Friday, December 23, 2011

Odds and Year-end

I am currently deep into the innards of the Neo-Grunfeld without much in the way of a guide. Avrukh vol II has two chapters of variations, but his book has no games. I am stuck with a bunch of "obviously white/black stands better" positions for which I have not a clue. I have unannotated games from the databases, but I do not know which are thematic and which are not. There are a few annotated complete games in RD Keene's Flank Openings, but the book is old. I was hoping the Neo-Grunfeld would have been in Wojo's Weapons II, but that book is only King's Indian. Neo-Grunfeld is one of the things that Wojo's Weapons III should cover according to a post by Hilton on the Chess Publishing  forums. It definitely looks like a line with which one would like years of experience.

I think, using Chess Tactics Server for finding new (to me) tactical patterns is working. My CTS rating is stuck around 1450, which keeps showing me the simple problems I need. My rating is kept down, by the many problems with  rich situations, where the obvious move is the solution (I take too much time fully understanding the postion). I will find out in the coming tournament cycle how much this is helping.

I am travelling for the Holidays. I hope to analyze/memorize another game from Chernev's Most Instructive Games of Chess for January and post it as my next post on 1/6/2012. Another post on the Neo-Grunfeld should follow later in January.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Nakamura places 2nd in London Classic

Some Russian ex-world champion placed first.

Nakamura is definitely showing he belongs in world class tournaments, losing only to Magnus Carlsen and winning over Aronian and Anand.

I watched some of the games live via The Week In Chess including Nakamura's rather sloppy win as black against Anand in a mainline King's Indian Defense: Bayonet Attack Variation. in the 4th round on 12/6.

I have been annotating this game off and on over the last week. has the game and kibitzing, while here my annotations.

Chess terms: Theory


The term Opening Theory has always bugged me a bit. I guess I carry around a hard science prejudice that holds that a theory is a mathematical model that has been well tested by experiment. Once a hypothesis becomes theory it is rarely overturned, even when contrary evidence is found. The usual result is that the old theory becomes a special case or approximation of the new theory. Newtonian mechanics is still a very good approximation for most of our dealings with reality. Relativity only becomes relevant at high velocities or accelerations. Quantum mechanics only rears its tangled head when dealing with the very small. Both are much too complicated to prove why it is a good idea to keep a kid in a child seat rather than on your lap, but pointing out the equivalent weight of holding that child in an accident is their mass times the deceleration of the crash is much simpler (Newton rules! whoa!)

Opening Theory always seemed much mushier than that to me. More like trial and error, than each move a hypothesis, and each game a complex experiment providing evidence for or against those hypotheses. I doubt the validity of those experiments. I know the games I play are not well designed experiments. And if my fallibility is not enough, there is that dude (or dudette) across the table who I have no control over.

 The advent of computers only makes it worse: database statistics cluttered by widely varying skill levels of players and games decided by middlegame or endgame blunders, computer evaluations of positions based on deep analysis trees that no human could begin to memorize or understand, good novelties discarded because it was played once in a losing game by a patzer in 1987.


Don't fret about it too much. Play openings that often result in positions you understand and are comfortable in. You most likely did not lose because of the opening, but because you made the last mistake. (Unless you are a grandmaster. In which case, why are you reading this patzer's blog anyway?)

Opening Theory Made Easy:

  • Keep your king safe.
  • Fight for control of the center.
  • Develop your pieces.

OTOH, the term Endgame Theory is just silly. Exact endgames are fact. The details of such endgames are computable. 6-piece tablebases exist and memory continues to get cheaper. 7-piece tablebases are only 70 Tbytes so they are just around the corner. The growing cloud will make even more memory available.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

TCCL round 4

The team lost the match. I made a horrible blunder. I thought I had a simple two move combination to win a pawn, and somehow did not see one of two recaptures my opponent had. I have no idea why I did not see it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Boleslavsky vs Lisitsin 1956: The Most Instructive Games of Chess #3

1956 must have been a bad year for Mr. Lisitsin. Last month I looked at game #2 from Chernev's The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played: Tal v Lisitsin 1956. This month in game 3, Lisitsin loses another Sicilian Dragon, this time to Isaac Boleslavsky.

The amount of time I spent with Tal v Lisitsin was not enough to memorize that game. Though I remember many of the features of that game, I have lost track of all the moves. Memorizing another's game is a harder task than I thought. I will try again with Boleslavsky vs Lisitsin. OTOH, I do remember Wojtkiewicz v Binger from the Prepare Like a Grandmaster post.

Anyway, here is my analysis of Boleslavsky v Lisitsin checked by Houdini with opening variations added by Fritz.

The key feature of this game is Boleslavsky creating a secure outpost for his knight on d5.