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  #51  
Old 11-15-2019, 07:18 PM
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I'm a middling player so take my thoughts with a grain of salt, but here they are anyway! My comments in italics.

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1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4

The King's Gambit isn't something I play, but I understand the main ideas are to either play up the f file that you opened with the gambit pawn or to play an early d4 to dominate the center. You did neither, so your compensation for the pawn was somewhat lacking and you ended up cramped. The early d4 plan gives your light squared bishop a little more breathing room as well, and for the half-open f file plan, you had an opportunity to re-take with the rook on f3, which I think would have been more accurate, even with black having played g5. As played, you closed off the file with gxf3.

3. Nf3 d6 4. Bc4 Bg4 Possibly I should have played h3 to prevent this, but I was wary of creating a hole on g3. A hole on g3 is not a concern in an opening like the King's Gambit! Attack! That said, you can wait until after Bg4 to play h3, saving that tempo until needed. You don't mind a trade on f3, especially if that knight has no obvious immediate future. The trade helps clear the f file (if you take back with a piece and not a pawn).

5. O-O Nc6 6. d3 g5 7. Nc3 Nf6 8. Qe1 Bxf3 I probably should have recaptured with the rook instead, I can't remember why I didn't. Ah, I see you had the same thought. (I'm not reading ahead so as not to bias my thinking.)

9. gxf3 Qe7 10. Qf2 a6 11. h4 h6 Obviously I was hoping for gxh4, but I should have given my opponent credit for being better than that. Poor move on my part, really.
12. Qh2 Bg7 Again, a poor choice by me - 'forcing' him into a good move. Oof. Yeah, black is the one attacking now.

I looked at the rest but don't have comments beyond tactical observations that an engine can provide, since the rest was pretty much a series of tactical... um... choices. Your opponent backing off when he had the exchange opportunity was definitely a chance for you to come back, but it looks pretty topsy turvy after that still.

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1. e4 d5 2. e5 Nc6 I've never played this opening before; having looked it up since the game, I see e5 isn't necessarily the best, but neither is my response, though I think it's fairly reasonable. Yeah, e5 is pretty rare in the Scandinavian. Given 2. e5, 2...c5 seems like the far and away most obvious choice. You opponent will have ceded a lot of center control, and you can play Nc6 after that to get your knight behind that center (and still pressuring the e5 pawn, which also can no longer be supported by a simple 3. d4 as in the game if you play 2...c5 first.) But, yeah, 2...Nc6 is certainly playable.

3. d4 Bf5 4. Nc3 Qd7 5. g3 I thought about playing Nb4 here, but since White can block with Bd3, didn't think it was as good as just continuing with my development.
5...O-O-O 6. Bg2 Nb4 Now Bd3 isn't available, so White is losing a pawn. Nice setting up this opportunity.

7. Qe2 Nxc2+ White admitted afterwards Qe2 was "pointless". He could have limited losses to a pawn with Rb1. Now he's losing at least the exchange. Rb1 doesn't work since 7...Bxc2 forks the Q and R, so it's still an exchange. 7. Kf1 was the only way for him to keep losses to just the c pawn. Not a move white wants to play!

The rest was a quick mop up.
  #52  
Old 11-19-2019, 09:18 AM
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Thanks for your comments and for going through it, much appreciated. I'm not going to make a habit of doing this, but I'll just post one more quick game, from today when I was White:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 This is my preferred opening as White.
3...d5
4. exd5 Qxd5 I'm happy with this as although I have lost my centre, I gain a tempo with a developing move.
5. Nc3 Qc5
6. d3 a6
7. Be3 Qd6 And again. I feel like I have a clear advantage now.
8. Ba4 Nf6
9. Bxc6+ bxc6 In retrospect, this sequence looks weird. I think on the previous move I was happy to maintain the pin for the time being, with Black still some way from being able to castle. But now I've captured anyway, it just looks like I've lost time. Then again, Black hasn't really gained any. I think I just belatedly realised that I would create an isolated, doubled pawn with this move (as recapturing with the Queen would allow me to take on d5).
10. d4 e4 Probably not the best - I like the knight on e5.
11. Ne5 Nd5 At this stage we adjourned, and I thought I was winning a pawn outright on the resumption with:
12. Nxe4 Qb4+ But I'd missed this response. Never mind; I'm OK with swapping Black's e-pawn for my b-pawn, I just need to play carefully to avoid any tactical tricks.
13. Qd2 Qxb2
14. O-O Bb4 I didn't expect this move for some reason (just hadn't looked at it, I guess) and thought for quite some time about the best place to put my queen. I think I found a good choice, especially with Black's king still in the open. For several moves prior to this I was thinking about Qh5 or even sacrificing the knight with Nxf7 first, but it never seemed to quite work out, so I left it.
15. Qe2 Nc3 I was happy to see this move as it allows me to exchange off my rather passive knight for his active one.
16. Nxc3 Qxc3 I thought he might recapture with the bishop in order to try and exchange his queen for both my rooks, but I guess that wasn't his plan. Again I thought for a long time before my next move, trying to work out if I could create an opportunity for a double clearance of the e-file, but in the end I thought my choice would at least take control of another open file and delay him castling for the time being, as he has to move his queen.
17. Rab1 f6 He didn't see that the queen is now going to be trapped. 17...Be7 was probably called for.
18. Rb3 Qxb3
19. cxb3 fxe5
20. Qh5+ Kd8 The final mistake, as it allows my bishop into the attack with tempo. Instead with 20...Kd7 he could have fought on a little longer, albeit in a pretty hopeless position.
21. Bg5+ Kd7
22. Qf7+ Kd6
23. Qe7+ Kd5 And at this point Black resigned as he saw he was losing his bishop, but it's worse than that: 24. Qxe5 is mate.

I admit I was quite proud of the accuracy with which I finished off, I'm well aware it was fairly easy and won't impress anybody but I'm glad I looked for better moves rather than just taking the pawn on e5 and then trying to win the endgame. What I'm more interested in is any comments on my thoughts in the opening/early middlegame. I know my opponent made some poor choices and was eventually punished for starting an attack prematurely, with his king still exposed and not all his pieces in play. What should we have done?
  #53  
Old 11-19-2019, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Cat View Post
Thanks for your comments and for going through it, much appreciated. I'm not going to make a habit of doing this, but...
I see no reason not to have a chess game analysis thread going. As long as people engage, no reason not to. (There are chess-dedicated forums for this, of course, but that can be said for most of the topics discussed at SDMB.)

