Saturday, December 29, 2007

Want to see a visual of how computers process chess moves?


I found this page very interesting - it basically shows how the computer processes chess information in a visual manner.

You can click here to visit Thinking Machine 4.

Also some quick site news, I have added a java chess game to www.jrobichess.com so when you visit to look over GM games or tournaments you can have a quick game against the computer.

Friday, December 28, 2007

New Videos and Some News

These are my two recent videos this week from YouTube. Also, I have added tournament databases to the GM database that I am building up on www.jrobichess.com so pop over and take a look. If you would like to see a specific tournament or GM added to the list please email me at jrobichess@gmail.com

Chess Endgame Study: 3vs3 Pawn Breakthrough Technique



Grandmaster Chess Tactics #1: Can you see the line?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Pawn Centres I: Open Centre

Christmas holidays at last, and some spare time for chess & blogs! I read a chapter in Bruce Pandolfini's Weapons of Chess the other day on the topic of pawn centres. I thought I could start a mini-series on the various types of pawn centres, illustrating each with a game of the masters.

The importance of knowing about pawn centres ought to be evident. Pawn centres are an essential -- if not the most important -- factor in determining the course of a game. You probably know what style of play you enjoy (aggressive, tactical, positional, flank attacks, centre attacks, ...) -- but do you also know how to bring about the positions you excel at? This is where knowledge of pawn centres comes in handy!

The open centre, as you might have guessed, favours aggressive, tactical play. The defining feature of an open centre is the absence of pawns: no pawns (or one at most) occupy the central files.


An open centre guarantees free passage for the pieces -- your own and your enemy's -- so speed is paramount. Fast development and an aggressive attack are key. If your opponent offers you a pawn or even an exchange, beware! The time it takes to snatch that pawn could easily give your opponent an opportunity to mate your king on the other side of the board. So don't be materialistic and keep your king safety in mind! Castle early, for a king on an open e-file is a sitting duck.

The game (with annotations) between Spielmann and Tartakower, Munich 1909 illustrates the nature of open centre play very well, I think; both players play aggressively, but in the end Spielmann is one notch faster than his opponent, forcing him into the defence and finishing him off with a powerful attack.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Chess Grandmaster Collection on www.jrobichess.com

I have been slowly building up a grandmaster chess collection on http://www.jrobichess.com. With the viewer you can select whatever match or tournament you want to look at, and mouse wheel functionality is incorporated for better viewing.

Today I added match databases for Anand and Kramnik. If you would like to see a grandmaster on the list, please let me know and I will get it up there and if you haven't signed up for the forums yet, pop on over and sign up. Registration is simple and secure.

Hope your weekend is going great, and Christmas is only 9 days away!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

YouTube and Chess

I was browsing chess videos today, and came across a video made by zgambitz which he posted 3 weeks ago but I just came across today.



I definitely hope his efforts on YouTube helps his chess goals!

I have nothing but completely positive things to say about YouTube and technology in general when it comes to chess, and hopefully many of you out there are finding that to be true for your game as well.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Frustration and Chess


On occassion I get a message from a YouTube subscriber or blog visitor asking about frustration at certain development stages in chess. Often the question is along the lines "Is this normal?" or "How long will it last?" and both questions are very legitimate.

From my experience so far, it is very natural, and very healthy to be frustrated as one learns new concepts and skills. Learning new things is always challenging, especially when you consider the complicated and life-long pursuit of chess. What I have noticed since I started exploring chess, is that there is a degree of frustration before reaching a new high in personal skill. It's as if new skills are in place, but not quite settled in yet. Deep down you know they are there, as you learned them and worked on them, but the "magical" switch hasn't turned on yet, which causes the frustration.

Achieving new highs in chess skill seems to happen in subtle yet very noticeable ways. One day you are still in the 1350's range with rating. That rating might have taken some time to work towards, and people rated 1500-1600 seemed to have it all together compared to you. Then, as if by explosion, you start to win consistently against people rated 1400-1450 and your rating increases steadily until yet again it levels out. You can insert any rating here and it will make sense.

From my experience, the frustration comes just before the surge. You know you have new skills, you know you have new abilities, but it's the period in-between learning them and putting them to natural practice which causes the frustration. And if there is one message I would like to put out to everyone is that is completely normal, and to be expected. It's like a race horse ready to start the race but the stupid humans haven't opened the gate yet.

Very Close Poll Results!

This week's poll question was: Josh Waitzkin's claim that end-game study trumps all other forms of study when it comes to improving chess is definitely sound advice for aspiring chess amateurs.

The results were very close - one of the closest polls ever on the blog:

Yes (55%)
No (45%)

Make sure to check in on this week's poll: More attention should be given to current Grandmasters (Anand, Kramnik, Carlsen, etc) as opposed to people mainly focusing on the legends of chess (Fischer, Alekhine, Kasparov, etc).

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kasparov on Making Mistakes and Winning at Chess

Here is a great video from YouTube in which Kasparov talks about how it is essential to analyse not only other people's games but your own.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

New Video: Chess Endgame Study: Lucena Position



A video that explores the Lucena Position, one of the most important endgame techniques for any serious chess player to learn. This video includes the basics of the Lucena position, along with variations including black moving first, and how black can work towards a draw if the Lucena Position has the pawn on the A or H file.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Jingle Bell Chess

In the spirit of the season, here's some Jingle Bell Chess from YouTube! Don't forget to send me your picture for the Christmas project I am working on in case you haven't yet. Just email them to jrobichess@gmail.com with the first names of the people in the picture!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Russian Elections Over - Kasparov Released from Jail


Putin's government apperantly had a major victory, and Gary Kasparov finished his 5 day sentence in jail and was released. For more information about his release, please visit CNN which posted the article.

There can be no doubt that Kasparov tried his best to bring about change, and that since his accomplishments in the chess world he has been trying hard to make the world around him better through giving his time and energy to other people.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Voters Sound Off!

This week's question was: If Bobby Fischer, due to his health problems, were to pass on, what would he be remembered by most in future generations?

The blog community voted the following on the question:

His amazing chess ability (85%)
His racial comments (0%)
How he let chess down (5%)
How people let him down (0%)
Wont be talked about much (10%)

Thanks for contributing to the voting, and make sure to cast your vote on this week's question: Josh Waitzkin's claim that end-game study trumps all other forms of study when it comes to improving chess is definitely sound advice for aspiring chess amateurs.

New Video: Chess Match: onlyone (1910) vs. jrobi (1445)



This match has me playing against the Alekhine's Defence. As my opponent was rated significantly higher than me I tried something a little risky in the beginning with a bishop sack. My opponent probably should have been able to win, but I think the sack through him off guard and probably made him feel like this would be an easy win, which caused him to make some positional mistakes that I was able to capitalize on.

