Sunday, December 22, 2013

2014 Chess season preview:

The 2014 chess season is about to begin. Five upcoming tournaments in the next few months. Rochester Chess Club January, Minnesota Winter, Rochester Winter, Minnesota Open, Rochester Chess Club March. A total of 23 rated games is possible.

The scholastic season also stretches over the next three months culminating in the Minnesota Scholastic tournament in March. The high school team I coach is lacking dedicated players. Only one high school student has shown up at the club meetings. I am bringing up some middle schools students who show some promise, and starting a chess club at the middle school that feeds the high school.

I don't expect to break 2000 rating this season. I need to do a lot of work to get to expert strength, but I know how to get there.

Expert strength should come for me by working on better understanding of endings and my openings. A lot of this is the drudgery of memorization. I need to keep my other skills sharp and my interest up by doing problems and playing. I also need to do better at strategic thinking on my opponents clock (too much time spent on  speculative precise tactical calculation)

I still need one or more breakthroughs in understanding to reach master level. I did very poorly on the quiz positions in Soltis's What It Takes to Become a Chess Master, so I think I will wait on his new book. Annotating and memorizing master games is my main approach here. I have a target of annotating three master games from the Kaufman repertoire a month, that I will include in the Following Kaufman ebook periodical. I should annotate and memorize one Grandmaster game a month from the "62 Most Instructive Games". I should finish "Capablanca's Best Endgames".

TCCL 2014 round 4

My team won :D

The opposing team was all mid range experts. We had the advantage on the top two boards and they had the advantage on the bottom two. Two wins on the top boards and one draw on the lower makes for a team win. So far my team is struggling this year at 1.5 out of 4. I think we need 1.5 points out of the next three matches to secure our place in the Gold for next year.

I lost :(

I had played Connor Quinn with the same colors in the Noel Skelton tournament in Sept 2013. I used my new opening memorization process to prepare lines in the Saemisch KID. Quinn shifted from the Saemisch and played the classical KID. Perhaps, because at the Noel Skelton I was able to equalize to a drawish position, and only lost to a tactical miscalculation. (The blunder I made in that game would have given me a slight edge if the tactical justification had been sound. The tactical error was due to poor visualization.)

My loss here pointed out a weakness in my understanding of the KID, and my impatience with the development of the Bc8. I need a deeper understanding of: the offs between maintaining a pawn on e5 versus opening up the long diagonal, what is the proper way to utilize a hole on d4, and denying white the use of d5 versus having a weak d6 pawn.

It is becoming more likely I will get pushed down to the 'B' team next year. Not because I am not doing poorly (I am still plateaued at high class A strength), but because there will be stronger players in Rochester. We recently had a walk in into the club that is a very strong player, and one of our scholastic players is improving very rapidly. We have several other strong class players that are not participating in the TCCL that might make a jump in strength, also.

OTOH, the 'B' team won and  is doing very well in the Silver division and match up well against their coming opponents. They might get into the Gold division next year.

The 'C' team won and is doing well in the bronze.

Next round is in three weeks. I will be white, and have no idea what my opponent would play against my normal opening plans.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Memory: Openings, Revision

The memory approach I documented in Memory: Openings works, mostly.

Picking just one game from an opening book, is too simplistic. Often, one game and all its key variations is too much. It is important to limit the amount to be memorized to 5-7 chunks. Chunks are made of easily memorized pieces composed of existing knowledge (tactics . . . clear positional ideas). It is important that the chunks are not too big, they will vary depending on your understanding of the positions.

I think the key to doing this better is to build study plans. Opening book chapters are likely groupings for organizing a course of study. Each grouping of 5-7 chunks I will call a seminar. Each seminar will be broken into 5 sessions. Each session will have a pass on each chunk.
  • Course (of study) -- an opening variation which is broken into seminars
  • Seminar -- a selection of 5-7 chunks to memorize and the set of sessions
  • Session -- a continuous effort on memorization a set of chunks, 5 sessions cover a seminar
  • Pass -- inside a session on a chunk
Often it will be useful to have a seminar on the breadth of a part of the course. For instance, suppose I am preparing the Ruy Lopez as white, and I want to memorize a particular approach to the Berlin Wall (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8)

On move 4 black has several ok alternatives to Nxe4 that I need an approach for, plus a bad move that is common enough to require understanding how to exploit.

Ruy Lopez, Berlin after 4.O-O

The usual move here is for black to open things up with 4...Nxe4 and in this breadth seminar, I will include the line that leads to the Berlin Wall, but I also want approaches for 4...Bc5, 4...d6, 4...Be7, and 4...a6?!

Chunks for the Seminar

  1.  4...Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 the Berlin Wall. Later deviations will be in other seminars, as will the lines of the Berlin Wall I am preparing
  2. 4...Bc5 5.c3 transposes to 3...Bc5 4.O-O Nf6 5.c3. I will add enough to refresh that line
  3. 4...d6 is similar to the Steinitz. 5.d4 . . .
  4. 4...Be7 5.Re1 d6 6.d4 can be played with two replys . . .
  5. 4...a6 trying to get out of the Berlin loses a pawn for insufficient compensation 5.Bxc6 dxc6 (5...bxc6 is handled the same) 6.Nxe5 Nxe4 loses to 7.Re1 (6... others 7.d3 and consolidate the pawn)
Passes A and E are just getting a handle on two tactical sequences. Pass B transposes to another Ruy line. Passes C and D are larger and may have to be expanded into several chunks, or provide the basis for later seminars. Chunks within a seminar should be of similar weights, but some transpositions, combinations,  and traps may be lighter. If a chunk is heavy, you should consider expanding it into its own seminar and provide just a stub in this one. In this instance, chunks B&C should have their own seminars.

If there is not enough material in a seminar (chunks B and C are pointers to other seminars), then extra material should be brought in. Here, I would bring into this seminar later side lines like 5... Be7 (after 4...Nxe4 5.d4)

Preparing Seminars

After choosing a variation and a collection of illustrative games (perhaps a chapter in an opening book), go through the games using Soltis three pass method. The key thing is to get a feel for the general plans and endgames that develop.

Then comprehensively document the lines that you want to memorize. Use a word processor so in the furture you can go back and modify/reuse when you find lines that you want to change. Build tables like in an opening encyclopedia. Pick out search tabiya positions for periodic checking of databases for new ideas. These should not be too deep in the tree, so that you miss new ideas, nor should they be so shallow that there are too many games to review. Make sure to document transpositions.

Prepare all the seminars before you begin memorization. Review that all the chunks and seminars are of appropriate size and split up ones that are too large.

Chosing key games for memorization

Some of the games you use to understand the variation may be ones that you want to memorize. Add them to the list of games to memorize, but do not do them for a while. It will be a change to test your memorization of the lines.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Following Kaufman - December 2013

The December 2013 issue of Following Kaufman is available for free from Smashwords.

Only 104 games this month, but I have added games 5 and 6 from the 2013 World Chess Championship with my annotations. The annotations are very similar to my blog posts about the games.

