Saturday, March 31, 2012

Easy Blitz Chess in Caro-Kann Defence

Winning is not always hard. Sometimes winning can be very easy. This is illustrated in a three minute blitz game I just played. White chose to play the Caro-Kann Defence Exchange Variation with an early Nf3.

My approach was to just use General Principles. Consider these:
1. Play faster than your opponent in blitz chess. That was a challenge in this game because my opponent DID play fast. After 16 moves I was only ahead by five seconds. After 24 moves I was up by 16 seconds.
2. Develop faster than your opponent. After 12 moves I had played all my but my Ra8, which was already on a good square since advancing my a-pawn was a likely scenerio.
3. Swap off your weakest pieces. 13...Bxf3 was a good example.
4. Grab open files (Rfc8), diagonals (Bd6) and outposts (Nc4/Ne4) for active play.
5. Attack your opponent's weak points: a4, c3.
6. Keep your king safe: 9...0-0; 22...h6.
7. Threaten undefended material and look for a tactical finish. Like almost every chess game at any level, this one was decided by a tactical blunder.

hapster-Sawyer, ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 29.03.2012 begins 1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 Many of blitz players intend to answer both 1.e4 e5 and 1.e4 c5 with 2.Nf3. After they play 1.e4, the mouse has already clicked on 2.Nf3 when they see my move. It is not a blunder, but it limits White's choices. 2...d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.d4 Nc6 [4...Nf6 is more popular.] 5.Be2 Bg4 Black gets to swap off his bad bishop. 6.Nbd2 e6 7.c3 Nf6= Black has equalized. 8.Qc2 Bd6 9.a3 0-0 10.b4 Qc7 Black has just about completed his development. White has three weak points: A. Ke1; B. Bc1; C. Pc3. 11.b5 Na5 12.Rb1 Rfc8 13.Bb2 Bxf3 14.Nxf3 Nc4 15.Bxc4 Qxc4 16.a4 a6 17.Qe2 NOW white decides he wants to castle, but my queen hits f1. So he offers a queen swap. 17...Ne4 [Black brings in more reinforcements, but he can just pick off the pawn now: 17...Qxa4-+ ] 18.Qxc4 Rxc4 19.bxa6 bxa6 20.0-0 Rxa4 Black wins a pawn almost without effort. 21.Rfc1 Rc4 22.Ba1 h6 White is not going anywhere. Black takes a moment to eliminate the possibility of a back rank mate. 23.h3 Bf4 24.Rc2 Rac8 25.Rb3 a5 26.Ra3 a4 27.g3 Bd6 Retreat and attack at the same time. White only sees the retreat. 28.Kg2? [White was forced to play 28.Raa2 Nxc3-+ and Black has won another pawn.] 28...Bxa3 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Sunday, March 18, 2012

London System Stops the Benoni

Once again I play a London vs Fuerte2004 on the Internet Chess Club. At 2091, he was the highest rated human player found on the search list at the moment I wanted to play. All three times Fuerte2004 has chosen something different to play as Black:
First: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5; Second: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6; and Third: 1.d4 c5.

This last choice is today's game below. Black is hoping for a Benoni Defence with 2.d5. Indeed I have played d5 many times followed by either c4 or Nc3 without c4. However, my SuperSolid repertoire is to play 2.c3, intending an initial Nf3/Bf4/e3 set-up.

An early ...c5 vs the London also has the issue of an early ...Qb6. The move 2.c3 allows White to choose Qb3, Qc2 or Qc1 as a response, depending on the exact move order. Finally, it is quite possible to transpose after 1.d4 c5 2.c3 into a Slav Defence Exchange Variation with 2...cxd4 3.cxd4 d5. This is one many openings that I play from both sides.

In the end, Fuerte2004 started like he was going in a London Queens Indian with 3...b6, but without ...e6 he later transposed into a London System with ...g6. Winning this game raised my ICC blitz rating up to 2237.

