Saturday, October 10, 2015

Chess Log: Did I Play A Good Game?

As I have repeatedly assured the readers of this blog, really good chess players, pros, are so much better than I am that I really don't know what they're doing.

Games of the Grandmasters are freely distributed for the public to see, and I've studied some of those games. Can't say I've really understood those games. I'm constantly thinking: why that move and not this one?! And these are annotated games, with notes either by one of the participants or by some other Grandmaster, notes explaining why this move and not that, and I'm talking about being puzzled by moves which are so obvious -- TO GRANDMASTERS -- that it hasn't occurred to the one making notes that someone somewhere might not understand the rationale behind them.

There is one partial exception to this incomprehension of mine: one game which I have been studying and studying and studying, to see whether it's just a matter of time before I understand why those moves were chosen. I've spent far more time looking at this game than any other world-class game, just to see if I can understand it. I feel that I now VAGUELY understand PARTS of this one Grandmaster game. One of 110,000 or 120,000 games published and analyzed in Chess Informant since 1966.

It's game 120 in volume 20 of Chess Informant, Kovács -- Benkő, Debrecen 1975, with notes by Benkő. I chose it in part because it's one of the games in that volume which comes with a diagram, so that partway through the game I could check to make sure I'd moved the pieces correctly until then.

(Yes, "Chess Informant" sounds strange, sort of like "Chess Snitch," but that's the the way the publishers of "Šahovski Informator" in Belgrade printed the periodical's title in English on the cover when they started in the mid-60's, along with translations of the title into Russian, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Swedish, and it's still published today and it's one of the world's most highly-regarded chess publications, and its name is translated into even more languages on the cover now. It pioneered a universal, language-free system of chess notation, and everyone in the English-speaking chess world has gotten used to calling it "Chess Informant," even though "Chess Information" might've been more of a spot-on translation. Hey, their English has always been much better than my Serbo-Croatian.)

All of that by way of introduction to this game, a 5-0 blitz, which I played today, playing Black, and won, against a player rated much higher than I:

1. e4 c5 2. ♘c3 d6 3. g3 ♘c6 4. ♗g2 e5 5. d3 h6 6. f4 exf4 7. ♗xf4 ♘f6 8. ♘ge2 ♗g4 9. h3 ♗xe2 10. ♘xe2 ♕a5 11. ♘c3 ♗e7 12. O-O O-O 13. ♕d2 ♕b6 14. b3 ♘d4 15. a4 a5 16. ♗e3 ♘h7 17. ♗xd4 cxd4 18. ♘b5 ♗g5 19. ♕e2 ♗e3 20. ♔h2 ♘f6 21. ♖f5 ♖fc8 22. ♘a3 ♖c5 23. ♖f3 ♕b4 24. ♘c4 b5 25. ♘xd6 bxa4 26. ♖xa4 ♕d2 27. ♕xd2 ♗xd2 28. ♘c4 ♗c3 29. ♖f1 ♘d7 30. ♖f2 ♘e5 31. ♘b6 ♖a6 32. ♘d5 f6 33. h4 ♘g4 34. ♔g1 ♘xf2 35. ♔xf2 ♗d2 36. ♔f3 ♗e3 37. ♖a2 a4 38. ♘xe3 dxe3 39. ♔xe3 ♖e5 40. b4 g5 41. hxg5 hxg5 42. c4 ♔f8 43. d4 ♖e7 44. d5 ♔e8 45. c5 ♔d8 46. b5 ♖a5 47. ♗f1 f5 48. ♗d3 fxe4 49. ♗xe4 ♖xb5 50. ♖xa4 ♖xc5 51. ♖a8 ♖c8 52. ♖a5 ♖c4 53. d6 ♖exe4 54. ♔d3 ♖ed4 0-1 {White resigns}

The title of this blog post is not a rhetorical question. I don't know whether I played an exceptionally good game or if my opponent played far under his or her usual level, or some of both, or what. We played online. For all I know, my opponent might have been interrupted by other things while playing game or have had to deal with some other hardship. (I hope he or she wasn't driving or something like that. DON'T CHESS AND DRIVE! IT CAN WAIT!)

Somewhere, I read a comment by a Grandmaster about weak players playing "as if they were hyptnotized" when playing someone rated much higher: that is, the weak players often play even substantially worse than they usually do. I knew right away when I read that that it applied to me, and it's one of the solid pieces of advice I've tried to keep in mind: basically, advice just to keep my head, not to panic, and to play my best regardless of my opponent's rating. Used to be, I always looked at my opponent's rating before the game began. Now, sometimes I make a point of not looking at that rating until the game is well underway.

About all I can think of to say about this game, as far as blow-by-blow commentary goes, is that White's Pawn storm beginning in the early 40's intimidated me quite a bit at first, but I told myself to be calm and still play my best game. A chess game ain't over til it's over.

Maybe if I spend many hours analyzing this game I'll understand it about as well as Kovács -- Benkő, Debrecen 1975, haha.

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