Monday, July 26, 2010

Tactics from the Bradley Open

Last weekend we played in the Bradley Open in Windsor Locks, CT. I played in the U1600 section and Richie played in the U1200 section. This tournament was a great opportunity to play long time controls (2 hours for 40 moves + 1 hour for the rest). But after Richie played too fast again in several games, I've basically given up trying to convince him to slow down. I think it's just something he needs to realize on his own after he loses more games to players he feels he could otherwise beat. Still, he managed to win 3.0/5.0 which wasn't too shabby. I only won 2.0 of my games. I had really been looking forward to playing some slow endgames to work on my calculation since I rarely get to think online during endgames (either the result is decided already or there's not enough time to play carefully). Ironically, I blew both close endgames that I managed to reach.

On the bright side, Richie really impressed me with his tactical alertness. Here are two interesting moments that featured themes we had recently practiced.

Position #1.
This first one is pretty elementary once you look around at the whole board. Richie is up material but his opponent has the simple threat of c2 followed by c1=Q. What's the most easiest way for Richie to wrap up the victory?

Highlight below to reveal answer:
Richie played Ba5! Black cannot defend against the double threat to win the pawn and mate on the backrow. Note that Bxf6 is worse because it opens an escape square after gxf.

Position #2
Richie's opponent dropped a pawn early in this game but turned things around by making use of the open lines/diagonals vacated by the lost pawn to launch a severe attack. Richie attempts to hold his position together with duct-tape and string but he senses his imminent demise. The position calls for a major swindle so Richie responds with the mysterious Bc8?!, inviting his opponent to increase the pressure with f6. After all if the position is a win now, it's definitely a win with the pawn on f6 right?

Highlight below to reveal the missed win, and Richie's devastating counter-attack. Had his opponent followed Richie's camp coach's advice to always analyze the forcing moves in the position, he could have found the winning attack or at the very least, discovered uncovered Richie's trap before it was too late:
His opponent misses the forcing line: Bxg7+, BxBg7, Rh3+, Nh2, RxNh2+, f6+, Bf5, Qg7#. Instead the attack on the f-pawn provoked the seemingly strong f6??. How can opening up the diagonal for the bishop bringing the pawn closer to the enemy king be a bad move? No doubt, his opponent counted on something like gxh??, Qg7# or gxf?? Qg7#, or maybe just Bxf6, where he thought Rxf6 would be good enough in view of gxf6? Qg7#.

Instead, after f6??, Richie surprised his opponent with Qxf3!!, after gxQf3 (forced) comes the cute Bh3#.

What impressed me the most about this was the "trapiness" of the move. Richie realizes he's lost but plans this tricky mate with his move Bc8. From the diagrammed position he had to visualize the removal of the pawn on f5, the distraction of the pawn on g2 via queen sac, and the two bishop's mating motif.

Of course we'd prefer to not get into losing positions in the first place, but having the resourcefulness to turn things around by inducing non-obvious blunders is a valuable skill to have as well.


Anthea Jane said...

It has taken a long time for my son to slow down while playing tournament chess, but he has. I think it came naturally as he realized the depth and complexity of positions he thought were simple. I watch him now and I can really see the difference in his level of concentration. I think maybe the thing that helped the most was having him play right alongside me at lots and lots of adult tournaments.

musasha said...

Koji, very impressive. your son i think is becoming a very good chess player. more than that i am impressed with your analysis!,, keep it up both of you. i could not see both moves without spending a lot of time..

Anonymous said...

a question for you, i was wondering if you had any thoughts on how your adult uscf rating comapares to the rating of your son. like do you think 1200 raing scholastically is equal to an adult 1200 rating? i've heard conflicting things on this. given that you played him often you probably have a good sense of his playing stength versus your and they the relative value of your ratings. thx

Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide