Monday, September 29, 2008

I'd fire the manager if only I could figure out how

I've hardly played a decent game since mid-July. It's like I've turned into the New York Mets.

Herewith my latest horror story, from last Thursday's round.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I was looking through Charles Hertan's new book Forcing Chess Moves in a bookstore last weekend. It looks pretty good, though I haven't bought it yet. But here's something from the introduction that I don't understand.

On page 12, Hertan gives us a definition:

A forcing move is a move which limits the opponent's options. Nothing more or less.

OK, I'll buy that. On page 15, he gives this example, from Hertan-Kelleher, Cambridge 1994:

Black to play

What's a forcing move?

Hertan explains that Black played 1...Ke4 and lost, and also gives a White win against the "waiting move" 1...Kd4. Finally, he shows that Black has a draw after 1...Kd6! I didn't copy his analysis, but it seemed convincing enough.

Hertan tells us that Kelleher said that he never considered ...Kd6 because it seemed "too passive", and says that this is an example of the "human bias" we need to overcome:

While a computer would have used brute force caclulation to find the draw, a failed to even consider the strongest forcing move due to human bias!
(emphasis in the original; I've used bold where the book uses small caps).

What what what?! How is ...Kd6 a forcing move? What options of White's does it limit? None I can see.

I think this position is more an exampe of using "process of elimination" to find te right move. The forcing ...Ke4 doesn't work, ....Kd4 loses as well, moving the Bishop is useless--try dropping the King back. But if I'm supposed to look at ...Kd6 because it's "forcing", then is there any move in any position that isn't "forcing"?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More Spluttering Rage

Here's the loss that took me out of last weekend's tournament. There's somewhat less swearing in the annotations this time--but that's because my supply of insults is still a little low from the last post, and I'd need Congressional authorization to tap the Strategic Vitriol Reserve.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Am A Worthless Moron

I played a lovely little game on Thursday night, proving once and for all that I'm a stupid piece of shit who shouldn't be allowed near a chess board.

White: Some damn fool (2161)
Black: Jerry Monaco (1670)

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.g3 g6 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.d4 d6?

This seems to be just bad.


For some reason--probably senile decay--this took me 10 minutes.

7...dxc5 8.Qxd8+ Nxd8 9.Be3

But this only took 3.

9...Ne6 10.O-O

And this took 6, leaving 65. I was thinking--if I can dignify it with that word--about h3 or Rd1.

10...Ng4 11.Bd2 Rb8 12.Rad1

4 minutes here, figuring out where the Rooks go.


Well, that's interesting. I used 5 minutes on my reply. Be nice if I could play 13.Nxg5, but instead of 13...Bxb2?? 14.Rab1 Bg7 15.Nd6+ winning the Exchange, Black can just play 13...a6 14.Nc3 Rxb2 =.

13.cxb5 a6

11 minutes, leaving 44. I considered the murky--to a fool like me--consequences of 14.bxa6 Rxb2, and of 14...Bxa6 (with pretty good compensation, I felt).

14.h3 Nh6 15.Ne5!

after 15.Ne5!

Look! I found an acorn!

9 more minutes here, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense, since this is what I planned when I played my previous move. Well, what can you expect from an idiot?

15...Nf5 16.Bc6+

4 minutes, 31 left. 4 minutes??

16...Kf8 17.Bf4

6 minutes here. Not sure why I rejected the immediate bxa6.

17...Nd6 18.bxa6

7 minutes, leaving 18. Whatever I calculated here, I surely forgot all about it immediately.

18...Rxb2 19.a7 Nc7

after 19...Nc7

A choice of brutal obvious wins

Now here, White could just win a piece with the brutally obvious 20.a8=Q. Or, he can win a whole Rook with the cute deflection 20.Nd5!, when Black can only prevent the Pawn from queening with 20...Rxa2 21.Ra1 Rxa7 22.Rxa7. But no, I had a clever notion in my--what's the word? mind? That can't be it, "mind" implies there's some mentation going on.


