Monday, August 29, 2005
Being Yourself
In my quest to reach 1800, I considered it prudent to play in a more conservative manner. I mean, if i'm finding it difficult to get that last 25 points (I'm rated 1785 right now), then I also aint gonna lose points anymore. Its like a stock market chess. you know, reducing chess to cutting losses and stuff. So now, bearing that in mind, I strive to find moves that fulfill these two simple principles:
  • Play for very slight positional advantages, or at least equality
  • Not a losing move tactically
    Then I just sit there and patiently wait for my opponents mistake. If after two hours of play, and still I havent found anything, well then - I'm really quite satisfied with a draw. So i'm not gonna be a member of the fighting chess club huh!? But my thirst for winning, pales in comparison for my distaste of losing. So why not keep the draw always in hand? As i've said, I aint gonna lose any more points.

    But surprisingly, I had been winning. Paradoxicaly, in striving to keep the balance, I found that my opponent tries to upsets the position and lose by overextending themselves. Perhaps at this level - passivity has its virtues? I was actually expecting a long string of draws, and I get wins? Groovy.

    Anyway, so thats my "style" of play right now. But when a 2100 player challenged me, you know what I did? Instead of playing like that, I tried to complicate things, and attack. I lost in 12 moves. In a crushing style. I really had no business attacking like a young maniac. As much as I would like to, I aint no Nezhmetdinov. I'm just your average wannabe. So - be yourself when playing ok! no matter what the opp's rating is. Its the only way to play really.

    As a sidenote: I really should'nt play opponents rated +-200 points. I crush those 200pts below, and get crushed by those over 200 above. Chess ceases to be a game, and just turns into total obliteration. Win or lose, totally unsatisfactory.

    And oh, before I forget, Hello to Phorku!
    posted by Nezha at 9:30 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
    Thursday, August 25, 2005
    Too Busy
    Sorry folks. I am too busy right now to post anything intelligible. Work has been really, really hard this past few days (or is it weeks now? I cant remember anymore). It would take too long to explain what I'm doing but all I can say is, you do not want to have a NULL pointer running loose in your programs. Ever! Because if you ever encounter one, all you can do is pray hard, and stare at a kitchen knife thinking about other "options".
    posted by Nezha at 12:46 AM | Permalink | 4 comments
    Sunday, August 21, 2005
    Why I Like my Blog
    Sometimes, not everyday, but sometimes, I would log on at FICS and somebody I dont know will have me at his/her notify list. When asked why they know me, they invariably answer: "I read you blog". Wow! that has to be one the nicest thing one can say to this old geezer. And this explain too one of the great mysteries of my blog. Namely - where did I get such high hit rate (If we can call 5,000 high). I mean, I know I visit my blog at least 50 times a day. Then my brother, and assorted co-workers visit here too (if I beg desperately enough). So maybe I can take "credit" for about 3,000 out of those 5,000. At least now I know the remaining hits was not because of a glitch from bravenet, and not only from my fellow knights. Anyway, to all of my readers out there. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Don't stop reading now. You never know when I will say something sensible.

    Hey, look Ma! Someones reading my blogs! (hehe)

    Good News, Bad News
    Good news first. I have, after much difficulty been able to raise my rating to 1781 again. I've mentioned before that I am already 1782, and is hoping to get to 1800 soon, but a couple of nasty loses obliterated my rating to 1749. It took a while, but I started winning again, and is now within striking distance of the dream (1800). But the bad news is - I want to paricipate in the T28 U1800 tournament. However, Romalavrn(or is it Bahus?) warned me that I should not raise my rating from 1758 since the delamaza team rating is already at 1795(Apparently, I failed to read the message). I hope I can still participate. But the 23pt increase may have removed my chances.
    posted by Nezha at 8:47 PM | Permalink | 12 comments
    Friday, August 19, 2005
    Too Passive
    I dont know what has happened to my game, but lately, I noticed it becoming more and more cautious. I mean, during my last few games, I would see interestingly sharp (to me) continuations, but declined making them out of fear that it will rebound. Like my latest game here. When I went ahead in material, I basically just consolidated and waited for my opponent to flail himself against me. Of course his "attack" did not succeed as I had material superiority, but for a few moves,I could have chosen several aggresive continuations (Crafty-recommended continuations too, I might add) but chose the safer lines instead. I think playing too many times against too strong opponents is starting to manifest its effects. I am really becoming afraid of losing. Even the opening I chose here. I could have gone for the sharper archangel variation, but opted for my trusty open defense to the ruy. Anyway, I won so I dont have anything really to complain about. Maybe I'm just not yet totally acclimated to the idea of just waiting for mistakes.

