Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bishop Fetishism

I have criticized myself in an earlier post of the same subject, and after the Winterthur Chess Week Open I must come back to this issue. Preferring Bishops over Knights, as Tempo does, is completely ok. What I call Bishop Fetishism is to make weak moves because of this preference. I did twice in my last tournament, and once it was the beginning of loss in the opening, and once it was a direct cause of loss in a late middlegame.

Let's assume for the moment that a single Bishop values more than a single Knight (it does not), then we speak of a maximum of 0.25 pawn units (half the bishop pair bonus of 0.5). In general, of course, as a mean value of 1 million positions. Making one passive move loses 0.25 pawn units, giving away the hypothetical maximum plus value of the Bishop. In reality, in most cases, you will be not equal after a passive move, but considerably down by at least 0.25. In many cases a weak move starts a chain reaction of more weak moves, and this is what you will end up with: A position where your Bishops have nothing to pin and where the opponent's Knights have wonderful perspectives to fork your weaknesses and to occupy outposts.

Here is my list of bad bishop moves:
  • Developing on a passive square to prevent being attacked or traded away.
  • Not recognizing that the Bishop will become a bad one and missing the opportunity to trade against a strong piece.
  • Using too much time to maneuver the Bishop to its best square.

And these are the jobs I think a Bishop should do in a game:
  • Pin or x-ray a target
  • Work together with a Queen in a diagonal battery
  • Work together in a Bishop Pair, controlling open space
  • Eliminate dangerous or guarding Knights
  • Destroy the castle of the opponent King
  • Being a life insurance in an opposite coloured endgame with pawns down

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Four Wins and a Funeral

Yeah! Huzzah! Yippee! Our team managed to promote to the 3rd league of the Swiss Team Championship. I must admit that this was a bit lucky and a crazy story. As runner-up of our group we had the honor to play against a group winner. Our opponents had to forfeit board 6 because a strong player had died some days before and they had no reserve. I was playing board 5 against their team captain and had won a pawn in a better position when his cellphone rang. So according to FIDE rule he lost immediately. Our boards 1 and 2 were lost, but we had two more wins. But all this would not have been sufficient to play in 3rd league next year because another team of our club was in danger to be relegated. In this case our promotion would have served to form a new 3rd league team. But our 3rd league team defended well against relegation with a clear win. So our dream has come true: We'll be playing 3rd league next year, struggling against strong opponents and against relegation.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Tournament Telegram (End)

Seventh Game: 1
October 13. See my last post. I have White. This 1900 guy comes too late, gets into time trouble, but I win after the first time control when both of us have plenty of time left.
Total Score: 3.5/7

Eighth game: 0
October 14. I have White. Senior, once 1900 but now 1730, frequent tournament player. Therefore I found many games online with him as Black. Unfortunately he plays both Sicilian and French, too much to prepare. It was French, and in this opening my book has missing pages. He playes such a line, I follow well until move 5. I am about to play an active bishop move with the shortcoming that it would be traded off. Then I decided to keep it at the expense of a passive move. I did a lot of tactics, but no opening training recently. Now I hear it screaming, this cutting voice: What is opening about? About PIECE ACTIVITY! If a piece cannot be active, get rid of it. But this voice was not screaming, and I moved Be2. This was the beginning of the end. It ended as a miniature. I was crushed. Too late I realized that I could not take back a pawn due to a bishop sac. I must come back to the opening issue in a later post. Just to add: With Black I was ok in all games, and I have a suspiction why. With Black you are under pressure, you MUST get activity at all expense or else you are lost. What I learned: You are also lost as White!
Total Score: 3.5/8

Ninth and last game: 0
October 15. I have Black against a 1800 senior, Guoco Pianissimo, I get a good position, then comes the decision to put a bishop on an active square where it can be taken plus let a pawn isolate, I decide to preserve the bishop and put it on a less active square. (See the parallel to the 8th game!). He gets active counterplay and wins. After the game I win two postmortems against him, so at least my position was equal, but I suppose it was better.

