He was winning,
but he didn't see it
and I escaped - as usual.

-Levon Aronian


By drunknknite

Last weekend I decided to play in the Far West Open tournament in Reno. I did not do very well. The first three games I played fine but in the last three games I found trouble keeping up. I think this is a symptom of not playing tournaments for the last 10 months. On Thursday I was in an experimental mood and opted for a position that stirred up some discussion at the club. Here is the game. There is more analysis after the break.

In winning this game I have clinched a spot in the next stage of the Reno Championship. This was not something I was very worried about but it was nice to clinch.

I want to talk about the exchange sacrifice. There are actually several motives behind the move 12.axb4. First as I discussed briefly in the notes I felt that the position after the exchange sacrifice was about equal but I was looking to be the one pressing. In the other lines that do not include the exchange sacrifice I do not get as much pressure on the Black position. Additionally, think about how this sacrifice affects Black. He played an innocent looking move, Bb4, the last thing he expects is for me to snap this bishop off. Although he has not yet equalized, his pieces are well placed and he will soon castle. My move changes the situation dramatically. Now Black must make an escape with his queen and his pieces become somewhat confused. The fact that the queen must spend several moves extracting herself from the queenside convinced me that I would be able to develop play on the kingside in the meantime. So psychologically after this move Black has a very different task and must completely change gears.

There is a factor that contributed more to my decision to play this move than the soundness of the sacrifice however. I believed it to be sound enough to play and I also believed there were alternatives that were strong. But the reason that I played the move is because last weekend at the Far West Open when I played Black I sacrificed a pawn in all three games. And in all three games I found compensation for the pawn quite easily (although I ended up losing two of these games). But the point of all this is that I was interested in the topic of positional compensation and this is why I entered the line in the game. I was just looking for further practice in a game with a material imbalance. These are topics that I have been studying a lot over the last 18 months, the positional pawn and positional exchange sacrifices. And only in the last 10 days or so do I feel that I have really begun to wrap my head around what constitutes positional compensation. So I wanted to show what I learned. I recognized immediately that no matter what happened I would have good drawing chances with the dark squared bishop for the rook so really I was never afraid of losing. And it turns out that I have strong compensation for the exchange and I carry a slight edge for almost the entire game, although the game is very close for some time. It is also interesting to note that at no time does Black have a decisive advantage, while I overlooked several immediate wins and finally managed to force one in time trouble. So in reality there was very little risk in playing 12.axb4, although it appears that this is simply a blunder (how can allowing Black to win the exchange with check be good?). While the upside potential to this move can be seen as soon as Black makes an inaccuracy which is inevitable in the complicated position that arises. I cannot say that I am surprised that White finds compensation in nearly all lines, I was confident when I played the move that it was not horrible. I find this game and the games I played with Black over last weekend to be very encouraging, my quest to understand these tricky positional sacrifices is finally bearing fruit.

The reason that I am so concerned with these sacrifices is because I believe that they are crucial to success at the 2000+ level. The idea is that we must get our opponent to accept a bad variation to get an advantage. One way to do this is by 'leveling' them (a poker term), thinking on the next level. When Black played Bb4, he was counting on the fact that the bishop could not be captured, but I introduced a new idea to the game and took it anyways. Radically changing the position and giving Black a situation that he had not fully evaluated and probably did not feel entirely comfortable in. By finding ways to show that our opponents threats are meaningless we can obtain an advantage even while allowing our opponents to carry out their own plans. The risk when sacrificing material is that either we will not get it back, or that our opponent will be able to counter-sacrifice to regain the initiative. So the key is to find positions where a long, lasting initiative is established. There is no way other than by going through many topical examples to recognize the proper context for this initiative and begin to develop a feel for when a rook is worth less or equal to a bishop. I'm just glad I'm starting to breakthrough this important barrier to advancement.



Qualifier Continues

By drunknknite

As I stated in my last post I am 8/8. I played poorly in the first of these three games but I am satisfied with my performance over the last two weeks. Here are the three games I promised.



Round Robin Math

By drunknknite

So I haven't posted in a while but right now I have some downtime and the internet so here goes... I have three new games that I should post this week. This post is a question to readers of this blog.

Is there anyway other than brute force to determine the end scenarios of a round robin in process?

I ask this question because I am playing a 12 player round robin at Reno Chess Club right now. If you click results you can see the cross table. I have a perfect score and I do not intend to start losing next game, however I was wondering if I had clinched a spot in the next stage of this tournament. I was able to find one scenario where I would not finish in the top 4 of my group:


I lose to Sheryka, Hong, and Alsasua.
Alsasua beats Hong, loses to Rand, and draws Fleming.
Hong and Rand draw.
AND Fleming beats Sheryka.

THEN the standings would look like this:

1.Rand 9
2.Alsasua 9
3.Fleming 8.5
4.Hong 8
5.Gafni 8

and I would be eliminated due to my loss to Hong.

I was wondering if there are any other combinations and just if anyone knows cool things about the math to round robins in general.