Holiday Invitational Round#4 – Winning with Black

Playing chess vs. CM II

After my disappointing loss with the black pieces in game two, I really wanted to play well this game. Even a draw would have made me happy. Playing chess against Chessmaster 11’s personalities has its challenges. It plays random, passive moves early on and then regains it senses in the late middlegame.

CM lost this game because it never castled. It’s random moves didn’t help either. Playing Qc1, h3, a3 and g4 are all examples of random moves it played without a larger plan.

Playing chess requires a flexible mindset. Unlike game two, I was flexible about changing my plans. I started attacking in the center but then shifted to the queenside. After some exchanges, I emerged a full piece up. I was in a won ending but even that is tough when a computer selectively decides to play strong moves. Let’s take a look.

Chessmaster XI (Turk)– Paul H.
Irregular Opening [A00]
Bellevue, WA
Holiday Invitational Round#4

Post-game analysis

The computer played so poorly in this game that it is difficult to give myself a lot of praise or criticism. I kept my cool though. I didn’t hang any pieces nor did I give up control of critical squares.

Re-routing pieces. Moves like Kh8 allowing Ng8-e7 was an interesting alternative that I should have explored more. While I am making sure to engage all of my pieces, I should have taken time to ensure my Nf6 had a better square. See below:

Playing chess after missing the interesting Kh8
After 12. Nh2?!

Your chess mindset matters

Playing chess with the proper mental mindset is important. For most chess matches, you need to think long-term. Chess games are rarely resolved in less than twenty moves so you should expect a prolonged struggle. This is especially true when playing a computer, even when its playing strength is reduced.

Any computer that is over 2000 ELO will not hang pawns or lose to simple tactics. They will play inferior moves but its up to you to convert an advantage. In my case, I was prepared to stake out as much of the board as possible and eliminate any counter-play the computer seems to always find. Fortunately, my approach worked and I coasted to a stress-free victory.

When you are playing chess with human opponents, always prepare for the worst. Give them credit, even if they are lower-rated than you. There’s no worse feeling than planning on a short fight and realizing it will go the distance. As the saying goes, “Expect the best, prepare for the worst.”

Even being up a full piece was not a guarantee for success. As you saw, the computer always has some trick up its sleeve to get itself back in the game. The key is to continue to play solid chess. I thought to myself, “Even though I am a piece up, anything can happen”. Do not relax your grip no matter what kind of advantage you have.

Conclusion

It felt good to win as Black given the chances I missed in game two. Consistency is going to be important to pull off another win. My approach will be the same though – avoid premature exchanges and try to dominate the board with square control. One adjustment I plan to make in future games is emphasis on repositioning pieces to better squares. I should not rest until all of my pieces are exerting their maximum amount of pressure.

At the end of round four I am up 2.5 to 1.5. Let’s see how I do in game five as White.

Playing chess through round 4

What did you think of the game? Do you have any examples of playing chess games where you had to focus your energy in a prolonged struggle? Please share below!

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