Personal Stats
3 wins, 1 draw, 5 losses.
Total Score: 3.5/9 = 39%
Performance: 1813
Rating points gained: 21

First Comment
I enjoyed it and made a lot of new friends. I took the opportunity to learn from my stronger opponents. They gave me many useful hints for my opening repertoire. If you can make it, come to the wonderful little city of Winterthur in beautiful Switzerland and participate in october next year. Although I missed my goal of 50% clearly, it was in my reach, and I come to believe that I have the potential for a rating close to 2000. More about my strengths and weaknesses in a later post.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Key Game

One for all, all for one. It is good to have friends if you are a fighter. My friend Tempo gave me a hint that there are published games of my 1900 rated opponent. I found no less than 21 games in Chessbase online, 10 with him as Black! For the first time ever I have the opportunity to prepare agains an opponent! That's why I call this a key game. He plays Kings Gambit as White, defends open against 1. e4, likes to castle long side and often delays castling.

It was a tough fight, and I won it! Yeah, yeah, yeah! Active play with Evans Gambit, later I blunder away a pawn unnecessarily and all of a sudden I have to take a pocket lens to find my compensation. I manage to block the pawns he is up, and step by step I can prepare a tactic. Te falls into the trap, and now I get his Queen for Rook and Bishop. Later I miss a simple rook win (I was tired), but he blunders his bishop away, and so my win is perfect. Woohoo!

Now I have my dream performance of 3.5/7 points. And here is the game. Enjoy!

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Ba5 6. O-O d6 7. d4 exd4 8. cxd4 h6 9. Qb3 Qe7 10. Nc3 Bxc3 11. Qxc3 Nf6 12. Bd5 Bd7 13. Ba3 O-O 14. Bxc6 bxc6 15. Rfe1 Nxe4 16. Qc2 f5 17. Ne5 Qd8 18. Ng6 Rf6 19. Nf4 Rf7 20. Re3 Qh4 21. g3 Qf6 22. Bb2 Qd8 23. Rae1 Rb8 24. Qe2 Qg5 25. Ba1 Nf6 26. Qa6 Ng4 27. R3e2 h5 28. Qxa7 Rc8 29. Bc3 h4 30. Bd2 hxg3 31. fxg3 Qd8 32. Qa3 Nf6 33. Qf3 Ne4 34. a4 Qf6 35. Be3 Nc3 36. Rc2 Nxa4 37. Qh5 Qh6 38. Qd1 Qh7 39. Rce2 Nb6 40. Ng2 Nd5 41. Bd2 Qg6 42. Rf2 Nf6 43. Nh4 Qh7 44. Nf3 Ne4 45. Rxe4 fxe4 46. Ng5 Rxf2 47. Nxh7 Rxd2 48. Qxd2 Kxh7 49. Qf4 d5 50. Qf7 Be8 51. Qe7 Bh5 52. Qh4 g6 53. g4 Kh6 54. gxh5 g5 55. Qg4 Re8 56. Qf5 Rg8 57. Qe6+ Kh7 58. Qxc6 Kg7 59. Qxc7+ Kf8 60. Qd8+ Kg7 61. Qxd5 Re8 62. Qxg5+ Kf7 63. Qg6+ Kf8 64. Qxe8+ Kxe8 65. h6 Kf7 66. d5 Kg6 67. d6 1-0

Monday, October 10, 2005

Tournament Telegram (Mid-Phase)

Fourth game: 0 :(
October 10. Senior, 1850, kind guy. Had some smalltalk before. I have White, and again get a Morra Gambit declined. I've had a bad sleep last night and got up very early to bring my wife to the airport. Felt tired all day, played fast because I had not the energy to think long. Plus I violated some opening principles just as in my old days before any training. This was punished fast, and I deserved it. Period. Next game, please ...
Total Score: 1/4

