There are many chess players with ELO rating under 2000 around the world who would like to increase their chess capabilities. And reach the level of 2000 ELO points. Just like me.
This blog is exactly for them.


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Interesting games


Summary of First Half of 2011

Summary of First Half of 2011

chess_20091130The first six months of this year are over and it could be the right time to make a short summary of my chess results. So, let’s go!

I played in two events – chess team competition (January – March) and spring club tournament (April – June). The number of games I played was 24.

My result was +9, =4, -11 with performance 1719 (my average ELO was 1760).

I was better with white pieces (+5, =3, -4, performance 1785) than with black ones (+4, =1, -7, performance 1696).

This year I play a bit more aggressively than last year (see the amount of draws in my stats for 2010) and it resulted in some lost games. I consider them as a tax to learn more and score more points in the future. Especially in the team competition I over-risked some games, because we wanted and needed to score as much points as possible (you know, it is a dark side of being the captain as you always have to show fighting spirit to the rest of your team :)).

I shared some my games with you already and I want to show you one won game also this time. I am proud of my 19th move :) You can find the game under the article.

BTW: What are your stats for the first half of 2011?


How I was crushed to death with one pawn up

How I was crushed to death with one pawn up

Chess setAs you may remember, I attend in the tournament organized by our chess club. I reached 3.5 points in my first 5 games. It is a result which I am quite satisfied with as all my opponents were stronger than me.

This week I played against another stronger opponent. The guy is a son of my another chess friend and I knew he did not play too much chess in last 10 years. But he is still quite strong as he had the same amount of points in the tournament as me so far.

We played the Philidor defense with 3…. Bg4 variant, which I do not know too much about.

When we reached the position after 7.Qb3 I was very satisfied as I was going to be at least one pawn up. I choose to take the f7 pawn as I liquidated black’s rochade by that move. After the game I thought whether the pawn on b7 was not safer to take, but it was not better continuation probably. Another question is whether any of those two pawns is poisoned…

9.Bg5 – the purpose of this move was to develop queen’s side instead of taking another black pawns (9.Qxb7 Nbd7 10.Bd5 Rb8 11.Qxa7 Nxd5 12.exd5 Nc5 and where to go with white queen now?).

I felt that the black pieces gain initiative and after 11…. Qf4 I went into exchange of queen and I hoped to assert the pawn up in the ending. At the same moment I also saw that is not going to be easy ending. Were there another moves to be played instead of 12.Nd2 and 13.Qf3?

Later on I decided to try to play on g-file and I created weaker pawn on g6. I had less space and I wanted to exchange some pieces. I did not want to lose my knight and I preferred to exchange my bishop for opponent’s knight. And indeed, I had this chance in my 20th move. But I totally overlooked check 20…. Nf4+ – I wanted to extend my pressure on g6 pawn before I exchang my bishop for the knight on e6 – and after this move I think the result of the game was clear.

The game is an example of very nice positional play of black – he put his pieces on the right squares and crushed me to death.


Saint Louis GMs Prevail in First Rapid Showdown

Saint Louis GMs Prevail in First Rapid Showdown

Chess club Saint LouisThe two Saint Louis grandmasters prevailed in the first day of rapid chess in the international match Tuesday at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, each notching a win with white and holding with the black pieces.

GM Hikaru Nakamura showed a risky plan that would not work in longer time controls can provide enough problems to win with the faster time control. He opened with b3 as white after gaining a draw in the first game with the Dutch Defense against former world champion GM Ruslan Ponomariov.

GM Ben Finegold won with the white pieces in his first rapid game against GM Ray Robson.

Nakamura said his 36. a5 in the second game was risky. WGM Jen Shahade thought Nakamura was better, but he said if his opponent had more time he could find the correct line and possibly come out better.

As for his 1.b3, the former U.S. champion said he had played the resulting positions “millions of times on ICC.” He lost a pawn but said it was hard for black to come up with a plan. Nakamura said the game shows a good knight against a bad bishop and students could benefit from studying that position. IM John Donaldson during commentary referred to the bishop as a “big pawn” when it was on c5.

Asked about facing Nakamura’s unusual opening move, Ponomariov said “rapid is more for fun.”

“Hikaru, with the time, put some problems (on the board),” he told Shahade and Donaldson.

“For me it was just important to play a game just to feel how to use the time,” Ponomariov said after talking with the commentators. “Hikaru thinks maybe this is not the best move if I play this, but maybe it’s unpleasant for his opponent—he’s not just looking for the best move in the best position.”

Robson continued the match against Finegold by again using more time in the opening. Under the rapid format, Robson quickly fell behind on the clock. In the first rapid game he was down to 16 minutes for his first 11 moves. Finegold still had 24 minutes.

Finegold told the commentators he thought Robson’s 14. Nd7 was a bad move.

In their second game, Finegold got doubled rooks on the seventh to force a draw.

Nakamura leads his match 5-3 over Ponomariov. Robson leads Finegold 4.5 to 3.5.

The final day of the international match is Wednesday with two more rapid games.

To follow the games live Wednesday, visit saintlouischessclub.org/nakamura-v-ponomariov-robson-v-finegold/live. Live commentary by IM John Donaldson and WGM Jennifer Shahade can be found at livestream.com/uschess. Rounds and commentary are open to club members, and memberships start at just $5/month for students or $12/month for adults.

Is anything missing here? Yes, you are right! Video! ;) Here it is:


Nakamura, Robson Pull Ahead in Round 6

Nakamura, Robson Pull Ahead in Round 6

Chess club Saint LouisGrandmasters Hikaru Nakamura and Ray Robson each won with white Sunday to take the lead going into the rapid portion of their international matches at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

Nakamura’s win gives him a 3.5-2.5 lead over Ukrainian Grandmaster Ruslan Ponomariov. Robson leads Finegold 4-2.

