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Old 01-03-2017, 01:48 PM   #1
MarkD
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MarkD's Chess Log

So, I played a little when I was a kid and then in university I decided to "learn" the game and I entered the rabbit hole that is chess knowledge. I am addicted to buying books and I stocked up - then I discovered poker and chess took a back seat to a game that paid handsome rewards.

Fast forward nearly 15 years to 2013-2014 and I got into chess again, but this time even more seriously. I started to really study and I joined our local chess club and I played in some tournaments. I built my CFC (Canadian) rating up to 1686 (higher at one point) and was really loving it. Then I got addicted to a different game (clash of clans) and got married and, well, you get the point. I took another break and didn't look at any chess until this year's WCM which rekindled my interest.

I started to reread Yusupov's Build Up Your Chess Vol 1 (first of the orange), renewed my chesstempo subscription, found lichess, and started to play again. I play way too much bullet as a mental distraction and I need to stop this, but I also do a lot of chesstempo standard problems and I have fun with those. I also create chesstempo custom sets to do things like mate-in-2 puzzles and even work on specific tactical themes I have problems seeing like Vukovic's Mate, X-Ray, etc. I also play a lot of correspondence games on lichess to work on my opening lines and get into decent middle game positions.

I have my first tournament coming up this weekend. It's a sectional event with six players per section and it seems like I'm going to be right in the middle of my section, so that should be fun. In preparation for the tournament I've been studying my endgame material (Silman and Capablanca Move by Move by Lakdawala), continuing chesstempo problems, and I have been looking at openings a bit as I really struggle with this phase of the game. I generally don't spend any real time on openings but occasionally look at a few lines during my correspondence games to attempt to learn the openings. This is definitely my weakest area, and I'm ok with that, but want to get into somewhat comfortable material this tournament. Currently Yusupov is taking a back seat, but that will change after the tournament this weekend.

Anyways, I know this doesn't really provide any substantial content, but I felt like posting it to record a bit of my journey as I hope to get some real improvement in 2017.

CFC: 1686
chesstempo standard: 1715
chesstempo blitz: 1505 (I don't do these often, but I also struggle with the speed)
lichess classical: 1992 (20 games - mostly on the faster side of classical)
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Old 01-03-2017, 02:01 PM   #2
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

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I took another break and didn't look at any chess until this year's WCM which rekindled my interest.
Do you mean the classical time control World Chess Championship? I'm surprised that it was able to reignite someone's interest in chess instead of killing it

GL, have a great tourney!
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Old 01-03-2017, 02:14 PM   #3
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

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Do you mean the classical time control World Chess Championship? I'm surprised that it was able to reignite someone's interest in chess instead of killing it

GL, have a great tourney!
Haha - well, I only really started following it right around the game Karjakin took the lead. I didn't pay much attention to the first series of draws.
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Old 01-03-2017, 06:22 PM   #4
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

Best of luck, will be following and chiming in here and there, hopefully.
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Old 01-04-2017, 10:09 AM   #5
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

Given that you're potentially working through the Yusupov books, feel free to stop by my log (edit: lol you already did, great job on starting your own log!). I'm on the 6th book (so close to starting the greens!) and will be quite interested in your working through them (if you choose to and to discuss it much).

Btw, YKW is an FM so hope that he chimes in, . Not sure how strong **** is but he gives very thorough and helpful advice.

Definitely post your games from the upcoming tournament. My recommendation for them would be:

1) Go through them yourself WITH NO ENGINE AT ALL and make a bunch of notes and potential improvements. This is going to be the most beneficial step (and the one I abbreviate/skip too often).

2) Go through them with an engine if you want. Keep the notes from #1 (DO NOT replace them).

3) Post the game here.

4)...

5) profit
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Old 01-04-2017, 10:31 AM   #6
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

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Not sure how strong **** is but he gives very thorough and helpful advice.
Thanks! I'm not rated by FIDE or even nationally; I think I'd be 1600-1700 if I ever played in a FIDE rated tourney, but the opens are expensive here and I don't fancy getting into team competitions. Besides, there's too little chess activity where I'm moving next spring - the closest venue that holds FIDE events will be more than an hour away from my home.