Fifth game: 1
October 11. Kid, 1750. I have Black, and the young gambiteer (!) happens to play the same as I did yesterday, the only difference being my 1. - e5 instead of c5. Of course I decline, and of course with the same idea that worked so well against me yesterday: push pawn to d3. I feel strong, and the +5 gain in 30 CTS problems this morning give me even more confidence. The kid rides a bravehearted attack, and I have to be very careful. But then he moves a defender to attack, and quite soon I spot the 2 unguarded pawns. My queen forks them, discovering a rook that x-rays his queen. In his further attack I force him to rook swaps, and we are in a queen endgame with me a pawn up. And this time my endgame technique is sufficient to show that it is a win. Woohoo!
Total Score: 2/5

Sixth game: 1/2
October 12. A 1720 guy, I have Black again, Queen's Gambit which I accept as usual. Equal position, then I take risks to gain a pawn at the cost of a pawn weakness. He plays it clever and exploits the weakness, at the end I am a pawn down in a Knights endgame. I defend well this time and manage to completely block the position. If he wants to win he must take risks, but he agrees to a draw.
Total Score: 2.5/6

Conclusion of the mid-phase
Success rate of 50% despite a total blackout at round 4. I still have the chance to get a tournament performance of 50%. I played two fine endgames and with Black I was still fine. Up to now I am quite happy with my performance.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Tournament Telegram (Beginning)

Winterthur Chess Week Open, 131 participants, highest 2570, lowest 1250, 3 GM, 5 IM, 9 other titled players, average Elo 1900+. Time controls: 120 min 40 moves, 60 min rest.

First game: 1 (Woohoo!)
October 7. Youngster, 2010, I have White. Morra gambit declined. I get a good opening. He attacks in the middlegame, I parry and counter, he opens a diagonal to the King, I get a crushing attack. CTS would have told me: Bad luck, you failed ... because I missed a mate in 3 but won anyway!
1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 d3 4. Bxd3 d6 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. h3 g6 7. Bf4 Bg7 8. O-O Nf6 9. Nbd2 O-O 10. Qc2 Qa5 11. Nc4 Qh5 12. Be2 d5 13. exd5 Nxd5 14. Nh2 Qh4 15. Bg3 Qh6 16. Rad1 Nf4 17. Bf3 e5 18. Nd6 f5 19. Bxf4 Qxf4 20. Qb3+ Kh8 21. Nf7+ Rxf7 22. Qxf7 h5 23. Qxg6 e4 24. Qxh5+ Kg8 25. Qe8+ Kh7 26. Bh5 Qh6 27. Bf7 Qf6 28. Bg8+ Kh6 29. Qf7 Qe5 30. g4 Bf6 31. Qh7+ Kg5 32. f4+ 1-0 Time left: 19 min vs. 2 min.
Total Score: 1/1

Second game: 0
October 8. Youngster, 2150, participant of U16 world championship with a 50+% performance. I have Black and nothing to lose. Ruy Lopez exchange on c6. I don't know the book but my opening is not too bad. I give a pawn for the initiative. He defends well. I lose a second pawn but win it back by a multiple knight fork. Knight endgame with a pawn down, I still have one chance for draw but unfortunately miss it. He admits that he even was afraid of losing the game!
Total Score: 1/2

Third game: 0
October 9. Youngster, 1920, I have Black again. Queen's Gambit Accepted. Good opening, good middlegame, then I blunder a bishop away. Manage to get some compensation by tactics. Complicated position, he gets in time trouble and blunders a knight back. Now I am 2 pawns up in a Q+R endgame. It is a draw but I do not find the right plan. Get mated after a series of 15 checks.
Total Score: 1/3

Conclusion of the beginning phase
Average Elo of my opponents: 2000+. In all 3 openings I had no problems at all and got active play every time. In all 3 middlegames I reached at least a position with draw chances, I had only one serious blunder (due to a quiescence error) but managed to get out of it by good tactics and good time management. My main weakness is the endgame, I got two tricky ones and failed twice.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Learn first simple

Right, Celtic Death! The principle Ā«learn first simple, then compoundĀ» holds not only for multiplication tables, but also for tactics. As long as you still miss simple pins, forks and skewers (I do) then you have to learn them again and again, in thousands of variations. This is exactly why I am convinced of CTS as an excellent training tool. And still my rating is creeping up at a speed of roughly one point a day.