Thursday, December 26, 2013

Chess-boxing: Lewis vs. Klitschko

After reading this article, in which Lennox Lewis discusses how similar chess is to boxing, I decided that if ever there were a chess boxing match-up between Lewis and one of the Klitschko brothers, I'd pay to watch that per-per-view fight.

Can you imagine how big a boost chess-boxing would get if that fight were arranged?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

redditviz: chess

after reading this article on, i went to the redditviz website and searched for chess.  the top related sub-reddits that were related to the chess reddit were:
- allthingsprotoss
- cheatatmathhomework
- Cubers
- day9
- excel

it's an interesting website.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Midnight Underwater Speed Chess

first came this:

then came this: a board and set that will sit on the bottom of a pool.

anyone up to play a game?

via reddit/r/chess

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Chess Movies to Watch (or have watched)

With some free time coming around in the next few weeks, I thought I'd list out all the chess movies I know of.  As I watch them, I'll update this post with a link to my review of the movie.

Did I miss any other movies?

Searching for Bobby Fischer (4.5 / 5 stars)
Bobby Fischer Against the World (i watched this about a year ago, but plan to watch this again)
Queen to Play (3.6 / 5 stars)
Computer Chess (2.7 / 5 stars ... my review)
Checkmate (have not seen; heard it's not that great)
Brooklyn Castle (queued up on netflix)
Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine (queued up on netflix)
The Chess Players (Shatranj Ke Khilari) (need to find a copy of this somewhere)

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Need a Christmas Present Idea? - Try Ice Chess

came across this neat idea while reading a reddit post.

thinkgeek sells ice tray molds for chess pieces (link).  currently the item is out of stock and won't be back in stock until March!  Must be pretty popular!

Monday, December 02, 2013

Good Summary Article on Chess Improvement

How to Get Good at Chess, Fast is a pretty good article that summarizes quite well all the things you need to do be be a good chess player.

- he defines "good" as 90th percentile of the player pool you are involved in
- play lots, do tactics, analyze your games
- one really good point he made about chess psychology: "don't ever be afraid of your opponent" and "fight as hard as you can until the game is over"  He says if you follow these two psychology rules, you can add 100 points to your rating.

Again, nothing new here other than it was a really good summary article about chess improvement.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Movie Review: Computer Chess

Computer Chess is on Netflix, so I watched it over a few days.

Just a few observations ...

1. It's not really about computer chess.  It's more about AI.
2. The movie starts off as a faux documentary from the early 80's, but then later it shifts to this sci-fi flick about AI.
3. Other topics the movie hit on besides computer chess:  the humanities, sex, the CIA, on-line dating, weird psychology.
4. The movie tries to make you think ... I tried trying to get it, but it was just so weird.  After watching it, I felt like the same way I did when I watched the final few episodes of Battlestar Gallactica - that we are all in this one ginormous loop - robots/computers turning human who make robots/computers who turn into humans who make robot/computers ...
5. I felt closter-phobic the whole movie.  Having been a child of the 80's and staying in some of those old stuffy hotels, I felt like it was stuck in an Elvis Presley look-a-like concert watching this movie.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Chess-Player-Look-a-Likes: Wilson-Gareev

Maybe they don't look a lot a-like, but whenever I see a picture of Gareev, I see Dwight Scrute (Rainn Wilson).

If you don't know who Dwight Schrute is ...

Friday, November 08, 2013

Friday Chess Around the Net

i discovered a chess player who has taken up a challenge: complete all 3914 lessons on chess mentor within one year.  but not only has he set out on this challenge, he's vowed to donate $2600 to an anti-charity.  this little knight errant quest has a bit more teeth to it than your normal quest.  you can follow this guy's quest on his blog: chess challenge.

you may have heard about the new inductees to the national toy hall of fame.  after all these years, the game of chess was inducted.  the other toy that was inducted this week ... rubber duck.  talk about the opposite ends of the toy spectrum!

gareev is up to 15 now.  he's slowly working his way up to 50 to beat the world record.

oh ... and there is some sort of big chess championship going on: link to site.  go matt damon!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

xkcd predictions for world championships

latest installment of xkcd on the anand v carlsen world championship


Friday, November 01, 2013

Friday Chess Around the Net

GM Timur Gareev plays 10 inmates blindfolded.  I've seen this guy in person at a couple of tournaments.  He seems odder than your average odd GM.  If you look at the pictures of him playing the inmates, you'll see him wearing an outfit that is really odd.  Also, in one of the pictures, he's facing the players.  Why not just turn him around?

