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New Openings Repertoire

I am currently working on a new openings repertoire! I feel like I need one because in my past several games, I keep getting caught in the opening!

My previous opening played mostly the Scotch Gambit with white and several 1…c4 variations with black. With my new repertoire, I will be sticking with the Scotch Gambit, but with black I will be adapting the Pirc Defense (1…d6). The reason for this being is that the Pirc Defense provides excellent counterplay to virtually every white opening.

As before, I will be using Chess Position Trainer for openings training and repertoire management. However, I will input new positions into the repertoire after every game, so I will learn positions as they appear. Hopefully, this will improve my openings play.

I have completed my twelve circles of problems 121-240 and am now moving on to problems 241-360, which will almost finish CTB’s Stage Two. Also, as you can see, I am about to be accepted into the Knights Errant and I have added the current list of knights on the side of this blog.

Game of the Day

This actually was a game I played yesterday, but I decided to go ahead and post it today. This game was played against Johnnny1 (1175). The reason I posted this game in particular is because I think it shows how I am improving compared to the last game I posted (which can be found in this blog’s first post).

Johnnny1 – Copeland

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bc4 Bg7 4. O-O e6 5. Re1 Ne7 6. c3 O-O 7. d4 d5 8. Bg5 f6

Johnnny1 begins launching an attack on my position possibly hoping to at least win a pawn. However, I spotted 8…f6 as counterplay to his attack.

9. Qb3 fxg5 10. exd5 exd5 11. Bd3 c4

The attack begins!

11…c4 forks his bishop and his queen. However, if you’re following, I do not stop there – I keep attacking the queen.

12. Qb4 Nbc6 13. Qb5 a6 14. Qa4 cxd3 15. Nxg5 Bd7 16. Re3 Nxd4 17. Qd1 Nc2

17…Nc2 was another devastating blow. With my knight, I manage to fork both rooks.

Pretty nifty, huh? 😛

18. Rxd3 Nxa1 19. Na3 Nf5 20. Rxd5 Qe7 21. Nf3 Bc6 22. Rd3 Bxf3 23. Rxf3 Rfe8 24. g3 Qe4 25. Rd3 Rad8??

This and move 26 (Rxd8) were the only obvious blunders I made during the game. With these rather stupid moves, I could have lost both of my rooks. However, Johnnny1 went for my knight instead. This error cost him the game.

26. Rxd8 Rxd8 27. Qxa1 Rd2 28. Qc1 Ne3

With this invincible position, my opponent’s defeat is inevitable. Resistance is futile! 😀

29. fxe3 Qg2# 0-1

I know my opponent probably was a touch weaker than I am, but I believe this game demonstrates my growing skill as a tactician and that the circles could very well be working.

I have finished my eight circles of CTB’s Stage One. It wasn’t that hard, no doubt because I already knew most of the mating patterns and never finished with a score lower than 98% correct. Now moving on to Stage Two I will be continuing with 120 more exercises, but this time I’m going to change my circles up a little bit.

In Stage One I went through four circles standard, then I went through another four circles with the board mirrored alternating between the two each time. This time around I will do six circles standard and another six circles mirrored – so that’s four more circles! Again, I will be alternating between the two to keep things from getting too monotonous or boring.

I’m still waiting to hear from the Knights Errant. Hopefully they’ll get back to me on my join request soon. Until then I’ll keep training along. 😛

Getting Out of Stage One

Now that I’ve started using circles, I’m literally trying to get out of CTB’s Stage One as fast as I can. Why? If you’ll look to the right and see, I already know most – if not all – of the mating patterns. I can solve most of the problems in two to five seconds. Here’s an interesting, though easy, one I’ve been practicing:

In this highly unlikely position, black mates in 1. Please pardon the reversed letter and number markers on the board – I forgot to flip it when I set up the position in Fritz. Most beginners would be tempted to move their pawn to f5. However, most beginners do not know the en passant rule. The correct answer, of course, is Nc3#.

I have been looking over Michael de la Maza’s circle-based study program for some time now and have decided to join (or at least try to join) the Knights Errant. I feel a sense of community would probably bring more encouragement to my training program.

How am I using circles in my study? Man de la Maza suggests a kind of exponential training, but I am going to be doing something a little bit different namely because I have a lot of free time on my hands at the moment. Right now I am actively going through Chess Tactics for Beginners. CTB is divided into five stages, which are then divided into subcategories. My goal is to do eight circles per 120 problems, with half of those circles using CTB’s randomization/mirror features. At that rate, I can do at least one of these smaller circles per day. Once I finish with CTB, I can then move on to CTI and do the same thing.

Also, as instructed by Man de la Maza’s column, I am now practicing with the concentric circles exercise as well as the Knight Vision exercise both at the same time, instead of doing one on one week and doing another the next. I have found these exercises to actually be quite helpful. I’ll probably do both of these exercises everyday throughout the rest of the month.

First Post!

The blog about my quest towards chess improvement and ultimately a blitz (15 + 0) rating of 2000 on PlayChess.de has begun! Be sure to check the About Me page for more detailed information concerning myself, including what software I am using to study.

We’ll begin this blog with a perfect example of why I am on this quest. Today’s game of the day was played against RaduSabin (1270) and perfectly demonstrates why I need to improve my game.

RaduSabin – Copeland

1. e4 c5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. Nh3 Nxe4 4. Ng5 e6

Are you following so far? RaduSabin, in a blind rage to put my king in check, moves his knight to g5. Unfortunately, the only thing I’m paying attention to is the checkmate possibility 5.Bf7# and I miss the fact that he has hung his knight! I make a blunder of my own with 4…e6? >.<!

Oblivious to this, I only discovered it after doing a quick overview of the game. I felt like slamming my head into a brick wall. Regardless, we continued on with development as he blundered again sacrificing his knight for my pawn instead of just Nxe4.

5.Nxf7 Kxf7 6. Qh5+ g6 7. Qf3+ Nf6 8. d3 Bg7 9. Bg5 d5 10. Bb3 Nc6 11. a3 Nd4

I finally begin bringing my tactical weapons into battle.

If you are following this game, you can watch how RaduSabin begins to fall apart.

12. Qd1 h6 13. Bh4 Rf8 14. c3 Nxb3 15. Qxb3 Kg8 16. c4 g5 17. Bg3 Nh5 18. cxd5 Nxg3 19. hxg3 exd5 20. Qxd5+??

So committed to putting me in check, RaduSabin hangs his own queen! I might have missed his knight blunder, but I would have questioned my integrity to have missed this.

20…Qxd5 21. O-O Bxb2 0-1

Suffice to say, the game didn’t last very long after that blunder. After one move and an inevitable rook capture, RaduSabin resigns. This game could have ended a lot sooner had I noticed he had hung his knight, but because of my error I could easily have lost this game with 5.Nxe4.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I will writing it. I’ve got a long way to go!