Thursday, June 30, 2005
My Training Plan
I have now been able to put together a coherent post-circles training plan. The plan I devised is really very simple, its just the amount of work needed that's gonna make it hard =>

Existing Precondition:
The other day, I was really tempted to buy "ABC of chess middlegame" from chessbase. It teaches basic positional play, and I think I really need to brush that side of my game. With that said, I didnt buy it. I realize that if I do, it would just sit in the shelf collecting particles.

No matter how much I want, I really dont have time to study everything. Family and work obligations limit the time I can spend each day. Maybe an hour, or if I'm lucky two. So I really have to be selective in what I do. It also means that if I try to study positional play, or even endgames, the amount of time devoted to tactics will decrease. We all know that aint gonna happen.

At first glance it seems that after such an intense tactics bootcamp, It would make more sense to turn my attention to some other things. But even though I have completed the seven circles, I feel that I am just starting to understand tactics. Its like I'm at the edge of discovery. I feel that the circles just opened the door for me, and tactical mastery is just around the corner. It's there patiently waiting for me, and I just have to go towards it. It really feels premature to consider dropping tactical study at this stage.

The Goal
Unlike others who wants to become a complete chessplayer (Not that theres anything wrong with that), I am more concerned in learning only the things that would allow me to defeat the opponents I play with. Namely sub-1900 players. Tempo's post provided a sharp example on how this is done. He went 0-30 against a 6-ply computer. 0-30! I bet that were we to play, I wouldnt be able to achieve such a remarkable feat. So then, the path is clear. If I were to manage to think 6ply deep, and not miss any simple tactic, I would beat a sub1900 player to a bloody pulp. Isnt it as simple as that?

Ok - so now, I present my latest and greatest training plan for chess improvement. This idea is based upon the theory that I only need to develop two things to be the meanest, baddest, chess terminator in town. Tactics and Calculation.

Stage II: Post-Cicle Plan

Tactical Training
1. Speed Training
Chess Tactics Server:
Estimate: 70per day.
Total Target Tries: 6,100

2. Accuracy
Dejasacchi Tactics
300 Easy: 3x: A total of 900 tries
900 Medium: 3x a total of 2,700 tries

Calculation Training
1. Dejasacchi Tactics
300 Hard: 1x a total of 300 tries

For a sum total of 10,000 tries in solving tactical puzzles. Extreme!!!! - But there is no schedule.Nooooo.. No more schedule for me..

Anyway, here is a game where I was able to use my newfound tactical understanding. I exploited the pin to its fullest before cashing in.

posted by Nezha at 10:42 PM | Permalink | 12 comments
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Mr ShallowMan
After my last loss, I logged-in to FICS hoping to get some revenge. But - all the players I challenged declined (I think they prefer blitz or something). So anyway, whats a guy to do? I really wanted to play, so I was forced to accept a seek from a 1603 player. The result of which is this game:

My opponent played some horrible opening mistakes here. It almost seemed like he was inviting me to attack. Too bad I am a DLM graduate. I have solved quite a few positions involving the tactical motiff of the hanging bishop - so I found that move instanteaneausly. I think anyone who have ever gone thru CTArt would instantly recognize the silent sacrifice I used.

Ok, I admit - playing games against weaker opponents is really bad for my game. I am not forced to think. I become lax in my OTB discipline. But still, the aesthetic satisfaction when I make a sacrifice is very good. I mean, competition wise, I probably shouldnt rejoice too much beating someone 150 points lower- but it feels good just the same.. I'm sooo shallow.. hehe..

I browsed the CTServer the other day, and know what I found? - there were some guys there who have over 20,000 tries. Wow! That guy must *really* want to become a better tactician. The othe thing I noticed is that at my current level, the motiffs are very easy. Like a simple pin, or fork. Its just that my recognition of this takes some time. Im hoping that solving problems there will help me speedup my pattern recognition.
posted by Nezha at 6:37 PM | Permalink | 5 comments
Monday, June 27, 2005
Here is a game that taught me a few painfull lessons. I cant even bear to annotate it. But here are some stories behind the scenes:

1. I was taking him too lightly. I was reading something and only turns my attention back to the game after he moves. I should have been focused. I was too arrogant. He is "just" 1631 I thought. I should have remembered that just one month ago I was "just" 1659. This is what you get when you become full of yourself.

