Winging It

by admin on May 4, 2015

While most of my games from the speed chess tournament yesterday were pretty forgettable, I did have one highlight, which was my win over International Master Vladimir Mezentsev. It’s very far from a masterpiece, in fact it’s more like a blunderfest — but hey, it’s a win over a titled player. Even if it’s only speed chess.

Dana Mackenzie – Vladimir Mezentsev (G/4, 2 sec. delay)

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. g3 …

My new repertoire in the d-pawn games, the Catalan. However, Mezentsev prefers to transpose to a Tarrasch.

3. … c5 4. Bg2?! dc 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. Be3?! …

No theory, no prep. I was just winging it. That’s what I usually do in speed chess. Black should play 6. … Nf6 with a slight advantage, but he liquidates in the center, which helps me out because my awkwardly placed bishop gets a good square.

6. … cd? 7. Nxd4 Nxd4 8. Bxd4 Nf6 9. O-O Be7 10. Qa4+ Qd7 11. Qxc4 …

mez 1Position after 11. Qxc4. Black to move.

FEN: r1b1k2r/pp1qbppp/4pn2/8/2QB4/6P1/PP2PPBP/RN3RK1 b kq – 0 11

The opening has gone very well for White; I have a lead in development and my bishops exert uncomfortable pressure on the queenside. Mezentsev, looking for activity, plays what should have been the losing move. There’s no doubt he missed or underestimated my response.

11. … b5?? 12. Qc6! Rb8 13. Be5? …

For some reason I didn’t even look at the obvious 13. Bxa7, which wins an exchange in all variations.

I’d be interested in hearing how different people analyze positions in speed chess. Do you make a list of candidate moves, just as in regular chess, and just spend a shorter time on each one? Or do you truncate the list of candidate moves somehow?

I think that my strategy, in many positions, is “first good move.” That is, I quickly analyze my top choice and if it looks good, I play it. If it doesn’t look good, I go to choice #2, and so on. This is, of course, an absolutely terrible way to play chess, and it’s why my speed chess isn’t very good. In tournament games I am much better at making sure I look at all of the reasonable options.

This position is an example of “first good move” chess. I knew I wanted to keep chasing the rook around, I saw that this move gives me super-active bishops, and I went for it without even looking at 13. Bxa7, which wins outright.

13. … Rb6 14. Qxd7+ Bxd7 15. Bc7 Ra6 16. Bb7 Ra4 17. Nc3 Rb4?

What can I say, Mezentsev just played badly this game. He still would have a reasonable position after 17. … Rc4. Now the game turns into an object lesson in why you don’t want to develop your rook in front of your pawns.

18. b3! …

Feeling good again. Black’s rook is now in grave danger of being trapped. Strangely, Mezentsev plays as if oblivious to the danger.

18. … O-O 19. Rfd1 …

mez 2Position after 19. Rfd1. Black to move.

FEN: 5rk1/pBBbbppp/4pn2/1p6/1r6/1PN3P1/P3PP1P/R2R2K1 b – – 0 19

I love this position! First of all there’s the amusing lineup of pieces on the seventh rank, with four bishops all in a row (visible in the FEN as BBbb). But more to the point, Black’s pieces have hardly any moves. Definitely an okay position to have against an International Master!

19. … Bc8 20. Bc6 a6 21. h3 …

Closing the noose. It was really surprising to me that Mezentsev never made an effort to rescue his rook. Now it’s too late.

21. … Bc5 22. e3 e5 23. Ba5 Bxh3 24. Bxb4 Bxb4 25. Nd5 Nxd5 26. Bxd5 Bg4 27. f3 Bc8 28. Kf2 h5 29. Rac1 g6 30. Rc7 Ba5 31. Re7 …

Of course I wanted to play 31. Bxf7+ but after 31. … Kg7! I didn’t see a way to save both the rook and the bishop.

31. … Bd8

mez 3Position after 31. … Bd8. White to move.

FEN: 2bb1rk1/4Rp2/p5p1/1p1Bp2p/8/1P2PPP1/P4K2/3R4 w – – 0 32

In spite of all the mistakes, I would consider this a pretty good game if I had found the right response here. But I didn’t. I was still feeling annoyed that 32. Bxf7+ didn’t seem to work, but I forgot to look at the other move order! After 32. Rxf7! the game would be over.

Instead I played the inferior 32. Rxe5? and we mucked around for 30 or 40 more moves before I got lucky and won. Even if I could remember how the rest of the game went, which I can’t, it wouldn’t be worth looking at.

I hope this has been at least somewhat amusing!

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