The Chess Zone

Welcome to The Chess Zone

Here in The Chess Zone, I will be sharing my journey towards chess mastery. Although I oftentimes lack discipline in my chess games, I am passionately devoted to constant improvement!

If you’ve read this far, continue to hold me accountable. Click through some of the games below and follow along on my journey of becoming a Master. Check back to this page frequently for new game analyses, tactic puzzles and other updates in my world of chess.

To become a master of anything in life, you must adhere to the guiding principles that our predecessors have followed.

Masters are motivated by a passionate devotion to excel in spite of their perceived limitations. Strict discipline to your skill must be balanced with a creative imagination. Go forth, and seek to understand every detail in your subject; teach others whatever you discover.

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Fall 2018 Club Play

I have joined a few online correspondence leagues this fall to keep sharp while I coach the youngsters at The Knight School. Follow along below for some analysis and monthly recaps.

This first game exploits a few attacking positions from the Scotch line. The Scotch game is essential for any beginner players and especially e4 players. Watch out for scholar mating attempts from White, and always ensure you’ve protected your f7 square when playing as Black. As you can see in the following example, White can apply early pressure with his Queen. If Black fails to counter appropriately, he will never get a chance for equal development. In chess, you must be more prepared and more confident than your opponent.

[pgn]
[Site “Chess.com 3-Day Correspondence”]
[Date “09/29/2018 10:16AM”]
[White “11brose (1602)”]
[Black “Audiuspetriks (1352)”]
[Annotator “Scotch Game: 4. Nxd4 Bc5 5.Nxc6”]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Nxc6 dxc6 {Exchanging Queens follows principle by stopping black from castling.} 6.Qh5 {The Queen can also take a
strong attacking outpost on the h-file in this situation.}
(6. Qxd8 Kxd8)
Nf6 ?? (Qd4 7.Qe2) {Black failed to recognize a counter-attack and hung
its bishop because it was uncomfortable with White’s Queen on h5}
(Bb4+ 7.c3 Nf6 8.Qg5 Bd6 9.e5 Qe7 10.Bf4 h6 11.Qxg7 Rg8 12.Qxf6 Qxf6 13.exf6 Bxf4 14.Nd2 Bf5 15.g3 Bxd2+) {Maybe after Bb4+..Computer says the following are essentially drawn 1/2-1/2}
7.Qxc5 Qd6 8.Qxd6 cxd6 {Capitalize on early mistakes and clean up the board.} 9.Nc3 O-O 10.Bg5 Re8 11.Bxf6 gxf6 12.O-O-O d5
13.exd5 cxd5 14.Nxd5 1-0 {11brose won by resignation}
[/pgn]

Tournament Recap

Check out my (less-than-stellar) performance in the 2018 Austin Chess Club Summer Open. The first 2 rounds (Friday night and Saturday morning respectively) managed to slip away from me. However, I achieved redemption in Round 3 by clinging to a draw late Saturday evening. On Sunday morning I arose full of ambition. Lo-and-behold, my optimism was quickly humbled by a very talented youth player; I’ll chalk it up as a learning experience. The final round held many moments of drama; I was hard-pressed to come away with my only grueling victory. All said and done, I scored 1.5 points in the Reserve Section. Despite making some small mistakes, and some big blunders, I enjoyed a peaceful weekend by having fun with strangers in my local community. Checkmate!

Scroll through the games below to see where I went right, and where I went wrong!

Leave a comment with your USCF rating if you’ve ever made an OTB blunder!

(Click a move from the list on the left to see the corresponding board diagram.)

