Thursday, 20 December 2007 presents Marden ECF 164 vs Gavriel ECF 185

Barnet chess club vs Wanstead Chess club, T.Gavriel 185 ECF, vs Marden 164 ECF. A Kings Indian defence which the opponent allowed me to get a knight to d4.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007


Earlier in the season I was given a piece, and commented that "both players are strong enough that this really shouldn't happen". Tonight I return from making an equally bad blunder myself. Worse, in fact, as I was in a completely won position at the time whereas the position was still level in the earlier game. Perhaps I was wrong to say that this sort of thing "shouldn't happen"; perhaps even perfectly respectable club players can be expected regularly to make utterly horrible errors.

A couple of years ago, in my first full season back in chess after a ten year gap, I made maybe four of five mistakes of this magnitude - and my performance was well down on where it had been when I'd stopped playing. Last season I played almost as well as I ever had (though not over enough games to convince the graders!), and much the most significant difference in my play was that I had managed to more or less eliminate these lapses in concentration.

I'm publishing the game because I've published them all so far and it seems a touch dishonest to miss out the bad ones. Still, I'd prefer that you didn't play over it really...

Thursday, 6 December 2007 presents Kalinsky vs Gavriel

Match vs Ilford, 3rd December against Ilford. Kalinsky vs Gavriel, French defence Advance variation by transposition

Kings Indian example game - Yusopov vs Kasparov

Club players who would like to try out the Kings Indian defence to 1.d4 can find good Kings Indian example games in the Linares 1990 tournament, where Kasparov seemed to use it extensively. I am doing some video annotations of Kasparov's games, and this might be good from the Opening theory angle of the Kings Indian for those members interested.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Black is ok!

This game ends a sequence of seven consecutive white victories (I was on the right side of four of those). Seven isn't really enough to be extraordinary, but it was beginning to unnerve me a little bit. Happily, the sequence ended while I was black, with a win.

The game featured a tactic that looks like a trick worth remembering. In this position black (to play) can gain the bishop pair, leave white's pawns in a mess, and best of all be fairly sure that he's unlikely to be mated before move 20.

Actually I missed the opportunity here, but was given a second bite at the cherry a couple of moves later. Answer in the replayable game below.

After this, Opponent abandoned his weakling pawns in search of some play, but I kept it all under control and I'm happy to say that even the computer gives my mopping up operation its blessing.

The game is never going to make any collections, but I'm pleased with it. It's annoying how sometimes the good moves look like the easy moves.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Is ignorance bliss?

I thought that I had played OK on Tuesday, winning a pawn early on and converting the point fairly comfortably. A few years ago, probably I'd have been happy that that was the full story. But nowadays, even after winning, one has to suffer the computer pointing out the many mutual blunders that went unnoticed in both game and post-mortem. Suddenly that nice win becomes a messy sequence of errors; the winner is indeed the player who makes the next-to-last mistake.

In principle it ought to be better to know the truth. Improvement should be driven by knowledge of where improvement is required; certainly I've never heard anyone seriously advising that you should not analyse your games in case you find it depressing. Still, sometimes... wouldn't you rather not know?

Feel free to play spot-the-blunder with this game. The most serious errors come in the rook ending afer 40. ... bxc4. At this point white is winning, but allows black into a drawn position and is fortunate to be given the full point back.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Relaxing too soon

On Monday, I reached this position (with black, to play):

Of course I want to play ... d5, and if this is possible then black should be just fine, perhaps even better. So I calculated the game continuation as far as 16. ... d5 17. exd5 Rd8 18. Qc2 Rxd5 19. Rxd5 Bxd5 20. Bc5 Nd6 21. Qd3 Qe6, and decided that this looked OK - and that I must therefore be doing well.

Unfortunately this is a case of stopping one move too soon, as white has a winning shot: 22. Bh3!

If that was all there was to it I'd have been disappointed, of course - it's not good to miss tactics. Still, these things will happen at a distance of a dozen ply or so. What annoys me much more is that I still didn't spot the danger after 21. Qd3.

