Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Physical Chess

"Another important skill that Keane said is necessary for success in jujitsu is strategy. He said it is imperative for the competitor to always plan his next move.

'This is very much like chess,' Keane said. 'Good people think two to three moves ahead.'"

Hat tip: The Technician Online

And, so it goes. I have joined fellow knight J'adoube in the pursuit of martial arts (although I'm no where near the proficiency level of J'adoube who is a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, if I understand that correctly).

I'm a big fan of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and have chosen the art which appears to be the most effective for self-defense all things considered. That is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), because most fights end up on the ground. I plan to complement this training starting perhaps in a year with Tae Kwon Do training, so I can learn some kicking and striking techniques as well.

One other thing that attracted me to BJJ is its similiarites to chess. In the beginning of a match or fight, the two opponents square off and are basically free to make whatever moves they desire (just like a chess opening). Next, comes the clinch phase. This is like jockeying for position in the middlegame. Finally, there is ground game, where both opponents struggle for dominance (kind of like tactics in the middlegame as well as the endgame).

I had my first lesson last night, and I (thanks again to chess) am pretty aware of my shortcomings and strengths. Now, I will have a lot of hard work ahead of me to earn my blue belt.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Midwest Class Championship

On Oct 15-16, I will be participating in the largest (non-scholastic) chess tournament I will have ever attempted. I will be playing other Class C opps, for the whole tournament, and there is a chance for a decent payday ($2,000 for the Class C winner, plus prizes for the next 4 placers). Not only that, but if by some stroke of luck, I would win either the top prize or second place ($1,000), the USCF would set my ratings floor at 1600. So, I would never be able to fall below 1600 in the ratings system, and would be at least a Class B player forever.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Twin Cities Chess Club, 9/20/05, per Fritz

This is the position in question from my previous post. Against the best defense there is no forced checkmate, but there is a win after the correct move (guessed correctly by both The Java Man and Bahus) 9. Bxh7+!

Now, we have to examine black's possible responses.

9. ... Kh8 10. Ng5 and now Black must give away material to avoid mate (10. ... g6 {Nxe5!? prolongs the inevitable} 11. Qf3 Nf5 12. Bxg6 and the hammer will fall.

9. ... Kxh7 10. Ng5+ and now

10. ... Kh6?? 11. Nxf7 wins the queen, as both JavaManIssa and Bahus remarked

or 10. ... Kg8 11.Qh5 Re8 12. Qh7+ Kf8 13. Qh8+ Ng8 14. Nh7+ Ke7 15. Bg5+ Nf6 16. Qxg7 (which shows how hard the follow through was to calculate in g/45)

or 10. ... Kg6 and now White has two possibilities:

11. Qg4 (which I played in a similar position but my opp found a way to capitalize on the weak d4 pawn) f5 12. exf6 Kf6 13. Nh7+ Kf7 and Black has a slight advantage after getting two minor pieces for the rook and pawn

11. Qd3+! (the correct way to proceed, which I never even considered OTB) f5 12. h4! (even though I didn't consider Qd3+, I did see the possibilities of h4 after Kg6) Qe8 13. h5+ Kh6 14. Nxe6+

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Twin Cities Chess Club, 9/20/05

I played the #22 ranked (in the US) 11 year old at Chess Club again. He is rated 1713, which is nearly 200 pts higher than I am. I managed to hold the advantage through most of the game, but made one tiny error that ended up getting me into a drawn game. Unfortunately, in time trouble, I blew the draw and lost.

Anyhow, here is the position after my opp's 8th move. He had the Black pieces.

I immediately picked up on the correct move, but discarded it after some minutes of calculation, because I simply could not find the correct follow through. Fritz helped me out there in the post-game analysis. Can you find the correct 9th move for White? Okay, that's the easy part. Now, can you find the correct way for White to follow through?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Online Chess League (OCL) Fall 2005

I've been whining all year for Chessville to bring back the OCL - and they finally did. So, I feel obligated to play in that tournament. Although I'd normally play in both Teamchess and OCL at the same time, with the baby my time is limited.

Anyhow, I'll be board 2 for the About Tal team. Last year, I managed to climb to board 1 and fared decently well against some tough competition. The team to look out for is the Italian Garibaldi team. They dominated last time.

At any rate, I have my work cut out for me. I think I can be successful if I quit playing crazy chess. I'm not Tal (despite the team name), nor should I aspire to be. I should focus on playing Real Chess and avoid going for complications just for the sake of complications. That worked for me some last time, but it also bit me against the strongest of my opponents. I'll keep you posted on my results, and if I have the time, maybe I'll even (gasp!) figure out a way to post my games for replay.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Chess Mentor Maker Afficianado Undergoing Restructuring

I just came across this, and I'm surprised I didn't find any mention of it anywhere else already:

ATTENTION: Aficionado Inc., maker of Chess Mentor software, is currently undergoing corporate restructuring. During that time there will be no further sales or support of Chess Mentor.

After the company reorganization has been completed, this site will be updated.

Chess Mentor website

This is a bummer, because I really like the Chess Mentor software, although I don't think Chess Mentor 3 offered any really advantages or improvements over version 2 (which is the one I own). I do hope they come out of restructuring, and I also hope they improve their catalog of supplemental programs. Some of them, I've been tempted to buy in the past, but many of them haven't interested me enough to even consider them.

Friday, September 09, 2005

I Am a Statistic!!

Well, sort of. I decided about a month or so ago to sign up as a tester for IM Igor Khmelnitsky to help him to prepare future instructional materials/books. I think pretty much anybody can sign up.

What happens is he e-mails his testers on Thursday evenings with sets of problems to solve (when they sign up, they self-report their current chess rating so he has an idea of how strong a player they are). Then, they have until the next Thursday to submit their answers to the problems via a link he provides in his e-mail. When he sends them the next set of problems, he also provides an answer key to the set just submitted.

Occasionally, I imagine out of some gratitude for the free work done by his testers, he sends them an assessment for some of the sets they have submitted. In my case, I have received feedback on his first tactical set and his first endgame set. I scored in the range of 1400-1800 with the tactical set, and he actually gave me an endgame rating of 1311 (quite a bit lower than I would have thought). Now, if I recall correctly, that particular endgame set did not involve rook endings (where I believe my endgame knowledge is strongest), so I'm not too surprised that I scored that low.

At any rate, the experience is great. My chess thinking is stimulated by these very difficult problems, and I would encourage anyone interested in helping IM Khmelnitsky to complete this form and prepare to be challenged!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Comment made to me by older gentleman in my chess club concerning the fact that I had finally beaten the #22 ranked 11 year old (who is a full 200 points higher rated than I) in USCF last week:

[Paraphrasing]"Well, there's only one problem. He'll continue to get better, and you won't."

I didn't mention that I'm over 200 points higher rated than the same time last year.


Comments like that just spur me to drive harder. Last night, I boosted my CTS rating from 1477 to 1524 in one evening.

I'm going to enjoy laughing at this fellow when I do climb into Class B...and then Class A...on to Expert.

And, then, I'll look him square in the eye and say "what was that you were saying?"