Wednesday, March 30, 2005

21st Century Upgrade Pause

I took a break from the circles last night as my family did some upgrading of our home to the 21st century. Included were the ditching of cable TV for satellite TV (with DVR!), the replacement of the old doorbell with a wireless version, upgrading of the smoke detector by our bathroom to a version which is not set off by hot air, and the addition of solar-powered lights by our walkway.

Back at it tonight, though, with the hopes of completing circle 3 of the Clearance and Interference themes.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Clearance, Interference - pt. 2

I've managed to complete only 2 circles on these themes, despite the fact that the total number of problems is only around 70 or so. These are, by far, the most difficult themes for me to grasp, but I'm starting to get a handle on them. It's gotten to the point where it takes me 2 weeks to complete 7 circles for a theme grouping of around 70-120 problems. So, with 377 problems to go after this week, I will be working about 6 - 8 more weeks before I begin using the complete book as a problem set. Then, 10 weeks after that I will be done. So, we're looking at about the end of summer for me to finish (just in time for a new arrival at my house - late nights, bleary eyes, the whole bit).

Team Chess 45 45 Round 2

I won again! I had to re-tool my thinking process, because I had begun to play very unsound (but exciting!) chess. That's very dangerous to one's rating in the long run, I'm afraid. So, here is a rather solid (but obviously not unflawed) game that constituted my round 2 performance for CC-Dark Knights U1800 where I play 3rd board. My opp blundered the exchange on move 15. He also blundered away a bishop on move 19, but I didn't take advantage of it {19. cxb6?? (>= 19. Be3 followed by 20. cxb6, but even then he's losing a pawn with the exchange of knights) Rxf4 20. bxa7 Kd7! -+}. At any rate, I must mention that my opp was not very courteous either before the game (no traditional "good luck" wish) nor gracious afterward (he bugged out of there with out even saying "good game" or its equivalent).

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Mouse Slips

I always have laughed at my opps (this happened most often on Yahoo! Games chess) when they've blundered and then blamed it on the mouse slipping. Usually, it's pretty obvious that they simply screwed up. Last night, I played a game on FICS and, down a bishop, managed to queen-fork my opp's king and bishop. This would have equalized the game. So, I click on my queen and...whoops!...yes, you guessed it, instead of landing on the square of my opp's bishop, my queen lands on the square before it. I struggle on for a few more moves and then resign.

But...I can't get this loss out of my head! It shouldn't have happened! It wouldn't have happened in an OTB game, because I'd have physically picked up my queen and physically sat it down on my opp's bishop's square and removed his bishop. Man, does that have me steamed!!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Expensive, But Hopefully Worth It

I finally decided to plunk down $100 to buy myself a digital chess clock to replace the wind-up clock I've had for so many years. I just began to get embarrassed pulling that thing out at tournaments and having to apologize to my opps for having such a crappy clock. Not to mention the fact that my chess club tournament games are g/45 with 5 second delay with the stipulation that if you don't have a clock that can be set for a 5 second delay then the game is simply g/45. So, I'm considering this an investment. And, with the peace of mind having an FIDE-approved clock will bring me, I'll hopefully have one less distraction during my OTB games.

At chess club, we typically use the Chronos clock. I hate the Chronos clock! It's too big, ugly, and bulky for my tournament bag, and it's a pain in the butt to program. I chose what looked to me to be the better choice and am getting the DGT XL.

Monday, March 21, 2005

King Patzer Blog is Gone

It looks like Rakshasas has pulled up stakes and left the blogosphere. I'm sorry to see it happen, Rak. I enjoyed your blog. Well, happy trails to you, buddy.

Clearance, Interference

I've tried to keep the content of my chapter groupings somewhat complementary among the chapters that comprise them. For example, Discovered Check, Discoverd Attack, and Double Check were all somewhat related ideas when it comes to tactics. So, my next group is comprised of the clearance and interference themes as they appear to be complementary ideas.