I ended up over 1900 in chess.com online correspondence games (where ratings are highly inflated) but haven't played them for almost a year - don't have enough energy for it, should think more about making money at this point.

I can't play chess professionally because I lack emotional control (I used to literally cry OTB when I was 13). Ironically, online poker, which is usually considered a tilt-inducing game, is much easier in this respect because it offers fast gratification (Sklansky bucks won from fish, converging to a clearly positive winrate in a matter of weeks or months), as opposed to the longterm pursuit of high-level chess.

So YouKnowWho is the one to listen to

Last edited by coon74; 01-04-2017 at 10:41 AM. Reason: why poker > chess
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Old 01-04-2017, 01:18 PM   #7
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

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Definitely post your games from the upcoming tournament. My recommendation for them would be:

1) Go through them yourself WITH NO ENGINE AT ALL and make a bunch of notes and potential improvements. This is going to be the most beneficial step (and the one I abbreviate/skip too often).

2) Go through them with an engine if you want. Keep the notes from #1 (DO NOT replace them).
Here's a modern way to do this:

1) Submit the moves manually at lichess.org/analysis and request a computer analysis (to save the game, either copy the PGN and import the game onto lichess, or save it as a study via the menu - the latter way is more convenient for sharing the game with us and allowing us to make comments right in the study).

2) Use the new 'Learn from your mistakes' feature
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Old 01-04-2017, 07:02 PM   #8
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

Yugo,

I've been following your thread and will keep you updated on my progress through Yusupov. I had reached chapter 22 or 23 in the first book when I was studying it in 2014, but I decided to start it again from scratch as it doesn't hurt to refresh ideas.

I had already planned to post my games here for feedback and was going to explore lichess studies for this purpose, although I don't have any experience with them atm.

c**n,

Thanks for the suggestions. I was already going to do exactly what you suggested - minus the computer analysis thing. In the past I know I relied too much on reviewing my games with an engine and got hung up on missing things but didn't find those on my own so I was going to do this tournament "old school" and then post them up as a study looking for feedback from the awesome players here. Only after having completed that process would I use an engine to further analyze my games.

That has been my plan, but let's see what happens.

Here's hoping for a positive result.
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Old 01-04-2017, 09:08 PM   #9
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

That lichess feature seems amazing only after one goes through the game, making notes, first. As soon as you see computer evaluation you can't unsee it and getting to the bottom of his you are making your mistakes will be harder to diagnose.

This is all imo of course. But I haven't read of a strong coach or grandmaster who tells their students to just fire up the computer before going over the game without one.
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Old 01-04-2017, 10:03 PM   #10
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

Indeed, the feature can't replace non-engine postmortem analysis, the latter should be done first if one has enough time.

However, the feature provides a more convenient method of subsequent computer analysis than just looking up the engine's principal variations. It automatically identifies 'the most critical positions' of the game and asks the player to pause and find the best move before showing it. So one doesn't have to pause before every move if one is lacking time for a thorough analysis.
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Old 01-05-2017, 04:48 PM   #11
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

I lied and decided to do a chapter of Yusupov.

Vuild Up Your Chess - 1
Chapter 6 - Value of the Pieces
8/19 - Fail

I found it incredibly hard obviously. :/
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Old 01-05-2017, 05:21 PM   #12
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

I have 19/19 on my spreadsheet which makes me think it was a tactics chapter? (don't have book near me right now but I don't think I got many/any perfect scores on non-tactics chapters unless the theme was very concrete in other ways)

If so, you need to spend more time looking at the position and after writing down your answer check it moving pieces to make sure you aren't blundering/missing something. Or spend more time doing this anyway.

Btw, I'm happy to send you my tracking spreadsheet if you want to pm me a way to send it to you.

Also, I'm not bragging fwiw. I had the most struggle in the first book in terms of results. I had 3 "passes" (no passes in the second two books) and I think I almost failed a chapter. I think it was because quite a few chapters seemed very easy so I went through them relatively quickly and did not spend the full time looking at problems in tougher chapters and really buckling down to figure out what was the best. Ever since book 2 I treat ever chapter as a test and really try to think through them as thoroughly as I can for 5-15 minutes or whatever, double-checking my answer before moving on.

