1/11 Chess 1.5/3

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Game One

https://www.chess.com/analysis/game/live/6205744474

Straight into a Slav!

Unfortunately, I forgot that here I can play dxc4 and try to hang onto the pawn with b5. Instead I played e6 and we soon transposed into a semi-slav.

I was pleased to have properly remembered to start with Qa5.

My opponent then played c5, trying to close the queenside, but I think this must be really bad as I have the easy b6 break.

Confirmed, out of what looks like 2400 games, c5 has never been played in the masters database.

Even for online players, pretty rare:

According to the machines, there are two good ideas, Ne4, threatening to win the bishop pair or give an awkward backward pawn, and b6 right away, going for the break.

I went for Ne4. Credit to my opponent who played the best move, Qc2.

I could have now gone for the b6 break or Nxg5 or Nxc3.

Apparently Nxg5 scores pretty poorly despite taking the bishop pair. That’s what I did.

I played h6, planning to play b6 next.

My opponent decided to get wacky and play Nh7, which is obviously tricky but doesn’t really seem to contain much threat:

Funny enough, Bxc5 is very playable, following it up with g6 and winning the knight.

I played the only more accurate move, Be7, threatening to win a piece. White played Bd3, trying to hang on for dear life. I calculated for a while between f5 and g6. Apparently b6 is still really strong!

Fortunately I did not play g6, which gets really tricky. He miscalculated and try to sac his bishop after f5:

I have to admit to getting a little lucky here, I was pretty sure Nf6 kept a clean advantage, but I thought Nf8 might be even better, but wasn’t able to get myself totally sure.

He decided to resign after I took his knight on move 15:

Opening: 2/3, I transposed into theory and got an nice edge, but I missed a chance to take advantage.

Middlegame: 3/3, I calculated well and had a good plan (though his goofy Nh7 antics meant I never pushed b6).

Endgame: N/A

Game Two

https://www.chess.com/analysis/game/live/6207055133

Nice quiet little scandi, and my opponent hit me with the goofy Ne5:

I replied with the best, Bxe2. We quickly reached a queenless middle game. I made a mistake pushing a pawn here:

h6 or moving my knight was much better, e5 would have let him put some uncomfortable pressure on the d file, and I’m not really threatening to take the knight.

Luckily he gave me a little time and space and I was able to untangle. Here I missed the excellent h5!

I ended up down a pawn after some trades:

But, I calculated well and my kingside was faster than his queenside pawn:

I found the winning move, h5.

Sadly, down to less than 2 minutes, I missed the only move here:

Rc8

Double tragic, I missed the only now-drawing move:

h4 manages to draw as we both promote, I found Rc8, but too late!

Opening: 3/3, got a very nice position. Totally equalized.

Middlegame: 1/3, not terrible, but missed the best plans and made some mistakes.

Endgame: 1/3, found some nice moves and ideas, but missed the important ones when it counted!

Game Three

https://www.chess.com/analysis/game/live/6208234918

Opponent came out with a goofy Kan.

Already a mistake! I should have played c4 for a Maroczy bind structure on move 3!

Anyway, despite that, I manage to get a nice attack rolling:

However, I missed the key move, can you find it?

Nd5! exd5 Qxd5+

Instead I ended up getting traded down into this clearly worse position:

Things were looking dark, but with opposite colored bishops, anything is possible!

Once I swapped rooks and picked up a pawn, I was pretty sure I could easily hold.

I got a little bit lucky that this move didn’t throw away the game:

But it doesn’t, because that a-pawn can never promote, it is going to the wrong corner.

Drawn.

Opening: 0/3, missed the Maroczy bind idea twice!!

Middlegame: 1/3, created a nice attack but didn’t find the key move!

Endgame: 2/3, played very well and managed to save a game that should have been lost, but could have been better.

1/10 Chess 1.5/3

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Brutal day, 1.5/3 but easily could have been 3/3! But we are closing in on 1800, so strong competition is to be expected!

