Wednesday, January 31, 2007
A Sample Attacking Game
Here is a game I played last night wherein I was trying to create complications. Now I happen to think that this was wild and dangerous enough, however comparing it with some of the games of someone who's an old hand at this, say Takchess, it looks tame by comparison.

1. My heart was beating so fast, it was going baboom, baboom, babooom! And its only move 15. I try to play as concentrated as possible, but this feeling is different. The amount of nervous energy I felt was awesome.

2. I sacrificed two pawns initially to get open lines to the enemy king, and I was prepared to sacrifice even more. However, I haven't calculated all the lines. I didnt even know how to proceed if my opponent chose the strongest defense. I was scared because I just knew if I dont find the most precise lines I would lose.

But this goes for both of us. If he didnt find the correct defense he will also lose. Double edged, cut-both-ways like. But you know what? He fell into a mate-in-1. Which goes to show you - During an attack, the attacker always have the advantage. It is very2x difficult to solve negative problems over the board.

Know what else? I myself didnt notice there was a mate there. When I moved that knight, I went "Whooah". I literally suddenly stood up because of shock. I thought I was the one mated. What I would have given to see the face of my opponent :)

But I half-wished he played the strongest move so I get to play the bishop sacrifice.

3. Playing games like this is really2x instructive. There are certain things you only get through experience. The proper way to conduct an attack is one of them I think. You can solve all the tactical puzzles in the world if you want to, but if you dont try and create them over the board, if you only wait for blunders, then more often than not the tactics will not appear for you.

You know combining pieces takes skill. Particularly if there was no immediate mate possible. Chess puzzles are like "sac-sac-mate", however in games thats rarely the case. More often than not, you onlt get the initiative. But once you have the initiative, the generation of threats and the proper way to combine the pieces uses a diffrent skill than the one used in "sac-sac-mate" combos. This skill you dont just get reading books.

You have to actually do it - only then you learn it.

Or at least, this is whats happening to me.

When I was thinking of how to continue the attack, and when I was analyzing this with crafty - I can feel my cranium expanding. It was like "Yes, yes I get it.. ahahaha!! yessss...". Like that..

The next time I do this I hope I can apply what I learned from this game.

---

The game itself:












 
posted by Nezha at 7:17 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Attacking Play
As I've been trying to sharpen my play, I am trying to understand the profile of a good attacking player. I happen to think that the kind of chess played over the board is a direct reflection of the player. Meaning, if you are meek and tame at heart, it would be very hard to play wildly and without restraint. We can only take out what is inside our hearts so to speak.

Anyway, Since I think the commitment to attacking play involves a particular frame of mind. I have to re-adjust my thinking and eliminate certain inhibitions that prevents me from creating the type of game I envision.


1. The very first roadblock that I have to conquer is fear. Losing rating points, losing face, just losing period. But to play sharply means sometimes you get cut yourself. Its like a knife fight. Only one will survive, but both of you will be cut. An old punisher comic I read stated that, the one who will win in such a fight, is the one more willing to be cut more deeply. Because then, he wont be afraid of the knife and would be able to think more calmly.

And its true you know, you just cant attack afraid, you just cant. You cant attempt to punch someone then as soon as you connect, try to run like a headless chicken. You're either in or youre out. Dont do it if you cannot commit to such a thing.

If I see my rating fluctuating wildly, that would be a great sign as I would be well on my way to achieving my goal.


2. Love of material - The surest way to win is to be up material. Heck, sometimes you win using only such trivial matters as a favorable king position. The result of this is that I have a very definite partiality to gaining wood. Just win a pawn or two, then consolidate and reach a favorable endgame. That used to be my motto. Play if safe, no undue risk. Besides its always better to sacrifice your opponent's men right? Safety is the best policy.

But as I've stated above, playing it safe and launching wild speculative attacks is direct anathema. One who strives to create chaos and havoc over the board must accept that he will lose material. Pawns, knights, bishops, even the queen. No price is too great for the scalp of the enemy king.

However:

I still love material, and still find myself snatching pawns for the heck of it =<

Futhermore:

Refusing to gain material in the middle of an elaborate attack is very hard. I cant calculate too deeply for one so I am almost always unsure what the end result of all my actions are. In a way, I'm playing a form of "hope" chess. That is, I try to cram three or more pieces near the vicinity of the king, and hope that something comes up.