Negative Space Chess Set - even more unplayable than your normal artistic unplayable chess set.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Chess Around the Net

Link: one review of Computer Chess

Link: this is an interesting read ... I'll classify this under WTF? A Game of Chess: The Intimacy of Antagonism

Link: a crime scene to turn into a chess park?

Link: another chess movie Pawn Sacrifice.  This article has an interesting opinion; especially this line which piqued my interest, "expect this [movie] to take more of a Rocky path, with most of the film focused on Fischer in the time leading up to his big showdown with Spassky."

Picture: not sure where this picture is from, but I really like it.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Best Chess Apps on Android

Amazing app!  If you want to analyze a position you are reading from a book or magazine, this app snaps a picture of the position and then loads it into your chess analysis app.  ChessOcr on Google Play.

ChessTempo Mobile
The best tactics site (in my opinion) got better with the introduction of the mobile version.  It's not really an app per se, rather just a web site that aligns better on a mobile device.  Check it out at

In addition to the original post, I wanted to keep adding as I find other apps I really enjoy.

Chess.Com App
The number one Android chess app I use is Chess.Com's app.  The app is stable; graphically nice and fairly easy to use.  The biggest thing I like about the app (and Chess.Com in general) is that is has pretty much everything I want: live play, correspondence chess, problems, videos, articles and all that.  The features I use the most are the live play and the correspondence.  I love the CC because I get an immediate notification when my opponent moves.  I pull my notification bar down, tap on the notification and then the board comes up and shows me the move my opponent made.  I can then open the analysis board and start playing with the position.  When I'm ready, I make my move.  The last thing I have to say about this is: goodbye RedHotPawn/Chess@Work (as soon as I finish my current games at that site).

The live version is stable as well.  When I'm at work and need to take a break, I go to the break room, pull up the app and play a few 5 3 games.  The interface is nice, clean, easy to use.  At night, after the kids are in bed, I get my tablet out and play 30 5 games.  Again, the biggest thing I'm happy about maybe isn't so much the app as it is the community - I can always find a game on; whereas I may not always find a game on FICS.  With this app, I think my FICS days may be over.

Chess Visualization Trainer
The other app I use almost on a daily basis is Chess Visualization Trainer.  I mainly use this to memorize the colors of the squares.  I has other functions, but I usually only use one-square color.  The other options are two squares diagonal, two squares knights move, rooks and queens mate, bishops and knights mate, mate in one and mate in two.

Analyze This
The last of the three chess apps I'm using these days is Analyze This - Chess (Free).  I needed a plain 'ol board to play the Pandolfini solitaire chess games in the Chess Life magazine each month.  It does the job and the interface is clean - nuff said.

A few months ago, I upgraded from an HTC Incredible to a new (restocked) Samsung Galaxy Nexus.  The Nexus has a much bigger screen than my Incredible.  As such, playing chess on the Incredible was a bit more difficult than playing on the Nexus.

So now that I had a bit bigger screen, I started really looking for a good chess app to play - especially one that would allow me to connect to FICS.

With that said, here's a list of the chess apps I have either used before or I have now and regularly use.

Chess Free - by AI Factory Limited
Chess Free is the first app that pops up on a search at Google play.  This was the app I had on my Incredible.  It is a good computer app - good graphics; lets you export games to a .pgn file.  I imagine most people marginally interested in chess would download this app; and rightfully so.

Chess for Android by Aart Bik
Chess for Android is average.  If you just want a chess computer app, just go for Chess Free above.  Chess for Android is fairly popular, but once I found Chess Free, I stopped using Chess for Android.  I did not install this on my Nexus.

