Amateur versus Master – Game One

This game was played on the ICCF server and is a draw against a master from the Netherlands. I believe that this opponent is the highest rated player that I have managed to draw, but is not the highest rated that I have played there. ICCF rules allow for the use of chess engines and I used both my databases and my chess engines to get this draw. Against players rated over 2300 on the ICCF server I have lost every time, even when using Houdini 3 X64.

In this game I had Black and I played a Modern Defense and got into a variation that I have not seen before. In Over The Board (OTB) play I most likely would have misplayed this opening. In correspondence chess (CC) I can use a database to get me through unknown openings. However, there is a danger in blindly following un annotated games that I find in a database, book or magazine. Sometimes, the winner of a game got away with playing a bad move and if my opponent notices that bad move I can get clobbered! It has happened in too many CC games for my taste!

I do not like the sixth move that I played in this game because I have never like trading off my fianchettoed bishops. However, I somehow decided that this was better than the alternatives. Computer analysis shows that White should have captured on f6 instead of retreating his Bishop. On move number 7 I decided that developing a knight was better than trading in the Center. Some grandmasters insist that to take is a mistake and I believe that developing my pieces is better than trading down.

Up to move number ten both sides are basically developing their pieces. On my move number ten I traded on d4 because the alternatives seemed to favor White. At the end of move number 12 the dark-squared bishops are off the board and my Queen is on the long diagonal that the Bishop was on before being traded off.

At the end of move number 15 White has a slight lead in development, but Black has a Bishop versus a Knight. From move 17 on White has had a slight positional advantage that was not enough to win. Black then established a pawn chain on the Queenside with the Queen and a Rook guarding the base of it. This was mainly because I could not come up with a better plan and I didn’t want to weaken my pawn structure.

In the final position White clearly has more space but He can’t do much with it. Hans was taking a long time between moves because he was having some kind of personal problem and was willing to accept a draw because he seemed to lack the time and energy to find a win here. My chess engines showed this to be even.

Sometimes, what is happening off the board can mitigate what is happening on the chess board. This seems to be one of those cases.

I have developed an application for use on smart phones. For now, it is free and I would like for chess players to use it and give me some feedback on it. You can get it here:

Mike Serovey