20 December 2016

Twelve Blitz Games

A few days ago, I bemoaned my rating woes--the constant, often futile quest to maintain an online blitz rating above 1900. At the same time, I highlighted the need for an attitude adjustment. Chess should be fun (see "Attitude"). Serious chess play means not worrying about rating, but approaching each game as an eager learner. In that post, I offered light, but extensive annotations to an entire game.

After more than a week, I rose back above 1900 last night. I cannot say that I have been free of rating-obsessed frantic blitz since Friday's post. However, self-consciousness of this counter-productive attitude has moderated it. Mostly, I've been trying to enjoy and learn from each game.

In this post, I offer brief highlights of the critical positions in my last twelve blitz games.

On the Black side of an exchange French, Black already has equality.

White to move

My opponent abandoned the game. Perhaps he or she has a life apart from chess.

I had Black again in the next game, This time, my opponent played the Steinitz variation against my French. Happily, I'm reasonably comfortable in the Steinitz after having gone through every single C11 game ever published in Chess Informant.* Alas, I had no better than an equal position.

White to move


Now I am winning. My opponent resigned one move from checkmate ten moves later.

I outplayed my opponent from the White side of a Queen's Gambit Declined. I had eleven seconds remaining in this position.

White to move

Either 70.Qb1 or 70.Qb7 will drive the king to a2 for 73.Qb2#. Instead, feeling the time pressure in a game I cannot lose, I played 70.Qc4? Stalemate.

In the next game, I dropped a pawn in the opening after my French Defense transposed into a Sicilian Alapin. I salvaged the game with a drawing combination.

Black to move

Instead of forcing the repetition and escaping with a draw, I played 18...Nf2? thinking that I had an attack. I lost.

I played a mainline of the Catalan that I usually avoid and found myself down a pawn. When my opponent advanced the extra pawn without adequate protection, I blockaded it and should have been equal.

White to move

I had planned 36.Kd2, but stumbled and played 36.Nb6?

The game continued 36...d2-+ 37.Rc7+ Ke8 38.Nd5

Here Black wins easily with 38...Rxd5 39.exd5 d1Q.

Instead, my opponent played 38...d1Q?

White can force a draw. 39.Nxf6+ Kf8 40.Nh7+ Kg8 41.Nf6+.

My opponent found a way out of the draw and lost.

41...Kh8? 42.Rh7#.

I had the White side of the Philidor Defense in the next game. I traded two minor pieces for a rook, but left my opponent's rook pinned for many moves before finishing the exchange. I was able to gobble a few pawns and should have been looking forward to a long endgame in which I might be better. However, my opponent blundered with 34...Nfd7?

White to move

After 35.Nc7+, my opponent resigned.

My next opponent turned the table quickly on my effort to play the Catalan in the next game and won a rook for a bishop. Queens came off and I netted a pawn, playing on with a bishop pair against a rook and bishop.

Black to move

My opponent went after my kingside pawns. 40...Rh3? 41.Bb6? (41.Be6+ wins the rook) 41...Rxg3?? 42.Be6+ Kb8 43.c7+ Kb7 44.c8Q#.

Another game went badly, and I was down a couple of pieces. However, my pieces found good coordination.

White to move

27.Rf2 probably leads to a draw by repetition, but my opponent played 27.Bf4? It took me  few seconds to see 27...Qg2#.

The next game also went badly and I was down a piece.

White to move

White needs to activate his king and the win should be in hand. Alas, technical wins require some time on the clock and my opponent had none. I won on time.

An insanely complicated game left me in an objectively lost position, but not without resources.

Black to move

My opponent probably wins easily after 43...Be4+, but there was nothing wrong with 43...Ra8. The game continued  44.Rxc7 Rxa4 45.Rd7 Rxc4 46.Rxd6 and here Black needs to step out of the pin with 46...Kg5. Instead, 46...Rd4? was played and after 47.c7, my opponent resigned.

I opted for the London System as White in the last game. Both sides had chances and made errors. We reached this position, which offered me a simple win.

White to move

The finish is instructive as well, as the errors continued.

63.Rg7+ Rxg7 64.fxg7 Kxg7 Kf2?

The king needs to head towards c5. After 65.Kd2 Kf7 66.Kc3 Ke7 67.Kb4 Ke6 68.Kc5 Kd7, white can fail with 69.e6+? Kxe6 70.Kxc6 Ke7 71.Kxd5 Kd7 and Black seizes the opposition to hold a draw. However, 69.Kb6! assures the win, as White will get both Black pawns.

65.Kg6 66.Ke3 Kf5 67.Kd3 Kf4?

67...c5! 68.dxc5 Kxe5 draws.

68.e6 and we played a few more moves, but White's queen makes my victory easy enough that further errors should be inconsequential.

*ECO Code is a trademark of Chess Informant.

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