Funny thing is, something almost always comes up. Which proves that seeing all the possibile combinations resulting from multiple pieces coordinating harmoniously, requires such high levels of calculating/pattern recognition prowess that U1800 players are really hard pressed to find the correct line.

This is unsound chess. When all you have going for you is the hope that somewhere, somehow the enemy does not see the most precise lines. Really unsound.

But the gambler rolls the dice..

He can do nothing else.







 
posted by Nezha at 5:27 AM | Permalink | 1 comments
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Beware the greeks bearing gift.
I remember now why I wanted to study positional play. I mean I studied it at first by pure chance. But after I've completed the circles, I turned my attention to openings and positional play. I didnt just turn my attention to it without reason. There was something I noticed that made me do it. Namely playing chess using pure tactical chances was really double edged. There are two main points regarding this:

a.) One false move and its over:
When you succeed in creating complicated tactical tricks, a great danger accompanying it is that you have to be very precise. One false move, the wrong move order, the wrong variation is almost always fatal.

The margin for error is really that low.

b.) The creation of tactical chances:
I've posed this question before - Where does tactics comes from? Without understanding the answer to this one cant consistently create the situation where combinations exists.

I think I may have a little inkling now of where it comes from.

I am talking about creation of tactics from a balanced position alright. Tactics can come from blunders, or the opponent just not seeing the tactical idea being aimed at him. These requires no thought, only luck. But from a balanced position, and you want to create a position rich with possibilities, what does one do?

This is what you do:

The easiest way to create of tactical opportunities involves a sacrifice somewhere.

When I say sacrifice I'm not talking of a piece sacrifice, or even a pawn sacrifice. But rather I'm talking about the idea of capitulating something in return for an attack. It could be a pawn, or a piece, but it could also be a wreaked pawn-structure, a strategically lost game, a dangerous mutual attack. Something.. If you want fire on board, then be prepared to get burned yourself.

Imagine the City of Troy. The siege lasted for long, long years. The Greeks couldn't break through. They are in a state of balance. So they gave a "gift" to upset the balance and win the war. But the Trojan horse maneuver itself is full of danger. For example, were I the Trojans, I would have burned that horse on the spot - So as not to taint the city with a gift from the hated enemy. So see, there is danger there. They won of course but they could have died a fiery death too.

In a balanced position where the two of you both have a solid structure continuing playing "solidly" will not make the tactics appear. There aint no such thing as a free lunch. One should be prepared to give in order to recieve.

---
Now, this style of play really wreaks havoc on ratings. I was able to blow 1900 players one day and lose to 1400 players the next. When the tactics works, boy do it works. But when it doesnt, you go down in flames. You get roasted along with your horse so to speak.

So I looked for a way to be consistent in my play. To flatten the sine wave so to speak: This drove me into the arms of positional play.

However, now that I understand somewhat the risks involved, and now that I'm a little ready to sacrifice my rating to try and ditch positional play in favor of pure tactics, I am going back and will try to hone my ability in the "path of pure tactics" so to speak.

(Of course if an outpost, or some positional advantage is staring me in the face, of course I'll take advantage. Flexibility of thought and all that)

So come my enemies, come, I bring gifts for you. My table is ready. Come and partake upon my meat, come and partake upon my drinks.

Come.. come..



 
posted by Nezha at 8:53 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Seven Circles Logo


And why is this here?

In my quest to become Web Programmer Extraordinaire, I'm trying to learn GIMP. Here is a simple 3D button I created using it.

I can't wait to fully learn all its functions.

With Mad photo manipulation skillz.. there's no limit to what I can do...

Just you wait Kramnik, Leko, Topalov.. Just you wait...

Mwahahahahahaha!!!

 
posted by Nezha at 6:25 AM | Permalink | 2 comments
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Tempo Is Brilliant!!!!
You know sometimes you hear a joke and people around you is laughing so you went along and laughed too. Only you didn't get the joke. You were like "Huh!?". Then a few years has passed, and in the middle of a meeting you suddenly laughed out loud. People is looking at you, but you don't mind because you "got" it. "They're eating grass you see, They're eating grass.. Ahahaha".

This is what I felt a few days ago. You know how I read books on positional play? I read lots of books: "Art of positional play", "Planning and Judgement". My favorite was "simple chess" is also about positional play. To top it all I've even memorized this quote below:

The most important single feature of a chess position is the activity of the pieces. This is absolutely fundamental in all phases of the game (opening, middle and especially endgame)
- Michael Stean (Simple Chess)

Why am I telling you this? Because I've been thinking about something that tempo blogged recently.

