14 January 2009

French Miniature

A Kind of Blitz

I'm doing well keeping my blitz addiction in check: six games so far in 2009. On the other hand, in so-called correspondence chess on sites like ChessWorld, Chess.com (a sponsor of the Washington State Elementary Chess Championship), Red Hot Pawn, and others, there is a kind of blitz that players will fall into. Players with too many games must move quickly when they first look at each game board. Players with fewer games should take their time, but often move quickly in any case. The temptation to move quickly can be magnified when you know that your opponent is also online--many moves might be exchanged over the course of an hour or two.

I can be sitting at my desk writing the Great American novel, a post for Patriots and Peoples, or lesson plans for chess or history classes. Email notification lets me know when an opponent has moved. I can remain logged in to a site and check every few minutes, especially when a move is imminent. Conditional moves accelerate the process.

All these factors contribute to a correspondence game finishing in a few days, instead of the years that had been the norm with postcards, or the months that are the norm today. I am one draw--my last remaining game--from winning the first round of an event that began last week. This French miniature was my penultimate game in that event.

Stripes,J - Lennon, J [C01]
Correspondence Tournament, 13.01.2009

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Bd3 Bd6 5.c3 Nc6 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.O-O Nge7

We've jostled the move order a bit, but this line is from John Watson, Play the French, 3rd edition (2003). Watson's idea for Black is to create asymmetry so there is play in the position. That way, the better player can win. The Exchange need not be drawish, even if White intends it so.

White to move

8.h3 Bh5 9.Re1 Qd7=

White to move

10.Nbd2 is most common, and probably best.

10.Qe2 O-O-O 11.Be3?! f6 12.Nbd2 g5 13.Bb5 g4

White to move

14.Nh4= was necessary

14.hxg4? Qxg4+/- 15.Nh2??

Black to move

15...Bxh2+ 16.Kh1 Qh4 17.Qd3??

Now checkmate is forced, but White was lost anyway.

17...Bg3+ 18.Kg1 Qh2+ 19.Kf1 Qh1# 0-1

My opponent fell into a sort of correspondence blitz. Speed kills, they say. Speed produced errors, and he lost.


  1. Geeze, that opponent isn't a good player. How many points is he rated below you? If i must guess i would say he's rated 1200 a 1300.

    Anyway, nice combination to finish him off. Well done.

  2. He claims an OTB of 1400+, and is about 300 below me on the site where the game was played. He missed some tactics, but his game was lost before the fireworks. I think the positional errors--which all look more or less natural to players unfamiliar with this opening--were his undoing; or, that and playing too fast (the real culprit).

    A few years ago, my own play against the French was truly horrid, perhaps as bad as seen here. My rating was near 1500 then. I took up the French and my rating went up, too.