Saturday, December 27, 2008

Puzzle

Highlight below with mouse to see solution:
[ Keres - Kurajica 11.Qxh6+ Kxh6 2.Nxf7+ Kg7 3.Nxd8 1-0]

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pattern Training

Pattern Training is solving hordes of basic chess positions (2-move and three-move mates, to be exact) as fast as you can. This type of puzzle-solving will train your eye to recognize mating patterns with certain combinations of pieces.

One of the best books to train this method with has to be "Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations, and Games" by Laszlo Polgar, father of the Famous Polgar sisters Zsuzsa, Zsófi, and Judit. Start by doing one or two pages a day and increase your solving as much as possible, hopefully getting up to 6 or 7 pages in a day, without too much fatigue. As you progress, you will see that you begin to have 'ah-hah!' moments when you begin to recognize patterns from previous diagrammes already solved.

That is a sure indicator that you are progressing in your tactical, mate-solving training.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Chess Training and Improvement

Improvement in chess over years is usually related to the frequency of play and the addressing of discovered weaknesses as a result of your losses. One facet that I have discovered is that people tend to get stuck in a method of so-called 'training' and revert back to that method after a series of less-than-spectacular games played on their part. One tends to 'hunker down' and retrain using the same methods they used previously. The unfortunate thing is that those training methods, whatever they were, led to their current predicament, and are thus flawed in some way, were not executed properly, or did not meet the current needs of the player.

One way to address this phenomenon is to make available several
different training methodologies to yourself and rotate from one to
another. This enriches one's chess knowledge and makes available to the player differing perspectives from some of the great chess teachers throughout history. But what does that mean?

Here is a simple example regarding methods of thinking in chess and
how to select candidate moves. I am aware of several methodologies
regarding this process. I list them here:

1) How to Think Like a Grandmaster - Kotov Method
2) How to Choose A Chess Move - Andrew Soltis Method
3) How to Reassess Your Chess - Silman Method
4) B-Method: Squares Strategy - Bangiev Method
5) How to Become an Expert - Purdy Method
6) Chess Praxis - Nimzovich Method
7) Generic Chess Training System (GCTS) - Irina Mikhailova/Author's
method

Chess is an individual game. Because of that, training is almost
exclusively done on one's own. In regards to my own personal chess
training, I developed a hybrid system taken from Irina Mikhailova's
chess articles at Convekta, of CT-ART 3.0 fame. I have also studied
every method above at some point or another, beginning with Chess Praxis by Nimzovich in my chess youth, moving on to Kotov’s famous book, being overwhelmed there, moving on to Silman’s method, and currently engaged in the fourth method, Bangiev's Squares Strategy, which I find the most satisfying to date.

Chess is such a deep game that it requires each individual to become
creative, not only at the board, but also in their training methods,
to keep themselves fresh and their training relevant. This is why having available a rotation of differing methods of training is a must for the aspiring player. Solving tactical puzzles all day long will help you improve, sure, but it will not get you beyond a Category A level of play. True training is required to break that glass ceiling.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Things You Must Do Every Day To Get Better

Here is a list of chess tasks that should be performed each day if you seek to improve:

1) Review Master Games within your Opening Repertoire
2) Specialization Position Training out of Opening Repertoire
3) Tactics Drills
4) Endgame Studies - R+P(s) vs R+P(s); R+N/B vs. R+N/B; K+P vs. K+P
5) Daily Play - G5, G10, G15. Weekly - At least 1 Standard Time Control Game
6) Review Your Losses!

This list covers all aspects of play: Openings, The Middlegame, Endings, Strategy, Tactics, Play and Review of Games.

#1 will help you develop a sense of the strategical themes in your choice of openings, and what types of positions to expect from those openings. #2, critical positions taken from #1, will help you understand the strategic elements of the opening/middlegame and the transitions into the endgame. #3 will keep your tactical eye fresh - it can get stale. #4 will naturally improve your ability to finish your opponent off and not fear transitioning into a won endgame from an advantageous middlegame. #5 will allow you to test your knowledge and gain feedback from your play. #6 You cannot improve if you do not know your weaknesses!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Efficient Opening Study

It's no secret here that I am a Chessbase user, and regularly, on a weekely basis, download new games from Mark Crowther's The Week In Chess, probably the best source of current games in the world. Each Monday I take a few minutes to get the new files and import them into Chessbase 8.0.

