Using One of Vishy’s Ideas

I was listening to last week’s interview with Viswanathan Anand on Perpetual Chess and something that Vishy said he used to do during his youth was to write down his thoughts following a game.

Not analysis, which of course also happens, but general impressions of what happened along with thoughts of what can be done differently next time.

So I decided to appropriate this idea since it seems awfully sensible.

I am currently playing in the US Amateur Team North in Schaumburg and I have done this for the first three rounds. Here are my notes along with some clarification of what I was driving at.

Game One – The Notes

  • Terrible opening. Learn the lines or simplify the repertoire. Off the cuff is dumb.
  • Keep fighting. Just because it didn’t work doesn’t mean it won’t work.
  • Work on rook endings. No excuse for not knowing if the R+P vs R ending was drawn or not.
  • Need to spend at least one hour on the opening during analysis later for every game.
  • Time to create a full set of deep pgn files.

Game One – The Explanation

In this game I faced the French. I haven’t been getting good positions against the Winawer so I decided to play 3.Nd2 off the cuff. I quickly wound up in a terrible position and was lucky to claw my way back into some semblance of a fighting chance. Eventually I was ground down in the ending.

I kept trying to  fight my way back into the game and my opponent helped greatly by missing some simplification ideas which would have made the win trivial. When all was said and done it was for naught, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth doing. It’s always worth doing.

The game concluded in a R+P vs R ending where I was *pretty sure* I was lost but I wasn’t 100% sure. There’s no excuse for this. I should be 99% sure or better. This will require a lot of work, but I believe it’s vital.

During analysis I need to spend at least one hour going over the opening. In this way I’ll eventually completely learn the ideas in the openings I play. I’m getting better, but it’s not good enough.

To that end, when spending that time on the opening I’ll eventually create a set of very deep pgn files for every opening I play with either color. I’ll be able to regularly review them and I will get strong here. It will happen.

Game Two – The Notes

  • Opening repertoire totally exposed. To not play lines out of fear is just dumb.
  • Sicilian worked out, but seriously…what is that?
  • Again, deep pgn files are needed.
  • Candidate moves.
  • Sleep is important. No point in going to a tournament if you’re not going to take it seriously.
  • One move blunders happen on four hours sleep.

Game Two – The Explanation

My opponent played 1.e4. Lately I have been playing 1…e5 but I play the Two Knights against 3.Bc4. However, there have been too many times where my understanding of the position has been less than ideal. So at the board I sat there for a minute or two essentially saying to myself “Kids play the Italian a lot. Do I really want to be down a pawn against an expert in a position I don’t truly understand?”

Of course this is wrong thinking. Play your prep. If it sucks, make it better, but to not play it out of fear is wrong. OK, it’s not like I’m drifting aimlessly in the Sicilian since I played it for years, but seriously?

As for the Sicilian, of course this is another opening that shouldn’t be played off the cuff, which is exactly what I did. In the end it worked out since I was completely out of the opening and into the late middle game.

Again this is where deep pgn files will help.

Candidate moves are vital. I have played many moves lately where I only considered one move, not multiple moves. That happened in this game several times as well.

Sleep is important. I was up until after 2:00am even though I knew I had to get up at 6:00am. Not smart.

After being completely equal I threw the game away on a one move blunder by overlooking a simple tactic. Had I gotten more sleep the odds would have been less likely that I would blunder like this. More importantly had I selected at least two candidate moves and compared them the odds I would have blundered in this fashion would have been even less.

Game Three – The Notes

  • For reals, let’s work deeper on openings. I just need a feel for positions.
  • Keep fighting. It works.
  • Learn to stay objective. It felt like I was much worse though it turned out I was fine.
  • Candidate moves were my friend. Bigly.
  • There’s no substitute for focus.

Game Three – The Explanation

Again I felt lost in the opening. I decided to stick with 1.e4 but after 1…g6 I transposed into the White side of the King’s Indian. I wound up overlooking some positional ideas for my opponent and before you knew it I felt like I was far worse.

However, I did  keep fighting and fighting. After getting past what felt like the worst of the trouble my opponent repeated and offered me a draw.

After the game, when I was entering it in ChessBase I turned on the engine at a couple of points to quickly check the eval. I wasn’t looking at lines or analyzing moves, just checking to see if I was really as bad as I thought I was. Turns out that at none of the points I checked was I as bad as I thought.

This time I made sure to have at least two moves to choose from. It kept me from going astray and I was able to hold on to the thread.

I stayed focus and just put everything I had into holding on and not getting steamrolled. That effort paid off when my opponent offered me a draw.

So there you have it. I feel like I got something out of this exercise so I plan on keeping it going.

Listen to the interview with Vishy on Perptual Chess:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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One of “Those” Moves

Sometimes I see a position and I think that if only I could understand some aspect of it that I would be closer to understanding chess on a much deeper level.

Take this position for instance. The game is Radjabov-Mamedov from Shamkir 2018

Here White has just played 15.Ng5 which seems tantamount to offering a draw. So mentally I’m thinking “OK, 15…Bxg5 16.Qxg5 Qxg5 17.Bxg5.” However, after 15…Bxg5 16.Qxg5 Mamedov plays 16…Bg6

OK, now this I can puzzle through and understand. If Black would have continued through with my idea then he would have been developing White’s dark squared bishop for free.

So after 17.Qxd8 Rxd8 18.Be2 Nb8 19.Be3 Nc6 20.Rfc1 this position is reached:

Here Mamedov plays 20…Rdc8.

This is one of those “which rook” positions that drive me nuts. My first thought is that maybe there’s a problem with 20…Rac8 21.Bg5 Rd7 22.b4, but as I looked at the position I realized there was an immediate tactical refutation after 21.Bg5

Here Black would simply play 21…Nxd4 as the rook on d8 is impervious to capture due to the fork threat on e2.

So this leaves me wondering…what is the real difference. Clearly there is one, but what?

Food for thought and something to work on.

Here is the entire game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Two Crushing Wins

Here are two nice wins I had tonight in a rapid tournament. It looks like my work is paying off.

The analysis in the first game is just cursory…

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Draw vs a Master

Five and a half years ago I had this position against Bill Williams

Tonight I had it again.

Last time he played 15…Qe6 and after 16.Re3 he said “It looks like a draw to me” and we drew.

Tonight he played a different move. Same result.

Here’s the game:

After this tournament my rating should be around 1785 or so. That’s the highest it will have been in well over two years.

So far so good this year.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Nice Attacking Game by MVL

One of the nice things about the way that the Gibraltar tournament has morphed into an event where numerous top flight players compete is that it gives us chess fans chances to see what they can really do.

You can go through every game from an event like the Sinquefield Cup, and if you’re really lucky you get one game that features a brilliant attack.

Yet at an event like Gibraltar, where it’s common to see 2770’s facing 2300-2400’s in the early rounds we get a chance to really see them shine.

Take a look at this game from round one, where MVL easily blows former Webster student Irine Sukandar off the board with a sparkling attack against her Accelerated Dragon.

These games are real treats.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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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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Ganguly – Warmerdam 1-0

Yesterday, in round one of the Tata Steel Challengers Group Indian GM Surya Ganguly faced local IM Max Warmerdam.

While I’ve known who Ganguly is for some time I’ve only recently taken a real interest in his games as I’ve been reading The Anand Files.

Ganguly is a long time second for Vishy, having worked with him during several world championship matches.

Here he wins a nice game on the White side of the English Attack against Warmerdam’s Najdorf.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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Nice Finish to My Blitz Game

Here’s the end to a game I just played. I’m Black and it’s my move…

Here’s the entire game:

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.

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