Author Archives: JP

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

Miniature #1: Don’t Move the Same Piece Twice

Here we go.  SmithyQ presents YouTube video number two!

This one may become a regular series.  I adore chess miniatures.  These are games under 25 moves, usually finishing with a crushing attack or fancy tactics.  In order to lose in under 25 moves, one side has to make some decisive mistakes.  Studying miniatures teaches us both to recognize when these mistakes happen and how to punish them most effectively.  Your opening and early middlegame attacking skills will increase tremendously after even just a few games.

Also, miniatures are a heck of a lot of fun, so let’s take a look. Continue reading

Smithy’s First Ever YouTube Video!

Alright everyone, time for something brand new and exciting!  I have created my first chess YouTube video!

I’ve been toying with this idea for over a year, ever since I helped a friend create a few video, and I learned some of the ins and outs of the process.  Over the last few months, I’ve created several private videos for people, and I’ve used their feedback to mould the presentation, content and delivery.  The end result is what you see here.  Special thanks to Martin, Steve and Alex for giving particularly detailed feedback.  Much appreciated.

For my first video, I chose to help the most active reader of my blog, Gringo.  I offered to analyze a game of his, and he gave me a very interesting encounter against a National Master with a barely believable 2600 bullet rating.  This wasn’t a bullet game, but Gringo was clearly the underdog … and yet he had reached a very good position.  Let’s take a look.

Continue reading

I’m Finally Back (or, alternate title, Nothing is worse than Moving)

The Good News, I finally finished moving. The Bad News, I got jerked around by my Internet company, I got jerked around by the moving company, two separate boxes exploded during the move, my dresser didn’t survive, my living room looks like a Jenga game writ large, and fought through the above while having the busiest week at work ever, all while my boss and supervisor were away on vacation, leaving me to fend for myself.

But again, the Good News: I’m finished moving! Or that’s what I tell myself at least. If I ever have to move again, I think I’ll just light everything I own on fire. I think that’ll be easier.

Image result for moving truck on fire

Less painful than actually moving.

Continue reading

A Quick Update

I know, I know, I haven’t updated my blog in a month.  I apologize.  In my defence, my life has been as busy as it has ever been.

On June 9th, so last Friday, I officially became a 4th-degree blackbelt in shoriniji-ryu karate.  That’s just under 20 years of practice, which culminated in a six-hour grading the weekend before and then a public ceremony and show the week after.  I had been training for this moment for months, and all my extra time went to this.

All month, I am in the process of moving.  I am leaving my basement apartment in a century-old home and entering a proper dwelling.  That is awesome! … except it involves moving, which may be the worst thing ever.  I can’t tell which is worse: packing all my things into boxes (and in the process realizing how much crap I have) or unpacking all my things from said boxes.  Joy. Anyway, when I wasn’t training for my blackbelt test, I was packing.

At work, my responsibilities have increased … at both jobs.  I have been a law clerk for half a year now, and I am given more and more to do.  This is fine, but it is added pressure and added training, ontop of the continual steep learning curve inherent in the position.  At my other job, as martial arts instructor, I’m technically phasing out, but in the process I need to train my replacements.  No one is expected to replace a 4th-degree blackbelt, but all the same I need to pass on as much knowledge and information as I can so the new instructors aren’t just left hanging.

On any given day, I leave my house at 8am and get back after 8pm.  I’m averaging a 60-hour work week, and when I’m not working I’m training or packing or trying to find time to sleep.  I won’t lie, I’m exhausted, and this blog was the easiest thing to cut.  Once July rolls around I’ll have a much more manageable schedule, with all the above over or concluded, and my chess analysis will resume its normal schedule.

Free Lessons from Smirnov: How To Analyze Your Games

I would like to share the following, a free series of videos roughly 30min long from GM Igor Smirnov, where he explains how to analyze your games.  The approach he recommends is basically the same as the one I use, though he has one interesting twist which I don’t use often, and one I will definitely think about.  It’s free, it’s great, it’s Smirnov, take a look.

There’s also a personal reason I’m recommending it.  You see, Smirnov spends a few minutes analyzing a position from one of my games.  Not just any game, either, but my most important game.  Take a look. Continue reading