I Need to Work On My Fighting Spirit

Last weekend I played in the 54th Northeastern Open. This tournament means a lot to me since it was the first one I played back in 2011 when I returned to chess after a 19 year absence.

That year I went 5-0 and won the Reserve Section.  Since then I have tried to play it.

In the first round I was paired up about 350 points, and overall I played a very bad game.

Yet if I gave you these two positions:

and said “find the best move for White” the odds are that  you would find the moves 24.h4! in the first position and 33.Nxe8! in the second.  Why?  Because you would be in puzzle mode.

However, when those positions appear on the board after several hours of defending they’re easy to miss.  Or at least they were for me.  This tells me that I need to work very hard on my fighting spirit.

Here is the entire game:

I hope to have my other games from this event up soon.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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What An Amazing Resource!

I was just looking at a game between David Anton Guijarro and Jonathan Hawkins from the 4NCL in 2017.

The Hawk has been in a bit of trouble, but has clawed his way out to reach this position:

Here he moves 23…Ne3

White replies with 24.Bxe3 and the game continues, but he missed a really interesting shot.

24.Rxf4 Nxd1 25.Rxf8+ Rxf8 26.Bd4

You can see that the Black knight appears to be a goner.

26…Qh3 27.a3 Qf1 28.Qxf1 Rxf1 29.Kc2

And now Black has nothing better to do that play 29…Nxb2 30.Kxb2 Rf7

Here Black would suffer and be ground down.

In this position:

Black can “save” the knight with 29…Nf2, but now the knight interferes with the rook making it back and White’s pawns are even deadlier after 30.Nxa7 Ne4 31.c6 Rf7 32.b4

There’s no way to stop White from just rolling down the board.

Here is the entire game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Which Pawn to Take With?

Every so often I’ll come across a position which shows me how much my chess understanding has changed over the years.

Today I was looking at this one:

The game is Vishnu-Adly from the first round of the 2017 Sharjah Masters. White has just captured Black’s knight on d5, so barring any useful intermezzo’s, which don’t exist in this position, Black needs to figure out which pawn to recapture with.

I spent only a few seconds here, and my decision was that the pawn it made the most sense to capture with was the e pawn. The reason that I can tell that my thought process is changing is that a couple of years ago it would have gone like this:

“If I capture with the e pawn I’ll have a backward pawn on c6 along with three pawn islands. But if I capture with the c pawn then I’ll only have two pawn islands and I’ll have a protected passed pawn in the center!” Then, after maybe 15 seconds I’d have made up my mind and any additional time spent calculating would just be used to tell myself I was right.

Now I looked at this position and my thoughts go something like: “I can capture with the c pawn and I’ll avoid having a backward pawn on c6 that’s likely to come under fire from my opponents bishops, but I’ll also be giving up the b5 square. White could play the tempo move Bb5+ and since I can’t go to e7 and block my bishop in I’d have to move to d8 and my king is awfully loose. Not to mention the fact that I’d just be giving my opponent a queenside pawn majority for free. I’ll just live with the potentially weak pawn on c6 rather than the long term consequences of taking with the c pawn. Besides, now I’ll have that queenside pawn majority.”

Both the game continuation and the engine show me to be correct. The top three moves for Black are:

  1. 13…exd5 (0.00) for all the reasons I stated above and perhaps some that stronger players can point out that I missed
  2. 13…Bg4+ (1.44) which just drops a pawn after 14.f3 exd5 15.Bxd5 cxd5 16.fxg4 – think about this for a second…the second best move in the position hangs a pawn!
  3. 13…cxd5 (3.37) which dooms Black after 14.Bb5+ Kd8 15.Rhc1 and now White will simply control the c file, and along with the lead in development have a massive advantage.

Here’s the final position from option three above:

Black won’t be able to keep the White rook from getting to the c file so he can double. This is the kind of game where you have to suffer for hours until you lose, and yet only a couple of years ago I’d have cheerfully entered it and never understood what went wrong.

Here is the full game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Wainscott-Beckwith 1-0

Last Thursday at the club I played a game which went exactly the way you would expect, but that has some interesting ideas nonetheless.

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Hogg – Wainscott 0-1

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Chess Punks Unite! Wainscott – Williams 1-0

Last night at the club I played seven time WI state champion Bill Williams.  Prior to this game my record against Bill in classical games was one win, two draws, and 12 losses.

While overall I am not satisfied with my play over the past several months, the one area where I think I’ve been performing at a high level is tactics.

This game was no exception since I spotted the genesis of an idea in this position.  See if you can see it.  Keep in mind that this is not a puzzle since the idea can’t be brought to fruition yet.  It requires help by the opponent.

Here is the game.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Hard Fought Draw – Wainscott – Becker

Last night I played Allen Becker.  Early on I sacked a pawn for what I thought was plenty of comp, but was clearly not.

However, I managed to fight back and hold the draw.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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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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