Thursday, April 28, 2005


I've been brooding over my loss at chess club on Tuesday. It's driven me to memorize 2 Smith-Morra master game wins for White to help me avoid making opening mistakes when I play it again. I plan to memorize some more until I cover the most common responses to the system.

I even got up from bed last night to go work some more tactics problems. I'm in the Surprise Moves chapter of Reinfeld's book now, which I'm finding to be the most difficult problem set of the lot. I've worked over 800 of the 1001 problems at this point and have done 7 mini-circles on 756 of them. I know I need to work on strategy (which I still do at lunchtime), but I've got to get past tactics first. It just won't make sense to drill on strategy until I get tactics mastered. That would be like spending a lot of effort determining what needs to be done before knowing how to do it. I need to know how to do it, first.

Kind of off point, but I have been working strategy problems at lunch, like I mentioned previously. Right now, I'm on pawn structure problems of which there are almost 200 in the 1800 problem set of Strategy 2.0. Anyway, where I am in this particular part of the problem set is an area that I've really struggled with. This tends to be situations where there are wing attacks on both sides of the board. My tendency is to overplay the pawn race and push my pawns forward without consideration for my opp's chances on the other side. The problem set shows how GM's respond to the situations by shoring up and stopping counterplay on the opp's side before pushing their pawns through. It's very enlightening.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Pledge to Self....

I swear to continue playing gambits, despite setbacks and losses due to my lack of knowledge or my opponents' superior knowledge, when possible, until I achieve the rank of Expert.

I feel a conquering will down inside me
The strength of many to crush
Who might stop me
My strength is in number
And my soul lies in every one
The releasing of anger can better any medicine under the sun" - Mouth For War, Vulgar Display of Power by Pantera (1992)

Note to Self....

Flesch-Kozma, Hungary, 1956 1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 e6 6. Bc4 Bb4 7. 0-0 Nge7 8. Qe2 (and NOT Bg5) 0-0 9. Rd1 Bxc3 10. bxc3 d5 11. Bd3 dxe4 12. Bxe4 Qa5 13. Rb1 Rd8 14. Rxd8+ Qxd8 15. Ba3 Qa5 16. Bd6 Nd5 17. Ne5 (c'mon and take the c3 pawn, sucka, I dare ya) Nxe5 18. Bxe5 f5 (hmmm...c3 pawn must still be taboo...I'll have to check that out....) 19. Bxd5 exd5 20. Bd4 Qd8 21. Rb5 Bd7 22. Qe5 1-0

There. Now that I have gotten THAT off my chest, I feel MUCH better.

Monday, April 25, 2005

CelticDeath's Take On the De La Mazaian 7 Circles Method

Blue Devil Knight has asked about what modified De La Mazian method I was following for his compilation. Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to lay out exactly what I've been doing for him as well as anyone else that might find it interesting.

My selection of puzzles is Fred Reinfeld's 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations. Going through the book, I've noticed that a lot of puzzles therein can also be found in CT-Art 3.0 which is what most of the other Knights Errant are using.

I've divided the book up into groups of chapters or themes. These groups tend to be about 120 or so problems long. The groups have been:

1. Pinning
2. Knight Forks
3. Double Attack
4. Discovered Attack/Discovered Check/Double Check
5. The Overworked Piece/Removing the Guard
6. Clearance/Interference
7. Queening Combinations/The Vulnerable First Rank/Queen Sacrifices
8. X-ray Attack/Surprise Moves/Defensive Combinations/Trapped Man/Zugzwang (current)
9. The Helpless King/The Weakened Castled Position

I have (or will have) gone through 7 mini-circles on each of these groups. Typically, with the first 4 circles I don't worry too much about solving time. I spend those circles trying to fully comprehend the solution and try for "busts" in the proposed solutions.* Then, I try for speed with circles 5-7.

Once I complete the mini-circles, I plan to do the entire book of 1001 problems as one big problem set. I will work the 7 circles on the whole book. Once I have accomplished this, with the 5th circle taking no longer than 4 days, the 6th taking no longer than 2 days, and the 7th occurring on 1 single day, then I will know that I have completed De La Maza's program and can go on to tackle strategy.