The video also has a new intro I have been playing around with.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Youth and Technology - Do they get it?

Here is an interesting video showing how younger people these days have unprecedented access to amazing technological tools, but struggle to utilize them for anything productive in a learning capacity. Teaching professionals as well struggle to incorporate technology into their teaching practices. Instead, young people are reporting that they use technology almost exclusively for the purpose of socializing.

As a person who started their chess journey with technology, I know how powerful and helpful it can be. I am often asked at how I have progressed so quickly since July of this past summer, and the meat and bones of my answer is always technology. Whether it is going over grandmaster games on my computer, playing chess online, making chess videos, using Fritz or Chessbase, or researching opening lines amongst a variety of other technology-related chess resources, the fact of the matter is that I have used tools that people in previous generations did not have access to, and it has been extremely helpful!

But I am just slightly older than your standard high school or college student (okay fine ... by a decade and a small bit!) so to me technology is a tool to use to achieve things. That being said, I also find it a useful social tool. However, the new generations seem to emphasize the social aspects almost to the exclusion of the other benefits of technology.

I hope you find this video interesting, and am looking forward to your thoughts on the issue of technology and how it is being used. Moreover, what needs to change when it comes to the implementation of technology by professional educators?

Does this video highlight the need for students themselves to make changes with how they use technology, or does it emphasize the fact that schools of all levels need to do better in helping students understand just how to make their technology do more things for their education.

Email Pictures to Me!

I have something I am working on for Christmas, and would like to have some pictures of all you out there in the spirit of the season! Send me your picture to jrobichess@gmail.com and include the first name of the people in the photograph. I would like to have them before December 14th at the latest.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Christmas and Chess


I have started a thread on the forums about "Christmas and Chess" here for a place to post good chess christmas ideas. I know a lot of visitors have kids, and I am also looking at getting something chess-related for my son so if you have any cool ideas or come across something you can post a link in the thread. Hope your weekend was great!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Kramnik the Best of All Time?


At Susan Polgar's chess forums, a poster asked if Kramnik could be called the "best ever":

He has a positive score vs kasparov, anand, ivanchuk, topalov, svidler...Has won
long matches vs kasparov, topalov (3-2) and i think he will have no difficulties
to beat anand too.Has won a number of big tourneys, although he is only 32.His
understanding of the positional factors and his endgame technique are really
outstanding, not only nowadays but in the whole history of chess.Somebody can
argue that players like kasparov or fischer had higher %, and this is partially
true but, that is caused mostly by kramnik's lack of ferocious wish to win.In
terms of pure chess talent, beauty of play, harmony of ideas i think kramnik is
really beyond all other champions of all ages; and i have studied about 6000
games in my life so i have "seen" all the bigs in action...Waiting for opinions!
I found the question interesting, and looked into a few GM's overall records. This was my response, and I am interested in your thoughts on the question as well:

Kramnik has a lot of work to do if he is to be considered as the best ever, as he has an overall win percentage that is lower than just comparing to Fischer and Kasparov.



Robert James Fischer Win percentage (72.6%)*
Garry Kasparov Win
percentage (69.4%)*
Jose Raul Capablanca Win percentage (72.1%)*
Alexander Alekhine Win
percentage (72.9%)*

Vladimir Kramnik's (63.0%) needs a fair amount of improvement. But as you said, the man is still young. He is also playing in the forefront of an accelerated technological generation that is producing chess tools never before available.

Over time he could rise to the level you currently hold him at, but he still has a fair amount to prove. Plus as time rolls on he will be facing younger and stronger players raised and immersed in technology and the benefits that has to improving their chess skills. Time will tell, and I will be very interested to see how things shape up over the next few decades.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

www.jrobichess.com coming along ...




Development continues on http://www.jrobichess.com/ at a fairly good pace. The site is geared towards connecting my chess initiatives (blog, forums, grandmaster match collection, computer chess tools, videos, etc) in a streamlined process to allow for one link that will access everything. While it is a slow process, it is definitely fun!

One of the main hurdles currently is obtaining the ability to generate tactical positions on the site server for image linking on the forums. We are experiencing challenges getting the forums to display java-related information. An alternative is to have a tool on the site that will allow visitors to enter positional data and then have the server generate an image which can be placed into the forum posts. In the long-run I would like to be able to have visitors upload entire PGNs with annotations which can be displayed in the forums as well in a graphical manner.

This stuff is all new to me, and I would like to thank Christian for helping me out in this endevour. Hopefully sooner rather than later we will have something up that meets one or both of our goals. If you know of a solution, we would absolutely love to hear about it!

If you visit the site you will see how construction is coming along.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Voters Speak!

The question this week was if joining a chess club was beneficial. The breakdown of the votes went as follows:

No. (0%)
Yes. (80%)
Depends on Club (20%)

Not a big surprise there at all - but personally I think a couple things are important. First, the atmosphere. Is it a friendly club or a "kill or be killed" club? It's an important question. My personal opinion is that if you can't learn at a club, then it's not really a club but a meeting place for competition. Now that's not a bad thing, but learning needs to be a big emphasis if a person wants to improve their game.

This week's poll focuses on one of the chess world's largest icons, Bobby Fischer. If Bobby Fischer, due to his health problems, were to pass on, what would he be remembered by most in future generations?

Looking forward to the results.

Monday, November 26, 2007

New Blog Look

The look of the blog has changed, and the reason being is that I am in the process of creating www.jrobichess.com which is going to be a "hub" of my various chess initiatives. This format for the blog seems to work best with the site design I am presently working with. Feel free to visit what I have so far and leave feedback on the forums.

Bobby Fischer Hospitalized in Serious Condition

According to Susan Polgar and certain sources, Bobby Fischer is in a serious health crisis and has been in a hospital for several weeks. His wife and closest friends can't be reached for confirmation, but a neighbor says that Fischer is going through some major health issues. When I hear more I will post immediately to the blog.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gary Kasparov Imprisoned!

Kasparov, who has been working hard at reforms in Russia, has been sent to jail for charged with organizing protest, resisting arrest, and chanting slogans.

For the full article from CNN - click here.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Forced Patience

With a handful of pieces still on the board, having your king in front of your pawns is usually a bad idea; venture too far into enemy territory, and your king will be a rabbit on the run.

However, the hunter still has to find the right moves to make the most out of an exposed king. In calculating a position such as the one below, we're prone to think along forced lines: "I check, he has to go there, then I check here, he goes there, I check here, he goes there, etc. etc.". The challenge is to find the one move that does not immediately force things, but rather paves the way for a forced win. Look at the board. White to move -- do you see the rabbit trap?


