Friday, January 28, 2011

Jan 22 Tournament results

I finished 2-1 in the tourney this weekend. We only had 4 players in the open section, so the director put us in a round robin. We were strewn across the rating scale, one each of B,C,D and E players, and the results followed the ratings.

My game with 'E'  was interesting, because he played the opening quite well. The middle game was non existant, as a general exchange of pieces in the center, ending with the exchange of queens on c6 placed us in a normal Pirc engame. Lots of Pirc lines lead to these kind of positions:
White to move

Black has a central pawn mass, but three pawn islands. Black needs to restrain the activity of white's pieces and get those central pawns moving, before white can pick off the isolated rook pawns.

Here he made an inaccurate move: 1. b4? He wanted to preserve his Nc6, but I don't think he can, and wanted to get his queenside pawn majority rolling to make a passed pawn. I was gong to try to prevent his knight from having a central outpost, and push my center pawn mass, but his move allowed me to make the pawn at c3 backward. I played 1...d5 to do this, but this was not the best move, because it weakened the dark squares in the center, Nb6 would have been better and make it easier to prevent his knight finding a secure post. His next move 2.f4 reinforced the dark square weakness, but allowed me the opportunity to create a second weakness. I  added to my plan creating an artificially isolated pawn out of the one on f4 or a backward pawn on g3. The next few moves were about securing the c3 pawn as permanently backward. 2...Nb6 3.Rc1 a6 3.Ke2 Rc8 4.Nd4 Kd7 5.Kd3 for a while, the outpost on d4 will be secure for white's knight.
Black to move
With 5...h5, I begin to create a second weakness on the king side. I learned the idea of an artificially isolated pawn from Silman's How to Reassess Your Chess6.Nf3 Nc4 I take the opportunity to begin to shift my knight to e4. I think he was trying to create a weakness on my e6 pawn by tempting me to play f6. 7.Rhe1 h4 Now the f4 pawn is either artificially isolated, or white will have a backward pawn on g3.
White to move
8.Ne5+ Ke7 9.Rb1 White does not have any good moves here, but Nxc4 would have been better. Long term, I will remove all outposts for this knight, while mine will be very well posted on e4. 9...Nd6 10.a4 Rhg8 11. Re2 f6 The Ne5 must vacate 12.Nf3 Rg4 13.Nd4 Ne4 My knight has reached its outpost on e4 and white is further constrained. There is no hurry to take the pawn on f4 it is not going anywhere 14.Rc2 Rxf4 15.Ne2? Rf2 16.Rg1 
Black to move
White was running short on time, so I tried the trappy 16...h3, which is a good move, but not quite as good as the slow but sure 16...e5. After 16...h3, white cannot defend both c3 and g2. The g2 pawn cannot move, because both 17.g3 and 17.gxh3 Rf3+ 18.Kd4 Rc4#

diagrams for this post made from Apronus Chess

Review: How to Reassess Your Chess by Jeremy Silman

I just finished the third edition of this book, and I hear that all of my quibbles are addressed in the new fourth edition, so I will only focus on the positives of this book.

This is a superlative book for club and class players, buy it now (4th edition). If you have reached the master range without reading this book, you probably know the material intuitively, but borrow it and make sure. If you are a beginner, but really enjoy chess, put this book on your wish list.

Silman teaches a chess planning method in this book based on assessing the differences in the position between the players. He uses the term imbalances to refer to these differences. He covers both static imbalances like pawn structure or material imbalances and dynamic imbalances like initiative and development.

You are to develop your plan around enhancing the value of your favorable imbalances or converting an imbalance into another more favorable imbalance. For instance, if you have a lead in development and the initiative, you should try to convert that into a static imbalance like a material advantage. Your plan should also work against your opponent's natural plan by minimizing negative imbalances.

For me, the part on minor pieces in the middlegame which deals with creating, using and converting a superior minor piece was worth the price of the book. There were eleven other useful parts with multiple chapters, each.

I know I will be rereading this book, again and again, as I gain better understanding.

His list of imbalances:

  • Superior minor piece
  • Pawn Structure
  • Space
  • Material
  • Control of a key file or square
  • Lead in development
  • Initiative

Friday, January 21, 2011

Style changes

When I was young, I was an attacking player. I played sharp openings, which favored tactics, and I lived and died according to my ability to calculate.

