Saturday, June 30, 2007


Proof that algebraic notation is just too hard for the average guy to understand.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Metaphysics of Metaphysics

A leisure suit on the beach and the truth of youth, intertwined with the future of blogging...  Enjoy.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Metaphysics of Chess

This is in response to an interesting article by Hard Days Knight.

I had planned to write a comment on his blog about this, but it became bigger than just a comment, a topic was required.

Beware that I am not a trained Game Theorist. Though I play one on the Internet. All conclusions and basis and actual game theory is purely a coincidence. Though I would appreciate any thoughts you might have. I am using HDK's page as a jumping off point. This isn't personal, but is instead my take on things.

He has some fundamental presuppositions, that he then utilizes to jump to some conclusions. The problem is that it sort of seems like chess, but different enough that it made me search for what I think might be wrong. This is my take.

One of his presumptions is that chess is solely a game of errors. I am going to represent this as a balance. Each side has a bowl of errors. One person adds errors from their bowl, and then the next. The game becomes eventually one sided and a loss if they have in balance have put in too many errors. Skill can be represented I suppose, by the granularity of errors at hand, and the granularity of the tools available to put the errors in. A novice makes big errors, a grandmaster makes little one.

Another way to think of this, is as Jenga, when each side pulls out a piece, until eventually there is catastrophic failure (tactics).

There is a presumption that the game is a draw from the beginning. There is no proof of this, only belief. It could be believed that white is winning, or that it is a zugzwang and black is winning. From a game theory standpoint, it is possible to construct games where there is no such thing as a draw, or that there is no such thing as a winner.

I personally think this view is an inappropriate algebraic reduction of the game, and it gives a highly distorted view of the game. And that this distorted view, leads to distorted conclusions. I don't see the game as solely a collection of errors, but rather a starting state, and that then information is added to the game. There is a range of information from error or nonsense (by a novice or a blunder), to sensical information (from master to super grandmaster).

Here is my stunning addition to the game theory. If perfect play is unobtainable, than perfect play's existence cannot be distinguished from its non-existence and therefor can be totally ignored for practical play purposes. This actually a pretty heavy paragraph, and it may have been stated somewhere else first, but if not (TM). Unobtainable Perfect Play. Or UPPity(TM).

The conclusions that I make, if there is no practical thing as perfect play, is that the single most important consideration for determining the outcome of a game, is not it's initial state, nor the material, but the relative skill of the players. Chess and Go are two examples of no practical existence of perfect play or UPPity games. Tic-Tac-Toe is a game that does have obtainable perfect play. And you can create games where white always win and black always wins. And in these cases relative skill is not important. It can be independently determined what the best move is always.

If there is no such thing as perfect play, it can often be impossible to measure the certainty of the game at a given ply level, and that the game is not necessarily determined at the ply. Which means that there does exist a state of "winning" and "losing", even if you are not certain to win or lose. I am guessing that there may be a correlation to the fuzziness of the measure with how unobtainable the perfect play. (Go V. Chess) But I could be wrong.

Perfect play determines the maximum skill level for a player. But if it is impossible to obtain perfect play, then skill is practically and undistinguishable as unbounded. It is possible to be more skillful than anyone/thing at the time, and still be able to have skill improvement beyond that level.

I personally think that at any given ply, there is not an absolute that can be known about the position, and that there is a single best move (though there occasionally is). I think it is wrong to think of the game as moving towards entropy from move 1. I think at it's highest levels it is a game where information is added, and the ability to deal with and leverage that information (skill), is where it is played. Not error. I think that it is possible to create games that are based on error. I also think that there is a level where error is the most important thing in games such as chess. But I do not think it is a game that is defined by error.

So chess is a just like it appears to be. It is a challenge of skills. That nothing is more important than the difference in skill levels in determining game outcome, not who moves first, and not material consideration. And that skill is best represented by information added to the game, not by just minimizing error. And that making a machine that plays, does not necessarily represent "the" truth, but "a" view about the game.

This entire argument seems similar to Einstein vs. The Quantum Physicists. A causal and knowable reality, or one that can be only supposed. The question is, not which is reality, but which best describes reality and be best leveraged in reality.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Letter from the Author

I received a letter from the Author of Engaging Pieces. He had an expectation of it being posted, so I am going to make it a full post, and I will answer his questions after the letter. Here goes...

June 27, 2007

I appreciate your purchase of my book, and I appreciate your comments. A number of newspaper columnists (Worcester Telegram, Washington Post) have reviewed Engaging Pieces, but you own the first blog to do so. You raise some poignant issues that I'd like to address. Other readers will certainly have similar issues, so I hope you don't mind if this is an open letter.

My main concern about Engaging Pieces was (and is) that all of the interviews, stories, and opinion pieces, save two, were previously published. Why, as you point out, would anyone want to spend their hard earned cash on writing that could be downloaded from the Internet, in a matter of seconds, for free? Good question. There are many answers.

Some middle-tier fiction writers give their writing away for free on the Internet, before it's even published, just to garner some publicity. Cory Doctorow is one of them. He has a Web site where he gives away his stories for free. He claims that some people who like his stuff on his Web site will want to own the actual book. For every person who is Internet savvy, who reads his work online, there is another person who is introduced to his writing online who would like to own the hard-copy. Others just don't like reading on a monitor. Others hate printouts. Others want an addition to their library. Lastly, not everyone has the time or fortitude to go back and find all of my articles, including those published in Chess Life. Even if they did, how would they know when they found them all?

The last reason may sound a little pretentious; however, in my case, I like to think of this pretentiousness as confidence in my writing ability. I understand that there is a fine line between confidence and delusion. Just look at the auditions for American Idol. But I've been writing long enough, have gotten enough feedback, have published in mainstream chess magazines enough and have gotten paid enough for my work, to be certain that I'm not deceiving my readers.

Obviously, most articles in Engaging Pieces are less than timely, so the book must stand on the strength of its writing and on the ideas that this writing conveys. In the literary world, it's not uncommon to see the collected stories, or even movie and book reviews by good writers, published. Martin Amis' War Against Cliche: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000, is cited as an example. Many, many other writers collect their work, too.

It's also common for authors to throw in some new material along with their old stuff, and I've done this with Engaging Pieces. My book includes two previously unpublished short stories, edits to almost every article, postscripts updating the reader with new highlights about relevant articles, and, of course, the appendix that lists every major chess novel or anthology published since 1933. You can't find this type of chess fiction bibliography on the Web. You'll find smaller, more confusing lists, but nothing this authoritative. (I've actually purchased or seen every book in the bibliography.) By the way, if you're still trying to get rid of my book, but want to keep the list of chess fiction in the appendix, then I have a two word solution: copy machine. But maybe I'm being presumptuous with this solution. Maybe you're the type of person who prefers to have such a list in bound form, like others might prefer to have the book's articles in bound form. If so, then I've sold you a copy of my book. :)

A few comments about your post:

1. Where do I apologize for my writing style? I tend sometimes to be reflective or philosophical about my writing, but where have I been apologetic?

2. The quote is "About an hour into the student activity-fair," not "About an hour into the student activity."

3. No, I wasn't trying to be funny in the first sentence. But thanks for the compliment, anyway. This story is based on a true situation that happened when I was an undergrad at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. It was written a number of years ago when I was still a bachelor, lamenting the 'girl that got away.' When those two girls walked in and stayed a while, I couldn't believe my eyes. I couldn't figure out why they were there. Some day I knew I would have to write a story to explain the mystery, and I did.

