Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Good Loss?

Is there such a thing as a 'good loss' in chess? If there is, I suppose that my loss to E. Hong (2028) on Thusday in the Reno CC Championship qualifier was one such. I played well for most of the first 29 moves, then at move 30 overlooked a tactic in complications when a safe retreat would have left the game fairly level. In a Rook and Knight versus Rook ending, I made things as hard for him as humanly possible for 32 more moves, never giving up on the position; and I think he may have had five or more chances to play an obvious or superficial move in the ending and lose all or part of his advantage, but he found moves good enough to win, which is the sign of an expert.

It was a very invigorating game, in terms of evaluating my progress so far. Coming back into tournament chess four months ago, I was rather rusty, but now feel that I've gotten to where I can give anyone at the club a good game. Winning against the players above 1800 is going to take one more step up, however. And that is excellent motivation to make every effort to keep improving.

The game was posted in the Archives over at the Reno CC site, but I will have my own comments here in a day or so.


Last week's game.

[Event "Reno CC Ch. Qualifier"] [Site "Reno, NV"] [Date "2006.04.27"] [Round "2"] [White "Ernest Hong"] [Black "Robert Pearson"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2028"] [BlackElo "1618"] [ECO "A20"] [Annotator "R. Pearson"] 1. c4 e5 2. g3 d6 3. Bg2 f5 4. d3 Nf6 5. Nc3 Be7 6. e4 fxe4 7. dxe4 O-O 8. Nge2 c6 {Perhaps Be6 is more accurate. Having gone Nge2, White won't be able to harass it there. But c6 keeps a very solid position. } 9. O-O Na6 10. b3 Nc7 11. Bb2 Bg4 {Hoping to provoke some pawn moves in front of his King. } 12. h3 {And it works! } Be6 13. f4 exf4 14. Nxf4 Bf7 15. Qe2 Qe8 16. Rad1 Rd8 17. Rfe1 Nh5 {I like Black's position a bit better. } 18. Nxh5 Bxh5 19. g4 Bg6 20. Rd3! d5! {Now Bc5+ followed by Rf2 would be deadly, but thanks to his last move White has it covered.} 21. Rf3 Rxf3 22. Bxf3 dxe4?! {d4 was stronger, but during the game I thought that opening up the position would lead to an advantage. Ernie Hong said he thinks White's in trouble after d4} 23. Nxe4 Ne6 24. Nf2 Ng5 25. Bg2 Bc5 26. h4 Qxe2 27. Rxe2 Rd1+ 28. Kh2 Bd6+? {Overlooking an important tactical point. 28. ...Bxf2 29. Rxf2 was correct, and Black is okay. But now... } 29. Be5 Bxe5+? {Nf7. I completely missed that the Knight wouldn't be able to retreat to f7 next move without allowing a surprise mate! } 30. Rxe5 Rd2 31. Kg3 Kf8 32. Rxg5 Rxa2 33. Bf3 Bc2 {For the next 30 moves or so Black does everything he can to place obstacles in White's way. White has several chances to make superficial moves and lose his advantage, but he shows his class by avoiding all shoals... } 34. Bd1 Bxd1 35. Nxd1 Rd2 36. Nf2 Rb2 37. Rf5+ Ke7 38. Rf3 a5 39. c5 Rc2 40. Ne4 a4 41. bxa4 Rc4 42. Kf4 Ke6 43. Ra3 Kd5 44. Rd3+ Ke6 45. Kf3 Rxa4 46. Ng5+ Ke5 47. Nxh7 Rc4 48. Ng5 Rxc5 49. Re3+ Kd5 50. Ne6 Rc1 51. Nxg7 Rf1+ 52. Ke2 Rf4 53. Rg3 b5 54. h5 c5 55. Nf5 c4 56. h6 Re4+ 57. Kd2 b4 58. Re3 Rxg4 59. h7 Rg2+ 60. Re2 c3+ 61. Kd3 Rxe2 62. Kxe2 c2 63. Kd2 1-0

Friday, April 21, 2006

First Round Victory

I won the first game of the qualifying tournament for the Reno City Ch. matches last night against Laroy O'Doan, whom I described in my reports on the Class B Ch. tournament earlier. I have been trying to get this file converted to an .html through a pgn2web program so that readers can play over the game on the computer --but no luck so far. It says 'converting' but never finishes!

