Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Spondon club championship v Bert Loomes

Last night I had a long 71 move match against Bert Loomes (117 ECF) in the Spondon club championship. I got into very bad time trouble towards the end, throwing away what looked like a winning position and losing. I haven't had time trouble this bad for a while, so not sure if it was me playing too slowly, or if it was just that this match was a lot longer than my average matches. Anyway, there's a lot I can learn from this match and I hope it helps me to improve.

He played the french defence, with a fianchetto on the queenside. It looks like once he castled queenside, I should have started pushing my queenside pawns forward a lot quicker, and been a lot more aggressive. Instead I concentrated on trying to defend his kingside attack, when counter-attack would have been better.

I miscalculated 36.Ne3 above, for some reason I didn't even notice it was being attacked by a pawn until I put the piece down. But luckily for me it was actually the best move, as the pawn was also defending his rook. He missed the knight fork on the next move leaving me up the exchange.

Around this time I started running out of time. Giving up my knight was a mistake. His h-pawn was an annoyance I couldn't figure out how to stop. Maybe I should have offered a draw around this time, but I guess it's better to play it out and learn from it.

The game was still winnable towards the end, but I missed most of the best moves, don't know if I would have played better with more time. With perhaps a few more minutes I might have realised I should have pushed my a-pawn to promotion.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Martin Gibson

Had a nice win in the Spondon club championship tonight against Martin Gibson (63 ECF). Interesting game which was even until I managed to break through on his kingside, and a nice mate to finish it.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Warwickshire Chess Congress 2011


Round 1:

Had a very pleasing win against Paul Williams (99) with black. It felt like I got my focus back 100% on the game for the first time since my break.

He played 2.f4 after 1.d4 Nf6. Haven't seen this before, but decided to carry on with the Kings Indian defence. It was looking very drawish in the middlegame.

I was happy when he played 19.Bxe4, as it looked to me (and I may be wrong), that it left him with a bad bishop that was blocked by all his pawns. And also left me with the bishop pair on a board that was opening up.

I liked my bishop on e4 and was hoping something would come out of the theoretically good position. I've been reading up on positional strategy recently which I think will improve my game and make it less dependent on tactics.

I managed to get a passed pawn, then supported it with another passed pawn. I was surprised he didn't try to sacrifice his remaining bishop at the end to stop the pawns.

Round 2:

Lost with white against ungraded junior Aaron Vitarana. I started playing too fast in the opening and didn't even consider 7.Bxf7 until after I'd castled. I was playing speculative moves without taking the time to analyse them deeply.

26.Nxe5 was the big mistake. I calculated I'd win a pawn, but didn't visualise the back rank mate threat. Taking with the bishop first would have been ok.

Round 3:

Lost with black against Gabor Csepregi (116). He played well and deserved the win. Towards the end he forced me to give up my Queen for a rook. So it was Queen and 4 pawns versus Rook and 4 pawns. I realise it's a winning position for him, but didn't see any reason to resign immediately until he showed he could convert it.

After his last move, I was studying the position, and could tell it was lost, but was just checking if there was anything left I could try. I was just about to resign when my elderly Russian sounding opponent started to speak to me.

"I think it is about time for you to give up. Why are you playing on now? We have a long journey home, what is the point in playing any longer?"

I felt it was very bad manners of him to speak to me at all during a game, and even worse to suggest I should resign. I have every right to use all my time to play on as long as I want. I felt furious inside, and no longer wanted to continue the game, and as I was about to resign in any case, I toppled my king, quickly shook his hand and left. I have nothing to gain out of getting into an argument with an old man.

Anyway, it was a good game apart from that. He had an interesting opening against the Kings Indian. It came down to Queen and 2 rooks each, and he had a big attack which forced me on the defensive. By move 34 I only had a minute on my clock to reach the time control of 36 moves. I quickly went for a couple of checks, but unfortunately this was the error that allowed my Queen to be trapped to prevent mate. A shame it had to end on such a sour note.


Round 4:

Lost with white against Christine Constable (102). I thought I'd got my knight into a good position on d6, but it proved to be my undoing. She did well to convert the extra minor piece into a win. I was hoping to take all her pawns and leave her with bishop and knight mate but it didn't work out.

Round 5:

Won my final game with black against Anthony Taylor (92). On move 13 he looked to be winning a rook and pawn for a knight and bishop, but for some reason he didn't take the rook, leaving me a knight up for a pawn. Move 17 he blundered his bishop, so I thought being up two minor pieces would leave me plain sailing. But he mounted a good attack on my King, which had me very worried. I should have released my rook on a8 much sooner. Eventually though he resigned when he'd have to exchange Queens to stop mate leaving me up a rook and bishop.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Stockport Rapidplay 2011

Yesterday was my first time at Stockport. 127 players had entered when I checked on arrival, with more late entries afterwards. Think it must be biggest turnout I've played in.

Round 1:

Black against Stuart Hamilton (ECF grade 67) from Rhyl. He played an offbeat opening, Nf3, d3 etc. Quite even until I got a passed pawn which he had to spend a lot of time defending. Eventually he had to try bringing his King across so I gave up the pawn and took a pawn from the other side. Luckily for me, him taking my pawn allowed a fork of king against his rook. He moved the pieces to play it, then realised the error and tried putting the pieces back and moving something else instead. I said to him we're playing touch move, and he admitted defeat.

Round 2:

Lost with black against junior Jennifer Neil (92). Scandinavian defence. She took a long time over her moves, and was very short on time at the end. I had about 20mins left. She played well to set up a mating attack which I just couldn't stop.

Jennifer kindly allowed me to take a photo of her scoresheet, so was able to go over the game (I don't keep score in rapid games due to time trouble).

The big mistake on my part was 17...g5 allowing the mating attack.

Round 3:

Things went from bad to worse when I lost with white against ungraded Gary Jones. Two knights defence. Was up a pawn from the opening, then up the exchange when skewered king against rook. Then somehow towards the end I threw away a rook, and he had a pawn advantage in bishop endgame. Was hoping he might run out of time and blunder but he played well.

Round 4:

Played terrible as black against Derek Marsden (93). Started 1. e4 d5 2. e5 c5 3. c4 e6 4. Nf3 Nc6. Didn't like the position. Got a couple of pawns lead but then he pinned my knight against the king and piled everything onto the knight. Should probably have castled earlier. He got a mating threat which meant I'd have to give up Queen for rook so resigned.

Round 5:

Easy win with white against ungraded junior A.S. Tathare.

Round 6:

Another easy win with white against Angie Howe (UG). She played a weird Scandinavian: 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qe5+. I played 4. Nge2 but looks like the book move is Be7. Anyway I chased the Queen around a bit while developing pieces and eventually it went back to it's starting position. I was slightly hampered in the game due to a stomach ache, but just played sensible moves and capitalised on mistakes.

So I ended up with 3 wins and 3 losses, which probably sounds better than the poor performance I gave. Need to cut out silly mistakes.