Wednesday, December 09, 2009

New Link Added

I think I ran accross this link before, but I found it again via the FICS Facebook page (yes, that's right, FICS is on Facebook now). Anyway, this link takes you to a site where you can post a long standing seek for longer games. I've added it to my Chess Links section.

I saw that Farbror is on the list ... if you see this Farbror, maybe you and I can play a few games sometime. I can usually play any day between 18:30 and 22:30 FICS (Pacific Time). On the weekends, my time can be a little more flexible.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Chess Player Look-a-Likes: Larsen-Dos Equis Guy

Susan Polgar featured a Chess Trivia for Brent Larsen today on her blog. Maybe Dos Equis saw this picture before they started their "Most Interesting Man in the World" ad campaign.

Monday, November 16, 2009

TL41 Starts in January 2010

I just read that TL41 starts in January 2010. If you are currently on a team in the U1800 section and need a player, please post a comment letting me know.

If any of you want to start a team in the U1800 section, let me know ... maybe there is enough interest to form a team before January.

Farbror the Guru would love to form a team. That makes two. Are there at least two more who'd like to join?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Glimmer

Maybe there is a glimmer of hope for the Knights. I just read at Blue Devil's blog of a person requesting to join the Knights.

Check him out at

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Nerd Factor and Chess

Half Sigma discusses chess and the nerd factor in his post today. He cites the Peter Principle (or perhaps more accurate the Peter Rule) which is "non-athletic activities which only men participate in, yet are not viewed as traditionally masculaine, are the nerdiest activities."

From my experience, I agree that non-athletic, male-dominated, non-traditionally-masculine activities are nerdy. I also think an activity is nerdy if it has no real economic, pratical or intelligent value.

True, the argument could be made that many board games and computer games have some intelligent value, but I think chess tends to be associated with greater value than D&D and MMORPGs. And the reason I think that chess has the greater value is because in chess, you the player control all the pieces and are in charge of all operations, strategy and tactics on the board. In D&D and MMORPGs, you are one of many players and relinquish the "big picture". In chess, you're above the fray and not so caught up in the game while in D&D and MMORPGs you could get lost in time and reality.

And maybe that is another factor in the nerd factor: how detached are you from reality? The less detached from reality, the less nerdy.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Grumpy Chess Players

Generally speaking, it seems that chess players are either grumpy or just wierd. Personally, I think I tend to be in the grumpy camp. In fact, my wife has to remind me to not be so negative all the time.

Now comes a study about the benefits of being negative. This article explains some of the findings of the study such as being in a bad mood makes you less gulliable, improves your ability to judge others and boosts memory. Negativity can also "trigger more attentive, careful thinking paying greater attention to the external world."

A couple of other good things about being in a bad mood are: less likely to make quick decisions and less likely to make mistakes during recall.

That's all good for chess improvement!

It's good to be in a bad mood.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Paper Chess

I vaguely remember, as a child, building Christmas villages out of paper.

Now comes Paper Chess ... same idea, but with chess pieces.

Now on sale at for $13.57 ... a perfect gift for friends or relatives who travel to South America (these guys sure could have used the book too).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Where have all the Knights gone?

While perusing the blogs this morning, I read two posts (Nezha and tanc (happyhippo)) in a row about chess players with tactics on their minds. As I kept reading through their posts, I was almost anticipating them saying something about a new Knights Errant quest, but no mention was made.

After looking at the Knights Errant blog, I counted only eight Knights in the heat of battle. And I wonder if they are really in the heat of battle or if the blog is even being kept up to date at all.

Anyone know who the current secratary is? Are there people out there who are still convinced the Michael de la Maza method really works? Back in the hey day, it seemed like there was a lot of discussion about the effectiveness of the MDLM method. But that discussion seems to have dried up.

I was also curious about the man who started it all - the original Don Quixote - and his last post still remains as of June 20, 2007 wherein he says he's done nothing with chess since November 2006 and that he was in the middle of a career change.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chess Player Look-a-Likes: Zatonskih-Thurman

Well, at least in these two pictures the two look a-like.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Up Days

You gotta love the ups when they finally come.

These stats by no means represent anything other than the love of the game. I usually lose and I usually suck at tactics, so when I correctly answer 34 out of the last 40 problems at ChessTempo and I won two blitz games in a row at FICS (look at this beauty), I have to celebrate. Of course I also have to celebrate whenever I actually log onto FICS and play these days. I hadn't played a game there since August!

I also played Greg last weekend. It wasn't anything spectacular ... we drew. But I look forward to future games and I hope I can put up a good fight for him.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Best Chess Analogy I've Seen Yet

As we all have seen, the media compares things to chess: baseball (ad naseum during the playoffs), football, politics, financial transactions and the list goes on and on.

But this time, someone actually made a comparison to chess that is better than I've ever seen.

An FBI counterintelligence agent compared her line of work to chess, "Counterintelligence is like chess -- you have the foundation of a crime, the trunk of the tree, with a lot of branches. In terrorism cases, you look at the intelligence and the potential crime to stop the threat before it actually happens."

Not only is that pretty cool to think about (her line of work), but the analogy is a breath of fresh air from all the banal analogies and comparisons that usually bombard news reports.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Next-Gen Chess

Here's another chess-type variant. We've seen multi-layered chess, Fischer Random, multi-player chess, crazy and bughouse and who knows how many others. Now comes Arimaa. It's been around 7 years, but I heard of it for the first time today.

AI computers have yet to soundly beat humans at this game. The inventor of the game, Omar Syed, has offered a $10,000 prize to the computer developer who can design a program that can beat a human at this game.

The reason computers have a hard time winning is because of the incredible branch factor in Arimaa. According to the wikipedia article, "the average branching factor in a game of Chess is about 35, whereas in Arimaa it is about 17,281." WOW!

You don't have to buy the game to play it. You can simply use a standard chess board and pieces to play. But if you really want the real deal, the game is finally being published.

Have any of you heard of this game before? Have any of you played?

Deadly Chess

Yet another news story of a chess game getting out of control.

"Guilty Plea Entered in Chess-Game Death"

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- An Iowa City man has pleaded guilty in the death of his opponent in a chess game.

