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 →
[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.
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.
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.
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.