Tue, 2014-01-14 10:41 -- IM Max Illingworth

[pgn][Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2014.01.13"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Introduction to FailChess"]
[Black "?"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "C10"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "20"]
[EventDate "2014.??.??"]

{For this week's blog post I will discuss a topic not covered very often in
chess literature: 'FailChess'. As far as I know the term was invented by IM
Moulthun Ly during the 2012 Queenstown Chess Classic. Basically FailChess
means a very bad move or series of moves that are quite humorous. Of course,
if you are into schadenfreude this applies to a wide range of moves! Let's
start with a 'find the worst move' example.} 1. e4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4.
Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ Qxf6 6. d4 Nc6 7. Bg5 Qg6 8. Bd3 Qh5 9. Qd2 Bd6 {In this
position, a healthy move would be to play 10.c3, for instance, but here White
decided to play the worst serious-looking move on the board...} 10. c4 $4 {
Didn't Weeramantry write about how strong two pawns are side by side on the
4th rank? He did, and I sometimes talk about this in my own lessons, but
there's more to chess than positional considerations...} Bb4 {such as winning
the opponent's queen! White resigned.} *[/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Queenstown op"]
[Site "Queenstown"]
[Date "2012.01.20"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Ilic, Ilija"]
[Black "Brown, Andrew"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D00"]
[WhiteElo "2010"]
[BlackElo "2215"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "110"]
[EventDate "2012.01.15"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "NZL"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2012.02.29"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Bf4 Bf5 4. f3 e6 5. g4 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. e3 a6 8. Bd3 Bxd3
9. Qxd3 c5 10. Nge2 c4 11. Qd2 Bb4 12. a3 Ba5 13. b4 cxb3 14. cxb3 Nc6 15. b4
Bc7 16. Na4 e5 17. dxe5 Bxe5 18. Rd1 Qc7 19. Nc5 Bxf4 20. exf4 O-O-O 21. Nd4
Rhe8+ 22. Kf1 Nxd4 23. Qxd4 Rd6 24. Rh2 Rc6 25. Re2 Rxe2 26. Kxe2 b6 27. Nd3
Rc4 28. Qe5 Qd7 {This position was the one Moulthun had in mind when he coined
the term.} 29. Qf5 {Obviously this move is not wonderful for White's pawn
structure!} Qxf5 30. gxf5 Rc2+ 31. Ke3 Ra2 32. Rg1 Ne8 33. Rc1+ Kb7 34. Kd4
Rxa3 35. Re1 Nd6 36. Re7+ Kc8 37. Re5 Nb5+ 38. Ke3 d4+ 39. Ke4 Kd7 40. Rd5+ Ke7
41. Re5+ Kd7 42. Rd5+ Kc7 43. Re5 Kc6 44. f6 gxf6 45. Rh5 f5+ 46. Kxf5 Rxd3 47.
Rxh6+ Kc7 48. Rf6 Rxf3 49. Rxf7+ Kd8 50. Kg4 Re3 51. Rf5 d3 52. Rd5+ Ke7 53. h5
Ke6 54. Rd8 Nd6 55. f5+ Ke7 0-1[/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Australian Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2014.01.07"]
[Round "7.6"]
[White "Zelesco, Karl"]
[Black "Illingworth, Max"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A47"]
[WhiteElo "2242"]
[BlackElo "2434"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "76"]
[EventDate "2014.??.??"]
[Source "Max Illingworth"]
[SourceDate "2008.10.04"]

{Now we've made fun of FailChess, but it's actually possible to play FailChess
and win! Especially if your opponent feels morally obliged to punish you for
your moves...} 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 b6 {I played this to avoid my opponent's
preparation, but maybe I should have taken it head on! I'm the Australian
Champion after all...} 3. Bg5 d5 4. e3 e6 5. c4 Bb7 6. cxd5 exd5 7. Bb5+ c6 8.