Mobialia Chess
Mobialia Chess allows you to log on to FICS.  I remember having issues logging onto FICS when I installed this on my Incredible.  I just installed this app on my Nexus and tried logging into FICS again ... same issue - it just sits there trying to authenticate me - not impressed.

Chess Lite by Odesys
Chess Lite is another FICS-connectable app.  If I recall, it seems to work, but the graphics weren't all that great.

Yafi Internet Chess
Yafi is also a good client.  I use this chess app the most - especially when I have time to kill and want to play a quick 5 0 game.  It appears the developer is continuing to work on this app and I think this app has the best potential of all the FICS-related apps.

Tactic Trainer by Core Games
I love to do tactics.  I normally get my tactics fix on ChessTempo.  I can do tactics on CT from my Nexus, but since there is no app for CT, I have to use the browser interface ... I then have to zoom in and I usually can't get the zoom quite right, causes fat-fingering moves/mistakes ... anyway, I did find an app dedicated exclusively to chess tactics.  Tactic Trainer has 20,000 problems!  By comparison, CT has just over 54,000 problems - obviously not as many, but at 20K, that's still quite a lot.  It will track your rating progress and the interface is really good.  I wish Richard at CT would hook up with the developer of this app and collaborate on a ChessTempo app.

I just ordered a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1) this week with a small bonus I received at work.  The Tab 2 should arrive on Thursday.  I'm sure I'll find lots of different and neat uses for the Tab 2, but the biggest reason I wanted it was so that I could play chess anywhere - only on a bigger screen than my Nexus.  I'm looking forward to doing a lot more tactics at CT on the Tab 2.  I'll also be able to use all the above apps and play chess on a bigger mobile display.  I'm sure I'll start playing more 5 0 games at ChessCube than on Yafi.

If you're an Android / Google user, what are your favorite chess-related apps?

Friday, September 13, 2013

30,000 Blitz Tactics on ChessTempo

  • 30,001 attempts
  • 22,100 correct
  • 7,901 failed
  • 73.66% correct
  • 1678.1 RD 34.48
  • 721/1948 active rank (better than 63.02% of the active population)
next update at 35,000

Thursday, September 05, 2013

2012-13 Season Done,, 30/30 Again

I'm starting to play chess more than ever; at least more than I have been playing in the last 10 years ... and I'm enjoying it for now.

The goal of my 52-games per year quest over the last two years was intended to just get myself to play more often.  At first I tried to play 75 5 games, 120 5 games and even 60 5 games; but I have since landed upon the realization that shorter, more frequent games was more enjoyable.  So, these days I'm playing more 30 5 games.

With that said, I was behind in my effort to play 52 games between September 2012 and August 2013.  Over the last few weeks, I really focused on trying to fish for a 30 5 game on FICS.  As was usually the case, it was hit and miss ... sometimes I could find a game, but most times I tried, no one was willing to play.  Also there have been multiple hackings going on over there the last few weeks.  So with that in mind, I decided to give a whirl.

I downloaded the Android app on my S4 as well as my tablet.  And then, on most evenings, after I fire up the app, I'm able to find a 30 5 game relatively quickly.  The app and web interface are just fine and quite reliable.  I'm also enjoying the extensive educational content they have on their site.  They have live games as well as correspondence games.  I just started my first CC game over there today.  If ever you want to play me (live or CC), look for me on  In summary, my days at FICS may be over as I'm contemplating upgrading from a free account on to one of the paid accounts.

Anyway - back to the 2012-13 season - I was able to complete playing 52 games.  I have already kicked off my 2013-14 season, again with the goal of playing a minimum of 52 games.  Although, I think I'll end up playing much more than 52 with my preferred 30 5 time control.  I'm keeping tabs on my seasonal progress in the link to the right in the section GAME PLAY STATS.

Lastly, I had another great day at ChessTempo ... going 10/10 in my warm-up problems and then 20/20 in my blitz attempts.  My performance always seems to by cyclical ... I perform great for a while and then out of no where, I come crashing down.  I'm just trying to focus on consistent, good performance.