2. I made a terrible blunder. Actually two terrible blunders. But after the last one, I immediately saw the mate and said "Oh no! What have I done!".

I blundered because I was too focused on doing something that I didnt notice the threat until it was too late. This has always been a weak point. Sometimes, I would calculate a variation, then proceed to carry it our, irregardless of what my opponent do. I should remember to always double check the moves - every move. Afterall, my calculating ability is not foolproof and is subject to errors.

3. The most painfull of all this is that - I actually have a mate in this game (Or my opponent has to give his queen to avert it). When you play through this game, pause after move 19...bxc6. Pause in that position and see if you can spot the tactical shot I missed.

When I was contemplating my 20th move, I didnt see the correct variation, but thought that his king can safely escape. Dang, I still had a lot of time then. I should have invested some more.

After the game, I immediately went back on that position, and suddenly the correct sequence popped out. Oh, why did my brain froze at a critical juncture. It would had been better if I didnt have a tactical shot. Missing the tactics is far more painfull than the loss. I mean the combination isnt really very complicated. Maybe a level 10 by CTArt standard, and yet - I still wasnt able to find it.

I dont know - my patter recognition skills and the tactical training I've done is still not enough I guess.

(And here I was hoping to tell tempo that I've gained nearly 100 points since completing the circles. We are over 100 points different so my rating drop is quite steep. =<)

posted by Nezha at 8:20 PM | Permalink | 6 comments
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Tactical Thinking
Tempo posted about his attempts to transfer his pattern recognition into OTB play. I also are trying to do this. But in a different way. Instead of making a checklist or some other stuff like that, I just play games and every game that I play, I make it a point to look for combinations, or any kind of tactics for that matter. Now, if I see one, I play that *even if it means I will have a worse position* if it is parried correctly.

You see, sometimes I see tactics, and I see the refutations to it, but still I play it. The point is to make combinations, for the sake of making combinations. Sure I lose sometimes, but sometimes it works too. But winning is not the important thing right now - the important thing is that I am training myself to setup tactics, and how to correctly execute them.

The effect of these "style" of playing is rather strange. Most of the time, my position is indeed worse. I feel like hanging by a thread, that if my opponent trades down, I am completely lost. But then I lay down a trap, and they fall for it - and so I can exhale again.

I feel my understanding of tactics grows deeper and deeper. Not that I'm a tactical monster now or anything, but the mere fact that tuning to the tactical possibilities of the board - allows me to see what I would otherwise miss by thinking about outposts or weak squares, etc..

Current Program
1. 300 easy tactics from Dehasacchi server
The goal is to work through these 3x. Then I will print the 300 medium level tactics and work through it 3x, then print the next 300 etc.. etc.. until I worked on all the tactics contained on the server (Up to medium only). A total of 1200 easy-medium tactics.. After that - Ill try to think of something else

2. Winning with the sicilian by Mark Taimanov

Normally, I dont like working on openings. I feel like its a waste of time. But this book is different. Mark Taimanov's annotations are really very good. It contains loads of "strategic" ideas. It discusses the Rauzer, Bonderavsky, Paulsen, and the Taimanov variation. I dont study all of them of course - I have settled for the paulsen. I've only went thru three games but feels as if I understand it (the opening). Cant wait to spring this on an unsuspecting opponent =>

To Takchess:
Sorry havent seen the 300 most common positions. The 300 easy exercises are taking up my time right now.
posted by Nezha at 6:59 PM | Permalink | 5 comments
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Current Activities
I have downloaded and printed the 300 easy problems from the Dehascacchi tactics server. They are just 1-3 move problem, and I am going thru it every other day (Or whenever I feel like it). The plan is to go over it seven times of course. But it feels too easy. I just need to calculate a few variations before I get the solution. Might have to get harder problems soon so as to develop my calculating powers.