David Christian was originally charged with second-degree murder. However, on Friday the 30-year-old pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Johnson County District Court.

Assistant Johnson County Attorney David Tiffany said the plea deal was influenced by the victim's family, who wanted Christian to receive help for his psychological problems.

Police said Christian and Michael Alan Steward were playing chess and drinking at Christian's residence on Oct. 19, 2008, when a quarrel turned violent. They say Christian apparently trapped Steward's neck between his legs and squeezed until Steward was dead.

Although a sentencing date hasn't been determined, the plea agreement includes a recommendation for the mandatory 10-year sentence.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Biggest Chess Set in the World?

Check it out. Though, I'm not sure if the pieces can be moved.

Aug 31 UPDATE: Just found this link at Chessbase explaining what this is all about.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chainmail Chess

Tired of cheap, flimsy chess pieces and boards?

Consider a chainmail chess set.

Source: Chainmail Chess Set Is Suited For Battle (GIZMODO)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FSC: 25 Aug 2009

I'm hoping that now school is back in session people's schedules (including mine) will be more regular. Perhaps more can join in the fun at the FSC every Tuesday and Thursday evening.

I logged into FICS just after 18:00 FICS time and checked channel 111. There were only a handful of people there. I asked if anyone was there for FSC, but no one responded. I posted a 60 0 seek and then fired up some music ... Vince Guaraldi ... to calm my nerves a bit.

I saw chessloser log on. Looked like he played three 5 o's and logged off. Someone finally accepted my seek. It went to 37 moves before I finished it off.

I'll try to be there again Thursday night. Stop on by to play or chat or just to say 'hey'

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Chess Player Look-a-Likes: Tomilova-Green

It's been awhile since I've done this, but I found one while reading Chessbase this morning.

WIM Elena Tomilova & Eva Green.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Results Are Out

Did you participate in the Beauty Contest advertised at Chessbase?

The results are in.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tuesday Nights

After two weeks of crazy chaos at work with Wednesdays and Thursdays being the busiest, and with no end in sight, I decided that Tuesdays would be better for me to play at the FSC. I'll keep Thursdays open for the club, but I'll play on Tuesdays.

I'm sorry if you've stopped by on FICS and didn't find me the last couple of weeks. But I'll be there regularly on Tuesdays from now on.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

At Least It Got Off the Ground

OK ... so it may not have been a resounding success and there was a brain fart on my part. After a busy day at work, I get home around 6pm Central time and suddenly realize that I may have noted the wrong hours for the FSC. So I log into FICS and check the FSC site and realized indeed that I noted the hours as 16:00-21:00 Pacific time (18:00-23:00 Central). I saw about 5 or 6 people in channel 111. I asked the channel if anyone was there for the FSC but got no response. So I updated the FSC site to note the correct hours of 18:00 - 22:00 FICS/Pacific time (which of course is 20:00 - 00:00 Central).

I then ate dinner, spent time with the fam and then put the kiddos to bed and logged back on to FICS around 20:00 Central and no one but me and some computer account is in channel 111. Amazingly I see a seek for a 60 0 game and I immediately accept. It was a really good game (see here).

After I finish the game, I check channel 111 again and see one lone comment from chezzznut: 'hello?' I feel bad because I know it was Chessaholic and he was the only one to originally respond to my idea about the FICS chess club. So I'm sorry Chessaholic! I would have said hello if I had seen you on FICS, but I was in the middle of a game at the time. Please come back again next week though!

So the FICS Standard Club has at least started. Hopefully turnout will be better next week and I can at least give a welcome to everyone.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

FICS Standard Club

Go visit the site for more details!

Come join the fun on FICS starting July 9, 2009 and every Thursday thereafter.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

EnglishRussia Features Ivory Chess Sets

The picture blog EnglishRussia had a post featuring several ivory chess sets. Some of the 'themes' of the chess sets were Greek, Persian, Men vs. Women and a very odd one ... fingers.

It looks like all the pieces are chopped-off fingers while the rook is something else. Perhaps it represents the mechanism that chops off the digits. Can anyone shed some light on what message this chess set is trying to convey?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

LCMBM Game 28 Tactic

This is a neat little tactic from Game 28 in Logical Chess Move by Move.
It reminded me of the last tactic I worked on last night at ChessTempo. I must have spent about 20 minutes trying to figure out how to mate or capture the queen. I kept going over the same three 'trees' over and over again thinking I was overlooking something.
It failed to occur to me to consider the tactic was directed at the rook instead of the queen or king. The lesson learned (or 'learnt' for you Brits) was keep moving down the totem pole of targets (king, queen, rook, etc.) until you find the proper tactic.
In the tactic presented here, it is fairly obvious checkmate isn't on the horizon and the queen is off the board. The one little guy sticking out is that pawn on a7. I would have considered taking the pawn, but probably would have been at a loss as to how to extract my knight after said capture. And therein lies the neatness of this tactic.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Standing Game Seek

I'm looking for anyone rated 1600-1800 on FICS to play me between the hours of 18:00 and 20:00 (FICS server time) any day of the week.

I'd prefer someone who would be willing to do a post mortem analysis either after the game or on a later day.

Additionally ...

I don't know if someone has already started this or not since I've not seen it, but I wonder what interest there is out there for starting an on-line chess club at FICS ... in other words there'd be a day(s) set aside each week (just Tuesdays or just Thursdays or both) between the hours of 16:00-20:00 (FICS time) where anyone can stop by and play a game (focus would be on standard games ... 60 5 or 45 45 or similiar). If this already is set up, let me know. If not, would you be interested in something like this?

It only takes two to start a club, so we're already half-way there!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Recent Blitz Game (and testing pgn viewer)

I know ChessFlash has been out for quite sometime, but I'm just now checking it out.

The only way it looks good on my blog is if I do the 'board only' option. If I include the move list on the side or bottom, the board is too small ... this is due to my narrow column. I wish there were an option for making the move list more narrow and the board more wide.

On a related note, I mentioned a while back. I don't know the full scope of that project, but I imagine that eventually you'd be able to post a game or embed a game from that site to your blog. Right now the site is down (hardware failure).