Monday, August 19, 2013

30 for 30; and an update on practicing 10,000 hours

not sure if i've mentioned this before, but i do chunks of 20 chess problems at a time on chesstempo.  i usually start off by doing 10 practice problems (sometimes more) from a personal set.  then i will start my rated session.

i've managed to get 20 rated blitz problems correct in a row several times.  however, i've never been able to go 10/10 on my practice problems AND then go for 20/20 on my rated blitz problems ... until today.  it was a good feeling.

and on a related topic ... scott adams had an interesting take on the 10,000 practice hours stat (link to his post):
Most of you probably heard of a study that, according to author Malcolm Gladwell, indicates you need 10,000 hours of practice to become an "expert" at anything.

More recently, someone looked at the study and pointed out that 10,000 was an average. If you have the right genes, you might need far less practice, while other people might need far more. So the average of 10,000 hours is a fairly useless number. All we know for sure is that practice is a good thing.

Other writers have been pointing out that it also matters what you practice. If you practice the wrong stuff, it doesn't matter how much effort you put into it.

What you have read so far in this post is seen as ground-breaking thinking in the field of success. Allow me to list these shocking results:

1. Practicing the right things is important!
2. It helps to have the right genes!

Summary: duh

I'll add one more, um, insight? It goes like this: The only people who can put in long hours of the right type of practice are . . . drum roll please . . . PEOPLE WITH THE RIGHT GENES.

Oh, and also victims. If your parents made you practice the flute for 10,000 hours, and it wasn't your thing, you aren't an expert. You're a victim.

Do you know why I don't put in long hours training for a marathon? Is it a lack of focus and dedication?

No, although I don't have any of that stuff either, at least for running.

The reason I'm not training for a marathon is that my body isn't built for it. I'm a lifelong exerciser with 16% body fat. I try to work out seven days a week. But my genes just aren't right for distance running. I'm built for sprinting. So for me, tennis makes more sense. I've played about 8,000 hours of tennis, according to my thumbnail calculation. I should crack the 10,000 hour mark by the time I'm seventy, at which point I expect to win Wimbledon. I hope to God I haven't been practicing the wrong strokes this whole time.

Anyway, here's my formula for becoming an expert:

1. Be born with the right genes. (luck)
2. Have opportunities that work well with your genes. (luck)

At best, becoming an expert is a process of moving from a game that's wrong for you to one that fits your genes. That's the part you can control, at least according to the common view of free will.

The diabolical element of the "expert" conversation is that it relies on an illusion. That illusion is generally referred to as willpower. The idea is that one can hunker down and do unpleasant things that need to be done if one has enough of this thing called willpower.

But willpower is like the horizon. You can see the horizon, define it, and even walk toward it. And yet a horizon exists as nothing but a concept. You can't scoop up some horizon and put it on a basket.

Willpower is like that. We know what we mean when we speak of it, but it doesn't exist. It is an illusion.

Let's say you and I are sitting in a room with donuts in front of us. We both know donuts are bad for our health. Which one of us breaks down and eats a donut first?

Is it the one of us with the least willpower?


It's the hungriest one.

Willpower is an illusion.

People become experts for the same reason most things happen: luck. You need the right genes and you need to be born into the right environment. The most important skill involved in success is knowing how and when to switch to a game with better odds for you.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Chess Around the Net: "Computer Chess"

I want to see the fake-u-mentary Computer Chess.

Quote: "The actors have to walk a fine line between playing it straight while getting as close as possible to absurd."

YouTube search results

Direct link to film site

Friday, May 17, 2013

Articles and Blog Posts on Solitaire Chess

I recently started trying my hand at playing Solitaire Chess - using Pandolfini's monthly column in Chess Life.

Out of curiosity, I searched and found a few links about playing solitaire chess for improvement.

Jeffrey Ashton / Panda Chess
Blue Devil Knight
Mark Weeks
The Path to Improvement (Atkins, Krieder) mentions solitaire chess

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Get Better at Chess With Electric Shock?

Just read this article over at Wired: Electrical Brain Stimulation Helps People Learn Math Faster.