So happy was I to have made my break, and so confident that my position was good, that I sleepwalked into 21. ... Qe6? without noticing even then that this was losing. If I had been more aware, I would have at least looked for something better - and it turns out that after almost any other plausible move, black has enough tactical shots to wriggle out unharmed. (I don't want to burden this post with variations, but some of the lines are quite amusing. If you're feeling keen it's probably worth firing up either brain or engine to take a look).

So, it's a game with a nice clean lesson about staying alert, and always checking for tactics? Well, yes, but... you see, another factor in playing 21. ... Qe6 was that I have been flirting with time trouble in recent games - so in this game I was making a deliberate effort to play the 'obvious' moves quickly. Turns out that it's not always obvious which moves are the obvious ones. It's a difficult game.

Thursday, 29 November 2007 presents Stone Ecf 196 vs Gavriel Ecf 185

Here is my video annotated game from the last Barnet match vs Andew stone (Ecf 196).

Andrew Stone resigned by phone earlier today (2007-29-11), so we managed to get one point from this match against Watford 1 - losing 4-1 unfortunately. Anyway maybe we can fair better in the away match against them!

Sunday, 25 November 2007

The Exchange Sacrifice

You don't see a lot of exchange sacrifices in club chess; or at any rate not until you reach a certain level. I'm pretty sure that I've never played one myself, and I can't recall meeting one before Tuesday's game either.

I think that the problem is that the exchange sacrifice tends to be for long-term compensation. (I see plenty of players willing to give up pawns and even pieces for an immediate attack, so it's not just that we're all petty piece-counters). For us amateur players it's hard to evaluate long-term compensation and, perhaps worse, hard to exploit it. You're always afraid that if you play a few inaccurate moves your opponent will have a chance to regroup and you'll just be losing.

So I have much sympathy with my opponent in this game. He played a good exchange sacrifice, and was probably better for some time. But he misplayed the attack slightly (26 ... Nf5 looks like a big improvement), and when it became clear that I wasn't going to be checkmated after all, his position collapsed all too quickly. (Though the computer points out that actually I let things slip with 37. Ng2?, after which ... h6! would have kept things interesting. Both sides were short of time by this point).

In spite of the result, I see this game as a very positive example of an exchange sacrifice. Here's hoping that I get a chance to play an equally good one myself some day.


I played rather a bad game on Monday. My first instinct, I'm afraid, is to look for excuses: I had a cold, the room was too hot, the ceiling was leaking... it's a bit pathetic, really.

As someone once said, "I have never had the satisfaction of beating a completely healthy opponent". (Google mostly seems to think that it was Amos Burn, but these things have a life of their own. Until I see Edward Winter confirming this, I regard it as unproven...)

The thing is, it's very nice to tell yourself that when you play badly that it's somehow 'not really you'; influences beyond your control stopped you from playing as well as you could have done. But this goes nowhere: even in the unlikely event that it's true, the conclusion should be that playing chess in anything other than peak health and perfect conditions is a mistake. The chess clubs wouldn't see much activity if we all believed that.

On the other hand, I do feel the need to explain my defeats to myself; and I'm not entirely satisfied with a purely chessy explanation along the lines of: "you should never have taken that pawn on e4, and Qxa2 was a horrible blunder". I'm a bit happier with "well, you misevaluated the position at move 13, and failed to double check the tactics later on". But still... why? On another day, you wouldn't have made those errors. Ah, but, that particular day I had a bad cold coming on...

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Adjournments and adjudications

The leagues run by the Hertfordshire Chess Association have a rather elaborate set of rules for their time controls. It goes something like this:

  • if both players agree, then the game can be played at all moves in 80 minutes
  • else the game is played at 75 minutes for the first 35 moves, and then 15 minutes are added for each further 7 moves

Clearly when playing the longer game there's a fair chance of not finishing by 10:30 (or whenever). When this happens we go through a little dance to negotiate the next step:

  • someone seals a move
  • the home player (I think it's the home player who must speak first, but I may be wrong) says whether he is willing to go to adjudication or wishes to play on
  • if he is willing to go to adjudication then his opponent can either agree to that, or can force play to continue; then the continuation will be at the home venue
  • if the home player is not willing to go to adjudication, he can nominate 'play on' in the first step. But then he must go to the away venue to continue the game.

