Friday, December 26, 2008

Man vs. Machine vs. Machine vs. ...

Over the years I have owned several different chess computers ranging from the very weak to Grandmaster strength. All of the early ones were dedicated units. Some were new and some I picked up second hand.

My first was some kind of Boris Diplomat that looked something like this. It was a very weak unit as I remember and I would estimate it would be rated around 1000.

Soon moved on to a Chess Challenger such as the the shown here. I don’t remember if it was model 7, 8 or 9 but I remember it being around 1400-1500 and the green cover was always bubbling up and it became hard to play on. I don’t remember what happened to these first two units, but I no longer have them.

I figured I needed to upgrade to a higher strength machine. I remember that it was the first time I ever ordered something over the phone (this was before the internet was invented by Al Gore). I looked at all the options and decided to purchase a Novag constellation from The Canadian Chess Computer Warehouse in Montreal. I had never heard of the company before so I was nervous it wouldn’t arrive but it did. I must say I was very happy with my Novag Constellation for many years. I think it was advertised around 1800 and therefore higher then my rating at the time I got it. It was my steady playing partner for several years as my rating improved. One of it faults was that it never learned from its defeats so that once I beat it in a certain line than every time after that, if we entered that line, I could repeat the earlier game and beat it again. This forced me to vary my openings or I would end up replaying games over and over. Even though I quit playing chess for many years I brought it with me when I moved to Alberta. Recently I took it out of the box for the first time in ten years.

When I started playing chess again I soon realized I would need to purchase a chess program for my personal computer if I wanted to be competitive with everyone else. When I quit playing chess in the early 90’s I didn’t own a computer and I don’t think affordable programs were that strong at the time. The Fritz program seemed the best for me so I tried the Fritz10 program and I must say it is an incredible program. It’s good to have your own grandmaster to analyse positions. I can remember trying to study my games years ago on the Novag Constellation and while it would catch any major blunders, I sure I missed many finer points. I was hoping when I visited PEI this summer I would be able to find my old games and put them through Fritz and see what wes revealed, but alas they had been tossed a couple of years ago.

Last year the kids spotted a Go 1650L at a garage sale. I picked it up for a cheap price. I assume the 1650 is supposed to be it’s rating but it seems much weaker to me in the few games I’ve played with it.

Finally I bought the kids the Chessmaster game for the Nintendo DS system. It claims that the top rating is 1850 and from the few games that I played against it I think that that is probably close.

So what I’ve decided to do is hold a tournament with all the programs and computers I still have and see what happens. The competitors are as follows:
Fritz 10 (Set at 2000)
Fritz 10 (Set at 1900)
Chessmaster DS (1850)
Human (currently underrated at approx 1800)
Novag Constellation (1700-1800)
Go 1650L (1650? )

So far I’ve played a few of the games and ran into a few problems. First I had to chose a time setting that wouldn’t take too long but still give a good game. I chose an active time of 30min per player per game. Then I had to find the manuals for the Novag and Go units so I could set the times appropriately. I was able to find the Novag manual on the internet but the Go unit was a little harder as I could only find the Spanish instructions and had to translate them as best I could. The problem is the time settings are different for all of them. When I played the Chessmaster DS against the Novag it was a good game - Novag lost the exchange but was able to trap the Chessmaster Queen and win it for the Rook. So Novag was probably winning but when the Novag’s time ran out on the Nintendo unit Chessmaster claimed a win and that was the end of the game. I guess I will have to adjust the time settings on the DS and replay the game.

An interesting game shown below where I couldn’t figure out how to stop the connected passed pawns and win with my extra rook.

machine tourney terry-2000b.pgn

Edited comments: I just remembered that I have a couple of other chess playing computer programs. First is the Chess game for Playstaion. I can't recall playing a complete game against it but I doubt that it is very strong.

I also have the Chess Titans Program that came with Windows Vista on my laptop. I know that it has 10 levels and on the lower levels it is extremely easy to beat. I've beaten it on level 8 but haven't finished a game on level 10 yet.

And finally I forgot about the Chessmaster 9000 program that I picked up for $10 in the sale bin at Staples a coupl of years ago. It is a great program for choosing various computer opponents with different personalities and a wide range of strengths. I think I will add it to the tournament.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Edmonton Jr Tournament

Just got back from the X-mas Jr tournament in Edmonton. Both my kids decided they wanted to play this weekend but it was a close call. One flipped a coin to decide and the other was influenced by the guaranteed door prize. They were both very rusty, not having played since last April, but both did OK and I don't think they will lose any rating points.

I've been wondering if I been doing the best things I can to help them improve. Should I show them openings, endgames, or tactics? Should I try to teach them in a formal way or encourage them to play online. I know I shouldn't tell them to play each other because that causes nothing but problems. Whenever I do try to show them something I'm not sure if I am doing it effectively. I always thought teaching would be an easy thing to do (you know, "those who can, do; those who can't, teach") but now I realize that teaching requires a special set of skills and a lot of patience. Plus, the best teaching only occurs when there is a corresponding strong desire to learn.

Random Chess Predictions:
1.FIDE will change the qualifications once again before the next world champion is decided.
2. The CFC will continue to alienate a large number of it's members no matter what they do.
3. Canada's next Olympiad team could be much stronger if GMs Nakamura, Spraggett, and Kovalyov are eligible and willing to play, but that won't happen.
4. E4 Effort will win the WBX Team tournament in Edmonton next weekend, even though another team with an IM and underrated juniors joined today. Board winners as follows
Board 1 winner IM Proper followed by Sasata and Hansen (he didn't get a IM title for nothing)
Board 2 winner Jamin Gluckie followed by Me (not me but Me, because I won't be there)
Board 3 Peter Thompson followed by Zeggelaar (both teams have stacked board 3)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Meteors over Lloydminster

As anyone who seen the news in Canada in the last two weeks probably knows, there was a huge meteor event over Lloydminster Nov 20th. I have this Friday off and was planning on going Meteorite hunting near Lone Rock to find pieces of the huge fireball that light up the sky over most of western Canada last month. I was looking out my office window at the time to make sure my command start on my vehicle worked when the whole parking lot lit up as bright as day for a couple of seconds. One of the workers at my company was driving home through the area that evening and had his passenger windshield shatter when it happened, either from a fragment or the sonic boom. The scientists have located over a dozen pieces and have narrowed down the search area where they expect thousands of fragments landed. Unfortunately it finally snowed today, so I doubt if I would be able to find anything if I went.

View from Edmonton

View from closer vantage point

Fragment embedded in frozen pond

Random Chess thoughts: (since this is supposed to be a chess blog)

1. Vote for Eric. He deserves it. Canadian Chess Player of the Year

2. My kids said they want to play in the Edmonton Christmas Kids tournament. Maybe chess is not just for nerds.

3. The FIDE world championship cycle is becoming more of a joke every time they alter their rules. I would prefer the candidate matches that they had twenty years ago.

4. There is no need for drug testing in chess and I hope the GM's of the world follow Shirov and support Ivanchuk over FIDE. Although I'm sure some of my opponent are hyped up on energy drinks!

5. FIDE's forfit rule for being late is unreasonable. I know I've been late before and when my opponent is late I would still prefer to play the game rather than win by forfit.

Who are You?

I was curious as to who, if anybody, was visiting my blog so I put a live trafic feed at the bottom. I was surprised to see so many hits from all over Canada and even one from Finland! I was sure there was only three other people who read my site but when "The Big Ape" from Med Hat left me a comment I went to his blog and copied his idea using Feedjit. If you visiting don't be shy about leaving a comment.

On to chess. This week I played a number of games against Fritz lowered to 2000. Almost all the games were horrible. I think when there is no ego to protect then a person’s game suffers. I'm sure many of my blunders would not have been made against a human opponent because I would have been more careful, so as not to be embarrassed. When the computer beats me I don't feel the same crushing level of defeat that a human opponent can inflict. I find the same thing happens to me in online blitz games when I have no fear of losing face because I don’t know who I’m playing. Two weeks ago I played a series of blitz games against an opponent and after losing the first game badly I played several really good games and won in spectacular fashion. My opponent strongly suggested my play from game 2 on did not seem “natural” to him and that I had some outside “help”. If this was a face to face game I would have been highly offended but as I did not know him, other than that he was from the USA, I could have not cared less what he thought and so I just left. I should try to find those game if I can and look to see if my play was really as good as he thought.
Here is my last Fritz active game played while my son was doing his Judo class.

2008-01-01 Fritz.pgn

I think I played the ending rather well but I did miss a winning plan that Fritz revealed when I looked at it tonight.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fritz vs Chaisson

This week while waiting for my daughter at the swimming pool I took the laptop and played four 25 min games against Fritz. To make it fair I lowered the computer's strength. According to the directions it's strength was 2000, but it didn't seem that strong to me. I drew the first game, blundered the second and won the third and here is the fourth.

Fritz2000 2008-11-25.pgn

Edited comment: I 've played several more games since then and I lost every one, most with stupid blunders. I seem to be playing like its a blitz game.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chess Is For Nerds?!