I am intending to charge $0.99 for the January issue, and to include more annotated games. I have started on a game that I think is a key anti-Gruenfeld line.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Memory: Game annotation and memorization

I still think memorizing whole instructive games is a worthwhile activity. I did not have much success with my first attempt, but the recent memory course my wife bought has sparked some ideas.

I need to do multiple sessions. Each session should be shorter than the previous and after a longer time period. I should create my own annotation for the game in the process, which might produce a blog post.

The first session will be time consuming. First thing in the morning, I will start with a plain score (.pgn file) in Fritz with the engine and opening book turned off. Using Soltis's three pass method, I will annotate the game in Fritz and add diagrams at what I think are the important points.

The second session will start after an hour break. I will compare my annotations to at least one well annotated source. I will note major variations that I missed, and update my annotations (crediting the annotation source). I will check my opening annotations against Fritz's opening book.

The third session, after a four hour break, will begin with a test. I will play through the game at a board from memory and write down the score. When I realize I have gone astray, I will keep my diversion as a variation and try from the point I am clear. I will stop when I am lost, or have completed the game. I will then compare to my annotated pgn game. I will enter my errors as new variations. I will think carefully about the moves I missed and update my annotations. I may begin to formulate a blog post about the game.

The fourth and fifth sessions will be the next day, morning and evening. I will repeat the test and study of the third session. I will finish the blog post.

Maintenance sessions take place before I start to memorize a new game. I will sit down with a set and go through all the games I have memorized. I will do memorization sessions three through five on games that I have trouble with.

I may do this with key games from my opening repertoire, but may not include them in maintenance

Saturday, November 23, 2013

TCCL 2014, round 3

Our first non loss was a drawn match, 2-2. I managed to squeak a win in a worse position, because my opponent ran out of time. This will be a very important game for me to analyze.

I need to spend more time with KID positions with exchanges of black e-pawn for white d-pawn. I know I have have issues with dxe5, but also with ...exd4, both of which are common in the mainline variations I play. I am becoming more familiar with the problems black has to overcome, and I need to pay more attention to how to mitigate those and cause problems for white. Fortunately, there are usually a good number of games in my periodic extractions from the TWIC database.

Friday, November 22, 2013

World Chess Championship 2013: Anand - Carlsen, round 10

Anand needs a win to keep the match alive, but this was a long fought draw. Congratulations to the new World Champion, Magnus Carlsen!

Anand is one of the great players of all time. He has been a contender for the world championship since the 90s and won the title in 2000, lost it in 2002 and won it again in 2007. He defended the title from then till now. He remains one of the strongest players in the world, and has to be one of the favorites to be the next challenger.

Anand choses the Sicilian in response to Carlsen's 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ this Moscow variation and its sibling the Rossolimo (2...Nc6 3.Bb5) are very popular in high level play. In many Sicilians, white's light square bishop becomes bad, with lots of white pawns on light squares. Trading it off early allows white to put his pawns on light squares without considering the plight of this bishop. It also allows white to retake on d4 with the queen. 3...Nd7 4.d4 cxd4 5.Qxd4 a6 6.Bxd7+ Bxd7 7.c4 Nf6 8.Bg5

This looks like a new move, but is in keeping with the general plan for white to control the d5-square. This points out the futility of memorizing moves without understanding the underlying reasons. 8...e6 9.Nc3 Be7 10.O-O Bc6 11.Qd3 O-O 12. Nd4 Rc8 13. b3 Qc7 14. Nxc6 Qxc6 

The rook configurations are important. One black rook belongs on c8 and one white rook belongs on d1, but where the other ones go is the tricky part. 15. Rac1 h6 16. Be3 Nd7 17. Bd4 Rfd8 18. h3 white's pieces are on good squares, and now is a good time to make luft. The players now begin a long line of manuevering pieces around making small threats trying to pry something loose. 18...Qc7 19. Rfd1 Qa5 20. Qd2 Kf8 21. Qb2 Kg8 22. a4 Qh5 23. Ne2 Bf6 24. Rc3 Bxd4 

d6 is rarely a problem for black as long as the dark square pieces remain on the board, but white's bishop was applying uncomfortable pressure on the long diagonal. Pushing it back with e6-e5 would have given white the d5-square and made black's bishop into a large pawn. 25. Rxd4 Qe5 26. Qd2 Nf6 27. Re3 Rd7 28. a5 Qg5?! this inaccuracy allows white to apply more pressure on the d6-pawn. 29. e5 Ne8

30. exd6?! releasing the tension too early. After the game Carlsen identified this as an error. Black's d6-pawn cannot move. (30.Ng3 would increase the pressure on black.)30...Rc6 31. f4 Qd8 32. Red3 Rcxd6 33. Rxd6 Rxd6 34. Rxd6 Qxd6 35. Qxd6 Nxd6 

Carlsen likes these types of positions. There is a lot of play left in this endgame. He will advance his king along the g2-a7 diagonal. 36. Kf2 Kf8 37. Ke3 Ke7 38. Kd4 Kd7 39. Kc5 Kc7 

Anand must keep in mind guarding the invasion square of b6, while the knights will spar the kingside. 40. Nc3 Nf5 41. Ne4 Ne3 42. g3 f5 43. Nd6 g5 44. Ne8+ Kd7 

Carlsen could force a draw here with 45.Nd6 and repeat the position, as black must not lose the b7 pawn without a passed pawn to compete with white's a&b pawns, but he goes for the win 45. Nf6+ Ke7  46.Ng8+ Kf8 an alternate and possibly winning path for white would be 47.Nh5, but the calculation is deep and thus risky. Carlsen chose a path where he could not lose. He gives up his knight for all but one of white's pawns, that will result in a Q+Ps v Q+N ending. Q v Q+N is a draw. 47. Nxh6 gxf4 48. gxf4 Kg7 49. Nxf5+ exf5 50. Kb6 Ng2 51. Kxb7 Nxf4 52. Kxa6 Ne6 53. Kb6 f4 

The a and f pawns will promote to queens and Carlsen cannot lose this, and thus will be the winner of the match and the new world champion. 54. a6 f3 55. a7 f2 56. a8=Q f1=Q 57. Qd5 centralizing his queen. 57...Qe1 (Qxh3 would allow white's pawns to get in motion 58.b4 Kf6 59.c5 this is not losing for black, but is worse than the game.) 58. Qd6 Qe3+ 59. Ka6 Nc5+ 60. Kb5 Nxb3 61. Qc7+ Kh6 62. Qb6+ Qxb6+ 63. Kxb6 Kh5 64. h4 Kxh4 65. c5 Nxc5 1/2-1/2

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Endgame Studies to Improve Calculation

During Anand-Carlsen round 9, Susan Polgar said that endgame studies are good for improving calculation. I have avoided endgame studies for one good and one bad reason. The good reason is that there artificial nature does not directly translate to "real" endgames.

The bad reason that I do not like them is because they are difficult. They are difficult, because calculation in open positions is one of the (many) weak areas of my game. My dislike for studies because they are hard, turns the good reason above into a rationalization.

If a chess study is a good exercise, then a modified Stokyo seems the best fit. All calculation should be done in the head, but take notes of key ideas so one can recreate the calculation afterward. Then use a set and check the variations. Finally use a computer to check your analysis.

