How did I do?

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Nicky Chorley
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How did I do?

Post by Nicky Chorley » Sat Nov 05, 2011 8:07 pm

Hi all,

Hopefully no-one's annoyed by me and my questions yet :D. I've been playing at the Imperial Congress this weekend and have gotten through three rounds so far, losing all my games (which is unsurprising really, given that my opponents have been a lot stronger than me, as well as my spectacular ability to blunder). However, I'm interested to know how I played in the first two games (the third was awful; I lost two knights for basically nothing, so I know how poorly I played there).

Round 1, with White:


I was quite surprised by 20. ... Bc5. Is 20. ... Bc8 21.Nxc4 Rxa7 not better, since material is even? 23. Nf3 was silly. I thought, "that knight is undefended, so I should move it" and didn't see that Nd2 was clearly better, since it moved the piece so that it was defended, but also attacked the rook. 29. Rac1. Wtf? Again, I should have attacked the rook with Bd2 perhaps (though I don't know where I'd have gone from there). I thought I'd played reasonably well, but now I'm not so sure..

Round 2, with Black:



I have to say that this game felt very cramped for me. I couldn't work out how to put my pieces on good squares and it felt like I had no control over the game. I also wanted to get rid of my opponent's dark squared bishop much earlier, though I couldn't work out how to do that either :(. Part of my problems came from that pawn on c5, so I think I should have taken the c pawn before he advanced it there. Perhaps it's just that I don't understand the opening properly, so perhaps I need to start learning it properly, or should I be playing something else?

My opponent said that I'd played quite a tough game and played close to his strength (116). I'm not sure that's accurate. If he'd seen a bigger sample of my games, he wouldn't have been so complimentary :D.

This game seems quite complicated and I can't pinpoint exactly where I went wrong. Maybe it was just that c pawn; I dunno. In case it's not obvious, I'd given up hope by move 42, so I took the knight and then resigned.

Were there any differences in my play in the two games (whether performance, style, or otherwise)? Should I be starting to learn openings properly now? I think I'll be trying to play more slow congresses (finances permitting, though I'm playing one Weekend Classic this December), as well as league chess. In both cases, I'm probably going to face opponents below 140 (like at this event) or below 120. As such, I think it would probably be wise to learn some openings properly, since otherwise, my opponents will be more prepared.

Thanks!

Roger de Coverly
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Re: How did I do?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sat Nov 05, 2011 8:19 pm

Nicky Chorley wrote:
Were there any differences in my play in the two games (whether performance, style, or otherwise)?
In the first game, your opponent gave you a piece which you immediately gave back.

In the second game, you just gifted a pawn with Ne4.

There's nothing particularly wrong with your play when nothing is happening, but taking and keeping material and not giving it away for nothing is a recipe for success at the level of your opposition and beyond.

In the second game, 4 .. Bg4 looks a bit pointless without a Knight to threaten on f3. As you suggest, taking the pawn on c4 is very possible, as is digging in with 4 .. e6

Nicky Chorley
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Re: How did I do?

Post by Nicky Chorley » Sat Nov 05, 2011 8:29 pm

Yeah, I really wish I'd played Nd2 in the first game. Oh well, at least I'm (hopefully) learning. I wasn't even in time trouble either, so I should have used the clock more. I think I improved on that in game 2, though.

When I played Ne4 in the second one, I was kind of stuck for a move to make :oops:. Perhaps I should have just played a "wait and see" move instead, like h6, or maybe Qc8.

I wasn't sure 4. .. e6 was the right thing to do, because the bishop would have been trapped. So, I thought it should be developed first. I guess Bf5 was probably better than Bg4.

Thanks :).

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: How did I do?

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Sat Nov 05, 2011 9:07 pm

In the first game, 16.b4 wasn't a good move. The black knight is coming into c4 anyway; forcing it there doesn't achieve much. Also, by playing b4, you've weakened the a-pawn and the c3 knight.

