Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Mike's Chess Pages

I've commented one of my corr games for Mike Donnelly's site - one of four games he offers in this month's update. I originally commented the game in Swedish for SSKK-bulletinen, but the web turned out to be the quicker media. So, a spoiler alert for any Swedish readers who are also corrplayers - if this blog has any...?!

Monday, 22 November 2010

On the Importance of Pauses

Today's "deep thought", in chess as in many other things, it's important to pause to understand. A pause can even be the difference of life and death as in the old example "Execute, not pardoned." vs "Execute not, pardoned.".

In chess, especially nowadays, it's easy to end up in front of the computer clicking thru games at a rushed tempo in preparation for a game later in the evening or next day. And then, at the board you find that most of what you saw has just went thru your skull without leaving much trace. So, seeing, reading, listening without reflection is just a waste of time.

While on the other hand, going thru just one good game at a leisurely pace may be enough to actually feel prepared! It's easy to forget that every move in a game has been the product of at least a few minutes thought, at times much more, and thus each move needs to be consumed in a similar pace to make an impact.

The same also applies when playing chess. Especially in blitz it's more important to find a rhythm of play, than gaining time on the clock by quick theory moves as this can lead to a rushed rhythm and oversights.

The following game from the recent Blitz World Championship is an excellent example. I'm especially impressed by the coolness of Aronian towards the end of the game, as he's able to keep his rhythm despite only seconds on the clock - really making use of that 2 second bonus per move! In a winning position with little time left it's very easy to focus on the clock instead of the board, and that's when howlers appear!

And to round off, here's an old great song by Leonard Cohen which is also a good example of the value of pauses. Just try to read the text of the song as if it was a normal text and the magic goes away immediately!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Chess as Spectator Sport!?

On youtube, the user bumblebee1607 has posted some filmed games from the current Blitz World Championship - and it's hard to stop watching once the games start!

So, maybe this is the future of Chess? Surely even Joe Average can appreciate the suspense and tension of watching a good blitz game? And with a 2 seconds bonus per move, it never reaches the complete Chaos that ensues in club tournaments. In addition, unemployable GMs can suddenly find work as TV-commentators...

Friday, 12 November 2010

Another Book Tip - Simple Chess

A while back I saw this book mentioned by John Cox in one of his works, probably in Starting Out the Alekhine  and it sounded interesting with a small strategic guide book, especially if it was mentioning stuff like: "some pawn structures in the opening can only harbour a certain amount of pieces, so in this structure Black needs to play Bc8-g4 and exchange it for Nf3 or Be2." (a rough quote from memory).

Anyway, I made a mental note to get it if I saw it, and a week ago I happened to see it. And after having read the first chapters on Outposts, I'd say it a perfect book for low rated adults who wish to improve.

People usually only mention Nimzowitsch and his My System in this context but although it was a very useful book once upon a time, it's also full of  discarded stuff not worth learning anymore. For example, nowadays we attack a pawn chain anyway we can and not only at the base. And he also had a tendency to make the leap from "this opening variation is playable after all" to "this opening variation is good".

So, in my opinion Stean's book is better for those who just want to learn strategic thinking. Stronger players have usually already internalised most of the content, for example when calculating variations most of us probably don't think of outpost squares as outposts any longer, but more as "juicy squares to put pieces on".

If you follow the link, the page has a link to a Google Book preview as well, so go take a look! As it has few diagrams and no blue text boxes repeating what's already been said earlier on the page, it might not be for young kids or Americans with the attention span of Homer Simpson.

But I bet there are many 1500 - 1900 players who's playing strength will clearly benefit from spending 6 Euro and a few reading hours on this book.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A night at the club

Last night I went down to my chess club to watch how the Club Championship was going. It's too weak for me to bother participating, as there are only two players over 2200 and most of the others are between 1600-1900.

It so happened that the two 2200s were already playing each other despite three rounds remaining. Anyhow, they reached an interesting position towards the endless time trouble (90 minutes plus 30 seconds per move).

Jonas Lindahl - Anders Nilsson

This could be a suitable exercise - Black to move and win, I'll post the solution in the comment section for those too lazy to start their engine. Funny enough we looked at this afterwards but failed to find the correct moves, despite finding the first move!

A few moves later they reached the following position.

And here White found an interesting idea, playing the cool c5xb6! leaving the queen en prise but planning to resurrect her on b8.

Which led to this position:

with 20 seconds remaining on the clock Black decided to force the draw with Rg3+ and a perpetual.

Afterwards we must have looked at this for at least half an hour trying various ways of playing for a win for Black. For example: 1...Qf3 (threat Nh3#) but it fails to b8Q+ and white checks with the queen on d6 and e5 driving the king to h4 and then trades queens with Qg3+. 1...Rxe1+ (to remove Rb1-b7+) 2.Rxe1 Qf3?? fails to b8Q+ and Qa7+.

Playing ..h6 or ...h5 to give the king some luft doesn't win either after e.g. 2.b8Q+ Kh7 3.Qc8 (>Rb8 / Qf5+)

Funny enough, as far as I recall we never looked at the best move for Black, which is 1...Rf3! with the point that after 2.b8Q+ Rf8 White must play 3.Qxf8+ Kxf8 4.Kxf2 and then Qxh2+ (or Qxd3) gives Black some winning chances but with 30 seconds per move it can still go either way...

Monday, 1 November 2010

Book tips for KGeers

 Just in case I'm not the only one to have missed this: Michael A. Jensen has published a two part article on the Quaade (3.Nf3 g5 4.Nc3) though I've heard the articles use another move order 3.Nf3 d6 4.Nc3 g5, in New in Chess Yearbooks 93 & 95.

Here's a double link to the BookDepository, which is probably the best place to get them.
YB 93 and 95 - I haven't decided yet if I'll buy them myself, as 90% of the other articles would not interest me much. :(  Those who already have read them, feel free to give your opinion in the comments.

Here are the links to the article contents of 93 and 95

Btw, here's an idea for the people at NiC - why not sell individual articles as cbv ebooks and/or allow people to put together their 'own' book, i.e. letting you choose say 20 articles from all YBs and put them in a book? Technically, it should be possible, it would allow them to make more profit per article and customers would be happier...