One that got away

by Jonathan Speelman
12/16/2018 – In this week's Agony/Ecstasy column, GM JON SPEELMAN analyses a pair of online games from American tournament veteran Ted Jewell, one an English Opening and the other a King's Indian Defence. Feel free to send in your own games! Jon can always use more material from readers. If your games are selected for the Agony column, not only will you get free detailed commentary of your games by one of chess’s great authors and instructors, and former world no. 4 player, but you also win a free three-month ChessBase Premium Account!

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Speelman's Agony #89

Many thanks first to everybody who's sent games into the drop box in recent weeks. Two requests though: Please include an email address so that I can contact you. And please use either PGN or a compressed ChessBase database CBV. (In ChessBase, click Menu→Database→Backup database, or hit Ctrl+Z.)

This week's pair of games are from Ted Jewell, an American who wrote:

My reason for choosing these games is that they fit into the categories of one that got away and one that didn't. These were played online (hence my username Woofledust).

Everyone has had a game that went very well until a moment when a single move turned a big advantage into a certain defeat with no chance for coming back.  Those for me are especially painful, and I am only too familiar with the feeling (having started playing in tournaments in 1968). On the other hand, everyone has had a game where an attack was built, there were decisions to be made, and the victory eventually arrived.

The first game (Caesar v. Woofledust) is one that got away. During the game I was pleased to find 30... Qb1. When my opponent played 32.Qe6+, I had three legal moves to consider. Two of them maintain a large edge, and the other can draw (but requires accurate play). I failed to appreciate the danger and played the worst of the three and then saw my position disintegrate. In the old days one could wonder whether there might have been something else possible, but engines eliminate that mystery (and any delusional ignorance) and demonstrate what should have been done and what was there to be had. Oh well.

The second game (Chess999 v. Woofledust) is not the tidiest game (as I discovered post-mortem with engines), but it was a satisfying win that made me feel that I can at least consider myself somewhat skilled at this game. In going over the game with my engines (Stockfish 8 and Houdini 3), I was intrigued by how differently they approached the positions. Often the engines will basically have the same few candidate moves and prefer one or another by some slight amount, but in this case they took radically disparate strategies. In the early part I tended to be aligned with Stockfish, but toward the end, I shifted over to Houdini's moves.

Ted sent the games as bare scores and so the notes are all mine. As he did, I used Houdini to bounce off (but, as ever, asked it questions rather than blindly followed it). 


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The English Opening Vol. 1

Williams main teaching method behind this set of two DVDs is to teach you some simple yet effective set ups, without the need to rely on memorising numerous complicated variations.

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Jonathan Speelman, born in 1956, studied mathematics but became a professional chess player in 1977. He was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980–2006 and three times British Champion. He played twice in Candidates Tournaments, reaching the semi-final in 1989. He twice seconded a World Championship challenger: Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995.


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