Wednesday, December 07, 2022 10:18

Posts Tagged ‘Personal Games’

Playing my first Master

Monday, December 6th, 2010

On Saturday, December 4th, Colley arranged for a USCF Life Master to come up from Decatur and play all of us in a simul (simultaneous exhibition – where one strong player takes on multiple opponents at the same time on different boards.)

Dr. Tansel Turgut played fourteen of us, and with a pretty rare condition that each of the fourteen boards had a 60 minute per side clock with delay on it.  (So each of us got up to a full hour on our side of the clock.  Dr. Turgut got one hour on each of the fourteen boards, but the clocks were running on his move while he was at other boards.)  He demonstrated what a Master can do – none of us managed to win against him, though three players were able to score draws.

So, this was my own first game against a Master.  Here’s one of the photos from the event, courtesy of Nathaniel’s mom who was good enough to take a pic with my camera:


In the Twin Cities photo, I remarked that I knew I was lost at this point, but seeing how long I could hold out.  But as I started to double check my post-game analysis with Fritz 12, I learned that I was in fact *not* in trouble at the time of the photo.  In fact, I was holding a draw quite nicely.  (The picture above is after his move 20 in the text below; he is retracting his hand from having moved the Queen.)

I did make a couple of serious errors earlier, but with the simultaneous nature of the game I think Dr. Tansel either did not see the errors or did not want to go sharply tactical at that moment.  (He is playing 14 boards after all, and when I’ve simuled – and yes I have on a smaller scale – you tend to play much more conservatively and let your opponents make the first errors if they’re on my level or below.)  But as of the photo moment, I am still doing pretty well.  It is over the next three moves from 20 that I would go from drawn to probably losing, and then after move 26 or 27 into “definitely losing” territory.

Still, I held myself out for quite a few more moves (even though the last five to seven I really did know I was dead and just playing for the sheer fun of trying to hold on until he promoted.)

Gotta run for now – I would like to post the full analysis, but my in-blog PGN displayer doesn’t do variations.  So here’s the basic game for now.  In the meantime-

Enjoy your Chess!

Draw, sweet draw…

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

This was a not bad week for me so far. (It’s Wednesday, but because of Thanksgiving it feels like Friday…)

On Monday night at the club I played an unrated game against one of the stronger youths around the B/N chess scene. More specifically, I’ve never won a game against him. My record was 0-2 in tournament play, and I know I’ve lost at least two other unrated and unrecorded games against him.

While I wasn’t able to scratch out a win, I was able to hold him to a draw. One of my friends noted that I was a little generous in proposing the draw – he thought that, even though a pawn down and with doubled pawns, I could have scratched out a win. I’ll be checking that this evening, and hopefully updating this post with the results.

Update: I did place the final position on both Fritz 12 and Stockfish 1.8; they both hold that Black is very slightly better out to an obscene depth level. But I think that the continuation is still holding a draw and the advantage isn’t enough. I’ve appended a second game to the pgn file below which shows the continuation.

But still, it is most excellent to get a different result from a player that you’ve historically lost to on a consistent basis.

And I get to test a plugin I just installed for this blog to display PGN files directly (without having to go through the Caissa’s web link, which I have been grateful to have.)

Though it’s beginning to be miserably cold here, it has been a most excellent week for enjoying my chess. I hope you, too, have been able to

Enjoy your Chess!

New Video

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

I’ve gotten a new headset microphone (pretty simple – a $25 Logitech model,) and have now broken it in with a new video over at The video location is here, and the game referenced (an Ammonia Opening) is now up here.

Enjoy your chess!

Video Experiment

Monday, January 18th, 2010

I uploaded a video in two parts to YouTube, and both parts in one upload to (After uploading, I discovered that what sounded like loud audio to me is really extremely quiet.) I also learned that, like my posts, I can go on and on without intending to. So, without further ado (and because I’ve got to get to bed so I can work the floor at tomorow’s tournament,) here’s both parts of the video:

Enjoy your Chess!

Near Rumination on Northbridge Tournament. Moo!