I recently began reviewing games from the weekly TWIC files in my repertoire, but got tired of setting the filter mask to various ECO codes each time. Out of curiosity, I discovered a really easy method that is virtually instantaneous to gather the games in your customized repertoire for review that I want to share with you. Here is how it works.

The first step you do is create a New...Text document in *any* database. Then, using the menu lists, create search masks for each opening that you have in your repertoire. For example, you might like to play the Ruy Lopez: C60 - C99. Create a search mask for ECO codes C60 to C99 and label it "Ruy Lopez - C60 - C99" or maybe something more specific like "Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik attack". Create as many search masks as you need in this text document and save it into the database.

With this search mask repertiore text file, you have created a template to gather all games that are associated with each search mask. Simply create new blank text documents in each database and copy the original into it and save it into the new database. The search mask applies to the database that the text document is actually in. Therefore, on a weekly basis as the games become available, you can easily copy a previous 'Repertoire Search Mask Text File' into a newly downloaded database and review the games associated with your repertoire very easily.

I hope this helps streamline your study time and helps make chess more enjoyable for all!

Specialization #5

Here is yet another useful position to play against a computer or another like-strength opponent for practice. It derives from the Grand Prix Attack in the Sicilian Defense:

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 e6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb5 Nf6 6.d3 Be7 7.0-0 Diagram



Black to Move

[r1bqk2r/pp2bppp/2n1pn2/1Bpp4/4PP2/2NP1N2/PPP3PP/R1BQ1RK1 b kq - 0 7]

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Specialization #4

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 Nbd7 7.Nxc4 Qc7 8.g3 e5 9.dxe5 Nxe5 10.Bf4 Nfd7 11.Bg2 Diagram



Black has 2 moves here, and both should be investigated thoroughly for some excellent training:

A) 11...f6

B)11...g5

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Specialization Position #3

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 d5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 Ne4 7.Qc2 Nc6 8.e3 e5 9.cxd5 Qxd5 Diagram



r1b1k2r/ppp2ppp/2n5/3qp3/3Pn3/P3P3/1PQ2PPP/R1B1KBNR w KQkq - 0 10

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Specialization Position #2

D85

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 c5 8.Be3 Qa5 9.Qd2 Bg4 Diagram



rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/3P4/8/PPP1PPPP/RNBQKBNR b KQkq d3 0 1

Specialize the above position for some excellent training. Post any games you played with it here!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Specialization

Today I want to talk about something called Specialization.


What is Specialization? Online dictionaries carry the definition as "to pursue some special line of study, work, etc.", and that is the definition we mean for the most part. In our chess-world, we want to 'specialize', or study, a fairly common position in chess. By study I mean deeply analyze and play from both sides for an extended number of times until all facets of the position have been revealed. Let's look at an example straight from the Lev Alburt's book "Building Up Your Chess":


Position #1, Black to Move:




[r1bq1rk1/p3bppp/1pn1pn2/4N3/3P4/P1NB4/1P3PPP/R1BQR1K1 b - - 0 12]

This position can, unbelievably, be reached by a whole slew of different openings ranging from Queen's Gambit Declined to The Caro-Kann to The Scandanavian over to the Sicilian Defense and even the Smith-Morra Gambit! It is great practice on the Isolated Queens Pawn and the attack and defending of such a position. It's quite an amazing position to play out and analyze from both sides. It's Steak And Sizzle all in one!

Lev's recommendation here is to analyze out the variations and record them across several sessions, over several hours if necessary. Once you are finished, go over the analysis with a strong computer engine and note where you went wrong. Next, and this is the fun part, set up the position and play an entire series of games from both sides against a stronger opponent or against your favorite computer opponent. G10's are fine for this as the goal is not accurate play but to capture a memory of the types of positions that arise from this configuration, and to see what can happen across several different lines of play from both sides.

Repeat this specialization training with several other positions that arise out of the late opening/early middlegame in GM games that occur within your opening repertoire. Right about now a light has probably gone on in your head - yes! You are actually training for the middlegame and how to handle *types of positions* that can occur in your opening selections.

