My opponent in this game is Gringo, long-time blog reader. He offered a challenge, I accepted and the result is what you see here. I can’t play against everyone who comments, but I’ll do my best, and I promise to analyze each game. Best to do it now, because once I become a GM I’ll be charging money for this.
I’m joking. Maybe.
In this blog, I’ve said repeatedly that the opening doesn’t matter and you don’t need to study it. That’s true… and yet I won this game in 17 moves because of my opening. What gives? Some openings work much better at amateur level than professional level. Most gambits, for instance, and systems like the Alekhine or Pirc score significantly better by those under 2000 rating.
I think the inverse is also true. That is, there are some openings that masters play and do well with that are nonetheless not suitable for amateurs. Any opening that leads to a solid but passive position is inherently dangerous at lower levels. That’s basically what happened here. Gringo got a normal QGD position, but he doesn’t have the requisite skills to play it properly. I don’t think I have those skills. I think the QGD is a terrible opening, but anyway, let’s take a look. Continue reading →
Let me start by saying this: I was in a bad mood, chess-wise, during this game, and so I was going to attack his King no matter what. Today, we get to see an attacking game. Is this the best strategy? No, but sometimes you need to play chess for fun as well as improvement.
The game itself is surprisingly sound, all things considered. The attack isn’t unfounded, and I still improve my position in my normal positional way. What’s important in this game, I feel, is how I thought on each move. That is, once the attack started, I was analyzing potential threats and sacrifices every move, several ply deep. I didn’t stop until I found what worked, and then I dove it.
This analysis, then, will share exactly how I think during an attack. It’s short and sweet, so let’s have a look. Continue reading →
Well, here it is, my first loss of the new year, and my first loss in months. Most of that is because I’ve only played a handful of games in those months, but still, that’s a good streak. Time to start another one.
I believe in studying your own games, and this is especially true of your losses. As such, this analysis is more directed at me personally than as for educational or entertainment value. I need to learn from this game, and so the content is presented differently. Mostly the information is concentrated in the critical positions, where I’ve made mistakes, and so there is less general analysis in other places.
If you dare to look anyway, though, you’ll see a smashing game from my opponent: he bravely sacrifices material for a devastating attack, and he then converts after a tough endgame. A lovely game, one I wish I could have played as Black. Alas, I was the victim, but I learned a great deal. Let’s take a look. Continue reading →
There’s a familiar phrase, “Pressure makes diamonds.” And it’s true. You take some ugly rocks, put them under intense pressure for millions of years and boom, you’ve got some pretty diamonds. At the same time, as I tell people whenever I can, “Yeah, pressure makes diamonds, but it also makes balloons pop.”
What can I say, I’m a cynical optimist.
Coming back to chess, I have a long-standing theme on this blog: most amateur games are decided by blunders. You can win a heck of a lot of games just by looking for enemy mistakes. Now, if you just sit there and do nothing, your opponent might blunder, but he or she probably won’t. Just like anything else, blunders can be created.
Of course, you can’t physically force your opponent to blunder, but you can make it much more likely. If you are under pressure, you start thinking different, you start to worry, you start feeling the danger, and then blunders follow almost automatically. In today’s game, I do exactly this, making a single attacking thrust and then having my opponent contort into a ball out of fear.
Here’s a fundamental truth about chess: most games are decided by blunders. This is very obvious when you watch beginners. They miss simple threats every few moves. What people don’t realize, though, is how even intermediate and advanced players blunder frequently.
A 1700-player is better than a 1200-player, obviously, and so won’t make the same type of blunders. Mr.1700 likely won’t just hang a piece. If you put pressure on him, though, if you make him uncomfortable, then the blunders happen first and furious. If you want to force blunders, then you need to learn how to apply this pressure.