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

My first Regular time control tournament was played at Northbridge Baptist in Normal. It was a four round G/70 with 5 second delay. There were about thirty players total, and it really was enjoyable. Jeff Smith did a great job directing, as did Victor Mata (assistant TD and house player.) I arrived just in time to check in for Round 1.

During the tournament itself, I did some blogging in between rounds. Here’s what I wrote then:


Round 1 is complete. A loss against a 1500 I didn’t know. The critical error came in the midgame when my Queen was vulnerable and I tried to find a way to save her. [Ed. note: I do need to verify that…]

I consider it a very good game, and I was more or less on time with the other player. When I was finished it was great fun. eNotate is working very well.

Round 2, and another loss against a local player I have known somewhat for some time. He’s rated 1484. I was playing White, led into a Giuoco Piano, and I think I got too cute by half. I kept ratcheting up pressure, giving him much of nothing. But I ended up having my Queen trapped, and it was a very quick loss thereafter.

So now I’m in between rounds with 35 minutes to go before the next round. The playing facilities are very nice. The playing room is their main sanctuary space, and their multipurpose room is the skittles area. It is an enjoyable environment.

There are many players here today (about 30.) Many of them I have known for over a year – I can count six that I know well, and another few that I know from the scholastic circuit.

A lot of people are playing skittles games or analyzing their past games. I am not, myself. That’s a tradition that goes back to Speech & Debate in High School. During a S&D tournament, one can review the judge’s notes and try to adjust one’s performance in-tournament. But I never did…. Some of it is that I like the downtime away from the chessboard (and I feel like I’m playing enough chess today.) The other factor is that I don’t want to end up correcting my play, only to have that give me other weaknesses. I can always analyze my whole performance later.

It may seem odd that I’m enjoying myself, with two losses so far. But the reality is that while I want to win, I remind myself of my primary goals in playing chess. Winning is not on to of that list. So, if that means I lose a game or games I still haven’t lost, if you follow. Thus I really am enjoying myself.


Round 3 was another loss to an 1184 player. (Actually, the brother of the player in Round 2.) I had a few other things to accomplish, but I think I felt like I was stronger than this. It was still a very good game, we worked it down to the endgame and the other player had a Knight advantage. I think I was actually winning at one point. But three losses in a row – not good.

Then in Round 4 I scored my first tournament win against an player rated 906. It was a Italian Game, Two Knights defense. I actually blundered by playing 4. Nc3 instead of 4. d3. So the other player got to equalize by forking my Knight and Bishop with a pawn, but I recovered well. A few moves later I went up a Queen. But again, on move 17 I made a less-than-optimal play.

Northbridge tournament, Round 4, after 18. ...Ke7

Northbridge tournament, Round 4, after 18. ...Ke7

I went straight out for 19. Rfe1+. Although I’m not hurting, the best response would have been 19. …Ne6 – breaking up the attack somewhat as then I’d have to shift my Queen. I was lucky – the other player played 19 …Kd7. That allowed me to continue my assault and go up a Rook. Mate came on move 25.

I have to confess feeling a little sorry for my opponent. She was a 5th Grade girl who finished 0/4, and the only player with a 0 score. But she played well against me, and it was an honorable game. Also, in the chess world if you’re going to enter the kitchen of tournament play you take the heat. And I did feel good about my first tournament win ever, and don’t feel I have to apologize for that.

So, about twelve hours later my record was 1/4. There was one other unrated player there… someone provisionally rated 2058 after the tournament – 7 games total. So he took home the trophy for Top Unrated. (Then again, did I really want a trophy for one win and three losses???? ;) OK, honesty time…. Yes I did. :D )

Even without the trophy I very much enjoyed my chess. Today, after shopping and other personal tasks, it will be time for deeper analysis – but I’ll have to use my other laptop for that work. Tomorrow night it’s again TCCC night. In the meantime

Enjoy your Chess!

The Limits of Computer Analysis… or Human Analysis?

Monday, January 4th, 2010

On Saturday I posted about an adventure I had in the Graz Defense. Chris Morgan and I played our game. When we reached move 9. Be3, the position looked like this:

After 9. Be3

After 9. Be3.