How cool is that? It's really cool, but even cooler is to use your own games and get to positions (again, late opening/early middlegame is best) in those games and do the same sort of analysis and play from both sides. Being your own games you'll have a better sense of what ideas came to you and you'll be able to better experiment with those ideas in your G10's.

Without a doubt, this training method - Specialization - will be a strong element to any player's training regimen, and it comes highly recommended by GM's and patzers like myself.


For practice, here are two more positions from one of my most recent games.


Position #2, Black to Move:

[r6r/pb2kpp1/1p1bpn1p/1Bq1N3/5P2/8/PPPBQ1PP/2KR3R b - f3 0 17]



Position #3, Black to Move:

[3r1k2/pb3p2/1p2pnN1/2qr2p1/5P1P/2PB4/PP2Q3/1K1R1R2 b - - 0 28]


Review:
1) Spend some quality time analyzing the position out, recording your analysis
2) Review your analysis with a stronger player or strong computer engine
3) Play out several games to the finish from both sides from the given position

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Tactics Puzzle

White to move and win

Highlight for answer:[Khalifman-Ulibin, Sochi 1989 1 Nxe6!! Qxe6 2 Re1 Qe1+(2...Ne5 3 Nxc5; 2...Qf7 3 Re7) 3 Qe1 Bb7 4 Qe6+ ... 1-0]

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Idaho Becomes the First to Offer a Statewide Chess Curriculum

Idaho Becomes the First to Offer a Statewide Chess Curriculum as a Strategy for Learning for All 2nd and 3rd Graders

SEATTLE, WA--(Marketwire - March 25, 2008) - America's Foundation for Chess (AF4C) today announced that Idaho is the first state to approve the use of the First Move™ chess curriculum in all second and third grade classrooms statewide.

"We're thrilled to have the enthusiastic support of the State of Idaho and its school officials who recognize the unique value proposition of chess as an education strategy," said Wendi Fischer, Vice President of America's Foundation for Chess. "We have over 25,000 students using the First Move curriculum across 18 states and the reaction from students, teachers and parents has been outstanding as the benefits extend far beyond the classroom."

Teachers in Idaho state schools will have the opportunity to teach the First Move curriculum as part of their standard in-class program. "The reaction to the pilot program has been excellent and we are looking forward to expanding First Move into more schools this Fall," said Tom Luna, State Superintendent of Education, State of Idaho.

About America's Foundation for Chess

America's Foundation for Chess (AF4C) is a nonprofit organization committed to making chess a larger part of America's educational and cultural fabric. AF4C's unique First Move™ program offers a professionally designed, standards-based class curriculum utilizing the game of chess as a learning tool for all second and third grade students. Integrated as part of the standard classroom curriculum, the program is designed to support teachers' existing academic, social and emotional goals for their students. Students learn to make better choices by thinking ahead, thinking analytically, and thinking of consequences: essential life skills. The First Move™ program has nearly 25,000 student enrollees and is rapidly expanding across America so that it will soon become a regular part of every child's classroom experience. AF4C's national office is located in Kirkland, Washington. For more information visit www.AF4C.org

Friday, March 07, 2008

Support Gata's Quest for the World Championship

March 3, 2008



There is nothing more exciting for U.S. chess than Gata Kamsky's run for the World Championship. Later this year, Gata will face former world champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria in a match, while current world champion, India's Viswanathan Anand, defends his title against his predecessor, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia. Victory against Topalov will mean a title match for Gata in 2009. Read Gata's own Chess Life annotations from his World Cup win in the March Chess Life Magazine.

This will be Gata's third attempt to climb the Olympus of chess. In 1993, the rival organisations FIDE and PCA each held Interzonal tournaments. Kamsky qualified from both, and proceeded to wipe out one top GM after another in the two parallel world championship cycles. As FIDE attempted to establish a successor to the title vacated by the formation of the PCA by Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short, Gata decisively defeated Anand, 6-4 (on the Indian's home turf!), and two others in matches before finally succumbing to Anatoly Karpov, 7.5-10.5, in their 1996 FIDE World Championship match.

In the PCA cycle, Gata demolished first Kramnik, 4.5-1.5, and then Short, 5.5-1.5, before Anand avenged the above-mentioned defeat, 6.5-4.5.

