Monday, March 29, 2010

Little Shop of Horrors

In the Little Shop of Horrors movie, Steve Martin plays Orin Scrivello who speaks of a childhood when his mother discovered that he was a sadist. Martin then segues to the chorus line "You'll be a dentist."

My most recent opponent is an insightful fellow who observed that I had trouble getting in touch with my inner mean. I usually think of myself as a person who steers clear of making trouble or saying anything controversial. I might even admit that I'm a nice guy like Seymour Krelborn, who is played by Rick Moranis in the movie. When I play chess, I see it as a genteel exercise without hard feelings. It's a game right? Except for my own internal feelings of joy of winning and despair that mastery is so far away, I distance myself from outwardly directed emotions such as being angry at my opponent or holding them in contempt.

But the game of chess includes a ruthless element in taking away your opponent's chances. Not only was I proficient at this cruel technical element in this last game, but I discovered that I also enjoy it. I can recall several recent games in which my opponent resigned with me having about a 2-pawn advantage, and I would ask, "Are you sure you want to resign?" usually followed up with the self-effacing "I can still screw this up." But perhaps, I was subconsciously asking, "Can't you let me torture you for a little while longer?" Perhaps that was why I was somewhat unhappy recently with a quick victory, as if the masochistic Arthur Denton played by Bill Murray had come to my office and welcomed the punishment I was dishing out.

In my final game of the championship qualifier, I played White against the Burn Variation of the French Defense. I gave up the bishop pair early and castled queenside. Later I got rid of my opponent's bishop pair, but at the cost of giving him a pawn majority in the center. I worried about a pawn storm coming for my queenside castling position. Finally after 20 good moves, my opponent made a weak one that gave me a pawn and the initiative to open the center and attack his king. His king made a death march from e8 all the way to a7 while I defoliated his pawn cover and neutralized his ability to attack by trading pieces. The position had enough danger to remind me that the game won't win itself, but not so much danger to make me play too defensively. I was able to live in the zone of controlled aggression from about move 21 until move 57. And I thrived.

A perfect adult set of teeth includes eight incisors and eight bicuspids along with four canines and twelve molars. I extracted all eight of my opponent's pawns and got the sixth piece. It was pretty clear I was going to get the last two bicuspids, so he resigned. So my Heart of Darkness is closer to the sadistic dentist than the nice guy nerd. The horror!


ChargingKing said...

Yeah, you added another dimension of your chess psychology rather lucidly! I can totally see you relishing "the squeeze" that time where people walking by can tell you're winning and the other player knows he is losing.

I was a bit puzzled with Mike playing gxf6. Its not outright bad but he seems to have a poor man's Razour structure. Way behind in development, weakened pawns and king in the center. I understand he has the bishop-pair but white's play seems more free and easier to attack.

After checking out some variations I think your move Qe3 is very interesting and probably preferable to Bd3 although that bishop may go there soon anyway.

In a postmortem Grant was trying to explain that Bxf6 was a bad move for white just because of the lose of bishop-pair. I disagreed and showed him some lines why GMs play that line for White, and why some like facing it with Black.

Good game Ernie,I had fun studying it!

Anonymous said...

Hey CK!
6...gxf6 dissuaded me from castling kingside because of the half-open g-file, put more pawns in the center, and made sure he kept the two bishops for a while although from what I read, 6.Bxf6 Bxf6 7.Nxf6 Qxf6 is really good for Black.
I assumed that I had to find a way to show that my Ne4 was better than the Bf6, so I wouldn't have traded right away.
10.Qe3 shows up in four games of my MegaBase 2007, with Black scoring 68%. Fritz evaluates +/- after 12.Kb1, but there's probably a lot more to it than the machine can see.
I felt uncomfortable without the bishop pair, but it's all valuable experience. It's fun to wing these openings, not get smashed, find some of the right ideas, and study it afterward with focused attention.

64 squres of mind said...

Hi Ernie and Chris,

I just want to share some knowledge about this opening. Mike Houser indeed played gxf6 on purpose, myself, I use to play this line because Morozevich play this line nicely and I totally understand tht idea behind on it.

Here they are;

a.) Black gets sn strong control over e5 by taking the bishop by pawn and not mentioning that the e5 square is a key square for white to get the advadtage by playing Ne5 etc.

b.) After a6, black timely play b5 in response to the Bc4 of white followed by Bb7 and Nbd7-d5 (holding the d5 square) normally white castle long because the combination of G-file and h1-a8 diagonal is very powerful.

c.) Bd3, I guess is the lesser evil for black, since that white cannot play d5! (digging the king on the center) because bd3 block this queen. Also, black has a plan of playing a6, b5, bb7, nd7-b6, and eventually Qd5 after pushing the knight on c3 away.

All in all, gxf6 is sounds, same as Bxf6 of white (trading pair bishops) the reasoning behind that bishop exchange lies on the character of the position.

Two Bishops theory is very wide and remains "theory" they are efficient and very useful in the open positions. Well, at this case black played french which is normally becomes semi-closed or close position, so white decided to trade his bishop to soften his opponent's king's side and leave his knight sitting on e4 unopposed.

The hardest part of improving in Chess is to find the appropriate theory over the given position and also breaking certain theory for some other theories.

In my own opinion, theories and principles are base on how you interpret and equipped it, like just this analogy, theoretically, people wear their bottom clothes before wearing their shirts but it could be done vice versa depends on who and what is the situation is given, let say that you are cold then the probability of upper clothes first is very high due to your body's demands.

So, those are [my own] explanation at this issues.