Bobby Fischer said, “Tactics flow from a superior position.” The inverse is true with blunders. If you have a really good position, it’s really hard to blunder; if your position is terrible, then blunders are almost inevitable. In this game, I set up a dangerous-looking attacking position, and my opponent then blundered almost immediately. Let’s take a look. Continue reading →
I present here my third game since returning to chess, played back in 2015. It features perhaps the most direct attacking ideas that I’ve played since taking chess seriously again. I had no strategic subtleties in mind here: I sought violence from about move 5 on, and it worked. I won via miniature in 24 moves.
That said, I played 15 good moves, reached a great position … and then threw it all away with one mistake. I wasn’t losing, but with accurate play my opponent would have completely neutralized my advantage.
Here’s the position. What would you play as White? And you can guess my mistake? Think it over for a few moments, and then see the full game below.
Art imitates life. We all know this, especially if you are creative in any way. You’ll experience something, be it a cascading waterfall silhouetted by a sunset or two dogs chasing a ball and their owner’s attention, and you’ll be inspired to take action. Maybe you sketch an image or write a poem or construct a story. However you do it, the process is the same: experience something, get inspired, create something.
The same is true in reverse. Life imitates art. You see a painting, watch a movie, read a poem and something clicks. You get a fresh new perspective. Maybe you get inspired enough to take action, to do things different, or maybe you just sit back and think new, deeper thoughts. In either case, the very way you see reality has changed. Shift your perceptions and what you perceive shifts as well.
I find this interesting, as I’m a chess player. Chess is a game, but it has artistic qualities. Moreover, it’s a thinking game. It’s a direct portal into your own mind. If art imitates life, then chess definitely imitates life as well.
This is my best chess game; it is my worst chess game. It features beautiful tactics; it features devastating blunders. It’s a positional masterpiece; it’s a positional clusterbomb. I won this game; I lost this game. It shows how close I am to chess masterhood; it shows how far I still need to go.
This following chess game is probably the most important one I’ve ever played in terms of my own chess development. If I ever get a chance to write a book of my own games, this will be number one. It is my whole chess persona in a nutshell.
I’ve written about this game before: here and here and here. I’ve never analyzed it. I’ve been afraid, afraid that I really did play 20 perfect moves and then threw it all away in one moment of … I don’t even know what to call it. Overconfidence? Blindness? Stupidity? A subconscious tendency towards self-destruction?
This game was played back in April. My opponent was a Fide Master with an official OTB rating of 2300. I have an online rating of 2000. I should have been destroyed … and instead I played the game of my life, in every way possible. Let’s take a look. Continue reading →
If you play 1…e5 as Black, you need to have something ready against the King’s Gambit. All the Ruy Lopez or Berlin Wall knowledge you have will do you diddly if White starts with blood in his eyes on move two.
Most people are content to play some 1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 exf4, which is certainly a sound way to go about. At the same time, it’s exactly the type of position White wants, and he likely has much more experience in it than you do. That’s not exactly how you punish White for his opening daring.
Instead, I have a pet defence based on the cheeky 2…Qh4+. The following game shows it in action. I wouldn’t claim it’s better than any other defence to the King’s Gambit, but it DOES pull the game into a decidedly positional direction, and White almost certainly has less experience than I do. Take a look. Continue reading →
First, let me celebrate. I recently reached the 2100 rating mark … and then immediately lost a game to fall below it … then had a few draws … then I won and now I’m back over 2100! It’s by exactly one point, but I’ll take it.
Just a few years ago, I had been stuck at 1800 most of my life. To have my rating now over 2000, let alone over 2100, is like a dream come true.
When I broke the 2000 barrier for the first time last year, I wrote a post examining exactly how I did it. That is, I looked at every single victory and classified it by type. For instance, sometimes I won by a mating attack, sometimes by an endgame advantage, and sometimes my opponents just hung material and I took it. It was a good experience, and quite eye-opening. I learned a lot about myself…
… and then I wondered, if this were so useful only looking at one year’s worth of games, how much more insight would I get from looking at ALL my games? The thought never left my head, and after nearly three months of work, I present to you my findings. It’s pretty awesome. Continue reading →