Monday, January 30, 2006

Corus in retrospect.

The Corus tournament is always the main event we look forward to.
Every year we go with 10-15 men from our club to Wijk aan Zee.
The whole village breathes chess. The last few hundred meters you have to drive careful because chessplayers jump before your car, deep in thoughts.
Playing with 700 persons in one hall is a hard to describe experience.
The athmosphere seems to exhale chess vibes and the smell of pea soup.
If you go to the bathroom you fall in a discussion about the advantages of bishop a6.
Before the first game there is a lot of handshaking to all those old opponents you played in previous years. You play with 10 persons of the same level in a 9 round robin. Playing nine days in the same group develops chess bonds between persons that last ever since.
After the game there is the "straffe Hendrik" and other strong beers and a lot of laughter. You are in a different world. It is really vacation.

I was with 1712 the lowest rated player in my group (1712-1795). Except for a lad who had 1626 and who was promoted last year. He managed to lose ALL his 9 games (!).
With 5 out of 9 and a TPR of 1770 (Tournament Performance Rating) I did a good job.
I will gain about 20 ratingpoints, and I'm rather satisfied.

About the games.
I was very keen this year to know what costed me points. So I have allready a clear picture of what happened.
3 wins
4 draws
2 losses

The wins.
The wins are very clear. I overplayed the opponents tactically.

The losses.
The losses are also clear. In one game I had 3 tactical oversights in a row and my position collapsed. In the other game I first blundered a knight away. Allthough I was still better (!) I oversaw a mate in one against my king a few minutes later.
Blunders come in waves.

The draws.
So what about the draws?
I have never been in real time trouble.
This is the list of sacrifes in my games:
Pawns: 6
Exchange: 1
Bishop: 3
Knight: 3
Rook: 1
I didn't lose a single point due to a sacrifice.
So I would say that I'm able to enhance my play with sacrifices without bad repercussions. Have a look at the article of GM Aviv Friedman about amateurs who should make more sacrifices as common practice.
The sacrifices gave me the initiative and an attack. No matter if I have black or white.
During plan A all chances are for me.
Plan A is "hunt down the king".
But in 4 cases I didn't manage to bring plan A to a good end.
In these cases I had to step over to plan B.
The moment an attack dries out, there is almost always the possibility to convert the initiative and get back the invested pawns and such.
But I have no plan B!
Plan B should be the liquidation to a favourable endgame.
Since I have no idea which endgames are favourable I liquidate to a drawish (or any. . .) endgame. Hence the 4 draws. Ok, of course I know the common rules of isolated pawns, pawn islands etc., but I have no idea in what direction to steer. Should I keep a knight or a bishop? Do I have to trade rooks or should I avoid it?
So I try to steer towards a draw, being in fright and awe when my opponent still tries to win.

My conclusion for now is:
With endgame knowledge and skills I could have tried to get the 2 points I didn't get due to the 4 draws.
With more simple tactical skills I could avoid the oversights and blunders which costed me 2 points.
So I have to divide my time between 50% tactics and 50% endgame.
The method I use for tactical training (with flashcards, spaced repetition and visualisation) is equally suited for endgame training. And that is what I'm going to do.
I allready started this in the past, but my analysis of my bad performance at Whitsuntide put this in the fridge. Now it's time to pick it up again.

Most of my games were exciting. In this game I punish a materialistic Pirc player with a home made attack. A few sacrifices sealed the deal. I'm proud of it.


  1. Congrats! Good result and great description of the event. I wish we'd have such tournaments near by...

    Your 9th round game was very entertaining. If I had been Black I would have resigned after 29.Qxh7.

    - bahus

  2. One more thing.. I agree fully with your point of aggressive play. Have you checked any of the Topalev's games from Corus?

    It looks a lot like chess, but the rules are slightly different. In this new variant, Topachess (tm), the rooks are worth slightly less than knights, which are worth slightly less than bishops. On the Lasker scale this would mean a rook is worth around two and three-quarter pawns. At least it would in normal chess, but in Topachess (tm) the pawns aren't worth much either and should be sacrificed early and often.

    (Mig Greengard, ChessBase)

    - bahus

  3. Congrats on not only the great result, but in the manner in which you achieved it (sacs galore)!

  4. Nice job!
    The whole experience sounds like a party. Did you get to watch any of the GM games?

  5. How about your rating you refer to? Is it national? or FIDE? Either way, it is a very nice official rating. How long did it take you to get to 1700?

  6. Bahus and Sancho,

    I was so busy with the games in my group and the games of my chess friends that I haven't paid much attention to the grandmasters. I heard that Topolov got the public price for two exchange sacrifices in one game.

  7. Edwin,
    it is the dutch national rating.
    When I started 8 years ago I got a rating of 1528. I hadn't played for 20 years. In my youth I had played some scholastic chess. The first 3 years I studied a lot, but didn't improve. Than I started tactics training and gained ca. 200 points in 2.5 years. Now I'm improving at a slow pace.

  8. congratulations tempo..
    (in japanese - omedetou gozaimasu.. =>)

    The pirc sacrifice was good. i think your eyes widened a couple of time during this game when you spotted the sacrifices..

  9. Well played Game with Nice Annotations. It sounds like we may see the return of secret of pawn endings blogs. Also nice to see that Nezha is still following along. It's nice to see your hard work has paid off.

  10. Nezha,

    being on a diet of bazillions sacrifices a day I spotted them quite automatically. I had to fight to the lazy option of eternal check though.
    It took me 25 minutes for the first and 20 minutes for the second sacrifice to check all possible answers. What complicated matters was that it was the last game in a row so I was tired plus my head was not clear since my immune system was adapting to the latest viruses. Since we have no children we depend on tournaments for an update to the latest mutants:)

  11. Takchess,
    thanks for the cheering.
    I haven't been in trouble in a single game. I had the initiative in every game. Only blunders in two games costed me points. I'm glad I can pick up endgames again. Though there is still some work to do against blundering. If I can become as good in plan B as I am allready in plan A, I will make a major jump forwards. I allready started with the repetition of chapter 1 of SOPE (secrets of pawn endings). Boy, I enjoy that!