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.