So, there you have it. This is CelticDeath's 7 Circle modification of De La Maza's plan.

*I have found a few where the solution does not quite work against the best defense, and I even found one improvement over a proposed solution (I think it was problem #645) that was verified by Fritz 8 as being a shorter win.

X-Ray Attack, Surprise Moves, Defensive Combinations, Trapped Man, Zugzwang

I'm winding down my first 7 circle pass through Reinfeld's 1001 WCSC. For the next 2-3 weeks, I'll be going through 5 mini-chapters. Then, I'll have just 2 chapter to go before I start doing 7 circles with the entire book. Originally, I was going to break the book into 4 chunks and do 7 circles with those, then 7 circles with halves, and then do the whole book with 7 circles. However, I think that that is overkill, and I really want to begin a 7 circle program with Convekta's Strategy 2.0. So, after I complete my 7 circles of the final two chapters 4-6 weeks from now, I will do 7 circles on the whole book. Since I'd have already done 7 circles on the chapters before, I'd expect that I should complete this set of 7 easily in a 2-3 week span (possibly even 1 week depending on how much I've retained). Therefore, I'm looking at becoming a Graduate De La Maza by the 3rd week in June at the latest.

Played a Cheater on FICS

I played someone who I very strongly suspect of having cheated on FICS this weekend. I won't name the person's handle, but here are three reasons why I suspect them of having cheated:

1. Their rating was lower than mine, yet they used hardly any time on the clock
2. They won both games quite convincingly
3. Postgame analysis by Fritz 8 showed no improvements for their moves, yet plenty for mine*

*Note that Mgoo, an honorable opponent who I played in Team Chess 45 45, who was higher rated than this guy/gal, and who also beat me soundly still did not make the best moves per Fritz.

I did report my suspicions to FICS administration and added this person to my "no play" list.

Team Chess 45 45 Round 6: Stepped on a Landmine

My opponent this time was Mgoo on FICS. I had played him in Round 3 and lost. Both games, I played Black against him. In the first game, I played a Benoni so I had a feeling (which later turned out to be correct) that he would have prepared for this going into Round 6. Therefore, I decided to play a QGD: Chigorin's Defense (1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nc6). As misfortune would have it, though, he was much more experienced at playing against it than I was at playing it. I ended up falling into a trap that cost me a queen for 2 minor pieces. I did manage to hold on into the endgame, but the inevitable finally occurred.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Improve My Chess Now, GM Tisdall!!!!

I just got my latest chess book in the mail. It's Jonathan Tisdall's Improve Your Chess Now. Since my top priority this year is thought process development, I put aside my tactics book and read the first chapter that deals with a more practical approach to thinking during a chess game than Kotov's tree of analysis approach. Actually, it's more of a modification of Kotov's stated approach from his work Think Like a Grandmaster.

I began the second chapter, which deals with blindfold chess. It will take me a while to get through that chapter as it includes training exercises that require the reader to play through the games without help of diagrams or board. At any rate, I continued my Circle 3 of the Queening Combos, Vulnerable First Rank, Queen Sacs theme grouping. I hope to finish through Circle 7 by tomorrow, and possibly even tonight if I'm feeling ambitious.

I also would like to report that I won my Tuesday Chess Club game and my expected current USCF rating stands at 1555. Class B is only 45 points away!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Chess Poetry for Boylston

This one's for you, DG.

There once was a young lady from chess club
Who was sorely in need of a back rub
She fell to the Benoni I planned
And with checkmate in hand
We made our way back to the bath tub

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Queening Combos, Vulnerable First Rank, Queen Sacs: Pt. 2

I'm still cranking away at this theme group, although it's taking me longer than my normal 2 weeks. It's not that the problems are too difficult - they're pretty straightforward compared to clearance and interference problems - but the weather's been pretty nice, so now there's a lot of things to do out in the yard and around the house. I'm nearly done with Circle 3 and hope to finish the 7th circle by Friday.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Team Chess 45 45 Round 5: Celtic Dies Again

I made a couple blunders this round that cost me the game. Although I lost this one through bad tactics, I am recognizing that I'm right at that cusp where tactics are only taking me so far - I need to improve my strategic play also. My thought process wasn't too good in this game either. I didn't play carefully enough. Here is my (but mostly Fritz's)take on the game.