I have also registered at the chess tactics server. Developed by the same guys who support FICS, this site is really good. Basically it gives you timed tactical problems to solve. The problems are really very easy, But the time is so short, i.e. 3seconds, you are forced to scan as quickly as possibly for loose pieces. I have currently done about 80 problems. This is helping me increase my board scans (like mousetrapper) I think. But even if it does not, it feels like a video game so I am getting addicted.

I also am going thru the chess games at chess fm. I hope to find something that I can use in my games. (But what that something is, I still dont know).

I have decided to play as much games as I can too. So I try to play at FICS every day now. Just one or two 30/15 games. Right now, I have achieved an all time rating high of 1737 now. Whoohoo. What did you say? Am I cheating? Well of course I cheat. => When I first log in at FICS, I know that my brain is still sluggish. What I do is I challenge the guests, so even if I lose, I get no rating change.. hehe.. sneaky. But mind you, I havent won against the guests I challenge. They seem to be very strong. Makes me wonder what their rating is. Anyway, after that first game, I challenge players a little better than me, usually about 50pts greater. Or, usually Lliamah is there or Javamanissa, so I challenge them. Sometimes I lose, sometimes I win. But lately, I had been winning.. I am actually getting nervous as I had gone 5-1 the past six games. I am uneasy as its making me think a losing streak in on the way.

I am also going to buy something chess-related which is not something can help me improve, but something I think I can enjoy. Sort of like a prize for me completing the circles. Maybe the DVD's by Korchnoi or the DVD by Danny King? Reviews indicate them to be very good (funny)

Wow, sounds a lot - but actually, I dont have a schedule, so I dont do anything if I feel like it. Of course I usually do them, but the mere fact that I can stop whenever I want to makes a very big difference.

Thnx to all who gave me congratulations. and what happened to scitcat the hippo? (Did he go back to his marsh?)
posted by Nezha at 9:45 PM | Permalink | 2 comments
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
A report on my experience on undergoing the seven circles proram

Recorded here are my experiences, the results, and the struggles I encountered undergoing the rapid chess development program as based on Michael De La Maza's article "400 points in 400 days" - aka - The seven cicles program

The Reason
Before we delve in my experiences regarding the seven-circles, I think it would be better to explain why I did it in the first place. The reason is easy enough to understand:

- I did it out of desperation. -

For a period of at least three years, I was buying books and studying the mess out of them. Titles like chess fundamentals, judgement and planning, and some other tomes of chess knowledge. I greatly enjoyed those books, and even now, reviews them from time to time - but the thing is even though I learned a lot - I still can't win games. I get beaten by people who drinks beer all day and only casually picks up the pieces. This is very, very frustrating. Worse of all - I knew their moves are bad. But I couldnt find any way of punishing them. Except for the openings traps I memorized - and this only works so many times. I simply can't take advantage of my opponent's blunders.

This led me to believe that what I had been doing is wrong. So I did some research on the how and why I suck like I do. Then couple this with a desire to play like my chess hero's Tal, Nezhmetdinov and Shirov - I came to the conclusion that if in nothing else - I should have great tactical ability in chess. I mean seeing their games, and seeing them weave mating nets and tactical shots against opponents filled me with a desire to do the same. To become a "combinational talent" so to speak.

Positional play gets all the press, and I think tactics have this negative connotation, what with all the smack down laid on it. "Chess is more than tactics", and some such stuff is always heard when you tell other players you are studying tactics. Its really a pity, and I can't really understand why the abhorrence to tactical study. Yes, chess is more than tactics, but why the horrified faces? You know, if one of those old combinational masters were alive today. The masters to whom positional play is supposedly unknown Zuckertort, Blackburne, Anderssen I think they would be masters today too. Maybe not grandmasters(?), but Masters, and for me - that is enough.

The Method
My research brought me to the 400 points rapid improvement plan of MDLM. It was a controversial article, and some people trash the plan, saying it is too imbalanced. That tactics is not everything, etc.. etc.. Some even claim that the 7x repetition is unecessary and a total waste of time, but I was really desparate. And to someone who have attempted to master another language, like I have I did (japanese) - the repetition really makes sense. Because this was how I learned japanese, by repeating to read and write common words "ad nauseaum".

I slightly modified the plan, according to my taste. I used a book "Art of combination" by maxim block instead of CT-ART. And instead of going thru the book in one big cirle, I at first did three circles per chapter. After going thru the book in that manner - I did circles 4-7 on the whole book.

The Goal
The only way to prove if the plan was a success was to establish a goal and see if I meet it. I did not attach the goal to a rating increase - like the 400 points of DLM, because for one thing, I play only occasionally. So I set my goal into more practical matters. The first goal was after doing the program, I will come back and try to obliterate those beer drinking mother lovers. The second goal is to recognize with "blinding speed" all the two-three move threats. Not if I think about it, or if I analyze, but recognize instantly if a two-three move tactical shot is present in a position. I will consider the program a success if I meet this two "lofty" goals

The experience
Before I give what happened to my chess strenght, I will discuss first what happened to me psychologically when I did the circles. This is a very important thing to know for those who will attempt a similar endeavor.

For starters, I grew to hate it. Of course at first I was enjoying it, and was really motivated. But this is a natural thing. Motivation is at its peak at the start of anything. But overtime - I really, really came detesting it. Why? Well, have you tried eating chicken everyday? I bet if you ate only chicken and nothing else everyday for six months, you'll go crazy. This was what I felt then. Even now I shiver when I remember those times. Certain days, certain months I wanted nothing else but to quit and burn that darn exercise book. No wonder MDLM walked away from chess. The seven circles came to be such a burden.

Part of the frustration came from me not being able to solve certain problems. These are problems usually involving 10-20 move sequences with multiple sidelines. On hindsight, maybe I should not have attempted solving them, as I was yet too weak - but my pride prevented me from admitting it beforehand. I am the invincible "nezha", am I not? but I was just fooling myself. Those problems were way over my head.

Fortunately something happened when I was already at the middle of the sixth circle. I suddenly got it. The 10 move problems suddenly didnt seem to be too daunting (some of them anyway). I dont know what happened to my brain, but I can visualize them clearly. And only then at the sixth circle. So the repetition really does work, and finally left me some concrete results. It was very encouraging. I also started winning games. I was rated 1659 at FICS, and was able to defeat 1800++ players. The enjoyment came back then, and it helped me finish the circles.

So its goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway. Completing this plan is hard. There is a lot of frustration associated with it. My practical playing strenght has improved, but it came at a price. It gave me chess powers I never dreamed I would have had, but it took all what I had to attain it. Clearly, the plan gives, and the plan takes away.

Speaking of those chess powers -

The plans practical effects

I present now a summary of the plans efects in my practical playing chess ability. Here is the breakdown across what I think are the affected abilities:

1. Tactical Pattern Recognition
No surprise here. You do 1000 exercises seven times, you are bound to remember something. The book I did also seems to focused on certain combinational motiffs. It has a high concentration of knight forks. I mean, the chapter might be on "clearing the line" or something, but the end result has a knight fork in it. My "forking" powers has increased formidably after the program.

But note: I havent been able to conceive very deep combinations myself in OTB play. Sometimes I see long tactics, but they are few and far between. What I was able to do consistently however, was to see the simple blunders of my opponent. Simple forks, simple pins, backrank tactics - the basics. Nothing complicated, but these simple things have actually won many many games for me. I would even dare say, all my games are decided by simple things like this. (And if the opponent manages to not fall for them, I usually lose.)

2. Calculating Ability
Solving tactical exercises give you many things for free. One of this very important things is calculating ability.In the past, I would try to calculate as far as possible during games, but never got anywhere past the second move. Why? because its just too hard for me. My calculating muscles is underdeveloped. If the muscles are weak, you cant lift very hard. No matter how much you try. And I did try, but since my brain is not used to such strain, it refused to cooperate. But when you solve problems for six months. Rain or shine. Day-after-day. The calculation of variations becomes easier and easier. Until one day, you suddenly notice "hey I can calculate vey far now". Of course, I wont claim I can now calculate 10-movers very fast, I would just be lying. but what I can see very easily, is about two-three moves ahead. No effort, I look at the board and see two moves ahead without strain.

