Sunday, December 21, 2014

Snippet from "Drugs, Chess, Books, or Gambling: How to Fight Boredom in Prison

Read this snippet from this article via /r/chess

Also popular and widely played enough to form a ranked community is chess. Its stars are known throughout the system; I played occasionally for years and never won. The true enthusiasts devote their being to the game, reading books, trading strategies, and easily spending eight hours a day at play in the yard, even in the depths of winter. Most have waterproof sets made of plastic, as the rain doesn't stop them. I've also seen chess sets carved from soap or molded out of spit and cardboard. In solitary confinement, men play chess against each other by screaming; both parties have boards made of paper and ink, and instead of the complicated official system (E2 to E4 and so forth), they have the squares numbered from 1 to 64. It's torture to hear the numbers yelled through the night.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

to AOX: i've reached 6 hours on "attackers"

after lots of discussion with AOX about chesstempo and how to gain real improvement, i offered to be a guinea pig on visualization practices.

he said the first step is to get about 6 hours of practice in for "attackers" on

i just surpassed 6 hours today.  i averaged about 32 pieces of minute.

AOX - now what?  should i be trying other visualization exercises that you list on your blog?

Monday, November 03, 2014

November 2, 2014 - 30 2 game on

Trying to get into the habit of playing a long-ish game every Sunday evening.  Last night, I had time to play a 30 2 game.

Here is a link to the game.  I posted some self-analysis; as well as some comments from an engine analysis from lichess.  Feel free to comment on the game, either here on this blog or at

I need to get better at analyzing my own games.  I did some initial analysis, but I figure I can still go back to the game, and add comments and thoughts as more ideas surface.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


life got really wild about a month and a half ago.  with four kids in three different schools and numerous activities going on; with a ramp-up in work - every new day and week brought more and more work and things to do.

then our home was burglarized; part of it was ransacked.  ever since, we've been trying to recover and get back to a somewhat normal life.

chess took a backseat, obviously.  i've not done any work at chesstempo or started any new games at since the middle of september.

while we were reassembling our home, i took the opportunity to do some reevaluation of what i'm focused on in life.  a part of that was figuring out what i should do with chess.  i love solving chess problems, but i'm beginning to wonder if that really is helping improve my game.  on top of that, i don't regularly play.  i had a number of correspondence games going, but not much beyond those.  although i have been playing more with my younger son - who has taken a big interest in chess when i introduced him to Fritz and Chesster a couple of weeks ago.

i don't quite know what my new routine will look like, but i know i need to play lots more games; i know i like solving problems at chesstempo; and i'm trying to experiment with AOX's suggestion at Chess GYM (attackers).  i'm up to around 17 pieces a minute now.

the one constraint i have is time.  i estimate i have about 10 hours a week to dedicate to training and playing.

so, with all that said, a high level view of my plan looks like this:
- during the week, do 30 minutes of tactics at CT; play a 15 0 game at (during lunch)
- spend an hour an evening going over correspondence games at night
- play a 30 0, or 60 0 game Sunday night
- somewhere in there, i need to spend some time reading books (i'd like to actually use the books i have, which are just collecting dust)

any suggestions from my dear readers?  what should i focus on?  how do i maximize my results for improving, given my time constraint?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

ChessTempo July 2014

Just a follow-up from my June post about my ChessTempo performance.

The three-week vacation made it a bit difficult to consistently keep up with my goal of 20 problems per day.  As such, I found myself doing 60-100 problems per day the last week of July in order to "catch up".  But despite that, I still managed to stay above 1700 per 20 problems.  There were a handful of times when I dipped below 1700, but I bounced right back above 1700.  Also, I hit a new all-time high in July at 1764.3.

I'm still not entirely convinced this improvement in performance is entirely due to the duplicate reduction issue (which was implemented in April 2014).  The fact is I am seeing more 1700+ problems in June and July than I have from January to May this year.

In October 2012, I started tracking how many problems I had that were below 1599, between 1600 and 1699 and above 1700.

For example, in October 2012, CT gave me 456 problems that were rated 1599 and lower; 190 problems that were rated 1600-1699; and 54 problems that were rated 1700 and above.  My respective correct percent for each of those was 85%, 74% and 56%.

2014 January to May monthly averages stats for each of these categories is:
below 1599: avg total probs 324; 89.68% correct
below 1699: avg total probs 205; 78.60% correct
above 1700: avg total probs 92; 62.12% correct

Those same states for June and July 2014 are:
below 1599: avg total probs 216; 90.31% correct
below 1699: avg total probs 231; 82.69% correct
above 1700: avg total probs 175; 64.20% correct

So, CT is serving me fewer lower rated problems (those rated 1599 and lower) and more 1600 problems along with more 1700 and above problems.  The >1700 stat is actually pretty amazing.  I was getting about 90 per month the first 5 months of the year, and then in June and July CT served me an extra 85 higher rated problems and my percent correct when up by over 2%.

Other stats I find interesting is my monthly average of "average recent per problem time spent" continues to increase.  I started tracking this in February this year.  It was 47 seconds in Feb, 50 in Mar, 52 in Apr, 54 in May, 62 in June and 65 for July.

Again, it all may come crashing back down, but this is now two months in a row of "good indications."
rating chart july 2014
blitz non dup rolling avg of gain/loss
fide est rating based on per 20 blitz problems

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

lion of the blogosphere (half sigma) posts on chess (again)

Lion of the Blogosphere (who used to blog at Half Sigma) has posted on chess again.  I share these, because it provides (mostly the comments) feedback about other people's perspective on chess, especially in American culture.

"Is chess prole?" and "Chess tutor: another job being outsourced"

Monday, July 07, 2014

i'm now on lichess

i decided to check lichess out last week.  i like it.  it's simple, clean and there's no fuss - just good chess.

feel free to meet and play me on lichess.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

ChessTempo June 2014

rockyrook blitz problem rating 5.31.14 to 7.1.14
I've been keeping a pretty good eye on my chesstempo performance since January 2012.  I track several aspects including my monthly minimum rating, maximum rating and median rating per every 20 blitz problems.  So after I completed my 620 blitz problems for the month of June, I realized a few things special about this month.

Since January 2012, I've only ever been above a 1750 rating once (1752.6 in July 2012).  In June 2014, I hit 1759.6.

Since January 2012, I've never stayed the entire 620 problems above the 1700 mark.  In June 2014, I managed to stay above 1700 from start to finish.  My minimum rating per 20 problems was 1706.8 with the median rating coming in at 1740; which by the way, my median rating was the first time above 1730.  The previous best was 1721.9 in May 2012.

Another insight into the data shows that I took longer to solve the problems.  But I seem to be finding the right amount of time for any given problem, else if I were taking longer on every problem, then my rating would have gone down.  The average of my average recent time per problem has gone from 47 seconds in February 2014 to 62 in June.

My percentage correct wasn't special.  I came in at 81.29%.  That is slightly below the 2014 average for me.

Of course, June could be one big anomaly and July will see a return to "normal" - which is entirely possible, especially given the fact that I'll be on vacation for 3 weeks - which disrupts my daily routine.  But, if I'm able to keep the rating and percentage correct relatively high and the trend continues, I might be looking at something significant in my chess improvement with regards to chesstempo.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Chess Cheating Accusations

I can't remember the last time I was accused of cheating at chess - if ever.

But today, while playing a 5 2 blitz game on, my opponent sent three chats in the game, but I didn't see them until after he resigned.  All three chats claimed I cheated - including one "cheater boy"

I guess I should be flattered by the accusations?

In reviewing the game, it's apparent (s)he just blunders - plain and simple.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

ChessOcr Rocks!

Today, I'm sitting around, watching the kids swim and I go get a chess book to read.  I pick up one of my Silman books and begin to read.  The first chess diagram I come across, a thought pops into my head, "I wish I could just snap a picture of that diagram and then start moving the pieces.  I wonder if there is an app for that?"

After a quick google search, the Play Store returns an app called ChessOcr.  After downloading it and fiddling with it, I find that it works exactly as I had hoped.

The app author has a very nice video of how the app works.

I'll be sure to add this app to my growing list of Best Chess Apps on Android.

Friday, May 09, 2014 getting mahogany board back? did a revamp of their boards and pieces a few months ago and in the process removed the mahogany color board.  after much prodding and asking, it looks like they are bringing it back.  the admin emailed me today and suggested this view.  i really like it and it's better than the other wood options they have now.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I'm so giddy right now - ChessTempo has come out with a mobile version of the site (  For about 5 years now, I've wanted to solve ChessTempo problems on my phone, but it just wasn't feasible to use CT on a phone.

Recently, I've been able to use my tablet to solve problems on the go, but there are still times when I'm waiting around and I only have my phone with me and I wish I could play on CT.  Now it's finally here.

I tested it out on my tab as well and it's phenomenal!  I had my tab set up so the board was maximized as much as possible, but despite that, I still had to scroll up and down after each problem.  Now, with the mobile site that problem is fixed.

There appears to be some minor kinks that Richard (the site admin) will have to work out.  He's requesting feedback at this forum thread.  The issues I've noticed have already been identified.

Friday, April 11, 2014

"How To Judge a Chess Position"

Stumbled on this video today.  I really liked it - I need to find more videos like these.

His advice:
1. count the pieces
2. compare the kind positions
3. compare the pawn structures
4. compare the relative piece activity of the players
5. work out if there are any threats
6. make an assessment, look for moves

Monday, April 07, 2014

The Immortal Game by David Shenk

Maybe it was late December or early January when I started The Immortal Game.  I've been nibbling at it over the past 3 months and I finally finished it last weekend.

Because I nibbled over 3 months, I don't have a whole lot of specific recall.  Rather, I just remember that it was a good book that took a 10,000 foot view of chess over a millennium and a half.

The book goes back and forth between recounting history and the evolution of chess and the immortal game.

I learned how chess moved east to west and how the game had such an impact on culture and society.  I learned of the different eras of chess and how the game was developed and viewed over hundreds of years.

The book flows very well.  It was not boring; either from a chess player perspective or a non-chess player perspective.

I'm not going to get much into reviewing this - there are lots of reviews available.  But if you're looking for a good, broad historical chess book, this would be a good start.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

ROCKY ROOK Blog 10 Years Old

Wow; on February 3, 2004 I started

Ten years ago I was a bright-eyed college grad who had been working full-time for 3 years.  In 2001, I started working for a big company who promised me that I would have a long career with them - that I could have multiple positions and jobs over the course of my career without having to change companies.  This appealed to me because at the time, the common career path was to either start working for a ".com" company or work for one of the consulting firms.  You would put in 60-80 hours a week and then after you get burned out, you could find a more stable and sustainable job someplace.  This wasn't too appealing, so I decided to go with a stable career path with the big company.

Then, 9/11 happened, the ".com" bubble burst and the economy took a hit.  The big company who had told me they had not had lay-offs and would not have lay-offs were suddenly laying people off.  In late 2003 I had two options: 1) go down a heavy technical path with lots of tech certifications with the long-term view that I would have to keep those certifications current or 2) go get an MBA and take the management track with the big company or some other company.  By January 2004, I had decided to take the MBA path.

During the course of investigating what it takes to get into a good b-school, I found that there were various blogs out there that had a wealth of information.  I decided I would blog about my own MBA journey and thus this blog began.  I published two posts in 2004 and then didn't return to the blog until 2006 (read this post); and ever since, I've been a somewhat regular poster.

Now, in 2014, I'm still with the big company; I've been promoted several times - the MBA did help with those promotions.  And because of those promotions, life gets busy; thus I've not been blogging as much.

But, I'm still playing chess; doing lots of tactics at chesstempo.  I love and the app on my Android - spending lots of time between those two sites.

I still need to get started on the chess books reading list.  I've been nibbling at The Immortal Game, but I need to just finish it already and post a book review and then move on to the rest of the list.

Anyway - here's to another 10 years of chess blogging.

Friday, January 31, 2014

It felt good to be in the zone on chesstempo

The last time I got 20 in a row correct was November 11, 2013.  I finally did it again on January 31 - in that streak I had jumped 10 points over problems (2 1800 problems and 1 1700 problem) - that's a very rare event for me.

Bishop to King 7, Checkmate

Here's a little something to get your weekend started:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Rook Attacks Peace Dove

My chosen on-line handle is RockyRook.

The 'Rocky' comes from two parts:
1 - I grew up near the Rocky Mountains and often went camping in various sub-ranges of the Rockies in the Wallowa, Nez Perce and Payette national forests.
2 - my favorite movie is Rocky

The 'Rook' comes from two parts as well:
1 - obviously, the rook in chess
2 - I love the rook bird, also known as a crow or raven - it's just cool!  Although, rooks, ravens and crows are technically different, people often interchange the names for the birds.

Today, I was reading the news and was fascinated to see this story: Birds Attack Peace Doves Freed from Pope's Window.  A seagull and a rook attacked the two doves that were freed from the window.  Below are some pictures that were taken of the event.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Chess in Movies

This is really cool - some person has found many, many instances of chess games being played in movies and TV shows.  They have re-created the position/game and then noted the context as well as the inaccuracies of the position/game.

Chess in the Movies
Chess in the Movies Part 2

post script: this is my 500th post on this blog!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Deadly Chess Part 2

I imagine it's been all around the chess world, but I still want to document it here.  Over the last few years (going back to November 2008), I've been documenting chess violence.  Today, I read on a story coming out of Ireland about a murder after a game of chess went awry.  The murder was quite gruesome - the murderer tried to eat the victim's heart!

Man Stabbed to Death 'Over Chess Dispute'
Dublin researcher, 39, 'stabbed to death following row over a late-night chess match'
Man 'stabbed to death over game of chess' in Ireland
Chess player stabbed to death 'after late night row with opponent over move spiralled out of control'
Man fatally beaten and stabbed in chess match row
Man held in Dublin over 'ritualistic chess killing'

Friday, January 03, 2014

2014 Chess Goals / Book List

1. solve 20 tactics a day at ChessTempo (blitz mode); 7600 problems for the year.
2. play at least 52 games a year (; guess the move at chesstempo)
3. read all the un-read chess books I own and try to learn something from them.

Here's the list of books which I own, but have not read (or completed reading)
- Reassess Your Chess (3rd & 4th editions - Silman)
- The Amateur's Mind (Silman)
- Chess: the Art of Logical Thinking (McDonald)
- Improve Your Opening Play (Ward)
- Manual of Chess (Lasker)
- GM Secrets: Endings (Soltis)
- GM Secrets: Openings (Soltis)
- The Immortal Game (Shenk)

Just as a reference, here's a list of books I own and have read

Thursday, January 02, 2014

2013 ChessTempo Stats

With regards to tactics and ChessTempo, my 2013 goal was to do 20 problems (blitz mode) per day.  At 365 days in a year, that works out to 7300 problems.  I did 7560 problems.  Granted I was scrambling to get a few more in on January 1st and 2nd, but it wasn't a marathon session.

Compared to 2012, my overall accuracy improved.  My average monthly accuracy average in 2012 was 77.55%; while my 2013 average monthly accuracy was 81.89%.  The highlight of the year in the accuracy category was hitting 85.00% correct in October (578 correct out of  680 attempted).  My overall accuracy percentage began 2013 at 72.15% and I finished the year with 74.43%

As far as ratings go - it's always up and down.  I try to look at the trends; and the trends say my rating is steadily declining.  For example, in 2012, I hit a max rating of 1752.6 and my highest monthly median rating was 1721.9.  In 2013, the highest I could hit was around 1748, while the best monthly median was only 1710.  2013 also saw me hitting a new low in blitz rating at 1633 (1637 was the lowest I hit in 2012).  In December, my max was only 1699 with the median at 1679.

So, in summary, it looks like I'm taking a bit more time (improvement in accuracy), at the expense of my rating.

For 2014 - my goal is to attempt 7600 problems; keep improving my accuracy, but also see if I can stem the decline in ratings.