Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, Quanza, Festivus, or whatever else you may or may not be celebrating. Hope 2009 is full of love and happiness for all of you! And maybe some chess success as well :)

I meant to analyze and post my tournament games, but it's been a very busy month so I haven't found enough time for adequate analysis, and I don't want to post some half-assed attempt. I promise I will get to it once my Christmas vacation is over :)

See you all in 2009!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weekend Tournament

So I played in a small tournament this weekend, my first tournament in quite a while. I was afraid I was going to be rusty, but I did OK. It was a four round Swiss (G/60), but I had a bye in the first round so I only got to play three games. In those three games I went +2 =1 which I am happy with, even though I should have won that drawn game as I had a slightly better position in the endgame. I will post that game shortly with some analysis.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thinking Machine

Ok, this is pretty cool. In case you were wondering what it all means:

"When it is your (White's) turn to move, the chess board will gently pulse to show the influence of the various pieces. in the left image below, you can see waves over the squares around the king and (very lightly) over the squares where the pawns might capture. When the machine (Black) is thinking, a network of curves is overlaid on the board; see image at right. The curves show potential moves--often several turns in the future--considered by the computer. Orange curves are moves by black; green curves are ones by white. The brighter curves are thought by the program to be better for white."

More info here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Chess is too serious for a game, but too much of a game to be taken seriously.

-Moses Mendelssohn

Monday, October 6, 2008

Rybka Wins World Championship

Hardly surprising, Rykba won the 16th World Computer Chess Championship. I watched some of the games live on the Playchess server, and most of them were spectacular. You can download the games in PGN format here. Check out the game against Hiarcs (2nd place winner) - awesome.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Simple But Beautiful

I love this position (number 165 in Alburt's Chess Training Pocket Book). It's white to move - what would you play?

Highlight between the brackets for the solution.
[ 1.Bg5! And black resigned. He can't take the bishop with the h pawn, as Qh5 will be mate. If black's queen takes the bishop, white wins with Qg8# ]

Friday, September 19, 2008

Alekhine Gone Bad

Ok, I have to do something before LEP puts me on his infamous Zombie list. Hmm how about a mindless yet fun blitz game from last night. Ah, quality posting.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

That Pile Next To My Bed

Not much posting going on here lately, mostly due to time constraints - you know, stuff like work, relationships, travel, etc. Anyways, over at Likesforest’s blog, he shared his current reading list, and I thought that was cool so I’ll do the same. These are the books that I am currently working trough:

Other bloggers have commented on Heisman’s Tactics book before, and if you haven’t read it, take a look at it. It covers all the tactics you need to know and working through it a couple of times will definitely pay off.

Jepser Hall’s Chess Training for Budding Champions has one of the dorkiest covers in my chess library, but I really like the book. It’s a great comprehensive chess course for the intermediate player that not only addresses the fundamentals (pawn structures, how to develop a plan, etc), but also talks about HOW to study.

Then there is Kasparov’s My Great Predecessors Part II, which one could spend a lifetime studying… it’s got material that is way over my head (and probably many masters’ heads), but I’m mainly using it to study Botvinnik’s games, which I have really come to love (thanks mostly to drunknknite).

Last but not least, I continue to work with Alburt’s Chess Training Pocket Book. I’ve commented on this book before, and I still think it’s one of the best little chess books out there, period. It’s very compact so I take it most everywhere I go, and the 300 positions offer great lessons – not just tactical lessons, but positional, endgames, etc. If I had to make a top 5 list of books in my library, this one would be on it. And I was really excited to see that a sequel is coming out soon!

Well, that’s about it for today. I’m hoping to put up some posts soon taking an in-depth look at Rybka 3, which is on its way into my greedy little hands. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

In Other News...

Ok so this is not related to chess in any way, but it's seriously cool... The Large Hadron Collider is close to beginning its particle beam tests. Check out the pics at that link, this stuff is just mind-blowing. Amazing to think that human minds can design and build something like that.

I am sure that thing beats Rybka hands down.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Getting My Endgame On

(The post title was inspired by this post).

I love Chessbase's endgame tablebases and use them a lot for analysis, but sometimes (e.g. when traveling and studying a book) I don't have access to them. So I was pleasantly surprised to just stumble upon this website, which makes tablebases for endgames with up to 6 pieces available online. Cool beans.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Rybka 3

OK I think I will not be getting Chessbase 10 for a while, but I am really tempted to buy the new Rybka 3 engine. For the first time, this engine will be sold for the Chessbase interface. I've been using Fritz 8 for years now, so I think I can justify an upgrade, sort of. This thing looks like a monster :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

White to Play and Kick Ass

I found the following little gem on Tim Krabbé's Chess Curiosities site. Take a look at the following game from Hendriks - Spanton, Hastings 2006. After

