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Anti-Sicilian Part II Question - . e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4 4. Nf3 e6 5. Bd3 Nc6 6. 0-0 e6 (Be7 Bf6 plan)

Hello, 

I was playing my IM friend today and he played the plan of Be7-Bf6 before developing the g8 Knight to e7.

 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4 4. Nf3 a6 5. Bd3 Nc6 6. O-O e6 7. Re1 d6 8. b3 Be7 9. Bb2 Bf6

According to the theory Avetik gives https://chessmood.com/course/sicilian-defence-part-2/episode/342 I am supposed to play b3 before Re1 as I did in the game but I didn't see this plan mentioned elsewhere in the forum or the course so mentioning here. Even though my move order wasn't totally precise, I don't think that would change the outcome of the way Black played with d6 e6 Be7 Bf6. Please correct me if I am wrong :) 

Do you have any suggestions on how I can handle the position better?  Pasted game below. Having an issue pasting the screenshot sorry. 

FEN: 6k1/4b2p/p1r1p1p1/1pp1Pp2/5P2/PPPrNR2/4n2P/1R2B2K w - - 0 41

PGN: 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4 4. Nf3 a6 5. Bd3 Nc6 6. O-O e6 7. Re1 d6 8. b3 Be7 9. Bb2 Bf6 10. Rb1 Nge7 11. Bf1 O-O 12. a3 b5 13. Qc1 Bb7 14. Nd1 Ng6 15. g3 Nd4 16. Bg2 Rc8 17. d3 Qb6 18. Ne3 Ne5 19. Nxe5 dxe5 20. Ng4 Qd8 21. Qd1 Rc7 22. Bc3 Rd7 23. Rf1 Qe7 24. Qd2 Bg5 25. f4 exf4 26. gxf4 Bh4 27. Ne5 Rdd8 28. Kh1 Qd6 29. Rg1 Be7 30. Qf2 f6 31. Ng4 f5 32. e5 Qd7 33. Ne3 Bxg2+ 34. Qxg2 g6 35. Ba5 Rc8 36. Be1 Qc6 37. Qxc6 Rxc6 38. Rg3 Rd8 39. c3 Ne2 40. Rf3 Rxd3

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My Year In Review

The year 2021 is hours away from ending. For some of us it has been a good year, and others may want to forget it. Whichever group you fall in, it is still a great idea to look back through the year for the lessons you can take into 2022!

My year started with the idea I can only control my own actions, since the year before was difficult for hitting my numerous number goals. ( You can read last years review here https://chessmood.com/forum/main-channel/review-your-year-like-you-review-your-games ). I had decided to restart all the ChessMood videos over as if I was brand new. It was an ambitious goal and started out great! Then my mindset shifted and I changed course (more on that shortly). Needless to say, I didn't re-watch all the courses again, though I did review all my opening files regularly.

I had found in 2020 that I get distracted very easily, so in January, I disabled all of my social media. No more Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media on my phone. This was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have recovered many hours a week that was just spent scrolling through things that didn't pertain to my goals, and now have been able to use that time on chess. 

I have also continued my health journey and have been able to maintain a healthy weight, and added 5 miles of walking to my routine every day. It is amazing how much clearer the mind is when the body is healthy, and I am now a firm believer in this as I have been able to personally witness my own change!

The year hasn't been all rainbows and unicorns though. My schedule changed during the early part of the year that has made it impossible to catch any ChessMood events live. I really miss interacting with the ChessMood family in real time. I also had a major family tragedy while I was away at the US Open in August, which forced me to withdraw and fly home immediately, and left me mentally  stressed for many weeks afterward. We all have had tragedy hit, as it is part of life, and I wont dwell on details here, just know we are well, and have moved on as we should.

Now that the heavy stuff is behind us, lets get back to chess! It has been both a great year for my game, and a poor year for my rating. How is this possible you ask? Well, let me explain!

In the early part of the year, I was struggling with time zones and schedules, and found it very difficult to meet with my coach (online) on a regular basis, and therefor didn't feel like it would be good for my game to continue trying to try to force myself to jam in a lesson somewhere in the cracks. Instead, I started looking for a coach that could meet on my schedule, who wouldn't want me to change all of my openings (I am quite comfortable with ChessMood openings and wasn't giving them up! haha), who would also genuinely want my success,  and believed in my ability to achieve my lofty goals. I was lucky that I already knew someone that fit all of this criteria, I just had to see if he had time to work with me! In late march, I contacted my friend, GM Rogelio Barcenilla Jr, and he agreed to start working with me starting in April!

