The Deep Mind vs Stockfish result is amazing especially given how the new AI works. I've always felt that the opening/endgame tables used in modern chess engines were kind of cheating - why couldn't Kasparov take his notes into the Deep Blue game? To see a AI learn and dominate the game from scratch is incredible.

posted on December 6, 2017microposts

Munster League Division 1. Rounds 3 & 4.

Not a great day at the Munster League. In my first game I got a good position and played well enough for a while. Then I went all in for an attack that didn't work and ended up in a losing endgame. I think a crucial moment was when I captured on a4 with my king. This allowed him to trap my king on the a file. Instead the computer suggests b3 as an alternative way to capture the pawn without getting my king trapped.

Should have played b3 here

In the second game I had a repeat against my opponent from the last round last year. This went into the same opening but I was more prepared this time and got a much better position (technically any position would be better than horribly checkmated on the kingside). One interesting moment was when my opponent captured on e5. My heart sank as I thought I was either dropping a bishop or losing loads of pawns. I said to myself that as the line losing the pawns was so bad, I may as well analyse the line that dropped the bishop. Then I realised that it couldn't be captured as Re8 would trap the queen.

Lucky the bishop can't be taken due to Re8

After that I got a good position and was possibly better when my opponent offered a draw. Given my bad run against higher rated opponents I took the offer.

Unfortunately the B team lost both games although with Adare getting thrown out our odds of survival next year have probably improved.

posted on November 26, 2017

Club Championship Round 2

I bounced back in this round of the club chapionship. My opponent played a kind of King's Indian with c4. I was completely unprepared for e5 and thought he should have pushed on with e4. Once he traded into the isolated pawn position I think I started to gain an advantage and then once he dropped a piece, realistically it was all over.

I do like my last move Re1. I've been doing tactics on Chessibility and one of the things that I've started to learn there is quiet moves to increase the pressure when there is no knockout blow. Simon Williams is also stressing this kind of thing in his courses. If you don't see an immediate win then bring in the reinforcements.

posted on November 13, 2017

Club Rapid Play

The club held a 5 round rapid play the other and I think it was a great success. The games are just long enough to be meaningful and the five rounds gives a bit of variety. I think something like this or a blitz night would be better than the Saturday night round in Irish weekender tournaments.

posted on November 3, 2017

Club Championship Round 1

My first game in this year's club championship ended in a loss. I was kind of ok out of the opening but ended up in a cramped position. I played well enough to get out of that and gave myself a shot with a tactic on move 27.

Critical Position: Qh3 was a must here

Unfortunately I wasn't able to calculate it well enough. I felt that Qh3+ was the move to play but I didn't see what to do after Qg2. Putting it in a computer it says to just grab the f pawn and even if white picks up the exchange, I still have three pawns for it. Once I missed the tactic, I was wiped off the board. Players are ruthless that way at the 1800 level.

posted on October 30, 2017chess

Saw this great video on Boris Spassky by Lucas Anderson. Looks like there is a whole series on all the world champions.

posted on October 29, 2017microposts

New Ladder Season

I played my first game in the new season of the Ladder tournament last week. I played an opponent that I've played a couple of times before (here and here). That's always interesting for me as it allows me judge if I've been making any progress at all. My answer after this game is I haven't a clue!

Cork Club Ladder 2017-2018 Game 1

It was a strange game. I should have lost straight out of the opening, then should have been better, then traded into an ending which I knew was drawing and then lost that ending.

My previous games against the same opponent involved me firstly losing hopelessly without any real counterplay and then losing in an ending after an even enough game. So possibly getting an advantage at some stage and even getting to a drawn ending could be seen as progress, but I really shouldn't have gotten anywhere near that.

In this game I really should have lost in the opening. I played the wrong opening moves - I was hoping he would play c4 to transpose into a Bg5 Queen's Gambit Declined position as I had a game coming up against an opponent who tended to play that. When that didn't happen I played the wrong plan and got my pieces marooned on the queenside. Suddenly he had serious mating threats due to his bishop pointing at h7.