Last weekend my company held it’s Christmas party in Edmonton at the Cree River Resort and Casino. There happened to be a kid’s chess tournament going on that Sunday at the Edmonton Chess Club and I figured my two kids would enjoy playing in it so I signed them up. They had always wanted to play in other tournaments in Edmonton and sometimes last year we specifically drove into Edmonton for some of these junior tournaments. I was surprised when they both told me that they didn’t want to play chess anymore and that chess was for nerds! ........Ouch. I didn’t want to push them into the tournament, so we spent the afternoon wandering around the mall and then driving home.

How did chess get such a bad rap? Two years ago they wanted to play in tournaments all the time and they did very well. My daughter had a scholastic rating that put her in the top 10 in the country for girls in grade 4 and my son came second for grade 2 at the Alberta Provincial Chess Challenge. Now they don’t want to play. I know this is partly because they didn’t do so well in their last tournament, which was the 2008 Alberta Chess Challenge. My boy was very sick that day and was so drugged up on cold medicine he couldn’t stay awake between rounds, and my daughter got very discouraged after a loss and played badly. A bad result can be very discouraging, I know it is for me, but this is not the only reason for their change in attitude. I think the main reason is the way our society puts down intellectual endeavours. Children pick up on this very quickly. It’s not that they don’t want to play chess, it’s that they don’t want their friends to know they play chess. Chess has been branded with the nerd label and apparently being good at chess gives you zero social status.

Being good at sports on the other hand is cool, but I guess this has always been the case. I can remember growing up my two older brothers were both gifted athletes and received the rewards and accolades that come with that, such as popularity and an attractive status to the opposite sex. I loved sports just as much, but being only average athletically; I never received the same rewards. Still it seemed to me that being an average hockey player was better than being a good chess player and if someone asked me what I did for fun I would list the sports I played rather than chess. This attitude is still engrained in me. Recently when I was going to Medicine Hat for a tournament and I was asked at work what I was doing for the weekend, I thought twice before answering. Do I really want these people to know I play chess? They might think I’m a strange, geeky, weird nerd - if they haven’t figured that out already. I reasoned that we are all grown-ups here, and I shouldn’t have these childish fears, so I answered truthfully and said that I was playing in a chess tournament. I could tell by their expressions and their questions that they couldn’t understand why someone would want to do that. If I had said that I was going to a curling bonspiel I know I wouldn’t have got the same reaction.

Maybe the nerd label will one day be removed from chess. I know when I was younger computers were associated with “nerds” but today every kid wants a computer. I think intellectual achievements are just as important as athletic ones but I know that society does not agree with me yet so I will continue to encourage athletic activities for my kids and I will try to convince them to play chess again, but it might be a losing battle.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Meet the new rating, just like the old rating

I see my match against Jamin was rated and my rating has dropped to 1787. This is the exact rating that made me quit chess 15 years ago.

A long time ago, as a scrawny teenager, I wandered into the Charlottetown chess club at the YMCA and joined their monthly tournament. I wasn’t used to playing with a clock but over the course of the month I won a couple of games and threw a couple away and I got my first rating. I think it was around 1300, but I knew I could do better. I joined the club and started playing regularly every Tuesday evening. I improved quickly and started winning most of the club tournaments. My rating seemed to climb naturally but I developed some bad habits. I relied mainly on tactics to win games and I didn’t concentrate on my own game. That worked against the other players in the club but when I left the Island to play my first big tournament I found that I wasn’t as good as I thought. The players in Ontario had much more opening knowledge than me, and I had no tactical advantage. When I got back home I started studying a bit more and concentrating on just a few openings. My rating continued to climb to a peak of just over 1900 but then fell back and settled in the 1800’s and stalled there. I needed more games against higher rated opponents to improve, but there was no internet then and I couldn’t afford to travel to far off tournaments. As other things in life took over my time, I stopped playing regular weekly games and when I did play a tournament my rating started to tumble. I remember my last tournament falling into the Blackbourne Gambit trap to a young kid and and seeing my rating drop below 1787. I decided then that I wasn’t going to play another tournament unless I was prepared and studied my openings.

Years passed, I moved to Alberta, I got married and had children and had not thought about chess much until my kids started playing. After re-entering tournament chess, I have now played ten events and though I think I have improved over the last two years, my rating has now dropped back below 1800 again. Some of my bad habits have changed and some are the same. On the positive side, I do concentrate on my own game now and I don’t have the same desire to wander around the room to try to find a more interesting game. On the negative side, I find I can sometimes have very little enthusiasm when I’m playing a game especially if it is against a lower rated player or if I think I should be doing something else that day. I’m missing a lot when looking at tactics now compared to before. These may be things that go along with getting older, but my weak openings are just a result of my lack of useful studying. The question is now, what to do about my chess?

Option 1. Quit again. I f I do this it will probably not be a conscious decision, but rather a gradual lowering of interest until I find I haven’t played for a long, long, time.
Option 2. Play less regularly probably at a 1700 level. Maybe play in one out of town tournament a year plus the Battle at the Border. The question is, would I get enough enjoyment out of this to continue playing without falling into option 1.
Option 3. Really start studying and see if I can improve to 2000. The problem with this is that there is not enough time in the day to balance work, family, and an obsessive hobby like chess.

I hope I don’t end up choosing option 1, as I still get enjoyment out of playing a good game whether it’s a win or a loss. Plus I haven’t really played a complete tournament yet and I feel there is one inside me waiting to come out. Right now I have no definitive plans to play in an upcoming event. Maybe in the new year.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The End of the Match

Well today the championship match is finished. Really it was over after the champion went up three wins without losing but the players continued to play on until the finish. A couple of poor games in the middle of the match did the challenger in. You might be thinking that I am discussing Anands victory today in the Anands-Kramnik world championship, but actually I’m talking about the slightly less prestigious Gluckie-Chaisson Match .

Going into the match I had planned out my goals and opening strategy for each game. Since I haven’t beaten anyone over 2000 in a rated game yet, my main goal was to win one of the games, secondly to try some new openings, and finally to try to get 1.5/4 points. Before the match Jamin and I agreed that the loser would pay the rating fee and that he had to get 3 points to claim the win. Here is a summary of my pre-match plans and how they worked out.

Game 1 – I expected to go into my new favorite French Defence line but Jamin spoiled my plans by playing the Sicilian. I feel comfortably in most Sicilian lines and aside from a couple of lapses I played fairly well but eventually succumbed in a pawn down endgame.

Game 2 – I planned to surprise Jamin with the Dutch, but I didn’t know the opening well enough to play a good game when he strayed from my studied line.

Game 3 – I originally planned to play a Kings Indian Attack against his French, but after he had played the Sicilian in game 1, I had to prepare for that again. When he played the French, I went back to what I had prepared for game 1, but I couldn’t remember the correct move order and lost a piece in the opening.

Game 4 – Was supposed to be either a Benko Gambit if I needed to win or a Queen’s gambit Accepted if I was hoping for a draw. When I found out Jamin played the Benko as black I decided that I shouldn’t play that opening, but I still needed a win, so I tried the King’s Indian. Here’s game 4 for you viewing pleasure.

Game 4

Going into the final game, I felt I had nothing to lose, so I planned on playing for a win at all costs. Before the game I went for a couple of after work drinks with co-workers and managed to get a few warm-up games in. One of my fellow engineers from Calgary had been talking about playing a game against me since he found out I played chess, so I laid my board on the table and promptly beat him four games in a row while munching on wings, ribs and beer. I left him there to drown his sorrows and headed over to Jamin’s house full of confidence, to finish our epic battle/masacre.

Gluckie,Jamin (2054) - Chaisson,Terry (1807) [E81]
Match Lloydminster (4), 28.10.2008

2008-10-28 Gluckie-Chaisson.pgn

Overall I have to say I'm very disapointed with this result. Before the match started I would have said the chance that I would lose all 4 games was very slim. Even though if you do the calculations based on our rating difference it works out to a 25-40% chance of a 4-0 shut-out, I honestly felt that if I played to the best of my ability there was no way I would lose every game. In fact, in my last 6 games against expert rated players I have only 1 loss and 5 draws! Two draws against Roy Yearwood (2158 & 2098), one draw each against Anastasia Kazakevich (2156), Sardul Purewal (2094), and Jamin Gluckie (2114) and the lone loss against Keith MacKinnon (2058). The performance rating for just those games is an impressive 2054. I expected to score somewhere between 0.5-1.5/4. But when you throw away a couple of the games the chances of a shut-out rapidly increases. The good thing about playing someone that much higher though is that you are not risking alot of points and I will will only drop maybe 24 points.

Another of my goals for this match was to try new openings, especially as black. The Dutch I played in game 2 was a flop and I didn't learn anything other than don't play what you don't know. In game four I did try out a new stratagy for me in the KID and I think I did learn something from that game.

This was the first time I have ever played a match. Would I play another----Yes, but hopefully perform better.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Jamin Gluckie Match Part 2

Or I like to call it now the "Massacre at the Border" (MATB for short)

Jamin has come to the board each time better prepared than me and has definitely won the psychological battle.

Game 3

2008-10-03 Chaisson-Gluckie French.pgn

One Game left, where I will have black.