Oh, one other thing is I look at my answers after each problem (I cover up other answers). So I buckle down even harder if it seems I am missing the theme of the chapter by getting the first couple/few wrong.
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Old 01-05-2017, 05:30 PM   #13
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

It doesn't purport to be a tactics chapter, but at the end of the day I suppose it is as every single problem was a tactic. It involves a number of positions with material imbalances (3 pieces vs Q). I don't think the chapter had much to do with the puzzles. I also think I was rushing the puzzles a bit as I have "complete" this once before.

Going to take some time off chess tonight and rest as my first game is 7pm after work tomorrow and I might be a bit overloaded atm as I've been losing rating points at chesstempo this week as well.

edit: pm sent
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Old 01-05-2017, 05:49 PM   #14
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

Well, if you've done the chapter before (even a couple years ago), then there is pretty much no reason you should fail given what I believe is your chess strength unless:

1) sick
2) lazy
3) mob threatens you to fail the chapter

I'm going to go with #2. I don't think working on the book while in any of these circumstances is going to be very beneficial. It will likely be better to just watch chess videos or play blitz or do tactics problems if you have a chess itch but aren't going to really be able to make the study time very quality.

Your game is tomorrow at 7pm? Ehh, just don't bother with this stuff. Go meditate or relax or something. Trying to do a bunch of tactics or blind opening prep right before a game is (imo) counterproductive or at best, not very useful. Unless it's part of your usual chess study routine, but even then, the fact you're playing should be more than enough for your "routine" that day.

Obv opening prep right before games in many cases can be super useful but I don't think we're strong enough for that to matter or know who we're playing far enough in advance for it to matter.
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Old 01-05-2017, 08:01 PM   #15
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

Yup, I think it is best for me to stop. Look forward to seeing your spreadsheet though so that I don't have to make my own.
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Old 01-07-2017, 04:42 PM   #16
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

Maybe this journey isn't going to last very long this time. Here is the link to my study with my first two games. I am not very happy with myself.

I don't understand what is happening.

First two games annotated without a computer
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Old 01-08-2017, 01:31 PM   #17
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

Good job making the annotations!

Re: Game 1

Tl;dr cliffs

The two main lessons that I've learned from the game:

1. If you play an opening where you put pawns on both c6 and e6 while keeping the bishop on c8 (incl. the Semi-Slav and the Modern Caro-Kann), you have to do it with a pre-designed plan that helps you push one of them soon enough, otherwise your queen's bishop will be out of play, as after a b7-b5 push, the c6 pawn becomes backward and is then harder to push. (The same, with the board flipped, applies to the Colle System.)

2. To slow down an opponent's attack in an opposite-side castling position, when he challenges your pawn with his, consider pushing your pawn instead of exchanging it, in order to keep as many files closed as possible, even if this involves sacrificing your other pawn. (I think this technique is often seen in the Sicilian, the Dragon in particular, you can find plenty of games in those lines.)


As a club player, I'd prefer the Classical Variation (4... Bf5) if the Caro-Kann were in my Black repertoire. There's nothing wrong with the Modern Variation (4... Nd7 that you chose) in top-level competition but I find games easier to play when my light-square bishop is developed instead of sitting on c8. Once the bishop is brought out to f5-g6, White can certainly take it with the knight (Ne4-g3, Ng1-f3-h4/e5xg6) but he'll lose tempi on knight moves and open the h-file for Black's rook in the process so he won't be much better even despite the bishop pair. Plus, Black avoids the complicated Nxe6/f7 lines typical of the Modern Caro, which is useful if Black feels that White is booked up. It's a matter of taste, though.

You're correct in that it was risky to play h6 before move 7. However, once you played the key move 6... e6 and White spent a tempo on the calm move 7. c3 instead of playing the sharpest option 7. N1f3, you could have kicked the knight with 7... h6 already - 8. Nxe6 fails to work then because of 8... Qe7 (pinning and winning) and White's underdevelopment as opposed to the 7. N1f3 h6 8. Nxe6! line that Deep Blue used to crush Kasparov (and White wasn't a tactically precise computer in your game anyway), while 8. Nxf7 doesn't give White enough compensation either - it seems to me that Black's king will feel quite comfortable on g8, though, as mentioned, I'm not a Caro specialist and there are a lot of tactical finesses in the Modern Caro.