Bd5 was my original plan (the rook at a8 is trapped). Then I started pondering f4+, luring the king into a mating net. I began calculating -- f4+, Kxe4, Re1+, Kf5, Bd3+, Kg4, ... at that point, I more or less convinced myself that after Kg4, there had to be a winning continuation (even though I didn't bother calculating things out).

What I should have considered in my calculation, however, is the one quiet move that seals the deal! After 1. f4+ Kxe4, White has the move 2. f5! -- the king cannot escape, and Black cannot bring in any defenders, either. 2. ... Bxf5 3. Re1#!

Lesson learned: in calculating forced variations, watch out for quiet moves as well.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Launching New Forums!

I like the blog in terms of people being able to post on specific entries, but I want a more stable way to keep discussions going. To solve this I created new forums which you can register at and participate in discussing a variety of things related to chess. I am planning on adding new features to the forums as things roll along. Check them out and looking forward to the discussions that will come! The direct link to the forums is http://www.jrobichess.com/forums/.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Voters Speak

Last week's poll was what time limits are best for amateurs for online matches in order to improve positional play. The vote spread was as follows:

10m/player (12%)
20m/player (0%)
30m/player (50%)
60m/player (37%)

This week's poll focuses on the importance of participating in real over-the-board chess clubs.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Taser Murder in Canada

Generally I keep this blog totally chess related, but as a Canadian I was absolutely disgusted by the recent taser death in one of our international airports. It boggles my mind how anyone could try and justify what these cops did after watching this video.

Here is the video of 4 Canadian RCMP members ending the life of an innocent man who spoke no English, and was just waiting to meet his mom at the airport. It turns out he was at the wrong area to meet her and was waiting for 10 hours, but that mistake cost him his life, and for what? Absolutely nothing. The police involved need to stand trial for manslaughter. Don't get me wrong, I support the police usually 110% but this was not police work, this was murder. As horrible as the event was, I am glad that a citizen caught it on video tape, and fought for the right to obtain his video after the police confiscated it to make it public for people to see what really happened.



Yes the man was upset and agitated, but he did not need to get tasered, and then have someone sit on his neck with their knee while tasered again. This man made no aggressive move to the cops whatsoever, and was outnumbered 4-1. The cops made the decision to use violent force, and they did not need to do that.

I support our police in general, but these cops need to be held responsible for killing this man. They didn't even try CPR when they realized he was not breathing. Pathetic.

A Polish Man's Trip to Canada

Where has my mother gone?
She said she would be here.
2 hours now completely alone,
People staring as if I were queer;

I don't understand anyone here,
Their chatter is like a busted T.V.;
4 hours alone, no one but me,
Mother might be lost I fear;

I just want to see her face,
To hug her and get away;
6 hours alone is a very long day
In this god-forsaken place.

I am getting a bit annoyed,
The flight was more than enough;
8 hours now watching bags deployed
Will cause anyone to get in a huff.

Something must be really wrong
Can't they see I need to talk?
10 hours here is far too long,
This day just needs to stop.

Finally! Here comes some cops!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Got Zugzwang?

I reached this position with Black after 44. ... h5:


My opponent and I had already been mumbling about a draw, but I insisted we play on for a couple more moves. Turns out that Black is winning, thanks to zugzwang! Once the pawns on the kingside are stuck, the White king will have to relinquish the protection of the c5-pawn. Black can then take the pawn and proceed into a winning endgame.

Lesson learned: if a situation looks hopelessly stuck and drawish, check again, and see if the position's got zugzwang.

Here are two illustrative positions from Bruce Pandolfini's Weapons of Chess:


In the first example, White is winning regardless of whose move it is; in the second example, whoever moves first wins.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New Video: Exploring www.letsplaychess.com / www.chessworld.net



I have found this site to be very good for positional analysis, and an excellent addition to live online play. Of course I will continue to play live servers online just as much as before, but this site helps one analyze the position without the worry of time controls, leading to better positional play in timed online games.

This video explores some of the features that I like, and is a general introduction. I plan on making an advanced features video at some point when I get more comfortable with the options available. To set up your account, visit this link and register. You can decide if you want to pay the low annual fee or if you just want to try a guest account at no charge.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Voters Speak!

This week's poll expired this morning. The question was how much the online world (blogs, videos, etc) has helped your chess. The votes came in as follows:

A little (0%)
A fair amount (20%)
Definitely a lot (70%)
What's online mean? (10%)

I am very excited to see how technology shapes the coming generation of competitive chess players! With software that performs and helps train at Grandmaster levels, coupled with the rising popularity of chess videos and online resources, it's a very exciting time for chess!

Make sure to weigh in on this week's poll which deals with the impact of online game time limits on chess learning potential.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

King's Gambit

Recently, Kingscrusher has been video-annotating the 11-0 sweep of Fischer in the '64 U.S. Championship (and I highly recommend his videos). While watching the game against Evans, Fischer employed the King's Gambit opening and won what seemed to me to be a creative and energetic game.

After watching, I played a few blitz games using this opening and have found the games to be a fun departure from the typical 1 e4 e5 games, which sometimes can result in symmetrical positions that are less interesting. The Gambit actually seems to have a fairly high success rate. I have noticed in my games that the system allows for:

1. White to take control of the center
2. Wild and Sharp play for both sides
3. and it has something of surprise value since it is infrequently played.

I have actually found this opening both fun and useful!
Although I do not offer my analysis as masterful, I have put up a couple of games that have some useful tips and ideas.
Check out video #1
Here you can watch Video #2, which I think may be more instructive (at least on how NOT to play against the gambit):

Friday, November 9, 2007

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Voters Speak!

The results of last week's poll asking whether or not draws should be removed from impacting competition results are:

Yes (30%)
No (70%)

This is an interesting issue and debate that is being discussed on a number of online sources, including Susan Polgar's chess forums. I will post another poll in 6 months or so and see if the results change or if they stay around the same percentage.

Hope everyone's weekend was a good one!

Jeremy Silman's Training Time Recommendations


In a recent interview, Jeremy Silman (author of a number of good chess books) made the following training recommendations for players ranked under 1900:

Tactical puzzles: 15% of study time.
Studying Positional Concepts: 15% of study time.
Analyzing/deconstructing your own Games: 30% of study time.
Analyzing Master Games: 30% of study time.
Openings: 10% of study time.

He also recommended purchasing his book "SILMAN'S COMPLETE ENDGAME COURSE" which I have purchased personally and am finding to be very good so far.

