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.