Game One

https://www.chess.com/analysis/game/live/6199174545?tab=analysis

Opened with this weird variation where white isn’t even trying for an advantage:

After trading queens I think I made a small mistake by playing Nc6 instead of Bf5/c6, he could have played an annoying Nb5:

We developed normally and I was able to get totally developed and castled long and he had played the weakening move f3 and his dark square bishop was still sitting around doing nada:

I leapt into a weakened d3 square to win the bishop pair:

With the position still pretty closed, I wasn’t sure if I had any advantage at all, but figured taking the half open d-file and trying to open the position up was a good idea:

He gave me pretty much what I wanted and we got a totally open d-file:

He started opening up the queenside, which was good counterplay:

I wasn’t really sure how to make progress:

I decided to trade a pair of rooks, and we got here:

I didn’t see how to make progress, in hindsight I could have played Rd1+ again and if his king came out checked on d2 and then brought my king in if he went to g3. Instead I traded rooks. From here I should have seen b5 was best:

We got this totally drawn position:

I was running low on time, so he pressed with c5+, but that’s losing!

Earlier I had seen the potential for a passed pawn on the kingside if he got too far out of position:

Tragically, I mouse-slipped while finishing him off:

I let go of the queen on g5 instead of h5+ (after which Ke6 Kf8 Qf7#!).

At least it was a draw and not a loss!

Game Two

https://www.chess.com/analysis/game/live/6199325601?tab=analysis

Philidor.

In the future, when I get here, I want to play Qd3 instead of Bx:

I got a nice little edge with the pawn structure, and didn’t want to give it back:

However, I played Qe4, which is well met by Nf6, Qd3 on the other hand would have created my threat on h7 and let me play Nxe6 on the next move, creating another pawn island.

We traded down, and at this point I should have realized c4 was a strategically key move to fix his weakness:

Instead I did some other things, which were not productive, and he played c4, and was ahead!:

Luckily for me, he blundered and I saw it right away:

Game Three

An unimaginative Pirc player:

https://www.chess.com/analysis/game/live/6199423412?tab=analysis

I pretty quickly got a position I liked a lot:

After building the pressure on the c6 Knight and the center he finally forced me to execute the plan:

I got the first five or six move of the execution exactly right, but then had to find either Bxc6 or Bd5 and fell short:

The thing I didn’t see what that here I could play Qa5 or Qxc6+ with Ne5 or Ne5 right away:

I also missed the excellent Nd5!! here:

The game was about equal when I traded into an end game, but I had used too much time trying to make my attack work:

He played both sides of the board nicely, and ended up mating me.

I’m pretty sure it is going to be finding those finishing moves against unambitious players like this that is going to be how I make my next jump in rating. I’m just not fast enough to calculate the sacrifices to break open the center that are often necessary.

1/9 Chess 2/3

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Game One

Scandi, very boring until I made a huge error chasing a bishop:

Luckily he did not see Nxf7.

Another error and I got my bishop trapped on a3!

The extra piece was too much:

Game Two

Got what I thought was a nice edge against a pirc player:

I started breaking down his queenside and he panicked and tried to counter attack in the center but it did not work:

He resigned here:

Game Three

Stafford gambit! I’ve done a ton of prep against this. It is really popular because there are a lot of youtube videos on it.

I double checked my calculations here, since I hadn’t seen it for a while, but I was pretty sure a3 was winning by force, and I was right!

Black is actually very successful here, even though all of the moves played give white an edge:

He took the bait:

He tried to get out, but his queen was trapped and we ended up here:

Two bishops for three pawns is not a good trade, so he resigned.

That’s one you love to see:

1/8 Chess 2/3

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Game One

https://www.chess.com/analysis/game/live/6178488326

Not much here. My opponent played some kind of weird stonewall attack, but gave away his light square bishop right away, so obviously doesn’t understand the point:

I got a nice chance to take the advantage here with exf5, but instead played Bf6 which is basically even:

I took over the e-file, but made the mistake of trying to double on the 2nd rank too early with Rc2:

We traded down into this end game:

I believe this is drawn with f6, but I played h6 and lost:

My opponent kindly gave me another chance to draw with either h5 or a5, but I declined…:

Game Two

Blitzed our way to this position:

I correctly remembered that the whole point of Bd3 rather than e2 or f1 is to protect e4 for the knight, so played Ne4 Nxe4 Bxe4 with a big advantage:

Less than a second a move for each side…:

Here my opponent blundered a nice tactic, which I found:

Et voila:

Opponent resigned here, down a clear piece and a pawn:

Game Three

We got a Kalashnikov like we looked at Anand playing against the other day:

My opponent played the very rare f5…

The engine likes c4 at +1.6 then Be3 at +1.4, but I played Bd3, which is the most popular on lichess and scores pretty well:

My opponent advanced with f4 and I played the nice idea g3, we shortly ended up here:

This position has actually been reached twice before on Lichess, both times white won.

However, I let my opponent off the hook, if O-O, he is better:

The game was equal with chances for both sides, and I had about 1 minute to my opponent’s 3, but I was able to generate a nice attack:

Ne6 quickly ended the game.

1/7 Chess 1/3

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Game One

https://www.chess.com/analysis/game/live/6170692321

I equalized nicely out of the opening, reaching a nice position on move 11:

I wasn’t able to come up with any good ideas — upon review, I should have either gone O-O-O or played Bc5 and baited him into d4 before O-O.

By four moves later I had already let him build up some nice tactical threats and a better position:

I could have held a reasonable position with Nf6 or Bf6, but I didn’t see the threat on g7 and got killed quickly after Qd8 Nxc6.

Happy with my opening, bad middlegame idea generation.

Game Two

We’ve got the white side of a sicilian, which is a particular weakness of mine right now:

https://www.chess.com/analysis/game/live/6170884775

Luckily we played a variation that I remember pretty well:

Nf6 is not one of the main moves for black, here are Master games:

Though apparently very common at my level:

The main idea here is in most variations is to reroute the a3 knight to c4 then to e3, which I remembered.

It looks like that still works, though Bg5 is popular:

From all games:

Bg5 has good results and is by far more common, so I was thinking maybe I should remember that.

But then I checked out the master games:

Nc4 still not played, but notably has never lost in 20 games!!

I looked down and saw Anand! Ok, let’s see what he plays. Turns out both of those games are Nc4. We’ll stick with Nc4.

https://lichess.org/ihYaQV0T

https://lichess.org/UNUziy52

Back to our game. If I knew the Vishy plan, I would have tried g3 Bg2, but instead did something else and wound up winning a clean pawn:

However, my victory was short-lived, white to move, only one move keeps the advantage:

Should have been Qd3, where after taking on c3, the knight is always trapped. Whoops. Equal game.

I got one more chance to win the game with an only-move, but missed it again!

Re3!! I guess it should have been obvious the knight was trapped, but I just didn’t see it.

Then we traded down into a totally equal K+2R v K+2R end game, and I made a mistake I’ve made many times, pushing a passed pawn too far.

I shouldn’t have pushed the pawn so far, but once I did, I should have locked up the position like this:

I ended up losing the pawn and was unable to hold the end game with less time on the clock.

0-2 for the day!

Game Three

White pieces, another sicilian, and luckily another one I remembered pretty well.

https://www.chess.com/analysis/game/live/6171029858

Quickly reaching this position:

Unfortunately, I did not remember that if he plays Be7, then I can play g4. I always think of this line, but I usually get it wrong.

I’m going to check out this game for an idea: https://lichess.org/GpYLkYVb

But my studies have been paying off! Only-move for white:

That’s right, Bxe6!!

Here I actually messed up the attack. I played Bh6, which is bad, I should have played Nf5.

After both fumbling around with the kingside attack, I finally untangled with the advantage:

He then played a few pretty bad moves and resigned after I began my mating attack:

Got a win!

1/6 Chess 2/3

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Quick games today!

Game One

https://www.chess.com/analysis/game/live/6159958015

I stayed in book till move 7. He then O-O instead of h3, which is the most common move, I should have played Be7 instead of Nc6. I think I play Nc6 too often in the scandi.

He then played h3 and after takes-takes on f3, I missed that the pawn was hanging on d4!!

I played Qd7 and he pushed d5.