Jeremy Silman's web site can be accessed here.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Chess Controversy: Draws in Competitive Play

It's game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Hockey. 3rd Period, 2 minutes to go, tie score. A coach calls a time out and walks over the other bench, and offers the other team a draw, giving each team 3.5 points, and an equal share of the Stanley Cup. Possible? Not on your life! The fans would drop the sport completely and denounce it as professional competition. Pockets of fans would remain, but the media and news organizations wouldn't bother covering the event any longer. Why bother - draws can be decided before the contest even begins by competitors lacking integrity, and there will never be a sure-fire way to determine if it was rigged way before the contest even began. Why give worthwhile news coverage to events that are questionable before they even start! Such doubts are what destroy competitive sports as soon as fans start to believe deals are being made behind closed doors.

What does this have to do with chess you might be thinking? Well, consider the following scenario:

A group of Grandmaster competitors converge on a highly anticipated tournament. 3 GM's of a field of 12 play their hearts out, with their supporters keeping track on internet blogs and chess servers of their progress. One GM has a score of 11-0, one has 10-1 and the other has 10 and 2. The GM with the score of 11-0 offers the GM with 10-1 a draw fairly early in the match. The GM being offered the draw has lost against the current leader 4 out of their last 5 encounters, and does not want to split the prize fund for second place if he drops to 10-2. Or in some formats, he might simply want to avoid having to fight for second place. He accepts the draw.

The winner claims the prize with a 11.5 point total. Second place claims the prize with a 10.5 point total, and the last GM finished 3rd with 10 points.

Who loses out in this example? The GM's? Maybe the 3rd place GM if it was a format where he would have had a chance at playing to win second place. But honestly, it's the fans of chess that lost out the most along with the credibility of the competition in general.

Now let me say this: Draws and Stalemates are extremely important to chess. But I question their importance in competitive play. If tournament participants reach a draw or stalemate, it should be at the credit of their good play, but it should not end there. There should be a rematch until a clear winner of that 1 point is determined. If someone can force a stalemate or draw, good for them. They might very well have salvaged a losing position. However, their only reward should be another shot at that 1 point against the same player.

Would it make tournaments longer? Sure! Just like overtime in any other professional sports. Fans love it! The media loves it! Everyone is waiting with baited breath to see who will rise above their competitor and finally secure the win!

I believe this is where chess needs to go. There can be no doubts, chess is really suffering from a lack of media coverage and exposure. How many newspapers covered the results of the recent championships in Mexico? None around my area, and from what I am reading very few in North America in general. Questionable draws and tournament results over the years have turned many media organizations and people in general away from the sport of chess. Many believe that results are rigged when draws end up altering the outcome of tournament results - and can we blame them?

If chess is going to gain popularity and media coverage, things have to change. The issue of draws is just one thing, the overall organization of how world champions are selected is another. In its current form, Chess has too many things working against it that is stopping it from reaching a mass audience and an equal share of coverage that chess enthusiasts like us know that it definitely DESERVES!

I am looking forward to your thoughts on this discussion.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Little Endgame Study


Taken from a recent Blitz game. White played 50. Qxf3 and eventually lost. What do you think, was his decision to take Black's queen correct? If your answer is yes, how should he have continued after 50. ... exf3?

It turns out that White's decision to trade queens was correct. In fact, after 50. ... exf3, White is winning! But White must be careful, because after 51. Se3 a4 52. Sc2?, Black wins!


Black wins.


White's knight is tied to c2 to prevent the a-pawn from promotion, and White's king cannot attack Black's g&f pawn without moving out of the g-pawn's critical squares! While White's king is moving back and forth on the 1st rank, and White's knight is guarding the a-pawn's queening square from c2, Black's king has all the time in the world to take White's pawn on f4 and then move to h2 to escort the g-pawn to g1. White's king even has to watch out for a king&pawn mate!

Carlos mentioned the winning move for White: 52. Sxe5!


White wins.


If Black takes on e5, he can do nothing to prevent the promotion of White's c-pawn, and his a-pawn is too slow (White will take with check!). If instead Black decides to advance his a-pawn right away, White moves his knight to b4, and now starts his pawn avalanche with his f-, d- and c-pawn! If Black choses not to push the a-pawn at all, moving in his king instead, the result is the same. Meanwhile, without the support of the Black king, the White king successfully holds Black's g/f pawns in check (if you forgive the pun).

So remember: do not hesitate to sacrifice your one remaining piece for the benefit of your pawn storm!

Monday, October 29, 2007

New Video: Evans Gambit Opening

This video takes a look at the Evans Gambit Opening, which scores a 55% win percentage vs. a 30% loss percentage in the online databases. It's a fun opening for white, and leads to some great positions if black does not play carefully. I also would like to welcome Christian to the blog, and give a shout out to Slats, our other contributer, who has posted some great discussion items and who also has a YouTube channel located here!

A Follow-Up to Slatts's Last Post

I reached the following position with White (after 25. ... Rfe8).



Here I played 25. Rg1, thinking I'd bring another piece closer to the attack with tempo. However, I missed a much more fierceful move that would have achieved the same. Therefore, when evaluating an advantageous position, perhaps one should stubbornly look at each of your attackers in turn and consider every legal move you have, including captures. You don't even need a deep calculation; simply place each attacking piece on the squares in your mind, one after the other.

This, of course, works only in longer games. As for a "sixth sense" of tactics -- the Knights Errant believe the Holy Grail of tactics recognition is Michael de la Maza's Circles.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Transition from "building" to "concrete" action


Great position for Black, huh? It's Black's move and he must make a concrete decision on how to move forward. I was building and building, that is, I was positioning my pieces in a way that didn't necessarily have any direct threat or idea, Just getting them in a place where the tactics would be good for me.
I have excellent control of the center with the classically placed d and e Pawns. My Bishops are poised both the support my central pawns as well as act as powerful king side pressure if a pawn were to advance. My Rooks are in a threatening position right in the center of a vacated Queen side.
It is at this point, when all my pieces are basically optimally placed that I had to make a choice. But I wasn't ready yet. I wasn't looking at all the tactics deeply enough because I thought, just one more positioning move, which wasn't really helpful at all.
How do you know when it is time to move from "positioning" to "tactics"? Sometimes it's easy, like when a situation is forced on you, but here, it seemed like I had more time. Maybe another slow move like Bb4?
There is a tactic here that transforms the game into completely won. Do you see it? My thought is that to know it's time to look for the tactic, you just have to be good at tactics and train so you have a kind of "sixth sense" that says, "something will work here". I want that sense!

A New Contributor Saying Hello!

JRobi has kindly invited me to contribute to this blog, and as a first exercise in blogging, I would like to post some links which might be of interest to you.