Piece activity is the ultimate positional goal in chess - Temposchlucker

You know what? I was watching television when it struck me from out of the blue. "Wait the minute - Piece activity is the ultimate positional goal in chess".

Suddenly, the things I had studied seemed to be clear. Its like the time when I proved to myself that "Scales are the foundation of music". Piece activity, It is the ultimate positional goal in chess.

Its so clear, so clear:

AHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

"They're eating grass you see, They're eating grass.. "

Temposchlucker, you're the man!!





 
posted by Nezha at 6:22 PM | Permalink | 2 comments
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Kramnik "17 move draws" Sissy Girl Boo!!!!
DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU'RE A FAN OF KRAMNIK
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm watching Corus everyday, and all I can say is that I'm very disappointed by the play of some GM's. And by that I mean Kramnik "17 move draws" Sissy Girl Boo!!!! if the title of the post isn't any more clearer.

I'm reading the comments on Mig's chess ninja post and the following comment sums up the "defense" of Kramnik "17 move draws" Sissy Girl Boo!!!!

"Arises from a fundamentally different approach to the game. Kramnik believes, like many GMs and particularly many of the Russian school, in playing correctly, in seeking the truth. "

Huh!? - 17 move draws is the result of seeking the truth? Haha, the only thing I can say is its still a girlie thing to do.. Haha... Truth in the position my ass.. The only thing that matters is
  • a.) Did you win
  • b.) If not, then did you at least try your best?
and I tell you son, 17 move draws answers this two questions quite nicely thank you.

Having a love of the game means giving it your best shot. Having a love for the game means never taking games off because you felt like it - because your playing a game you love and when your doing something you love, that should be the time you feel most alive.

And what would you feel if a man walks to you wanting to marry your daughter, then hear him start talking about painting and art and sensitivity? - Me, I'll kick him into a quivering pile of goo and forbid him from ever seeing my daughter again. Crazy..

So quick somebody tell Kramnik to watch Clint Eastwood movies, Rocky Movies, Braveheart, Rob Roy McGregor, Michael Jordan, heck even Shirov. Maybe that'll put some fire in his belly.

All these talk about painter only paints and the truth about the position.

In the end its still "17 move draws" Sissy Girl Boo!!!!






 
posted by Nezha at 7:31 PM | Permalink | 3 comments
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Simple (Tactical) Chess
You know what my problem is with regards to tactics? Its this: I envision long king sieges, elaborate mating traps, but all the while I continuously miss simple 2move combinations.

Thinking about a grand king-side attack when I cant spot a simple fork!? How silly is that.

I think I have to go back to basics. As they say, before we learn to walk we have to learn to crawl. So I will attempt to simplify my game. Just play a good, simple tactical chess full of two-three move combinations. In the hope that one day I will be so good using this type of play that I can branch to using more elaborate techniques.

But that day may never come. However, in the meanwhile no long term plan of campaign will be deliberately made. No complex-of-square strategy. No opposite-bishop ending will be aimed for. Nothing.

Nothing but an ever present eye watchful eyes for tactical chances.

Nothing but a constant search for combinations.

For verily, just as Tartakower said

  • The blunders are all there on the board, waiting to be made.
I hope my opponent makes them before I do, lol!

But this does not mean I wont use positional concepts. Why wouldn't I? Forgetting something I already know will be silly too. This will just mean that I wont think about them deliberately. But if it pops in my head, then hey, cool.

To help me in looking out for tactics, this two quotes will be kept in mind:
  • The combination player thinks forward; he starts from the given position, and tries the forceful moves in his mind - Emanuel Lasker
  • If the student forces himself to examine all moves that smite, however absurd they may look at first glance, he is on the way to becoming a master of tactics. - Purdy
--
Perhaps Ill buy a book about Marshal or Spielman to see how players with a strong bent on tactics/traps go about their own game.

I've ordered the "How to become a deadly chess tactician" book. I wanted to buy a book, and was gonna buy "My system" but due to my new found philosophy, ordered this book instead. Hope I find it useful.

Anyway, here is a miniature I've played last night. Just because..




- fin -
 
posted by Nezha at 9:04 PM | Permalink | 1 comments
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Because its there II
I've been browsing the CTS rankings recently and I found myself getting envious of the top players. I thought Tempo has the most number of tries only to find that not only is he not the top ranked, but he is actually fourth. Fourth? Shite, who are these people? Are they even working? Heavens, CTS should give them a watch or something.

