Monday, July 21, 2014

Chess Diary

No, don't worry, I'm not going to pour my heart out while in the midst of a middle aged crisis. Diaries, or personal notebooks, are often kept by chess players and I wondered how many readers do just this. So do you keep a chess notebook, or chess diary? I guess in the digital age, we can store information on our computers, or phones/tablets easily, so perhaps personal databases fulfil the same role.

I used to keep a notebook back in England, though that was in the days before online databases and resources. So as well as my own ideas and analysis, there was a lot of material that I collected from books and periodicals that I bought or borrowed. Unfortunately I left all the stuff in England when I emigrated to Australia, and all my chess books as well. So I've decided to start a chess notebook again. I'm not sure whether to use pen and paper, or a computer but the vast amount of material that is readily available to players of all standards needs to be filtered into manageable proportions. Otherwise looking a 5 million game database to improve your game is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

One thing that all chess players enjoy is a good sacrifice, so my diary entry for today has involved sacrifices and attacks. Examining sacrifices is good for a number of reasons:

- we get away from pure materialism in out thinking.
- we improve our imagination, looking for unusual ideas in positions.
- we learn to calculate variations correctly.
- we develop a series of known patterns we can put into our game.

An easy one to start with. This was an online game I played. 1. White to play.

We all love a queen sacrifice, so here is one from the great Hastings 1895 tournament. This first round game Albin-Bird continued 40..fxg3!? allowing 41.Bxh6. 2.See if you can spot the follow up.

This is a game I played at my local club, Glen Eira, the other night. I was black and had a piece for 3 pawns. 3. Can you use your imagination to find the move I played?

Finally, here's a position from the game Malyutin-Yemelin Moscow open 1995. I looked at this game because it started with the same Ponziani opening that I have been using a lot recently. If we look at the position, it might seem that black is doing well, especially with his advanced protected e-pawn eating into white's territory. However look at each sides pieces. White's pieces are concentrated centrally and even his queen side rook has lifted and is ready to swing to the king side. Black's pieces are somewhat disorganised with the Na6, Ra8 and Be8 being particularly odd looking. White used that fact to strike. 1.Ngxf5 Rxf5
2.Nxg4! [all of a sudden white's pieces are threatening to swamp the king side. This move clears the g-file for a possible Ra3-g3 pinning black's queen to his king. 2.Nxf5 was possible giving 2 pieces for rook and pawn, but the text move is an elegant and imaginative solution to the situation] 2..hxg4 3.Bxg4 Rh5
Black tries to stem the tide by giving back a little material. This move also gives the king shelter on the h-file should white intend Be6+ 4.Bxh5 [Not materialistic, but a line clearing move which also happens to win material] 4..Qxh5 5.Qe6+
Finally White has broken through. Here's a little calculation test. 4. See if you can refute all of black's possible moves here.

It was fun looking at some sacrifices, and even playing some, and I'll post some answers tomorrow.

Answers (as I see them anyway!)

1. I launched the fork 1.Nc6! where the knight can't be taken 1..bxc6 2.Qa6+ Kb8 3.bxc6 with unstoppable mate on b7.

2. The game Albin-Bird Hastings 1895 continued 41..gxh2+ 42.Kxh2 Rxg2+ [black has rook and pawn for the queen while white's king is exposed] 43.Kh3 Rg6 44.Be3 [In his annotations for the tournament book, Schiffers claims 44.Qc1 is better] 44..f4 45.Bf2 Rh6
There now seems no satisfactory defence, and Albin crumbled with 46.Bh4 Ng3 47.Rxd7 Nxe2 when white can't capture either piece (48.Qxe2 Rg3+; 48.Rxb7 Ng1+) and soon lost.

3. I was happy to find 1..Rxc3! when the tactics work for me. 2.bxc3 Rb8 is not playable, so my young opponent found 2.e5! but I had 2..Qf3 3.Rf1 Rc5 with a winning position

4. Maljutin-Yemelin, where black played 5..Bf7 which lost to 6.Rg3+ Kh7 7.Qe4+ when black resigned.

I don't think alternatives were any better.
a) 5..Kh7/h8 6.Rh3 wins the queen
b) 5..Kg7 6.Rg3+ Bg6 7.f5 +-
c) 5..Kf8 6.f5 again looks strong 6..Bg7 7.f6
d) 5..Qf7 is probably best 6.Rg3+ Kh7 [6..Kf8 7.Qxd6+ Qe7 8.Rg8+; 6..Kh8 7.Qh6+ Qh7 8.Qf8+] 7.Qh3+ Qh5 8.Qxh5+ Bxh5 9.Rh3 when white will end up an exchange and a couple of pawns ahead

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