Category Archives: Great Chess Miniatures

Opening Blunders

“Chess is a fairy tale of 1001 blunders”
Savielly Tartakower

Playing carefully and well in the opening is and has always been important; of course how one does that, it is up for discussion. Back in my junior days players would memorize many a line and a coaching session could include nasty questions such as “at what move should you play Ra8-c8 in the Sicilian Dragon?”. That practice was somewhat understandable with nothing but books and magazines available to keep us up to date with the latest theoretical ideas. Can you believe the rotary phone was the most advanced piece of communication at the time? It did not have many features, forget apps or internet access… The main downside of the memorization approach was (and still is) being in a difficult position the minute your opponent would play something outside the memorized lines; many talented players used that in purpose to get their opponents out of the books and outplay them using pure chess knowledge.

Today it is hard to surprise anyone in the opening; still it does not mean you should give up on trying to do that. It means you should do better research and of course know many ideas and setups enabling you to blend them in different ways to achieve that surprising and confusing position for your opponents. Today’s game is a very good example of that. Black got careless or simply confused of the succession of openings they touched and lost fast. It might not be a lot to look at, but the lessons out of it could be very useful in your opening preparation.

Hope you found it useful. What can we learn out of it? Here is where you can start:

  • Learn opening ideas and plans to be able to apply them as the position requires
  • Do not be afraid to try many openings or similar openings; that would enable you to avoid being dragged into an unknown opening or setup
  • Make sure you learn as many traps and tricks from the openings of your choice as possible; this is two fold: on one hand it teaches you to avoid them and on the other hand you can use them against your opposition

Pay attention what is going on at move 1 and stop doing that when the opponent shakes your hand. If you have any games and/ or positions you would like me to look at, please do not hesitate to let me know. I will gladly include them in my column for everyone’s benefit. Looking forward to your messages!

Valer Eugen Demian

How NOT to Play Against Stronger Opponents

This win against a much lower-rated opponent put me into temporary first place in this section. However, games that finished after this one did dropped me back into a tie for fourth place.

Going through the crosstable for this section I played over my opponents games that he has finished. So far, he has one forfeit win and about five losses. He will most likely finish in the second to last position. In every game that I looked at, he played the same Carro-Kahn like set up as both White and Black. I sent a message to him telling him that passive play against strong opponents will get him clobbered every time!

On move number 7 White played a novelty that may not have been that good. Move number 12 was also weak because is was played to support move number 14, which was an outright blunder. After Black’s 14th move, White was dead lost. White resigned when Black had checkmate in 5 moves.

I now have enough content in the membership area of my chess site to start taking a few new members to help me beta test this site. I gave Tai one free membership to this site and he has yet to do anything with it. I will take up to a total of 10 free members to beta test this membership area. After that, I will be charging for access to this site. If the beta testers do not give me any useful feedback, then I will cancel their memberships and they will have to pay to rejoin this site! If you are interested in joining then contact me.

Mike Serovey

Amateur Versus Master: Game Twenty Two

My opponent in this very short correspondence chess game is an ICCF master from Sweden. When White offered a draw on move number 11, I was surprised and then checked my database of games that had that position in them. I found that White won one game and the other three ended in draws. So, I accepted the draw.

This correspondence chess game started off as the Ruy Lopez and transposed into the Four Knights. I was trying to get the Berlin Defense because it is solid and drawish. This Four Knights gave me the draw that I wanted, only sooner than I expected it!

I had third place in this section before this draw and I remained in third place after accepting the draw. My annotations show the games in my database without any real comments.

Mike Serovey

Amateur Versus Master: Game Twenty

My opponent in this OTB Rapid Chess game became a USCF Life Master. I do not recall if he was yet a LM at the time that this chess game was played. This is one of three losses that I have to Corey Acor and my only loss to him with the black pieces.

My opening play with the Black side of the Closed Sicilian Defense may not have been that accurate, but I lost because I failed to realize that my King was in check and thus I tried to make an illegal move with my Rook on my move number 19. The only legal move with that Rook would lose the exchange so I resigned.

The rules do not require my opponent to tell me when my King is in check, but I usually will tell my opponents as a courtesy. Corey did not tell me that my King was in check until after I tried to make an illegal Rook move! Still, I consider Corey Acor to be a gentleman as well as a strong chess player.

I had lost to a master in Round 1 who was visiting from England. I won rounds 2 and 3 and then lost to this master in the final round. That gave me an even score against a fairly strong field for me.

Unfortunately, playing like a patzer every time that I faced Corey Acor made me look like a patzer to him! If Corey had not watched some of my chess games with other strong players he could have concluded that I barely know how to move the pieces! Sometimes, I rise to the level of my competition. At other times, I freak out and play like a beginner! With Corey Acor, the freak out factor kicked in.

