Monday, February 12, 2007

Rochester 2007 Winter Open

By Todd Miller

On February 2nd and 3rd, 2007 Matthew Jensen and Dennis Mays ran another great Rochester Winter Open. The results were as follows.


1st Todd Miller, $200 + trophy
2nd - Alex Betaneli - $150
3rd - Jeremy Kane* - $50.00
3rd - Ron Dieke - $50.00
U2000/1800 - Kevin Gaustad - $75
U2000/1800 - Sam Stegmann - $75

Amateur (U1600)

1st - Michael Lust - $140 + trophy
2nd - Nathan Amundson - $100
3rd/1400 - Christopher Gill - $55
3rd/1400 - Dennis Zuo - $55
U1200 - Joshua Anthony $50

Reserve Scholastic Sections - Trophies for Top Six

Reserve One

1 Matt Painter
2 Maor Locker
3 Mark Painter
4 Mike Munson
5 Odong Ojulu
6 Christine Pulido

Reserve Two

1 Charlotte Gill
2 Emily Lekah
3 Rory Li
4 Dalton Dahle
5 Arriel Ballew
6 Andrew Hough
Other Awards

Top Upset by RD - $20 each (Can only win once)

1 - Nathan Amundson (Amateur-463)
2 - Nick Lawrence (Premier-175)
3 - Michael Lust (Amateur-271)
4 - Ben Sparks (Amateur-638)
5 - Sam Stegmann (Premier-301)

ICC Memberships

Adults: Michael Larson
Piyush Mukherjee
Students: Alex Betaneli
Stephen Ballew

I thought I would try to give you some examples from my games from Rochester that might help others who are trying to improve their chess. I retired from chess for the most part for about twenty years and have only been playing regularly now for three years. Much has changed. For one thing, the younger players are much better tactically. In fact, it seems to me that current thinking stresses tactics much more today than it did thirty years ago when I was a junior player. In my three games, with young players at Rochester, (two who won prize money), only one game was decided by tactics. Rather, my opponents committed errors in positions where there were no tactics.

As a psychologist, I often read what the newspapers say about psychology and chess. The reporter often argues that grandmasters memorize 50,000 patterns and that studying chess tactics is therefore the best way to improve your game. However, that's a misunderstanding of a theory that some psychologists do not even subscribe to. Rather, what grandmasters probably do is recognize patterns that involve plans such as where their pieces should be best placed, tactical themes (e.g., back rank mates), pawn structures (e.g., isolated pawns), critical endgame positions etc. ... They know what plans work best given a certain position The favorable position might not have anything to do with winning material or tactics. For example, they may simply know that occupation of the remote file by a rook is almost certainly winning given the pawn structure and pieces remaining on the board. It's the pattern recognition that results from understanding of many types of positions that allows grandmasters to quickly make accurate judgments about the position and to develop plans. Tactics are the means through which these ideas are carried out. And of course, part of that pattern recognition involves idenitying tactical possibilities.

Todd Miller - Jeremy Kane
Round 4
Rochester Winter Open 2007
1:0, 2/ 3/2007

1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. d4 O-O 6. a3?!= b6 7. Bd3 Bb7 8. Qc2 c5

[8... dxc4! 9. Bxc4 c5 10. O-O Nc6 11. Rd1 Qc8 12. Qe2 Na5 13. Ba2 Qc6 14. d5 exd5 15. Nxd5 Nxd5 16. Bxd5 Qc7 17. Bd2 Bxd5 18. Bxa5 Bxf3 19. Bxb6 Bxe2 20. Bxc7 Bxd1 21. Rxd1 Rac8 22. Be5 Rfd8 23. Rxd8 Rxd8 24. g3 Bf6 0-1, Westrik Erik - Luco Alain (FRA) 2161, Fouesnant (France) 2001]

9. cxd5 exd5 10. O-O

10... c4?

