Missed a Shot Here

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I just finished playing in an online tournament hosted by my friend GM Elshan Moradiabadi, and in round one I had this position with Black (me) to move.

Here I saw that I was going to have a fork on d3 after exchanging twice on h3, so as a result I missed the crushing 22…Rf2. White can’t save the queen with a move such as 23.Qg1 as that allows a mate in one with 23…Nd3#

Therefore White would have to trade the queen for the rook.

Ah well. I did win the game after playing horribly early on. In fact, I played poorly all tournament long, but still won all four of my games and took third.

Here is the entire game.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

When to Transition Janowski-Nimzovitch 1/2-1/2

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One of the keys to playing strength at any level is understanding when to transition from one idea to another.

Let’s take this game between David Janowski and Aron Nimzovich which was played in the St. Petersburg tournament of 1914.

For those who are fans of chess history you may recognize this as the tournament in which the title of Grandmaster was supposedly first conferred.

The tournament was held as a preliminary event with eleven players participating. The five top finishers in the prelim would then play a double round robin to determine the champion. In an interesting twist the results from the preliminary event would carry over into the final.

The prelims finished as such:

Here the five top finishers, Capablanca, Lasker, Tarrasch, Alekhine, and Marshall were supposedly awarded the title of Grandmaster by Tsar Nicolas II.

I say “supposedly” since this was completely debunked by chess historian Edward Winter. If you would like to read more about that please visit https://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/grandmasters.html

The final finished with Lasker scoring an impressive seven points from eight, dropping half points only to Capablanca and Tarrasch.

Here are the final standings. It’s interesting to note that due to the carry over of the prelim scores, had Lasker finished the final with an only slightly less impressive six points from eight he would have finished behind Capa.

OK, now on the game that this post is about.

First, the entire game:

For some reason my pgn viewer isn’t working, so here is a link to the game on Chessgames.

As you can see, this was a hard fought draw.

Now, let’s get to the position at hand:

Here Janowski played 64.Rg1+ but as Kotov points out in his excellent book The Science of Strategy Janowski can win this. Take some time and think it through. We’ll then get back to it.

OK, scroll down for the answer…

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Had Janowski played 64.Kxb6 Kxe4 65.Kxc5 Kxf5 66.Kd6 then his pawns are much faster than Nizovich’s.

Have fun analyzing this ending. It’s fascinating!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

The Danger Was All in My Mind

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Sometimes we play a game and we think we’re getting crushed, then when we look at it later it turns out that there was never a “there there” for our opponent.

Here is one such game which I played in round four of the USATN in February.

First, my notes that I made directly after the game:

  • Don’t get rattled when your opponent is overusing time.
  • Pay attention to king safety.
  • Opposite colored bishops are great with initiative.
  • When you overlook a move, don’t panic.

Now,  here is the game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Two GM’s, Three Blunders

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So I come across this position in a game between Christiansen and Oparin from the Chess24 Banter Blitz Cup. Here it’s White to move.

White plays 65.Bc6 and I start trying to figure out why not just 65.Bxh3…what did I miss?! But of course there is nothing. After this move there is no way for Black to stop White from sacking the bishop for the remaining pawn, so the game is just drawn.

After 65.Bc6 we have this position:

Here 65…g4 wins, but Black plays 65…h2, which also wins. It seems to be a matter of just picking the win you want to play.

Then, after 66.Kd3 Black can still simply play …g4 and win, but instead he plays 66…Kg1 and White responds 67.Bd7, after which Black finally plays …g4 and goes on to promote, but winds up flagging and drawing.

But I kept coming back to the position after 66…Kg1. Something just didn’t look right.

After some experimenting I hit on the idea of 67.Ke3, and now White just has to shuffle the bishop back and forth to hold the draw. If Black promotes the h pawn White stops and wins the g pawn, and if Black pushes the g pawn then White will win it with Kf4. The engine seems to confirm this although I’m sure there are ways for Black to try some subtle tricks.

Granted, this was in a blitz endgame, but I would still think that taking on h3 would have been automatic!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Ceci N’est Pas une Lune

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Many of you will hopefully be familiar with the Star Wars reference above.

In this case my opponent thought in a blitz game just now that he was trading pawns. Here’s the position a couple of moves prior:

Of course trading my a pawn for his c pawn does leave me with a passed pawn, so already I’m happy.

After 17.Bxc6 Bxa2 I now play 18.Ba4 to keep my opponents bishop off of b3. The problem with the bishop making it to b3 is that it controls d1 and therefore forces me to give up the d file.

My opponent here mistakenly plays 18…Bb3 anyway which loses a piece after 19.Bxb3.

My opponent seems to think it’s just a trade and so first exchanges rooks with 19…Rxd1 20.Rxd1 Rxb3

But of course I now play 21.Rd8+ Bf8 22.Bh6 and there’s no escaping the mate.