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Bxd2+ 7.Qxd2 dxe4 8.Nxe5 O-O 9.dxe4 Qe7 10.Qf4 Nh5

they reached the following position:

What’s the best continuation for white? Hint: It’s a beautiful move. Highlight between the brackets for the solution:

[12.Qg3! Nxg3? 13.Ng6+ hxg6 14.hxg3# Note Black isn’t forced to play 12…Nxg3, but 12...Rxf7 still leaves white with an advantage, for example after 12...Rxf7 13.Qg5]

Monday, July 21, 2008


...from a beautiful vacation. No emails, no internet, just lots of sunshine, drinks, and fun. Took an endgame book with me but study was rather limited (mostly due to cocktail-induced laziness).

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Chessbase 10

Damn you Chessbase! Why do you have to tempt me?

The folks from Germany just came out with a brand-spankin' new version of everybody's favorite toy. The article lists a bunch of new features in Chessbase 10:

• New integrated online database with millions of games, kept topical and up-to-date by ChessBase;
• split-second online search results (DSL);
• automatic update of your local reference database (Big or Mega) with the weekly instalments of games;
• display of games and moves with statistics in tree style;
• optional restriction to quality games in all searches;
• openings references include an overview of common variations;
• new search booster for super-fast results;
• openings books with instantaneous display of replies;
• fast-and-easy preparation for any specific players, with tree display and games;
• player dossier with improved openings references;
• direct access to the ICCF server for correspondence chess games;
• new engine functions, e.g. display of discarded lines;
• new functions for the chess server: e.g. online database accessible for kibitzers, ECO codes in the games lists, tactics training, full Chess 960 support.
• In addition: new look with high-resolution pieces, improved window management.

Must... resist...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tournament of Lepers II, Round 4: Tom

I played round 4 against Tom a.k.a. Rhuiden tonight and had a good time except that well, I lost. Things were going well as we transitioned into the early middle game, when I managed to make one of those beautifully horrible moves that are too ridiculous to even really get upset about it. I could try to make excuses - I was tired, the sun was blinding me, my dog ate the keyboard. Truth is, I just didn't pay attention, and it's hard to win a chess game that way. Nicely done Tom.

Too tired for analysis...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fun Mate

Well, this is not high quality chess but I thought it was a fun little discovered mate. My opponent helped me by leaving his poor king quite exposed in this 5/0 blitz game.

Tournament of Lepers II, Round 3: Polly

After the bye in round two, I had a fun game today against Polly. This tournament rocks, I really enjoy meeting everybody online. Polly - I loved our chat, you're awesome. So anyways, I was fully expecting an ass whooping since she's the number 3 seed and generally seems to really know what she's doing, but somehow I managed to win with black. Here's the game with some analysis:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mighty Magnus

In honor of Magnus Carlsen's 3100 performance at the Aerosvit 2008, I'm adding his blog to my sidebar. This kid just continues to boggle my mind. How can anyone be this good at 17...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tournament of Lepers II, Round 1

I played Sciurus (of Squirrel Chess fame) in round one of the Tourney of Lepers. He's a really cool guy and seems to know his stuff, so we got into some funky Catalan that I had no clue how to play. I just pretended I knew what I was doing and made loud noises when I moved, I don't think he was able to hear me.

I just signed up for the chessflash player. Here's the game with limited analysis:

Sunday, June 1, 2008

I'm Not Dead

I just got home from some 10 days of travel. I didn't have any time to study or play during my trip, so now I'm really hungry for chess. I wish I could play in the National Open in Vegas this coming weekend, but something more important has come up. I envy drunknknite and whoever else will be at the chess festival... Oh well, maybe next time.

I'm planning a few more substantial posts, stay tuned.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sleeping Pills

Do you know the feeling when you win a game, but you just don’t feel satisfied? You won, but you know you could’ve played more forcefully. You won, but only because your opponent blundered a piece. You won, but only because your opponent ran out of time.

I just won my fourth round game in the T4545 league tournament, but I don’t feel satisfied. My opponent blundered a knight early on, and the game just proceeded from there, slowly, boringly. After being up a piece, I just tried to trade down into a won endgame, and obviously my opponent was trying to avoid that. The end was very anti-climactic, he just ran out of time (I am not sure how someone can manage to run out of time with a 45 second increment – heck, just turn it into a blitz game at the end if you have to).

The game didn’t feel exciting at all, and I just know there had to be more forcing lines. I will go over the game this weekend, and I am sure I will find ways how I could’ve attacked more aggressively and ended the game on a more exciting note.