So here is the score with brief comments:

[Event "Reno City Ch. Qualifying RR"]
[Site "Reno, NV"]
[Date "2006.04.20"]
[Round "1"]
[White "R. Pearson"]
[Black "L. O'Doan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "1618"]
[BlackElo "1712"]
[ECO "E00"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 (My surprise weapon for this game. Last time I allowed the Nimzoindian against O'Doan and did fine. But the Catalan looks like fun to me...) Be7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nc3 c6 (In the postmortem he said he was being careful of the 'Catalan' bishop's diagonal. But one must get in d5 or White dominates the center) 6. e4 d6 7. Nge2 Nbd7
8. O-O e5 (He lashes out, afraid of getting squeezed to death. By now I was convinced that despite any pregame resolutions, the position demanded agression!) 9. f4 exd4 10. Nxd4 Nc5 11. Qc2 Ncd7 (Rather cheerless. Black is already gasping for air, and something more desperate is called for. But that's easier to say after the game than during it.) 12. b3 (Develop all the pieces, then attack!) Ne8 13. Bb2 c5 (Now he's going to lose something. The d-pawn is a morsel) 14. Nf5 Bf6 15. Rad1 Nb6 16. e5 (Nxd6 also looked good, but this is simple and strong) Bxf5 (somehow I knew he'd do this instead of Be7, but now the white-square bishop will be unopposed) 17. Qxf5 g6 18. Qg4 Bg7 19. Bxb7 Rb8 20. Bc6 Qc7 21. Bxe8 Rbxe8 22. Nb5 Qc6 23. Nxd6 (I liked my little bishop manouver. Now, just don't let him back in the game! There may be a faster win or two hereafter, but I've learned some valuable lessons recently. In a position like this, it's no crime to make a few good, safe moves, make the time control (30/90) and finish it off) Rd8 24. Qe2 Rd7 25. Rd2 Re7 26. Qg2 Qc7 27. Rfd1 Qb8 28. Ba3 Nd7 29. Ne4 Qc7 30. Rd5 Rc8 31. Qh3 f5 32. exf6 Nxf6 33. Nxf6+ Bxf6 34. Bxc5 Re2 35. Kf1 Rce8 36. Rd7 Re1+ 37. Rxe1 Rxe1+ 38. Kxe1 Bc3+ 39. Kd1 1-0

So now I need to score 2 points in the next 4 games to just about guarantee a place in the championship matches. Two experts and two A players await! I know they're not likely to allow this kind of central domination, however.

All the first round results are linked at the top of the Reno Chess Club page.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Honestly Assessing Your Weaknesses

I never got around to reporting on last Thursday's game, the last in the Reno Class B Ch. I lost the game to A. Mann, and it was a good lesson going into what will be my toughest test in many a year, the Reno City Championship.

My opponent wasn't having a good tournament (1 point in 5 games) and I had beaten him earlier--which from now on will be a danger sign for me. I thought that if I just played very agressively and threw the kitchen sink at his King he would surely make an error...instead he won material, and consolidated with good play to an ending with a piece for two pawns, which he duly won. So at 2.5-3.5 I basically marched in place, ratings-wise. A missed opportunity.

In the next tournament I will be the lowest rated--5 games against a field averaging 1846. It will probably take three points to move on to the championship matches. For just about the first time in my life, I'm going to avoid the 'death or glory' approach to every game. A draw or two would help my chances, as long as I can also win a couple. It will not be an easy road, but I love being in there against the higher rated players.

