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,
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