[Event "rated blitz match"]
[Site "Free Internet Chess Server"]
[Date "2009.06.07"]
[White "ZezoJardim"]
[Black "RockyRook"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "1266"]
[BlackElo "1232E"]
[ECO "C00"]
[TimeControl "120+14"]

1. e4 e6 2. f4 c5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. c3 Nge7 5. Bc4 a6 6. O-O b5 7. Bb3 Bb7 8. d3 Na5 9. Bc2 Qb6 10. a3 c4+ 11. d4 Nb3 12. Bxb3 cxb3 13. Nbd2 Ng6 14. f5 exf5 15. exf5 Ne7 16. Re1 f6 17. Qe2 O-O-O 18. Ne4 Nxf5 19. Nc5 Bxc5 20. dxc5 Qxc5+ 21. Be3 Nxe3 22. Qxe3 Qxe3+ 23. Rxe3 Rhe8 24. Rae1 Rxe3 25. Rxe3 Bxf3 26. gxf3 d5 27. Re7 d4 28. cxd4 Rxd4 29. Rxg7 Rd2 30. Rg2 Rd1+ 31. Kf2 Kd7 32. Ke3 Ke6 33. Rg7 Rb1 34. Rg2 Ke5 35. Kd3 Rc1 36. Rg7 Rc2 37. Rxh7 Rxb2 38. Kc3 Rb1 39. Rh4 a5 40. Rh5+ f5 41. Rh4 a4 42. Rb4 Rc1+ 43. Kb2 Rc2+ 44. Kb1 Rc5 45. h4 Kf6 46. h5 Kg5 47. h6 Kxh6 48. f4 Kh5 49. Rd4 Kg4 50. Kb2 Kf3 51. Rb4 Rd5 52. Kc3 Ke3 53. Kb2 Kd3 54. Kb1 Rc5 55. Kb2 Rd5 56. Kb1 Kc3 57. Kc1 Rd2 58. Rxb5 b2+ 59. Kb1 Rd1+ 60. Ka2 Ra1# {ZezoJardim checkmated} 0-1

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chess Around the Net

Here's a summary of the USCF battle going on in the courts. I read about this a few years ago and tried keeping up with it, but I got tired-head after a while. Be sure you are awake and alert before you read this article (if you want to comprehend it).

All I can say is 'amen' to this op-ed regarding on-line chess ... especially the part where he states, "I sit here now, musing over a game in which I had three days to respond to my opponent’s move, responded instead in three minutes and impatience has cost me the game.
There is truly no fool like an old fool."

I should have done this for my Eagle Scout Project.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Chess Artist by J.C. Hallman

This was another one of those Half-Price Books purchases I made on one of the dozens of date-trips Jill and I took there. As always, I scan the chess section for any books that might be on my purchase list. This one was not on my purchase list, but it looked interesting anyway, so I bought it.

I started reading this one after I finished Bobby Fischer Goes to War back in March. But right around that time is when I found out about our job transfer to Houston. So reading and a lot of other things got pushed to the back burner. I read this book on and off for the next three months, but once we settled down here in Houston, I finally focused on finishing it.

The book started out really well and ended really well, but the middle part about Hallman and Glenn's trip to Kalmykia really dragged on. Pretty soon I was wondering if this book was going to be about nothing but their trip to that barren land. It was getting really depressing for several chapters. But I endured and am glad I did. The last few chapters about the tournament and their visit to the prison in Michigan made up for the dullness of the middle.

I enjoyed the chapters about the history of chess. Those chapters fascinated me the most. It was really interesting to read how chess evolved from a game in India to what we play today.

You don't have to be a chess player to enjoy this book, although chess players will find this a good read too.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Rook

I just finished reading The Chess Artist by J.C. Hallman. Although a bit longish, I enjoyed it. The excursion Hallman and his compadre (Glenn Umstead) took to Kalmykia seemed to take up the entire book ... or maybe the book just dragged on during that part. But the parts I enjoyed most were the chapters about the history of chess and how the pieces came to be today as well as all the other chess adventures Hallman and Glenn took (click here to see a picture of the two).

After I finished the book this morning, I went back and re-read the chapter on the Rook. It was a fascinating discovery about myself.

"The rook's movement and its strength relative to the other pieces has
generally suggested the mechanical, vehicles or articles of war. Most often, the rook is infrastructure. As a line piece that can access all the squares of the board - moving in straight line on either ranks of files and capturing along its path - the rook combines the abstract potentials
of the knight and the bishop. Before the piece came to be represented by the figure of a crenelated castle tower, a depiction that appeared between 1524 and 1550, the rook was often portrayed as a two-headed shape. Early carvings of both bishops and knights were upright figures with some kind of aslant protuberance; early rooks had two such projections. In ornate sets it was a knight with two horse heads instead of one."

Hallman later notes in the same chapter that some family coat of arms associated with the word rook retain the two projections. (Rookwood to the left, Rochette to the right and Rochlitz at the top)

He goes on to describe how the rook started as a chariot or ship. In Arabia, rukh mean "chariot" while in Sanskrit roka meant "ship." Once the game arrived in Europe, different countries tried different names. In Germany marchio or "lord of the marches" described the piece, while in England it was known as duke. "A fifteenth-century morality listed rooks as judges for three reasons: a rook cannot play until a way is opened for it; a rook is in danger when on the same color as the king; and a rook loses power when it is 'in the King's palace' (i.e. not yet castled)." But the Europeans did not fully understand the definition of the piece and deferred to the Italian word rocca which meant "fortress." And this is how we have our modern-day rook which looks like a castle fortress.
What I Learned About Myself and the Rook
First of all, what I was fascinated about was learning the rook had a two-headed projection which was carried into family coat of arms. When I did a search on the Rochlitz coat of arms, I was shocked to see the resemblance between that coat of arms and the little icon I created for this blog. Both sport a mirror-R and are black and yellow. Is there some subliminal context of the rook concept that I picked up through the years of playing chess? It's a bit freaky seeing this connection.
Another aspect was the idea that rooks are associated with mechanical vehicles or articles of war and are usually associated with infrastructure. Maybe I'm thinking about this too much, but my entire career has been in infrastructure groups within our IT (i.e. mechanical) company. Also, I partly chose the handle Rocky, which comes from Rocky Balboa (the fictional boxer), because he seems blue-coller-like. To bring this back to infrastructure ... anything to do with infrastructure is very much blue-coller-like .... there's lots of work and it can be menial, but it is vital to the existence of the group/company/nation.
And lastly ... the relation to ships. Over the last few months, I've been becoming a big fan of the old tall-ship, sea-battle paintings that many others have a fixation with (click here to see an example of what I'm referring to which also happens to by favorite painting of this kind). And so when I learned the rook was also associated with ships, the hairs on my arms seemed to stand up.
Anyway, like I said, I may be thinking about this a bit much, but to say the least, it is very enlightening.
Rookwood and Rochette Coat of Arms: House of Names
Rochlitz Coat of Arms: Wikipedia Commons

