Friday, January 25, 2008

The perils of 1.e4.

As you have read from my previous posting, I have been pondering the switch from 1.d4 to 1.e4 for the sake of creating wild attacking possibilities. To those who have commented, I thank you and I have taken to heart every word spoken. I agree that 1.d4 seems easier and a little lighter to study but for some odd reason something in my brain wants to push to do things the hard way. Here is my first adventure in the 1.e4 world in months using an opening line I've never used before.

Sir Nemo(980 USCF) vs. C. Manual(2122 USCF)
CCC Weekly G/60

Round 3

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Nf6 (diagram 1)
This is a line of the Scotch I have never played before. I always used to just play 4.Nxd4 and hope things went my way from there but I've been studying some games from the 19th century and saw so many possibilities with this variation. I'm not normally a gambit player but I figured since my opponent was much stronger than me he would beat me either way. So I put theory aside for a moment and gave myself a scare with this gambit.

5.Nxd4 Nxe4 6.Qe2 Nxd4 7.Qxe4+ Ne6 8.O-O Bd6 9.Nc3 O-O 10.Bd3! (diagram 2)
This move was brilliant in my eyes for the fact that I knew that it would cause Black to push one of his kingside pawns, thus committing to long term weaknesses of the dark squares.

10...g6 11.Bh6!
Gaining tempo while developing the dark squared Bishop. Black has real problems on his Kingside due to a majorly cramped position and lack of development.

11...Re8 12.Rfe1!
This move serves many purposes: 1) Develops a Rook to an open file in the center of the board. 2) Pins the black Knight (12... Nc5 13. Qxe8!! Qxe8 14. Rxe8 with mate).

12...c6? 13.h4 Bf8 14.Bxf8 Kxf8 15.h5!
Breaking open the kingside even more. My strategy was to bring my rook to the open h-file and threaten mate on h8 with the queen.

15...Ng5 16.Qb4+ Kg8 17.hxg6 hxg6 18.Ne4 Nxe4 19.Bxe4 d5 20.Rad1! (diagram 3)
Pins galore! White finishes his development with yet another pseudo-tempo move. To those who don't know why this is a good move, it's pretty obvious that Black can't take the Bishop with the pawn, for he will lose his Queen.

20...Bf5 21.Bxf5 Rxe1+ 22.Rxe1 gxf5 23.g3!
This is another move which went with my strategy. It keeps the Queen out of h3 (minor threat), gives my King a space on g2, and last but definitely not least is the move allows me to bring my Rook to the open h-file. This is the first step on my to-do list.

23...b5 24.Kg2 a5 25.Qd4!
Second step on my to-do list. Though black has an impressive pawn chain and center, white is keeping an eye on h8 and h1 for his two remaining major pieces. Black decides to disregard White's plans on the Kingside.

25...Qd7? 26.Rh1! f6
Suddenly Black see's White's plan and does what he can to stop it. The game was over at this point; defense would have been extremely difficult.

27.Qxf6 Qg7! 28.Qe6+! Qf7 29.Rh8+!! (diagram 4)
Delivering the decisive blow and crowning white's strategy from the start. Black resigned because he has to give up his Queen or be mated next move:
29...Kxh8 30.Qxf7
29...Kg7?? 30.Qh6#

It was very interesting for me to have such a victory with not just an opening I've never played before, but also with the fact that I defeated a player who is much stronger than myself. I will take with me a few lessons from this game. One of them being that I remembered how FUN chess was when I wasn't so worried about beating my opponent. I really underestimated myself right out of the opening in this game, yet I managed to not only beat him in the opening, but also the middlegame and endgame.

So to answer my own question: I'm going to give 1.e4 a try. If it turns out that it hurts my game, rather than improve it, well it's a lesson well learned. We all have to make mistakes to improve, and we can't make mistakes without taking risks. My next tournament isn't until the very end of March and I look forward to it more than anything right now.

Once again, thanks for all the suggestions from the last post. I'll continue to play 1.d4 when I'm not feeling confident against certain opponents.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Attack on the King.

Last night was a successful night in my adventures to chess mastery. I performed exceptionally well against decent opposition at my local wednesday night Coronado Chess Club. My first round opponent was a 1400 USCF who I beat in a strong attacking game which went down to an endgame. The second round was against a 1578 USCF player who went into game really cocky. I taught him a strict lesson on how to conduct a Kingside attack. After the game he complained that I must have cheated when he got up to go to the restroom because it seemed like my pieces were moving too fast for him to even realize he was under a strong attack. He didn't let me checkmate him so he was very respectable in the fact that he resigned 21 moves into the game. I'll provide the game without commentary:

On top of this nice victory was the fact that I was putting up tough resistance to some of the club's strongest blitz players. Keep in mind that just three weeks ago these guys considered me a laughable opponent and now they're holding their breath when I'm sitting across from them. I beat a 1700+ blitz player twice and a 1900+ blitz player once. Granted I lost more games than I had won, but the point is that I'm not putting up a fight and giving these guys competition.