[Event "Team 45 45 League T26"]
[Site "Free Internet Chess Server"]
[Date "2005.04.17"]
[Round "5"]
[White "sacKING"]
[Black "CelticDeath"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A25"]
[WhiteElo "1769"]
[BlackElo "1750"]
[Annotator "Fritz 8 (60s)"]
[PlyCount "111"]
[EventDate "2005.??.??"]
[TimeControl "2700+45"]

{A25: English Opening vs King's Indian with ...Nc6 but without early d3 A25:
English Opening vs King's Indian with ...Nc6 but without early d3 } 1. c4 e5 2.
g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 Nc6 4. Nc3 Bc5 5. a3 a5 6. e3 O-O 7. Nge2 d6 8. O-O {
last book move} Be6 $2 $146 {Carelessly developing to a "natural" square...} (
8... h6 9. d4 Ba7 10. h3 Re8 11. Nb5 Bb8 12. Bd2 Ne7 13. c5 e4 14. cxd6 cxd6
15. b4 Nc6 {1/2-1/2 Delchev,A-Polak,T/Budapest 2000/CBM 78 (15)}) (8... Bf5 9.
d3 Qd7 10. Re1 Bh3 11. Bh1 Ng4 12. Ne4 h6 13. Nxc5 dxc5 14. Nc3 f5 15. Nd5 g5
16. Bd2 f4 17. f3 Nf6 18. Qb3 Rab8 19. Bc3 Be6 20. Nxf6+ Rxf6 21. Qc2 Rbf8 22.
Qe2 Rg6 23. exf4 {Berkes,F-Jakab,A/Budapest 2001/CBM 82 ext/1-0 (48)}) (8...
Bg4 9. h3 {
1/2-1/2 Matamoros Franco,C-Garcia Ilundain,D/Las Palmas 1999/CBM 73 ext (9)})
9. d4 exd4 10. exd4 {...and losing a knight for two pawns.} Nxd4 11. Nxd4 Bxc4
$16 12. Re1 (12. Bxb7 $6 Bxd4 13. Qxd4 Bxf1 14. Kxf1 c5 $16) 12... d5 13. b3
Ba6 (13... Bxd4 14. Qxd4 Bxb3 15. a4 $18) 14. Be3 (14. Na4 Ba7 $18) 14... c6 $2
{Loses a pawn.} (14... Re8 $142 $18) 15. Nxc6 $1 bxc6 16. Bxc5 {
Eliminates the defender c5} Re8 17. Rxe8+ Qxe8 18. Qd2 Qb8 19. Rb1 Qe5 (19...
Nd7 20. Bd4 $18) 20. Re1 Qf5 21. Bd6 (21. Na4 Bb5 22. Nb6 Re8 23. Qxa5 Rxe1+
24. Qxe1 h6 $18) 21... Bd3 22. Qf4 (22. Re5 $142 $5 Qd7 23. Bc5 Bg6 $18) 22...
Qxf4 23. Bxf4 Bc2 24. b4 axb4 25. axb4 Ra3 (25... Bd3 26. h3 $18) 26. Be5 (26.
Ne2 Rd3 $18) 26... Rb3 27. Rc1 Bf5 (27... Bd3 $143 $2 28. Nxd5 Nxd5 29. Bxd5
cxd5 $4 30. Rc8#) 28. b5 cxb5 29. Nxd5 Nxd5 30. Bxd5 Rb1 31. Rxb1 Bxb1 32. Bc3
Bd3 33. f4 Kf8 34. Kf2 f5 35. Ke3 Bc2 (35... Bf1 36. Kd4 $18) 36. Kd4 g6 37.
Ke5 Kg7 (37... Be4 38. Bxe4 Ke7 39. Bd5 $18) 38. Ke6+ Kh6 (38... Kf8 $18) 39.
Bf3 Be4 (39... g5 40. Kf6 g4 41. Bc6 Bb3 42. Be8 Bf7 43. Kxf7 b4 44. Bg7+ Kh5
45. Ke6#) 40. Be2 (40. Bxe4 b4 41. Bh8 g5 42. Kxf5 g4 43. Kxg4 b3 44. f5 b2 45.
f6 b1=Q 46. Bg7#) 40... Bc6 (40... Bg2 41. Kf7 Bd5+ 42. Kf6 Bc4 43. Bf3 Bd5 44.
Bxd5 b4 45. Bxb4 Kh5 46. Bf3+ Kh6 47. Bf8#) 41. Bb4 (41. Kf6 Bb7 42. Bb4 Bf3
43. Bf8+ Kh5 44. Bxf3#) 41... Kg7 $18 42. Be7 (42. h3 h6 $18) 42... h6 43. Bd1
Be4 44. Bb3 Bd3 45. Kd6 (45. Bf6+ $142 Kh7 46. Bc3 $18) 45... Bc4 (45... Be2
$18) 46. Bxc4 bxc4 47. Ke6 c3 (47... Kg8 48. Bb4 Kg7 49. h4) (47... Kg8 48. Bb4
c3 49. Bxc3 $18) 48. Bf6+ Kh7 49. Bxc3 h5 (49... Kg8 $18) 50. Kf7 Kh6 (50... h4
51. Bg7 h3 52. Bf8 Kh8 53. Bh6 g5 54. Bg7+ Kh7 55. fxg5 f4 56. g6#) 51. Bf6 (
51. Bg7+ Kh7 52. h4 g5 53. hxg5 h4 54. g6#) 51... h4 52. Bxh4 Kh5 53. Bg5 Kg4
54. Kxg6 Kh3 55. Kxf5 Kxh2 56. Kg6 {Black resigns} (56. Kg6 Kg2 57. f5 Kf3 58.
f6 Ke4 59. f7 Kd4 60. f8=Q Kc4 61. Qf4+ Kc5 62. Qe5+ Kb6 63. Be3+ Kc6 64. Qc5+
Kb7 65. Qb6+ Kc8 66. Bf4 Kd7 67. Kf7 Kc8 68. Qc7#) 1-0

