Friday, December 28, 2012

double my egg nog to start in january

it looks like we have 4 to play now; but we won't start until after the new year


here's the schedule ... let me know if you see any errors (white v. black)

round 1
rockyrook v rlp
chessadmin v timmmmm

round 2
rlp v chessadmin (1-0)
timmmmm v rockyrook

round 3
rockyrook v chessadmin (1-0)
timmmmm v rlp

round 4
rlp v rockyrook
timmmmm v chessadmin

round 5
chessadmin v rlp
rockyrook v timmmmm

round 6
chessadmin v rockyrook (tentative jan 26)
rlp v timmmmm

go ahead and begin scheduling your games.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Still Need One More ...

We're still looking for one more for the double-my-egg-nog tourney.

Let me know (by December 20) if you want to play.

ChessAdmin and Timmmmm have both signed up.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

2012 Double My Egg Nog FICS Tourney

We still need one more for the "Double My Egg Nog" tourney: a double round robin chess tourney on FICS.

December 16 - January 1

60 5 on FICS

FICS standard rating between 1500-1700 or around Class C/B USCF rating

$10 amazon gift card

Post a comment and then email me if you want to play (rockyrook at hotmail).  First three are in; but we may need an extra in case, so let me know if you want to be on stand-by too.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

2012 Round Turkey Pairings & Results

Congratulations to ChessAdmin for winning the 2012 Round Turkey!

Round 1 - should be finished by Nov 21
Rocky v Timmmmm (1-0) link to game here.
tomgtro v ChessAdmin (1-0) link to game here.

Round 2- should be finished by Nov 23
ChessAdmin v Rocky (1-0) link to game here.
Timmmmm v tomgtro (1-0) link to game here.

Round 3 - should be finished by Nov 25
tomgtro v Rocky (0-1) link to game here
Timmmmm v ChessAdmin (0-1) link to game here.

ChessAdmin 2.0
RockyRook 2.0
Timmmmm 1.0
tomgtro 1.0

* format: white v black

Other Logistics
If you would send me your email address at rockyrook at hotmail, I will pass along to everyone else, so you can schedule your games via email.  Also, let me know your FICS handle when you send me your address.

Always offer times in FICS time zone - this makes negotiations easier.  Feel free to schedule your games immediately.

I'll provide updates and links to this post.

Feel free to post questions or suggestions in the comments.

Have fun!

Saturday, November 03, 2012


Looks like the Chess Pistols have returned; this time named Chess64.

I've updated my side-bar.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Need One More for Round Turkey Chess Quad

We had four, but one dropped out at the last minute to close the deal on his new home.

So, we're back to three.

Anyone else out there who wants to play?

- Round Turkey (i.e Robin) style (4 players)
- Starts November 18/19; ends November 24/25
- About 1 game every two days
- 60 5 format
- All games on FICS
- Looking for someone 1500-1700 (standard) rating
- Winner to receive at least $10 Amazon gift card (possibly $20)

Let me know in the comments section if you want to join.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Round Turkey Chess Tournament? (on FICS)

Out of curiosity - how many of you, dear readers, would be interested in a either:

1. a 4-week (one game a week) chess tournament; every week of November, starting the week of November 4 and have all 4 games completed by November 30.

2. or perhaps a week-long tournament during the Thanksgiving holiday - November 20-23

It would have to be 4 players to accommodate either 4 weeks or 4 days.  Everyone plays everyone else (round robin style, although I'm calling it round turkey :-))  I'd propose a G 60 format ... or maybe a 60 5 format.

Participants would have to play all the other players in the given period of time.

Any takers?  I'd only need 3.

And to give some extra incentive, I'll offer a $10 gift card (to Starbucks or to Amazon or something like that) for the winner.

I'd want the tournament to be somewhat competitive - don't want any grandmasters or beginners playing, so the bottom cut-off rating would be 1500 and the top cut-off rating ... let's say 1700 (using FICS standard rating).

If I get a lot of responses, I'll take the first 3 who meet the criteria.

image source: NBC:SNL

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

'12-13 Game 10 and MAJOR slump

Well, with less distractions, I still managed to go down a rook in my 2nd game with "Eric."  With my losing streak at two (along with a few other losses (rated blitz) games in Chessmaster) my rating has dropped  ... so much so that the top of the allowable personalities for me to play is "Lacey" who is 1309.

I've been in a major slump on ChessTempo too.  For the first time this year and for the first time in a long, long time, I've been struggling to get out of the 1630's and 1640s (blitz level tactics).  Usually I will drop down to the 1640's and 50's but then I'll pop right back up to the 1660's and higher.  But this week has been an absolute struggle.  I'm missing 1400, 1500 rated problems and even the occasional 1300 problem!

I don't know what's going on, but this is brutal.

Monday, October 08, 2012

'12-13 Game 9

While lounging around this weekend and watching TV, I decided to play a game against the next ChessMaster opponent - Eric.  It didn't turn out too well.  I thought I could concentrate well enough, but after a moment of distraction, I returned to the board and saw his hanging knight and I captured w/ my queen.

On his next move, he took my queen - with his bishop.  It wasn't really a hanging knight - it was well defended.  I could have just not counted this game, but I decided to stay honest with myself and my 52 game effort.  I intended the game to count (when I began the game) and so need to count it.

I'll try again against Eric, perhaps tomorrow ... my focus should be a bit stronger.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

xkcd: Think Logically

I think someone else in the chess blogosphere has mentioned xkcd before.  The latest is about chess and even a mention of a chess community on-line (see the green "mouse-roll-over" text box).


*update* - it was Robert who mentioned xkcd before.

Friday, September 21, 2012

'12-13 Game 8

Moving on up the Chessmaster ladder, I played Griffin.  Griffin's passions are oil painting and chess.  He made a career out of his oil painting by becoming a graphics artist in Silicon Valley - and I can see why he chose that route :-)

He made an unsound sacrifice on move 9 (is there such a thing as an unsound sacrifice?  Maybe I should just call it a bad move.  He did get a little tempo and had me on the chase a bit.  My king was unable to castle because of his exchanging a pawn for his bishop.  But I was able to get through it and then eventually scored a nice tactic and went up another piece.  From there, I offered piece exchanges and he accepted.  I was able to gobble up his pawns, make one of my own into a queen and then mated him.

Next up is Eric.

Friday, September 14, 2012

'12-13 Game 7

I suspect I'll be playing more games against Chessmaster personalities this year and that's ok - I want to see how high I can climb the "personalities ladder" in CM.

Today I played against "Shaun" who favors an attacking style of play - since he plays football, rides dirt bikes, is learning to kickbox and is a very active teenager.

As is I've said before, some of these personalities will drop pieces early on, but then, latter in the game, kick it into high gear and play some tough moves.  Sometimes, as was the case with Shaun, they spring a very surprising attack on you.  And if you're not careful, you will be promptly mated.

I was able to defeat his wiles - especially since I was up three pieces.  The endgame was a bit tricky as I had to finish him off with two bishops and a knight - but that was a useful exercise nonetheless.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

'12-13 Game 6

Game 6 of my 2012-2013 52-Game quest was my round 7 game in the Southwest Open in Dallas.

I was paired up against a gentleman I had previously played back in July in the NAS-NAJ tournament.  I won that game in July, but lost against him yesterday.

Here is the game - I was black:

I got off to a good start - went up a pawn, but then couldn't turn that 1 pawn advantage into a win.

Both of us were under a bit of time pressure ... had about 1-2 minutes per move until we hit move 30.

I think I need to let Fritz analyze this one first.  It feels like I missed something.

So I finished with a 3.0 / 7 ... in reality, it was 2.0 / 5 since I took two byes.

Monday, September 03, 2012

'12-13 Game 5

I took byes in rounds 4 and 5 and relaxed with my wife and kids; went to church; took a long nap; ate dinner at our friends' house and played lots of card games (including Spot It!) and Wii games.

That night, I got a good sleep.  I woke up this morning, gassed up the car, went to the store to get some food supplies for the games today and then came to the hotel.

Round 6 was the most unusual game I've ever played in these tournaments.  I played w/ the white pieces.

He showed up a couple of minutes late.  When the game started, he gave a bit of a half-hearted handshake.  I moved a bit quickly.  His first two or three moves were average length in think time, but then after that, I would make my move, hit the clock and then he just seemed to mentally check-out.  He was looking off in space, sucking on the tag of his jacket, coughing, sniffling, rubbing his nose ... anything but looking at the board.

After I pinned his queen, I started getting up and walking around while waiting for him to move.

Not much to see here ... other than I had a mate earlier ... would have ended the game 7 moves quicker.

I should have played Bc7+ instead of taking the rook w/ my queen.

It is about 12:45pm now ... the next round is at 3:15pm.  Ivan won his game and is sitting here at the same table in the skittles room going over his win.

A few other thoughts

Maybe a few gentle readers can explain something to me.  Why am I not paired with more 1500-1600 rated players?  I am either paired against a 1800 or a 1300-1400 player at these Swiss tournaments.

This has been the noisiest tournament I've played in.  The playing hall is smaller than most places I've played in.  I swear, half the people are either sick or have allergies ... there is a sneeze or cough every 15 seconds.  People were constantly going in and out of the playing hall.  They finally tweaked the doors to make it a bit quieter.  LOTS of parents are hovering over their kids.  They finally started making them watch from the sides of the room in round 6.  I may have to start using headphones.

This is the first tournament I've played 30/90 SD1 w/ a 5 second delay.  Getting to 30 moves in 90 minutes was a bit stressful for me.  Especially when around moves 26-29, the positions are somewhat critical and I've got just 10 minutes on the clock.  Then after move 30, that extra hour is a relief.  But it doesn't help much if you've messed up on move 28 or 29!

Anyway - 1 more game to go.  I'll post that game when I can.

'12-13 Game 4

Round 3 was at 8:00pm.  My head was pounding and I just wanted to attack.  Not really a good combination when you're playing a player rated 1800.

There's not much really to see ... I played quite poorly.  Here's the full game - I was black.

'12-13 Game 3

Round 2 was against a player rated 1425.  This was a long game; going 73 moves.  I think this was my 2nd game I've played against a 1400+ player.  The first one I played against a 1400 player, that game went about 60 moves.  Against 1500 players, my games go into the 30-40 move range, but against 1400 rated players, the games go longer.

Anyway - here's the game.  I played with the white pieces.
The game was pretty equal; the queens game off the board fairly early; he went up a pawn at about the same time we swapped queens ... again, I failed to count well and he went up a pawn.

I kept seeing ways he could win against me, but he didn't choose those moves that would have given him an advantage.  Instead, he let me off the hook a few times and I took advantage.

I was able to equalize again by taking his pawn that was one row away from queening.

Then we came to this point.  He was threatening Ne2 forking K and R.  I responded with Kf1.  I figured he would take my bishop, then I'd have doubled pawns, thus giving him a slight advantage.  But he played f5 after which I played a5 ... I had in mind that I could take his c pawn, the knight and bishop would come off and then perhaps the rooks would come off and I'd have to figure out a way to queen a pawn without him queening first.  Now that I'm thinking of it, not sure a5 was the best move.

Anyway, after a5, he played Kf7 and then I played Bb7, he moved Rc7 and I then defended the Bishop with a6.  From there, we eventually swapped rooks.  My bishop and a-pawn stayed put and I was able to go gobble his pawns with my king and eventually queen a pawn and win.  He offered me a draw after I played a6, but I suggested we played a few more moves ... I felt pretty good at that point that I had good chances of winning.

'12-13 Game 2

Round 1 of the Southwest Open was against fellow blogger Ivan (1863).  As I type this post, he has won his first three games, lost his fourth, won his fifth ... and when I left the playing hall after my round 6, he was up in his game.

This was the first OTB game in a month for me.  I felt pretty good in the opening, even went up a pawn, but then he outplayed me in the end.  I played w/ the black pieces.  Here's the full game below.
On move 21, he took my bishop (Bxb7).  I did a bit of miscalculating and retook with my rook instead of my queen.  I was a bit concerned about him playing Nxg6 fxg6 Bxd6 (forking my rooks).  But I didn't take that line one more move ... instead of playing fxg6, I would play Bxh2 Nxf8 followed by me responding with Bd6 ... I would have been ok with that.

But instead, after Bxb7, I played Qxb7 and that allowed him to get the pawn back.

After that, I tried to expel his bishop and then get an attack going with my queen and knight, but his rooks and queen came barreling down my queenside ... and along with his bishop, he delivered a nice tactic by sacrificing his queen for a mate.

This was the first round of the 4-day and as such, it was played on a Friday night, with the playing hall about 1/4th full and with mostly adults at that.  This was the most quiet round of the tournament.  Rounds 2-7 were quite noisy for this smaller playing hall with lots of scholastic players.

Friday, August 17, 2012

12-13 Game 1

My 2012-13 52 Game Quest "season" started in earnest last night.  I played the next person up the ladder from Seb in Chessmaster (Grandmaster edition).  You may recall I was 0-3 against Seb before I finally beat him.  This next person up was Andy - rated 1294 in CM.  I was rated 1193 or something going into this game.

We played a G/60 and as is typical with these computer personalities, he dropped pieces fairly effortlessly.  I willingly gobbled them up and then waited for the CPU to go into overdrive which could lead to my defeat.  But it never happened.  I went up two knights, then a rook and then I eventually forced a mate.

I need to get a game in next week and the week after.  Let me know if you want to play.  Then over Labor Day weekend (Aug 31 - Sep 3), I'll be playing in the Southwest Open in Dallas.  Then the Class Championships will be Sep 21-23 ... so lots of OTB in the next few weeks.  Lastly, I just found out that my office is being relocated from downtown to north I-45.  This means I may be able to start going to the SMC CC Friday nights - their club is just a skip and a jump from where I work.

Friday, August 10, 2012

52 Game Quest (2011-12)

So the 2011-12 quest to play 52 games failed.  I played 41 games.  I could have gotten (maybe) a few more games in, but after the NAS-NAJ Tournament, the wind spilled out of my sails.  The tournament didn't cause all of that - rather, it was a combination of the tournament and other events that culminated in a lack of desire to do just about anything.

But, I'm picking the pieces up and the desire is coming back and I'm ready to kick off the 2012-13 quest to play at least 52 games.  I'm not going to be so stringent about the time controls I play.  I will probably end up playing more G/60 games than any other type.

As usual, leave a comment, send me an email or message on FICS if you want to play a single game or a series.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

People-Watching Observations and Thoughts on Chess

This post is a mish-mash of people observations as well as some thoughts on chess - particularly chess as it pertains to me (I had a lot of time for both when I lost that round 2 game so quickly.)

First off - the picture.  That board that no one is sitting at (w/ the oj bottle) is where I lost the round 3 game.  There are several people in the picture, who I've played.  Most of them are really nice folks and easy to talk to.

Also in this picture is the kid, with the use of his dad and his dad's computer, got a bit of help in the 2010 Class Championships (see this post).  Another father and son duo were playing in this tournament.  I played the kid in a side-game and he was a really well-behaved kid.  I mention this because I wish one of my kids would get addicted to chess and we could go to tournaments on the weekend.  Right now, they all like playing checkers with me - it's all about fun.

And now a few random observations in the form of a question to the people I observed.

"Why do you have to wear your PJs to the tournament?  Have you really given up that much on life?"

"Sunglasses?!  Are you freaking kidding me?  Maybe if you were playing for $10,000 stakes and for some weird reason your thinking-threads could be seen streaming across your eyes, it might be a good idea to wear shades.  But at a tournament like this?!"

"Have you people heard of Kleenex?  Clearing your nose by snorting - not once, not twice, but several times - is not the way to clean house."

"I love the Asians - Buddha bless them!  Sometimes I wonder what kind of person I would have turned out to be under the tutelage of a Tiger Mom."

Anyway ... chess.  I need to figure out why I'm playing it.  I hit on some reasons in my post "I Play Hope Chess".  To get good and decent at chess requires a tremendous amount of time and effort.  It's a game of "inches" ... sometimes you win or lose by an inch  Several hours or even years of studying and practice yields only a few inches in progress.

Is it a worthwhile endeavor?  Or should it be considered a pastime?  Relatively speaking ... compared to watching TV, chess is better.  Compared to video games, in my opinion, chess is better.  Compared to playing in sports leagues such as basketball or football, chess is not better.

And to go off on a tangent - how many calories does one burn in a 3-4 hour game of chess?  Does the brain really burn that many calories?  I just googled that ... it does burn calories, but not much when compared to physical exercise.

Off tangent - back to message ... Better than reading?  Maybe better than reading a comic book.  Maybe not better than reading a book like Carnage & Culture.

I love doing tactics at ChessTempo.  I love playing long games.  I love playing blitz.  Studying can be fun at times too.  But I don't think I'm prepared to pour more than a max of 7 hours a week into the game.  And then when I do pour time into the game, it must be consecutive hours - especially for a game.  10 minutes here, 10 minutes there doesn't really work too well.

So that leaves me at just calling it a pastime and simply enjoying the game - realizing that I should work to improve, but that the gains will be small and that I should focus on enjoyment more than results.

I'm ok with that.  Life is about balance and spending time on worthwhile efforts.  Chess certainly has its utility, but it is not a big rock.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Game 41

Round 3 wasn't too pretty either.  I was paired with an 1810 player.  When the games began, my opponent was not there and I didn't have a clock (at least one w/ 5 second delay capability).  So I scrambled to borrow one and then got it ticking.

He showed up about 10 minutes later.

Then half way though the game, the power/lights went out for about 30 seconds.  That brought some excitement to the place.

So, I lost this game at about the same number of moves of that previous game, only in this game, I was able to last to just over 50 moves.  I did a bit better at using more of my clock ... had about 10 minutes left when I resigned.  He only used about 20 or 30 minutes on his clock.  I could tell he was bored.

I had the white pieces and tried the same sctick as last game.

I didn't play on Sunday, so I ended up going 1-2.

Closing thoughts on this tournament to come ...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Game 40

With my win in round 1, I was "lucky" enough to be paired with player rated 1820 in round 2.  He is a chess coach out of Brownsville.  It wasn't too pretty.  Of course, my sloppy play didn't help much either - nor did the fact that he set the clock for 1 hour 20 minutes (thinking he had set it for 120 minutes).  About a half hour in the game, when I noticed I only had 53 minutes left to play, we stopped the game and sorted out the clock issues.

Anyway ... here's the ugly game.  I played the white pieces ...

In the post-mortem, he was at least gracious enough to give me a few tips.  But his comments made me chuckle ... after going over the first 8 moves or so, he said flat out the game was over for me.

After that, two of his students were sitting around, so we played a bit of blitz - I was smoked easily.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Game 39

Four weeks left in the 52-game quest ... I've got until August 10 to finish up 13 games.

Game 39 is from Round 1 of the NAS-NAJ Open at the Hobby Marriott in Houston.  As I said before, I'm a bit doubtful my real USCF rating is 1617.  But as it is, I had no other option but to play in the U2000 division - missing the U1600 division by 18 points.

These tournaments are typically at the Hobby Hilton.  I think the Marriott is much, much nicer.  The place was nicer, newer and cleaner.  There is also much more lobby room at the Marriott for people to hang out and play chess.

Before going into the hall, I was able to talk to Dan.  He and I were in the Unrated section of the Class Championships a couple of years ago.  It was good chatting w/ him again!

We played Round 1 in the same room as the scholastic kids.  I showed up w/ no board or clock.  So when my opponent didn't show up immediately, I had to borrow a clock so I could get the time moving.  He showed up about 5 minutes later and we played.

Here is the game - I had the black pieces ...

The guy I was playing is rated 1749.

After I went up two rooks to one bishop, he decided to resign on move 24.  We both had about 44 minutes left on our clocks (G/120 5 delay).

So this was a pretty good win for me - my 2nd best win in my USCF career!

Round 2 and 3 are tomorrow.  I'll be taking byes for rounds 4 and 5 on Sunday.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Game 38

Game 38 was another loss.  This was the 2nd of 4 games w/ Jabari.  You can catch the replay here.  I made some whispers during the game.

Move 30 was where I dropped the ball.  You can see it to the left, along w/ the times left on our clocks.

Bd7 or b7 would not have been good and there was no where else to put him.

Instead of pushing the pawn, I should have pulled the knight back to g7 and then on to e8 to defend the pawn at d6.  I don't know ... I'll have to look at that a bit more.

But once I pushed that pawn, Jabari jumped all over it and then I realized I would lose a pawn.  His clock was under a minute, but he played really cool under pressure.  I had a bit of counterplay and had some threats, but once the queens came off, it was over.

Anyway - my head's splitting open, it's almost midnight and I have round 1 of an OTB tournament tomorrow night - got to get some sleep.

Pre-game Rituals and Routines for Chess

In my Game 37 post, I made a comment about my goal to be consistent.  Later on, a light bulb went on in my head ... I need a warm-up; a pre-game routine or ritual, that I would do every single time I play a long game.

I also had some other ideas come to me, which I'll talk about in a later post.  Those ideas are to the effect of making a set of KPIs for myself with regard to the quality of my play.  I would commit to doing several things (every time I play a game) and then I would grade myself post-game.

But for now, I just need a simple routine.

A couple of google hits spurred some ideas.  This one from tanc and this one from Joshua Specht at  I like Joshua's approach a bit more ... meaning warming up from a chessboard perspective and not so much from a bowl movement perspective :-).  Also, one thing Joshua said stood out: "I've played in many tournaments where I've woken up within minutes of the start of the round. The usual result is that I groggily stumble into the playing room, having lost valuable time on the clock. Worse yet, it takes me another 20-30 minutes before I'm calculating clearly."  The 20-30 minutes before calculating correctly ... that has happened to me so many times ... I start a game (spur of the moment on-line, or even a 45 45 game and I just sputter along and my mind goes blank.  It takes time to get that brain to churn sometimes.

So here goes a 'draft' version of my pre-game routine:

Immediately Before the Game (30-60 minutes before)

1) Drink some OJ.

2) Solve at least 20 tactics at ChessTempo.  First 10 will be from my "missed list" and the other 10 will be from blitz mode.

3) Play a few 5 3 blitz games.

4) Do some physical activity - brisk walking, push-ups and sit-ups, etc - about 10 minutes before game.

5) Review my commitments/KPIs and thought process (to be discussed in a later post).

Day Before / Day of Game Prep

* Get at least 8 hours sleep the night (or few nights) before
* None to very little carb-laden or starch-laden foods
* Eat lightly from 4 hours before game
* Manage the caffeine intake
* Take vitamin D a bit later in the morning or mid-day if game is in afternoon or night (produces wakefulness for me)
* Bobby Fisher is said to eat a big steak for his pre-meal.  I think steak is good a few hours before the game.

Repost: The Will to Win

ukchessblogger has some really good stuff.  I particularly enjoyed his recent post The Will to Win.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Game 37

Not much to see here ... just more crappy chess.  I'm really good at making fast blunders (2.9 seconds in this game).  This was solid hope chess at its best.  The only redeeming feature of this game was that I even played.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Repost: Intimidation At the Board

I just read this post over at The Chess Improver.  I've not heard this one before.

Click on the Chess Violence label at the bottom to see other instances of intimidation over the board.

Monday, July 02, 2012

A Race to the Finish (Games 35 & 36 including one w/ Ralph)

We left on vacation several days ago.  Knowing that we'd pass through Columbia, SC, I contacted Ralph to see if he'd be up for a game.  He could not the first weekend we passed through, but his schedule was open the 2nd weekend.

The game was played on Friday June 29 - right in the middle of the massive heatwave that gripped the East. It was 108 at the time of the game and the motel we were staying at did not have great AC.

Ralph posted the game, as well as his annotations, here.

The game was full of errors on both sides and Ralph does a great job of breaking them down.

Although the play wasn't spectacular, it was great to see a fellow blogger in person and play a game.

While in Myrtle Beach, I played my nephew a game of chess.  That one turned out to be a win for me.  I would have liked to play lots more games w/ him, but we were busy building sand castles and having fun with the rest of the family.

I did play a lot of 5 3 unrated games at night while trying to fall asleep at night on vacation.  A few weeks earlier, I found a nice Droid app called Yafi. It worked great for the dozen or so games I played.  I was only disconnected once - which is why I was playing unrated games.

So the race to the finish of the quest begins.  I have 5 weeks left to play 16 games.  I may not be able to get a whole lot of 75 15 games in during that time, so I will be working to find some G/60 games at FICS at night.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Four Rules of Material Gain (HTRYC 3rd)

1. If you have a material advantage, find a plan that enables you to use the extra wood (using the extra material to overpower the opponent or trade all the pieces and go into a winning endgame).

2. When you make a successful strike into the opponent's camp and win material, you must often pull your army back towards the center and reorganize your forces (prevents counterattacks).

3. When you take material, you put pressure on your opponent to justify his sacrifice!  This induces a certain element of panic which can easily send his brain spinning off into the void.  A good basic rule goes as follows: if you are in an uncomfortable position (or just want to go all out for the win) and you are offered an unclear sacrifice, you should contain your fear and scarf up the offered meal, saying "give me proof or lose!"

4. When up material you have the added defensive resource of giving material back to stop his attack.  While the opponent scrambles to regain his lost wood, you quietly improve your position.  When he finally recreates a material balance, you should have succeeded in either equalizing a difficult position, grabbing the initiative, or gaining some sort of positional advantage that will serve you well in the later stages of the game.

white to play
black to play
black to play

Monday, June 18, 2012

I Play Hope Chess

Last year, on June 18, 2011, after I dropped 3 games in the 45 45 League, I wrote this post.  I let it sit in 'draft' mode the entire year.  I came back to it every so often to read it and feel the burn of those losses.

I'm finally getting around to publishing it.  I'm a bit more a peace with myself.  I think I play less Hope Chess, but there are games where I still play it.  Once (and if) I complete my 52-game quest in August, I'll revist this topic and disect my thoughts and feelings.

JUNE 18, 2011

It's obvious I don't fire on all cylinders.  I have serious, gut-wrenching issues I have to deal with.  It is painful.  Sure it feels good to pull off wins; but the truth is I think there is a significant measure of luck involved in those wins that simply masks the fundamental issues that I have not addressed.  When it all gets boiled, the truth is I play Hope Chess.

Here's the three-punch knockout that has pushed me to this realization ... one; two and three.  Three was a "LOL" moment.  It truly was comical.

So what are my options?
1 - do nothing; just keep playing for the joy of it and not care about playing quality chess.
2 - give it up altogether and spend the time doing something else.
3 - fundamentally confront and deal with my issues.

There's no shame in #1 and #2.  This is chess for crying out loud!  It's a freakin' game.  But that's not all true now, is it.  There is a deep unreachable itch; an unsettling feeling in the bowels of my soul.  I can't let it go.  When not thinking about work or family or our church, all my mind can dwell on are those three losses and why they happened.  As I ponder the last couple of weeks, it feels like there are deeper issues at play here.  It's not just chess - there is a profound psychological aspect to this and I think it is not restricted to just my chess game.  There are macro life elements involved ... this issue seems to spill over into other parts of my life.  And somehow I feel like if I can fix my chess game, the rest of my life will become balanced.  And maybe it's not so much about chess, but rather about not giving up on something I started.

I can't walk away from this until I feel I've done a better job.  I owe it to myself.  When I get to the point that I can consistently say, win or loss "I played Real Chess and did my best" then I can be at peace with myself and if I decide to walk away from it all, I won't have regrets.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Game 34

Jabari, who visits our blogs, contacted me to play a 4 game series.  We started the series tonight (game 1 link here).  It was one tough game tonight.  So I felt I put up a pretty good fight, but I am still weak on seeing everything.  I need to take some extra time for triple-checking.

11...Qc7 was a great move on his part.  There wasn't really anything I could do to defend.  I just needed to see that position a bit earlier in the game.

19. e4 wasn't so great.  I saw the Qb+ move a few seconds after I pushed the pawn.  Sometimes this happens on Chess Tempo ... I see so many things and then they are all floating up there in my head and I have a hard time organizing my thoughts and keeping track of bad lines and such.

So he took the b2 pawn and I figured I could get some play out of that.  I did a little, but he navigated all the various lines well.

23. g4 killed me.  I wanted to defend that f5 pawn.  I probably should have just went ahead and played Bd1, giving me a chance to defend f5 while still getting a chance to take his c4.

After g4, I saw that h3 was now open for business.  It went downhill from there.  Since his clock was a little low, I worked a bit at forcing him to win it.  But he played quite well and finished me off no problem.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Game 33

My scheduled opponent didn't show tonight.  So I fired up Chessmaster and played my nemesis Seb.  I was 0-3 against him, but tonight I finally won.  He made one of those dumb moves early on, but this time the outcome was different.  Instead of falling into his traps and losing a won game, I finally won it tonight.

