Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Not much happening chess-wise in the last few days (except some tactics study with Blokh's book and some fun games with my father!) as I'm busy eating cookies and spending quality time with family, but I wanted to wish everyone happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Anand-Kramnik 2008

So it's official, Anand and Kramnik will play a 12-game match in Germany in October 2008! This is going to be one kick-ass match :)

What to Read While Waiting for Santa

I will be traveling over the holidays so now the time has come to decide which books to take with me. The beauty of having a shelf full of chess books (including quite a few unread ones) is that you have lots of options. Right now, I think I will take the following books with me: Nimzowitsch’s My System (I’ve read it once, but it has been a while and I think it deserves to be read again with renewed focus), Renaud & Kahn’s Art of Checkmate (that way I have some nice and entertaining attacking games to study), Blokh’s Combinative Motifs (so I can continue my daily tactics regimen while being away from PCT) and last but not least, one of my books on the Queen’s Gambit to work on my repertoire. I figure these four books will keep me happy and busy while I wait for the dude in the red costume.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Kick Ass Study Session

Ok I'm definitely way too busy with all sorts of Christmas-related stuff, and my beloved mistress (i.e. chess) is not getting all the attention she demands. She is quite pissed I should say.

I did, however, find some time to satisfy her last weekend when I met up with two guys from my chess club, both of them rated around 2000. We went over all sorts of stuff for 7 hours straight! I think that must have been the most beneficial chess study session for me to date. We went over a few of my games, looked at openings, studied end games... cool stuff. My head was spinning towards the end as there was just sooo much information to take in... if I can retain even half of it I'll be doing great :)

I've read that to master anything in life, you need to internalize at least 50,000 chunks of information on the subject you want to master. Well, it was pretty obvious to me that these two guys are a lot closer to the 50,000 chunks than I am. It's amazing how familiar they are with a shitload of positions... I guess there is no quick fix for this, it will take a lot of time and effort to a) get myself exposed to all those positions and b) thoroughly understand them.

Chess improvement is a long and rocky road...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

To Base, Or Not To Base

I am trying to decide whether or not to buy Chessbase 9.0. Given the price tag, I want to be sure it’s not just an impulse purchase…

I own Fritz 8 which I am perfectly happy with as far as analyzing games. But more and more I feel like Chessbase would be a really good addition for researching/studying/annotating/organizing etc. On the other hand, I think part of me wants Chessbase purely out of gadget lust - Chessbase could be my shiny new toy that I could spend lots of time with, or as Gollum from Lord of the Rings would say, my precioussss :)

But in all seriousness, it’s kind of the Gold Standard out there, no? So my question to those of you that own Chessbase: would you recommend getting it? Do you think owning both Fritz and Chessbase is overkill, or are they really complementary products? What do you mostly use Chessbase for?

Also, there’s the question of whether to buy the Starter Package or the Mega Package. There’s quite a bit of a price difference between the two, and I’m not sure whether I need all the bells and whistles that come with the Mega Package.

Last but not least, there’s the question of where to buy the software. Seems like has the best price, but I’ve never bought anything there. Does anybody reading this have any experience with

If anybody has any thoughts on all of this, your feedback will be much appreciated.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Damn You, Chess Books!

I am weak... I just can't stop myself from buying chess books. So the new additions to the family are Silman's Complete Endgame Course (I fully blame BDK for this purchase, not myself, no sir!), Blokh's Combinative Motifs (the book that CT-Art is based on. I figured I'd get this for the many times I find myself on planes), and then these two:

The Grandmaster's Mind by Amatzia Avni and Inside The Chess Mind by good old Jacob Aagaard (his books seem to polarize people).

I bought these last two books because I am thoroughly enjoying the book I'm currently reading, Chess for Zebras. While one Amazon reviewer thought it was a bunch of "pop psychology", I find it to be a very enjoyable read on chess improvement with some refreshing perspectives. So I figured I'd give the above books a try since they have somewhat related subject matter.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hall of Shame

Ok, so a whole week has passed since last weekend's tournament, and I finally decided to look at my shameful first round loss again. Since there will definitely be more shameful losses in the future, the Hall of Shame might become a regular feature on this blog.