This move is considered best by the Computer Analysis Project (C.A.P.) database. However, no humans have played this move and I don't believe they should. In this same position, GM Larry Christiansen played

[10... Nc6! 11. b3 Re8 12. Bb2 h6 13. Rad1 cxd4 14. exd4 Bd6 15. Rfe1 Rxe1 16. Rxe1 Rc8 17. Qd1 Qf8 1/2-1/2, Bisguier Arthur B (USA) 2455 - Christiansen Larry M (USA) 2485, Greenville (USA) 1980]

11. Bf5 g6?

Black's 10th move locked the center, which makes it easier for either opponent to attack on the wing. His 11th move weakens his kingside, although this move is also suggested by C.A.P. As I see it, Black has already put himself in a very difficult position as Black has no reliable plan. In contrast, my plan is rather simple and clear. I will put my knight on e5 and push my f pawn to f5 in an effort to open lines on the kingside where my opponent has weakened his king position. Rather simple, and yet I believe that many strong players make such mistakes rather frequently. On each move, one has to ask oneself what is my long range plan and what are the plans of my opponent.

12. Bh3 a6 13. Ne5 Nc6 14. f4 Qd6

For the most part, my computer suggests playing similar moves or the same moves as my opponent, which suggests to me that the computers that suggested this strategy for Black were in error. Black is relegated to defense. He does have a queenside pawn majority but White's attack is much faster. There is little Black can do but wait for the inevitable.

15. Bd2 b5 16. Be1 Bc8 17. Bxc8 Raxc8 18. f5!?

Perhaps this is a bit premature. I could have first played Rf3 as the tactics surrounding my weakened e3 square are not as effective when the rook is protecting this square. Below, I give a sample game I generated with the help of my Rybka computer program to illustrate that White can obtain the same sort of attack after this move as I do in the game.

[18. Rf3 Nh5 19. g4 Ng7 20. f5 Bf6 21. Nxc6 Rxc6 22. Qg2 gxf5 23. gxf5 Rd8 24. Bg3 Qd7 25. Kh1 Kh8 26. Raf1 Rg8 27. Be5 Bxe5 28. dxe5 Qc7 29. f6 Ne6 30. Rg3 Rxg3 31. Qxg3 and White is winning.]

18... Nh5?

[It would have been much better to play 18... Nxe5. I will give some detailed analyses to show that White is still on top and that is only natural as I have followed a logical plan of opening lines on the kingside. I have often found that if I play a strategic idea that I believe is logical and consistent with principles of chess then even if I have overlooked something at times is has worked out for me. This is another bonus of attempting to play logical chess. Aagaard notes in his book on Excelling at Chess that Kasparov is not as good a tactician as Shirov. However, his tactics follow from his striving to place his pieces on the best possible squares and to play within a logical framework. This may explain why Kasparov had such a good record against Shirov. His attacks are based on logic and principles so even if he doesn't see everything, his attacks usually work. It is this keen sense of chess judgment that Aagaard believes put Kasparov of top. Kasparov has also argued that his gift is in knowing where to put his pieces and not in calculating. 19. Bg3 Nfg4! (or 19... Qd7 20. Bxe5 Ng4 21. Bf4 Nf6 22. Qe2 a5 23. Bh6 Rfe8 24. Bg5 b4 25. axb4 axb4 26. fxg6 hxg6 27. Bxf6 bxc3 28. bxc3± Rybka) 20. Qe2 Qd7 21. Bxe5 Nxe5 22. dxe5 d4 23. exd4 Qxd4 24. Kh1 Rc5! (24... Bc5 25. Ne4 Kh8 26. Nf6 Qe3 27. Qg4 Qxe5 28. Qh4 h5 29. Rae1 Qxb2 30. Qg5 Kg7 31. Nxh5 Kh7 32. Nf6 Kg7 33. Ng4 Kg8 34. f6 Rfe8 35. Rxe8 Rxe8 36. Qh6 Bf8 37. Qxg6 fxg6 38. f7 Kh7 39. fxe8=Q; 24... Qd3 25. Qe1 Qc2 26. Nd5 Rce8 27. Rf2 Qd3 28. Rd1 Qb3 29. Qe2± and White's attack can proceed as in the last variation.) 25. Rae1 (The idea of 25. e6 is appealing. However, Re5 26. exf7 Rxf7 27. fxg6 hxg6 28. Qc2 Qd3³) 25... Qd3 (25... Bh4 26. g3 Bg5 27. Qe4 Qd7 28. Kg2 Qd2 29. Re2 Qd3 30. Qb7± Rybka) 26. f6 (Not 26. Qg4?? Rxe5 27. Rxe5 Qxf1#) 26... Qxe2 27. Rxe2 Bd8 28. e6 fxe6 29. Rxe6 a5 30. g4 (30. Ne4 Rf5 31. Kg1 Rd5 32. h4 b4 33. axb4 axb4 34. g4 Rd3 35. Rf2 c3 36. bxc3 bxc3 37. Kg2 Re3 38. Rc2 Rf7 39. g5± In this variation, White used his space advantage on the kingside to create a highly favorable pawn structure. 39... Ba5) 30... Kf7 31. Rd6 Re5 32. Nd5 h5 33. gxh5 gxh5 +0.23d12 Rybka]