Oh well, a win is a win I guess.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ivanchuk On Fire

Vassily Ivanchuk is on fire at the MTel Masters in Bulgaria. He has won all five of his games, which is a pretty crazy feat at a category 20 tournament. With five out of five points, his performance rating is a whopping 3537. Three thousand and friggin five hundred thirty-seven! That's just absolutely insane.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Shit Happens

I just pulled a Bacrot, putting my queen en prise in my third round T4545 game. I really thought I'd left those kinds of blunders behind me, but I guess not.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Grandpatzer Blunders

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while even GM’s will make horrendous, patzer-style blunders. Case in point: As Chessbase reports, Etienne Bacrot (rated 2705) had the white pieces against Ernesto Inarkiev in round eleven of the FIDE Grand Prix in Baku and reached the following position.

He picks up his queen and plays 23.Qe7+??. Hmmmmm….. let’s see… how could black possibly defend against this deadly threat?

Maybe Bacrot should re-read those Heisman articles and do a blundercheck before he moves :-D

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Here Are Some Beach Reads For You

In a comment to one of BDK’s recent posts, I mentioned some “historical” chess books that I enjoyed (you know, the kind that isn’t full of those annoying games and diagrams). He suggested that I turn that into a blog post and since he is a wise man, I am following his suggestion :) If you love chess and enjoy reading about the game and its origins, its famous protagonists with all their idiosyncrasies, and some crazy stories involving all sorts of crazy and not-so-crazy people, then don’t miss out on the following books.

Chess Bitch by Jennifer Shahade:
This book is mainly about women, stereotypes, and gender bias in the chess world. Shahade was US Women’s Champion in 2004 and has probably had the kind of exposure that puts her in a good position to comment on these issues. I believe this was her first book, and she clearly is no Shakespeare – but that wasn’t her goal I suppose. Shahade gives a good overview of strong female players past and present, provides entertaining anecdotes, and presents a lot of her own opinions and (often debatable) conclusions on topics such as women-only tournaments, the notion of “playing chess like a girl”, etc. The book could have been better organized, but I can say that it made for a very entertaining read.

End Game: Kasparov vs Short by Dominic Lawson:
This book is about the 1993 World Championship match between Kasparov and Short. The author is a friend of Short’s and it’s not surprising that a not-so-subtle anti-Kasparov tone prevails. I found this book to be absolutely fascinating. It’s full of drama, providing insights into the crazy mind games and psychological warfare on both sides, Short’s home preparation, and political nuances surrounding the match. Not to mention the ups and downs during the actual games. Highly recommended to any chess aficionado.

The Immortal Game by David Shenk:
This book traces the history of the game from its beginnings in Persia (ca. 500 A.D.) up to what it is today. Shenk is an excellent author and it shows in this very well written book. A very nice feature of the book is that Shenk sprinkles his chapters with the moves to the “Immortal Game” between Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky in London in 1851, so every now and then you get to enjoy a bite-sized portion of that classic game of the romantic era. The book’s sub-sub-title probably sums it up best: “"How 32 carved pieces on a board illuminated our understanding of war, art, science, and the human brain." Good stuff.

The Chess Kings by Calvin Olson:
This is by far the driest book of the lot, but if you want a pretty well-researched, scientific account of top level players, tournaments, and matches from the past and the present, this is it. The book provides an extensive bibliography, supplementary info, and a bunch of annotated games.

Bobby Fischer Goes to War by David Edmonds and John Eidinow:
The 1972 match between Spassky and Bobby Fischer was, without a doubt, the most notorious chess match ever. No other match has ever received the same kind of media coverage, and this duel sparked a chess renaissance not only in the US but other countries as well. After all, this was more than just a chess match – to many, it was a manifestation of the cold war. It was the single American chess genius against the mighty Soviet chess empire, trying to break the solid grip that Soviets had on the world champion title. This book was hard to put down. The authors did a great job conveying the tense atmosphere, the politics, the bickering, and Fischer’s antics. Don’t expect to see a lot of detail about the actual games – the book doesn’t provide that as the games have already been analyzed to death anyways. Bottom line – a very, very entertaining read.

King’s Gambit by Paul Hoffman:
As the sub-title to the book (“A Son, A Father, and the World's Most Dangerous Game") suggests, this book is part autobiography, part portrait of the crazy world of chess. The autobiographical part evolves around the author’s difficult relationship with his own father, tying it in with general observations about chess psychology. The book is full of colorful real-life characters (including Kasparov and many others), and there is no shortage of entertaining sub-plots – including a crazy trip to Libya for a chess tournament with spy-story-like qualities. I enjoyed Hoffman’s writing style, which you can get a taste of on his blog.