Gata needs YOUR help. Preparing properly for his high-caliber match with Topalov is an expensive proposition. Bulgarian support for Topalov has been strong, and our support for Gata will need to match theirs. To that end, the Gata Kamsky International Chess and Sports Foundation has been established, and is in the process of securing 501(c)3 status. Donations can be made to:



The Gata Kamsky International Chess and Sports Foundation,
P.O. Box 204,
Massapequa Park, NY 11762.


The USCF fully endorses the foundation and urges you to donate whatever you can to this effort. Let's help Gata continue Bobby Fischer's legacy!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Grand Prix Participants Announced

Today, FIDE has published the list of confirmed participants for the first Grand Prix series. Kramnik, Anand, Topalov and Morozevich are not playing, but still the average rating is above 2700.


Svidler Peter RUS 2763
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2760
Leko Peter HUN 2753
Ivanchuk Vassily UKR 2751
Aronian Levon ARM 2739
Gelfand Boris ISR 2737
Radjabov Teimour AZE 2735
Carlsen Magnus NOR 2733
Karjakin Sergey UKR 2732
Adams Michael ENG 2726
Kamsky Gata USA 2726
Jakovenko Dmitry RUS 2720
Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2713
Grischuk Alexander RUS 2711
Bacrot Etienne FRA 2700
Wang Yue CHN 2698
Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2681
Navara David CZE 2680
Gashimov Vugar AZE 2665
Pelletier Yannick SWZ 2600
Al Modiahki Mohamad QTR 2569

Average rating: 2709

Tactics Puzzle


Black to move and win

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Psychology in Chess

The Psychology of Chess

Napoleon Hill, well-known author of various personal achievement books like "
Think and Grow Rich!", expounds on some very clear psychological ideas that can be related to chess training in meaningful ways. This article attempts to make some useful correlations between personal achievement and the progression one makes in chess training and performance.

Definiteness of Purpose
Definiteness of Purpose is the starting point of all achievement. A lack of definiteness of purpose is the stumbling block for about 98% of all people who do not achieve their goals for the simple reason that the never clearly define their goals and start towards them.
What does that mean in the context of chess performance and chess training? Performance in modern chess is depicted in the useful ELO rating scale as somewhat a rough indicator. It is, if you will, the 'money' of chess. If, for instance, you are determined, motivated, and obsessed with reaching a rating of 2000 but are currently sitting at 1600, you have given yourself a definiteness of purpose. you have defined your goal - USCF 2000 rating. Keep your eye on the prize!

At this point, assuming you are a 1600 player, we will want to write down a six-step method of achieving your goal of a rating of 2000:

First - Fix in your mind the exact Rating you wish to achieve. Be definite. "I want to be over 1700." is not definite. " I will be rated 2000." is definite.

Second - Determine exactly what it is you intend to give in return for that goal. "I will train 2 hours a day to achieve my goal."

Third - Determine a definite date by which you intend to achieve this goal. "I will achieve a rating of 2000 by End of Year, 2009."

Fourth - Create a definite plan for carrying out your goal, and begin at once, ready or not. Put your plan into action. "I will do chess-related studies for 2 hours a day to include tactical exercises and endgames. I will play every day and review my losses to address the deficiencies in my play. I will play in at least one rated standard time control event per month."

Fifth - Write out a clear and concise statement of the rating you wish to achieve, name the time limit for it's acquisition, state what you intend to give in return, and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to gain that rating.

Sixth - Read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before retiring at night and once after arising in the morning. As you read, see and feel and believe yourself already in possession of that rating! This is important as you are giving yourself reinforcement and impressing your brain with the idea, which will lead to autosuggestion.

With regards to training, a definiteness of purpose may be to perform concentrated studies each day for 2 hours (or, for that matter, any timeframe so long as you stick to it). Our useful GCTS (Generic Chess Training Schedule) paradigm, used in conjunction with a strong psychological approach outlined above, will lead you to improved play and the achievment of milestones and long-term goals such as rating increases and a better understanding of chess.