Game 4: To Follow

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Medicine Hat Open

Round 1
Paired against an unrated junior Jordan Schibler. He is in grade 10 and came second at the Alberta chess challenge. I now dread playing juniors. I had a strong advantage (+2.8) and an attack against his king but I erred on my 20th move. I got distractred from my attack when I thought I could fork his rook and then pick off his center pawns.

Right after I played 20.Be7 I saw that If I took the d6 pawn my bishop could be trapped, but I didn't retreat the bishop and hoped that my opponent wouldn't see that. He didn't, but after that we traded down to a rook ending where I was at best equal. We played until all the pawns were gone and then admitted the draw. The correct move in the diagram is of course 20. h6. A disappointing result.

Round 2
Stan Longson (1378). I played too conservatively in the opening and gave him an advantage. Fritz says it was not as much an advantage as I thought. Position after 18...Qe7

He made the following interesting tactical play 19. Nxg6. I was worried about my weak king but luckily he started to tire and made a string of small blunders that I took advantage of to capture a full point. He had this problem in all the games I saw him play. After concentrating so hard for a few hours, sometimes you just go blank for a while, and in chess that when it all falls apart. I won but was still not very happy with my play.

Round 3
John Quiring (1817). He played a line of the Petroff where he sacs a knight on f7. I had not seen this exact line before but I was pretty sure I should be able to take the knight and come out with the advantage. I missed a very simple queen check in my calculations allowing him to recapture a knight and come away with two free pawns and a strong attack on my open king.

8.g6?? (Nd6 was needed). I played well enough from then on to last to move 48, but there was no way to save the game. This was the one move of the tournament that really bothers me. At this point I had 1.5/3 and had not played a good game.

Round 4.
A very interesting round. On board 1 Keith MacKinnon was playing John Quiring and had a winning position but overlooked a devastating tactic. John missed the winning move and then shortly after flagged and withdrew from the tournament. On another board, Don MacKinnon sacked his queen and then missed a mate in one, which his opponent also didn't see, and then went on to lose. My opponent was Roy Yearwood (2174). He is probably my favorite strong player to play against because I enjoy going over the game with him afterwards, plus in my two previous games against him I played reasonably well.

Chaisson,Terry (1811) - Yearwood,Roy (2174) [B00]
Med Hat Open Hewlett (4), 28.09.2008
B00: Queen's Fianchetto Defence, Nimzowitsch Defence
1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 d5 last book move according to Fritz 4.e5 Nd7 5.d4² Black has a cramped position. Black's pieces can't move: c8+f8 5...Nb6 6.Be2 At first Roy thought that this was a novelty but he opened up his book "Play The 1...Nc6" and found a game from 1994. I liked this more than Bb5 because I think it leaves more flexibility 6...Bf5 7.Nh4 e6 This looks weakening to me but Roy didn't like the idea of retreating the bishop [7...Be6!?² should be considered-Fritz] 8.Nxf5± exf5 9.0–0 Be7 10.Bb5 Qd7 11.Qf3 g6 [11...0–0!? 12.Qg3 Rfd8±]

12.a4!+- A strong move that takes advantage of the placement of the black knights. Fritzs gives me a plus 1.4 12...a6 13.Bxc6 bxc6 Black has to double another set of pawns or lose a pawn after a5. The structural weakness make any endgame dangerous for black 14.Bh6 Played to prevent castling [14.Ne2 0–0+-] 14...Bf8 [14...Qe6!?±] 15.Qf4 I wanted to keep pressure on but fritz sees [15.Bxf8 Rxf8 16.a5 Nc4 17.Qd1 Nxb2 18.Qb1 Nc4 19.Qb7 Ke7 20.Qb4+ Ke6 21.Na4 Rfb8 22.Nc5+ Ke7] 15...Bxh6 16.Qxh6 Qe7 17.b3 Nd7 18.Rfe1 0–0–0 19.Qe3 Nf8? [19...Nb8 20.Ne2+-]

20.a5? [20.Qd3+- and White has triumphed 20...Kb7 21.b4 Ne6 22.b5 Qd7 23.Reb1 c5 24.bxa6+ Ka8 25.Rb7 Rb8 26.Rab1 c4 27.Qf3 Rxb7 28.axb7+ Ka7 ¹] 20...Ne6± 21.Na4 Kb8 22.b4! Ka7 23.Nc5 Nxc5 24.bxc5 [24.dxc5?! g5=] 24...Rb8 Here my cell phone rang. Although I hadn't heard any announcement about cell phones, I believed that Roy could have claimed a win. The funny thing is that the exact same thing happened to Roy the day before. During that game Roy told his opponent that he could claim a win but his opponent declined and they played on. In the spirit of giving back, Roy did the same for me. He made his next move and then offered a draw. Although I still have the advantage, I gladly took the draw because I would not have felt right about continuing to try to win. 25.Reb1 Rb5 ½–½

Round 5
There was now an uneven number of players in the tournament and I knew I had a long 5 hr drive so I withdrew. Plus with only 2/4 I was pretty sure I wasn't in the running for a prize. Keith had 4/4, another unrated junior (Ben ???, an exchange student from Europe) had 3, and three others had 2.5/4.

Overall another so-so tourney with some good moments balanced with some bad play. Because I played an unrated player, I'm not sure what my ratings will be but I'm expecting an Rp=1750?? and I will lose a few points I'm sure.

ps. I guess I ended up winning a class prize with 2.5/5. The TD gave me a half point bye for my last round.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jamin Gluckie Match : Part I

Game 1

A titanic back and forth struggle. Jamin surprised me with his opening and made any preparation I had done moot. I missed a bishop move in the late opening that cost me a pawn. After taking a long time I came up with a good plan to fight back. I managed to equalize and actually had an advantage for a brief time. Jamin fought back and regained the advantage. It came down to a Queens and pawns ending that I think I should of been able to draw but I made a beginner mistake when I allowed him to trade Queens.

I played 53. Qf4?? and let him trade queens into a won ending. Argh... My only explanation for this horrible move is that it had come down to 2 mins on both of our clocks and I don't seem to play very well in time pressure. I'll post more of the game later.

Game 2

A very disappointing game. The only good thing about it was that I managed to surprise Jamin by playing the Dutch. He's never seen me play this before, mainly because I never played it in anything other than a blitz game online. I quickly lost my way in the opening when Jamin didn't follow the same line he played in the Canadian Open. I was hallucinating some phantom counter tactical move and walked into dropping a piece. I didn't want to lose in less than 25 moves so I played another 10 moves before I resigned. I don't really want to post anything from this game because I don't think there much to learn from it but this was my last chance to save the piece with a6 but instead I played 13. O-O-O??

At this moment I'm still planning on playing in the Med Hat Open this weekend.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Next Events

It looks like my next chess event will be a match against Jamin Gluckie. He proposed the match and I gladly accepted. I know it will be a tough challenge for me as he is a couple hundred points above me in the ratings but it will be a good opportunity for me to spend some time on chess and hopefully learn something new and improve. We haven't decided when we will start the match as we both are fairly busy this month but I expect it will be closer to the end of the month. If anyone has any suggestions as to what to play against Jamin don't be shy about passing them along.

Also, next month I might try to play in the Medicine Hat Open if work and family commitments allow.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Chess On Prince Edward Island

I just returned from vacation with my family on PEI, which is where I grew up. We had a wonderful time plus I did get some chess activities in. First, I was looking through my parents attic hoping to find my old scorebooks with all my games from the 80’s and early 90’s but unfortunately they were all thrown out the same way my old hockey cards and comic books had been thrown out years earlier. At least this time the monetary value was not as much, but there was some sentimental value of these old games for me. I know I had some good games against Peter MacKean, Joe Horton and others that I hoped to analyse now with Fritz. I did find my old chess set and three old books. “An Experts Guide to Chess Strategy”, “Grandmaster Chess (Lone Pine 1975)”, and “Learn Chess Quickly”, which gave me something to read during the vacation. “Learn Chess Quickly” was actually an unreturned library book from my old High School. Oops, I wonder what the late fee is now? Reminds me of a Seinfield episode.

Also while on vacation, I decided to play a few rounds in the UPEI Open. I knew that IM Tom O'Donnell was playing and with only a dozen or so players registered I figured my chance to play him was good. There was a good mix of masters, experts and A players plus a few young kids.

