Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Chess Endgame Brief: Can white maintain the advantage?

I was black in this position, and it was white to move after I pushed the pawn to F5. My opponent made a mistake in this position with the bishop, and lost the game. How could white have maintained the advantage in this position?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Chess Resources at www.jrobichess.com

Added a new section on the main page for free chess resources, mostly of programs and things that I have found useful in my personal study so far. Here's a list:

Aquarium w/Rybka Demo Engines/Interface
Solid program I use for a variety of things, including engine analysis, multi-engine competition, annotations and diagrams, and quick database and tree checks. This is the demo of the program with limited functionality, but it showcases it very well.

Babaschess 4.0 (Graphical Interface for http://www.freechess.org )
This is the graphical interface I use to connect to the Free Internet Chess server. It acts as a player obviously, has some engine analysis capabilities, and saves the game PGN files when you're done. This is in addition to all the play options of the FICS.

ChessDB – Chess Database SoftwareReliable and free chess database software. Currently I use it with a database of around 5 million games. One of the things I like about ChessDB is it has download from TWIC (This Week in Chess) and other locations built into the menu structures. It's a good program to find out what database programs are all about before spending some money on a retail package.

ChessPad – PGN Editor/Viewer
This is a no bells and whistles PGN writer/viewer. I use it to create annotated PGN's when I need them to work in a variety of PGN viewers. Some software lets your write PGN's but places it's own symbols into the PGN, making it useless for other viewers - especially when it comes to annotations and symbols. This one does it in a very basic but universal way.

Chess Score Sheet – "jrobi style"
A chess score sheet for OTB play with a reflections section for thoughts after the game.

Fritz 5.32 Chess Engine/Interface
This is one of the best free engine interfaces out there. The engine itself isn't strong anymore compared to the new generations, but it's free and works great for a variety of quick tasks. If you have Aquarium or something similar already like I do, you won't need this at all, but for people with nothing it's a good free one to get.

WEBMASTER ITEMS
Chess Theatre - PGN viewer that creates online versions of PGN's for people to see at your page.
Chess Viewer Deluxe - The best online viewer out there in my opinion.
Little Chess Partner - Add the option to play chess on your website via java.
Shredder Daily Chess Puzzle - Puzzle code to the left.

The links to all of these are on the main site at http://www.jrobichess.com. If you think something else should be listed, post a comment here and I will check it out.

Tweaked the Annotated Opening Section at www.jrobichess.com


I thought it would also be handy having GM games in the opening positions to browse through while looking at the annotated PGN file and practicing against the computer. Now there are some links underneath the viewer that open up a second window showcasing GM play in those positions. All the games are between 2700 or higher rated GM's.

I have highlighted the new section on this picture from http://www.jrobichess.com above.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Annotated Chess Opening Feature on jrobichess.com

I have finished the first example of the new annotated chess opening PGN feature of the main site www.jrobichess.com. One of my big goals with 2009 is to get a lot of these online with my annotations from personal research. The first one I have uploaded is the English Attack in the Sicilian Najdorf variation. Here's a snapshot of the main page where it can be opened:














It's going to be a lot of work, but I think it will be a fun process overall. Along with the Chess Viewer Deluxe which shows my annotations along with different move orders in certain positions, I have also placed a computer in the starting positions for practice from both black and white.

I am excited about the process in general, as I will have to revisit a number of openings to annotate the PGN file. Even with my previous videos on openings I have the move orders, but didn't annotate the PGN's. This project should reinforce things a lot for me, and be a useful resource to check on occasion for overall practice. The plan is to create annotated PGN's for for the videos I have already done and then go from there.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Anand States "Fischer would not be able to compete with the present generation."


Showing that chess skill does not always translate into thinking before speaking, Anand, the current World Chess Champion, had the following to say regarding Bobby Fischer, one of the greatest chess players of all time:

"The learning curve becomes good if one gets associated with computers at an early stage and it is impossible to become skilled in chess without a computer. It was possible then, but not now. Players like Bobby Fischer would not be able to compete with the present generation,"Source

There are a number of issues with this statement. First, it's only weeks away from the first anniversary of Fisher's passing. Secondly, even though Fischer lacked computer assistance in his prime, many of his thoughts on chess were extremely accurate and indicative of a genius of the game. Many of Fischer's deep line analysis is even supported by the best chess computers of today. Were all of Fischer's perspectives on lines and positions accurate when held under the light of computer analysis? Definitely not, but many were. This is very impressive considering the power of today's modern chess engines and how deep they can assess a position.