So if I want to start doing endgame studies to improve calculation, what studies is the next obvious question. There are a lot of studies available for free on the internet, and you can google for databases of studies. J. Silman has a review of some endgame study books where he discusses the usefulness of endgame studies for practical play.

I am going to put Nunn's "Endgame Challenge" on my list of books to get.

World Chess Championship 2013: Anand - Carlsen, round 9

Anand chose a very sharp line today, and we get an exciting game. I was expecting something like this on round 7. Unfortunately for Anand, Carlsen came out on top, and now leads 6-3. It is inconceivable that Carlsen will not be able to draw in one of the next three games.

I did not watch the game live, as I am shifting my sleep schedule so I can play well tommorrow night. I will update this post after I have analyzed the game.

Anand abandons e2-e4 and plays 1.d4 Nf3 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 Carlsen choses the Nimzo-Indian, one of his normal defenses to d4. 4.f3 d5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 This is the Saemisch variation of the Nimzo with f2-f3 which is a common idea these days. This could be a very dynamic game. 7.cxd5 exd5 is a rare move. Carlsen has been in this position once before (Krush-Carlsen 2007), where he played the more common Nxd5  8.e3 c4 Carlsen plays this quickly so it is likely home preparation or just analysis of his draw with Krush 9.Ne2 Nc6 10.g4 Anand gains space on the kingside. This is a very commital move, as black has not castled yet. Carlsen could post his knight on b3 and castle long.

10...O-O Carlsen castles into it. Carlsen takes a while to make this move. He must be confident in his defense, or he is rolling the dice. (10...Na5 delaying castling and leaving in question where his king goes might be more prudent) 11.Bg2 Na5 12.O-O Nb3 13.Ra2 this is a better square for the rook than b1. From a2 the rook can slide across to e2 to support the center on, or f2-h2 to support a kingside attack. 13...b5 14.Ng3 a5 black's attack is coming quickly, but white is attacking black's king 15.g5 

15...Ne8 the knight must retreat, but the question of which square is key. The knight will not remain on e8 passively defending g7, and on d7 it could not remain blocking the light square bishop. The choice depends on where the knight is going. 16.Ne4 Nxc1 17.Qxc1 Ra6 similar to white's Ra2, this move allows the rook to support the kingside. 18.e5 Nc7 here the knight defends d5 and the 16-rook 19.f4 b4 20.axb4 axb4 21.Rxa6 Nxa6

22.f5!? Anand goes for it. Black's b-pawn will be very powerful now, but white will get a strong kingside attack. (22.cxb4 elimiates the b-pawn, and diverts black's knight further from the kingside. Black's c4-pawn is protected and passed, but one square further from promotion 22...Nxb4 23.f5 Nd3 24.Qe3 and white's attack continues, but perhaps not as powerfully) 22...b3 23.Qf4 Nc7 the knight heads back for defense 24.f6 

White threatens to mate on g7 and h7. Black has several defensive plans here to calculate: gxf6, g7-g6, and Ne8. 24...g6 25.Qh4 Ne8 26.Qh6 b2

Carlsen threatens to promote the b2-pawn to delay the rook lift. Anand is short on time with less than 10 minutes on the clock to get to move 40.

27.Rf4 but Anand goes for it anyway. Carlsen can promote his b2-pawn, but then must give it up to prevent mate if he can. 27...b1=Q+ 28.Nf1? On g3 this knight blocked the e1-h4 diagonal and controlled h5. 28.Bf1 was necessary. Qe1! There is no more attack, as black can give up his extra queen for the rook and there is no mate on h7. 0-1.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

World Championship 2013: Anand - Carlsen, round 8

Game 8 - very boring draw, but it was quick.

I will not be getting up for the next two games, as I have to play Friday evening, and I need to shift my sleep schedule. I will make a post on the games, but they will be later in the day.

Carlsen plays the Ruy, and Anand replys with the Berlin. Carlsen does not chose the Berlin wall, but a variation with symmetric pawn structure, balanced pieces, and one open file.

1.e4 e5 I would have expected something with more chances for a dynamic game. It is very easy as white in the open game to get very quiet positions with no winning chances for black. Anand is down two games, and needs two wins to get to the tiebreaks. He only has two games as white left. 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe5 5.Re1 recovers the pawn directly, and produces fewer imbalances than the Berlin Wall. 5...Nd6 6.Nxe5 Be7 7.Bf1 Nxe5 8.Rxe5 O-O 9.d4 Bf6 10.Re1 Re8 11.c3 Rxe1 12.Qxe1 Ne8 13.Bf4 d5 14.Bd3 g6 15.Nd2 Ng7 16.Qe2 c6 17.Re1 Bf5 18.Bxf5 Nxe5 19.Nf3 Ng7 20.Be5 Ne6 21.Bxf6 Qxf6 22.Ne5 Re8 23.Ng4 adds some tactical tricks. The black queen must stay on the d8-h4 diagonal, or white will invade the weak dark squares around black's king. 23...Qd8 which Anand parrys, by placing his queen on a square that cannot be diverted. 24.Qe5 Ng7 Anand allows Carlsen a combination to trade all the pieces, which he takes. 25.Qxe8+ Nxe8 26.Rxe8+ Qxe8 27.Nf6+ Kf8 28.Nxe8 Kxe8 29.f4 f5 20.Kf2 b5 31.b4 Kf7 32.h3 h6 33.h4 h5

Monday, November 18, 2013

World Championship 2013: Anand - Carlsen, round 7

Carlsen was able to trade down into an even endgame, and a repetition draw on move 31.

Anand is two games down and only has two games as white left. He needed to make something of today.

Anand plays the Ruy Lopez. I was expecting something different, but Anand may have nothing else prepared. Carlsen plays the Berlin again, and why not as he has been better in the two previous uses of this opening. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.Bxc6 dxc6 Anand takes a third path this time with the rare 6.Nbd2 Bg4 7.h3 Bh5 8.Nf1 Nd7 defends the e5-pawn 9.Ng3 Bxf3 Carlsen gives up the two bishops. He must not have liked the future of the bishop on g6, or he just wanted to trade pieces 10.Qxf3 g6 11.Be3 Qe7 12.O-O-O O-O-O 13.Ne2 Rhe8 14.Kb1 b6 15.h4 Kb7 Carlsen sets up a more aggressive posture on the queenside. His king guards the c-pawns and his rooks can now slide along the back rank. 16.h5 Bxe3 17.Qxe3 Nc5 18.hxg6 hxg6 Anand opens the h-file. It may be premature, because black should be able to challenge white on the h-file now 19.g3 or perhaps Anand is just reducing the pawns on the kingside. Carlsen takes a long think, and choses to gain space on the queenside, secures his knight on c5, and a long term threat to attack the white king. 19...a5 20.Rh7 Rh8 21.Rdh1 Rxh7 Anand has his rook invasion at the cost of a trade of a pair of rooks. 22.Rxh7 Qf6 A nice placement of black's queen.  On the long a1-h8 diagonal it supports bringing a rook to h8 and helps control the d4 square. It also keeps the white queen off of the f-file.  23.f4 Rh8 24.Rxh8 Qxh8 25.fxe5 Qxe5 This endgame looks equal with few imbalances. A draw looks likely 26.Qf3 f5 27.exf5 gxf5 28.c3 Ne6 29.Kc2 Ng5 30.Qf2 Ne6 31.Qf3 Ng5 32.Qf2 Ne6 1/2-1/2

Saturday, November 16, 2013

World Championship 2013: Anand - Carlsen, round 6

Another decisive game! after a long fought endgame.