Part of my motivation for writing Engaging Pieces was to bring a form of closure to my interviewing and writing about chess. My son Tyler was born, coincidently, on the release date of the book, and with a bigger family, less time for hobbies, and an itching desire to improve my chess game, I need to spend less time on my writing. Publishing everything I've written about chess was a good way to close the door on one era of my writing life. When the book is behind me, I hope to spend more of my (limited) free time studying chess. At almost 36, I'd like to make an attempt at Expert or even Master before it's too late. I might start a chess blog. I might not. I might start a different writing project. I might not. I might become a Knight Errant. I might not. Lots of stuff is in the air. I don't know where it will fall. One thing is certain, though: I'm going to spend more time improving my chess game. How it is done and how public I'm going to be doing it, is really all that's really in question.

Again, I appreciate your post, and I appreciate my opportunity to get the author's 'backstory' in. If you would like to discuss the book, or have any more questions, I'm happy to discuss things. (Please send me an email. My address is on the back of the book.)


Howard Goldowsky

ps -- I sent this 'open' letter to DG at the BCC blog before I figured out how to post here in the comments...he might turn this letter into a separate post.

Thank you for your thoughtful letter Mr. Goldowsky. I was very excited to get your book, there is a general lack of chessy stuff. I had read Immortal Game, and the Kings of New York, and I hadn't read Chess Bitch yet, but I was looking forward to your book because I think if I saw another page of chess diagrams and algebraic notation, my eyes were gonna bleed!

Answering your questions, I have gone back and reread the last part of the postscript to the de la Maza profile, and it reads to this reader as being apologetic, even though you don't say you are sorry, or ask forgiveness. I can assume you meant that it is reflective, but that was my take.

I apologize for the misquote. It has been corrected.

To the quote in the story. It made me laugh for exactly the reason I stated. Out loud. That it actually happened in real-life only tinges the cultural fact that two babes wanting to learn how to play chess in their sun dresses has got to be fictional.

The general issue that I had with it being a book of timely magazine articles, was that it was off putting to me the book reader. I often felt like I was reading stale material. Realize that I purchased the book as a book, and not as a collection of your stuff per se. The fact that I could get these articles for free, and things like the movie review, made it really difficult to recommend the book, as a book.

The book is marketed by its specific content, not as a collection of things you have written. So finding the movie review was, well, jarring. Again my expectation was not a collection of your work, all your work, but a book containing all the various topics as listed. Ultimately, I was disappointed not to get the timeless essays on the topics that I thought I was promised, and I hoped to get.

But I did have to reflect honestly that I was fascinated enough to read the entire book, learn a lot of stuff in the interviews, and I will agree, oddly enough, even though I never thought I was buying this book for a bibliographic list of stories, that bibliographic list of stories is what kept me from instantly turning around the book. I have collected lesser references for sure. Don't worry your sale is safe!

So the nature of my review, is pay attention to what I do, because it may be more important than what I say. In this case. :-)

I wish you much luck going forward with everything, and I have enjoyed your articles, even if I didn't get a chance to read them contemporaneously to their original publication.


According to this site, you should not be likely able to solve the second of these problems unless you have had a frontal lobotomy.   

Of course, I gave it a try.  The first problem took me a little bit of time, probably about 50 seconds or so.  The second one, took about 3 seconds.   

Crap, I had been wondering what my wife has been up to at night. 

I have turned off commenting for a little bit, because I know y'all just can't help it, and you would cheat.  Or more likely if you came into the page, it would just be there and you couldn't help but be able to see it.

So here are the figures, you are allowed to move only one match stick to create a valid mathematical equation, or sentence as they say at my kid's school.  If you just can't help yourself the answer is at the site listed above...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I Don't Know Butchy Instead...

For the person that has been grabbed by an opening trap, central in the Fried Liver, the Traxler, or the Poisoned Pawn version of the Najdorf, it doesn't matter how good you are, or what your principles are, Some things you know, and some you don't. That is one of the reasons to study openings.

In the last World Chess Championship, held in Amsterdam earlier this month, the ultimate game came down to previous world champion Shredder vs relatively new kid on the block Rybka. Rybka won. But it didn't need to be Rybka really, it could have been any ol' thing that could have used an opening book. Because Rybka was in a line that it had booked out through it is said 40 moves!! Shredder had fallen out of book around move 12. And it all came down to move 23 where blacks f pawn takes the apparently offered knight. This has been played apparently once before by grandmasters who took the pawn. All the engines will take the pawn. But the book writer for Rybka, and apparently a bunch of guys that play Freestyle chess have spent a lot of time evaluating the line, because it had previously been unclear. But the phrase that was the most telling was by the writer of the opening book, fxe4 loses by force.

I mean, holy cow. This is in the middle of one of the most technical, most ambitious of opening response to e4 by black. And an opening book, knowing what super-grandmaster strength engines will play, led shredder down a path of doom, where every engine, including Rybka, would lose the game by force.

For your amusement...

[Event "15th WCCC"]
[Site "Amsterdam"]
[Date "2007.06.18"]
[Round "11"]
[White "Shredder"]
[Black "Rybka"]
[Result "1-0"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Qb6 8. Qd2 Qxb2 9. Rb1 Qa3 10. e5 dxe5 11. fxe5 Nfd7 12. Ne4 h6 13. Bh4 Qxa2 14. Rd1 Qd5 15. Qe3 Qxe5 16. Be2 Bc5 17. Bg3 Bxd4 18. Rxd4 Qa5+ 19. Rd2 O-O 20. Bd6 Re8 21. O-O f5 22. Qg3 fxe4 23. Qg6 Rd8 24. Rf7 Qc3 25. Bg4 Nf8 26. Bxf8 Qa1+ 27. Rf1 Qxf1+ 28. Kxf1 Rxf8+ 29. Rf2 Nc6 30. Bh5 Rxf2+ 31. Kxf2 Ne5 32. Qe8+ Kh7 33. Ke3 b5 34. Kf4 Bb7 35. Qe7 Bd5 36. Kxe5 a5 37. g4 e3 38. g5 hxg5 39. Qxg5 Kg8 40. Qxe3 Rf8 41. Be2 b4 42. Bd3 Rf3 43. Qg5 b3 44. Bg6 Rf6 45. Qh5 Rxg6 46. Qxg6 b2 47. Qe8+ Kh7 48. Qb5 Kh6 49. Qxb2 Ba8 50. Qc1+ Kh5 51. Qf4 Bd5 52. c4 Bc6 53. Qf7+ Kg4 54. Qxe6+ Kf3 55. Qxc6+ Ke3 1-0

Monday, June 25, 2007

This will hurt you...

This is what I really worry about when I try to explain stuff to my son.   That I will sound like this.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Engaging Pieces...

I pre-ordered this book largely based on this pre-launch page on the Mother Ship.

I am again entirely conflicted about this book. I show no mercy, world champion under the bus with you. Smiley faces under the bus. Idiots guide on the mantle. DVD about a dicey opening on the mantle, general opening work under the bus. I simply call them as I see them.

The only sane thing I can say is: You have got to be kidding me. Now the page did say it was a compilation of all his work. This book contains a movie review from 2005. As a matter of fact, many of these things are magazine articles from what looks like And if you go to you can read them word for word. Worse, since they are magazine or online articles, many of them are timely. Timely is great for a magazine, it is very, very bad for a book. Especially if it was timely 2 years ago. Stuff in books should be timeless and it just seems a little lazy that the articles were not edited for book form. This book should be clearly under the bus. It is where I was going. The author even apologizes for his upcoming writing style at one point. Oh yeah one more thing. One of the most unintentionally funny (maybe he is more of a genius and this was intentional) things I have ever read, was the first line after Part 2. Fiction.
"About an hour into the student activity-fair, while Andrew and I were playing blitz, these two babes, both wearing flowery sun dresses, giggled through the door, wanting to learn how to play chess."

Which I am pretty sure is the precise Webster's definition of the word fiction.

