So I thought beating a 1750 was going to be good for the next couple days, I could live off that victory. Last night I was pitted against an 1830 and won so this is now the highest rated ranked game I’ve won. This win wasn’t very difficult but that’s because they made a miscalculation early on which I capitalized on and held throughout the game.
It’s odd, I don’t know what separates people in these elo brackets. The 1600s and the 1800s have felt the same to me. It could be a side effect of 3 minute. I think a lot of it comes down to intuition and many people don’t seem to have it enough to pull them through the opening without making a mistake. Many of my games are won out of the opening due to uncalculated play from my opponents. It’s as if everyone just makes moves for a little bit in the opening and then they decide to play with what they end up with, they don’t even consider taking advantage of anything early.
I was watching the LiChess TV stream of the top 3 minute games and these players are 2400+ and they too missed things which it seemed apparent to me. The positions were verified by post game analysis once they had finished playing. It could just be the clock pressure. I am rarely behind on time and instead I tend to be +30 or 40 seconds usually which gives me some extra space to breathe when things do get dicey.
As you can see above I have a full minute and some change on the clock here while White is completely lost, the pressure on the weakened Queen side is too much. White ends up losing on time being down 4 pawns in a Queen vs 2 rook ending.
So I just played a game against a 1748, it was an exchange Caro where I played an early a6. White had castled but neglected the development of a knight and bishop while I forwent castling in lieu of development of all the minor pieces. White struck me as an aggressive player, they employed the typical bishop/Queen battery aimed at h7 in hopes the knight would move and it would be undefended. After playing h6 and castling White immediately sacrificed the dark squared bishop in order to take on h6, something that is commonly done to break the King side open and make way for the Queen and knight to jump in.
Now I’ve been here a lot on the receiving side, I don’t make sacrifices like this unless I know they’ll work. The Greek gift is an example of that, it’s a position that is known and when used will net a positive end result. This sacrifice made by White here was unsound, it missed the key components that the Greek gift has and that is tempo. In the gift once the bishop is capture White is able to bring the knight in with check and make way for the Queen while the King retreats.
The sin committed by White in this game was the lack of follow up, once the bishop was sacrificed what came next? The places the Queen would come in to the attack were protected and the knight was unable to jump into anywhere meaningful, the best option was to slide the Queen over to the d file and attack the h pawn but the King could simply defend. White jumps the Knight in for the sake of having it close but it attacks nothing as every space is covered by pawns since White having made no threatens I was able to counter attack the White Queen.
From here the game falls into a reoccurring theme, White makes a move in defense and I again have the attacking initiative. At one point White seems to think giving up a piece for a pawn push is a good idea, however, it ends up back firing again as they go on the defensive and lose tempi. The game really comes to a decisive end when I am able to fork the Queen and bishop which is still aiming into the King side, it leaves White a minor piece down with too many weaknesses to protect. Surprisingly they opt to trade a set of rooks off while giving me the open e file.
The final blow comes from a threat of a Queen trade and a triple attack, White declines the trade and loses the rook with check which was part of the triple attack. They let the time run out and the game ends. For me this was the greatest game I’ve ever played, I had a centi pawn loss of only 20 and two inaccuracies while fending off an attack from a player 250 points higher than myself.
I think everyone who plays chess sets 1500 as one of those major milestones along the way to their potential. It’s about the time when many principles start to make sense and all the pieces which make up a chess game fall into place. The game isn’t so much one big event as it is a series of smaller movements working towards completing an end goal. Understanding each part of the whole has made a huge difference in my approach to each one. By this time I’ve also began to figure out my style of chess, how I like to play and what I strive for on the board. I’m not much of a sacrificial or aggressive player, I like to know what I’m going to do is going to work. It puts me in the more classical and solid style of chess which focuses on controlling the center, logical piece development, accumulating minor advantages such as space or the bishop pair and using those over the course of the game to constrict my opponent.
The game I’ll share today is a good example of this, even though I win a minor piece I don’t rush to convert. Instead I trade down the rooks to my advantage (meaning the recapture of the last rook leaves me with the open file) which is a huge part of positions and one of the most important things I’ve learned. Having the open file generally allows more vertical mobility for your rook and if challenged can step forward to be recapture by a pawn in the event of a trade, many times this would lead to a passed pawn and one step gained towards promotion. I also used the extra bishop to probe and create weaknesses and then use the power of the Queen to pick off the weaknesses which were created while maneuvering.
Another definite improvement I can see is my board sense, the ability to figure out what to do when there isn’t anything to do. The time during the slow moments on a chess board where there aren’t any tactics or weak pieces to exploit is one of the most important, it’s about setting up for the future. This is where the knight transfers happen, the bishop shuffles to better diagonals, the rooks are placed behind pawns that wish to make their journey forward and the Queen is placed out of hard but with an eye towards something in the future.
The journey to 1500 has been much much faster than it was to 1200 and I have a feeling 1700 is coming within the next month or two based on performance in blitz against 1700+ opponents as of now. I can always work to extend this into rapid and classical but those time controls are more for OTB games I feel.