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Subject: My breakthrough in chess rss

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Ludvig Bowallius
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Alright, I had a few nasty run ins with chess in my early years. I played with friends, classmates and on one occassion my grandfather, but I never really understood the game, no that's not true, I understood the different rules but I could never get the gist of the tactics, resulting in me always getting FLOORED! I was still pretty positive though, and on occassion as I saw the game I wanted to pick it out and I had this constant nemesis in school that on every occassion we saw a chessboard decided to hammer me with his Rooks, hidden bishops and different pins. I still do not know the move for when the king changes position with the rook, but at the time he used it effectively while I never saw the use for it.

And so, about ten years later, I had bought a minichess with magnetic pieces and I sat with my good friend Max on a coffeshop. I still knew as little about chesstheory and had actually played against Max on several occassions. Now as we pulled out the pieces I decided that I would try for the first time to try to have a strategic "plan".

It began poorly, I did not know how to move my pawns in the beginning, and I remember he immediately sacrificed his d-pawn so he could immediately move out his Queen that would then massacre my defences and that quickly led to a bitter defeat. However, I had done something this game that I had never done before, I had written the game down with classic chess notation and I took this game to heart, and as we parted that day, I had plans on revenge in my mind.

During the following week I studied the game, but I still could not see the real meaning of the moves. WHY should I move the e-pawn, why move the Rook and the king like that? I started to read through my library's books on chesstheory, beginning with the most basic ones and then moving to more case-specifics (I now realised that most of my chess-playing friends had never even heard about the "en-passant" move). But it wasn't untill I encountered the book "samurai-chess" by Raymond Keene that I got an epifany of sorts. It all became crystal as I saw the why's of the different moves, each piece's individual value, the meaning of the openings and how to form a gameplan. The analysis of my and Max's previous game became clear and I now thougt that I had a better chance of playing him, for by the time I had studied this, we would set a meeting on the same coffeshop, and of course I brought the same magnetic chessboard. We set up the game and Max had little expectations as he expected a rerun and to be fair so did I.

Ludde (white) VS Max (black): Payback Time

1. e4 d5
2. exd5 Qxd5

This is the exact opening as our previous encounter and now Max has his queen in play.

3. c4 Qe5+
4. Be2 Be6

I threaten Max's queen while evolving my cpawn. Max tries to check me which I use to evolve my bishop. It seems he is threatening my cpawn while I apparently have nothing in the pipeline.

5. Nf3 Qc5
6. O-O Bxc4
7. Bxc4 Qxc4

Now I have lost a pawn, but as you shall see, Max has left his queen recklessly close to my own base.

8. d3 Qb5
9. Nc3 Qb6

Now Max loses precious time as he makes weak moves to defend his queen while I move up my attacking pieces continously winning tempo.

10. Qa4+ Nc6
11. Nb5 O-O-O
12. Be3

I had an idea of attacking with the knight on c7 once my pieces were more advanced and possibly resulting in a fork, but the O-O-O made that move useless. Therefore I made the Le3 move just to see what Max would do with his Queen. As I saw it, he could only do ONE reasonable move, and all the chesstheory I had read stated that that was almost always a bad thing.

12. ... Qa6

He does exactly that move.

13. Qg4+ e6

I once again attack with my Queen, always wanting to be the attacker and Max responds in the only way he can. I now see a plan to attack Max's left wing via the weakly defended e6 square. But to do this, I put myself at some risk as I sacrifice some tempo.

14. Nbd4 Qxd3

I thought my knight was very undefended, but I did not see the black Queen close in on my defenses, altough I did not see this as a serious threat.

15. Ng5 Nxd4

Black continues to take the attackopportunities he can as I now cut him some slack, but I am convinced my attack plan with my Queen and knight will go through.

16. Nxf7 Ne2+

While my plan enters its first stage, and I only need ONE more move to set it in full motion, it gets interrupted by a small annoying knight move which checks my king. It is, however, easily dodged as it really isn't a threat at all.

17. Kh1 Rd4??

I did not see the use for this move at all as there are a hundred ways for me to counter it and keep qualíty. I guess it was to threat my queen, but this move actually make my original plan even easier than I first imagined it to be.

18. Qxe6+ Rd7

The whole plan was to get the queen to e6 which was postponed due to Black attacking my king. I am not out of the woods yet though, as black is still defending the d - line with his queen.

19. Rad1 Qb5

I finally lure away the queen and can nail the coup de grace.

20. Qe8+

And Black surrenders as it would be followed by 20. ... Rd8 21. Qxd8#

After the game

Max was pretty thunderstruck by me playing this kind of game and thought it was lightyears away from my previous performance. As we kept playing, I just got better and better at beating him. The key to getting better was to write down the games and analyze them, and this can also be tons of fun. I still remember how fun it was to actually get the gist of chess. Now I haven't played in awhile but I have started to read the theories again and am thinking about facing opponents on the net or maybe look up a chessclub.