16.Rad1 would have been my choice there. You're slightly worse, but there's plenty of play in it.

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Re: How did I do?

Post by Nicky Chorley » Sat Nov 05, 2011 9:24 pm

I think b4 was another of my "not sure what to do now" moves :oops:. Thanks, though. I suppose after 16. Rad1 Nc4, I'd still need to play Bxc4, otherwise I'd lose the b pawn and have to move the rook.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: How did I do?

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Sat Nov 05, 2011 9:41 pm

Nicky Chorley wrote:I think b4 was another of my "not sure what to do now" moves :oops:. Thanks, though. I suppose after 16. Rad1 Nc4, I'd still need to play Bxc4, otherwise I'd lose the b pawn and have to move the rook.
You might be able to get away with 17.Bc1 in that line. I'd need further calculation to be certain of whether 17...Nxa3 is a safe win of a pawn or not.

Your principal problem in that position, by the way, is that your pieces are not doing anything. You've got the bishop on the a2-g8 diagonal, but you aren't using it to put any pressure on the potential weak points at e6 and f7 - you should probably have played f4 at some point, with the idea of playing either e5 or f5. Also, d2 is a useless square for the other bishop: it does nothing but block a useful file for your rook.

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Rob Thompson
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Re: How did I do?

Post by Rob Thompson » Sun Nov 06, 2011 12:21 am

it seems to me that in neither game you had a plan. In neither game did it look like you were trying to achieve anything, you were just shuffling bits about and hoping that the other player blundered. This is closely related to Jack's last post, with no real idea of what to do your pieces won't be doing anything, which will allow your opponents to do what they want. Even a bad plan is better than no plan
True glory lies in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: How did I do?

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Sun Nov 06, 2011 1:14 am

Some specifics on game 2: 11...Nh5 achieved nothing (it would have been reasonable had white not already played h3, in which case it would have forced the exchange of his bishop). A more constructive way to play would have been to go ...Re8 followed by ...Nf8, ...Ng6 and ...Nd7, to allow ...f6 or ...Bf6 and then ...e5, which would have freed your game somewhat.

15...a4 is positionally horrible: at one stroke, you release all the tension on the queenside and allow white to do whatever he wants in the centre. Your previous two moves have nibbled at his pawn chain; you probably want to follow up with an attempt to get your heavy pieces over to the queenside and open up files at the right time. 15...Ra7 (with ...Qa8 as a potential follow-up) might be an idea.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: How did I do?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Nov 06, 2011 1:34 am

A thought on the opening of game 1. There's precedent for playing the Sicilian as if it's the Italian game. By this I mean playing the moves Nf3, Bc4, Nc3, even a3 in some order or other. It's been used by Adams when he wants to outplay someone without using theory. The trouble with this approach is that if you follow it up with d4, then you usually just transpose back into a position you could reach by starting 1 e4, 2 Nf3 and 3 d4. Often it's not a bad idea, but only if you know how to play the resulting (sharper) open Sicilian position.

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Re: How did I do?

Post by Geoff Chandler » Sun Nov 06, 2011 4:24 am

Hi Nick

"I think b4 was another of my "not sure what to do now" moves"

In these situations the worse thing you can do is move a pawn.

Give weak player a good position at move 10 and it will be destroyed
by move 15 with pawn moves. Russian Proverb.

Leave you pawns alone. Look for your worse placed piece and improve it.

Justin Hadi

Re: How did I do?

Post by Justin Hadi » Sun Nov 06, 2011 6:58 am

Hi Nicky,

In game one, a4 is an idea instead of a3, still aiming to play d4 later. That way you restrict black's natural counterplay on the queen-side with ...b5 and avoid black's mainline play which I guess was part of your idea. I used to play like that when I was rated around 130. Worked OK but eventually you will run into people who understand how to play the Sicilian structures and not just after a specific sequence of moves.

Justin

Nicky Chorley
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Re: How did I do?

