Friday, February 27, 2009

FICS Chats

I found this little blurb funny.

Blakeos(2): since the server crash, I am no longer labeled as an abuser, is there a way to fix this?
MarcdCool(2): you still want to be an abuser?


I did about 20 tactics tonight ... just to warm up before playing ... didn't really help.


I played a handful of games tonight. I won two blitz and one standard game. I lost four blitz and two standard games. I also chatted a bit with a couple of people on FICS including dk. I saw Robert log on, but he was playing when I was seeking and vice versa. All said and done, I was on FICS for a solid 4 hours this morning from 11:30pm to 3:30am.

It was fun ... I mean, I really enjoyed myself ... just playing. I know I suck, but I played some good games and some really crappy games. Sometimes I don't mind losing if the game is brilliant. There are a lot of games where I am just in awe that the other player is seeing the stuff he is seeing. It is like he all of the sudden reaches behind himself and monkeys start flying out of his butt. I just have to shake my head and smile in awe.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009



I gave in and bought a $20 (silver) subscription to ChessTempo. I really like the site and the extra features seem worth the price.

I continue to work on tactics every day. I was able to get in 60 today. A couple of days ago I was up to 1888 on blitz. But that has gone back down to around 1850. My percentage correct continues to creep up. I've been keeping track of all my chess related stats ... and back on Feb 16 my percentage was 57.33%. Today it is up to 57.63%

Logical Chess

I have about seven games left to read. I'm going over them pretty quickly and picking up stuff here and there.


I didn't get a chance to get any games in tonight or the last few nights. By the time I get some other things done and then after I work on tactics and Logical Chess, my brain isn't so fresh, so I end up not playing. I think tomorrow night I will warm up with a few tactics and then dive right into play. I need to play more longish games and avoid the blitz stuff.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur

I seem to have forgotten about this book: Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur by Max Euwe and Walter Meiden. I came across a review of this book while blog surfing the other day (reading Abend's Chess who wrote about a game in said book). Judging from the reader reviews at Amazon, it seems like a very useful book. A lot of reviewers compared it to Chernev's Logical Chess, which is what I'm reading now.

hisbestfriend gave some advice when reading the book ... he said he used Fritz to analyze the game while going over the game. He seemed to find a lot of problems with the games, but was convinced he learned more by going through the process of using Fritz while reading the book rather than simply reading the book - read his posts linked below.

I'm considering getting and reading this book.

CM vs. CA on google books (limited view)
SquirrelChess reviews the book
A Chessbase file of the games in the book (because it's written in descriptive notation)
hisbestfriend wrote a little about the book and some more and some more, still more
BDK says "wonderful book" tempted to give it an A, but gave it a B on his 100 chess book reviews (part 5) ... great book review series by the way.
Takchess offers two cents

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rules for Rooks


I worked on a few the last couple of nights. Tonight I didn't have time to get to ChessTempo.

Logical Chess

I finished the Queen's Pawn Opening section of the book tonight by going over game 23. The rooks proved to be extremely valuable in this game. White failed to develop his rooks while Black followed these rules and won:

"In the opening, shift the rooks toward the centre, on files likely to be opened."

"In the middlegame, seize the open files and command them with your rooks."

"In the ending, post your rooks on the seventh rank. Doubled rooks on the seventh rank are almost irresistible in mating attacks. If there is little material left on the board, the seventh rank is a convenient means of manoeuvring a rook behind enemy pawns."

The next section is entitled "The Chess Master Explains his Ideas." According to Chernev, these next games demonstrate "the three great principles that Capablanca advocated and himself utilized so successfully:

1) in the opening, rapid and efficient development;
2) in the middlegame, coordination of pieces;
3) in the ending, accurate and time-saving play."

When I read that, I thought of chessloser's recent post about how if you just play chess as it was meant to be played, you're going be in a good position to win.