First, there are two chess live events happening at the moment, the Exhibition Rapid Chess Match between Peter Leko (Hungary, FIDE rating 2751) and Vasyl Ivanchuk (Ukraine, FIDE rating 2762), and the European Team Chess Championships 2007 in Crete, Greece. Both websites feature live broadcasts, but the games can also be observed on the FICS. Unfortunately for people in the New World, the games usually take place around 1300 GMT -- but what better way to start the day at 6am than having a steaming cup of morning coffee while watching some chess? ;)

Other than that, I'd be interested to hear whether any of you read other chess blogs that you would recommend. I stumbled upon Squirrel Chess and Confessions of a Chess Novice the other day, and both seem very much worth reading.

Last but not least, I was wondering if some of you are up for playing longer FICS games (30+ minutes) with post-mortem analysis in the chat? I find that people on FICS never discuss their games and tend to dislike long standard games, so I thought I'd drop my request here.

Best,

Christian.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Seeking Contributers!

I would like to get the blog to the point of having a couple fresh posts per day. Not crazy mad posting like some other blogs but just a good overall pace. If you are interested in posting tactics, analysis, videos, or anything related to chess please email me at jrobichess@gmail.com and we will get you set up with the ability to post right here on the main page!

Kasparov on CNN

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Tactics time

This position came about during analysis of a game I played recently. Black to move, find the line that wins the most material.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Live Blitz Games

Here are some 5 Min Blitz games played on Yahoo Chess.
Game 5


Game 1
Game 2
Game 3
Game 4

I think playing blitz can be a good way to practise openings and tactics, but if you play it too much you may get impatient with analysis in longer games. At least, it seems like that has been the case for me ;)

Friday, October 19, 2007

New Video: Chess Tactics Practice #2

Uploaded a new tactics practice video from a position from a recent match of mine. The video can be located here or by accessing my YouTube channel.



It's Friday, so the weekend is upon us all and hopefully everyone enjoys it as much as possible!

The Results Speak Volumes!

The question of this week's poll was: A serious tournament player should memorize common opening lines (how deep) and the results:

10 Moves Deep (0%)
15 Moves Deep (22%)
20 Moves Deep (55%)
25 Moves Deep (0%)
30+ Moves Deep(22%)

20 moves seems to have the most votes. Make sure to check the new poll and cast your vote!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How to use the Free Internet Chess Server with the Babass Graphical Client

I am re-posting this to help promote the Free Internet Chess Server, which is one of the best free chess servers available on the internet. I hope you find it useful if you have never tried the server!



Wednesday is almost over ... which means the weekend is soon upon us!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

First Over-the-Board Tournament!

Played in a small tournament today at the chess club we frequent. Was very interesting taking part with the use of actual clocks, writing down moves, and playing multiple rounds. The entire event took around 4 hours to complete. I placed 2nd with 6 wins and 1 loss, third place was taken by a student from the chess team I started with 5 wins, 1 loss, and 1 draw (first place for his respective age grouping) and first place overall went to our club organizer with 6 wins and 1 draw. My seven year old son had 3 wins, and 4 losses, and won a medal for "Best Game". He did very well considering that this was the first time he had to use a clock and write down the game moves at the same time.

All in all it was a great experience, and we are going to continue to pursue over-the-board events. I believe this tournament was using the Canadian Chess Federation "blitz" ratings, so no standard ratings were on the line. The event was run very smoothly from our organizer, and everyone involved had a lot of fun!

Friday, October 12, 2007

New Book Arriving Soon


I have heard a lot of great things about Silman's Complete Endgame Course: From Beginner To Master, so I ordered it a few days ago. Should be arriving today. I will post my thoughts on it after a few weeks of use.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The votes are in!

Results from last week's poll asking what is the best thing to focus on when training children are:

Middle Game Strategy (14%)
Tactics(21%)
End Game Study (42%)
Play Frequently (21%)

Make sure to cast your vote on this week's poll!

Monday, October 8, 2007

A Canadian Thanksgiving!

It was our Thanksgiving weekend up here in the North, so that's why the posts were few and far between. Back now with a full stomach, so hope everyone enjoyed their weekends, and if you had a long one I hope you enjoyed that much more!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Sicilian Defense: an Introduction

Book review and study: How to Play the Sicilian Defense by David Levy and Kevin O'Connell

Part I: Introduction

The Sicilian Defense is perhaps the most popular and dynamic response to the opening move e4. "The Sicilian Defense offers enormous scope to players of every style, since there are many quiet, positional lines in addition to the more notorious wild, attacking variations" (pg 2).

This is the very opening position of the Sicilian Defense and "with his very first move Black creates and unbalanced position and announces his intention of defending by means of counter-attack" (pg 2).

This simple position is a microcosm of the battle plans of both sides. White controls d5 and Black controls d4, two crucially important squares. White wants to occupy d4 with a piece (typically a Knight) and keep the d5 square under "careful observation, and if necessary restraint".

White's plan is to build up pressure on the King-side (as c5 makes Black's idea of "castling long" typically undesirable) and hold on to control of the center. Black's plan is that of counter-attack on the Queen-side and to slowly undermine White' central control, ultimately allowing for d5 after which "Black will normally be assured of at least equality" (pg 2).


After 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 we have a typical position (Najdorf variation of the Sicilian). The purpose of Black's second move (d6) is now clear: to prevent white from playing e5 to attack Black's Knight on f6.

In this position white would like to play c4 (the Maroczy Bind) because we know a substantial objective of Black is to play the freeing move d5 at some point. With pawns at c4 and e4, this objective is made much more difficult. However, since Black has now attacked the e4 pawn, White is drawn into playing Nc3, defending the pawn but also blocking the his c pawn. Some players may want to defend the pawn with the bishop (Bd3) but this relegates the bishop to a defensive position and after c4, it is blocked in by pawns.


Play along these lines (White attacking on the King-side and Black attacking on the Queen-side, both eyeing the center) may lead to a position like this. Black has placed his Bishop to attack the e4 pawn, which White has defended with f3, making e5 or f4 difficult. If White had not played f3, the e-pawn could be won easily. Moves like b4 could pester the c3 Knight from its defense. White will likely continue with h4 and g5 at the right moment and Black will likely put his rook on the c-file (with a potential exchange sacrifice on c3).

