Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Chess Log: 2 More Games From My Hot Streak

As I mentioned in my previous Chess Log post, one of the delightful things about a hot streak in chess is how effortless it feels: I make strong moves and it's as if they were just handed to me, rather than my having had to work.

Note: most of the games I play are 5-0 blitz: 5 minutes allowed per side for the entire game before one forfeits on time. So there's not a lot of time during the game for strenuous mental work. And let's face it: if I spent a lot time working these things out between games, I'd be a much stronger chess player than I am.

We should also keep in mind, especially from the perspective of a weaker player against a stronger one, that it's not always clear whether the weaker player has played uncharacteristically strongly, or whether he has merely been the beneficiary of an uncharacteristic blunder by the stronger player. Which was it in this game? I played Black, White was rated more than 250 points higher than I:

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. ♘f3 e5 4. ♘xe5? ♕a5! 5. c3 ♕xe5 6. ♕xd4 ♕xd4 7. cxd4 ♘c6 8. d5 ♘e5 9. ♗f4 d6 10. ♘c3 ♘f6 11. ♗e2 a6 12. O-O ♗e7 13. ♘a4 ♗d7 14. ♘b6 ♖b8 15. ♖ac1 O-O 16. ♖c7 ♗d8 17. ♗xe5 ♗xc7 18. ♗xf6 ♗xb6 0-1 {White resigns}

Was 4. ♘xe5? an out-and-out blunder, or was 4. ... ♕a5! an especially strong move on my part? (Again, keeping in mind that this was a 5-0 blitz game. In a standard game, instead of 5 minutes, each side has 2 1/2 hours. Assuming an average game is 40 moves long, that's 3 3/4 minutes allotted for an average move. In a 5-0 game, 40 moves comes down to 7 1/2 seconds per move.) In any case, this put me a piece up, and apparently after the 18th move Black decided that I wasn't going to give that advantage back easily, and resigned.

In the following game my opponent and I were ranked about equally. I've played this opponent many times, and to the best of my recollection our record is pretty even. I played White:

1. e4 e5 2. ♘f3 d6 3. d4 f6 4. dxe5 dxe5 5. ♕xd8 ♔xd8 6. ♘xe5 fxe5 7. ♗g5 ♗e7 8. ♗xe7 ♘xe7 9. ♘c3 ♗d7 10. O-O-O ♘bc6 11. ♘b5 a6 12. ♘c3 ♔e8 13. ♗e2 ♖d8 14. g3 ♗e6 15. f4 ♘d4 16. ♗d3 ♘ec6 17. f5 ♗f7 18. g4 ♔d7 19. ♗f1 ♔c8 20. ♗h3 ♖he8 21. g5 h6 22. f6 ♔b8 23. fxg7 ♖g8 24. gxh6 ♗g6 25. ♘d5 ♘e2 26. ♔b1 ♘f4 27. ♘f6 ♖xd1 28. ♖xd1 ♘e7 29. ♗f1 ♖c8 30. ♗c4 ♗h7 31. ♘xh7 ♘g8 32. ♗xg8 ♖xg8 33. ♘f6 1-0 {Black resigns}

After we traded Queens on the 5th move I sacrificed a Knight with 6. ♘xe5, taking that f-Pawn out of the way, as I learned to do from Wikipedia, although usually White still has the Queen when making this sacrifice. In my opinion the key move in this win was 24. gxh6, supporting my Pawn at g7. 9 moves later black apparently thought there was no way left to stop that Pawn, and resigned.

One thing I'm wondering about is: if a player rated 200 or 300 points higher than I had taken over Black's position after my 24th move, would I still have won?

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