Econstudentlog

Four hours of my life

Here’s the link. I was black. I’m currently on the top-100 tactics list on playchess (#68 right now), but you can’t tell that from this game.

Note that the result displayed is of course wrong – the game was a dead draw and draw was agreed. It also was not a 1 minute game (see the post title) – it was a regular tournament game with FIDE rules against a ~1750 Elo opponent. I shared the game using playchess’ game sharing option, because it involves very little work and doesn’t require people who want to view games to have stuff like java, but unfortunately I had to ‘superimpose’ the game on top of a bullet game in order to share the game that way.

Because you often run into the Four Knights Game when playing the Petroff – which I as mentioned before often do, however these days mostly against stronger players where a draw would be acceptable – and because I haven’t actually ever looked seriously at that stuff because I figured it wasn’t anything to be afraid of, I watched this very nice instructional video on the afternoon before the game. Of course all of that analysis was completely useless because my opponent played 1.d4.

As far as I can tell from a very brief computer analysis I did not make any major inaccuracies during this game. Of course a more careful analysis might tell a different story, but I’m not going to spend more time on it than I already have. Unfortunately my opponent did not make any major inaccuracies either. The computer evaluation is around equal – if anything black has a slight edge – at move 18, and it doesn’t change a great deal throughout the rest of the game. Incidentally in case you were wondering the computer agrees with my assessment that it was stronger (~0.35 pawns or so stronger, actually a quite significant difference given the variation in evaluation that this game was subject to overall) to take with the a-pawn on b6 than with the Queen and that this capture overall improves my position. It’s the sort of move that may perhaps make people who know a little bit about chess but not very much confused, because they’ve heard about doubled pawns being weaknesses and so on – in this case the ‘weakness’ can’t really be exploited, I get a half-open file, and the former a-pawn can theoretically end up being exchanged with a c-pawn eyeing the center – a really good trade. Also in general you want the Queen to help control the light squares in a position like this, and taking the knight distracts it from that role and loses time.

The position on its own does not tell the whole story; my opponent got into serious time trouble and I was certainly the only one playing for a win after the knight exchange. My opponent had only 3 minutes left for the last 10 moves before the time control (i.e. at move 30), whereas I had half an hour, and already at move 35 he had only one minute left in a position which was certainly far from completely clear. From a positional point of view I also had no problems justifying playing on as his pawns are fixed on dark squares and my king might (somehow?) be able to invade and get to b3. So I pressed, but ended up having to accept the draw. This was not a surprising outcome as the London system is in general a very solid opening which is quite hard to break (on the other hand it’s also quite difficult to argue that white has any sort of advantage out of this opening, and the unambitious nature of these setups is presumably part of the reason why they are uncommon in top level chess).

Slightly boring games like these do hold some important lessons, but most of what one learns from such games one learns from the mistakes made, and there unfortunately weren’t a lot of those here. I guess you can use it as an example of the level of play you need to master in order to with the black pieces draw an average tournament player (who chooses an unambitious, if solid, opening).

March 11, 2014 - Posted by | Chess

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