Very Sloppy Writing

I have been re-reading John Emms’ book Play The Najdorf: Scheveningen Style lately since I play a lot of those lines as Black and I’m a bit rusty since I’ve been playing the Scheveningen proper for some time.

Overall I really like the book, but I came across something that was very sloppy and makes me question the rest of the book.

So the idea is that in this position after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4

The main move here is 6…e6, and while the normal White response is 7.Bb3 there are sidelines, particularly 7.a4 which White can avoid by switching up the move order with 6…b5, which if White then plays 7.Bb3 Black plays 7…e6 and the main position is reached but without White having the 7.a4 option.

So in the position after 6…b5 there is something else White can try other than transposing.  They can play 7.Bd5

Now after 7…Nxd5 8.exd5 Bb7 9.a3 there apparently two main ideas here.  The first involves Black sacking a pawn but gaining complete control over the center.  The second involves the move 9…g6 and then after a series of moves this position is reached:

Here GM Emms uses the phrase “and Black went on to win in Bauer-Kempinski, Bundesliga 2000.”

In the other idea, the pawn sack one, it was easy to see how Black was better, but in this one I didn’t see it.  One of the things that I have really been getting myself to do lately is to question things.  After all, the information is at our fingertips.  So why not look?

So I pulled up the game.  After clicking through it a bit I turned on the engine.  Stockfish 9 64 gives the position 0.00 at a depth of 30 for either 21.Rf3, or the game move of 21.Kd2.

Hmm…nothing there, so what about after the game moves of 21.Kd2 Kc7…what would the engine think then?

Well, as it turns out, here White misses a chance to get an edge.  And certainly White is at least slightly better now.  But instead White blunders horribly with 22.Ng5??

Now granted, this is a side note to a sideline, but still…the implication is that somehow Black is on his way to winning after move 20 in the game.  Yet in truth Black made an inaccuracy in the next move of the game, which was followed by White making a critical blunder the move after.

So at the end of the day…trust, but verify.

Here is the entire game with my notes, most of which come from Stockfish.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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No Missed Tactics Today!

Today, for the first time, I missed zero tactics during my training session.

As a reminder, what I’ve been doing is using Andrzej Krzywda’s method  of solving puzzles on chesstempo, but without logging in.  The idea is to just spend 15 minutes a day drilling simple puzzles.

Today I went 14/0, which was kind of nice.

Here are my results so far.  I did miss one day.

Date Day Correct/Missed
7/1/2018 Day 1 16/5
7/2/2018 Day 2 16/6
7/3/2018 Day 3 22/4
7/4/2018 Day 4 20/3
7/5/2018 Day 5 11/3
7/6/2018 Day 6 18/3
7/7/2018 Day 7 11/5
7/8/2018 Day 8 12/7
7/9/2018 Day 9 14/5
7/10/2018 Day 10 18/4
7/11/2018 Day 11 15/6
7/12/2018 Day 12 18/2
7/13/2018 Day 13 21/2
7/14/2018 Day 14 16/2
7/15/2018 Day 15 17/5
7/16/2018 Day 16 18/3
7/17/2018 Day 17 11/6
7/18/2018 Day 18 15/3
7/19/2018 Day 19 missed
7/20/2018 Day 20 11/7
7/21/2018 Day 21 13/3
7/22/2018 Day 22 12/5
7/23/2018 Day 23 10/8
7/24/2018 Day 24 8/3
7/25/2018 Day 25 12/5
7/26/2018 Day 26 12/6
7/27/2018 Day 27 14/0

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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Tactics Update

Here’s an update on the tactics program with 90 days to go.

Date Day Correct/Missed
7/1/2018 Day 1 16/5
7/2/2018 Day 2 16/6
7/3/2018 Day 3 22/4
7/4/2018 Day 4 20/3
7/5/2018 Day 5 11/3
7/6/2018 Day 6 18/3
7/7/2018 Day 7 11/5
7/8/2018 Day 8 12/7
7/9/2018 Day 9 14/5
7/10/2018 Day 10 18/4

Something interesting happened today.  I wound up starting 3/3 but finishing 18/4.  Which is good since perhaps I’m internally disassociating from worry about the score itself and just focusing on the puzzles.

