The Chess Wanderer

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Not in the mood

Yesterday I played a game when I didn't really feel like playing. I played it just to keep up with the training. Did horribly as expected. Dan H. says to play only when you are in the mood and have some energy. Now I know why.

Early in the opening my 1500 opponent left book in the Vienna Game. I had forgotten all of the book moves but through analysis found the correct ones anyway. He dropped a Knight but on my next move I gave it back with interest and allowed a King side attack. Then I let him fork my King and Queen twice. It was a disaster. Throughout the whole game it made me realize how much my thought process has been aiding me and when I neglect to do it how terribly I play. The funny thing is I was taking the same amount of time per move that I usually do but I wasn't "seeing" things like normal. I would stare at the position and say, "Why did he make that move?" and I would come up with the completely wrong answer. They were all one move threats too.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Logical Chess

Finished "Logical Chess" last night. This was another book that took me almost a year to finish. As I stated in the previous post I used a different approach to reading it. I think this book is great for my level but the first few sections are especially good for absolute beginners. In the last section though, he tended to list a lot of variations. That section was probably meant for stronger players.

I did a search on rating for Pogo and I came upon this. Good grief. To think I used to play primarily on that server for a little while. I wonder if people have created that sort of stuff for ICC. The Pogo cheaters probably use it to get Pogo tokens but cheating at chess seems kind of stupid if you ask me. Especially if money isn't involved. To me, the beauty of chess is that no matter how bad you are you can always find someone just as bad as you if you use the rating system. You don't see that in other sports.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Opening tactics and storming the Kingside

Two observations and an enhancement to the study plan today.

First observation. I noticed that my opponents, especially weaker ones, tend to steal a pawn from me in the opening. I think the last 4 out of 6 games I had this happen. They don't necessarily win, but it's a little disappointing from my point of view. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe because I don't play blitz? Meaning, I don't have that opening intuition that usually comes with playing a lot of games. Anyways, not a major concern at this point because I can still hold my own at this level a pawn down, but something to think about.

Second observation. I've had a handful of successful King attacks in the last couple of weeks. I've never been able to do this previously. I think this one has to do with the two annotated books I just read, "Unbeatable Chess Lessons for Juniors" and "Logical Chess". Those books have quite a few successful Kingside attacks.

After getting some really great advice from Blunder Prone here, I have decided to enhance my Master Games study time. Instead of reviewing only games of one person or the other, currently it's Morphy, I can kill two birds with one stone by following BP's advice of studying games with the same opening. That way I can build my opening knowledge, and maybe even fix the problem in my first observation in the process. Thanks for the tip BP.

Monday, May 15, 2006

1500 here I come

Same ol, same ol. Pushed a little higher with yesterday's game. 1416 now. I feel like my tactics are decent enough to get to 1500 but my strategic knowledge is lacking. It could be due to reading Heisman's articles though *smirk*. I know I could get to 1500 or even 1600 on stronger tactics alone, but I think if I solidify my thought process and gain more strategy then it will help me get past 1600 as well. In other words, invest now for future gains. Anyway, here is the game with some of my comments.

[Date "2006.05.15"]
[White ""]
[Black "PawnSensei"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "1354"]
[BlackElo "1416"]
[TimeControl "1800+30"]

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 a6 {What's your intentions bub? I make White decide where we go from here.}
4. Ba4 Nf6 {Ok, so time to hunker down for a long fight.}
5. O-O Be7
6. Re1 b5
7. Bb3 d6
8. c3 O-O
9. d3 {Oi, we are both playing defensively. White's idea is to put pressure on the center. Black needs to confront him. c5 is the answer here. But I ignore convention at this point and prematurely start an attack.} Be6
10. Bxe6 fxe6
11. Qb3 d5 {Unintentional gambit. This leads to a Marshall type position. Time to rock and roll.}
12. exd5 exd5
13. Nxe5 Nxe5
14. Rxe5 Bd6 {Time to kick around the White pieces. I'm ahead on development and have open lines to the enemy King. That Queen looks misplaced too.}
15. Rf5 Qd7
16. Rxf6 gxf6 {White might be seeing ghosts here. The Rook on a8 is guarded so the Queen can't really make any major threats by herself.}
17. Qxd5+ Kh8
18. g3 c6 {Dude, what was I thinking? I take away the Bishop's main defender forcing her majesty to do lowly guard duty. Sorry your Highness, it won't happen again.}
19. Qf3 Rae8
20. Bh6 Qh3 {Demon begone! Heisman says "Loose pieces drop off".}
21. Bd2 Re6
22. Qxc6
{Oh man. This looks juicy. White's King looks pretty exposed at this point and he doesn't have anough defenders. Time to storm the castle.} Rfe8
23. Be3 {Long think here. I can win a Pawn, plus open up the Kingside. But is it my best move?} Bxg3
24. Qg2 {Ok, it's over at this point. The Queen can't fight my forces alone.} Bxh2+
25. Qxh2 Rg8+
26. Qg3 Rxg3+
27. fxg3 Qxg3+
28. Kf1 {White Resigns} 0-1

