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 |


  • At 11:37 PM, Blogger bahus

    congats! an excellent post and a big achievement.

    next stop 1900.

    - bahus

  • At 1:27 AM, Blogger Temposchlucker

    That's why gambit play is so important. I started with this kind of play 4 years ago. Sacrificing 10 pieces in 14 games. And pawns by the dozen. Before you have reached the limits of this kind of play, you can't even think of a slow approach to the game. I have reached the limits though. See you in four years.

  • At 8:07 AM, Blogger Fierabras

    Super Nezh: Chess Assasin!

    This is actually a title from a book. You can check out the PGN on

  • At 7:47 PM, Blogger Blue Devil Knight

    Congrats. Enjoy!

  • At 10:30 PM, Blogger generalkaia

    congratulations! the big 1800! enjoy your rest, and good luck getting to 1900!

  • At 12:13 AM, Blogger Patrick

    congrats on the 1800. glad to see you are playing ballzy aggressive chess. i try to play that way too.

    what is the time control for these games?

  • At 1:01 AM, Blogger Nezha

    Thank for all the well wishes:

    The time control of these games are 30/30

  • At 12:36 PM, Blogger Fierabras

    Before you have reached the limits of this kind of play, you can't even think of a slow approach to the game. I have reached the limits though.

    Tempo, stop deluding yourself. Nezha is doing fine on his chosen path and you never reached the limits.

  • At 2:32 PM, Blogger takchess

    Hi there,
    I personally take all the credit for your rating improvement. 8)
    Perhaps this is a sign that if I play a little more carefully and temper my aggressiveness with better board vision. I too may improve.


  • At 5:08 AM, Anonymous svensp

    Nice blog and great entry. I really enjoyed reading it, content as well as style. Especially a nice idea is not to worry about creating tactics- if you play actively it just happens (also if one plays passively, except on ones own side). I like the concept of observing and waiting for tactics instead of striving for them.

    Congratulations for reaching 1800 on FICS. Have a nice break!

  • At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous

    I hope you realize that you haven't been doing what that comic strip recommended. You know that don't you? None of your opponents are real Kenshi. They are people rated 1300-1700. You haven't been puking blood either.

    You are much more like that girl. Learning Kata from a bunch of beginners and assessing your progress against weak opposition. If you were following the advice of that comic you'd wouldn't be winning any games for quite a while and would probably quit.

    And also with a real time competition like sword fighting that comic is more accurate than it is with chess but it's not even fully accurate with sword fighting either. There's more than one way to skin a cat. Forms have a purpose and function that some don't fully appreciate.

    If you could become Kenshi by playing around in your living room then we'd all be practicing in our living rooms not "never have to practice again".

    With chess and it's particular focus on problems solving whether tactical or strategic, you can get better alone in your living room if you know how, and it's easier to recreate a more realistic self test. (However I do agree with the comic's core message. I believe John McEnroe was known for playing tennis as his primary, perhaps only, means of training.)

    Fischer was known to drop out of the chess scene for long periods only to return stronger than ever. Additionally he beat Spassky, who was a practicing grandmaster at the time, though he had not played for 20 years (of course he was not learning and developing as the girl in the comic, just supposedly out of practice). Peter Leko said He knew for a fact that Fischer hammered some of big name grandmasters (like Shirov) in internet blitz games again being supposedly out of practice since the match with Spassky.

    Maybe you should try doing what that comic suggest for real.

    Marcellus Wallace

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