The thing about Bobby Fischer was that he accomplished what he did without the help of computers or huge support teams during tournament play. For instance, during Kasaprov's prime he had entire teams to support him at tournaments. Grandmasters today at the highest levels of chess are no different, with even the recent 2008 World Chess Championship match showcasing impressive supporting teams for both Anand and Kramnik. This is in addition to computer assistance for training and preparation. And lets be honest, the quality of games in this year's World Championship match left a lot to be desired, especially on the side of Kramnik. It would be very reasonable to say that Fischer, looking back on his tournament play in his prime, would have most likely been a far more challenging opponent for Anand than what Kramnik brought to the table this year.

When I think of the role of computers in chess nowadays, there can be no argument that it is definitely a huge help for modern players. In fact, it has more than revolutionized the competitive game. But it would be hard to argue against the logic that if Fischer, in his prime, had the same capabilities and resources, his game would have been even better than it was. His dedication to chess study was revolutionary in his own time. Consequently, it makes little sense to compare Fischer's achievements in the pre-computer world to those of today.

It's also best to remember that while computers have greatly helped chess, at the end of the day it's still a game of 2 people squaring off against each other. Solid and brilliant play is still rewarded, and mistakes can and always will happen in all levels of chess.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Lucky Christmas Blitz

Here is a 5 minute blitz game I played after things calmed down and everyone took a breather after a fantastic Christmas morning! With coffee spiced with Baileys in hand, I got very lucky in a sacrifice line that threw off my opponent and caused him/her to make some mistakes. However, my sacrifice line was not sound!




I have annotated the game up until move 12. See if you can pick apart my attack and what my opponent could have done to capitalize on my heroic yet harmless attacking idea:

[Event "rated blitz match"]
[Site "Free Internet Chess Server"]
[Date "2008.12.25"]
[Round "?"]
[White "jantonacci"]
[Black "jrobi"]
[Result "0-1"]
[BlackElo "1151"]
[ECO "D01"]
[TimeControl "300"]
[WhiteElo "1088"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 e6 4. e3 Bb4 (4... Bd6 5. Bd3 O-O {Better
alternative to Bb4}) 5. a3 Ba5 (5... Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 {Better alternative to
retreating the bishop. Brings the positional strength closer to equality.}) 6.
b4 Bb6 7. Na4 Nbd7 8. Nd2 (8. c4 c6 9. Nxb6 axb6 10. Bd3 {Better move for
white. Yields a strong position of +0.31.}) 8... O-O 9. c4 c6 10. cxd5 cxd5
(10... exd5 11. Nxb6 axb6 {Better line for black as it liberates the light
square bishop.}) 11. Nxb6 Nxb6 12. Bb2 Nbd7 {Blunder for black as it leads to a
half pawn advantage for white.} (12... Bd7 13. a4 Rc8 {Better for black as it
maintains equality.}) 13. Bd3 a6 14. O-O b5 15. h4 Ne4 16. g3 Ndf6 17. h5 Re8
18. h6 g6 19. Kg2 e5 20. f3 Nxd2 21. Qxd2 exd4 22. Bxd4 Nh5 23. g4 Qg5 24. Rh1
Bxg4 25. fxg4 Qxg4+ 26. Kf2 Qg3+ 27. Ke2 Nf4+ 28. Kd1 Qf3+ 29. Kc2 Nxd3 30.
Qxd3 Rac8+ 31. Kd2 Qf2+ 32. Qe2 Rc2+ 33. Kxc2 Qxe2+ 34. Kc3 Rc8+ 35. Kb3 Qc4+
36. Kb2 Qc2# {jantonacci checkmated} 0-1

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I hope the holiday season is treating you all as best as possible! I have made some decisions on things that I will be working on moving forward into 2009, so stay tuned for some info on that.

For starters, though, you can expect more frequent blog postings. The general plan is to increase the amount of posts in certain areas, such as tactics and a larger emphasis on positional practice discussions. There will also be some substantial changes to the main page at http://www.jrobichess.com (with a test change live right now). More details to come on that closer to the New Year. Thanks for your continued support and help with all things chess, and once again MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

CONFIRMED: Susan Polgar's Chess Discussion Forums Hacked!