Bd3 Be7 9. O-O Nbd7 10. Nc3 {This is a pretty normal position. I wasn't
unhappy since my opponent wasn't familiar with this structure with the bishop
on b7 and this helped me get well ahead on the clock as my surprise caused my
opponent to try to play perfectly rather than just play happy moves quickly.}
h6 $1 {A very important move to be able to later meet Bh4 with ...Ne4 freeing
Black's position. And if Bf4...} 11. Bf4 Nh5 $1 {It is very important to
exchange this f4-bishop before White preserves it with h3 and Bh2. In that
case it would be nearly impossible to free Black's position:} (11... O-O 12. h3
c5 13. Qc2 c4 14. Bf5 {for instance would be a very unpleasant structure for
Black - he can't easily go ...b5-b4 and White will obtain a powerful
initiative with Ne5 and e4!.}) 12. Be5 {I expected this - if I take the bishop
he recaptures with the pawn and my knight is very stupid on h5.} O-O 13. Rc1 (
13. h3 Nxe5 14. dxe5 g6 {is like the game.}) 13... Nxe5 14. dxe5 g6 15. e6 $1 {
A good move to break up my structure before I can play ...Ng7. Here is where I
had my big 'FailChess' moment. Originally when I calculated this position out
many moons ago (why not use the opponent's thinking time) I was going to play .
..Qd6 and play. But for some reason I was also drawn to the idea of ...fxe6.
And after about three minutes thought I played} fxe6 $2 {completely failing to
see that White is not forced to recapture the pawn immediately! Maybe I should
have gone to the checkers tournament...} (15... Qd6 16. exf7+ Rxf7 {is fine
for Black - I have the pair of bishops, nice half-open e and f-files for my
rooks and my king might be a little airy but White can't take advantage.
Actually I would much rather be Black in this sort of position - I can always
bring my knight back into play via. g7. I saw the Ne5! idea in the game a few
seconds too late.}) 16. Ne5 $1 {What do you do when you have played a
FailChess move? Look confident and pretend it was all part of the plan!} Nf6
17. Nxg6 Rf7 18. f4 {Not bad, but} (18. Qf3 $1 {and Qh3 would have reinforced
'Loose Pieces Drop Off' very clearly and left me in trouble. After my intention
} Bd6 19. Qh3 Kg7 {I'm getting caned with} 20. f4 {and Rf3-g3/Ne5 in some
order.}) 18... d4 {Not the engine's first move, but I think I have to get
counterplay fast or I'll be slaughtered on the kingside.} 19. Ne2 (19. exd4
Qxd4+ 20. Kh1 Rd8 {looked OK to me during the game, but} 21. Qe1 $1 Qxd3 22.
Nxe7+ Rxe7 23. Rd1 {refutes this.}) 19... dxe3 20. f5 $1 {Very inspired play -
I am almost losing now. I have to admit, I was incredibly lucky in this game!}
exf5 21. Rxf5 {The problem for me here is that my king has no pawns defending
it and all of White's pieces are developed and very active. Had I been more
objective and realised how bad my plight was I might have given up already!