My comments in italics.

------------

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 This is my preferred opening as White.

If you were asked what the point of Bb5 is in the Ruy Lopez, what you would answer? Don't look ahead at my answer below. Think about it first here.

3...d5
4. exd5 Qxd5 I'm happy with this as although I have lost my centre, I gain a tempo with a developing move.

Ok, so the point of Bb5 is to weaken black's defense of e5. 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 is attacking the e5 pawn, and black has multiple ways to defend it. 2...Nc6 is one, and 3. Bb5 sets up, at some point later, the direct or indirect removal of that defender. Trading on c6 early is of course one line, but it can get messy. (The Ruy Lopez is theory-rich anyway, exchange variation or not.) In this game, however, your opponent gave you a beautiful opportunity with 3...d5. The knight on c6 is now pinned to the king! He removed (pinned) his only defender of e5 by playing 3...d5. 3...d6 would have pinned the knight as well but also adds a new defender to e5, so it's playable for black. Anyway, the point is that the e5 pawn was straight hanging after 3...d5. If you think about the *purpose* of Bb5 in this opening -- i.e., removing a defender of e5 through pin or through capture -- then you might notice this free pawn more readily. After 4. Nxe5, you are also making a nasty threat on c6 (your knight and bishop both aimed at it) which black must deal with immediately.

5. Nc3 Qc5
6. d3 a6
7. Be3 Qd6 And again. I feel like I have a clear advantage now.
8. Ba4 Nf6
9. Bxc6+ bxc6 In retrospect, this sequence looks weird. I think on the previous move I was happy to maintain the pin for the time being, with Black still some way from being able to castle. But now I've captured anyway, it just looks like I've lost time. Then again, Black hasn't really gained any. I think I just belatedly realised that I would create an isolated, doubled pawn with this move (as recapturing with the Queen would allow me to take on d5).

Definitely an interesting sequence to examine. "Don't capture a pinned piece" is not a hard rule of course, but it is often worth thinking carefully about why you would want to take it. In this case, the pin is still doing good things, your bishop is guarded, you don't mind black playing b5, and your bishop can just move to b3 at any point and be on an excellent diagonal while with b5 black will have introduced queenside weaknesses. There is a tactical observation here as well, which is that black *should* have taken back with the Q, because if you do take on d5 as you state, black has Qxg2!.

10. d4 e4 Probably not the best - I like the knight on e5.
11. Ne5 Nd5 At this stage we adjourned, and I thought I was winning a pawn outright on the resumption with:
12. Nxe4 Qb4+ But I'd missed this response. Never mind; I'm OK with swapping Black's e-pawn for my b-pawn, I just need to play carefully to avoid any tactical tricks.

Agreed. And you did avoid the tricks, playing solid moves that maybe weren't always the most testing, but also didn't give up significant advantage. A relatively clean finish from here.

What I'm more interested in is any comments on my thoughts in the opening/early middlegame. I know my opponent made some poor choices and was eventually punished for starting an attack prematurely, with his king still exposed and not all his pieces in play. What should we have done?

Most of the above was about the opening and middle game, so probably the only thing more to say is how should the game have gone if not for the blunder 11...Nd5??. Instead, black could just play 11...Be7 and then castle, and white can castle and then decide which of the several black weaknesses to pressure. Re1 is natural: half open file with an annoying-to-defend e pawn there. Black could put a rook on b8 for similar reasons, forcing you to worry about your queenside. It's a fairly equal, not terribly sharp, somewhat cramped, imbalanced (i.e., not "symmetric") position. So maneuvering to increase pressure on weak point while generally improving your pieces would be the name of the game. As one more example, white might redirect his bishop to g3 via f4, opening up the rook and point the bishop along a good diagonal with some discovered attack potential on either the queen (short term) or c7 (a very weak pawn).
  #54  
Old 11-19-2019, 07:19 PM
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Hope no-one minds if I bump this thread rather than start a new one - in the absence of playing an actual game over the SDMB (for the time being, anyway - my Diplomacy game will probably conclude in the next week or two, then I should be up for a game), I thought it might be fun to post a couple of recent games I played against a colleague at work. We're on a fairly similar level - our games so far have typically been decided by fairly basic tactical blunders. I've also included some analysis/commentary - but if people are able and willing, I'd like to see their thoughts on things.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Cat View Post
1. e4 d5
2. e5 Nc6 I've never played this opening before; having looked it up since the game, I see e5 isn't necessarily the best, but neither is my response, though I think it's fairly reasonable.
3. d4 Bf5
4. Nc3 Qd7
5. g3 I thought about playing Nb4 here, but since White can block with Bd3, didn't think it was as good as just continuing with my development.
5...O-O-O
6. Bg2 Nb4 Now Bd3 isn't available, so White is losing a pawn.
7. Qe2 Nxc2+ White admitted afterwards Qe2 was "pointless". He could have limited losses to a pawn with Rb1. Now he's losing at least the exchange.
8. Kd1 Nxa1
9. Bxd5 e6 White tries to fight back, but runs into more trouble.
10. Be4 Qxd4+
11. Qd3 Bxe4

And White resigned. Qd3 was in a way the worst mistake, but White was lost by then anyway.

So, if I do get to play any of you, this gives you a fair idea of what you're dealing with! Comments welcome, however offensive .
Thanks for posting games - it helps us understand what level you're at.

Here's my comments on the game above.

2. e5 doesn't challenge Black's opening. I would play 2. ... c5 for Black (to undermine a future d4 by White), followed by 3. ... Nc6. Black can easily develop whilst putting pressure on the e5 pawn.

3. Nc3 is unwise. After 3. ... Nb4 (threatening Nxc2+), White has to play 4. Bd3. After 4. ... Nxd3+ 5. cxd3 e6, Black is already better.