The Chess Artist
by J.C. Hallman:
Another fun excursion into today’s world of chess. The author meets and becomes friends with a master, and the reader can follow them on a journey exploring chess culture in the US (including tournaments, hustlers in Washington square park, games on ICC etc). The focal point of the book is a trip to the Russian province of Kalmykia, whose president is Kirsan Ilyumzhinov – yep, the same guy that’s president of FIDE. While in Kalmykia, the two protagonists try to meet with Ilyumzhinov, who proves to be somewhat elusive. At the same time, they set out to explore the odd little “Chess City” built by Ilyumzhinov, with its crown jewel, the “Chess Palace” – a glass pavilion dedicated to nothing but chess. Overall, I found the book to be entertaining while at times it was a little “slow”. If I had to chose, I’d prefer “King’s Gambit” over this one, but if you’re addicted to chess (which you probably are if you’re reading this), I am sure you will enjoy “The Chess Artist”.

I'd love to hear other recommendations or opinions on these books.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Played my first round game in T37 of the T4545 league yesterday and won. Woohaa :) Here's the game:

Friday, April 25, 2008

Power Play

Sweet. Last night I received Daniel King’s Power Play volumes 1, 2, 5, and 6. I already owned part 3 which I think is excellent. I am not interested in part 4 as it deals with openings – not a priority for me right now. Daniel King is a great presenter with a wonderful sense of humor. His lectures keep me glued to my computer.

I know what I’ll be doing this weekend :-)

I'd provide a review of the DVD's but Grandpatzer already did a fine job here and here. Then again, he only reviewed volumes 1-3 so I might give an extensive review of volumes 5 and 6 when I'm through with them.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

BDK, Was This You?

In honor of The New Englunder (who seems to be bowing out of chess blogging, sorta kinda), here's a 5 0 blitz game I played on ICC today. I am white playing against the Englund Gambit. I know this wasn't BDK because he would've played a better line, not this silly crap that allowed me to crush him ;-)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Perils of Chess ADD

I need to focus. The way I study chess just seems to be all over the place. I jump from one thing to the next, often not giving 100% effort to the particular task at hand. I start reading one chess book, then get distracted by another one. I start looking at a certain set of endgame problems, but don’t take the time to really master them because the next day I’m on to something different. I start looking at GM games in a particular opening to internalize plans and patterns, but then I stop after just a few games, moving on to something different. And so forth…

My efforts just feel too fragmented, too unsystematic. Pareto’s principle comes to mind (more commonly known as the 80-20 Rule): 80% of your effort will only produce 20% of your benefit. I need to focus on the 20% of my effort that will yield a higher return on my study time and produce the highest benefit. I need to make sure those 20% of my effort are structured right. There needs to be a discipline in my studies that is lacking right now.

I think I am not alone; this seems to be something affecting many improving players. A big challenge for many seems to be how to study. How do you structure your (often limited) chess study time? How do you focus your efforts in an ideal way, how can you leverage those 20% of your most productive efforts?

I think the ideal solution to this is working with a strong chess coach who can help you identify your biggest weaknesses. This might be the core problem: many improving chess players probably don’t know what their biggest weaknesses are (I include myself in that category). It seems logical that you will reap the biggest benefits from your limited study time if you focus your efforts on those weaknesses. But what to do if you don’t have the time, money, or inclination to work with a coach? I think the next best approach might just be going over all your long games (not blitz games) and try to analyze them as deeply as you can. Try to get to the “truth” of the game, spend hours, even days on a single game. Figure our what the critical points are, and where/why you went wrong. If you do this long enough and with sufficient depth, and for multiple games, you might just see a pattern in the kinds of mistakes you make. Those patterns should then be your guide when you budget your study time.

Now I need to take my own advice and actually do this. I need to figure out my biggest weaknesses (aside from the obvious tactical weaknesses that we probably all need to be working on constantly).

Any thoughts?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Beer And Chess...

...are a fun combination but don't expect to increase your rating.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bobby Fischer's Legacy?

Have you seen this story? Do you think it’s for real? As much as I wish it were true, I have my doubts. It would be really cool to see new Fischer games if he did indeed play online since his “retirement”, especially if he played against some of the current elite GM's. And it would definitely make for some juicy news if all that correspondence was real. I just don’t buy it though.

The last email they show says it was “Sent: Sunday, 09 December 2008 04:08”. Well, obviously this date was doctored as I doubt Bobby traveled to the future to send it. Why shouldn’t everything else be doctored as well? It just seems too good to be true, I have to believe this is highly bogus. But it would make one heck of a story…

***Happy April's Fools day everybody!***

Sunday, March 30, 2008

White To Move

I have been playing around with the Trompowsky a bit lately, and this is a position from a recent game. Black just played e5, the position is roughly equal. What's white's best continuation? There's no spectacular tactic here, just try to figure out the best line of play to keep the game equal. The Trompowsky can offer a good game for white if played right, but I did not find the right continuation OTB and lost the game fairly quickly from here...

