Sunday, February 25, 2007
Today is a Red Letter Day
At last, at last, the day has finally come. As of the 106th game of the year, today, I have successfully reached the coveted 1800 rating.

Game#ResRatingOpp RatingOpp name

Incidentally, this table shows why it was so hard to get to 1800. If you would take a look at my performance by blocks of 10 games, you will see that I win more than I lose. Sometimes I get 7-3, sometimes 6-4. But after 10games, I'll only add 2pts. Sometimes 5 if I'm lucky. Truly, each and every point seems to have cost me sweat, blood and tears. It felt like crawling through mud.

Anyway, here are the final two games that brought me to the promised land. The one with JohnnyRio was a very sweet revenge. However, no matter how sweet it is - it cannot compare to the 106th game.

I'm thinking of putting the game notation of that one in a plaque and hanging it at my room. Just below the college diploma and the pictures of my family. Alongside the picture of the family dog. I mean its not every day I can say to a perfect stranger that I, Nezha is an 1800 player.

Have you tried that? You should try it onetime. Like when your in a train, tap someone random and just say "I'm 1800" while smiling contentedly. I bet he will say.. .. "yes you are" and go back to reading his papers.

Game 1: Revenge is a dish best served cold

In true sacrificial style, I gave a bishop to open the h-file. Ever since I learned this particular maneuver from Takchess, I had the opportunity to use it only twice. The first time, and this game. Its extra satisfying to have used it against someone as strong as me.

Game 2: The Red Letter game

If this game was a girl - I would be kissing her non-stop. Mwa! mwa! mwa! I love you game. Mwa! mwa! mwa! This is yet another game in which the malevolent powers of the dark towers are used. I have been coming to think of the rooks as battering rams. The pawns in font of the king as the castle gates. Hmm.. Give someone a battering ram, and point him at a gate. What could possibly happen?

Anyway, I think rooks are born to die breaking down castles. Perhaps whoever invented chess has that in mind.


How I became an 1800 player

It would be wrong to take getting to 1800 as a matter of course. After all, I had started playing rated chess two years ago but hovered at 1750 for the longest time. If I hadn't done something about it, I think I would have stayed there. Maybe for life.

Here are the main reasons why I was able to reach the dream. Perhaps someone who is in the same boat I was, i.e. Rating not climbing, would be served by this.

1. Realize that tactics grow on trees

I've asked the question where does tactics come from, and I had been trying to make tactics appear in my games. But one day I realized - no, I don't need to try and make anything appear. Tactics will always appear in games at my level.

You know how they say, below 2400 what wins are forcing sequences right?

Its inevitable. I'm starting to believe that the presence of tactics is one of the fundamental laws of chess. At my level you really can't prevent it, nor you can you make it appear. That only thing that one can only do however is to OBSERVE.

Realizing this simple truth has done me good. Just observing the position and looking out for tactics. Looking out because you know sooner or later, it will be there. One just has to look long enough and tactical patterns will appear.

Where is the tactics? - Its been there all along. Its all there, waiting to be discovered.

2. Play instead of studying

It used to be I would study every day and play just two or three times a week. Now I think its a very bad idea to be studying all the time. One could study a little. It can't hurt, but the time is better spent playing I think. This images can best serve explain (Click to enlarge):

But I've been practicing so hard

Gimme a break

As Mr. Manji would say: Fence with real kenshi everyday until you puke blood. That is how you improve.

I mean you can't learn guitar by just reading about music. You have to actually play the darn thing. When your fingers starts to bleed, then be happy for truly you have started learning. Its the same with chess. Just move the darn pieces until your eyes pops out. You'll see, you'll wake up one day and suddenly you've gotten stronger.. or blind, but stronger preferably comes first.

3. The discovery of "THE PLAN"

If you had been reading my blogs and been playing the games I've embedded here, you will definitely see a pattern regarding my play. And since I know you won't be able to sleep not until you've begged me to tell you: Here it is, no need to guess:

1. Put the bishop on f4 or f5
2. Castle opposite sides, or don't castle at all
3. Do a pawn rush
4. Optionally sacrifice something
5. Use the dark towers to shatter the king side
6. Mate with queen (This is not dirty, you pervert)

A very simple, easy to understand plan. But boy, its so effective. It's like I've discovered the atom bomb. Finally, something that I know how to use. I've practically been playing nothing else. As a result, time and again I encounter the same tactics and the same positions. Notice how I go on and on about "dark towers" and stuff? See the two games above and the three games in my last post. Don't they look kinda similar to you?

Of course they do. The opponents and the openings might be different, but the plan remains the same.

Now since they're kinda similar, and since I've been playing a ton of games(See Advice#2), I've been encountering them again and again. I just began to know what to do. As I've said, one day you wake up and everything seems simple. Its like what they said about Fischer:

"Bobby Fischer's games were all the same. The same openings, the same attacks, the same sacrifices. Very simple." (Geller)

There is one caveat however if you were to try and implement this plan. Frequently the opponent will threaten your pawns, sometimes even the pieces. You must be prepared to lose them. Nothing else matters except lining up those rooks and getting to step#6. You will frequently see a part of your army being annihilated but pay no heed to their pathetic calls for help. They are born to be sacrificed. Nothing else matters, nothing, except saving Private Ryan.
(See the game with JohnnyRio above for a typical game)

Of course seeing your pawns and pieces disappearing just like that is gut wrenching sometimes. I have had to force myself to make those moves. If you didn't know already, all I wanted previously was to win a pawn, and the endgame.