In the last World Championship, Gelfand won the first decisive game, and Anand came right back with a novelty and a quick win. Anand plays a novelty this game, but no quick win.

Anand chose a d3 line against Carlsen's Berlin this time, and springs an early novelty. Carlsen plays d3 lines as white in the Ruy Lopez. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 O-O 6.O-O Re8 7.Re1 this is a rare line, White may miss the support of f2. a6 8.Ba4  b5 9.Bb3 d6 10.Bg5 is a novelty, but still a thematic move when the black dark square bishop is outside the pawn chain. Carlsen takes a long think.

10...Be6 11.Nbd2 h6 12.Bh4 Bxb3 13.axb3 Nb8 redeploying this knight to d7 to relieve the queen of the defense of the f6-knight. 14.h3 Nbd7 15.Nh2 Bb6 17.Ne3 Qe6 18.b4 a5 19.bxa5 Bxa5 20.Nhg4 Bb6 21.Bxf6 Nxf6 22.Nxf6+ Qxf6 23.Qg4 Bxe3 24.fxe3 Qe7 

An equal and fairly balanced major piece endgame. Carlsen may play on for quite a while. He will rely on being able to play more exactly than Anand.

25.Rf1 c5 26.Kh2 c4 27.d4 Rxa1 28.Rxa1 

(28...exd4 does not quite work 29. exd4 Qxe4 30.Qxe4 Rxe4 31.Ra8+ Kh7 32.Rb8 gathers in black's b-pawn and equalizes.)

28...Qb7 threatens the e4 pawn 29.Rd1 Qc6 30.Qf5 exd4 31.Rxd4 Re5 32.Qf3 Qc7

black looks slightly better now 33.Kh1 Qe7 34.Qg4 Kh7 35.Qf4 g6 36.Kh2 Kg7 37.Qf3 Re6 38.Qg3?! Carlsen now trade in his positional advantage for a pawn, but Anand's rook will be more active. Carlsen takes a long time evaluating the resulting R+P ending. 38...Rxe4 39.Qxd6 Rxe3 40.Qxe7 Rxe7 41.Rd5 Rb7

Anand takes a long think. Carlsen needs to preserve some queenside pawns, because 3v2 pawns in a rook endgame is an easy draw. Anand should be able to get a slightly better king position as well as his more active rook for good drawing chances. Anand takes a long think here to decide the best way to play this. 42.Rd6 Anand makes it difficult for Carlsen to activate his king. 42...f6 43.h4 Kf7

44.h5 Anand plays a surprise by offering up another pawn to break up Carlsen's pawns and keep black's king passive. 44...gxh5 45.Rd5 Kg6 46.Kg3 Rb6 47.Rc5 f5 48.Kh4

Carlsen returns a pawn to activate his rook. 48...Re6 49.Rxb5 Re4+

50.Kh3 Kg5 51. Rb8 h4 52.Rg8+ Kh5 53.Rf8 Rf4 54.Rc8 Rg4 55.Rf8 Rg3+ 56.Kh2 Kg5 57.Rg8+ Kf4 

Carlsen gives up another pawn to activate his king 58.Rc8 Ke3 59.Rxc4 f4 60.Ra4? h3

and a third pawn to get a passed f-pawn. Carlsen looks very good here. 61.gxh3 Rg6 62.c4 f3 63.Ra3+ Ke2 64.b4 f2 65.Ra2+ Kf3 66.Ra3+ Kf4 67.Ra8 Rg1 0-1 Carlsen is up two games! The next few games, Anand will go tactical.

Friday, November 15, 2013

World Championship 2013: Anand - Carlsen, round 5

First decisive game of the match.

1.c4 e6 2.d4 d5 Kasparov says that you cannot become a strong player without playing the Ruy Lopez (yesterday's game) or the Queen's gambit declined (today). 3.Nc3 c6 Anand uses the triangle against Carlsen's English opening, and  Carlsen avoids heavy semiSlav theory with 4.e4 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Bb4+ 6.Nc3 (the more common move is 6.Bd2) 6...c5 7.a3 Ba5 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Be3 Nc6 10.Qd3 cxd4 11.Nxd4 Ng4 with this novelty the game slips out of history and we are in new territory.

12.O-O-O Nxe3 13.fxe3 Bc7 14.Nxc6 bxc6 15.Qxd8 Bxd8. It looks like we have a long endgame ahead
Black has several soft spots. The c6-pawn and the c6 and d6 squares. This is a comfortable type of position for Carlsen. It is likely that Carlsen will be able to force the trade of his knight for Anand's dark square bishop leaving a good vs bad bishop ending. This is likely another two result endgame for Carlsen.

16.Be2 Ke7 17.Bf3 Bd7 18.Ne4 Bb6 19.c5 f5 20.cxb6 fxe4 21.b7 Rab8 22.Bxe4 Rxb7

Carlsen has his slightly better game with the good versus bad bishop, but black only has one weakness, and usually one needs two weaknesses to work against to win an endgame. One problem that Carlsen has is the black's c6 pawn is indirectly defended by a pin/fork with a rook against white's king on the c-file.

23.Rhf1 Rb6 24.Rf4 seems to allow black to play e6-e5 with tempo on the rook making more squares available to black's bishop, but Anand chooses 24...g5 25.Rf3 h7-h5 
Anand gains space while eliminating a target on h7; he is slowly removing his pawns from squares available to white's bishop. 26.Rdf1 Be8 27.Bc2 Rc5 28.Rf6 h4 29.e4 Carlsen limits the scope of his bishop, and could be a problem if black gets e5 in first.  a5 30.Kd2 Rb5 31.b3 Bh5 32.Kc3 Rc5+ 33.Kb2 Rhd8 Anand is down to 14 minutes with 7 moves to play. 34.R1f2 Rd4 35.Rh6 Bd1 36.Bb1 Carlsen avoids the trade of bishops 36...Rb5 37.Kc3 c5 38.Rb2 e5 

Anand has removed his pawns from light squares, and Carlsen has the bad bishop. It looks like things have turned completely around. Carlsen does have an active rook in compensation. 39.Rg6 (39.Bd3 fails to Rxb3+ 40.Rxb3 Bxb3 41.Kxb3 Rxd3) a4 40.Rxg5 Rxb3+ 41.Rxb3 Bxb3 Rxe5+ Kd6 43.Rh5 Rd1 44.e5+ Kd5 45.Bh7 Rc1+ 46.Kb2 Rg1 47.Bg8+ Kc6
Carlsen takes a long think. He likely is trying to decide to play Rh6+ or not. The key is what squares he wants to allow the black king. 48.Rh6+ Kd7 This might be a key mistake. The a-pawn might be very fast. (48...Kb5 49.Bxb3 axb3 50.Kxb3 Rxg2 51.Rxh4 and black still has the possibility of control of all of white's pawns.) 49.Bxb3 axb3 50.Kxb3 Rxg2 51.Rxh4 Ke6 52.a4 
With the black king centralized, white must push the outside pawns. The a4-pawn is defended by the h4-rook, which allows the white king to get more active if black's king moves to the wing, or the a-pawn can keep advancing if black takes the e-pawn. 52...Kxe5 53.a5 Kd6 This looks winning for white. 54.Rh7 Kd5 55.a6 c4+ 56.Kc3 Ra2 57.a7 Kc5 58.h4 1-0

What is "concrete play"?