There are some excellent youTube videos discussing some of Kasparov's games played in the Sicilian:
Canstein:
Movsesian v Kasparov
Judith Polgar v Kasparov
Kingscrusher:
Kasparov v Shirov

Review:
WHITE:
- Maintain control of d5 (which ensures space advantage)
- Attack on the King-side
- Set up a piece on d4
BLACK:
- Look for/play towards opportunities to play d5
- Expand and attack on Queen-side
- Undermine White's center by attacking e4 pawn
- If c-file opens (as in the Najdorf), put rook on the half-open c-file

"It is much more important to understand an opening than to know it (in the sense of rote learning of moves)" (preface). How to Play the Sicilian Defense is a guide with examples and ideas, and I am in no way exhausting the book's ideas and insights. In Part II the Maroczy Bind will be further discussed.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Meet the REAL Vincent from the Movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer"

Laurence Fishburne's character in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer" was based on a real life individual - and here he is:

Part 1.



And part 2 ...



Quite an interesting individual. Sadly, Vinnie died just before the movie was released from AIDS in 1993.

Monday, October 1, 2007

New Video: Chess Tricks #1: Updates and Corrections.

Had some great things pointed out in my last chess trick video, so this one corrects some mistakes made. Special thanks to Ecspade and Pestlett for pointing out the areas in need of correction! The corrections video is located here or by accessing my YouTube channel.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

New Video: Chess Trick #1 - Quickly Calculating King vs. Pawn movements

In this video I talk about a little trick that I came across from Josh Waitzkin's segments on Chessmaster 10. I had previously calculated every move in my head for king vs. pawn end-games, and this will save a fair amount of time. Hope you find it usefull as well if you haven't come across it yet. You can access the video here or by visiting my YouTube channel page.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

My first chess video

My first youTube video. Hopefully it is interesting enough. I am working on the Sicilian defense, and although this is a somewhat unorthodox game in the Sicilian, I think it demonstrated some important themes that I will be discussing more in depth later.

Thanks for watching!

The votes are in!

This week's question was if time was limited, what tactics training should trump the rest, and here is the spread:

Mate in One (7%)
Mate in Two (15%)
Mate in Three (15%)
Pin Tactics (0%)
Fork Tactics (23%)
Skewer Tactics (0%)
All Equally! (38%)

Pretty clear results there - all tactics should be practiced equally even if time is limited.

This week's poll is: "For teaching young children chess, the most important thing to focus on is ..." Looking forward to your opinions on this one!

New Video: Exploring Fischer's Openings #4: King's Indian Defence vs. Queen's Pawn Game

Posted a new video today continuing my exploration of Fischer's opening strategies. This video takes a look at Fischer's match against Mark Taimanov in 1971, played in Vancouver. Fischer won the match using a King's Indian Defence against Taimanov's Queen's Pawn Game. Fischer has a lot of matches that show consistent use of the King's Indian Defence along with Benoni systems as black against Queen Pawn openings. You can access the video here or by visiting my YouTube channel.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Susan Polgar Documentary: "My Brilliant Brain"


If you haven't seen this documentary yet, I highly recommend it. You can access the videos from the following links:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Evaluate the Position


A large part of playing chess is being able to evaluate a position. Usually it is not the person who can calculate the deepest that has the advantage, it is the person who can better evaluate the positions that will arise from the calculation. In this position, from a game I recently played, the material is even, but both players have certain advantages.

Which side would you rather be, black or white? Why? What advantages and disadvantages does each side have? I will list them below, but try to think of them before looking.

White:
Advantages
1. Has the potential for controlling a partially open A or B-file.
2. Bishops on neighbor diagonals.
Disadvantages
1. Pawn Structure a little weakened (disadvantage for the end game).
2. Advanced pawns in castle position weaken king.
3. White-squared bishop and Queen blocked in.

Black:
Advantages
1. Controls open E file.
2. Unobstructed bishops on long neighbor diagonals.
3. Invasive pawn structure with no exploitable weakness.
4. Safe king position.
Disadvantages
1. White F pawn potentially may disrupt king position.

If I have missed anything or have wrongly evaluated the position please let me know. With this knowledge, we can come up with reasonable plans for White and Black.

White should seek to exchange pieces to alleviate the cramped position. He may also, if he can secure a safe king, play for counter-attack on the queen side.

Black should seek to exploit White's weakened king and try to transform his spacial and quality advantages into material advantages for a winning end-game.

It is Black's move. Do you see a tactic that will accomplish this goal?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Chessmaster 10 Arrived

Took a number of weeks, but finally got it in. I will post a review in a week or so. Got it primarily for my son, so I will let him determine the overall quality, although there are a number of features that I am sure will help anyone, including myself. Can't argue much for $9.99 regardless.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Votes Speak Volumes: Tactics Prevail!

The weekly poll ended early this morning with the following voter percentage:

Openings! (6%)
Middle Game! (6%)
End Game! (17%)
Tactics! (58%)
Play lots of matches! (10%)

This week's poll focuses on what tactics should be a priority if time is limited. Looking forward to the results!

Some Different Fischer Video Clips

Found this clip on Manju's blog and it has some video clips of Fischer I had not seen before. Sharing it with you this morning.

Susan Polgar in Mexico

Susan Polgar has been doing an amazing job at covering the championships in Mexico on her blog. She has travelled down to the event, and is covering things from a different angle than other online chess publications. Rich with pictures, thoughts, and analysis, Susan's blog has become the place to go to check out happenings in Mexico.

You can access her blog here, and participate in her new chess forums here.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition Announced

Chessmaster fans (I am still waiting on mine to arrive by mail!) will be excited about this news and the tons of new features.

Link for info is http://www.ubi.com/US/Games/Info.aspx?pId=5893

Bring on the weekend!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Chess Club Night!

Was a great night for the chess club. Some great games were played. My son won 4 games and lost 1 to one of the stronger club players, and I won 1, had 1 draw against the player that beat my son (I think now we are 3-1-1 over the last 4 weeks, so he came close to making that 3-2 tonight) and as per usual I had a good trouncing from the club organizer, making my record 1-4 against him. But that's the way you learn, and it is super helpful to have an organizer that instructs while you play which is awesome.

Next week we have to start writing down our matches in preparation for our first over the board tournament, so I will most likely start a chess club video series to add to the ones I am already doing on the YouTube channel. Should be fun!

I will be registered with the chess federation along with my son here in Canada within the next couple weeks. I will keep you all up-to-date on our efforts in that front. Take care and enjoy the last day of the week before the weekend!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Video: Chess Match

I have uploaded a new video going over a chess match I had tonight that highlights just how important assessing material trades can be. You can view the video here or from my YouTube channel here. Full PGN's of all my videos are located on the links to the right.

Thanks Susan Polgar!

Today started off as a normal day - woke up around 5:30AM, checked my messages and played a couple quick chess matches online while enjoying a cup of coffee, and headed off to work. Got home and found out that both this blog and my YouTube channel were mentioned on Susan Polgar's chess blog ... and it was one of those moments! When my son saw mention of his daddy's videos on Susan's blog ... his blue eyes were just beaming! Thank you Susan and also thank you for doing what you do with children and the chess community!

