Sleep & Chess!

Wed, 2014-07-16 16:04 -- IM Max Illingworth

[pgn][Event "Poughskeepie"]
[Site "Poughskeepie"]
[Date "1963.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Fischer, Robert James"]
[Black "Bisguier, Arthur Bernard"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C59"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "57"]
[EventDate "1963.??.??"]
[EventRounds "6"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1999.07.01"]

{For today's blog post I'll look at the role of sleep in chess. Everyone knows
that you need a good night's sleep to play at the top of your game, but it's
also important for ensuring you don't fall asleep at the board! The following
game is a famous example where Fischer fell asleep at the board after playing
blitz all night! Bisguier could have won the US Championship if he'd left
Fischer sleeping and thereby won on time, but Bisguier decided to wake Fischer
up, after which Fischer played a move quickly and went on to win the game.
Unfortunately I don't know the move where Fischer nodded off, but here's the
game in full. You can find detailed notes of it in Mega Database, so I've left
it unannotated here.} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Na5 6.
Bb5+ c6 7. dxc6 bxc6 8. Be2 h6 9. Nh3 Bc5 10. O-O O-O 11. d3 Bxh3 12. gxh3 Qd7
13. Bf3 Qxh3 14. Nd2 Rad8 15. Bg2 Qf5 16. Qe1 Rfe8 17. Ne4 Bb6 18. Nxf6+ Qxf6
19. Kh1 c5 20. Qc3 Nc6 21. f4 Nd4 22. Qc4 Qg6 23. c3 Nf5 24. fxe5 Rxe5 25. Bf4
Re2 26. Be4 Rxb2 27. Be5 Re8 28. Rxf5 Rxe5 29. Rxe5 1-0 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Croydon Chess Classic 2014"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2014.07.13"]
[Round "5.1"]
[White "Illingworth, Max"]
[Black "Izzat, Kanan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D10"]
[WhiteElo "2502"]
[BlackElo "2394"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "63"]
[EventDate "2014.??.??"]
[Source "Max Illingworth"]
[SourceDate "2008.10.04"]

{I thought of this subject during my last-round game in the Croydon Chess
Classic, where I had won my first four games to take the outright lead, but
needed to beat IM-elect Kanan Izzat to guarantee tournament victory. As you
probably know, Kanan and James were up all night watching the World Cup, and
as a result both of them fell asleep at the board - in fact, at about the same
time! I've annotated this game to show how lack of sleep is generally
detrimental to one's play.} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. cxd5 {I played
this system not to play for a draw, but to get a small edge without any real
risk. However, my opponent thought I was trying to kill the game and played
quite strangely.} Nxd5 $2 {This move, giving up the centre for free, is so bad
that I actually laughed a bit when he played it.} (4... cxd5 {is obviously
correct, when White should play 5.Nf3 and only then 6.Bf4 if he is happy with
a draw, as after} 5. Bf4 {Black can make the position quite interesting and
potentially sharp with} Qb6 $5 {.}) 5. e4 (5. Nf3 {and only then e4 is simpler,
but after} Bf5 {Black is only somewhat worse - for what it's worth,} 6. Nd2 {
intending e4 is then quite promising.}) 5... Nxc3 6. bxc3 e5 $1 {This is a
good move, but it doesn't stop White being much better. I came up with a
similar idea in the Grunfeld about five months ago, but that was only in a
friendly game.} 7. Nf3 $1 {Not only the pragmatic move, but also the best one,
retaining control of the centre.} (7. dxe5 Qxd1+ 8. Kxd1 {is also not bad, but
Black gets some compensation after} Nd7 9. Bf4 Bc5 {.}) 7... Bg4 $6 {It might
sound harsh to say that a similar mistake was made in a 1560 game. but it
shows the importance of knowing your classics.} (7... exd4 {can be met by cxd4
with an advantage, but it's even better to play in QGA style with} 8. Bc4 $1 {
