The Chess Wanderer

"Les pions sont l´âme du jeu" Francois-André Philidor, 1749

Monday, January 31, 2005

Oh Brother

Woke up this morning at 4am with a mean case of food poisoning. I think it was something I ate at the bar and grill yesterday. I couldn't do anything today, not even sit up or sleep. I just lie in bed until it's time to drink more apple juice. It really sucks. If I stay home tomorrow I hope I can at least get enough strength to play a few games on FICS.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Does Anyone Read This?

Back from my trip and had two nice surprises waiting for me at home. (Not including my girlfriend of course.) My CT-Art and the nice big box from Wholesale Chess. The set is AWESOME. Nice quadruple weighted pieces (two lovely pounds of chess pieces), bag, and digital clock. I gave my old standard set to my little bro cause he only has a cheap $2 hollow plastic set at his house.

I only got one response from the Knights on our ICQ site. Does that mean no one is reading my posts? Good grief. Am I THAT boring? I hope all of the Knights, including DG, can sign up before next Sunday. I'll put a poll for the next meeting time.

I was real busy on my trip. Got very little sleep and almost didn't get to set up my Dad's computer before leaving. He's connected now and I put my blog in his favorites so hopefully he'll get to follow my progress as well. I did finish chapter five from Seirawan's book. Now I only have eight more to go. I'm starting to struggle with the problems so I might do one more round before starting CT-Art, especially from the feedback of the other Knights. I say this again, I strongly believe that a good tactics base will pay off when I start the circles.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Knights Errant Group

Ummm, did anyone see my last post? I'll be out of town until Sunday so I'll see you guy next week. Sorry again for not being able to make the meeting.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Circle 0 Day 2

Started chapter 5 in Seirawan's book. I really like his teaching style. It's easy for me to follow. In fact I liked his tactics book so much I ordered it from Amazon.

I played my first rated game 20 on FICS last night. It was a good game. I was down to 2 minutes left and my opponent ran out of time. He was up material and checking my king with his queen.

Calling all Knights. I opened up a group in ICQ called Knights Errant. Please register with ICQ and go check it out. Please, only Knights may apply, and of course our house reporter is cordially invited too. The link to the group is in my sidebar so please go check it out. I think I have to add you on to the group so do so ASAP.

BTW, I won't be able to make it to our weekly meeting this week. I'm going home to visit for the weekend and won't be back till 10pm PST. Can someone please blog the important points so I can keep up to date. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Down Day

Was feeling a little low yesterday. Maybe because of lack of sleep. Only did about 10 or so minutes of studying, finished up the chapter four problems in Seirawan's book. Played a game on MSN, Pogo, and my first game as a member on FICS. Talk about interface overload. I won one, lost one and had one draw. I think now that I have my FICS membership I will spend most of my time there and use Pogo for Poker. I've met some really nice players on MSN though so I have to remember to stop by every so often to have a game with them.

I finally got my nerve up to join USCF. So I now await my coveted membership card. With that little thing I can now enter rated tournaments. Wish me luck. Once I get a solid rating I can start to make long term goals for my training. I look forward to that. Helps to put things into perspective. I also look forward to the Chess Life subscription. There are no chess magazines here.

I also ordered some equipment from Wholesale Chess. I got me a new bag with a quadruple-weighted set including extra queens, a Saitek digital clock, and some mini peg sets. I threw in a $10 copy of Fritz 7 too, figured since I'm blowing all this money anyway. I can't wait to see my credit card statement next month.

Lastly, my chess coach made a calendar with a group of ladies on MSN. You can check it out here:

If you visit the site, please don't forget to leave feedback. Tell um Pawn Sensei sent you. Thanks.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Circle 0 Day 1

Yesterday was my first day back from my chess vacation and boy was it fun. I lost most of my games but it was good to be back! I was really getting tired of draw poker. One thing I learned was that quitting chess is harder than quitting smoking. Also did my drills review and read a couple more pages of Seirawan's tactics book.

We had our meeting last night and it was really fun. Since I am the least experienced in the group I get to learn a lot from the other guys. DG showed up as well. Did you know he is a Class A player? The Knights gave me tips on how to get into tournament play. And everyone recommended I get started as soon as possible. Things to do: Join USCF, get a chess clock, read the USCF rules. I also got to play a game against the Man himself Don. I lost, of course, but at least I got him into the endgame. I suspect he was giving me chance by not going in for a quick checkmate. I learned a lot and I look forward to reviewing the game.