You can read the post here on Susan's blog if you haven't visited yet today, and the link to her main blog is on the link menu to the right:

http://susanpolgar.blogspot.com/2007/09/jrobichess-youtube.html

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Most Powerful Knight

I ordered a book called How to Play the Sicilian from amazon, and I soon hope to have a review of it for everyone out there. Until then, I recently played a game that had a position that was somewhat beautiful. If not beautiful, it was at least interesting!

It's black to move. The move Nxd3+ should be immediately apparent. I don't know why white moved the king to b2 here, probably a case of time pressure and not expecting the knight check in the first place. But here you can see the absolute power of the Knight. A Knight can be interesting because when it attacks other non-Knight pieces the attack is never mutual. Here the Knight is forking every single kind of piece (other than another Knight) and they are all helpless against him!

Tactics Pulling Ahead!

3 days left on the poll and the tactics option is pulling ahead. Big surprise or not? Cast your vote below on the right-hand side of the blog.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tactics Practice!


This position was emailed to me by our chess club organizer. It's white to move. There are two ways that I can see to checkmate the black king - can you find them?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Susan Polgar Starts a Chess Forum Community

I was very excited to come across the news on Susan Polgar's blog that she has started an online chess forum community! You can access Susan's blog on the links to the right, and the new forum community is located at http://www.chessdiscussion.com/. I have absolutely no doubts that there is going to be some amazing discussions there, and definitely recommend that everyone check it out!

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Results are in!

Bobby Fischer and Gary Kasparov tied in the online poll at 50% each with the question: "who do you think was the strongest at chess?".

This week's poll concerns what you believe to be the most important training for an amateur to spend his or her time at. Looking forward to the results!

Chess Club Night Roundup

Chess club night was fun this week, and had some interesting twists. I brought some score sheets, my two sons, and some students from the local high school. My seven year old son beat the strongest student there 3 games to 1, and even beat me in a blitz match. The night was all his, that's for sure. I went 0-2 with the club organizer, along with some rapid blitz losses. We didn't track with score sheets, but I am going to make a point to do so in my non-blitz games next week, win or lose.

New Video: Chess Tactics #1

I posted a video tonight going over the position I put on the blog last week. I am going to make videos of interesting positions that come up on occassion in my matches. You can check out the video here or from my YouTube channel. On a side note, the weekend is here! Time to initiate weekend-warrior mode.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Club night!

Thursday evenings are my favorite - it's chess club night tonight. I am going to transcribe my matches, and post some details. This week has rocketed by already, which is fine by me ... makes the weekend closer. =)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Introduction to Slatts: Playing Chess with Principles

This is my first post here at the jrobichess blog and I thought I would post an example of a game I recently played. I am an amateur chess player (very amateur!) and like jrobi I have an interest in getting better at chess. My favorite aspect of the game is the endgame and I hope to have much to share on that subject. I want to share chess positions and explain the principles that make the position work.




I reached this position as black in which my opponent made a fundamental error. He let the center open up without castling. Not only that, but he put his Queen in front of his King. And if that isn't enough, I had a Rook gazing longing past a single enemy pawn that stood between him and a very lovely royal pin.

It is black to move. White just played Bxb5 (a pawn) attacking the rook at e8. It looks strong because it not only takes a pawn but does so with tempo. What is the best move for black in this position?

Chess Principles at work:
(1) Important in the middle-game is king-safety. (2) Do not let the center "explode" or "open up" when your King is caught in the middle. In this situation with both black rooks on the e and d files white must be very careful about the tactics. The objective for white here should be to castle as soon as tactically possible.

Did you come up with the move? Hint: It may not spell the immediate end of the game, but after the dust settles white will only be able to struggle in a hard endgame for a draw.

Post the move if you see it!

Simul of all time! Enjoy! =)

Chess Puzzle and New Contributer

First, I would like to welcome Slatts to the blog! He is planning on posting various things like puzzles and end-game analysis in the future, so stay tuned! If you would like to be a contributer to the blog, you will be more than welcomed! The more chess addicts we have here the better in my opinion! Simply email me at jrobichess@gmail.com and introduce yourself and what you would like to do on the blog!

As for the puzzle, here is a game I had today on FICS. I was black playing a Sicilian Defence. It is black to move. What do you think was possible from this position?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Looking for contributers!

I would like to make the page here even more interesting, and build a team of chess enthusiasts if possible. Basically if you are interested in posting chess tidbits, news, puzzles, and things of that nature right here on the main page of the blog, please email me at jrobichess@gmail.com introducing yourself and what kinds of things you have in mind. I believe you would need to create a blogspot ID but if you have gmail already that will be a snap, and if you don't it's still a snap. Hope everyone's weekend is going great so far!

New Video: Exploring Fischer's Openings #3: Four Knights Game

In my new video located here I take a look at how Bobby Fischer handles a four knights game, avoiding losing a pawn which can be a common mistake by white. This match took place in 1955 against Ames. Hope you find it useful in your chess play!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Another Fun Chess Club Night


I took my boys to the chess club tonight, my youngest is the stronger of the two in chess, and the older son is showing interest in the game. There wasn't many people there tonight but it was still a fun night of chess. The picture here is a position I was in as black, which I won. I am posting the position to see what you guys might have played as white. In the image, it is white to move.

The match was won via promoting the A7 pawn after exchanging rooks. After moving rook to E1, and my opponent moving his knight, I took my rook down to D1, forcing the exchange, creating a knight vs. bishop end-game.

Monday, September 3, 2007

New Video: Exploring Fischer's Openings #2: Sicilian vs. King's Pawn

I have made another video in the series "Exploring Fischer's Openings", this time looking at Fischer playing black against his favorite King's Pawn opening. The match was played in 1966 in Santa Monica against Wolfgang Unzicker, with Fischer winning. The video looks at Fischer's play against the King's Pawn opening with the Sicilian Defence. You can access the video from my YouTube page or directly here.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The votes are in!

The results from last week's poll are in. The question was "Do you think someone in their 30's can become an International Master with training and determination?"

Absolutely! (33%)
One can try, that's for sure! (55%)
Most likely not. (11%)
You must be joking! (0%)

Interesting spread! I am definitely going to try hard to reach IM status over the next few years. Will I make it? I am not sure, but I know one thing: I will definitely enjoy the ride!

