Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A loss

Hi! Been a while. I've actually been doing a fair bit of chess work the last few weeks, but not as much as I'd like. I suspect that a principal advantage of the de la Maza method is that it gives the student a strict schedule to follow.

Anyway, according to my logbook, I've spent more than 12 hours analysing the following game, my third-round loss in the May Open at the Marshall. It was a hard game to analyse, because it wasn't very tactical, so there were a lot of reasonable alternatives for each side.

A word about my opponent. IM Renato Naranja was for years one of the Philippines' best players. In 1970, he played in the 1970 Palma de Majorca Interzonal, where he drew with Fischer and beat a number of strong GMs. The tournament book of that event was the first chess book I bought with my own money, and I remember his games well. Naranja has returned to chess this year after a long absence from the game. I am thrilled to have had a chance to play him.

So, what did I learn from this game? Well, I evaluate potential endgames too superficially; I just assumed that the Bishop ending was tenable. I still haven't conquered my tendency to simplify even when complex alternatives are better. And I re-learned something about Black's move-order in the Stonewall (I used to know that 8...Ne4 was the right move; I played it several times). There was something wrong with the way I evaluated positions in the middle game, as well, but I haven't quite worked out what it was.

Comments on, and corrections of, my analysis are welcome, as always.

I want to look at this game more in depth later. One thing I notice that you do, that perhaps I need to do, is to track the amount of time you spend for each move...or at least for some of the moves. I'm guessing that this means you have a budget set up for how much time you are willing to spend on different moves. How do you do this? Do you write how much time on the scoresheet? Also, do you cut yourself off from further analysis if your time allotment for a particular move is running short?
During the game, I write down the time showing on the clock after each move. When I'm analyzing the game and putting it in my database, I only include the times that are "interesting". I also keep a apreadsheet with my times at move 10, 15, and 20 for all my slow games (usually 30/90, SD/60 or slower).

Because of the ever-looming specter of the sudden death time control, I try to budget my time for parts of the game. In a slow game, I want to play the first 10 moves in 5 minutes; get to move 15 in 15 more minutes, and to move 20 in 20 more. I hope to get to move 30 with 15 or 20 minutes to spare; that's usually just a fond dream.

I don't write those milestones down beforehand--that would be a form of using notes during the game--but they're simple enough to remember, and if I'm playing slower than that, I try to speed up. Often that means I'll avoid analysing complicated lines and play something simple instead.
Thanks, Ed. I'm going to try to develop a similar type regimen for me to follow to budget my time. I'll have to tweak it, though, because my opening knowledge stops around move 6 whereas yours goes quite a bit farther before you have to give it a think.
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