Susan Polgar confirmed that her Chess Discussion Forums were hacked in the previous post on this blog. The identities of the hackers are unknown at this point, but hopefully they will be identified and face the consequences for their actions. Public discussion about the unfortunate incident is quite lively at Susan's blog - you can read more here.

Mrs. Polgar has done a great deal for the chess world, especially when it comes to getting more youth involved in the game. She also has the following list of outstanding personal achievements in the world of chess:

♦ Winner of 4 Women’s World Championships (Under 16, Blitz, Rapid, and Classical)
♦ The only World Champion in history to win the triple-crown (Blitz, Rapid and Classical World Championships)
♦ 5-time Olympic Champion with 10 overall medals (5 Gold, 4 Silver, 1 Bronze)
♦ Currently holds the record for most consecutive Olympiad game scoring streaks without a loss ( 56 )
♦ 2006 Women’s Chess Cup Champion
♦ 4 world records for simultaneous chess exhibitions.
♦ Won the Budapest Championship for Girls under 11 at age of 4 with the perfect score of 10-0!
♦ #1 ranked woman chess player in the world at the age of 15 (remain in the top 3 in the world for 23 straight years)
♦ Currently ranked #1 in the United States
♦ 3-time US Open Blitz Champion (2003, 2005, 2006)
♦ Award-winning and best-selling chess author in numerous languages
♦ Winner of the prestigious Cramer Award for "Best Chess Column of the Year" (2003)
♦ 3-time winner of the Chess Journalists of America Award for Best Magazine Column and Best Endgame Analysis
♦ First ever recipient of the “Chess Educator of the Year” award (2003)
♦ First ever recipient of the “US Scholastic Chess Ambassador” award (2006)
♦ Founder of the Susan Polgar Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization to promote chess, with all its educational, social and competitive benefits throughout the U.S., for young people of all ages, especially girls
♦ Sponsor and organizer of the prestigious annual SPICE Cup, Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls Championship, Susan Polgar World Open and National Open for Girls and Boys

Susan Polgar has also accomplished a number of historical firsts:

♦ Broke the gender barrier to qualify for the Men’s World Championship Cycle (1986)
♦ Earned the Men’s Grandmaster title (1991) through traditional FIDE requirements
♦ Won the U.S. Open Blitz Championship (2003)
♦ Receive the Grandmaster of the Year Award (2003)

It is extremely unfortunate that this happened to someone who works so hard for chess, especially this close to the Christmas season. Hopefully those responsible will be identified and face consequences for their actions.

Both Susan and her contributors worked hard at making the Chess Discussion forums very useful, from frequent chess world news to great advances in forum interactivity related to chess (sharing games, playing games, etc). Hopefully the downtime will be minimal and the forums will be back up in short order.

Susan Polgar's Chess Discussion Forums Allegedly Hacked


Susan Polgar, famous Chess Grandmaster, started a Chess Discussion forum a number of months ago. As of this post, the forums are unavailable, and discussion on Susan's blog in the Saturday Open forum section has allegations of computer hackers being the reason.

While unconfirmed at this point, the site http://chessdiscussion.com/ is definitely down. Hopefully there will be an official word on the forums and what happened soon.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Calculus

In my opinion, the single most important aspect of tactics is to know when to look for a tactic and when not to. I'm talking about large-scale tactical manoeuvres here, not the simple one-move wonders. In tournament and blitz play, we simply haven't got the time or energy to evaluate every position from a tactical point of view, as it would take up too much time and energy. We need to manage our resources shrewdly, and save deep calculation for positions known to be rich in tactical possibilities. One such position is the "exposed" king hunt. I reached a typical king hunt position in my last blitz game and in the end, I succeeded, albeit clumsily, to mate the king. I didn't calculate very deeply, but assuming you reach the position below in a tournament game with ample time, how would you go about calculating the position?

I'm interested in details here. Do you simply move the pieces in your head? Do you analyse what squares your pieces already guard, which squares they guard potentially, where they can move? When and how much do you consider in between moves or moves by enemy pieces? Do you tackle them when they occur in your imaginary move-by-move sequence, or do you have a mental checklist to take them into account from the beginning? In other words, do you have regular parameters or mottoes that you use when you determine a tactical sequence?