Monday, May 29, 2006

I finally beat fritz in a long game

I don’t usually play much chess against the computer because I get sick of getting smashed every time, but one rainy day I had nothing better to do, so I started up Fritz 9 on my Pentium 4 3ghz notebook. The time controls were set to long play and I chose to play as white. Even though I know a few openings, I didn’t fancy testing my knowledge against the computer, so I turned off the programs opening book. Ok, you might say that massively weakens the programs strength, but take into consideration that I was also playing out of book after move 2 against a world champion program which was eating virtually all of my 3ghz cpu – you can estimate its strength to be around GM level.

I can’t play my natural attacking style against a computer, as the computer will always win in tactical positions, so I played a closed position game. This game is quite instructive – see how I slowly reduce black’s space, and eventually put the computer into a position where it has no counter play, and I am free to arrange my pieces to attack the queenside.

Me - Fritz 9 [D02]

1.d4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d5 3.g3 Bf5 4.a3 Nf6 5.Bg2 e6 6.0–0 Qd7 7.Nbd2 Bd6 8.c4 0–0 9.c5 Be7 10.b4 a6 11.Bb2 Rad8 12.Nh4 Bg4 13.h3 Bh5 14.g4 Bg6 15.Nxg6 hxg6 16.f4 Kh7 17.g5 Nh5 18.Kh2 Rh8 19.e3 a5 20.Nf3 Kg8 21.Ne5 Nxe5 22.dxe5 b6 23.Bd4 Rb8 24.Qc2 axb4 25.axb4 Qc6 26.Rfb1 b5 27.Ra5 Rh7 28.Rba1 Rh8 29.Ra7 Qd7 30.R1a6 Rc8 31.Rb6 Kh7 32.Bf1 Ra8 33.Bxb5 Rxa7 34.Bxd7 cxb6 35.c6 Bd8 36.Bc8 Bc7 37.Bb7 Ra3 38.Qb2 Ra4 39.b5 Kg8 40.Qb3 Rxd4 41.exd4 Nxf4 42.Qa4 Rxh3+ 43.Kg1 Ne2+ 44.Kf1 Nxd4 45.Qxd4 Rh1+ 46.Kf2 Rb1 47.Ba6 Rc1 48.Ke2 Rc4 49.Qa1 Re4+ 50.Kd3 Kh7 51.Qa3 Bxe5 52.Qe7 Rd4+ 53.Ke3 Re4+ 54.Kf2 Rf4+ 55.Kg2 Rg4+ 56.Kf1 Rf4+ 57.Ke2 Re4+ 58.Kd2 Rd4+ 59.Kc2 Rc4+ 60.Kb3 Rc3+ 61.Ka2 Rc2+ 62.Kb1 Rb2+ 63.Kc1 Rf2 64.c7 Bxc7 65.Qxc7 Rf1+ 66.Kd2 Rf2+ 67.Ke3 Rf5 68.Qxb6 Rxg5 69.Qc7 Rg4 70.b6 Rb4 71.b7 d4+ 72.Kd3 1–0

If you have Fritz you should be able to copy&paste the above by going to edit>copy&paste > paste game.

Here I played 9. c5 – This move keeps the position closed which reduces number of tactical threats, gains space on the queenside, and forces blacks pieces in the centre to become a bit squashed.

Here I play 16. f4 – this time gaining space on the kingside! – This game is all about reducing computers space to move.

Here Fritz played 17…Nh5 – and for the next 23 moves that is where it remained! A terrific example of a bad knight.

Here Fritz played 27…Rh7 - the computer is in such bad shape I’ve even managed to get it into playing nothing moves lol.


Fritz decided to resign at this point, but could have resigned many moves ago. A sweet victory against Fritz at last!

- Adding images and then editing the blog is a pain. Anyone know an easier way of working with blogger - recommend a blogger client maybe?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Sicilian

Normally I don’t like reading chess books. They take too long to complete, and I dislike having to set up a board to play the countless variations in the book. So I much prefer chess videos, as they counter the above annoyances, and I feel I am more able to grasp and later recall the ideas discussed in a video than compared with a book. So earlier in the year I registered at this excellent site which provides a superb library of instructional chess streaming videos that will definitely improve your chess knowledge and skills. The site has probably improved my chess strength by 100 ELO points or more. Anyway, the reason I mention this is because it was while using the site that I became attracted to the Sicilian dragon. There are several lectures from IM Jesse Kraai and IM Mark Diesen who both recommend the dragon. In fact Mark Diesen even goes as far as to say that the dragon’s theoretical standing is as high as it has ever been, and it’s an opening strongly recommended for black. So I decided I would take up the dragon.