To my mind, this is all quite horrible. If I'm clearly losing I'd rather take my chances in a quick-play finish. If it's close, I'd rather fight it out then and there - I don't want my game to be about who has the stronger computer or more free time; I want it to be about who plays better chess. And if I'm clearly winning, I'd rather finish it off on the night.

An adjournment is just too time-consuming (and, in this computer age, quite contrary to the notion that the contest should be between me and my opponent). An adjudication is likewise an unsatisfactory way to decide a game. So it all stinks.

However, I seem to be in a minority. Looking back, I see that about two-thirds of my games in this league have been at the longer time control. This wouldn't have been at my choice, so I suppose that my opponents must have insisted. (About a third of those games were incomplete at close of play.) I wonder what's going on... perhaps it's that the shorter time control is just too short, and that puts people off.

Oh, the game. I haven't really figured out whether I'm presenting my games in this blog or just using them as a hook into topics of (marginally) wider interest. I guess probably the latter. So I'll only say that:

  • I drifted into time trouble (about 5 minutes for the last 15 moves; in a practical sense this was my main mistake)
  • I didn't really understand what was going on
  • so I lost the thread, and some material

After negotiations we agreed to go to adjudication (I didn't fancy going back to Hemel Hempstead to defend the final position), but in fact I've resigned this morning. The computers don't like my position at all, so I can't see adjudication giving me anything.

I haven't yet had time to work out where things did go wrong exactly. I suspect I may have had chances even after losing the material. I don't see why any readers should be expected to do my homework for me, but suggestions are of course welcome. I'll be looking into it at some point in the next few days but, barring an unexpected thirst for analysis in the comments, don't expect to post the results.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

On resigning

Last night I was gifted a piece to a simple tactic. Both players are strong enough that this really shouldn't happen; and the result was never in doubt.

What did surprise me slightly was how long my opponent played on. I think that I would probably have resigned immediately - partly out of self-disgust, but mostly because I'd have been quite sure that the game was as good as over.

Come to think of it, I'd likely have resigned a bit earlier if I'd been on the other side of the previous game. Certainly playing on to the time control was correct, but once we'd got that far (move 30) I think I'd have thrown in the towel.

I have occasionally been genuinely insulted by opponents playing on in obviously lost positions. This absolutely wasn't the case in either of these games. Still, it can be a fine line between an admirable willingness to fight on, and a pointless determination to see the bitter end.

So what is the right time to resign? Am I expecting my opponents to give up too soon (and making it too easy for them when it's the other way round)? Or have I just run into a couple with an unusually never-say-die attitude? presents Khandaker vs T.Gavriel

Barnet managed to beat Watford II last night in the Herts Div 1 league. I drew with Khandaker (ECF 168) playing black on board 2. It was an exciting game, but I was gutted to have been distracted at the end by the temptation of winning a piece, instead of just playing simple positional moves.

