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