Tonight on FICS

I played a pretty slow game on FICS tonight and came out with a win. I'm not much of an opening specialist and when he declined the b-pawn in my Benko Gambit I wasn't sure what to do. A full on queen side rush was the plan I decided on.

Click to Replay

In other news I downloaded the trial for Personal Chess Trainer today and did about 200 tactics problems. I liked the program so far. I think I'm going to continue using the free trial for a while before I decide to buy the software though. 20 minutes till my Wednesday night TV programs start think I will hit up CTS for a bit.

About the Knights

So there's this group I told you about yesterday.. the Knights Errant.. well I'm not one to be much of a joiner but I do like to be on the fringe of a community like that. A lurker so to speak. Anyway I added links to their blogs because if your interested in what I have to say, you will be them too. I've actually visited all of these blogs and found what they have to say about chess and their stuggles to improve both interesting and inspiring. So clicky away and go visit other Chess Players too.

First 250 Problems on CTS

So I started working with CTS yesterday. I thought I would post my results so that I could track my progress a bit.

Blackajah ( my FICS and CTS handle)
Rating 1395
Highest Rating 1402
Current RD 24.4
Date 2005 Nov, 30 - 03:22
Tries 253
Success 79.1 %

I'm not exactly sure what the Current RD is. I will check into that though.


PGN Viewer - www.mychess.com

This PGN viewer requires java, and I think I will have to link to it outside the blog but it will work for now. Click the pic of this position (from a previous post) to go to the game.

Just a note.. the inquisitive reader might discover the websight I was building to commemorate my Scholastic Chess Team when you follow the link to the PGN viewer. Please disregard the site there as its horribly unfinished. It was a grandoise idea but contacting people and finding materials from 10-15 years ago is a difficult task.

Michael de la Maza - Tactics 4tw

So after really getting a good taste of the chess blog circuit over the past couple of days this one name keeps popping up, Michael de la Maza. Apparently he created his own program of chess study, used it to great effect, then published it in some articles on the web (http://www.chesscafe.com/text/skittles148.pdf) and(http://www.chesscafe.com/text/skittles150.pdf). Now half the chess blogs I've read are Class players like myself taking his advice. They even have their own group called "The Knights Errant".

Well I have to say, "sorry I'm late to the party." I feel kinda foolish, having been a slave to Kotov's "Art of the Middlegame" and Silman's "Reassess Your Chess" after reading Mr. de la Maza's articles. I've often talked to my long time chess friends about the 1600 plateau I've felt like I've been on since about 14 yrs ago when I was a senoir in high school. I "know" alot more about chess now than I did then (thanks Mr. Silman) ... but I have virtually zero rating increase to show for all that knowledge.

I've historically blamed my lack of rating progress on Real Life (tm). I seem to play chess in cycles. I play alot for 6-12 months, then get caught up in something else (Read: Everquest, World of Warcraft, Shadowbane) for a year or two, then come back to chess. Now I think it may have more to do with how I've studied. Mr. la Maza's own performance increase and his articles have me convinced that I am going to stray a bit from the Strategy side of study and concentrate on the Tactical side of chess for the next year. I want to thank him for laying out a pretty clear study plan.

Any suggestions on where to find 10,000 problems that are laid out in order from simplest to most difficult?

So I found Silman's Review of Mr. La Maza's book online. Not surprising that Mr. Silman gets a little foul with this book, since Mr. La Maza is non too flattering of Reassess Your Chess. Both make valid points. In the long run I think Mr. Silman is probably right, in the short run I think in order for me personally to improve I need to focus on improving my Tactical skill.

1 lunch hour spent on the Tactical Chess Server has already taught me that I'm much weaker than I thought tactically.


Wide Wide World of Blogs

In an effort to become part of the Chess Blogging community I have been travelling around mostly links from Susan Polgar's Blog and I came across the blog of CelticDeath who seems to be about the same strength as me and seriously trying to improve.

Bad Bishops Redux
My opponent in the Bad Bishops game resigned. The final position looked like:

Tonight is club night. The Waterville Chess Club only meets once a week, but it gives me a good opportunity to play OTB chess which is frankly lacking here in Maine. I'll probably post about a club game tomorrow, or maybe tonight while I watch CSI:Miami.


