Sunday, December 13, 2009

Been a long time...

I've been busy. Very busy. This will be a big post as a result, and I'm not even going to include most of the games I've played in the last few weeks. Most of them aren't so great anyway, either crushing wins or pathetic defeats, very little in the way of competitive play. I played in a local Open, which I had promised myself I wouldn't do (I usually don't have the energy after a week of work. I'm lucky to play my club games). I did okay...I only lost 7 points, though I did lose to a 1750 kid when I was dead tired Saturday night. The real mistake was not taking a bye that round. Here is one game from that event.


My opponent is a really nice guy, a middle aged college professor, but as you might expect give his background he isn't the most theoretically cutting edge player. As such, I was really worried about creating winning chances, which I had to do to have any hope of salvaging the tournament. As you can see, he mixed up his move order a little and I whipped up a little attack. When the opportunity came to go into a winning ending however, I took it. He made me work for it, but I got him in the end. I also played a few club games, two of which I'll post to show you the difference between B-class and Expert level play, as if you didn't already know there was a stark divide.



Aldo Lopez is a really quality player, probably of master strength (he beat GM Rausis at the Turkey Bowl with black), and I again had trouble with him despite doing a lot of prep. Oh well. No shame in that one. I was glad I was able to handle Gary so easily. Which brings me to a problem I've had recently: winning with black against lower rated players.

It's a real issue in Swiss system tourneys. In the first round especially, you need to win and if you have black and an unambitious opponent, it can be hard. For example, last week I played a 1650 player I've beaten like 3 times in a row, but I had black. It was the first round, and I needed a win. The best I could do, however, was a draw. I was better the whole game, but he didn't risk very much and ably held the draw. I am actually thinking about adding a slightly sketch line (the Modern) to my repertoire just to make sure that lower rated players can't kill the game. I may yet do it. I just hate playing boring, non-theoretical lines of the Sicilian or Semi-Slav and having to take undue risks to create winning chances. Ah well. I usually win anyway, I just wish it didn't take so long.

So I've been playing okay lately, got up to just a hair over 1900, and I have gotten the chance to read a few books. I suppose I might as well review at least one of them:

Secrets of Creative Thinking: School of Future Champions 5, by Mark Dvoretsky

I try not to simply jump on bandwagons, but I have to say I really like the works of Dvoretsky. A few caveats: I'm not strong enough for all of them. I use his Endgame Manual a lot, but I can't solve the exercises 60% of the time (at best). He's very high level. That said, this book is not about tactics, or endings, or openings, but rather about how to think creatively. Like most Dvoretsky books, it's not really a book but rather a collection of lectures that were given at one time or another at his chess school. As such, there are many authors (some quite well known), and a diverse array of topics. These chapters are of varying utility. Most are excellent musing on the way decisions are made in chess, half advice and half philosophical debate. I like these the best. A few are more polemical, such as a book review of a Sanakoev games collection. On the whole, this is a very interesting book that I would recommend. Unlike most Dvoretsky books, this one could be enjoyed by a wide range of players of varying strength. The points are more intellectual than technical, and will be interesting to all.

So I suppose this wasn't really that long of a post, but I'm very drunk and I don't care to keep writing. For one thing, I have to keep deleting and retyping mistakes, which is tiring, and I have to work tomorrow. I will try to get back to posting more often. Peace out.