Learning to play chess: Day 9

Today was a semi-bad day for winning, I lost two games in a row, but they were to 800+ players so I do feel so bad. Let’s go through and analyze my failure to see what really went wrong.

Let’s go move by move and see how I deviated from the norm and where I made some tactical and precision errors. Again, my precision errors are really costing me my rating. I should realistically have made it to 800 by now, or been very close.

1.e4 e5
2.Nf3 Nc6
3.Bb5 Nf6

I played Bb5 directly, which Ryabka gives +3 to this move, but suggests Nc3 or Bc4. In this case I think Bc4 would have been better. Bc4 pins the pawn to the knight and puts blacks king in danger enough to force him to take a precautionary move. In this case Bb5 only endangers the knight and at best in an exchange and messing up his pawn structure.

4.Bxc6 dxc6

Here he takes the knight/bishop exchange, I was hoping he’d play a6 but instead he took the bishop. I am not sure I like this play at all, he went for the exchange but is it really worth it in the end? I didn’t play well enough the rest of the game to find out.

5.d4 Nxe4

Here I played d4!? which was just stupid and imprecise. d3 would have been a better move if I wanted that pawn forward, which would have prevented .. Nxe4. Ryabka says Castling at this point is the best option, otherwise Nc3. I am inclined to say that Nc3 would be the best followed by 0-0.

6.Qd3 f5

Qd3 is a pointless move at this point. It isn’t just pointless, it’s -91 according to Ryabka, which recommends 0-0 as the best of a bad situation with -15. Nxe5 is another option, but still shitty. Black then plays F5 – Maybe we are on the same page skill wise – his best move according to Ryabka is Qf6 or Be6. Ng3 is a good sacrifice to break open the pawn structure to make Kingside castle useless.

7.Nxe5 Bb4+

In this case I actually played the best move for the situation, the best out of the worst. My opponent played Bb4+? a little premature I think, but he was feeling the pressure, especially after Nxe5. It’s just too easy to block. Bd7? or Ryabka says play h6 as the best move. Bb4+ is worth some points, about 25 so it’s not a bad move…

8.c3 Bd6
9.Nd2 Bxe5
10.Nxe4 fxe4
11.Qxe4 O-O

I am not sure I won out here, he is clearly a bishop ahead and I am 1 pawn ahead. He castles.
12.O-O Bf6

Then I castle. I really should have taken his bishop at this point instead of castling. If I had taken it with my Queen there would be a nasty threat looming just after he castled.

13.Qg4 Bxg4

Here is the totally epic blunder on my part. I was so focused on the kingside and keeping pressure there, I forgot about the bishop and there goes the queen. From this point on the game was all downhill.

From there on out I am pretty screwed, Ryabka says play f3, which was better than my bishop move. All in all it was a very instructive game, if for nothing else that to show yet again that I need to be paying attention to open lines and critical squares. This was a textbook failure on my part.

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Learning to play chess: Day 8

Just for the record, I signed up to Chess.com and started learning Chess on July 14, 2014. I think I miss labeled a few days on previous posts, I won’t go back and relabel them as I don’t see being off by 1 day to be significant.

I have been reading up on openings, especially the Ruy Lopez/Spanish Game, and here LucasChess has come in handy. I know Arena has the ability to edit positions and all, but I find LucasChess to be a bit more graphically appealing. You can also click Help to move button anytime and get some suggestions with a rating on each move which is nice. At the same time I am practicing following along a game represented in chess notation and this is getting alot easier. I find myself taking time to stop at a position and try to play through to checkmate on my own, basically against myself.

A lot of times you’ll see someone say: don’t do X, or you’ll be screwed. Then you try X, even against yourself and you realize: Wow, I am screwed. It trips me out because until I play through it, I don’t always see why it’s bad. Complicated exchanges sometimes do my head in, if it’s say more than a 4 piece exchange I am not “sure” if I am going to come out better or worse until I see it in action.

In some if not many of my games against white I have come up against a King’s Pawn player, not necessarily Ruy Lopez Bc5 move but similar, and I have actually won some of them. Still I have to admit that most of my wins are due to lack of skill from my opponent, I am still not seeing very far ahead in the game, but I imagine that is to be expected.

Right now it seems that the spanish game is very popular, especially playing 3. .. a6 Morphy defense. I have played through a couple of variations of that, and I think that the Exchange Variation, Bxc6 is not the best I have found. I need to play through a few more continuations to have a better idea. Considering how often I meet RL against white, I should really get to know it better, which is the whole point of the current exercising.

Here are my stats on Chess.com as of today, for archive purposes.


As you can see, I have one the last 7 games played, and some of these wins were quite exciting. Here is my best for this week:

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Learning to play Chess: Chess.com Day 5

Unfortunately I haven’t been doing one everyday. If I lose track of the days, I am sorry.

I tend to play a game or two online everyday, yesterday I played 5 games and won 4. Here are my current stats as of July 20th, 2014:


As you can see, after the initial tumble I have slowly begun to climb in rank.

Update: After winning 2 more games today, my score went up to 703, unfortunately these wins were a bit suspect. Both games were won based on time. In all fairness, timing out my opponent is a core part of my strategy. I try to conserve time in the beginning and develop my pieces in such a way as to present a difficult tactical problem. when I find myself at a material or tactical disadvantage, I alter my goal from winning to drawing the game.

I am not sure if this strategy is common or not, but it must be. A draw is better than a loss. Truth be told, the reason I get into bad tactical situations is due to my imprecise play. In the beginning I find I make at least 1 major blunder, sometimes more. Add to this some imprecise moves and it’s no wonder I end up with a severe material disadvantage.

I am still winning particularly well with black, but have started to win with white as well.

I have downloaded two programs, Arean, and LucasChess. I prefer LucasChess, as Arena is very confusing for me. I am sure it has many wonderful features that I don’t yet know how to use, but LucasChess has several fun features, including a tutor function where your moves are rated and it makes a limited number of move suggestions.

The other feature LucasChess has is a survival game against a chess engine. So far my record is 15 moves before losing 100 points. I think this significantly improved my white game, just simply trying combinations.

As white I still favor the Queen’s Pawn opening, and have been having some good success with it, I have yet to use the Ruy Lopez much.

My main direction for development is watching youtube videos and practicing against a very hard computer. I find that I am gaining a better “coup d’oeuil” when it comes to evaluating my position and that of my opponents. I am no were near good enough, but I hope to reach 1,000 within 2 months. To get there I imagine i’ll need to take some time to memorize some openings and work with a tactics trainer a bit. Luckily Chess.com provides that, so I am looking forward to availing myself of the facilities.

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