After 5. g3, the line starting with Nb4 is even better for Black. Once White's bishop is captured on d3, there are weaknesses on f3 and h3.

6. Bg2? loses material.

If 7. Rb1 Bxc2 wins at least the exchange.

9. Bxd5? is a blunder - but White is lost anyway.
  #55  
Old 11-20-2019, 08:02 AM
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Thanks again for the replies, really useful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasta View Post

If you were asked what the point of Bb5 is in the Ruy Lopez, what you would answer? Don't look ahead at my answer below. Think about it first here.
Ha, this is a classic case of "a little learning is a dangerous thing". You are quite right to question it, but I was well aware of the point of Bb5. My thought process was something like: I know Black often wants to play ...d5 in king's pawn openings, as it challenges White's centre and frees Black's game. I've never seen it this early on, but maybe it's good for Black. Also, I shouldn't be too aggressive in the opening before I'm developed, don't want to move a piece twice unless I really have to, etc.

In short, I just didn't spot 4. Nxe5. So my lesson here is: yes, rapid development is important, but look out for any temporary weaknesses your opponent introduces, and exploit them!

Quote:
Definitely an interesting sequence to examine. "Don't capture a pinned piece" is not a hard rule of course, but it is often worth thinking carefully about why you would want to take it. In this case, the pin is still doing good things, your bishop is guarded, you don't mind black playing b5, and your bishop can just move to b3 at any point and be on an excellent diagonal while with b5 black will have introduced queenside weaknesses. There is a tactical observation here as well, which is that black *should* have taken back with the Q, because if you do take on d5 as you state, black has Qxg2!.
I know I'm contradicting myself here, but I'm pretty sure my post-hoc analysis was wrong and that at the time, I expected Black to recapture with the queen, and I don't think I was considering Nxd5 - this was something my opponent pointed out after he recaptured with the pawn and I expressed surprise. I would hope that had he actually recaptured with the queen, I would have seen that Nxd5 wasn't playable. Of course, none of that answers why I decided to make the exchange at that point. I wasn't concerned about ...b5, and would have been quite happy with my bishop on b3. I think I just wanted to remove the defender of e5 before ...b5 denied me the opportunity to do so, but I accept now that wasn't the best choice.

Quote:
Agreed. And you did avoid the tricks, playing solid moves that maybe weren't always the most testing, but also didn't give up significant advantage. A relatively clean finish from here.
I know I said I was more interested in the opening, but I'd be grateful if you wanted to point out any sharper lines I missed from this point on, or how Black might have defended better.
  #56  
Old 11-20-2019, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Dead Cat View Post
I know I said I was more interested in the opening, but I'd be grateful if you wanted to point out any sharper lines I missed from this point on, or how Black might have defended better.
Given your forward knights and the ability to get your queen to the king side via f3, there was some chance for added pressure by playing 13. c3 rather than 13. Qd2. The knight on e4 would defend the c3 pawn after 13...Qxb2, so the white queen would be free to roam. This is a non-trivial line to calculate, though, since black can kick the knight with f5, and you can kick the black queen with Rfb1, at which point the queen would get chased around for a while. The engine says this is better, and since you have lots of initiative you might have thought to try it on that basis alone, but in a relatively quick game I can't fault the practical choice to avoid the sharpness.

For black, a possible deviation is on move 13. Rather than taking the pawn, black has several initiative-gaining moves to consider that are probably more valuable than that pawn right at that moment. Bf5 develops with tempo. f6 happens to work tactically here, pushing the knight back. (1...f6 2. Nxc6 Qa4 3. c4! {only move for white} Qxc6 4. cxd5 Qxd5, and the material count is unchanged, but white's initiative has been deflated.) Even just trading queens would be a good practical choice for black, willingly leaving the pawn on b2 so as to have some time to activate his pieces without a white queen harassing the exposed black king. With 3 minors and 2 rooks still on board, plus tons of pawns to attack, black would have plenty of ways to build pressure (aiming not to trade off pieces since he *is* down a pawn here, but rather pressing until he can regain the advantage.)
  #57  
Old 11-20-2019, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Pasta View Post
Given your forward knights and the ability to get your queen to the king side via f3, there was some chance for added pressure by playing 13. c3 rather than 13. Qd2. The knight on e4 would defend the c3 pawn after 13...Qxb2, so the white queen would be free to roam. This is a non-trivial line to calculate, though, since black can kick the knight with f5, and you can kick the black queen with Rfb1, at which point the queen would get chased around for a while. The engine says this is better, and since you have lots of initiative you might have thought to try it on that basis alone, but in a relatively quick game I can't fault the practical choice to avoid the sharpness.
Thanks, again. I think I did consider c3 in the game, but I can't say I rejected it to avoid a sharper line - I think it was more that I was hoping Qd2 might tempt Black to exchange queens instead of taking my b-pawn. Which is a poor reason to play a move - 'hope chess' rearing its ugly head again. Plus, I see from the rest of your analysis that trading queens wasn't a good choice for White at this stage anyway. I just felt it would remove one of Black's only two developed pieces, and make it more likely for me to be able to grab the pawn on c6 soon (or force the bishop into defending it).
  #58  
Old 11-27-2019, 04:16 AM
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Going to bump this one more time to say that now my game of Diplomacy has ended in ignominious defeat, I have a bit of free time for a training game - so if glee or anyone else is up for it, please post here and let me know! I would be most grateful.
  #59  
Old 11-27-2019, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Dead Cat View Post
Going to bump this one more time to say that now my game of Diplomacy has ended in ignominious defeat, I have a bit of free time for a training game - so if glee or anyone else is up for it, please post here and let me know! I would be most grateful.
OK, I'm up for it!

