07 March 2013

Exploiting Weaknesses

Lessons from Blitz

After his lecture on the eve of the David Collyer Memorial chess tournament, IM John Donaldson was asked about internet blitz. He admitted to playing thousands of games, but not the tens of thousands to which many blitz addicts must confess. He offered advice (from a fellow IM) to limit games to four at a time, and to do postgame analysis of each one.

I sometimes limit myself to five games per day, and may go weeks or even months with no online blitz at all. But, I am one who has played tens of thousands of games. Sometimes I heed Donaldson's advice and analyze my games afterwards. Last night, after a win that required me to crank out 70 moves on the iPad in under three minutes, I spent some time looking at a critical position from the game. It seemed to me that my opponent missed a clear win.

In the first diagram, Black is in serious trouble.

Internet Opponent (1873) - Stripes.J (1749)
Live Chess Chess.com, 06.03.2013

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Bd3 Bd6 5.f4 Nc6 6.Nf3 Nf6 7.c3 Bg4 8.0–0 0–0 9.Be3 Re8 10.Re1 Nb8 11.Nbd2 c6 12.Qc2 Nbd7 13.Ne5 Nf8 14.h3 Bc8 15.Ndf3 Nh5 16.g4 Nf6 17.Ng5 h6 18.Ngxf7 Qe7 19.Nxd6 Qxd6 20.g5 hxg5 21.fxg5 Nh5 22.Qe2 g6

White to move

During the few seconds that I waited for my opponent to move, I anticipated his exploitation of the weaknesses on g6 and h5. I was certain that I would lose my knight and what remained of my pawn shield in front of my king. Some of the moves that flitted through my mind: 23.Bxg6 Nxg6 24.Qxh5 Bf5 25.Rf1 (25.Nxg6?? would be a disaster for White 25...Qg3+–+).

My opponent was looking at my king, and played a better move.

23.Qf3! Qe6

23...Ng7 was better

24.Rf1 Qxh3 25.Qf7+ Kh8

White to move


White missed checkmate 26.Nxg6+ Nxg6 27.Qxe8+ Kh7 28.Qxg6+ Kh8 29.Rf8#

26...Rxf8 27.Nxg6+??

Black's advantage is difficult to cultivate with 27.Rxf8+ Kg7 28.Rf7+ Kg8 29.Rf3 Ng3 30.Rf6 Qh1+ 31.Kf2 Qh2+ 32.Kf3 Bf5

27...Kg7 28.Rxf8

Black to move

Now Black holds all the trumps.

28...Qxe3+ 29.Rf2 Qxd3 30.Ne5 Qg3+ 31.Rg2 Qe3+ 32.Rf2 Nf4 33.Raf1

Black to move


Black missed an easy checkmate

33...Ne2+ 34.Kh1 (34.Kg2 Qh3#) 34...Qh3+ 35.Rh2 Qxf1#

34.Kg2 Nxf2 35.Rxf2 Qxg5+

Easier was 35...Bh3+ 36.Kg1 Qg3+ 37.Kh1 Qxf2 with checkmate on the next move

36.Kf1 Bh3+ 37.Ke1 Qc1+ 38.Ke2

Black to move

Black finds a plan that is easy to play in time trouble.

38...Qxb2+ 39.Ke3 Qxc3+ 40.Ke2 Qb2+ 41.Ke3 Qa3+ 42.Ke2 Qxa2+ 43.Ke3 Qb3+ 44.Ke2

Black to move

And now a simplifying combination. What started as a complex and difficult position that both sides handled incorrectly ended as a race against the clock.

44...Bg4+ 45.Nxg4 Re8+ 46.Ne5 Qc4+ 47.Ke3 Rxe5+ 48.dxe5 Qe4+ 49.Kd2 Qd4+ 50.Ke2 Qxf2+ 51.Kxf2

Black to move

51...Kf7 52.Ke3 Ke6 53.Kf4 b6 54.Ke3 Kxe5 55.Kd3 c5 56.Kc3 Ke4 57.Kd2 d4 58.Kc2 c4 59.Kd2 b5 60.Ke2 c3 61.Kd1 Ke3 62.Kc1 b4 63.Kd1 d3 64.Kc1 c2 65.Kb2 Ke2 66.Kb3 d2 67.Kc4 d1Q 68.Kxb4 c1Q 69.Ka5 Qa3+ 70.Kb5 Qda4# 0–1

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