Top Players
  • clyk 92,117 63%
  • Oberdan 82,643 74%
  • wormwood 73,972 78%
  • Temposchlucker 70,136 80%

Anyway, I don't think I will try to achieve that. Its not that its not possible. Its just that it will take too long to get such high volumes. Me being a product of "Be-friggin-rich-in-five-friggin-days" would lose interest if I try to engage in such a campaign. So what I will try is to lower it a bit.

I want to be the 100th top ranked CTS player in terms on tries.

The player currently in the 100th spot is KuritovGM with 11,941. Hah! I'm now at 5408. Just another 5000 tries. Chicken feed.. So beware Mr. KuritovGM your spot is in danger. Nezha is eyeing it hungrily.. mwahahaha!!!!

I may have achieved a new low in nerdyness..

Wait, I just realized.. it took me 2 years to get my 5000 tries...

..
..
..

Err.. What did I get myself into?

-------
Here is my profile:
Goal
  • Tries: 11,942++
  • Rating: 90%

Now - before anyone goes ballistic and tries to say that CTS doesn't help raising chess strength, let me point out the title of this post. I never said anything about no raising chess strength or training didn't I? Hah! Oh, you thought this was about chess didn't you.. Double hah!

This ain't nothing to do bout no chess training.

I'm doing this simply:

Because its there...

-- fin --
 
posted by Nezha at 9:15 PM | Permalink | 1 comments
Creating a Web Site/Playing Actively
Web Creation:

I've been creating a web site recently, and I found out that to jazzy web site with all the bells and whistles requires tremendous energy. Its not enough that I know LAMP + HTML/CSS/JS - I found myself having to study about image manipulation too. Otherwise, the site will just become your ordinary blog-like web thingie. A Lot of things to juggle at once, so I havent been able to post lately.

Anyway I hope to complete it soon. My chess training has been lagging recently. Ive been only able to play once or twice per day.

*To anyone who dont want to shell top bucks for photoshop - try GIMP. Really cool, really free image manipulation program.
------------------

Active Chess

Well I'm winning again. Here is the history of my last ten games.

94: + 1669 B 1754 turnipcake
95: + 1671 W 1296 gsobier
96: + 1672 W 1209 boonen
97: + 1679 W 1616 flugo
98: + 1681 B 1376 axlr
99: + 1691 W 1779 ngo
0: + 1699 W 1700 Torwak
1: - 1685 B 1402 MyxHeLoveT
2: + 1687 W 1374 axlr
3: + 1694 B 1631 qwo

Granted, there are no 1800 players there but at least I havent been losing like I'm drunk. I attribute this to two things

1) Calculation:

More or less, I've been succesful on improving this. I still move sometimes without thinking about it. That lone loss was a blunder. I had a mate in 3, but saw a mate in one and moved my queen without thinking about it. I saw too late I just left it en prise. However, by and large I think more now than before. Really helps in minimizing blunders.

2) Active chess -

A few posts ago I determined to follow the plan of "Letting my opponent make the plan". I conceived that if I just patiently wait for my opp to "show his hand" he will somehow blunder. Presto, I'll have won without thinking about it. However, this just leave me playing passively. My position will get worse and worse, and eventually I'll be the one on the receiving end of a tactical shot.

So - taking a page from tempo, I altered my playing style and decided to make my position as active as I can. Basically, the principle is - If I can drive my pieces forward and forward, If I can even post it down my opponents throat, then I'll do it.

I found that the concentration of three or more pieces in a quadrant of a board makes tactics appear (But in order to push the pieces into such near quarters, a lead in development is most helpful)

Plus, I've started using tactics as much as I can. This means that if there is a pin or fork or something somewhere, I try to do it even if there is a counter. For example, here is a position from one of my games. Guess what I played?









I played 13.Nd5. Why? Not only because its the most active, forcing move I found. But simply because its a tactic. I played it.. just because.

Playing tactics for the sake of tactics is not really so sound. However, I think one has to go thru this phase to get practical experience in the use of tactics (There is a difference from tactics gained from solving exercises, and tactics gained from doing it in real live games. I tend to remember the later more)

So in essence, this style of play boils down to this:

Fast development + Rapid opening of position + Calculation + Tactics = Win

We can say that I've gone back to the style of play akin to the old romantics.

This must be the 100th time I've flip-flopped with regards to style.