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Wow, another post. I've been busy posting these past couple of weeks. I guess I've had a lot to say lately. I decided to write this post after some reflection on my progress last night.

In the last couple of months I've noticed two developments in my games. First, my candidate move intuition is starting to show. It's not necessarily the best moves but I'm less prone to being overwhelmed by a whole bunch of bad moves. Now I just cocentrate on a few moves that "pop" up. I suspect this has to do with the few hundred master games I've reviewed so far. When I'm looking for candidate moves I have always looked at the checks and captures, but now I'm starting to add on certain moves that I think I've seen in other games. d4 and f4 break moves are two examples. This has helped me to use my analysis time more efficiently, even though I may not be picking the "best" candidate moves in the positions yet.

I've also noticed that my candidate move selection process is getting better. Once I have my list of candidate moves I start to weed out the bad ones through analysis. In the beginning I would often weed out a move, or narrow the list of moves, because of a certain danger level (like a mate threat on a certain square), but then forget about it and make the move that allows the threat. I don't know what this is called but it is frustrating when it happens. I notice this happens a lot less frequently now. Almost as if my position recall or memory is getting stronger. It's tough for me to explain but this is how I feel currently. I'm not sure if this is due to having played more stadard games or something else.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Annotated games

Ok, finally finished "Unbeatable Chess Lessons for Juniors". I think that these sorts of books have a limited affect on chess learning. My chess coach once told me that he doesn't believe in reading annotated master games because he feels it is better to gain what you can from going through a game than trying to understand what someone else is telling you. Also, by going through more games you will see the same patterns over and over again, whereas annotated games tends to slow the reader down. Given this information I am going to modify the way I go through these types of books. I've downloaded the next book, "Logical Chess Move by Move", into my Palm Pilot so I can go through the games first, without annotations, and refer to the book when there are moves that I get stuck on, or don't understand.

I'm also going to make a better effort, from now on, to write down moves in unannotated games that I don't understand, and ask a higher rated player to explain it. This way I can slowly start to learn to think like a higher rated player.

Still doing at least 30 minutes of tactics a day. On a good day I can get two 30 minute sessions in, for a total of one hour. I've temporarily switched from CTFB to PCT for a few units to drill more basic mate problems. I was starting to bog down in the "Win material" section so I figured it wouldn't hurt to do more basics before moving on.

I think I now understand the basics of the K + P vs K endgames. Been drilling the first couple of units of the first module in PCT. I'm also planning to spend more time on the games in "Capablanca's Best Endings" when I have the chance. The annotated books are taking up my Master Games' time right now.

Lost my latest game against a 1500 player. I thought I played much better this time around even though I won our previous encounter. I made a weak move in the opening and had to play defense the rest of the time, but made it to a drawish looking endgame. Don't know if I screwed it up or if I was lost already, the position was too complicated for me. On top of that I only had seven minutes left on the clock. One of the things I was proud of in this game was my clock management. At one point in the game I had something like 10 minutes on the clock and he had over 20. After a couple of moves however his clock dropped to around 12 and we were pretty even on time. Usually this doesn't happen with my games. I'm usually on the short end, win or lose, so I was pretty stoked about my clock management. Rating is still fluctuating between 1410 and 1390, so I hope that means it's stabilized. Sometimes after a new high it drops like 100 points or so. We'll see what happens.