29 April 2012

Training Log

This past week, I have been battling my old nemesis: blitz addiction. A major part of what drives the addiction is easy to understand. I lose. I must play again when I lose a game that I feel I should have won because I outplayed my opponent, but failed to watch the time, or because I was outplayed by an opponent who lacks rudimentary skills, or a host of other reasons. When I wake up at four in the morning after eight hours of sleep because I woke up at four the previous morning and went to bed early, I lie in bed with my iPad and play three minutes games with the Internet Chess Club iPad app. At that hour, it takes me four games before I can see the screen. My rating plummets, and so I must play on to restore my own dignity. This illness cuts into tactics training, but is not always a complete waste.

This game was played early yesterday morning in the 3 0 pool. I was a bit too cavalier concerning the loss of my queenside pawns in the opening, but managed to create some pressure in the center.

Stripes -- ICC Player [D11]
ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 28.04.2012

1.d4 c6 2.c4 d5 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 a6 5.Bg2 dxc4 6.0–0 b5 7.a4 Bb7 8.b3 cxb3 9.Qxb3 Nbd7

White to move


A silly move.


The correct response.

11.Bd2 e6 12.e4 N5b6 13.a5 Nc4 14.Bc3 Nf6 15.Re1 Be7 16.Nbd2 Nxd2 17.Nxd2 0–0 18.Rad1 c5 19.d5

Black to move

Black has two connected passed pawns. These shall become a thorn in my side, but the puss that develops around the wound will strengthen me for attacking elsewhere.

19...c4 20.Qb2 exd5 21.e5

Now, three passers are coming at me. Yet, somehow I was less worried than when I had four pawns coming down the middle when Elston sacrificed two knights to get his pawns moving in the opening round of the 2005 Collyer Memorial in Spokane. I missed an opportunity in that game, and then survived with a draw because we were using my old analog clock and Elston ran out of time eight moves before checkmating me.

21...Ne8 22.Qa1 b4 23.Bd4 c3 24.Nf3 Nc7 25.Bb6 Qd7 26.Nd4 Ne6 27.Nf5 Bc5 28.Bxc5 Nxc5 29.Nd4 Ne6 30.Nf5 d4

White to move

I have the opportunity to dispatch one of the pesky pawns.

31.Bxb7 Qxb7 32.Nxd4 Nxd4 33.Rxd4 Rad8 34.Rde4 Rd2 35.Qa4 Rb8 36.e6 fxe6 37.Rxe6

Black to move


Despite his or her clear advantage, my opponent panics. 37...Rf8 applies pressure to a White position already in dire straits.


38.Rb6 keeps some chances for equality.

38... Kh8 39.Re7??

White's idea of playing Qf7 is easily refuted by 39...Qf3

39... h6??

And, now, finally, White gets to have some fun in this blunderfest. The errors in this game should reveal why blitz does not strengthen one's game. When many hours of online blitz cut into useful activity, such as tactics training, then ambitions to achieve new levels of chess performance in serious play are deferred.

White to move

40.Rxb7 Rxb7 41.Kg2 Rc8 42.Rc1 Rb5 43.Qe6 Rcb8 44.Qxa6 b3?

Black makes White's game easier with this move.

White to move

45.Rxc3 b2 46.Rc8+

It seems that I spent quite a bit of time working out the variations before playing this move. I did not want to deal with a Black queen again. This "long think" was probably ten seconds.

46...Kh7 47.Rxb8 Rxb8 48.Qd3+ Kg8 49.Qb1 Black forfeits on time 1–0

Despite an excessive amount of time playing blitz this past week, I did find time for 14 Shredder puzzles on the iPad.

1622 puzzles: 12690/16220 points 78%
last 10 puzzles: 63/100 63%

Nothing impressive there. However, I also continued to work the problems at Chess Tempo. Not only did I complete 138 standard rated problems, but also worked through 6 problems in a new set that I created to address an area of weakness (getting five correct).

Problems Done: 1077 (Correct: 613 Failed: 464)
Percentage correct: 56.92%

I do plan to visit Lev Alburt's Chess Training Pocket Book II this week. My wife and I are spending a couple of days at a beautiful resort where she has a professional conference. Although I will attend a few of the conference social activities, I have ample time in the hotel for a bit of tactics training unless I decide to spend the time fishing. And there are some nice small lakes near here as well as the mammoth one a few feet from the patio where I am typing this post. Balancing chess training with fishing, exercise, and a bit of wine tasting is essential to my long-term progress.

I do have my endgame flash cards with me, and am scheduled to do a bit of driving for one conference excursion, so will keep the cards handy should there be some idle moments.


  1. James- Give in to the blitz monster :). 3/0 is a tad fast for me, but I think I can take a little away from games played at a 5/3 where it doesn't feel like a mouse race. At the very least you'll almost never lose a clearly won position and it helps you work on your technique. I'm not yet ready to say that blitz isn't helpful or counter-productive to improvement, but the key is you have to step back every now and then in busy games such as this and see what all was really going on.

    1. Thanks Tim. I've given in to more than 50,000 blitz games for which I have a record, and several thousand more that have escaped storage in my database. Blitz is fun when I'm not losing too badly, but I am quite certain that it can be counterproductive when I play for three and four hours at a stretch--something I did more than once the past week. Sometimes I place limits: five games per day, for instance. I think such limits are healthy so long as one doesn't become legalistic and consider six games in one day a failure of commitment. Since rejoining ICC the first week of April, I've logged 284 3 0 games, as well as several dozen at other time controls. That should strike most people as excessive.

  2. I still think that all moves need sharp mind and descriptive assume.