Sawyer-Fuerte2004, ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 16.03.2012 begins 1.d4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.Nf3 b6 4.Bf4 Bb7 5.e3 g6 6.Nbd2 Bg7 7.h3 0-0 8.Be2 Generally after ...g6 this bishop goes to e2 for both offence and defence. It avoids a potential pawn fork tactic after e7-e5-e4, and it hits h5 in case of a later ...Nh5. 8...d5 9.0-0 Nc6 10.Ne5 Nh5? [Black drops a pawn to our Be2 tactic. Normal looks like 10...Nxe5 11.Bxe5 Ne8 12.Bxg7= White has exchanged his bad bishop for Black good bishop. The middlegame is approaching equality, but an ending might someday favor White.] 11.Nxc6 Bxc6 12.Bxh5 gxh5 13.Qxh5 cxd4 14.exd4 f5 Leaves holes on g5/e5. 15.Nf3 Be8 16.Qh4 Bg6 17.Rfe1 Bf6 18.Bg5 Qd6 19.Bxf6 [I considered 19.Ne5 but Black can move to bishops of opposite color with 19...Bxe5 20.Rxe5 when White winning, but I did not want to go there in a 3 0 blitz game.] 19...exf6 20.Qg3 f4 21.Qg4 Rae8 22.Rxe8 Rxe8 23.Re1 Rxe1+ 24.Nxe1 Qe7 (Clocks: 2:01-1:05) 25.Kf1!? [Obviously a queenless endgame greatly favors White with the extra pawn. I decided to head there. Objectively stronger is 25.Nd3! Kg7 26.Nxf4 Qe1+ 27.Kh2 Qxf2 28.Nxd5+-] 25...Qe4 26.Qe2 f5 [26...Qb1! makes White work more.] 27.Qxe4 [Again 27.Nd3+- ] 27...fxe4 28.g3 fxg3 29.fxg3 Be8 30.Nc2 Bb5+ 31.Kf2 Bd3?! [Better is 31...Kf7 32.Ne3+/-] 32.Nb4 Bc4 33.b3 a5 34.bxc4 axb4 35.cxb4 dxc4 36.Ke3 [36.a4!+-] 36...c3 37.a4 Kf7 38.a5 bxa5 39.bxa5 Ke6 40.a6 Kd5 41.a7 Kc4 42.a8Q Kb3 43.Qb7+ Kc2 44.Qxe4+ 1-0 Black resigns. Clocks: 0:52-0:09. 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Friday, March 9, 2012

Ray Haines Wins With Classical Dutch Defence

After a month (February 1974) of playing 1.e4 vs Ray Haines, I switched up in March to play 1.d4. My chess friend responded with the Dutch Defence. This 6...d6 variation has cost me many losses from each side of the chess board.

I played the 2.g3 line and we reached the main tabiya position after my 7.Nc3, possible from many move orders. Black has 7...Qe8, 7...Ne4, or what Ray chose, 7...a5. I started well. I was doing well. And then, I wasn't. I did not look deep enough.

Play proceeded normally until I made an unlucky 13th move which costs me the game. Soon after that my queen was trapped. Sure, I played on, but I was losing all the way from move 13 until I resigned on move 27. Nice game by Ray.

Sawyer - Haines, Ft Fairfield, Maine 12.03.1974 begins 1.d4 f5 2.g3 e6 3.Bg2 Nf6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.0-0 0-0 6.c4 d6 [6...Ne4 Alekhine's move] 7.Nc3 a5 [The old main line is 7...Qe8 8.b3 a5 9.Bb2 Na6 when White has a slight space advantage and many ways to proceed.; or 7...Ne4 8.Qc2 Nxc3 9.Qxc3 a5 10.b3 Nc6 11.Bb2 Bf6=] 8.Qc2 [8.b3 Qe8 transposes to the old main line] 8...Nc6 9.e4 [If 9.a3 e5 10.d5 Nb8=] 9...Nb4 [9...Nxe4 10.Nxe4 Nb4 11.Qe2 transposes to the game.] 10.Qe2 Nxe4 11.Nxe4 fxe4 12.Qxe4 e5 13.Be3?? [I cut off my important queen retreat! 13.dxe5! Bf5 14.Qxb7 Rb8 15.Qa7 Nc6 16.Qe3+/-] 13...Bf5 14.Qxb7 Rb8 15.Qa7 Nc6 16.Qa6 Rb6 My queen, she is a trapped?! 17.Qxb6 cxb6 18.Nh4 Bxh4 19.gxh4 e4 Down a queen for a rook I have no chance. 20.Bg5 Qd7 21.Rae1 Nxd4 22.Bxe4? Jumping into the toaster. 22...Bxe4 23.Rxe4 Nf3+ 24.Kh1? I am toast. 24...Qh3 25.Bf4 Rxf4 26.Re8+ Kf7 27.Re7+ Kxe7 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lakdawala on 2.Ne2!? vs the Caro-Kann Defence