But after doing that first sacrifice, it got easier and easier. As they say: That first kill is the hardest. Now, I couldn't stop doing it.

My poor rooks, they are to die over and over again.

(Hat tip: The "How to become a deadly chess tactician" book delivered on its promise. I was "inspired" to try sacrificing. Very good book. I'm sorry I dissed it a couple of weeks ago)

4. Stopped playing "pretty boy" chess

Holding on to the "Win a pawn, win the game" modus operandi is perhaps the biggest thing that prevented me from reaching my goal. I realize the lure of winning without taking risks is strong. This is what people really mean when they say "positional" chess. The idea that you can win by slowly improving your position, while you opponent gets worse and worse, and then you win as "matter of course" without being in any danger of losing.

We'll, that's a valid way to play chess of course. However this type of chess will heretofore be known as pretty boy chess. I mean, you wanna fight but you don't wanna get bloodied? Don't wanna scratch that pretty face?

I'm playing now according to the romantic way of playing. A primeval way of playing. In this style, you learn to receive as good as you give. Invite disaster and learn to live with it. Pawns, pieces? Take them all for all I care. As I've said, I can lose an arm and a leg, and I wouldn't bat an eyelash just as long as I get the scalp of the enemy king.

(Kind of like how this dude fights.)


Well that's about it. The secret to my "success". If we can call it that.

Now I'm gonna pull a Delamaza and quit chess.. for maybe two weeks. Just relax and bask on my new found "status".

Ah, life is good.

I'm out like Delamaza.

posted by Nezha at 2:41 AM | Permalink | 12 comments
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Art of Attack
Today was supposed to be the day I would finally be able to break the magical 1800 barrier. I was determined not to stop playing until I got the needed rating points. However, as with most my plans I failed in this one too.

However, all is not lost as most the games I played contains direct king-side attacks. Game after game I would be able to conduct the attack it got to the point I'm starting to suffer delusions that "Hey, I'm turning out to be a pretty good attacker".

Anyway, I played so many games, they were lost when I failed to save them. Except for these last three:

Game 1: The Dark Tower

Just an hour or so before this, I played another game featuring roughly the same position, with the same rook sacrifice. I couldnt believe my luck when I saw the very same pattern starring me at the face. What are the chances that two different opponents will fall for the same tactic successively?

The rook sacrifice itself is really easy to see - however I think my opponents disregard such moves because they didnt expect me to just fling so variable a material. Particularly since there are other "smaller" tactics available.

However, a half-open line, with the rook staring down hard at the king? Might as well walk down a dark alley with a shining rolex and a few thousand dollars strapped at your vest.

Game 2: Rematch? Sure, and do you want a pawn with that?

I was very happy when he issued a rematch. I didnt have to wait to play another game. When I heard the familiar "click" of FICS and half-saw his knight on f3 I automatically played e5?? The start of the game and I open with a blunder.

Of course I didnt ask for a takeback. Fortunately, this opponent plays a "solid" style. I feel like he is sort of waiting for me to make my move. So I did. I castled on the opposite side and launched my attack. By the time he tried to create counterplay, its was all over. Even gave him my knight for free. As a souvenier. nyehehehe..

Game 3: Almost heaven

I just played with Fierabras the night before, and since he was so highly rated (2100++) I concentrated on preventing tactics. I think we nearly died of boredom. So I thought, next time I'll just play my normal game. Just be myself you know. Forget about the rating and just play.

So when I played this opponent I did just that. Our difference was over 150pts but when I got the chance to play a speculative king-side attack, I jumped on it. Again I sacrificed a few pawns to get my pieces near the king and the tactics flowed from there.

I wracked my brain trying to come up with the killer moves, but each time he played the best defense. When I played what I think was my most powerful move of the game - the silent sacrifice 22.. Ne3 just putting my knight en-prise, I was sure he would collapse. I mean, a lot of players would go "oohh he blundered" and take the tasty knight. I won a lot of games that way. But he just refused the additional material and calmly defended.

In the end I got into time trouble, and offered a draw when the position became equal. A good thing too because I know squat about endgames and I surely would have lost if he insisted on continuing.

But oh, for that 10 minutes when I thought I was gonna win. It was almost heaven

posted by Nezha at 5:26 AM | Permalink | 2 comments
Thursday, February 22, 2007
The Fried Liver
I've been mostly playing the Italian Game nowadays. At my level, I see it all the time so I just decided to play it and analyze it a bit and give me some extra edge. Sounds suspiciously like opening study? Hehe, what can I say. Anyway, the standard move of the Giuco is 1. e4 e5 2. nf3 nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5.

However sometimes they don't play Bc5 but instead Nf6, giving me the choice of playing the Fried liver attack. I've faced this position not a few times, but always chickened out. Sacrificing a piece for the attack so early in the game is "unsound" I think.