I briefly looked at my alternatives, but had pretty much committed to 9. …Bxe3 when I saw the Bishop would be coming at me with the d3 pawn move.

I ended up losing that game, but got the privilege of running over the game afterwards with Chris and Joe Alford. (Analysis with Joe is quite a treat – he’s about the strongest player in Bloomington, if not the strongest.)

The conclusion of Joe and Chris was that this was pretty much the penultimate strategic moment. All of us agreed that the Bishop trade didn’t look like the best move. Among other factors with the recapture White gets to have the f file opened for him, and the Black Queen’s post on f6 is even less secure than it was.

There are viable alternatives for Black (some of which I didn’t really explore as fully as I should have.) It’s a simple enough question: Take or defend. Defensive moves involving my Bishop included 9. …Bb6, 9. …Ba7, 9. …Bd6, 9. …d6. We pretty much decided that was the priority, as well.

So I come home, upload the game to my database and start looking at it. Although I believe in the soundness of our analysis, I called up my analysis engine on the position. And it eventually chose as it’s first line…. Bxe3!?

I went ahead and plugged in all of the candidate moves, and used all three chess engines I’ve installed to this computer to analyze the position to between 12 and 14 ply. Almost all the engines agreed on 9. …Bxe3. Here’s a table showing the various candidate moves and their positional evaluations:

Human or Computer: Which is right? Responses to 9. Be3
Computer responses are postition evaluation/search ply depth. Closer to zero in position evaluation is better for Black.
Move Crafty 20.14Fritz 6Rybka 2.2n2Human RankdB Game Notes
Bd6.71/13.34/12.39/13Second Choice
Bb6.46/13.50/14.25/14First ChoiceNote 1
Ba7.41/15.25/13.20/13Alternate/Equal to Bb6Note 2
d6.50/13.34/11.19/12Near prime, tied second maybe.Note 3
Note 1: ½-½ Pena Gomez,M-Espineira Gonzalez,P/Poio 2001
Note 2: 1-0 Judd,M-Harding,H/Cleveland 1871
Note 3: ½-½ Makarova,O-Kozhamberdin,B/Orsk 2000

Note: The full game, along with Rybka 2.2’s analysis of that position and some of my other notes can be found here.

Now, to be sure, Fritz 6 in the table above finds 9. …Ba7 just micro-fractionally the best choice. Yet the one game my database yielded to me shows a win for White after 9. …Ba7, too.

There are other limits here as well: Note that we are talking about ultra-fractional points of a pawn in advantage. (.14 = 14 hundrethds of a Pawn in equivalent material advantage. OK, in all fairness the numerical evaluation doesn’t have to equal the same points we would use in calculating material advantages. But it is close, and Fritz’s difference was .03, and Rybka’s difference between first and worst is .25 – that’s small!) If the programs were forced to make the move at the point I stopped their analysis, taking the Bishop would have been their route.

What to make of this?

On the one hand, this could be the stuff that a Grandmaster might take seriously. (GM wants a draw in a particular round in a tournament, so finds this line where a human playing White would presume Black will not exchange. Yet by making the Bishop trade Black manages to pull out a draw – though it would take much more analysis than I’ve given to one move to reach that conclusion.)

But on the other hand, it is equally one of those times when you recognize your own limits as a player. Which means it’s time to switch the computer off and switch on your brain. I still agree with my fellow humans: I should have played one of the alternate moves there.

(And, for potential nit-pickers, yes the advice might be: Don’t play the Graz Defense! ;) )

When you play OTB, it won’t be Fritz, Rybka, or Crafty playing your opponent. It will be you. If you ever reach this position as Black, do you take or do you defend? This is one of those times when you choose the line that will best help you….

….Enjoy your Chess!

“Graz” for the Lesson!

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

A cold night, Chess game for analysis on the Computer, and the Blackhawks-Blues hockey game on TV. Could it be any better? :) Bonus: ‘Hawks are winning! :D

I’ve been very busy the last couple of days with this and that. Tomorrow morning a major Tools of the Trade / review on eNotate – been in various drafts for awhile, plus needing to get photos done.