Here is an example of an action plan statement (section Five) for a 1600 rated player with a goal set at 2000 within 2 years. I have placed the step number to indicate which part of the action plan this portion refers to:

[1-the goal]: "I will be rated 2000."
[2-what you'll give]: "I will train 2 hours a day to achieve my goal."
[3-the date]: "I will achieve a rating of 2000 by End of Year, 2009."
[4-The plan]: "I will do chess-related studies for 2 hours a day to include tactical exercises and endgames. I will play every day and review my losses to address the deficiencies in my opening, middlegame, tactical and endgame play. I will play in at least one (or more) rated standard time control events per month (online or OTB)."

Now it would pay to do a detailed look at what it is you are stating here. You are essentially saying that in about 23 months from today, February 2008, ending in December 2009, that your goal is to increase your rating by 400 points. This might seem insurmountable to some, but let's break it down into smaller pieces, called milestones or short-term goals.


Would it make it more reasonable to say that you could bring your current rating of 1600 up to, say, 1618, by the end of February? And by the end of March 2008 to 1635? Those monthly milestones seem very reachable to you now, don't they? Having some experience in this method, I'd say that if you stuck to your plan for 1 month you'd see a dramatic improvement in your tactical abilities, resulting in improved play, and hence, an increase in rating. As you progress and improve, your confidence will build, and your ability to have faith and believe in your plan will take shape.
It's important to have a clear, concise vision of what you are trying to achieve as well as the steps you have to walk to achieve your goals.


No mountain climber ever got to the top of Everest sipping coffee with a sherpa at base camp just thinking about it.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Tactics Puzzle


Find the correct winning continuation for Black.

Answer tommorrow.

Monday, February 04, 2008

FIDE Grand Prix Events

Mark Crowther writes for The Week In Chess:

The winner of the Grand Prix will play with the winner of the 2009 World Cup for the right to challenge the World Champion in 2010. Each Tournament will be a 14 player all play all. 14 players have the right to compete in the circuit and they have to play 4 of the 6 events (there will be local players too), these will be allocated to them. Below are the details as announced. It will be interesting to see who signs up for this event, my bet is that a number of the top players won't. This was supposed to be a held on different continents but the majority are being held in Europe. Secondly the presence of reserve cities suggests that some of these venues are not certain. Of course there is a certain chicken and egg situation, getting sponsors for the events without the players having signed up will be hard (they could end up with a distinct 2nd string) and the players won't sign up without venues being in place. Things will no doubt be easier if they do get this first series off the ground. They'll be nice events if they take place, I'm a big fan of all-play-alls but I've become quite cynical about announcements such as these.


FIDE Grand Prix 2008-9
Baku AZE April 20th - May 6th 2008
Krasnoyarsk * RUS July 30th - August 15th 2008
Doha QAT December 13th - 29th, 2008
Montreux SUI April 14th - 28th, 2009
Elista RUS August 1st - 17th, 2009
Karlovy Vary CZE December 7th - 23rd, 2009
* or other Russian city.
Reserve cities are Istanbul and Teheran.

Grand Prix 2008-9 Qualified Players
No Name NAT YroB Ja08
1 Kramnik, Vladimir RUS 1975 2799
2 Anand, Viswanathan IND 1969 2799
3 Topalov, Veselin BUL 1975 2780
4 Morozevich, Alexander RUS 1977 2765
5 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyaz AZE 1985 2760
6 Shirov, Alexei ESP 1972 2755
7 Leko, Peter HUN 1979 2753
8 Ivanchuk, Vassily UKR 1969 2751
9 Aronian, Levon ARM 1982 2739
10 Gelfand, Boris ISR 1968 2737
11 Radjabov, Teimour AZE 1987 2735
12 Carlsen, Magnus NOR 1990 2733
13 Karjakin, Sergey UKR 1990 2732
14 Kamsky, Gata USA 1974 2726
Reserves
1 Adams, Michael ENG 1971 2726
2 Svidler, Peter RUS 1976 2763
3 Polgar, Judit HUN 1976 2707
4 Grischuk, Alexander RUS 1983 2711

Grand Prix 2008-9 Prizes Each Event
Place EUR Points
1 30,000 140 + 40 bonus
2 22,500 130 + 20
3 20,000 120 + 10
4 15,000 110
5 12,500 100
6 11,000 90
7 10,000 80
8 8,500 70
9 7,500 60
10 6,000 50
11 5,500 40
12 5,000 30
13 4,500 20
14 4,000 10

Grand Prix 2008-9
Prizes for Final Standings
(Best three events)
Pl Prize (Euros)
1st 75,000
2nd 50,000
3rd 40,000
4th 30,000
5th 25,000
6th 20,000
7th 18,000
8th 16,000
9th 14,000
10th 12,000

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Useful Observations

Here are some useful observations for those of you out there trying to complete the Seven Circles tactical training suggested by De La Maza. I not so much discovered these, but rather suffered in their absence.