There is a new poll up - check it out and place your vote!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

New Video: Exploring Fischer's Openings #1: King's Pawn vs. French Defence

I have started a new series for my YouTube channel to go along with my other ones. I am going to be looking at Bobby Fischer's opening strategies, covering the first 10-13 move segments from each player. In the video which you can see here I examine the match he played against Bent Larsen in Denver, 1971. The purpose of these videos is to improve my opening play as white, along with my counter-play with black. I also plan to do similar videos with Fischer playing black against a number of white openings. I welcome your feedback to see if this is an idea you think will be useful or not.

Fischer vs. Spassky: Documentary


These videos were very fun to watch - passing them along to you.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

I enjoyed watching the series. I can only imagine the tension back then during that match that was sweeping the nation. Fischer at that time elevated chess to a level much like baseball and football.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

An "Over-the-Board" Experience!

Wow! The trip to a different city was definitely worth it to play against some people over-the-board! It was the club's first meeting, so there was a handful of people there, but that number is expected to rise quite substantially over the next few weeks. My son had a really good time, and really enjoyed trying his tricks against other people than his good old Dad. The club runs sanctioned tournaments every month, so me and my son will be registering with the Canadian Chess Federation and get an actual chess rating, I will keep you posted on our progress on that front.

The difference between over-the-board and online chess is amazing, and I am glad that I purchased a tournament set for us a month ago so we could practice with the real thing. While definitely the same game, seeing lines and tactics is a bit different with the real pieces than a totally top-down perspective on a computer screen.

If anyone hasn't tried an over-the-board club but really enjoys playing chess online, I definitely recommend it! We are fortunate in that the club we are joining doesn't have any fee's other than tournaments, but from what I can gather most chess club fees are pretty low anyway, and I can tell you first-hand that it would be worth it!

I am going to start getting my son (and myself) transcribing out our over-the-board matches, and will share some of them on YouTube as we get comfortable with things.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tonight's the Night!

Me and my son will be travelling to an actual over-the-board chess club tonight in a different city. We are very excited, and I will give you the full story tommorow!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

An Inspiring Chess Story

In one of the chess forums I frequent, I was told of an amazing chess experience by one of the forum members. I asked for permission to share this story with you, and am very happy that permission was given. Hugh Patterson (also known as Johnny Genocide) is a professional musician going on 27 years, and was diagnosed with cancer. He had to cancel a year's worth of his shows to fight back the cancer through treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. Since he could not travel and do his life's passion, he began to study and play chess, which is something he could do during the challenges he faced undergoing such painful treatments.

I encourage you to take some time to read his reflections on how chess helped him on his road to beating cancer. You can read his post on how chess saved his life here and he also has the following MySpace pages to check out:

http://www.myspace.com/johnnygenocide
http://www.myspace.com/noalternativerules

Hugh is now on the road to recovery, and with all that chess study he has done over the course of his cancer treatment, I am sure he will be quite a force on the chess board! Congratulations on your successful fight against cancer Hugh, and I am glad you have found some good friends in the chess community to explore your new passion for the game with while you work hard at your music career! You are in my thoughts and prayers.

A Rainy Sunday!

Well, it's raining where I live, and a little cold. Definitely not anything compared to the massive heat that is sweeping through parts of the US, so you guys have my prayers who are there. Hopefully it will break soon.

I have had a couple people recommend Fritz X to me from YouTube, and am considering getting that. There's so much stuff I would like to get to help with chess, the list keeps building up. I got a copy of Chessmaster 10 coming soon in the mail, and I think Fritz would be a good purchase. I am also interested in getting ChessBase Lite Premium, but depending on the functionality of Fritz X I might not need to.

Books are a completely different matter - there's so many out there it's hard to know which ones are worth getting! I am going to start compiling a list from the chess forums I frequent, and I will share that list when I get it together. If you know of any "must buy" books please don't hesitate to post a comment here.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tactics! Tactics! Tactics!

One of my biggest challenges right now is chess tactics. Being able to recognize tactical blunders before they happen, and being able to capitalize on tactical attacks ahead of time. From what I can see from reading up on things, being less prone to blunders (both tactical and obvious ones) seems to be a big key from getting a consistent 1400-1600 rating. I found a really good tactics training site located here and I have placed it on my links menu. If this is something you would like to work on too, it seems to be a good online resource to do so. If you know of some others, definitely post a comment!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New Video: How to use the Free Internet Chess Server with the Babas Client

One of my subscribers from YouTube had a couple questions regarding how to use the Free Internet Chess server and the BabasChess client for it. The video located here covers some basics, and hopefully some of you who haven't tried FICS will find it beneficial. I am not affiliated with FICS, but I enjoy using it for my online chess.

Searching for Josh Waitzkin ...

Subject of the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer", Josh Waitzkin was known to the chess world as a child prodigy. Did he reach the levels of Bobby Fischer? Absolutely not. Although he has won the US Junior Chess championship, he remains an international master, with USCF rating of 2525 that expired 2003-03-31. Could Josh have become a Grandmaster? Will he ever try again? According to a recent interview located here, Josh states a few interesting things. First, in regards to playing chess online, he says "I never liked playing on the Internet, because I always liked the feel of humans. I liked the psychological feel of my opponent, the drama of the game." The article ends with an ominous statement in regards to Josh's possible return to chess, stating "Waitzkin has no plans to return to professional chess or tai chi. Instead, he is tackling another sport, training for the 2011 World Championships of Brazilian jujitsu."

Hopefully one day he will return to competitive chess. I think it would be a great goal to work towards achieving Grandmaster distinction, especially after a few years absence from competitive play, and the chess world would benefit in many ways.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Chess Match of All Time?

One of Bobby Fischer's most famous games as a young chess player was named the "Match of the Century". Could he return and provide the "Match of All Time?" I think he could, if he came back for a series against Kasparov. Let's face it, the chess world would erupt in such a way that it has never erupted before, and that alone would be worth the mark on history such a series would leave.

New Video: Live Chess Match: 3 Min Blitz #5

Hi everyone! I posted a fun video of a couple short blitz games. I generally play 3 min blitz games purely for fun, and expect no kind of learning whatsoever from them! I guess they are just an enjoyable way to test if I remember certain lines under time pressure I guess.

You can access the video here or from visiting my main YouTube page.

Charting the Path of an Amateur Chess Player

Hello everyone, and welcome to my small blog corner on the internet! I am jrobi, an amateur chess player who started playing chess in July, 2007. I have been keeping a recording of my chess efforts and matches at YouTube since the very beginning.

Through the help of my subscribers at YouTube, and self-study, I have been improving at the great game of chess, and hope to do so for quite some time. At my blog here, I plan on keeping track of my video updates on my YouTube channel, and making announcements of things happening in my chess life, along with news from the chess world that catches my interest.

Thank you for visiting my blog, and I look forward to hearing from you here through comments, and please feel free to explore my YouTube channel!