Now, two-three moves ahead maybe aint so hot, but for someone who previously sees exacly one move ahead - this is a very big personnal achievement already.

3. Board Vision
"Novices see pieces, Masters see squares" - is an old chess adage. Particularly when weaving mating nets, this ability is really necessary. The circles have really helped me see the squares influenced by my pieces. Before, if my opponent has a bishop tucked away on say a2 or h6, I was not always concious of its influence. Now, I've become more aware of vital diagonals, key squares and the like.

I remember a game when, I suddenly realized that my opponents king is trapped in the middle of the board. I went "Hey, wait a minute - if I just give a check, its already mate!". Very surprising. Previously, I dont think I would have spotted a thing like that.
So there you have it - The effects of the program on my playing ability. Which is a very focused improvement on certain simple things. But as I've said, those simple things have won for me a lot of games. I really heartily recommend the program to anybody who wants the same and who wants to increase these abilities.

Hold on now, Increase Abilities? How about increasing chess knowledge. How about that? Or do I propose to stay ignorant about the higher realms of chess knowledge?

Chess Knowledge vs. Chess Ability

It was Michael Dela Maza's contention that most chess players tries to increase their chess knowledge, but not their chess ability. At first, I thought this to be false. I mean, if you know so much about chess, wouldnt your ability rise also? Werent they were directly proportional. But going through the program, I could say they are not. That is is possible to have maximum chess knowledge with minimum chess ability. Or vice-cersa. Why this is so?

I used to study the classical guitar, and can read and write musical notations. It isnt really very hard, and so I can understand compositions somewhat. I know what notes to hit, the overall progression, Its all there in the music book. But even though I understand them, I still cant play most of it. Why? Because they require great finger strength and dexterity - things which I didnt have. And the only way to get these things, is to do painfull finger exercises - exercise which has nothing to do with understanding music, but has everything to do with being able to play music.

I think in chess it is somewhat the same. I think most experienced chessplayers have very good understanding of positions. But to understand something, and to actually make it happen are two separate things. In the book "simple chess" - I found this nice little entry - "These positional features will allow you to win, subject to the strengthened proviso that you do not fall into a mating attack beforehand." Nice to see positional chess has its rewards, but the things is - I have always found it hard to "not fall into a mating attack beforehand". If I did, I'd literary have hundreds of points added to my rating.

This right here is basically the essense of the matter. There is an opponent actually trying to oppose us, and to make a plan work despite this violent strain, to properly "play" the position, requires "finger" strength. Substitute "finger" here with tactics and calculation, finger exercises with tactical exercises and I think my meaning makes itself clear.

If you have great fingers and a good ear, you can play a mean guitar music without knowing so much about theory.
If you have great tactics and good calculating ability, you can play a mean game of chess without knowing so much about theory.

Future plans

So, after all that - did I meet my goals? Sadly I would have to say "No".

True, I have already defeated all my previous opponents who used to wipe the floor with me, but I feel I havent achieved the "flabergasting speed of tactical comprehension" I was hoping for. Then, some problems was way over my head so I was only able to do 700 problems instead of 1000 (in six months). And lastly, most of my games are still decided by tactics.

All these things are telling me something -

I need to do another circle.

Yes, yes, I know. I barely finished it the last time. What made me think I can do it again? I dont know - but I think taking lots of breaks will help. A few days here, a few days there, just so it doesnt become a burden. I also think that I will take smaller chunks, like a seven circles for a set of 300. And this time, I will work on the pattern recognition more by solving very easy 2-3 move problems. Not like the 10-20 move problems I did the last time.

Of course I would also like to study positional play, chess strategy, and the like. But right now, at my current state of development, to concentrate on that would be a waste of time. First things first. If I can manage to consistently avoid those "mating attacks beforehand", then and only then will I de-emphasize tactical training.

That's the plan anyway.