I played one 20 minute game as Black this morning at Colley’s. It was a Ruy Lopez, Morphy Defense, that I continued into the Graz Defence. The Graz is a response to the Ruy Lopez that many scholastic and club players regard as cool, but isn’t as hot as it may look. (I didn’t know the name for it until some research this evening.)

The moves are: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 b5 5.Bb3 Bc5. The position that results looks like this:

The Graz Defense

Graz Defense: 1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 b5 5.Bb3 Bc5

The 3. …a6 marks a Morphy Defense, named after Paul Morphy. It is called, “putting the question to the Bishop,” as the Bishop must either capture the Knight or retreat. This is fairly solid.

4. …b5 may look like a natural extension when the Bishop retreats to a4. “Hey, I put the question once, why not kick the Bishop again?” But when Black sidesteps with 5. Bb3, this puts the Bishop about where White would like it to be: Aiming square at the f7 pawn.

There can be some hope here, if Black can eventually shift the f3 Knight and then manage a c5-c4 pawn push, Black can smother White’s Bihsop. But Black has already lost one tempo in b5, and White has effectively gained a tempo from the Bishop dance.

Eventually I lose this game, but I can say “Gracias!” (or just “Graz!” ;) ) for the lesson I got in the game itself.

I also was able to postmortem this game with one of Bloomington’s strongest players and my opponent. There’s some more interesting things about the game I played, but I need to check with my fellow humans before committing to what I wrote up. (I may have misremembered something we analyzed… But since I was using eNotate to record the game, the notation of it was solid. :) )

Almost Drawish

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Last night was a good night at the Chess Club! Last chance to see people until Christmas. With that in mind, losing isn’t so bad! (Actually I simuled two boards and won 2 games and drew 1, and then lost two 3-minute games in a row. But I may *slowly* be getting the hang of Blitz.)

On to the meat of today’s post… Last Saturday I played out a Sicilian Defense game where I nearly held a draw, but not quite. I was equal, down, equal, down through the game. The critical position was:

Sicilian Defense Position

Position After 31, Nb5

I believe 31. …a6 is forced. Then 32. Nd6, and the next move should be 32. …b6. It’s pretty obvious in retrospect, but instead I would up playing 32. …Ke6.

After 32. ...Ke6. Oops!

And from here White has 32. Nxb7. So I resigned.
We worked for awhile on variations, to see if Black could somehow force a Kingside storm of Pawns since Black’s pawns are more advanced. But it does indeed look like White eventually gets a promotion and the win.
Even with 32. …b6 White still has a win – but best play puts the promotion at move 51 according to Fritz 6. And a lot can happen in 19 moves among amateurs. :)
The full game along with Fritz 6 analysis and my comments can be found here.


Monday, December 14th, 2009

On Saturday my opponent and I had reached the following position:

Black to Move

Black to Move

My opponent offered a draw after Ng3. I don’t see a stunningly better move. The Rook must go to the d or e file (and Fritz later showed me c file, but not spectacular at all.) I took the draw.

Fritz 6 tells me that the position is a little over a half pawn in Black’s favor with that move, where other moves like Be6 (trade light Bishops) evaluate to the full-pawn that Black is actually up.
(The move and draw offer was somewhat off-board tactical, as well. I was happy to end my playing day then and on a draw.)

One of the hard parts about playing as a Club Player is making judgment calls on board positions. By which I mean that a Grandmaster would probably know instantly whether the position above is a pure draw…. in Grandmaster play. In the messiness of club play, though, blunders do happen (as does selecting sub-optimal lines of play either accidentally or deliberately.) I’ve seen games where a two pawn (or even full minor piece) advantage have come back to a win for the down player. (I’ve even seen recoveries from loss of Rook or Queen in scholastic play.)

My opponent is a little smarter than that – I don’t think he drops pieces all that often, if at all, anymore.

But still, I’m left with the question… is the position above drawish? Draw after Ng3? Or would you press on? No matter where your board positions take you, be sure to

Enjoy your chess!