Friday, May 29, 2009

Chess Around the Net

This guy takes building a chess engine in a backwards direction. Very cool ... check it out.

I'm a big JoePa fan. I found this recent quote from him:

“In checkers, every checker can do the same thing,” he said. “Chess, the king can do one thing, the pawn can do another thing, the whole bit. Football and coaching is (determining) who's the pawn? Who's the king? So you can put them all together. ... I don't have any reservations about playing a freshman. ... When I say to a kid, 'Hey, get ready to get knocked on your rear end,' I also tell him, 'Learn. Learn why you got knocked on your rear end, so when you come out to practice the next day, they're not going to knock you on your rear end the same way. And you've got a chance to knock him on his rear end.' There's no hard-and-fast rules. We've got a bunch of kids coming in, we're going to work our butts off to see how good they can be, and how much we can help them be good. We've got to put the combination together that gives us the best chess board.” (Source:

And from this Chessbase report, check out this guy's hair:
Chess, band and math nerds in California breathed a big sigh of relief after a judge there decided that "drug testing of students taking part in competitive, nonathletic activities ... is an unjustified invasion of privacy."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wang Yue

Does anyone else giggle upon reading this gentleman's name?
Just say it a few times ... Wang Yue. I think news reports should start using headlines like "Yue wangs Ivanchuk"
(photo from

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Another Post from Half Sigma About Chess

WoW nerdier than chess?

Interesting post and lots of interesting comments.

I'm not sure what World of Warcraft is all about. I assume it is like Quake only far more massive and many more players.

As for the status on my move ... the packers and movers will be here Monday and we should be in our new home May 1. I'll have TV and Internet on May 5. So sometime towards the end of May I'll be back to solving tactics, playing on FICS and (maybe) regularly blogging.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Moving Along

I'm still chugging along at ChessTempo and I'm getting close to finishing Logical Chess Move by Move. I've not had much time to play, but that will all change here in the next few months.

I've been transferred to a new job. For the next two to three months I'll be caught up in work transition and relocating, so chess will take a backburner for a little while. But once we get settled in, I'll be on a normal work schedule (as opposed to shift work - hallelujah!) and I'll be able to more regularly play chess (via the 45 45 tournament). Also, I'd like to actually join a real live chess club, once we settle in to our new home, and play there once a week or so.

In the mean time, I'll continue to hang out at ChessTempo (almost up to 5000 tactics) and try to finish Logical Chess.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bobby Fischer Goes to War by Edmonds & Eidinow

Halfprice Books is a favorite stop when Jill and I go on dates. The one section that I visit first and every time is the chess section. I've found some good books there before. The last time we went, I found two books that I had seen before but never purchased. Since I have really jumped into chess recently, I decided I needed something to read that was chess related but not of the study type. So I bought Bobby Fischer Goes to War and The Chess Artist.

Bobby Fischer Goes to War was a little tough to get into and to finish. I didn't really like the style of the authors. Perhaps since it was written by two authors, their two styles might have muddled things a bit.

The most interesting thing I found as I read this book was the fact that I seemed to be pulling for Spassky while reading it. Of course I knew Fischer won, but if what the authors described of Spassky is true, I think I would have pulled for Spassky. Fischer seemed to be such a pompous, self-conceited individual while Spassky seemed humble and level-headed. I really felt sorry for Spassky and all that he had to put up with in that championship match. He was really squeezed between a rock and a hard place (Fischer and the Communists).

Another thing I found fascinating, which I didn't know before, was how dominating Fischer was in the preceding tournaments before the championship including his 6-0 thrashing of Mark Taimanov and 6-0 drubbing of Brent Larsen. That just boggles the mind.

I'm glad I read this book. I never really knew much about the Fischer excitement of the late 1960's and early 1970's. My dad and brothers got into chess (like thousands of others around the country) because of the Fischer/Spassky match. As a result, I ended up playing chess with my dad and brother as I grew older. Every chess enthusiast should read this book.

Several other sites have read and reviewed this book. Also, I've seen a few links that suggest this book will be made into a movie to be released in 2010.

Review at
Review at
Review at
Review by Ken Owen
Review at

Monday, March 09, 2009

(not) Memorizing the Board

Reading through my feeder this morning, I saw two big bloggers blog about the (roughly) same topic - board visulization.

Tempo blogged about some other player's method for memorizing the board. Then he tried to solve a Polgar brick puzzle by looking at a blank board. He was just curious. In the comments he sums up the same sentiment BDK has with regard to memorizing the board:

board vision in itself is only interesting if you want to play without a board. Which I don't. In a real game there is a real board, so there is no need for perfectboard vision. (allthough it is fun in itself)

Which brings me to the next blogger who blogged about this topic. BDK blogged about the uselessness of memorzing the color of squares which he thinks is even more useless than memorzing the board.

I'm probably never going to memorize the board proactively. If I memorize it as a result of looking at the board so much, so be it, but I'm not going to take the time to memorize it. I think at my level, there are far too many other tasks I can focus on right now that will give me a better ROI than memorizing squares.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Chess Game Fight Gear

Here's a good chuckle:

Be sure to check out the "logo booty shorts" under the shop section.

Let's just say I didn't find any links to chess clubs when I went to this site.

