Sunday, October 28, 2012

Game Preparation

So what is game preparation all about then? I've had a whole free day to prepare for my game against IM Guy West tomorrow. What should I have done? Should I have played through loads of his games? Should I have some opening systems worked out for what he will most likely will play against me?

Actually, I don't know if I'm from the wrong era when it comes to preparation, but for me chess preparation tends to be a bit hit and miss. There are times when I get into some very specific opening preparation for particular opponent's. At other times, however, I hardly prepare at all and just play it by ear. To be honest, I haven't really got round to much specific preparation for this tournament. I have found it difficult to stay focused on the matter in hand. There are just so many interesting things to look at...

...and is it really that bad to work on things on a more general level? Wasn't it Botvinnik who said that chess is the art of analysis? I've seen some really nice chess things today, that I'll share them now.

It's always important to spot tactical threats. Here, it's white to move and his next move won material.

This is, of course, an easy one, but nice nevertheless. White played Ned5 and black resigned. The moral of the story is never forget about the centre of the board. Pieces can often make surprising moves into the centre, pawns can often be taken surprisingly...just look at this next one.
This was the game Naumann-Rapport Bundesleague 2011/2. Black here played 25..Bd4, tempting his opponent to trap his queen with 26.Rf3
So did black resign? Nope, he played 26..Nxc4!!
What a stunning position. White can't take the queen, the knight or the bishop. So what can white do? 27.Nxd6!! A stunning rejoinder looking to lure the Nc4 away from defending it's queen. Resignation time for black again?
27..Rxf4!! OMG, what the hell is going on in this game??
Pretty much everything of black is en prise, including the queen!! The game concluded, 28.Nxf4 Nxf4+ 29.Rxf4 Qxf4 30.Nxc4 Qg4+
and it ended in a perpetual draw 31.Kh2 Qh4 32.Kg2 Qg4+ 33.Kh2 Qh4+

An amazing sequence of moves, but the position which most impressed me today was a classic pawn ending (ok, I was looking at some pretty random stuff today :D).

This position occurred in the game Fischer-Bisguier US Championship 1959. It seems like a straightforward win for white who has an outside passed pawn that he just has to use to decoy the enemy king. 1.Kf3! [The immediate 1.g5 would only draw after 1..Kf5 2.Kd4 Kxg5 3.Kxc4 Kf6 and black's king gets back in time] 1..a5 2.Ke3 a4 and now that black has created a second weakness on the queen side, 3.g5! decoying black's king 3..Kf5 4.Kd4 Kxg5 5.Kxc4 Kf4 6.Kb4 Ke3 7.Kxa4 Kd2 8.Kb3 Kd3 9.c4 Kd2 10.Ka4 Kc2 11. Ka3 Kd3 12.Kb3 b6 13.Kb4 Kc2
And so it seems that white has it easy with an extra pawn and black's king on the wrong side of the pawns. However, that would be the worst thing you could think, and Fischer was up to the task with some accurate play. 14.Ka3! [The obvious 14.Kb5 fails to 14..Kb3, while 14.b3 also only draws after 14..Kb2 15.Ka4 Kc3 16.Ka3 Kd3!] 14..Kd3 15.Kb3 Kd2
16.Ka4! finally clearing the way for the b-pawn to run 16..Kc2 [16..Kd3 17.Kb5] 17.b4 and black finally resigned as there is no stopping white from promoting on the c-file.

So, I feel fully prepared for my game tomorrow night. I've seen some amazing games, some great tactics and fabulous endgames. As for specific preparation....who was it I'm playing? ;)

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