Monday, 4 July 2011

It's a knockout!

"And... ha, ha, hah! Here come the Hebdens!"
The summer knockout competitions have begun. Huzzah! Well, perhaps that much enthusiasm is not quite warranted but if these contests don't give us the chance to dress up in huge and cunbersome rubber costumes then they do at least allow some of us to keep our little grey cells ticking over during the long summer months without league competition.

For those who don’t know, the main point of interest in both the team and individual knockout contests is that they are played using a time handicap system. Basically you calculate the difference in grades between the two players and add that number to the weaker players’ clock and take the same amount of time off the stronger player. This gives the weaker players some hope of causing an upset but it does therefore also have the disadvantage of not being much of an incentive for stronger players to take part even though the games aren’t graded.

Last Monday night Hebden Bridge ‘A’ began their campaign and also began to adjust to life without Dave Wedge on board 1. They travelled to Todmorden where their hosts had put out a fairly weak team and that meant that Hebden were giving away a lot of time on most of the boards. Despite that, they still managed to produce a win, albeit by the narrowest possible margin as Alastair Wright finally vanquished the spirited challenge of Chris Edwards on board 2 at 10.45pm in the dramatic denouement below.

This anxious finale was preceded by a mixed bag of results. On the down side poor old Steve Priest was forced to play with only 10 minutes on his clock on board 5 and although he won his opponent’s queen he ran out of time before he could win the game. Meanwhile on board 1 Dave Shapland was having a disaster against Paul Edwards. Dave didn’t lose a game with Black all season in the league but in this game he got caught out in the opening and got a terrible position. Paul converted the full point very efficiently without much need for the extra time his clock afforded him.

Hebden won on boards 3 and 4 to level the score and set up the nail biting climax to the fixture. Nick Sykes and Josh Blinkhorn both won comfortably. Nick’s effort in particular was smoothly impressive.

The final scorecard for the match then was:

Todmorden ‘A’ vs Hebden Bridge ‘A’
P.Edwards 1 – 0 D.Shapland
C.Edwards 0 – 1 A.Wright
M.Huett 0 – 1 N.Sykes
J.P.Ellis 0 – 1 J.Blinkhorn
B.Joyce 1 – 0 S.Priest
2 – 3

The individual competition has also started. Unfortunately the Calderdale League website doesn’t seem to have any of the results displayed as yet but fortunately for our readers one of our members has kindly sent me his game from the first round to share with you. Pete Leonard was unlucky enough to draw Halifax’s top player Darwin Ursal in round 1 but the difference in points between them meant that Pete was able to put his illustrious opponent under pressure. I’ll let him take up the story.

If I get drawn against Darwin in the first round of a third tournament, I shall know the draw's been fixed! (Pete also played Darwin in round 1 of the recent Spanish thematic tournament at the club – Ed.) We actually had a very close game, spoiled by me missing a fork but redeemed by my struggling on ‘til time pressure proved too much and he offered me a draw. I have been estimated a very generous grading (for handicap purposes) of 112, which gave me 2 hours 31 minutes to his 29 minutes. And still he should have won!

I’m not sure what will happen when these two meet to replay this match with the colours reversed because since this first try the new YCA grades have come out and Pete’s grade is 158 so he may have to play with a much smaller advantage on the clock.


Nick said...

Hey Pete, regarding very early opening moves I would simply ignore Fritz and look at a good book!!

A lot of Fritz suggestions are not very good!!

Intermezzo said...

I agree. In an opening like the Dragon you can afford to ignore the live game analysis and open up the "opening book" window instead. It would take the engine weeks to reach the same conclusions generations of GMs have accumulated through over the board practice and analysis. Nick can probably both recommend and lend you a good book on the Dragon! ;)

Nick said...

Dave in your game I don't understand why you have given 4.Nxe5 a ?! I know Flear gives it this in 'Offbeat Spanish' p82, but honestly the amount of coverage he gives this move is comical considering Greet now recommeds it in his repertiore book 'Play the Ruy Lopez'

Belive it or not Greet gives 5.Nxf7 a double !! in which he comments 'An absolute thunderbolt after which Black's position may already be technically beyond salvation'.

The problem is Flear tries to cover such a huge topic in such a short space. Everyman finally seem to realise that you can't publish a good comprehensive opening book and keep the page count down to 144.

The problem is in the repertiore you play as Black there is very little coverage apart from the Flear book. Sokolov in his 'Ruy Lopez Revisited' , in which he gives about 50 pages on the Classical, he doesn't even give 4.Nxe5 as an option!!

Looks like it's going to be lots of trawling through past games and looking at analysis in Fritz. But I know as Matt will tell you a good opening book certainly helps as well (I'm talking about your Sniper).

Intermezzo said...

Hi Nick. Simple typo on move 4. Should have been "!?" :)
I agree with Greet's assessment on Nxf7 too. The main thing is to only get hit by that move once! It's happened and it won't happen again. Lucky for me it was in an unrated and unimportant game...

Matthew said...

Ok, on discussion of analyzing -

You shouldn't use fritz's engine on its own. Whilst fritz/other are used by players of all abilities you have to know how to use it properly.

I use it in conjunction with mega database 2010 (now 2011) and use the reference tool to find all the GM games played any given position.

You can then see what high level GM's played - see what is the most commonly successful move etc.

Indeed in one of the lines in the London, the highest level it has been played at was in a match between Karpov and Gelfand about 12 years ago.

Once i find something like that then i use the computer engine to look deeper at lines.

Again the opening book can be used in the same way - though i would recommend purchasing the opening encyclopedia disc from chessbase, as the book on fritz 12 can be quite limited at times.

I only use the engine then as described above; as a tactical blunder checker, producing ref/opening check analysis' of games, or when kibitzing GM games.

I said in my talk last year, to improve at chess you mainly need to study your own games, and you should use more than just 1 tool.

So use fritz, use a book, but mostly use your own brain!

Anonymous said...

Well Matt, in that case I am doomed to chess mediocrity!

Pete said...

Interesting, particularly Matt's comments. You must appreciate that none of this software existed when I played chess before my "gap 30 years"!
In addition to How Good Is Your Chess? how about a How to Use the Software evening?

Intermezzo said...

That's a really good idea Pete. It is hard to keep up with the technology sometimes. Tell you what I'll bring my laptop next week and show you a couple of things. I'm particular how to annotate and save your games so that they can be used on the blog...

Pete said...

That'll be after I've lost my rematch with Darwin in a handful of moves! :D

Matthew said...

Bring your laptops to chess night!

Much mines better than yours to follow!

Intermezzo said...

No contest there Matt. Mines pretty old now so I think you'll have the edge. I'm thinking about beefing up with Windows 7, Chessbase 11 and loads more power! Or I could buy a Mac book... :)

Matthew said...

Yeah if you buy a mac book you'll have to dual boot to run all the chessbase/fritz software which can be annoying.

£600 on a laptop these days gets you a remarkably good machine and i would suggest going that way.

Chessbase 11 is good as well, but it will run into problems on anything other than windows 7, so yeah that would be a worthwhile purchase.

As you like sony - this is a good recommendation -

It has the top of the line i5 processor/i7s are overkill and nobody needs them really except it/graphics professionals, and everything else you need!

Intermezzo said...

Hey Matt. Do you actually have CB11?