:)
 
posted by Nezha at 3:56 AM | Permalink | 3 comments
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Just Nothing
One of the things I noticed about myself was I tend to lose interest once the game is virtually decided. You know the part where somebody is up a piece, or a great positional advantage. In those cases, if I was on the losing part I immediately resign. Waiting for opponent blunders from a losing position is not really interesting.

However

If I was the one winning, and the my opponent don't resign, this has serious consequences. Since I don't concentrate anymore, I tend to blow my hard fought advantage and lose. This is really apparent from my games with U1500 players. Time and again, in under 15 moves, I'll get some tangible advantage, get puzzled why my opponent still continue to resist, watch television while waiting for his move (By that time they would had been thinking for a long time), just move the pieces around and.. blunder..

I resolved to rectify this because this is the greatest hindrance to getting a high rating.There was a time I won 20points by successively beating three 1700 players, then immediately dropping 20pts by losing to a 1200 player. I went 3-1 but in the end my rating stayed the same.

Now people will say "Why are you so winded up by your ratings, just play for fun". To which I reply "Its more fun having a higher rating". Come on man, don't tell me you don't care about it, As in not at all? For example - I don't let it get me down, but at the same time I derive great satisfaction from seeing my rating rise. Don't tell me you don't feel the same way. It could be just a small attachment, but there sure is one in there, even if just a little. I haven't met a serious chess player who didn't want to get a higher rating. Anybody who tells me they don't have any kind of emotional attachment to it is lying.

I play chess because I enjoy it. I also enjoy seeing my rating rise.

Its the natural way of the chess world.

Resistance is futile.

--
Sumo:

I really find sumo interesting. Two fat dudes trying to throw each other around doesn't seem interesting but the more I watch the more I get hooked. The various throws and techniques are really something. I've watched judo matches, and I can say that sumo entertains me more. The other day, the yokozuna was playing and his opponent just extended his arm too far and next thing I know, he was flying in a Steven Seagal-like circular aikido motion. Its amazing how fast they move when you think about it.

The players too got marked preferences. Some are known for their "Right-outer hand technique", some are masters of the "Inner-belt grip". But my favorite player by far is is the one sumo player who specializes in slapping technique. He'd come rushing at the opponent with his 12,000 slaps/second charge and slap the opponent silly.

He might lose, but having get to slap gigantic fatso's is really awesome.


E.Honda's teacher
--

Btw: I'm watching Corus and whats happening to Shirov? Where is the fire on board? He is crashing big time.
 
posted by Nezha at 7:57 PM | Permalink | 2 comments
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Art Of Calculation II
I was watching the corus tournament just now, and I find the pace of the game really slow. Its been over an hour and most of them are only on about move 20. Now, what are these people doing. In Kramnik's case, he's thinking of going to the john, but for the others? Maybe they're thinking "Maybe he'll get bored and drop a piece if I move slowly. Choo Choo!". Or perhaps like me, they think about sunny beaches and girls on bikinis when they go to work? And chess is their work right?

Well they might be doing that. Who knows. When I look at Topalov's eyes it reminds me of someone who spent 500,000 hours on the beach memorizing all the bikini brand known to man.

But just a wild guess, maybe for at least a fraction of that time, they're calculating variations?

--
Anyway - analyzing some of my games there are a lot of factors why I lose. Passive play, positional bungling, etc. But the greatest hindrance to my play is "Not Checking" for opponents tactics. I mean sure I pay attention to it. But if I see that it seemingly doesnt threaten anything, I disregard it and play my move.

However, most of the time a seemingly safe move was just the pre-requisite to a particularly nasty tactic. Its funny because, I myself play such moves. Lots of times I go "You thought that move had no purpose eh!? Well, I've got your purpose right here! QxH7# - Ahahaha!! Cho choo!!"

If I can just see the simple threats of my opponents I suspect I'll add that mythical 400 points to my rating. But figuring out the opponents intention is hard work. Its done by being concrete. By stepping into the tree of analysis. There is no escaping it. General principles can only get one so far. But no matter how good I am positionally or tactically, if I cant see my opponents threats(via calculation), I wont get anywhere.

Now as I've said I've been trying to train this via playing long games. But I find myself wandering. I want to think chess, but my mind goes to the sea, by the bay. Sigh. I hope I can maintain my concentration more and more. I will be happy even if its only about 80% of the time.

And even in my best days I still miss things. Yes its true, the mind is not built to see everything. Even some GM we know falls into 1-move mates, who am I to surpass that? But still, one does what one can to assure the probability of success goes high.