There are some things I've been pondering lately. For the last 4 months I've been playing 1.d4 as White and have had some good successes with it, but for some odd reason I'm thinking of switching back to 1.e4. I don't know why I want to make this switch, only that I'm thinking I made the switch to 1.d4 prematurely. What are your thoughts on this? I feel comfortable with 1.d4 like I used to feel comfortable with 1.e4... but now I no longer feel comfortable with 1.e4 like I did in the beginning. Perhaps I don't really need a change, who knows. I'm open to all opinions and thoughts so please feel free to give me your $.02.

Nemo, out.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Checkin' Back In

I'm finally back home from my lovely vacation up in Wolf Creek, Colorado. It was to get away for several days and just enjoy the snow and snowboarding. I didn't do much studying up there but I still continued to check my accounts several times a day. I did, however, do around 100+ problems in CT-ART yesterday as a consequence of me not keeping up with them on vacation. I finished Problems with Level Difficulty 30 with about 54% accuracy. I'm really ashamed of this but it's ok because I'm about 50-60 problems into Level Difficutly 40 and I'm already doing much better. Not to mention, my overall progress has been improving by major leaps! My accounts are still around 1600 for both accounts but that's 0nly because I lost two games on timeouts due to vacation. One of my accounts is doing really well, I'm currently playing 4 players with ratings over 1800 and I'm winning all 4 games. One guy simply won't resign. We're down to an endgame and he has his king and a rook and I have my king, a rook, a knight, and two pawns. Oh well, I guess he just wants to be punished the hard way. \

I also played my second rated game last sunday(as in, the one before this last sunday). I won in beautiful fashion. My rating only went up to around 1000 though but it's fine, it's MUCH better than 793 if you ask me. I did, however, miss out on a tournament this last weekend while I was up in Colorado. It was the New Mexico Memorial/Senior tournament. It would have been my chance to really show these guys I'm not just a patzer.

Another great improvement is that last night before I made my way over to the theater to see Cloverfield(great movie btw!), I played about 4 standard games on FICS(G/60) and won all of them in a total of about 30 minutes. My rating went from 1664 to 1718. Pretty nice if you ask me.

As a side note, I'm deeply saddened of the news of Bobby Fisher passing away. In his later years he was obviously a little whacked but his chess playing will forever remain unsurpassed. He died at 64, which in my eyes was exactly the age he would have liked to die. RIP Robert James Fisher.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Weekly progress report.

So it's the end of Week 2 in my Seven Circles adventure and I must say I'm both excited and also a little ticked off. I'll first explain why I'm excited. It mostly has to do with my over all progress. I've gone from a consistant 1400-1500 rating average to an average of 1550-1650. I consider this to be a HUGE leap in just two weeks! My tactics training is paying off considerably. If you look at some of my games on you'll see that I'm putting my training to use in it's fullest extent. Also my games on FICS are getting more and more beautiful. I have played and destroyed a 1968 rated player, and a 2123 player in the last 24 hours. I feel so accomplished. Here are some of my improvements from several websites in the last week with some explanations:

FICS = 1806P -> 1664
Although I've been beating higher rated players on FICS, I find myself in a major bind with the lower rated players. I lost about 4-5 games to players rated lower than 1500 which puts me around 3 games won against players with ratings 1900+ and 4-5 games lost against players with ratings lower than 1500. Maybe it's overconfidence or maybe they simply the higher rated players are overconfident. I guess time will tell but I will for sure put more thought into my games from now on. = 1583 -> 1622
I'm very proud of this. I had to beat several higher rated players to get this far and I'm proud of some of the beautiful combinations I've conjured up(sometimes out of nowhere!) in my won games. = 1499 -> 1521
Well I lost a couple games, but made a pretty big comeback in the last 24 hours. I lost two games which took my rating down to 1464 but i sprung right back up with 4 wins in a row against 1550+ players.

RedHotPawn = 1502 -> 1463
Well I was happy about the fact that my rating on RHP was over 1500 but it came right back to bite me in the ass cuz, well, I lost to a much lower rated player.

GameKnot = 1417 - 1443
What can I say. Three beautiful checkmates in a row, two of which were against players who's ratings were 1750+.

USCF = 793(p1)
Ah, the one rating that actually counts for something. I still look at this rating with disgust every day. I know my rating would be much higher than this but it doesn't help that I live in New Mexico and the amount of tournaments per year sums up to the amount of tournaments in a single night in New York City. Tomorrow will be my first time playing a rated game since my horrible loss to an 1190 player in my last rated game. I'll go in with my game face on this time. No more joking around, no more bullshit.