Most of my chess games during my 35 year hiatus were with computer programs. All those years against opponents that never made tactical errors, and the ability to back off my mistakes, has changed my style. I am much more positionally oriented, tactics come after a long string of position improving moves. I have become lax in examining my opponents threats.

Of the ten challenging tournament games I have played since returning to chess, I won or drew four by coming back from a poor middlegame position during the endgame, three losses were due to simple tactical oversight (two to lack of blunder check),  two were won through my tactics, and only one loss because of a poor positional judgement. All of the comebacks were from trouble caused by poor tactics.

As I begin another sequence of tournaments, I need to be sure to do a blunder check on each move. No more eager moves. "What does his move allow?", must become of primary importance.

After the coming busy five weeks, I will have a lot more games to look at (18 I think).

Over the next few years, I should consider changing my openings from focusing on middle game attack to focusing on endgame advantage.

  • Kings Indian Attack to Reti with Catalan transpositions
  • Kings Indian Defense to Gruenfeld or Queens Gambit Declined
  • Pirc to Caro-Kann

Friday, January 14, 2011

How I use Fritz to analyze a game. part3

After going through the game and adding my thoughts and questions, I focus on each area in turn. In this post I will go through one problem area. For me it is a big one. Back in the day, I used to play Reti and Benko's gambit. I have replaced Benko with KID, because white has some new difficult lines today against the Benko. In the long term, I intend to replace the KI complex with openings more suited to my style, once I figure out what that is.

There is a certain dynamic in the king's Indian where the opponent closes the position. the KI player posts a knight on the fourth rank of the c-file(QB4), and the opponent develops his queen bishop to the e-file, third rank(K3). Position from my game after 11...Be6
When is it good for the opponent to trade on QB4(c4 in this position) and what should the KI player do about it? The books I have on KID and KIA don't say anything about it, probably most master level players avoid this kind of position against KIA and KID. It is difficult for the opponent to stir up play on the queenside, and even more difficult after the trade.

To explore this position, I switched the colors, because there are more KID games than KIA. I opened the database window (Application Menu=>Open=>Open Database).  On the large database that comes with Fritz (database window Application Menu=>Database.cbh), I filtered games looking for this position:
Seventeen games pop up from this filter, only one loss for the KID, and four draws, but the loss was the newest game. The ECO code for all is E94. This is a manageable number of games, so I went through all of them. If there were a lot of games, I would focus on the earlies wins for my side and the latest wins for the opponent.

In the loss (Morozov vs Khruschiov at Peterhof round 5 2009.08.05), black supports the c5 pawn with b6 before white attacks it, and allows white to get a passed pawn on e5 to pair with the d5 pawn. White plays very actively, Black less so. White trades off his bad bishop for the Ng5.

Ideas from the wins:

  • transfer rook Ra3-f3
  • blockade d-pawn with a Nd3
  •  retreat Ng5 to h3 when kicked which supports f4 and allows transfer to d3 via f2
  •  blockade with Bd3(big pawn?). 
  • Opponent blocks the rook transfer by attacking c-pawn, but that allows advance of the f-pawn and blockade by knight on d-file. 

Now that I have a better idea of what constitutes a good position after Be6xNc4. Now I need to go through the game from move 8 with that in mind and make comments, until those plans are obsolete. 

From this position before move 8:
I have this annotation for move 8 through 19 from what I have learned:
For a video I have to flesh out some of the descriptions and complete some words for the 8.Nc4 and 18.Bh3 variations, but this is good for analysis.

To finish, I go through the game in Infinite Analysis mode, trying to understand Fritz's suggestions, extending some suggestions into variations and deleting others. Then I add explanations in English as I can.

Flash cards from this game:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How I use Fritz to analyze a game. part2

First step is to save the Fritz annotation into a database. I don't want to step on the database that comes with Fritz, so I have created a "Newz" database for my games (Application Menu=>New=>New Database), and I save the game to that database (Database Application Menu=>Save=>Save) which appends the current game to the database.

Since I am going to add a lot of verbose comments as preparation for making a video. I will save the changes I am making into "My Videos" database.

I go through the game looking for interesting positions. I am looking to find one to three particular things to focus on for improvement.