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Real Chess and When to Use It

Dan Heisman has indicated that you should play real chess on every move. However, although I can't remember the exact article of his, I believe he later amends this to indicate that there are certain times when you don't need to use it. These would be cases of automatic recaptures as part of an exchange, delivering checkmate, and a few other cases. However, anyone who has tried to play Real Chess can tell you that it takes up a lot of time on the clock to use it properly. So, to make sense of this we need to divide the typical chess game into components and indicate whether or not you should use real chess during those phases of the game.

Here is my proposed breakdown of the game and whether or not one should play Real Chess during those times:

------------Phase----------------------------Real Chess Used? (y or n)
I. Early Opening (Book)-------------------------------no
II. Opening/Middlegame Transition---------------yes
III. Middlegame (Tactics Present)------------------yes
IV. Middlegame (No Tactics Present)--------------yes
V. Middlegame/Endgame Transition--------------yes
VI. Endgame (Familiar/Practiced)-----------------no
VII. Endgame (Unfamiliar)--------------------------yes

Semi-Real Chess

Dan Heisman's most excellent article The Secrets to Real Chess describes thought process differences along the development path of the club player. You can refer to his article for the details on the different thought processes involved, but basically a chess player can be defined by one of three categorizations. Either a player is a flip-coin player, a hope chess player, or a real chess player.

I know from my games, that I tend to be somewhere on the continuum between hope chess and real chess. There are times I make a move that appears to address the needs of the position, but I'll only have done a cursory calculation of variations on the move played. That's more like playing hope chess. Other times, I take the time to work out specific variations for all reasonable replies to my moves. That's more like real chess.

I have set thought process as my primary improvement goal this year, even above tactical study. So, my goal is to be playing real chess in 100% of my slow time control tournament games by the end of the year (hopefully sooner). I know that this takes discipline, so I have to force myself to get back on track with it, especially since I can link most of my losses this year to poor thought process.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Danish Death Redux

I decided to try playing the Danish Gambit in an over-the-board game at chess club with even more devastating results....

[Event "TCCC April 2005"]
[Site "Normal"]
[Date "2005.04.12"]
[Round "1"]
[White "CelticDeath"]
[Black "My Opponent"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C21"]
[WhiteElo "1543"]
[BlackElo "1237"]
[TimeControl "2700"]

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Bc4 cxb2 5. Bxb2 Nf6 6. e5 Qe7 7. Nf3 Qb4+ 8. Nbd2 Ne4 9. Rb1 Nc3 10. Bxc3 Qxc3 11. O-O Qa3 12. Ng5 h6 13. Nxf7 Rh7 14. Qh5 Qc3 15. Nd6+ Ke7 16. Qf7+ Kd8 17. Qe8# 1-0

Well, with this one, I think it's time to put this Danish back into my pocket for a while. It'll be a good surprise weapon.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Yet Another Hypothesis: Chunking and Pattern Recognition

There is a lot of talk about the value of MDLM's method, pattern recognition, and puzzle solving, and isn't it just memorization of patterns, etc. And, it is in large part memorization. Hopefully, though, we who practice this method are taking the time to understand why the moves are as they are and are attempting to blow holes in the solutions as presented. That way we become comfortable that they are correct and that what we are learning isn't junk.

However, there is still the question of why exactly the method works. We talk about pattern recognition and the ability to sense when tactics are present on the board or not. This is all great, but it doesn't seem to answer the question of what it is that has actually happened in our brains to help us with tactical situations on the board. I hypothesize that it is here that we need to bring in Dr. De Groot. It was De Groot who first came up with the idea of "chunking." Basically, he said that masters and experts have been exposed to enough situations on the board that their brains more quickly identify patterns on the board than do class players. Therefore, what De La Maza's circles approach does is to give us that chunking by forcing us to overlearn certain tactical situations. If this holds true, then we have to be able to conclude that this also applies to strategy and to endgames and to any other area of chess learning.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Team Chess 45 45, Round 4: Danish Death

My daughter broke her arm at her school's playground yesterday, so I wasn't sure I'd be able to focus well enough for my Round 4 game. Nevertheless, I plunged into the Danish Gambit against my opp I had faced in Round 1. The game got pretty intense....

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Queening Combos, Vulnerable First Rank, Queen Sacs

My latest themes. I'm finding these, so far, to be much easier than the dreaded Clearance and Interference themes I just completed. I'll be 75% of the way through Reinfeld's book after I complete these themes, and I'll divide the rest of the book into two groupings before I begin consolidating. By consolidating, I mean dividing the whole book into larger and larger groupings for working my 7 circles. It's looking now like I'll probably finish everything by the end of June and will join Don in the ranks of the graduates De La Maza.

Monday, April 04, 2005

On the Trail of Rakshasas

You might remember a previous post where I mentioned the disappearance of Rakshasas, King Patzer. Through deduction and good auditing skills, I know the name of Rakshasas, but will NOT divulge it in respect for his privacy. However, I have come across an article on the web, apparently written by our very own King Patzer. Suffice it to say that the details written about the author are enough to convince me that it is him. The article was published to the web on March 30, 2005, and does not have anything to do with chess, but rather another pastime of our former fellow blogger. At least it's good to know that he is safe and sound. That is all I will say on the subject until such time as Rak decides to break his silence.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Team Chess 45 45 Round 3

I took my first loss of the T26 tournament. I played the Modern Benoni, an opening of which I am fond, but by no means an expert. My opp played the Mikenas Attack variation, which scores really well for White. My postgame analysis shows that it's not a sure win for White, but Black has to know what he's doing to equalize. I ad hoc'd the game, so I just did my best. I'm pleased that I didn't really blunder any major material in the game. Most of my errors can be attributed to my unfamiliarity with this particular variation. I did miss a few opportunities to equalize, which Fritz 8 pointed out to me. Here is the game, and since it is a loss, I am documenting my (and Fritz's) analysis of it.

[Event "Blitz:45'+45""]
[Site "Normal"]
[Date "2005.04.02"]
[Round "?"]
[White "MGoo"]
[Black "CelticDeath"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A65"]
[WhiteElo "1785"]
[BlackElo "1751"]
[Annotator "Fritz 8 (60s)"]
[PlyCount "61"]
[TimeControl "2700+45"]

{A65: Modern Benoni: 6 e4} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 e6 4. Nc3 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. e4 a6 ({This will transform into the Mikenas Attack variation of the Modern Benoni. I had no idea how to play it, so I had to ad lib it at the board. The theory goes:} 6... g6 7. f4 Bg7 8. e5 (8. Bb5+ Nfd7 9. Bd3 O-O 10. Nf3 Na6 11. O-O Nc7 12. Nd2 Rb8 13. a4 a6 14. Nc4 Ne8 15. Qf3 Qf6 16. a5 b5 $11) 8... Nfd7 9. Nb5 dxe5 10. Nd6+ Ke7 11. Nxc8+ Qxc8 12. Bc4 Nb6 (12... Re8 13. Nf3 Kf8 14. O-O Nb6 15. Bb5 Rd8 16. fxe5 Rxd5 $11)) 7. a4 (7. f4 b5 8. e5 b4 9. exf6 bxc3 10. bxc3 Qxf6) 7... Nbd7 {the b-knight doesn't belong here....} (7... g6 $142 8. f4 Bg7)

8. f4 {last book move} g6 $146 9. Nf3 Bg7 10. Bc4 O-O 11. O-O Nb6 12. Bb3 Bg4 (12...c4 $142 13. Ba2 (13. a5 $2 cxb3 14. axb6 Qxb6+) 13... Bg4) 13. a5 Nbd7 14. Qd3 b5 15. axb6 Qxb6 16. Bc4 {The bishop feels good on c4} Rfb8 (16... Bxf3 17. gxf3 Ne8 18. Rf2 $14 (18. Bxa6 $2 {is worthless because of} Nb8 $19) (18. Rxa6 $2 {doesn't lead to anything significant} Rxa6 19. Bxa6 c4+ 20. Be3 Qxa6 $19))17. Kh1 (17. Ne1 Nf8 $16) 17... a5 (17... Nh5 $142 $14)

18. b3 $4 {gives the opponent counterplay} (18. Nd2 $142 $5 $16) 18... Ne8 $4 {letting the wind out of his own sails} (18... Nxe4 $142 19. Qxe4 Bxc3 $17) 19. h3 Bxf3 20. Rxf3 Nc7 21. Bb2 Re8 (21... Na6 22. Na4 Qa7 23. Bxg7 Kxg7 24. Qc3+ f6 25. Qxa5) 22. Na4 Qb8 23. Bxg7 Kxg7 24. Re1 Re7 (24... Qb4 25. Rff1 $14) 25. Qc3+ {White intends e5} (25. e5 $142 $5 $16) 25... f6 $14 26. e5 {White gains space} (26. Nb2 $142 $14) 26... Qe8 $4 {there were better ways to keep up the pressure} (26... dxe5 27. d6) (26... fxe5 $142 {is the best option Black has} 27. fxe5 Nxe5 28. Nxc5 Qb4 29. Qxb4 axb4 $11) 27. e6 (27. Nxc5 $142 $5 {keeps an even firmer grip} dxc5 28. d6 f5 $18) 27... Nf8 28. f5 g5 29. Nxc5 $1 {an unpleasant surprise} Nb5 $4 {the position was bad, and this mistake simply hastens the end} (29... dxc5 30.d6 {Theme: Double Attack}) 30. Bxb5 Qxb5 31. Ne4 {Black resigns} (31. Ne4 Nd7 32. exd7 Rxe4 33. d8=Q Rxd8 34. Rxe4 $18) 1-0

Friday, April 01, 2005

More Progress Toward Class B

My USCF rating is now at 1543. My FICS rating is 1741. Since I play on FICS more often, I'd say that that rating is more useful toward indicating what my USCF rating should be as told by SurveyBot. In this case, last time I checked, my FICS rating would put me right around the USCF 1600 or Class B level. Now, I just have to back that up with more OTB wins. I have a USCF tournament in mid-April to attend, plus I will continue to play rated chess club games on Tuesdays. I think my goal for this year will be USCF 1650 and FICS 1850.