As played at move 7, you're correct in that 7... Bd6 is significantly better than 7... Be7 (and about as good as 7... h6 - this and Bd6 can be played in any order) and I don't see why you thought that h6 would be impossible after Bd6.

One seemingly thematic computerish line goes like this: 7... Bd6 8. N1f3!? h6 9. Nxe6?! Qe7 10. O-O fxe6 [of course not Qxe6?? 11. Re1] 11. Bg6+ Kd8 12. Re1 Kc7 13. b4 b5 (intending Nd7-b6 taking control of the c4 square and defending e6 with the dormant bishop, also Nf6-d5 to interpose the a2-g8 diagonal) 14. a4 a6 15. axb5 cxb5 16. Qb3 Nb6 17. Ne5 Bxe5 18. Rxe5 Nfd5 19. Bd3 Kb8 20. c4 bxc4 21. Bxc4 Nxc4 22. Qxc4 Qc7 and, believe it or not, Black is holding and winning.

Again, it's all complicated, but as opposed to the Deep Blue game, the inserted moves c3 and Bd6 make it much easier for Black to defend - the d6 bishop plays a good defensive role, while the c-pawn comes to c4 in two moves instead of one.

However, the first real inaccuracy in your game is 10... Nb6?! The best move is 10... b6, intending Bb7 and c5 (activating the initially bad bishop!). Having a firm grip on d5 that's preventing White from pushing a pawn to this square, Black is in a position to open up the a8-h1 diagonal for the monster bishop. If, after c5, White plays dxc5 (not having moved his b-pawn), then Black can comfortably recapture with the knight or, if White has a bishop on f4 at that moment, even play e6-e5-e4 gaining tempi and space. In fact, 10... b6 gives Black an advantage. Having a bishop with a great scope is more important here than having a decent knight on d5.

As played, at move 11 (and at move 14 too), it was still appropriate to push c6-c5. Black's bad light-square bishop needs to be developed sooner or later; in this case (after the Nd7-b6 that has blocked the b-pawn), it's supposed to come to c6 through d7.

You did see the problem and eventually deploy that bishop to b7, but the issues with your setup (with the knight on d5 and the pawns on a5 and b5) are that:

1. The knight blunts the bishop and can't go to another active square to open the bishop up.

2. The b-pawn lacks support on b5 and requires the c-pawn to remain on c6 instead of being pushed to c5, so the bishop remains bad on b7/a6.

3. To resolve the loose b-pawn issue, you could push it to b4, but then White would simply reply with c3-c4 hindering your attack. Compare it with the c6-c5 push that White wouldn't be able to meet with d4-d5.

The setup with the pawns on a6 and b5, the bishop on b7, the knight on d5 and the c-pawn pushed to c5 would be better, though White would have a plan to push c3-c4 challenging the knight (prepared by a2-a3 or b2-b3), exchange his c-pawn for the b5 one and target Black's weak a-pawn. So I'd still prefer a setup with the pawns on a7 and b6 (and the c-pawn exchanged on c5), the bishop on b7 and the knight on c5.

Fortunately for you, White didn't work out these positional subtleties either and played 14. O-O-O?! instead of 14. a4!

Then he found the good (but quite standard when White is castled long, Black is castled short and has a pawn on h6) move 15. g4! but immediately blundered with 16. f4? instead of (equally good) 16. g5 or 16. Nf3.

Fast forward to move 22 (with no arguable points in between), the plan in opposite-wing positions is to fight fire with fire on the opposite flank like you correctly did, but to avoid exposing your own king too much, in particular, try to use an opponent's pawn as a shield for your king.

