An Experiment in Rapid Chess Improvement

Record of my experience in undertaking Michael de la Maza's "Rapid Chess Improvement" program.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Happy birthday to me!

My birthday was a couple of days ago and my wife got me one of those DGT sensory chess boards. It is a beautiful piece of work. I've not had a chance to try it out yet. I'm hoping it will be good for playing blitz games with OJ since it will record all of our moves. Also, I think it might be fun to let Fritz analyze our weekly games as we play and see what Fritz has to say about our moves immediately after the game...

Saturday, July 23, 2005

2005-07-21: fussylizard vs. OJ: 1-0

I've not done my analysis yet, but this week I came out on top against OJ. He played the accelerated dragon again and varied first from his prior game with black. I quickly got a positional advantage but shortly overlooked an annoying queen check. Instead of moving my king I offered a dubious pawn sacrifice to mix things up, and later OJ allowed a discovery on his queen. After the tactical smoke cleared I had a technically winning position with a queen versus a rook and knight with black having an extra pawn. I played carefully and ground out the win. Overall I was pleased with my play except for overlooking that irritating check (check the checks!).

I'll post the game as soon as I analyze it.

Update 2005-07-26: Game posted

Monday, July 18, 2005

OJ vs fussylizard: 1-0

Sorry for the delay in my report, but I've been busy (who isn't these days?)...

Last Thursday I got to face OJ's new opening with white- the English. Fortunately it transposed into the Queen's Gambit Declined. I remembered some of the theory from Sadler's book, and ended up playing a Lasker's Defense. I worked into a technically won game with an extra pawn and a queenside pawn majority. Unfortunately I had blown through most of my 2 hours of time and ended up resigning in a lost position during the time scramble. Since OJ plays at blitz speed all the time, he was playing full strength while my play dropped dramatically. Even if I had sufficient time, I'm not sure if my current level of technique would have been sufficient to convert it into a win, but I wish I could have tried.

So the good news is I played a solid game. The bad news is that my time management was terrible, so that is an area of improvement. I just have to stop agonizing over so many moves, especially in quiet positions, and just play something reasonable and get on with it. It's that perfectionist in me wreaking havoc with my game.

I don't have much experience playing in closed games or games where slow attacks must be built up (as in last week's accelerated dragon), so I'm actually glad OJ has been steering us from the usual open tactical games we've mostly been playing. I guess his strategy of switching up the openings has been working (I'm .5 out of 2 for our last two games), but I'm learning new stuff and playing reasonably, so I'm having a lot of fun.

Anyway, I'll post the game later. I've finished my own analysis, but I've not yet run the game through Fritz (I always comment first without the computer analysis). Once I do that I'll update my comments (if necessary) and post the game. Last week Fritz didn't tell me anything I didn't already uncover in my own analysis, so I hope that means my analysis is getting better!

Update: Here's our last two games. I made them downloadable per zeon's request. The game described above is the second one on the page.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Return of the Titans, Round 1

I've been doing a bit more travelling, both for business and vacation over the last couple of weeks so I am just now getting around to posting the results of the first game OJ and I have played since he got back from the Philippines. I had white and opened 1.e4 and we went into the accelerated dragon variation of the Sicilian defense. I've never played against this opening before, so it was a lot of fun and great experience. I played quite aggressively, sacrificing a pawn for an attack and pushing my kingside pawns to open up the black king. Unfortunately I overlooked a tactic and lost the initiative (and another pawn). I immediately replied with an exchange sacrifice to open up the black king in a lost position. But then Caissa smiled upon my bold play earlier and I escaped with a perpetual check! Overall an exciting game. You can replay the game with my annotations. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

OJ and I will probably play this coming Thursday, so wish me luck. I can't wait to see what his new white opening is.

I confess I have been a bit lax in my chess study and in keeping up with everyone's blogs. Life has just been super-hectic lately, what can I say...?