19. g4 Ng7 20. Bg3

Black has not committed any tactical errors. Nevertheless, he now has to lose material. In Jacob Aagaard's Excelling at chess, he argues that chess players excel not due to superior calculating abilities or imagination. Rather, they are able to understand positions in terms of what are viable plans and ideas. Personally, I believe many people already have sufficient positional knowledge to incorporate ideas of piece placement and positional judgment into their games. They merely need to incorporate it into their thinking process during the game. That is, many players get lost in the opening or tactical variations and do not see the big picture, which they would be fully aware of if they took the time to notice but in the heat of battle they forget about the big picture and focus on tactics.

20... Qd8 21. Qg2 Nxe5 22. Bxe5 Bd6

[Better would have been 22... f6 23. Bg3 gxf5 24. gxf5 Kh8 and Black's king position is considerably better than in the game, although Black still has to lose a pawn. ]

23. fxg6 hxg6

24. Bf6! Qd7 25. Nxd5

Now, Black will continue to lose material because his king position is too vulnerable. Was this all a result of locking the center and playing the weakening move 11. ... g6? I will let the reader decide.

25... Rc6 26. Be5

[Time trouble was now approaching for both of us. More accurate was 26. Bg5 which threatens ¤f6+ Ne8 27. Bh6 Kh7 (27... Ng7 28. Nf6 Kh8 29. Nxd7) 28. Bxf8 Bxf8 Rybka]

26... Bxe5 27. dxe5 Rd8 28. Rad1 Qe8

29. Qf3

White can win the exchange any time he wants to because the knight at f6 is too strong. For example, White will have mating threats with £h3 after ¤f6. Therefore, I decided to consolidate my position a bit before winning the exchange. [More double edged is 29. Ne7 Qxe7 30. Rxd8 Qxd8 31. Qxc6 Qd2 32. Qf3 Qxb2 33. Qxf7 Kh7 34. Qe7 Qd2 35. Qh4 Kg8 Rybka]

29... Rd7

No better was29... Rxd5 30. Rxd5 c3 31. bxc3 Rxc3 32. Qd1 Ne6 33. Rd7 Rxe3 34. Qd6 Re4 35. Rfxf7 Rxg4 36. Kf2 Rd4 37. Qe7 Rybka]

30. Nf6 Rxf6 31. Qxf6

[31. exf6! Ne6 32. Qc6 Rd8 33. Qxe8 Rxe8 34. Rd5 Rb8 35. h3 g5 36. Rd7 Rc8 37. Kg2 Nc5 Rybka±/ This is line is better because the side with the material advantage has managed to trade off more pieces. If you're ahead in material it's usually a good idea to trade off as many pieces as possible. ]

31... Ne6 32. Rd6 Nf8

33. Rfd1

[Better would have been 33. Rxa6 Rc7 34. Rd1 Nd7 35. Qh4 Rc8 36. e6 +2.32 d10 Rybka]

33... Rxd6 34. Rxd6 Qc8 35. Qf3 Ne6 and White eventually won in a time scramble. [1:0]

My conclusions are from this game and several others that I have played since I began playing chess is that players in general are much better tactically than they were when I played before. However, I believe that at times that improvement in tactics allows us to forget about the importance of incorporating long-range strategic objectives into one's thinking.

1 comment:

Prof Emeritus said...

Hey, Todd.

As I read about the Medical Branch in Galveston going down I thought about you. I learned you left U of St Thomas.

Hope you are well,
Emil Posavac