But last night, I faced this position again and I thought: "Well, I'll probably lose but at least it would be interesting", besides its now or never right? and so, my first fried liver came into existence:

At various points of the game, when he was slipping away, I really thought I would lose. Fortunately he committed several inaccuracies allowing me to equalize material with the attack still raging. I won but more importantly I had a change of heart. I think I would like to play this opening a few more times. Not because I won, but for pedagogical reasons.

Initiative? how to attack? calculation exercises? things I read from books, but things I cannot really learn. Not until I experience it myself.

I don't want to be forever playing such blood-and-thunder openings. But for example, what if I shifted to playing a good solid game and at some point I see I'll get two pawns and the attack for a piece . Would I have enough confidence in my abilities to take that chance?

Or how about you see the opponent's pieces all bunched up with the king in the center? How to take advantage? Would a speculative attack work against such a position?

Chess questions like this that will be answered only by the player himself. If the player have not played a sacrificial game, he will decline and find some solid positional move. To such a player, perhaps studying the endgame will bring success. But if the player have played analogous positions many times before, he will calmly sac a piece and conduct the attack.

The two "styles" are valid approaches. But I'm leaning on the later so by playing games like the above, since it provides such large doses of EXP points, I hope will turn me into a death-defying sacrificial player.

So now, I'm scouring the internet searching for sample games and theory.

Wait, did I just say theory?

Just pretend you didn't read that :->
posted by Nezha at 6:36 PM | Permalink | 2 comments
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
She's baaacckkk..
Remember last time I ranted about my my work? How one co-worker wanted me remove a particular function. The official reason is that its not in the specification. And I would understand if it was some complicated logic, however the said function was only a date-verification logic. It was all so simple.. took me half an hour to create it. But I suspect she didn't want to do it, not only because she didn't want to but because she can't. If something is so easy you'd have just done it already right?

But she did what anybody would do in her position. She talked with the suits and asked them permission to just remove the said function.

Huh!? I mean, you create a website with a date input and does not provide a way to verify if its really a date the user is entering?

Programs like that shouldn't be allowed to come into existence and so I couldn't bring myself to do it - that's just wrong. So I just ignored her "order" and submitted my work with that dang verification logic intact.

Well, she's back.

Dang it.

I've created this web site you see using a PHP/PostgreSQL combination. The database is embedded in the PHP file. The point of contention now is - they want me to create a class encapsulating all the related logic - which I dutifully did. But it seems it wasn't enough. They ordered this very same co-worker to review my code and pick the part I have to put on inside the class.

It's giving me the hebbie gebbies. I mean, you couldn't even create a date verification logic and now you are gonna teach me all about programming?

Well excuuuuseeee me!

Besides I've been programing in C++ since I'm in college and I'm here to tell anyone who would care to listen that there is a proper place and time for using class-based logic. Everyone likes to OOP everything - but sometimes it just doesn't make sense to create the extra complexity just for its sake.

So yes this means - I will not in any way, form, shape or manner accept whatever "recommendation" she puts forth.

Perhaps I can get fired - but I am an "artiste" (grin). I consider software I write to be an extension of my creative personality. I find it near impossible to mangle my own programs: perhaps even at the cost of being fired.

I don't like to be fired, but we'll see.

We'll we did the meeting and I must say I am pleasantly surprised. What she said was logical and it contains some of the things I was thinking of doing: which being the lazy ass I am, don't do. Anyway, there doesn't seem to be any problem with me following the instructions this time.

Boy am I glad to have avoided unnecessary conflicts.

To anyone who tells me to *just* follow instruction because management said so: All I can say is.. You must really have no confidence in your abilities, nor any respect for your own opinion. For example, it would cause me trouble if I were to get fired but I have every reason to expect to get another job within a few weeks - so that doesn't scare me. And I value my own opinion as much as another. All orders must be of reasonable soundness otherwise, I just wont follow them. As they say: Tyranny is only possible if someone permits it so.

posted by Nezha at 8:57 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Is it worth a pawn to gain the bishop pair?
Last night, I indulge in one of my famous chess orgies. This is the time where I play successive 30/30 games until my eyes bleed and the room starts spinning or I win against a higher rated opponent - whichever comes first. Here is the history of the last ten games I played yesterday:

ResultRatingSideOpp RatingOpp name

It is interesting to note that in almost all the games above - I was down material. A pawn maybe two. Previously I would be horrified by this. I avoided shedding material as much as possible and try to snatch pawns any way I can. But now I seemed to have changed. Being down a few pawns doesn't panic me anymore. I even find myself enjoying winning from such positions.

Wonder where this underdog mentality came from.

Anyway, the ones in blue means that according to our head-to-head statistics, I haven't won against them in all our games. Zero, zilch, nada. So in essence, yesterday was a good day for revenge.

However, the one in red was a very painful game. I sacrificed a piece for a mating attack and - missed the mate. Oh for crying out loud. The sharp pain I'm feeling even now bears testimony to the agony I suffered after the game. A game that would have been nominated for the "Best sacrificial game of the year" instead is now buried deep within, to be forgotten for the pain it caused me.