There's not much to discuss on this one.  I was able to defend adequately and then trade pieces until I had just my knight and a few pawns on the board compared to his pawns and king.  I continued to trade pawns - using my knight to defend and ultimately promote a pawn.  From there, it was a QK vs. K ending.

Hopefully my opponent can play tomorrow night as I have another open evening.

Friday, June 08, 2012

NAS-NAJ 2012 Open

July 13-15 at the Hobby Marriott - Not-a-Senior-Not-a-Junior 2012 Open

I'll be there Friday and Saturday getting my butt kicked in the U2000 section.

Friday, June 01, 2012

savaskulah: email me

Savaş Külah: I don't know how to contact you directly to schedule some games; so please email me.

rockyrook at hotmail dot com


Sacrifice (HTRYC 3rd)

Sacrifice - The voluntary offer of material for the purpose of gaining a more favorable advantage than the material investment.  Unlike a combination, a sacrifice is not a cut and dried affair, and there is usually an element of uncertainty associated with it.  Though a combination always has one or more sacrifices, a sacrifice need not be associated with a combination.

In his Material Loss and Sacrifice chapter, he notes a few moves from a few games
Selesniev-Alekhine, Triberg 1921, move 20...Rb4
Reshevsky-T.Petrosian, Zurich 1953, move 25...Re6
Taimanov-Karpov, Moscow 1973, beginning with move 17...Rc4

Weak Squares (HTRYC 3rd)

You can create weak squares (for your opponent) with a pawn move, a piece exchange (forcing opponent to double up pawns) or by creating a threat, thus forcing your opponent to defend it while at the same time creating a weak square.

Once you've created the weak square, you need to get a piece to "nest on it."

Monday, May 28, 2012

Game 32

Game 32 (replayed here) was the 4th of 4 games with tommyg.  I won the game and the series.  I'm not sure if tommyg was playing at 100% or not.  His kingside pawns were all down the side and I was able to slip my white-squared bishop in the middle, fortified by a solid pawn chain.  He had a chance of whacking this bishop with his knight, but did not.

Later he played 14. Qa4+ and I had to place my knight between his queen and my king on d7.  His knight was also bearing down on d7 and he could have easily traded knights and queens and then it would have been a bit more difficult to get my rooks out and my king safe.

After he played 25. Raf2?, I took his bishop ... again - not sure what he saw when he made this move.  Then he followed up with 26. R2a6 and then I delivered the knockout punch with 27. Qf2#.

I now have 20 games left to play before August 6.  I should get a few extra games in during the week of June 21-28 during a family reunion.  My nephew plays chess and hopefully we can get a few long games in.  Then the weekend of July 15 there is a local tournament and I should get a few games in over that weekend.  So, in the mean time, if I can get 1-2 games per week on FICS, I should reach my goal of 52 games in 1 year.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Bad" Pawns Can Be "Good" (HTRYC 3rd)

Isolated, backward or doubled pawns are often weak; however it is also true that sometimes they are not - other factors outweigh their potential weakness.

Doubled Pawns
a doubled pawn gives its owner an extra open file for coverage of critical squares that would not be possible if the pawns were un-doubled and 'healthy'.

Said Brent Larsen of this game, "In this variation, many endings are won with the aid of the seemingly humble [doubled] center pawns."

A pawn is only weak if the enemy forces can get to it.

Isolated Pawns
an isolated pawn is potentially weak because no other pawn can help defend it.  Since now pawns can stand by its side, the square directly in front of it also tends to be vulnerable.  However, it can control squares that might turn out to be useful homes for your pieces; there are open files on either side of an isolated pawn - a place for your rooks which can strive for activity.

An isolated pawn doesn't have to remain on a sickly square; it can advance and become a 'battering ram.'

If you advance and subsequently trade an isolated pawn, then the supposed weakness was nothing more than an illusion.

The most common type of isolated pawn tends to be the d-pawn.

Piece activity is key when trying to make use of an isolated pawn.  Don't trade pieces when you have an isolated pawn - you need them to defend and advance the 'iso.'  If you have an 'iso' and no minor pieces, try to swap rooks and queens.

Backward Pawns
the weakness or strength of a backward pawn depends on the following questions:
1. It is sitting on an open file?
2. How well is it defended?
3. Is the square directly in front of it adequately defended by pieces?
4. Is it serving a useful purpose defending the pawns that have gone ahead of it?
5. Can it successfully advance, thereby ridding itself of the 'backward' label?

If a backward pawn can safely advance then its weakness will turn out to be more illusory than real.

Passed Pawns
passed pawns are usually thought of as huge assets, offering great chances in an endgame, but they can also be a disadvantage.

You don't want a passed pawn if it can be blockaded, unless you have play elsewhere and the passed pawn acts as endgame 'insurance.'  The best blockader of a passed pawn is a knight, since its strength is no diminished by having a pawn in front of it.

Center (HTRYC 3rd)

The first responsibility of the owner of the big [pawn] center is to make it indestructible.

Conversely, the responsibility of the player facing the pawn center is to apply constant pressure to it, and to try to prove it to be a weakness instead of a strength.

A center is only good because it restricts the opponent's pieces.  If it has to advance and give the enemy pieces good squares, then its whole purpose has been negated.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Game 31

I missed the last of our 4 games with tommyg on Friday night - it was a hectic day.  We are trying to work out a time to play that 4th game.

Tonight I played game 2 with gatoruss (replayed here).  The first game last week was pretty ugly.  I replayed that game a few times today and it was painful.  But tonight's game had a different outcome.  It was pretty interesting in the beginning and then he played 18...Nxe3?  I'm not quite sure what he was thinking.  But from then on, I just worked to try to trade pieces.  He made a second blunder with 24...g4.  My knight was pinned to my king by his queen and then he advanced the pawn attacking my knight.  But that left my queen to deliver check and then retake the pawn at g4.  At that point, I was up a bishop and knight.  He tried a few checks, but I secured the king and he resigned.

Game 3 with him may be next week, but being Memorial Day, we may delay game 3 until June 4.

Hey you Europeans ... check out my post on brunch and chess!  I'm up about the time you guys are having a late breakfast or early lunch - why not play a G/60 with me?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

European Brunch May 21-25

So I had a thought on my 4-mile walk the other day ...

I need something to motivate me to get up and get going in the morning.  The answer: a G/60 game of chess.

But who plays chess at that unseemly hour?  The answer: Europeans.

So, each week, I'll post which days I can play a G/60 and people can sign up by posting a comment on that post.  I may not get much response, but it's worth a try.

If you're rated between 1500-1800 on FICS (standard rating), feel free to sign up for a game or two with me.

Monday: no games
Tuesday: open spot - G/60 at 02:45 FICS time
Wednesday: open spot - G/60 at 02:45 FICS time
Thursday: open spot - G/60 at 02:45 FICS time
Friday: no games

First come first serve - leave a comment to let me know which day you'd like to play.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Space (HTRYC 3rd)

Space, as defined by Silman, is the "player's territory usually determined by the positioning of one's pawns."  It's the area of property behind the pawns.

The reason it's important: if you have more territory, you also possess more room in which to move around.