[pgn]

[Event “Austin Chess Club Summer Open”]
[Site “Reserve”]
[Date “2018.07.04”]
[Round “1”]
[White “Ambrose, Chad”]
[Black “Kouchak, Darshan”]
[Result “0-1”]
[BlackELO “1592”]
[Board “32”]
[Opening “Four Knights: Scotch, Main Line (Schmidt Black)”]
[ECO “C47”]
[Annotator “Opening Four Knights: Scotch, Main Line (Schmidt Black) 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6”]
[PlyCount “36”]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 O-O 8.O-O d5 9.e5 ({Not}9.exd5{although there are many top level games that follow this line} ) 9…Nd7 10.a3 Bxc3 11.bxc3 {and it begins to look as-if Black has won the opening. Could White have something up his sleeve to equalize?} Nxe5 12.Bxh7+ Kxh7 13.Qh5+ {ah ha! And the plot thickens} Kg8 14.Qxe5 Qd6 15.Qe2 (15.Re1{I think this is most aggressive move especially considering the aggressive opening. This line seems more accurate.} ) ( 15.Qxd6 cxd6{this line would have neutralized any looming threats, but leads toward a long drawish game} ) 15…c5 {Here, I failed to notice the sneaky attack that needs to be prepared for} 16.Rb1 ?? {overzealous, failing to check all threats} ({much better is}16.Qf3 ) ({or even}16.c4 ) 16…Ba6 {and the dagger strikes} 17.Qg4 {this was a bluff, but chess is a very psychological game after all} (17.Qe1 {would have given White a chance to hold on after losing the exchange. Perhaps Black had an eventual mistake up his sleeve} ) 17…Bxf1{Black wasn’t fooled} 18.Bh6 (18.Bf4{could’ve held on for some counter attacks, but White was doomed, nonetheless} ) 18…Qxh6 *

ltpgnboard.html?Init=&ApplyPgnMoveText= [Event “Austin Chess Club Summer Open”] [Site “Reserve”] [Date “2018.07.04”] [Round “1”] [White “Ambrose, Chad”] [Black “Kouchak, Darshan”] [Result “0-1”] [BlackELO “1592”] [Board “32”] [Opening “Four Knights: Scotch, Main Line (Schmidt Black)”] [ECO “C47”] [Annotator “Four Knights: Scotch, Main Line (Schmidt Black) 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6”] [PlyCount “36”] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 O-O 8.O-O d5 9.e5 (9.exd5 ) 9…Nd7 10.a3 Bxc3 11.bxc3 Nxe5 12.Bxh7+ Kxh7 13.Qh5+ Kg8 14.Qxe5 Qd6 15.Qe2 (15.Re1 ) (15.Qxd6 cxd6 ) 15…c5 16.Rb1 ?? (16.Qf3 ) (16.c4 ) 16…Ba6 17.Qg4 (17.Qe1 ) 17…Bxf1 18.Bh6 (18.Bf4 ) 18…Qxh6 *

[/pgn]

Bravo to Darshan! Hopefully we meet again!

In Round 2, the blunder-bug bit me again. However, the opening sequence is a great one to remember. I don’t mind making blunders, because they often make for great learning opportunities!

[pgn]

[Event “Austin Chess Club Summer Open”]
[Site “Reserve”]
[Date “2018.07.04”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Marler, Forrest”]
[Black “Ambrose, Chad”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “1444”]
[Board “20”]
[Opening “Scotch: 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Nxc6”]
[ECO “C45”]
[Annotator “Opening Scotch: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nxc6 bxc6 6. Bc4 (Nd2) (e5)”]
[PlyCount “75”]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Nxc6 bxc6 {Things are looking fairly standard so far.} 6.Bc4 Ne7 7.O-O O-O 8.Qf3 Ng6 {This knight sequence complicated any looming threats from White on the king side.}
9.Bf4 d6 10.Nc3 Be6 11.Be2 f5 !? {Interesting move. If White takes the exchange, Black’s Rook is prepared to apply pressure} 12.Qg3 {aware of the threatening rook, white attempts to relieve pressure. Is this also a sneaky attack? Time will tell. } fxe4 13.Bg5 Qe8 14.Nxe4 Bd5 {Who is on offense? Who is on defense? We seem to be jockeying for position.} 15.Nc3 Rb8 {My thought process during the game hinged on taking advantage of the open b file} 16.Bh5
Bc4 !? {A calculated risk by black. I tend to prefer attacking maneuvers when I cannot foresee a definitive downside.} 17.Be2 {Did white fall for my trick? He must have something more planned, but what?} Bxe2 18.Rae1 {ahh} Bxf1 {not impressed with White’s defense, I continue with my attack} 19.Rxe8 {Things look messy. Can black clean up this mess?} Bxf2+ ?? {GAHHH! too soon; much better would be} (19…Rbxe8 20.Kxf1 Bxf2 21.Qxf2
Rxf2+ 22.Kxf2 {looks great for black}) {or even} (19…Rxb2 20.Rxf8+ Nxf8 21.Kxf1 Rxc2 {and this could complicate any plans for White}) 20.Qxf2 Rbxe8 21.Qd2 {and the Queen manages to escape, time for both sides to recalibrate their cannons} Bc4
22.h3 Re5 {strengthening an open file} 23.Be3 c5 {taking dark colored squares away from White’s only bishop} 24.a3 Nh4 25.Bf2 Rf6 ?? {Hello!? Anyone home? Wake up please!!} (25…Nf5 {and we have a game, perhaps even a path to victory for Black}) 26.Bxh4 {White was wide awake.} Rg6 {Dismayed, I knew I must’ve had another trick up my sleeve} 27.Qf4 Be6
28.Kh2 c6 29.Be7 Rf5 30.Qxd6 Bd5 {hmm, sneaky punch, but it fails to land} 31.Qd8+ Kf7 32.Nxd5 Rxd5 33.Qc7 Re5 34.Bxc5+ Kf6 35.Qxc6+ Re6 36.Qc7 Rg5 37.Qf4+ Rf5 38.Bd4+ {and I resigned}*