I console myself that at least I learned something from this game. That next time I encounter the same position, I will not repeat the same mistake twice. Only, I distinctly remember playing another game with the same pattern. Why didn't I remember that here. Why oh why!!

It reminded me of the time when that girl I really liked was gonna answer "yes" at last but I visited on the wrong day, and her parents was fighting and it got transferred to me and one thing led to another, and I ended up getting dumped instead of getting laid and I haven't gone back to that house ever since and no you don't need to know this things and so lets just move on.


The very last game I played: The one where I defeated the 1890 player featured the question above: Does sacrificing a pawn to gain the bishop pair provide enough compensation?

In this game, the answer was yes. The powers of the bishops along the long diagonal was certainly felt throughout the whole game. And in the end, it was a pin that caused the sudden collapse of his position.

The bishop pair is really powerful. I'm starting to get biased to them so much I'm finding myself abhorred if it gets traded for a "mere" knight. Now this feeling is borne out of a lot of personal games played where the bishops was instrumental for the win and so, the psychological effect is rather strong. I just hope it doesn't lead me astray later on.


The game was a Ruy Lopez. Recently I had been using the classical defense to the Ruy. I don't like the main line as it gets too strategic for my taste. I wanted live piece play and fortunately the classical defense does not disappoint in that regard.

Here is the introduction of this system I found from this article:

"There is no point in pretending that there are any deeper "ideas behind" this defense than that Black will put his pieces on good squares, try to maintain his center, and seek tactical opportunities... ... The preeminence of tactics in this system, and its emphasis on piece activity, make it an excellent weapon for young chess players, and indeed for all players"

Here is the game itself:

- Fin -
posted by Nezha at 9:41 PM | Permalink | 2 comments
Monday, February 19, 2007
Super Sharp French/Something weird
1.) Super sharp French

Last night, I played against an 1830 player. He used the French defense. I recently watched a FICS tutorial for the Tarrasch variation and even used it beforehand. But the resulting position that arose from that game was a little bland for my taste i.e. Massive piece exchanges that left us in the endgame by move 20, so I was looking for something "sharper". I don't know the theory, or what its called but the move order is:

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qg4 Nf6 5. Qxg7 Rg8 6. Qh6 c5

The games was really sharp with lots of tactics flying around. The kind of game I like. However, I lost due to my own incompetence, but I wouldn't mind going into such complications again.

2.) Something weird

When I was looking at a position without taking my eyes off the board, nothing seems to enter my brain. I mean, the calculation doesn't start - not unless I force it. I think this is the cause why I seem to have this lapse of concentration. Its just so hard forcing oneself each and every move. Its like wrestling with something immovable. I push and I push and I push, but sometime, somewhere I will get tired and do a "just" move and fall into trouble. Like the game above. My opponent's moves were pretty predictable - but somewhere along the way, I just lost it - figuratively and literally.

But when I was looking at the board again after the game - I inadvertently took my eyes away: suddenly variations upon variations flooded my brain. It flowed like water and I couldn't shut it down. Its like watching a chess movie.

What was that? And more importantly why didn't that happen during the game?

Strange, really strange..

But it occurs to me - maybe I should take my eyes off the board from time to time during a game. I wonder, would that trigger that variation processing phenomenon?

Has anybody experienced that? I know Shirov and some other GM's doesn't look at the board but stares at the ceiling, etc.. when playing. Then maybe it is really true that calculation is easier when one is NOT looking at the board...

Am I on to something here? Is this a repeatable phenomena or just a one time thing triggered by losing the game? hmm..

But tis curious no?

If this is indeed a repeatable, then its like discovering the atomic bomb. You realize what this can do for my chess?

But first, I would need a name to call it. "Chess co-processing unit"? "Ghost in a shell"? "The inner chess eye"? Or just "the eye"? How about "The inner player", or since I don't know where that came from "The stranger"?

"Image manipulator", "Variation resolver", "Movie maker", "Chess conscience", "The Void", "Chess Compass", "Chess addiction syndrome", "Variation factory", "Inquisitor", "Conduction engine", "Lecturebot", "Crackerbot", "Transmogrifier", etc.. etc..

posted by Nezha at 9:18 PM | Permalink | 1 comments
Sunday, February 18, 2007
I Fear the Dragon
I know that I win or lose not because of the opening. I know squat about opening theory and I seem to win every now and then. But there is one that seems to give me problems. Being an E4 player, I couldn't avoid meeting it and when I do, somehow I seem to fare really badly.

I'm talking about the Sicilian Dragon.

Last night I played a game against this 1820 player and when he played 1..c5 2..g6 I was like "Oh no!" For truly when 'it' is played. 'It' makes me tremble, for 'it' will devour me, and I really fear 'it'.

Of course I have every confidence in my abilities, or so I tell myself, and accepted the challenge by castling queen side. I can sense the danger from the dragon bishop but invited it nonetheless. Besides I had plans of sac-sac-mate along the H-File, and I thought if I just took my time and watched out for tactics, I'll be fine.

