Welcome Message

Feedback is welcome. If you see something that I am missing, you have a suggestion or just want to say hello, please comment.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Old Indian Defense (3), against an Expert

Today’s blog entry features my 5th game in our chess club’s annual championship tournament and an update on my training regiment. My opponent is rated 700 points higher, which did not give me a lot of encouragement going into the game. Fortunately, the game started with a d-pawn opening and I was able to use my favorite Old Indian Defense, a defense which many opponents are not familiar.

When my opponent left book early, I was on my own, trying to anticipate threats and positional moves. The game was even until my 17th move, which is quite good against an opponent of this caliber. This blunder was caused by failure to evaluate a response to the depth necessary. I played on, hoping for a return blunder until the game reached a position that I felt I could win if we switched sides.

The last few days have been spent re-evaluating my training schedule, taking into account the feedback from the previous blog entry and looking at how the material studied would be most beneficial.  The schedule is designed to hit the most important areas with enough emphasis to make a meaningful gain.  The morning and evening sessions are each divided into 3: 15 minutes of review or light study as a warm-up, 30 of book study and 30 of exercises.

  1. Endgame Practice - 15 minutes with Pandolfini’s Endgame Course by Bruce Pandolfini.  The problems are in a database and played against the Houdini chess engine. 
  2. Strategy Study – 30 minutes with I.A. Horowitz’ Point Count Chess.  This book will probably take 2 or more readings before I can continue with a more challenging book like Nimzowitsch’s My System.
  3. Tactic Problems – 30 minutes (average time) each morning to solve 10 problems on chesstempo.com with a difficulty level of 1300-1500, trying to see the entire solution before making the first move.
Evenings on game days:
  1. Games – Twice a week playing a long game, either at my local chess club (G90) or against a Chessmaster10 opponent (G45).  I also intend to participate in 6 Saturday tournaments this year (3 G65 games each tournament).
Evenings on non-game days:
  1. Analysis – 15 minutes reviewing either my games or games from Neil McDonald’s Art of Logical Thinking.  McDonald’s game collection replaced my previous choice to get move-by-move commentary.
  2. Strategy Study – 30 minutes with I.A. Horowitz’ Point Count Chess (i.e. continuing morning’s B study).
  3. Tactic Problems – 30 minutes with Dan Heisman’s Looking for Trouble.
How does this address the weaknesses shown by the Chess Exam results? 
-     Counterattack, addressed by C&G
-         Calculation, addressed by A,C&G
-         Middlegame, addressed by B,C,F&G
-         Sacrifice, not directly addressed
-         Tactics, addressed by A,C&G


  1. I like your analysis of this game, which is more sober yet accurate. The big danger when playing a much stronger opponent are the self-defeating thoughts, which often blur your mind and make lose all objectivity.

    All your ideas are 'refuted', while all his moves are 'perfect'. Back when I was in your shoes, a friend told me : just attack these guys, you can beat them if you play good moves. And stay as objective as possible. Play the pieces, forget the man.

    It worked for me.

  2. I like seeing the Old Indian Defense, the opening is better than its reputation and often results in middlegame positions reminiscent of a Ruy Lopez, like occurred here. Thanks for sharing the annotated game.

  3. Ralph,

    I play this as my primary DEF to d4.

    You may want to consider giving it a "Nimzo" flavor. In this exchange line (d x e, d x e), after Be2, play Bb4 (yes, move the B again), with the threat to e4 and the threat of doubling pawns on the c-file. Nd5 isn't really a threat yet (immediate Nd5 in fact loses a piece), so c6/b6/Bb7 is too passive. After Bb4 you have very good play. If B x Nf6, then B x c3+/b x c3 and then Q x f6, with the d7 N going to c5 and then blockading the Qside with a5/b6. It is a dark square strategy with the idea of trying to get to an endgame with a superior pawn structure and a superior minor piece (black's knight vs white's white bishop). The d file can be used to trade off the heavy pieces.

    In terms of the game you played, h6 is a wasted tempo. After nf8 --> ne6 the question is put to the bishop and f4 and d4 are occupation targets for your N. You put the question to the bishop AND improve the value of your own pieces.

    At one point you played Rb8 instead of playing Nd4; your opponent immediately eliminated the N with B x N. In this DEF just about anytime you can get a N to f4 or better yet d4, do it. Monster knights on the dark squares is what you want.