My chess team -Chess First! Academy-overcame a slow start to post a 5-4 win and collect two match points. With two rounds to go we should make the playoffs.
My young opponent rushed in the opening and gave me his d-pawn for free; then we reached this position where he is losing the f2-pawn.
One pawn is bad enough but two pawns down makes it hard to hold the endgame. Now check out the position later in the game.
Black promoted two queens and mated the white king. Now the match score was 4-4 and Len Molden offered a draw, which would have tied the match 4.5-4.5. His opponent declined and promptly lost his queen. This was the crucial point we needed to win the match 5-4.
One word of caution to online chess players. In the position below black promotes his pawns into two queens. But when you play exclusively online you get sloppy like me last year. I pushed a pawn and mechanically pressed my clock which made it an illegal move. The arbiter gave the game to my opponent and his friends wondered how an NCM-titled player can't promote his pawns!? Hahaha.
So, promote your pawn, grab a queen and place it on the board, then press your clock. It sounds obvious but online the queen appears automatically or you get a prompt before the move is completed. When that becomes a habit you can run into problems over-the-board.
The obvious solution is to play more over-the-board chess.
I spent some time this Saturday preparing for Sunday's rapid chess league. I have to play a minimum 7 games to qualify for playoff action.
So let's take a look.
Black has just played 1. ...Bb7 and your puzzle rush junkie chess coach knew what to do. Do you?
White to play
It's always more fun to attack than defend. The key here is to go after your target: the black king. Examine the position and know that this is NOT a good moment to worry about material balance. Attack bravely and get bonus points for seeing deeper.
White to play
27. Bxg6! (There is no time to waste because Black is ready to play Rc1. Attack bravely.) fxg6 28. Qxg6+ (Very sloppy, 28. Qe7 and mate next on g7) Kf8 29. Ng5 Ke7 30. Qg7+ (Sloppy: 30. Qf7 + Kd8 31. Nxe6#) Kd8 31. Nxe6+ Ke8 32. h7 Nf8 33. h8=Q Rc1 34. Qhxf8# 1-0
This is the final position with White achieving the dream doubled rooks on the seventh rank. Note how helpless black is.
The five keys below were openly "stolen" from a blog by IM Jeremy Silman on chess.com. I liked them so much, I had to share.
Many chess players play for fun but if you want to get a higher rating or a chess title, you will have to put in some hard work. The 5 keys below will get you started.
1. Play opponents better than you.
Sometimes it hurts when you get beat up but that's how you learn. Once in a while I get lucky online and a strong titled player plays several games against me. I get crushed but I keep on playing.
2. Learn basic endgames
GM Jonathan Hawkins published a great book called "From Amateur to IM" and in it he shows how studying the endgame helped him get to IM. You must know the basics.
3. Create a simple opening plan.
It can be very simple. For example, after 1.d4 I often play Bg5, this works after d5, f5, d6, Nf6, g6, etc.
Against the Sicilian you can play Bb5 or 2.c3.
4. Study tactics
If you're a regular reader of this blog you will know that I firmly believe in this point. You must practice tactics because they will win you games or save you from losses. Chess.com's new Tactics Rush is a fun way to test your tactics level. You get 5 minutes to solve as many puzzles as you can; three mistakes and you're out.
5. Pick up tons of patterns.
Examples coming later.
Let's take a look at a basic endgame from the 2018 World Chess Championship. Black has a dangerous passed c pawn but White neatly solves the problem.
1. ...gxf5 2. Nxc4 Kxc4 3. exf5 and it's a draw. You can also sacrifice your knight if you know that:
White will park his King on h1 because Black's dark bishop doesn't control that square; and promoting the h pawn is impossible without creating a stalemate.
See how easy it is when you know the basics? Good luck with your chess in 2019.
This position is from my rapid game. It was past midnight on the West Coast but crushing positions like this are easy to win. What I want you to do is notice the basic elements.
White is clearly winning: he has the bishop pair on open diagonals, both rooks are on open files and the king is safe. Black's king is stuck in the middle of the board and his knights are pinned.
These are basic elements for you to master: things to achieve and things to avoid. I wish you lots of wins in 2019.
One huge key to playing better chess is playing against stronger opponents. Sure, you will get beat up but that's the best way to improve. Playing against weaker opponents will only improve your ego.
When I play online chess at ICC, I hang out in the random pools, 3 0, 5 0, and 15 0 where you are guaranteed to face titled opponents. I know it's a bit scary but it's the best way to improve. If you're like me, you will probably destroy the odd mouse as you sweat your way through the games.
And getting a titled scalp feels great! See my game below.
[Event "ICC 3 0"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[White "(IM) Alfonso Almeida"]
[Black "(NCM) Vas Sladek"]
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. h5
Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 Ngf6 11. Bf4 e6 12. O-O-O Be7 13. Kb1 O-O 14. Rhe1 Re8
15. Qb3 Qb6 16. Qxb6 axb6 17. Be5 b5 18. Bxf6 Nxf6 19. c3 Rad8 20. a3 Bd6 21.
Ne5 Nd5 22. Ne4 Bc7 23. g3 Nf6 24. Nxf6+ gxf6 25. Ng4 Kg7 26. f4 Rd5 27. Rh1 f5
28. Ne3 Rdd8 29. Kc2 Kh7 30. Rh3 Rg8 31. Nf1 Rg7 32. Rd3 Rdg8 33. Rf3 Rg4 34.
Kd3 R4g7 35. Ke2 Rd8 36. Rd3 Kg8 37. Nd2 Kf8 38. Nf3 Ke7 39. Ne5 Bxe5 40. fxe5
Rg5 41. Rh4 Rdg8 42. Kf2 Rg4 43. Rxg4 Rxg4 44. Kf3 Rg5 45. Rd2 Rxh5 46. Rg2 f6
47. exf6+ Kxf6 48. Re2 Rh3 49. Kg2 Rh5 50. b3 Rg5 51. Kf3 h5 52. a4 bxa4 53.