I suggest we can use this thread for all comments (including spectators) and I'll start a new thread just for the game.
I can include references in the game thread to a website which shows the current game position:

https://www.apronus.com/chess/pgnviewer/

I'll post regular comments on the play.
Also Dead Cat can take moves back (it's a training game ) and ask me for advice on his best move.
I'll offer Dead Cat a choice of colour and await his reply.
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  #60  
Old 11-27-2019, 09:15 AM
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Amazing, thanks! I'll start as White with 1. e4 please.
  #61  
Old 11-27-2019, 09:27 AM
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Here's the new thread:

https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...1#post21996841
  #62  
Old 11-27-2019, 09:36 AM
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Thanks, I've re-posted my first move there. In any kind of 'serious' game, I always start with e4. I just prefer the type of more open game it tends to lead to, compared with the other choices, plus I know a little bit of theory around some of the more common lines (but mainly I just try to stick to the principle of rapid development rather than try to memorise variations). I'm most comfortable against 1...e5, but when I used to play more regularly I feel like the Sicilian was a more common response. In this game, I don't mind what glee chooses (even 1... d5 ) as it's unimportant for the purposes of this game - I will learn a lot in any case.
  #63  
Old 11-27-2019, 09:41 AM
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I've replied 1. ... e6 (The French Defence.)

It's a defensive set-up. Black prepares to play 2. ... d5 and can then recapture with a pawn if necessary, keeping a foothold in the centre.

N.B. I'm having trouble getting the diagram from www.apronus.com to load.
If some kind soul could go there, type in the moves and then post the position in the game thread, that would be great!
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  #64  
Old 11-28-2019, 02:43 PM
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White's 3. Bd3 is slightly inferior.

The main moves (known as 'book') are:

- 3. Nd2 ... steady, keeping the option of c3 open
- 3. Nc3 ... attacking, but allowing complicated variations like 3. ... Bb4
- 3. e5 ... often leads to blocked positions (where knights are better than bishops)
- 3. exd5 ... quiet, leading to drawish symmetrical positions

After 3. Bd3 dxe4 4. Bxe4 Nf6, White's choices are:

- retreat the bishop, which means Black gains time and effectively equalises
- defend the bishop - but after the resultant exchange Black has the two bishops in an open position (where bishops are slightly superior)
  #65  
Old 11-28-2019, 05:36 PM
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Here's my thinking behind Bd3. My natural inclination was to play Nc3, but I didn't like the look of Bb4 - it seemed to me that Bd2 Bxc3 Bxc3 dxe4 wasn't great, while Bd3 Bxc3 bxc3 leaves White with doubled pawns. Then again, I probably hadn't thought far enough ahead about the implications of Bd3. I didn't even consider Nd2 as I didn't want to block in my queen and bishop. I knew e5 and exd5 were perfectly playable but I just felt I could develop a piece rather than make a third pawn move.

I'm happy to live with my move and see where it goes, but I'd be interested in continuing a short discussion of the better alternatives.
  #66  
Old 11-29-2019, 11:09 AM
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Here's my thinking behind Bd3. My natural inclination was to play Nc3, but I didn't like the look of Bb4 - it seemed to me that Bd2 Bxc3 Bxc3 dxe4 wasn't great, while Bd3 Bxc3 bxc3 leaves White with doubled pawns. Then again, I probably hadn't thought far enough ahead about the implications of Bd3. I didn't even consider Nd2 as I didn't want to block in my queen and bishop. I knew e5 and exd5 were perfectly playable but I just felt I could develop a piece rather than make a third pawn move.

I'm happy to live with my move and see where it goes, but I'd be interested in continuing a short discussion of the better alternatives.
A lot of 'book' moves seem less likely at first glance. However after a hundred years and billions of games, due to all that experience the openings have 'settled down'.

After 3. Nc3 Bb4 White usually continues 4. e5.
Now it's true that the c3 knight is pinned, but White will soon break that with a3.
The pawn on e5 hampers Black's development (Nf6 is impossible) and White has a space advantage.
On the other hand, White often gets doubled pawns if Black plays Bxc3+.
There are many sharp lines arising from this position!

Yes, 3.Nd2 temporarily blocks Q + B. However Black cannot successfully pin with 3. Bb4 as 4. c3 is good for White.
So White preserves his pawn centre, and will unravel later on.

You're right to be wary of too many pawn moves in the opening!
'Develop your pieces, control the centre and get castled' is the best general advice.
However after 3. e5, the centre is solidly blocked. This means neither King is in danger for now and that there's time to develop without risk.
  #67  
Old 11-29-2019, 11:26 AM
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So White elected to defend the Bishop on e4.
Now Black has a slight advantage with the 'two bishops' in an open position.
It's not much - but it is proven to be useful.

Black will try to keep the position open (exchanging pawns rather than blocking them.)

Bishops are better than knights in open positions because they can cover both sides of the board simultaneously (and move faster in general.)
  #68  
Old 11-29-2019, 03:06 PM
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I decided that although I have conceded the two bishops, my queen can't be chased immediately and Black has exchanged his only developed piece. On the other hand, I can see that Black is doing pretty well out of the opening so far. However, White does have more control of the centre at the moment.

Last edited by Dead Cat; 11-29-2019 at 03:06 PM.
  #69  
Old 12-01-2019, 03:39 AM
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Once queens have been exchanged, control of the centre and King safety matter less.
Also it's true that White is ahead in development - but it's not clear what he can do with it. (The knight on e4 has no safe square to advance to...)

Black has the 'two bishops', so let's look at the advantages of bishops v knights.

Knights like to be in the centre and to have 'outposts' = a square no enemy pawn can attack (and preferably covered by one of your own pawns.)
An example would be after 1. e4 e5 2. c4 Nc6 (position here ), where the d4 square is a great central outpost for the Black Knight.
In our game there is no such square for White's knights.

Bishops like open lines (no pawns blocking each other.)
In the actual game fter 7. Nd2 Qxe4 8. Nxe4 b6 (position here ), Black's bishop is coming to b7 where it will threaten the knight on e4, the pawn on g2 and the rook on h1.
And one useful point - White has no way to ever exchange off the bishop on b7...
  #70  
Old 12-01-2019, 07:08 AM
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I want to complete my development and castle kingside ASAP. My thinking behind retreating the knight to d2 is otherwise Black can saddle me with very weak doubled f-pawns, which I feel would be worth giving up the two bishops for. It does block my bishop again which is a pity but I think I want to develop it on to the long diagonal anyway, and I should have enough time to accomplish this. A later b3 will also support the knight moving to c4, perhaps.
  #71  
Old 12-01-2019, 12:02 PM
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I want to complete my development and castle kingside ASAP. My thinking behind retreating the knight to d2 is otherwise Black can saddle me with very weak doubled f-pawns, which I feel would be worth giving up the two bishops for.
Castling is less important once Queens have been exchanged.
On the other hand, after your K-side castling the King on g1 defends the pawn on g2.

Now you make an important point about not allowing me to play Bxf3 if it forces gxf3. You would then have three weak pawns (doubled and isolated f-pawns and an isolated h pawn.)
(N.B. Isolated pawns cannot be defended by other pawns - and doubled isolated pawns are twice as weak.)
This is a good example of exchanging one type of advantage (two bishops) for another (weak pawns.)

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It does block my bishop again which is a pity but I think I want to develop it on to the long diagonal anyway, and I should have enough time to accomplish this.
Yes, there's no rush to get pieces out. I have a threat down the b7-h1 diagonal, but that's all.

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A later b3 will also support the knight moving to c4, perhaps.
The interesting thing about our minor pieces is that my bishop on b7 can't be driven away. However if your knights advance, they can be pushed back by my pawns.
  #72  
Old 12-01-2019, 04:17 PM
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I hadn't expected c5, and my first thought was it was going to let me split Black's queenside pawns. Then I saw Black would obviously recapture with the bishop instead. So rather than assist with his development, I've castled - the pawn is adequately defended by my knight for the time being, and castling protects my kingside pawns (as per the previous post, that was my priority - and getting the rook into play - rather than King safety).
  #73  
Old 12-10-2019, 11:05 AM
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Sorry about delay in playing - real life intervened.


The opening phase is over and it's the middle game.

Both sides have developed pieces and got some control of the centre.
(Since queens have been exchanged, king safety is less important.)

In the middle game, it's important to have a plan (strategy) and carry it out (tactics.)
With a lot of pieces on the board, tactics such as pin / fork / overload are important to spot.
With queens exchanged, the game is more 'positional' and a steady build-up of a plan matters more.


Although White has played sensible moves, Black has a slight advantage with the two bishops.
This advantage will increase with:

- a more 'open' position (some pawn exchanges; no blocked pawns)
- some piece exchanges (it's a pretty strong advantage in an endgame)
- mobile pawns (especially with pawn majorities i.e extra pawns on each side of the board)
  #74  
Old 12-10-2019, 03:39 PM
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Hope everything's OK - was beginning to worry! Please don't be concerned about the game, life is more important. But, thanks for continuing when you can.
  #75  
Old 12-11-2019, 05:58 AM
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Thanks for the concern - no it was all good (mainly the run-up to Xmas!)

We now have our first tactic in the game: the pawn on d4 is pinned because if it moves (or captures), the bishop on b2 is lost (and a bishop is worth around 3 pawns.)

You can spot tactics by looking for clues, such as:

- undefended pieces
- pieces 'lined up' (like the bishops on b2 and f6)
- pieces 'barely defended' (i.e. as many attackers as defenders)
- 'exposed' important pieces (uncastled King, Queen out in front)
  #76  
Old 12-11-2019, 06:51 AM
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I find myself in a bit of a bind, with not many good options. I'd quite like to play Nc4, as it threatens Nd6+ now that the Black bishop has moved diagonal, and although this is easily defended, c4 also seems like a reasonable square for the knight. It may provoke ...b5, which slightly weakens Black's queenside set-up. However, I don't want to leave my other knight exposed to being exchanged on f3, as previously mentioned.

So instead, I now hope to play Ne4, which will also threaten to exchange Black's bishop on f6. Obviously Black has ways to avoid this, but it feels like the best way to attempt to improve my position at the moment. Black has no immediate threats, and it feels like neither side wants to be the first to break the tension on d4.
  #77  
Old 12-14-2019, 08:34 AM
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I find myself in a bit of a bind, with not many good options. I'd quite like to play Nc4, as it threatens Nd6+ now that the Black bishop has moved diagonal, and although this is easily defended, c4 also seems like a reasonable square for the knight. It may provoke ...b5, which slightly weakens Black's queenside set-up. However, I don't want to leave my other knight exposed to being exchanged on f3, as previously mentioned.
Yes, this positional stuff is how I play (although I can spot a tactic when one appears!)
You haven't played any bad moves - but just a couple of inaccuracies have allowed me to equalise. I'm hoping you'll get bored / stressed and make another weaker move.

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So instead, I now hope to play Ne4, which will also threaten to exchange Black's bishop on f6. Obviously Black has ways to avoid this, but it feels like the best way to attempt to improve my position at the moment. Black has no immediate threats, and it feels like neither side wants to be the first to break the tension on d4.
Your plan to exchange Knight for Bishop is sound.
I thought of avoiding this by g6, meeting Ne4 with Bg7? But then Nd6+ is strong for you.

So instead I've set up a possible tactic - 'discovered attack' - by placing my Rook behind my Knight. When the Knight moves, the Rook will spring into action.

You make a good point about the tension on d4 / c5. This often happens with centre pawns ... it's interesting to see who exchanges first.
  #78  
Old 12-14-2019, 01:50 PM
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I've played Ne4 anyway, because I can't see any reason why not (I could well have missed something - but then, it wasn't like Black could really prevent me playing it, anyway).

I don't expect Black to exchange his white-squared bishop for my knight by taking on e4, as that doesn't seem to improve his position (and would add my rook as another defender to my d4 pawn, so it's not really under threat even if Black's knight moves out of the way). I wouldn't be surprised if he allowed me to take on f6, since that would activate Black's knight, which is pretty useless at the moment - literally nowhere to go except the back rank. But then, I guess Black can choose to give it a square by exchanging pawns on d4, at the (small) cost of breaking the central tension. I also think Black won't want to allow Nd6+, which would let me exchange my knight for his most annoying bishop. But if he plays Be7, I think I can win a pawn with dxc5, since this also threatens his pawn on g7. The main variation I analysed here was: 15. Ne4 Be7 16. dxc5 Nxc5 17. Nxc5 Bxf3 18. Nxe6 fxe6 19. gxf3, where White appears to have won a pawn and is still threatening two others, with Black not being able to defend both. OK, White's kingside pawns are now extremely weak but being 2 pawns up ought to be more than enough compensation for that. Obviously glee will have seen this line, too, and will either avoid it, or I have overlooked something about it.