Highlight the text between the brackets for a line that keeps the game equal.
[13.Nxd5 Bxd5 14.exd5 Nxd5 15.Qxa5 Nxa5 16.Ne2 Nc4 17.Bc1 e5 18.f4 Bc5 19.fxe5 Nxe5]

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Weekend Tournament: Round 1

Here's my round 1 game from last weekend's tournament. I was black against what started out as a Grand Prix Attack. I didn't remember much so I deviated from the main line on move four. White didn't make it very hard on me though, it was a fairly straightforward win for me.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Weekend Tournament: Round 4

I played in a tournament over the weekend in which I lost two games and won two games. Overall, I am happy with my performance, I thought I played some decent chess. I will post two or three of the games over the next few days. I will start with my last round game, which I lost against a guy rated quite a bit higher than me. It was an interesting game where I was on the white side of a Slav Exchange Variation. I had some chances but took a wrong turn on move 19 that looked promising over the board, but I failed to see a strong continuation for black that won him the game. So here goes:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Somebody please...

...keep me from ordering any more books.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

King Hunt

Here's a fun little blitz game in which I chase white's king across the board. Very nice of him to visit me on my side of the board. In my excitement I missed 17... Bxc3 and 21...Bxc3 (and probably a bunch of other stuff) but oh well, I was in king hunt mode.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

For Your Entertainment

I have added a new little gadget to my blog - the daily chess puzzle you see on the right, courtesy of Shredder. Yet another way for you to kill a minute or two while pretending to be busy at work! :)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Why Study Chess?

I found a PDF copy of Kasparov’s 1986 book “Kasparov Teaches Chess” (B.T. Batsford Ltd, 1986) and just read through the first few pages. I thought this was a really cool little glimpse into the soul of the greatest chess player ever, so I’ll provide it in full for your reading pleasure (emphasis mine). Keep in mind that he wrote this in the mid-eighties so his comment on computers is a little outdated :)

"The proposal by Sport in the USSR magazine to conduct a series of correspondence study sessions for their readers came as a surprise to me because I am still studying the subtleties of chess myself.

After some consideration I decided that to write about my understanding and interpretation of chess basics would also be useful for me.

I love chess. I have been in love with the game for many years and this love is for life. I study chess all the time and very thoroughly; nevertheless, while analyzing what I have done and in planning for the future I cannot help but be amazed at the inexhaustibility of chess and I am becoming even more convinced about its unpredictability. Judge for yourself; millions of games have been played , thousands have been written on various aspects of the game, yet there is no chess formula or method which can guarantee victory, there are no mathematically justified criteria for evaluating even a single move, let alone a position. Chess experts do not doubt that in most situations there is no more than one strong continuation and everyone chooses his own 'strongest' move guided by his own experience, evaluation abilities, even his own character. The possibility of using computers as consultants does not seem very serious at present since no algorithm of the game of chess has been found and there is no program which can deal reliably with complications. Why talk about details, situations and stages of the game at a time when there is no answer to the question 'What is the game of chess? Is it a sport? Or is it a science? Or an art?'

Some say: 'Chess players participate in tournaments and matches, they fight to win, the result is important for them - this means that chess is sport. It develops will power and helps strengthen oneself.'

How can one convince others of the correctness of the opinion of those who are amazed at the beauty of combinations and the logic of chess tactics; for whom a smart sacrifice of the queen in a lost game is a source of pleasure while a dull, forced game leaves them indifferent. For them chess is an art that brings happiness and makes leisure meaningful.

At the same time there are many chess enthusiasts who can spend night after night trying to solve one problem: 'Why did Black move the rook to d8 instead of the knight to c6? Why is Black's position better?' For them chess is mainly a science of logical thinking.

I love chess even more for its versatility and manysidedness. It was the beauty and brilliance of tactical blows that captivated me in early childhood. First, it was the admiration of this brilliance, then the search for it in my own games, later it was an attempt to play a beautiful game - these were the stages of my growth as a captive of the art of chess. But the time came when I began to compete with others, to take part in tournament after tournament, and this meant that I had set out on the path of sporting chess. I still enjoy playing beautiful games but I am not indifferent to whether I beat my opponents or end up way down in the standings.

I want to win, I want to beat everyone, but I want to do it in style, in an honest sporting battle. The former world champion Mikhail Botvinnik, whom I consider my chess teacher, is a chess academic, whose work helped to make chess a scientific subject. He developed my love for chess research and for solving innumerable problems. In my preparations for competitions, during my game analysis of openings, I suddenly discovered that I was trying to study thoroughly and methodically with a persistence which is typical of a researcher. I am convinced today that my affection for all aspects of chess will help preserve my love for it for the rest of my life.

My parents taught me the moves of the pieces when I was only five, and I was fascinated by them. One year later I was taken to a chess group at the Young Pioneer Club in Baku where I thought I found myself in a kingdom of chess players. Our instructor in his desire to convince the novices of the paradoxical character of chess set the following position on the board at one of the first sessions.