[/pgn]

Bound and determined to prove myself worthy of competing in the Reserve section, I returned Saturday evening for Round 3. It was a long fought battle. The entire room was nearly empty and our clocks were running low. Eventually only our Kings were left on the board. Without any supporting troops remaining, the game was drawn. Redemption was hard fought, and ever-so-sweet.

[pgn]

[Event “Austin Chess Club Summer Open”]
[Site “Reserve”]
[Date “2018.07.02”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Ambrose, Chad”]
[Black “Ohanion, Ryland”]
[Result “1/2”]
[BlackELO “1422”]
[Board “42”]
[Opening “Sicilian: Lowenthal”]
[ECO “B32”]
[Annotator “Opening Sicilian: Lowenthal 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e5”]
[PlyCount “146”]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bb5 Bd7 7.c3 Nf6 {We both played through our developing moves rather quickly. I had been studying similar games and it seems my opponent had done the same} 8.Bd3 Be7 9.O-O
Bg4 10.Nbd2 O-O 11.Re1 Qc7 12.h3 Bh5 13.Nf1 Rad8 {and now both sides have established long term advantages with active development and castling. Who will strike first?} 14.a4 a5 15.Bg5 d5 16.Bxf6 Bxf6
17.exd5 Ne7 {The pawn seems tempting, but is forbidden; If Black had captured here, the Rook would find himself hung on d5} 18.c4 {and thus the point of the exchange from 16 allows White to solidify the central pawns.} e4 19.Rxe4 Bxb2 20.Ra2 Bf6 21.Rae2 {Other alternatives should have been played to stabilize the pawn structure} 21…Bxf3
22.gxf3 {Trading a corrupted pawn structure for connected rooks seemed like a fair trade in the flow of the game..in retrospect, it looks a bit messy} Ng6 23.Ng3 Nf4 {hmm, did White thoroughly consider this position?} 24.Rxf4 ?! {Is he cutting his losses? Maybe there’s something up his sleeve still..} Qxf4 25.Re4 ! {ah hah.. White seems to have some countering ideas} Qd6 26.Rg4 Rfe8 27.Nf5 (27.Ne4 {Would have been much better by attacking the queen and the bishop; since the g-pawn can’t recapture the bishop, the queen must stay nearby. The analysis could change to: Lot’s of tension and crowded pieces for Black against White’s strong rook enjoying an open file. This was the correct route to victory.}) 27…Qe5
28.Be4 Qc3 {and as fate would have it, the Queen slips into open territory. White needed to keep her tethered to her bishop..} 29.d6 {An aggressive route and absolutely not a bluff. Black must worry about the advancing pawn before cleaning the c-file. However, a more consistent plan with regards to the opening sequence involves White continuing to hold onto the central pawn structure.} (29.Ne3 ) 29…Kf8 30.Kh2 {Preparing for the Queen to support the Rook and own the g-file.} Be5+ 31.f4 Bxd6 {Many elements at play here for both sides. Black wants to win back the central pawn plus the initiative. White wants to attack the King by any means possible. White can even suffer temporary damage to stay on the attack. Did Black miss his chance at foiling White’s attack?} (31…h5 ) 32.Nxd6