Concrete is a chess term that has arisen in the last 10 years along with the strength of computer play. When computers were applied to many opening positions, new moves that violated opening principles were found. These counter principle moves backed by tactical analysis needed a new term. Concrete moves are counter to general principle, but still good moves that are backed with analysis.

I think the term is becoming overused and possibly overloaded with new meanings.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

World Championship 2013: Anand - Carlsen, round 4

The most interesting game so far. Lots of fireworks in the variations. Anand sacrifices a pawn to tie up Carlsen in a Ruy Lopez Berlin Wall, but Carlsen escapes the bind and keeps his extra pawn, but the resulting R+P ending is very drawish.  The game is not over, but I have to go. I will update with an annotation of this game later today.

I am watching the coverage (starts at the half hour after start of the game) on my computer, and watching the game moves on my tablet with the World Championship app. For me this is better than chessbomb, because there is no computer evaluation. The coverage has a live board, but does not show the clocks.

Update: A very interesting draw. Much more fireworks than would be expected from a Berlin Wall. Anand's pawn sacrifice idea is one for Berlin players to watch out for, unless you are as good on defense as Carlsen.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

World Championship 2013: Anand - Carlsen, round 3

A much more interesting game, today.

Carlsen with white again goes Barzca, but plays c4 before d4. Anand accepts the "gambit", which seems to surprise Carlsen.

I am definitely liking the coverage better than the official feed. Today, Irina Krush (with her new GM title) provides commentary. Also, has a couple of choices for  live annotation. Unfortunately, also has computer evaluation on the page. I have in a window with the computer analysis and chat covered with the page.

1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 g6 3.c4 dxc4 4.Qa4+ Nc6 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.Nc3 e5 7.Qxc4 Nge7 8.O-O O-O 9.d3 h6 10.Bd2 Nd4 11.Nxd4 exd4 12.Ne4 c6
The natural plan is to advance the queenside pawns in a minority attack.  GM Krush points out that Carlsen's 13.Bb4 is a non-obvious move. Carlsen delays the queenside advance to pin the Ne7, with perhaps the idea of trading the bishop for that knight. Long term Carlsen may be playing for a good knight versus bad bishop endgame after a trade of light square bishops.


14.Qc1 is another non obvious move by Carlsen, as it occupies a natural square for a rook.

14...Bd5 15.a4 b6 16.Bxe7 Qxe7 17.a5 Rab8 19.Re1 Rfc8 19.axb6 axb6 20.Qf4 Rd1 and Carlsen takes time for a long think.
GM Krush thinks that he would like to play Nd2, but there are problems with it blocking the retreat of white's queen, and the possiblility of the queen being trapped or a perpetual is a real concern. Carlsen plays 21.h4, which may be preparation for Nd2

21...Kh7 22.Nd2 Be5 23.Qg4 h5 24.Qh3 Be6 25.Qh1
The queen on h1 is not as ugly as it might look. Anand will likely c6-c5 to remove all targets from the bishop-queen battery. Carlsen now controls the a8-square, and may get some play from the light squares on the queenside, but I think black is better and certainly has the initiative.

25...c5 26.Ne4 Kg7 27.Ng5 b5

Anand allows opposite colored bishops. The danger of a draw B+P ending is still a long way off, meanwhile black gets his queenside pawns in motion and may be able to take advantage of the passive position of white's queen. Carlsen has a long think. He decides not to take the bishop on e6, as that is likely a two result game not in Carlsen's favor. 28.e3!? gives Carlsen some counterplay, though it looks dangerous. after 28...dxe3 opens up both of black's bishops. 29.Rxe3

29...Bd4!? (Why not 29...Bxb2? I have no idea, except Anand may not have liked the counterplay white would get)

 30.Re2 c4 31.Nxe6 fxe6 Carlsen is getting low on the clock with 8 moves to go to time control in a complicated position.
32.Be4 is a pawn sacrifice. cxd3 33.Rd2 Qb4 34.Rad1 Bxb2 35.Qf3 Bf6 36.Rxd3 Rxd3 37.Rxd3 Rd8 38.Rxd8 Bxd8 39.Bd3 Qd4 gives up the b-pawn. Anand has bailed out for a draw, but it is likely a draw at this point no matter what Anand plays.

I don't see how either player can make progress. Carlsen sometimes plays on a very long time in a drawn position, but this position is very dead. 40.Bxb5 Qf6 41.Qb7+ Be7 42.Kg2 Carlsen declines a draw here, very puzzling. 42...g5 43.hxg5 Qxg5 44.Bc4 h4 45.Qc7 hxg3 46.Qxg3 e5 47.Kf3 Qxg3+ 48.fxg3 Bc5 49.Ke4 Bd4 50.Kf5 Bf2 51.Kxe5 Bxg3+ 1/2-1/2

Sunday, November 10, 2013

World Championship 2013: Anand - Carlsen, round 2

Another short draw. The players reached an equal endgame after 18 moves, and found a repetition in the early twenties.

Game 2 is a Caro, a surprise from Carlsen. Happy times for a couple of our local players.

Carlsen is playing the opening quickly, so he is still in recent preparation, Anand is taking more time. The official site commentary is diving into the chess today. From time to time, Polgar is making comments suitable for novice players. Generally, the coverage is targeting a more informed audience. I started with the youtube feed off the official site, today.

With 14...O-O, Carlsen castles on the opposite side. This could be a very exciting tactical game, but after Anand plays the centralizing 15.Ne4, which allows Carlsen to begin a series of exchanges that ends with an invitation to trade queens, and Anand accepts. We are in an endgame after moves 18.Qxd5 cxd5.
This endgame is mostly equal. White has more space, but a bad bishop. Neither player has a glaring weakness, but both have play on opposite wings. Carlsen plays the next few moves actively, which allows Anand to force a repetition of moves.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

World Championship 2013: Anand - Carlsen, round 1

Ack! A short draw for the first game. I got up early! Anand can chalk this one up to his excellent preparation.

The official site is having problems with their streaming commentary, but has an alternate feed. also has live video coverage of the games with different commentators. has a live board with computer analysis of the current position. The coverage seems to be more about the chess, but the official site coverage changed commentators at the one hour mark. I expect in future games, there will be less discussion of the scene in Chennai and India.