Post by Nicky Chorley » Sun Nov 06, 2011 7:49 am

Thanks to everyone for the help. I'll look at Jack's post again later, as I'll need to go through my game to understand it. Geoff: leave pawns alone - will do!
Rob Thompson wrote:it seems to me that in neither game you had a plan. In neither game did it look like you were trying to achieve anything, you were just shuffling bits about and hoping that the other player blundered. This is closely related to Jack's last post, with no real idea of what to do your pieces won't be doing anything, which will allow your opponents to do what they want. Even a bad plan is better than no plan.
Yes :(. The only real plan I had in the first game was to try and get rid of at least one of those hanging bishops. Again, in game two, I had no idea how to get my pieces unstuck :(. I need to work on planning. Perhaps I need to read Nunn's middlegame book.
Roger de Coverly wrote:A thought on the opening of game 1. There's precedent for playing the Sicilian as if it's the Italian game. By this I mean playing the moves Nf3, Bc4, Nc3, even a3 in some order or other. It's been used by Adams when he wants to outplay someone without using theory. The trouble with this approach is that if you follow it up with d4, then you usually just transpose back into a position you could reach by starting 1 e4, 2 Nf3 and 3 d4. Often it's not a bad idea, but only if you know how to play the resulting (sharper) open Sicilian position.
Justin Hadi wrote:Hi Nicky,

In game one, a4 is an idea instead of a3, still aiming to play d4 later. That way you restrict black's natural counterplay on the queen-side with ...b5 and avoid black's mainline play which I guess was part of your idea. I used to play like that when I was rated around 130. Worked OK but eventually you will run into people who understand how to play the Sicilian structures and not just after a specific sequence of moves.

Justin
Thanks guys. These posts relate to the opening, so I'll answer them together. I don't really know any opening well, so I just try to get pieces out, castle and control the centre. It seemed like d4 was good because it meant I could get rid of that c pawn (which otherwise would have restricted me I think). So yeah, I don't know what "Black's mainline play" is here, so I couldn't have tried to avoid it :). I guess by these posts it is time to start learning openings properly. I've got a copy of Watson's "Mastering the Chess Openings" (volumes 1 and 2), so I guess I'll just start with those.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: How did I do?

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:37 pm

Apologies for hijacking this thread to post a position from one of my recent games, but it sort of falls under the heading "how did I do?" (the answer being, not very well). Giving the critical position will spoil things a bit, so I'll give a couple of positions a few moves earlier and see how good a test of tactics it is for anyone wanting to try answering the questions.

This was a rapidplay game, with 30 minutes each on the clock. After 22 moves, this was the position:



Black to move. As White, I had just played 22.Qh5 (from e2).

The first set of questions are:

(1) Can Black play 22...Rxf4, or should he look for an alternative move? If he does play 22...Rxf4, what is the main line from White that Black should analyse and what should Black be planning to play in that main line? Try and answer this question before looking at the next diagram!!

(spoiler space)

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A few moves later, the following position had been reached (the interim moves should be fairly obvious):



Black to move. White has just played 26.Kb3 (from c2).

The second set of questions are:

(2) What should Black play here? Should he play 26...Rb1 (as in the game), or should he play 26...Nd2+?

Another couple of moves later:



Black to move. White has sacrificed the knight on f7 with check, the moves since the previous position being 26...Rb1 27.Nf7+ Qxf7 28.Qe5+.

The third set of questions are:

(3) There are two obvious replies; which one should Black play and why?

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: How did I do?

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:54 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
(3) There are two obvious replies; which one should Black play and why?
The knight. The reason is cute and I don't want to spoil it.

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Re: How did I do?

Post by AustinElliott » Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:08 am

IM Jack Rudd wrote:
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
(3) There are two obvious replies; which one should Black play and why?
The knight. The reason is cute and I don't want to spoil it.
I'm definitely voting for ...Nf6 in (3) as I reckon it's mate in four after ..Rf6

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