The position, where the small pawns were victorious over the enemy, was so surprising that it seemed like a fairy tale and I was unable to live without chess after seeing it. I have admired this position ever since.

I have loved to attack since childhood. I still like to be on the offensive. But it took a lot of time to study the basics, which do not seem to have any direct bearing on the game itself. I am convinced that it is necessary for both grandmaster and an amateur who wants to improve his game and get some pleasure from his play in tournaments. To achieve this high standard of play the grandmaster has spent thousands of hours studying hundreds of games. His talent would not have developed without this amount of work. If you like to play chess but do not have enough time for an independent study of it, but want to beat your friends, you will have to spend dozens of hours over the chessboard."

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Patzerdom Redux

This Saturday, I will play the same dude that I played a few weeks ago. It’s kinda funny – he was my opponent in the very first game of this T4545 league season, and he will be my opponent in the very last game of this season. In both games, he’s got the white pieces. Well, I beat him in the first game (admittedly, with a lot of help from his side). Maybe I can do it again. Time to take another look at my new friend Canal-Sokolsky. Or might he be preparing some nice little opening surprise for me? Stay tuned…

Thursday, February 21, 2008

New Neil McDonald Book

I've enjoyed the Neil McDonald's books I've read so far, so I will probably buy his new one as well.(it'll be out March 4th) Making a coherent plan is something that I still find challenging at times, so I hope this book will offer some pearls of wisdom :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fun Puzzle

Here’s a fun little puzzle from Tim KrabbĂ©'s site. Think this position can’t be legal? Here’s the proof (too lazy to put it into Chesspublisher right now):

1.d3 h6 2.Bxh6 f5 3.Qd2 f4 4.Qxf4 a5 5.Qxc7 Kf7 6.g3 Kg6 7.Bg2 Kh5 8.Bxb7 Kg4 9.Nf3 Kh3 10.Bxc8 e5 11.Bxg7 e4 12.Kd2 e3+ 13.Kxe3 Kg2 14.Ng1 Kf1 15.Kf3 Ke1 16.Qxa5+ Bb4 17.Nc3+ Kd2 18.Rf1 Rh3 19.Bxd7 Nh6 20.Nd1 Kc1 21.Bxh6+ Kb1 22.Bc1 Na6 23.Kg2 Rc8 24.Bxh3 Rc3 25.Nxc3+ Ka1 26.Nb1 Nc5 27.Rd1 Be1 28.Qxe1 Ne4 29.Kf1 Nd2+ 30.Rxd2 Qd5 31.Qd1 Qg2+ 32.Ke1 Qf1+ 33.Bxf1

Copy & paste into this PGN viewer to replay.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Samurai's post made me reflect on my current habits. It's really a little crazy how much time I spend on chess compared to other stuff. First off, I have so many chess books that I could probably spend every single minute of the next 10 years reading and studying them and still not finish. Whether it's tactics puzzles, game collections, strategy stuff, openings - if I'm going somewhere and I know I'll have a few minutes of spare time, a chess book goes with me. Then there's ICC - blitz, long games, tournaments. Lots of time spent on all that. And let's not forget the time spent on bloggin and reading blogs. Add to that time spent at my local chess club and on study sessions with buddies, plus OTB tournaments. Oh, and lately, I’ve killed way too much time with Chessbase and related software. I could easily sit in front of Chessbase all day long exploring stuff; the amount of information at your fingertips is just mind-boggling. I also just received my first copy of the Chessbase Magazine (which comes on a disc). It has tons of fun stuff in CB format (tactics training, opening analysis, endgame videos by GM Karsten Mueller, a video analysis by Shirov of one of his games, a couple of recent tournaments, and much more). Then I am going through a couple Chessbase Training DVD’s like Daniel King’s PowerPlay series and Andrew Martin on the Benko and the Trompowsky.

Ok, so tell me that doesn’t sound crazy? I mean, if I didn’t have to work for a living, I could literally do nothing but chess all day. I really love spending time like that, and probably will continue to do so. But honestly, if looked at from 30,000 feet, it’s kinda ridiculous. Chess is one heck of a vortex. Chess is crack. [ Thanks BDK. That assessment is a lot more accurate :) ]

Samurai Moves On

Another one of my favorite chess bloggers calls it quits. Best of luck to you, Samurai.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Soap Opera

It’s a shame that chess in the US is so screwed up. I mean, just look at this article, and the comments to the article in particular. So many screwed-up personalities, politics etc. It’s really sad to see that the USCF resembles a soap opera more than anything else. Which reminds me, I want to read Evans’ new book.

