Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Endgames - with GM Ben Finegold

Have you ever had the chance to view any of Ben´s chess videos? Never?! 😕
Well, then it is definitely time to go for one. Personally, I like his entertaining way but I know that for some he is not what they consider a good instructor. Anyway, I like his style and actually, so does my son (I once told him about a funny instructor from the Saint Louis Chess Club and before I could say his name he said "Ben Finegold". So he actually knew him before I did).

The one below is a beginner´s course on classic endgames. Even for me the bishop+knight versus king as well as the rook versus bishop endings need a refresher every now and then. Soooo, why not with Ben?!
(Apart from that, I did a refresher on a position within the Symmetrical English - based on one game I so bitterly lost last Sunday.)

Enjoy! 😉

Monday, 18 March 2019

Not Dead Yet

Actually, even during the last 10 months without and ChessMonk activity, I still managed to do my daily dose of tactics (using CRT-ART 4.0) and I am also doing quite well in the ongoing chess league. And yes, I was also spending quite some time playing online-bullet - shame on me. Nevertheless, I miss the tournaments. It finally looks like I will be able to get back into the chess circus later this year!

So after pretty tough working year, where I actually wasn´t able to play any tournaments at all and yet some professional changes soon to follow, I finally managed to go for a Blitz Team Championship yesterday. So for the first time ever we had to go for "3+2" and all in all, it went better than expected! To be honest, I want to reduce my online bullet exposure and exchange most of it for more 3+2 games...
As a side-effect, my son also joined and there is some sort of "hope" that he might get back into the game with a bit more ambition...
But of course, there´s always room for improvement and I always considered Blitz a good way to test your opening (and endgame) knowledge. So tonight I took the time to increase my understanding within a rather exotic, not 100% correct, but definitelly fun-to-play, overall playable and really agressive line within the English Opening. It is PERFECT for Blitz and I am using this "weapon" in online Blitz a lot; but I never took the time to dive into it more analytically. I destilled some key hypotheses on when to use it and when not to, which will have to be tested (theoretically and practically) during the coming days and weeks...
In addition, I found a nice idea within the Sicilian based on GM Le. Interestingly, it never made it into any book I read on "my variation" of the Sicilian. But according to the engine it is pretty sound!

Unfortunately, I cannot go into any details in order not to lay open my "secret weaponry". But I promise to reveal "time and place" next time it comes to the board in a face-to-face match!  😉

Sooo, it looks like I can finally continue working on reaching my next chess target and climb above 2100!

Monday, 21 May 2018

Yet again - not enough precision

I played Hassloch - and yet again faced my "old inless": controlling the game until reaching a won position and then allowing my opponent to escape to a draw...😕  Black to move:
I was trying to make Nd2 work, but didn´t get to the point. Actually, I didn´t have any time for working on my chess during the last 5 months or so. I am pretty convinced that I would have found the continuation Rxc3 (after Bxb7) some 6 months ago or would I have had the time for any decent training recently.  I was able to keep up the pressure for a few more moves (assuring a slight advantage of  0.6), but only to throw it all away shortly after: dead draw!

Lacking these (highly necessary) training units, I even fuck up positions like the one below (White to move):
Believe it or not, there was a clear reason why I fixed the g + h pawns - yes there was!  And by taking on e5 I could have assured the necessary edge.  But I was blind - ignoring the very reason why I fixed the pawns...😡

Not only did these full points slip through my fingers, but I also faced time trouble in 4 matches. The later, to my mind, is yet another clear indication that I need more training  and (definitely) NOT more tournaments!

Unfortunately, I will not be able to pick up my chess lessons prior to July...  (what a painful pitty!)

Will I  - FINALLY - get over 2100 in 2018?  I have my doubts. But I don´t give up: mid 2019 is my new target!

Monday, 19 February 2018

Working on heavy pieces games

As indicated before and verified by my error db, I started working on my play with heavy pieces (queen + rooks). I bought and work with:
I only started - but the positions and explanations so far are pretty insightful and yet so familiar to the mistakes I make...
Here´s a typical position  - White to move:
How would you continue? Rxh7? So did I - and it loses!  But how - can you see the refutation?!

(What somewhat scares me: I am sure that Black wouldn´t see the refutation neither. But since Black can´t do anything else anyway, he simply can wait until it becomes his "last resort"; whereas White better calculates it to the very end...) 
So for now, these examples are rather scary and not yet increasing my self-confidence; but I am convinced it will chance soon!  This book will surely elevate my understanding on how to thoroughly act with heavy forces!

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Endgame Basics

Given the very embarrassing lack of endgame knowledge so well demonstrated during the last tournament - and also based on the latest advice of my former Coach - I went back to the classics: endgames!

Yes, I am very good at forgetting these rather boring and tiresome endgame principles rather sooner than later - and it is definitely not really funny to study these anyway - but this is exactly the reason why it has to be done!

Did you know that this is a draw?! Black to move:
Well, I fairly admit that I did NOT.  BUT NOW!
If I had to move, I would have chosen the right piece and square, BUT to be totally honest:
I would have resigned earlier on!!!

(Interestingly, the latest Komodo-Version considers it +2 for White while at the same time recognizing that it is part of its endgame database and expressing that it´s a draw!)

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Stockfish 9 available

Check this out: Stockfish 9 is available!

Pfalz Open 2018

Well, I won against all players rated lower and lost against all players rated higher - a pitty, that this still makes me lose some rating points. Although, in the very end, it is well deserved!

To cut it short: I need help!  Why on earth do I fuck up positions like the ones below???
(Let´s face it - within EVERY of the last 5 tournaments, I have similar positions being totally won. But in the end I don´t manage to get the full point, often not even half of it!)