Qb4 33.Qd4 (33.Qa1 ) {serves a similar purpose as } 33…Qxd6 {and Black seems to be up after the exchange} (33…f6 ) {although there was still plenty of reason to prevent White from attacking} 34.Qxg7+ {And although the major pieces are misbalanced, the battle wages on} Ke7 35.Qxh7 (35.Bd5 ) {It would’ve been interesting to also see the attack continue with the bishop, although perhaps this would prove foolhardy} Qd4 36.Qh4+ Qf6
37.Qxf6+ (37.Rg5 ) {the tournament had worn me down a bit by this point. I was happy to equalize the tension, but I should’ve found the strength to keep fighting for tactics while my Queen remained on the board } 37…Kxf6 38.Bxb7 Rd4 39.Bd5 Re2 40.Kg3 Rdd2 41.Rg8 {not giving up yet, if black is taking one of my pawns, I’ll be sure to get my revenge} Ra2 42.Bc6
(42.Ra8 ) {In hindsight, this was the better route for my intentions} 42…Rxf2 43.Ra8 Rfc2 44.Rxa5 Rxc4 45.Ra6 {setting up for a discovered check. Also at this point in the game, time control had become a larger factor, and White enjoyed the advantage in that regard} Ra3+ 46.Bf3+ Kg7 {Endgame transition moves make or break great games. White pawn enjoys an open road to victory if Black isn’t cautious; however, Black should be able to bully White into submission} 47.Ra5 Raxa4? {and Black missed his opportunity to secure a concrete advantage by firmly pinning White’s bishop}
48.Rxa4 Rxa4 {The theory is quite complex beyond here, but a Rook vs Bishop + pawn endgame requires sharp play to draw, and it requires sharp play to mate. This game was a grueling battle. Be sure to understand endings like these if you ever hope to be a Master.} 49.Kg4 Kg6 50.Bc6 f5+ 51.Kg3 Ra3+ 52.Bf3 Kf6 53.Kf2 Ra2+ 54.Kg3 Ra7
55.Kh4 Rg7 56.Bh5 Ke6 (56…Rh7 ) 57.Bf3 Kd6 58.Be2 Kd5 59.Bd3 Kd4 60.Bxf5 Ke3
61.Bg4 Kxf4 62.Bh5 Ke3 63.Bg4 Kf2 64.Bh5 Kg2 65.Bg4 Kh2 66.Bh5 Rh7 67.Kg4 Kg2 68.Kh4
Ra7 69.Bg4 Ra4 70.Kg5 Kg3 71.Bd7 Ra5+ 72.Bf5 Rxf5+ 73.Kxf5 Kxh3 *

[/pgn]

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” The old adage was running through my mind as I sat behind the Black pieces Sunday morning before Round 4. After a strong opening sequence from both sides, I failed to secure any countering opportunities. Eventually I was bested by the White pieces and ultimately, the proverb withheld its truth until a later round. See if you can learn from my mistake.

[pgn]

[Event “Austin Chess Club Summer Open”]
[Site “Reserve”]
[Date “2018.07.06”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Aggarwal, Raghav”]
[Black “Ambrose, Chad”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “1426”]
[Board “42”]
[Opening “Spanish: Steinitz Deferred”]
[ECO “C79”]
[Annotator “Opening Spanish: Steinitz Deferred 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O d6”]
[PlyCount “63”]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O d6 6.d4 Bd7 7.Re1 exd4 8.Nxd4 Ne5 9.Bxd7+
Qxd7 10.h3 Be7 11.Nc3 O-O 12.Nf3 Nxf3+ 13.Qxf3 Qe6 14.Bf4 Nd7 15.Qg3 Qg6 16.Nd5
Qxg3 ?? (16…Bd8 ) 17.Nxe7+ (17.Bxg3 Bf6 18.Nxc7 Bxb2 (18…Rac8 19.Nd5 Rxc2
20.Bxd6 Rfc8 (20…Bxb2 ) ) 19.Rab1 Rac8 20.Rxb2 Rxc7 21.Bxd6 Rc4 22.Bxf8 Nxf8
) 17…Kh8 18.Bxg3 Nc5 19.Nd5 c6 20.Bxd6 Rfd8 21.Bxc5 cxd5 22.exd5 Rac8 23.Bb6 Rd6
24.Bd4 f6 25.Bc3 Rxd5 26.Rad1 Rg5 27.Rd7 Rb5 28.Ree7 Rg8 29.Bxf6 Rh5 30.Bxg7+ Rxg7
31.Rxg7 b5 32.Rge7 *