This took me 10 minutes, leaving 7 to get to move 30. Oh, remember I mentioned Nd5 being a winning shot here? It never entered my mind for a second, not a single second of those ten minutes. Abysmal.

20...Bxc3 21.Nxb2

This took me 2 minutes. Why? I don't know. I believe I was considering taking on d6 in any of three ways. 21.Nxd6 and 21.Rxd6 are probably even good.


after 21...Bxb2

Now I prove to be cowardly as well as stupid


3 minutes, two left. Why didn't I play 22.Rxd6! as I had planned? Because I'm a pathetic coward who jumps at shadows: in this case, the shadow of 22.Rxd6 exd6 23.Bxd6+ Kg7 24.Bxc7 Bxh3, when I "saw" 25.a8=Q Rxa8 26.Bxa8 Bxf1 27.Kxf1 with an even ending. Uh, except White's a piece ahead. Oh, and 25.Rb1 wins on the spot. Dumbshit.


after 22...Bc3

Dazed and confused


Probably not best. 23.Rfd1 is very strong, but I suppose I couldn't be expected to see a relatively quiet move at this point. 23.Rb8 also wins easily, and even 23.a8=Q puts White up the Exchange.


after 23...Bg7

Remarkably, I haven't blown it. Yet.


Throws away most of White's advantage. 24.Bd2 is very strong (intending Ba5). But now I had only a minute left.


after 24...Kxg7

What now, Einstein?


Throws away the rest of the advantage. White was still much better after 25.Rb8 or 25.Rfc1.

25...Nxa8 26.Bxa8 Bf5

Oh, crap.

27.Bg2 Bxb1 28.Rxb1 c4 29.a4 Rc8 30.a5 Rc7 31.a6

I spent 16 minutes on this first move after the time control, concluding there was nothing for me, and offered a draw. He ignored it. I can't blame him; I wouldn't take a draw against a fucking idiot like me, either.

31...c3 32.Bb7 c2 33.Rc1 Nxb7 34.axb7 Rxb7 35.Rxc2

But really, even I can hold this. I'll spare you the ensuing dreary 40 moves; if you're a real masochist, you can play it over on the usual javascript board.

It turns out that he had his headphones turned up loud, and didn't hear me offer the draw at move 31. Or at move 53. At move 73, the offer was accompanied by shouting and waving my arms, at which point he finally noticed and took the draw.

Oh, wait, I almost forgot! This occurred shortly after my second draw offer. I was playing quickly, figuring he must be hoping to run me out of time:

after 56...Kd6??

One more chance for me to fuck up

Why no, I didn't play 57. Rf7. That would require me to not be a goddamned cretin with no discernable chess skill.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Last Thursday Night's Game

I've been playing in the Marshall's Thursday-night members' tournaments (one slow game a week) since April. I didn't play especially well in the most recent event (performance rating around 2130), but I did tie for second.

Here's my last round-game. I've been intending to play Larsen's variation against the King's Indian--the early Queen exchange suite me--but (a) almost nobody seems to be playing the King's Indian arond here lately and (b) when they do, they play 6...Nbd7 or (as here) 6...Nc6.

Next weekend I'll be in the slow 4-round Open at the club, which will be my main tuneup before the club championship in mid-late October.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Pragmatic Sacrifice

A game I won a few weeks back made me happy. Not just because I won, but because finally--after two years of having the Queen's Gambit Declined as part of my repertoire--someone let me pay the Tartakower Defense. Exchange variations, lines where White answers ...h6 with Bxf6, 5.Bf4 lines, Catalans--these I got all the time, but no Tartakower. I didn't know it was so fearsome.

In the course of the game, I played an unclear piece sacrifice. I don't do that often, but here:

A practical choice

it was a pragmatic choice: it's possible retreating the Bishop was objectively better, but I was in time trouble, and the position seemed simpler to play after the sac.

Here's the whole game, with notes:

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?