I've been playing blitz. I played 3 last night. We need to get a 15 30 time control tournament going again. That will force me to start playing slower games more often. Any takers?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

GameBot on FICS


I did a few tonight. I also tried my hand (again after a very long time) in standard mode. I lasted two problems. For some reason, the standard mode drives me insane. I can think and think and calculate and calculate for a long, long time. Eventually I either have it nailed down (or I think I do) and I proceed with my moves. Obviously the ones I correctly get give me great satisfaction, but the ones I miss drive me absolutely nuts. It is very taxing. But I see the benefit of it ... the practice in that calculation. With blitz, it is practically a gut reaction. I train my one-second vision of the board and once I get a feel for it, I generally know the plan of action. If I miss, no big deal.

Anyway ... both have their virtues, which is why I'm planning on working in both modes from now on.

Logical Chess

Game 22 was a thrilla. I learned about the Pillsbury Attack.


I played three blitz games on FICS tonight. I should have won all three, but I lost the first and won the other two. The 2nd game went over 70 moves because I stupidly missed a mate in three on move 24.

GameBot on FICS

And lastly ... have you heard about this nifty database? WOW! It has only been around since October 2008, but it contains every game, except bughouse and non-registered user games, that has ever been played on FICS since October 2008. That makes standard/tournament play much more difficult. There were always ways to go get your opponents' games before a tourney, but this little DB gives you a lot more games to study. Go check it out:

You can also add links to previously played games. Here is the game I played tonight that I should have had a mate in 3 on move 24.

Monday, February 16, 2009


I just hit 4000 blitz tactics completed on ChessTempo.

Rating: 1850.2 (RD: 34.63)(Best Active Rating: 2098 Worst Active Rating: 1729)
Active Rank: 291/722 ( Better than:59.7% Best Active: 84 Worst Active: 410)
Problems Done: 4000 (Correct: 2293 Failed: 1707)
Percentage correct: 57.33%

Of course that is a mere drop compared to the top blitz guy on the site. He's completed over 54,000 tactics!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Castling: One Giant Leap for Civilization


It was an average day. I'm 148 problems from hitting the 4000 mark.

Logical Chess

I read through game 21 (about the Colle System). This is what Chernev said after White castled: "This remarkable coup, by means of which the king is spirited away to safety while the rook magically appears on the scene, is probably the most significant contribution to civilization since the invention of the wheel."

Now that is a hot sports opinion!


I didn't feel much like playing a longish game, so I played a couple of blitz games. I lost to a player I played a few days ago. Then I posted another seek. Three people accepted, but aborted before a move was made. 15 minutes later, someone finally accepted my seek. I did my best to play the Colle. He ended up putting his bishop on f5 which I didn't know what to do with. So I improvised. Eventually I traded my knight for his white bishop and then I got my bishops directly in the center bearing down on his queenside castled king. I won with a checkmate.

Chess Around the Net

Iran vs. United States

When it comes to dealing with Iran, the country's parliamentary speaker said the United States would be better served taking up chess than continuing to box, the country's official news agency reported Saturday.

"The United States needs to play on a chess set (with Iran) instead of playing in a boxing ring," IRNA quoted Ali Larijani as telling a group of visiting reporters in Tehran Saturday.

Why not do both ... literally.

source: Yahoo! News

Deadly Chess Game

Two friends drinking. They play some chess. An argument erupts. One of them pulls out his sword! The other one dies.

This story sounds vaguely familiar.

source: The Mercury News

Phantom Chess

A lot of "computerized" chess sets seem gimicky, but this one actually seems pretty cool. The pieces move by themselves. I guess you "enter" your move and the electro-magnetic piece moves.

Excalibur Chess makes this set.

It sells for about $100 at Amazon.

Source: Proidee

Chess Picture of the Week

Chess-Master: A two-year-old in serious thought.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quite a Comeback


Like a roller coaster. The graph on ChessTempo looks like the Rocky Mountains. I'm either hot or cold. Today I was both. But I got in about 50 problems tonight finishing with a streak of 15 correct.