Round 1
Game 1 was Friday night and my opponent was none other then IM Tom O'Donnell. Here is the game

O'Donnell,Tom (2458) - Chaisson,Terry (1822) [C42]
UPEI Open PEI (1), 25.07.2008
C42: Petroff Defence: 3 Nxe5 and unusual White 3rd moves
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 I have been playing the petroff against all my higher rated opponents mainly because it annoys many players and I know it as good as any of my other opening but my results have been horrible 0–7 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Bf4 last book move 7...Be6 my opening knowledge in this line is now over as my last move shows [normal is 7...0–0 8.Qd2 Nd7 9.0–0–0 Nc5] 8.Nd4 0–0 offering the bishop for a knight and a strong center 9.Bd3 [9.Nxe6 fxe6 10.Qg4 Nd7±] 9...g6 protects the diagonal and makes room for the B at g7 [9...Nd7!?² is interesting] 10.Nxe6± fxe6

11.Bh6 Rf6 [11...Rf7 12.Qg4 Bf8 13.Be3±] 12.Qg4 [12.h4 c6 13.h5 g5 14.Bxg5 Rf7+-] 12...Nd7± 13.f4 Nc5 14.0–0–0 [14.h4 Nxd3+ 15.cxd3 e5±] 14...Nxd3+² 15.Rxd3 [15.cxd3 Rf5 16.h4²] 15...Qd7 [15...Rf5 16.h4 Bf8 17.Bxf8 Qxf8 18.h5²] 16.Re1 now the e6 pawn becomes a point for attack [¹16.h4!?±] 16...Bf8 17.Bg5 Rf5 the only way to protect e6 18.Qh3 [18.Rh3 Re8²] 18...Re8 [18...h6 19.Bh4³ (‹19.Bxh6 Rh5 20.Qg4 Rxh6µ) ] 19.g4 Rf7 20.Rde3 Bg7 finally develop my bishop to a useful diagonal but it won't be around much longer to be any benefit 21.Bh6 Ree7 At this point white has 60 min and black has 52 min until the time control at move 40 22.Qh4 Bxh6 23.Qxh6

23...Rf6 [I thought about 23...Qa4 but was worried about an attack on the open king 24.f5 e5 25.Kb1 (25.fxg6 the move that scared me but then I would have 25...Rf2! after this move I think all white has is a draw) 25...gxf5 26.gxf5 Rxf5 27.Qh3=] 24.h4 [24.f5 e5²] 24...Ref7 Tom said that after I doubled my rooks on the f file he didn't see much of an advantage for white. Still [¹24...Qa4!? must definitely be considered 25.Rf3 Qxa2=] 25.h5 gxh5 26.Qxh5 Rxf4 [26...Qa4 27.f5 Qf4 28.Kb1± (28.fxe6 Rxe6 29.Kd2 d5–+) ] 27.Qg5+ Kh8 28.Rxe6 Rf1! only move 29.R6e2 [29.Qh6 Rf8²] 29...Rxe1+ [Fritz still suggests 29...Qa4!?² ] 30.Rxe1± Rg7 31.Qf6 Qf7 32.Qd4 b6 33.b3 creates a nice spot to place the king and be safe from any checks

33...Kg8 [should have played 33...a5 and solidified my queenside 34.a4±] 34.Kb2 Qd7 35.Qd5+ Kh8 36.g5 this move was stronger than I had anticipated 36...Qf7 Now was the last chance for a5 37.Qd2 Qg6 Both of us have 14 min to make 3 more moves 38.Rf1 Rf7 [38...Rg8 39.Rg1±] 39.Qd4++- Kg8 40.Re1 Rg7 1st time control reached with 9 min to spare for white and 3 min for black. Next time control is remainder of game in 1 hour with no increments. [40...c6 41.Qc4 d5 42.Re8+ Rf8 43.Rxf8+ Kxf8 44.Qf4+ Qf7 45.Qd6+ Kg8 46.Qxc6±] 41.Qd5+ [41.Qg4!? Kh8 42.Qc8+ Rg8 43.Qxc7 Qxg5+-] 41...Kh8 42.Qa8+ too late for a5 now 42...Rg8 43.Qxa7 Qf7 44.Rg1 h6 I thought this solved my problems but [44...d5 45.Qa4+-] 45.Rh1 h5 [45...Rxg5 46.Rxh6+ Kg7 47.Rh4+-] 46.g6 Rxg6 [46...Qxg6 47.Qxc7 b5+-] 47.Rxh5+ Kg7 48.Qa8 Rh6 49.Qg2+ Kh7 50.Qe4+ Kg7 51.Qg4+ [¹51.Rf5 and White can already relax 51...Qe6 52.Rg5+ Kf7+-] 51...Kh7 52.Qf5+?? hands over the advantage to the opponent [¹52.Rg5 and White wins 52...c5 53.a3+-] 52...Qxf5± 53.Rxf5 Kg6 54.Rf2 Rh5 55.a4

55...Rf5?? This is where I quickly decided that I had to get my king over to the queenside even if it allowed him to exchange rooks otherwise he was just going to cut off my king from the action while he improved his queenside position. Plus with a SD time control I was worried about running out of time. In the two minute review I had with Tom after the game I think he agreed with me. [Fritz recomends ¹55...Rh7± ] 56.Rxf5+- Kxf5 57.b4 Ke5 58.c4 Ke6 59.c3 Kd7 [59...d5 does not save the day 60.a5 bxa5 61.bxa5+-] 60.Kc2 Kc6 61.Kd3 d5 [61...Kd7 is not the saving move 62.Ke4+-] 62.Kd4 dxc4 63.Kxc4 Kb7 64.Kd5 Kc8 If Black now would get b5 in, he might survive 65.Kc6 Kb8 66.c4 Kc8 67.a5 bxa5 68.bxa5 Kb8 69.a6 Ka7 70.Kxc7 Kxa6 71.c5 Black resigns. I think I played reasonably well but what do you guys think? The game didn't finish until after 12:30 and I didn't have a chance to go over it with Tom unfortunately.[71.c5 Kb5 72.c6+-] 1–0

Round 2
I was paired against one of the young kids and took him way too lightly. I knew he was rated 1613 and beat a master in round one but the master said he hung a piece. Just before the game started I noticed that the pairings were wrong because another player had joined the tournament and that should have affected who my opponent was. The TD said he knew that but he didn’t want to change it because he wanted to allow my young opponent to have tougher competition during this tournament. I didn’t argue the point and I won’t complain now just because my result was not good. I played foolishly in the opening and was down two pawns for nothing before I settled down and couldn't recover. This is my first loss against a lower rated opponent and as I expected it happened against a junior – they always seem to be under-rated. I found out after the game that he had only just completed grade 4!!! and has won the Canadian scholastic championship every year. I guess I need to say "I am not smarter than a Fifth Grader." He was an extremely sharp kid and more importantly he was nice and polite and did not seem to suffer from some of the ego problems some other child prodigys seem to have. He had an outstanding tournament beating a master, then beating me, losing to IM O’Donnell, and he was winning against a 1950 junior when I left during round four. If I had beat him, I’m sure in 15 years I would be telling everyone how I beat “GM Dorrance” without mentioning that he was 10 at the time.
Position after 12...Nc6

13. Qb2?? Completely the wrong idea in this position and totally forgeting about the hanging pawn on e5. 13. Qe3 was necessary. From then on I was able to win back one pawn but young Adam made great decisions and was deserving of the win.

Round 3
This was a planned bye as I had some partying to do.

Round 4.
I only had 0.5 points and was expecting a very low rated opponent but was happy to find out I was paired against a 1785 player. By move 15 we both had 50 min left to the time control at move 40 but then he started taking alot of time to make his moves.
Chaisson,Terry (1822) - Enman,Jim (1783)

Chaisson - Enman2.pgn

Round 5.
I could see that I would probably be playing someone lower rated and it was a beautiful sunny day. I decided that I would rather spend the afternoon on the beach and I know that's what my wife wanted, so I withdrew. Overall 1/3 with 2 good games and one bad/humiliating game. Rp = 1818 but I lost 11 points to drop to 1811.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

2008 Battle at the Border

Round 1
Paired as white against Roy Yearwood (2158). Just before the game Tyler Janzen warned me to beware 1…Nc6 because Roy will play it against anything and sure enough 1.e4 Nc6. I never played the Nimzo before and chose to avoid theory with 2.g3?! I misplaced my knight early in the opening and Roy immediately attacked my king with h5!? I should have been down a pawn but Roy missed his chance and I then started to play more solid. He tried to create an advantage that wasn't there and I ended up 2 pawns ahead in a 2 rook ending. He offered a draw which I declined but then a few moves later after losing my weak front "b" pawn and trading a set of rooks I took the draw. I'm a little upset that I didn't continue playing because I think I still had good winning chances with very little risk.

Chaisson,Terry (1817) - Yearwood,Roy (2158)
2008 BATB Lloydminster, Alberta, 28.06.2008
1.e4 Nc6 2.g3 e5 3.Bg2 Bc5 4.Ne2 h5 5.d4 Nxd4 6.Be3

6...h4? ( lost all advantage, Qf6 was the correct play) 7.Nxd4 exd4 8.Bxd4 Bxd4 9.Qxd4 Qf6 10.Qxf6 Nxf6 11.h3 d5 12.exd5 hxg3 13.fxg3 Bf5 14.c4 0–0–0 15.Nc3 Rhe8+ 16.Kf2 Bd3 17.b3 b5? (giving away a second pawn for no reason)

18.cxb5? (18. Nxb5 is better since 18...Re2+ 19.Kg1 is not a great threat) Ne4+ 19.Bxe4 Bxe4 20.Nxe4 Rxe4 21.Rad1 Rb4 22.Rhe1 Rxb5 23.Re7 Rd7 24.Rxd7 Kxd7 ½–½

Round 2
Paired as black against Jamin Gluckie (2114). I played the unusual, but playable Budapest Gambit to avoid my normal openings that Jamin knows and has had no difficulty crushing. Although I didn’t have realistic winning chances for most of the game I think I defended with my N+B against his 2B’s very well. I created a passed “b” pawn and Jamin was forced to trade his passed “e” pawn in order to capture it. I hoped that I could race over and capture his g and h pawns and win but Jamin knew I would be one tempo short. Result another draw but very satisfying.

