Author Archives: JP

Early Endgame vs Late Endgame

When trying to learn the endgame, we are inevitably pointed towards endgame books like Silman’s Endgame Course or Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual.  I was pointed towards Reuben Fine’s Basic Chess Endings, which has universal positive comments.  I tried studying it one summer many years ago … and I found 70 pages of King and Pawn endgames to start, all like the following:

White to move and win … I think.

I’ll be honest, I never finished the book.  I don’t think I got through the pawn section, and I don’t know the answer to the above position.  (I’m hopeful I can figure it out ingame.)  In the end, despite studying for a solid month, I felt no stronger at the endgame, and none of those positions ever came up in my games.

More likely to reach a position like this than a pure pawn ending, right?

THESE are the positions I struggle with.  After trying to several different endgames at several different times, none have helped address this problem, and I think I know why. Continue reading

On the King’s Indian

I was planning on writing a completely different post.  Since the calendar turned to 2018, I had one overarching chess thought: learn the King’s Indian Defence.  This would solve so many of my problems: it would provide a complete opening system against all non-1.e4 openings; it would increase my knowledge of hypermodern strategies; I would have an excellent counter to the omnipresent London System; I would improve in one opening I’ve never understood, following in the footsteps of Fischer and Kasparov.  It sounded perfect.

Alas, as the first month of the new year ticks down, I’m left with this lament: I am not and likely never will be a King’s Indian player. Continue reading

Happy New Year!

Tl;dr: See the bold and underlined paragraph for how you can help me.  Everything else is context.  Also added a video.

I know, this is about three weeks late, but that’s okay.  I’ve spent most of those weeks relaxing and enjoying the New Year, and along the way I’ve gotten fired up for some more chess.

I mean that both in terms of analyzing and posting here on my blog and playing in general.  I have the gift (and curse) of going all-in on everything I do.  Trying to get in shape?  Workout five days a week with a set, systematic schedule to hit every body-part.  Starting my new job?  Go the extra mile, work overtime and study on the weekends to improve skills.  Striving to get better at chess?  Study an hour every day, review master games, keep a chessboard by my bed, etc. Continue reading

Good Jobs vs Easy Jobs

Forgive me, for this isn’t exactly chess related, but in a way it is.  It’s certainly affecting my chess, or my lack thereof.  It has to do with jobs, namely, the neverending pursuit to get a good one.

We are told almost from birth to get a good job.  Not just that, but a job you love.  “I want you to do what you love,” I heard over and over from my mom.  “If you love your job, then you’ll never work a day in your life.”  That’s a nice sound bite, but it’s a load of crap.

This is inspired by my recent job change.  In January, I left my role as senior instructor at a martial arts dojo and took up the role of law clerk at a local law firm.  There have been a host of changes, as you can imagine.  In the former, I had nearly 20 years experience; in the latter, I have near zero.  One I worked predominately with children; the other I predominately work with millionaires.  That’s about the biggest change you can make from one job.  As you can imagine, it also pays better, which never hurts. Continue reading

Smithy’s Videos, August 2017

I only made about three blog posts, but I was very busy throughout August chess-wise.  I’ve studied, I’ve practiced, I’ve played a few games and, most importantly for today, I’ve created a few hours worth of video content. Indeed, about the only thing I haven’t done is write a post.

To make up for that, I’m going to write a post … about all the videos I’ve created.  Hey, it’s better than nothing, and I know most people haven’t subscribed on YouTube, so this may be your first chance to see the following. Continue reading

The Colle System and Kingside Attacks

A viewer asked me to create  a video on the dangers of castling, specifically, when is castling early a mistake.  Since this usually means castling into an attack, I focused on typical Kingside ideas.  You can see it below.

That said, the first part of the video deals with a Colle System game that completely shows everything involving a Kingside attack against the castled King.  See the full analysis of said game below, which expands on the video. Continue reading

Smithy’s Opening Crossroad

Why do we play chess?  Ultimately, it’s to have fun, right?  Sure, winning is nice and seldom gets boring, but given the choice, you’d rather win and have fun than win while being bored out of your mind, right?

This is where I am struggling, and it chiefly relates to my opening choices.  I have a very correct opening repertoire.  I play the Queen’s Gambit and Ruy Lopez as White, considered the two best openings after 1.e4 and 1.d4 respectively.  Against 1.d4 I chiefly play the Nimzo, perhaps the most sound yet ambitious opening Black can try, and against 1.e4 I have played a little bit of everything but mostly the Kan / Taimonov Sicilian and the Open Spanish, which are again two of the oldest and most respected openings around.

All of this is great and all, and it would compare to any GM anywhere … and yet I don’t think I like any of these positions. Continue reading

Miniature #3: Steinitz and the Evans Gambit

Another week, another miniature chess games.  This is a classic, one of my favourites, Steinitz – Rock, 1858.

You’ve likely heard of Steinitz before.  He’s the first official World Champion, who combined the tactical genius of the Romantic players but while also formulating the basic rules of positional play.  His ideas, especially when distilled and expressed through the great teacher Tarrasch, transformed chess from a back-room brawl into something more of a science, where a great position needs to come before a great attack.

You’ve likely never heard of Rock before.  That’s because he was an amateur, the equivalent of NN … and as you can imagine, he gets slaughtered in typical champion vs amateur fashion.  Let’s take a loo Continue reading

Blog Status Going Forward

For the last few weeks I’ve been busy, trying to make up for my lack of … anything during June.  In the process, I’ve produced several YouTube videos of varying quality, and I’ve enjoyed this new medium.  I’ve also spent hours going through GM Smirnov‘s course Calculate Till Mate, which is opening my eyes.  Let me go through everything and detail what the plan is going forward.

First, I think the videos are here to stay.  I’m having far more fun speaking my thoughts than I thought I would, and I’m getting far more engagement than my regular game analysis posts.  I mean, frig, I’ve gotten more comments in the last two weeks than I’ve had in the last six months.  Maybe that speaks more to YouTube’s ability to reach people more than my meagre SEO skills, but it’s still telling. Continue reading

Miniature #2: Taking Advantage of Mistakes

[Updated with extra analysis below: July 30, 2017]

Here’s the second in my video series on chess miniatures, featuring a game between Dukaczewski (2372) – Dineley (2264), Turin, 2006.

This analysis features a very common error in general (moving pieces multiple times in the opening) as well as specific (playing an early Na5 to chase a Bishop on c4).  I try to show both why these are mistakes and then how to react accordingly.

Let’s take a look. Continue reading