I wanted to start documenting my study schedule ahead of time, probably on Sundays, so I'll post again with my schedule for this week.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

One More Day of No Chess

Ok, today is the last day. I get to play tomorrow before the meeting. Am I glad that it's over. I don't want to do that again for a while.

Big congrats are in order for Don the original Knight! He kicked butt at his tourney today and has a shot at being his club's champion. Just awesome. His performance rating was 2310 for the tournament. That is such great confirmation that hard work and focused training can dramatically improve performance. Especially when the Knights seem to be on a down note right now.

Joined FICS last night. I also joined the STC Bunch (Slow Time Control). I wasn't able to play a game yet but am looking forward to see where I fall on their rating scale. I am hoping for at least a 1300 or 1400. I gave a shout out to the Knights on my profile.

Looking forward to seeing all the Knights for the first time tomorrow.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Chess Thoughts

Gee, third day with no chess and I'm starting to go through withdrawals *twitch twitch*. I hope I can make it to Sunday. Last night I caught myself staring at my chess books on my bookshelf a couple of times. I can't help it, they look so lonely over there. *Snaps out of it*

Sorry, anyway, this has been a good experience for me so far. I got to play some online poker, order some books from Amazon that will be ariving in 4 weeks, and it has given me some time to reflect on some things. Here are a few thoughts:

1. Since I joined the Knights, Don has given me a LOT of good information and ideas. Just the other day because of him I found another chess player in my city who agreed to meet with me at the local Starbucks for some game 30s whenever I have time. Don also introduced me to the wonder that is Wholesale Chess. I already have a list of stuff I want to get from there.

2. I shouldn't be giving any advice to my fellow Knights. I think reading all the time has made me think that I actually know something, when in actuality I only started playing late last year so I should spend more time listening and asking questions than giving my opinions.

3. I notice I have been very critical of J'adoube posts for some reason. I really must apologize for that. I mean, the guy sounds like an excellent chess player so he must be doing something right that I am not. It must be my insecurity that makes me want to give him pointers.

Well, that's it for now. See you next time chess fans. Same chess time, same chess channel!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Micro Drills Day 28

Wow, it's the last day of Knight Sight. I noticed that I no longer fear advanced Knights. I rarely get forked by them anymore, and I have an easier time seeing how to get to a particular square. It's a nice addition to my toolbox.

My coach recommended that I take some time off from anything related to chess. So no studying or playing for the next couple of days. Since our meeting is on Sunday I'll put off chess until then. I have to order some books from Amazon anyway, and clean my apartment, so it will be a good break. It's going to be hard not to do any studying though. I've gotten used to carrying a pocket book with me wherever I go. I guess now I can dust off the old Gameboy or something. But for tonight I'm going to get in as much studying as I can before taking my break.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Micro Drills Day 27

After a one day break got back to the drills again today. Did my Knight Sights and since it was a holiday I reviewed my Concentric Circles as well. Got back up to my old speed again so I guess a one week refresher should help.

Finished chapter 2 of Seirawan's tactics book. It dealt with forks. The problems were fun and I notice my tactics are getting better. I can usually look at the diagrams before reading each section and figure out what he is going to say. Well this is only chapter 2 though. If I have more time today I'm going to spend some with Silman. I'm considering buying Seirawan's book from Amazon but I have another couple of weeks with the it before I have to return it so I'll just postpone spending more money right now.

Got to meet one of my fellow Knights today on Pogo. Generalkaia and I mixed it up over the ol' 64. That kid is good. I say kid because he is almost half my age, and I say good because he gave me a whuppin. I'll try to get 'im next time! We are planning on meeting every Sunday at Pogo from now on. Just for an hour or so, to keep the skills sharpened and help track each other's progress. Should be fun and I look forward to our next meeting.

Played a few more games on Pogo with random people today and one game on MSN. Found another good player on MSN so we added each other to our lists. I'm starting to build a pretty decent size list of people to play.

Knights, are you there?

Any Knights who read this please respond if you are able. I want to get in contact with any, or all of you. Is there a webmeeting type place that we can all get together at? Maybe a chessboard at Pogo that we can chat? What are your handles please? Mine is PawnSensei. I need a time (please use western time zone) and channel to meet you at in Pogo or the website that you have in mind. Preferrably today since it is a holiday. Thanks in advance!