Mike Serovey

Another French Defense Bites the Dust

My opponent in this correspondence chess game was an unrated player who was given a provisional rating of 1800 for pairing purposes. At the time that I am writing this, Mike O’Mahoney has lost to me and one other opponent.

This win put me in temporary first place in this section and a subsequent draw with the other player who defeated Mike has kept me in a tie for first place in this section.

Some of you may remember a cartoon character called Huckleberry Hound. He used to sing My Darling Clementine quite often while walking around. The chorus is as follows:

Oh my darling, Oh my darling,
Oh my darling Clementine,
You are lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry Clementine.

I changed the chorus to the following:

Oh ma honey, Oh ma honey,
Oh ma honey chess player Mike,
You are lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry chess player Mike.

You tried to beat me, You tried to beat me,
You tried to beat me in a game of chess,
But you are lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry chess player Mike.

My opponent (Black) started making minor positional and developmental errors early in this correspondence chess game and was losing rather quickly. Thus, I cannot pick only one move as being the losing move.

Mike Serovey

How Modern is Alekhine’s Defense?

This correspondence chess game was over before this section officially began. ICCF will post the pairings for server-based correspondence chess games two or three weeks before the sections officially begin. This correspondence chess game is one of several that I have completed at ICCF before the sections that those correspondence chess games were in officially started.

This win put me in temporary first place in this section and a later draw has kept me there so far.

My lower-rated opponent decided to gamble with a chess opening that is risky in Over the Board (OTB) chess and ill advised against a higher rated player in a correspondence chess game. After some research online I determined that the best way for White to play against Alekhine’s Defense is to go into either the Modern variation or the Exchange variation. I believe that this correspondence chess game went into the Modern variation.

I considered a sacrifice line that is in my analysis and decided against playing that in a correspondence chess game. However, I may play that in an OTB game against a lower rated opponent.

Mike Serovey

Kids and Chess, Part Six

This Was a Blunder-fully Short Chess Game!

This is my final win against Benson Walent, so this will be the last time that I pick on him. This seems to be my second shortest chess game against a beginner and my sloppiest one that I have examined so far! I blundered on move number five and Benson started to punish my error. Then, I continued to make more bad moves! However, Benson let me off the hook by making a few bad moves himself and a couple of outright blunders that were worse than mine! In a matter of just seven moves I went from losing to winning.

One thing that has plagued me, as well as inexperienced players, is failing to win a won game. In this chess game, it was my opponent who failed to win a won chess game.

Mike Serovey

Kids and Chess, Part Five

For this week’s article I decided to pick on Benson Walent again. In this OTB chess game Benson played fairly well but he still lost in under 30 moves. The time control for this event was Game in 40 minutes with a 5 second delay. When Benson resigned he was down to about three and a half minutes while I still had 25 minutes. I moved too quickly at certain points in this chess game and thus I missed a couple of chances to win more quickly than I did. Benson took too long to move and ended up in time trouble.

When playing against beginners I can get overly confident and thus a little sloppy. My play was a little sloppy in this chess game because I was playing the Botvinnik system and did not check to see if I had better moves. Also, I will often trade down into an endgame and outplay my opponents there.

In recent events I discovered that I no longer have the endurance to grind out endgames and that strategy does not work well for me when I have no time to rest between rounds. In future rapid events, I will be slowing down in the openings and looking to crush my opponents there and try to win before we get to an endgame.

Mike Serovey

My Ode to Odette

My opponent in this correspondence chess game is a French woman who is named Odette. At the time that I am writing this, Odette is in dead last place with five losses, no wins and no draws. Although she is alive (as far as I know) her chances of getting more than a couple of wins or draws is dead. Thus, the ode.

In 1967 American Country singer Bobbie Gentry wrote and recorded a hit song entitled Ode to Billie Joe. In 1976 the song was made into a movie. What is still not clear to me is if the song and the movie are based upon a true story or if this all came from the imaginations of some talented writers.

The description from the  movie on  YouTube is as follows, “A seventeen-year-old boy is seduced into a homosexual act. His guilt over the incident drives him to commit suicide by jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge, leaving his girlfriend behind.”

If you want to know more about this story then you can click on the following links:

Odette played some moves in this chess game that are about as bad as jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge. Fortunately, she is alive to play more chess games. Because this chess game is rather short, my analysis below is more about what was not played than what was.

Mike Serovey

Drawing This Correspondence Chess Game Was No Hassell

My opponent in this correspondence chess game is from England and his last name is Hassell. As some of my readers may have noticed, I like to play with words and the names of my opponents!

Originally, I wanted to trade down into a King and pawn endgame or to use my remaining Bishop to go after my opponent’s pawns that were on dark squares. However, when he offered a draw on move number 27 I accepted the offer because I realized that there just was not enough play left in the position to justify my spending my time and energy on trying to win that rather closed endgame.

This cc game is one of three draws that I have in this section.

Mike Serovey