Gluckie,Jamin (2114) - Chaisson,Terry (1817) [A52]
2008 BATB Lloydminster, Alberta, 28.06.2008
A52: Budapest Gambit 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ng4 4.Bf4 Bb4+ 5.Nd2 Qe7 6.Ngf3 Nc6 (e5 is the focus of attention) 7.e3 Ngxe5 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 9.Be2 0–0 10.0–0 Bxd2 11.Qxd2 d6 12.Rac1 Bf5 13.Qc3 Ng6 14.Bg3 Rac8 15.Rfd1 [15.c5 Rfd8 16.cxd6 cxd6±] 15...Rfe8 16.c5± dxc5 17.Qxc5 Qxc5 18.Rxc5 Be6

19.Rxc7 [19.Bxc7 Bxa2 20.Bb5 Re4±] 19...Rxc7± 20.Bxc7 Rc8 21.Rd8+ Rxd8 22.Bxd8 Bxa2 23.Bf3 b5 24.Bc6 Bc4 25.f4 f6 26.Kf2 Kf7 27.g3 Ke6 28.b4 Ne7 29.Bxe7 Kxe7 30.e4 Kd6 31.Be8 g6 32.Ke3± Ke7 33.Bc6 Kd6 34.Bb7 Kc7 35.Ba8 Kb6 36.Kd4 White prepares e5

36...a5 37.bxa5+ Kxa5 38.e5 [¹38.Kc5!? Bb3 39.Bd5±] 38...fxe5+= 39.fxe5 Kb6 40.Bd5 Bxd5 41.Kxd5 Kc7 42.Kc5 Kd7 43.Kxb5 Ke6 44.Kc4 Kxe5 45.Kd3 Kf5 46.h3 g5 47.Ke3 g4 48.hxg4+ Kxg4 49.Kf2 h5 50.Kg2 ½–½

So far so good. Two draws against 2136 average opponents. Tomorrow morning I'm paired against Micah Hughey (2210). I need to continue to play steady.

Day 2
After a very good day yesterday, today was a huge disappointment.

Round 3.
Paired as black against Micah Hughey (2187). We ended up in a tactical line of the four knights that I had seen once before in a book but I played some unnecessary moves to try to chase his queen of a diagonal and missed my chance to castle safely. I ended up in a lost position and then moved into a mate in one. I didn’t give Micah much of a challenge today. As an aside, I think Micah is the first person to beat me twice in regular rated games, which only shows that I haven’t played many rated games.
Hughey,Micah (2210) - Chaisson,Terry (1817) [C55]
2008 BATB Lloydminster, Alberta (3), 29.06.2008
position after 10.Qxd4 here I should have played the simple O-O

Qe7 11.0–0 Be5 12.Qd3 Qd6 13.Re1 Kf8 14.Qb3 Bxh2+ 15.Kh1 Bf4 16.Bxf4 Qxf4 17.Bxb7 Rb8? (17...Bxb7 18.Qxb7 Qh4+ 19.Kg1 Qe8 was the only slim hope) 18.Qa3+ Kg8? 19.Re8# 1–0

Round 4
I was paired as white against Josh Timm (1152). Obviously this kid was underrated as he had just drawn his game against Rick Pederson (1921). I was not happy with the pairing because so far I had a performance rating of 2020 and was hoping to finish the tournament with a Rp>2000 but now it was impossible - even if I won. I needed a pairing against someone over 1540 but those are the breaks – you get what you get. I don't think I played with the same enthusiasm that I did yesterday and we reached a very drawn looking closed position with an open e file that allowed for the exchange of all the major pieces. I tried to press for a bit with two B’s vs a B + N but I couldn't break through without improving his knight so end result - draw. He played very well. I kept expecting him to make a mistake that I could capitalise on, but he never did.

Chaisson,Terry (1817) - Timm,Josh (1152)
2008 BATB, 29.06.2008

17... Rxe1+ 18.Rxe1 Re8 19.Bh4 Rxe1+ 20.Qxe1 Qe8 21.f4 Qxe1+ 22.Bxe1 Nd7 23.Kf2 Kf8 24.b4 b6 25.b5 h6 26.h4 f6 27.Bd2 Kf7 28.Bh3 Ke7 29.Kf3 Kf7 30.g5 f5 31.gxh6 Bxh6 32.Bf1 Kg7 33.Kg3 Kf7 34.a4 Kg7 35.Bh3 Nf6 36.Kf3 Kf7 37.Bf1 Kg7 38.Bh3 Kf7 ½–½

Overall it was an OK result that could have been a lot better if I had kept my focus today. Rp = ~1800 and I will probably gain a half dozen CFC points. I might have had three games against FIDE rated players, but I’m not sure if Jamin is FIDE rated or not. As usual Jamin ran a smooth, well organized, and professional event.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Warm-Up for BATB

Tonight I played 4 rapid games against Jamin to warm up for the Battle at the Border. I thought I'd try out different openings and concentrate on just making solid moves. In the past I've had a tendency to be overly aggresive when I've played Jamin. The first game went according to plan. Although I got lost in the opening I made solid moves and managed to draw the game. I'm not convinced that I remembered it correctly (I may have transposed some moves out of order) but here it is.

Gluckie,Jamin (2114) - Chaisson,Terry (1817) [D26]
Friendly game 30 min 25.06.2008
D26: Queen's Gambit Accepted: 4 e3 e6 5 Bxc5 c5 sidelines
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Bxc4 c5 6.0–0 Bd7 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.Bd2 Be7 9.Bb3 cxd4 10.exd4 0–0 11.Bg5 Nd5 12.Bxe7 Ncxe7 13.Ne5 Rc8 14.Qh5 Nf6 15.Qf3 Bc6 16.Nxc6 Nxc6 17.Rad1 Qb6 18.d5

18...Nd4 19.Qe3 Nxb3 20.Qxb6 axb6 21.axb3 Nxd5 22.Nxd5 exd5 23.Rxd5 Rfd8 24.Rxd8+ Rxd8 25.Rc1 Kf8 26.Kf1 Rd2 27.Rc8+ Ke7 28.Rc7+ Rd7 ½–½

In game 2 Jamin surprised me by not playing the French. I think he's played the French against me every game as black. Instead 1.e4 c5!? I blundered my queen in the middle game when I didn't see his knight was still covering h6 but I was lost anyway as I made the mistake of castling queenside into a strong attack.

In game 3 I planned on playing a Nimzo-Indian but Jamin surprised me with his move order and we transposed into a KID. I blundered an exchange and he gave the exchange back to get passed pawns on the a, b, and c files. I was able to blockade his passed pawns for a while but while I was running out of time he eventually pushed through.

Game 4 was another Sicilian!? I didn't follow may plan of making solid moves. I played a wild (unsound) pawn rush on the king side and was eventually made to pay for my folly.

I'm looking forward to the Battle at the Border this weekend although as usual I don't feel prepared.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lunchtime Blitz

Don't know why I'm posting a blitz game. I'll probably delete this post later, but I liked the Rook sac at the end.

Me - Guest1261760 [A00]
Friendly Game, 3m + 3s Café, 11.06.2008
1.e3?? (Oops! I meant to play e4!! winning - now I'm lost) Nf6 2.g3 c6 3.Bg2 d5 4.f4 Ne4 5.Bxe4 dxe4 6.Ne2 f5 7.d4 e6 8.c4 g6 9.b4 Bxb4+ 10.Bd2 Be7 11.Nbc3 0–0 12.h4 h5 13.Ng1 Kg7 14.Nh3 Bf6 15.Ng5 Bxg5 16.hxg5 Nd7 17.Rb1 Nb6 18.Qe2 Qe7 19.c5 Nd5 20.Kf2 Nxc3 21.Bxc3 Kf7?

22.Rxh5! gxh5 23.Qxh5+ Kg8 24.Rh1 Qg7 25.d5! (mate is coming) 1–0

Monday, June 9, 2008

Former Canadian World Chess Champion Re-appears

While I am at a business conference this week I had some spare time last evening and was browsing the internet and came across some info about former under 10 Canadian world Chess champion Jeff Sarwer. Most people don't know Canada had world chess champions. Jeff had a meteoric rise in chess as a 7, 8, and 9 year old in the late 1980's and then disappeared of the face of the earth for 20 years. At the time there were many who questioned his father’s home schooling methods and his chess vagabond lifestyle. The family went into hiding after Jeff and his sister (who won the world under 10 girls) were seized by Ontario’s child protective services. They stopped playing chess and hid out in Europe.