bxa4 Rg4 54. Rb2 h4 55. gxh4 Rxh4 56. Rb3 Rh3+ 57. Ke2 Rh7 58. a5 e5 59. dxe5+
Kxe5 60. Rb4 Kd5 61. Ke3 Ke5 62. Rc4 Rh3+ 63. Kd2 Kd5 64. Rb4 Rh7 65. Rf4 Ke5
66. Ra4 Rh2+ 67. Ke3 c5 68. a6 Rh3+ 69. Kd2 bxa6 70. Rxa6 Rh2+ 71. Kd3 Rh3+ 72.
Kc4 Rf3 73. Rc6 Kf4 74. Rxc5 Kg4 75. Kd4 Rf1 76. Rc8 Rd1+ 77. Ke3 Re1+ 78. Kd2
If you need help, please check out the affiliate link below. It will help you in your quest to defeat titled players.
This was another dynamic Trompowsky game. When black resigned he was four pawns up. view.chessbase.com/cbreader/2019/1/7/Game262650640.html
[Event "Little Big Pawn! vs Chess Canadian - Boa"]
[White "NCM Vas Sladek"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 Ne4 3. h4 c5 4. d5 Qb6 5. Nd2 Nxd2 6. Bxd2 Qxb2 7. Nf3 g6 8.
e4 Bg7 9. Rb1 Qxa2 10. Be2 d6 11. h5 f5 12. Bb5+ Kf8 13. Bg5 fxe4 14. Nh4 Bg4
15. f3 exf3 16. O-O Bd4+ 17. Kh1 Qxd5 18. Nxf3 Bxf3 19. Bh6+ Kg8 20. Qxf3 Qxf3
21. Rxf3 $18 Nc6 22. Bc4+ 1-0
Black to move but it's over because black can't cover two mates, Rf8 # and Bc4 +-. Black resigned after 1. ...Nc6 2. Bc4 +-
Position after 13. Bg5?
White had a better move. Can you find it? And the follow up moves?
Answer: 13. h6 Bf6 14.e5! dxe5 15. Bc3 threatening to win the Queen with Ra1.
With the Queens still on the board it was looking very bad but I kept fighting. And now we have a nice fortress. White can't allow penetration through e4 so the knight will move e2-c1.
Black will lose if he goes after the h2 pawn. 1. Nc1 Bg1 2.Ne2 Bxh2 3. Ke3 +-
Don't give up if you get a worse endgame. You might get to build a fortress.
Stage 1: King activation in the endgame is a critical task for both players. Note how the White king gets moving quickly while Black gets preoccupied with piece play.
Stage 2: This was a fast 2 1 bullet game so it helped to have a clear plan: attack the queen side while the black king is still far away. Black is in trouble here.
Stage 3: So the black king made it over but it's too late. White is following a familiar script here. Abandon the passed a7 pawn and feast on the King side pawns. Black is losing here.
Stage 4: It's over. White will pick-up all remaining black pawns and get three Queens.
Lesson: don't forget to activate your King in the endgame so you can attack or defend better. Black was slow in this game and he paid for it.
(Stage 1) 28. Ke2 Nd7 29. b4 Ne5 30. Kd1 Nc4 31. Nc2 Nb2+ 32. Kd2 Nc4+
33. Kd3 Bf5+ 34. e4 dxe4+ 35. Bxe4 Bxe4+ 36. Kxe4 (Stage 2) Nd2+ 37. Kd5 Kf8 38. Kc6 Nc4
39. Kd5 Nd2 40. Kc6 Nc4 41. Kb7 a5 42. bxa5 bxa5 43. Kc6 Ke7 44. Kb5 Nd6+ 45.
Kxa5 Ne4 46. f3 Nc3 47. Kb4 Nd1 48. a4 Kd7 49. Kb5 Kc7 50. a5 Kb7 51. a6+ Ka7
52. Nb4 Nc3+ 53. Ka5 Nd5 54. Nc6+ Ka8 55. Kb5 Nc7+ 56. Kb6 Nd5+ 57. Kc5 Nc7 58.
a7 g6 59. Kd6 (Stage 3) Nb5+ 60. Ke7 Nxa7 61. Nxa7 Kxa7 (Stage 4) 62. Kxf7 g5 63. Kg6 h5 64. Kxh5
g4 65. hxg4 Kb6 66. g5 Kc7 67. g6 Kd7 68. g7 Ke6 69. g8=Q+ Kf6 70. Qg5+ Ke6 71.
g4 Kd6 72. Qf5 Ke7 73. Qg6 Kf8 74. Qh7 Ke8 75. Qg7 Kd8 76. Qf7 Kc8 77. Qe7 Kb8
78. Qd7 Ka8 79. g5 Kb8 80. g6 Ka8 81. g7 Kb8 82. g8=R# 1-0
Check out the position below. Black is up an exchange and winning. What does he play?
Black to move
Easy? Of course it is. 1. ...Rc2! Black gives the exchange back and creates a huge passed pawn since White has to take the rook. Don't be afraid to give the exchange back to your opponents when it makes sense. 2. Bxc2 bxc2 3.Qg4 Qb1 and Black got a second queen. 0-1.
NCM Vas Sladek
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