Your humble fellow in arms,
Pawn Sensei

At a Crossroad

If y'all have been following my fellow Knights' blogs lately you would have probably noticed that a lot of us are coming to a crossroad in our training. I think I'm the only one that hasn't entered the 7-circles yet but I'm already having doubts about the program as suggested by De La Maza. I posted the following on Don's site but thought I should repost here for record's sake. It is my current plans for a modified training regimen:

1. Tactics is still numero uno. Needs to be studied first before all else. What I mean is when I sit down to start a study session I need to get the tactics out of the way first before attacking other areas.

2. Tactics needs to have a time limit (1 to 2 hours) because it is easy to get lost in tactics and forget all other parts of my game. Currently I have tactics on the computer, a pocket book of tactics, and I am planning on ordering the tactics "Bible" Lazlo's gigantic hardcover book as a permanent fixture for the living room floor, as well as Seirawan's intro book). That is already half of my chess library!

3. I need balance in my studies. Each study session needs to include one of the remaining parts of my game (openings, endings, master games, positional strategy).

4. I now have an informal chess coach that I meet whenever I have the chance and the time which is usually on the weekends. His lessons need to be reviewed as well.

5. Try to reserve at least a half hour for one game each day to practice using tactics in a real situation. That is minimal for me because I usually play 30 minute games, which comes out to 1 hour if each player uses up the whole clock.

So if we do the math that is already approximately 2 hours of chess study per day. And that doesn't include breaks or coaching sessions! Dude, that is about the same amount I studied in college for all of my classes combined for the semester.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Micro Drills Day 26

Did my Knight Sights on Saturday and I also started my pre-7circles circle (I think I am procrastinating on the name). Got to the first set of problems in Chapter 2.

Saturday was an interesting day for the Knights. Sancho and J'adoube both had problems with the De La Maza program. Sancho with the practicality of the system and J'adoube with the CT Art program itself. In a way I'm glad I decided to modify the program before getting into the 7Circles but now that I am hearing the negatives of the program I am wondering if it will even be worth it to even go through it as designed. I may just decide to stay with the course I have written for myself from the different articles and from the experiences of my fellow Knights that went before me. Who knows, maybe Don will even decide to change the direction of the Knights from the De La Maza program to people who figure tactics heavily into their chess training? Stay tuned chess friends. Same chess time. Same chess channel. Good night.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Friday Night Fun

Wow, just wow. I had a blast at my friend's house. I spent about five hours there. He seems about my strength but he is much stronger in tactics. I was able to match him on positional play so I gave him a run for his money. He says he can beat most computer chess programs so that would explain his agressive style of play. In our first game he mated me with a version of the scholar's mate. Quite embarrassing. I came back to beat him the next two games, then lost the next two, and won the last one with a stronger position in the ending. The last game was unreal because I was down about three or four points but came up with a tactic that forced him to trade pieces until I was left with a knight. From there my better pawn structures gave me the win. I'm glad I found someone to play against on a regular basis. We are planning to get together more often for some friendly games. This gives me more incentive to study hard before our next match.

The bad thing is I wasn't able to do my drills today. I'll do them before I go to bed tonight, I promise. Tomorrow I'm starting my pre-seven-circles plan and combining it with the last couple of days of the micro drills.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Micro Drills Day 25

Tonight I'll be going over to my friend's house to play on his nice marble set but I'll be sure to squeeze in my drills when I get home.

After reading this article I've decided to modify my program a little. I will be adding in a pre-7Circles Circle(haven't decided what to call it yet) where I will read Seirawan's Winning Chess Tactics book to give me a base on tactics before starting the circles. Next for circle one I am going to repeat each level until I score higher than a 90% on that level before moving on to the next. I am also going to limit my time for problems on circle one to one hour a day instead of a set number of problems each day. The remaining time will be spent on the other areas that I am studying (mainly openings, middle game, endings, and grandmaster games). By the time I get to circle two I am hoping that this will give me a better foundation to work with in the remaining 6 circles and speed up the time it takes to do them.

I am thinking that this will add on another two to three months to my program but I feel that in the long run it will work out better for my style of learning.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Micro Drills Day 24

Knight Sight, Middle Game, and Concentric Circles today.