The opening is a very interesting one for me. Carlsen chose 1.Nf3 and delayed a central pawn thrust till 4.d2-d4. Anand chose a Grunfeld like setup, while Carlsen chose a double fianchetto Reti like setup.

Anand heads into rare territory with 9...d5xc4. This simplifying move gives white a pawn center, but those pawns can be weak, and Anand grabs the initiative and begins to attack Carlsen's c&d pawns.  My move order to this kind of position would end up in a neo-Grunfeld, as I play c2-c4 before committing to the kingside fianchetto.

1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. d4 c6 5. O-O Nf6 6. b3 O-O 7. Bb2 Bf5 8.
c4 Nbd7 9. Nc3 dxc4 10. bxc4 Nb6 11. c5 Nc4 12. Bc1 Nd5 13. Qb3 Na5 14. Qa3
Nc4 15. Qb3 Na5 1/2-1/2

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Following Kaufman - November 2013

The new issue of Following Kaufman is done.

This ebook collection of games is available for free in epub format on Smashwords.

Only 136 games this month, but all are relevant to "The Kaufman Repertoire for Black & White" and present them with a diagram for each move.

Word Championship: Anand - Carlsen 2013, Preview

I am excited about the upcoming world championship match between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen. Like most world championship matches many of the games will be draws, but I expect they will be interesting draws. Unlike the last championship, neither player has a tremendous advantage in rapid play, so they will have incentive to win the match in regulation.

I want to make a blog post after each round, like I did for Anand vs Gelfand, but the games will be live very early in the morning for me. The first round is on November 9th at 3pm India time (GMT+5:30), which is 4:30am EST (GMT-5), and 3:30am for me here in the land of 10,000 lakes. (Link to official site for match)

This should be a very interesting match of experience and preparation (Anand) versus talent (Carlsen). Both of these players (like all super GMs) have loads of talent and experience, plus I am sure both are working very hard on match preparation. But in comparing the contestants, they do have relative strengths.

Carlsen is like Capablanca in that he seems to have a deep understanding of chess. He plays solid openings and accumulates advantages. I expect that Carlsen will play some new opening lines to lessen Anand's preparation advantage.

Anand is like Botvinnik. He is rich in experience and very good in his preparation.

I also expect that if Anand loses this match, he will, like Botvinnik, be the leading challenger for the next round.

The match will be held in Chennai, which is Anand's home town. This kind of home field advantage is rare in chess world championships. Anand's career has been very good for chess in India, and this may be FIDE's attempt to cement that success. Considering India's population and growing economy, I think we will all benefit from continuing popularity of chess in India.

After Bobby Fischer's departure, participation in chess declined in the USA. If Anand loses, I do not think that will happen to chess in India. Certainly, Anand will (continue to) behave better than Fischer whether he retains the title or loses it.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

TCCL 2014 round 2

We lost again.  I out rated my opponent, but he is a rapidly improving young player. He played out of my preparation on move 11 in an open Catalan. I got everything I could want out of the opening, but did not make a good decision on how to transition to the endgame. I also missed a winning tactical move, and allowed him to get a perpetual check on me.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Memory: Openings

Two things came together for me recently, that has modified the way I look at opening study. The memory course my wife bought (see this post), and an application of Soltis advice on reviewing annotated games from "Chess Study Made Easy"

My general approach has not changed. I think it is a waste of time for most class players to memorize opening lines, because you will rarely get to play them. There are too many good, but not the best moves in class play. The deepest I have ever reached in my preparation in class play has been move 10. Study whole well annotated games with general lessons is best. Game collections of a favorite grandmaster are great, or one with particular lessons in mind.  Use the opening knowledge you gain from those games. Try lots of things to provide a good foundation. Keep your king safe, fight for the center, and develop your pieces.

Those of us in high class A or rapidly improving class A players, can start to memorize opening lines and try to prepare a comprehensive repertoire. The rest of this post is for us and those better than us.

I believe that understanding the positions are more important than memorizing the moves that produce the position. Many positions can be reached by various move orders, so it is important to recognize the position from a transposition sequence. Also, the better one understands the requirements of a position the more likely you will pick the best move, even if you have forgotten your preparation.

A position is best understood in the context of at least one whole game, preferably well annotated. Opening books that do not have complete games are only for players that already understand that opening well.

The most suited lines for study are ones from a recent failure to play the opening well in a tournament game.

The New Approach

On each day that I can do this, I will study a game from an opening book. The first session will be a deep study. I will start the second session at least one hour after completing the first, the third four hours after the second,  a fourth review the next day before I start other work, and a fifth time that evening. Each subsequent session should be shorter than the prior, so little time is needed for the second day. One could do this once a week on the weekend.

The first session will take the most time, but I will try to make it under one hour.  I will go through the game three times as Soltis suggests.
  1. The first play through will be a quick run to just get the idea of the game. 
  2. The second play through will be entering the game into the computer. I will read the text annotations and skim the major variations. I will select/adjust the tabiya I use to select games for review. 
  3. The third pass will be a deep dive using the computer. I will enter all variations with Fritz. I expect to use one "game" in Fritz per chapter of an opening book, except for the cleanup chapters. I will think about how things transpose with other games. I will print out the "game" for use in the 3rd-5th sessions.
The second session will repeat a careful following of the variations in the game with two boards. I will cover the moves in the book, and try to guess the next one. I will start from the initial position and play various move orders from memory to reach the start of the variation.

The third session will use two boards to focus on repeating the main variations I have documented for tabiya from memory.

The fourth and fifth sessions will repeat the third session focusing on what I cannot remember from the previous day.

On days when I don't have enough time for the first three sessions, I will work on other things. The second day should just be a few minutes, so I should be able to fit it in. If I overlap opening study, then I should work on completely different lines, or the same line from black and white.

Maintenance sessions will be done by regular viewing of recent master games from my repertoire. When viewing games, I should note when the game departs from my repertoire, and if I should schedule research time to dig into the game.

I have tried this a few times. Modifying this post as I learn how things work. I think this will be successful.

Update: I just went through a game that had too many lines for this too work. I need to modify the first session to restrict the amount of material I am trying to memorize. A particular game may need to be split into several passes. I need a supplementary document to identify the separate passes, and the first session on subsequent passes.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review: Wojo's Weapons Volume 3

I am preparing a ebook periodical on "Wojo's Weapons" like my series on "The Kaufman Repertoire". In the process, I am constructing a set of Tabiya that are good for searching a database for games. I thought it was time for a review on WW III.

The strength of this series is the well annotated complete games with lots of text descriptions. The one small weakness of Volume I was I had a little difficulty in constructing a complete repertoire for the closed Catalan. Volume II was a massive treatment of the fianchetto lines of the King's Indian Defense (KID) and I think it was excellent in every way. Volume III has the complete games well annotated with lots of text, but it has more of the weakness of incomplete coverage of some lines.

I started to use a 1.Nf3  Catalan based repertoire before the third volume of Wojo's Weapons came out. I had to work on Gruenfeld and Symmetric English lines without this resource.

Volume 2 was an extensive treatment of the fianchetto KID, and was in some ways more dense than Volume 1 treatment of 1.Nf3 d5 2.d4. I was able to create a set of Tabiya to search databases to look for informative games from Vol 1,2. The rest of the repertoire I had worked out was illuminated by the Gruenfeld section of Vol 3, which is very similar to the first two volumes. Similarly, the Dutch and others chapters at the end seem fine for the amount of games played with these defenses.

The Symmetric English part of Vol 3 is much different. It seems to me that too much ground is covered for the amount of annotated games, with the exception of chapter 11. Chapter 11 is interesting and may be a good way to cover a very transpositional and highly theoretical area of chess for class players.

Wojo transposed to the Maroczy Bind variation of the Accelerated Dragon when possible, and chapter 10 has 4 games to cover a broad swath of territory. If you want to do this, then you will need a good book on the Maroczy Bind. Perhaps this deficiency will be addressed when Wojo's Weapons turns to the black side of the board, as Wojo played the Accelerated Dragon; however, I do not see any Accelerated Dragon games from Hilton or Ippolito in the database.

There are two games on the Queens Indian, and two on the English Hedgehog variation. Suba's books are very popular with class players. We may not fully understand his "dynamic" chess, but he is very entertaining.
The English Hedgehog is fairly common in class play, because it is similar to many popular open Sicilian lines. The Queen's Indian works well as a Catalan avoidance, so we see lots of them, also. More material here would have been good. (Because I am well known as a king's fianchetto player, I am seeing Orangutan, Larsen's and 1.c4 Nf6 2.b4 openings from white)

Overall, I think this is a very good series. It will be the core of my opening repertoire for white as I go forward. I may shift to more dynamic lines if I achieve the endgame knowledge and success I am hoping to obtain from using this repertoire.

Review: What It Takes to Become a Chess Master by Soltis

I need a breakthrough in chess understanding. I hope this book will be one of the tools I need.

First, let me say that I liked this book very much.

Second, I wish this had been written by Silman.

Soltis writes short books with a few examples from which you must develop your own study plan, and find your own materials.

Silman writes door stops with copious examples and explanations.

I failed many of the end of chapter quiz questions, and am not sure yet what I need to do to be able to see what Soltis wants us to see in these positions.

Third, an reviewer suggests Popov's "Chess Lessons" to be a better book on the same topic. 

I did glean some new exercises as I study/annotate game.

Exercises for master games:
  • List targets (both sides) in a position
  • Evaluate early middle game positions: immediate action needed?
  • Evaluate a position does it require a lot of calculation or little?
Exercises for my games:
  • How could I have gotten more?
  • Was there a plan which would have been easier?
  • Try to understand "unintentional" sacrifices. Can I learn to see comp before it just happens?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Excuse, Bleg, Snul, and Preview of "Things to Come"

I have not been doing the work necessary to put the information on this blog that I had wanted too.

My wife is feeling the burden of being the sole provider, and we are both feeling uncertain of the value of our retirement savings considering the 1T dollars a year the Fed is printing. I am now under a dead line to make some real money from chess, or get a real job. As only a few of the very best can make a living playing chess and the opportunities for a class A player to get paid for coaching are limited, I am looking in a different direction.

You might have noticed the adding of a tip jar on the right side bar. I do not expect much from this, as I know I am not providing a lot of value on this blog. It is still mainly an improvement journal for my own benefit.

I have been very busy this year writing study tools for chess. The first fruit of this labor is the ebook monthly periodical "Following Kaufman" (which I intend to start charging 99 cents with the January issue with a free sample). I will add a second periodical "Wielding Wojo's Weapons" in November. I hope to make this technology available on a web site, so that you can create an ebook periodical from your own repertoire, but the program is still far from ready for that. Trying to make my chess book vision work in various ebook formats has been daunting. Epub is the most openly documented, and I have succeeded in creating epubs. Amazon has been very frustrating to deal with, but I may be able to make kindle formats on my own and put them up via Smashwords when they provide support.

I am also working on a web page to create chess flash cards. The free version will allow you to create a flash card and print it out in various sizes. I have a prototype version working. I intend to put it on the Rochester Chess Club site first, but I need HTML5 and that site is XHTML.

On my website, I intend to have some function available for free, a registration wall with more free function including a discussion forum, and a paying membership wall for the full set of tools.

I have more ideas for tools to help endgame training, documenting opening repertoires, using flash cards, and writing chess books. It is my hope that a full suite of study tools on a web site and appropriate supporting mobile apps can make a talent for programming and an avocation for chess pay.

Meanwhile, I intend to continue to study chess and how to improve at chess and document my ideas and success on this blog.

Monday, October 14, 2013


To be a good chess player requires memorization of lots of information. This does not mean that you have to have a great memory, but you have to do the work of memorizing things.

Some of this memory work can be fun. Doing chess problems regularly on one of the online sites will train your memory (and visualization) in tactical patterns.

Some of the memory work can be tedious like memorizing the proper sequence of opening moves, or the patterns for theoretical endgames.

 My wife recently bought a short course in memory from The Great Courses company. It covers some memorization techniques and a general overview the current state of science on memory. The basic techniques do not have much direct application to chess, but the science does suggest some possibilities.

Memorization is best done by layering on top of known concepts. We can hold in short term memory about 7 things. How complex those things can be depend on our current knowledge and understanding. The "real" starting positions for some openings is very deep. One of the daunting things about the Ruy Lopez is how deep the mainline can be. Memorizing the 15 moves to get to the mainline start can be near impossible for a beginning player. Of course, they do not have to memorize that deep, because their opponents do not know it either. If you understand the concepts behind each move, have a small "story" that explains how to deal with variations, and understand the tactical patterns behind each of the traps it becomes much easier.
After 13...Bf8, the starting position for the Ruy Lopez Breyer

Memorizing K&P endings is another near impossible task for the beginner, but learning counting, the square of the pawn, and the opposition help immensely in learning these patterns.

We memorize things better when we have an emotional connection to the information.  Great chess players are often good at several other things. One of these is music, which also requires a great deal of memorization. Musicians often stress how important it is to feel while playing, to make an emotional connection to the music. Stevie Ray Vaughan went so far as to say he got in trouble when he tried to think about what he was playing rather than just feel. Since we have emotional connection to our recent games, especially the losses, it is important to analyze them as soon as possible after the game, and to use that emotion to help memorize opening lines, precise endgames, and tactical patterns from those games.

One key to better memorization is to understand forgetting. After studying material the amount we retain falls off dramatically. Ebbinghaus was an early pioneer in the study of memory, and his meticulous research allowed him to display the forgetting function (notice the logarithmic scale on the horizontal time axis)

This lead to further research that indicates we should review newly learned material very shortly after the initial study, and that review can be shorter than the initial study. Further review can be shorter still and after a longer period of time.

In my experience the broad concepts are more easily remembered and the details get lost first. I suspect that subsequent review allows us to better chunk up the hard details based on the more easily remembered concepts. Or you might be the opposite, and some details are easily remembered and the concepts become clearer as more details are retained.

I will get down to brass tacks on how this will change how I study chess in subsequent posts.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Following Kaufman - October 2013

This ebook collection of games is available for free on Smashwords in epub format.