I hadn't known that he was the real life model for the character Jonathan Poe, Josh Waitzkin's nemesis, in "Searching for Bobby Fischer". Unlike the movie version, in real life Jeff was two years younger and their final game was a draw and they tied for the championship. In the movie version Josh sees he has a win but offers a draw to his opponent who refuses.
Here is the real game:
[Event "US Primary Championship"]
[Date "1986.??.??"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[White "Jeff Sarwer"]
[Black "Joshua Waitzkin"]
[ECO "E76"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f4 O-O 6. Nf3 Nbd7 7. e5 Ne8 8. Bd3 c5 9. dxc5 Nxc5 10. Bc2 a5 11. O-O b6 12. Be3 Bb7 13. Qd4 dxe5 14. Nxe5 Qxd4 15. Bxd4 Rd8 16. Bxc5 bxc5 17. Na4 Bxe5 18. fxe5 Rd2 19. Rf2 Rxf2 20. Kxf2 f6 21. e6 Nd6 22. Nxc5 Rc8 23. Nxb7 Nxb7 24. b3 Nc5 25. Re1 Rc6 26. Be4 Ra6

27. Bc2? (27. Kf3) Rxe6 28. Rxe6 Nxe6 29. Ke3 Kf8 30. Ke4 Ke8 31. g3 Kd7 32. Kd5 f5 33. a3 h6 34. b4 axb4 35. axb4 Nc7+ 36. Kc5 e5 37. Ba4+ Kc8 38. Bc6 e4 39. b5 e3 40. Bf3 Ne6+ 41. Kd5 Ng5 42. Be2 Kc7 43. Ke5 Ne4 44. Kd4 Kd6 45. Kxe3 Kc5 46. g4 Nd6 47. Kf4 g5+ 48. Ke5 fxg4 49. Kf6 g3 50. hxg3 Ne4+ 51. Kg6 Nxg3 52. Bd3 Nh1 53. Kxh6 g4 54. Kg5 g3 55. Be4 Nf2 56. Bd5 Nd1 57. Kf4 Nc3 58. Bc6 Ne2+ 59. Kf3 Nd4+ 60. Kxg3 Nxc6 61. bxc6 Kxc6 62. Kf3 Kc5 63. Ke3 Kxc4 1/2-1/2

Last October Jeff, now nearly thirty, played in a tournament for the first time in twenty years. It was an open rapid event in Poland with 4 GM's and two IM's and Jeff tied for second with only one loss to one of the GM's. Here’s one of the games that shows his attacking style.
[Event "Malbork Castle, Poland semi-rapid"]
[Site "Poland"]
[Date "2007.10.02"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[White "Jeff Sarwer"]
[Black "Radoslaw Jedynak"]
[ECO "E22"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "2559"]
1. d4 e6 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qb3 c5 5. e3 O-O 6. Nf3 b6 7. a3 Bxc3+ 8. Qxc3 Bb7 9. Be2 d6 10. O-O Nbd7 11. b3 Rc8 12. Nd2 Qe7 13. f3 d5 14. Bb2 Rfd8 15. Rac1 Ba6 16. Rfe1 cxd4 17. exd4 Rc7 18. Qe3 Rdc8 19. Bd3 Nf8 20. f4 Qd7 21. h3 Ng6 22. g3 Ne7 23. Nf3 Qd8 24. Ne5 Nd7?
25. Bxh7+ Kxh7 26. Nxf7 Qg8 27. Qxe6 Nf6 28. Ng5+ Kh8 29. Nf7+ Kh7 30. Ng5+ Kg6 31. Qe3 dxc4 32. bxc4 Bxc4 33. g4 Qd5 34. f5+ Nxf5 35. gxf5+ Qxf5 36. Nf3 Kh7 37. Ne5 Bd5 38. Rxc7 Rxc7 39. Rf1 Qe4 40. Qxe4+ Nxe4 41. Rc1 Rxc1+ 42. Bxc1 b5 43. Nd7 Kg6 44. Nc5 Ng5 45. Nd3 Nxh3+ 46. Kh2 Be6 47. Nc5 Bf5 48. d5 Kf6 49. d6 Nf2 50. d7 Ng4+ 51. Kg3 Ke7 52. Kf4 Bxd7 53. Nxd7 Kxd7 54. Kxg4 Kc6 55. Bb2 g6 56. Kg5 Kd5 57. Kxg6 Kc4 58. Bg7 Kb3 59. Bf8 a5 60. Kf5 1/2-1/2

I remember back when I was a chess playing university student reading about him in the Canadian chess magazine (whatever it was called at the time) and also seeing him being interviewed by Barbra Frum on CBC News. The interview left a bad taste in my mouth at the time - mainly because of the condescending tone from the interviewer - and from the 9 year old. Jeff has set up a website and has posted many old news clips and interviews. It is a very interesting site. He has also posted some of his games at with comments which is where I found these two games.

It's good to know that you can come back to chess after a long hiatus and enjoy it and have some success. I hope he plays some more.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

1 Year Of Chess

So what have I learned or observed after one year of chess. On the general side, I see over the past 15 years there has been a drop in number of tournament chess players especially in the lower to average skill level. Originally I thought it might be that the Edmonton chess club was too elitist, but I now see that it is a common problem across the country. When I played in the late 80’s early 90’s the median player in a tournament was a 1500 player. When I’ve played in Edmonton in the last year it was more like 1800. Part of this might be due to a rating inflation over the years (the CFC has thrown rating points into the system every now and then) and part of it might be that I’m comparing to 15 years ago when I played within a small pool of player on PEI, but I think mostly it is that the lower rated players are not getting as much out of playing in a tournament as they used to. They can get all the chess satisfaction they need playing online. If tournament chess is to flourish it must find some way to cater to the average chess player and provide them with something they can’t get online.

On the personal side, when I compare myself to one year ago I think I’m a stronger player now. When compared to 15 years ago I don’t think so, mostly due to a loss of tactical strength. Even though my opening knowledge is one of the weakest parts of my game I believe it is better than it was years ago. Back then all I had was my “Penguin Pocket Book of Chess Openings” (200 pages) and my BCO that I never looked at much because there were no explanations, just lists of moves. Now I can study openings with Fritz, plus I’ve borrowed books from the Edmonton chess club’s vast library. My only problem is remembering the openings that I have studied. Another thing I’ve noticed is that I do much better with longer time controls now, mainly because shorter time controls require quicker tactical solutions and better opening knowledge.

As an engineer by profession, I can’t help but to analyze my results and track my progress (with graphs even). When I look back on my chess experiences this year there are some things that were good,
- My record with white was 10 wins, 2 losses, 4 draws
- My record against players rated lower than me is 12 wins, 0 losses, 3 draws
some things that were bad,
- My record with black was only 2 wins, 9 losses, 1 draw
- My record against players rated higher than me was 0 wins, 11 losses, 2 draws
- My tendency to fall behind on the clock and blunder as soon as I hit time trouble
And some things that were ugly.
- Witnessing a violent confrontation between chess “parents” at a chess event.

Will I continue to play tournament chess? Yes, I think so, because I enjoy it, and it is a stimulating intellectual challenge that is an outlet for my competitive spirit. I can also set goals for my self (which I won’t reveal here) and work toward achieving them. When I played years ago I had two main goals. One was to become provincial champ, which I achieved, and one was to reach a rating of 2000, which I did not. I don’t think I reached my potential as a player back then, mainly due do living in an isolated area and rarely having an opportunity to play strong players. Now, when I play in Edmonton there are always numerous strong players, and with the internet, isolation is not as much of a problem. I can go online anytime and find any number of players who can easily trounce me.

I hope I haven’t offended anyone with my observations about my games against them. I welcome any comments. My next tournament may not be until the 2nd annual Battle at the Border in June. It should be a great event.

Terry Chaisson

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Northern Alberta Open 2008-02

After the Saskatchewan open the previous weekend I was not very confident going into this tournament and to tell the truth not very excited about playing in it.

Round 1 Opponent - Richard Roberts (1459)
A good first round win against the Sicilian. Last year I came out of 13 years of chess retirement at the NAO and I was paired on board 1 vs. IM Vicentee Lee. Needless to say this was much easier. Position After 18.Qd2 I believe Black miscalculated the following exchange 18...Nxc2+?? 19.Kd1+- Qxd2+ 20.Kxd2 Nxa1 21.Nxf6 Rg6 22.Nd5 Kd7? [¹22...Nxb3+ 23.axb3 Kd8+-] 23.Rxa1 b5 24.Rf1 and I went on to win after 10 more moves 1–0

Round 2 Anastasia Kazakevich (2152)
She played the Sicilian and after opening the c file we exchanged Queens and all the rooks and she surprised me by playing 25…Bc5 and offering a draw which I accepted. I thought she would keep playing to try to get the full point from someone rated 350 points lower even though I think I had the stronger position. After the tournament I wondered if I accepted too quickly but at the time I was more concerned with gaining back some of the points I lost the previous week and I didn’t want to risk anything. Fritz rates the position as += (0.33). My score now 1.5/2.