Logical Chess

Read through game 20. More Queen's Gambit stuff. Black actually put up a pretty good defense for a while, but through the course of the game, White placed a Knight, a Bishop, a Rook and a Queen on c5. Do ya think that was a critical square?


I played two blitz games tonight. It didn't start off well. I was mated in nine freaking moves!! It was utterly humiliating.

I played the same person again and won in 54 moves. I guess that is some consolation.

The triumph of the night was my big comeback. Because I suck at chess, I typically blunder openings, let my pieces get trapped and then try to play catchup the rest of the game. After I lost the exchange (my rook for his bishop), I somehow managed to control the c-file and interestingly enough, my putting the knight on c5 made all the difference in the game.

After Black played 26 ... b6, I played 27. Na6+ Kb7 28. Rxc6 Rxc6 29. Qxd5 Qd6 30. Qf7+ Kxa6 31. b5+ Ka5 32. bxc6.

I still wasn't out of the clear, but it was roughly equal. I gobbled up pawns while I could. Eventually I forced him to exchange queens and my e-pawn broke free and it was a race between my e-pawn and his b-pawn. After we both queened our pawns, I again forced the exchange of queens and my king and two pawns had the whole board to ourselves and Black resigned! (67 moves) It really felt good to win!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Two Out of Four


I was able to get in quite a few the last couple of days. I am either really hot or really cold ... there is not much in between on ChessTempo. I can miss several in a row and my rating tanks. But then the next day, I'll storm back. I really think I need adequate sleep for me to be able to function somewhat properly in chess. I simply cannot see stuff when I've had five hours of sleep the previous night. But if I can get a nap in during the afternoon or if I get 7 or 8 in the previous night, I'm shooting par or better. I'm just below 1800 on blitz right now.

Logical Chess

I finally got to the book tonight. I studied game 19. I kind of rushed through the game. The Queen's Gambit is interesting. I need to try it sometime. I usually open with d4, but I don't go to the Queen's Gambit.


I found a 15 30 game tonight against a pretty strong player. He was rated 1688, but his history showed that he's scalped a few higher rated players. I was in blitz mode tonight and could not sit still long enough to think through two moves ahead. He made very strong moves and I just resigned after blundering and not having the fight to go on. Then I played three blitz games ... lost one and won the other two ... 2 out of 4. My FICS blitz rating jumped up to 1295 which is relatively high for me. I usually hover in the low to mid 1200's for blitz.


I got bored with the book I was reading, so I went to Half-Priced Books and found a couple of chess books ... not instruction books, but leisurely reading books ... Bobby Fischer Goes to War and The Chess Artist. I also bought A War Like No Other by Victor Davis Hanson which is a Greek history book. So right now I'm reading the Bobby Fischer one and I really am enjoying it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Busy Week So Far

I've been trying to sqeeze in a few chess things this week, but life keeps getting in the way.


I was able to do a few the other day. Today I was able to get 42 in. I only got 21 correct. It wasn't a good day on ChessTempo, but at least I got some in.


My kids go to their school chess club every Monday. The teacher invited me to participate anytime I could. So I went over yesterday and helped out where I could. I watched two 4th graders battle it out to the end. After maybe 60 or so moves, I could see that the one kid didn't know how to mate with a king and a rook against a king. So I taught them both a lesson and tried to coach them on that endgame. They finally got it. There's not much instruction that goes on. I think the teacher just wants them to be exposed to chess. I doubt she knows much beyond the rules.

Hopefully I'll have some time tomorrow to get on ChessTempo and get back into Logical Chess.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


I've not looked into this a whole lot, but on Susan Polgar's blog, they just posted a list of blogs. I was suprised to see my blog on the list at number 22 (out of 86). But I'm not too sure if this is a ranking per se. Judging from the picture on that post, it must have something to do with Blogshares.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Good Day


I rebounded on Chesstempo. 5000 new tactics were added to the server and I got a dozen or so of them. I nailed a 2000+ tactic and overall had a pretty good session. I finished after 70 tactics with a rating just over 1800.