I'm very interested to see how glee chooses to respond to all this!
  #79  
Old 12-14-2019, 02:36 PM
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Not to derail the analysis, but I'm a only ok beginner who started one of these threads a couple of years ago and got better because of it.

I play super slow games (multiple days per move) with friends on chess.com and the chess time app. If any other lower level players want to play a slow game with me (higher level too, but I don't know that you would want to) I would be happy to play for practice.
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Old 12-16-2019, 04:41 PM
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I've played Ne4 anyway, because I can't see any reason why not (I could well have missed something - but then, it wasn't like Black could really prevent me playing it, anyway).

I don't expect Black to exchange his white-squared bishop for my knight by taking on e4, as that doesn't seem to improve his position (and would add my rook as another defender to my d4 pawn, so it's not really under threat even if Black's knight moves out of the way).

I'm very interested to see how glee chooses to respond to all this!
Well I have seen some complications after two exchanges and at least I expect to get a slight advantage in an ending.
I agree that your Rook on e4 defends the d4 pawn - but I hope in some variations to attack that valuable exposed piece.

I didn't want to exchange my lovely unopposed bishop on b7 - but you played four accurate moves in a row (b3 / Bb2 / Rfe1 / Ne4) and it's hard to do anything else.
  #81  
Old 12-16-2019, 04:51 PM
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Not to derail the analysis, but I'm a only ok beginner who started one of these threads a couple of years ago and got better because of it.

I play super slow games (multiple days per move) with friends on chess.com and the chess time app. If any other lower level players want to play a slow game with me (higher level too, but I don't know that you would want to) I would be happy to play for practice.
Thanks for your kind words.

After this current game, I'd be pleased to play you in a new thread - and at a pace that suits you.
  #82  
Old 12-16-2019, 06:02 PM
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Thanks for your kind words.

After this current game, I'd be pleased to play you in a new thread - and at a pace that suits you.
I'd love that!
  #83  
Old 12-20-2019, 06:17 AM
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Although I've equalised with Black, it's going to be a tough one to win.
There are some mild complications just now, but soon we'll be in an ending with level material.
Now of course there are less pieces on the board in an ending but it can still be hard to find the best moves. Endings are more about having a strategy (long-term plan) than developing / spotting tactics in the middle-game.
  #84  
Old 12-21-2019, 04:57 AM
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Well the game has rushed through the middle and reached an ending.

There were a couple of traps for White along the way e.g. 19. Nxd4? e5! wins a piece (with the Fork tactic.)

I'm hopeful that Black retains just enough advantage to gradually improve to a win.
(Dead Cat, if you'd like tips on endings, do ask!)

Incidentally I must praise the Apronus website.
When you click on the game position, you can use the < and > keys to replay the whole game.
  #85  
Old 12-21-2019, 04:29 PM
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Yes, I would have very much liked to play Nxd4 so as to maintain the threat to f7, but fortunately I spotted the fork in time.

I'm not entirely sure what my strategy should be. Obviously the best I can hope for is a draw (since I believe I could hand the White side to Kasparov here and it would end in a draw), but I'm pleased to have got to such a position against such a good player. In the short term, I decided with my last move that attempting to control the only open file was the priority at this stage, so I'll see how that develops. When the position allows I will look to activate my king and position my pawns to restrict the scope of Black's knight - no doubt glee's plans are similar, we will see!

Oh, and I echo the praise for the apronus site - wonderful that such a resource has been made available not only for free but without ads.

Last edited by Dead Cat; 12-21-2019 at 04:33 PM.
  #86  
Old 12-22-2019, 02:28 PM
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Yes, I would have very much liked to play Nxd4 so as to maintain the threat to f7, but fortunately I spotted the fork in time.
Well done - it shows how a game can change abruptly, especially with a tactic.

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I'm not entirely sure what my strategy should be.
In endings, players should try to activate all their pieces (including the King, since there is little danger of checkmate.)
Creating a 'passed' pawn (a pawn that cannot be stopped by enemy pawns) is great stuff.
In our game, White can eventually get a passed pawn on the Queen-side, whilst Black can do the same on the King-side.
Quite often (especially in endings with just King and pawns), it comes down to a race to queen a pawn first.

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In the short term, I decided with my last move that attempting to control the only open file was the priority at this stage, so I'll see how that develops. When the position allows I will look to activate my king and position my pawns to restrict the scope of Black's knight - no doubt glee's plans are similar, we will see!
Yes, the rooks do best on open files. However there is a tricky tactic for you to negotiate, since my last move (Rd8) pins your knight against your undefended rook on d1. (I therefore threaten to win a piece by e5.)

I did see that Rd1 was a logical choice a few moves back and am feeling pretty confident...
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Old 12-22-2019, 03:02 PM
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I did anticipate your Rd8 but as far as I can see, Rd2 e5 Nf3 and Rd2 Ne4 Rd3 are both OK for me, though I am concerned that while I co-ordinate my pieces a bit better, yours could become more threatening.
  #88  
Old 12-30-2019, 12:14 PM
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I thought of playing 22. ... Ne4, hoping for

23. Rd1? Nc3
24. Rd2 Rxd4!
25. Rxd4 Ne2+ and Nxd4 winning.

(or if 24. Rd3 Rxd4!
25. Rxc3 Rd1 mate),

but (as you remarked) 23. Rd3 is safe.

N.B. In a face-to-face game, I would play this, since it a) might work and b) uses up some time on my opponent's clock. I can always go back to the game continuation.

Now we reach a simple looking ending, where my advantage is a more advanced King.
Not much - but I have won with this sort of thing before!
  #89  
Old 12-30-2019, 12:59 PM
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In addition to the advice given so far (which I completely agree with; learn tactics and basic endgames, be aware of opening principles but it's not efficient (or necessary, at amateur level), to memorize whole sets of openings), I can add a few things:

1. Take your defeats seriously. While losing hurts, and the last thing you usually want to do is reminisce over it, it's so valuable to analyze what went wrong. Not only your proximate error, but perhaps some of the other errors that put your back against the wall. Even free accounts on Chess.com can access the game analysis feature.