But, I have to look at myself reading the book. Even though it was full of stuff I could get for free, was out of date, had stuff inappropriate for a book. I have quoted it here twice, read it in a single non-stop read, and even though I thought about selling it back on Amazon, I find that I currently can't because I don't want to lose the bibliography of all chess literature that is in the last few pages of the book.

It is like going to the dentist's office and catching up on all the Timbertoes episodes in the highlights for kids. It's the freakin Highlights, but you can't stop reading about the Timbertoes. You've got children of your own, and your reading about the Timbertoes.

So there it is. Do I recommend it? Hell no! But I read it cover to cover, learned something, and I am having a tough time getting rid of it. Take that however you want.

More later...

Chasing the Line -- Part Dos

It may just be a harmonic convergence of the universe and it may just be blind luck.   But I was not thinking of the book Engaging Pieces when I was writing the last piece about chasing the line.   Just noticing how it was happening in real life when my kid was playing.

However, here we are.  The very first article/chapter (more on this in the next column), is a conversation with Michael de la Maza, and what is most interesting is that he has decided to give up competitive chess.  

He has done so, because he does not think he can get any better, and can't come up with a plan to do so.  He has peaked at his own Peter Principle, and believes it to be about 2000k or so.   Or at the point that he believes that some other stronger chess understanding other than just tactics is important.  I think it is just not going to be as fun for him being placed inside a box where he is now a peer, as opposed to a stronger guy than his rating just passing through (checkmate!). 

There are several interesting questions.  Even if he is correct and it is mostly tactics between here and there, are we all capable of learning enough of those tactics well enough so that we can see them in OTB play and get our own 2k rating?  Is it possible that there is just as clear a methodology for improving play past 2k than up to 2k?  You know, Knights Part Dos.  And ultimately, once you get to your ultimate class, is there a structure where you can still have fun?

I have played competitive bridge against some of the best in the world, and done well  and had fun.  I have played competitive poker against some of the best in the world, done well and had fun.   My dad, who taught me, is no longer willing to play against my son, because it is no longer fun for him.  He doesn't believe that he has any chance to win, much less be able to front a decent game.  All you can see are the win's and losses.   How do you find joy in your own personal mediocrity? 

So I am having fun for now, and so is my son.   I am just trying to prepare for my own personal future, and my son's.   

Saturday, June 23, 2007

We're Gonna Live Forever

Hey, I think I am beating BDK here on a book review!!!!

I just received my copy of Engaging Pieces by Howard Goldowsky. It apparently was just released by Amazon earlier this week. I just wanted to get some light non-chessy chess reading, and it looked like it would fill the bill.

There will be a fuller review later (I am about half-way through), but the killer news, is that the Knights are FAMOUS!

The first chapter is an interview with de la Maza, and in the Postscript on Page 17...

Since the publication of Micheal de la Maza's book, Rapid Chess Improvement (Everyman Chess, 2003) there has been a growing cohort of de la Maza disciples populating the Internet (many of them listed at the Boylston Chess Club Weblog:

More Later...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Chasing the Line...

"It's all about wins and losses.  Not what's important." 

That movie to me, is so right on.  And every time I think I am over it, I get dragged back in.

It was last weekend's tournament and my bestfriend is in second place rating wise.  And just like any of the tournaments it is full of tears when things don't go well.

And not going well, of course,  means losing.   Regardless of what I tell my son, winning is not 1/losing.   Losing is much further away from the origin than winning a game is.  Many, many strong players have said that.  There was an interesting article in the last chess life that talked about the soviet system for dealing with losses.  A system for dealing with losses.

About the only decent way with dealing with that is the Fischer system.  Don't lose, then you won't have the problem.  But unless you are that guy, it is impossible to do.  But it also brings up the question of being that guy.  My best friend has gone from being about 50% in the state when first measured to being top 5% in the state for his grade.   And I think he actually is  a bit stronger than that.

But next year they move the lines.   Instead of being the 3rd grader in the k-3 section, he will be the 4th grader in the 4-6 section.    And the stronger players seem to get much stronger by a quantum than in 3rd grade.  The stronger you get the more you stay in place.  Which actually raises an interesting question.  At what speed should you gain strength? Unless you are going to be that guy, and beat everyone, it seems that you would not to get too good to fast. Otherwise you just miss opportunities to win during the path from your strength today, to your personal maximum strength.   If you grow too fast, too much will be expected of you, and when you stop growing, it will become painful and difficult.   If you grow too slow, then you will not do much better than expected.  There is some middle ground, when you will grow, and be successful for the maximum length of time.  How fast is that?

And how do you know if you are not that guy?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

From the Jaws of Victory

Ok, this is me speaking.  But this doesn't seem like bad news at this point.  I am rather encouraged.

My best friend came in 3rd overall this weekend.  It was only a 3/5 score, but he lost to the 1 and 2 players.  Each of them from the significant jaws of victory.  He claims it was because he did not get enough rest each round as his was the last game each round. This says way more about the competition than him.  

Since it seemed to happen with each player he player, and he had a tough time occasionally during the speed chess portion of the game we are going to start with clocks at the beginning of the game.  At least then it won't be a guess as to when speed chess starts, which appeared to start when it got down to 3 boards.

But here is the game against the top player.  He is clearly ahead when the clock was started and writing the score stopped.  You can just smell the cheap-o coming.   We had a quick discussion on how to convert the win, and that there were at least two occasions that he could force the exchange of rooks, and take his merry time once all hope had been extinguished.

But I am quite proud.  He is actually gotten a bit stronger than his ego, which is good.  This means that he will be able to catch up to his natural strength a bit slower.   And it will be interesting to see where we end up this summer.  But already he is much much stronger that he was.  And he, is only really doing tactics training.

[Event "Boys and Girl's Club"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2007.06.18"]
[Round "?"]
[White "The Enemy"]
[Black "My Best Friend"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C48"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5 d6 5. Bxc6+ bxc6 6. O-O Ba6 7. Re1 g6 8. d3 Bg7 9. Bg5 O-O 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. d4 exd4 12. Nxd4 c5 13. Nf3 Rb8 14. e5 dxe5 15. Qxd8 Rfxd8 16. Nxe5 Rxb2 17. Rac1 Re8 18. Nd7 Rxe1+ 19. Rxe1 Bxc3 20. Rc1 Bd2 21. Rd1 Be2 22. Ra1 Rxc2 23. Nf6+ Kh8 24.Ne4 c4 25. Nxd2 Rxd2 26. g3 Bf3 27. h4 c3 28. Rc1 c2 29. Kh2 Rxf2+ 30. Kh3 Be2 31. a3 Bd3 32. g4 Bf1+ 33. Kg3 Rd2 34. h5 gxh5 35. gxh5 Bd3 1-0


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Positional Tactics -- Position 6

This position is so common that in the database of over 1 million games that it appears in about 10% of the games. Now it doesn't win, but it is often the most powerful move on the board, and it often generates the central point of the opening.

In many king pawn openings, there is a half open, or fully open file from King to King. Often the best way to leverage the power that is created by this position is to put the queen right in front of the king This will often create an absolute pin against pieces on the file against the opponents king.

Of course, this also creates the opportunity for your queen to pinned against your own king resulting in the loss of the game. However it generally can only be pinned by either the opponents queen, which doesn't result in a loss, or by an opponents rook which is often at least several moves away from getting there which allows you to leverage the power in your direction before you have to move your queen.

Here are a couple of traps that utilize the power of position 6.

The first is by Alexander Alekhine at a chess tournament in Palma. (If chessloser didn't make it to Benidorm, I hope he made it to Palma). And is what looks like a common trap in the Caro-Kann.  

The second is a miniature by the very prolific Bill Wall.

More Later...

Monday, June 18, 2007

An Interesting Dutch Blog

Ok, so I was trolling the blogosphere, as we do. And I came upon this very interesting dutch blog,

Here the author has put up several videos on You Tube that are from the very instructive video about the Lucena position, to a very interesting and informative endgame in the Carlsen V Aronian candidate match.

Plus, now I know how to imbed video!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A New Phase

Things have taken an interesting turn since we have started this thing.

Primarily, it has worked better than expected, we have both gotten much stronger. He mostly through doing exercises through PCT. For now I am going to assume that it is the actual exercise that is helping. But I suspect that there is something to be said for just actual chess brain engagement that is helping.

I have also improved, and since I am not doing nearly as many tactical exercises, it pretty much has to be by dramatically increased chess engagement. We are both seeing the board better, we can see many more combinations, but mostly just the overall strength of play has improved. But we have both taken on a very common sort of adult problem.

Now this could merely be a matter of being able to see it. Sort of a contrast issue. When we weren't playing as well, this just seemed like part of not playing as well. But it doesn't feel like it. It feels new. It feels like a symptom of comfortableness. We are blundering more often. It is sort of like, now that we can do a behind the back-360 jam, we are tripping over our own shoelaces. And a point is a point is a point.

Surely, we should be able to correct this. That we can stop being quite so comfortable at the board. When we were each a bit scared, we may have played weaker, but we made fewer blunders. It was easier to play real-chess each and every move. Now, the games look much better, and if our opponents blunder first, the games look a bit dominating. But now we are blundering first. We are not trying to blunder, our vision is being obscured by our own plans, and we just play before looking.

We have a tournament this weekend that we are playing at. I may even get to play as well, we shall see. I have talked this over with my best friend. We have seen it. He has the plasticity and coachability of youth, so we will see if he can over come the problem. If not, I think that he will need to actually take some time off, as it is sometimes really hard to break bad habits in the middle of them being developed. We shall see.

More Later...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A really good idea...

Part of the problem with scholastic chess, especially in the wild far west, where we just don't seem to have many if any chess tournaments, is that it is hard to keep playing through the summer time.

Now, yes, summer is supposed to be about swimming, hiking, and watching hours of it on television. And is hardly supposed to be about anything involving brain activity, it is difficult for those that have made a pact with their dad, that this is going to be the summer that they improve.

And part of improving is actually playing chess. Not the Internet, where nobody knows if you are screwing up. But a real tourney, where you keep score, and you get paired, and if you play well you walk away with some hardware, and if and when you lose, you can go over your game and figure out what happened.

Last year there was essentially nothing. This year, locally, Elena Donaldson and Georgi Orlov, have come up with a really good idea. During their chess camps, they have a rated tournament on Thursday of the week long camp. My best friend has his week, but it really is only one week, and then he wants to do soccer camp, id tech camp, and science camp, and spend time at the beach. Maybe even get in one of those videos. Anyways, they have decided to open up the tournament to all comers (presumably all scholastic comers). This is great for everyone. Parents get an easy day off. The kid gets real tournament experience. The tournament feels more real for the campers. And they make a few extra bucks in the summer doing what they were always going to be doing anyways. A good idea!

Maybe it will spread to your part of town.

More later...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Position Tactics -- Position 5

This position can come from a number of different openings. It is quite natural for the King Side Bishop to rest on c4 or c5 bearing down on the nearly unprotected F-pawn. It can capture with check, which in many positions will either draw the King out in the open, or result in a royal demise.

I have chosen three positions to show what is going on. A Sicilian, A Kings Opening miniature by my best friend, and a Queens Gambit. They all show the same positional tactic of the F-pawn gobbled up by the opponents bishop, leading to check, and sometimes a race.

Both in the Sicilian and the Queens gambit you will find a common mating theme to go with the positional tactic. In the Queens Gambit you will often find the Queen at b3 lending support to the attack.

In the Sicilian you may find that your queen all of the sudden owns the d-file because the black queen has squirreled its way to b6.

There are other openings as well where this positional tactic comes into play. Either as a trap, a main theme, or something you must avoid.

1. e4 c5
2. Nc3 d6
3. Nf3 Nc6
4. d4 Qb6
5. dxc5 dxc5
6. Bc4 Nf6
7. Ng5 Bg4
8. Bxf7#

1. a4 Nf6
2. Nf3 d5
3. Rg1 e6
4. h4 Bc5
5. Nh2 Ne4
6. f3 Bf2#

1. d4 d5
2. c4 dxc4
3. e3 Nf6
4. Bxc4 Bf5
5. Nf3 Be4
6. Qb3 Bxf3
7. Bxf7+ Kd7
8. Qe6#

More Later.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Position Tactics -- Position 4

This is actually interesting, because for the most part, it doesn't result in what you think it might result in.

If you do a search on any reasonable database the positional fragment of the knight on f7, the King on e8 the Queen on d8 and the rook on h8, you will find a number of games, a large, large quantity of those games are not a simple fork of the Queen and Rook, but the beginning of a knight sacrifice of some sort.

However, the threat and the positional tactic remain perfectly valid. And so it gets added to the list.

The included is a version of the Traxler Attack in which white eventually wins.

[Event "Adolfo Pedrido mem"]
[Site "Vilagarcia de Arousa"]
[Date "2006.08.26"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Bouza Brey Teijeiro, Gonzalo"]
[Black "Abal Cores, Lucas"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C57"]
[WhiteElo "1964"]

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Nf6
4. Ng5 Bc5
5. Nxf7

Bxf2+ 6. Kxf2 Nxe4+ 7. Kg1 Qh4 8. g3 Qf6 9. Qf1 Qxf1+ 10. Kxf1 Rf8 11. Kg2 h6 12. d3 Nc5 13. c3 Ne6 14. Nxh6 gxh6 15. Bxh6 Rf6 16. Be3 b6 17. Nd2 Bb7 18. Bd5 Nf8 19. Ne4 Rg6 20. Rhf1 Na5 21. Bf7+ Kd8 22. Bxg6 Nxg6 23. Bg5+ Ke8 24. Kg1 Bxe4 25. dxe4 Nc4 26. Rf6 Ne7 27. Raf1 1-0

More Later...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Position Tactics -- Position 3

Thus begins the Mother of all Positional Tactics. It is arguable in any system, that this should be considered position 1. Many open kings pawn games (1. e4 e5) have this either as a central part of their opening or an underlying threat to the opening.

This is the weakness of the f-pawn as it sits in it's starting position. It is only protected by the King. This leads to the fundamental problem that if your opponent's Queen captures that pawn, it is curtains.

Speed of openings is usually based upon the race to exploit the troubles created around the position vs. shoring up this position, or the next couple. Whether you are talking about the speed of a gambit or the speed of castling. It is also what you are generally talking about when you are talking about King Safety.

Side note on castling. In other openings except Kings Pawn, castling is important due to the increase in speed of getting the rook into the game. Usually more important than protecting the f-pawn or moving the king away from the unprotected f-pawn

What is interesting, is that due to the odd balance of chess, and the advent of computers is that while there is some truth to speed, and the race, it has been found that while exciting and difficult to solve OTB, with computers and booking, most of the time it is a tempest in a teapot. What has been shown, over and over again, is that fast attacks against the wary peter out, and often the defender gets a mighty second breath because after the attacks peter out, the awake to find more coordination, and mobility of their remaining pieces, and that their opponent simply has no more to say.

Still, this has been the source of many a miniature, even with strong players, important to the development of the game and is important in many, many openings.

If you have examples in your games or examples from openings please respond!

Scholars Mate
The first mate that many learn, and what begins to separate those that know how to play chess (the expression of a plan) and those that merely know how the pieces move, is the scholars mate and it's expression of Position 3.

1. e4 e5
2. Bc4 Bc5
3. Qh5 Nf6
4. Qxf7 #

More Later.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Position Tactics -- Position 2

Many of these early positions are actually tough to pull off in games. That doesn't mean they aren't important. They are important because they help decide what happens in the opening by preventing you or your opponent from doing things. They can also come back in the middle of the game if the opponent has not taken care to deal with the questions these positions ask.

This second position also raises the question of taxonomy. I am not sure of the best way to present the positions, other than they must to be presented. The way they are working for now, is from the most basic, to more complicated, and that they one should be relatively closely related to the next. But this is not a promise, nor does it mean that we won't either renumber or change the names somehow later. So don't get hung up on names and numbers, yet.

The next position comes from a variation of position 1. It arises in Damiano's defense, but it shouldn't be ignored, because I am sure that it arises in other positions. It comes from the Qh5 where it exploits the light square diagonal on the King. It also focuses on the e5 pawn which results in position 2.

Again, please comment where you may have seen this position or have other positions that you think are important.

Damiano's Defense
1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 f5?!
3. Nxe5 fxe5?!
4. Qh5+ g3??
5. Qxe5

Even our beloved Blunderprone just had this come up in his winning game against the foolish interlopers. Who continued the game as black with 8. ... Nxg4 9. fxg4 Qxh4+ Winning two pawns and the game.

More Later.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Position Tactics -- Position 1

I have yet to find a list of specific positional tactics. Especially, the tactics that are generally available based on the starting position of the pieces.

This is strange, however, because they are key positions to moving from Beginner, to Intermediate, to Master. They are core to openings, and often the point of gambits or the traps of the openings. They are key to many middle game positions. They are fundamental to an understanding of chess.

So here we go. Position 1. Something has to be position one, so I am going with the fastest way to checkmate. The weakest diagonal on the board from the losers standpoint. Often it is the goal of the beginners first trap, the fools mate. Sometimes the reverse of position 1 is active for the black side, but this usually is important for white side players.

Here is an image of the critical positional weakness, and how you lose via the fools mate and it is used even deeper in a game using a "bad banana with a slippery black peel” move

Please feel free to comment on where you have seen this diagonal tactic utilized in your games, and other positional candidates you might have.

More Later

Thursday, June 7, 2007

High Rated Scholastic Trick

I have been watching Blunderprone's games against Cindy Loo with a bit of interest. His last game had a very interesting tactic that was going to be my next topic.

But the whole game got me thinking. The end of that game just didn't seem to be jiving with the rating of the player, and the whole advantage of booking up just came clear. I had always believed it was so that you could ride on the shoulders of the masters, and always make "good" moves. But the real reason it works, is that when you get dropped out of book, it is because your opponent has made a mistake. Often a horrible, game losing mistake. It is like always playing with odds. You only start playing chess in an advantageous position. Wow. This has got to be a pretty powerful methodology up to a certain level. But...

The advantage of Blunderprone's “bad banana with a slippery black peel” move was not that it was strong. It wasn't. The advantage was that it was an out of book move for her, that was both attacking and not an error per se, but was not an attackable error.

This left her foundering, without memorized lines, and what looked like a lack of understanding, and ultimately a losing game.

It would appear that this memorization is a successful tactic. Some of us may indeed have problems with deep memorization, so we can fall to this tactic. However, I think that appropriate use of Real Chess, will probably also be our savior. We may find not best, but not weak out of book lines, that take our memorizing brethren out of book sooner, and meet us in the battlefield of chess. Where our better visualization of tactics, and are strong desire to avoid blundering off our queens will help us win the day!

It is clear that memorization has helped her generate a relatively nice and high USCF rating, but she has some major weaknesses in her tactical vision. Maybe she should do some puzzles.

More Later

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

For the Intermediate Player

Pawns are the soul of chess -- François-André Danican Philidor

But gambits are the windex -- His Best Friend.

One of the outcomes of this last month or so of playing with my best friend is that I have come to have a deep appreciation of the gambit. Not for their tactics, surprise or aggression. But for the clarity that they bring to a position.

It is not the game per se that is interesting, it is the point of the gambit that is. One of the key struggles of the intermediate player, is to have an understanding of the point of the game. It is one thing to recognize a skewer or a fork, and another to recognize a weak square or a pawn structure. But ultimately a player cannot make it past intermediate until he understands the fundamental strengths and weaknesses of a position. Including the starting position. The one that happens before 1. ??

Gambits are the ultimate testimonial to the weaknesses in a position. To trade material to help attack those weaknesses is the most audacious thing a player can do. The fundamental premise of the game after checkmating your opponent is to take their material so that you can simplify and overwhelm them, and win. And yet the gambit turns that premise upside down.

Interestingly enough, most gambits that have been played forever, have been found neither sound or unsound. That they have their merits, and generally nothing off the cuff that can defeat them but they are not clear winners either. But I am here not to convince you to play them, though you may. But rather it is important to study them. To study their themes, and to start to build up a repertoire, written or just known, of weaknesses that the gambits are based on.

That repertoire, not the gambits, is one of the key things that separate us from the masters. I have seen it written, and referred to as an aside. But I have yet to really see that catalog. The study of the standard weakness on the chess board.

I think this is one of the things that would help an intermediate player.

More Later...

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


A couple of quickie items that hit me today...

First, I got a comment for Chess Teacher. Thanks for looking! While he is not a knight, his blog seems to have a lot of useful postings for the knights. Check it out!

Second, this posting seems to be right up the alley of a couple of the knights on the sidebar. The mechanics of learning seems to be at least one of the topics of discussion. And hits at the heart of the validity of the de la Manza method.

I am still learning... Right?

Blue Devil Knight asked me an interesting question about my last post.

I wonder how harmful such inaccuracies are to the patzer (e.g., me) reading the book to improve at chess. -- Blue Devil Knight

I have no idea if there is research on a question like this. I certainly know of none. But it is an interesting question nonetheless, and I have some guesses...

I have had an interesting relationship with this book. As those that have been following the blog since I started. I have been on a search for information, educational materials, and lessons for a class player trying to get better. As my son and I both are. We have a deal for the summer to try and get better. Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur by Max Euwe (ex-world champion) and Walter Meiden, was a recommended book for us.

I had lived through and participated in, the educational revolution of the 90's. That books and online presentation are much more successful if they are focused on the readers needs than on the writers expertise. It is still very difficult to do, if you reach too low, it is insulting to the reader and they won't read it. If you reach too high, than the expertise to understand the material, is often above the material itself.

One of the places that this is very evident, is in chess books. A huge swath of the marketplace is the intermediate class player who is desperate to be educated, yet most books are written well above their ability, or truly are focused for an advance player (a correspondence player), yet are purchased by the intermediate crowd.

This book, is touted as one of the very few books that is designed for the intermediate audience. I had dismissed it out of hand, because on surface it definitely fails to meet the needs of the reader, and requires a pretty high level of expertise to get information out of it. Yet, it still gets talked about and recommended, so I kept going back to it, and the looking back at the whole process of how to consume the book, so that I can get information out of it.

It then became clear, since I am not a reasonable blindfold chess player, that I should go through the book with a chess set. Even better would be a chess program. So that I have a record that I can go back and forth with, and create variations, and annotate and keep the information forever.

If there is anything that someone who reads this gets from my task, this is a very valuable way to read any chessbook. Learn the skill, it is worthwhile, and will help you become a better chess player. Really.

Armed with my new idea an how to approach the book, I dug in to those parts that were pointed out to me, followed by examples that I found interesting to me, for various reasons. I was open to being instructed to. What I found was different. That in many places the claimed points were glossed over or were wrong. That was very surprising to me. And where it wasn't wrong, most of the games were of the "don't do anything terrible, followed by a giant blunder, and the Master wins" type of games. Which turns out, is very much like most games at the class level, but it keeps feeling like an ongoing set of examples of don't shoot yourself in the head. Which Dan Heisman has fully informed me of over and over again.

Which brings me to BDK's question. In this particular book, I do not think the written lessons are individually bad. They actually seem for the most part reasonable. They are very difficult to learn just through words, because the presentation is inaccessible to the primary audience. I have also read those words from many places. For a reader that attempts blindfold chess, which I think is going to be most readers of the book, they are not going to be good enough to understand that the examples don't teach the lessons well, and they'll take the writing at face value.

If you use a chess set to follow the game, an intermediate player is going to have a difficult time understanding and following the games well enough, to see the mismatch between the text and the written lesson. And it is not likely to be damaging. Conversely, I don't think clarity is available.

But if you use Fritz as your over the shoulder grandmaster, the scales start to fall from your eyes, and you find the flaws. But, instead of it being harmful you actually start learning stuff. A whole bunch of things. Many of them improve your chess. Hardly any of it by the intent of the author or the publisher. I am personally glad to have gone through the process. It has not lessened my requirement for intermediate educational materials, but it has helped me understand the difficulties in doing it well, or doing it in this format. It has opened my eyes to a better and interesting way to approach chess books with the help of a modern chess engine.

At the end of the day, if you aren't going through the process that I did, I still can't recommend the book. It just has too much going against it, and it is just too hard to get to that level where you are learning, real, useful, information. Lack of harm is not a good reason to recommend it. Even though I am learning a lot.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Amateur V. Master Continues

Ok, I am certainly not a world champion, but I do operate a computer program that beat one. And with the last game out of Euwe's book Chess Master v. Chess Amateur, I simply have to continue.
I had been playing gambits against my son in order to sharpen up the games and give him more to think about. This has also made my game more aggressive as I beat the 1700 player at the mall (heh). So what better game to look at then then game 17. Where he demonstrates the power of the gambit in the right hands.

And right away it is another Scandinavian. And not only that, an odd and what looks like a totally busted version of the Scandinavian. This version looks like it ought to have a name, better than center counter gambit. So if anyone can find one, let me know.

Interestingly enough, the win here for the Master, has nothing to do with the gambit. And the master continuously suffers from wish chess. Hopefully, this is not the lesson that we should be learning. Even with white following the wish chess line, in the online databases the amateur side has 100% success (with 3 games played), and he is a huge favorite with the stronge lines (about 88%). Simply, if you were a master, you should not be playing this gambit. So you amateurs out there don't do it!

This does turn out to be a game about aggression, and white apparently doesn't have any. But have fun!

[Event "Chess Master V Chess Amateur"]
[Site "Euwes Book"]
[Round "17"]
[White "Amateur"]
[Black "Master"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B01"]
[Annotator "Hisbestfriend"]

1. e4 d5
2. exd5 c6
3. dxc6 Nxc6
{No idea what this is called, other than a mistake. Does not have good results at all for Black Scandinavian Defense: Blackburne Gambit -- Takchess. Thanks!}

4. Bb5
{Euwes Amateur plays this in order to uspset the Queenside pawns and to simplify the position, so that his advantages are greater. This is OK, but the truth of most K-side games is that black *must* solve the f-pawn problem, and that most gains can be had, trying to take advantage of that. It must be VERY compelling to not do so. In this case, Nf3 or Bc4 both flexibly develop and can be utilized against the Fpawn. Experience is on my side too. According to the Sheebar.ctg NF3 and Bc4 are both huge winning moves. 88% and 67% respectfully. This is another example where the Master must depend on wish chess, and hope the Amateur screws up. Fundamentally, I would expect sounder Master play, and the Amateur having reasons to screw up in the face of good play.}

4. ... e5 ?!

{Both engines think this is a mistake, and just provides a target for white. This is only OK, if white continues with his weak plan. This stinks of "wish chess". But the Master should play better chess and not depend on the Amateur's inability to come up with better plans. For the book, to come up with a better play that e5, he should have considered Nf6. In real
life he can take whatever life out of the position that white is developing with Qd5. Which helps cements black lead in development, and forces the loss of one of the Fpawn attackers the white bishop.}

5. Bxc6+
{Continuing with plan, which would be an amateurish continuation. The threat remains, there is no reason to be forced to complete it, he should develop more pieces and more threats against the opponent, and seriously consider attacking the pawn on e5.}
5. ... bxc6
{Euwe believes that he has recieved ample compensation for the pawn in this position. Maybe. Fritz and Rybka, love gambits. They love piece mobility that comes from them. They both think that white is ahead slightly, but they recognize the freedom that black has here as good.}
6. Nc3
{Euwe's Amateur dismisses Nf3 because of e5. Even though that after e5, Qe7 creates a good deal of development for white. Unfortunately, white has not been punishing black for his gambit, and has been letting black set the agenda. But, he is the Amateur. For folks reading at home. Remember: Aggression!}
(6.Nf3 e4 7. Qe2 Qe7 8. Nd4 Bb7 9. Nc3 Nf6 10. O-O)
6... Nf6
7. d3
{Continues passive play. But there is a hidden plus to this move. Bg5.}
7. ... Bb4
{Here is another slight misstep by the Master. Euwe believes that the game is about the e4 square, though Fritz and Rybka both think that the game is about tempo, and mobility, and that to trade off your wonderful black bishop is too much to ask. Or it can be forced away and lose tempo. Neither very good. There are just better moves here.}
8. Bd2
{White has now squandered any advantage he may have had by the e4 push, and allowed black to build indevelopment and mobility. This is why he is an Amateur. In the rest of the game you will find that white suffers from a lack of aggression, and a lack of plan. Not so much that black played a gambit, which is what Euwe was claiming for this chapter. Fundamentally, Euwe's master created targets that would have allowed the Amateur to counter and develop, making his gambit not worthwhile. But, white went passive and allowed black to become more powerful. Ultimately losing.}
8. ... O-O
9. Nf3 Re8
10. O-O Bg4
11. Re1 Re6 !

{This of all the masters move, is the best move, and the best explanation. The software here sort of founders, without a plan, and has lots of things it might *try*.The problem with the move is that it doesn't quite work, and requires white to play a little unusually in the next few moves. I still like it, because it showed the inkling of a plan going forward. It would have been interesting to see what might of happened had white played better.}
12. Ne4 ?
{Now white gets active. Sheesh. He needed to release some pressure on the K-side. h3 would have been a normal move, but this is wow. Even though Euwe calls this
"correct", it is wrong. And ultimately probably losing}
12. ...Nxe4
13. Rxe4 Bxf3!
14. gxf3
{And all of the sudden, the problem with Ne4, and what was good about Re6. This structure here around the K is a good one to remember for taking out your opponent, and should be raising major major red flags. So long as the major pieces are on board, white's king is in major danger. Black has a clear target and plans going forward. White can move his rook from e4 to g4 and then g2 which would probably save the day, but...}
14. ... Bxd2
15. Qxd2 f5!
{This is the kind of play you want to see from your Master. He his starting to take aways the hopes from white. He is no longer able to block the gfile.}
16. Re2 ??
{The chapterending move. It is not clear why white should move here. But the Amateur does. He unfortunately does not see that it is important to keep the rook mobile, in the game and more importantly keep an eye on the h4 square.}
16. ...Qh4 !!
{This is the point, and the game is essentially over here. This game had nothing to do with a gambit, and blacks gambit is really poor. But wishes do come true!}
17. f4 Qg4+ !
{Re6+ is doesn't work, because f2-f3 opens the 2nd rank for protection. And while black is ahead, it isn't over. This is important because of the ability of the Queen to park on f3, and in Seattle chess, a battery headed by a Queen is called leading with your head, and tends to be more powerful.}
(17... Rg6+ 18. Kh1 Qh3 19. f3 Qxf3+ 20. Rg2 exf4 21. Qe2)
18. Kf1
(18. Kh1 Qf3+ 19. Kg1 Rg6+ 20. Kf1 Qh1#)
18... Rg6
19. Ree1 exf4
{Euwe does not show you how the game ends, and sort of claims that it will end in a mate in two moves. This isn't true, but the below variation will show you how it results in all the major pieces coming off the board, and black a rook up. Hardly over when Euwe finished the game, and the Amateur surely couldn't see the coup de grace. Black did have a way to go wrong. Oh well.}
(20. Qb4 Qg1+ 21. Ke2 Re8+ 22. Kd1 Rxe1+ 23. Qxe1 Qxe1+ 24. Kxe1 Rg1+ 25. Kd2 Rxa1)

Sunday, June 3, 2007


Well, having discovered the fact that chess books probably make a whole lot more sense if you have a chess set handy, I took a look at the index of Euwe's book and decided to take a look at the Blackmar gambit. Of course by the time that I get there I find it is a classic screed against the Scandinavian.