Observation #1: Stay true to the number of puzzles you solve each day AND the amount of time you take to solve them.

For example, for the first 64 days, you are asked to solve 16 tactical puzzles each day with the puzzles getting more difficult as the days go by. Now 16 tactical puzzles can be completed in a matter of minutes if they are the garden variety 2-move mates and such. But as you get through your problem set and they become more difficult, you'll find that it takes longer and longer to truly solve the 16 puzzles. My advice is to not fret and have the answers handy to be disclosed to you. This is not *cheating* because, and remember this, you are training your tactical eye, and that is the entire purpose of these drills. It does you no good to sit and dwell over a puzzle for 5 minutes. Look up the answer and move on.

You essentially want to try and solve each puzzle in the same amount of time, no more. My advice is to give yourself at most 1 minute on each puzzle. That way, you'll be solving all of them for that day in under 20 minutes, then in about 30 minutes, then in about an hour, etc.

Observation #2: Play at least three blitz each day.

Blitz is essentially all tactics, for the most part. Play on a rated server like ICC or Playchess so your rating is tracked. Hopefully You'll begin to see improvement as you advance through the Seven Circles in your blitz play.

Good Training and Good Luck!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Is the United States Chess Federation in Trouble?

Is the United States Chess Federation in Trouble?

By Dylan Loeb McClain

A statement from a meeting about the finances of the United States Chess Federation was posted over the weekend on the federation’s Web forum by Bill Goichberg, the president of the federation. In the statement, Goichberg talked about the federation’s finances, saying they are not in good shape and the federation is projected to run a significant deficit (significant from the federation’s standpoint as it does not have much in the way of financial reserves and its revenues are about $3 million a year).

Full Story Here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Seven Circles (of HELL)

I have embarked on completion of the Seven Circles of Hell - the tactical marathon recommended by Michael de la Maza in "Rapid Chess Improvement". I do not possess CT-ART 3.0, so I am using a good old-fashioned paperback book to complete this hell race called "Sharpen Your Tactics" by Anatoly Lein and Boris Archangelsky.

The book is structured in a manner that the problems start off relatively simple with obvious 2-move mates and increase in difficulty to more complex tactical ideas. The number of problems in the book is 1125 - more than the 1000 that is necessary. They are also all positions taken for real games, yet another requirement met.

Why am I doing this?

If you saw my blitz play you'd not be asking me that question...

In any event, I am also doing the Chess Vision Drills as well. I marked a deck of cards a1 through h8 on one side and the square color on the other side for that drill, as well as doing the Forks and Skewers, Knight Flight, and Pawn Grab drills daily for a couple weeks. I just need the practice.

Future Event: The hotel is booked so I hope to see you at me next event - The Eastern CLass Championships in beautiful Sturbridge, Massachusetts.

[RANT ON]
I figure with McCain winning *as a republican* (excuse me, I think I threw up a little bit in my throat) in Florida, anything can happen...I best spend my money now, 'cuz if that nutjob gets in (or any OTHER Democrat, for that matter), they will be taking more and more from me to 'redestribute' across this great country...

God help us...socialism is alive and well in America.
[RANT OFF]

There. I feel better now. Better take my meds...

Interactive Chess TV - ChessVista

ChessVista News

DGT and UEP in Interactive Chess TV

30.01.2008 While Anand and Kramnik were playing their last serious game (Corus Chess 2008, round 13 on Sunday 27 January) before the World Chess Championship Match to be held in October 2008 in Bonn, DGT (Digital Game Technology) and UEP (Universal Event Promotion) have signed a declaration of intent to develop Interactive Chess TV. The signing and the celebration took place in Café De Moriaan, fifty meters from the Anand vs Kramnik fight, in Wijk aan Zee (Netherlands). The expected amount to invest is ranging from 250 thousand to 300 thousand euro. It is a first next step in bringing chess to the people. ‘We expect to attract a new group of chess public’. DGT and UEP want to broadcast the World Chess Championship Match via Interactive Chess TV. ‘We need a 5000+ audience who on Pay per View basis will be witness of this chess event’. Report by Frits Agterdenbos.