as ...dxc3 fails to Bxf7, and} Qa5 {(otherwise White takes on d4 with total
central domination)} 9. O-O $1 Qxc3 10. Ne5 {sees the tender f7 point go down,
with decisive consequences.}) 8. Bc4 $1 {Now Bxf7 is a big threat, as every
Russian schoolboy knows.} Qc7 (8... exd4 9. Bxf7+ Kxf7 10. Ne5+ Ke6 11. Qxg4+
Kxe5 12. Bf4+ Kxe4 13. Qe6+ Kxf4 (13... Kd3 14. O-O-O+ Kxc3 15. Qb3#) 14. g3+
Kf3 15. Kf1 dxc3 16. Qf5# {would have been a really cute mate.}) 9. O-O {This
simple move is quite strong (I couldn't understand my opponent's play in any
case), but also effective was} (9. h3 {to nab the bishop pair as well after a
trade on f3. What I'd missed was that after} Bh5 10. g4 Bg6 11. Nxe5 {, Black
can't take on e4 as the f7-pawn is hanging.}) 9... Bh5 {A very strange way of
preparing ...Nd7; if} (9... Nd7 10. Bxf7+ {and Ng5 wins a pawn and unseats the
Black royalty.}) 10. dxe5 (10. Qd3 {was also possible, but when I see a free
pawn I grab it!}) 10... Nd7 {After playing this move, my opponent had 40
minutes on the clock...and he fell asleep! So I played my next move and waited
for him to wake up.} 11. e6 {Around this point, James also fell asleep at the
board (against Jack Puccini), but despite having a less interesting position
(a Philidor), he woke up after about eight minutes and went on to win his game.
Meanwhile, my opponent was having his nap, and the spectators gathered around
laughing at the situation. Some even grabbed piccies of the scene. The arbiter
asked me if I wanted to wake my opponent up, but I saw no reason to,
especially when first prize was $500. With four minutes on his clock, my
opponent woke up, looked at me in surprise that I hadn't woken him, and the
game went on.} fxe6 12. Bxe6 Ne5 (12... Rd8 {may have been better, but Black
is still down a pawn with nothing in the way of compensation.}) 13. Bf4 Bd6 (
13... Nxf3+ 14. Qxf3 Bxf3 15. Bxc7 Bxe4 16. Rad1 {is winning for White,
because Black's king is stuck in the centre without any protection.}) 14. Bxe5
Bxe5 15. Qd7+ $6 {I decided to be pragmatic and go for a clearly better
endgame that I was confident I'd win. That ended up happening, but objectively}
(15. g4 {was more decisive. This was my original intention and I felt it
should be winning, but after} Rd8 16. Qb3 Bg6 17. Rad1 Ke7 {I thought Black
might get some tricks based on my own king being a bit open. However White is
in full control:} 18. Bf5 Bf7 19. c4 g6 {(this seems to win the bishop, but
there's a catch)} 20. Nxe5 Qxe5 21. Qxb7+ Kf6 22. Qxc6+ Kg7 23. f4 Qc3 24. Bd7
{and there's no perpetual check, so White just wins.}) 15... Qxd7 16. Bxd7+
Kxd7 17. Nxe5+ Kc7 (17... Kd6 18. f4 g5 19. g3 gxf4 20. gxf4 Rhg8+ 21. Kf2 {
stops all Black's counterplay and should win comfortably.}) 18. f3 (18. f4 {
was objectively better, although I think f3 wins too.}) 18... g5 19. Kf2 Rhe8
20. Nd3 a5 (20... Bf7 21. Ke3 Bc4 22. Rfd1 Rad8 {offered better drawing
chances, though White should still win comfortably.}) 21. Ke3 {I felt that
once I set up this position, I would win pretty easily, and that turned out to
be the case.} Re7 22. h4 $1 {It is quite useful to break up Black's structure
like this.} g4 (22... gxh4 23. Rh1 Bf7 24. Rxh4 {now gives White connected
passed pawns, which should be enough to win.}) (22... h6 23. hxg5 hxg5 24. Rh1
Bg6 25. Rh6 {was my other idea, after which Black will be too busy stopping my
pawns queening to generate any of his own play.}) 23. f4 Rae8 (23... g3 24. Ne5
{doesn't give Black anything - despite his control over d1, he can't penetrate
down the open file.}) 24. e5 Bf7 25. f5 {Once I get in e6, it's only a matter
of time before the pawns win material. Therefore, Black tried sacking the
exchange.} Rxe5+ 26. Nxe5 Rxe5+ 27. Kf4 Rc5 (27... Re2 28. Rae1 $1 {also wins,
as if he takes either of my pawns, Re7 wins the bishop.}) 28. Rfe1 Kd7 29.