2. I'm not sure if anyone mentioned strategy as distinct from tactics? Most of the time there will not be a simple fork, skewer etc on the board and you'll be just looking for ways to improve your pieces: advance some piece towards your opponent / center of the board, gain space, block your opponent's advances etc etc. So this is something to learn side by side with tactics. For me I found the program Chessmaster 11 was great for learning basic strategy in an entertaining way -- took me from beginner to about 1500 (my current rating is about 1800).
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Old 12-30-2019, 08:47 PM
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Forgot to mention my favorite chess channels

Agadmator has been linked already, and he's great, but I actually prefer the analysis on Chess network.
And for learning in a fun way, Chess brah is great.
  #91  
Old 01-02-2020, 01:37 PM
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In endings, players should try to activate all their pieces (including the King, since there is little danger of checkmate.)
Creating a 'passed' pawn (a pawn that cannot be stopped by enemy pawns) is great stuff.
In our game, White can eventually get a passed pawn on the Queen-side, whilst Black can do the same on the King-side.
Quite often (especially in endings with just King and pawns), it comes down to a race to queen a pawn first.
Thanks for this - I was aware of these factors and I feel that in general, my endgame strategy is a relative strength ('relative' being the operative word - but maybe it's just because a blunder in the middlegame (e.g. hanging a piece), which I am still quite prone to, is more obvious than a seemingly minor positional error in an endgame that results in a loss). But at the moment, I'm happy to play my own game rather than seek further advice, we can do that afterwards.

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Now we reach a simple looking ending, where my advantage is a more advanced King.
Not much - but I have won with this sort of thing before!
Yes, I have a feeling this is already a winning position for you. I feel my main problem at the moment is I am still being reactive, i.e. having to respond to your positional threats. For example, one line I have looked at is:

24. c4 (To prevent your king from immediately accessing my pawns) Nd3 25. Ne4 Nc1 26. Nc3 (I quite like this opposition of the knights, but unfortunately it can't be maintained for long) Kc5 27. Kf1 Kb4 and I will end up losing material.

Alternatively, 24. a4 (same idea but trying to avoid letting your knight in to d3) Kd5 25. c3 Nd3 26. Nc4 Nc1 27. Nd2 Na2 28. c4+ Kd4 and again I will shortly lose the queenside pawns - in both cases my king is simply too far away to help.

Accordingly, I'm going to try to threaten your kingside pawns in exchange for losing my queenside. It will probably end up being too slow, and of course there are other plans for you and lines I haven't analysed, but to be honest I don't have the time or the ability to cover everything. It might at least buy me a bit of time to get my king involved.
  #92  
Old 01-06-2020, 07:00 AM
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Although my point last time about pawn majorities creating a passed pawn was important, it's interesting that Black's advanced King has changed things in this game.
Black has excellent chances of winning material on the Queen-side (so White's majority soon becomes a minority!), while White can counter-attack on the King-side with his knight.

Dead Cat's analysis of unsuccessfully trying to stop the Black King infiltrating is useful and shows the difficulty of keeping out a piece that can potentially move to eight nearby squares.
Obviously Kings must be protected in the opening and middle game, but they are wonderful in endings (both as attackers and defenders.)

N.B. It is possible to analyse much further ahead in endings (due to fewer pieces on the board and often less powerful ones.)
This is especially true when both sides are attacking on opposite sides and not doing much defending (as is likely here.)
  #93  
Old 01-06-2020, 07:14 AM
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In addition to the advice given so far (which I completely agree with; learn tactics and basic endgames, be aware of opening principles but it's not efficient (or necessary, at amateur level), to memorize whole sets of openings), I can add a few things:

1. Take your defeats seriously. While losing hurts, and the last thing you usually want to do is reminisce over it, it's so valuable to analyze what went wrong. Not only your proximate error, but perhaps some of the other errors that put your back against the wall. Even free accounts on Chess.com can access the game analysis feature.

2. I'm not sure if anyone mentioned strategy as distinct from tactics? Most of the time there will not be a simple fork, skewer etc on the board and you'll be just looking for ways to improve your pieces: advance some piece towards your opponent / center of the board, gain space, block your opponent's advances etc etc. So this is something to learn side by side with tactics. For me I found the program Chessmaster 11 was great for learning basic strategy in an entertaining way -- took me from beginner to about 1500 (my current rating is about 1800).
Thanks for confirming my general advice.

I agree that analysing your games is very valuable (and interestingly players will probably learn more from their defeats than their victories), but it does take time.
I think it's useful to think how much effort you want to put into chess.

I take your point about strategy, which is another vital part of playing well.
I was aiming my remarks at amateur players with limited time to learn. It's relatively easy to learn basic tactics (and fun!) - once you've achieved that, you can build on the knowledge to think about your overall plan (the strategy), which is harder both to define and learn.
Experienced players who also analyse do learn strategy from their experiences. When you've seen certain types of position many times, it becomes quicker to think of the likely strategy.
  #94  
Old 01-06-2020, 07:38 AM
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glee, if you were playing yourself, would you be resigning about now as White, or is it too soon? I'll carry on for at least a few more moves regardless of your answer, as I don't have a chess computer and can't foresee how it will play out, plus the endgame practice is good for me, but I have a feeling this position may be lost for White with perfect play.
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Old 01-06-2020, 12:36 PM
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glee, if you were playing yourself, would you be resigning about now as White, or is it too soon? I'll carry on for at least a few more moves regardless of your answer, as I don't have a chess computer and can't foresee how it will play out, plus the endgame practice is good for me, but I have a feeling this position may be lost for White with perfect play.
I personally would play on as White against anybody for a bit here, because:

- a stronger player would show me their great endgame technique
- I haven't seen a forced win* yet (although Black is indeed much better placed) so against a player about my strength, I would assume they hadn't seen a win either
- a weaker player might not understand the position and let me off with a draw

N.B. This is a training game, so only play on as long as you are learning from it (and enjoying it as well!)