    [Site "FICS"]
    [White "NatIN (1714) "]
    [Black "Nezha (1768)"]
    [Result "0-1"]

    1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3 Nxe4
    7. Re1 d5 8. d3 Nf6 9. Nxe5 Nxe5 10. Rxe5+ Be6 11. Qe1 Be7 12. Rxe6 fxe6 13. Qxe6 Qd7 14. Qe5 Qd6 15. Qd4 c5 16. Qc3 c4 17. dxc4 dxc4 18. Qf3 O-O 19. Bf4 Qd8 20. Bxc4+ bxc4 21. Nc3 Qa5 22. Qc6 Kh8 23. Qxc4 Rac8 24. Qe6 Bb4 25. Be5 Rfe8 0-1

    btw: Sorry, but I lack the energy to put this into one of them pretty java boxes.
    posted by Nezha at 3:19 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
    Sunday, August 14, 2005
    Chapter I: Weak Pawns
    I have completed Chapter I of "The Art of Positional Play" and have worked thru the four games so far. Chapter I is all about weak pawns, and these four master games illustrate techniques on how to take advantage of them.

    1. Taimanov vs. Unzicker
    2. Smyslov vs. Korchnoi
    3. Tal vs. Najorf
    4. Reshevsky vs. Mecking

    When I played over these games, I cant help but wonder "How does one win against such players?". When all it takes for them to win, is just a very tiny weakeness in an opponents position? Its hardly the case for my games that a weak pawn would prove to be decisive. But here, a single weak pawn indeed proves to be the downfall of the opponent. Such skill to exploit so little an advantage.

    Anyway, if I had to pick one game from the four which I felt was most instructive, I'll give my game-of-the-chapter award to (Drum-roll please)

    1. Taimanov vs. Unzicker

    I felt all the games followed some sort of pattern, and it was this one game which more closely followed that pattern. Namely:

  • 1. Identify a weakness (In this case weak pawns)
  • 2. Pressure the weakeness and try to convert to material plus (Win the weak pawn)
  • 3. Exchange queens (To go into pawn-up endgame)
  • 4. Stop all enemy counterplay. That is refrain from trying to harness the material superiority in favor of limiting the opponents chances first.
  • 5. After positional bind is achieved, only then exploit the material superiority.
    Note: Step 3 and 4 maybe reversed.

    The presence of prophylactic thinking is really prevalent among this games. I read the comment "White does not take the pawn because black will get counterplay" quite a few times. I guess when you are faced with world class GM's, it pays not to take any chances. Even if you are a world-class GM yourself. (Strangely, even Tal's game here doesnt look like the common stereotyped Tal game. It looks more like a Botvinnik game to me.)

    This playing thru master games is getting quite addicting too. Perhaps it has something to do with me being starved for such things after a very long tactics training program?!

    btw: I think U1600 Delamaza has won our division (T27 tournament).
    Our score in round 9 was 3-0 with one more game left to go. Congratulations to the guys! Here's to a nice tournamanent. Cheers!
    posted by Nezha at 9:03 PM | Permalink | 4 comments
    Wednesday, August 10, 2005
    Study of Master Games
    Ok since I dont have any chess improvement plan yet, and since the other DLM graduates have taken to memorizing/analyzing master games, I figured I would try doing that too. Woudnt hurt my game wouldnt it? I would have liked to use the book "Zurich 1953" by Bronstein that got rave reviews from virtually every respected chess master there is. However, for one reason or another, I had to settle for "The Art of Positional Play" by Reshevsky. A "Truly Great Book" according to GM Kevin Spragget. If that is true, I do hope it helps me become a "Truly Great Player" =>

    Anyway, I intend to go over all the games 3-7 times, ala seven circles. It has got about 60 games which is a good number of games to study. I expect it will take about 3 months to completely cover all the material.

    I will try to report my progress, and the effects on my rating (if any).
  • Rating at start of master games study: 1763
  • Rating at end of master games study: ???
    posted by Nezha at 7:59 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
    Monday, August 08, 2005
    Practical Play + Analysis
    Being a little bit adrift right now since I still dont have a focused chess-improvement plan, I have taken to analyzing my games. Particularly games that I lost or drew. Sometimes even if I win, if the game was interesting enough, I analyze it. But mostly I concentrate on games I lost because I'm really interested in trying to understand why I lose games.