Round 3 Keith MacKinnon (2081)
I knew Keith played the Lopez exchange version sometimes and I wasn't prepared for that line so I played the petroff. I got a great position and was able to win a pawn and have a great attack against his king. We both had about 27 min left on our clocks and I was fairly sure it was a won position for me until I played 22...Nhg5?? I was deciding which Knight to retreat to g5 and chose the wrong one. Fritz suggests 22...f4!? which I did not consider at all [22...f4 23.gxf4 Nh4–+ 24.Qg3 Nf5 25.Qxh3 Nxe3 26.Qg3 Nxd1 27.Bxd1 Bxf4] Even after losing the piece for a pawn I still felt my position was close to equal due to his weak king and Fritz actually shows black with a slight advantage 23.h4³ Nxh4 24.gxh4 Ne4 25.Bf2 Re6 26.Nbd2 Rg6 27.Qf3 Rh6 [here Fritz suggests 27...Be6!?µ] 28.Nxe4= fxe4 [I thought about 28...Rxh4+ 29.Bxh4 Qxh4+ 30.Kg1 fxe4 31.Qf2 Qh6] 29.Qxe4 Rf6 30.Qe2 Bf5 31.Bc2 Qd7 [31...Bxc2!? 32.Qxc2 Qd7=] 32.Bxf5² Qxf5 33.Bg3 Re6 34.Qf2 Qe4+? [¹34...Qxf2!? 35.Bxf2 Rf8± I was down to 10 min on my clock now and my play deteriorated] 35.Qg2+- Bxg3 36.Qxe4 Rxe4 37.Nxg3 Rxh4+ 38.Kg2 Re8 39.Re1 Kf7 40.Nf5 Rxe1 41.Rxe1 Re4?? Black crumbles [41...Rg4+ 42.Kh3 Rg6+-] 42.Nd6+ 1–0 Even though I lost, I think this was my most enjoyable game of the tournament. 1.5/3

Round 4 George Sponga (1554)
The night before I asked Micah what George played for openings and he said he played no specific opening but he like to make odd h6, g6 pawn moves and I should try to take advantage of superior development by sacrificing to develop an attack. Sure enough George played d6, h6, g6, and c6 in the first 7 moves but I think I waited to long to sack a pawn and I don't think I was better after the opening. Position shown after 27.Qf4 which lead to the following simplification. 27...Bxf6 28.Qxf6+ Qxf6 29.Rxf6 Kg7 30.Rb6± Nd7 31.Rxb7 Nc5 32.Rb5 Nxb3 33.cxb3 He is tenacious and it came down to a rook ending. I was very pleased with the way I played this especially considering how badly I blew a rook ending last week against Roger. 33...Ra8 34.Ree5+- Rac8 35.Rxa5 Rc2 36.Re3 Rd8 37.Rb5 Rd1+ 38.Kh2 Rdd2 39.Rg3+- Rc1 40.Rb7 Rdd1? Trying for a cheap mate in the corner 41.Rf3 Rh1+ 42.Kg3 g5 43.Rbxf7+ Kg8 44.Rf2 Rcd1 45.Rb7 Rd3+ 46.Kg4 Re1 47.Kh5 Rd6 48.Rbf7 Re8 49.R7f6 Rde6 50.Kxh6 R8e7 51.Rxe6 Rxe6+ 52.Kxg5 1–0
Score now at 2.5/4

Round 5 Sardul Purewal (2094)
This was a surprisenly easy game for me. I didn’t use exsesive time in the opening like I usually do and I never felt in any danger throughout the game. He played the Scandinavian Defense and seemed to be willing to exchange pieces including the queens. I admit I was playing conservatively and based on his willingness to exchange I offered a draw after 20.c3 in the position shown. He declined and said that he was going to play to the end and we continued to play on - exchanging more pieces until we got to a knight and pawn ending. He tried to force a pawn through on the queen side but I was pleased with the way I played this end game too and we reached a position where he had to repeat moves otherwise my outside passed pawn and superior king position might have won it for me. 20...b5 21.Na5 Bc5 22.Rd3 Nh5 23.Be3 Bxe3+² 24.Rxe3 c5 25.g3 Nf6 26.Nb3 Ke7 27.Re2 Kd7 28.Kd2 Kc6 29.Ke3 Rd8 30.Rd2 Rxd2 31.Nxd2 Nd7 32.f4 f6 33.b3 a5 34.a3 Nb6 35.c4 a4 36.cxb5+ Kxb5 37.bxa4+ Nxa4 38.Kd3 Nb6 39.Kc3 c4 40.Kd4 e5+ 41.fxe5 fxe5+ 42.Kc3 Na4+ 43.Kc2 Nc5 44.Kc3 Na4+ 45.Kc2 Nc5 ½–½

Final score 3/5. Overall I was very pleased with my results from the tournament especially compared to how I played last week in Saskatoon. In my 3 games against expert players I had 2 fairly easy draws and a won position (that I managed to lose). Plus I managed to get the full point from both of my lower rated opponents. Rp=1944 and brought my rating up to 1817. Thanks to the guys from Saskatoon for getting me a ride to edmonton and to Micah for putting us all up. If not I probably wouldn't have played.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

2008 Saskatchewan Open

Three weeks before this tournament I was pretty optimistic about my chances. I had played Jamin a few more rapid games and thought I acquitted myself fairly well. Then the Wednesday before the tournament I played Jamin again and played extremely badly which was an omen for the upcoming weekend. The tournament was a personal fiasco for me from the start. Due to my son’s hockey tournament which started Friday night, I decided to not drive to Saskatoon until Saturday morning. I knew this would make a long day for me but when the organizers changed the Saturday schedule from three games to two games I figured I could handle it. I woke up at 4:30, tried to go back to sleep for an hour but couldn’t, so I took my shower and left home at 6:45. It was minus 50!! with the wind chill and my vehicle was making a strange noise all the way to Saskatoon whenever I got over 100 km/h. I got to the university a half hour early but took a while to find a parking site and then went to the tournament room with what I thought was 10 min to spare. It was then I realized that I had overlooked the time change between Alberta and Saskatchewan and the round was already underway so I got a forced 0.5 point bye. I almost turned around and drove home right there, and if I knew how I would end up playing, I probably would have.

Round 2 was against Chris Achtemichuk (1719). It was a very tactical game. I found a tactic to go up a pawn and then he had one to get it back. I went up a pawn again and then we reached this position with black to play. He sacked the exchange to free himself but missed Bxd5. Instead 27...Rxf5? [¹27...Bxd5!? 28.exd5 Qxf5±] 28.exf5+- Qxf5 29.Qe6 Qf4?? 30.Nxb5+- Rd8 31.Qg4 Qf6?? 32.Nc3+- Bd4 33.Ne4 Qf7 34.Ra5 Rxd5 35.Rxd5 Bxd5 36.Qe2?? Time trouble [¹36.Nc5+-] 36...Bc4= 37.Qe1 time trouble for rest of game - arbiter keep score 37...Bxf1 38.Qxf1 Qf4 39.f3 g4 40.hxg4+- h5 41.Qb5+?? Bb6= 42.Qe8+ Ka7 43.Qxh5 Qc1+ 44.Kh2 Qg1+ 45.Kg3 Qe1+ 46.Kh2 Qg1+ 47.Kh3 Qh1+ threefold repition with about 2 mins left for both players ½–½

Round 3 was against Roger Blum (1861). The game reached the position shown with me in time trouble again and an arbiter keeping my score when Roger played 44.Kg2 to try to lure the black king onto the same rank as the rook. I replied 44…h4 and knew that I just needed to keep the king around the g5 pawn for a draw. When Roger then played 45. Rb5+ rather than play Kf6 like I planned I played 45…Kf4?? for some reason (maybe I was hoping for a cheap mate on the 1st rank). This lead to 46. Rb4+! And he queens his pawn. I played on for another 10 moves before he captured my rook.

Round 4 was against Tyler Janzen. I let the previous games blunder affect the way I played this game. I was hoping to win quickly so that I could get home. I missed a chance to play e5 and win a piece early and then tried to force something that wasn’t there and ended up with the following position after Tyler played 20…Rd8xd4. Two minutes later, while I was thinking about my reply he offered a draw which I accepted immediately. I should have taken my time to consider but I had been looking at 21. Nxd4 Qxd4+ 22. Kh1 Nf2+ 23. Kg1 Nd3+ 24. Kh1 Nxe1 and 21. Bxg4 Rxe4 22. Qf2 Rxe1 23. Rxe1 Qxf2 24. Kxf2 Bxg4 and did not like my prospects. I had not seen 21. Kh1 which I think he just noticed when he suddenly offered the draw. After 21. Kh1 Rxe4 22. Bxe4 Nf2+ 23. Kg1 Nxe4+ 24. Qe3 f5 25. Qxb6 cxb6 26. Rac1 when black goes down the exchange for a couple of pawns.

1.5/4 with an Rp=1586 which brought my rating down to 1783.

Monday, March 10, 2008

1st Annual Battle at the Border 2007-10

Jamin Gluckie was the main organizer of this event in my hometown. I also have to give Jamin some credit for getting me back into tournament chess as he played several rapid games with me before my first tournament and occasionally since then. The event was a great success and attracted several master players and an IM and a WFM from Norway who were studying in Edmonton at the time. It was a four round accelerated swiss so I knew ahead of time that I would yo yo from high to low rated players again. One of the nice things about playing in your hometown is that you can sleep in your own bed.