GM Barcenilla immediately started giving me home work to fix the biggest holes in my game. (this is why I changed my mindset on my activities for the year, as openings were not my problem, they were actually already a strength! So I didn't need to review all of the videos again.) I have taken copious notes every time I get to sit and work with GM Barcenilla (once a week) and now have stacks of notes that I review regularly. The formula we are using is tried and true: Play tournament games against strong opponents, review these games together to identify areas of opportunity, and use study time between tournaments to address those areas. 

So this has been very good for my chess! I have learned so much more about chess, and new ways of thinking about the game, that it has formulated the way I am looking at next years goals!

But before I get to those goals, I need to answer your great question! I didn't forget that you wanted to know how my game can be improving but my rating isn't! (this isn't completely true, my online rating raised by about 200 points, but I am talking about OTB rating.) The answer to this is actually simple: I have only been playing open sections, where I am always one of the lowest rated there. My opponents average rating has been almost 400 ELO points higher then mine (I am about 1700 FIDE as I write this, but will go up slightly since I played well in Vegas and the results haven't posted yet), and a few of my opponents have been 700+ ELO more then me! These players are very good and have been hard to beat, so my rating hasn't moved much, but the experience has been priceless! So the bottom line is I am not frustrated with my rating not going up, as I know it is only a matter of time.

As I was going through my notes from the times I have spent with GM Barcenilla, I saw certain words repeated over and over. I realized that these words were actually key concepts to chess mastery and are the areas that need the most study. The other thing I realized from this review, is it takes improvement in ALL of these concepts before your game levels up, because it only takes one of them to continue to hold you back!

Here are the 5 concepts I will be working on this coming year, and you should know that these concepts apply to every stage of the game - opening, middlegame, as well as the endgame - and in this order.

I will be practicing applying these concepts to every game and every position I can.

1. Patterns - The entire game is centered around our ability to recognize patterns, and they are infinite. We must learn to recognize as many of them as we can. Checkmates, tactics, pawn breaks, and on and on and on. I will be working on mastering as many patterns as I can.

2. Principles - We all know the principles. We spout them off offhandedly all the time: Rooks on open files, knights before bishops, king safety, passed pawns must be pushed, etc. We must get better at recognizing which principle applies to the patterns we found in the current position. I will work on learning to apply principled moves in the games I play and the positions I study.

3. Pressure/Prophylaxis - These concepts are married. You must look at them together, as trying to separate them will make you forget either your plan or your opponents, and doing that will spell disaster! You must ask yourself after EVERY move, what is my opponent doing? Once you know their idea, then you can look for a move that recognizes the patterns in the position, is principled, and applies pressure to your opponent so he forgets his own ideas! Sounds easy, right? Of course not! Chess is hard! But we can do this, and we see it from the great masters all of the time! I will be working on applying pressure on every move!

4. Calculation - Lets be honest here. The best calculators become stronger players faster. The ability to calculate further then your opponent can win you many games. If we have recognized the patterns, and found a principled move that applies pressure but don't calculate it properly, then it could just as possibly be a bad move. What looks good 3 moves deep can actually be a blunder on the 4th move, and if we don't calculate it, it could be bad news for us! I will work on calculation by always trying to see just one move further. If I am seeing 3 moves clearly, I will work to see the 4th. If I am seeing 4 moves, I will work to see the 5th. 

5. Evaluation - Here is where the true champions are made. Most of us have become pretty good at looking at a position on the board and seeing that white is better, or black is better, or it is about equal, even with out the computer telling us. The hard part is evaluating the positions you have calculated 7 moves deep. If you are not evaluating positions at the end of your calculation as diligently as the position that is currently on the board, then you might as well not calculate at all. Those that can develop this skill the best are those that lose very few games, as they very seldom find themselves in lost positions. I will work on evaluating every position I calculate going forward, and hone this skill to the best of my ability!

Thank you to all of you who take the time to read through my ramblings! A wise man once told me you should share your goals with the world, as you will hold yourself more accountable. It is my sincere hope this helps others as much as it helps me!

Here is to another year together with all my ChessMood brothers and sisters!

GM Jay


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