Sunday, October 29, 2017

October 2017 Tactical Training: Part 2

Let us wrap up the month of October (and the Halloween Season) with another 4 simple puzzles!

Have fun!

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Queenstown Open 2017 Highlights: Part 1

Barely after IFG 2017 I went for another tournament in October: The Queenstown Open 2017. While I would love to post my analysis of all key games here, schoolwork has once again taken away most of my time. Hence I will satisfy myself by starting off with a miniature for this article.

The following game was played in the first round of the tournament, and shows a beginner's error of exposing the queen too early:

Keep her Majesty Safe!

I will leave y'all to enjoy this short piece for now. Perhaps I will be able to post more interesting games when I have the time to do so in Part 2!

Part 2:

Friday, October 20, 2017

NUS IFG 2017 Post-Mortem: Part 2

Apologies for the recent lack of posts; uni workload has been taking up too much of my time! Today, I will finish up the analysis of my remaining 3 games from IFG 2017, which has been more than a month ago (!).

Round 4: Fire on the long diagonal

Round 4 was where I scored my first and only win with the Black pieces. An anomaly, since in most tournaments I tend to perform better as Black, and score dismal results as White!

Having played against the Black kingside fianchettoed bishop many times while as White, I have had many painful experiences falling prey to tactics along the a1-h8 diagonal. This time, it was a relief to be on the other side of the board, with a fianchettoed bishop of my own spewing fire along the long diagonal.

Which is good unless your opponent has a freeze ray or something

While my opponent blundered on move 24, his position was already worse off by 12. b3, which weakened his c3 pawn and gave me tactical opportunities on the long diagonal.

Lesson learned: When your opponent has a fianchettoed bishop, avoid creating weak pawns in its line of fire!

Round 6: Attack on the kingside… except when it is wrong to do so

Round 5 was a walkover for Board 1, giving me a timely rest. And a much needed one as well, for I was to face stronger opposition in Round 6:

NN vs Checkerboard 5
NUS IFG 2017 (Round 6)
Position after 18. Kh1

On the 17th move I had allowed an exchange on f5, creating doubled pawns but giving me an open g-file and the strong e4 square in return. My original plan was to place my knight on e4 and double my rooks on the g-file, launching a kingside attack

In the actual game, I blundered with the immediate 18… Rg8?, weakening the f7 square. After White proceeded with 19. Ng5 (with Bh5 to follow), Black’s king was the one under attack, and my position quickly fell apart.

But what if I had been more prudent, and did some preparation first with … Bh6 and … Ne4, before placing my rooks on the g-file? Would my kingside plans have paid off?

Let us break down the imbalances in my favour:

  • An open g-file, with the White king directly in the line of fire
  • A strong e4 outpost for the knight to support any kingside operations

During the post-game analysis, my chess acquaintances pointed out factors that work against me:

  • The f7 square is potentially weak, so Black needs to make sure White cannot get any piece in to target it
  • Black’s queen and c6 knight are far away on the other side of the board; to bring them over to join the kingside attack would waste lots of time.
  • White has a bishop pair on the kingside, which complement the pawns in defending critical squares.

So, it seems that my prospects aren’t that great? Here is a post-game analysis of what could possibly happen after 18... Bh6:

Although the kingside attack looked threatening, the results were unclear. On the other hand, my friends pointed out that having my queen on the other wing presented a classic and more viable plan: A queenside minority attack.

It turns out that the good placement of my pieces on the queenside made the minority attack on that wing an excellent plan, and would have given me a long-term positional advantage. Better to have a clear-cut advantage than an unclear, double-edged position where the chances of success isn’t high! Next time, I would do better to read what the board tells me and devise a suitable plan, instead of rashly following the first idea that comes to my mind!

Here is the entire game:

Round 7: A knightly paradise

Round 7 was another lesson on squares, as well as the power which knights unleash in a closed position. Unfortunately for my opponent, he failed to understand this and closed up the position too early, giving my knights a powerful edge in the subsequent struggle.

When they realized that the walls they built couldn't keep the Mexicans out

With that, I wrap up my post-game analysis of IFG 2017. Hope you have learned the same lessons as I did, and thanks for viewing!

Part 1:


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

October 2017 Tactical Training: Part 1

Apologies for the recent delays in posts; school work has taken away whatever spare time I have for article writing. Hence, I will fill in the gaps with a few more easy puzzles:

Have fun!