Yes, yes, I know. Maggie is going to be the highest-rated chesser in history. Nobody gives a hoot about a blogger having a rubbish year.
I don't care, I'm going to write about it anyway.
#14: Korchnoi-Spassky (7), Belgrade 1977
This move, suggested by Hort, was specially prepared by Korchnoi before this match. The plan is to cramp Black's queen side pawns.
Ray Keene, Korchnoi vs Spassky: Chess Crisis (Allen & Unwin 1978)
A couple of weeks ago (Looking forward, looking back) I mentioned that this hasn't been the best of years for me, chessically speaking. I haven't been able to devote either the time or the energy that I could last year, so I suppose it's not surprising that I haven't been enjoying it as much.
Still, even amongst all the filth, I've had a few happy moments. Probably the high-point of my year relates to Korchnoi's 11 b4, a move he wheeled out in the seventh game of his match against Spassky (WwwK XXIII) precisely 35 years ago today. I'd been waiting an eternity to play it myself and finally this year I got a chance to do so ... not once but twice.
Match preparation 70s style
Chesswise, 2012 has been a complete contrast to last year. I've hardly played - barely 30 games all told compared to the 70-odd I got through in the second half of 2011 alone - and even when I have got to push a few pawns it's usually been with a complete lack of oomph.
Last year I'd never have dreamt of accepting a draw in this position,
Wimping out as Black
let alone offering one. For a while now, though, my main objective on sitting down at the board has not been to win, or even to avoid losing, but simply to get on the bus home asap.
I suppose doesn't help when you spend two hours building up a big advantage like this one
Screwing up as White
only to play Be2??, chucking a pawn away for nothing to a fork that you'd already seen. What's the Informator symbol for FFS?
Short draws and points thrown away. That pretty much sums up my club chess in 2012. Frankly, it's all been a bit of a chore: like jogging when you clearly don't want to.
Your humble scribe and Angus French failing to solve the Penarth Pier Problem
Tournaments, on the other hand, have been a lot of fun. There were only two this year - Penarth in July and Twyford in August - but I thoroughly enjoyed them both.
True, in Wales I got splattered once or twice. However, I also got to play a Grandmaster for the first time, got my first draw against a FIDE Master and bookended the tournament with wins on the Black side of the Classical Dutch.
As for Twyford, it was my second visit to the August Bank Holiday tournament there and, as things turned out, it was also the second time that I scored +2=2-2. This time around, though, I was facing much stronger opposition so 50% was a rather satisfying outcome. It wasn't my score per se that was so pleasing, however. Mostly, it was the way I got my points.
I've been playing the White side of the Queen's Gambit Declined since Paignton at the start of the 2009/10 season. My interest in the opening, combined with the fact that I was just starting to write a series of articles about chess in the 1970s meant that I got pretty familiar with game 7 of the 77/78 Korchnoi-Spassky Candidates' final. b2-b4 is a pretty well-known idea now - although Kasparov and Karpov usually played it with Be2 instead of Rc1 - but back in the day it seems to have been regarded as pretty fresh and rather unusual. In any event, it led to a spectacular clash - a game which Vik's young English seconds felt was his "best creative achievement" of the entire match.
I'd always intended to follow in Korchnoi's footsteps and punt 11 b4 as soon as I got the chance, but what do you know? No bugger would play the Tartakower against me. My first experiment with the White side of the Queen's Gambit came on the 7th September, 2009. Time passed - two years, eleven months and eighteen days to be precise. I played 151 games in 72 of which I had White and in 12 of those I faced the Queen's Gambit. All that time and all those games, and not one single Tartakower.
Oi, Baldy. I waited three years for you to show upFinally, in the second round at Twyford, Phil Stimpson did the decent thing. Needless to say, by that time I had nothing but a hazy memory of how Korchnoi-Spassky had proceeded, but I got to play 11 b4 at least, and I even went on to win the game.
I was delighted, of course, but my pleasure at finally getting to play Korchnoi's move was also tinged with sadness. When I got home I calculated that at my current rate it was likely to be around 2019 before I'd have the chance to give it another go. That's after Blade Runner is supposed to have happened!
Which just goes to show, you never know when opportunity is going to present itself. The next morning, perhaps 12 hours later, Tim Rogers (the same Tim Rogers against whom I'd had a total 'mare at Imperial College) went down the very same line. After fourteen moves
the position was identical to my round 2 game except that this time Black had played ... c6 instead of ... a6. This is a much better set-up, I think, although as it happens Tim ended up resigning 32 moves earlier than Phil did.
A three year wait and then two opportunities to play 11 b4 in less than a day and two victories! I can't say that they were the most accurately played games in the world, but still, two wins is two wins!
Finding a photograph of loads of buses turning up together is harder than you'd think
Well that's chess life I suppose. You wait an age for an opening to turn up and then two come along at once.
It was pleasing, of course, and back-to-back wins against opposition rated in the high 170s don't come along for me too often, although I'm not sure these two games make up for a dozen or more horrible ones that I played in club chess. That's our game, isn't it? It doesn't seeem to matter how badly things are going, there's always something to keep us coming back for more.
2013 is just around the corner and my working life is becoming more manageable. Time to draw a line under my club chess in 2012 and move on.
Penarth Pier via EJH
Tartakower is everywhere
Joggers can be found in a late 70s BCM