Here is the entire game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Game From Tonight

Here’s a game I just played.

Relatively tame draw, but some interesting strategic aspects in that I can tell I’m learning to take structure much more serious.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Artemiev Showing he Belongs

On day two of the Tata Steel Masters group in Wijk an Zee. Vladislav Artemiev showed that not only does he belong in the top group, but that he can contend as well.

On the White side of the English the young Russian ground down his more experience countryman Nikita Vitiugov.

Here is a position that shows some things I’m really trying to refine in my own games:

How often would a club player either trade or not trade queens almost automatically as a matter of personal preference? Well here Artemiev trades queens, but for a specific reason.

After 16.Qxd8+ Rxd8 17.Be3 0-0 18.Bb6 it becomes clear that White will now control the d file as Black has difficulty challenging that control since White controls the d8 square.

At the same time, should Black recapture the queen with a move such as 16…Bxd8 then after 17.Bf4 White has a much better position:

Here is the entire game:

All in all a good performance by Artemiev and proof that he’s a got a bright future.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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%MCEPASTEBIN%

Blitz as a Tool

I’m trying to use blitz as more of a tool than I had been up until recently.

In the nine years since my return to chess I have played *maybe* 1,ooo games combined across all the servers.

This year I need to get somewhere around 1,000-1,500 games in. I should be averaging 3-5 per day, and giving them at least a brief analysis.

I hear all the reasons that people say blitz is a useful tool, and they are correct. Practicing openings and quick tactics are useful skills to hone in blitz.

I also find that playing more blitz helps me think more strategically as positional errors seem much easier to exploit in blitz since it’s harder (at least for me) to find accurate defensive moves quickly during a blitz game.

Let’s take this position from a game I just finished:

Here I should be on high alert because my queen is undefended. But I’m not.

My opponent plays 12…Nbd7 and after four seconds I play 13.Ne5??

I realize instantly what I’ve done, and wait for the inevitable 13…Nxe5 which wins on the spot.

Luckily my opponent misses it. We trade some strategic errors back and forth, along with some missed tactics such as this:

I miss the crushing 21.Bd6 here.

I also miss an easy mate in two here:

24.Qxf7+ Kg8 25.Qxg7# So easy, a caveman could do it. There is no excuse for missing these kinds of things.

Here’s one I miss one move later:

Let’s be honest, if I’m going to get to 1900 this year I can’t miss stuff like this. I’m thinking that my opponent did good here with 24…Ra7 because it prevents 25.Rxg7+ so I chop the rook with 25.Rxa7. However, 25.Bxg7 again would have won on the spot.

Here if my opponent plays 25…Rxf7 I simply mate on h8.

We get to this position where almost anything is winning for me…almost.

29.Bd6?? not only doesn’t win, but loses on the spot to 29…Qxd4!

Here is the entire game:

My opponent and I play again, and this time I win with a nice smothered mate:

In this game I made fewer errors, but they were still there.

I know that a lot of people have a tendency to say “Well, it’s only blitz.” or “You have to expect these kinds of errors in blitz.”

I think that is probably more wrong thinking.  I think that if I play more blitz that I’ll start to see things much faster which should help some of my board vision issues.

I’m not sure if I can put a rating on it, but I think that perhaps another goal of mine should be to get to around 2000 in online blitz as that would be more of an indicator that my strategic instincts are being honed and that tactical patters are also much more ingrained.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Stop Wrong Thinking

Something I need to work on is putting an end to wrong thinking during games. Here’s an excellent example of that.

This is the position from my game Thursday. My opponent is a kid playing his first rated game. His strength is perhaps 500-600, so clearly the game is a mismatch.

My opponent castles

This hangs the e pawn, so I immediately give up the bishop pair

Except…I played 7.Bg5 here. Why? Here is the answer from my notes to the game:

“This is just wrong thinking. After chopping the knight to win the pawn I chose not to follow up properly because I feel that perhaps the extra tempi aren’t worth giving up. But there’s no place for feelings here. Just calculation. Which of course tells us that winning the pawn is the correct way to go since the extra tempi count for nothing in a position where Black can’t get to White and White controls the entire enter.”

So if I’m truly going to get to 1900 this year I’m going to have to stop this behavior. The thing is, I’d have snapped the pawn off in an instant against a stronger player.

Something to keep in mind.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Rapid Game Seaman-Wainscott 0-1

A couple of weeks ago I played a rapid game against one of my niece’s school coach. As I am her private coach this felt like it should be some sort of epic struggle!

Afterwards, the game yielded some interesting analysis, though I was annoyed to find that there is an easy refutation to what I thought was interesting as you will see below when you see the move 22.Qc8+ in the analysis to White’s 20th move.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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If you can spare it, please click here and become a supporter. Even $1 a month can help me achieve my dream.