I am on the white side of a QGD, and I started out ok reaching a comfortable position after the following moves:

1. d4 e6 2. c4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. Bg5 c6 6. e3 Ne4 7. Bxe7 Qxe7 8. Rc1 O-O 9. Bd3 f5 10. O-O Nd7 11. cxd5 exd5 12. Be2 Ndf6 13. a3 Bd7 14. b4 a6 15. Ne5 Be8

Fritz shows white to have a 0.25 pawn advantage here, so the position is pretty much equal. Now something happens that seems to be a recurring problem for me. I try to formulate a plan, take a good amount of time going through a couple of candidate moves, and then at the last second I decide none of the candidate moves satisfy me and make a rash, unsound move that wasn't even one of the candidate moves I looked at! Why the fuck would I do that? No idea. I mean, I literally thought about h4 for about 2 seconds before making the move. Anyways, I seemed to think that I could cause some trouble by starting a little pawn storm. Well, stupid idea. After 16.h4, black duly punishes me:

16. h4 Nxc3 17. Rxc3 Ne4 18. Rc2 Qxh4

After this little idiocy, Fritz shows black to be a half a pawn up. Now, that's bad enough, but I think I could have put up a fight still. Which did not happen. I have no explanation for what happend next, but I simply collapsed, panicked, whatever. I proceeded to pretty much self-destruct, leaving pawns hanging left and right in a desparate attempt to coordinate my remaining pieces. I made pretty much the worst possible move every time:

19.g3 Nxg3 20. fxg3 Qxg3+ 21. Kh1 Qh3+ 22. Kg1 Qxe3+ 23. Rf2 f4 24. Kf1 Qh3+ 25.
Ke1 Bg6 26. Rc1 Be4 27. Kd2 Qxa3 28. Qg1 Qxb4+ 29. Kd1 Qxd4+ 30. Ke1 Qxe5 31.
Rh2 f3 32. Qg4 Qxh2 0-1

Well, this was probably the most embarassing breakdown I've ever had in a chess game. I would like to blame it on a gazillion different things, but truth is, I simply fucked up, was impatient, and lost all discipline after losing the h pawn. Note to self: patience is a virtue. Another note to self: having two red bull before a chess game might actually not be that great an idea.

Luckily, I got half my brain back before the next round and proceeded to win my remaining games.

So, here's the full game in all it's gory glory, so you can end the day with a good laugh. Chessaholic at his finest.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Game Collections

I just posted this link in a comment on BDK's blog, but then I thought it's worth a little post of its own just to share it with anyone that happens to stop by my humble blog. If you own Chessbase software and are looking for game collections, positions from popular books etc, you'll find plenty of good stuff on that site. All collections are in Chessbase's CBH format.

And here is another site with lots of PGN files, sorted by player, event, or opening.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Chess Mentor

This might be old news, but I just discovered “Chess Mentor”, a neat little program for “interactive” chess training. As a first step, the program asks you for your level of experience (total novice, beginner, good player, tournament level player & rating), according to which it will determine the difficulty level of problems it presents.

You will then be given a position with some introductory remarks, and of course you need to find the best move / sequence of moves. The program will provide feedback on pretty much any move you make, so if you chose the wrong move, you at least have an idea as to why that move was bad. Also, if you are completely clueless, you can chose to get a “subtle hint”, a “strong hint”, or a “direct hint”.

I’ve only dabbled around with the demo for a little while, but I definitely like what I’m seeing so far. Check it out, it's worth a look.

::Update:: Just read here that the program was recently launched in a new and improved version.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Playing a GM

I played two 3 0 blitz games on ICC tonight against GM Larry Christiansen who was taking on people in unrated odds blitz games. He started the games with only one rook, and of course proceeded to duly kick my ass. Boy that was exciting... It's truly amazing how much he has internalized all sorts of patterns, he moves lightning fast and executes all sorts of tactics effortlessly. So cool.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Busy Weekend

Had all sorts of stuff going on this weekend. Also played my second tournament ever (a fairly small local tournament on Saturday). Had to take a first round bye since I had some work related things to take care of. Played three games in the afternoon (G/60), of which I lost one and won the other two so that's cool. I'm just pissed at myself for really fucking up the first game. I mean, it was ridiculous... I'll post the games tomorrow so everybody can have a good laugh.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Middle Game - What to Do

I just found this article on It has some decent advice on what to think about during the middle game. Much of it is common sense, but I thought it's a good summary worth reading.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mate in 12

This must be one of my quickest mates ever in online blitz... the guy had a blitz rating of 1592.(for which his play kinda sucked) I am black playing the Scandinavian. I think the PCT training is definitely helping :)

Anybody on Playchess?

It seems like many, if not most of the chess bloggers play on ICC or FICS. I don't have an account on either as I play on Playchess (got a year for free when I bought Fritz).

It would rock to play some slow games with fellow bloggers and maybe do some postmortems.(pretending we really know what we're doing...) If anybody reading this has a Playchess account and wants to kick my ass online, please let me know!