Full Article here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Corus Photos by Fred Lucas

At Chessbase there is a wonderful photo collection from Corus by Fred Lucas. Put some faces to those famous names in the international chess newsreel!

Enjoy!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Chinese Invade Gibraltar!

The Chinese have taken over the 6th Gibtelecom Chess Festival.

GM's Xiangzhi Bu (5.5/6) and Hao Wang (5/6) currently sit atop the leaderboard after 6 rounds in this strong event. American Hopeful GM Hikaru Nakamura, who lost in round 4 to IM Zong-Yuan Zhao, sits in 24th at 4/6.

Live games here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

2008 Gibtelecom Chess Festival

2008 Gibtelecom Chess Festival

The 6th edition of Gibraltar's Gibtelecom Chess Festival takes place from 22-31 January 2008 at the Caleta Hotel, one of Gibraltar's best hotels. Live games can be seen here.

Several USA players are present, including GM Hikaru Nakamura, GM Varuzhan Akobian, IM Joseph Bradford, and FM Michael Langer in the Masters Section.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Perfect Tribute to Bobby Fischer

I find the following tribute to Robert James Fischer the single most relevent thing you could ever say about the man, given all the circumstances of his life, his mental illness, and his confrontation with self:

Tim Krabbé (Tim Krabbé's Open Chess Diary):

If chess is still played ten thousand years from now, Bobby Fischer will be the only player of our times who matters.

Gary Kasparov on Bobby Fischer

With the death of Bobby Fischer chess has lost one of its greatest figures. Fischer’s status as world champion and celebrity came from a charismatic and combative personality matched with unstoppable play. I recall thrilling over the games of his 1972 Reykjavik world championship match against Boris Spassky when I was nine years old. The American had his share of supporters in the USSR even then, and not only for his chess prowess. His outspokenness and individuality also earned him the quiet respect of many of my compatriots.

Fischer’s beautiful chess and his immortal games will stand forever as a central pillar in the history of our game. And the story of the Brooklynite iconoclast’s rise from prodigy to world champion has few peers for drama. Apart from a brief and peculiar reappearance in 1992, Bobby Fischer’s chess career ended in 1972. After conquering the chess Olympus he was unable to find a new target for his power and passion.

Fischer’s relentless energy exhausted everything it touched – the resources of the game itself, his opponents on and off the board, and, sadly, his own mind and body. While we can never entirely separate the deeds from the man, I would prefer to speak of his global achievements instead of his inner tragedies. It is with justice that he spent his final days in Iceland, the site of his greatest triumph. There he has always been loved and seen in the best possible way: as a chessplayer.

Garry Kasparov
Moscow – January 18, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

Strategic Planning - Knights and bases of Operation

Knights and Bases of Operation

Knights like to reside centrally, immune from attack by enemy pawns. A centrally placed knight protected from such attack could be considered as good as a Rook in many positions. In contrast, the poor positioning of a Knight can be an important detriment strategically as the well-placed Knight. Of course, poor-placed pieces naturally seek to improve their standing as soon as possible, but taking advantage of your opponent's misplaced knight is as important a strategic idea as finding squares for your own pieces.

Here the great Alekhine demostrates the strategic importance of centrally-placed Knights and the strategic detriment of poorly placed Knights:


Here alekhine proceeds to improve his Knight placement methodically with
15...Bxg3 16.hxg3 Ne7 17.b4 Qd7 18.Nc2 Ned5 19.Na3 b5 20.axb5 axb5 21.Qe2 c6 22.Nc2 Qf5 23.Rfc1 h6 24.Ra5 Rec8 25.Na1 Ng4 Diagram



And the end came swiftly:
26.Kf1 Re6 27.Rxb5 Rf6 28.Rcc5 Nxf2 29.Ke1 Nd3+ 30.Kd1 Qf1+ 31.Be1 Rf2! Diagram
0-1

This is a good example of contrast between well-placed and poorly managed Knights.