Alas, it was not to be.. This one turned out no different from almost all my games against 'it'. A defeat. Not only that but a miniature no less. Obliterated in under 20 moves. Posterized so to speak. Oh the agony.

Now, I'm getting tempted to do what I don't what to do and study an opening line - an anti-dragon line. Or perhaps I should play the dragon myself to get a better feel on how to defeat it. One must know the enemy to defeat it they say.

Ahh.. 'it' is driving me nuts..

How to slay the dragon... How to slay the dragon..
(Nezha paces back and forth. Hands behind his back. Head looking at the ground)

Btw: I play the Grand Prix but it seems way cooler to castle on opposite sides and go for respective flank attacks. (Plus all those Corus games I watched biased me to the open sicilian)

posted by Nezha at 7:05 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Last night, I tried to unwind by playing chess. The previous two days I posted a 1.5/3 so I wasnt really happy with my play and had wanted to string a few wins. As it so happens I won the first two, the second of which is against a 1771 player, so I was really happy. I was gonna sleep but decided against it and played another game. A 1450 player answered the seek, and I.. lost.

Now the loss itself aint no problem. But when I was losing, someone else kibitzed and said "You are waaay over-rated, just resign man".

Somehow it made me soo mad. I mean I dont even know that dude and here he is rubbing salt against my wounds. So I asked with what the hell is wrong with him and he said he is just watching his student beat me.

Look before we go any further, I'll have everybody know right now - this isnt the first time I lost to a lower rated opponent. I've lost against everybody. Players from 1200 to 2100 rating. I never said I was Nezha "The Invincible".

On the other hand, I'll give an arm and a leg if anybody will raise his arm and said that he never ever lost against a lower rated opponent.

Well anyone? Didnt think so too.

Sheesh.. (Grumble2x)

So I was stewing and stewing and as a result I decided to play successive 30/30 games. Next thing I know it was 6am and my somehow the world keeps spinning around me. So I slept.

But was still mad when I woke up.

It got me thinking, why am I losing against them? I'm now at 1766, been there for at least a two months now. Why cant I assure that I lose only to 1700 players above?


Well anyway, I decided that I am gonna give it my best shot the next time I play. I mean, I always move too fast. I'll start with 30 min and end up with 35mins, deciding and disregarding candidate moves at warp-speed. Of course my brain is as fast a tortoise so I know this is one reason preventing me from winning.

So I started a seek even before brushing my teeth and it so happened that an 1895 player answered. More than 100 points in difference. Gulp!

This is the game

I won!!!

Well would you look at that. The interesting thing about this game is that

  1. At the end I only had 15min left while my opponent still has 30min (This is a 30/30 game) - so does this mean that I had to work twice as hard to beat someone 100points higher?
  2. I found a 5-move trap!! Check out 28..Nc4 - I was sunk in thought for a long time trying to find a tactic and by george I found it. The point of move 28..Nc4 is move 32..Bf8. It actually went down according to plan. - I really have to give my brain time to think. Maybe I'm not as bad in tactics as I thought I was
  3. If one is winning, what does one do? Simplify right? Not here - I was feeling a little "frisky" and decided to construct a mating net. Simplify shmplifly. Mate ends all.

We'll in the end, the taunt last night did end up for the better as it gave me a jolt and allowed me to win against someone far better than me (I cant remember the last time I beat an almost 1900 player) - But unlike some, I'm grateful for the chance given me. Because personally, I would never, ever taunt a defeated opponent.

I think this is called decency.
posted by Nezha at 4:39 AM | Permalink | 2 comments
Thursday, February 15, 2007
My kind of chess
Here is a game I played yesterday that pleased me really well. Well, it was a sloppy game as all my games tend to be, but I was able to do the things that I've always tried to do in chess games nowadays. Namely sacrifice material in pursuit of an attack. This game contains two of them. One is a silent sacrifice 10.Bb5+ that really gave me satisfaction. I just hung a piece and all he had to do was take it, and he'll be up a piece. Of course if he did, I'll get a mating attack. Nyahahaha!!! The other one was a knight for two pawns and the attack.

However I blundered and threw away my queen. I was ready to resign and was just playing a little bit more. But my opponent just couldn't get anything going. All of a sudden, I had him in a mating attack - but he found this saving move and just when I thought I was lost, I found this beautiful mate. Its a standard mate but I found it so attractive because its like a CTS problem and I found it. Man, I found a mate. ^^

So to all you makers of CTS out there, thank you3x!!!

(Btw: My opponent made all these pawn moves in the opening that made it easy for me to launch a sacrificial attack. But I wonder what's the name of this opening)


The above highlights the type of game I find most appealing. A free flowing game with tactical opportunities by the dozen - particularly one that allows me to sacrifice material. And lately thats all I've been trying to do: look for sacrificial opportunities.

I find sacrifices and its conception strangely addicting. The terms "two pawns and an attack" sounds music to my ears. When I'm doing it I'm slightly afraid, and slightly worried. Its like riding a roller coaster. And besides all those tactical problems I'm solving seems like a waste if I don't try and apply them in real games.