  1. the side with less space should initiate exchanges so that he will have more room in which to move around.
  2. alternatively, the side with more space should avoid exchanges and instead focus on increasing the space advantage.
However, there is a "dark side of space"
  1. the further a pawn advances the less space it can potentially control
Other rules
  1. in closed positions with locked centers you must attempt to get open lines on the wings by breaking with pawns

Monday, May 14, 2012

Game 30

Game 30 was game 1 in a new series - this time with gatoruss.  Not much to see in this game - just total crap on my part.  I guess one shouldn't multi-task when playing a game.  On the bright side, I had a pretty good night on ChessTempo.  Once I knew the game was lost, I logged on to CT and got a small bump in my blitz rating.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Playing Chess Playlist

I've found that certain pieces of music enhance my concentration.  Over the years, my "Concentration" playlist has grown.  I've noticed that a few of the pieces are a bit up tempo than most, while the majority of them are slow or relaxing.  Here's my 107 minute playlist with links to the songs on youtube.

Bach's Persia by David Darling
Progeny by Hans Zimmer
The Wheat by Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard
Earth by Hans Zimmer
Sorrow by Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard
Zucchabar by Hans Zimmer
Esptesicus by Hans Zimmer and James Howard
Evenstar by Isabel Bayakdarian
Minas Tirith by Ben Del Maestro
The Long Night by Oystein Sevag
Egypt by Lakki Patey
Piece in the Old Style 1 by Henryk Gorecki performed by William Orbit
Piece in the Old Style 3 by Henryk Gorecki performed by William Orbit
Opus 132 by Beethoven performed by William Orbit
Anytime, Anywhere by Sarah Brightman
Our Breath Shall Intermix by Symbion Project
Instrumental by Rob Dougan
9999999 by Valve - Mike Morasky - Aperture Science Psychoacoustics Laboratory (Portal 2 soundtrack)
One Simple Idea by Hans Zimmer
Dream Within a Dream by Hans Zimmer
Waiting For a Train by Hans Zimmer
Time by Hans Zimmer

There are lots more tracks in my library that could be on this list.  I've noticed I can go through this playlist twice in one 75 15 game.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Game 29

Game 29 was the fourth with Nygren.  Full game here.

In our postmortem, he asked me what I was thinking when I moved 9...c5.  My thought, at that point of the game, was to try to open up the middle or move it along to c4.  I also wanted to get my rook on the c file.  He said that it wasn't a good move because it created an isolated pawn (on d5).  He was right.  I could not defend it well after.  He also noted that I should not have have been trading pieces with an isolated pawn; but that I should be supporting it and trying to advance it.  So, I was going about it all wrong.  But I really welcomed the feedback.  After doing a full analysis with Fritz 11, it didn't have any feedback for me on that move.

The next part I wanted to look at was 12...Nce4.  Fritz 11 gives me a =+, but I didn't quite pull off the pawn capture like I was thinking.  He responded 13. Rc1 followed by my Bg4.  Instead of Bg4, I should have captured his knight with 13...Nxc3 14. Rxc3 Rxc3 15. bxc3 h6 16. Bxf6 Bxf6 and I'd still be slightly better ... I could still attempt to capture the c-pawn with Qc7.  But instead of playing 13...Nxc3, I played Bg4 and you can see this resulted in the opening of my castled king as well as going down a pawn.  From that point on, I struggled to stay in the game.

The game continued - his rook and queen were playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with my king.  I was trying desperately to get my queen back into the thick of things.  It was looking pretty clear he was going to win, and so I decided to try to last for as many moves as I possibly could; even trying to get a perpetual check so as to draw the game.  He was able to trade rooks with me and win my other glimpse of hope - a pawn with a wide-open file ahead of him.  Now he had a pawn in the middle heading to be queened.  My king was stuffed to the side and I was trying to get a perpetual check.  After moving 37...Qc5, I was expecting him to play either h4 or Qh8+.  After that, His pawn could just saunter on down.  But he played g4+ after which I played fxg3+.  39. Qxg3 would have been fine, but he played Kxg3?? after which I finished it off with Qg1#.

I felt badly for him.  The game was his except for that blunder.  He was very gracious in the postmortem and I was very appreciative of him playing me those four games and going over them.

My pool of people to play is about to dry up.  I need more players to play!  I'd prefer to play a 4-game series of 75 15 games, but one-off games are perfectly ok too.  G/60, 45 45, G/90 ... whatever ... just that it's a longish game.  I'll play pretty much anyone ... I think I'd have to draw the line at 1875.  If you're around the 1875, give or take 25 rating points, I'm not sure I'd be of any use other than to be utterly humiliated :-) ... but if you're 1875 or below, I'd  be willing to take a shot.

Leave a comment if you want to play; or shoot me an email at hotmail dot com.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Game 28

Game 28 (replayed here) was against Tommyg again - our third of four.  I'm up 3-0 now.  It was a fairly even-keeled game ... no exploding fireworks.  I had a couple of long thinks on move 13 and 29.  But besides those, my thinking was fairly quick and concise.

Towards the end, I felt I had it wrapped up a couple of times, only for Tommy to pull out another move that made me pause and ponder.  He put up a really good fight.

I had to delay my game today with nygren ... my son's friend and his dad invited us to see the new stadium the Houston Dynamo are playing in.  We had to leave a bit early this morning and I wasn't sure if I started the game with nygren if we'd finish in time before we had to leave.  So that game is tomorrow morning.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Games 26 & 27

So far, the chess this weekend has not been aesthetically beautiful - blunders have abounded thus far.

Game 26 was against Tommyg - I had the black pieces.  The game can be replayed here.  The game was fairly even, but he had his queenside pawns ready for the attack.  This worried me the entire game.  But I was able to get the kingside opened up a bit and the slip my queen into his territory.  Then he played 34. Ra2?  As the rook sat on a1, it was already defended and in no danger.  So I was able to deliver check and then capture the rook.    38. Qxa7 also seemed like a mistake - taking another defender out of the picture.  This allowed for a quicker checkmate.  The Tommyg series is 2-0 now.

Game 27 was ugly.  This game was against Nygren and it was barf-o-rific from the start.  The game can be replayed here.  I probably should have resigned earlier, but this game only went 29 moves.  I had the white pieces in this game.  He played the KID.  I played the SOL opening.  9. h3 was wrong as evidenced by the game.  9. Bh4 is the better move.  When I was looking at this move, I saw him playing g5 and then possibly getting the knight and bishop forked, plus the possibility of the pawns fully storming the side.  On the other hand, with 9. h3, I saw my h-file opening up; my rooks doubling and a fantastic storming of his castled king - all delusions of grandeur.  By the 13th move, it was certain I would lose a knight.  I went into blitz mode, which in my state of mind was suicide and very low quality analysis.  So the Nygren series is now 1-2.  This one has the feel of the stevelco series - where I was lucky to come off with a win in game one and then get stomped the remainder of the games.

The only consolation for me is that the overall goal of getting in 52 games in a year is progressing.  I fell behind early on in the quest, but I've been cutting into the "games behind" stat.  I'm only 10 games behind schedule now.  I've now passed the mid-way point as well.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

20,000 Blitz Tactics on ChessTempo

Today I hit the 20,000 blitz attempts mark on ChessTempo.

  • 20,000 attempts
  • 14,114 correct
  • 5,886 failed
  • 70.57% correct
  • 1678.3 rating (with an RD of 34.48)
  • 500/1095 is my active rank ... better than 54.39% of the active population
Here's to the next 20,000.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Anti-Knight Technique (HTRYC 3rd)

The correct technique for battling knights: if you take away all their advanced support points, the knights will be ineffective and the bishops will have an excellent chance of winning out.  Because of this, you must make some decisions before you trade off into a B v. N position.  Ask yourself the following questions whenever you face the possibility of creating this type of imbalance:

  1. Is the position open or closed?  If it's closed I may prefer to own the knights.  If it's open the bishops may be a good bet.
  2. Will there be support points available for his knights.  If there are, then other questions arise:
    • can his knights get to them?
    • if the knights do get to these squares, does it matter?  in other words, if his support point is on the queenside but all the play is taking place on the kingside then you would actually encourage him to stick hi knight on that far away post!
    • can the bishops reach similar or superior squares?
Be sure to answer these questions before the trade.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Game 25

The march to 52  games before the end of August continues.  I'm reaching the half-way point with my next game.  I may try to troll the FICS seek board tomorrow for a 60 0 or 60 15 game.

So game 25 was my second game with nygren.  You can review the whole game here (annotated by the FICS DB).  This game was a fight for inches.  I ran this through Fritz 11 and it appears that I did ok in the opening, but still lacking.  There were a few spots I could have done better on.  I should have played 4...Bxc3+.  Maybe that would have helped a bit. Alternatively, as nygren suggests, I could have played 4...Nf6.  So, as usual, there is plenty of room for improvement in the opening.

The center was in dispute up to move 15 or so.  His smooth play won him a pawn and allowed him to dominate the center.  I tried gaining some ground back with my N, but then he played 21. c4.  I withdrew with 21...Nb6 and then he played the correct 22. d5 getting a ! from Fritz 11.

The game was still not out of hand for me yet, but he kept constant pressure; traded queens and then gobbled pawns.  In the end, I tried a few tricks ... but they were just that - tricks and he saw right through them.  So then I went into "infinite resistance" mode to try to force him to checkmate me.  But his sly play was too good.  I would be forced to trade rooks after which he would queen.  At that point, I resigned.

This series is tied 1-1 now.

As always, please let me know if you want to enter a 4-game series with me (75 15 games on FICS).  I usually play on the weekends at 03:30 FICS and at 18:30 FICS on weeknights.  If 75 15 is too long for you, I'd be happy playing a G/60 or a 60 15.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Game 24

Tommyg and I started a 4-game series of 75 15 matches tonight.  The first game was a bit of a nail-biter.  You can replay the whole game here.  The opening was pretty good on both sides - no major slip-ups that I saw.  I was getting settled in when he decided to send this queen side pawns down the side.  I held them off pretty good, but then he played 12...Ne4; a real tricky move that could have gone disastrous (for me) quite quickly.  I had to take his N with my N, but then I could see I would be able to gain a pawn ... except for his playing 14...f6 which would dislodge my N and allow the game to remain even.

But I paused and pondered a bit.  I tried finding imaginary positions ... I found one.  I started working out the details and it would seem I could go up two pawns.  I played 15. Qg4 with the idea that I could get the e6 and b5 pawns.  It worked out; and we even traded queens.

Since I still had all my pawns and he only had 3, I needed to figure out a way to queen one of them.

So they started trudging up the side.  He tried to get some counter play going with his N, but inevitably, the N would be mine.  I kept constant pressure on until he resigned on move 33.  I took his B with one of my Rs and then one of my pawns was going to come out a Q.

So a good first battle.  We plan on playing next week at the same time.

Game 25 is only a few hours away (with nygren).   I need to get some shut-eye for the big match tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Towards the end of my college years, I had a lot of time on my hands.  Classes were winding down; the work was getting easier; I was spending more time looking for work and grading papers as a TA than I was attending classes.  Since my evenings weren't filled with much homework, I would play personalities on Chessmaster ... this was all back in 2000.

I graduated in December of 2000 and landed a job in Texas.  We moved our small family and I started working in January of 2001.  My evenings were even more freed up with absolutely no homework, so I ramped up my time playing chess.  I eventually discovered that Chessmaster had an on-line community and I'd occasionally play someone on the CM server.  Then I discovered and Yahoo! chess.  Soon I started reading chess forums and I frequently visited and their forums.  Then I discovered FICS and Winboard and my life has never been the same.

I came home from work on a Spring day in 2002.  Our oldest was a toddler and our friends who had kids the same age as ours were over for a visit.  The windows were open; the air was crisp and fresh and I was sitting at my computer watching the kids while downloading Winboard and registering my handle at FICS.

Soon I was blitzing on FICS most nights and then eventually playing in the OCL and the 45-45 Team League.

It's a bit surprising that I've only played 1129 blitz games.  I imagine I've logged into FICS many times as a guest so I could play wreckless blitz without affecting my rating too badly.

When did you log on to FICS or ICC or one of the other chess servers for the first time?  Do you remember the day?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Rules for Knights (HTRYC 3rd)

  1. Knights need advanced support points to be effective.
  2. Knights are very useful pieces in closed positions.
  3. Knights are the best blockaders of passed pawns.
  4. Knights are usually superior to Bishops in endings with pawns on only one side of the board (due to their ability to go to either color)
Rules for less experienced players (regarding Knights)
  1. Knights on the first and second ranks are purely defensive and are usually on their way to greener pastures;
  2. A Knight on the third rank is useful for defense and is ready to take a more aggressive stance by jumping to the fifth;
  3. A Knight on the fourth rank is as good as a Bishop and is well poised for both attack and defense;
  4. A Knight on the fifth rank is often superior to a Bishop and constitutes a powerful attacking unit;
  5. A Knight on the sixth rank is often a winning advantage.  It spreads disharmony in the enemy camp to such a degree that the opponent will sometimes feel compelled to give up material to rid himself of it.
Note 1: Rule for Knights on 4th, 5th and 6th ranks means they are on unassailable points.
Note 2: A support point (for the Knight) is only useful if it is in an area of the board where action is taking place.

Misc. Items
Example of a plan involving Knights: You recognize you have Knights; you decide to make them better; you find or create weak squares in the opponent's camp and you get your Knights to these weak squares.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Game 23

The last of the 4-game series with silencehunter was quite a battle; lasting 47 moves before he resigned (link to game).

The game was fairly even most of the game.  By move 12, the center was opening up; 5 moves later, we exchanged knights; another 5 moves later we exchanged queens; then on move 29, I thought he blundered, by surrendering his bishop, but actually it was a pretty good move - I took the B and he was able to recapture my N 3 moves later.

By this point, we entered the end game.  By move 35, he had about 10 minutes on his clock to my 40.

I played 36...h5 attacking his N.  The idea was to push it to c2 and then pin it.  But then he played 37. e5? and I promptly played 37... Rd1+ and the N was mine.  He kept up the fight and was trying to do something with his remaining pawns.  But I was up in material and the clock was on my side.  He resigned on move 47 when my pawn was about to queen.

So I won the series 2.5 to 1.5.  We agreed to another 4-game series starting in a couple of weeks.

Also, tommyg has agreed to play a 4-game series as well.  Those games should start next week.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Game 22

I've started another 4-game match with a willing participant - Nygren.

This series started off with a win for me.  The game can be replayed here.

