Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Who's Afraid Of The Sicilian?

Why do people love playing the Sicilian?

Because it allows for some rather hair-raising combinations like this one.

Daniel Stellwagen v Viswanathan Anand, 2009

What the heck just went on in this game?

Absolute chaos on the board occurred after Anand sac'ed his Queen for 3 rather uncoordinated pieces with his King left uncastled. This game is truly beyond me.

The problem with Sicilians is that quite likely you need to be good at tactics, and some of the gameplay can be on the knife's edge and thus, it is very easy to lose your way.

Take a look at this game. I am White.

Black just played a seemingly innocuous move 1.... Nd7.

This looks like a typical Sicilian formation, right? Yes but....

Incredible as it may seem but Black is totally lost in this position with just that one move. Can you figure out why and what is the critical move White should play after that?

Highlight between the brackets for the answer.

[Black now loses instantly after:
2. exd6 Bxd6 or Qxd6 (doesn't matter)
3. Nxe6!! and Black must lose the Queen+more material to stave off mate]

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who Watches The Watchmen

No, I'm not referring to Alan Moore's graphic novel (nor the movie).

I'm talking of people who crowd around your board when you're playing your game.

Do they have an effect on your play?

Do you feel still continue to play your game as per normal or feel pressured to make a move?

Oddly enough, I find that I play faster with people crowding around my board. This has a tendency to lead to shallow play and calculation mistakes - a rather nefarious poison to my gameplay.

It's certainly given me some food for thought over the next few weeks and a problem (amongst many others) that I definitely need to rectify.

So, how do people cope with players crowding around your board?

Usually, I deliberately avoid eye contact with anyone in the crowd but the aura of "restlessness" of the surrounding can be quite discomforting.

Last night, I drew against the current leader in my group, Ian Dickson in the Norths Club Championship. I'm now trailing him by 1 point and he has a game in hand as well.

Currently I'm on +3-2=2.

I really need to do better. Next week is a bye for me, after which I'm facing Robert Pike.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Find Your Lack Of Faith Disturbing

As you probably might have noticed, the number of blog posts I've put up have been drastically reduced of late.

I'm right now in the middle of a competition:

Current Score: +2-2=1 with a performance rating of 1500 thereabouts.

But I'm not in the least bit concerned about my potential fall in ratings nor my dismal performance.

There's a lot of things to occupy my mind at the moment and unfortunately, chess would have to take a back seat. I've gone back to spending more time with my family, playing computer games and not spending sufficient time practicing chess drills. I admit I've gotten slack about it.

I need to put chess in its right perspective at the moment.

I will continue to update and will still continue with the rest of the competition but I've definitely stopped looking at things like analysing a possible refutation to the 150 Attack in the Pirc Defence (if you know what I mean). :)

(PS: Okay, I've been playing Fallout 3.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Update On Outcome Of Player Who Cheated

Hmmm... this news appears to have escaped my attention (apologies).

Anyway, the young player who was caught cheating in the U1600 tournament at the beginning of the year has been given a 2 year ban by the Australian Chess Federation Council that will last till 31st January 2011.

I think overall, this is a fair and just punishment and I thank the ACF Council for applying a firm hand on the issue and arriving at a sensible decision.

I also hope that the player learns from his mistake and comes back to chess after the ban.