Now for the ticked off portion of my posting. As I've stated before, I'm in Week 2 of my first circle and I'm not at all pleased with my progress in CT-ART itself. My results are what's really ticking me off. I finished "Problems with level difficulty 10" with 91% which was really great, but the level difficulty 20 problems I only scored a measly 70% and I'm on level difficulty 30 now and thus far I'm at 56%. I got so frustrated with myself earlier that I almost didn't want to finish with today's tactics problems. What am I doing wrong? I look at other Knight's blogs and they seem, for the most part, very consistent with their results. One specific Knight had results similar to the following in his first circle:

Problems with level difficulty 10 = 92%
Problems with level difficulty 20 = 81%
Problems with level difficulty 30 = 72%

Am I really that horrible of a chess player? What could I do to improve this? It's obviousl that what I'm learning from my tactics training is showing in my actual games. I just don't know how to improve my results with CT-ART. Perhaps I'm moving too fast through the problems. I'm not calculating right; hell I'm not even thinking about the position or the moves, I'm just moving pieces around. I guess my problem is that I just want to be done with the problems as quickly as possible. What are some of your thoughts on this, and if this has happened to you in your progress, what did you do to overcome it?

That's all for today, wish me luck with my second rated game tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I have joined the ranks!

For the past couple of months I couldn't help but notice how many chess bloggers (mostly Knights) have come to mention FICS. I didn't really know what it was nor did I really care until about 2 hours ago when I did a google search for FICS. It turns out that FICS is exactly what I've been looking for! I'm so tired of having to pay stupid subscriptions to websites such as or ICC. I immediately signed up for an account (under SirNemo, naturally). I've played several games thus far and thanks to my lovely tactics training with the Seven Circles and my success with ICS, I've gained a stratospheric rating of 1809! Seems all this studying is starting to pay off after all!

Now that I have FICS, I'll refrain from playing on sites such as Pogo and Yahoo! cuz well.... they're a little ridiculous and the competition is, well, non-existant. I'm really glad I decided to find out what FICS was cuz now I'm a real happy camper. I hope to see, and maybe play, some of you other Knights on FICS soon! Let me know your handle(s)! That is all for now.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

First week over!

So I've finished my first week of the Seven Circles program. I feel very accomplished and full of confidence. I know it's only one week but I've already seen improvement in my play. I'm seeing simple Queen forks in my real games that I would have never seen without the training. I did 33 problems for everyday this last week and I gave myself an hour each day to finish them all but I've yet to exceed 25 minutes so I'm doing pretty good. My percentage rate for "Problems with level difficulty 10" was 91%. Not too bad!

My chess training schedule is pretty intensive for a working 21 year old who's also planning a wedding and getting ready for his baby to be born. Every night I start with 5-10 minutes of board visualization training techniques. Then I do my tactics training. Afterwards I allocate 30 minutes of my time learning a new variation of my favorite openings, which is working great btw! After my study of openings, I give myself about an hour for studying theory. I just started this schedule this last Sunday and believe me, my chess understanding and ability have improved so much! Here are several of my achievements in the past week:
  • My rating has gone up from 1475 to 1494 which I had to beat two 1600+ rated players to get!
  • I have two accounts; one of which has the rating 1499, and the other 1568.
  • My Pogo rating has gone from 1668 to 1927! (Based on G/10)
I'm very pleased with these results, so with that I pat myself on the back. That's all for now :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Losing chess 101

Well I've been playing mini-tournament on GameKnot for the last month or so and finally managed to build up this beautiful position against a 1700+ player. The game was going pretty well for me until I missed an amazingly obvious opportunity to have a damn nice material advantage. Here is a pic of the position before I started throwing the towel in:

sir nemo(1419) vs. hunwi(1731)

Now lets evaluate the position here for a minute. White's pieces are clearly far superior to their Black counterparts. The center is a battle in itself but I'm sure White stands better here. I felt so good about myself after reaching this position that I clearly stopped thinking 'tactically' and only thought about ways to improve my beautiful position. I could have EASILY turned my qualitative advantages into a nice quantitative advantage by the very simple 1) b4! and the poor Knight is lost. Instead of playing the piece-winning-move, I played 1) d5? in beautiful blunderific fashion.

I don't know about you, but once I blunder badly like this I begin to blunder over and over again. It really effects me emotionally. So several blunders later we came across this position:

I still thought I was doing pretty good here, but usually that's when things go bad. I believe it's a curse; once I start to feel like I'm doing O.K., I blunder away material like as if it grows on trees ;]. I played the most beautiful move of the game right here.... can you guess it? Yes, I played 1) Rg1??.

This is my lesson on losing chess 101. Tune in next week for I am sure there'll be a 102 course ready by then.