Khandaker vs T.Gavriel
Watford II vs Barnet, Herts League

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 (4... d5 5.
e5 Ne4 6. Nxe4 dxe4 7. Ng5 Nc6 8. c3 Qd5 9. Qe2 Bf5 10. g4 (10. Qc4 e6 11. h3
Qxc4 12. Bxc4) 10... e3 11. Rg1 Nxd4 12. cxd4 Qa5+ 13. Kd1 Qa4+ 14. Ke1 Qb4+)
5. Be3 c6 6. Qd2 b5 7. Bd3 Bb7 (7... Nbd7 8. Bh6 (8. e5 dxe5 9. dxe5 Ng4 10. e6
fxe6 11. O-O-O Nxe3 12. Qxe3 Qb6 13. Qxe6 Ne5 14. Qb3 Nxd3+ 15. Rxd3) 8... Bxh6
9. Qxh6 e5) 8. Bh6 Bxh6 9. Qxh6 b4 10. Ne2 e5 11. dxe5 dxe5 (11... dxe5 12.
Nxe5 Qe7 13. Nc4 Nbd7) 12. O-O (12. Nxe5 Qe7 13. f4 Nbd7 14. Nxd7 Nxd7 15. O-O
Nc5 16. e5 O-O-O 17. Rad1 Kb8 18. Qg5 Qxg5 19. fxg5) (12. Nxe5 Qe7 13. Nc4 Nbd7
) 12... Nbd7 13. Ng5 Ng4 14. Qh4 h6 15. Qxg4 hxg5 16. Qg3 Qe7 17. Qe3 O-O 18.
a3 a5 19. axb4 axb4 20. Bc4 Kg7 21. Rfd1 Rab8 22. Ra7 Nc5 23. Nc1 Ra8 24. Rxa8
Rxa8 25. Nd3 Nd7 26. Qd2 Nb6 27. Bb3 c5 28. c4 (28. Qe3 Rd8 29. f3 Qc7 30. Nf2
c4 31. Rxd8 Qxd8 32. Ba2 Qd4 33. Qxd4 exd4 34. b3 cxb3 35. Bxb3 Ba6) 28... bxc3
(28... Bxe4 29. f3 Bf5 30. Nf2 Ra7 31. Qe3 f6 32. Ne4 Bxe4 33. fxe4 Nd7 34. Rd5
Ra1+ 35. Rd1 Rxd1+ 36. Bxd1 Qd6 37. Bg4 Nb8) (28... Rd8 29. f3 Rd4 30. Ba2 Nxc4
31. Bxc4 Rxc4 32. Nf2 Rd4 33. Qe3 Rxd1+ 34. Nxd1 c4 35. h3 Qd6 36. Nf2 f6 37.
Qa7 Qc7 38. Nd1 Kh6 39. Kh2) (28... Rd8) (28... Rd8 29. f3 Rd4) 29. Qxc3 Nd7 (
29... c4 30. Nxe5 (30. Bxc4 Rc8 31. b3) 30... cxb3 31. Nd7+ Kh7 32. Nxb6 (32.
Nf6+ Kh6 33. Ng4+ Kh7 34. Nf6+)) (29... c4 30. Nxe5 cxb3 31. Nd7+ Kh7 32. Nf6+
Kh6 33. Ng4+ Kh7) 30. f3 f6 31. Qc4 {draw agreed} Ba6 32. Qe6 Qxe6 33. Bxe6
Bxd3 34. Rxd3 Ra1+ 35. Kf2 Nf8 36. Bd5 Rc1 37. Rb3

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Seeing ghosts

Why do I play bad moves? For many different reasons, no doubt, which makes it that much harder to stop doing it. A mistake that I find myself repeating, though, is to misevaluate a perfectly acceptable position as being slightly worse, and consequently play some inferior move to avoid it.

In last week's game, for example, 9 ... Be7 was quite unnecessary. I was afraid that my pawns would be doubled and my king exposed after 9 ... Nc6 10 Bxf6; but in fact Black is fine here, and the exchange on f6 doesn't seem to be unfavourable at all. Instead I went into a sequence of exchanges and a very dull position.

This week I'm White, and at move 12 I suddenly start to worry that things aren't going well. My opponent, my computer, and the cold light of day have all since convinced me that a normal move such as 12. Rb1 is just fine; but during the game it felt as though I was walking into some sort of disadvantage. So I decided to try and confuse matters, offering a pawn with 12. c4. Worse, I spent far too long taking this dubious decision. Black correctly declined the pawn, at which point I probably really was worse.

(Happily for me, more serious mistakes were ahead. 15 ... Rc7 allowed 16. Nd6+, which I missed, but after 16 ... Qc6, 17. Nd6+ was even stronger. After that I missed a few simpler wins in the time scramble but managed not to spoil anything; everything was straightforward once we'd made it to move 30).

So, where does the pessimism come from, and what can I do about it? At some level it must be a fear of losing - a pretty healthy fear, up to a point, but chess really does require objectivity. What to do about it? I suppose that I just have to be aware of the weakness and constantly be asking myself whether my evaluations are based on what's on the board, or on my own negative outlook. And perhaps I should try to take a few more risks - probably I'd lose a few, but probably I'd win few too.

Well that all sounds fine, doesn't it? But somehow at the board it's not so easy...

Link repair at

Many website link repairs have been made on the domain. The Learning section links should now all mostly be working. But the Reports section needs to be repaired still.

GM Baburin's column's section is now back as well as the archived What's new page.