I didn't see how to defend myself and after Ne4 to block the diagonal. I assumed that he would take that knight and grab my center pawn. This looks lost with his queen and knight attacking my king and his rooks ready to swing over. Instead he preserved his bishop and traded off knights but this really dissipated his attack. That bishop turned out to be a lemon for the rest of the game. It did nothing until it traded itself for my good bishop.

After that I was able to get my Queen defending my only weak spot on f7 and then once I got my rooks active was even better at one point. I should have done better in the middlegame but I was in severe time trouble. The game time for this was 60m + 15s and I used up pretty much all of that surviving the opening. It's hard to know which of the missing tactics I would have seen if I had more time.

I initially missed Rd8 but saw it later - maybe I would have seen it earlier with more time. I could see that there were potentially g5 ideas but couldn't calculate those properly. I would never have seen the Rxh3 ideas. I could see afterwards that I was too focused on short range moves around the h-file. With the rooks and queen I should have been more focused on more long range moves - the queen on h4 can support the rook "slingshotting" around h8, d8 and to d1. I don't think I'd have seen this with extra time but it's something to be aware of in future.

I knew that the rook ending was drawn but the pawn being so far back confused me. In all literature on rook pawn endings they have the pawn on the 6th or 7th rank. In those cases you want the king on g7 or h7. However with the pawn so far back putting the king there allows the opponent to walk his king over to the pawn, drive away your rook as it doesn't have enough files to operate, then cut off your king on the e file, getting a winning position. The proper drawing technique here is to use the tempi that your opponent will spend getting his king over to your rook, to get your king over to the a file. Best case you can get your king in front of the pawn and then use the back rank defense and go to sleep. Worst case you reach the c file and then your opponent can't use b8 to swap his king and rook so you get a draw. I hope to write a more detailed explanation in a future post.

posted on October 28, 2017chess

Started a page on rook endings. Beginning with links on rook + rook pawn vs rook.

posted on October 23, 2017microposts

Apparently each month Fide have trainers upload instructional articles (called surveys for some reason) to their site.

posted on October 22, 2017microposts

Back in Action at the Munster League

The Munster League started back up again in Charleville last weekend. The B team were in action and in the first game lost 4 1/2 to 1/2 against the Cork A team. In the second game we shared the spoils with Charleville.

For the first game we were treated to the luxurious conditions that the A team expects - leather seats, wooden boards and pieces. No expense spared! I had a mixed game in a Rubinstein French. I was well prepared and only used the increment for the first 20 or so moves and built up a huge time advantage against my much higher rated opponent. This was especially useful later once I started to make my customary blunders as my opponent didn't have a great deal of time to find the best moves! I got a comfortable, equal endgame position and then hallucinated that my opponent was winning a piece. I made some terrible moves and ended up losing most of my pawns giving my opponent had an massively winning position.

Luckily for me he failed to find the win and I managed to trade into a Rook & split a and c pawns against a Rook endgame. I had done a great deal of work on my endgames recently with Jesus DeLaVilla's 100 endgames course on Chessable so I was fairly confident here. I held out for 50 moves and only gave one winning chance around move 85. Again my opponent failed to find this and I escaped with a draw.

For the second game we were back slumming it with the typical B team standard. No more leather chairs, plastic sets! I got a bit confused out of the opening against my opponent and ended up in a blocked position. I decided to swap my bishop for his knight as I felt that an extra knight would be better suited to the position. I ended up getting a really strong position - probably winning as I was up a piece. However then it all fell apart for me. My opponent got a really strong attack with his queen and my pieces were forced into awkward positions. I missed the fact that I could get my queen to e7 via a check on c7. If I had found that I think I would have converted the game. My opponent offered a draw but I felt that as the match result was hanging on this I should try to play on. Naturally I blundered into to a losing position but fortunately got back to draw in the end.

Members of the Cork A and B team
Members of the Cork A and B team

posted on October 15, 2017chess


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