Stick to the Plan!

Something that has long been a problem of mine is the sometimes habit of starting to fulfill a plan, then breaking off midway through and abandoning it for no good reason.

Here’s a perfect example of that.

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Blunderfest Blitz Game

It’s 7:32am as I start to type this.  I’ve been awake a bit over three hours for some unknown reason, and the two Red Bulls aren’t working.

So what should I do?  Play blitz of course!

So I played a game on lichess which was a festival of blunders by both sides.  Here are the highlights.

Here my opponent has just played 21.Qh5.  Clearly he’s hoping to mate me, but the e pawn is also hanging.  However, I decide to defend the mate threat first with 21…h6 when 21…Qe7 saves the e pawn and I can still  stop any mate threats my opponent tries to make.

However, instead of taking the e pawn they play 22.Rg3.  Uh oh…my h pawn is hanging to a tactic.

So I play 22…Kh8 instead of 22…Qd6 which saves the e pawn and the h pawn.

A few moves later this position is reached.

My opponent misses the simple 26.Nxd4, which wins a pawn.

As you can see by the complete game here, those weren’t the only blunders.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Wainscott 1 – Platnick 0

Today I played two G/60 games in Evanston.  The first, which is below, was against a kid rated 1808.  However, he quickly went astray as you will see.  I decided to grab a pawn to see if he would crack, and he immediately gave up a piece.  So yes, he cracked.

Once he blundered the piece I stopped annotating since the rest was uninteresting.

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Look Deeper!

Sometimes when you first look at a position you have a candidate move that you would like to play, but it doesn’t appear that it works, so you simply dismiss it.

Here’s a great example of such a position from a game of mine five years ago.

It’s black to move, and I really wanted to play 12…a4 here.  But it looks like it just hangs to the knight, right?

I looked at 12…a4 13.Nxa4

Here of course I can sack the exchange, but I didn’t see a follow up.  Yes, I can win the c pawn with something like 13…Bxc4 14.Bxc4 Nxc4

Without a doubt I’m a bit better here, but the attack is gone.  It didn’t seem like enough so I just tossed 12…a4 aside.

What I should have done was look deeper.  After all, there are other ways of undermining White’s pawn structure which don’t require me to sack the exchange at all.

Had I looked deeper, perhaps I’d have found the following:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Missed Opportunity (Pokorski-Wainscott 1/2-1/2)

One area in which I have long struggled in chess is strategy.  Specifically as relates to planning.

I do feel like I have made some slight improvements in this area, but it’s not nearly enough.

This was evident in the following game.  I was never in any danger, but the one real missed opportunity in this game was by me.  I could have played 20…c4

So, at the end of the day I can see the next area I’ll need to focus a lot on.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Don’t Be Too Dogmatic

Here is a position from a blitz game I just played.  After all the grief yesterday about cramped positions, here I decide to be overly dogmatic.

My opponent has just played 15.Ng5 and I never really gave serious consideration to taking the knight.

Why?  Because somewhere in the back of my mind it’s ingrained that when you have the bishop pair you should keep it.

Yet if I just take, playing 15…Bxg5 16.fxg5 Nf7 then my position is fine.

As beginners we learn all these “rules” about chess.  Strong players know when to ignore those rules.

Time to get back to work!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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It’s Never Quite as Bleak as it Seems

I just finished playing a blitz game which seems fairly instructive.

First, let’s look at the whole game:

Now, let’s break this down into some components…

Here is a position coming out of the opening.  It’s Black to move…

Here I felt like I was extremely cramped.  Like I *must* exchange on d5 *or else* – I’m sure you all know the feeling I’m speaking of.

But it’s not really that bad.  In fact, if I can get the dark square bishops off the board and play …e5 then I’m not nearly as cramped as I was before.

For instance…

11…Ng4 12.Bxg7 Kxg7 13.h3 Nge5 14.Bc2 Nxf3+ 15.Nxf3 e5

OK, White appears to be better here, but this position seems much easier to play.  Key word here though is “seems.”

A few moves later in this position I become desperate to reroute my pieces and I play 14…Bc8.

The problem is that White can swap off a pair of rooks and grab the e-file in a way that really cramps me with:

15.Rxe8+ Nxe8 16.Re1 Nef6 17.h3 and here my pieces are restricted and I’m going to struggle a bit.

My opponent doesn’t see this, and a few moves later we have this on the board:

At this point I’m seeing ghosts.  I play 20…a6 trying to get some counterplay going on the queenside, but the reality is that I have a simple way of eliminating what I am perceiving as the threat of Qe7.  I can just play 20…Nd7, then if 21.Qe7 I force the queen back with 21…Bf6

The problem is that 20…a6 is too slow.  Here they can play 21.Qe7 and now 21…Nd7 no longer works because I’ll never get …Bf6 is, ala 22.Ng5 Rf8 and now there are sacrificial ideas on h5:

Instead my opponent plays 21.Ng5 and here I decide that since I’m in such desperate straits I’m going to lash out and try to regroup, so I play 21…h6 22.Nf3 g5 and here the mouse slip happens.  However, this position is dead won for White.

Either 23.Nf5 or better yet 23.h4 should lead to a quick demise.

But there’s a problem here…let’s go back to this position which we just saw…

I can just play 21…Rb8 and now e7 is tactically protected.  If 22.Qe7 then 22…Qxe7 23.Rxe7 Bf6 wins.

More to the point, after 21…Rb8 I can play …b5 soon and get some actual counterplay going.

The moral of the story?  Had I not been feeling like my position was garbage for the last several moves I would have been more objective and not felt the need to lash out in perceived desperation.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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A Game to be Proud Of

This past Thursday at the Southwest Chess Club I finally played a game I feel that I can be proud of.

Perhaps this is a sign that things are turning around as my strategic play was off the charts in this game compared to how I normally play, and for me that’s been such as rare thing.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Interesting Position

Here is the final position from a blitz game I just played on lichess.org

My opponent had 20.6 seconds left but flagged in this position.

What’s interesting about it is that it looked to me like White should be easily winning.  After all, he should be able to pick up my b pawn pretty much any time he likes.  Then doesn’t the a pawn just race down the board?

Well…not so fast.  Rudimentary analysis shows that after 44.Kf3 (or other squares) I can just play 44…Rxg2 and the rook can’t be taken as my bishop would fork on e4.

This means that I should also win the h pawn as well.

There is a lot of counterplay in this position.  So again, it’s quite important to look at these games, even if only for a few seconds, after you win them.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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The Blindness…It Burns!

As I mentioned the other day, it’s really important to analyze your blitz games, at least superficially.

So take this position for instance…

Pretty easy to see what the best move is in the position, right?

So why did I leave the queen hanging for so many moves?  It’s a board vision issue.  I’ve been working on this for a while now, and clearly I still have some work to do.

Here’s the entire game.  While I feel that overall my play was pretty good (especially since I’m horrible at blitz) I also know that I can’t go away thinking I did well here.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

If you like this blog, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter.  Any money I raise will go towards lessons and stronger tournaments.

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