I wonder if this applies to chess as well.  "The new research goes a step farther by showing that electrical stimulation can also improve the ability to perform calculations ..."  Obviously the article is referring to math calculations ... but the brain is still calculating in chess; so maybe it's applicable.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Bloody Wednesday and '12-13 Game 25

So I've been humming along at ChessTempo ... doing about 20 blitz tactics a day.  But something changed this last Tuesday and Wednesday.  It may have been that I tried doing my tactics on my Galaxy Tab (smaller screen) while sitting on my comfortable couch ... as opposed doing them at my desk on my computer.

I switched back to the computer on Wednesday and it was horrific.  I dropped 70 rating points in one day.  It was crazy.  The next couple of days were gains, but I was still missing problem I should normally get.

Anyway, it might be awhile before I get back to what I think I should be at.
21. Rxf3?? Bg5

ChessAdmin and I have a good match-up going.  After our game today, we agreed about two games a month would be nice.

I think today was the 4th time we've played and he beat me again.  He's won 3 of the 4.

Today I shot myself in the foot ... didn't have my 'safety first' thinking cap on today.

But it was enjoyable and got me thinking a bit.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Comeback Draw

We went over to our good friends' home last night after all our kids were in bed.  We watched some March Madness, ate good food and talked.  The men played some chess and watched some good basketball games while the ladies worked on crafts.

My friend and I have played once before.  He won that game with a pawn advantage.  Last night's game should have been an easy win for him when I blundered my bishop.  Chalk it up to one of those times when I see something that really isn't there.  So being down, I decided to just play wildly and try to get some perpetual checks to see if I could get it to a draw.  And amazingly, I was able to pull it off.

I had the white pieces.

We weren't keeping a move-sheet, so I don't recall all the moves.  He had a knight on d7 ... he had not castled.  I was able to line my rooks and queen on the d column.  I took the knight with my rook, he retook with his rook, I then moved QxPe5+, he moved  Kf8, I retook with QxR on h8+, he went back with Ke7.  From there, I was able to give perpetual check with either Qb8+ or Qh8+.

It was a fun game and we both agreed we'd need to play a few more times over the next few weeks.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lone Star Open 2013

I didn't do too well in the U1800 section of the Lone Star Open this year.  I faced some pretty stiff competition the first two games.  In the first game, I ended up losing by a pawn ... when the endgame came, I could not keep his extra pawn from queening.  In the second game, I simply dropped my queen and then resigned.  The third game should have been a loss too, but my opponent couldn't pull it off, so we drew.  Then the 4th game, today, was a fairly easy win against a much lower rated player than me.

So, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what chess does for me.

After a Pros vs. Cons analysis, I found that:
- I love chess as a pass-time
- I love the thrills and intensity it gives (when there are good games)
- I enjoy the challenge of thinking under pressure
- I love trying to find and solve tactics

- I don't like 4 hour games ... especially when I lose games that are really close.  In long games, I feel deprived ... even when I win games.
- In shorter games, I don't feel deprived so much
- In longer games, I see lots of things - but what drives me insane is trying to keep track of all the different lines ... I sometimes feel like I'm going crazy trying to keep it all together

There might be more pros and cons ... but I think I came to a realization this weekend: I don't like long games.  My limit seems to be about G/60.  G/30 5 feels like a good time control.

Another thing too ... I don't like tournament chess anymore.

Friday night's game was nuts ...

First,there was a wedding going on at the same time - across the hall.  They played bongo drums for about 30 minutes!  It was insane.  The TD let people who lost or drew that first round, re-enter for free.

Second, quite regularly, I try to chat with my opponent at the beginning of the game or afterwards in the skittles room.  More often than not, my opponent seems very anti-social and even sometimes rude.

Third, germs and kids and un-showered people, long finger-nails, body odor, coughing, sneezing, runny noses, tapping, wiggling and squirming, thumping, slurping, etc, etc

Fourth, driving long distances ... the Lone Star Open was actually close to where I live, so I really liked the location of this tournament, but most of the other ones around Houston are on the opposite side of town.

All of this leaves me with playing shorter, more frequent chess games on-line.  I might still play an OTB when I have a free weekend, but I don't think I'll miss it much if I can't make it to an OTB.  I think I'm pretty content with finding 30 5 and 60 5 games on-line ... playing them in my comfortable, quiet and clean home.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February Update

Lest I lose all momentum, I wanted to check-in on the blog and just mention that life is busy right now and when life gets busy, chess gets put on hold.