Eli Stein Chess Life Cartoons

I'm sure you've seen at least one of Eli Stein's cartoons. He has a blog where he is posting tons of his old cartoons. He has a category called Chess Life. I think some of them are pretty clever.

Friday, February 27, 2009

FICS Chats

I found this little blurb funny.

Blakeos(2): since the server crash, I am no longer labeled as an abuser, is there a way to fix this?
MarcdCool(2): you still want to be an abuser?


I did about 20 tactics tonight ... just to warm up before playing ... didn't really help.


I played a handful of games tonight. I won two blitz and one standard game. I lost four blitz and two standard games. I also chatted a bit with a couple of people on FICS including dk. I saw Robert log on, but he was playing when I was seeking and vice versa. All said and done, I was on FICS for a solid 4 hours this morning from 11:30pm to 3:30am.

It was fun ... I mean, I really enjoyed myself ... just playing. I know I suck, but I played some good games and some really crappy games. Sometimes I don't mind losing if the game is brilliant. There are a lot of games where I am just in awe that the other player is seeing the stuff he is seeing. It is like he all of the sudden reaches behind himself and monkeys start flying out of his butt. I just have to shake my head and smile in awe.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009



I gave in and bought a $20 (silver) subscription to ChessTempo. I really like the site and the extra features seem worth the price.

I continue to work on tactics every day. I was able to get in 60 today. A couple of days ago I was up to 1888 on blitz. But that has gone back down to around 1850. My percentage correct continues to creep up. I've been keeping track of all my chess related stats ... and back on Feb 16 my percentage was 57.33%. Today it is up to 57.63%

Logical Chess

I have about seven games left to read. I'm going over them pretty quickly and picking up stuff here and there.


I didn't get a chance to get any games in tonight or the last few nights. By the time I get some other things done and then after I work on tactics and Logical Chess, my brain isn't so fresh, so I end up not playing. I think tomorrow night I will warm up with a few tactics and then dive right into play. I need to play more longish games and avoid the blitz stuff.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur

I seem to have forgotten about this book: Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur by Max Euwe and Walter Meiden. I came across a review of this book while blog surfing the other day (reading Abend's Chess who wrote about a game in said book). Judging from the reader reviews at Amazon, it seems like a very useful book. A lot of reviewers compared it to Chernev's Logical Chess, which is what I'm reading now.

hisbestfriend gave some advice when reading the book ... he said he used Fritz to analyze the game while going over the game. He seemed to find a lot of problems with the games, but was convinced he learned more by going through the process of using Fritz while reading the book rather than simply reading the book - read his posts linked below.

I'm considering getting and reading this book.

CM vs. CA on google books (limited view)
SquirrelChess reviews the book
A Chessbase file of the games in the book (because it's written in descriptive notation)
hisbestfriend wrote a little about the book and some more and some more, still more
BDK says "wonderful book" tempted to give it an A, but gave it a B on his 100 chess book reviews (part 5) ... great book review series by the way.
Takchess offers two cents

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rules for Rooks


I worked on a few the last couple of nights. Tonight I didn't have time to get to ChessTempo.

Logical Chess

I finished the Queen's Pawn Opening section of the book tonight by going over game 23. The rooks proved to be extremely valuable in this game. White failed to develop his rooks while Black followed these rules and won:

"In the opening, shift the rooks toward the centre, on files likely to be opened."

"In the middlegame, seize the open files and command them with your rooks."

"In the ending, post your rooks on the seventh rank. Doubled rooks on the seventh rank are almost irresistible in mating attacks. If there is little material left on the board, the seventh rank is a convenient means of manoeuvring a rook behind enemy pawns."

The next section is entitled "The Chess Master Explains his Ideas." According to Chernev, these next games demonstrate "the three great principles that Capablanca advocated and himself utilized so successfully:

1) in the opening, rapid and efficient development;
2) in the middlegame, coordination of pieces;
3) in the ending, accurate and time-saving play."

When I read that, I thought of chessloser's recent post about how if you just play chess as it was meant to be played, you're going be in a good position to win.


I've been playing blitz. I played 3 last night. We need to get a 15 30 time control tournament going again. That will force me to start playing slower games more often. Any takers?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

GameBot on FICS


I did a few tonight. I also tried my hand (again after a very long time) in standard mode. I lasted two problems. For some reason, the standard mode drives me insane. I can think and think and calculate and calculate for a long, long time. Eventually I either have it nailed down (or I think I do) and I proceed with my moves. Obviously the ones I correctly get give me great satisfaction, but the ones I miss drive me absolutely nuts. It is very taxing. But I see the benefit of it ... the practice in that calculation. With blitz, it is practically a gut reaction. I train my one-second vision of the board and once I get a feel for it, I generally know the plan of action. If I miss, no big deal.

Anyway ... both have their virtues, which is why I'm planning on working in both modes from now on.

Logical Chess

Game 22 was a thrilla. I learned about the Pillsbury Attack.


I played three blitz games on FICS tonight. I should have won all three, but I lost the first and won the other two. The 2nd game went over 70 moves because I stupidly missed a mate in three on move 24.

GameBot on FICS

And lastly ... have you heard about this nifty database? WOW! It has only been around since October 2008, but it contains every game, except bughouse and non-registered user games, that has ever been played on FICS since October 2008. That makes standard/tournament play much more difficult. There were always ways to go get your opponents' games before a tourney, but this little DB gives you a lot more games to study. Go check it out:

You can also add links to previously played games. Here is the game I played tonight that I should have had a mate in 3 on move 24.

Monday, February 16, 2009


I just hit 4000 blitz tactics completed on ChessTempo.

Rating: 1850.2 (RD: 34.63)(Best Active Rating: 2098 Worst Active Rating: 1729)
Active Rank: 291/722 ( Better than:59.7% Best Active: 84 Worst Active: 410)
Problems Done: 4000 (Correct: 2293 Failed: 1707)
Percentage correct: 57.33%

Of course that is a mere drop compared to the top blitz guy on the site. He's completed over 54,000 tactics!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Castling: One Giant Leap for Civilization


It was an average day. I'm 148 problems from hitting the 4000 mark.