I have selected 321 recent master games that are relevant to "The Kaufman Repertoire for Black & White" and present them with a diagram for each move.

This is the first issue in a monthly series.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

TCCL 2014 round 1

We lost the first round to a strong team. I managed to squeak out the only win.

My opponent played an early Bg5 against my King's Indian Defense, and I forgot not only the line against it (Spassky-Fisher 1992) but the general approach to the Averbakh.

I ended up with an unfavorable Benoni setup, and had to defend against a strong kingside attack. Short on time, my opponent missed the killer move, and allowed me to give up a piece for 3 center pawns and transition into an endgame, where my central pawn mass proved to be too much trouble for him in the time he had left.

Recently I picked up an ideas I am going to try to apply now. The old idea was simply to study an opening after as part of analyzing the game just played. The new idea is to look at an opening 3 times in a day, with an hour or two break between first and second look, then more than four hours between second and third.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Flash Cards as Study Book

Dan Heisman has many excellent articles in his Novice Nook series on The one that is pertinent to this post is "Getting The Edge". In this article he gives 14 things we should do to improve.

Number 12 is to create your own personalized study book in which you document mistakes you have made and how you think you can keep from repeating them. I think the flash card format is excellent for this, and it is my major use of flash cards. They compose the deck I review as warm up before tournament games.

As Heisman points out, removing negatives from our play is as important as adding positives (e.g. tactical patterns), and it can be harder.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Noel Skelton Open 2013

The good news is that I played Wesley So in the first round. He spent a lot of time in the opening. I think he was deciding the variation that would be the safest way to win. He appeared tired and jet lagged. I hope he had a good time. He won the tournament, of course.

 The bad news is that I played terrible the whole tournament. Lots of visualization errors. I think I need to analyze my vote chess games without an analysis board or notes, then write down the variations, then use a set.

I found a few holes in the opening repertoire file I am using to filter games of interest, including the mainline of the early open Catalan that Wesley So played.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Chess Study Tools: Status Report

I am writing some programs to help me study chess. In the last few months I have been working steadily on creating a program to write out an ebook based on an input pgn file. This was to allow the bulk of writing of chess books in a chess program by annotating moves and exporting the games to a pgn file, and also to create an means to easily review a set of games filtered from a chess database.

I have completed a prototype and have ironed out the most egregious bugs. The idea was to present each game as a chapter and each move as a position.  In an ebook a chess diagram using a chess font does not take up a lot of space, unlike a paper book. The font needs a lot of work.

I successfully used this on a recent vacation to review a bunch of games without using a chess set, just my tablet.

Here is a sample of Ruy Lopez games filtered on Kaufman's Repertoire for Black (2012) as I understand it.

Monday, August 5, 2013

US Open 2013

I did alright with a score of 5 out of 9 (3+2-4=). I basically played at my rated strength with a gain of 11 points. The field was very full of class A and Expert players. There were lots of young players. I ran into better opening preparation in two games. I did not take proper advantage of an inexact move order with one of my opponents, but gathered a better understanding of some King's Indian structures from that game.

I have a lot of material to go through. Two of my wins were against much lower rated players, and the other seven games were against experts. I think there is a lot of good learning material in those games.

As usual, I was head down in my games, and did not get too look at the top boards.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tabiya: Italian Game for Black

Kaufman recommends the Giuoco Piano rather than the Two Knights gambit. His lines run deeper than the three tabiya I will present here, as these positions are for searching for master games from TWIC weekly set. Giuoco Piano is Italian for quiet game. It is quieter than the Two Knights, but I think it a bit of a misnomer.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 is the Giuoco Piano. Like most open games, black will try to preserve a pawn on e5 and inhibit white from playing d4. Black gets his dark square bishop out of the coming pawn chain immediately. Also, it allows black to castle short immediately after playing ...Nf6 to protect f7.

First is the Evan's Gambit. A solid gambit, but black should be able to equalize. The usual idea of taking the gambit and returning the pawn at the right moment works, but Kaufman recommends a line where black tries to hold onto the pawn. 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.d4 d6 7.Qb3 Qd7 8.O-O Bb6

Black will support the e5 pawn with f7-f6, develop his Ng8-e7, and castle long after unwinding his queenside. The awkward placement of the Qd7 is necessary to guard f7 and to be able to retake on c6 with the queen rather than the pawn if white plays Bb5 and Bxc6. Unwinding ideas are Na5 to take the Bc4, Qc6, and Be6 or Bg4.

The mainline is 4.c3 to support a d4 push, but White can transpose to the Italian Four Knights or castle and play a risky gambit. This is difused by 4.O-O Nf6 5.d4 Bxd4 6.Nxd4 Nxd4 7.f4 d6 8.fxe5 dxe5 9.Bg5 Qe7.

There are two approaches white can take after 4.c3 Nf6. He can strike at the center with 5.d4 or play the Giuoco Pianissimo 5.d3 O-O 6.O-O d6.

This is the line played most by masters these days. Like the d3 Ruy lines, white still plans to play d4 later after some preparatory moves. Unlike the Ruy, black has not made the weakening/space gaining pawn moves on the queenside. Black can make use of these moves to develop, which white will use to guide his plans, which center around the possibility of a kingside attack with pieces.

The old mainline is still played, but it is heavily analyzed.. 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Bxd2+ 8.Nbxd2 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5.

We have an isolani game with all the normal imbalances.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Columbus Open 2013

I did very well (2+1-2=) and gained another CM norm. I was even (1+1-1=) against masters again, but they were higher rated than last year. I beat a strong expert, and was lucky to draw against a class A player in the last round. The master I beat in the first round reentered and tied for first (8 way tie). The master I drew also tied for first.

Most important is that all of my games have lessons for me.

I have decided that I need to record my opponents clock as well as mine, especially against masters. I need to make note of when they think a long time and when they do not, and then to figure out why.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tabiya: White vs Black London (Zukertort with 2...Bf5)

I am shifting from the 1.e4 e5 black Tabiya for this week, because I run into black playing a London formation a lot, and I wanted to refresh it.

My general move order 1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 avoids the Catalan Benoni and several other annoying defenses to 1.d4. It does require me to have symmetric English lines, and allows black to play 2...Bf5 and get a London formation. A move order Capablanca use a lot (1.d4 d5 2.Nf3) presents black the same opportunity.

Black wants to get his bishop outside the pawn chain, but this is double edged. Whichever side of the d5-e6-f7 pawn chain the bishop is on causes problems for black. With the bishop on the outside, the b7 square is weak.

I will strike immediately with 3.c4, as the Bf5 is not well situated for accepting the gambit, black should reply with 3...e6, and I can strike with 4.Qb3. (4.Nc3 c6 5.Qb3 Qb6 allows black a more "normal" game)

Currently, black's best response here is 4...Nc6, as 4...dxc4 is met by 5.Qxb7 and black must reply Nd7, which is not where he wants the knight with his queenside pawns askew. 5.Bd2 continues the mainline, keeping the central tension and keeping control of b4. This position will be my tabiya:

Black has two main moves here. 5...Rb8 and 5...dxc4, and I want to track master games with both moves.