Trying to win by trying to calculate everything is like trying to win the lottery by buying as much number as possible. Youre still not guaranteed to win, but you have the guarantee that you have the most chances of winning.

And having the best chance possible is all I can ask for.

Thats like real life. With our carefully laid plans we steer the future towards our visions. But in the end all one is given are chances.

Chances.

Just give me one.

Choo Choo..









 
posted by Nezha at 6:58 AM | Permalink | 3 comments
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Art Of Calculation
Positional play is good. It might give one an enormous advantage, and the only thing left is whether one can break through. However, it's in moments like those, when one is poised to make the most committing move of the game that one has to calculate. As deep and as wide as allowed under ones ability. To see all the angles so to speak. To prove if that move is really advantageous or not.

To give a relatively simple example, take this position from one of my games


White to move: Can I take the pawn?

I give this only as an example, but the basic idea remains. Where I to take that pawn the sharpness of the game will increase dramatically for the next few moves. The next move can literally decide the game. The "winning" or "losing" move so to speak.

However, it's in positions like this where I find my chess downfall. You see, If I see material, I win material, immediately and without calculating all the possible consequences.

(This position took me about 20min of calculation. I stopped only when the notebook kicked the power save on. I was at the third variation and I still see other lines.. My opponent thought I had hanged up and asked "U there?")

To rectify this apparent flaw, I've been trying to train this. I mean, I've studied tactics, and I've studied positional play. But I never did study calculation deliberately before. It just kinda grew when I was doing the circles (So do the circles already. Your muscles will grow too I tell you). Alas, I went on a long layoff and it shrunk again. Not wanting to redo the circles just to train my calculating powers, I am instead training via playing long games and striving to see as far as I could each game. Then reviewing the critical positions and spending as much time as needed to see all the variations.

Some of the more important findings I gathered is:

1. At this stage, 2moves deep is the furthest I can see the clearest. Then it grows ever fuzzier. I start forgetting the placement of a pieces. The residual memories gets stronger. Goal: Advance this 1move deeper.

Before you name me weakling for seeing only two pathetic moves deep, note the operative word here is "Clear". I can move, say a knight 10moves ahead easily. I see the knight sure, but the positions of the other pieces are another matter.

"Its not the pieces I'm moving I'm having trouble with. Its the other pieces that bothers me"

If this seems just semantics, I think it's better understood by asking these questions. If I move the knight 10moves ahead, and see that it finally lands on a square that forks the king and the queen, will I do it? Yes, of course. But what if I forgot a pawn was there to capture the knight? Would I still do it? If I forgot, to my regret - yes of course. Big difference = Big Mistake.

As they say - There is seeing and there is seeing.

2. I move the pieces in my head too fast. When I was calculating, I was going through the variations lightning fast. Like in 5seconds I will go through something like Nxe4 Re8, f4 Ne8, Bg4 Qc2, Bxd8 Rxe8. But of course, somewhere along the way my opponent will make a totally different move that throws a monkey wrench on that pretty line. Going so fast, one is susceptible to miss something.

So now, remembering my name is not Fritz, I am trying to take it one move at a time. That is, Move a piece, Stop, Look around. Move a piece, Stop, Look around. This is really slow, almost like playing the actual game in my head. But I am willing to trade speed for greater accuracy.

"It is better to see all the possible immediate 2-3moves, than to see one variation 10moves deep and miss something."

Actually, I find this one of the beautiful parts of chess. Like a Jedi-master that sees the future and acts accordingly. And all those movies containing chess players, what do they have in common? They portray the chess master as this invincible person because he has predicted "all" the moves beforehand.

If I am truly a chess player, then I want to be able to say "I have predicted all your moves, prepare to die".

Otherwise, I'll just be another Tom, Dick, And Harry. And as any Russian school boy knows - that's to be avoided like the plague (Apologies to anyone named Tom, Dick, or Harry).

3. Stepping Stones - I've established that calculation is slow. But since the tree of variations can really grow to massive levels. If I were to start from the top for each line, I'd lose on time. So I started trying to use the stepping stone technique. That is, I fix an intermediate position in my head, and start from that instead of from move 1. This saves some time somewhat.

"Fix an intermediate position in my head, and use that as a starting point"

However at this point, 2moves deep is the clearest line so the effectiveness of this is hampered badly. I'm hoping that if I improve on point 1, this will improve also.