But I still believed that I was doing fine and with some accurate moves would
get a good game.} Bd6 22. Qb3 Bc8 23. Rff1 Bg4 (23... Kg7 {allows} 24. Nef4 {
and with Qc3 and Nh5 coming, I'm not going to survive to the move 40 time
control.}) 24. Rxc6 {This is still very good, but there was better.} ({In the
post-mortem Eugene mentioned} 24. Nh8 $1 {as a joke but actually it just wins!}
Kxh8 25. Qxf7 Be5 26. Rxf6 {and Black gets mated pretty brutally. Neither of
us saw this move at all - it is very rare that a knight move to the corner of
the board is strong!}) 24... Kg7 25. Ngf4 (25. h3 Bxe2 26. Bxe2 {is probably
winning. We both missed that after} Kxg6 27. Qd3+ {decisively regains the
piece.} (27. Bh5+ $1 {is mate in 12 according to the engine - I'll leave you
to work it out!})) 25... Qd7 26. Qc2 (26. Qc3 $1 {is a much better square,
pinning the knight and stopping ...Be5. White can probably just go h3 and Nh5
and Black's toast.}) 26... Rc8 27. Rxd6 $4 {This move changes the evaluation
by 180%.} (27. Rxc8 Qxc8 28. Bc4 {is winning for White. During the game I
thought I could play} Bf5 {but} 29. Qc3 {with the threat of Nh5 decides.})
27... Qxd6 28. Bc4 {This looks good, until one sees} Nh5 $1 {which defends
against Qg6. White can't take on f7 because of the pin.} 29. Qc3+ Rf6 30. Nxh5+
Bxh5 31. Ng3 Bg6 ({I nearly played} 31... Bg4 $4 {allowing} 32. Ne4 {which
would have been a problem indeed!}) 32. Rf5 $5 {A final attempt to confuse
White.} Rxc4 33. Qxc4 Bxf5 34. Nh5+ Kf8 35. Nxf6 Qd1+ 36. Qf1 e2 37. Nd7+ Ke7
38. Nxb6 Qxf1# {To his credit Karl fought back exceptionally well after this
game, finishing in equal second on 7.5/11. In any point the point I want to
make is that the first mistakes normally don't kill you in chess (unless they
are big blunders) - you can still fight back and win from a bad position. What
is important is believing in yourself and putting pressure on the opponent.
Most players will eventually crack when faced with lots of tough decisions,
and then you have to be skilled enough to pounce!} 0-1[/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Australian Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2014.01.08"]
[Round "8.3"]
[White "Illingworth, Max"]
[Black "Cheng, Bobby"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C08"]
[WhiteElo "2434"]
[BlackElo "2433"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "103"]
[EventDate "2014.??.??"]
[Source "Max Illingworth"]
[SourceDate "2008.10.04"]

{Here's another game where I had embodied the style of 'FailChess' very well
at the start, but won with dogged resistance and vast overconfidence in my
position.} 1. d4 {This move is my latest Anti Caro-Kann.} e6 2. e4 d5 {While
it's rumoured that the French is a forced loss, this game does little to
support the rumour...} 3. Nd2 c5 4. exd5 exd5 5. Bb5+ {I played this old line
thinking Bobby would be too young to know it, but he knew it better than me...}
Nc6 6. Qe2+ (6. Ngf3 {gives a much healthier impression. For some reason, in
these two games I forgot to follow the advice I give my students of 'develop
your pieces quickly to good squares'. Do as I say not as I do!}) 6... Be7 7.
dxc5 {Grabbing a pawn, but it's not that safe with my queen on the open e-file
and what not.} Nf6 8. Nb3 O-O 9. Be3 a6 10. Bxc6 $6 {This was silly. I briefly
considered 10.Bd3 but felt it couldn't be good after ...d4. The move I never
even considered was} (10. Ba4 {keeping the bishop and tension. I felt pretty
stupid when I saw after the game that this is the main move!}) 10... bxc6 11.
Nf3 a5 12. O-O-O $2 {Finally when I get my king castled, it's bad! Of course I
should have known I was asking for trouble with ...a4-a3 coming.} (12. Ne5 Qc7
13. Nd3 {at least hangs on to the extra pawn which is the only good thing
right now in my position.}) 12... a4 13. Nbd4 Qc7 {Well, that's unfortunate. I
can't hang on to my extra pawn, my opponent has the bishop pair, safer king,
better placed pieces and attacking chances against my king. I did start to get
a little worried here.} 14. Bg5 $1 {Without this move I'm probably busted.}
Bxc5 15. Bxf6 Qf4+ {This is the healthiest move but I was actually more
worried about} (15... gxf6 $5 {as I can't really exploit the holes around the
king and I don't get e5 for my pieces.}) 16. Qd2 (16. Kb1 Qxf6 17. Qe5 {was my
original intention and somewhat better. Why did I doubt myself again?