Monday, November 26, 2007

PCT Update

I have been slacking a little bit, but nonetheless I have now finished 8 units in PCT for a total of 735 exercises. I want to pick up the pace a little bit in the next few days to become as much of a tactics monster as I can for my tournament on Saturday :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Chess Club Simul - A Draw in the Gruenfeld

I played in another simul against one of our better club members last night and was able to swindle my way into a draw. The game with annotations can be seen here. Click move list at the bottom right of the board for analysis.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Shah Mat

Here's another little blitz game, played this afternoon. Love these little mating combinations!

Gobble Gobble Day

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Not much happened yesterday chess-wise since I was too busy stuffing myself with 100 different types of food... and today I'm still in a food coma so apart from some blitz games I haven't done any studying... but tonight's chess club so I'm hoping to get a long game or two in.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Check out this little gem of a game by Edward Lasker. What an awesome, forced 8-move sequence... way to chase the king across the board. Would you have seen the queen sac? :)

Bring it on, Baby!

As I mentioned in my very first post, I have only played in one tournament so far (this was back in April or so). I would love to play more tournaments, but unfortunately there aren't too many taking place in my neck of the woods.

Well, on December 1st (weekend after next) I will be playing my second tournament. Yeah baby! I am excited, and at the same time a little nervous. I want to be as well prepared as I can, but I'm not sure what the best tournament prep is. I will continue to do some intense tactics training in the next week and a half, and probably brush up on my openings. I'm taking this more seriously than the first tournament, so this time I won't be going out the night before :)

Anybody have any pearls of wisdom on preparing for tournaments?

Monday, November 19, 2007


Here's a cute little blitz game I played this evening... I'm on the black side of a Gruenfeld. Sometimes everything just seems to flow naturally. You can tell though that this is blitz - we're both missing stuff left and right.

Anybody know how to flip the boards from

Signs of Nerdiness

I bought a soda at a vending machine this morning. The vending machine lets you choose drinks by entering a combination of a letter and a number. Which number did I choose instinctively?


This brought a smile to my face as I picked up my Diet Coke. Ahhh the simple joys in life.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

PCT: 5 Units Done

So I did 5 units this weekend for a total of 420 exercises. The last unit had some pretty cool mate-in-two problems. Not all that hard but interesting. We'll see how much of this I can retain...

Not sure why it shows one hour and 47 minutes for unit 4. I pressed the pause button at various occasions because I kept on getting interrupted; I guess the software still keeps track of the total time it takes to finish a unit, regardless of pausing.

My Personal Chess To Do List

Here are, in no particular order, some of the things I want to do in the near future. I don't have a particular time frame in mind for all of this, but I think all of these can greatly contribute to making me a better player. So here goes:

-Go through all 4320 PCT exercises at least twice. Once I'm through with that, go through all CT-Art exercises. Supplement with tactics exercises from books when I am travelling.

- Play through 2000 GM games fairly quickly (only the main lines, not too many variations). I believe this will greatly help my pattern recognition.

- Fully memorize some 50 GM games (again, mainly for pattern recognition). Try to replay the games in my mind to help visualization.

- Play at least 2 long games a week (G/90) plus as many G/15 and G/30 as I can.

- Analyze all my long games thoroughly (first by myself, then with Fritz).

- Consult MCO-14 after each of my games to see where I went astray in the openings.

- Do Stoyko exercises on a regular basis (see point three here).

- Focus on applying a conscious thought process in each game.

What do you think? I believe it's a pretty ambitious amount of stuff to do, and time constraints are going to be my main challenge. But hey, challenges are fun right :)

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts and what's on your own to-do lists!

Chess Study Setup

Ok here is a question for all of you: how do you like to study chess, and what kind of setup do you have?

Are you the type that likes to just grab a chess book and go to a coffee shop with/without a board? Do you prefer to study at home? Do you sit at your computer or on your living room couch? Do you keep a chess set next to your computer or just use software? Do you have any particular setup that works for you?

Personally, I have a chess set on my living room table and one next to my computer. What I use depends on what I want to study. If I am going over annotated grandmaster games or study openings, I like to sit on my living room couch with a nice up of tea. I use a book stand so I don't have to bother holding the book myself, and I can focus on the board that way.

If I want to analyze some of my own games, I generally input them into Fritz and go over them on my computer. Sometimes I use the chess set next to my computer to play out variations etc - it just feels like I digest some concepts better if I actually move pieces around on a real board. I also use the board next to my computer when I study material like Kasparov's Queen's Gamit DVD or Daniel King's Pawn Storm DVD. Again, it helps me to actually move pieces around in 3D.

And then I have my little magnetic chess set that I take with me when I travel so I can play through positions/games in books on a plane, in a coffee shop etc.

I'd love to hear how you guys study!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

More Books

The mailman just brought me two new books - Larry Christiansen's "Storming the Barricades" and Rowson's much praised "Chess for Zebras". I'll provide some thoughts on the books once I've taken a closer look.