--
Well, these are the things I've been doing lately to better my chess. I've not been sleeping lately because of all those long games I've been playing, so I hope this losing streak ends soon. Otherwise my eyes are gonna pop out from their sockets, and I'll have a nervous breakdown from drinking too much coffee.

Time will tell if this path I've chosen is the correct one. Calculating my way to victory seems like making it harder than it has to be. But to someone who has completed the circles "its a piece of cake" :)

Besides I always did like doing difficult things.

Now excuse me while I go stock up on lattes.





 
posted by Nezha at 9:41 PM | Permalink | 9 comments
Monday, January 08, 2007
Has anybody seen it?
When I was winning, I wasn't thinking that much. I don't even remember calculating variations. Just going by pure pattern recognition. By and large, that was enough to reach 1750. I remember chuckling because I was playing 30/30 blitz games. That is, the time is standard, but I play so fast that it is not uncommon after the game my time would actually be longer than when I started.

But so what, I was winning right? No need to fret over such things.

However, a few weeks ago, something went wrong. I remember distinctly going to CTS and, making errors upon errors. My rating there fell 100 points too. But CTS rating didn't concern me much. However, when I went to FICS and played, the same thing kept happening. I started losing over and over again. Its like something in my brain shut down. I couldn't see the patterns anymore....

You know how I wrote that I cant remember losing to a U1600 player? Well somebody clearly paid attention. Here is the statistics from the last ten games.

58: - 1704 B 1715 Susek
59: - 1692 W 1528 zfoxz
60: + 1693 B 1135 MrDiaz
61: - 1686 B 1745 KewlKrusader
62: - 1674 W 1525 Pachtet
63: = 1674 B 1689 hastony
64: - 1663 W 1528 salaccc
65: - 1653 B 1564 mrrookes
66: - 1642 B 1557 Kevral
67: + 1647 W 1491 icurmine

Talk about getting served. Its payback time. So all you U1600 player who wants to win, come play with me =>

But this is not my idea of fun. And this was for only my last ten games. Repeat this for another ten, and you get the idea of the chess torture I've been going through. I've been trying to play my way out of this funk, but something isn't working. I'm getting a little bit worried.

I think playing too fast for too long a time is coming back to haunt me. So I started hunkering down and forcing myself to calculate each and every move. What happened was something like this.

Me: Hmm, lets see.. I could try.. (Looking at a position)
  • Nd2, fxg4, e5, b2... etc.. etc..
  • e5, fxg4, nd3, b2... etc.. etc..
  • 0-0...
Did you notice? I was calculating the variations but I haven't been comparing the lines to each other. So, I wasn't reaching any definite conclusion. I mean, My mind just goes on and on moving the pieces in my head. But ultimately, I didn't know if the line is good or bad. I'd end up picking just any line. I remember a fellow chess player (CamyC) asking me "Do you even know if you have the advantage or not?", and I couldn't answer him. For truthfully I was just picking out the lines that looked good, and didn't lose on the spot.

Plus, massive calculations every move consumes so much time it forced me to lengthen my seeks from 30/30 to 45/45. However, at this point my calculation powers are so weak that by the 30th minute, I would get tired and relax, make some random move and get hammered. I blow winning positions time and gain.

The past few games, I've been trying to do the candidate move comparison more and more. What Mr. Heisman termed as the "King of the hill". So I hope it bears fruit soon. And I hope I can sustain the calculation process until the end of the game.

But its like learning to walk again. The long hiatus has affected my calculation muscules. Its too slow, and too shallow. But if everygame it goess deeper and faster, then even were I to lose, it would be ok somewhat (Hmm.. This sounds suspiciously like I'm rationalizing away my loses)

If I only I can find where I left my pattern recognition skill, then I can finally win me some.

Has anybody seen it?

Come here pattern recognition boy, choo-choo! Come here...