I purchased the new book "The Caro-Kann: Move by Move" by Cyrus Lakdawala published by Everyman Chess. Like all of his books, this one is excellent! I have played the Caro-Kann Defence about once every 10 days for the past 40 years, though not so much recently. It is my number three defence to 1.e4. First is 1.e4 e5 Open Game, and second is 1.e4 Nf6 Alekhine Defence.

Two nights ago I briefly glanced at the last chapter "King's Indian Attack and 2 Ne2".
I wanted to read what Lakdawala said about the KIA, whether he went with the standard 3...e5 or the old 3...g6. But what's this 2.Ne2? He implied it was dangerous. I figured someday I would check it out, but right then? A quick glance at my own games shows that I had faced 2.Ne2 only four times, winning all of them against weaker players.

Yesterday I played the Caro-Kann Defence in a 3 minute blitz game on the Internet Chess Club. My opponent "OutsideTheGate" was rated 2212; I was rated four points lower at 2208. Both of us good; neither of us superstars. What to my wondering eyes would appear but 2.Ne2!?

"Times change, but chess players don't. This is another attempt to confuse us decent hard-working Caro folk. I would take this line seriously." Lakdawala. Turns out I followed the line I was "most likely to encounter" for 11 moves, before my opponent deviated from the book that I did not know.

There is no time to refer to a book during a 3 0 game. You play moves every 1-2 seconds based on memory, intuition, pattern recognition, experience and the clock! Here is my game along with some comments. Junior 12 was my analyzing partner for most.

OutsideTheGate-Sawyer, ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 07.03.2012 begins 1.e4 c6 2.Ne2 d5 3.e5 "This tricky line is very popular on the Internet Chess Club." Schandorff 3...Bf5 4.Ng3 Bg6 5.h4 h6 6.h5 Bh7 7.e6 I am used to this, having played the Alekhine Defence even more than the Caro-Kann. 7...fxe6 [7...Qd6 8.exf7+ Kxf7 9.d4 e5 10.Bd3 e4 feels like a Latvian Gambit.] 8.d4 e5! "A key move to remember. We deny White his brilliant blockade sac by returning the pawn to seal e5 with a cork." Lakdawala. [Also interesting is 8...c5!? 9.dxc5 e5] 9.dxe5 e6 [9...Nd7!? 10.f4 Qb6 11.Bd3 Bxd3 12.Qxd3 0-0-0=] 10.Bd3 Bxd3 11.Qxd3 Qd7 12.Nd2!? [Lakdawala gives 12.0-0 Bc5 13.Be3 Na6 where he shows that Black gets good compensation for a pawn he sacrifices.] 12...Bc5 13.Nf3 [13.Nb3! Bb6 14.Be3 Na6 15.0-0-0 0-0-0 16.Qc3+/= and White has a somewhat better position.] 13...Na6 14.c3 Ne7 15.Be3 Bxe3 16.Qxe3 0-0= Why not castle kingside? 17.Rh4 Nf5 18.Nxf5 Rxf5 19.0-0-0 Qe7 Simple tactics for a 3 0 blitz game: threat ...Rxf3/...Qxh4. 20.Rh3 Qc5?+/- [Missing White's response. I should have played 20...Qf7! ] 21.Nd4! Threatening f5/e6. 21...Rf7 22.Rg3 Kh8 23.Nxe6 Qxe3+ 24.fxe3 Re8 25.Nf4 Nc5 26.Rf1 [26.Rf3!+/-] 26...Ne4? [26...Kh7!=/+ and Black has a good game.] 27.Ng6+ Kg8 28.Rxf7 [28.Rgf3!+/-] 28...Kxf7 29.Rf3+ Kg8  [29...Ke6!?] 30.e6= [30.g4! gives White good winning chances.] 30...Ng5 After this White's e6-pawn falls and the endgame is completely equal. I am ahead in time. Eventually White forces the draw. 31.Rf5 Nxe6 32.Re5 Nc7 33.Rxe8+ Nxe8 34.Kd2 Kf7 35.Nf4 Nf6 36.Kd3 b6 37.b4 Nd7 38.Kd4 Kf6 39.e4 dxe4 40.Kxe4 Nf8 41.g4 Ne6 42.a4 Nxf4 43.Kxf4 b5 44.a5 a6 45.Kf3 Kf7 46.Ke4 Ke6 47.Kd4 Kd6 48.c4 bxc4 49.Kxc4 Kd7 50.Kc5 Kc7 51.Kd4 Kd6 52.Ke4 Ke6 53.Kf4 Kf6 54.Ke4 Ke6 55.Kd4 Kd6 56.Ke4 Ke6 Drawn by repetition 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Winning with the Koltanowski Max Lange Attack