I'll regularly update the results and some of my preparation for this big event.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

OTB v. Everything Else

I enjoy over-the-board (OTB), rated games far more than any other form of chess. I've tried internet chess and enjoyed it, but I like to look the opponent in the eye, watch his (or her) facial expressions, his body language. I want to match wits with, to fight a person, not a handle on a computer screen.

The atmosphere of a chess club is comfortable, like a good pair of jeans, to me; silence during the games but for the ticking clocks, animated post-mortems, the occasional 'difference of opinion.' Playing computers may be useful training, but it bores me; playing what amounts to correspondence chess at Red Hot Pawn is fun and instructive, but the pace doesn't allow the blood to stir.

Nothing will ever replace sitting down at a chess board with physical pieces and playing for enjoyment, pride, beauty and rating points.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Far West Open

I was unfortunately unable to play in the Far West Open here in Reno last weekend after some family illnesses and other problems cropped up in the last few weeks. Unfortunate, because I would have dearly loved to play chess for three solid days! But I will play in the even bigger, better Western States Open this October, and feel that by then I will be fully back in form and have a good chance to obtain a good result.

They should have full results and some games posted by tomorrow night at the link above; but I know that Ehlvest and Yermolinsky tied for 1st in the Open section with 5/6 and The Sage in the Tower scored +1 with a couple of byes. I look forward to hearing how the rest of the Reno players fared.

Meanwhile, I'm charged up about playing the final game of the Reno CC Class B Ch. this Thursday. Then it's on to the City Championship!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Favorite Chess Books, Part II

(Part I here, but to reiterate, the first five were:

1. Grandmaster of Chess, Paul Keres (80 selected games)

2. My 60 Memorable Games, Bobby Fischer

3. How Not to Play Chess, Eugene Znosko-Borovsky

4. Capablanca, Edward Winter

5. Aron Nimzovich, A Reappraisal, Raymond Keene)

And now to complete the list of 11, The Sage in the Tower's favorite number (and here is his list, which inspired mine)--

6. Tal-Botvinnik, World Chess Championship 1960, Mikhail Tal,

7. The Test of Time, Gary Kasparov,

8. The Chess Struggle in Practice (Zurich Candidates Tournament 1953), David Bronstein

9. My Best Games of Chess 1905-1954, Savielly Tartakover

10. Uncompromising Chess, Alexander Belyavsky

11. 300 Games of Chess, Siegbert Tarrasch, (I like Dreihundert Schachpartien better, because this translation isn't very good, but the chess content is great in any language. I need a copy of the original!)

Ah, looking through the shelves there are so many other fine volumes, Alekhine, other Kasparov, more Winter, Pachman. Watson, books on endings, opening books, etc., but I think you could be a fantastic player if you just understood the material in these 11 alone.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Practical Chess History

A fascinating post, Chess Restoration and the Usable Past, by Michael Goeller at the Kenilworthian:

As the writings of modern players also become lost to the dustbins of chess history, the lines that interested them are also forgotten. When we recognize that practically every opening book on the market these days is essentially a repertoire book, where the author has (either explicitly or not) left out anything he did not consider relevant (including a bibliography of sources!), we realize that "lost variations" will only multiply in the future....which means that those who take pleasure in chess restoration still have many treasures to unearth.

This is just one of the reasons why chess is an inexhaustible lifetime pursuit, never growing stale, unless we do...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Favorite Chess Books, Part I

With only a few minutes available right now, I do want to get started on my favorite 11 chess books, but for the moment just the first five, which are easy to pick. The remaining six, harder to select from so many other good chess books, will be part II:

1. Grandmaster of Chess, Paul Keres (80 selected games)

2. My 60 Memorable Games, Bobby Fischer

3. How Not to play Chess, Eugene Znosko-Borovsky

4. Capablanca, Edward Winter

5. Aron Nimzovich, A Reappraisal, Raymond Keene

More choices, and some comment on these, next.