclesfield. We had a long analysis of the game afterwards, and I learnt a lot when he explained things he was thinking during the game.


He started off playing the Scandinavian but then fianchettoed kingside which I hadn't seen before. On move 20 he blundered his rook for a bishop, but I didn't have a massive advantage with him having the bishop pair.

I think one of my weakness is trying to form a plan for launching an attack. More experienced players tend to sense at the right moment when to start throwing pawns forward towards the enemy king, whereas I tend to play more passively and wait for things to happen. Anyone have any ideas on how I can improve this?

For example in this game, for ten or so moves, Fritz is screaming at me to play h4, h5, but the thought never occurred to me as I naturally think it will weaken my own king?

In the position below I blundered my rook back to even up the game by playing Qc1 leaving me open for Bh6. I tend to overlook bishop tactics quite often I've noticed, whereas I always check for knights. Something I need to actively think about I guess.

After this I was hoping for a draw, so in the position below I exchanged the knight with the bishop to simplify down. But this was a mistake as the knight in this position is stronger, and exchanging leaves his rook with the open file. It's nice to get to this stage of a game and have to think about it though!

He kept control of the open file and gradually squeezed my position until I was running out of moves and just moving the king back and forth. After swapping queens, my rook was stuck defending the b2 pawn and he could bring his king out to attack the pawns on the other side.

Final game was against Paul Clapham (82ECF) who plays for nearby Newcastle Under Lyme.


I rattled off the first 13 moves very quickly whereas he took a lot of time. But after completing the development I was trying to think of a plan of attack, whereas I should probably have had a bit more patience in this case and tried to control the centre.

I think the position below is where I started to go wrong. I moved the king to a8, but this was boxing it in and leaving it without anywhere to escape whereas moving it to e.g. c7 would have made it more active and less easily trapped. Also my light-squared bishop was particularly useless in this game, I'm not sure how I could have got it more involved.

He then picked the right moment to launch his pawns at my king, supported by his rooks, and my king was trapped in the firing line. I made it worse by hemming in the king with more pieces, until his attack was a winning one.

A brief circles update, the chess workbook section has been put on hold for the time being due to other things occurring. But I've been ploughing away at Chess Tactics server on and off.


Anonymous said...

In game one the knight is indeed a bit better then the bishop so i had postponed the exchange a bit to put my other pieces at good squares.

The second game you made a basic mistake by putting your king on the diagnal where his bishop stood on so with a nice tactic he won a piece and the game.

About attacking. I guess you just learn that by doing it. Afterall, tactics is all about attacking isn't it? :-)

Polly said...

Your first game reminds me so much of games where the material is even but I end out trading down to a position where the opponent's rook is far more active. I would have tried to get my rook to d1 guarded by the queen so that if i decide to make the exchange of knight for bishop I'm already challenging for the crucial d file. Once he gets his rook to d2 then you're stuck pacing back and forth with your king just waiting for the inevitable pawn breaks and king invasion.

Dean said...

Thanks both, I think I've got a much better understanding of what happened in the games now after thinking about them. I've noticed some players around my level seem to think that an endgame with even material is definitely a draw, but I think I've been learning that it's definitely not the case for the average player. Still loads to fight for.

Anonymous said...

"More experienced players tend to sense at the right moment when to start throwing pawns forward towards the enemy king, whereas I tend to play more passively and wait for things to happen. Anyone have any ideas on how I can improve this?"

Yes. Experienced players tart throwing pawns at the enemy king when the enemy is the weakest on the kingside. Some basic positional principles you should keep in mind.

1. Do not think about attack until you evaluate the position as being to your advantage.
2. If you have the advantage, you must attack.
3. Attack must be concentrated not to give mate; but to exploit the weaakest spot of the enemy.
4. In case you are throwing pawns on the kingside/queeenside; make sure that the centre is closed or that you have complete dominance over the centre.
5. The best defence to a flank attack is generally a blow in the centre.

So, when do you throw pawns at the enemy king?

When the centre is closed; or when you have complete central control; and the enemy kingside is weak; or you are trying to create a weakness in the enemy position.

In Madden-Millward, note the position after 20...Rad8.

What should White's plan be? Material is level; centre is generally blocked. Black's dark-squares are weak - f6,g7,h6 are holes. Also, if you think about it, g6 is pretty weak. the h4-h5 plan makes sense in such positions. The plan is to exchange on g6; when Bxg6 type tactics will come into the picture. Also, h4 has the benefit of... vacating the h2 square for the Knight! Notice the f6 and h6 holes. Nf3-h2-g4 is a possibility you should consider. At the same time, you must watch agaist the ...e5 break/

I am not giving the exact moves; just typical plans which you can consider in such positions