I got a little lucky and he let me unwind into this very equal position:

However, I missed his big threat, and instead of playing Qd6 or Qd8 or Qf5, I played Bxb2 and he hit me with the nasty tactic:

Game Two

https://www.chess.com/analysis/game/live/6160093684

My opponent came out FIRING, gambiting a pawn on move 2:

I had literally just watched a video (Wesley So I think) saying that this gambit is to be accepted, so I did.

He played Nc6 and I figured he was headed for a crappy Stafford gambit, which I am more than comfortable against, so I took. Nf3 also good.

After dxc6, I played Bc4 which looked good, but that walks into Bxf2 Kf2 Qd4+ which is a normal gambit motif that I should have avoided with something slower like c3 or d3 or Nc3.

Then it was my turn to gambit a pawn:

I won the knight right away with the pin:

My next move wasn’t the engine’s favorite, but simplified easily into a winning end game, Nxe4:

There is a crazy forcing line that we did not play:

Instead my opponent resigned here:

Game Three

https://www.chess.com/analysis/game/live/6160220653

Did you notice? I played Nc6 instead of e6 again! Whoops.

1/5 Chess 1/3

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Game One

Boy did this one slip away from us:

https://www.chess.com/analysis/game/live/6150810619

We got this Evans’ Gambit declined right off the bat:

I should have played a4 but instead prematurely played b5.

It turned out fine, as my opponent inexplicably sacced his bishop on f2 a few moves later:

After a few more moves my opponent launched a desperate attack:

He sacced a rook to try to open my King:

I should have calculated better here and played Kf1, where if Qc1+ Kg2 Qg5+ Qg3 instead of Qg3 right away.

From here I blundered Bd2 Nf4+ and quickly lost.

Game 2

https://www.chess.com/analysis/game/live/6152376614

We started off in a Chigorin, and I played c5 instead of e6, which I should have:

My opponent started making some wacky kingside advances:

In hindsight it was a very good thing I decided to play Bh5 instead of h6 or h5. I was considering those.

Then I decided to double his c-pawns and play against his weak looking pawn structure. Game still basically even and neither king is castled, I’m down to 5 minutes and he’s got 9 :

He then made some bad trades that let me get a pawn, and then he initiated more trades opening up his king:

From here it was a matter of technique, and he crumbled when I added some pressure on the h-file:

Game 3

Black pieces. Got a nice little scandi, he deviated with c3:

I played exd4, which stockfish swears is fine, but I think I should have played long castle, because I had trouble getting castled shortly after.

I ended up missing my chance to castle and bailed into a bad rook ending:

This is the last position that I could probably have held, but I played Rf1?? instead of Rd2, oops!

1/4 Chess 2/3

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Played some terrible blitz last night and donked off like a hundred points, that never feels good.

Game One

https://www.chess.com/live/game/6141747817

Game started in the same fashion as a couple of others we have already looked at with e4 d5 e5 c5, and we end up with our Knight pinned:

The thing I used to do is returning the pin with my own bishop on g4, but John Bartholomew introduced me to the interesting idea Bd7, which has a neat point, that if white plays O-O, black can take the pawn on e5 with nice tactics. The second most popular move!

Clearly we are doing well

He plays Bxc6 and we take back with our bishop. He then plays c3 and I replied with e6, the normal response in these positions and what I would have played after d4. However, while e6 is at least equalizing, it looks like him allowing me to play d4 is a mistake, and I should capitalize. I’ll try to remember that in the future, as a lot of people prepare d4 with c3.

We arrive here:

We have both used just 15 seconds, and I have a slightly uncomfortable pin. Since I haven’t castled I decide to poke at his bishop, which is something that seems to be a decent rule of thumb. He takes on e7 and I think I have a plan!

We’ve got the bishop pair and whenever I take on d4 he’s probably going to end up with a backward pawn. Additionally, he’s got two knights. I need to open up the position and my bishops should outclass his knights by a lot.

He misplayed the maneuvering game and let me get this tactic:

I made a minor mistake choosing which square to retreat to after taking the knight:

Bb5 gaining the tempo on the rook was best, because I could follow it up with a5 and not lose that pawn. I was just fine with dropping the pawn, but did not consider saving it.