Oh well, I will give it a shot. What I do is that I put Fritz into infinite analysis and start entering the moves. The advantage of this, is that I can read them in Algebraic notation, which is easier to read. I can then step through the game, and I take a gander at what looks important. Guess at what moves I think are important, "human-like", and in this case what seems amateurish.

The fun thing is, that even though I am not a grandmaster, I have one at my side, that I can control, and with a few mouse clicks here, and there, I can get a pretty darn good picture of the game. It is like playing the game with a grandmaster. I have to pay attention to not let Fritz have the final say. Sometimes it's like, "Yeah, if I am a computer" But, sometimes, you find a bust, like this game. Below you will find the PGN.

This game goes into a long, long complaint about tempo, and uses the Scandinavian to demonstrate the problems with tempo. The Amateur plays the opening pretty poorly, but he is an amateur, he is supposed to. Modern theory has black much better. But this is not why the game is a bust. After all the rigmarole about timing and pawn structure and stuff. The Master commits a pretty severe strategic error on Move 29. This move allows the Amateur to recover from all the errors of his way and get to what looks like a near drawn position if not better. By forcing a simplification of the game with Rd5. This trades the rooks off, dramatically repairs the pawn structure, and gives black the bishop v. knight in an open board. Surely, this is where black wants to be.

The Master then commits two(!) one-pawn blunders by not pressing his advantage in the game. These would be perfectly acceptable errors by the Amateur, but the Master should have just been trying to bring the game home, instead of leaving a draw on the table.

But even worse. The worst bust of them all. Euwe marks move 33 for black with a (?) claiming that the mating net is inevitable. In a shootout, the computer drew twice, and black won once from that said position. Fritz and Rybka consider it the best move available. Unfortunately Euwe doesn't discuss the quality's of the mating net, or blacks difficulties or else he would have seen that black has just enough time to get out of them, unless he doesn't see it and plays poorly. But Euwe remarks that it would be inevitable, but it is not at that point.

Ultimately, he was wrong about the conclusions that he was trying to raise about this game, and he was wrong about how it ended, and worse the Master made a really bad blunder in the middle. The Amateur eventually made a game ending mistake, but it had nothing to do with the "lessons" that the author was trying to make.

However, this is very good practice, and it is a great way to go through a game. Computers are amazing, and they help dramatically in the process of understanding what is going on in the book. You have to fill in the reasons, and try things out, and find what works and doesn't. But having a grandmaster always present can help you learn. Try it!

[Event "Chess Amateur V Chess Master"]
[Site "Euwes book"]
[Date "2007.06.03"]
[Round "15"]
[White "Master"]
[Black "Amateur"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B01"]
[Annotator "Hisbestfriend"]
[PlyCount "79"]

1. e4 d5
{e5 tends towards the french, d4 tends towards the Blackmar Gambit}
2. exd5 Qxd5
3. Nc3 Qa5
{This is the standard way back when in Euwe's day. Qd6 is more
successful in the database, and I think is the more played line, and tends to
make more sense.}
4. d4 e5
{This is a rarely played move in this opening. But this is about black not knowing what to do. pxp followed by qxp is the short term plan for black.}
5. dxe5 Qxe5+
6. Be2 Bb4
7. Bd2 Nf6
8. Nf3 Qe7
9. O-O O-O
10. Re1 Nc6
11. a3 Bd6
12. Bg5 Qd8
13. Bb5 Be7
14. Bxc6 bxc6
15. Ne5 Bb7
16. Nd7 Re8
17. Bxf6 Bxf6
18. Rxe8+ Qxe8
19. Nxf6+ gxf6
20. Qd4 Qe5
21. Rd1 Re8
22. Qxe5 Rxe5
23. h3 Re7
24. Na4 Ba6
25. b3 Be2
26. Rd2 Kg7
27. f3 Bb5
28. Nc5 Re5
29. Nd7
{The master has made a mistake here. The amateur has a reasonable way to dramatically improve his position. Rd5 requires a simplification, that improves black's pawn structure and gives him a bishop vs a knight in an open position, and probably all of his problems melt away. Nd3 was a much better move.}

29. ... Re1+ ?!
{Rd5 is much much stronger here. And not hard to find. This foray is mostly senseless and is going to move the rook out of play, giving white free reign in an position that already has bad features.}
30. Kf2 Rf1+
31. Kg3 Ba6
{Black is just wondering about without a plan at this point.}
32. Nc5 Bc8
33. Kf4 !?
{Euwe thinks this is important, because it removes basically all of the bishops squares. Fritz thinks this is too slow by an order of about 100 centipawns. A blunder.}
33. ... Re1
{Euwes says this prevents Rd2-e8, but that is precisely what Rybak/Fritz say to do anyways.}
34. Ne4 !?
{Again Fritz and Rybka thinks this is a blunder, and Euwe thinks this is good.}
(34. Rd8 Be6 35. Nxe6+ Rxe6)
34. ... Be6
35. Ng3
{Fritz and Rybka thinks that the next move is best. Euwe, gives it a question mark and says it is amateurish. This was at a depth of 16 and 18.}
35. ... Ra1

{Running this position through a shootout resulted in a tie twice and black winning once. Hardly a ?}

36. Nh5+ Kg6
37. g4
{And again, we come face to face with an amateur that refuses to improve his
pawn structure. At least here he gets a pawn. But he is missing the thread.}
37. ... Rxa3??
{This is the mistake. Not the stuff before hand, but this. Black has just enough time to give himself escape squares here and will draw the game even at this point, with reasonable play, he may lose the endgame, but not for any of the reasons that Euwe was kevetching about up to this point in the game, it is a pretty mate though from here}

(37...f5 38. gxf5+ Bxf5 39. Rg2+ Kxh5 40. Kxf5 Rxa3)

38. Rd8 Ra2
39. Rg8+ Kh6
40. Nxf6 1-0

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Washington State Meal Plan

In Washington State, the scholastic tournaments are one day, five round swiss events. Stamina and energy use are key for most players that play in these events. If you happen to be at one end of the spectrum or the other (statistically you should win 1 or 0 games, or all 5 games pretty easily), this will tend to mean less to you. Your diet and stamina, will not mean as much.

But for many players, a successful tournament result is what happens in the last round. The round that happens after 80% of the chess and thinking has happened. And due to the nature of swiss pairing, this person will tend to be very close to your rating, which usually means, it is a coin-flip whether you win or not, by far your hardest round. You will dramatically improve your chances by managing your energy levels throughout the tournament. (anyone on a restricted diet for whatever reason, modify based on your needs)

This is not an everyday diet, and is only for the special conditions of a tournament. It is important to eat balanced diets in general, with balanced normal calories, with little refined sugar. It is equally important to be in good physical condition, as that will give you stamina, but if you are participating in a full school lifestyle this should be ok.

Finally, I am not a doctor, nor a nutritionist, and you should never do anything you learn from a website. Do not attempt this at home. If you do so, it is because you chose to, and not because you were directed to by me.

Anyways, one day chess tournaments are pretty special things. There are several things that happen in your body. First is that your brain tends to function on high during games. It wants massive amounts of oxygen, blood, and glucose. These are the brain's fuels. Being out of shape is the number one reason you will not get the fuels that you need. Digesting food, is number two. The second thing that happens, is that a chess tournament is highly stressful, this increases adrenalin creation, which increase insulin production, which will provide energy to your muscles, lower glucose levels, and can cause a variety of physical symptoms. Finally, chess will create fight or flight responses from the beginning of the game, until you are finally winning. The player will feel enhanced paranoia, and will have increased adrenalin, with all of the above. The bodys liver will respond by creating even more glucose. Ultimately, if not managed well, you can easily start crashing and feeling tired, and not alert by your fifth game.

Eating starts the night before. Since chess is not a physical game, you do not want to carbo-load the night before. You do not want an excess amount of sugar in the system at the beginning. You will be overactive, need to move and jump too much, and you will not be able to focus clearly at the beginning. Carbo-loading will also cause you to change levels too much. Have a normal balanced meal. Have a little bit extra. This will help you sleep as you start consuming those calories, and it will help let your liver store extra energy.

The morning of the tournament. You want a balanced meal, about 3/4s of what you normally eat. You want fat, protein and some carbs. It is ok if you are diverting blood for digestion here. You are going to be burning up your energy stores, and you want them to be replaced over time during the morning. You want to have some activity between rounds because you will be hopped up due to adrenalin increase, massive sugar increase, and your body muscles will be rich with sugar. You do not want so much activity that it causes independent loss of energy. But this is more than you think, and it will be difficult to get there. In general this means that you are better off, not going through games or learning between rounds, but walking, kicking a ball, throwing a ball are good activities.

Lunch (usually between rounds 3 and 4). You want a light lunch here. About 50% of your normal calories, balanced, and possibly some refined carbs. You know, a handful of Goldfish(tm) and a half a meat sandwich. You do not want a full lunch as your body is going to greedily start to replace your food stores, and will move blood and energy from the brain to digestion. It will tend to put that off, if you have enough food, to let you find more food. So you should be hungry after lunch, a bit.

Now, prior to round 5. A glass of Gatorade, and about a half of a candy bar. Often you are not hungry at this stage. That is good, but you want to make it through at your best through the game. This will temporarily increase your blood sugar levels for the game. Your brain activity and adrenalin will use it all up, and will not cause any long term issues. But you will find that you tend to play better, and be more focused then your opponent, who will have either eaten too much, eaten the wrong things, or is completely burned out.

After the game, you should go and get a full meal somewhere. This will be restorative to the body, and somewhere either that night or later, you can go over the games.

My best friend has won many more last round games this year than last, since we have focused on the stamina problem. It hasn't affected his normal life, either food or activity. So it's worked for us. But remember, Never take food recommendations from some blog on the internet. Don't do it!

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Patzer's Opening

Max Euwe wrote an interesting and difficult to read book called the Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur. As you know this book doesn't make it on my recommended list, but I keep getting called back to it by very helpful folk. So I go back.

Game 7 deals with the concept of the Premature Attack. And is the Patzer's Attack. But ECO has a code for it nontheless. Interestingly enough, this concept of speed rules has been largely overthrown at the grandmaster levels. This is probably due to the massive amount of examination that Fritz can bring to any position. Fundamental beliefs of bad and good, pretty much get tossed out. You examine the tableau for ideas, see if they are just simply defeated, and move on. Centapawn weaknesses are meaningless in the face of suprise, aggression, and good research.

My best friend, does not yet fall into these problems. I suspect that this will happen when he enters "god" mode. He hasn't quite yet had the win to do so yet. But I am expecting it any day now. We aren't playing for a week, just so he can enjoy the being in the thousand club for awhile, and accepts that he belongs. This week, speed chess at the mall!

At anyrate, here are a couple of interesting versions of the game. In the more useful format of PDF. One is the game from Euwe's book with an alternate ending by me, that seems a little more human. (Nobody turns down the queen in to win). And a game by the US Super GM Nakamura.

[Event "Master v. Amateur"]
[Site "Game 7"]
[Date "2007.06.01"]
[White "Amateur"]
[Black "Master"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C20"]

1. e4 e5
2. Qh5 Nc6
3. Bc4 g6
4. Qf3 Nf6
5. Qb3 Qe7
6. Nf3 Na5
7. Qc3 Nxc4
8. Qxc4 d6
9. h3 Be6
10. Qb4 O-O-O
11. Qa4 Kb8
12. O-O Nh5
13. Nc3 f5
14. exf5 gxf5
15. Nb5 a6
16. Na3 Nf4
17. d3 Nxh3+
18. gxh3 Rg8+
19. Kh2 Bd5
20. Ne1 Qg7
21. Be3 Be7
22. c4 Bc6
23. Qb3 Qg2+
24. Nxg2 Rxg2+
25. Kh1 Rxf2+
26. Kg1 Rg2+
27. Kh1 Rdg8

(27... Rxb2+ 28. Rf3 Bxf3+ 29. Kg1 Rg8+
30. Bg5 Rxg5+ 31. Kf1 Rxb3 32. axb3 Rg2 33. Re1 Bh4 34. Re3 Rf2+ 35. Kg1 e4 36.
dxe4 fxe4 37. Nb1 Rg2+ 38. Kf1 Rc2 39. Rc3 Re2 40. Rc1 Rh2 41. Kg1 Rh1#)

28. Bg5 R2xg5+
29. Kh2 Rg2+
30. Kh1 Rf2#

[Event "Minneapolis HB Global op"]
[Site "Minneapolis"]
[Date "2005.05.22"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Black "Mitkov, Nikola"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C20"]
[WhiteElo "2657"]
[BlackElo "2530"]
[PlyCount "109"]
[EventDate "2005.05.18"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2005.05.28"]

1. e4 e5 2. Qh5 Nc6 3. Bc4 g6 4. Qf3 Nf6 5. Ne2 d6 6. h3 Bg7 7. d3 Be6 8. Bb3
h6 9. Be3 Bxb3 10. axb3 d5 11. O-O O-O 12. Na3 Kh7 13. b4 a6 14. c3 Qd6 15. Ng3
Rad8 16. Nc2 Qe6 17. Qe2 Rfe8 18. Rad1 Rd7 19. Bc1 Red8 20. Rfe1 Ng8 21. f4
exf4 22. Bxf4 Nf6 23. e5 Ng8 24. d4 f6 25. exf6 Qxe2 26. Rxe2 Nxf6 27. Ne1 a5
28. bxa5 Nxa5 29. Nd3 Rf7 30. Rde1 Ng8 31. Nh1 Nc4 32. Nhf2 Rdf8 33. Bh2 c6 34.
Nc5 Ra8 35. Nfd3 Ra2 36. Rb1 Nf6 37. Nb4 Ra8 38. Rbe1 Ng8 39. b3 Nb6 40. Nbd3
Ra3 41. Rb1 Nc8 42. Na4 Nf6 43. Kh1 Ne4 44. Rc2 g5 45. Nac5 Ncd6 46. Ne6 Nb5
47. Nxg7 Rxg7 48. Be5 Rf7 49. c4 dxc4 50. bxc4 Nxd4 51. Bxd4 Rxd3 52. Be5 Re7
53. Bh2 Kg6 54. Rcb2 Rc3 55. Rxb7 1/2-1/2