(From the very first time I started playing, it was burned on my skull that losing material means losing the game. So I find it really hard to sacrifice even now. To be down material for an extended period of time without any apparent compensation gets on my nerves)

Previously all I'm looking for was to win a pawn and go to a favorable endgame. But it dawned on me: I'm solving all those problems, training so hard - all for one measly pawn? To be so happy for so little? No thank you.

So I turned to sacrificial play. I think it is where my imagination and tactical ability will be tested, and allowed to grow.

I think this is the next step in tactical growth. The application of tactics requires a different kind of training than just solving exercises. It requires you bloody your hands and try to make tactics appear in games.

To make the knights hop, to make the rooks charge, to make the bishops lance, to make the queens dance. Then to combine them all in perfect harmony.

Harmony, Sacrifice, Tactics..

Things like these.. are not found in pawn up end games.

- fin -
posted by Nezha at 7:01 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Tactical training is fine. But I guess..
I've been reading various posts regarding tactical play. No reason actually except boredom. But a few things caught my eye in that some apparently didn't improve a lick even after solving tremendous amounts of problems.

I think what happens is some players solve all these problems then play a game and rush the tactics. They push the pieces too aggressively or try to attack prematurely trusting that the tactics will favor them because they "solved" thousands of problems already. But of course this is not what happens. The tactics does not appear or worse, in their rush they themselves fall victim into a tactical shot. So they get disillusioned by the whole "chess is 99% tactics" business and turn to studying positional play and or becomes an accountant.

But its all wrong. Blaming too much studying tactics for the loss is like blaming the car for the accident. Can you tell the police "Its not me, its the car. Its too fast"? Of course not right?

Tactics like everything else is just another weapon. All things being equal, the fight will not be decided by the weapon but by the wielder. You can have the sharpest, lightest sword in the world i.e.solved 500,000 problems, but if you don't know how to wield it, the weapon is useless.

It reminds me of the story of the guitarist. They were jamming, right? and he said "Man, this guitar sucks!". A guest heard it and borrowed the guitar and suddenly all these beautiful sounds started coming out. So he returned the guitar and said "There's nothing wrong with the guitar. But I guess you just can't play".

There's nothing wrong with solving tactical problems.
I guess you just cant play

Anyway, followers of these blog will no doubt recollect that I place emphasis on these two things

1. Calculation
2. Tactical Ability

and my "training", if you can call it that, is geared towards strengthening this two factors. To be at home in the chaotic stage as tempo puts it.

My tactical pattern recognition is just fine I think. A few minutes of CTS every day helps keep it sharp. However, my calculation powers is horrible right now. I can't even follow 5 move combinations in my head. It is my contention that calculation must be easy, calculation must be automatic, otherwise I wont be able to do it during games. I mean, you think I really wanna work that hard during chess games? Where do I put the lol!? hehe.

So to remedy this, I'm reading the Deadly Tactician book and trying to follow the variations in my head. So far its just a headache inducing experience, but sometimes I am able to follow seven move combinations so maybe there is hope after all.

It was said that Alekhine developed his calculation/visualization ability this way. Legend has it that when he broke his foot, he played solitaire chess in his head while he was in the hospital. The result is Fine commented that "Alekhine can see far more deeply than all his contemporaries".

I too want to see that deeply, that easily. The kind of chess I strive has this as its core. Chess which does not rely on opening theory or no endgame theory, or any kind of theory. Just chess based on intuition, and seeing ten moves ahead looking for combinations. Simple and easy "caveman" chess (See Patrick's videos)

Now, I am very curious as to where this takes me. For example, compared to more serious knights like J'Ajoube and Tempo.

If I fail then at the very least we will have a working knowledge of how NOT to study chess.

posted by Nezha at 8:04 PM | Permalink | 5 comments
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Pursuit of Happiness
A Film Review

I watched The Pursuit of Happiness last night. All I can say is that its good. It's really good. Its so good, I will not watch it again. Eh! Why? Well lets just say that after watching this film, I found myself wanting to smoke uh.. a certain herb with healing properties.

Seriously, what a depressing movie this is. A full two hours of misery upon misery being heaped upon our lovable actor Will Smith. Man, I love will smith, been following him since the "Fresh Prince of Belair" days - but this movie is so painful I almost couldn't complete it. After 90minutes, I was shouting "Enough, enough, oh please enough already".

The last rocky movie was like this. It was also good at showing you such a depressing tale, but this movie takes the cake. I mean, if you could create a list of the most horrible things you can inflict on your worst enemy, this movie might have contained them all. Lets see -

  1. left by wife? check
  2. Broke? check
  3. No friends? check
  4. No Job? check
  5. Various properties being stolen? check
  6. Slept on the comfort room? check
  7. With a kid but with no future in sight? check
  8. Life seems ok one day, then bam! everything falls into pieces? check,check and check.
(All thats needed is to replace Will Smith with Michael Douglas, and this film could had been the prologue for falling down)

What that pfft!!

This film almost killed me.

