Road to 2000 Week 2!

Rooks rooks rooks!

Focus & Motivation

This week was a bit of a struggle to find focus and motivation at points. I had a handful of commitments outside of chess that was a bit mentally taxing. I found myself struggling a bit to crack open my tactics book or courses, and focus on calculating all variations. However, I did spend a lot of time performing game analysis this week, which was worthwhile. Sitting alone going through some of my games, and discussing them with friends. Which I think is still more valuable than spamming 100+ blitz games in a week. I felt like I played a lot of blitz this week and it was only 19 games, where I used to have 19 in a day. Next week I'll hopefully be back in a better rhythm and I can return to some morning chess tactics grinds to help get through.

The Numbers

S&T Blunder Check lvl13743%
S&T Blunder Check lvl23.5844%
HTRYK Rooks5772%

I had a bit of a blitz spiral in a blitz tournament on Sunday, should have just checked out when I wasn't feeling it, but wanted to try to power through it. Also I'll hopefully get back into a good tactics routine next week!

Rooks Rooks Rooks!

Rooks, those funny-looking castle things. (Which are also called oxs and pigs when on the 7th rank). I've always appreciated the power of rooks, but I will say the HTRYC chapter on them was insightful on how to maximize their strength. The opening of the chapter starts with this quote:

...the trick is to demand your Rooks to get an open file

Which while sounds simple on the surface, is enlightening. Similar to how I've always worked to create outputs for my knights, I never feel like I actively tried to create open files for my rooks. A great example is in the position shown below.

White is at a huge advantage in this position, so it's really hard for white to go wrong. However, when considering how to create that open file for your rook, the best becomes clear, d6! A pawn sacrifice at the surface, but will allow the h2 rook to slide over and dominate the d file. This is going to be very problematic for black. Sure this is an extreme example, but these ideas are valuable and I had a game where this concept came up.

It's a bit more complicated than the example position, but I had set up this idea after noticing the possibility. f5 is a really good move in this position. Taking will lead to white being able to recapture and dominate the now two open e and f files. What ultimately played out in the game was a trade that left the queen on e5. However, plenty of ideas is present to improve the h rook and take control of the open e file. I don't think I would have considered forcing this file to open before this reading and could have struggled for a good middlegame plan.

Endgames... hit or miss

So I've decided I need to add a bit of endgame training to my plan. I'm not a terrible endgame player by any means, but I am definitely hit or miss.

Here I made an egregious blunder, I knew the position was drawn, but I wanted to try to fight. I have this problem in endgames because I am prone to making mistakes I figure my opponent is as well. Instead of fundamentally realizing the main goal of this position, preventing the king from escorting the passed pawn, I played a foolish check and allowed my opponent to escort it in. I don't chalk this one up to my lack of endgame knowledge here, but more a bad acumen I'm prone to in endgames. I suddenly feel the need to move faster as the game is coming to a close, but I knew in the back of my mind I couldn't let the king in, but alas I did anyway.

Here is a more complicated position. This is drawn. I thought it was drawn, but for the wrong reasons. I assumed I could get opposition (which I did not successfully get anyway) in front of black's pawns and maintain a draw. However, it is not a draw when the opponent has two pawns! They can always use the extra pawn to make a move, and throw off the opposition. For those curious here are a few positions you can play around with, but see for yourself, and compare the differences:

Now that being said, the initial position was actually drawn!

If I had taken some time to calculate and had a better understanding of where to properly aim for the opposition, this was holdable. The line d6 Kxd6 Kd4 leads to the drawn position above. Black will never be able to get in as long as white maintains opposition preventing black from capturing the pawn!

Next Week Plan

My lonewolf game is actually a Sunday this week, so I'll be potentially covering two classical games come next week. I didn't get to "review" all my previous failed puzzles like I wanted to, so going to try to work them into the rotation for this week. I have also settled on the Mastering Endgame Strategy chessable course for my endgame study. (Per recommendation of a friend, to chess study group it). I'm really excited for the next chapter of HTRYC Psychological Meanderings. It's actually a giant chapter, nearly 100 pages, so I'm going to break it up into two weeks! Catch you all after week 3!