-- "When will the circles end?
That's an odd question. Its called a circle for a reason afterall" --
posted by Nezha at 12:22 AM | Permalink | 10 comments
Sunday, June 19, 2005
It Is Finished
At last, I have finished the circles. For my very first act - I watched "Batman the beginning". Ohhh, being able to do something else - its really priceless. There were times last night when, I would open my tactics book and start solving exercises - I have had to remind myself that its over now. That I dont have to do that anymore.

Its like a great big load had been lifted off my shoulders. I breath easily, sleep easily, work easily. I didnt realize how much the circles have really affected my life, only now that its gone do I see its full impact. I am really enoying this feeling.

Anyway, I will post about my experiences here, and I already have the draft ready, only have to polish it. Maybe tomorrow?

For future plans, I want to take a break from the plan first. Or on any kind of chess improvement plan for that matter. A few weeks, a month? I have paid my dues, no need to rush paying another again. My plan will be outlined on the summary report I will be doing - so stay tuned.

To Tempo
My rating is now 1706 from 1659. Can we enter that into the ratings table (for posterity). A 57 point increase might not be much, but I was actually rated at 1726 just a few days ago. I just challenged a few 1900++ players so the rating got suddenly lowered. I dont know - the circles have made my brain mush - and made me think I can defeat experts =>
posted by Nezha at 6:02 PM | Permalink | 10 comments
Monday, June 13, 2005
Circle 6 is complete

Hah! Hah!

At long last I have completed cicle 6. Due to work obligations, it got delayed really bad. But slowly, I got there. Now onwards to circle 7. The halls of Valhalla becons.

Lo there do I see my father
Lo there do I see my mother and my brothers and my sisters
Lo there do I see the lines of my people back from the beginning
They bid me come take my place before them
In the halls of Valhalla
Where the brave may live forever

Pattern Recognition In Action
Here is a game wherein my newly found pattern recognition powers are used. I have annotations within the game, but the viewer is slightly bad. But I think you can still follow what I am trying to say. But just in case - the critical moments are:

17...Be6 - He wants to take my c-pawn. When I visualized the position after he takes, I suddenly found a tactical pattern jumping at me. The experience was very, very cool.
18.Qg3 - The trap is set.
20... Qg6 - He should have played Rxd1 here. Then he will have two rooks for the queen. fortunately he didnt saw that defense
22. Qh4 - The point of the combination. The pattern I saw in my mind way back on move 17. I never thought I can see positions like this before it actually happens.
26. Qd7 - Another pattern moment, I saw the mate here. Game over, though he doesnt know it yet.

This game re-awoke my passion for the circles. It really works. I mean I know it works, but to know it does, and to see it happening to me, are two different things.
Now, if only I can play like this all the time =>

To Harmless:
What time are you available, worst case, I will take a leave from work so we can play. Or how about this saturday - FICS server time 19:30-20:00? or you can tell me what time you are usually logged-on and I will try to "ambush" you there.
posted by Nezha at 6:54 PM | Permalink | 10 comments
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Chess Struggle
As I go on along merrily in my quest for chess mastery, my views about the game changes too. I am starting to think that for me to win a game, the "cooperation" of the opponent is needed. I certainly havent been able to win by my own brilliance. Not once. Usually, the outcome was decided by
  • [a] Me overpressing, and trying to attack at all cost (I always lose here), or
  • [b] My opponent overlooking something (He losses here) and
  • [c] Me, or my opponent blunders.
    In all these cases, I didnt win by anything brilliant that I did. Rather, I lost because I did something (see [a],[c]). So this led me to the conclusion that if I wanted my win/loss ration to improve, and for my rating points to rise - I should try and get rid of all these three problems. But of course, my opponent is unpredictable, so i can only gid rid of something which I can control - namely me.

    This necessarily caused a change in my chess philosophy. Namely, I am trying now to just hang in there. Just find the most "un-losing" moves that I can each move. Nothing too active. Just make sure that my next move is not an outright blunder. just something reasonable - Then quitely wait for my opponent to hang himself.