Round 1 was against Roy Yearwood (2117). He is a very eloquent talker and I really enjoyed going over my game with him afterward. Position after 19...f5 A standard f5 pawn push. At this point I really liked my position 20.exf5 1:18 - The first exchange of the game 20...Qxf5 1:08 - here I start to lose the thread of the game gxf5 or Nd4 [¹20...gxf5!? 21.f4 Rbe8µ] 21.Bd5+ Kh8 22.Ng5 White now has the initiative 22...Nd8 disconnects my rooks [¹22...Rbe8!?³ is interesting] 23.f4² Bxd5 24.fxe5 Qd7 25.Rxf8+ Bxf8 26.cxd5 dxe5 27.Rf1± Be7 28.Qc4 Qd6 A blunder. I looked at Bxg5 and Nf3 for a long time but then changed my mind just before I moved as I thought that Qd3 stops his d pawn and protects my a pawn but I completely forgot about my hanging piece. Maybe Nh6 [28...Bxg5 29.Bxg5 Nf7=] 29.Qxg4 Qxd5 30.Qe4 Qd7 31.Qxe5+ Black resigns as mate is coming[31.Qxe5+ Bf6 32.Rxf6 Kg8 33.Bb2 Qd4+ 34.Bxd4 Nc6 35.Qe6+ Kg7 36.Rxg6+ Kf8 37.Nxh7#] 1–0 A good example of how quickly a game can go downhill.

Round 2 was against Doug Unruh (1487). He had his wife assist him by making his moves on the board. Before the game I was worried that it might distract me but once the game started it never bothered me at all and even though I think I played poorly that was not the reason. I played the opening very badly and missed several good moves for both sides but when he played 11...Bf5?? I was able to win a piece. [¹11...Nxc3 would save the game 12.bxc3 Be7±] 12.dxc5+- Qe7 13.Qe1 Nxc5 14.Bg5 f6 15.exf6 Qf7 16.Qe5 g6 17.Qxc5 Kb8 18.Bf4 Rhe8 19.Rad1 Bxc2 20.Rxd8+ Rxd8 21.Qe7 Rd7 22.Qxf7 Rxf7 23.Re1 b6 24.Nd4 Bf5 25.Nxc6+ Kb7 26.Nd8+ 1–0

Round 3 was against WFM Silje Bjerke of Norway. I played the opening badly again and in fact made the exact same mistake I had made in a game in my last tournament Still my position wasn’t too bad until I chose a poor defensive plan 22... Kd8 & 23...Qc8, which ended up decentralizing my queen and tying it up to protect a pawn 22...Kd8? (diagram) [¹22...Kb8!?= might be a viable alternative] 23.Qa8+ Qc8 24.Qc6 e5 [¹24...Ke7!?±] 25.g5+- Qxh3 26.Rf3 I did not see this simple move [26.gxh6 Qxe3+ 27.Kb1 exf4 28.Qxa6 Qe4+ 29.Ka1 Rf5µ] 26...Qe6 [¹26...Qd7 27.Qxd7+ Kxd7 28.gxh6 Ref8+-] 27.gxh6 exf4 28.Bb6! Rd7?? 29.Bxc7+! Rxc7 30.Rxd6+ 1–0 On the positive side this was the only game I have ever played where I had an advantage on the clock after the opening.

Round 4 was against Tyler Janzen of Saskatoon. He outplayed me in the opening without using any time of his clock but allowed me to play 15.Qg4! Rg8 16.Ng5 Qc4 17.f4?? Bad move. I was also thinking of Bf4 but Qh5 is strongest. [17.Qh5 g6 18.Qxh7 Rf8 19.Nxe6 fxe6 20.Qxg6+ Kd8 21.Bg5+ Kc7+- 22.Rac1 Pins the Queen; 17.Bf4 h5 18.Qf3 Rf8 19.b3] 17...Nxe5 18.Qh5± Ng6 19.f5 Qb4 20.Be3+- Qh4 21.Qxh4 Nxh4± 22.fxe6 fxe6? 23.Bf2+- Kd7 24.Bxh4 Rge8 25.Nf3 Rab8 26.Ne5+ Kd6 27.Bg3 Rb5 28.Rac1 Ke7 29.Rc7+ Kf6 30.Rf1+ Missed a mate in two [30.Bh4+ Kf5 31.Rf7#] 30...Kg5 31.Rxg7+ Kh6 32.Rxa7 Rb6 33.Bf4+ Kh5 34.Rxh7# 1–0

Overall another tournament where every game went as expected by ratings. I finished at 2/4 which was good enough for shared first in under 1900. Rp=1820 and brought my rating up to 1810.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

2007 Alberta Open 2007-Oct

This 3 day event was held over the Thanksgiving weekend and had 50 participants. I yo-yo’d back and forth losing against higher rated opponent and then beating lower rated ones.

Round 1 was against Dale Hassel (2262). I completely mis-evaluated the opening and was crushed. After the game Dale explained that my whole plan to push f5 was faulty but at the time I had no other plan. 12...f5? [¹12...c6!?±] 13.dxe5+- dxe5 14.Rad1 Qf6 15.c5 Nd7 16.Nd5 Qd8 17.exf5 gxf5 18.Nh4 Nb8 19.Nb6 Qe8 20.Nxa8 then resigned on move 35 1–0

Round 2 was against Keith Aartsen (1447). Position after 7…h6?? I played 8. Bxf7! Kxf7 9. Ne5+! Ke8 10. Nxg4 and won the game after 32 moves.

Round 3 was against Micah Hughey (2113). He played some kind of pseudo-Marshall and used no time on his clock where as I used plenty of time in the opening. I saw a tactic for myself and couldn’t find a refutation at the board so I played it. 12.Bxf7+ Kxf7 13.Rf5+ Bf6 14.Rxf4 Qd3 15.Rf3 Bxf3 16.Qxf3 Qxf3 17.gxf3 Obviously he played this variation many times before and when he played the clamping Qd3 I new I was in big trouble. I sacked the exchange to try to free myself but it was too late. I lost after 47 moves when he sacked the exchange back and we would both queen but he would win my queen with a skewer check.

Round 4 was against young Jonathan Mrugala (1680). He played 30.Qh3+ which allowed me to play 30...Qh5+³ and then exchange off the queens 31.Qxh5+ Kxh5 and enter a minor piece ending. At this point we both believed we had the better position. 32.Bh3 Ne7 33.Kf3 Kg5 34.Kg3 h5 35.Be6 Ng6 36.h3 Nf4 37.Bc4 37...Ne2+ [¹37...h4+!? 38.Kh2 Kf6µ] 38.Kf2= Nc1 39.Be6?? I was too aggressive with my knight and if he had played [¹39.b4 cxb4 40.Ke1± I would have been in trouble] 39...Na2³ 40.Ke2 Kf4 41.Bf7 h4 42.Kd2 Nb4 43.c3? Nc6–+ 44.Be6 Ne7 45.b4 Kg3 46.Bd7? Ng6 47.bxc5³ bxc5 48.cxd4?? [¹48.b4 the only rescuing move 48...dxc3+ 49.Kxc3 cxb4+ 50.Kxb4µ] 48...cxd4–+ 49.Kc2 Nf4 50.b4 Nxh3 51.Kb3 Nf2 52.Kc4 Ng4 and I mated him on move 72. 0–1

Round 5 was against Vlad Rekhson (2175). The position shown was reached after exchanging queens on e4 with 26.Bc8 Qxe3 27.fxe3 Another knight vs bishop endgame but this one I mishandled and allowed him to get an outside passed pawn 27...Nd8 28.Kf2 a5 29.Kf3 b6 30.Ke4 Kf7 31.b4 axb4 32.cxb4 Nc6 33.c3 h5 [33...d5+ 34.Kd3=] 34.a4 h4? [34...d5+!? 35.Kd3 Ne5+ 36.Ke2 Nc4²] 35.Bb7± Ne7?? [35...Nd8 36.Ba8 Ke6+-] 36.a5+- f5+ 37.Kd4 c5+ 38.Kd3 bxa5 39.bxa5 Ng6 40.Kc4 Ke7 41.a6 1–0

Round 6 was against Mike Sekuloff (1614). I played the opening badly and once again he was looking to sacrifice but he missed his chance when he played 11...Be6 [instead of ¹11...Bxh3!? 12.Be3 Bg4µ] 12.Bg5 Bc7 [still 12...Bxh3 13.gxh3 Qg3+ 14.Kh1 Qxh3+ 15.Nh2=] 13.Qd2 Nd7 14.Bh4 Nde5? [¹14...Qf4!?² would keep Black in the game] 15.Nxe5+- Nxe5 16.Bg3 f6± 17.Nd4 Rae8 18.Nb5 Qd7 19.Nxc7 Qxc7 20.Qf4 g5? [¹20...Qc5= and Black is still in the game] 21.Qe3 Qd7 22.Bxe5 fxe5? 23.Qxg5++- Qg7 24.Qxg7+ Kxg7 25.Rxe5 1–0

Overall every game went as expected by ratings. I finished at 3/6 which was good enough for shared first in under 1800 with Vitaly Motuz and Allen Wu. Rp=1883 and brought my rating up to 1809.