Nothing like a nice Saturday afternoon with new additions to my chess library :)

Room For Improvement - A Recent Loss in the King's Indian

Here's a game I recently played at my club. If you click on "Move List" at the bottom right of the board, you can see all of Fritz's analysis and variations.

This game was against a guy in the 1900's that was doing a simul. It started out as an English but turned into a King's Indian. While Fritz says I was down a pawn or so in the middlge game, I think I did more or less OK. I actually had an even position on move 20, but from there it went downhill, culminating in a colossal mistake with 29... Rxf3, which Fritz says puts me at a four pawn disadvantage. Stupid greedy me just sees a pawn for the taking. I didn't consider that by not putting pressure on his bishop, his knight could neglect its defending duties and create some havoc around my king. And then, of course, another stupid mistake with 32... Nfxe4, allowing a mate in one. What can I say... lots of room for improvement.

Starting PCT...

So I started on my journey through PCT's tactical exercises this morning... Did two units out of module one. Very basic mate-in-one stuff - I did 150 exercises in a total of just over 19 minutes, for an average of 7.7 seconds per exercise. Of course it's possible to do it faster, but I like to spend a few seconds just letting the position sink in.

Anyway, I'll probably do a couple more units today.

Time to make some more tea.

Hello, World!

Screw it, I’ll just do it.

Start a chess blog that is. Oh boy. As if the world needed another chess blog. But what the heck… It's Saturday morning and I'm enjoying a nice cup of tea, so why not start a blog while I'm at it. At least I’ll have a place to dump all my ramblings...

For a while now, my daily routine has been to read many of the wonderfully entertaining chess blogs out there, most notably the Knights Errant. They’ve been a true inspiration, and ultimately the reason why I decided to start this blog. I hope I will succeed in being nearly as dedicated to the royal game as they are.

Some of the blogs I’ve enjoyed most are

Chessconfessions, Takchess, Temposchlucker, Samuraipawn ( who I see loves Hip Hop. Word!), Hardcore Pawnography, Grandpatzer chess, Patzer's Corner and a whole bunch of others (see sidebar)… there's just an incredible treasure trove of chess writing out there.

Great stuff all you guys. Seems like I learn something new every day.

So what’s my goal, chesswise? To improve. How much? I dunno… enough for me not to feel like a total patzer. How about somewhere between 1700-1900? Sounds good to me. But there’s a long, rocky road of improvement leading up to those heights.

But how to do it? Ohhh… what a loaded question. Much has been written on this topic, and I’ve compiled a little to do list for my own improvement (which will be the subject of a soon-to-come post). For starters, I’ve told myself I’d start engaging in some serious tactics study. I’ve got CT-Art, PCT, and lots of books with tactical exercises (the Polgar brick, Weteschnik, Alburt’s pocket book, etc etc) Not sure which path I’ll take, but I’m leaning towards going through PCT until I have to throw up. Whaddaya think? Also, I’m hoping this blog will help me be more diligent in annotating my own games, something I haven’t really done up to this point.

A little bit about me: I’m a patzer out here in beautiful
California, with a job that doesn’t leave me nearly enough time to study chess as much as I’d like to. I started playing chess when I was about 10 I think, but only very sporadically. I didn’t get serious about chess until March of this year when I joined a local chess club. I’ve only played in one tournament so far, with a somewhat abysmal performance (hmm funny how my Saturday performance in that tournament was decent, but my Sunday performance after a long night filled with slightly alcoholic beverages turned out, well, not quite so good…) Hence, I only have a provisional rating, and it’s under 1000. I like to believe that I can do better than that, since I regularly beat a 1400 at my chess club :)

Oh, did I mention that I’ve got more chess books than I’ll ever be able to read? Probabaly around 110 or so, haven’t counted since I hit the 100 mark. Damn you, chess! No, I didn't mean that. I love you baby!

You can find me on Playchess (MrCdawg), where I play mostly 3 minute games (I know, I know… bad).
My Blitz rating fluctuates fairly wildly (with my best rating being just above 1400 and my lowest in the 1100’s), currently it's around 1300. I’m trying to force myself to play more 5, 15, and 30 minute games. Not much luck so far. Which brings me to another goal I have: play way more slow games. I mean seriously slow. Tournament slow. G/90 type stuff.

Feel free to hit me up for a game if you see me online!

I’m not sure what it takes to become an official Knight, so here’s my plea to any Knights that happen to read this: help! Do I need to read Don Quixote? Get knighted by the Queen of England? Introduce a novelty on the 23rd move of the Accelerated Dragon? Tattoo “De La Maza” on my forehead?

My name is Cdawg and I’m a Chessaholic. See ya’ll around.