This was a fairly standard Ruy Lopez opening, though he did fianchetto his dark-squared bishop onto g7. I thought this was a bad move. (Note: I have not run this game through an analysis engine, since I did not actually write down the move list, so my analysis might be complete horse hockey.) In addition to weakening his king's position, it trapped his bishop forever behind the e5 pawn, which was not going to go anywhere. My move at this picture was Bishop c1-g5, pinning his knight to his queen and clearing out my back rank so I could move my rooks freely.
At this point I had begun to prepare for a kingside attack. My b3 Bishop is targeted right at f7, my Queen was moved to d2 to both connect my rooks as well as possibly set up Queen d2-h6. I had already traded my dark squared bishop for the knight on f6 as soon as his Queen moved to e8 (unpinning that knight), removing its protection from the highly vulnerable h7 pawn (a consequence of his early move of the pawn from g7-g6). The move I just made before this picture was Knight c3-d5. In addition to attacking his Bishop on f6, it threatens d5-c7, which will dual threaten Queen and Rook, letting me win the exchange of Knight for Rook. His only move hwere is Bishop f6-d1, which protects c7. However, that's not only deactivates his Bishop (when he already weakened his kingside pawns to activate it), that bishop is then blocking his back rank, immobilizing the rook on a8. That would mean he would have only one active piece (knight on c6), whereas both my knights, my bishop, and my queen are all active, with my rooks having a clear path on the back rank to move where they please.
Unfortunately, he didn't see my threat of Knight d5-c7 (or decided that was less bad than deactivating the bishop) and put his Bishop on e7. I took his pawn and then his rook on a8 in exchange for the Knight. Not only was I ahead in material, I still had three active pieces to his two. More importantly, my pieces were all aimed at the kingside and his had no good way to swing over.
After that, I put my Queen on h6, launching the attack. He moved his knight to d4, attacking both my knight and bishop which were supporting my Queen's attack. After some calculation, I traded Knights. I figured I could quickly mobilize my f1 Rook to support the attack (faster than he could bring his pieces over to defend, anyway. Part of his problem was that his b7 bishop could not counterattack because of my e4 pawn.
Because I traded knights, I was then able to push my pawn to f4, giving my rook room to go to f3 (preparing for rook to h3, supporting the queen). He tried to dislodge my bishop by pushing his pawn to a5, but it was too late for that. His king was trapped by his rook, his queen and light-squared bishop were on the wrong side of the board, and his weak kingside pawn structure (remember that bad fianchetto?) finally was his undoing. I only needed Rook to h3 and Queen takes h7 to win, and it would take him too many moves to give his king an escape path. My b3 Bishop also pinned his pawn to f7, preventing the possible defense of pawn f7-f6, rook f8-f7 (guarding the h7 space my queen was about to take).
He moved Rook f8-g8, I put my rook on h3, and he resigned.
It was a decent game, and we were about evenly matched in skill, which is a super-rare thing to happen for two strangers deciding to play outside of a tournament. Most of all, it felt great to reactivate the chess muscles in my brain. It's been too long. I'd love to do tournaments again, but I can't spend a whole weekend playing chess anymore. Too many other things I want to do.
After that, I played a few games of Star Realms and then tried to learn Kana Gawa with someone else. The rulebook is very bad, and by the time we understood how the game was supposed to flow, we had lost interest. I retreated to relax for a bit.
In the evening, I played 2-player and 3-player sessions of "The Game", followed by a 4-player Letter Tycoon (I think that was the name.)
It's fine. The patent bonuses felt like easily-missed bookkeeping (especially if you're thinking about your own next turn when others play cards). The first player has a distinct advantage. Even though all players get the same number of turns, the first player can earn points from a patent bought on the last turn. The last player cannot. It ended up making the difference between first and second place players in our game.
Finally, we did a 4-player game of Wizard. I was doing very well early, including making a bid of 6 on round 10. But in the later rounds I kept missing by one in either direction and got overtaken right at the end. Great game. Haven't played it in 9 months, which is a shame.
Copyright © 2015-2019 Michael R. Keller
archive by Andres Gleixner from the Noun Project
archive by Andres Gleixner from the Noun Project