So I'm out - I need to go and rent me some comedy.
posted by Nezha at 10:04 PM | Permalink | 1 comments
Monday, February 12, 2007
Teaching C++
We'll I am finally gonna do it. I've been putting off as long as possible getting a second job, but what the heck, I'm just getting bored during weekends so might as well be "gainfully" employed. Now, the only problem is I already forgot C++ . Waaah!! I mean, sure I was a C++/Visual Studio developer but that was 5 years ago. Man, I cant even remember what I ate for lunch, how am I gonna remember what I did from such a long time ago?

I'm just gonna study C++ again (sigh) and put on my most grievous looking face during class. If someone asks me a question I don't know I'll beat my stick on the table and say "How dare you challenge me!! FOOOL!!!!".

Bet they wouldn't ask any questions anymore then.

Bwahahahahahaha!!!! Beware the dark lord of C++ programming.. Bwahahahaha!!
posted by Nezha at 9:34 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Friday In Love
-- But first --

Anyone interested should go read Karpyan's Post. It reflected what happened to me too. Namely too much intense training drove me nuts.

Chess improvement is like a marathon I think. The idea of pacing yourself is important. It is much more effective for someone to do tactics a little bit each day, than to do it for intensely for 6 months and then stop (Like what I did). I cant help but think that If I only just spread my tactical training for two years, a little bit each day, I would be much stronger now. Much2x stronger.

One thing I can charge to experience I guess.

-- Friday In love --

There was this restaurant i'm eating at and there is this waitress there.. shes like "whoowa!, girl you're seriously driving me nuts". Like that, because she's so pretty. With slanted eyes and dark long hair, A typical Japanese girl. Anyway, so I made a habit of eating there everyday. I even chose the table facing the counter (Big grin). Anyway, she disappeared for a few weeks so I thought "bummer, she quit the job" and so I stopped going. The food is great, but its not that great if you still haven't gotten my drift. But anyway, today I suddenly craved for Adobo (A chicken-based curry) and went there and guess what?

Shes right there at the door!!!

She smiled, as all waitress do right? its not because its me right? and I think she said "Irashaimase!!" but all I can hear was "I missed you sir" hehe.. I melted into a puddle and briefly died with my mouth open.. I couldn't help smiling at her, I even had that stupid smile on my face the whole time I was eating..

Shoot, I'm such a total give away..

But she smiled and said she missed me so I'm happy.

Huh!? What do you mean she didn't say no such thing? I heard it, and it happened you hear me? No, I'm not listening to anymore of your "arguments".

(Nezha puts his palms in his ear and shouts repeatedly "I can't hear you, I can't hear you")
posted by Nezha at 10:40 PM | Permalink | 1 comments
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Nezha The bold!?
One of the effects of studying masters game is that you tend to get influenced by what you see. I remember a time when I was studying Botvinnik games and I found myself wanting to ground opponents in the endgame. Never mind that I don't study the endgame, or do I know anything about stuff like lucena or phillidor. Lucena and Phillidor can be types of strawbery cakes for all I care.

Anyway, so I bought the "How to become a deadly chess tactician" book right, and I had been going through the games right. The effect is I found myself wanting to sacrifice pawns and pieces. Sound or unsound it does not matter, just as long as I am able to sacrifice something somewhere.

Take this recent game for example

I offered a knight just so I can blast his kingside open and he declined, handing me the advantage of the exchange instead. The shock value of sacrifices are really something I guess. But, I don't actually know if the sacrifice was worth it. I only knew that I was willing to give up the piece for a chance of an attack - and torpedoes be damned.

So now I'm Nezha "The Bold" - Ha!

But after I committed to sacrificing that knight and saw him decline - I couldn't get myself to sacrifice it "again" for two pawns and a shattered kingside. Its ironic because I was willing to sacrifice a whole piece for just the chance of an attack, and here I am being given the chance to get an attack and two pawns. But I got cold feet, and made the positional move 17. Nf7 electing instead to use the outpost technique.

Spielman said that given 2-pawns and an attack for a piece, "He who does not boldly try to win such a position, will never get far in the field of sacrificial play". So on one hand I'm like "Oooh, I tried to sacrifice a piece - I'm a regular Tal" and on the other hand I'm like "Ah chicken, using positional play instead of launching an attack"

So now the title of the post is "Nezha The bold!?" instead of "Nezha The Bold!!" =<

posted by Nezha at 5:59 PM | Permalink | 2 comments
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Wednesday Ramblings
1. No will today
Hmmm, something has happened to me lately. I came home one night, turned on the computer as I always do, and logged on to FICS. Only I cant get myself to type "seek 30/30". So I took a walk outside, came back for after an hour and tried again. Again, I cant do it. Hmmm, maybe I need to take a few weeks break to recharge.

2. CTS
I've been doing CTS everyday. Its fun you know, CTS I mean. Its like playing a real chess game, only you get to skip the openings and all the boring stuff and proceed directly into the combination part. But its funny because I take my time and ignore the clock, and these are supposed to be really easy problems - but still I'm hovering at 86% for a long time now. Is this my peak tactical-searching efficiency I wonder. If I am mistaken 1/5 o the time at CTS - then my rating will not go up even if become the greatest strategical expert in the world. I mean, this tactics should be "easy".. there is no excuse not to have higher hit rate.