Logical Chess

I read through game 21 (about the Colle System). This is what Chernev said after White castled: "This remarkable coup, by means of which the king is spirited away to safety while the rook magically appears on the scene, is probably the most significant contribution to civilization since the invention of the wheel."

Now that is a hot sports opinion!


I didn't feel much like playing a longish game, so I played a couple of blitz games. I lost to a player I played a few days ago. Then I posted another seek. Three people accepted, but aborted before a move was made. 15 minutes later, someone finally accepted my seek. I did my best to play the Colle. He ended up putting his bishop on f5 which I didn't know what to do with. So I improvised. Eventually I traded my knight for his white bishop and then I got my bishops directly in the center bearing down on his queenside castled king. I won with a checkmate.

Chess Around the Net

Iran vs. United States

When it comes to dealing with Iran, the country's parliamentary speaker said the United States would be better served taking up chess than continuing to box, the country's official news agency reported Saturday.

"The United States needs to play on a chess set (with Iran) instead of playing in a boxing ring," IRNA quoted Ali Larijani as telling a group of visiting reporters in Tehran Saturday.

Why not do both ... literally.

source: Yahoo! News

Deadly Chess Game

Two friends drinking. They play some chess. An argument erupts. One of them pulls out his sword! The other one dies.

This story sounds vaguely familiar.

source: The Mercury News

Phantom Chess

A lot of "computerized" chess sets seem gimicky, but this one actually seems pretty cool. The pieces move by themselves. I guess you "enter" your move and the electro-magnetic piece moves.

Excalibur Chess makes this set.

It sells for about $100 at Amazon.

Source: Proidee

Chess Picture of the Week

Chess-Master: A two-year-old in serious thought.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quite a Comeback


Like a roller coaster. The graph on ChessTempo looks like the Rocky Mountains. I'm either hot or cold. Today I was both. But I got in about 50 problems tonight finishing with a streak of 15 correct.

Logical Chess

Read through game 20. More Queen's Gambit stuff. Black actually put up a pretty good defense for a while, but through the course of the game, White placed a Knight, a Bishop, a Rook and a Queen on c5. Do ya think that was a critical square?


I played two blitz games tonight. It didn't start off well. I was mated in nine freaking moves!! It was utterly humiliating.

I played the same person again and won in 54 moves. I guess that is some consolation.

The triumph of the night was my big comeback. Because I suck at chess, I typically blunder openings, let my pieces get trapped and then try to play catchup the rest of the game. After I lost the exchange (my rook for his bishop), I somehow managed to control the c-file and interestingly enough, my putting the knight on c5 made all the difference in the game.

After Black played 26 ... b6, I played 27. Na6+ Kb7 28. Rxc6 Rxc6 29. Qxd5 Qd6 30. Qf7+ Kxa6 31. b5+ Ka5 32. bxc6.

I still wasn't out of the clear, but it was roughly equal. I gobbled up pawns while I could. Eventually I forced him to exchange queens and my e-pawn broke free and it was a race between my e-pawn and his b-pawn. After we both queened our pawns, I again forced the exchange of queens and my king and two pawns had the whole board to ourselves and Black resigned! (67 moves) It really felt good to win!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Two Out of Four


I was able to get in quite a few the last couple of days. I am either really hot or really cold ... there is not much in between on ChessTempo. I can miss several in a row and my rating tanks. But then the next day, I'll storm back. I really think I need adequate sleep for me to be able to function somewhat properly in chess. I simply cannot see stuff when I've had five hours of sleep the previous night. But if I can get a nap in during the afternoon or if I get 7 or 8 in the previous night, I'm shooting par or better. I'm just below 1800 on blitz right now.

Logical Chess

I finally got to the book tonight. I studied game 19. I kind of rushed through the game. The Queen's Gambit is interesting. I need to try it sometime. I usually open with d4, but I don't go to the Queen's Gambit.


I found a 15 30 game tonight against a pretty strong player. He was rated 1688, but his history showed that he's scalped a few higher rated players. I was in blitz mode tonight and could not sit still long enough to think through two moves ahead. He made very strong moves and I just resigned after blundering and not having the fight to go on. Then I played three blitz games ... lost one and won the other two ... 2 out of 4. My FICS blitz rating jumped up to 1295 which is relatively high for me. I usually hover in the low to mid 1200's for blitz.


I got bored with the book I was reading, so I went to Half-Priced Books and found a couple of chess books ... not instruction books, but leisurely reading books ... Bobby Fischer Goes to War and The Chess Artist. I also bought A War Like No Other by Victor Davis Hanson which is a Greek history book. So right now I'm reading the Bobby Fischer one and I really am enjoying it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Busy Week So Far

I've been trying to sqeeze in a few chess things this week, but life keeps getting in the way.


I was able to do a few the other day. Today I was able to get 42 in. I only got 21 correct. It wasn't a good day on ChessTempo, but at least I got some in.


My kids go to their school chess club every Monday. The teacher invited me to participate anytime I could. So I went over yesterday and helped out where I could. I watched two 4th graders battle it out to the end. After maybe 60 or so moves, I could see that the one kid didn't know how to mate with a king and a rook against a king. So I taught them both a lesson and tried to coach them on that endgame. They finally got it. There's not much instruction that goes on. I think the teacher just wants them to be exposed to chess. I doubt she knows much beyond the rules.

Hopefully I'll have some time tomorrow to get on ChessTempo and get back into Logical Chess.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


I've not looked into this a whole lot, but on Susan Polgar's blog, they just posted a list of blogs. I was suprised to see my blog on the list at number 22 (out of 86). But I'm not too sure if this is a ranking per se. Judging from the picture on that post, it must have something to do with Blogshares.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Good Day


I rebounded on Chesstempo. 5000 new tactics were added to the server and I got a dozen or so of them. I nailed a 2000+ tactic and overall had a pretty good session. I finished after 70 tactics with a rating just over 1800.


I was able to get a game in tonight. I was rated 1657E on FICS and found a player rated 1657 as well. It went all the way to the end, but he blundered and let me queen a pawn and the game was over. It was pretty fun.