Here is a link to the learning section which has many educational articles :

Learning section

Friday, 26 October 2007 presents T.Gavriel vs S.Swanson

Perhaps I should have asked to adjudicate rather than play on - so Steve would have to return to Barnet chess club to continue from the position. Instead I said to "play on" forgetting I would have to travel to Hertfords. i just offered a draw the next evening, which was accepted.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

The Boring System

When you go out to play a game of chess, what do you hope for? A win would be nice, naturally, and I don't suppose many of us would keep playing unless we won a few. But there's little satisfaction in beating much weaker opponents, so we must want more than that. Being made to think, seeing ideas that we haven't seen before, taking the other guy on in a real struggle... isn't that what it's about?

How, then, to explain a game like this? White plays the dullest opening he can think of; Black goes along with it. White offers a draw at move 15. Move 15! The position more than justifies the offer, and if we were two grandmasters playing for prize money, well, maybe it would all be understandable. But this is two club players trying to spend their evening doing something they enjoy. I played on a while in the hope that something would happen, but it never looked likely. Can either of us enjoyed this game? I know that I didn't.

Well, people will play the London System and suchlike against me from time to time and there isn't much point in whinging about it. We can only control our own side of the board, and certainly I must share the blame for the exchanges in moves 10-15 that killed this game off. Still, it's an opening where it's really quite hard to take White out of autopilot, if that's the way he wants to play, and the resulting positions seem to me to be tedious. So what to do about it? Perhaps it's 3 ... d5 that's the mistake - not objectively, of course, but since Ne5 is one of the automatic moves that White intends to play Black might at least be able to make him think a bit by playing some system with ... d6.

If any London System (or Colle) players would care to explain to me how the opening does in fact lead to interesting games - or even better, which Black variations they dislike meeting! - I'd be glad to hear about it...

Tuesday, 16 October 2007 presents T.Gavriel vs M.Pete

Barnet Elizabethans vs Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City, October 15 2007

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Capes Trophy - Sep 24 2007

Capes Trophy report by T.C.Gavriel

The first fun event of the season for the North Circular chess league was last night - the 5 minute chess Capes Trophy.

Capes Trophy Tournament Information

Playing for Barnet were:

1. Paul Georghiou
2. Myself
3. Peter Zajicek
4. Alex Ethelontis
(Reserve who played 1st 3 games) : Mike Jones

Mike Jones was also our Captain

It was a 13 round team event. I managed to somehow get the board prize for board 2, the same as last year with 12.5 out 13, including wins over:

Adelaja 197 (Hackney 1)
J.Goldberg 178 (Barking 1)
Hasman 176 (Wood Green 1)
and 9 others.

Paul Georghiou shared the Board 1 board prize by scoring 10/13. He shared it with Bob Eames.

Barnet and Elizabethans only lost one match to Wood Green - 2.5-1.5. We came back strongly in the last two rounds, beating Hackney 1 3.5-0.5 and the final round 4.0 to finish a single half-point ahead of Wood Green thus taking the Capes Trophy this year. We won this tournament back in 1999 and it has been a long time to win it again!

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Blog integration and website repairs

Hi all

The main Barnet chess club site at now has a prominent link to this blog. I have managed to get some more space now for the Barnet site, and able to put all the content on one server. Some links are currently broken and need to be restored though include:

1) The Archived Whats new page
2) The Columnists section
3) Images in the computer section

Friday, 3 August 2007 presents Ivar Bern vs

17th correspondence World champion GM Ivar Bern vs Rest of World consultation

read more | digg story

Fischer vs Tal 1959

The greatest US Chess Champion was not quite ready for the magician from Riga - Mikhail Tal. Tal tore Fischer to pieces in this game in an extremely elegant way, seemingly effortlessly.

read more | digg story

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Kasparov vs Topalov

Professional Chess Coaching

Our club has several experienced professional chess coaches

Contact Mike Jones 0208 4499082 for advice

Welcome Club Night for New Members

Possible nights are Monday 18th and 25th September

Any Ideas on advertsing this event


The Annual General Meeting of the Club will be held on Monday 10th September 2007

This meeting will be preceded by a Committe meeting, date to be arranged

Please forward any ideas comments to your committee asap

Hello everyone!

Hello everyone!