Monday, May 22, 2006

Final Round

I was defeated by E. Reyes (1867) in the last game of the Reno CC Ch. Qualifyer last Thursday night, but a heck of a game it was. You can play it over in the archives at the Reno CC site. I'm dissatisfied and disappointed at losing this game and not making the playoffs, but proud of the effort and level of play I showed overall. The game was a real barnburner, and after almost four and a half hours and 45 moves I had a chance too win, but missed the winning move. 46. h4! should do the trick--Black is practically in zugzwang, according to the postgame analysis by some of the club's top players and me.

Anyway, on to the next tournament...there are several strong players who didn't qualify and hopefully they'll be in the June Swiss. Meanwhile, too much me, me, me is dull, dull, dull, so my next posts will be about the wider world of chess and other, more intersting subjects.

I'm on vacation in Arizona right now, recovering. Not from the loss, but from so-called 'real life.' Heh!

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Foolish Loss

I rather foolishly lost my game against D. Ryba (2007) last Thursday, losing my head and sacking a piece for two pawns other compensation. The calculation I talked about previously wasn't there. This is not the way to defeat higher rated players!

[Event "Reno CC Ch. Qualifyer"]
[Site "Reno, NV"]
[Date "2006.05.11"]
[Round "4"]
[White "David Ryba"]
[Black "Robert Pearson"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2007"]
[BlackElo "1618"]
[ECO "D01"]
[Annotator "R. Pearson"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Bg5 Bf5 4. f3 Nbd7 5. Bxf6 Nxf6 6. Qd2 e6 {I think the opening has been a success for Black. White's intention of an early e4 is delayed and Black has a good development. White can shove the kingside pawns forward but I don't think it would be that great for him. However, having got off to such a promising start, I didn't follow the logic of the position through.} 7. e3 c6?! {Why not c5 or Bg4 followed by c5?} 8. a3 Bd6 9. Nge2 b5?! {A difficult situation for both sides has arisen as far as castling is concerned. Black is hesitant to castle kingside right now and give White a target, and where is White's King going? The text move envisions b4 and opening a file whether White castles or not. Perhaps not a bad plan, but Black isn't playing with a sound, coherent strategy.} 10. g4 Nxg4? {Played without the proper calculation of the position three moves later. Perhaps this move is suitable for 5-minute chess, but it's a silly thing to do in a crucial game where Black stands okay at this point.} 11. fxg4 Qh4+ 12. Kd1 Bxg4 13. Qe1 Qg5 14. Qf2 {Of course. Black has just two pawns and no real attack for a piece.} b4 15. axb4 Bxb4 16. Rg1 c5 17. Qg3 h5 18. h3 cxd4 19. exd4 Bxc3 20. bxc3 Bxe2+ 21. Bxe2 Qxg3 22. Rxg3 g6 {White's extra Bishop is simply worth a lot
more than Black's 'passed' pawns. The a-pawn is just a weakling.} 23. c4! {Mobilizes the Rook. Once again I'm in a losing ending against an expert, and despite my determined resistance the outcome is pretty much inevitable. The better players don't usually go wrong in this kind of position. If I want to beat these guys, I need to remember the foolish approach I took in this game and never repeat it!} dxc4 24. Rga3 O-O 25. Bxc4 Rfd8 26. Rd3 Rac8 27. Bb3 Rc7 28. Ra4 Kg7 29. d5 exd5 30. Bxd5 Rc5 31. c4 a5 32. Kc2 g5 33. Kc3 f5 34. Kd4 Rdc8 35. Rda3 f4 36. Rxa5 R5c7 37. Ra7 g4 38. Rxc7+ Rxc7 39. hxg4 hxg4 40. Ke4 f3 41. Kf4 f2 42. Ra1 Re7 43. Rf1 Re2 44. Kxg4 Rc2 45. Kf5 Kf8 46. Ke6 Ke8 47. Kd6 Kd8 48. Rh1 Re2 49. Ra1 1-0

So, the upshot is that I now have a 'game of my life,' to play against E. Reyes (1867) next week, where only a win will do! All he needs is a draw to guarantee his qualification into the play-offs. Also, a win for me would give me a near-1900 performance rating for the tournament and a significant rating increase. So, I will take the hard lessons from this loss and apply them to doing better in the all-important game coming up this Thursday.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Training with Aagaard

After working through the first couple of chapters I can highly recommend IM Jacob Aagaard's book Excelling at Chess Calculation. One thing I've taken away so far, a point that I was aware of already but can never be emphasized enough, is to look at a wider variety of moves when considering candidates in a position. I have a tendency to narrow my focus as the game gets more complex, often considering only two or three moves, when there is a fourth, stronger possibility.

I am at a point in my chess career where better calculation would do wonders for my playing strength; I have fairly good opening knowledge and seldom come out of the opening with a poor position, I understand positional factors pretty well, and I have developed a good feel for gaining the initiative. I am rarely getting pushed around the board, even against players rated several hundred points higher. Deeper and more accurate calculation of variations is the piece that's needed for me to really make a jump in strength, and I'll be concentrating my study time on that for awhile.

We will see tonight how I'm doing when I take on a dangerous attacking player rated 2007 in many-times Reno CC champ David Ryba!

Friday, May 05, 2006

A Fighting Draw

I drew last night's game with E. Shoemaker (1844), The Sage in the Tower. Unfortuntely, it was announced that L. O'Doan has withdrawn from the qualifier after one game actually played (I beat him), and my understanding of the rules is that his results will be thrown out (though I will get my rating points). So things are rather tangled now--three of the five remaining players will qualify, and it will based on just four games played.

This produces a very interesting scoreboard:

E. Hong (2028) 2.0/2 2 games remaining
E. Reyes (1867) 1.5/2 2 games "
E. Shoemaker (1844) 1.5/3 1 game "
R. Pearson (1618) .5/2 2 games "
D. Ryba (2007) .5/3 1 game "

The mathematical possibilities are many, but for me, it's pretty simple--I need to win! I play David Ryba, with me having Black, next week. David was a master (around 2230) years ago but his health hasn't been the best lately and he isn't quite as consistently strong as he was then. A very dangerous attacking player in any given game, however. I am excited about playing him with much on the line!

The game last night was encouraging in some ways--against Shoemaker's Budapest Gambit I did fine and after 25 moves had some advantage in one of those tricky Queen-and-two-Rooks-for-each-side positions. A misguided King maneuver put me in some jeopardy, however. I hung on and got a perpetual check eventually, though he could have avoided it and gone into a Rook ending that was also drawish. But I was very happy to draw, I can assure you.

On the training side, I note that I seem to play the first 20-25 moves very well, but have been making my mistakes at that point. I must extend the level of play I'm showing in the early middle game all the way through! I still need to be more efficient early and save plenty of time for those last few moves before the 30/90 time control.

The game should be at the Reno CC archive page soon. I'm also hoping Eric "The Sage" will post his thoughts shortly.