$93,803 for doing nothing

I just read this article about a state employee who gets paid to sit around. Apparently there is some discrimination going on and someone doesn't want this guy doing anything. He can't get fired. It is an interesting article.

He spends much of his workday at the State Insurance Fund donning headphones, listening to rock 'n' roll, blues or classical tunes and his superiors are cool with that. His work agenda involves placing his feet up on his desk, staring out his office window and counting cars on the New York State Thruway. He arrives at 7:30 a.m., leaves at 3:30 p.m., sees no one and talks to no one. He never does any work. It's been this way for Hinton for most of this decade.

Obviously the first thing I thought of was, "sweet! I could study chess all day long in that job!" He says he's been sitting there at his job for most of the decade!! He could be a GM by now. Doesn't it take about 10 years to become a master at something?

But the gentleman in the article has more gumption than I would in that scenario and he is actually trying to "rectify" the situation (after almost 10 years!)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tactically Slaughtered


I was slaughtered today at ChessTempo. I meant to work on just a few, but I felt some mojo or something after lunch and I just kept plugging away. Like an addicted gambler, I kept thinking things would turn around, but they never did. I went from a relative high of 1855 a few days ago to 1764 today. I did over 100 problems today and I was nickled and dimed down bit by bit. My vision just wasn't there. Sometimes I saw it, others times I'd be completely stumped.

Logical Chess

Game 18 was more on the Queen's Gambit. Again, Chernev emphasized the importance of c5. Black must dispute the center by pushing towards c5 and White must defend c5 at all costs. There is a lot of positional stuff going on. I kind of understand it, but there's no firm grasp for sure. There seem to be a lot of neuances that I would never get in a real game.

Chess Player Look-a-Likes: Tumnus-Aronian

Tumnus as in Mr. Tumnus from Narnia and Aronian as in Levon Aronian the Armenian

ChessTempo Beef

I think the benefits of ChessTempo far outweigh the downsides. But one big beef I have is when the server dishes out a really low rated problem and if I get it right I still get docked rating points!

Case in point: Just now I was served a 1490 and my current rating is 1773. The average time to solve the problem is 27.3 seconds. I solve it in 11. I didn't take any significant amount of time to think ... it just took about 10 seconds of moving my pieces and waiting for the computer to move its. I solved the problem correctly and still got docked .6 of a point.

Granted there are low rated problems I solve and still get positive points, but once in a while I solve the problem under the average time and still get docked.

That is really frustrating especially on a day where I and sucking big time.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Sleep Deprivation: The Enemy of Good Chess


I'm working the day shift this week which means trying to go to bed early, getting up even earlier to go workout at the gym (3:30am) and then putting in 12 hours at work while trying to stay awake.

All that spells disaster when I try to work on tactics. I attempted 23 problems today and got 10 correct. What a train wreck.

Logical Chess

I read through game 17 today. I was dozing off while reading through it. I learned something about the need to defend the c-file if you are Black and White plays the Queen's Gambit. That's all I gleaned from that game.

Chess Memories

While surfing the Web trying to stay awake, I found my elementary school's website. The students there are participating in an after-school chess program. This reminded me of when I won the 6th grade chess tournament. It wasn't a very big tournament ... maybe 6 or 8 kids played. Well, I made it to the championship game. On the day I was to play the big game, I decided to break the unofficial record of drinking 13 pints (little cartons) of milk at lunch. I suceeded, but felt horrible afterwards. The game went on anyway. Although I had to excuse myself a few times during the game to use the restroom, I was able to pull off the victory. What fun memories!

Sunday, February 01, 2009


I didn't work on anything chess related Friday or Saturday. I spent my time with the family and trying to catch up on sleep.

Today I was able to make a few moves on Red Hot Pawn. I also did 10 tactics on ChessTempo and improved my rating to 1853.

I'll be able to do more chess stuff tomorrow and the rest of the week.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Good Tactical Day


Trying to forget about last night's ordeal on ChessTempo, I picked up the broken pieces tonight rather well. When I started, I was at 1809. I nailed several in a row, including one 2000+ tactic and my rating shot up to 1855. Then I missed five in a row before I was able to redeem myself a bit. I finished the night after 30 tactics with a rating of 1848.

Logical Chess

I went over games 15 & 16 and finished off the section "The Kingside Attack." There wasn't anything particularly new that I learned. Both those games were pretty amazing. Chernev just reinforced previously stated ideas. In one game, Black moved his knight five times in the opening! Therefore his pieces weren't developed very well.

The only other bit of advice that was memorable was to those who are in cramped positions. Chernev says when you are in cramped postion, exchange pieces. That seemed pretty intuitive to me.


I played one 15 30 game tonight on FICS. The player was a newbie to the server. I won handily. I might log on later tonight and play some blitz games.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Even More Ripping Open


I was working the night shift last night when the huge ice storm that is sweeping the nation hit our area. It took me 5 minutes of hitting my doors, breaking the ice, to finally open the doors to my car. 15 minutes later, the ice was melting from my defroster. The company put us up in a hotel this morning so that we didn't have to fight the treacherous roads. There were hundred of accidents and I've heard of at least 6 deaths. So I slept all morning and into the afternoon while the cleaning maids kept knocking on my door ... I think I got enough sleep, but it wasn't very restful.

So when I worked on tactics tonight, I wasn't on fire. I was missing some easy mates and I was getting very frustrated. After doing 20 tactics, I dropped below 1800 to 1791. I was pissed. So I vowed to get my rating back up. I got several in a row correct and finished another 20 tactics with a rating of around 1810.

This reminded me of a time when I was playing this guy who I didn't particularly like. I beat him in a game of blitz and then he beat me two or three times. I was so ticked off. We played several more games and I demolished him. Is there something to it ... getting ticked off and then playing at a whole new level? Maybe I'm more like Rocky, the fictional boxer, than I thought I was. There's a whole other game going on up there in my head.

Logical Chess

Game 14 was, yet again, about ripping open the pawn structure in front of a castled king. I noticed a pattern going over the game tonight. The two bishops, the d4 pawn and the queen all were placed in similiar positions as in game 13.

Compare this to the previous postion in game 13.


