Monday, October 27, 2008

Running In Place

I have a backlog of bunch of games--my last Thursday night game from two weeks back, and seven games from the just-completed Marshall Chess Club Championship. I'll get to them shortly. Stop snickering, you skeptics.

Before I start posting games, I want to point out something I noticed. My USCF rating after the tournament is 2163. My rating after last year's Championship was 2163.

I've played 48 slow tournament games in the interim. What I haven't done is any studying. In 2006 and 2007, I did a lot of work, and my rating went up 50 points (after crashing down with seemingly no end in sight for the two years prior).

Time to get off my lazy butt and do something about that. OK, since we're talking about studying chess, time to sit on my lazy butt and do something about that. Whatever. You get the idea.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Good Things From Old Books

I'll have a lot to write about soon--my game last Thursday and this weekend's games from the Marshall Championship--but first I want to show you a game from last weekend's Sarker-Lenderman match, won by Sarkar 3-0 with one draw. The games are on the Marshall's blog: game one is in this post, game two in this one, and games three and four in this one.

I was in attendance for the third game, featuring a Ruy Lopez side line that is a specialty of Lenderman's, and which Sarkar had obviously prepared for. I was thinking during the game that I had seen this in the old book How To Open A Chess Game (Excellent book--articles on how to approach the opening by seven GMs; if you ever see a copy at a decent price, grab it). I looked it up, and so I am able to present:

Sarker-Lenderman, Third Match Game 2008, annotations by GM Bent Larsen

White: IM Justin Sarkar
Black: Alex Lenderman


" should not be significant if a variation is only 95 percent correct. The vital question is: Will the opponent be able to find the refutation over the board? Here is an example, an ambitious line for Black against the Ruy. (Alekhine once played it, so it must be good, right? Wrong!"

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Bc5 4. c3 Qf6?!


"I like it, as you will understand when you have seen some of my strange Queen moves for White in the Vienna. Some of these positions look like a Ruy with colors reversed. There is just the difference of one tempo, but it is a decisive difference! Sometimes a tempo means only the difference between good and merely playable, but here it means teh difference between good and unplayable. Alekhine's opponent did not play 5. d4! But what White should do is think: If I cannot play d4, my c3 was a stupid move--but c3 is a good book move, and Qf6 is not even mentioned! If it stopped d4 it would be the main line. Then White has to see one simple trick: 5.d4 exd4 6. e5 Nxe5? 7. Qe2! winning a piece. Maybe he sees no more than this: he plays d4 and feels good; he is refuting an unsound opening and building a strong center. Black does not lose a piece but plays:"
None of Lenderman's previous opponents played 5.d4, either, including some Grandmasters, one of whom faced it twice. "Nobody had the balls to play 5.d4 until now", said Lenderman.

5. d4 exd4 6. e5 Qg6 7. cxd4 Nxd4?!


"White had not seen this, but if he keeps his head he will still feel he is on the right track, because if Black's play were correct this would be a well-known and popular variation."

8. Nxd4 Qb6


"This is Black's third Queen move, and he still cannot castle, and what about his Queenside development? White looks at 9. e6 and 9.Nf5, but both are unclear. What about some more development? He finds:

9. Be3 Bxd4 10. Qxd4 Qxb5 11. Nc3


"Black is a pawn up, but he's in trouble. If you think Black's position is tenable, play it and you'll learn something! It is not necessary for White to be a genius to reach this position after 4...Qf6."
The rest of the game consists of Lenderman learning something. "The variation is just losing", he said afterwards.

11...Qb6 12. Qd2 Qg6 13. Nd5 Kd8 14. Qc3 c6 15. Qa5+ b6 16. Nxb6 axb6 17. Bxb6+ Ke7 18. Qxa8 Qe4+ 19. Be3 Qb4+ 20. Kf1 Qb5+ 21. Kg1 Qxb2 22. Rd1 Nh6 23. Bc5+ Ke6 24. Qa4 Kf5 25. h3 Re8 26. g4+ Kg6 27. Qe4+ f5 28. gxf5+ Kf7 29. Qc4+ d5 30. exd6+ Kf8 31. d7+ Re7 32. dxc8=R# 1-0

Larsen's comments were in the context of amateur play, but they seem applicable even at the level of these players. And I probably should have posted this on the Marshall's blog, but there the moment seems to have passed. Over here, time moves much more slowly.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A Little Preparation

I play regularly in the Marshall Chess Club's Thursday-night open. Once of the nice things about it is that, although the pairings aren't done in advance, you usually have a fairly good idea of what they'll be.

A few weeks ago, I was lucky to draw a game against the Exchange Caro-Kann. Knowing that I'd probably be facing the same opponent this week, I spent a half-hour looking over the variation I wanted to play. It paid off, though the main factor was that my opponent was in unrecognizably bad form.

Here's the game:

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