It got really wild in the opening and I figured I had messed up again.  It also started off really fast.  It was almost blitz speed.  But I was able to flush his king out of the pocket early and then was able to apply constant pressure with my Q and knight.

After he moved 16...Qb6 threatening Qxe3+ or otherwise trying to offer the exchange of queens, I took 23 minutes and 43 seconds trying to decide whether to pull the trigger or to continue adding pressure.  I wasn't sure which line was (if any) was safe.  I looked at Qf7+ quite a bit.  I figured the K would end up at b8 and it would be a tough fight trying to extricate him from that square ... plus, if the air went out of my attack, my own K was quite exposed.  So then I started thinking about other options and Bb5 came up.  It defended the e3 pawn, attacked his knight.  Plus, I figured I could get my rooks doubled up on the d-file and the odds of attack were pretty good.  But again, I was worried that his K would fully escape; that I'd lose pieces; that my K would be unsafe.  So I took a really long time on this move.  Not sure what Fritz says yet, but it'll be interesting to see what he thinks.

So after Bb5, he played the expected Ne5 and I followed up with Rd1.  Then he played Qa5+ ... I was actually happy about this move ... it would let my king get off the back rank to let the other R into the game.  Then he played 19...Kf6 attacking my N.  Another decision ... do I pull the trigger or defend the N?  I figured his K was essentially trapped at this point if I defended the N.  After h4, he had to defend against my Qe6#.  He played 20...Qb6.

I figured I needed another couple of moves to really set this up.  So I played 21. Rd7 - figuring if he took with the N, I could deliver check with my Q; my B is still attacking d7; I could swing the other R over to d and my N is still providing cover.  He responded 21...Rc2+ - caught me a bit by surprise.  I really had no choice but to play Kd1.  Afterward, he was analyzing the game and said that 22...Rc4 was probably better.  But instead he played to double the rooks and that left my N to finish the game.

Game 23 is tomorrow against silencehunter - for all the marbles (or a draw).  It's tied 1.5 to 1.5.

As always, if anyone still reading this blog wants to join a 4-game series (75 15) with me, let me know.  Message me on FICS, leave a comment, email me at hotmail (my handle at and we can schedule.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

j'adoube = the raptor?

so j'adoube has been out of sight for almost two years now.

then i see this headline today:

so i took a look at The Raptor's blog (link here).

the first thing i noticed was the 3 = E format in the url - j'adoube's url is the same.

then i started reading some of his posts - the tone is very similar to j'adoube's.

then i remembered j'adoube is a programmer.

i think i also heard that j'adoube is older ... like in his 50s or 60s

so all these added up leads me to believe raptor = j'adoube.

if that is truly the case, then i can see why he's not blogging so much anymore on j'adoube.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Game 21

Game 21 was against silencehunter (game 3 of our series).  I started my attack early ... unfortunately, the game ended early when my attack had no meat or supporting pieces or extra squares (do you ever wish there were 9th rank or an "i" file ... for your knight to jump to?)

Things were going so well in the opening ... especially when I played a4.  I could see the queen and rook flying down the side - chasing the king.  The white bishop providing sniper support ... it was a fantastic plan!!

But, not ... my opponent had to hunker down ... didn't take the knight ... developed his pieces.

Then I found myself floundering ... things weren't falling into place and by move 20 it was over.  My pieces were getting slaughtered - I sent them to battle un-supported.

Patience is what I needed here.  I had a 2nd knight and a 2nd rook that were still sitting on the sidelines.  I should have brought them into the game.

The rubber match is next week as we are all tied up now.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Rules for Bishops (HTRYC 3rd)

Rule 1: If you have a bad Bishop, you must correct it in one of the following ways
1. Trade it for an enemy piece of equal or greater value
2. Make it good by getting your central pawns off its color
3. Make it active by getting it outside the pawn chain

Rule 2: Bishops are usually strongest in open positions

Rule 3: In an endgame, with passed pawns on both sides of the board, Bishops tend to beat out Knights because they utilize their greatest strength: its long-ranged abilities

Rules for Combinations (HTRYC 3rd)

"If these factors do not exist, then a combination cannot exist either.  At least one of these factors must be present if a combination is to work"

  1. Open or weakened King.  Also includes Stalemated King
  2. Undefended pieces (this does not include pawns)
  3. Inadequately defended pieces
Only look for a combo when one or more of these appear.  If they do not, then don't look for a combo.

Silman's Thinking Technique (HTRYC 3rd)

  1. Figure out the positive and negative imbalances for both sides.
  2. Figure out the side of the board (K vs Q) you wish to play on.  You can only play where a favorable imbalance or the possibility of creating a favorable imbalance exists.
  3. Don't calculate!  Instead, dream up various fantasy positions, i.e., the positions you would most like to achieve.
  4. Once you find a fantasy position that makes you happy, you must figure out if you can reach it.  If you find that your choice was not possible to implement, you must create another dream position that is easier to achieve.
  5. Only now do you look at the moves you wish to calculate (called candidate moves).  The candidate moves are all the moves that lead to our dream position.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Game 20

Game 20 was a win against silencehunter.  So a bit of background first.  I own the 3rd edition of Reassess Your Chess.  Then I heard all the great things about the 4th edition, so I bought it for my birthday several weeks ago.  But I felt guilty for having never read the 3rd edition.  Therefore I decided to rapidly go through the 3rd edition before diving into the 4th.

I'm still working my way through the 3rd edition, but sis advice about creating a plan seemed has stuck with me; especially the part where he says you look for your "dream position"  So in today's game, when I came to a point where I didn't really know what to do (up to that point, I was simply developing and defending my pieces) I started thinking about a dream position based on his weak pieces and squares.  I was fully expecting the plan to be foiled eventually.  But it wasn't.

After he moved 13. Ne5, I envisioned my knight posted at h4 (via h5, g7 and f5).  Then, somehow my Q would be posted at g5 bearing down on g2.  Then, if my e pawn could dislodge his d-pawn allowing my d-pawn to strike at his knight, my bishop would simultaneously be attacking g2.  This was the thought I had.

I could have been foiled fairly quickly after I played 13...Nxe5 14. Bxe5 Nh5.  At this point, I was expecting him to play 15. Bxg5, but he didn't.  He played 15. Bxg7 and then I responded 15...Nxg7.  I proceeded with the plan.  He started aiming (doubling rooks) for my remaining bishop.  But I continued with my plan by getting the knight and queen where I wanted them.  His attack on my bishop succeeded, so my bishop was now out of the plan.  I was able to get some counter play by checking his king with my knight (I need Fritz to analyze this part of the game - there might have been a forcing line in there somewhere), but he was able to pull back his rook and queen  .... now his king was fully defended and he was up two pawns.

Now he had two pawns storming down the side with only my rook standing in the way.  My plan wasn't going too well.  But my knight and queen were still in play and his queen and rook were tied up defending his king - this left my rook free to roam.

Then he played 35. Nc3 and I quickly pinned his knight with my rook.  Then he played 36. Kd2 to defend his knight.  I checked him with my knight and then my queen.  He had one move: e4, which would win me a pawn back and put him at more danger.  All other moves were losing, but I had a feeling he'd play Kd1?  He was under a bit of time pressure.  He moved 38. Kd1 and I forked his king and queen with Nxd3.  He resigned.

It was a thrilling game and helped reinforce what I've read thus far from RYC 3rd edition.

Game 3 is one week from today.