[/pgn]

It only takes one positive feeling to spur on a streak of positivity. After humbling experiences through the first 4 rounds, I cleared my mind of my preconceived limitations. Confidence was the key as I carried on into the finale. The local summer open is where all chess players come to prove themselves, and I had no desire to hold back. My aggressive attempt at a tactical endgame failed in execution, but Black’s counter-attack also fell short. When the dust settled, the White pieces were rendered victorious.

Philosophers of chess are often quick to point out that it is “He who makes the last blunder that loses”

-Here we have the evidence-

[pgn]

[Event “Austin Chess Club Summer Open”]
[Site “Reserve”]
[Date “2018.07.05”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Ambrose, Chad”]
[Black “Raganath, Vishnu”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackELO “1432”]
[Board “40”]
[Opening “Pirc: 3.Bd3 g6”]
[ECO “B07”]
[Annotator “Opening Pirc: 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Bd3 g6”]

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Bd3 g6 4.h3 Bg7 5.Nf3 O-O 6.O-O e5 7.c3 (7.dxe5 ) 7…Nc6 8.Bg5
h6 9.Be3 Nh7 (9…exd4 ) 10.Qe2 (10.Qc1 ) 10…f5 11.Bc4+ Kh8 12.exf5 gxf5 13.d5
(13.dxe5 ) 13…Ne7 14.Bb3 f4 15.Bd2 Rg8 16.Bc2 Bf6 17.Kh2 Qf8 (17…Qe8 ) 18.c4
Qg7 19.Rg1 e4 20.Bxe4 Bxb2 21.Bxh7 Kxh7 22.Bc3 Bxc3 23.Nxc3 Bd7 24.Nb5 ! c6 (24…Bxb5
25.cxb5 ) 25.Nc7 ? (25.Nxd6 ) 25…Rac8 26.Ne6 Qf6 27.Qe4+ Ng6 28.g4 (28.Rae1
) (28.a4 ) 28…Rce8 (28…fxg3+ 29.fxg3 ) 29.g5 hxg5 30.Rxg5 (30.Nfxg5+ ) (30.Rae1
) 30…Bxe6 31.dxe6 Qxa1 32.Rh5+ (32.Nd4 ) (32.Qf5 ) 32…Kg7 33.Rg5 Qf6 34.Rg4
Rxe6 35.Qb1 Kh6 36.Qxb7 Rg7 37.Qc8 d5 38.Nd4 Qxd4 39.Qxe6 Qxf2+ 40.Rg2 Qe3 41.Qxc6
dxc4 42.Qxc4 Qg3+ 43.Rxg3 fxg3+ 44.Kg2 (44.Kxg3 Ne5+ ) 44…Ne5 45.Qh4+ Kg6 46.Qf4
Nf7 47.Kxg3 Kh5+ 48.Kh2 Kg6 49.a4 Rh7 50.Qe4+ Kg7 51.Qb7 Kg6 52.Qa6+ Kf5 53.Qxa7
Ng5 54.Qf2+ Kg6 55.Qg3 Rxh3+ 56.Qxh3 Nxh3 57.Kxh3 Kf6 58.a5 Kg6 59.a6 Kf5 60.a7
Kg6 61.a8=Q Kf5 62.Qe8 Kg5 1-0

[/pgn]

Cheers until next time, Folks!

Please let me know what you think in the comment section

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