Sunday, October 11, 2009

Endgames Are Where 'C' Players go to Die

At least that's how I beat them. The last two weeks I've played two player rated 1600-1700ish, and in each case I've taken them into endings in which they're slightly worse (if not equal) and beaten them without a whole lot of trouble. I swear I'm not that good at the middlegame, except in terms of preparing favorable endings. My tactics are not so great but by God if I see a potential endgame weakness I can usually highlight it. It helps when your opponents are oblivious to their own weaknesses, or at least don't perceive the seriousness of them. Here are the games:



I feel that I've really consolidated my rating lately, so to speak. I pretty much always beat players 100-200 points lower than me, and I feel that's a big part of being a stronger player. You just can't give away points to much lower rated have to find a way to beat them. Drawing people slightly stronger on a regular basis is a big part of it too, and I've definitely gotten better at that as well. Of course, sometimes I get rolled by someone at a higher level, and I have a painful example of that as well from three weeks ago. The line is one that I believe is good for black if he's playing for a win, but it's not easy to play (it's a gambit in the Alapin Sicilian). Anytime black gambits a pawn a lot of accuracy is required, and I didn't have it. I really need to study this position deeply because I've had a lot of trouble with it both over the board and online. Still, I wouldn't give it up as it's one of the few lines versus the Alapin Sicilian that isn't drawish. Here's the game:


Ouch. That one still hurts. Though I have very little time to study now that I'm working (which is going well, thanks for asking), this position is worth some time and effort. I just can't stand the early ...Nf6 lines, they're just so boring.

In the chess stratosphere these days, Carlsen is owning everyone like they're a bunch of 'A' players in a weekend Swiss. This guy is really ridiculous. I love how in the last round of Nanjing he beak Javojenko, even though he had already won outright. How many GMs would have just taken a short draw? 80-90% would be my guess. He's as flexible as Kasparov in the types of openings and positions he can play well, and he has the drive to win every game like Fischer did. And I believe he's about to be 2800+ before his 20th birthday. If he keeps this up, he could challenge Kasparov for best all time. I realize that's preposterously premature, but the way he's playing is just astonishing. Nobody wins as many games these days as he does. Defensive technique is just too good, but he just seems to throw people off their games. I'm a huge fan. I hope Anand whips Topalov soon and that Carlsen gets his shot quickly thereafter.

You know who I think could be Carlsen's great rival? Aronian. He plays in a sort of offbeat way, but he's tremendously strong at simply playing the game (as opposed to opening prep) in the same way as Carlsen. A match between those two would be excellent. The older generation is starting to fade somewhat in my opinion, in prominence if not in rating, and it's time for Carlsen, Aronian, Radjabov, Karjakin, Grischuk, etc to step up. I look forward to it.