US chess players can only dream of an environment like, for example, in Germany. Everything is well organized and professionally managed; there are many sponsors and a large number of very good tournaments, an extraordinary chess league (with players such as Anand, Shirov, Carlsen, Svidler etc), very strong and traditional chess clubs, etc. Must be nice…

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cheap Shot

It's so much easier to pull off little tactical shots in blitz games than in longer games. This is a typical example: had the guy thought for a few seconds, he probably would've seen this. But he moved to fast. He's white and just moved Rfc1. I play Ba5, and without much thought he takes the Bishop with his Queen. Well, greed kills. He resigned after the obvious Rxc1+, Rxc1, Qxa5. Heh.

Topalov vs Kamsky

The games continue...

Friday, February 8, 2008

Heavy Hitters

Morelia/Linares will start end of next week. A great lineup (including Corus winners Carlsen and Aronian) should make for a bunch of great games.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Land of the Samurai

I just got back from a week in Japan, which was hella fun. I didn’t play any chess whatsoever but I had a million other things to keep me busy and entertained. I ate some really cool stuff (like Takoyaki or the infamous Fugu, which can literally kill you) and had a blast with some of the funky Japanese technology (I’m talking seriously high-tech bathrooms and stuff). I experienced first hand what it feels like to be squeezed to death like a sardine in the Tokyo subways, where it feels like there are about 100 people too many on each subway car. Here’s a nice little clip to illustrate what I mean.

Anyways, also saw some very cool temples and shrines, and this little fella.

I could go on but I think you get the idea… a blend of old and new, modern life mixed with ancient traditions, and so much history. One thing I have to say – the Japanese people are, as expected, outrageously friendly and welcoming. I will definitely go again.

Now back to regular chess craziness…

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Good Ol' Canal-Sokolsky

I won’t be posting much (or at all) next week due to other fun stuff I’ve got going on. In the meantime, here’s my first round game of the T4545 league. As the league name suggests, it was a 45 45 game. I had black, and apparently this was the Sicilian Canal-Sokolsky attack, Sokolsky variation. Oh really? Good to know. 'Cos here I was thinking I have no clue how to play this line so I just made what seemed the most logical moves. I think it worked out ok, and after 12…Rad8 I had a decent position.

I haven’t had the time to analyze the game properly so this is all off-the-cuff commentary. I made some inaccurate moves during the middle game and never really got much counterplay going, but overall I defended ok and white didn’t really get anywhere either. (Fritz might have some suggestions here) I think the turning point was 25. ... fxe4, allowing me to open the f-file while getting the queens off the board. The open f-file proved crucial a little later as I was able to cut off white’s king. White tried to defend his e-pawn, which gave me enough time to get my king over to the kingside after white decided to exchange rooks. (giving me a passed f-pawn in the process) After snatching off his kingside pawns I had another unstoppable passer and white had to resign.

I’m happy with the result but I need to work on finding better ways to create counterplay. As usual, there is much potential for more accuracy. But then again, I’m not Fritz.

See ya’ll in a week or so.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Balancing Act

I love imbalanced games - so much potential for action. Like in this blitz game I played tonight. It seems like in my longer games I don't get into imbalanced positions as frequently as in my blitz games... but I guess that's just the nature of blitz.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Drama Queens

I’m sure by now most of you have read or heard about “handshakegate” at Corus. It’s a pretty pathetic episode but it sure makes for some entertaining reading. More here and here. (and on about a million other blogs)

All of a sudden, everybody seems to focus more on handshakes than on chess. There sure seem to be a lot of drama queens playing chess these days...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Benko Gambit

I have teamed up with two guys from my chess club to take up the Benko Gambit. We will meet once a week to study the ins and outs of this opening. Once we feel we have mastered enough of it, we will move on to another opening. Should be fun :)

I’ve started entering games and analysis from two books on the Benko into Chessbase. It’s a long undertaking but I already feel that entering all that information is giving me a good glimpse at the relevant themes and plans. Sort of learning by “osmosis”…

Friday, January 18, 2008

Bobby Fischer Is Dead

Bobby Fischer died in Iceland today yesterday.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chess Orgy

Has it really been a week since my last post? Damn… I’ve been very busy with work and life in general this week so posting has obviously been light. On top of that, I’ve been suffering from total chess information overload :) I am playing around with the gazillion Chessbase features, trying to familiarize myself with everything… the package had so friggin much stuff in it, it’s ridiculous. Apart from the complex software itself, there’s the Mega Database with tons of extensively annotated games. Then there’s the Correspondence Database that offers really cool off-beat lines, crazy gambits and all sorts of other good stuff you wouldn’t really see in OTB games, so it’s fun browsing through some of those half million games. Then there were six issues of Chessbase magazine that have shitloads of games, analysis, training exercises, multimedia, etc…. And of course the 9 DVD’s with Nalimov endgame tablebases, with which I’m having some issues right now. After installing them (which took forever), Fritz doesn’t want to start anymore because it can’t find some dll file it needs. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on but haven’t been able to fix it yet. Hopefully that’ll change soon, because I can’t wait to do some extensive endgame studies with it.