My other session report on chess was an even greater success against an even older rival that I took a rematch against, seven years after our last encounter.
 
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Krishna Sampath
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Great session report, Ludvig. One question -- I'm somewhat confused by this sequence of moves:
9. Nc3 Qb6
10. Qa4+ Nc6
11. Nb5 O-O-O
12. Be3 Qb6

In move 9, Max moved Qb6, so how did he move there again two moves later?

I believe you meant to write Qa6, given that move 14 was:
14. Nd4 Qxd3

If he took the d3 pawn with his Queen, surely he must have had his Queen on a6?

Thanks for a wonderful session report. It inspires me to take my own coffeeshop play with my friends a bit more seriously, too. I think I'll try your technique of notating a game and deconstructing it, next time I play.

-K
 
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Ludvig Bowallius
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You were right of course, I changed it to a6. Thank You for the praise, I do like to have a personal connection to chess, unfortunately I have trouble to play it when I do not feel the emotional link to the game, hopefully that will let go soon. You should note that if you analyse the denotated games after you play them and your opponents don't you will feel that you will get better fast, but you might read down to much in how an opponent played last game so you will lose big if they change strategy next time.
 
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David Bush
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I'm always glad to see a session report which actually lists the moves. Nice attack! BTW your move 14 should be listed as Nbd4 to distinguish it from Nfd4. Yes, black's 17. ...Rd4 was horrible. Instead, Re8 would have made things more difficult for you.

I agree that chess can be a very emotional game. Sometimes the emotions can be overwhelming. Some players feel their own sense of self-worth is tied up with their game results. I've had that problem often enough. It's good to take a step back after a defeat and use the experience as a learning tool. Studying your own losses is one of the best ways to improve, as your report clearly shows.

If you are interested in more chess literature, there are lots of great books as well as godawful ones. Here are three that have helped me a lot:

"The Art of Defense in Chess" by Andy Soltis
"The Inner Game of Chess" by Andy Soltis
"Practical Chess Endings" by Paul Keres

A book of puzzles is probably a good idea also. I have a hardback "The Encyclopedia of Chess Middlegames: Combinations" but there are lots of less expensive alternatives.

I DON'T recommend you study the openings in any depth at this stage. Better to gain the experience first which will help you understand the principles behind the popular opening systems.
 
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Ludvig Bowallius
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Thank you once again for the praise, good god this must be the best session report I have ever written, I can't remember getting so fast responses (that are so positive!) ever! But fact remains that chess (like many other games I reckon) can be very emotional and this game was a very great breakthrough for me as a chess player as it listed my true potential after years of bitter defeats and it is amazing how much my game developed after this single game.

I will seriously investigate those books you listed, but I must still stress that the single book that made me entusiastic about chess still is "samurai chess" by Raymond Keene that also takes up some aspects outside the chessboard that can make you good (such as physical training and meditation). It might not be as "on the deep" as the books you mentioned, but man is it inspiring!

Also, about openings: Presently I tend to stick with e4 as it is a solid move and after that just play it by ear. I really do not have much experience against many different openings but I think I agree with your reasoning that I should evolve on other levels first. Right now I want to get better on the endgame, I have a cool game that takes up the endgameaspect that I will make a session report of later, but I think that it is hard to see the potential "pawnthreats" in the late part of the game.

And once again, thanks for the input, it makes it even more inspiring and I am now even more looking forward to my "return" into the game, must get into contact with Max once again regarding chess!
 
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Czech Mate
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Your postings stirred me as well. I too played a bit of chess
in my younger years, having learned from my father (who immediately
stopped playing me the first time I beat him).

I played many games throughout high-school.

Years later, I managed to play against an old friend from
school. He apparently had been playing over the years,
where-as I had left the game behind.
After losing pretty badly to the ol'friend, I decided
to "get back into it".
I bought Chessmaster 10th Edition for the computer. The tutorials
in that program are well worth it. I also bought two books by Max
Euwe and Hans Kramer:
The Middlegame book One, and The Middlegame Book Two.
I always felt that while I knew some openings, I lacked
initiative when it came to the meat of the game. Especially
when development of the opening ended without much positional
compromise for either player.

I must tell you, between the Computer Program (dare I mention
it on a board-game site?!?) and the books, I learned tons about
what to do and when to do it (as well as what not to do). All of
this study brought back my love for the game from long ago.

The next time I played the chap from school, he lost handily.
And, for some reason, we have not played since.

Thanks for the memories!
mike.
 
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