George Koltanowski developed an opening repertoire for White to play for a win with the Max Lange Attack. Kolty was famous for giving simultaneous exhibitions where he would play either the Colle System or the Max Lange Attack.

Who was Max Lange? He was leading German player in the mid-1800s. Max Lange wrote a classic book "The Chess Genius of Paul Morphy" published in 1860. This book was translated from German in English by another opening theoretician: Ernest Falkbeer.

The Max Lange Attack leads to a complex unbalanced position. Right from the beginning, each move by each player has a tactical purpose. To be successful, you need a good tactical eye. It helps to have the one main variation memorized to move 16 at least. If you understand the threats, you can handle positions when your opponent deviates.

Back in 1974, Ray Haines and I got through 14 moves. Then things got crazy. The next eight moves the advantage swung back a forth wildly. The evaluations went from equal to Black edge to equal to White winning to Black winning to drawish to a victory for White.

Sawyer - Haines, Ft Fairfield,ME 15.02.1974 begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.0-0 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5 d5 7.exf6 dxc4 8.Re1+ Be6 9.Ng5 Qd5 10.Nc3 Qf5 11.Nce4 0-0-0 12.g4 Qe5 13.Nxe6 fxe6 14.fxg7 Rhg8 15.Nxc5? [After 14 correct book moves, I get sidetracked. I probably did not know any more book moves. The standard continuation is 15.Bh6 d3 16.c3= with equal chances.] 15...Qxc5 16.Bh6 d3 17.c3 [17.cxd3 cxd3=/+] 17...d2 [17...Ne5-/+] 18.Rxe6 Rd3? [18...Qd5 19.Rf6=] 19.Re2? [19.Qe2!+-] 19...Ne5 20.Re3 Rxg7 [Black can pick up g7 at his leisure. Much stronger is 20...Rxe3 21.Bxe3 Qd5-+] 21.Rxd3? [21.Bxg7 Rxe3 22.fxe3 Qxe3+ 23.Kf1=] 21...Nxg4? [21...Nxd3-+] 22.Qe2 Qh5? [Junior 12 gives the critical line 22...Ne3+ 23.Kh1 Qc6+ 24.f3 cxd3 25.Qxe3 Rg6 26.Bf4 Re6 27.Qxd2 Qxf3+ 28.Qg2 Qxf4 29.Qg8+ Kd7 30.Qxh7+ Kc6 31.Qxd3 Rd6 32.Qe2 Rd2 33.Qe6+ Rd6 with a repetition of moves.] 23.Qe6+ 1-0

You may also like: Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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