I played a couple of 15 5 games on FICS tonight. It was good just to get my feet wet again. I need to play a lot more 'standard' games. I lost the first one and won the second one.

Speaking fo 15 30 games, when is LEPers III? I'd like to get my butt kicked again.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More Ripping Open Castled Pawn Formation


I did around 20 today. I encountered 4 tactics that were in the 1900-2000 range and I nailed them (to my suprise). My rating jumped up quite a bit. But it all went to me head and I flubbed a few 'easy' ones and my rating dropped back to the low 1800's. But it was a good session.

Logical Chess

I studied game 13 tonight. The theme was more about ripping open the castled pawns' structure. Here's how White did it.

Later on, White came to this critical position. Do you know how he continued? When I analyzed the postion, I got a little ahead of myself. I had the right idea, but didn't quite get it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ripping Open Castled Pawn Formation


I wasn't hot today. I work a shift schedule and when I work the day shift, I lose lots of sleep. So today I was trying to stay awake while on ChessTempo. I managed to not drop below 1800.

Red Hot Pawn

I was able to make my moves today. I've got one game up to move 42. The rest have 14 and below moves in them. I drew one game today.

Logical Chess

I worked on game 12 this evening. Another theme in this book, so far, is about not disrupting your castled pawn formation. If you do, then your opponent can find ways to rip it open. The best defense against someone ripping open your pawn formation on your castled king is to create action in the center.

In game 12, White fails to make anything happen in the center. As a result, Black is able to infiltrate White's territory and rip open the pawn structure on the castled king.

White's mistake was h3 after Black placed his bishop on g4.

That's all for today.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pawns in the Center


Did my 20 today. I actually got a 2000+ rated tactic! I'm still in the low 1800's.

Logical Chess

I studied game 10. It was short and there wasn't a whole lot of content to the game. What I learned from the game can be summed up in one graphic (see below). I think Chernev's point of this game was "It is important to dispute control of the centre."

By not disputing control of the center, White was able to attack h7 after Black castled. White's knights also were well placed. Black had to disrupt his castled pawn formation. White was then able to decisively move in for the mate. Had Black disputed the center, he would have been able to defend the castled king and have a more open position with more options on the table.

I went over game 11 too today. This game reinforced previous ideas. The best thing I learned from this chapter was why we are to defend the center of the board. In all honesty, I've heard this advice many, many times, but have not heard many reason as to why. Chernev said,

"Anchor at least one pawn in the centre and give it solid support. Pawns in the centre keep enemy pieces from settling themselves on the best quares."

If we guard the center, our opponent cannot get a foothold with which to launch attacks on our king. If we control the center, we can launch our own attacks into enemy territory.

That is all for today.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Accumulate Small Advantages

Well, I'll see how long this lasts. Don't they say you need to do something for 21 days to make it a habit? So I'm going to try to keep this up for 21 days ... even if I have nothing to post.


I did 20 today. I went on quite a roll and rattled off 9 in a row and moved above 1800 for the first time in a LONG time. The minimum goal is 20 blitz tactics a day at ChessTempo. I was up over 2000 (blitz rating) quite a while ago, but dropped dramatically after the admin updated the algorithm for rating adjustments. So getting to 1800 after being in the 1750's-1780's for the last several weeks is a good sign.

Logical Chess

When I started reading this book, I was updating a .pgn file with all the commentary Chernev wrote so that I could have the whole book in .pgn format. My reason for doing this is so that I can go back and read the book over and over again, but have it in .pgn file for easier reading. The downside to this is that it is so tedious. I'm up to game 9. But since I've been in this book for so long, I just want to get through it without putting pressure on myself to put it in .pgn format. So I'm just going to read the book and follow along in the .pgn file without worrying about typing it up.

Today I went over game 9. I would regularly ask myself what move I would make before looking at the next move. I've heard this is a great way to study GM games. I felt the cogs turning in my head and was much more into the book than if I had just read it.

I learned a couple of concepts from game 9.

Get the rooks out of their corners.

The other one is one particular paragraph. It says,
"Note that White has not embarked on dubious long-range combinations. His plan,
in most cases aimed at increasing his positional superiority, is made for a few moves only. Don't believe all those stories you hear of chess masters analysing intricate combinations with dozens of variations for thirty moves ahead. They don't do this because they don't have to! It is far easier and more to the point to look only a few moves ahead and try to maintain at least an equal game at every stage. Winning by accumulating small advantages is more consistent with a common-sense approach than to seek to overwhelm the opponent with bewildering combinations and venturesome sacrificial attacks. Strengthening one's own position gradually while undermining that of the opponent is more important than indulging in fruitless speculative fancies."
This is what the whole book is about ... how you go about identifying weaknesses in your opponent's game and how you can accumulate those small advantages.

That's all for today.

Keeping Track

I want to keep a regular update of what I am doing day to day on the chess improvement front. So I decided to start recording the tedious stuff I do every day which in turn will help me stay focused on the larger goals.

I'll comment on grandmaster games I'm playing over, any stuff I read from books, how many tactics I did that day, any interesting comments on tactics, exciting games or positions I've played, etc.. If I come up with any hot chess opinions or discussion-worthy stuff, I'll post it on this blog.

Back in the day when I first started to really get into chess, the Chessville forum seemed to be the place to discuss all things chess. Now that forum has all but dried up. is my new preference. The people who frequent that forum seem nice and respectable and the content seems relevant and useful. I signed up today so I could start posting there.

Stroll on over there if you get a few minutes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

General Factor of Intelligence: Chess vs. Painting

Half Sigma mentions chess a few times in his posts. His post today compares his thoughts about chess and painting. Be sure to read the comments too.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Chess Player Look-a-Likes: Carlsen-Damon

Here's another one.

Chess Player Look-a-Likes: Polgar-Livni

So I was at the gym the other day and was watching the TVs while I worked out. I thought I saw Susan Polgar being interviewed by CNN's Christiane Amanpour, but that didn't seem right. Then I adjusted my eyes and saw it was Tzipi Livni.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

"Basic Instructions" Mentions Chess

I think Scott Meyer's comic is one of the best out there right now.

He gave 'chess' a mention today.