For subtle concrete reasons, that's what you should have done 3 moves later: 25... g6! 26. h5 bxc3, the points being 27. hxg6 fxg6 28. Bxg6? Bg2! 29. Rg3 Rf1 30. Be4+ Kh8 -+, 27. Qg1 Kh8 28. Qxg6? c4! (deflection) 29. Bxc4 Rf1+ 30. Nc1 Rg8 31. Qd3?? Rgg1 -+ (White has to give the queen to prevent a fast mate).

As for the further game, you annotated it quite well so I'll stop here.

Thanks for sharing this instructive game!

I don't have enough time to go through game 2 yet.

Last edited by coon74; 01-08-2017 at 02:00 PM. Reason: put the cliffs first
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Old 01-08-2017, 03:50 PM   #18
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

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In fact, 10... b6 gives Black an advantage. Having a bishop with a great scope is more important here than having a decent knight on d5.
I think I need to expand on this. If White castles short, the advantage of having an open bishop on b7 is obvious (Bxf3 can be threatened later on). But how does Black benefit from this bishop placement vs White's particular setup if White castles long like in the game?

1. It frees the c8 square for the rook.

2. The f3 knight is pinned to the g2 pawn, and conversely, the pawn guards the knight and can't move. How can White address this issue?

2a. If White moves the knight to h4, that will hinder the movement of the h-pawn.

2b. If White moves the knight to e5, the g-pawn will be pinned to the h1 rook. To address this, the rook can be moved to g1 (which means that the h-file will be left with no rook) or to h2 after an h-pawn push. But anyway, White's attack will be slowed down a bit, while Black's attack will be a bit faster due to the rook on c8.

3. In some variations (esp. in those where Nc5xBd3 or White's bishop leaves b1-h7), Black's bishop or knight can come to e4 with a threat.

Finally, why am I so anal about this? Well, when you have a harmonious (not necessarily optimal!) opening, it flows into a easier middlegame where you have to calculate less and so will blunder less And it will take the opponent more time to prepare a sharp thrust like g2-g4.

Last edited by coon74; 01-08-2017 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 01-08-2017, 04:35 PM   #19
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

Re: Game 2

There's not much to analyse here - before the unfortunate 38. Re3?? blunder, you played well, in particular, the 37. h6! idea was brilliant. Maybe your problem was that you had spent too much time on your first 37 moves and were in time trouble.

There's only one moment before that which I'd like to discuss [fwiw, 9. Bd3 is a decent move, and the trade of the bad bishop for a good knight is indeed not a concession], and that is 30. f5?! This thrust fails to open the position up because Black can reply with 30... f6! 31. fxg6 Nd3 32. Ra1 Ne5 33. Qf5 Nxg6. What Black makes here is the kind of a defensive pawn sac that we've already seen in the comments to game 1 - instead of opening the g-file, Black pushes the f-pawn while using White's g4 pawn and the one that comes to g6 as a double shield from vertical attacks, and eventually recaptures on g6 with the knight.

The best move instead of 30. f5 is 30. e5, a thrust from which Black can't defend the same way, which means that the e-file inevitably opens for White's rooks.
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Old 01-08-2017, 04:52 PM   #20
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

Co-on (to avoid censorship!) did a good job of analysing the game, but I will add one snippet if I may.

From a practical point of view, 20... Nxe5 is a big mistake. It might not be a terrible move "objectively" (i.e. for an engine), as it is not losing, but the silicon beast has a major flaw - it does not account for the fact how "easy" or "hard" it is to play the resulting position for us, humans.

The old adage of "trade if you are up material", is correct most of the time, but it is also incomplete (cue John Nash from the "Brilliant Mind"). What it should say is "trade if you are up material, if it doesn't worsen your position". In this case, Nxe5 worsens your position. Why?

Firstly, you give up an important tempo, which he uses to push h4. His attack might not be killer, but suddenly there IS an attack that you have to worry about.

Secondly, by taking you stabilize the center and will need another move to create tension in it, which means that his flank attack can start rolling.

Thirdly, removing the pawn from f4 and planting it on e5 is absolutely wonderful for white's attack - the F file is now semi-open, the diagonal c1-h6 is now open, the square f4 is now open for the knight, and on top of it all, trying to close everything with f5 at some point will lead to an en passant.