Wow, I hadn't realized how fast I had gotten with the Concentric Circles toward the end of my 14 days. I did a refresher today and it took me a while to get through. Serves me right for not drilling at least once a week like De La Maza suggests. I wonder how many of my fellow Knights follow that suggestion as well?

We got a nice little article on the Boylston Chess Club blog today. Our "House Reporter" really works hard at keeping us honest. Does that guy DG get any sleep or what?

Only played one game on Pogo today. Did ok. I won, but not eloquently. I am trying to play better positions but after the opening I usually fall back on cheap tactics to whittle down the other guy's resources. Then either overwhelm with superior numbers in the end game or blunder my pawns away. I got teased for my handle once because I'm not really good with them little buggers, but at least I'm trying right?

On the advice of my coach, borrowed Silman's Complete Book of Chess Strategy from the library. Really good stuff. I borrowed it once before but I wasn't ready to take in the information at the time. This time around it is making more sense, especially the part on the middle game.

I noticed something neat about my chess progression. After each session with my coach, Wild1, my game progesses a little bit further than before. What I mean by that is I can get further along in the game with a plan before I start getting lost. Earlier I could only get the first eight moves or so before getting stuck, now I have gotten it to about twelve or thirteen with a better chance in the middle game.

Micro Drills Day 23

Did my Knight Sights and tried to study defenses but was watching Searching For Bobby Fischer at the same time. Borrowed it from the library again.

I'm getting really frustrated with my play. I was on Pogo again today but I only win when I get a lucky move. Couple times I completely missed something and then I am suddenly down material. I'm not frustrated with losing, it's the playing badly that gets to me.

Is it ok to play even when you don't have the tools yet? I'm worried that I will be picking up some bad habits. I've seen guys on there that have played a thousand games. That's one-thousand, and they seem to play at around my level. I don't want to play for years and be stuck at the same place!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Peg Analysis Board

Does anyone have recomendations for a good peg analysis board? I want to have one by my side as I'm analyzing openings, and endings, or just to take around with me. Seems they are hard to find. Thanks.

Micro Drills Day 22

I wasn't going to do my drills tonight but it just didn't feel right. Another Knight Sight night and spent an hour at the library reading Train and Think Like a Grandmaster by Kotov. Interesting books.

I played another couple of games in Pogo. Crazy crazy stuff man. My endgame needs a LOT of work. In one game I fell to a simple checkmate tactic while up a rook and a bishop because I got lazy with king safety. In another game I had great position but got a draw because I couldn't put together any sort of end game plan. The two games I won, I won by brute force. I'm not happy with my play today. Oh well, there's always tomorrow. I think I'll read myself to sleep with Reinfeld.

I heard from Convekta today. They did ship my CT Art at the end of December. I just didn't get a confirmation because they were on vacation. I have had things take up to 30 days to get here through USPS so I don't mind waiting. If worse comes to worse I can do problems from my 1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate until then.

Finally a big congrats goes out to Man de la Maza, the guy who started this all, who passed day 100!

Monday, January 10, 2005

Micro Drills Day 21

More Knight Sights today. I also spent an hour with my online chess coach Wild1. He is helping me to see the weaknesses in my game and how to play better positions. It's a lot to learn but it makes the game a lot more fun for me.

I also played my very first game on Bogo as suggested by Don. It was a blast. I like the interface a lot better than MSN and they even give you a rating which is cool. Don't know how reliable their rating system is though.

Welcome to J'adoube to the club! Wow, Don's club sure is growing. Did I mention that we also earned a static spot on the Boylston Chess Club homepage? They said we are getting big enough for our own section. That's cool. More pressure for the group I guess!

Still waiting to hear from Convekta. I'm wondering if those guys stole my money.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Micro Drills Day 20

Nothing to see here folks! Please move along!

Knight Sights, plus spent some time studying basic endings from my Reinfeld book. I also picked up a used copy of Fundamental Chess Endings. Jeez that book is huge. It's like a chess endings bible. Expensive too. Hopefully I'll get my money's worth. From what I've seen so far though it's pretty in-depth and will likely take me two or three years just to go through the material.

I was going to pick up a kids chess book for my girlfriend's cousin today but the bookstore that had a nice copy of it closed down only yesterday. I knew I should have picked it up when I had the chance. Well, at least I was able to get a copy of 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations before they closed.