The opening variations, which are deleted in the above picture, are not interesting to me. I am happy with my play through move 7.  Since my opponent played d4, I wanted to post a knight on c4 and start kingside action with f4, so I wonder if I could have used a better move order to do this. Can I deepen my understanding of these structures? In particular, I want to better understand when to exchange the Nc4 for my opponents "bad" bishop, or allow it to be exchanged on c4 for his "good" bishop.

I seem to lose the thread of the game between move 15 and move 26, where Fritzes improvements change from slightly positive to slightly negative. Things continue to go down hill from there, so my planning ideas are not working out. I need to identify what I did not understand about this position and generalize for future improvement.

At the end of the game, we both make several errors, his worse than mine or the game would not have been a draw. I do not know the meaning of the house like symbol that Fritz decorates the move 38 variation, but it seems that it is suggesting I should have worked for counterplay with b4. I did not seriously consider this move in the game, as I thought I could not stop the pawn without my rook, and I had decided, I needed to control/contest the f-file to hold the position.

All of the above point to areas to inspect for lessons. I add text after moves (right click on move in notation window for drop down menu choices) to record my thoughts and questions.

I will focus on one of these areas for my next post. I should address all of them and more in the video.

link to next part

Update: the little house symbol that decorates move 38 means "better is" (right click pull down, RR..., select better is)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Upcoming tournament preparation

At the end of January starts a four week period, in which there are three tournaments: Minnesota Winter Open, Rochester Winter Open, and the Minnesota Open (which of course takes place in winter, this is Minnesota!).

I need to buckle down and finish How to Reaccess Your Chess (Silman 3rd edition), play over some master games in my openings using Soltis' method from Studying Chess Made Easy, and get some practice games in, though it is difficult to schedule in the local chess club meetings.

Now is also a busy period for scouts (this is Minnesota!) and scholastic chess. The Rochester Chess Club is having a tournament on 1/22, but the scout troop is helping out at the local scout camp's "Polar Cubs" event that same Saturday is just one collision.

Finishing the posts on analyzing with Fritz should also be good preparation.

The good news is that after the flurry, I will have 14 new tournament games to mine for improvements.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How I use Fritz to analyze a game. part 1

I am going to spend the next few weeks writing posts about how I analyze a game using Fritz 12. At the end I will have a script for my second chess video. The first post (this one) is the technical details of  how to use an engine and the settings I use to analyze my games. The second is a short post, which talks about using the output to identify key points in the game where I need to improve. The third post focuses on some of the tools I use to help understand how I can improve.

The first step is to bring a game into Fritz. If you have the PGN, you can paste it under new game. I enter games from tournaments by hand under infinite analysis.

Update: I have added new discipline. At this point I now go through the game adding comments (Ctrl+a) on my in game thoughts while they are fresh in my mind. I pay particular attention to areas I thought were key while I was playing, and useful comments my opponent may have made after the game. This means that I need to have unchecked "Erase old annotations" in the Analysis Options window. I also do some hand analysis at this time. I am now using the free Houdini engine, which takes advantage of both processors on my computer.

The next step is to have Fritz analyze the game fully, from which I will take clues to investigate further. Analysis is kicked off by Analysis=>Full Analysis and a window pops up.

  • Annotations: I have selected "Opening reference", which will add a few opening lines that diverge from the game for consideration and "Erase old annotations", which will leave only new annotations(update: I now mostly want to keep old annotations). "Verbose" adds language comments, but I rarely find them useful. "Graphical" will sometimes add arrows or other decorations to the board. "Training" will select places where a combination was made or could be made and inserts a problem for the view to solve.

  • Calculation Time: I have asked for Fritz to work on this game for two hours, and to let it vary the amount of time it spends on a move. I find this is enough time for my current skill level to deal with. 

  • Threshold: is in hundreths of evaluation difference. Fritz will only create annotations for moves that are this much better than the move I made. 30 is approximately 3/10s of a pawn.

  • Last move: is the last move of the game for Fritz to analyze.

  • Side: I played white in this game, and I am not too concerned with where my opponent could have made a better move in this game.

  • This is the notation window, after I removed the opening variations. I could not get a picture of the larger list to fit in the blog. 7...d4 is a novelty according to Fritz, so it is decorated with a 'N'.

    I don't find these short variations to be illuminating enough, so in my next post I will write about I do with Fritz next.

    link to next part

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Holidays are tough

    I am not going to get a post in this week. Too much Holiday :)