    I have had some surprising results using this technique. My first win against harmless came because of it, and I was able to defeat some other higher rated opponents too. Because now they are the one overpressing, trying to create something, trying to attack. Do something, anything, be active. But by just parrying the attacks, just trying to frustrate all their intentions, they just might try something risky, and it might backfire on them. And it does. Sometimes, they suddenly hang a piece, or they sacrifice something. But at the sub-2000 level, sacrificing something without an immediate mate is almost always fatal.

    Now, compare this with my most recent loss. I played a game against RomaLavrn yesterday, and I got mated. Why? Because I tried to "storm the barricades" - attack his position. Setting up combinations. I did all that - and I still lost. I spent a lot of time trying to find out why I lost, and I came to the conclusion that it would have been better if I had just prevented his attack first instead of trying to develop mine.

    I dont know if this "philosophy" is good, or if will enable me to reach master level. It may cause irreparable harm to my chess development. I my become too passive. But it works right now, and so I will use it. It is the pragmatic approach.

    Now, I had been searching the net for books on prophylactic play. But I cant find any. The Dvoretsky books has a reputation of having emphasis on prophylactic play, but it may be too advance for me. Maybe I should just buy "The art of defence", or some book about karpov. Does anyone have recommendations?
    posted by Nezha at 8:09 PM | Permalink | 12 comments
    Tuesday, June 07, 2005
    The Value of Mate Studies
    I can't for the life of me understand why solving mate studies are important. I mean, they are composed problems, dont occur OTB, and involves very deep calculation requirements. Why would I even try solving such a thing? I mean, why not just do complex tactical exercises? Isnt that the same, plus you get pattern recognition to boot.

    But apparently, very strong players swear by it. Even a russian chess school includes it in its curiculum. Javamanissa told me that What i really find helpful to learn not to make mistakes is puzzles that demand a lot of calculation eg Mate Studies. Studies aren't so good for recognition but i tell you it makes a difference in my play!

    Eh? I am really puzzled. What point am I missing here?

    King And Pawn Endgames
    I think no matter what, I will have to study pawn endgames. And judging from tempos posts ,I may also order "secrets of pawn endings". Anyway, I will wait for tempos feedbak first before ordering. You know, just in case that book turns out to be a lemon,
    posted by Nezha at 2:53 AM | Permalink | 6 comments
    Sunday, June 05, 2005
    My First Win Against Harmless
    This was a game I played against harmless. It is round two of the knights tournament, I was white. Before this game, I havent won against harmless in all our previous encounters, so I have this nagging psycological barier I was trying to overcome. You know things like "Maybe I can't win against him" and some other stuff.

    As a sidenote to this, the place I rented a computer at - had faulty equipment. So much so, that the mouse pointer was flying all over the place. It even caused me to drop a piece into a different square than I intended. But - it turned out to be the correct square all along. Talk about being lucky. Or maybe its just fate? Hehe -

    Anyway, I dont have annotations as I dont have time - but the main thing here is that we are playing the ruy lopez. I was very happy when harmless played it against me. I have had lots of experience in this opening, and knew some of the strategies involved. I even had a CT-ART moment, so to speak. The knight fork I used to win a game, is straight out of my exercise book. Now thats pattern recognition for you.

    Well - enjoy the game. And if you find something interesting, pleease drop me a line.

    posted by Nezha at 11:37 PM | Permalink | 9 comments
    Saturday, June 04, 2005
    A Game I Can't forget
    I played a game at FICS last night. It was against an 1850 player, so he was 150 points higher than me - But I didnt expect to lose. Though, I know that I might lose of course. One thing about the circles is that it gives you confidence.

    Well anyway, lets see what happened there

    White: 1850 guy
    Black: 1705 Nezha
    Time G20/20

    1. d4 Nf3 - I was expecting the KID
    2. g4 -

    Whats this?
    This is the first time that I've seen this move. I realized that he is offering the pawn in return for rapid development. I thought long and hard about my next move and felt confident that I can wheather the storm

    3. e4 d6
    All goes according to plan. His next move here is h3 I thought

    4. h3 Nf6 - It is very satisfying when you accurately predict an opponents move
    5. Be3 e5 -
    If he takes with dxe4 - I was not averse to liquidating the center and exchanging
    queens. The resulting endgame would be good for me as he has isolated pawns.