Again, white might not be winning after Nxe5, but the question is - WHY to allow all that, and force yourself to precisely defend from a strong attack? The N on e5 is not that strong, and it can be taken on any later move, if it starts creating threats. Evaluating the pros of the f4 pawn being gone, it becomes clear that trading the knight is definitely not worth it.

Instead, your goals are to: develop the pieces and/or create "diversions" elsewhere on the board so that his attack cannot roll so easily. You cannot really put your pieces to any useful squares at the current moment, so we have to start by creating some diversions. Therefore, either 20... b4, or maybe even immediately 20.. c5 are in order. White has to solve his problems in a now-unstable center and cannot start his attack.
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Old 01-08-2017, 06:01 PM   #21
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

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Thirdly, removing the pawn from f4 and planting it on e5 is absolutely wonderful for white's attack - the F file is now semi-open, the diagonal c1-h6 is now open, the square f4 is now open for the knight, and on top of it all, trying to close everything with f5 at some point will lead to an en passant.

Again, white might not be winning after Nxe5, but the question is - WHY to allow all that, and force yourself to precisely defend from a strong attack? The N on e5 is not that strong, and it can be taken on any later move, if it starts creating threats.
The thing is that if the knight stays on e5, then it will be ready to jump on g6 once Black plays f5. This will be an issue if White builds his attack properly, i.e. plays Rg1, g5 (in any order) while not being too nervous about Black's b5-b4 counterplay - after bxc3, a decent White player (maybe not that kid) will recapture with the knight (setting up a trap: if Black plays Qxd4??, he'll lose the queen to Bh7+), opening the way to h5 for his queen.

Or, if Black's queen stops defending c6 (e.g. goes to b4), the knight will be eyeing c6 too (after White defends from the immediate mate threat on b2 with Qc1, of course).

So the e5 knight has to be taken sooner or later, though this is indeed not urgent. 20... Nxe5 instead of 20... b4 seems rather an inaccuracy than a big mistake.

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Old 01-08-2017, 06:23 PM   #22
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

I will have to disagree with you. Again, it might not be a big mistake objectively, but it is from a practical point of view. Apart from the fact that it clarifies matters for white (and other points I've touched on), it is also important to notice that pushing g5 when having the knight on e5 is actually harder for white, because the knight on e5 hangs in many lines.

I agree that black will not be able to ignore the knight on e5 forever. However, black can undermine it in other ways (i.e. attacking the b2-c3-d4 pawn chain) and probably forcing white to take on d7 instead of us taking on e5, which would be a big win - we develop without losing a tempo AND the pawn is still on f4, which interrupts many routes for white pieces in to the kingside.

We can also be more concrete:

1... b4 2. Rg1 bxc3 3. Nxc3 (i agree that it has to be the knight) Rb8, and who has a stronger attack? 4. g5 Qb4 is getting very close to 0-1, seing how d4 will hang with tempo on g1 in many lines.

Is the knight on e5 doing anything in this sample line?
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Old 01-08-2017, 06:54 PM   #23
coon74
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

5. Qc1 Qxd4 [hxg5 6. Nxc6] 6. Rd1 (defending the bishop and threatening Bh7+) Qb4 7. Nxc6, 6... Qb6 7. gxh6 g6 (the engine is turned off but this looks equal).
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Old 01-08-2017, 06:59 PM   #24
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

Uff - lost my post.

I've updated the same study with games 3 and 4. I did not play game 5 as I have family stuff to attend to this evening.

I scored a sum total of 0 points, which is less than I expected when I signed up. I will now go back and go over all of the comments and hopefully learn from this abyssal experience. I am a bit disenfranchised with the entire experience and did not sleep very well last night. I felt like I embarrassed myself.
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Old 01-08-2017, 07:08 PM   #25
MarkD
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Re: MarkD's Chess Log

So, I thought the study was public (it is) and that everyone could contribute (you can't), but I guess that isn't how it works and I have to invite you to contribute. I have invited both co-on and Tvedas now.

If anyone knows how to make it truly public I would appreciate it, but I can also invite you quite easily as when I clicked "add contributor" both of you were already listed as people for me to invite.
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