But hopefully the busyness will end soon and I can focus a bit more on trying to actually play.  I have been keeping up my tactics on ChessTempo.  I'm not sure I'll hit my goal of 620 problems this month.  I'm 100 short right now with two days left.

I'm 12 games behind in my goal to play 52 games this year.  I've not been able to get to the computer in time to find long games Tuesdays and Thursday nights ... there have been so many football practices, band concerts, science projects, scout activities that have caused me to be late getting home ... and then I've got to help get the kids to bed.  But, as I said, hopefully things will simmer down and I'll be able to log onto FICS at 6pm (FICS time) to find a 60 5 game.  In the mean time, if any of my readers want to schedule a Saturday or Sunday game with me, please let me know - post a comment or shoot me an email at rockyrook at hotmail.

Also - I'm thinking I might leverage Chess At Work (Red Hot Pawn) to play more games and have those games count toward my 52-game goal.  So if you play CC on that site, let me know and we can play there too.

The Lone Star Open is coming up in a few weeks and I plan to play in the U1800 section.  Let me know if any of you will be playing in that tournament.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

FSC 13.1.17

Well, we had at least one person show up for FSC tonight: Jabarii, who I've played a couple of times, but have yet to beat.  I was in the middle of a game when he showed up.

If ever you want to join the club, just log onto FICS Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 18:30 server time (6:30pm Pacific time).  You can find the FSC in channel 111.  Ping me if you do log on at that time.

I was able to get a 60 5 game in tonight.  There's really not much to see or analyze in this game.  My opponent dropped a few pieces early on and later resigned on move 24.  Full game here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

FSC 13.1.15

No FSC tonight for me ... we had visitors that stayed a bit late and I have a very early meeting tomorrow, so I'm going to bed early.

But I wanted to keep the FSC updates going so as to get in the habit.

I should be able to fish for a 60 5 game Thursday night.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

FSC 13.1.10

No pings or messages from anyone for FSC tonight.  I did get a 60 5 in ... if you can call it that.  I resigned 16 or so moves in.  I was Black and got off to a terrible start.  I moved all my pieces to the wrong places.  There was a bit of a blitz-bug in me too.  I'm not even going to bother to annotate this one.  Here's the ugly game if you're curious.

As always, ping me if you ever want to play.  I'll usually be on FICS Tuesdays and Thursdays from 16:30 server time.  And I can always schedule a weekend game.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

25,000 Blitz Tactics on ChessTempo

  • 25,000 attempts
  • 18,059 correct
  • 6941 failed
  • 72.24% correct
  • 1710.9 (with an RD of 34.39)
  • 483/1210 is my active rank ... better than 60.13% of the active population
next update at 30,000

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

FICS Standard Chess Club

One of my resolutions this year, with regards to chess, is to simply play more.  A few years ago, I set up the FICS Standard Club (FSC) which is a virtual weekly chess club held on FICS from 18:30-22:00 FICS time (Pacific time) every Tuesday and Thursday evening ... check out the site here.

Some people have shown interest.  So in order to help it pick up steam, I'm trying to be more committed to showing up regularly.  We "meet" in channel 111 if ever you want to stop by.

I tried fishing for a 60 5 game tonight, but no bites.

Someone, however, did challenge me to a 15 0, so I obliged.

Here is a neat little tactic that won me the game ... can you spot it?

Black to move and win

Sunday, January 06, 2013

'12-13: Game 14

My 14th game in the 2012-2013 52-game quest is from the Double-My-Egg-Nog 60 5 Tourney.

Before I begin, if you haven't visited and read Path to Chess Mastery, then I highly encourage you to do so.  ChessAdmin has some really good posts over there.  In fact, I have read over a few of his posts repeatedly. I'm taking to heart his post entitled "Game Analysis for Improvement in Play".  I really need to spend more time internalizing my games (after, of course, I begin playing lots more games!)  And so, I intend to practice analyzing my games much more than I have before.

In this game, there were a few themes, but two stood out in my mind: analyzing a position to quiescence and king safety.