---
btw: Thanks to all who left a comment on my last post. I'll be thinking about what you said. Thanks a lot.
 
posted by Nezha at 4:24 AM | Permalink | 2 comments
Saturday, January 06, 2007
I Need Career Advice
(This is a non-chess post, but rather deals with certain matters concerning my own real-life career. Alas, no matter how I tell myself that I am a millionaire playboy, it is not so. I am an ordinary programmer working for a rather small japanese firm. A certain dillema is confronting me. One which eludes all my attempt for solution at the moment. So I am putting the question here, to get the collective wisdom of my peers so to speak. I realize, you might not answer as the last time I did this, only one left a comment, but I can only try)

[Background]
The way things works for japanese firms is that as opposed to US companies who is comfortable hiring talent from overseas, and granting visa and stuff after one passed a telephone interview, Japanese firms are rather conservative. They want to see the person they're gonna hire. So it means you have to be present here to even get an interview. But in order to go here, you first need a valid visa. But this visa, you can only get if one is already employed, which of course I was not. A real catch-22. The only other alternative is to for someone to take a leap of faith. Fortunately I found this someone. Of course there's a catch. This "someone" will only give the minimum salary allowed. Far too low for someone who has near 10 years of programming experience.

But of course I jumped at the chance. I could live with having a low salary for a year, after that since my contract will expire, I can pass my resume and do interviews because I'm already here. This is just a stepping stone to the real money I said to myself.

[The problem]
That was the plan. Now the tricky part was when I arrived here. It turned out that they wanted to create a branch company back home. And that they are counting on me to help them in this endeavor. Imagine my surprise when I heard this. What? There was no talk of such stuff during the interview. I thought I was gonna be just another programmer. Sure I have experience doing supervisory work as I was a supervisor back then, but one of the "small" reasons I quit that job was because I got tired of people-related problems. I didnt want to be held accountable for things I didnt do. Not anymore. But this of itself isnt a deal breaker. I tell myself this might be a good experience. Creating a new company. Might be good, and I'll be back home to boot. But when I was asking about the compensation, it was still below the average japanese salary rate. Over $1000(US) dollars below. Now, I dont know about other folks, but for me that is a *lot* of money. A lot of money - and money, is a deal breaker.

So, I was thinking. Screw it. I'll resign after 1 year as planned, get hired somewhere with double the salary, and live it up with my family. There is no assurance of me finding such a job of course, but if everything goes according to normal circumstance, I should be able to find one. I aint asking for much. Just the market value after all.

But when I look at my boss, and hear him talk of this new company that will rake in the moolah. Everytime he tries to befriend me and treats me dinner and takes me to places and stuff, I grow a concience and get bothered. Now I dont particularly like going out with him, It even irks me that he makes plans without consulting me - I have plans too you know. But at least he tries, and thats more than I can say for my previous bosses (Anyone who has worked long enough, will understand that sinking feeling of just being a cog in the machine. Just a lonely pawn)

So I dont know what to do. You know, I can try to be like Tom Hagen from the Godfather and just treat this as business. And this is a business. Treat everything as just business and none should not take it personally where I to jump ship. I am not the first person to do this sort of thing, nor will I be the last. Carlos Boozer reneged on a handshake deal from Gordon Gund, and in the process created a new term for sleezebagginess. The term "Boozered" should be familiar to anyone watching the NBA. Heck, stuff like this happens everyday. Some people have done worst things for money. All I wanted to do was employ my talents and get paid accordingly.

But shoot I'm having a hard time just thinking about doing it. Maybe I just cant do it. I dont know. Maybe I'm too soft for these sort of things. The ill-will generated where I to go ahead and not help him is enormous. I'm someone who gets bothered if such negativity is directed towards me. But a thousand dollars is a thousand dollars. A lot of things I can do with that. It could cover the mortage of that house I've always dreamed of for example.

Can't decide, can't decide.

Zugzwang.






 
posted by Nezha at 6:44 AM | Permalink | 5 comments
Thursday, January 04, 2007
What happened to me?
Just a few weeks ago, I was 1780 going to 1800 and now I'm 1720 and dropping fast. Wonder where my mojo went. U1500 players have even defeated me. Defeated? Me? It got so bad I honestly thought i wont be able to win another game anymore (Ten game losing streak can do that I guess).

It doesn't hurt so bad, not like before when i was really hooked on chess, but it still hurts. You know, I've been analyzing with Bahus and Practicing at CTS. But when I was losing I started questioning whether all the things I've done was in vain.

I feel like rocky. Old and washed up. Someone life beat over and over again. I'm slumped in the canvass bloody and writhing in pain. I need to stand up, Stand up boy! Stand up!

I really hope I defeat some 1700 player soon. At this point, even a 1600 player will do :) - Otherwise I'd get a gun, point it at my temple and.. return the gun to the closet.. har de harhar!! I wont kill myself for a game you know. I'm not as crazy as that..

But its not a good start for the year (Chess wise)







 
posted by Nezha at 6:06 PM | Permalink | 4 comments