Bad Bishops part deux!

The same game, a few moves later. I had both pics posted in one entry before but the formatting was all whacked out and I couldn't get it to look right. Anyway, Black's dark square bishop is still hurting. Hopefully I will be able to convert my superior minor peices into a queened passed pawn and win the game.

Bad Bishops

Bad BishopI'm a big fan of Jeremy Silman's books and I've been trying to apply what he teaches about imbalances to my chess games. In these positions from a http://www.timeforchess.com/ correspondence game I'm playing you can see that my plan is to make Black hate his dark squared bishop. Over the course of 4 or 5 moves I think its becoming a pretty effective plan. Have a look, but please no comments on what to do from this point because the game is still in progress.


Even a blind squirrel can find a nut

White to Move

In this interesting blitz position I made what I thought was a pretty good tactical shot. Can you find the move or do you have too much Tryptophan in you from the Thanksgiving Turkey still.

BabasChess (http://www.babaschess.net/) and FICS (http://freechess.org/) make for a nice free chess experience on the web. I play a bit of g/5 or g/5 + 2 on there. Sometimes even play g/15 or g/20.


How to lose in two moves

Black to Move

This is a position from one of my recent games on http://www.timeforchess.com where I had the black peices. Black's position here was looking pretty good and I had alot of pressure on white's kingside.

At this point I got pawn happy. I thought that the prize for building up so much pressure on white's king side was the collapse of his queen side and I hastened to capture 1. ... Qxb2 2. Rae1 Qxa2

Sadly at this point the black queen with its 2 prize pawns is stuck out of the game and is not able to return in time to save black's King from the onslaught of white peices.

3. Ng5 Nd6
4. Rxe8 Rxe8
5. Rxe8 Nxe8
6. Qe3! 1-0


Rooks can dominate knights

I've played chess for a long time, and I've always known that a Rook is better than a Knight. Of course every 2nd grader knows that, but what I didn't know till I saw a diagram like this recently was that a Rook can dominate a Knight completely taking it out of the game. This also illustrates why Knights belong in the center. The Rook could not bully the Knight so badly like this if the Knight was more centralized.

It should be noted that the Queen can dominate the Knight the same way. Notice that the right square to be on to do this is the square that is 2 space diagnol to the Knight. I've always known that the square 2 spaces diagnol to the Knight is the safest square to be on if your trying to avoid being attacked by the Knight as it takes at least 4 moves to get to this square for the knight. This knowledge comes in really handy in blitz chess. Its one of the basic patterns you can master at the chess board.

How to use this space

I'm not sure how to use this space at the moment. My thought is it won't be terribly instructive to anyone other than myself. It will give me a spot to post some analysis of my own games and afford me the chance to get some feedback on that analysis, assuming I ever have any visitors.

I'm going on the theory right now that studying openings will not help me improve much. I do have a couple of books on openings but I mostly just look to be prepared for the first 5/6 moves so that I can get started without any major surprises. Then I try to apply the basic rules of chess I've known since I was in 4th grade, and Silman's imbalance technique as best I can.

I spend most of my study time trying to assess the imbalances in various positions from opening, to endgame and devise a plan for each side. I believe the majority of what you will find here is my thoughts about positions from my online games, and club games and what I thought the plan should be for one or both sides.

I might also post some endgame studies or miniatures I come across that I find instructive if for no other reason than because spending the time on the position to post it should help me solidify it in my mind and remember it. I hope any beginning or intermediate chess players will find this blog somewhat instructional as well. Maybe we can even attract some better players to help point out where our analysis is gone astray and we can all learn from that.


Lost on Time, but how to continue?

Black to Move
I achieved this position tonight, but ran out of time and lost the game. I think black is doing well if he can capitalize on his light square bishop being better than white's dark square bishop. Black can also make use of the 'a' or 'h' files.

I played ... Qh7 here in time trouble but I think a more appropriate move would be to lock the pawns up on the h file then try to dominate the a file.

First post is of course a...

Test post. Maybe someday I will put something profound in this space. Until then please stay tuned.