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!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

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

This is an updated video replacing two other videos I had with some discrepencies.

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.



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 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%)
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:
Movsesian v Kasparov
Judith Polgar v Kasparov
Kasparov v Shirov

- Maintain control of d5 (which ensures space advantage)
- Attack on the King-side
- Set up a piece on d4
- 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.