Strategic Planning - Minority Attack

Let's begin first with a definition of what a Minority Attack is. No - it is not Knights and Bishops ganging up on pawns, or Rooks beating a Bishop back to a1. A Minority Attack is when one side has less pawns on the wing in question and proceeds to advance those pawns in an effort to attack the opposing pawn majority. This is the basic idea behind the Minority Attack.

Classical Goals

From a purely classical point of view, the Minority Attack was somewhat nonexistent up until the 1920's where mechanical methods mostly decided what strategic ideas were possible in a position. Once the usefulness of the Minority Attack became evident, things changed for both sides. These things were, given the Minority Attack on the Queenside from White's perspective:


Weakness of c4, and sometimes e4

When White, the Minority, advances his b-pawn to b4, this leaves a distinctive hole on c4 begging for a Black Knight to come and perch. Black would then strive to: a) exchange the light-squared bishops, and b) attempt to place a Knight on c4 via b6 or d6 (or both). White would, of course, try to counter those plans. Black, by playing a6 to prevent b5, has some problems as well. It weakens the square b6 directly and c5 indirectly, given that if black proceeds with b6 (to strengthen c5), then the a6-pawn could come under assault. As is said, "All pawn moves create weaknesses".

Prevention of b4-b5 by black via b5; followed by the placement of a Knight on c4



This method of countering the Minority Attack has a very simple precept: b5 should not be played by Black until White has commited his b-pawn to b4. Black's main task in these positions is to occupy c4 with a Knight to block major-piece assaults on the c-file. White can attack with a Knight on e5 and an eventual e4 push, and a Bishop on f3 perhaps. You can clearly see here that the focus for White is the c6-pawn, the weakness Black created by playing b5. To say the least, this is a dangerous way to play, and Black must be sure he can defend all his weaknesses or obtains compensation in some order for this plan to materialize positively for him.

The transfer of the d5 pawn by black to e4 via a Knight exchange.




In this type of position, Black's new pawn formation somewhat cramps white on the kingside, offers attacking chances to Black, and gives him a nice outpost on d5 for a piece. On the other hand, Black relinquishes control of c4 - a vital point for him in the Minority Attack on the queenside. White will attempot the advance b4-b5, potentially obtaining a passed d-pawn after Black plays c6xb5. Obviously, Black will have his best chances with piece-play because of the pawn structure and the potential of a kingside attack, otherwise, White will make good on his advantage on the queenside advance. Pachman goes so far as to give piece combinations and who stands better, in a very general sense:

  • White: Q, 2R, N vs Black: Q, 2R, B (white squared); White has good chances
  • White: Q, 2R, N, B vs Black: Q, 2R, N, B (white squared); White has good chances
  • White: Q, 2R, N vs Black: Q, 2R, N; Black has better chances

I hope this little summary of the Minority Attack whets your appetite for strategic thinking. Being aware of basic strategic themes and how to handle them will take you a long way in finding the correct plan in a position. Often it becomes a matter of who 'knows' how to handle a strategic element in a game that can get the advantage over their opponent. Being aware of the ins and outs of the Minority Attack is important in that regard.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Robert James Fischer, Dead at 64

On January 18th, 2008, Robert James Fischer, the greatest Chessplayer and Grandmaster the world has ever known, passed away. He was 64.

In memoriam, I'd like to post some uTube videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jR7IWI4Rh1w
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ht-OqiuWVMk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZedhMvtsiXI

Bobby's Chess was both a boon, in presence, and a bane, in absence, to the world. I am one of the thousands of young chess players in the early 70's to catch fire from this enigma of a man, a hero to me in my youth, living in a suburb of Boston. I keep those memories and do not allow them to mature past the early 70's into something diseased, as it were.

His chess will always be remembered by me, and nothing else.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Back from a 3-month Layoff

Hi all,

After a Chess Hiatus for 3 months, I hope to get back to contributing to this blog on a semi-regular basis. It's good to step away from the game for a short time to refresh oneself when needed, and I needed it after some grueling studying and some disappointing performances at the board.

I want to kick this off by asking readers/bloggers what methods they use to train with when they use a computer opponent like Fritz8 or something similar.

Comments Welcome!