    What I saw was dreadfull. The positions I go into time and again, are a positional player's worst nightmare. I continously give outposts, concede open files, swap my good bishop for an opponents bad bishop, go into pawn endgames without me having pawns, etc. I win only when my opponents fall for my tactics. But 1850 players above doesnt fall for them so much, that my structural deficiencies starts to tell sooner or later. Its no wonder I lose against U2000 opponents, and its a wonder how I win at all. You must have a bad hair day or something to lose to me.

    You know, I have studied whole books on positional play and always assumed that I was putting what I learned into practice. But this is entirely false. Reading something from a book, and applying it are two separate things. Analysis revealed just how pathetic my positional sense is. But the good news is, since doing game analysis, I have remembered my blunders, and is starting to see positions more deeply. What I learned from my games has really emphasized and complemented what I read from my books. I lost count on the number of "so that's what the book was talking about" moment I had.

    One more thing is - analysis is more powerfull when done with a higher rated opponent. Lately, a couple of 2000+ players had been picking on me =>, and had been accepting my seeks. I havent won against one of them, so I am really hesitant to play against someone of that rating. But when they started analysing with me after the game, the experience became far more palatable. They would recommend certain moves on certain positions, and analysis reveals the moves to be the correct ones(and crafty tends to agree with them too). The thing is, I actually considered those moves but considered it second best. Clearly my level of judgement is lacking, but from conversations with them, at least I am starting to understand now why they do what they do.

    Now with regards to its effects - I certainly feel more knowledgable than before. But my rating hasnt improved yet. I'm still Mr. 1763 (Down from 1782 =<). I feel like a tactics puzzle right now. You know there is a solution, but you just cant find it. I mean, I know I should be better than this, but what is hindering me? What is the key move that will solve the problem and unlock the potential within? Look, this may sound sappy and cornball but, I really believe inside me is a far better player struggling to get out.

    So comeon innerman, beat the living crap out of my outer person. Get out now!
    posted by Nezha at 2:14 AM | Permalink | 2 comments
    Wednesday, August 03, 2005
    Icewind Dale
    Who else has played an RPG game like Icewind Dale or Neverwinter Nights? I used to play when I was younger. One of the things that you have to do is choose a character class before you begin the game. Then as you go on playing, you rise in strength and gain abilities according to what you selected at the start. Now, why cant we do that in chess? Wouldnt it be cool if a beginner can choose his "career" path beforehand? like in these RPG's? Anyway, here is a simple system that I devised to show you what I mean

    1. Assassin
    Silent and devious. The assasin silently stalks the prey. The intentions unclear, every move with poison. All seems to be calm, then suddenly, a knife in the back. Post-mortem cannot reveal the source of death. The assassin smiles inwardly, another good day has passed.
    Prototype Player: Karpov, Smyslov

    3. Fighter
    Brash and arrogant. A master of all phases of the fighting art, the fighters methods are clear, his ways direct. Disdaining deviousness, and considering it to be dishonorable. You know what the figher is going to do. But you cannot prevent it.
    Prototype Player: Capablanca, Fischer

    4. Barbarian
    Fearsome and fearless. Though not as strong in other phases of the game as the fighter, he has the highest mastery of attack than all the other classes. When the berserker rage has consumed the barbarian, the attack comes in waves and waves. Never asking for quarter, never giving one. Beware the barbarian, for when you face him - there can be only one.
    Prototype Player: Nezhmetdinov

    5. Thieves (Trickster)
    Never turn your back on him. Lest you lose and get swindled out of everything. Tread carefully for a trap maybe there, a trap maybe there, indeed traps are everywhere.
    Prototype Player: Marshall

    6. Magician
    The magician does not obey the laws of the land. Mysterious and puzzling. His power comes from sacrifices to unknown Gods.
    Prototype Player: Tal

    See what I mean. You choose first what kind of player you want to become, then the study plan given you would be specifically tailor-fit for that. Imagine if everything is as neat as this. We can start forming Barbarian Clans, Cabal of assasins, Guild of Thieves, Order of Fighters, School of Magics. Then we can start having tournaments between the houses. The tournament introduction would go something like this:

    The king has died. Deep in the north, hoards of barbarin clans are preparing to lay siege on the capital. While the imperial army amasses a fearsome host of fighters to meet this threat, another war rages within the city itself. For the Cabal of assassins and the the Guild of Thieves are fighting within themselves supporting different heir to the throne. Blood had been spilled and more blood will flow before it is finished. While the masses look in the tower of sorcery. The old king had been one of them. Will it be again?

    Welcome to the land of chess. A world harsh and forbidding. Where only a few survive. Will you be one of them? If not, dont worry, the land is large. You will not be missed
    posted by Nezha at 1:29 AM | Permalink | 6 comments