Rad1+ Bd5 30. f6 {Freddy the f-pawn is about to make a home run!} Rxc3 31. f7
Rc2 32. Ke3 {Black resigned, as if ...Ke7, Kd3 is check, winning the c2-rook
and with it the game. The lesson to learn from this game and the previous one
is to not fall asleep at the board, and if the opponent does, waking him up is
a big blunder!} 1-0 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Gold Coast Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2012.06.23"]
[Round "4.4"]
[White "Illingworth, Max"]
[Black "Kalka, Arkadius Georg"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B76"]
[WhiteElo "2344"]
[BlackElo "2359"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "61"]
[EventDate "2012.06.24"]
[Source "Max Illingworth"]
[SourceDate "2008.10.04"]

{However, while most people play much more weakly after not having any sleep,
there are some exceptions. For instance, Baadur Jobava is known to party until
late at night between rounds at tournaments, yet still manages to keep his
rating over 2700. I've also played a number of games without any sleep the
night before (but due to insomnia rather than choice), and while my play has
generally been worse as a result, my results have been just as good without
any sleep as they have been with enough sleep. For example, I played the
following game on the third round of the second day of a tournament where I
had no sleep the night before the tournament and about 4-5 hours sleep the
morning before this game. So let's see what happened!} 1. e4 {Although one
could argue against playing a sharp opening when lacking sleep, it was what I
knew best at the time, so I stuck to it. I don't think a sleepless night and
opening experimentation tend to go well.} c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6
5. Nc3 g6 {The Dragon was an excellent choice considering the circumstances,
but only if you know the theory, which my opponent didn't as we will see. As
someone recently said, one does not simply flirt with the Dragon.} 6. Be3 Bg7
7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2 O-O 9. g4 {I'd shown this line to a student some days before
this game, so it was logical to try out my suggestion.} Bxg4 $2 {When you lack
sleep, you may need a bit of help from your don't stop him! Play
happy moves and they might do the work for you!} (9... Be6 {was a better
bishop move, since if} 10. Nxe6 fxe6 11. O-O-O Ne5 {Black generates some
pressure on the backward f3-pawn in return for having doubled pawns and losing
the bishop pair, though after} 12. Be2 {I still like White's chances.}) 10.
fxg4 Nxg4 11. Nb3 $1 {The best move, after which Black lacks compensation for
the piece as there's no obvious way to attack White's king, and actually White
can still generate threats on the kingside (though it will take longer). But
one has plenty of time when it hasn't been spent on sleep!} a5 (11... d5 {
might be the best try, but after} 12. exd5 Nxe3 13. Qxe3 Bxc3+ 14. bxc3 Qxd5
15. Rg1 {it's still not clear what Black has for the piece. White's king is
rather safe as it were.}) 12. Bb5 $1 (12. a4 {was the other move I saw, and
the computer likes it more, but I think my move is stronger as it stops the ...
d5 idea mentioned before.}) 12... Nb4 13. O-O-O e6 {Thank you for the free
target on d6!} 14. Kb1 Qh4 15. Bb6 $1 {Now d6 falls, and the rest was easy
even for a sleep-deprived titled player.} Nc6 16. Qxd6 Nf2 17. Bxf2 Qxf2 18.
Qc5 Qf3 19. Bxc6 bxc6 20. e5 Qh5 21. Nxa5 Rfd8 22. Nxc6 Rxd1+ 23. Rxd1 Qxh2 24.
b4 h5 25. b5 Bf8 26. Qc4 Qf2 27. Rf1 Qe3 28. Qd3 Qb6 29. Qd7 Qc5 30. Qxf7+ Kh8
31. Qxg6 {I'll finish with one more example of how to play when you have not
slept properly before your game.} 1-0 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "NSW Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2013.06.10"]
[Round "5.1"]
[White "Sanchez Botella, Luiz Javier"]
[Black "Illingworth, Max"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D87"]
[WhiteElo "2308"]
[BlackElo "2404"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "138"]
[EventDate "2013.??.??"]