I have to confess that I had a very brief attempt at learning the Sicilian Najdorf and Sveshnikov before considering the Dragon. Both these opening are highly regarded by super GM’s, and probably are the best of the Sicilians. I gave up quickly on the Sveshnikov because I don’t feel comfortable playing with black’s central pawn structure, and the hole on d5. I did like the Najdorf, but my puny memory was simply overwhelmed by the theory. I realise that at my level learning so much theory isn’t necessary, but the Najdorf has so many traps that black can easily get killed if he isn’t careful and prepared.

I borrowed a recommended chessbase eBook by Dorian Rogozenko. Chessbase eBooks are much better than normal books since you don’t have to waste time setting up positions on a board, but I still much prefer videos; unfortunately I couldn’t find a decent looking dragon video. The book had 2 parts, the first dealt with anti-Yugoslav attack positions, and the second, which was much larger, dealt with just the Yugoslav attack. Before jumping into the famous “Yugoslav attack” position, I had a look at the anti-Yugoslav variations, after white opts for an open Sicilian. There are a LOT of variations, but nearly all offer black easy equality. I played nearly all the key variations against my computer and online blitz, and faired very well. I was beginning to like the dragon. I was even comfortable playing the Levenfish variation, which a lot of dragon players aren’t. I then, at last looked at the Yuogoslav attack. That’s when I went from loving the dragon to eventually giving it up…..

Friday, May 26, 2006

Sicilian Vs 1..e5

So it came down to the Sicilian vs 1…e5. I wantde to take my time figuring out which would best suit my style, and gives me the most/best opportunities for a win. In the past when choosing an opening to play against 1.d4 I made the mistake of rushing to experiment with many different replies for black. The problem with this method, at least for me given my time constraints, was that I tended to assess positions at a superficial level, and didn’t get to spend enough time looking at early strange, yet ok deviations for white, hoping that in practical play I would arrive at positions very similar to theoretical positions. I remember vividly some of my defeats in my experimental phase with black against 1.d4, and definitely wasn’t about to repeat the same learning method with 1.e4. I suppose this method could work if you had enough free time to deeply study each of the experimental openings, but sadly I don’t. This time there is less variety, but more depth.

The one obvious drawback with 1…e5 is that at club level it is much more popular than 1…c5, and my opponents, on average, are going to be more comfortable in the middle game positions – this also means you probably have to spend more time learning longer lines of theory than the Sicilian (at master level I think Sicilian is a lot more theoretical, requiring much more time learning book lines). But the main problem with 1..e5 is that I just don’t enjoy the middle game positions (assuming I play a non-risky opening). This was the reason I decided to play the Scandinavian all those years back (as well as benefits of learning less theory), and even though my chess has changed considerably since then, I still don’t like 1…e5 positions for the same reason. I think it’s because black lacks an extra pawn on the kingside – probably the same reason I went from 1.e4 to 1.d4 all those years ago. The extra pawn makes my king feel safer.

There are strong players/masters who strongly recommend 1..e5 for lower rated players, and to definitely not touch the Sicilian until you become a strong player. I came across many interesting arguments for and against an open Sicilian at this great forum – but at the end, after carefully considering pro/con arguments, I decided that I would take up the Sicilian challenge.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Against 1.e4

Until recently I exclusively played 1.d5 against 1.e4, always content to go into my comfortable world of the Scandinavian. Depending on my mood I would play either 3…Qa5 main line, or the modern variation 2…Nf6, going into the Portuguese or Icelandic Gambit. I had experimented with 3...Qd6 (or the Bronstein variation) and just didn't feel comfortable with the positions that arose.
The problem with Scandinavian 3..Qa5 was the positions were easy for white to play, and very drawish. I would still be happy to play this variation against stronger opposition, but against weaker players I needed a reply to 1.e4 that would be more testing for my opponents. The problem with 2…Nf6 was white could reply with Nf3, which eliminates all gambit tries, and is simply very strong for white.  
So I went searching for the optimum opening, and still am, although the current opening I’m looking at is impressing me, and may eventually be the one I stick with. I’m an aggressive player, and prefer to play with an initiative. Given my style, the French, the Pirc and the Caro Kann were instantly ruled out.  Other relatively passive openings such as the Owen and the Hippopotamus were also ruled out. I was really left with 2 choices , the Sicilian or 1…e5.