I finished circle 7 of my last grouping yesterday and have begun the clearance problems. I'm not doing that well on this theme, which makes me happy because it highlights a weakness in my tactical knowledge. At any rate, my goal is to finish circle 7 of this theme grouping by next Sunday evening.

Another thing I decided to do (and this is completely off-topic) is to withdraw from the STC Bunch Open. With TeamChess 45 45 and the OCL chess leagues, not to mention my local chess club, I was just doing to much. So, I withdrew from that tournament.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Over-worked Pieces and Removing the Guard, pt. 3: Aggressive Tacking

I'm learning something new from working on my current theme puzzles. It is the art of aggressive tacking. Tacking, as some may know, is simple maneuvering in chess in an attempt to improve one's position. However, I think tacking is done best when it involves threat creation. Several of the longer and more difficult puzzles involving over-worked pieces and removal of the guard often involve a simple piece move that serves to distract a piece that is performing a vital function. Once that piece moves, the winning combination occurs. I think this has implications beyond middlegame tactics. I could see where this idea may come in handy in the opening, especially as a way to develop your pieces faster than your opponent can.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Missing: King Patzer

Where have you disappeared to, Rakshasas? You haven't updated your blog in many days. Are you still in the blogosphere?

I'll Trade You One Bishop for One Attack. Is It a Deal?

Here's my Round 1 Team 45 45 U1800 game. It was a fun one to play, although I wasn't entirely certain when I made the sacrifice that I had full compensation for my bishop. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy playing through it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Key to Tactics Success

Nezh got me thinking about how does one become good at tactics. In my view, success in tactics is comprised of skill in three areas: visualization, calculation, and pattern recognition. You need to master all three to become a tactical whiz. How does one do this? Working simple tactical puzzles is a good way to develop pattern recognition. The more difficult problems works on the other two legs of the tripod. What the MDLM circles attempt to do is to be an exercise program to develop tactical muscle by working on each of these components of tactical skill. Since visualization and calculation are the most difficult of the 3 sub-skills, his program saves them for last with his advice of working tactics of increasing levels of difficulty. I'm not doing this, because I think I'm decently developed in the three areas (although I still manage to blunder on occasion). So, I'm working tactical circles by theme instead.

New USCF High Rating Achieved

It's official! CelticDeath (most know me as Bret) has achieved his all-time high USCF rating of 1534. All my games, with the exception of my chess club game last night, have been rated. After being a 1300 rated player for so long, I never imagined that I could accomplish even this meager little feat. So, Rakshasas, I have gained 60 rating points since your challenge in February. Hopefully, I can become a Class B player before the year is over.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Blunder - Counterblunder

Here's my game from tonight at chess club. My opponent was pretty strong tactically, but missed a chance to take me out after I make a very gross blunder. I missed a lot of opportunities in this game, but fortunately for me so did my opponent.

(506487) CelticDeath (1515) - My Opponent (1129) [B06]TCCC Normal, 15.03.2005
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c6 4.Bg5 I normally play the Byrne system against the Pirc. Trouble is, this isn't exactly the Pirc. I needed to pay more attention to the idiosyncracies of my opponent's unorthodox opening moves. [>=4.f4] 4...Qb6 5.Nge2 c5 [5...Qxb2 6.Rb1 Qa3 7.Rb3 Qa5 8.Bd2+/- and White's superior development compensates for the lost pawn.] 6.dxc5 Qxc5 7.Be3 Qb4 8.Bd4 Bxd4 [8...Nf6 9.Qd2 Qxb2? 10.Rb1 Qa3 11.Nb5] 9.Nxd4? [>=9.Qxd4! Qxd4 (9...Qxb2? 10.Rb1 Qxc2 11.Qxh8) 10.Nxd4+- and White's development advantage should lead to a win.] 9...Qxb2 10.Na4 Qb4+ 11.c3 Qa5 12.Rb1 a6 13.Qb3 Nc6 14.Nxc6 dxc6 15.Nb6 Be6 16.Bc4 Bxc4 17.Qxc4 [>=17.Nxc4 Qc7 18.Qxb7 Qxb7 19.Rxb7+- and again White is winning.] 17...Rd8 18.0-0 Nf6 19.Na4 0-0 [19...b5 20.Qxc6+ Kf8 21.Nc5 Kg7 (21...Qxc3?? 22.Ne6+ fxe6 23.Qxc3) ] 20.Rxb7 Rb8 21.Rfb1 Nd7 22.Qxc6? Ne5! 23.Qc7?? [Also bad is 23.Qc5 Qxa4 24.Qxe5 Rxb7 25.Rxb7 Qd1#] 23...Rxb7?? [23...Qxc7!! 24.Rxc7 Rxb1#] 24.Rxb7 Qxa4 25.h3 Qc6 26.Qxe7 Re8 27.Qb4 a5 28.Qb5 Qxb5 [28...Qxc3?? 29.Qxe8+] 29.Rxb5 Nc4 30.f3 Ra8 31.Kf2 Rd8 32.Rc5 Nb6 [>=32...Rd2+ 33.Kg3 Rxa2 34.Rxc4 Rc2 35.Ra4 Rxc3 36.Rxa5] 33.Rxa5 Ra8 [>=33...Rd3 34.Ra3 (34.Rb5 Nc4 (34...Rxc3 35.Rxb6 Rc2+ 36.Kg3 Rxa2) 35.Rb3 (35.a4 Rxc3 36.Rc5 Rc2+ 37.Kg3 Ne3 38.Rxc2 Nxc2 39.a5 Nb4 40.Kf4) ) 34...Nc4 35.Rb3] 34.Rxa8+ Nxa8 and the rest of the moves are missing with White having less than 5 minutes on the clock. White went on to win as the two pawns and White king dominated the Black knight and king. 1-0
The above was my "quick & dirty" and flawed post-game analysis. I ran the game through Fritz afterward and found that I had missed a lot of opportunities for me to win. Fritz also disagreed with my evaluation of several of the game moves shown. I'm not sure how to get better at analyzing, but perhaps if I do enough of it I will improve.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Over-worked Pieces and Removing the Guard, pt. 2

I've completed through 40% of circle 2. I had hoped to complete the whole 7 circles on this theme this past weekend, but some of the puzzles were simply mind-numbing in their complexity. Long trees and fat trees... I tell ya! In a previous post, I had indicated that the most difficult puzzles in Reinfelds 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations was on a par with CT-Art 3.0 level 40 problems. I was dead wrong, there. I think Fred had the gamut covered. So, I know I'll be getting as much benefit out of mastering the problems in this book as I would have gotten if I had continued using CT-Art 3.0. That is, as long as I maintain the discipline of working out other, non-solution variations to see why they don't work as well as the solution. I've also found alternative solutions in a few instances that win just as easily as the ones that Fred gives.

Anyhow, I'm rambling. One thing that I'm having difficulty doing is finding a precise distinction from the two themes of Over-worked Pieces and Removing the Guard. In some instances, the tactics seem very much to use the same idea of either distracting or eliminating a defender. Tonight, I'll finish through at least the 3rd circle.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Garry Retires

I still remember, as a high school student, reading my Chess Life magazines, especially during the Kasparov-Karpov world championship matches that took place from 1984 to 1985. Now, an era in my life is over. Kasparov, whom I consider to be the greatest chess player to ever have lived has announced his retirement from tournament chess. I guess he wants to exit while he is still at the top of his game (or nearly so). Here are the details from

ISP Problems: Name = Value

I didn't blog yesterday, because I'd been wrestling with ISP problems. My apologies to Pawn in the Game and Pawn Sensei with whom I was having conversations with on FICS before I was unceremoniously disconnected. I've switched providers (early cutoffs are just one reason) and hopefully the situation will be a lot better going forward. I won't tell you who my former ISP was, but suffice it to say that Name = Value.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Over-worked Pieces and Removing the Guard

These make up my next theme to conquer with the 7 circles approach. I finished up my 7th circles of Discovered Attack, Discovered Check, and Double Check at lunchtime today. Reflecting back on those, they included some real mind-benders. There were many solutions that were 7 to 10 moves (14 - 20 ply) long. There appeared to be much more of those in those chapters than in the previous ones I had studied on pins, forks, and double attacks.

Anyhow, I'm 42% through with the Reinfeld book, but I plan to do some knowledge consolidation after I make it all the way through. Although, I technically would be able to consider myself an MDLM graduate once I make it all the way through the book, because I'm doing 7 circles at a time on chapter groupings, I won't. After I finish the book, I will split the book into 4 chapter groupings and do 7 circles of those. Then, I will split the book in half and do 7 circles of those. Finally, I will do 7 circles of the entire book, the 7th circle of which will take place all in one day.

Then, I will consider myself as having earned the title of MDLM graduate. This should all be completed by mid-May.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Puzzle Chewing

I completed Circle 4 of my current group of puzzles. I don't know if anyone else is experiencing this, but I'm finding that I'm getting "sidetracked" when I work these puzzles. No, I don't mean distracted in the sense of avoiding doing them. What I mean is that I am finding myself continually trying to blow holes in the solutions of the problems by trying out different defenses. These defensive tries aren't even addressed anywhere by Reinfeld in his book (as you may recall, I'm doing De La Mazian circles using 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations). It's amazing how much time it takes to really dig into some of these positions and understand just why the solution is best. Anyhow, I'm thinking about skipping out of chess club tonight to finish Circles 5-7 and be done with this group that has taken me about a week or so off my schedule.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Balancing Play and Circles

I'm having a difficult time balancing my study and play time right now. Yesterday, I played 2 tournament games on-line, one of which included an additional hour of post-game analysis with my opp. Add to that any analysis I've been doing on my own and others' games and then there are the circles. I have begun Circle 4 of my current group of 126 or so puzzles on Discovered Attack, Discovered Check, and Double Check. I just have to force myself to finish the 7 circles (or so) that I need to finish to get them down pat and move on. On the plus side, the circles do appear to be helping my play. My FICS rating continues to climb and is at its all time high of 1745. That helps me break into the top 1000 of's member list.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

On Multiple Tooth Extractions and Chess

Ok, so there's no real correlation besides the fact that I'm going to have my 4 wisdom teeth removed tomorrow. Hopefully, this "minor" inconvenience won't interfere with my weekend games and finishing my current group of 7 circles. I did finish my analysis on my 1st round game in the Greater Peoria Open. I'll try and post that also sometime.

--Cut scene to my main bathroom. I'm standing at the sink with a water syringe in hand used to clean food particles out of the empty sockets. My 2.5 yr old daughter stands next to me in morbid fascination.---

Me: Sploosh!

Her: Ewwwwwwwwww!

I move to the next empty socket. Thankfully, I don't have to do this with the upper ones which have stayed clean.

Me: Sploosh!

Her: Ewwwwwwwwwwwww!

And so it goes.....

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Circles Continue - Discovered Attack/Check & Double Check

I'm about 24 puzzles short of finishing my second circle on this group of themes from Reinfeld's 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices & Combinations. The tournament put me about a week behind on my plan for completing the circles, but I'm not too concerned. Also, I don't know if it's from residual causes following the 2-day tournament I just went through, or if it's from this renewed focus on tactics with the De La Mazian circles, but I'm finding that my calculative and visualization abilities have really improved. I'm starting to see defenses to tactics more clearly several moves in advance when calculating variations. I also seem to be developing a feel, or intuition, about certain situations on the board. Just last night, for instance, I played my round 5 OCL game and I sac'd a knight early on for a very strong attack. I ended up getting the piece back later and won the game. What's dawning on me is that tactics are not an end all in themselves. What they are are tools for plan implementation. I think I knew that before, but the full implications of this idea are just now dawning on me. My FICS standard rating is now at its established high at 1724. I think I'll set a short range goal right now of FICS 1850 by the end of the year.