A lot of time I wind up with a gambler mentality and if I miss one or two I suddenly feel myself starting to want to play fast and loose and almost move like I’m playing a blitz game instead of looking at a position which I know has a concrete solution.

This is why I have days like the 11/5 and 12/7 days.  I started off bad and then felt like I was forcing it.

So perhaps this is a breakthrough of sorts.  That would be good!

In the meantime, while I intend to carry on with this task since it’s 15 minutes of random positions, I also intend to start making physical flashcards so I can use the woodpecker method on about 500 or so problems.

All in all I feel like my tactics continue to slowly improve, so that’s a start.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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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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How Many Hours Per Day Should One Study?

Of course this is a question that many of us ask ourselves, but the true answer always boils down to one thing…

WHAT you do, and HOW EFFICIENTLY you do it is much more important that HOW LONG you do it for.

While it’s for sure a true statement to say that the more study time one puts in the better the odds for good results, it’s also true that how that time is used it much more important than how much time is used.

Here is an excellent article by GM Sergey Shipov on this subject. https://thechessworld.com/articles/training-techniques/how-many-hours-per-day-to-work-on-chess-according-to-gm-shipov/

I myself have been spending anywhere from 30-90 minutes per day on chess for a long time, but only recently have I started really trying to focus those efforts and make them count for something.

I’m hoping to see a payoff from that in the not too distant future.

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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How Early is Too Early?

One thing I’ve read time and again by people working to improve is that often times they give themselves more time to improve by working on chess first thing in the morning while getting up earlier in order to do so.

I often work on chess early in the morning, especially on weekends, but normally I sort of get into the groove with some playing through games, etc.  This reminds me of an older gentleman who lives in Chicago named Vladimir who, prior to a tournament game, likes to find someone who’ll just make 10-15 moves on the board with him.

The idea is just to get used to moving the pieces and staying in theory.  Once the position gets to a point where either side would have to think he’ll reset the pieces so it can be done again.

He calls this “priming the pump” and it’s an interesting approach.  His philosophy is that shuffling a little bit of wood will get the brain up to speed on piece coordination prior to the game.

So this morning I decided to do my 15 minutes of tactics first thing.  Like immediately.  I woke up, went downstairs to my chess lab, and set the timer and off I went.

Here are the results…

Date Day Correct/Missed
7/1/2018 Day 1 16/5
7/2/2018 Day 2 16/6
7/3/2018 Day 3 22/4
7/4/2018 Day 4 20/3
7/5/2018 Day 5 11/3

As you can see, the results were slightly out of whack.  The percentage doesn’t seem too out of line with prior results, but the number solved is far off the mark.

Granted, a sample size of one may be statistically insignificant, but I can tell you that I felt slow when I was solving.

So there seems to be something said for priming the pump.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Tactics Update

So one nice thing about finding myself with some extra time on my hands is that I have been able to fairly easily keep to a training schedule.

What I’m mostly hoping for with the tactics work I’m doing (15 minutes a day of simple tactics – i.e. not logging in and using chesstempo) is to get faster.

Much faster.

Here are the three days I’ve done so far…

Date Day Correct/Missed
7/1/2018 Day 1 16/5
7/2/2018 Day 2 16/6
7/3/2018 Day 3 22/4

As you can see, not logging in means that the tactics I’m getting fed are quite simple.  However, this is very useful for increasing my speed at simple tactics.

Here is an example of one of the problems that I’ve gotten when not logged in.  I’ll give the solution at the end of this post.

Everything in this puzzle is a forcing move.  There are no quiet moves or intermezzo’s to worry about.  For those types of moves endgames studies are the way to go!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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The solution to the puzzle above is 1.Nxg6+ hxg6 2.Rf5+ gxf5 3.Rxf5#