I'm not using a chess computer, but if you like I could get an assessment of the position from one.

*assessing a position is a whole area of chess!
For example, the starting position is slightly better for White - but it's hard to say by how much. Some studies have counted up the results of loads of games between Grandmasters and arrived at an advantage of 55% to White.
Some complicated middle games (especially where both sides are attacking) are likely to end decisively - but it;s hard to say who wins...
In some middle games, one side has an initiative - but it may not be enough to win.
Some endings clearly only have two possible results - a win for one side or a draw.
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Old 01-06-2020, 12:53 PM
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N.B. This is a training game, so only play on as long as you are learning from it (and enjoying it as well!)
No worries there - I'm definitely still enjoying it, and learning. And I really appreciate you freely giving up your time for something I should really be paying for, thanks.

Quote:
I'm not using a chess computer, but if you like I could get an assessment of the position from one.
That might be interesting - my guess is it's around +0.65 for Black at the moment. Which means I'm certainly not ready to give up just yet. I mean, if the idea was for me to resign at the point at which it was very unlikely for me to win, I could have done that at move 1 .
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Old 01-06-2020, 04:03 PM
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No worries there - I'm definitely still enjoying it, and learning.
Most kind.

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And I really appreciate you freely giving up your time for something I should really be paying for, thanks.
It's true that I do charge for face-to-face coaching (as I do a fair amount of preparation for that sort of training.)
But it's good to feel appreciated doing this 'coaching-light' - especially at my age. (Old man voice ON I'm 66 you know! Old man voice OFF)

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That might be interesting - my guess is it's around +0.65 for Black at the moment. Which means I'm certainly not ready to give up just yet. I mean, if the idea was for me to resign at the point at which it was very unlikely for me to win, I could have done that at move 1 .
Well a free chess program gives Black an advantage of +0.47 (i.e. nearly half a pawn.)
That's how I feel - I'm quite likely to win a pawn, due to my advanced King.
The difference between the program and my analysis is that if I win a pawn, I then expect to queen first - and that is a long way ahead. (I'm using my experience of similar positions to decide that, rather than calculating.)
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Old 01-14-2020, 05:29 AM
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Sorry about the delay (not caused by problems!)

This is a key moment in the game and the result could depend on the next few moves.

As I said before, it's possible to analyse some way ahead in endings.
This is most true in King and pawn endings, and King, Knight and pawn endings are the next easiest.
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Old 01-15-2020, 07:14 AM
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It's true that I do charge for face-to-face coaching (as I do a fair amount of preparation for that sort of training.)
But it's good to feel appreciated doing this 'coaching-light' - especially at my age. (Old man voice ON I'm 66 you know! Old man voice OFF)
I understand it's by no means unheard of for chess professionals to charge (perhaps per move) for correspondence games against amateurs, which is effectively what this is. Although I guess now we are firmly in the computer age, maybe there is much less demand for this these days. I think what a lot of people fail to appreciate is it's not just a few minutes of your time for each move, it's the years of training, hard work, and experience, all of which you paid for in some way. Similar to musicians, artists, etc.

Quote:
Well a free chess program gives Black an advantage of +0.47 (i.e. nearly half a pawn.)
That's how I feel - I'm quite likely to win a pawn, due to my advanced King.
The difference between the program and my analysis is that if I win a pawn, I then expect to queen first - and that is a long way ahead. (I'm using my experience of similar positions to decide that, rather than calculating.)
Thanks, delighted I wasn't too far off with my back of the envelope assessment. As you say, it's not so much that I'm worried about you winning a pawn, I might be able to win one back on the other side of the board - but by the time I've manouevred to do that, I probably won't be able to prevent you queening first. It's amazing the power your advanced central pawn is still exerting on the game, even at this stage, and I don't have a similar asset.

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Sorry about the delay (not caused by problems!)

This is a key moment in the game and the result could depend on the next few moves.

As I said before, it's possible to analyse some way ahead in endings.
This is most true in King and pawn endings, and King, Knight and pawn endings are the next easiest.
I have looked at a few lines but I'm not sure exactly what your plan is, so I'm still being mostly reactive. Am I right to be a bit proud of Nd6? It seemed to me to be significantly the best move available to me at the time, but I don't really know. Happy to defer this discussion until after the end of the game, if you prefer.
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:40 PM
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I understand it's by no means unheard of for chess professionals to charge (perhaps per move) for correspondence games against amateurs, which is effectively what this is. Although I guess now we are firmly in the computer age, maybe there is much less demand for this these days. I think what a lot of people fail to appreciate is it's not just a few minutes of your time for each move, it's the years of training, hard work, and experience, all of which you paid for in some way. Similar to musicians, artists, etc.
Much appreciated!

Yes, my moves and comments are based on playing for over 50 years and coaching for over 40. (How time flies...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Cat View Post
Thanks, delighted I wasn't too far off with my back of the envelope assessment. As you say, it's not so much that I'm worried about you winning a pawn, I might be able to win one back on the other side of the board - but by the time I've manouevred to do that, I probably won't be able to prevent you queening first. It's amazing the power your advanced central pawn is still exerting on the game, even at this stage, and I don't have a similar asset.
A fine description of my plan.
This shows the difference between human and computer in analysing chess - I can describe my plan, even though I haven't worked out a precise sequence of moves; the computer can provide massively detailed lists of possibilities (but not 'sum up'.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Cat View Post
I have looked at a few lines but I'm not sure exactly what your plan is, so I'm still being mostly reactive. Am I right to be a bit proud of Nd6? It seemed to me to be significantly the best move available to me at the time, but I don't really know. Happy to defer this discussion until after the end of the game, if you prefer.
My plan is what you implied: 'win a pawn (even if I lose one elsewhere) and queen first.'
Nd6 was the move that concerned me most. You can draw some endings by setting up a 'fortress', but with so many pawns left, it's better to keep active when the opportunity presents itself.

Examples of fortresses:

Queen v Bishop and Knight

White cannot break through. If Black needs a waiting move, Bh8 is available.

Queen versus Rook

Again White cannot break through. If Black needs a waiting move, Rh6 is available.
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