Sometimes you just see the best move right away but then think 'no I see this
really clever idea I want to try' and mess yourself up.}) 16... Qxf6 17. Qc3
Qd6 18. a3 {I was a little concerned about my chances here, but Bobby had been
shaking his head for much of the game. Bobby's quite a good player so I
thought 'Well there must be something OK for me then!'} Bg4 {Around here I
couldn't find anything productive to do so I decided to just defend all my
pieces to avoid dropping a pawn too soon.} (18... f6 {might be even better
just to stop my knights ever finding good squares.}) 19. Rd2 Rfe8 20. h3 Bd7
21. Re1 {Objectively this is bad, but I have to exchange some pieces to have
any chance of surviving Black's initiative in a practical game.} Bb6 22. Rxe8+
Rxe8 23. Qd3 Re4 $2 {Bobby rightly saw that his decision here would be
critical but spent a long time on this move. I have the feeling that in a
blitz game he would have played} (23... c5 {. Then} 24. Nb5 Qc6 25. c4 Ba5 26.
Rd1 d4 {leaves my b5-knight stuck on Mars, and Black should win with a
protected passed pawn, pair of bishops and safer king. Not to mention that I
can't even challenge the e-file! Alas, my FailChess was rewarded...}) 24. Qa6
$1 {I didn't even calculate this move. I just thought 'LPDO - let's attack
those two undefended pieces!' It really bothered Bobby too...} Bc7 25. Ne2 {I
was worried about ...c5 so I wanted to put the knight on c3 and take that
tender a4-prawn.} h6 26. Nc3 Rf4 {Black threatens ...Bxh3 overloading the poor
g2-pawn. It didn't even move a muscle and already it's forced to endure heavy
labour!} 27. Ne1 Qf6 $2 {Often one mistake is soon followed by another, as the
player is annoyed at their error before and don't think as clearly about the
position in front of them. It's important to be able to psychologically move
on quickly after making a silly move, especially when most players make quite
a few of them. The real problem with this move is that it leaves both the
bishops undefended. What can I say, LPDO!} 28. Qa7 $1 {Deftly combining attack
and defence!} Qd8 29. Nd3 Rc4 30. Nxa4 {Here I thought my opponent was lucky
as he still has decent activity and bishop pair compensation for the pawn. I'm
such an ungrateful player!} Bf5 31. b3 (31. Kb1 {was another move I considered
but I didn't like the line-up of bishop and king, and also the a4-knight was
having conniptions.}) 31... Bxd3 $1 {This is actually quite a clever exchange
sacrifice, but my opponent was shaking his head a lot so I was calculating for
half my remaining time looking for the refutation! Against most people I'd
just ignore their body language but Bobby is normally pretty objective.} 32.
bxc4 Bxc4 33. g3 Ba5 (33... Bd6 {attacking the undefended piece was also an
option. In general the bishops are no worse than the rook and knight in this
sort of position, plus I have to constantly stop my king getting hunted.}) 34.
Rd1 Bb5 35. Qd4 Qd6 36. Qc5 Qd8 37. Nc3 Qf6 $4 {This move is a blunder in a
position where it's really hard to see what White does if Black plays} (37...
Bb6 38. Qb4 Ba6 {as he can't coordinate/consolidate properly.}) (37... Bc4 38.
Qxc4 dxc4 39. Rxd8+ Bxd8 40. Ne4 {is the kind of endgame I was hoping to
transition into.}) 38. a4 $1 {My opponent forgot that I don't have to move the
attacked piece when you can make an equal or stronger threat! Now the rest is
easy.} Bxc3 39. axb5 Ba5 40. Kb1 Qf3 41. Rd3 Qh1+ 42. Kb2 cxb5 43. Qc8+ Kh7 44.
Qf5+ Kg8 45. Re3 f6 46. Qd7 Kh7 47. Re7 Bc3+ 48. Kxc3 Qa1+ 49. Kd2 Qd4+ 50. Ke2
Qc4+ 51. Kf3 Kh8 52. Re8+ {Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed the game
and maybe had a smile/laugh too!} 1-0[/pgn]