    6. Nc3 Nc6
    7. d5 Ne7
    8. Nf3 c6 -
    I am trying to undermine his center and preparing the move Qa5

    9. Bc4
    I sank in thought here. I can't take the d4 pawn of course. Then I hit on a plan

    9. .. b5
    The plan was to grab space. After he moves the bishop, I wll continue with b4
    threathening the knight. He will move that of course, and then I will play c5.
    He will have some serious spatial problems then - It may even be possible to slowly grind him down to dust.

    10.Bb3 b4 - All goes accordinng to plan
    11. dxc6
    A sacrifice? Hmm, I didnt consider this. I thought about declining, but the temptation was too great

    11. .. bxc3
    12. Ng5 d5 - His attack begins. There is nothing to do but defend
    13. exd5 Nexd5
    A decoying move - but one I easily saw. But where to move the queen?

    14. .. Qd6
    15.Qf3 Be6 - My pieces are all huddled together. This is not good.
    I was aware that he is going to move this. And has prepared my response

    16. .. cxb2
    Now he cant grab my knight on d5

    17. 0-0
    A move I hadnt considered. But logical now that I have time to think about it.

    17. .. Be7
    Preparing to castle and hoping that I have time to do it

    18. c4
    Now it seems my knight finally falls

    18. .. b1=Q
    A decoy gives him life gain

    19. Rxb1
    Now where to move the knight - I have to get it out of there. I have to simplify
    as much as possible and so, I played the blunder of the game

    19. Nxb1??
    Why is this a blunder? I leave it up to you to figure out. But suffice to say
    that I resigned immediately after his next move.

    I really missed this tactical shot. It was a very easy shot to see and I saw it immediately after he moved. I think the correct response in this position is Nxc7 and a probable sequence maybe -
    16. .. Nxc7
    17. Rbd1 Qa6
    18. c5 0-0
    and maybe I can still hold the position together.

    Where did I go wrong

    I was so engrossed in simplifying that I immediately took that bishop without considering another move. This happens to me a lot of the time. Usually, I take my time, check my opponents response, and try to think of ways of meeting it. But then, at some point of the game, I get so enchanted by a move that I immediately launch upon that course without bothering to check my opponents threat.

    This game, went over my head, again and again and again last night. I just had to go over it. I think the value of going over your games to see where you went wrong is that - It highlights the mistakes - and makes you feel emotions of disgust. This makes you remember it - Assuring that the next time, you dont make that mistake again.

    Well, I really do hope I do. Actually, not to sound arrogant, but I am not really impressed with 1800++ guys. I think my current knowledge and skill enables me to defeat them. The only real roadblock is mistakes that I do like the one in this game here. If I could somehow not make those mistakes, I think I can get to 1800++ fairly easily.

    Hehe, right - and while I am dreaming, I would also like a million dollars, and a mansion in some tropical island pls.
    posted by Nezha at 12:38 AM | Permalink | 2 comments
    Wednesday, June 01, 2005
    What are you doing?
    I am green with envy with the graduates. They can now choose what they want to further their chess studies, while I am here chained and shackled to circle 6. Oh, good grief.

    Anyway, I see most are turning their attention to endgames now. This makes me think about my plans. I also want to take up endgames. Afterall, most grandmasters actually recommend that you study endgames first before anything - But although my tactical prowess has increased. It is not the increadible, super power, mega, ultra, omega increase that I thought it would be. So I am thinking of doing yet another circles. I know, I know, my pseudo-masochistic tendencies are rearing itself again. But how I can be shirov if I dont go thru this painfull process?

    Plus, I really also want to take up strategy. After a steady diet of tactics, things like space grabbing, color complexes, flank maneuvers, etc.. are really starting to become interesting.

    Then, I also want to order the "MiddleGame I" from convekta. I wanted to master the Ruy, and the KID. In short - to establish an opening repertiore.

    I've blogged about my post-circle plans before but my opinion changes like oil prices. Can't settle down and decide what to do. And I'm still not finished with the current circles.

    The horror. The horror!
    posted by Nezha at 11:40 PM | Permalink | 8 comments