I couldn't finish a complete game on MSN today. Everyone I played either booted me out when they found out I wasn't a female or left the game prematurely. Kind of ticked me off. I guess when you find serious players there you have to stick with them. BTW, who goes to chess websites to meet women?

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Micro Drills Day 19

Did my drills first thing in the morning. The squares aren't popping out yet but I can see them much faster than before. I did a refresher on the two GM games that I memorized and studied some openings.

You know, the people at Convekta still have not sent me my copy of CT Art that I ordered over two weeks ago, and they aren't answering my emails either. Has anyone else had problems ordering from them?

Changing the subject, here's a quote I found on Chessville:
"In order to win you must dare to fail." Sven Goran-Ericsson

Is that what we are doing? Daring to fail? I haven't really sat down and thought about how far I want to take this endeavor. How about, what do I do once I get there? Quit? Walk away? Have you ever seen "The Luzhin Defence"? It's about a chess player who is playing for the world chapionship. He has devoted most of his life to chess, and only chess, and it ends up ruining his life. I won't spoil the ending for you but will say this, it made me wonder, what does one do after chess?

Friday, January 07, 2005

Micro Drills Day 18

Knight Sights again. They go by really fast. I also memorized my second grandmaster game between Domenech and Flohr (1935). This one was over in 31 moves. The next game I memorize will be a Pirc.

I also got an email from a friend I met on the internet a while back (maybe two or three years ago). He has been doing amateur and professional movie work since high school and has worked very hard to get where he is at. He recently got two parts. The first is on an episode of Monk which airs on January 28th. He plays the "Sonny Chow" character. The second part is in a Nike comercial as a runner that falls down. In the comercial the runners are acting as Nascar cars.

I mention him because his story serves as inspiration for me and reinforces the idea that if someone truly wants to do something they can achieve it with hard work and a plan.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Micro Drills Day 17

More Knight Sights today. I also finished memorizing the Capablanca-Tartakover match and started another match between Domenech-Flohr. I know I should move on to something else but I'm having a lot of fun memorizing these games for some reason so I'm going to stop after three games. Promise.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Chess Poll

Where do you buy your chess equipment? I purchased mine from a local chess club.

Micro Drills Day 16

Two Knight Sights today. I also got a little further into the Capablanca-Tartakover match. I had to review the first thirty moves because I was getting some parts mixed up but was able to struggle through to move 36. There are 52 moves in all so it may take a little while. I was hoping to have the whole game memorized by the end of today but that doesn't look like it will happen.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Micro Drills Day 15

First official day of Knight Sight. I did two sets of Knight Sight and one set of Concentric Circles.

After reading some articles on Chessville I have also decided to supplement my training with studying Grandmaster games, endings, openings, and middlegame strategy. A majority of my time will be spent with the De La Maza program but I am making an effort to reserve at least an hour to the other areas each day. Today I went over a Grandmaster game. Got to move 30 before calling it quits for the day. Still haven't figured out if I'm going to memorize the games first or analyze and then memorize.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Micro Drills Day 14

Today was the last Concentric Circles day so I celebrated with a Snickers ice cream cone. It went by so fast I threw in a Knight Sight to get a head start and did some circles with the white knight and bishop to mix it up. I've also been working on some mating problems from the Reinfeld book.

I got smashed today on the online boards. I feel like I can't see anything for some reason. Maybe it's the after-effects of the New Year's celebrations. Work went really smooth though.

Welcome to Generalkaia to the club. Sounds like he/she is doing really good with the program so far.

Congratulations to the Man De La Maza for finishing the First Circle! Looks like the founder of the Knights Errant is well on his way to completing the program.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Micro Drills Day 11-13

Just got back today from my trip. Happy New Year everyone! It was nice to travel with family and I even got to teach some of them how to play chess. I also decided to take my roll-up board with me instead of my dinky little magnetic set. Did my drills, infact did two on Saturday and today I started on the Knight Sight. Only one more day for the Concentric Circles then it's off to Knight sight for the next fourteen days. I am becoming one with the 64 squares.

My girlfriend got a new cellphone that has a chess game on it. Has anyone else tried the chess on their cell phones? I only played one game but the engine seemed horrible! The first eight moves were pawns jumping to rank 5 and a queen sacrifice. It didn't seem to respond to my threats at all. Sad.