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.

Posted in Chess and Strategy | Leave a comment

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.

ChessComStats-2014-07-22

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:

Posted in Chess and Strategy | Leave a comment

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:

ChessComStats-2014-07-20

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.

Posted in Chess and Strategy | Leave a comment