He then goes full savage mode with g4:

Do you see the excellent idea? Bg5 traps the queen!! I did not see it.

Instead I swapped rooks and broke into the f-file.

I did eventually trap his queen, but it was only the fourth best move in the position!

I considered the f4 captures, but went for the material.

He tried to sacrifice his knight for his queen, but the tactics weren’t working:

One more desperation attempt and he gives up here:

Game Two

https://www.chess.com/live/game/6145069294

We’ve got the black pieces and the opponent opens d4 but goes for some weird stonewall attack:

My repertoire is to play Nc6 here, but uh, I forgot. Played cxd4. I did remember that I need to control the b1-h7 diagonal that and if I can trade light square bishops he has basically no attack.

I should have been aiming for something like this:

Instead we got this, which looks fine:

He soon plays f4 for typical stonewall structure, but the guy doesn’t have a light square bishop…

Naturally I jump Ng3 to win an exchange.

I was not sure the best follow-up:

I ended up giving him a terrible pawn structure:

He let me trade queens without much of a fight:

I was down to a minute and missed some nice tactics using checks on the 2nd rank here:

Eventually I traded everything except his one rook for my rook and two connected pawns and made a queen and showed him my K+R v K technique:

Game 3

https://www.chess.com/analysis/game/live/6145197530

Black pieces ends in disaster with a move 16 blunderino!

He opens with the c3 london, and I blank that I should play Bf5:

Luckily for me, we transpose and I’ve got a decent position:

Here I should have played either Qb6 or e6. Instead I played h6, which isn’t losing, but does kinda suck.

We got to here:

I remembered from prior analysis that I’m supposed to let him play Nxc6 and it doesn’t really matter, but I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do instead. e6 and Nd7 are both good.

He then initiated a queen trade, which gave him a semi-open a-file, but ruined his pawns.

Again, I should have given up the c-pawn, if Nd7 Nxc6 Rc8 gives black a great position, but I was too scared!

Instead I ended up in this terrible position:

I could have played Ke7 and just been a little worse as he gets a nice attack on the queenside, but instead I focused too much on the b-file and played Rb8 and he took it and that’s all the wrote.

You Resign Now! - Imgflip
whoops

1/3 Chess 3/3

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The first (X/X) in the title is the date, the second is my score out of 3 for that day, 1 for a win 0.5 for a draw 0 for a loss.

Game One

We’ve got the black pieces and white plays e4, so we go d5, white plays e5, which is actually a position I’ve played a lot when I used to play the najdorf, via e4 c5 f4 d5. I know it is supposed to be really good for black but it still gives me some trouble.

We got here in about 7 seconds:

Both openings that I follow that transpose to this recommend Nge7 and just say black is better because he has an amazing version of the french. Trade the bishop on f3 when h3 comes. I’ve been playing Be7 so I need to remember Nge7.

White made some weird pawn pushes early, so I decided not to castle kingside, and eventually he made this mistake, allowing me to take twice on e5 and get a very important pawn:

Then we got to the following position, and I thought about which square to move my queen for a while, but picked one that I think I regret, though according to the engines it is exactly the same and I don’t really get a chance to unpin my queen for a while:

Depth 30:

So now I’m stuck in this filthy pin:

I thought about sacrificing the exchange on f4 but decided that was a no-go, I didn’t see that you can immediately win back the exchange with Ng6. It was actually the best idea behind the brilliant Bg5! Where after Bxg5 there are two mate in twos to choose from.

I missed both of those and just kept a pleasant position (my opponent missed a crazy idea that would have slightly more than equalized, but it is nuts and ends with a bishop and knight mate if I retreat the wrong way…).

Instead of trading queens, which was his best bet, he tried to win material on e5, but unfortunately his calculations were off. Before this move he had 5 minutes to my 3. He actually spent a minute and a half before making the losing move, sometimes that happens to me where I calculate something, see it doesn’t work, calculate a bunch of other things, then see that first thing and am like “well fuck it, nothing else works”, forgetting that that definitely doesn’t work.