I will try to reach 90% and keep it for a few months. Lets see the effect that will have on my chess (If I'm still playing by then)

3. How to become a deadly chess tactician
I decided to view the games on the HTACT book after all. I paid $30 so I'm disinclined to waste it. Right now, I'm on the dynamic romantic chapter with Kasparov as the main protagonist. Perhaps I'll write a more comprehensive review after I go deeper into the games.

Its just right now other than CTS and the book - I just don't have much taste for chess..
posted by Nezha at 10:19 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Monday, February 05, 2007
Takchess Your A Genius
Hey takchess - I used the tactical theme that I got from your game. Its pretty rad.. Thanks man!!!

Ha! I'm starting to really like this sacrifice stuff..

posted by Nezha at 5:48 AM | Permalink | 2 comments
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Is a 1 Rook + 2pawns == 2 pieces?
Lately, I have been seeing this situation in my games. I see a tactic involving the exchange of 2 pieces for two pawns and a rook. It seems to be one of the easier tactic to conceptualize. I mean, usually during the early middle game, the rooks are just sitting on some corner so it tends to attract some tactica themes. I've won all my games having this theme, but I cant shake the feeling that somehow this type of exchange isnt as advantageous as I think it is. The classical value of rook is 5pts + 2pts(pawns) so it should be better than 2pieces(3pts each == 6pts). I tend to keep in mind this numerical values, but I'm at the point in my chess "career" where I dont actually believe such things anymore. I mean, two pieces in conjunction with each other is very strong..

Well anyway, I guess Im gonna keep on doing the exchange as long as I win.
posted by Nezha at 8:25 AM | Permalink | 4 comments
Friday, February 02, 2007
Where are these people?
I had been reviewing old masters game, and I noticed that comments like this seems to flow in abundance:

Unfortunately, nowadays most players are both strategically and defensively more competent than the players in the 19th century, so Anderssen's playing style would not result in such a beautiful games anymore.

This left me scratching my head. I mean, sure maybe GM's would be better today than yesterday, but most players? Huh? GM's are like 1% of the total chess playing population. I suspect the other 99% are just like me, your casual chessplayer. And I'm playing at FICS everyday and most of the players of my class dont know any better than I do. Perhaps ICC players are better? I don't know.. Where are these mythical people that's so good strategically and defensively?

Anyway - the games of the old masters are very interesting. People like to say they dont know anything about planning, but actually - they do. Or Anderssen at least does. But his plans are different than the stuff found in positional books. The games are not about trying to get minute positional advantages, but rather its all about a creation of very complex tactical blows.

A leading plan of campaign revolving not towards getting just a "better" position, but towards creating a mating attack so to speak.

But anyone who thinks that it is easy to parry/defend against such things is nuts.. or is way better than me.. or both.. Why? Because I've been playing the games "solitaire" style and I cant work out the tactics. Its only in the end when everything becomes clear. The combinations are very deep and very cunning. Like a mate in 25 would start in around move 10. Believe me, its really hard to see the tactical idea, not unless your name is Topalov (and last time I checked there is only one balding goatee-possessing bulgarian existing for the moment)

The games in other words, is a perfect learning tool for someone interested in knowing how to lay such traps themselves.

Now, sure crafty or rybka or whatever can bust the plan, but I aint playing against machines. In my book - it doest matter what computers say. The only thing that matters is if the tactics works against a human player a resonable amount of time.

I'm pretty confident these tactics do..

posted by Nezha at 7:13 PM | Permalink | 1 comments
Thursday, February 01, 2007
How to become a Deadly Chess Tactician is latin for
Yet another middle game book...

So a month ago, I was in this horrible losing streak right. I lost 20games in a row. It didn't matter who my opponent was. 1200players, 1400players, 1800players. Everybody wiped the floor of me. A lot of player boosted their rating points during that streak (So if you're one of those players, this will be a perfectly good time to send me a personal thanks :p) . Anyway, so In desperation I bought a book. The famed "How to become a Deadly Chess Tactician". I bought this instead of "My System" as I originally planned because who doesn't want to become a deadly chess tactician? Anybody? yeah, I didn't think so too.

Anyway, I started winning again and went 18-2 for the next twenty games after that. So I promptly forgot all about the book. That is, until it got delivered two days ago. Wow, a new book. wooo groovy. So I opened it and skimmed the contents lightly to get a feel of what I'm gonna be "learning" from it.

The introduction seemed promising enough. The author said he got 900 games all with sacrifices and he was gonna show it to "motivate" us into becoming Deadly Chess Tactician. Sounds good no? Cool.

So I started viewing the games, and its full of analysis, and wait a minute? I have to go through these games one by one? How many games did he say are there again? 900?

Shite, it sounds like work.. man, it is work.. =<

So now, the book is alongside that Tolstoy book, and the "To dance with the white dog" book, that I had been meaning to re-read for a long time now (and no, I wont tell whether or not I have magazines containing uh.. models. You don't need to know these things)

But so I don't leave you hanging, and if you are thinking of buying it too, then I will summarize the premise of the book to help you decide:

"How do you become a deadly chess tactician? - Practice, you gotta practice".
posted by Nezha at 6:29 PM | Permalink | 1 comments