Saturday, 10 January 2009

Happy new year

Here's a rare thing, and a nice way to start the new year: a game that I'm pretty much happy with.

It's not perfect of course - I'm not strong enough for that! - but it went about as well as I could hope: a favourable opening leading to a dangerous-looking initiative, and some attractive tactics to finish.

Here's the position after Opponent's 19. ... Rf8-h8:

I want to play 20. Nxf7: while it all looks promising I can't see far enough to be sure that I haven't missed some defence. Can I (should I) screw up the courage to play it anyway?

Maybe I was just feeling reckless, but actually this wasn't a particularly hard decision. I spent a little more time than I would on a 'normal' move and decided that, so far as I could see, 20. Nxf7 was strongest. So, play it! There's not much point in figuring out what the best move is if you're too scared to go through with it. Yes, you might be wrong, and if so then you might lose - but I'd rather lose by being wrong about the chess than by being too cowardly to make the right moves.

The course of the game says that I certainly made the correct practical choice. My attack looks a bit slow-motion, but it seems to be rather hard for black to get coordinated. On getting home I was delighted to find that the computer even blesses my sacrifice (or is it only a combination?) as being sound. The silicon defends a bit more stubbornly than Opponent managed, but still agrees that 20. Nxf7 is best, and gives white a nice advantage. Happy days. If only it went this well every week...

Thursday, 8 January 2009

How not to play an adjournment

Finally wrapping up 2008, I present the last few moves of this adjournment.

After an error-filled first session, we had left the game here:

I'm afraid that the standard didn't improve much when we came back. 39. ... Qf1+? misses the opportunity to bail out with 39. ... Rca7 40. Nc5+ Kc7 41. a4 Rxa4, which appears to be dead drawn. Really if I'd done my homework properly on the adjournment I ought to have known this.

After this Opponent is winning but blundered with 44. Qd3? - only to be allowed back into things by 48. ... R2a4? As blunders go, though, 48. ... R2a4 was rather a fortunate one - I had completely missed the point of 48. g4, which was to threaten 49. Qg6+ Qe6 50. Rxd5+! Kxd5 51. Qd3+ Kc6 (51. ... Ke5 52. Qd4# - aha, so 48. g4 was to cover f5) 52. Nd4+.

By the end of the game I think we were both rather relieved to take the draw; given more opportunities I'm sure that either of us could have found plenty more ways to lose this one.

In post-mortem, Opponent pulled out an enormous sheet of paper filled with microscopic writing giving a variation tree from the adjourned position. All very impressive, and it certainly made my own approach to the analysis look rather casual (which, in fact, it was). I'm not in any rush to have another adjournment, but perhaps I'll try to produce something similar myself next time.

The team score had been poised at 2-2, so of course this draw meant that the match was also drawn. With 4.5 out of 5 we find ourselves top of the table at the new year.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009 Instructive game: Don't play a passive opening! Instructive game: Don't play a passive opening! Barnet beat Royston in Herts Division 1 league!