His defense was stubborn so I ended up trading into this endgame and winning a time scramble:

Game 2

We’ve got the black pieces and (I think) our first 1. d4 player of the new year. We play d5 and he goes into something really weird by move 3:

c5 is the most popular move among masters:

It’s also what Wesley So chose against Shak in 2019: https://lichess.org/TuwfGmwT/black#5 so I think it’s good enough for me.

It isn’t the most popular at lower levels, but does score the best:

I, like apparently the plurality of plebes, played Bf5.

Shit got weird, fast:

Apparently h6 totally equalizes, everything else isn’t good. I played h5, whoops.

We eventually reached this position, where I am up a pawn but hopelessly lost:

Miraculously, I was able to trade pieces and get my king tucked away safely on h7 after several close calls:

It now felt like I was in the driver’s seat (and I was). I had about 3 minutes left to his 5.

I managed to trade down and win a ton of material, but did use up my clock, now with 43 seconds versus his 3:09:

But my material was too much, and I delivered mate with 7.1s to spare:

Game 3

Game 3! Feeling good after two wins. Love having a 3-0 day.

We started off in a French:

Luckily, after our mishap from day 2 game 2 I went back to do some research (studying how to play better against the french is on my short-list, I am not scoring well at all in my rapid games):

This time I knew my prep and came out ahead a clean pawn:

From here it was just a matter of developing well, coordinating my pieces, and trading down into a winning end game.

I missed a nasty tactic here:

Do you see it?

I played Bxd5, which is fine but loses some of the momentum because after exd5 Rxd5 it is a little tricky to develop the knight and rook without dropping the f4 pawn. Rxd5!! very nasty. exd5 Bxd5+! then black’s best bet is Rf7 and you can take that rook at your leisure and be up two clean pawns.

We ended up getting here (still have problems developing my king side…:

I thought his knight was trapped, but he ended up getting it out, I calculated to here:

But I didn’t see b4. We both had about 5 minutes.

I got the better of him with some maneuvering around the c pawn, and eventually he blundered into a fork:

First 3-0 day of the new year!

1/2 Chess 1/3

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Game One

Black pieces, another scandi.

We leave my opening prep with the unusual but not obviously bad Be3:

This has been played just once by masters, two very strong players named Daniele (based on last names, looks like an Italian championship or something) in 2007: https://lichess.org/B3j22mzT/black#9

It has been played over 700 times in the lichess database, and the most popular response is e6, which blocks in black’s bishop and is bad! White wins 55%. Black keeps and edge with Bf5 or c6. I played Bf5.

Normal development and a queenside castle:

I then made a big blunder (we both still had 9 minutes!) not calculating where his knight would be after a capture, just too cute:

But he decided to keep pushing his pawns, not seeing my threat, and I took a huge lead:

By move 17 we were here:

I managed to win his queen and mop up his pieces in clinical fashion:

Game 2

I got the white pieces and we opened with some weird shit:

I was like, is this a french? caro-kann? IDK. As far as I can tell, this has never been reached by masters in this move order (e4 first), but has been reached 6 times. White does really well (whoops). I played Nc3, treating it like a french, which is fine. It’s the third most popular by high rated players on lichess and scores as well as anything else (actually, Nd2 scores the best by a bit with just 700 games played).

Big problems when he plays d5 and I played e5! That is not the right thing to do!

Almost anything else is fine, but now he can play c5 and is just equalizing already. Oof.

The position before e5 is played has actually been reached (by transposition) by masters about 40 times, and they mostly play Nf3 and score really well.

I eventually made a big mistake choosing where to put my queen. I ended up going to e2 which made it basically impossible to castle:

I finally castled long, but ended up getting crushed, his attack was world’s faster:

Game 3

We have the black pieces and ended up in a typical scandi position:

This has been reached 10 times by masters, and black does well if he knows to play e5. I, ahem, did not. I played f5, which the engine says is fine, but isn’t the idea.

Because I never played e5, my attack is slower than his and I have no counterplay:

I went on to get crushed, and sadly missed the simple tactic here that keeps the material equal (if not the position):

I felt like I was really close to getting enough counterplay for a draw, but the knight on d2 was too good of a defender of f3:

And…resigns: