Sunday, November 24, 2013

Romanovsky - Smorodsky, 3rd USSR Ch 1924

In this game Romanovsky exchanges a bishop for a knight (Spanish Exchange Variation), and then proceeds to prove the superiority of his knight's over Smorodsky's bishops. Peter Romanovsky is probably best known for his classic Russian middlegame book, which is now available in English from Quality Chess Books as Soviet Middlegame Technique.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Gligoric - Larsen, Manila 1973

Another game demonstrating the power of the bishop pair when a position is opened up. We also see opposite side castling and the ensuing attack complete with an exchange sac as Gligoric goes for the kill.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Study Chess with Matthew Sadler

I just finished a quick, initial read through of this book by Matthew Sadler. A couple of years ago he jumped back into chess after a 10 year break from professional chess, and had some phenomenal events. This book talks about some of the things he does. In this initial reading I mostly skimmed through the games. The 3 main things I took from the book are:

  1. Learning Openings - Kind of an Aagard lite (from Jacob's Excelling at Chess book)
  2. Different Modes of thinking - active , reactive, prophylactic
  3. Endgame Study
Matthew likes to do something for learning openings that is similar to part of what Aagard talks about for learning an opening. Matthew likes to get about 80 or so example games for his line, and then plays through them and marks the different ideas he finds. Aagard's approach involves first looking at the endgames that arise from that opening. Then playing through a bunch of games in the opening, and noting the different ideas down as you find them. Finally Jacob will look at the actual theory for the opening

In the section of different modes of thinking, Matthew talks about these 3 modes of thinking. Active is where you focusing on enforcing your plan on the game. Reactive mostly involves finding your move by comparison and process of elimination. Prophylactic thinking involves determining what your opponent wants and working to thwart that.

In the final section of the book Matthew discusses studying the endgame. He talks about studying theoretical positions from something like Averbakh, studying endgames from modern grandmaster play, and also studying classics (and annotating the ideas in them similar to what was done with the opening games).

Overall I think it is a worthwhile book, and I look forward to actually working through the games.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Power of Bishops, Makogonov - Keres, Moscow 1939

Continuing to play through 50 Essential Chess Lessons, we are this time given a demonstration of the power of bishops by Makogonov against the great Paul Keres. Keres opens up the position giving Makogonov's bishop pair great scope.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Counter attack in the Center, Tal - Spassky 1965 Candidate Finals Game 11

I continued to play through Giddins's 50 Essential Chess Lessons tonight and this was one of the games in the section on defending. Spassky calmly counter attacks in the center when Tal is attacking on the kingside.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Padevsky - Kholmov, Dresden 1956

I played through this game tonight as I continue where I left off in Giddins's 50 Essential Chess Lessons. Between the birth of our second daughter and a very busy spell at work from July through September, I haven't been able to spend much time on chess. So it feels good to be spending time on the game again.

In this game Padevsky looks to have a promising attack, but Kholmov defends well and eventually Padevsky falters while in time trouble. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Training update

I haven't been able to spend as much time as I would like on chess the past 6 weeks or so, but it is for a good reason. Our 2nd daughter was born on May 11th. I have been doing tactics puzzles and keeping up with my correspondence games, but not much else. In another month or so I should be ready to increase the daily workload.

I need to catch up on my reading of Jacob Aagaard's wonderful blogs posts though.

I was happy to see Gata Kamsky do very well at the recent Grand Prix, unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to follow along while it was taking place.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Attack on an Uncastled King, Polgar - Mamedyarov Bled Ol. 2002

Another nice game from Giddin's 50 Essential Chess Lessons. Polgar sacs a piece to keep the King in the center and gives us a nice miniature.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Geller - Kotov, USSR Ch 1955

Another game from Steve Giddin's 50 Essential Chess Lessons. Particularly nice is Bxg7! by Geller.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Averbakh - Sarvarov, USSR chT 1959

I was taking a break from Tarrasch tonight, and decided to start working through Steve Giddins's game collections. 50 Essential Chess Lessons is a styled as a modern version of Chernev's Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played.

This first game features opposite castling, followed up with pawn storms at the Kings. Averbakh sacrifices material to break open black's position, and black has to give it back plus interest in fighting off a deadly attack.

Monday, April 15, 2013

GM Jacob Aagaard's latest training blog post

This week's entry is about desparation. Another interesting read. Normally Monday is something to not look forward to as it means the weekend is over, but I always look forward to seeing what new thing GM Aagaard is going to write.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Kramnik's advice on analyzing chess positions

I just read this post on the chessblogger blog that talks about Kramnik using a chess engine to evaluate the position, but positions the window so that the moves are hidden from view. An example is the picture below that I did with Chessbase 12. The engine window is undockable and you can resize it so that it doesn't show the current move being searched next to the eval, and then you can position it so that the variations are offscreen.

This way you have to come up with the moves, but the engine tells you when you have gone off the correct path. I've put a red box around the visible part of the engine window in the image below.

Breaking the seal

I finally played some live chess last night, playing in a 3 0 tournament on Since I have been on such a prolonged break I think I was hesitant to jump back in, but last night I decided what the heck I need to start at some point.

I ended up in 4th place with a score of 4/7. My first game I flagged badly, which jumping into blitz I guess should be expected. Then I won 3 games in a row, blundered a piece away in a drawn endgame against the tournament winner, and flagged in a won endgame against the runner up. The most disappointing game was against the runner up. I had a winning position and even a mate at one point, but didn't see it. As far as openings went the other side deviated first, which is funny because my knowledge of openings suck. Overall though it was fun, and I was happy that I did it. Now to keep the blitz to a limited amount and to get in slow games.

 Below is the position I had in the final game that I should have converted easily.


 I was surprised at how well the live chess is working on, and the number of people on there, 8000+, dwarfs ICC and playchess. There are even titled players on there as well. I am curious to try chesscube as well and see how well that works.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Guess the Move Training with Chess Hero

Here is a short video showing how you can use Chess Hero to do guess the move training. I apologize that the audio isn't the best. I need to work on the setup a bit more. This was partially a test to figure out how to use Open Broadcaster Software so I can create videos in the future. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mackenzie - Tarrasch, 1887 Frankfurt Tournament

Tarrasch continues his poor start to the tournament, missing both 13.e6! and the fork at the end. Game #73 from 300 Games.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Setting Goals

GM Jacob Aagaard's latest post on training:

Goal Setting

Knowledge vs. Skill

This has come up in a few places recently. I have been revisiting GM Andrew Soltis's Studying Chess Made Easy, to refresh my memory of the various exercises he recommends for studying. I have also been reading GM Jonathan Rowson's Chess For Zebras at bedtime. Both them make compelling arguments that people make the mistake of trying to absorb vast amounts of information when learning chess, but they should be focusing on skill instead of knowledge or as Rowson put it in another way, know-how vs know-what. To that end I have begun focusing more on practical exercises, what that translates into is spending a majority of time playing games, and analyzing positions.

I also like Aagaard's and Rowson's suggestion to view a game of chess as a series of problems to be solved. Your goal is to successfully solve the problems that appear before you on the board.

Taking all this together along with Aagard's suggestion of starting doing 20 minutes of work a day for a few months and then building that up to build up your endurance for work without burning out, I am spending my 20 minutes analyzing a position each session from Israel Gelfer's Positional Chess Handbook. Once I am done I look at what is in the book, and then I also load the position into Fritz and score both my line and the book line using the Calculation trainer. Tonight I used a small analysis board to set up the problem, but I might alternate that with just loading the position in Fritz, starting the calculation trainer and going from there.

Here is tonight's position from Nudelman - Justo, 1980 Women's Olympiad

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tarrasch - Schallopp , 1887

Continuing to play through Tarrasch's 300 Games. Tonight was game #72, a loss for Tarrasch. He allows his Bishop to get pinned after a questionable trade of Queens.

Aagaard on Failure

The 2nd post in GM Jacob Aagaard's training series.

The Problem with Failure

Good food for thought. I look forward to the next post in the series tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Kickstarter for GM norm tournament

GM Norm Kickstarter

I ran across this on Sean Marsh's blog. It is a kickstarter to fund norm generating tournament for young British masters. It will be interesting to see if it makes the funding. If I was still single I'd consider going for the big pledge and have the tournament named after Tony Miles, the first British GM. Alas, these days I have a wife, a daughter, and another daughter on the way. Hopefully they will make their goal, but I would think that British players should be able to get to norm generating tournaments on the continent. Certainly they have easier access to them than players here in the US, which is one of the great things about the tournaments that Sevan Muradian has been running in the Chicago area.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Aagaard's 3 Questions


I recently received 1st 3 books of Aagaard's latest series Grandmaster Preparation in the mail this weekend. I'm at not at a point where I will be able derive the full benefit of these books, but I did look through the introductory parts to see what GM Aagaard had to say.

One thing I thought was interesting was his training method for developing intuition. He has a set of 3 questions (pared down from an initial 9) that he has his students ask when looking at a position prior to selecting candidate moves and analyzing.

1. What are the weaknesses? (potential targets)
2. What is the worst piece? (improve position)
3. What is my opponent intending? (prophylaxis)

For training ask and answer these before doing anything else and it will help you focus on the proper things. Eventually you will do it automatically without even thinking about it.

So while I am not ready to work through these books, I plan using this training method immediately. My path to these books currently consists of working through Yusupov's 9 volume set, Aagaard's earlier excelling series for Everyman, his attacking and defense books, and then finally this latest series. After that it will be time to take a crack at Dvoretsky, but that is a long way off.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Move First, Think Later

This book arrived earlier this week. It has a reputation as a good, but controversial book so it should be interesting to work through. I have gone through the 1st 2 chapters so far. Each chapter begins with a set of exercises, and then proceeds to the topic of the chapter with the answers interspersed throughout.

I will have more to say about the book later on, but so far I have enjoyed what I have read. Even if you do not agree with everything he has to say, he does make you think about his position.

Chess Hero revisited

A while back I had mentioned a program called Chess Hero, that would pick positions from set of games and let you do guess the move exercises.

Well in the time since then a newer version was released which allows you to play guess the move through entire games (sequential) instead just random selection of positions in a set of games. While it was already an interesting tool for training, I believe this addition makes it a lot better. Want to practice playing like Alekhine? Grab a set of his games, make a profile, and off you go. Your move is checked against the analysis of a uci engine, but you also can have it say that the gamescore is the top answer.

I encourage people to give it a try.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Recent additions to the bookshelves

I had a long break from buying any chess materials, but have picked up a few things recently.

Vladimir Tukmakov's Modern Chess Preparation  -- the chapter on deciding (important) games looks to be interesting

Yusupov's Chess Evolution 2 & Chess Evolution 3 --  completing the series of 9 books.

Neil McDonald's Chess Success: planning after the opening (kindle) -- I have enjoyed his other game collections so I doubt this one will disappoint.

Najdorf's Zurich 1953 (kindle) -- Considered by some to be even better than Bronstein's work.

Grivas's Chess Analytics (kindle) -- another interesting looking game collection

Soltis's updated Pawn Structure Chess (kindle)

Dvoretsky's Tragicomedy in the Endgame (kindle)

Karsten Muller's ChessCafe Puzzle Book 2, 3, & 4 (kindle)

Willy Hendriks's Move First, Think Later

Rabinovich's Russian Endgame Handbook

Jonathan Hawkins's Amateur to IM

Plenty to keep me busy for a long time. Now to find a place to put them. Since last August I have been working remotely from home, and by bookcases are filled with books on programming, computer science, and kernel internals. Most of my chess books are currently stashed in plastic storage containers.

Jacob Aagaard's New Chess Training Blog Post Series

GM Jacob Aagaard is starting a weekly series of blog posts on the quality chess books company blog.

Anything Jacob has to say should be good reading and I look forward to reading these. The 1st post is actually one I think a lot of amateurs could benefit from. I know I have had issues with maintaining a consistent training schedule. There are a lot of things that impact that such as work and family, but in most cases what it ends up coming down finally is getting burned out. When I have the bug for studying chess I go charging ahead 110% and keep going until I get burned out. I am going to try taking Jacob's advice and start out slow and build up over time.