From move 11 to move 30 I was holding between 1.1 and 2.8 plus. Here is the position, where I fucked it up completely within two moves - I was White, against a 2222-guy:
 My gut-feeling told me that I can take on b6 - but I didn´t have the time to calculate it. (Black played an incorrect piece sacrifice earlier on and actually there were three interesting and - according to the computer - winning replies to it. I saw them all and calcuated them all, costing me some 30 minutes. That´s why I ended up in time trouble.)
I also could have taken on d4, but, hey, this would have also won the game!!!
Soooo, I went for Nc7 which is still winning, but within three more moves I threw it all away!
The only good thing: I had 3 times the chance to force the exchange of Black´s three pawns versus my pawn+knight - leading to a dead draw. But since I knew that White is definitely winning, I did NOT chicken out; at least not.

Here´s another one:
So I kept this 2175-dude off my neck for over 50 moves and I was absolutely convinced that the above position is a draw. But yet again, I only had seconds to think - and lost!

This is so demotivating and annoying (if I would have won the first game above, I would have scored some 15 ratings points)...

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Blitz will never be the same - new FIDE rules

Since 01st of Jan 2018 FIDE put new Blitz rules effective - here is the short version:
1) The game is NO LONGER lost with the first irregular/illegal move, but only after the second one.
With the first irregular/illegal move the opponent receives an add-on to his clock of 1 minute.
2) If both flags fell or the clock of both players indicates "0.00" (when electronic clocks are used), the player who´s flag fell first (or shows the respective indication on an electronic clock), loses the game (given, that there is still mating potential).
 The long version can be found at http://rules.fide.com/.

Monday, 15 January 2018

The invisible peak of 2102 and Lessons Learned from the last three tournaments

Since last summer I had to pause my training mainly due to 3 topics: my job, another job (actually being the main reason) and my part-time academic studies.
Although I was still able to harvest what I sowed until (and especially in) autumn and actually made it up to an all-time high of 2102 by year-end, I lost almost 50 points during a single tournament - the Staufer Open - at the very beginning of 2018, simply because I thought I would be some sort of super hero being able to play 17 tournament matches within 10 days (with a two day break to celebrate New Year) - very silly, indeed. Even more so, since I already failed last year doing this sort of marathon (playing both the Erfurter and Staufer Open). During a few games it became very obvious that I was simply not able to focus and concentrate as necessary - not seldomly overseeing hanging pieces (both of my opponents but even more of my own)... Scary but yet very healing!

However, the last 3 tournaments showed pretty impressively that I can withstand players up to 2200 without having to fear anything! Maybe this is also due to my work on what I already referred to as my "mistake db", where a first outcome revealed that I showed too much fear against higher rated opponents and chickened out way too often. It took quite a while to put this theory (having learned the hard way) into practice, but since last Autumn things seem to materialise (more and more)...

The good thing about failure is that smart people learn from it (and grow)!

To summarize the last three tournaments´ outcome, here´s the list of lesson learned (some of which also becomes part of my "Training Achievements"):
  1. From now one I will not (never ever) play two tournaments with less than 3 weeks of rest, recriation and evaluation in between. No matter what!
  2. I will not try to advance my chess and progress with my academic studies at the same time (especially not when I also work as part-time lecturer next to my full-time job): From now on, it will be "either (chess) or (academic studies)" - and for the coming academic period (until end of March) I already made my decision: it will be chess only!
  3. Continued self-reflection and the proceeding with the above mentioned "error db", finally made clear that I am fairly good at getting into superior positions with "heavy pieces" (against both weaker and even stronger opponents), but I also blunder way too often in exactly those positions (yet again, against both weaker and stronger opponents).
    Consequently, I have to not only to work on this weakness but also be aware of it whenever I reach any positions of this type. Hence, I bought a book written by the late Jakow Damskij especially dealing with heavy pieces (including a nice testing section)

 Sooo, after some 6 months I am back!
(Actually, I was never as convinced that I can make it to 2150 as I am since about 2 months! Maybe, given my age and/or all the other stuff keeping me busy simply forced and will still force me to work harder and longer as compared to a 20-year-old, but this time I really feel like there is substantial potential just about to be unleashed...)

Monday, 27 November 2017

The Heusenstammer Sparkassen Open

Wow - quite a success story!  I guess I never played a tournament with such a success - and actually never with such an "ease". Actually, I recognized this "ease" quite a while ago:  almost no time trouble, no total loss of control in terms of completely wrong decisions any longer. And actually even one of my chess pals recognized this "ease" - thanks for letting me know RB!

However (and of course), during these 7 games there was one game (but actually only one - which as such is a success) that I am actually not proud of:  I achieved a totally won middle game against a 2250 player. I knew I had a winning position, not too straight forward, but definitelly winning - even against a 2500 player! I had an extra passed + protected pawn and the machine evalutes the position +1,5 for many moves...


.... I lost!

Whereas I played by far the best tournament ever, this one loss was the most painfull since a decade or more (no exaggeration)! 

A very interesting thing happened at the board: Psychology kicked in! Very hard and not to my favour at all! All of a sudden I was nervous like a 14 year old before his first kiss; afraid of winning, making a mistake, throwing away the safe full point. All of a sudden I only saw threads against my position - and not a single clear plan or good move for my own position.
It was a healthy loss - because everything I can so easily teach my son was ignored by myself so foolishly. A good reminder to stay cool and - if anyting fails, stick to my PAT! Which for sure would have given me a good basis and routine to keep my first thoughts on ACTIVTY rather than haunting ghosts...