[Source "Max Illingworth"]
[SourceDate "2008.10.04"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 {Playing a solid opening when you are
sleep-deprived is a mistake, as then you will fall alseep at the board from
either the slow pace of the game, or sheer boredom. However, if your opponent
has black circles under their eyes, then boring is exactly what you want! Then
even a fully refreshed opponent may fall asleep at the helm...} 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5.
e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4 {My opponent plays the old main line. It makes
sense for a Spanish player to try the Seville Variation, but I avoided it!} c5
8. Ne2 Nc6 9. Be3 O-O 10. O-O e6 $5 {I remember that I had been dying to try
out this line for a while before this game, so even when I couldn't remember
any of my extensive analysis of the move, I played it anyway, believing that I
would find the moves anyway. For the record, I've heard that not having any
sleep for a day is equivalent to being drunk. In that case one shouldn't drive
a car to the tournament if you're sleep deprived. As the NSW Police say, a bad
night's sleep means you need a Plan B!} (10... Bg4 11. f3 Na5 12. Bxf7+ {is
the aforementioned Seville Variation, which is so untrendy that it has become
dangerous again.}) 11. Rb1 Qe7 {This is a novelty, but it is quite consistent
to play this move when ...e6 was played to give the queen this square (as well
as dissuade White's d4-d5 push).} 12. Qa4 Rd8 13. Rfd1 a6 {Of course, when you
are playing the third game of the day, you should set a trap, because your
opponent will be so weary that they will fall for it! It helps that this was
the best move in the position too, before some attacking move comes.} 14. f3 {
This is actually a playable move, but not with the follow-up my opponent
intended!} (14. Qa3 {was better, but after} cxd4 15. Qxe7 Nxe7 16. cxd4 b5 17.
Bb3 Bb7 {I don't think Black should be worse.}) 14... cxd4 15. cxd4 $4 (15.
Nxd4 {was the only way to avoid losing material. The only reason Black isn't
better here is because of this silly ...a6 move that weakened the b6-square.
Well chess is like bartering - against a good player you have to give
something to get something. If you give a GM even one weak square, they will
think Christmas has come!}) 15... b5 $1 {SNAP! Black wins the house.} 16. Bxb5
axb5 17. Qxa8 Bb7 {and the White queen is trapped!} 18. Qxd8+ Nxd8 19. Rxb5 {
The rest of the game was a quite appalling effort (my lack of sleep caught up
with me), but I won anyway after my opponent decided to mate himself instead
of me. Well, that was fortunate as I went on to win the tournament! Having
read this entire post, I award you the SM (Sleep Master) title, and don't
forget to wake up at least two hours before your next game of chess, and go to
sleep eight hours before that! I'll see you next week with some other fun
chess theme!} Ba6 20. Rb2 Qa3 21. Bc1 Qa4 22. Re1 Nc6 23. Be3 Bxe2 24. Rbxe2
Bxd4 25. Bxd4 Nxd4 26. Rf2 e5 27. Ref1 Kg7 28. Kh1 Qc4 29. Ra1 Qc3 30. Rff1 Qa3
31. Rf2 h5 32. Re1 h4 33. h3 Qc3 34. Rd1 Kh6 35. Rdf1 Ne6 36. Kh2 Kg5 37. Rb1
Nc5 38. Rd1 Nd3 39. Re2 Nc5 40. Rd5 f6 41. Rd6 Qc1 42. Red2 Na4 43. Rd1 Qf4+
44. Kh1 Nc3 45. Ra1 Ne2 46. a4 Ng3+ 47. Kg1 Qe3+ 48. Kh2 Qf2 49. Rdd1 Nh5 50.
Rf1 Qd2 51. Rfd1 Qa5 52. Rd5 Qc3 53. Rdd1 Nf4 54. a5 Qc2 55. Rg1 Qf2 56. Kh1
Qa7 57. a6 f5 58. Ra5 Ne2 59. Rga1 Kf4 60. R5a4 Kg3 61. Rf1 Nf4 62. Ra3 Qc5 63.
Ra2 Qc4 64. Rfa1 Nd3 65. Ra3 Qc2 66. R3a2 Nb2 67. Rg1 Qb3 68. Raa1 Nd3 69. Rgf1
Qc2 0-1[/pgn]