Sunday, April 03, 2011

Last Round Blues

I had a pretty solid performance in San Antonio a couple of weeks ago.

Round 1 White against NM JAMES V ROHRBAUGH (2200) Draw

The last time I played James was way back in 1999 at the TEXAS ACTION CHAMPIONSHIP. Looks like I had a pretty solid performance there too. 
We both felt that in this even position, playing for a win involved risk that we were not willing to accept. I offered the draw after my last move f4, and James accepted. I had ideas of a rook lift or g4 (after moving the King to the h-file of course)

Round 2 Black against MITCHELL VERGARA (2117) Draw

Mitch was playing 2 boards from me in round 1, and I noticed that he took 39 min. on one move.  I remember thinking to myself when I was paired against him that all I have to do is get him to do that a couple of times and I could easily win on time.

Mitch dropped a pawn out of the opening and I had a dominating position, but I could not bring home the full point.
After reaching time control (30 moves in 90 min then G/60) Mitch took more than 30 min. to play Nxe5. I took my time and am proud to have come up with the best move Qd6.  The other line is 31...Rxe5 32.Qxd3 cxd3 33.Rxc6 which looks good for Black, but Rybka likes Qd6 better.

Round 3 White against GREGG STANLEY(2053) Draw 
In this complex position Gregg offered a draw with about 90 sec. left on his clock to make 10 moves. I had about 15 min.
The gambler in me wanted to play on, but I took too long to decide and in the end took the draw. 
The move I was looking at was Qb6.

Round 4 Black against MARTIN D GORDON (1965) Loss

I felt invincible going into the last round. Although Martin is rated higher, he would be the lowest rated player I would face.  Confidence is great thing, but over confidence will usually get you in trouble.  I would normally never play a move like 5..h5

Too much Rybka analysis is also to blame. Computers grab dangerous pawns and keep them.  It not that easy for us humans to do the same. The move that sent my position towards a loss was the pawn grab.  19...Bxa3. (18...Bxa3 is ok.)

I was analyzing the game with the tournament winner ERNESTO L MALAZARTE (2177). He said he preffered my position before move 18. He scolded me for not getting my K-side pieces out before opening up the position.

A last round win would have given me a 1947 rating. A draw 1927. Hey you know what they say, what ever won't kill you will make you stronger.


  1. I can't see why you are not rated over 2000

  2. Game #1, in your situation, I am definitely playing for winning chances there as White with the immediate g4 (and would be sorta expecting to land into a winning position soon, whether I blow it or not).

    Game #2, looks like an interesting move and position, dynamically equal I guess one could say. Although practical-chance wise, I'd much rather have your position as Black with that pawn on the outside.

    Game #3, 90 seconds for 10 moves against your 15 minutes, this should be a sure win for you, and I am saying this as a guy who was won games making 20 moves in a couple of minutes. Just castle, and then make moves like Nb1-c3-a4-b6. You can get a 'lock-down' position, and Black would be lucky to not have tossed in a blunder by then, and if you got that position and didn't win a pawn or endgame or something, I would be surprised.

    Game 4, yes castle earlier, I didn't like the look of ..Bxa3. 23...Bg6 looked horrible. I would have played 23..BxNe2, 24.NxB BxB, 25.NxB Nh6, when you are still looking to castle on next move, rather late in the game. I never saw your piece getting trapped, but instinctively I knew to trade off before getting to that point. That should have been your "draw" game.

    I like the Caro-Kahn defense for Black, but it's not known as an opening to get a 'must-win' with, draw is fine there.

    It sounds like you were playing the ratings-points game for draws, as the positions seemed to factor in the players ratings rather than the actual board-situation.

    Accepting or offering draws quickly becomes a bad habit, IMHO. There is more of a work-load to chess; I would expect to get a winning position here and there in your games, but perhaps one or two opponents are so strong that they can rescue back a draw, but not draw just because it's still a game and looks like Rybka could defend.

    That was a great chance to make 2000. It would boggle my mind if you didn't get winning positions in those two games had you not accepted the draw. Then maybe you get a stronger player in the final round and can simply focus on playing solid, aiming for the draw first.

  3. Looks like a really solid performance from you, Ivan.

    I am baffled why you think that game one is an equal position. My sense is that the stronger player would never have accepted the draw had he been white here. Maybe black can hold the position but there's almost no risk for white to play for a win by activating the rooks. Your pieces are much more active. Where's the killer instinct!?

    The game that is most surprising is game three. A draw offer with 90 seconds on the clock with ten minutes to go is a a desperate psychological ploy. He realized he had a strong probability of losing so he is playing on your desire to gain points from a higher rated opponent. I don't blame you for cashing in but it wasn't the best choice for your chess development.

    It seems like your chess has improved quite a bit since I last looked over your games and I believe you will get to 2000. It sounds obvious but treat all your opponents with the same respect. Avoiding some of the careless losses against weaker players will go a long way.

    Keep up the great work. Still following your blog after several years!

  4. Steve,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Unfortunately I have not been able to play much.

    I plan to play in the US Open.

    Where do you live?