The match resumes with two rapid games Tuesday and ends Wednesday with two rapid games.

Nakamura played the exchange variation of the Queen’s Gambit declined, a line he drew with in game four. On move six, Nakamura played Qc2 instead of the e3 he played in game four. On move eight, Ponomariov placed his queen on g6. Nakamura exchanged queens, with the former world champion recapturing with his h pawn. Ponomariov said he didn’t expect Nakamura to trade the heavy pieces. He thought the American would decline the trade to keep the position complicated, which would require more calculation. Ponomariov has said during the match that calculation is one of Hikaru’s major strengths.

“I just made normal moves, and I suddenly realized there are no more good moves,” Ponomariov told commentators WGM Jen Shahade and IM John Donaldson. “I was just simply outplayed.”

He said in retrospect he should have taken more time in the opening.

Despite the result thus far, Ponomariov said he likes this type of match. He said he did not think he was showing his best chess but wants to talk to the Ukrainian Chess Federation about setting up a similar match in return. Shahade joked that he wanted a rematch on home turf. He said this match is preparing him to play in his country’s championship, a 12-player round robin.

“I really got what I wanted out of the opening for the first time,” Nakamura said after the game. His opponent’s 10. a6 was “a very slight mistake.”

“It’s hard to say it’s bad,” Nakamura said. “All my moves were natural.”

As for the rapid games, Nakamura said for the off day Monday he will relax, watch hockey games and not work on preparation.

“I’ve prepared a lot the last six games,” he said.

Robson-Finegold renewed their battle in the Dragon variation, again exciting Donaldson and Shahade, both Dragon aficionados. When Robson pushed h4 on move 10, Shahade called it “caveman chess” laughing and repeating Bobby Fischer’s “sac, sac and mate.” After the game Robson said h4 was “the only good deviation I could find.”

“Before Re2 I think I was winning,” Finegold said about his 27th move. He thought Robson’s 26. g5 “seems suspicious.”

To follow the games live Tuesday and Wednesday, visit saintlouischessclub.org/nakamura-v-ponomariov-robson-v-finegold/live. Live commentary by IM John Donaldson and WGM Jennifer Shahade can be found at livestream.com/uschess. Rounds and commentary are open to club members, and memberships start at just $5/month for students or $12/month for adults.

And again – the videos from Saint Louis are ready at the end of the article:


Finegold, Robson Draw; Nakamura Draws Even

Finegold, Robson Draw; Nakamura Draws Even

Ben FinegoldGrandmaster Hikaru Nakamura evened the score at 1.5 in his international match against GM Ruslan Ponomariov Thursday at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Ben Finegold and Ray Robson drew their second straight game.

Nakamura won but was the first to say it was not because of his opening play with the King’s Indian. His position had doubled a and c pawns at one point, and his decision to play Na6 on move seven was a deviation from his preparation.

“I spent all day preparing a line…but at the last minute decided to play Na6,” he said after the game.

During postgame comments with International Master John Donaldson and Women’s GM Jen Shahade, Nakamura said he was worse out of the opening. On Ponomariov’s Qd6 on move 16, Nakamura said he was “significantly worse.” He was concerned about Ponomariov then playing Qa3, hitting the a6 pawn.

Ponomariov also played an exchange sacrifice after Nakamura played Bg4 on his 19th move. Ponomariov took the bishop on g7 and Nakamura took the rook on d1. Ponomariov retreated his bishop to f6 and Nakamura’s bishop jumped back to g4.

“I think I have a nice position,” Ponomariov said about the resulting position after the exchange sacrifice. “After Qc5 check I started sinking,” he told Donaldson and Shahade. He said he had to improve his calculation.

After the exchange sac happened, Donaldson said Ponomariov’s bishop on f6 was “like a bone in the throat—white has a tremendous grip on the dark squares.”

But at some point, the game shifted. Both Donaldson and Shahade said they weren’t sure when the game shifted or if the exchange sac was the problem. After Ponomariov’s Qb6 on move 30, Shahade said it appeared Nakamura was playing for the win. The Saint Louis grandmaster got the win but said it was a learning experience.

The King’s Indian may be “a bad opening to play in a match format,” Nakamura said. “It’s pretty much all or nothing. But that’s why I’m playing this match. I get experience and learn something from it.”

The Finegold/Robson match ended in a draw after Finegold forced perpetual check. Instead of forcing the perpetual check, Finegold could have played Bd2.

“Bd2 is a way to try to win or lose,” Finegold said.

He played 3.Bb5 against Robson’s Sicilian. The choice didn’t surprise the young grandmaster.

“No, I expect him to play something different every day,” Robson said.

Luckily, Robson said, Finegold played a line with which he was familiar.

This is the first time Finegold has played under a match system. Robson said his previous matches were only two-game affairs.

“We both had issues,” Finegold said about preparing for this match. Finegold prepared to face legendary Viktor Korchnoi but health issues forced him to withdraw. Robson came in as a late replacement.

“So we are doing our preparation day by day,” Finegold said.

Robson leads their match 2 to 1.

To follow the games live, visit saintlouischessclub.org/nakamura-v-ponomariov-robson-v-finegold/live. Live commentary by IM John Donaldson and WGM Jennifer Shahade can be found at livestream.com/uschess. Rounds and commentary are open to club members, and memberships start at just $5/month for students or $12/month for adults.

As usual, the end of the post is dedicated to the video with analysis of games and interviews as well.

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