The Chess Wanderer

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

Friday, April 28, 2006

I've been trying to finish "Unbeatable Chess Lessons for Juniors" for the past eight months or so. I must have borrowed it from the library at least three times. I'm finally at the 21st out of 24 games so I can taste victory. I also, ambitiously, borrowed "Logical Chess" for the third time as well. I plan to complete that book after I finish "Unbeatable Chess".

I'm in another slump too. Not a ratings slump though. My rating is hovering at 1409 right now. But my playing seems uncoordinated to me. Almost like I am second guessing myself a lot. I have a feeling that if I can get over this hump, and learn how to plan effectively, I can push through to 1500 but only time will tell. For the past three weeks I've been faithful to my CTFB, doing 30 minutes a day. I also stored the Polgar brick and WCT on my Palm Pilot, and do those when I'm on the road or at a coffee shop. Pocket Chess Deluxe has proven to be worth it's weight in gold for my improvement plan. I would recommend it, without hesitation, to anyone with a Palm.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Speed chess and ratings

Quick question to the Knights. I once played a guy OTB who said that his ICC blitz rating was 1500. He didn't have a standard rating but pointed out that it should be 100 to 200 points higher than his blitz rating. After thinking about it I speculated that playing only speed chess should have a ratings cap while slow chess shouldn't, since the former consists of only tactics and intuition and the latter includes thought process. So my question is this, has anyone read anything about the approximate number for this cap?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Don't fall for this trap

Heheh, played a game today where my opponent likes to play a lot of trappy moves. Fell for an early trap but hung on until move 38 where I had an opportunity to equalize. The correct defense to the trap was 4 Nxd4. Then after exd White can castle K-side.

[Event "ICC 30 30"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[Date "2006.04.25"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C50"]
[WhiteElo "1374"]
[BlackElo "1384"]
[PlyCount "84"]
[TimeControl "1800+30"]

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Nd4
4. Nxe5 Qg5
5. Ng4 d5
6. Be2 Bxg4
7. Bxg4 Nxc2+
8. Qxc2 Qxg4
9. O-O O-O-O
10. f3 Qg6
11. d3 dxe4
12. dxe4 Bd6
13. g3 h5
14. Nc3 Ne7
15. Nb5 h4
16. Nxd6+ Qxd6
17. Bf4 Qb6+
18. Kg2 Ng6
19. Bg5 f6
20. Bxh4 Nxh4+
21. gxh4 Rxh4
22. Rad1 Rdh8
23. Rh1 g5
24. h3 Qe6
25. Rc1 c6
26. Kf2 Rxh3
27. Rxh3 Qxh3
28. Ke3 g4
29. Qe2 Qh6+
30. f4 Qh3+
31. Kd2 g3
32. Rg1 Rg8
33. Qg2 Qd7+
34. Ke3 Qe6
35. b3 f5
36. e5 Qg6
37. Qh3 g2
38. Rxg2 Qxg2
39. Qxf5+ Kc7
40. Qf7+ Kb6
41. e6 Rg3+
42. Kd4 Qd5# {White checkmated} 0-1

Homework incentive

I bet I would have done better in grade school if I had this as an incentive.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Passing 1400

After a little over a year at ICC I have finally passed the 1400 mark. This puts me right on schedule for Heisman's step program. But seing as how it took me a year to gain approximately 100 rating points, it seems a little farfetched to gain 200 points in the next six months given his timeline. I'm game though. We'll see how accurate his plan is. I also have to take into account that there is a 100 point difference (higher or lower) between ICC ratings and USCF ratings. You can read more about it here.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Book order

Ok, program update time. I haven't been following my New Year's schedule like I planned. In fact, even my CTFB program was halted midway. Needless to say my tactics have suffered and I have to get back on top of it. I need to finish up CTFB and get back to reviewing WCT and Polgar.

I did modify my program a little however, after reading Heisman's article #19 here. I thought his timeline was really appropriate for me, almost to the month, so I decided to give his recommendations a go. One of the things that encouraged me to do this was the fact that higher rated players who reviewed my games were commenting that I needed to learn more about planning. Heisman basically says the same thing for people in steps 3 and 4 of his timeline. Therefore I ordered three books yesterday to help me get to step 5 by October. They are "Modern Chess Strategy", "Pawn Power in Chess", and "The Amateur's Mind". If things go as planned then I will continue with his book recommendations through steps 5 and 6.

I'm a little excited about starting on these new books because I have been re-reading a handful of books over the last year and I'm looking forward to adding more tools to my toolbox. suggestions for improvement on my last game? Too boring huh? One of the suggestions I did receive was to work on my knowledge of opening theory. The reviewer thought that it was time for me to spend time on the planning phase of the middle game. He said my tactics needed work as well but I can work on that through more time on my tactics program.

Playing these higher rated opponents has been really good for my improvement. The blunders come less frequently and careful play is the norm. I am less likely to see the wild Queen forrays that I used to see in the 1100 to 1200 level.

Correction. I ordered "Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur", not "The Amateur's Mind".

Sunday, April 02, 2006

First win against a 1600

Wow, I've had a lucky streak lately. This game is my first 1600 rated opponent. It's not the prettiest game and I was tactically lacking but the endgame was a good lesson for me. Tell me what you guys think about this format. I tried to copy it from Sancho.

1. e4 c5

2. Nf3 d6

3. d4 cxd4

4. Nxd4 Nf6

5. Nc3 a6

6. Bg5 e6

7. Be2 Be7

8. O-O {If 8...Nxe4 unsure of outcome. Does Black win a pawn?} Qc7 {Supporting Qside attack and preventing future e5.}

9. Qd2 Nc6

10. f4 {Starting attack. Fritz doesn't like this move. Prefers Rad1.} (10. Rad1 Nxd4 11. Qxd4) Nxd4

11. Qxd4 {This move puts Q and K on same diag.} d5 {With the threat of Bc5.}

12. Kh1 Bc5

13. Qd3 dxe4

14. Nxe4 Nxe4

15. Qxe4 h6

16. Bh4 O-O

17. Bd3 f5

18. Qe2 Bd4

19. c3 Bf6

20. Bxf6 Rxf6

21. Rad1 Bd7 {I considered Bc4 or Bc2. I liked Bc4 to attack the e-pawn but it also blocks the c-pawn and ties down the Q. Chose the safer Bc2. However I chose wrong. Bc4 is more active and prevents next move. After b5 all Black pawns are on same color as Bishop.}

22. Bc2 Bb5 {Black thinks this wins the exchange but neglected to see the counter.}

23. Qe5 Qxe5

24. fxe5 Bxf1

25. exf6 Bc4

26. fxg7 Bb5 {Rd6 is superior here. If he has weaknesses need to attack!}

27. a4 (27. Rd6 Re8 28. Bb3 Kf7 29. Bxe6+ Rxe6 30. Rxe6) Bc6

28. Bb3 Re8

29. Rd6 Kxg7 {The e-pawn is not safe. Black will have to trade R and be down a pawn in the endgame.}

30. Rxe6 Rxe6

31. Bxe6 Kf6

32. Bb3 Ke5

33. Bc2 Be4 {Now the Bs are traded. Black can not queen because the K can make it to e1.}

34. Bxe4 fxe4

35. Kg1 e3

36. Kf1 Ke4

37. Ke2 {With opposition. The game is won here.} b6

38. g3 b5

39. axb5 axb5

40. b3 h5

41. h3 b4

42. cxb4 Kd4

43. b5 Kc5

44. Kxe3 Kxb5

45. g4 hxg4

46. hxg4 {Black resigns} 1-0