Ok enough rambling for now. I’ll be on a business trip for the next two days but might be playing in a mini club tournament on Saturday if I get home on time. I’ll be sure to post about it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Biting The Bullet

So I finally decided to order Chessbase 9. I went with the Mega package. It’s expensive, but hey, I gotta get rid of all that loose change I find in my couch somehow…

Now I’m all excited, feels like Christmas all over…can’t wait for the package to come. I was told that since the package ships with the Mega Database 2007, it will also include a voucher to upgrade to the newly released Mega Database 2008. Not quite sure yet whether I’ll have to send the voucher all the way to the Chessbase folks in Germany and wait for them to mail me the disc… I hope their US distributor will accept the voucher. Anybody have any experience with that?

Anyways, I’m sure this software will make me a GM in no time. It just has to…

On a more realistic note, I really look forward to working with it. My expectation is that it will bring more discipline to the process of annotating my own games, and that it will be super useful in many other areas. Can’t wait to work with the opening reports. Maybe I’ll even start to get more serious about correspondence chess?

I’m also excited about the Nalimov tablebases that come with the package. Although I’ll have to install them on my external hard drive because they take up 43GB of space… I hope with a firewire connection access times won’t be much of a problem.

Ahhh life’s good… now all I need is more spare time.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sometimes Everything Flows

This is one of those games that feels almost effortless, every move just feels natural. I am on the white side of QGD Exchange Variation, and I have the initiative pretty much all game long. Black seems to do nothing but react. After white's 8th move, black is already several tempi behind and white owns the center. After white's 11th move, it looks even worse for black. On move 18 white gets a free pawn since black can't take the bishop without losing his queen. The rest was straightforward and black didn't put up much resistance, getting mated on move 24.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Let's Get It On, Baby!

Welcome, 2008. So long, 2007. I’m back from my 2 week vacation and ready for lots of chess. I didn’t study much chess these last two weeks as quality time with my family seemed more important to me. I did, however, get in some 13 long games with my dad on a beautiful new wooden set I gave him for Christmas. Those games were lots of fun and made me realize that I improved more than I thought in 2007. While sometimes it seems the more I study, the worse I get, I guess the truth of the matter is that I might appear to suck more because I tend to play stronger competition than before. Against my father however, who I haven’t played in a year and who on average won probably 50% of our games in the past, my final score was 10-3 in my favor. I was surprised to see how effectively I could often rip open his position, sometimes sacrificing pieces on pure instinct and just making it work by keeping the initiative. My tactical eye was also much sharper. So all in all, I think I’m on the right path. (although the road ahead is still veeery long)

Last year was a good year for many reasons, but I have a feeling 2008 will be even better. I’m going to continue my regimen of tactics study with PCT and tactics books, and hopefully realize some of my goals lined out earlier.

While I didn’t study much in the last two weeks, I did manage to read most of my favorite chess blogs pretty regularly. I am surprised by the recent trend of chess overdosing, frustration and/or resignation I saw. Granted, it’s not really a mass phenomenon or something, but just take, for example, Atomic Patzer's comment here, Lithium's post here (and this related post, or BDK's recent posts starting somewhere here.

They’re all good chess blogs and I’ve come to like their writings partly because their chess struggles feel very familiar. It saddens me to see that a hobby (obsession?) that’s supposed to be primarily a fun thing can cause such frustration. I fully sympathize with their emotions, and I go through similar feelings all the time. I guess we’d all love to see our efforts pay off in the form of a quick ratings increase, some sort of more tangible measure of success, something that tells us yes, all that time and energy spent on chess was worthwhile. It’s frustrating to see so little return on investment in this silly game called chess.

However, that last sentence contains a word I will continue to remind myself of – chess is first and foremost a game, something I do to relax. I doubt that I (or most other chess bloggers) will ever make a serious living off of chess, and so I will continue to study only as much as I can without it taking away from more serious endeavors in my life that actually contribute to my personal and professional development. I think with a healthy, realistic attitude towards the importance of chess in one’s life, and with less expectation of a “ratings miracle” or a certain win/loss ratio, one can more freely focus on studying chess just for the pure joy of the game. I will not impose rules on myself like “I have to put in x amount of hours every week”. I will simply study whenever I feel like it and as time allows (I realize this is probably sub-optimal and will not get me to Grandmasterdom anytime soon, but what the heck – it’s only chess, and I won’t let this beautiful mistress put too much pressure on me).

So here’s to a kick-ass 2008 in which I will continue to get my ass kicked, but in which I will continue to love chess for its complex beauty.