I lost the game of chess that I played against Dr M on 18th January, and the two games previous to that had ended in draws, so it was imperative that I at least avoid defeat on Monday 30th January.
Well, I managed to win, twice, but only by the skin of my teeth and after some serious bish ups. It really does seem as if I need to mess up in order to stand any chance of winning, but only if I can survive long enough for my opponent to mess up as well!
The First Game
In the first game, it got to the stage where defeat looked a virtual certainty after Dr M (White) sacrificed his knight to the cause of displacing my king (from e8 to f7) and disrupting my defence, thereby completely throwing off my plans for my bishop, which was on g7 at the time.
Dr M likes playing as White because it gives him the opportunity to open with something other than d4 or e4 in the hope of causing me sufficient confusion for him to use his shogi (Japanese chess) skills to win the game.
Tonight he opened with the Zuckertort, Kt-f3 (Kt-KB3), and I replied with a completely unconventional d6!
In the diagram above, I have managed to shore up what had been a very dodgy situation with the help of the queen. The queen had been on c2 for much of the game and ineffective in the defence against Dr M’s attack on the opposite flank.
Up until now my unintended “rope-a-dope” defence had seen me as both the dope and on the rope, which I don’t think is what the phrase originally intended, but just now I have been riding the punches and Dr M’s attack was running out of steam and it is his turn to move and he made a fatal mistake…
B-f4 Q-e8 Mate.
The Second Game
In the second game, I was White and started off with the good old Kings pawn opening, aiming for the Giuoco Piano and was cruising along, as I thought, just enjoying having escaped from defeat in the previous game when I realized that I had just made a very lazy balls up by letting his bishop and knight get a double bead on f3 and threatening to fork my queen and rook. I moved my queen to d2 neglecting to note that there was a danger of a king/queen fork as well, so when Dr M played B x Kt I thought it prudent not to retake and moved the queen to c3.
Dr M replied with B x P, which suited me!
Q-QB3, B x P
R x P
That was the end of my discomfort and the beginning of Dr M’s as I was able to bring my rook, knight, bishop and queen into play.
A little later Dr M fatally weakened his central pawn structure with P-KB4, allowing my queen to take the king’s pawn. Even so, I only succeeded after once again getting into a pickle in the early game.
The Dr M formula for victory is to play as white with the Zukertort to throw me off balance and then avoid making big mistakes while using his shogi skills to set up a combination attack. My formula for victory is to make a mistake, then play rope-a-dope and strike IF he returns the favour later in the game!
P. S. Just in case anybody needs reminding about “rope-a-dope” this video will probably help…