Friday, August 28, 2009


In one of my games during the recent tournament, I missed the most beautiful mate I have ever had the chance to deliver. This is straight out of a puzzle book. Dammit! I can’t believe I didn’t see this during the game, it’s so obvious… sigh. Chess blindness I guess. So in the following position, I am white and I already have a crushing advantage. Black just played Rxe5, and after taking his rook I’m up the exchange plus a pawn, and a vicious attack with a discovered check. So it’s all good. Or not.

Instead of taking his rook, I should of course have played 1…Nf8+ Kh8 2.Qh7! Nxh7 3.Ng6#

I was thinking there must be a mate somewhere but somehow I couldn’t see it clearly in my mind, always thinking that his knight was covering the h7 square. Of course I missed the fact that I could sac my queen, because by taking on h7, he would allow the smothered mate. I guess the lesson here is, forget about material, always look at forcing moves when mate is in the air.

I won the game anyways so it’s not a huge deal, but I might not have another chance anytime soon to sac my Queen for a pretty smothered mate. Now I can’t even show off at my club. Crap.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Life could be worse...

I had a successful tournament and scored 4/5 points, much better that I expected. I was surprised how well I played, given that my work/life schedule doesn’t really allow for much time spent on studying chess. I went into the tournament thinking that I’d probably get my ass kicked quite a bit, but at least I was looking forward to learning a thing or two from my mistakes. But I did not lose a single game! I still took away a few key points that I will try to remember going forward:

● Play aggressively! Don't shy away from complications; don’t settle for dull “safe” positions. I started the tournament with a bishop sac in my very first game, making it a very exciting game. I went for the kill in every game except one, where my brain was just way too tired to calculate and I didn’t want to make mistakes brought on by complications. It ended in a draw.

● Initiative is key - keep it by all means, and don't allow counterplay. Sounds simple, but it certainly isn’t. I kept looking for moves that put me in charge, and I think it worked out ok . More often than not, it was my opponent reacting to my threats rather than the other way around.

● Calculate, calculate, calculate! Don't be lazy, don't move fast even when it's tempting. Don’t think a move that looks “simple” doesn’t require much calculation. I think for most of us patzers, there just is no such thing as a simple move. I often find myself getting lazy in later rounds, when fatigue starts setting in… But whenever I noticed it, I forced myself to be disciplined and calculate every single move, making sure I took advantage of the long time controls. I got up pretty much after every single move, got some fresh air, or just walked around to get my heart rate up a bit. Sometimes I would splash water in my face. Whatever it takes, just don’t settle for half-assed calculations.

Will try to post some games soon, stay tuned!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In other news....

It's been awfully quiet around here... I just haven't really had much to post about I guess, and I don't want to bore anyone with daily "I did 10 tactics puzzles" type updates. But hey, there's light at the end of the tunnel! I am currently preparing for a big tournament at the end of the month, you know, one of those tournaments with actual tournament time controls of 40/2, SD/1 (for non-nerds: 40 moves in two hours, and one hour for all remaining moves). I'm planning to make the most out of it and analyze all games in detail, which I will of course post about here. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

ChessFlash Goes Mainstream

Our beloved fellow blogger Glenn Wilson aka Tacticus Maximus has finally reached the exposure he deserves for his outstanding ChessFlash widget: it is now being used at the UK Guardian's chess column (see here, here, or here for example). I've been using ChessFlash since the early days and still think it's the best PGN viewer available. If you haven't tried it yet, please do check it out.

The Guardian? That's pretty friggin impressive Glenn. Congrats!