Gameknot 188th Tournament: Round 2 (Game#24 & 25)

Chess blog of the 188th GK tourney.

This is the second round of online tournament played on GameKnot. The format is double round-robin, meaning each participant plays the other twice, alternating colors.

In round one, I went undefeated. See the cross-table below. You can see my round one games starting with my previous chess blog post.

Gameknot 188th Tournament: Round 2 (Game#24 & 25)

In round two, I was paired with a new group of players. Could I keep my undefeated streak going in this round too? Doubtful, but you never know. My goal as always was to play some quality chess and try to learn from my mistakes. Open an honest criticism about my own play is something I always try to share when posting to this chess blog.

A write-up of each games follows below. Both games are presented within the same ChessBase Javascript replay window. I did this to improve rendering times on the page.

Game#24 – Dominating the b-file

DuoDuo – InnerPiece (Paul H.)
Sicilian Defense – Closed w/g3 [B26]
Gameknot 188th Round 2
2 days per move

This first game was the most challenging. The Closed Sicilian is often a battle that involves a queenside expansion for Black and sometimes thematic breaks with d5 or f5. In this game, much of the action stays on the queenside.

Play is equal for almost 30 moves until I begin to transition pieces to the queenside, attacking the b-pawn. White had some opportunities for counter play but spent too much time on the defense.

Game#25 – Winning a piece early? Simplify to the ending

InnerPiece (Paul H.) – DuoDuo
Kings Gambit Accepted: Cunningham Variation [C35]
Gameknot 188th Round 2
2 days per move

The King’s Gambit is an opening I have written quite a bit about on my chess blog. My opponent played the Cunningham Variation which is popular among amateur players. An early Be7-h4+ often confuses White – his king is forced to the f1 square causing disarray in his development. Black has problems too though. The bishop on h4 is an awkward piece that should not be taken. Remember, do not help your opponent by trading off his bad pieces. Instead, let them figure out how to reintegrate their pieces back into the game.

Post-Mortem Analysis Game#24

Play meaningful moves. This should go without saying but there are some moves in this game, particularly in the opening where I played without a clear purpose. 16…Rc8 is one such move. What does it do exactly? Mindlessly moving a rook to the center without a plan is simply a waste of time. An earlier Qb6, stopping d4 and then Rfd8 were better plans. Rc8 wasn’t wrong but it was imprecise. Improvement means addressing these little mistakes and creating more efficiency in my play. That’s what this chess blog is all about.

If you’re not sure….wait. Players often lose a chess game because they force matters that should not be forced. They can’t decide what to play so they break open the center in the hopes this will lead to something good for them. Don’t “hope” for good outcomes. Calculate them. If you’re really not sure what to play, choose a waiting move. My 22…h6 is an example. It covers a key square but does not commit me to further action. Waiting moves can be used in a variety of ways. Generally, they cover key squares but they can also be used to create an escape square for the king or a retreat square for other pieces.

Tactics and more tactics. I won this game purely on a tactical move. Nb2-d3 was something my opponent hadn’t planned on and quickly resigned. As I have written so many times on my chess blog, study tactics as much as you can. If you do, it will separate you from your competition. Many players don’t spend time studying tactics and it shows in their play. Check out my YouTube chess blog if you would like to see my approach to solving tactical positions.

Post-Mortem Analysis Game#25

Win material, trade pieces. It would be wrong for me to say that you should always trade off material when you are up a piece – but in most cases you should. Having less pieces on the board reduces complexity. Additionally, it prevents your opponent from mounting a comeback which is harder to do with fewer pieces on the board.

Open files for your rooks. The opening of the c-file proved to be decisive in this game. Black’s rooks were tied down to the e-file and did not have time to reposition themselves. Even if they could, White’s extra piece is too much of an advantage to overcome

Take your time. Converting a winning position takes time. Don’t be in a rush. After I traded Queen’s, Black did what he could to try and capture my e-pawn. Although I was up a piece, it still required a carefully planned defense. First, I had to temporarily double rooks to protect my e-pawn. Next, I re-routed my knight to e6 where it would disrupt the enemy rooks and help operations on the queenside. Lastly, I marched my queenside pawns up the board, creating numerous threats, one of which my opponent walked into.

Please share your thoughts below. If you are new to my chess blog, please provide any feedback you have.