I was able to get a game in tonight. I was rated 1657E on FICS and found a player rated 1657 as well. It went all the way to the end, but he blundered and let me queen a pawn and the game was over. It was pretty fun.

$93,803 for doing nothing

I just read this article about a state employee who gets paid to sit around. Apparently there is some discrimination going on and someone doesn't want this guy doing anything. He can't get fired. It is an interesting article.

He spends much of his workday at the State Insurance Fund donning headphones, listening to rock 'n' roll, blues or classical tunes and his superiors are cool with that. His work agenda involves placing his feet up on his desk, staring out his office window and counting cars on the New York State Thruway. He arrives at 7:30 a.m., leaves at 3:30 p.m., sees no one and talks to no one. He never does any work. It's been this way for Hinton for most of this decade.

Obviously the first thing I thought of was, "sweet! I could study chess all day long in that job!" He says he's been sitting there at his job for most of the decade!! He could be a GM by now. Doesn't it take about 10 years to become a master at something?

But the gentleman in the article has more gumption than I would in that scenario and he is actually trying to "rectify" the situation (after almost 10 years!)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tactically Slaughtered


I was slaughtered today at ChessTempo. I meant to work on just a few, but I felt some mojo or something after lunch and I just kept plugging away. Like an addicted gambler, I kept thinking things would turn around, but they never did. I went from a relative high of 1855 a few days ago to 1764 today. I did over 100 problems today and I was nickled and dimed down bit by bit. My vision just wasn't there. Sometimes I saw it, others times I'd be completely stumped.

Logical Chess

Game 18 was more on the Queen's Gambit. Again, Chernev emphasized the importance of c5. Black must dispute the center by pushing towards c5 and White must defend c5 at all costs. There is a lot of positional stuff going on. I kind of understand it, but there's no firm grasp for sure. There seem to be a lot of neuances that I would never get in a real game.

Chess Player Look-a-Likes: Tumnus-Aronian

Tumnus as in Mr. Tumnus from Narnia and Aronian as in Levon Aronian the Armenian

ChessTempo Beef

I think the benefits of ChessTempo far outweigh the downsides. But one big beef I have is when the server dishes out a really low rated problem and if I get it right I still get docked rating points!

Case in point: Just now I was served a 1490 and my current rating is 1773. The average time to solve the problem is 27.3 seconds. I solve it in 11. I didn't take any significant amount of time to think ... it just took about 10 seconds of moving my pieces and waiting for the computer to move its. I solved the problem correctly and still got docked .6 of a point.

Granted there are low rated problems I solve and still get positive points, but once in a while I solve the problem under the average time and still get docked.

That is really frustrating especially on a day where I and sucking big time.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Sleep Deprivation: The Enemy of Good Chess


I'm working the day shift this week which means trying to go to bed early, getting up even earlier to go workout at the gym (3:30am) and then putting in 12 hours at work while trying to stay awake.

All that spells disaster when I try to work on tactics. I attempted 23 problems today and got 10 correct. What a train wreck.

Logical Chess

I read through game 17 today. I was dozing off while reading through it. I learned something about the need to defend the c-file if you are Black and White plays the Queen's Gambit. That's all I gleaned from that game.

Chess Memories

While surfing the Web trying to stay awake, I found my elementary school's website. The students there are participating in an after-school chess program. This reminded me of when I won the 6th grade chess tournament. It wasn't a very big tournament ... maybe 6 or 8 kids played. Well, I made it to the championship game. On the day I was to play the big game, I decided to break the unofficial record of drinking 13 pints (little cartons) of milk at lunch. I suceeded, but felt horrible afterwards. The game went on anyway. Although I had to excuse myself a few times during the game to use the restroom, I was able to pull off the victory. What fun memories!

Sunday, February 01, 2009


I didn't work on anything chess related Friday or Saturday. I spent my time with the family and trying to catch up on sleep.

Today I was able to make a few moves on Red Hot Pawn. I also did 10 tactics on ChessTempo and improved my rating to 1853.

I'll be able to do more chess stuff tomorrow and the rest of the week.